Flower of Evil (악의 꽃) is not a series that you will soon forget after watching it. The 2020 tvN series is a fast-paced psychological thriller that is powered by an exceptional character-driven story. In finding the delicate balance between crime, mystery, family, friendship and romance, Flower of Evil crafts a thoroughly engaging roller coaster of a ride. And its great cast, led by an outstanding performance from Lee Joon Gi, solidifies it as one of 2020’s best. (And definitely another series that would’ve made my Top 10 Korean Dramas of 2020 list.)
Caring for his detective wife, Cha Ji Won (Moon Chae Won) and young daughter Eun Ha (Jung Seo Yeon), Baek Hee Sung (Lee Joon Gi) seems to have a pretty normal life. But beneath that happy surface lies a secret Hee Sung has been keeping: He is living under someone else’s identity. And when Ji Won and her team begin investigating a serial murder case, the truth behind Hee Sung’s past begins to unravel.
Flower of Evil wastes no time in diving (quite literally) right into the action. The quick start is sustained by the fast pace the series maintains throughout its 16 episodes. The first episode effectively sets up a solid foundation for a story on its own. But it really is only the beginning.
As the mystery unfolds, the series carefully builds up a tall, but tenuous house of cards of a story and an equally strong and deep foundation for its characters. It is that focus on its characters that help make the intricate story that much more impactful.
The series travels through unexpected twists and turns. And the steady, brisk pace of the unraveling mystery is tempered by plentiful character moments that serve as the glue that holds everything together. While also helping to ensure that every one of those twists and turns lands with an effective emotional impact.
At the heart of the series is Hee Sung. Lee Joon Gi delivers a masterful performance as a man trying to protect his family while struggling to keep his past and secret from spiraling out of control. His chemistry with Moon Chae Won is one of the series’ strongest aspects. And it is a chemistry that is necessary in order to have every story beat effectively land.
Flower of Evil touches upon familiar themes such as family and mental health. But it does so in a way that is unique from other series. It is a psychological thriller in the truest sense as the series shines a light on one aspect of mental health that is rarely addressed in Korean dramas.
The world we live in can be cruel. People’s prejudice and judgment of others, coupled with usual greed and corruption, can be overwhelming for many. Especially for someone already suffering unfathomable pain. In showing the struggle of people that are unfairly persecuted, Flower of Evil vividly depicts the effects such an environment can have on a person.
Together with that, the series renders a fascinating look at trust and unconditional love, especially when it comes to family. The lengths one will go through to protect a loved one and the monumental pain when that trust is broken. These are themes that are touched upon with several different characters in a way that you don’t normally see.
Flower of Evil‘s balancing act also includes plenty of romance. There are happy moments. There are heartbreaking moments. And it is Lee Joon Gi and Moon Chae Won that help effortlessly deliver those gut-punching scenes. Moon Chae Won is a steady hand that allows for Ji Won to be the skeptical, hard lined detective, but leaving room for that vulnerability that makes the character empathetic regardless of her actions and reactions.
But it is Lee Joon Gi who masterfully delivers a carefully nuanced performance that makes Hee Sung one of the most fascinatingly complex characters. He will keep you guessing when it comes to the mystery aspects of the story. But he will also tug on your heartstrings and have you feeling the same fear and pain that Hee Sung feels on-screen. It is really a breathtaking performance.
Lee Joon Gi and Moon Chae Won are also supported by an excellent cast.
Among them, Seo Hyun Woo is a scene-stealer as reporter Kim Moo Jin. Though he may seem like a lighter character at first, Moo Jin evolves into one of the series’ fullest characters. Jang Hee Jin (as Do Hae Soo), Nam Gi Ae and Son Jong Hak (as Hee Seong’s parents Gong Mi Ja and Baek Man Woo) are also compelling, especially when the series really gets deep into the mystery. Little Jung Seo Yeon as daughter Eun Ha is especially an integral part of the emotional connection the series forges. And Kim Ji Hoon is absolutely chilling in a role that you’ll just have to see to experience.
Flower of Evil takes some familiar concepts and themes and presents them in refreshingly different and surprising ways. Its excellent focus on characters allow for an intricate story to blossom and pay dividends in what is an episodes-long climax. And a satisfying one at that. Overall, you’re in for a thoroughly engaging and emotional roller coaster ride. And Flower of Evil is one ride well worth having.