Trolley review: Brilliantly acted, adequately crafted melodrama

Trolley follows an Assemblyman’s wife as she contends with the exposure to the public eye following a family tragedy, unraveling secrets of her own past and her loved ones.


Kim Hye-Joo is the wife of Assemblyman Nam Joong-Do, and the couple sees the earth below them drift away when their son dies amid mysterious circumstances. Not long after his death, a media frenzy ensues, and dirt is thrown at the dead man with no tales to tell.

A young girl claiming to be pregnant with the dead Ji-Hoon’s child shows up at the door and Hye-Joo eventually gives her a room to stay in, believing her story since she also was in a similarly lonesome situation in her past life.

Meanwhile, Joong-Do works hard to divert attention away from his family. As Hye-Joo and Kim Soo-Bin grow closer, Joong-Do rallies for a new revolutionary law for sexual assault victims.

Hye-Joo’s painful past is revealed and characters from her forgotten life come back to hurt her again.

It’s Seung-Hee, who once used to be her best friend, until her brother sexually assaulted Hye-Joo and her report to the police eventually led to the assaulter committing suicide and his mother filling Seung-Hee’s ears against Hye-Joo, convincing her that her brother was innocent.

Joong-Do tackles the Seung-Hee problem by threatening the family with the land deal scam they’re a part of. Meanwhile, as Hye-Joo learns a shocking detail about her son Ji-Hoon’s death, Kim Soo-Bin leaves the house and disappears.

As Seung-Hee’s presence threatens Hye-Joo’s peace of mind and her peace of mind, Joong-Do asks her to make a difficult decision to gain an upper hand. Meanwhile, Ji-Hoon’s death continues to be a matter surrounded by mystery and suspiciousness.

Joong-Do’s calculated political efforts rub Hye-Joo the wrong way and she finds herself opposing him way too frequently in recent times. Joong-Do, meanwhile, becomes more and more politically ferocious against his enemies.

Hye-Joo confronts Soo-Bin again and demands answers after she’s told by her husband what Soo-Bin claims to be a lie. Hye-Joo grows more suspicious of her husband as he requests her to make TV appearances and talk about his son’s sexual assault allegations.

Soo-Bin denies the sexual assault allegations and later shocks Hye-Joo by telling her that Joong-Do has been having an affair with Yeo-Jin.

Hye-Joo later confirms this to be true but it only becomes more horrifying when she learns that Joong-Do actually sexually assaulted Yeo-Jin. Now she must make difficult decisions that either favor the “greater good” or the lives and mental health of her loved ones.

She finally reveals her husband’s crimes to the public, following which he confesses to them as well and goes to prison after getting expelled from the Assembly. Seung-Hee learns the truth and apologizes to Hye-Joo, and the assemblyman’s wife lives happily with her loved ones as Trolley rolls the credits.


Kim Hyun-Joo delivers a splendid performance as Kim Hye-Joo, a reserved, quiet lady with a past most troubling and a heart most spacious. The pain that Hye-Joo harbors while also being the most precious human being in the story requires a list of items all checked by Hyun-Joo.

Leading the cast opposite Hyun-Joo is Park Hee-Soon, playing a most diabolical person who has convinced himself that the facade he puts on is actually his real skin. Hee-Soon’s performance as the unrelenting, hardworking politician of integrity is so good that it’s kind of hard to fully be on board the character’s hideous insides when they’re revealed.

Cheong Su-Bin also etches out a deeply conflicted and vulnerable young girl who’s nothing but kind-hearted at the core, while also being most cunning and fierce when it comes to contending with the men who wish to subjugate her at every turn.

Other notable mentions in Trolley’s ensemble include Mi-Won Won’s Gwi-Soon and Seo Jung-Yeon’s Yeo-Jin, both of whom play women suffering from a great deal of pain.

Whereas Gwi-Soon bleeds with the indelible wounds her granddaughter’s passing has inflicted her psyche with, Yeo-Jin has been physically, emotionally, and psychologically tormented, and is unable to do anything about it while sharing the same roof with her assaulter has gnawed on her health significantly.

The two actors play these tormented individuals with a commendable devotion, etching out incredibly moving portraits of damaged people.


Trolley is a neat thriller, and while the suspense feels too manufactured in many instances, it does work sometimes and the mystery of what’s afoot behind the facades of integrity and honesty is truly compelling.

Above all, the show’s greatest strength is arguably the lead character of Hye-Joo, who shines as an unwavering torch of empowerment and resilience, assuming the roles of a loving mother, a kind friend, an empathetic citizen, and an immensely brave woman with a tortured past.

The cast delivers stellar performances, selling the pain, trauma, grief, regret, shock, and many other emotions that all lend the required heaviness to the narrative.

Apart from the titular ethical dilemma, the show also deals with heavy subject matters like sexual assault, abortion, and shaming of sexual assault survivors, along with corruption, prostitution, and drug dealing. Covering a wide range of issues plaguing society is a bit difficult but Trolley pulls it off for the most part.


Trolley spends way more time maintaining suspense than addressing and contemplating the core dilemma at hand. And the way it goes about building suspense may feel a bit annoying since information is always held back and the whole picture of an event is shown in installments.

This kind of betrays the audience as well as detracts from an otherwise riveting narrative. Moreover, the potential for Hye-Joo’s cathartic win over Seung-Hee and her mother is not tapped into at all. This, and other things that feel incomplete are thanks to a finale that feels too crammed in and hastily planned.

In fact, many characters don’t end up contending with the ramifications of their actions, mild or severe, which is aggravating since the story of Trolley isn’t exactly profound enough to shy away from a gratifying slap or two of revenge.


Even with inconsistent storytelling that frequently holds back information to create suspense instead of dealing with the philosophical quandaries at hand, Trolley manages to benefit greatly from brilliant performances across the board and create a drama that is just as heart-wrenching as it’s thrilling.

Trolley review: Brilliantly acted, adequately crafted melodrama 1

Director: Kim Moon-Kyo

Date Created: 2022-12-19 20:00

Editor's Rating:

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