Review “Juvenile Justice” The 2022 Tense and Chilling Law Drama Series from South Korea

The TV series “Juvenile Justice” (소년 심판) is a legal drama released in South Korea in 2022. Directed by Hong Jong-chan and written by Kim Min-seok, this drama features several renowned actors such as Kim Hye-soo, Kim Mu-yeol, Lee Sung-min, and Lee Jung-eun.




A brief synopsis of the drama revolves around a judge named Shim Eun-seok, portrayed by Kim Hye-soo, who is known as an elite judge with a firm demeanor, particularly evident in her dislike towards teenagers. She is later assigned to handle cases in juvenile court, located in the Yeonhwa District. Shim Eun-seok has a strong determination to punish those who commit crimes. On the other hand, there is a judge named Cha Tae-joo (Kim Moo Yeol) who managed to overcome the difficulties of his poor environment and eventually became a judge after passing the high school qualification exam (equivalent to GED). Cha Tae Joo is very different from Shim Eun-seok; he firmly believes in second chances and trusts that everyone can change for the better if their stories are heard.




‘Juvenile Justice’ provides a glimpse of various cases involving underage children with different resolution processes, but almost all cases are caused by inadequate parenting. As the drama also emphasizes all issues on parents, who are considered the main foundation of a child’s behavior and attitude towards their environment. 

Divorce, infidelity, and violence they commit have a detrimental impact on their children’s development. Every child who commits a criminal act testifies that if only their parents had educated them properly, they might not have committed such crimes. The cases discussed in this drama seem to highlight the role of parents in raising children. On average, parents only care about the end result of their children achieving the highest achievements without caring about the process their children have to go through.




The drama showcases juvenile criminal law and the protection of juvenile offenders, which still feel dull and have little effect on juvenile criminals who have already been sentenced. Therefore, Judge Shim Eun-seok serves as a reminder that the law must be enforced firmly regardless of the age of the perpetrators, even if they are still underage. He boldly gives full or maximum sentences to juvenile criminals. Juvenile Justice presents realistic issues that often occur in Korea, from the perspective of juvenile criminals. The audiences will see how juvenile delinquency is no less brutal and terrifying than that of adults.




The contents of the cases presented in the drama can come across dark and gritty. The drama opens with a murder case that shocks an entire region, as it is committed by middle school students aged 13 and 16 who killed an 8-year-old elementary school student by mutilating the victim’s body. Worse yet, the perpetrators feel no guilt at all because they believe their age can save them from the law’s grasp. This is what makes Judge Shim Eun-seok despise juvenile criminals, as they seem to underestimate the law.


Another one of the cases in the drama is the one of the most common crimes in the country which is DUI (Driving Under Influence) and Underaged driving, from 2018 to 2020 it is said in a article by Yonhap that “According to a Korea Road Traffic Authority report submitted to Rep. Kang Deuk-gu of the ruling Democratic Party, teenagers caused 833 accidents last year while driving without a license, a sharp jump from 618 and 689 accidents in 2018 and 2019, respectively. More than 3,100 people suffered injuries and 63 died in the total of 2,140 accidents involving unlicensed teenagers during the three-year period, according to the data. About 27.7 percent of the accidents were caused by 17-year-olds while accidents involving 16-year-olds accounted for 22.5 percent and 18-year-olds at 21.5 percent. The legal driving age is 18 in South Korea.” (Yonhap, 2021). A similar incident occurred in a drama where a group of teenagers drove an unregistered car, causing a fatal accident involving a delivery man. This tragic event deeply affected the victim’s family and friends, creating a heartbreaking scene




Overall, many viewers have been impressed by the performances of the actors and actresses, particularly Kim Hye-soo’s portrayal. The plot is highly intriguing, keeping viewers engaged with its twists and turns, despite occasional frustrations with certain episodes. While there are some criticisms regarding character personalities and storytelling in the latter episodes, they pale in comparison to the overwhelming positive reviews. This drama effectively sheds light on juvenile crime in South Korea, highlighting the sometimes lenient punishments these young offenders receive. Despite their youth, their actions still have consequences that can harm others. Additionally, the drama underscores the societal responsibility for the behavior of juveniles, emphasizing how their environments shape their actions and futures.



Yonhap. (2021, October 7). Car accidents involving unlicensed teenagers rise by 34%: data. The Korean Herald. Retrieved april 6, 2024, from

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