KBS’ Police University (경찰수업) is a fun, poignant look at the lives of those in law enforcement and the youth who are hoping to follow in their footsteps. Everything from the varied definitions of justice to familiar coming of age dilemmas, Police University tackles very real world ideas in a lighthearted, but sincere way. And with its strong, charming cast, the series makes for an enjoyable and exciting watch.
Police University begins with detective Yoo Dong Man (Cha Tae Hyun) tracking an illegal gambling ring that operates through online cryptocurrency-backed websites. He secretly teams up with a hacker who helps with the effort, not knowing he is actually communicating with high school student Kang Sun Ho (Jung Jin Young).
Desperate to find money to help pay for his father’s surgery, Sun Ho decides to use his hacking skills to take money from the illegal gambling ring, unwittingly throwing a wrench in Detective Yoo’s investigation.
Though Detective Yoo reluctantly gives Sun Ho and his brother a pass, he warns that Sun Ho better shape up and that they should never cross paths again in the future.
Of course, that means that they do when Sun Ho decides to enroll at the police university. Though initially Sun Ho only does so to follow his crush Oh Kang Hee (Krystal Jung), meeting Detective-turned-Professor Yoo helps him find direction in his life. Especially as they eventually team-up to continue looking into the illegal gambling and an unexpected possible connection to the university.
Police University is a fun mix of crime mystery and coming of age slice of life. Sun Ho and Kang Hee are surrounded by their fellow classmates who must navigate the challenging training and curriculum of the university while also getting wrapped up with what’s happening in the shadows of the school.
But the main focus is on Detective Yoo and Sun Ho in a twist on the traditional buddy cop dynamic. From their tense first meeting to the equally tense reunion and the development of their complicated relationship, they take center stage and carry both the series’ heart and thrills.
Neither Detective Yoo or Sun Ho are perfect by any means. And both have painful pasts or unfocused presents they need to overcome. Watching them come together to do so, while also digging into the mystery and potential criminal activity at the university proves to be engaging and exciting all the way through to the end.
The series takes a refreshingly different angle on justice and corruption. And filtering that look at the familiar K-drama themes through the eyes of university students offers a different, yet accessible look at such ideas that aren’t necessarily as easily accomplished in more “mature” series.
Police University is an unexpectedly insightful look at the lives of law enforcement, the principles they hold and how that affects the decisions they make out in the field. And it does so through the eyes of the next generation who are studying to eventually join the force.
Though much of the series is lighthearted and fun, it is still able to touch upon more serious material. And in a way, that kind of execution allows for the series’ heavier moments to land more steadily.
Police University is a character-driven series, for the most part. And it is in watching each character develop their sense of justice through the course of the series that is the most intriguing.
There’s no clear good or evil and that in and of itself is one of the series’ big mysteries. It doesn’t lay out an exact roadmap for such determinations for each character or action. And the way they are able to unravel those questions and answers lead up to what is ultimately satisfying and poignant conclusions.
The series is also strong as it depicts friendships and families in all their different, varied forms. And that also helps to inform the decisions and actions of those in law enforcement as well. The bonds that are formed between friends, comrades, family members and everyone in between are well-developed and add to the series’ impactful story. And it is through those bonds that characters are able to grow.
Jung Jinyoung (in his first lead drama role) and Cha Tae Hyun are absolutely excellent leading the cast. Their wonderful chemistry helps to drive the series forward as well as provide the series’ most emotional moments. With a balanced focus on character and plot, the series allows its cast, especially Jinyoung and Cha Tae Hyun, to really deliver engaging and affecting performances. And of course all while being fun with their buddy cop vibes.
The charming and charismatic ensemble also help to make the world of the university dynamic and full. Alongside the series’ main plot threads, the stories of the supporting characters never feel out of place. And in the end, everything is able to come together into a complete, well-rounded package.
Overall, Police University offers up a refreshingly different, but grounded and relatable look at the brave men and women in law enforcement. With a mix of mystery, slice of life and a hefty sprinkling of exciting action, Police University is a fun and satisfying series.