‘A Killer Paradox’ (Season 1) Review: Entangled Between Justice and Murder

Nuha Hassan
4 min readFeb 9, 2024
Choi Woo-sik as Lee Tang. Image courtesy of Netflix.

Lee Chang-hee’s A Killer Paradox is a darkly humorous series that follows a very ordinary man who accidentally becomes a serial killer and a persistent detective obsessed with catching him. The Netflix series is adapted from the Korean webtoon of the same name by Ggomabi and Nomabi. It explores the themes of morality, the burden of choice and how the main character deals with this conflict. It examines the complexities of good versus bad people and blurs the lines between justice and murder.

Lee Tang (Choi Woo-sik, Parasite) is just an ordinary man. He is a university student and works part-time at a convenience store. He also cheats on his girlfriend, doesn’t respect his friends, and is afraid to stand up for himself because he was constantly bullied when he was a high school student. Late at night, a drunk man and his friend show up at the convenience store and cause a commotion. Before he leaves, he asks his manager to borrow the hammer in the drawer. As he walks to his apartment, he sees the drunken man on the floor but keeps walking to find his friend further ahead of the road. The intoxicated man’s friend isn’t bothered by what happened, but Tang provokes him. The friend attacks him, and for the first time in Tang’s life, he stands up for himself and strikes him with the hammer.

The next day, Tang is haunted by the man he killed. He is riddled with guilt and wants to end his life. To make things worse, Tang realises that he left the hammer at the crime scene, but it mysteriously disappeared. His anxiety worsens when Detective Jang Nan-gam (Son Suk-ku, My Liberation Notes) questions him about his alibi. Nan-gam has a hunch that he might be the killer. But a revelation takes place. The man he killed is a serial killer who has been responsible for multiple murders for the past four years. But when he strikes his next killers and finds out that they are murderers and rapists, Tang starts to believe that he has a superpower to remove wrongdoers from the world for good.

Son Suk-ku as Detective Jang Nan-gam. Image courtesy of Netflix.

One of the best aspects of A Killer Paradox is the cinematography. The show features visually stunning images of Tang’s hallucinatory scenes, where the killers haunt him in his dreams. The images play tricks on the viewer and slow-motion shots of him attacking the killers in the action sequences. The series is flooded with bloody red and green lights to show which character is the hero and the villain.

In particular, the dream-like sequences are played off as comical scenes to show how Tang doesn’t understand the circumstances he has put himself in. What’s incredible about A Killer Paradox is that the series is extremely dark and humorous.

Because of Tang’s lack of confidence and loser dynamic, there’s nothing to do but laugh at him during the first three episodes. He gets into precarious situations. Fate seems to be on his side for once in his life. There’s nothing special about him. He has no ambition and motivation in his life, but once he finds a new meaning by killing murderers, his outlook is different. Tang believes he can do some good, even if it means obscuring the lines between justice and murder by evading the truth.

Choi Woo-sik as Lee Tang. Image courtesy of Netflix.

Furthermore, Nan-gam’s hunch towards Tang being the murderer is another plotline with a few laughs. Every time he gets closer to uncovering the truth, some natural occurrence gets in the way. Whether it is a fly blocking the camera’s view of Tang in the convenience store or the lack of evidence to arrest him, Nan-gam is determined to catch him at the right time, whatever means necessary.

It questions whether or not Tang’s actions are moral or a sign of evil, considering the perpetrators are involved in heinous crimes that hurt other people. Is Tang’s devotion to getting rid of these murderers harmful or bringing justice to the victim’s families? Tang’s journey from an ordinary man with no ambition to a killer vigilante with a moral purpose is transformative.

A Killer Paradox begins as a comedy and quickly shifts into a detective thriller series. With incredible lead performances by Choi and Son — who know how to pick good scripts — portraying dynamic characters, they will leave audiences at the edge of their seats. As the series progresses, Tang and Nan-gam’s stories unfold and begin to understand the corruption, lies and violence behind people. The series focuses on the seriousness of the crimes and shifts the story into a captivating thriller that never misses a beat.

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