Kdrama “Hyena” Episode 1 To 8 Review

Published Categorized as Kdrama Reviews

Two of the very best Korean actors are working on the hit drama “Hyena.” Ju Ji Hoon and Kim Hye Soo are two actors I never thought I’d see in a drama together but here we are.

Two amazing actors who are picky with their projects chose “Hyena” as their comeback to the small screen; I was excited and had high expectations. Those high expectations were met but there were also issues.

I have watched the last 8 episodes of “Hyena” and decided to talk about how I felt watching this drama and why at times, I found it insufferable despite its interesting plot.

Note: major spoilers of episode 1 to 8.

“Hyena” tells the story of female lawyers who defend the top 1% of the country. Lawyer Geum Ja (played by Kim Hye Soo) will do anything to win, Lawyer Yoon Hee Jae (played by Ju Ji Hoon) is similar but slightly less annoying.

While I did get into the drama knowing well of its plot, I was still surprised by how much I hated the characters. I didn’t expect them to be this insufferable.

“Hyena” plot is interesting and well done especially for a writer whose first credit is this drama. It’s based on real life stories and tackles social and political issues of South Korea.

My issues with the characters, especially Geum Ja

I am gonna be honest, I don’t like any of the characters. In fact, I hate them all, the main characters and the supporting characters (not referring to the actors, calm down). I think it’s my first time seeing a Korean writer deliberately make their characters so unlikeable in a sea of kdrama writers who will do anything to get you to root for the main leads.

Since the main plot is about lawyers and the top 1%, it naturally means the cases they have to deal with consist of terrible chaebol men/women who do shit and want to get away with it paying top dollar. Geum Ja and Yoon Hee Jae both will do their best to satisfying their clients even if it meant screwing over the people who didn’t deserve it.

I lost all respect for Geum Ja’s character the moment she handed back a woman to an abusive druggie millionaire so she could win the case and gain more clients. I haven’t hated a female kdrama character this much for a while. I think the last time I was this repulsed was when I watched “SKY Castle,” the mother character was despicable.

Lawyer Yoon Hee Jae isn’t any better, he’s certainly classier and wouldn’t low-down to Geum Ja’s terrible level but his priorities of also consist of winning no matter what. So you have a terrible evil lawyer and a slightly less terrible lawyer.

This makes it difficult for me to like the characters and when I don’t like the characters it’s very difficult to continue watching.

I also write, when writing it’s important to have a balance. “Hyena” doesn’t have that. The writer manages to bring back people simply because they’re curious about how everything will turn out, the audience focus shifts from caring about the characters onto caring about the outcome of the cases they defend.

There needs to be a redemption arc. There needs to be a balance. Writing novels, scripts and stories with unlikeable characters is a risk because people won’t develop a connection to them which means they won’t care if they live or die. I honestly wish for Geum Ja’s character to realize how terrible she was because she fucked up a lot of people’s lives.

I was really curious about “Hyena” but from episode 5 to 7, I really wanted to quit. Not because I wasn’t interested anymore but because I couldn’t stand those characters. They’re both terrible and Geum Ja has the most punchable face ever.

Geum Ja feels like the bad supporting character in a cliché kdrama about law, but somehow she ended up leading a drama herself. It’s admirable how smart she is but she uses that to step over everyone and that’s something I can never understand or approve. It’s very difficult to cheer on such a character.

Its only until episode 8 that we get some sort of explanation as to why Geum Ja’s character is this fucked up. Apparently, her father killed her mother drunkenly and got away with it, he also used to beat the living shit out of her. So she plotted with a character named Park Joo Ho to frame her father for what would become an attempted murder against her.

But it didn’t matter to me at that point because honestly, up until episode 7, the writer made sure I hated her character. This introduction into her past took a little too long to happen. By then, a lot of people have already given up on trying to understand her.

A lot of people grow up in terrible conditions but becoming a ruthless money-sucking lawyer who destroys lives and threatens the people she goes up against for the money of the rich isn’t exactly excusable.

Geum Ja is a smart woman, she’s always been smart. She could’ve easily picked a different path in which she didn’t have to do this to people. I am sure the writer has a reason for why she chose this career path but still, it’s very difficult to cheer her on.

I do feel slightly sorry for Yoon Hee Jae because he got screwed over by Geum Ja, but it’s not like I deeply care about him.

The plot is interesting

While I do find the characters annoying and awful, the plot is very nice and interesting especially since the writer behind “Hyena” has only this project under his/her name.

Although sometimes things conveniently happen to the characters to give the results they need, it still felt elaborate and interesting. It’s filled with twists and turns and I honestly didn’t expect the writer to make the male character a weaker character in comparison to the female lead character.

The other supporting characters are also very interesting, the drama spends time trying to get you to know them and I appreciated that.

Overall, I think “Hyena” will become one of the most interesting kdramas of 2020; it has one of the most interesting plots. It’s gonna be one of those dramas that I love to hate and hate to love.

My thoughts on the performances

Actress Kim Hye Soo does a great job as Geum Ja. In fact, this is a very mature drama. I liked that.

Every single actor in this drama is doing amazing. The casting choices were epic. Every actor perfectly embodies the character they play. It’s so nice to see seasoned actors in action, it’s filled with actors who are in their mid to late thirties and usually, I watch kdramas with younger cast.  

If you don’t know, Song hye Kyo was offered the leading role for Geum Ja. Thank God she didn’t accept it, I don’t think she would’ve been able to pull off that character; it’s so out of her range. I can never picture the delicate Song hye Kyo as Geum Ja.

So these are my thoughts on “Hyena.” I feel conflicted but intrigued at the same time.

What about you guys? Did you like the drama?

By Jass K.

Hi, I am Jass k. the founder of Jazminemedia, in this site, I discuss some of the hottest currently airing kdramas, and if you have any requests for a kdrama review, please let me know in the comment section of any article.


  1. I also think in the same way! The plot is good but the characters are disappointed, especially Geum Ja! I also don’t like her old fashion style ;-(

  2. Thank you, for speaking what’s on my mind. I hate the characters too but I am engrossed by their vigor and feistiness that I held on to see where the character arc and plot was going. I have only seen until episode 14 as of now and I’m really hooked! Which I didn’t really expect.i was ready to give up first few episodes. But I wanted to see more of what Ju Ji-hoon and Kim Hye Soo bec I’d like to see more adult level (in terms of maturity, perspective and age i guess) in what I watch recently. I guess i’ve had enough of young love and young adult problem plots (if you know what i mean). So I’m really curious what you think of the last few episodes. I spared the last 2 eps for another day because I don’t want it to end yet lol.i guess that’s how hooked I am now. Especially after ep 14. I’m already wishing for a second season. There’s still a lot more plot points to uncover. Great job to the writers btw.

  3. Right on point. I feel the same. The twists in the plot pull you along, but several times the idea of getting on the treadmill to watch this show was a challenge. I wanted to finish it…but it wasn’t enjoyable. Like you pointed out…I’m on Episode 13 and we might see glimmerings of a redempion but likely, since its a Netflix series now with possible other seasons they might try to push for…these brittle, hard characters will stay the same. And they are ALL unlikeable characters, glitzy with no heart…and is ultimately just an americanized version of a Kdrama. Netflix is intent on wiping the Korean (or any other country’s) cultural points & values out of the plots & the very soul of what sent the Hallilu Wave around the world. Sad.

  4. Loved it. Liked characters who evolve. The reason you like the drama is the evolution of characters. They’re not all nice or all bad. Loved Geum Ja– she’s a survivor who figures out a way to thrive. She knows life is not a fairy tale. She’s annoyed with the violinist because he won’t fight for his life as she has. She convinces the mistress of a horrible drug addict to return to him, but that woman has a choice. The woman doesn’t make the choice for safety because she’s having an affair with the guy’s half-brother. At the same time, Geum Ja is concerned for her, warning the half-brother to not let on that he’s having an affair. I like the smooth Song as well. He’s the serious kind of bad guy we have in the U.S., who’ll do anything to stay in power. Slick as grease and totally immoral. The young lawyer was the only character I felt was not realistic. He’s young but he’s at the top law firm in Korea; he can’t be as naive as he is portrayed, though I recognize it as a foil for the others. I liked all the characters and it made for a rich complicated stew.

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