by KimWanHee, July 29, 2020

Recently I went onto Viki and, bored with dramatic, historical and fantasy dramas, I scrolled through some of the new dramas available. There I found a hidden gem: Team Bulldog: Off Duty Investigation aka Further Investigation, a 2020 drama from the crime drama master channel OCN. Let's be honest; the crime drama genre has more cliché plotlines than we would like to admit. Fortunately, Team Bulldog seems to continuously forget what it's supposed to be and turns into a gem that is just waiting to be watched!

Warning: There will be spoilers for episode 1-2!

     GENERAL PLOT     

Team Bulldog tells the story of detective Jin Kang Ho, who actually knows how to do his job and is doing pretty well at it, who one day meets desperate Kang Moo Young, a stubborn and resourceful crime show PD who needs to improve her ratings before her show is cancelled. The drama follows them around as they both try to catch criminals their own way. They are supported by Tak Won, a genius, but desperate-for-money profiler, Teddy Jung, a former underground boss turned peaceful bar owner and Lee Ban Seok, a mortician with an astonishing and successful past career at the National Forensic Service (NFS). 

The drama uses the case-after-case system, each one lasting between 2-3 episodes. But despite what it says in the plot summary, it is not your usual "a team of underdogs comes together" drama. Team Bulldog is hardly a team, and they actually don't like working together for the most part. They only get together per coincidence or when every single one of them is stuck with the ongoing case. The drama does feature some foreseeable plot twists, but it also throws some real surprises here and there. 


Jin Kang Ho (Cha Tae Hyun) - "the detective who lets criminals arrest themselves"

When you think of crime dramas, I'm sure you have a specific kind of main lead in your head: poor detective, married to his work, called a crazy person by colleagues, doesn't work well with others, is heavily violent and has dark humour accompanying him everywhere. Well, forget that image. Despite looking like a poor cop, Jin Kang Ho is filthy rich, lives in a big house with his mother, knows how to defend himself and tends to avoid doing heavy investigation work like sighting 100 hours of footage unless he really has to. Despite being known for his stubbornness, his co-workers and even his boss interact well with him, and they continuously make good fun of each other. He is brutally honest and tends to say what comes to his head without filter, landing him in more than one troublesome situation. 

What mesmerized me about the character is the fact that when you see him, you see a totally different person than he actually is. It makes the character more interesting while also endearing, and I think it was great they cast Cha Tae Hyun since he does a great at embodying such a diverse character.

Kang Moo Young (Lee Sun Bin)

Kang Moo Young might seem like the usual PD who does not care if she has to break into a crime scene at night or listen in onto someone's conversation to get her story and raise her ratings, but she also hides another side to her. While a few broken laws are not a problem, she does try not to cause anything bad for other people and has a good heart. She also shows her feisty and stubborn side and won't back down from a lead once she got it in her grasp. 

Kang Moo Young and Jin Kang Ho start off pretty badly but while they annoy and hinder each other, they never outright hate each other like it is in many other stories. Slowly over time, they start trusting each other's skills even if they would never admit such trust. Note that there is no romance involved and for now I am very content it is like this (yes, I wish for a season 2).

Tak Won (Ji Seung Hyun)

Tak Won is a former genius profiler who now owns his own detective agency. Short of cash he also sells products from the "100 Years of Life" brand that produces skin masks, healthy juices etc. Except that it's a pyramid scheme and he continues selling the useless and sometimes not so harmless stuff, and he tries to sell it to pretty much everyone, including the police :). He is soon nicknamed the "Pyramid Scheme salesman" by Jin Kang Ho, although the whole group respects his profiling skills. While he may seem slightly intimidating at first, it turns out Tak Won has the backbone of a plastic duck and can fight as much as a 4-year-old. His skills are his profiling and salesmanship, definitely not his perseverance in a fight.

Teddy Jung (Yoon Gyung Ho)

Teddy Jung is a former underground boss who one day decided to leave and become a peaceful owner of his own bar. He has two lackeys who mostly appear as comic relief and in fight scenes and pays them so high a wage; even I want to start working at the bar. Teddy Jung is characterized by being a great fighter, always needing his inhaler and while he does help his friend Jin Kang Ho all the time, he is also always late to appointments and rescues. Like, always. Despite being a former underground boss, he probably has the nicest and kindest heart of our whole team.

Lee Ban Seok (Jung Sang Hoon)

Lee Ban Seok starts out as a high strung mortician who sometimes overdoes the care and beautification of his corpses in his wish to make them look beautiful for the mourning families. His behaviour often freaks out the others, resulting in some pretty funny interactions. He is a single father, raising a teenage daughter and his mortician underground space serves as the team's (unofficial but convenient) meeting place although Lee Ban Seok questions more than once, why they always meet at his place. 

     WHY WATCH?     

Team Bulldog not only features characters who seem to be your usual cast that turns out to be more, but it also does not take itself too seriously.
Team Bulldog offers simple and good humour and jokes that will make your nerves flutter. When you normally expect the high point of the case, and you are on the edge of your seat, this drama suddenly throws humour at you. It's witty or unexpected lines or sometimes even a situation that just seems ridiculous. That can go from two non-sporty people, who are knowingly about to face a killer, contemplating on whether they should enter a house illegally and then continue to struggle to actually enter it, to our main characters talking about trivial things while fighting off bad guys. We get one of the funniest revelations and confrontations of a serial killer I have ever seen, and a rescue mission turned into a romantic night under the stars. 

Besides the humour, the drama also does not rely mainly on their team of underdogs like other dramas. The characters interact way more realistically and only come together when the situation allows no other possibility, otherwise living their "normal" lives. It won't focus on the character's backstory but revolve around their present time and their cases. Everything, not relevant for that, is left out, which is quite unusual for the underdog genre.

Another big advantage of this drama, I really appreciate: While they criticize the Korean police system like many other dramas and do present how crooked the system might be, people are still respectful of the police. Even if you do not fully agree with what the police does, you would still take a step back when they are suddenly in front of your door. Team Bulldog shows that some basic respect is there. It is also proven when the others call onto their team cop to actually deal with their criminals since he is the only one legally able to arrest the person. Something that is conveniently forgotten in a lot of other dramas. 


Team Bulldog is a drama based on previous crime dramas and then spiced up with some humour, cliché-defying character traits and, surprisingly, a sense of realism. It features a reliable and charming cast that works well together and lets you enjoy the characters to their fullest. 

Watch this drama if you:

  • enjoy crime and/or OCN dramas
  • like basic and simple humour
  • want to have a different kind of Korean cop
  • want to see an underdog team that does not want to be a team
  • think you'd enjoy a drama that continuously forgets what it is supposed to do and does whatever it wants.

Since the drama is a pretty stable one, I recommend watching until the end of the first case and then decide if you want to continue.

Will you check out Team Bulldog? Have you seen the drama already? What are your thoughts?

Edited by: Yuanwei (1st editor)