Solomon’s Perjury (솔로몬의 위증) is a 2016 South Korean suspense, mystery thriller that is an adaptation of the Japanese novel originally written by Miyuki Miyabe (who is fricking brilliant). The television series was written by Kim Ho Soo and directed by Kang Il Soo with twelve total episodes. It can found on Viki as well as Netflix. I originally picked this up due to my love for the thriller genre, across all mediums, and the shorter episode count appealed to me quite a bit. After finishing it up, I can say proudly that it shall be going into my Highly Recommended pile for sure. If you’d only like some basic information on the series without a full discussion of the themes (this can turn some people off of thrillers by sucking out the suspense of it), you can read my First Impression for the series here.
Solomon’s Perjury revolves around the intrigue involving a teenager’s death on campus. A couple of students arriving to school early on a white, icy Winter morning discover the body laying in some bushes, enveloped entirely in snow. The discovery incites a scandal involving an array of people and terrible secrets that everyone tries desperately to keep buried as long as possible. In an effort to uncover the truth of what happened to their fellow classmate, a couple of students decide to take the investigation into their own hands and away from the adults, whom have shown themselves to be quite untrustworthy.
When I initially sat down and chatted about the series, I predicted that it would be an emotionally charged narrative involving some serious subject matter like toxic familial situations and mental health illnesses that high-performing teenagers are at-risk for. What I wasn’t expecting was how deeply profound these themes would be, to the point that it had me in tears with nearly every episode. These two things aren’t illustrated in a one-dimensional manner but shown with all of the ripple effects and consequences that go with them, and that is what truly makes Solomon’s Perjury such a phenomenal series.
One of the biggest topics tackled with the narrative is abuse. That is the essence of every fucking thing that goes on in the series and it can create an evocatively intense ambiance when you’re watching it. I felt this tight knot in the centre of my chest that stirred a surfeit of feelings inside of me, from rage and frustration to sadness and heartbreak. If you were unfortunate enough to experience bullying or abuse on any level, you will understand intimately just how psychological and deep-rooted the effects of those experiences can go. Yet, people don’t like talking about it. We acknowledge it’s existence, particularly when it doesn’t involve our own, but aside from that we like to forget it’s there. Accepting that people can be cruel, particularly those individuals who are supposed to nurture and care for us, can be borderline blasphemous.
Still, this series gives no fucks. It unapologetically rips open the veil on abuse and the myriad ways it can impact individuals, especially kids.
Abuse in a domestic situation and in a school setting (bullying) teaches the victims some very harsh realities early on in life. Firstly, since abuse is all they know, victims will more often than not take on the very traits that they fear. Never having received compassion or empathy, they have a much lower comprehension of what it entails. Secondly, on the flip side of that, instead of being outwardly abusive themselves, victims will become extremely isolated and stoic, never allowing their feelings to rise to the surface; a form of self-preservation, usually from one’s self. Thirdly, mental and emotional growth is significantly impacted, at times even halted altogether, when the person being abused is in a growing stage of life, such as being a child or an adolescent.
This isn’t only about the victims, however. Generally speaking, an abuser isn’t aware that they are inflicting pain on other people. They are so wrapped up in their own agony and frustrations, and all of the things that is causing them to be so hateful, they can’t see beyond that shroud of suffering. In one instance from the series, a parent is being so unabashedly abusive to their kid and then finds themselves to be utterly stunned when the kid finally has had enough and shouts out to them, “I hate you!!”
A secondary topic that Solomon’s Perjury delves into with gumption is Depression. Depression is far more common than many people realise, assuming it to be a condition of laziness, ungratefulness, and sadness. Rarely do these individuals take the time to understand that it’s not only a chemical thing but also an environmental thing that has nothing to do with those three elements. Most people with depression tend to be extremely hard-working as a way to run away from or counteract/forget their depressive feelings. Yes, it’s very hard to be grateful for many things when you are suffering from this mental illness, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t grateful for what you do have. Being grateful is super relative and as far as being “sad” goes, if only it were that simple. Fuck, I wish it were that simple, yet it’s absolutely not.
Most people who have Depression go through it alone and rarely ever talk about what they are experiencing. A lacking network of supporters can be a reason for this, as well as feelings of inadequacy, fear, and the strong desire not to bring others down with them. In Solomon’s Perjury, one of the students who has Depression is such an upbeat and helpful person while on campus. They are quiet, but always willing to do whatever they can for others. The contrast between their home life and their school life is an excellent depiction of what it means to live with Depression. The series exhibits this quite marvellously without ever fetishizing or romanticising Depression in any form whatsoever. It also doesn’t depict it as a villainous and malevolent trait either (i.e.: this person is an abuser because they are Depressed, so Depression is all kinds of evil).
There are also some minor themes to take note of:
- This idea that adults believe they know better than kids and teenagers because they are older. Their haughtiness, in fact, creates the foundation for superiority/inferiority complexes and contributes to this structured social idea of needing to be the best above all else. It’s unhealthy and insidiously toxic.
- The importance of nurturing your children, whether at home or at school, is so fucking vital in helping to create a safe and open-minded environment, particularly where emotional growth is concerned.
- Apologising doesn’t make you weak or less of a person. Instead it shows a great conviction for change and a willingness to be vicarious and compassionate.
- Everyone lies, especially if you’re simply choosing to stay silent in the face of great atrocities.
I don’t think the series would have been as superb as it was without the excellent acting from all cast members. No one exaggerated their roles at all or felt like they were being too over-dramatic. Given the content and nature of the serial, this could have been quite easy to do. Nevertheless, the essence of the taut emotional climate was captured flawlessly.
Overall, Solomon’s Perjury is a spectacular series that isn’t afraid to talk about the things that we as a society should be more willing to discuss openly, especially within conservative environments as that is where most people feel too oppressed to share their pain and suffering. However, because it does deal with some serious shit, it may not be everyone out there. There are strong and, at times, quite difficult to stomach conversations on suicide, bullying, trauma, Depression, and victimisation of abusers. Also, due to a specific plot twist, the series is more of a legal thriller than a typical mystery thriller, so if you don’t care for legal shows, it could be off-putting to you. Nonetheless, I respect Solomon’s Perjury and will recommend this to people who like narratives that will make you think about yourself and society in general, and the various ways we approach mental illness.
8.5 letters outta 10!
Triggers: References to suicide. Domestic violence. Bullying. Psychological abuse. References to depression.