Netflix’s “Juvenile Justice” has premiered on Friday, and here are my thoughts on it.
“Juvenile Justice” is the type of kdrama I won’t recommend to everyone [for reasons I shall explore below] but I do believe that many who end up watching it till the end will walk away with better understanding of just how complicated the concept of Juvenile Justice truly is.
Note: This is a subjective review.
“Juvenile Justice” is written by Kim Min-Seok, a screenwriter who has no other credits to his name as far as I am aware [correct me if you know otherwise]. For a debut project, his writing was truly exceptional, way better than some of the better kdramas I’ve seen in recent memory.
“Juvenile Justice” has a total of 10 episodes which do feel a bit long at times, but if you zoom out and look at the overall picture, you realize that the screenwriter has done more than a good job at balancing arguments for and against the currently implemented system for “Juvenile Justice” and how it gets carried out, who is to blame, who should correct it and just how much minors and kids should be held liable for their actions. They tackled a wide variety of topics in relation to the issue at hand. They took a look at parental physical and mental abuse, self-harm, suicide, prostitution for minors, and a plethora of other issues in relation to juveniles. I felt that they covered a wide range of topics in all sort of areas you’d like to be tackled.
Considering how the majority of the episodes tackle very heavy subjects, it makes me a bit reluctant to recommend this to everyone. I think it could be triggering for some people who went through similar situations as kids or even adults. Also, the topic of the justice system and law proceedings aren’t the fav type of drama to many people too.
The script can be chilling, heartbreaking, heartwarming and so much more depending on the situation, and those can interchange and merge in the same scene depending on the situation. This is brilliant writing.
I don’t know just how far the cases featured were true, but according to IMDB, the first episode was based on true events. Some fans say the drama ‘overly dramatizes’ the situations at hand, but I tend to disagree to a degree on that. I can see why people would think so, but teenagers can be very volatile/unpredictable/dangerous if abused. They also don’t comprehend the gravity of certain situations until reality hits them. So it does feel that those stories are still grounded in reality for the most part. Some scenes and episodes could come off a bit dramatic but I understand the writer’s choice too. If I think about it, I can see such situations going in such directions under certain circumstances.
One of my bones to pick with “Juvenile Justice” is the overflow of exposition. Since we’re talking about law and law proceedings, the audience doesn’t know much and since its on Netflix, naturally, it will be seen by many foreigners who most likely have no clue about whats going on either, hence the exposition provided by the side characters that you see almost all episodes. It can be overwhelming and boring at times, but I get why its there.
2022 has only just begun, but I’ll tell you this, “Juvenile Justice” is already one of my fav kdramas of 2022.
In the grand scheme of things, I just love the fact that they handled the sensitive topics well and tried their best not to blame one side or the other in regards to kids committing offenses and/or crimes, it doesn’t attempt to pin point one villain and thats it, but explores what the issues are and how we can collectively make and enact change in society so our children can grow up in better environments. Its a very sensitive topic to discuss but I felt they navigated the topic well.
Despite its rather lengthy run time in comparison to other Netflix kdramas, “Juvenile Justice” lacks a bit in this area but its not too distracting.
Kim Hye Soo is obviously the most fleshed out of them all but still, her character hardly goes through any positive changes, she hardly grows throughout the run time of the drama. She’s definitely flawed but her approach remains nearly unchanged. The screenwriter did attempt to show some ‘change’ at the end but it felt too on the nose and forced.
Kim Moo Yul’s character could have used more but I understand why it didn’t receive more attention. The drama focuses more on the cases rather than deep-dive into the characters themselves. There are flashbacks here but they felt inserted only to serve a certain plot point at a certain scene rather than being distributed properly throughout to help flesh out the characters well.
Again, the focus is on the kids and I totally understand the writing choice here. Its very difficult not to get emotionally invested considering how severe the cases they handle are, you can’t help but be invested in whats going on.
The performances and OST
It goes without saying that the casting for “Juvenile Justice” is amazing. Whoever did that deserves a raise but not only for casting the veteran actors who shine so brightly on the screen but also for casting the rising talents, I bet that was hard.
Everyone gives an amazing performance, the cast is filled with well-established veteran actors who are known for being so freaking amazing and talented. The plus here is just how talented the kids are.
I honestly didn’t expect the casting for the kids to be this good, I am shocked. It is very difficult to cast an unknown actor to fill a very integral small but important scene, they do it not once or even twice, but at least 12 times. Every single teenage actor was marvelous, the roles they were given were all very difficult to pull off and required detailed acting which they truly delivered.
Added to that, the OST for the drama was PERFECTION.
“Juvenile Justice” is a difficult drama to watch, given the heavy topics it tackles and given its genre, but I definitely feel its worth watching if you find such topics interesting to begin with.
Its not easy to digest but it does open doors to discuss very important issues too. The actors give amazing performances and its definitely one of the best Netflix kdramas they’ve ever made.