Solomon’s Perjury (솔로몬의 위증) is a 2016 South Korean, suspense, mystery series that I originally stumbled onto on Netflix. The premise described immediately caught my interest as thrillers and mysteries are some of my favourite sorts of narratives. A couple of nights ago, I finally sat down and watched the pilot episode. After finishing it, I can say with confidence that I shall definitely be continuing forward!
Solomon’s Perjury has a total of twelve episodes and is the drama adaptation of a novel written by the renowned Japanese author, Miyuki Miyabe. It begins on a snowy morning as a student of the local high school arrives early on campus. While walking towards the entrance, he catches a glimpse of something half-buried beneath fresh snowfall near the bushes of the building. Approaching carefully, he kneels down and starts to uncover whatever it is, only to discover the dead body of one of his classmates. The event triggers a scandal that everyone is determined to keep buried, so to speak, and eager to forget about as quickly as possible.
The opening sequence for the series was quite a bit baffling as it jumps right into the middle of a trial of sorts that seems to be going on within the auditorium of the high school. Someone gets called out for being a colossal liar, and then the story flashes backwards to an unlisted period of time. If I had to choose any one element that I felt was wholly unnecessary during the hour-long pilot, this portion would definitely have to be it. The episode does an excellent job of introducing the key elements needed to set the series up for the rest of the eleven instalments without the added level of drama that the opening scene entails.
That being said, Solomon’s Perjury is one hell of an evocative ride of emotional ferocity. This trait is the show’s biggest appeal for me. Stories that are vividly intense and can cause a plethora of responses within me are the ones that I tend to devour with keen fascination. While there is the enigma of this mysterious death that haunts everyone—students, parents, and teachers alike—holding them in suspension and awe, the series itself is a massive character examination of what happens when people entangle themselves with maintaining a façade of an existence within the presence of others, rather than just owning up to the beasts and demons that burden them, such as having severe Depression.
A few of the kids have terribly toxic familial situations. One of them, on top of all the other crap they’re dealing with, has dangerous chronic Depression. Mental health is something that is rarely discussed in Asian societies for numerous reasons, but one of the most profound of them is that it’s seen as a sign of weakness. When you have kids who are under immense pressure to perform at superior levels—whether those pressures are self-inflicted or placed on them by others—but find that they cannot because of their mental health, it becomes a whole different sort of battle. Or when you witness abusive behaviour that may be caused due to undiagnosed and misunderstood mental conditions (Bipolar Disorder is one of those), it can make you feel less inclined to get help or even accept that you may be suffering from something similar. I love that the series is shining a light (or at least trying to from what I gathered from the first episode) on this taboo sort of concept and raising awareness for the fact that Depression does exist. There are signs for it and there are some legitimate environmental factors that can play into exasperating the condition. Of course that is merely one example.
Some other things that drew my interest deeper into the show is the overall acting. Since there is a significantly heightened level of tension due to the content and subject matter, if the acting is subpar then the whole thing falls apart. Thus far, I haven’t felt like the actors are over-playing their roles or under-playing their roles. They are capturing the essence of the moment and the feelings quite remarkably, which I imagine shall only develop with an increased level of unease and suspense as revelations are made.
The suspense is brilliant. When the body is discovered, it has a domino effect on specific individuals’ lives. Threads are loosened, and perfect, meticulously composed existences start to unravel. It was difficult for me to be able to predict which direction things were headed from the sheer amount of fucked-up baggage that everyone seems to have piled up. As far the death and what caused it, I have my suspicions, however, my gut is telling me that things can’t be as straightforward as implied. I would also be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping with every ounce of my heart that the story won’t be that predictable. That would be a travesty to the potential of the storytelling prowess.
Overall, colour me impressed with the first episode. I plan on watching much more of Solomon’s Perjury throughout the weekend, and hopefully I can get a review out for it very soon. As it stands, I definitely recommend that you try watching the pilot if the premise seems at all appealing to you.
If you don’t care for Netflix’s horrendous (sometimes lack thereof) subtitles, you can also catch Solomon’s Perjury over on Viki.
Triggers: Mentions of suicide. Psychological child abuse. Death of a teen.