Disclaimer: Keep on reading if you are not bothered by spoilers.

Photo Credit: TheSwoonNetflix

Plot Summary

Private Lives is a Korean crime drama centered around the underground lives of con artists. The main character, Cha Joo Eun (Seohyun), grew up watching her parents scam people for a living. But when professional swindler Jeong Bok Gi (Hyo-jin Kim) frames her father and gets him imprisoned after using him to run an elaborate church scam, she decides to join the ever-growing world of con artists to get her revenge on Bok Gi. 

The first episode is mostly a flashback focusing on the main character and her descent into the criminal world of liars, ending with her imprisonment in a women’s correctional facility after failing to retaliate against Bok Gi. 

In the second episode, we get to see Joo Eun struggle between wanting to have a normal life and continuing her revenge. The entrance of Joo Eun’s love interest and the male lead Lee Jeong Hwan (Kyung-pyo Go) steers her down a romantic path. But one important thing you will discover later on in the series is that the characters are not who they seem to be. Eventually, Joo Eun’s journey in uncovering the truth gets her unintentionally involved in exposing the secrets of a large swindling firm and a corrupt government.

The main swindlers. From left to right: Kim Jaewook (Young-min Kim), Lee Jeong Hwan, Jeong Bok Gi and Cha Joo Eun.
Show Trailer Credit: Drama Savvy

On The Cast

Private Lives has an amazing cast. Seohyun, a member of the K-pop group Girls’ Generation, plays Joo Eun. Her acting perfectly reflects the emotions of someone who had to live an immoral and turbulent life from having con artists as parents. Seohyun’s acting elevated the show as she managed to portray the main character’s vulnerabilities and strengths in a realistic light. 

Kyung-pyo’s portrayal as the male lead, Jeong Hwan, is phenomenal as he managed to successfully pull off the role of a mysterious yet romantic character. On top of that, this show being his comeback drama after serving his military service is also why many fans started watching it. 

The two leads also have really good and strong chemistry, prompting many fans to “ship” the star couple.

On The Plot

Private Lives starts off with the female protagonist Joo Eun and antagonist Bok Gi in a rivalry. Bok Gi’s status as a professional swindler is an interesting contrast from the amateur Joo Eun, which makes it exciting to watch the latter’s growth into a more experienced con artist.

As for the crime arc of the story, there are many captivating schemes which gives viewers a glimpse of the con artists who prey on peoples’ private data. With both amateur and professional con artists in the show, it is engaging to see parallel differences between the two female leads. The crime arc is further reinforced as the characters move on from small gigs to bigger and more dangerous schemes. 

One element that made the show more riveting was the use of secret phrases. For example, the code name “documentaries” was used to refer to scams and gigs. This element added a special touch to the show as it made the storyline seem more realistic and unique. 

While romance is not the main theme, it managed to inject lighter moments in between the high-tension scenes.

The Negatives and Positives

One negative aspect of the show is its convoluted plot line. It contains a lot of unnecessary flashbacks which disrupted the flow of the story. While the show made an effort to enrich the backstories of the characters, it was disorganised and hard to comprehend. Many fans have also struggled with following the show’s story.

Hence, some scenes had to be rewatched for the storyline to be fully appreciated. Additionally, the lack of connection between the supporting characters was also a let down as it was harder to relate to those characters given their limited development and contribution to the story.

Numerous fans reviewed that the plot was messy with many confusing elements. 
Photo Credit: My Drama List

But if you get through these few faults, you will discover the amazing cinematography that this show features. Furthermore, the show is intriguing as the ending of every episode is hard to predict and the unraveling of each character’s secrets keeps the audience on their toes. With that being said, it is definitely better to watch this show by binging on it in one sitting rather than watching it weekly as that makes it easier to follow the storyline.  

Final Recommendation

I would rate this show a 3.5 out of 5. While I personally enjoyed the intricate plot with the con artists and the small addition of romance, I do think that this show could have done much better if some scenes had been better organised with fewer flashbacks. This show is recommended to people who want to watch a complex crime drama with little violence and a romance arc. 

Happy Watching! Remember not to get conned by the convoluted storylines and the maestros of swindling.

Show Details:

Name: Private Lives (also known as Sasaenghwal)

Genre: Crime, Romance 

Language: Korean 

Director: Nam Keon

Writer: Yoo SungYeol

Episodes: 16 

Watch on: Netflix  

Starring: Seo Ju-hyun, Kyung-pyo Go, Hyo-jin Kim and Young-min Kim

Edited by: Rachel Sin Ka Lam
Proofread by: Quek Si Min