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KDRAMA REVIEW | JUVENILE JUSTICE: Poor Parenting as main “reason” for many young offenders

“Juvenile Justice” is the latest South Korean legal courtroom drama television series released by Netflix on the 25th of February 2022. It is a 10-episode series directed by Hong Jong Chan and one of the few ones that my wife and I have agreed to watch together aside from her favorite zombie series.

Juvenile Justice centers on modern Korea, with the juvenile act in effect. This means any crimes committed by minors can usually be wrapped up without any serious types of punishment. Unfortunately, the knock-on effect to this means offenders are committing more violent and cruel crimes.www.thereviewgeek.com

In a gist, “Juvenile Justice” highlighted 5 different cases involving young offenders being handled by Yeonhwa District Court Juvenile Criminal Division. See how the main character, Judge Sim Eun Seok, and the supporting character, Judge Cha Tae-Ju, tackle each case while battling their own past experiences with juvenile delinquents or as a juvenile delinquent, respectively.

Experienced lawyers would almost always handle juvenile cases with speed taking only the evidences at hand, sometimes leaving the victims to suffer on their own. But Judge Sim – taking from her own personal experience on the death of her son from the hands of young perpetrators – wanted to make them feel the weight of the law and make them realize that their actions have consequences and that they can’t just escape punishment because they are young.

We need to show them how harsh the law can be! We have to teach them that when you hurt someone, you have to pay the consequences.” – Judge Sim Eunseok

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT KOREAN LEGAL/ COURTROOM DRAMAS

The last ones I’ve enjoyed watching before this were Vincenzo and The Devil Judge, both were Highest Rated Korean Legal Dramas in 2021. I also watched the same character, Kim Hye-Soo, in her highly talked about K-drama from 2020, Hyena of the same genre (legal/courtroom).

Most K-drama lovers aren’t only hooked on love stories or zombies apocalypse, but also on intelligent, thought-provoking dramas devoid of the usual Korean love teams and “tweetums”. Oftentimes, we marvel at the writers’ and directors’ midas hands who are serving us unexpected plot twists; conflicting characters, and intertwined fates; informative scenes; and life lessons (although, many times, we are sad about “rushed” endings in some of them). Probably my personal frustrations led me to be fascinated with these legal / courtrooms and even medical-themed dramas.

THEY SAY IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A CHILD”

Whenever I’m reviewing a Korean Drama, I always see to it to present the main message that they want to convey. In our last K-drama review of ALL OF US ARE DEAD, I highlighted that the story centers around the issue of bullying and its effect on children and their parents. What struck me the hardest with JUVENILE JUSTICE, are the words of Mrs. O in Episode 5 (she is the operator of Pureum Home for Girls, a foster care shelter for young offenders):

“The truth is they know themselves that they shouldn’t but they do it anyway. Because they hope hurting themselves would also hurt their families as well.” – Ms. O

“They want to be noticed. They want others to know that they’re having a hard time.” – Ms. O

It’s the harsh reality that many of the causes of juvenile delinquencies are due to poor parenting and inadequate love and attention that the children receive at home. They said that children’s rebellion is their way of seeking to be noticed. Which is sad, but so true.

The results of divorce, domestic violence, pressure to excel due to family status, are but some of the many reasons why many children fall prey to getting into bad friends/companions, and resorting to do illegal acts.

It also shows the sad truth that while running your own personal missions to change the society or to change these young offenders, two characters like Judge Kang and Mrs. O eventually realized that they are also missing out on their own children who are becoming seriously involved in an entrance exam leak case (while he is on the verge of entering politics in order to improve the Juvenile system in Korea), and becoming victims of family separation and insecurity (while running the Pureum Home for Girls).

“The start of most misconduct is the family.” – Ms. O

Another life lesson that one can take from the series is to be able to normalize the idea that making a mistake is not always bad. We just need to teach our kids to accept it and learn from it, to be open and be honest about it with us… their parents. We have to instill these into their young minds before it’s too late.

“What’s important in life is a comma, not a period. So you don’t need to be anxious. Anyone can make mistakes. Mistakes do not mean you’ve failed. You can start over again at any time.” – Judge Cha

Lastly, one of the many blows we received from this drama is when Judge Sim highlighted the concerted effort of the society that caused this series of unfortunate events: on the injustices brought by the wealthy and powerful, the silence of the victims, and us who tolerated the bad habits of our children.

“They say it takes an entire village to raise a child. In other words, a child’s life could be ruined if the entire village neglects the child.” – Judge Sim Eunseok

NOT YOUR TYPICAL ZOMBIE SERIES

But I recommend you to try it out and be immersed in the story of JUVENILE JUSTICE. Hate the characters and love them in the end. Eventually, reflect on our own actions, our own family, and try to understand that our small acts of neglect can affect our children’s future, other people’s lives, and the society as a whole.

“Though I hate and despise young offenders, I’ll do my best when I deal with them. Though I hate and despise young offenders, I’ll stay cool when I impose sentences. Though I hate and despise young offenders, I won’t look down on them with prejudice.” – Judge Sim Eunseok

Netflix version is dubbed in English (no subtitle needed)

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