“DARK FIGURE OF CRIME”…most controversial Korean thriller

“Dark Figure of Crime” is a thriller based on the true story of a hidden crime in Busan that was made known to the world through a current affairs television program in 2012.

The crime remains hidden from the word due to negligence in investigation.  After watching the program, Director Kim Tae-gyun interviewed the investigator who solved the case, to create this screen adaptation of the characters and events.

Tae-oh(Ju Ji-hoon) tells investigator Hyeong-min (Kim Yoon-seok) of the Narcotics Team that he was asked by someone to move an object that he suspects is a human body.  Before they are able to get into the details.  Tae-oh is arrested on the spot for murder. 

Several months later, Tae-oh calls Hyeong-min from prison, saying that he will confess to the murders he has committed.  Hyeong-min meets Tae-oh in the detention centre, and the latter confesses that he murdered seven people and hid their bodies.  Based on the clues in Tae-oh’s testimony, which comprises a mixture of truth and lies, Hyeong-min starts solving the hidden cases one by one.

The narrative structure of the movie is different from that of existing crime movies.  It does not follow the common formula, in which the victim is discovered first, followed by efforts to track down the murderer.  The murderer has already been identified.  What has not been uncovered is who the victims are, where the bodies are and how the murders took place.  The murderer’s confession is the only clue, but he is not a reliable source.  The investigator has to verify the truth of his claims, while piecing together the puzzle of the case.


 Although it is a thriller, there aren’t many action scenes.  This movie exercises great restraint when portraying murder scenes that would incite fear and tension in audiences in other movies.  This restraint extends to the lighting, which is not excessively dark, as well as to the sound effects, which are seldom used to escalate tension.  The place where the psychological tension is maximized is an ordinary meeting room inside the detention centre.  The audience is made to concentrate on the tense dialogue between the investigator and murderer in this small space.  They are put into the shoes of the investigator, trying to piece together the perpetrator’s true intentions, using his words and gestures as clues.

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