When strong storytelling moves you, it gives you the characters that stay with you for life. “Prison Playbook” is one such strong emotional and warmly written story. The drama revolves around a baseball player who has assaulted the sexual offender of his sister and the story follows what happens when he enters the greyest places in the world- A prison.
Star Baseball player Kim Je-hyuk (Park Hae-soo) is sentenced to one year in prison where he meets his childhood friend Lee Joon-ho (Jung Kyung-ho) who is a prison guard and the biggest fan of Kim Je-hyuk. Kim Je-hyuk shares the prison cell with other inmates and we get to see the stories that are being less told.
Ps: Minor spoilers ahead!
1. Officer Paeng
Prison guard Paeng Se Yoon, played by Jung Woong-in, was the character short of our understanding. He did not see the prisoners as terrible people, but treated them like humans. He has empathy but did not know how to express it. In few episodes, we knew he will put his job on the line for the rights of his ward prisoners and will even go against the higher officials to stand by their rights. Bringing them food, staying in the hospital with sick prisoners and sometimes sidelining trivial rules of the prison to give them the light they needed in a place filled with darkness.
His parting conversation with one of the longest prisoner Min-Chul is one of my favourite moments of him. He, through his story, told us that just because someone is in jail does not mean they are not to be treated as humans. In Jung Hae-in words, calling them “bastards” washis way of adoration.
Hanyang played by Lee Kyu-hyung became the most loved character of the show. Han yang or better called Loony was the repeated offender as a drug addict and ended up sharing the cell with the other 5 inmates. He was the most interesting character in the cell. His antics would cause the riots of laughter. Be it winning the quiz competition or his backstory, he was the treat to watch on the screen. As funny as it was to see him getting kicked and sprouting anything to anyone, it was heartbreaking to know his story unfold and an open end to his character. I will leave one major spoiler for you to watch the drama. In the meantime, I am filing a petition for Han yang to deserve his K-Drama.
3. Min Chul
The longest-serving prisoner and the balance in the chaotic world of the cell, Min Chul played by Choi Moo-sung is serving in prison for 22 years now for being involved in gang fights. He repents his wrongdoings and is a changed man. He is the most level head person in Jae-hyuk’s cell. From consoling Je-hyuk during his low times to looking out for the people he cared for in the prison, he was the first in line. He also got a few of the tear-jerking scenes and his relation with officer Paeng is more of companionship that we hardly get to see between a police officer and prisoner. He perfectly embodied the people in prison who have no one waiting for them and try to atone for their actions. Min-Chul makes us believe in second chances and sometimes people deserve them because you never know from where you will get the hope to go on.
4. Bald guy aka. Croony
The bald guy or Croony played by Ahn Chan-hwan started as someone who wanted to kill Jae-hyuk but ended up serving him and respecting him. His character was always about serving the master of the prison and when he lost his master because of Jae-hyuk he wanted to take revenge. Some of the most suspenseful scenes come from his presence and the reason I am mentioning him is that by the end of the drama he was the changed man and his transformation moved me. His character showed me that how sometimes we all need the correct guidance and people to follow to turn around our life for good. He got the support and care that he never received. Although we did not get to see the end of his story, his admiration and loyalty towards Jae-hyuk remained unwavering till the end.
5. Song officer
One of the most adorable police officer you can find in K-drama land. Officer Song played by Kang Gi-doong is a timid officer and a subordinate to Officer Paeng. In the drama, we get to see his story unfold when Jung Hae-in’s character Captain Jung Woo came into the picture saving him from a fatal casualty. He brought out the softer side of Captain Woo and gave us more insight into both of their characters. Officer Song ended up forming a bond with the Caption Woo and became his support in the cell. His character brought a big smile to my face and some revelation about his backstory made him memorable for me. Officer Song had little to his
personal story but his presence on screen was the sign that everything is fine with the inmates and that he was the bearer of good news.
Let us know your favorite character from the show in the comments section.
Happy drama watching!