Our Take: 5/5 Stars
On Oct. 15, Netflix released the stunning Korean drama “My Name,” comprised of eight, hour-long episodes. “My Name” follows Yoon Ji-Woo (Han So Hee, “Nevertheless”) after finding out her father works for a drug organization. After witnessing her father’s murder, Ji-Woo embarks on a revenge mission and teams up with her father’s drug organization to infiltrate the police force. In joining the narcotics team, Ji-Woo meets her partner Jeon Pil-do (Ahn Bo-hyun, “Her Private Life”), who she works to manipulate as she maintains her role as the informant.
While feeding police intel to the drug ring’s boss, Choi Mu-jin (Park Hee-soon, “Seven Days”), Ji-Woo learns the truth about her father and faces the repercussions of living a double life.
A key part of dark thrillers lie in their fights, and “My Name” does not mess around. Every altercation is brutal and deadly. The key to these masterful fight scenes is the choice of weapon: a knife. While guns are more effective in quick killing, the show’s weapon of choice is the knife, allowing hand-to-hand combat with a more gruesome result. Not only did each death seem personal, but it embodied how death is an art within these organizations, leading to a more impactful final episode.
The attention to detail did not end with the weaponry. Even though the story followed a generic formula, small filming decisions framed it in a new light. After joining the police force, Ji-Woo’s room is never seen with a bed. She trains and researches in her room, but never actually lives there. This is a sign that everything in this story is temporary.
Although it is expected, Mu-jin’s reliance on Ji-Woo over his long-time trusted friend Jung Tae-ju (Lee Hak-joo, “The World of the Married”) foreshadows the future of both characters in the season finale.
Despite being a lying, manipulative, corrupt person assisting one of the deadliest drug organizations in the city, the show’s perspective and introduction to Ji-Woo forces the audience to empathize and root for her. Acting as Ji-Woo’s father-figure, Mu-jin continues to show a familial responsibility to Ji-Woo throughout the series, even among the plot twists. His desire to protect Ji-Woo from becoming a monster, like him, is Mu-jin’s most redeeming quality, making every death and decision seem trivial.
While the audience does not get a chance to fully understand every character, Ji-Woo’s development is beautiful. Not only is her character written to attract the audience, but Han So Hee’s portrayal of her makes the show magnificent. In every fight sequence and emotional hardship — from the beginning of Episode One to Episode Eight’s last scene — the audience is hit with raw emotion.
The real surprise of the series is the capability of lead actress Han So Hee. Known for her earlier 2021 appearance as Yu Na-Bi starring in the popular “Nevertheless” series, Han So Hee takes a completely opposite approach as Yoon Ji-Woo. Ji-Woo’s grit and heartless physique rivals Na-Bi’s delicate and humane character. Watching both next to each other, it is impossible to tell they are played by the same person.
Opposite Han So Hee, Chang Ryul (“Detective K: Secret of the Living Dead”) is another reason that the show did so well. Playing the part of Do Gang-jae, he appeared after a revenge-inspired transformation, much like Ji-Woo. While he is still just beginning his acting career, this performance is sure to make him noticed. After being thrown out of the organization, Do Gang-jae reemerges as a fearless rival, building his own brand of drug. His encounters opposite Ji-Woo become key scenes that the series would fall apart without.
At no point does the show fall flat. From personal disasters to sting operations to drug busts to murder, each episode leaves the audience reaching for the “next episode” button. Even as you begin the final episode, any preconceptions quickly disappear as the show finds new ways to surprise the audience with gut-wrenching twists. If you are looking for a comfort show, this is not it. The finale’s wrap up is bloody and disheveled, making for the perfect watch.
As an eight-part series, “My Name” is perfectly bingeable with everything you could hope for in a quality show: betrayals, romance, crime, mystery, and surprising twists.