CSI: South Korea

By | May 13, 2014

So, if you’ve been following our Korean chum Bump. on Twitter you may have gathered there’s a new show called Crime Scene currently airing. In it six Korean celebrities roleplay as suspects in a mocked-up murder (apparently based on an actual real case but with the personal details changed). As is traditional in these things, all the characters have to tell the truth apart from the murderer who can lie, the contestants pick characters and are told their backstories and such like. The innocent celebs need to work as a team because there is real money (in the form of gold coins) on the line if the majority of them can work it out, and if they select the wrong person the murderer will walk away with it. It’s Whodunnit? crossed with Werewolf, essentially.

It looks like each case is two seventy-five minute episodes long, the first one opened with each celeb giving an in-character alibi. This was followed by everyone getting ten minutes to search the scene for clues and evidence (this was surprisingly a bit dull, lots of shots suggesting things were interesting but I think needed a bit more as to *why* they’re interesting) and they’re given a camera to take up to ten images each (everyone does this bit as individuals but they’ll cut between people having a go). That done each one gives a five minute briefing to the other players using the photographic evidence they’ve collected, with lots of accusing and counter-accusing. Then a vote – everyone has a set of handcuffs and they go into a room with a locker for each player. To vote for the accused, they handcuff the cuffs to a pole in the locker and the cuffs slide down so you can’t see what anyone’s vote count is.

At this point we’re not sure what happens (Episode one spoiler – two people come joint top), but with no clear accused there’s a period of free discussion, and occasionally the giant screens will chime in with hints to help or confuse further. Right now that’s where episode one ended so I only feel like I’ve seen half the story to make a judgement on.

It’s very stylish, as Korean shows often are, but it took a long time to get going for me, which seemed to correlate to the point where the celebs get into character and take it a bit more seriously, during the briefing with everyone giving their evidence. Thrillingly there’s also a live interactive audience vote element, and if you voted through the show and it turns out you got it right you stand to win a prize.

Right now my gut says it’s a really cool concept that you could turn into an hour’s show over here with judicious editing pretty easily but right now it lacks The Genius‘ immediacy. I look forward to watching it next week to discover if there’s anything clever about the murder or how it was revealed.

Edit: As it turns out, I thought episode two of this was rather super, by this point everyone is properly into it (although still taking it lightly enough to realise it’s only a game). I did wonder if the hints were too hint-y, I suspect the CCTV was necessary to move the game along at the desired pace, when it did come together it became a really fun game of logic and bluff I thought – I did wonder if the Uncle finding the murder weapon was an elaborate double bluff and the driver did himself no favours with his overly defensive defences.

As a two-and-a-half hour show taken as a whole, a really interesting curio – the forty minutes of exposition in episode one really lets it down I think, but as a whole I thought it was entertaining.

I think this would have a shout working in the West but better minds than I would have to work out how best to get more of the good bits to fit in an hour. Maybe 90 minutes as an occasional special.

11 thoughts on “CSI: South Korea

  1. Josh Woo

    Sounds a bit like Whodunit? meets reverse To Tell the Truth. Then again, I haven’t yet seen “The Genius” so I can’t compare the two.

    But I, for one, am glad that Korea’s finally becoming more prominent in the reality competition scene. They’ve really only had 1 vs. 100 and Deal or No Deal (which, incidentally, they called simply “Yes or No”, and even then it didn’t last very long), so it’s nice to see them going down this route for once.

  2. Jenny

    I am a huge fan of The Genius, and in turn Hong Jinho, so I watched Crime Scene with great anticipation. It may not be as fast-paced and ‘complex’ as The Genius, but I like the brain and mind games played out by the role-playing characters. The Genius is about winning the game through own ingenuity and forming alliances, so it is more dynamic with more room to play with. Crime Scene is like what you had mentioned, similar to Whodunnit so it’s a different ball-game altogether. Characters have already their roles set out for them, so they have to focus on solving mysteries by sieving through evidence and relying on their astute observations, or for the criminal, knowing how to deflect attention from oneself to other suspects. I am a sucker for such mystery variety shows so I’d definitely keep watching to indulge in some little mystery solving myself.

  3. Dale

    It was OK for me. To be honest I fell asleep a little after the first vote. If it was shortened up a bit I think I would be able to get into it a bit more, but after the initial scene investigation and discussion bit it gets a bit dull.

  4. Deo

    I actually love the pace of the show. It’s better then Whodunnit. (In Whodunnit, the game become survivor instantly and not a solving crime game)

    I have a question. During the briefing, why the photo keep changing? (If you get what I meant)

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      I think Whodunnit’s crimes are a little bit more interesting and involved (on the basis of one episode which hasn’t been solved yet), but the whole “killer doesn’t really matter” thing was a really poor bit of formatting, which Crime Scene solves fairly well, although whether the balance with the amount of extra clues given feels right we won’t find out until next week.

  5. Tom F

    Two episodes in, and very mixed feelings from me.

    -It’s too slow. Ep1 was *just* a bit too slow, but ep2 had about half the original content of 1 and was filled out with flashbacks. I think, at current length, 2 cases per 3 eps would work about right.

    -It felt unnatural that the case started by looking at ‘subjective’ issues like motivation, shiftyness and background, and *then* (in ep2) moved onto the more objective issue of who had a reasonable opportunity for the crime. Especially when the ‘subjective’ issues are (imo) more fun telly because of the suspects needing to play the social game of protecting their innocence and leading the other players to the correct answer.

    Part of this problem was there was ultimately quite accessible evidence to rule out 3 or 4 of the suspects (in this case cctv was too much help imo) — See the 2000s CBBC show ‘suspect’ for how to do this right – they always made it very difficult to rule out more than one person absolutely.

    -The case wasn’t that complicated for the running time. Again I refer to CBBC’s suspect: they did nearly as complex cases, and got them done in 30 minutes.

    -(As a fan of the party-game werewolf) I really think there should be a big penalty for being ‘wrongly convicted’. Or being convicted end of, actually. I think the show would be much better if (with the same prize system) you had the convicted player eliminated and replaced each time, and move the group discussion to the end of the investigation – you get that werewolf-style frenzy of players fighting to protest their innocence.

    -Having the disembodied voice as the only adjudicator felt a little weak. I think it might have been nice to have some ‘police-style’ guards around to ensure the players left the set when they were told, and were reasonably collaborative in the interrogations. (eg: in that last interrogation I felt the interrogatee should have been cautioned for being too uncooperative)

    -BUT there are a lot of things done right here: The styling and set are fantastic. The throws to the live %s are cool, and make this the first ‘viewer interaction’ I would ever consider actually doing. The handcuff voting is very cool. There was a ‘killer clue’ that everyone missed, that was good, albeit more of a ‘the dice break open’ than a ‘the cards aren’t rotationally symmetric’ level-one. The soundtrack is excellent. The contestants are fun, although keeping those 6 all the way through might get stale. The voting result suggests the game is reasonably balanced between criminal and group. Most importantly, they created a great atmosphere of suspicion: even in another language, when they were discussing towards the end (and in the backstage clip), you could tell they were totally wrapped up in the case.

    Overall, enjoyable and impressive but improvable. I’ll watch again, but possibly not every single week.

  6. Deo

    My comment after watching episode 2:

    > It has nice timing. I don’t see why people called it too slow? Too much flashback? Flashback is a important thing to do in a continued episode like this (And there’s no repeated flashback, so no trouble. Even though there is some repeated ones, they are in good place to repeat it.)

    > The case is good. (And I got it wrong 🙁 )

    > Players DO play their role greatly. Thumbs up.

    > I’m ok with a lot of people cleared. I’m a active online mafia (or werewolf) player, and cleared people is important in game like this. You may said “3 auto clear is too much”, but let me says this too. “3 suspect is also a lot!” (The sad fact it, I’m bad at mafia hunting, maybe that’s why I also failed at this case :p )

    > Set, music, do I really need to complained? No flaw.


    > Next case, we go to UK! (Hooray)

    > We still have the same cast, and since they have learned they “stuff”, I’m really looking for “A” game

    > I’m going to watch it every week.

    PS: Brig, can we have this thread as official discussion thread for this show (like Genius and De Mol?). And maybe we should have some “Wie is De Mol?” style poll too, and see who is the best scum hunter!

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      I will see if I can turn this post into a page, failing that I’ll start a new one and link here.

      1. Brig Bother Post author

        I feel like rubbish this evening, I will endeavour to have something up and running tomorrow.

  7. Nico W.

    I think it’s a nice show. I think the case could have been clearer, I don’t get why some others couldn’t have done it. I think the set is good, though “Dogville” used that kind of set in a better way. A show like that needs too many things to be played with chalk lines on the floor and now it neither feels like meat nor fish (I think this is just a German saying, sound weird in English. i want to say something like “It’s neither a very reduced setting nor a setting full of details” they should have gone for one direction.) I don’t get the format, I thought the driver would be eliminated now, so I think it will be difficult to follow the final episode, you will have to know everyone’s gold count exactly. Otherwise the cast is great and they really feel involved in the case. But I think the guy playing the uncle was the try to have a “Hongchul”-like character and now the uncle was just really annoying and not funny at all (to me).
    All in all, I will watch it, if there is nothing better, but I don’t feel like it will be hard to wait for the next episode. It’s not The Mole or The Genius, doesn’t feel clever enough to me…


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