K-Drama Review: Prison Playbook

Haarini Angappan Balasubramaniam, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu

Prison Playbook (슬기로운 감빵생활) is a 16 episode TVN drama starring Park Hae-soo, Jung Kyung-ho, Jung Hae-in, Krystal Jung, and Lee Kyu-hyung. It aired from November 22, 2017, to January 18, 2018, on Wednesdays and Thursdays. The plot of this drama is new and refreshing. It is one of the most underrated dramas. 

Picture Credits: Wikipedia


The plot centers around Kim Je-hyeok (Park Hae-soo) and his life in prison. He is a major league baseball player who is about to play for the Boston Red Sox but gets sentenced to a year of imprisonment due to excessive self-defense while trying to save his sister from a sexual assault. The only word that can be used to describe his character is unique. He is the most simple-minded and slow-witted person, and yet he surprises the viewers by brilliantly solving the problems that are thrown at him.

​Lee Joon-ho (Jung Kyung-ho) is a childhood friend of Kim Je-hyeok and a correctional officer in the prison. He becomes Je-Hyeok’s guardian in prison. He is famous for being Je-hyeok’s fanboy among the prison guards and the prisoners. But above all, he is a loyal and protective friend.

The most common misconception about this drama is that it is all about violence. But we can see that is not the case. The drama does have a little bit of violence, it is mostly comic. All the main characters in the drama have a comic side to them. I firmly believe that it can be considered as one of the funniest dramas. It is also an inspiring drama that shows how a person can get up even after hitting rock bottom.

​The drama shows how Je-Hyeok survives his time in prison and the reality of prisons. It also tells the stories of the inmates. Unlike the usual stories about prisons, this drama shows every aspect of prisons, the good and the bad, the horror and the charm, the corruption and the honesty, the betrayal, and the loyalty and the unlawfulness and justice.  

Picture Credits: Netflix

“여기도 사람  사는데요” . This dialogue is the central theme of the drama. It means, ‘this is also a place where people live’. The drama shows that prisons are not as dangerous as we think it is. It is a place with bad people and people who have become good. It also conveys the message that people are never what they seem. A person who has committed a petty crime can be horrendous at heart and a person who has committed a heinous crime can have the most heartbreaking story.

Prison playbook is a guidebook to prisons. It shows all the protocols and the usual happenings of prisons. It tells insider information like tips to leave the prison for a couple of days, smuggling contraband, and even prison dating. The drama also talks about the relationships between the correctional officers and the inmates. 

This drama is a heartwarming one. The bond between the cellmates can melt our hearts. The inmates form various relationships with each other. They become friends, siblings, and even family. Unlike the saying, ‘there is no honor among thieves, this drama shows how the inmates are loyal to their cellmates and have each other’s back. It is also touching to see how the guards care for their inmates.

One of the many reasons to watch this drama is Haerongi (Looney). He is another strong character in the drama. Yoo Han Yang a.k.a Haerongi is in prison for using drugs. He adds the comic element to the drama. Though he is a druggie, he is like a cute little puppy who always wants to play with everyone and constantly bug everyone. His eyes are like that of a lost puppy. His character makes everyone fall in love with him.

The other reason to watch this drama is the OST. This drama has one of the few best hip-hop OSTs by Gray, Bewhy, Zico, and Zion.T. It is a real treat for hip-hop fans. There are also a couple of romantic songs and an inspiring one by Eric Nam. Other than the OSTs, the drama also has some good old songs like Unfortunate Guy by Kim Kwang Seok and Would be Better by Heize. It introduces the viewers to some classic and old pop songs.

Video Credits: Stone Music Entertainment

Prison Playbook is an underrated drama that deserves much more appreciation. We highly recommend watching this drama especially when you need a break from the usual rom-com and dramas. The drama received awards from The Seoul Awards, APAN Star Awards, Korean Cable Tv Awards, and two Baeksang Arts Awards. 

Do let us know your views about this drama if you have watched this already.


9 Comments Add yours

  1. Anushka Gupta says:

    I’ve heard a lot about this drama and now I’ll have to watch it for sure ☺️

  2. Well written 👏 will watch it soon

  3. Smriti. L says:

    I will add it in my watchlist. Thanks for review👍

  4. After reading this article, I’m gonna watch the drama soon. Thank you for the review.

  5. I recently watched this drama and omg what a beautiful drama it is! Loved it’s concept and all the characters 🥺❤️ The review is very well written and brings out all the best aspects of the drama💜

  6. shwets007 says:

    I will surely watch this because it sounds so interesting

  7. anishanath says:

    These kinds of dramas are just my type and I really liked the article. Added in my dramalist.

  8. suhasini17 says:

    added this to my list! thanks for this amazing article!

  9. This drama highly deserves to be appreciated. I love this drama. Thanking for writing this article

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