Stranger (TV series)

Stranger (Korean비밀의 숲; RRBimileui Sup; lit. Secret Forest) is a South Korean crime thriller drama television series. Produced by Signal Entertainment and IOK Media, it is created by Studio Dragon writer Lee Soo-yeon and is currently being broadcast on tvN on a weekend time-slot from June 10, 2017. The series stars Cho Seung-woo and Bae Doona as prosecutor and police lieutenant detectives teaming up to solve a mysterious murder case and uncovers a larger corruption scheme within the government on the way.

Stranger Poster.jpg
Promotional poster
Also known as
  • Secret Forest
  • Forest of Secrets
Hangul비밀의 숲
Created byStudio Dragon
Written byLee Soo-yeon
Directed by
  • Ahn Gil-ho
  • Yoo Je-won
Creative director(s)
  • Kim Suk-won
  • Kim Sung-kyoon
  • Kim Junseok
  • Jung Se-rin
Country of originSouth Korea
Original language(s)Korean
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes16
Executive producer(s)
  • Lee Chan-ho
  • Min Hyun-il
  • Go Byung-chul
  • Lee Sung-jin
  • Park Eun-kyung
  • Seo Jae-hyun
CinematographyJang Jong-kyung
Editor(s)Kim Na-young
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time63-86 minutes
Production company(s)
Original networktvN
Picture formatHDTV 1080i
Audio formatDolby Digital 5.1
Original releaseJune 10, 2017 (2017-06-10) –
External links

Upon its broadcast, Stranger has been nominated for various accolades, including winning the Grand Prize for Television at the 54th Baeksang Arts Awards. The New York Times also listed it their Tenth Best TV Show of 2017. The series was renewed for a second season, which is scheduled to air on July 2020.


Hwang Si-mok is a exemplary prosecutor who has suffered from hypersensitivity to certain frequencies of sound due to having an overdeveloped brain. After undergoing a corrective surgery, he has since lost his sense of empathy and lack of social skills. While investigating on a serial murder case, he meets police lieutenant Han Yeo-jin, a passionate and warm-hearted female detective, who assists him in solving it. As they begin to unravel the mystery behind the murders, they also discover that their efforts are being continuously foiled as expounding them will also lead to unfold the secrets about a larger scheme of corruption within the Public Prosecutor's Office and the government itself.

Cast and charactersEdit


A prosecutor at the Western Seoul District Public Prosecutor's Office. Described for being emotionless and socially inept despite his impeccable investigative skills. This disposition frequently leaves him at odds with his colleagues as well as everyone around him. Gil Jung-woo and Song Eui-joon portray a 10 year-old and a 15 year-old Si-mok, respectively.
A lieutenant detective at the Yongsan Police Station. Warm-hearted, she is passionate in her duty as an officer of the law and one of the few people who can tolerate Si-mok's behavior, despite a few moments where she becomes suspicious of him herself.
Si-mok's fellow prosecutor who later works at the Blue House. His suspicious proclivities often causes Si-mok and Yeo-jin to become distrustful of him.
Chief Prosecutor at the Western Seoul Prosecutor's Office who is later appointed as the Chief Secretary at the Blue House. He often sees Si-mok's potential in solving cases, and promulgates him to lead a special investigations task force.
Si-mok's prosecutor colleague who secretly holds a vendetta against Chang-joon and blames him for her father's career downfall.


Special investigations task force
  • Lee Kyu-hyung as Yoon Se-won, a prosecutor from the Western Seoul District Public Prosecutors Office
  • Seo Dong-won as Kim Jung-bon, human rights lawyer. Kim Jin-seong portrays a 15 year-old Jung-bon
  • Choi Jae-woong as Jang Geon, sergeant detective from the Yongsan Police Station
  • Lee Tae-hyung as Kim Ho-sub, Si-mok's administrator
  • Kim So-ra as Choi Young, Si-mok's assistant
Western Seoul District Public Prosecutors Office
  • Park Sung-geun as Kang Won-chul, Chief Prosecutor
  • Han Chang-hyun as the Division Chief Prosecutor
Yongsan Police Station
  • Choi Byung-mo as Kim Woo-gyoon, Captain of the Yongsan Police Station
  • Jeon Bae-soo as the station's first lieutenant
  • Park Jin-woo as Kim Soo-chan, lieutenant
  • Song Ji-ho as Park Soon-chang, detective
  • Yoon Jong-in as a detective
  • Lee Kyoung-young as Lee Yoon-beom, CEO of Hanjo Group and Chang-joon's father-in-law
  • Yoon Se-ah as Lee Yeon-jae, Chang-joon's wife and Yoon-beom's daughter
  • Lee Ho-jae as Young Il-jae, Eun-soo's father and former prosecutor
  • Um Hyo-sup as Park Moo-sung, the first victim and person of interest
  • Yoon Kyung-ho as Kang Jin-sub, the case's first accused suspect
  • Park Yoo-na as Kwon Min-ah / Kim Ga-young, female escort and second victim
  • Jang Sung Bum as Park Kyung Wan, Moo-sung's son and a accused suspect
  • Lee Jae-yong as Kim Nam-jin
  • Jeon Yeo-jin as Kang Jin-sub's wife
  • Nam Gi-ae as Eun-soo's mother
  • Sunwoo Jae-duk as Ahn Seung-ho
  • Tae In-ho as Kim Byung-hyun, publisher of The Sungmoon Daily
  • Ye Soo-jung as Moo-sung's mother

Extended castEdit


Series overviewEdit

SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedAverage Nielsen ratings
Average Nielsen ratings
Average TNmS ratings
First airedLast aired
116June 10, 2017 (2017-06-10)July 30, 2017 (2017-07-30)4.562%[1]5.629%[2]4.6%[2]
216July 2020 (2020-07)[3]TBATBATBATBA

Season 1 (2017)Edit

No. in
TitleOriginal air dateNielsen Korea ratingsNielsen Seoul ratingsTNmS ratings
11"I am Innocent"June 10, 2017 (2017-06-10)3.041%3.627%3.2%
Despite being exceptional at his profession, South Korean prosecutor Hwang Si-mok (Cho Seung-woo) is frequently plagued by the side effects of having an abnormally developed brain—including the loss of empathy, lack of social skills and sensitivity to certain frequencies of sound. While investigating on a case, he discovers that his person of interest has been murdered. His lack of communication with the corresponding police unit forces him to be stopped by Police Lieutenant Han Yeo-jin (Bae Doona), who later assists him in arresting the lone evading suspect, who pleas not guilty. Despite the latter being convicted with evidence, Si-mok is left uncertain about it and passes his verdict to the deputy chief Lee Chang-joon (Yoo Jae-myung) as a robbery involving a third party instead of murder. Meanwhile, Yeo-jin tries to comfort the victim's family.
22"Just Turn on the Light"June 11, 2017 (2017-06-11)4.148%5.498%4%
Despite Si-mok's initial verdict of robbery, his colleague Young Eun-soo (Shin Hye-sun) formally convicts the suspect of murder, which leads to her being ostracized by the public when the convict commits suicide despite the strong evidence proving his innocence. Yeo-jin obtains a DNA sample of the real suspect and submits it to Si-mok, who is beginning to suspect that the convict has been framed. He tries to find documents inside the office of his colleague Seo Dong-jae (Lee Joon-hyuk), who indignantly prevents him from prowling around.
33"A New Possible Suspect"June 17, 2017 (2017-06-17)4.088%4.420%3.6%
Si-mok makes a bold promise of catching the real suspect on live national television, infuriating his fellow colleagues. His past aggression from his personality traits becomes an object of scrutiny. Yeo-jin later accompanies him in interviewing the victim's mother. Feeling guilty about Si-mok's insensitive queries to her, Yeo-jin invites the mother to her loft for company. Chang-joon asks his father-in-law Lee Yoon-beom (Lee Kyoung-young) for advice in dealing with Si-mok snooping around the wrong places. Si-mook then tries to find who the victim had last to talk to before being killed.
44"Kwon Min-ah"June 18, 2017 (2017-06-18)4.170%4.923%4.5%
Word about Si-mok's past violent behavior quickly spreads out on social media. Unconcerned about it, Si-mok persists on investigating focuses his attention on his suspicions on Eun-soo. He surmises with Yeo-jin that the deaths of both victim and convict may have been part of larger scheme. Si-mok becomes suspicious of Dong-jae's proclivities, and follows him around the city. He later discovers that Dong-jae has been pursuing an underage female escort named Kwon Min-ah who is later found left-for-dead inside the house where the primary victim was murdered.
55"The Second Huam-dong Case"June 24, 2017 (2017-06-24)4.064%5.203%3.7%
Perplexed about another turn-out on the case, Si-mok is joined by Yeo-jin in visiting the Min-ah's home for clues about her connection to the original incident. Dong-jae visits the police station to give an input about it. As Yeo-jin uncovers for the escort's real name was Kim Ga-young, Si-mok is anonymously accused as the escort's abductor. As the police attempt to take him away for questioning, they are interdicted by a defensive Chang-joon. Though attesting of Si-mok's innocence, Yeo-jin is also mildly suspicious about him herself.
66"The Ringtone"June 25, 2017 (2017-06-25)4.082%5.174%3.9%
Eun-soo reveals to Si-mok who the last person the primary victim talked to. Few people are beginning to question Si-mok's innocence to the Ga-young's case, including Yeo-jin herself. Using the ringtone he heard when he called Ga-young's phone, Si-mok's list of possible suspects grows, including Dong-jae and the chief of police Kim Woo-gyoon (Choi Byung-mo). The primary victim's son returns from military service and reveals to Yeo-jin his connection to the escort. Dong-jae notices his office has been searched.
77"Ga-young's Phone"July 1, 2017 (2017-07-01)4.389%4.888%4%
Chang-joon is appointed as Chief Prosecutor. At the hospital, someone attempts to kill an unconscious Ga-young, with a woman seen leaving the premises. The primary victim's son is arrested based on his relationship to both victims. Thinking that Dong-jae is secretly trying to destroy Ga-Young's phone as evidence of his connection to the escort's case, Si-mok and Yeo-jin team up to pursue and arrest him.
88"Western Seoul Prosecutors Office"July 2, 2017 (2017-07-02)4.154%5.237%4.6%
Dong-jae is caught red-handed by Si-mok and gets reprimanded by Chang-joon, who suspends his indictment. The primary victim's son gets beaten up at the police station and is sent to the correctional facility. An enraged Yeo-jin is tempted to confront her chief Kim Woo-gyoon (Choi Byung-mo) about it, but is later calmed down by Si-mok. Eun-soo reveals herself to Dong-jae as the Ga-young's abductor and coerces him to frame it to Chang-joon, whom she blames as the culprit behind her father's bribery indictment. Media spreads out news about the bribery and human rights abuses to the victim's son at the Western Seoul Prosecutors' Office, and both the police and the prosecutors are publicly shunned for it, leading for the accused to be immediately released.
99"Special Investigation"July 8, 2017 (2017-07-08)4.319%5.506%4.3%
To avoid a larger corruption scheme surrounding the case, Si-mok is tasked by Chang-joon to lead a special investigations task force consisting of his prosecutor colleagues, key legal counselors and police detectives, including Yeo-jin and fellow prosecutor Yoon Se-won (Lee Kyu-hyung). Together, they probe Dong-jae as their starting point. Ga-young finally wakes up at the hospital.
1010"Revelation"July 9, 2017 (2017-07-09)4.834%6.434%4.6%
Fearing for the Ga-young's security, Yeo-jin devices a plan to safely transfer her to a different hospital and discovers something strange had happened involving Chang-joon's wife. Eun-soo tracks a fleeing person of interest and asks for Si-mok's help. Si-mok gives an update on the investigations, which includes an indictment on Woo-gyoon—resulting into an internal conflict in the force when Yeo-jin has to interview him herself. Chang-joon is appointed as Chief Secretary at the Blue House and receives a mysterious gift from someone anonymous.
1111"Cold and Damp"July 15, 2017 (2017-07-15)4.733%5.709%5%
Yeo-jin pays a visit to Chang-joon's wife to inquire about her involvement with Ga-young. Woo-gyoon secretly asks Chang-joon for help in being vindicated from the case. Chang-joon invites Dong-jae to work for him at the Blue House, and is immediately confronted by Eun-soo. Si-mok and Yeo-jin devise a plan to reveal the truth behind the attempt on the escort's life and catch the suspect in the act—forcing the police to choose between their chief or the task force team. Ga-young later gives Si-mok and Yeo-jin an information about her abduction.
1212"Disbandment"July 16, 2017 (2017-07-16)5.511%6.875%5%
Using the information given to them, Si-mok and Yeo-jin discover new leads at the primary victim's house, where the Captain also apologizes to victim's son for falsely accusing him. At the Blue House, Dong-jae secretly records anomalous conversations inside Chang-joon's office, and shares his findings with Si-mok. Deducing Dong-jae's word, Si-mok goes to The Sungmoon Daily newspaper to exchange information about a government corruption scandal involving an anomalous sale of weaponry. Upon publishing the leak, the Prosecutor's Office orders the task force to be disbanded; while the members barricade themselves in their office, Si-mok appeals on their behalf. Meanwhile, Chang-joon becomes increasingly conflicted with duties as the Chief Secretary.
1313"O and 7"July 22, 2017 (2017-07-22)4.451%5.582%4.4%
Si-mok goes home to find his apartment has been intruded upon, and that the intruder has left a warning for him. After the accused parties publicly apologize, the special task force disbands and resume to their normal tasks. Si-mok asks Eun-soo's father for advice on how to expose corruption, as Yeo-jin searches for the intruder. Eun-soo uncovers a secret involving Se-won, who is moved to another division while Si-mok is offered to serve as a Division Chief Prosecutor. When Ga-young goes missing from the hospital, Si-mok has to choose between locating her or helping Eun-soo with her discovery.
1414"Another Body"July 23, 2017 (2017-07-23)5.447%7.125%6%
Si-mok and Yeo-jin discover Eun-soo has been murdered inside Ga-young's home, and find out Se-won is also at the scene of the crime. Remorseful for failing to help Eun-soo, Si-mok collapses after suffering from his hearing disorder. Though detecting that the recent murders were correlated to each other, Yeo-jin suspects a new killer may be involved. As they look for answers inside Eun-soo's apartment, Si-mok and Yeo-jin uncover what Eun-soo had originally found.
1515"Accomplice"July 29, 2017 (2017-07-29)4.993%6.240%5.1%
Se-won is captured by the police trying to evade arrest from the serial murders. As Si-mok prosecutes to get a confession out of him, Yeo-jin goes to his house with the other detectives to gather evidence. Se-won confesses to the murders, except for Eun-soo's, and his strange behavior leads Si-mok into surmising that there is an accomplice aiding him.
1616"A Monster"July 30, 2017 (2017-07-30)6.568%7.622%7.1%
Si-mok finally unearths the truth behind Eun-soo's murder and the one orchestrating all the incidents. However, upon successfully chasing him, the mastermind commits suicide instead and bequeaths him a bag containing all the secrets demanding to be revealed. Using these secrets as evidence, Si-mok leads the prosecution to serve justice. He appears on live television chastising the past failures of the Prosecutor's Office and discloses the verity about Chang-joon, whom he characterized as a monster driven by his own principle. Afterwards, Dong-jae meets him and apologizes for his past behavior towards him. Yeo-jin is promoted to Senior Lieutenant; and to protect him from indignant corrupt officials, Si-mok is replaced by Dong-jae and is transferred to the County Prosecutor's Office. Ten months after the events, he is summoned back to the Central Office to lead a new special investigations task force.



The entire series is written by Lee Soo-yeon who was inspired by the Korean adage "We cannot rule those who want nothing" to create the character of Si-mok.[4] Ahn Gil-ho directed the majority of the first season with the assistance of Yoo Je-won, while Park Hyun-seok took over the filming duties for the second season.[5] Unlike usual South Korean dramas, the series was developed as a potential multi-seasonal program.[citation needed]


In January 2017, Cho Seung-woo and Bae Doona were offered the lead roles. Shin Hye-sun was added to the cast on that same month.[6] For the second season, cast members Cho Seung-woo, Bae Doona, Lee Joon-hyuk, and Yoon Se-ah, were all confirmed to reprise their roles. Jeon Hye-jin and Choi Moo-sung were also confirmed to join the cast in January 2020.[citation needed]


Filming of the first season commenced on April 2017, launched by the first script reading with the cast.[citation needed]


The pilot episode of Stranger aired on June 10, 2017 on tvN, replacing Chicago Typewriter. Netflix secured the worldwide streaming rights for the series for US$200,000 per episode, except in Korea and China, and released them in simultaneous broadcast with tvN as a Netflix original program. The Korea Times reported that Bae, who had previously appeared in the Netflix original series Sense8, proved to be crucial in the purchase of the drama.[7] tvN affiliate tvN Asia also aired the program in selected Asian markets beginning on June 16, 2018.[8] A second season has been commissioned by tvN, which is set to be released with Netflix in July 2020.[3]



According to data published by Nielsen Korea, the pilot episode of the series was seen by 3.041% of total nationwide viewers, in metropolitan Seoul, it earned 3.2% rating, which made it the highest-rated program of the day among non-terrestrial channel programs.[9] The program achieved its highest rating on the first season finale, earning 6.568% rating and a 7.622% rating within Seoul-based viewers.[10] On average, it was seen by 4.562% of total viewership.[1] On the TNmS rating system, the series premiered with a 3.2% rating and ended its first season with a 7.1% rating.[2]

Critical responseEdit

In an article by columnist Dena Daw for Screen Rant, Stranger was described as a "domestic and international success".[11] Though ratings-wise, the program was not a "smash hit", pundits and audiences praised it as a "league of its own".[4] Korean culture critic Ha Jae-geun described the character as a "fantasy that was borne out of a time of distrust".[4] In her review for The Korea Times, columnist Park Jin-hai commended the writing as "finely intertwined", and wrote that audiences gave a strong response to this "drama for thinking people".[4] The New York Times listed the series in tenth place as their The Best TV Shows of 2017.[12]

At the 54th Baeksang Arts Awards, the series received eight nominations, including two considerations for Grand Prize for Television, winning one for the whole series.[13] Cho Seung-woo and Lee Soo-yeon also won Best Television Actor and Best Television Screenplay, respectively.[13] In a Gallup Korea poll, audiences aged 19 and above selected Stranger as their 12th favorite show on July 2017.[14] While Google Korea listed the series as the ninth most-searched television program of 2017.[citation needed]


Year Award Category Nominee Result Ref.
2017 1st Seoul Awards Grand Prize Stranger Won
Best Actor Cho Seung-woo Nominated
Best New Actress Shin Hye-sun Nominated
2018 54th Baeksang Arts Awards Grand Prize – Television Stranger Won [16]
Cho Seung-woo Nominated
Best Drama – Television Stranger Nominated
Best Director – Television Ahn Gil-ho Nominated
Best Actor – Television Cho Seung-woo Won
Best Supporting Actor – Television Yoo Jae-myung Nominated
Best Supporting Actor – Television Lee Soo-yeon Won
Best New Actor – Television Lee Kyu-hyung Nominated

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "'Live Up To Your Name' surpasses average TV ratings of 'Secret Forest'". Lola Digital Media. September 11, 2017. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "Secret Forest ratings". inkinews. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  3. ^ a b Robinson, Jacob (March 10, 2020). "K-Dramas Coming to Netflix in 2020". Posterity Information Technology Ltd. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d Yun, Suh-young (August 9, 2017). "'Stranger' ends leaving viewers wanting more". The Korea Times. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  5. ^ "'내그대' 유제원 감독, '비밀의 숲' B팀 투입" [[Exclusive] Director Yu Je-won, Team B of 'Secret Forest'] (in Korean). South Korea: Daum. April 13, 2017. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  6. ^ Chung, Jin-hong (January 25, 2017). "Shin Hye-sun signs on to 'Secret Forest' cast". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  7. ^ Park, Jin-hai (July 16, 2017). "K-drama industry finds new breakthrough with Netflix". The Korea Times. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  8. ^ "Stranger". tvN Asia. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  9. ^ "효리네 민박', '비밀의 숲' 종영에 기세 꺾여…시청률 반등할까" ['Hyo-Ri's Bed and Breakfast', 'The Forest of Secrets' ended the momentum… Will viewership rebound?]. Biz Enter (in Korean). July 31, 2017. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  10. ^ ""Secret Forest" ends successful run, achieves 6.6% in ratings". Lola Digital Media. July 31, 2017. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  11. ^ Daw, Dena (February 20, 2020). "15 Best Korean Shows To Stream On Netflix". Screen Rant. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  12. ^ "The Best TV Shows of 2017". The New York Times. December 4, 2017. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  13. ^ a b "Baeksang Arts Awards recognize 'Stranger,' '1987'". The Korea Herald. May 4, 2018. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  14. ^ "한국인이 좋아하는 TV프로그램 - 2017년 7월" [Koreans' favorite TV show – July 2017] (in Korean). South Korea: Gallup. July 20, 2017. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  15. ^ '서울어워즈' 송강호·나문희·지성·박보영 주연상…·'박열'·'비숲' 대상[종합] (in Korean). Naver. October 27, 2017. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  16. ^ "[2018 백상예술대상 종합] tvN '비밀의 숲'·영화 '1987' 대상 영예+3·4관왕" [2018 Baeksang Arts Awards Overall] tvN 'Secret Forest' · Movie '1987' Grand Prize + 3 · 4 Crown]. Osen (in Korean). May 4, 2018. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  17. ^ "제54회 백상예술대상, TV·영화 각 부문별 수상 후보자 공개" [The 54th Baeksang Arts Awards, winners of each category of TV and film]. JTBC (in Korean). April 6, 2018. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  18. ^ [54회 백상] 조승우·김남주의 '독한 변신', 男女최우수 값진 결과물 얻다 [[54th Baeksang] Cho Seung-Woo and Kim Nam-Ju's 'Strong Transformation', Men's Women's Best Value] (in Korean). Naver. May 4, 2018. Retrieved May 11, 2020.

External linksEdit