The Disney+ South Korean show, ‘The Worst of Evil,’ is a crime thriller about a cop’s undercover investigation into a rapidly expanding drug cartel. In 1990 Gangnam, Jung Ki-cheol, coming from a troubled past, heads a dangerous new gang dubbed “The Gangnam Alliance.” As a result, Detective Park Joon-mo infiltrates Ki-cheol’s gang to bring his operation down from the inside. However, Joon-mo is thrown in for a loop when his wife, Yoo Eui-jung, a fellow detective, joins the mission and reveals her past connection to the gang leader.
The show brings its own unique interpretation of a classic story about illegal drug cartels and undercover cops. However, the narrative’s focus on the complicated interpersonal relationships between its central trio accentuates its parallel criminal plotlines, resulting in an authentic and gripping story. As such, given the show’s compelling exploration of the genre, people might wonder about its roots in reality. If so, here is everything you need to know.
The Origin of The Worst of Evil
‘The Worst of Evil’ is directed by Han Dong-wook with a screenplay by Jang Min-suk. The show, which is not based on a true story, is a fictional undertaking of Han and Jang. Consequently, the plots, characters, and events explored within the show have no basis in reality and are purely fabricated in service of the story.
The show equips the retro aesthetic and setting of the 90s to depict a neo-noir tale with gang wars, bleak backstories, and betrayals at its center. The well-written characters are instrumental in the show’s relatability and encourage the audience to invest in the story. Therefore, the tried and tested premise of ‘The Worst of Evil’ greatly benefits from its cast of talented actors.
When discussing the show, Director Han highlighted the importance that the relationships within the narrative occupy in the bigger picture. Likewise, actor Ji Chang Wook, who portrays Joon-mo, the undercover cop, shared his thoughts on his dynamic with co-star Wi Ha-joon and how it influenced the on-screen product.
“My teamwork with Ha Joon was really great,” said Ji. “There are differences in our acting styles, but we created chemistry between our two characters, who are placed in a very risky and precarious relationship within the story. You can safely look forward to it.”
Familiarity Brought By The Genre
In the same interview, Ji Chang Wook also divulged what drew him to the show and said, “The premise of an undercover investigation might seem commonplace. But as soon as I read the script for ‘The Worst of Evil,’ I felt that the drama definitely had its own unique color. I was confident that it would be a very new and different kind of crime-action drama, with a much younger vibe [than past dramas in the same genre].”
The actor’s assessment of the show’s modern, more youthful take on a classic Kdrama genre remains true. Compared to some fan favorites like the 2018 film ‘The Drug King’ or the Netflix show ‘Narco-Saints,’ ‘The Worst of Evil’ presents a cast made up of a younger generation of actors. Likewise, the show’s visuals employ a different route, infusing the show with a new emotionality.
Discussing the same, Actor Ji also stated,“[And] The character dynamics and the way they are portrayed in the undercover cop story is very different from how you have seen it before.” As such, the show is able to employ the familiarity that comes from its crime thriller genre while still bringing something new to the table.
Resemblance to Real-Life
Even though the show presents little to no basis in any real-life crime syndicate or undercover police investigation ops, its crime genre demands a certain authenticity to real life in order to make the narrative believable to its audience. As such, it’s crucial that the show retains some real-life resemblance to grant its characters some credibility.
The show features a crime syndicate in Gangnam, where Ki-cheol, owner of multiple clubs across the neighborhood, partakes in serious drug dealings. In real life, according to the 2013 Seoul Crime Rates, Gangnam was named as the district where most drug-related crimes took place. Furthermore, a Gangnam District representative cited the area’s club network as the driving force behind drug distribution.
Therefore, the show employs reality whenever needed to keep its narrative grounded. Nevertheless, the show itself remains steeped in fiction and does not depict the story of any real-life events or people.