Behind Your Touch
JTBC (2023) 16 Episodes
Thriller / Murder Mystery / Supernatural
Grade: B+
Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA
(Some Spoilers)

Starring two of my favorite actors, whom I've been watching in dramas and films for two decades, Han Ji Min (Rooftop Prince, Hyde Jekyll and I, Padam Padam, Cain and Abel, Resurrection, All In) and Min Ki Lee (Because This Is My First Life, My Liberation Notes, popular films Spellbound, Monster, Very Ordinary Couple), Korean drama Behind Your Touch (2023) proved to be a highly addictive thriller K-drama, but with some flaws, mainly in the script, not from the production team or acting ensemble, who all gave 100% to the project. The writer Lee Nam Kyu had written two other dramas I thought highly of, Radiant aka The Light In Your Eyes, and Awl, so I was a little surprised by some of the lopsided elements to this screenplay. However, it did capture my attention throughout, and its ratings for small cable station JTBC reached over 10%, so the show did remain popular during its run, and was quite popular on Netflix as well. It just seemed to be that the audience's reactions varied widely from total love to total frustration, which you could see very clearly on K-drama fan chat sites.

Most probably the main script issue was in the light but confused romance department of this thriller drama; the writer seemed to show Han Jin Min's lead female character falling head over heels in love with the second male lead, played by cutie pie Suho from the famous idol group EXO. Traditionally in Korean dramas we often do see the first female lead characters torn between the first and second male lead characters, but in Behind Your Touch that tradition was thrown to the wind. The script did practically nothing to endear the first female lead to the first male lead; in fact they figuratively butted heads through most of the drama, which really wasn't fair to lead actor Min Ki Lee. His character grew to become very concerned about her character, while all her concentration focused on Suho's character's well being, even when she suspected him of being a criminal! If this strange inequity threw off a seasoned K-drama viewer like me I can quite understand how it would throw K-drama newbie fans into a tizzy, to say the least! I think the writer would have done better to show that she had at least equal affection for both men, despite any personal challenges in their relationships.

The Story:

Veterinarian Bong Ye Bun (Han Ji Min) works in her own vet clinic in a laid-back rural village called Mujin. She is gifted with a strange and sometimes even comical superpower, caused by a meteor shower she was exposed to while walking outside. When she touches the rear end of an animal she is able to see their most recent memories! She is a kind and upbeat person who can sometimes get into trouble due to her strong curiosity about people and animals. It makes her rather meddlesome in others' affairs, when she would often be better off keeping to herself and focusing solely on her job.

Concerned, Or Jealous? Or Both?

Fate gets Ye Bun involved with a new Detective in town named Moon Jang Yeol (Lee Min Ki). He used to work in the violent crimes division in Seoul's police department, but he was demoted and sent to the small police station in Mujin for supposedly inferior detective work on a case. He is told he can come back to Seoul if he redeems himself by performing well in Mujin. "Solve a big case there and then you can come back." What pressure!

As he gets to know Ye Bun and learns about her special power he is tempted to ask her to help him solve crimes using her talent. She agrees, fascinated with the idea of helping solve crimes. They start on small cases, for instance she will touch an animal's rear end when that animal was near the scene of a crime and could remember details, and she would learn from the animals' memories what really transpired during the crimes. That information can help Jang Yeol arrest the correct criminals. (One case was truly funny when she had to touch several snakes to see which one had a memory of witnessing a crime. "How can you tell where their rear ends are?" LOL!).

Around the same time Ye Bun also meets a newcomer to Mujin named Kim Seon Woo (Suho), who works part-time at a convenience store near her vet clinic. At first she just thinks he's a nice young lad, with a kind smile and demeanor, but as she gets to know him more he seems quite mysterious to her. He shares living accommodations with a middle aged eccentric man named Park Jong Bae (Park Hyuk Kwon) who is known by the villagers as the local Shaman.

Jong Bae claims to have special powers too but the villagers don't really believe him. This man is obsessed with the late American General Douglas MacArthur, whom he is convinced was the savior of Korea; he even has a type of shrine dedicated to his memory. For quite some time we see this Shaman as a comical figure, but as time goes on he becomes just as mysterious as Seon Woo, perhaps even more so.

Too Many Tragedies For Beautiful Ye Bun

Then a series of strange murders begin to take place in Mujin, and the local police department seems perplexed as to what the victims might have had in common to be targeted by this serial killer, who always camouflages himself (or herself) with a thick coat and hoodie that covers the face. The killer always seems to escape detection, working mostly at night, taking the victims unaware. Victims include a popular internet streamer (Choi Hee Jin), a charismatic politician named Assemblyman Cha (Lee Seung Joon), another psychic named Gwang Sik (Park No Shik), and even eventually Bong Ye Bun's own Grandad (Yang Jae Seong) whom she had been estranged from for many years after the death of her mother (Choi Jung In) which had been ruled a suicide. Then suddenly Ye Bun learns that her Mom was most likely murdered; could it have been the same killer who murdered her Grandpa? Now she is even more committed to helping Detective Jang Yeol find this serial killer! Everything's hitting too close to home now! She also improves in her touching skills and discovers she can touch HUMANS' rear ends too, and decipher their recent memories! Whoo boy! How many times can she touch a human's butt and not be arrested for supposed assault? LOL! Sometimes she'll use an excuse that they have gum or some other object stuck to their pants, and she touches them to supposedly remove the object, but really to read their memories.

Other people in town, like her sweet Aunt Jung Hyeon Ok (Park Sung Yeon), or her best friend Bae Ok Hui (Joo Min Kyung, excellent performance!), urge Ye Bun to practice safety and caution, but it's obvious she is now waaay too caught up emotionally in finding this mysterious serial killer; it's now also a matter of personal revenge. Nothing will stop her from finding the killer and having him / her arrested. Could the killer actually be someone she knows and is close to? Could she potentially be his / her next victim?

The local police in the case just keep missing clues, including affable detective Won Jong Muk (Kim Hee Won), Bae Deok Hee (Jo Min Kook), policewoman Na Mi Ran (Jung Yi Rang), and the obnoxious head police administrator Chief Lim Yoon Bin (Kim Yong Joon) who kept hitting sweet Jong Muk and telling him to stop looking for the serial killer! (I was beginning to hope this guy was actually the killer because he was so belligerent, and wanted the case ignored for some stupid reason, but alas, it was not to be).

For quite some time I didn't want to suspect the real culprit because whenever we saw the serial killer at night, in shadow, that actor in disguise looked much shorter and thinner than the thespian who actually played the killer. I kind of got angry at that; I think it was done on purpose to fool the audience. Also, when one of the main cast is suspected to be the killer, but actually wasn't, I felt that the story-line should not have gone in that direction at all. The overall romance of the drama could have been more built up, in a more traditional way, and I think the critics in the audience would have been satisfied much more with the direction and outcome of the story.

I still recommend Behind Your Touch if you truly like crime-solving shows that keep you addicted from beginning to end. It's not the most romantic K-drama you will ever watch in your lifetime, but still, give it a try on Netflix and see if it proves to be your cuppa tea after all. :)

   My Favorite Photo of Han Ji Min :)