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Juvenile Justice (2022)

[KO-Drama] Juvenile Justice (2022) – 10 épisodes – Netflix

This is a Korean drama that I really liked. It talks about juvenile justice, juvenile delinquency. This drama is captivating and gripping. In addition to being pleasantly surprised by the incredible accuracy of the actors, especially those of young people, to interpret the darkness of their character, to freeze our blood! It gives us no desire to show empathy or compassion. So I wonder what the judges are feeling when they give their final verdict?

The heroine is Associate Judge Sim Eun-Seok. She has been transferred to a juvenile court in Yeonhwa District. She despises juvenile delinquents and makes no secret of it. She will do anything to make sure that every offender does not get off so easily. She is therefore relentless and cold. Juvenile protection cases are handled with Judge Cha Tae-Ju under the direction of Chief Judge Kang Won-Jung.

I recommended my daughter Mimi to watch this drama, certain that she will like it because justice is one of her human values. Moreover, she has decided to go into law. For your information, this drama is rated 16+. This drama shows that following the law is not enough to be fair to the victim because of the shortcomings of the judicial system or a bad decision by the judge.

Juvenile justice

The tone of the drama is set very quickly by Judge Sim Eun-Seok in her interview. The reporter asked her a final question, “Why did you choose to be a juvenile judge?” Her answer is full of unadorned sincerity: “There is only one reason for this, and that is hatred! Because I hate juvenile delinquents so much! But why so much hate and contempt? Is it fed by a thirst for revenge? That’s what we’re going to find out as the episodes go on!

The first case she was assigned was atrocious: an 8-year-old child was kidnapped, killed and dismembered by a 13-year-old minor. He did it because he knew he would not face any criminal consequences because he was not 14. That is the law. So this drama highlights the real problem in today’s society (in Korea). Should a minor be judged in the same way as an adult? It is very scary and distressing to see through this drama that there are adults and children who believe they are above the law and that they manage to slip through the cracks. And then we realise that the laws are not adapted and that there are loopholes in the juvenile justice system.

Judge Sim Eun-Seok is very involved in her work, working overtime. Her personal involvement makes me want to believe in a just world, so much so that she makes sure to investigate all the possibilities. In fact, each time her final verdict was very fair and yet she always had doubts and asked herself the following questions:

Was today’s sentence appropriate?
Will it help the victim to grieve?
Will the young perpetrators question themselves?

The answers to these questions will be brilliantly revealed to us over the course of the episodes, while inviting us to reflect. I was therefore tested as to my degree of humanity and inhumanity in all these cases, each one as poignant and heartbreaking as the next. It even made me want to believe in justice and reconcile myself with it because it is reassuring to know that there must be judges like Sim Eun-Seok in real life. Should we trust these institutions of justice?

Life is not a fairy tale

So when a juvenile case is dealt with we have an open window into their intimacy, their personal history. Yu-Ri’s story touched me most deeply because she was a victim of domestic violence by her father. The exchange between Yu-Ri and her grandmother in the hospital made me terribly indignant:

– Yu-Ri: “Do you feel sorry for me? I’m telling you that he’s the reason I’m here.

– Grandmother: “Of course I do, I feel so sorry for you that it breaks my heart. But Yu-Ri is still your father and he’s my son. My son… Yu-Ri, you have to take it easy!

The grandmother preferred to cover up her son’s misdeeds instead of protecting her granddaughter. She had to endure each time under her grandmother’s request. She couldn’t stand living like this anymore! So we can understand why Yu-Ri hates adults and doesn’t want to trust them anymore. But the judge Sim Eun-Seok has promised her that she will not be in the dock. It is the abuser who will be judged, not the other way around. The judges were all shocked and appalled by this arrogant father during the hearing and she was able to put him in his place.

“Life is not a fairy tale”: these are the words of the judge Sim Eun-Seok towards this delinquent Yu-Ri to rebuild herself. Yes, it’s true that life has not been a fairy tale but I have always made sure that my daughters understand that life is not a fair world like the Care Bears for example, but we can dream of that world: a world of love and kindness! Just like me, I have always made sure that my life is a fairy tale without denying the difficulties of life, on the contrary, accepting them means going forward instead of undergoing them. This is how I believe we can better work for a better world. This is why I want my daughters to keep their childlike spirit and their self-love forever.

Are they good judges?

I clearly saw that “being fair” is an individual value that not everyone understands in the same way because of our upbringing and life experiences. This is what I found very interesting: I saw 4 judges with different personalities and working methods. Each one had a personal motivation from their life experiences. We see that through time and the cases they have dealt with, life takes care of making them evolve and change their perception of their job, to become more just, a better person.

Judge Sim Eun-Seok, Judge Cha Tae-Ju, Judge Kang Wong-Jung, Judge Na Gueun-Hee

Judge Sim Eun-Seok

The actress Kim Hye-Soo is really perfect in this role. She already made a good impression on me in the drama Han River Ballad (2004) which I liked a lot, and Signal (2016). I really like her character! Underneath her cold insensitive appearance, she is not devoid of feelings, on the contrary she takes to heart to give justice to the victim by keeping the victim’s picture on her desk. For example, I was touched by the scene where she started to eat the bento, the favourite food of the murdered child. Then after the verdict, she also took care to return the bento to the mother with her own food.

I really like his enthusiasm and drive to solve a case to the end without ever failing and to stick to his convictions! I really like these speeches which are very inspiring to me:

“Let’s show them that the law is formidable! Let’s show them that there are consequences for hurting others. If their parents try to cover up for them, the government and the court must intervene. It is our duty. I will prove their crime through the law. I will be ruthless!”

She is a heroine tormented by a burdensome past. She seems to have neither a social nor a love life. In fact, she works a lot of overtime. At home we find an empty fridge, an uncoloured room. Each time we are treated to a close-up of a box, a box that raises many mysteries.

What’s in the box? A secret hovers around its life. We will discover this in time. A story from the past that has not been resolved and a story about justice as well. I like her character very much and I wonder if in reality one can really be so stubborn! She is really true to her values and certainties: “When a person does wrong, he must be punished by the law!” And she will do everything to go through with it even if she gets dragged before the disciplinary committee!

Judge Cha Tae-Ju

Cha Tae-Ju’s character complements well with that of Judge Sim Eun-Seok. He has a big heart and shows a lot of empathy towards young offenders. The other court assistants see him as a good son because his mother regularly brings him food at his workplace. His personal story is very touching as he had a difficult childhood. This explains his empathy and affection towards young offenders.

His character is the opposite of Judge Sim Eun-Seok. His insight will make Judge Sim Eun-Seok reconsider his view of a young offender. He begins to understand Sim Eun-Seok’s contempt for young offenders and respects her without judging her. She is a person who is easily indignant or apologetic when necessary.

Judge Kang Wong-Jung

Judge Kang has been in the business for 22 years. He has seen it all and wants to move on. His wish is to finish his career in style and to end up in politics, to be a candidate in the Freedom Party. He is really being asked by the party to go to the national assembly to pass laws for the protection of young people.

I was impressed to see that he kept diaries all these years where he wrote down his feelings, doubts and regrets in each of his cases and how to improve the judicial system. He really showed a lot of dedication. Those years exhausted him to build a proper career but when we find out about his family life. It is also very touching and sad. It is proof that to err is human and that we should recognise this without judging him as a bad person.

Judge Na Geun-Hee

This judge’s method of dealing with and judging offenders’ cases is quick. Moreover, this way of giving a quick verdict without taking the time to study all the elements of the case seems to me to be just as cold and insensitive as that of Judge Sim Eun-Seok but worse, even dangerous and seems to have no consideration for the victims.

Judge Sim Eun-Seok and Judge Cha Tae-Ju did not agree with his final decision, leaving them with a bitter taste knowing full well that they are wrong. It was interesting to see that Judge Na Geun-Hee was able to admit her mistakes in a previous case and apologised. So it was a great lesson for her when she saw with her own eyes the damage caused by an unexamined but quickly decided verdict.

This drama shows, and from my experience with justice, that it is dangerous to give this full power to judges. They can decide our future and it doesn’t matter if there is a mistake or injustice! The victim can be blamed unfairly and it all depends on how the facts are judged. It is true that when justice is well done, it is really a relief, a liberation to know that adults will be punished for their bad actions, for having stolen the innocence or the youth of a child. And when it comes to minors, show them the example of “when you act badly, you are punished” and it doesn’t matter what rank and power you hold in society! Justice must be impartial.

How do we protect children?

All this violence and nastiness that is inflicted on children. Aren’t we adults supposed to love, guide and protect them? If we don’t change, they won’t change and they are the future of the world!

I found this delinquent so beautiful with his tattoos. How can I judge him? Why the tattoos? What is his personal story? So this is a drama that I thought was fabulous, which always piques my interest! Every day these judges are faced with difficulties and have to make decisions that are difficult.

I thought of Thomas Hobbes’ quote “In the state of nature man is a wolf to man, in the social state man is a god to man”, man really is a fearsome predator to man as he gives himself the right to be so cruel to his fellow man. Only a judge will be able to punish fairly because neither the parents nor the school will be able to punish! I therefore found it dangerous to put this power in the hands of an incompetent judge like a God! Does he think he is a God to think that he will be unpunished for his bad verdict?

Song “Boy” sung by Safira K

I was happy to see that this song “Boy” was sung by Safira. K. because I really liked her song “Way Back” from the drama “Doctor John”.

There’s a shadow where their smiles are gone
I see a frightening wave crashing down those souls
Don’t lose your faith
Don’t be afraid

It’s like a fever Infectious
It’s hard to see the light
It’s like a fever Infectious
They can’t take it anymore
They need some love

I see fear but I can feel the storm starting to fade away
The light is gonna shine
Shine again

The lyrics are beautiful and it’s a wonderful song of hope and encouragement for all those juvenile offenders who want to get out of violence because they deserve love and to be able to live with dignity! So are you interested in watching this drama?

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