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Friday, September 22, 2023

“The Killing Vote”: Korea’s New Thriller Explores Public Justice

CultureFilm & Tv"The Killing Vote": Korea's New Thriller Explores Public Justice

In South Korea, a world awash in the glare of neon lights and the shimmer of high-tech screens, a new threat has emerged from the shadows. A mysterious vigilante, known solely as “Dog Mask”, holds the nation in thrall, having hacked the phones of its citizens. This enigma presents the populace with a choice: vote on the fate of a reviled criminal who, despite his heinous crimes, escaped due punishment from the legal system. It begins with a notorious child pornographer. Set free by the system, he soon finds himself at the mercy of an angered public. The outcome is chilling. The majority clamor for his execution, and in a morbid twist of poetic justice, he is discovered dead, choked by the very money he treasured.

Dog Mask’s promise is simple, yet profoundly unsettling: bi-monthly public decisions on the fate of perceived wrongdoers. This audacious premise forms the backbone of the gripping K-drama, “The Killing Vote”. Echoing the intense scenarios presented in shows like “Squid Game” and “The Devil Judge“, “The Killing Vote” delves deep into societal pressure points, examining the lengths individuals may go to when pushed to the edge.

Leading the quest to unmask this vigilante is detective Kim Moo-chan, portrayed by the talented Park Hae-jin. Known from hits such as “From Now on, Showtime!”, Moo-chan is a character rife with complexities. While vested with the responsibility to uphold the law, he’s been known to bypass it, often blurring the lines between protector and perpetrator.

Alongside him is the formidable Joo Hyun, played by Lim Ji-yeon of “The Glory”. A brilliant hacker, she is often relegated to menial tasks, overshadowed by male colleagues who undermine her capabilities. However, when she stumbles upon a lead that could blow the case wide open, her collaboration with Moo-chan takes center stage.

Another intriguing figure is Kwon Seok-joo, masterfully brought to life by Park Sung-woong. Once a respected legal scholar, Seok-joo’s life took a tragic turn when he avenged his daughter’s assault, leading to his incarceration. Known in prison as “the Professor”, his outspoken criticism of the judicial system’s flaws places him squarely on the list of Dog Mask suspects.

As the narrative unfolds, the show continually challenges perceptions, hinting that any of its characters could be behind the Dog Mask. The series is rife with motifs of anonymity and public judgment, raising uncomfortable questions about collective morality in a digital age. Can the veil of anonymity, much like the mask, push individuals to act on their basest impulses?

Yet, while “The Killing Vote” promises a compelling plot, it often treads familiar territory. With other K-dramas having explored similar themes, it remains to be seen if “The Killing Vote” can distinguish itself from its predecessors.


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