In the Korean drama series available on Amazon Prime, a clandestine figure known as “Dog Mask” takes justice into his own hands. By hacking into every mobile device in South Korea, he provides citizens with the audacious choice to determine the fate of criminals who have circumvented the justice system.
The Killing Vote: A Drama Unveiling The Face of Justice
Starring: Park Hae-jin, Lim Ji-Yeon, and Park Sung-Woong
Nielsen Rating: 4.1%
In the heart of the drama lies a gripping premise: a despised child pornographer, recently released due to the inadequacies of the judicial system, becomes the first target. Dog Mask prompts the nation: should this man live or die? A staggering majority votes in favor of the death penalty. The aftermath? The criminal is found dead, ironically choked by the very money he had craved.
Proclaiming his return every fortnight, Dog Mask promises the public the authority to dole out justice to those who’ve evaded their deserved punishment, highlighting the glaring flaws of Korea’s judicial system. But who exactly is behind the mask?
Enter detective Kim Moo-chan, portrayed by the talented Park Hae-jin. Moo-chan, already familiar with the series’ controversial theme, is not a man to stick strictly to the book. He’s no stranger to bending the law to see justice served. Yet, when the vigilante’s sense of justice mirrors his own, the lines blur between law enforcement and personal vendetta.
In the vast digital landscape of the story, we encounter Joo Hyun, played by Lim Ji-Yeon. A tech-savvy officer from the cyber bureau, she’s a whiz at hacking but spends most of her time relegated to the background, marginalized by her predominantly male higher-ups. But when she stumbles upon information that could lead to Dog Mask, she sees her ticket out of obscurity and into the heart of a thrilling investigation.
As the narrative unfolds, another pivotal character surfaces, Kwon Seok-joo (Park Sung-woong). Once a revered legal scholar, Seok-joo’s life took a turn when he exacted revenge on his daughter’s assaulter, landing him behind bars. Dubbed “the Professor” in prison, his strong critiques of the legal system raise suspicions, marking him as a potential candidate for being the face behind Dog Mask.
The series excels in its symbolic elements. Its opening scene captures the essence perfectly: a mask, a tool of anonymity, drops to the ground. As it’s lifted, the faces of the characters flash, suggesting that anyone could be behind the mask. A poignant reminder of the allure of anonymity and the lengths one might go when granted such power.
But the real magic is in the following scene. A crowded frame where individuals, engrossed in their devices, cross paths, ignorant of the real-world around them. Every single one of them is presented with the power to decide another’s fate through the “killing vote.” It forces the audience to introspect: given the veil of anonymity, would you cast such a vote?
Given today’s global unease with governing systems and institutions, The Killing Vote taps into a universal sentiment. However, while the premise is innovative, it’s not entirely novel in the world of K-dramas. Shows like The Devil Judge have previously explored similar themes, allowing viewers to vote on verdicts. But where the votes in The Devil Judge were an intriguing sub-plot, The Killing Vote is built around this concept.
But the series isn’t without its flaws. From its beginning – a somewhat stereotypical murder on a gloomy night – to its rather one-dimensional antagonists, the drama occasionally falls prey to clichés. Moreover, the antagonist’s mask, a recurring motif in many K-dramas, teeters between becoming a tired trope and an evocative symbol. For instance, dramas like Queen of Masks treat it as a playful accessory, while Netflix’s Mask Girl transforms it into an entrancing narrative device. Sadly, The Killing Vote struggles to find its place between these extremes.
Nevertheless, as the episodes unfold, there’s hope for the series. While Seok-joo hasn’t played a major role thus far, there’s a strong indication he will become pivotal to the story’s climax. Similarly, characters like Chae Do-hee (Choi Yu-hwa), an ambitious investigative journalist, and Min Ji-young (Kim Yoo-mi), a national assemblywoman with her eyes on the presidential seat, have been briefly introduced, hinting at significant roles in future episodes.
In conclusion, The Killing Vote offers a provocative look into the moral dilemmas posed by public justice, wrapped in a thrilling narrative. Despite some pitfalls, the series promises an enthralling journey, blurring the lines between justice and vengeance, and asking: when given the power, how far would you go?