Review: Graceful Family (2019)

Graceful Family 2019

I haven’t watched a Korean drama in a while, and Graceful Family seemed like the dark and intense mystery-thriller drama I was looking for. I watched it on Viki with English subtitles, and actually watched it as it aired. I rarely do this because I don’t like waiting every week for new episodes.

While Graceful Family started out strong, I lost interest at around episode 11. Since there are only 16 episodes in total, I powered through to the end. Unfortunately, it never won back my interest. The best part of this drama was Im Soo Hyang, who skillfully plays the main character, Mo Seok Hee, showcasing both fierceness and vulnerability. Mo Seok Hee returns to Korea after being exiled to the U.S. 15 years ago when her mother was murdered. Her grandfather wants her to be his successor, but her father has other plans. Meanwhile, Mo Seok Hee teams up with lawyer Heo Yoon Do to find out who really murdered her mother.

What was compelling initially was Mo Seok Hee’s battle against her father and stepmother, as well as trying to understand the relationship between her and her half-siblings. The company (and the family) is overseen by the TOP security team, led by Director Han, who is played by the exceptional Bae Jong Ok. Director Han will do whatever it takes to protect the company and is always several steps ahead. I found her to be a fascinating character. The weakest character felt like Heo Yoon Do, who stands by his morals and kind heart.

While Director Han is a strong character, the rest of the TOP team lacked depth. I wished that some of them had played a larger part and showed some personality. The publicity woman had some potential, but it seemed like she was cast aside in the latter third. I wanted to understand why they blindly followed Director Han. No one plotted to take her place?! I was also disappointed in the two half-brothers and could never quite sympathize with them. Perhaps that was deliberate, but the entire family aside from Seo Jin was so unlikable.

The character that surprised me the most was prosecutor Joo Tae Hyung, who had the most growth in his character arc. Also, Choi Na Ri and Yoon Do’s father were quite charming.

Overall, the plot towards the end underwhelmed me. In some ways, it felt too easy and clean that I didn’t believe it. When there was a twist, I didn’t find it that impactful despite an emotional scene that followed. If you like mysteries/thrillers, I still recommend giving Graceful Family a try, just be prepared for both dramatic showdowns and frustration.

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