Narco Saints | Korean Drama Based on a True Story
Narco Saints is a Korean drama series based on a true story. It’s 6 intense episodes, released during the last quarter of 2022, and available on Netflix. The moral of this true story is obvious. Beware of a wolf wearing sheep’s clothing.
Some Places are Hell on Earth
Kang In-gu (played by Ha Jung-woo) is persuaded by a close friend to go into business together. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. His friend convinces him that in a country called Suriname, skate business is a gold mine. Why? Because the people in that country don’t eat skate. It’s “junk” that they throw away. People in South Korea love skate. Why not export this “treasure” from Suriname to South Korea and make a fortune?
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. A travel brochure might describe Suriname as the smallest country in South America, ethnically diverse, located between French Guyana in the east and Guyana (formerly British Guyana) in the west, warm climate with rivers and jungles, etc. You get the picture. Sounds like paradise. But when Suriname is described in this K-drama series, you see a completely different picture. The best way to describe this small country is Hell on Earth. Since this drama is based on a true story, you are inclined to believe such a description is not an exaggeration.
Once the two businessmen set up shop and get started they immediately learn the “true cost” of doing business in Suriname. The first shake-down was by the corrupt military. The second shake-down was by Chinese gangsters. But that was only an attempt. Kang In-gu thought he had met his savior when he crossed paths with Pastor Jeon Yo-hwan (played by Hwang Jung-min). The pastor helped him get the Chinese gang leader out of the picture. Even though Kang In-gu did pay protection money to the military, at least he does not have to pay the gangsters too. Now he can focus on running his skate business profitably. Right?
Beware of the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
Pastor Jeon Yo-hwan has disguised himself in sheep’s clothing. On the outside, he is a humble loving minister who shepherds the members of his church and has welcomed his two Korean brothers into the fold. But in reality, he is a wolf, a Korean drug lord who has the blessing of corrupt politicians to engage in the illegal drug trade without fear of impunity. The reason he befriended Kang In-gu was because he wanted to expand his business operations into South Korea. Kang In-gu is unaware that illegal drugs were hidden in the shipments of skate until he is contacted by a representative from the shipping company. The representative tells him the skate shipment which was on its way to South Korea was seized in Aruba because they found illegal drugs.
By the time Kang In-gu realizes the pastor’s true intentions, it’s too late. His friend has been murdered and he is in jail for drug smuggling. In prison, he is approached by an agent of the National Intelligence Service and recruited to participate in a secret operation to capture Pastor Jeon Yo-hwan and bring this notorious criminal to justice. Kang In-gu agrees to go undercover, but only after he negotiates payment for the job by making sure money is deposited into bank accounts for his wife and children, and for the family of his deceased friend.
To begin his secret mission, Kang In-gu gathers available intelligence information and then comes up with his own plan to repay Pastor Jeon Yo-hwan for causing him to be imprisoned for a crime he did commit, and for murdering his dear friend.
Viewership and Rating
Narco Saints is yet another Netflix series that has caused controversy. The government of Suriname is displeased and took legal action claiming the production company damaged the country’s image.
- Rotten Tomatoes gave this series a rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars, and
- My Drama List rated it 8.1 out of 10 stars.
In my opinion, these ratings are fair.
For me, it was a blessing that it was only 6 episodes. This is the kind of story that needs to be told quickly. Longer than that and it could cause anger, angst, and depression. It’s awful when decent hard-working business people get all tangled up in the crime world.
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