It’s just fraud, say police officials, when deciding how long to pursue the case of a con man who bankrupted hundreds by selling a bogus investment. They casually discount the damage done by the con artist Noh Sang-cheon, played by Heo Sung-tae, in the Korean drama Decoy. His victims should have been wise to his Ponzi scheme, they say, but, no, they trusted him. It’s their own fault their lives are ruined. The case is officially closed after Sang-cheon flees to China and he’s reportedly killed in a car crash. His victims no longer have any recourse, except to meet each other and commiserate.
More than a decade later a lawyer-turned-detective Gu Do-han, played by Jang Geun-suk, investigates a murder that implicates the supposedly dead Sang-cheon. His superiors discount the possibility that Sang-cheon is alive and suggest another direction. However, Sang-cheon’s victims are sure he is alive, that he will face justice and they will receive compensation.
Decoy illustrates how dangerous it is to trust the wrong people and at the same time how vulnerable people are to deceit. Most of the scenes in the opening episodes are dimly lit, portrayed in smoky shades of blue and gray, as if to suggest a world that is dark and unreliable, a world where crucial details are lost to the shadows. Characters are not who they seem to be, even Do-han, who left a law practice to become a detective. What kind of person leaves a successful career as a lawyer, asks one of his colleagues, to live the difficult, underpaid existence of a detective?
While investigating the murder he meets reporter Jung Na-yeon, played by Lee Elijah, who initially pretends to be a lawyer. She’s connected to the victims of Sang-cheon’s scam and Do-han soon begins to wonder if the con man’s supposed death was just part of his elaborate fraud?
Do-han is Jang’s first drama role in five years and one that adds a new dimension to his resume. The actor has appeared in a succession of films and dramas, but is perhaps best known for lighter fare such as the dramas You’re Beautiful and Marry Me Mary and the film You’re My Pet. So, it’s interesting to see him as a determined detective in this police thriller. He does a convincing job playing the reticent Do-han, a man who is sure he could never be conned, primarily because he doesn’t allow himself to trust anyone.
Heo Sung-tae is a prolific actor. In 2022 alone Heo appeared in the dramas Big Bet, Behind Every Star, Adamas, Inside and Bloody Heart as well as the films Hunt and Stellar. Co-star Lee Elijah previously appeared in the dramas The Good Detective, Delayed Justice and The Last Empress.
The Coupang Play drama will be shown in two parts and airs in the US on Viki.com.
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