Episode 1 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 9 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 10 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Juvenile Justice is a decent law drama, depicting thought provoking and hard-hitting case around several interesting and complex characters. While the show slips up a little with its editing and jumping between cases, there’s enough here to make for a really compelling show nonetheless.
The story 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.
Much like D.P. before it, Juvenile Justice is a show that’s not afraid to tackle the dirty, grimy aspects of crime. From the first episode alone, Juvenile Justice certainly doesn’t hold anything back.
The show’s protagonist is Sim Eun-Seok, an elite juvenile judge with the nickname “Judge Max.” She hates young offenders with a passion and breaks custom to administer her own ways of punishing offenders.
She has her own history and reason for wanting to dish out these punishments, something we learn about very late on in the show. While this helps to keep the allure around her character, it also has the knock-on effect of making it hard to empathize with her at times.
Given how cold and icy she is toward these kids, it certainly makes for a conflicting watch as she immediately sets out to punish rather than reform these young adults.
What’s particularly interesting here though is the way Juvenile Justice uses its editing and narrative to show both sides of a balanced argument. One such case sees a woman named Mrs O accused of child abuse at a care center. The kids all seem pretty believable, but according to Mrs O, she’s being played by the kids who are all cruel and working together against her. So who’s telling the truth?
These conflicting accounts are something Juvenile Justice constantly embraces and it certainly makes for a really intriguing watch at times. The show manages to spin various different cases – some more personal and hard-hitting than others – across the 10 episodes and keeps things interesting from beginning to end.
At the same time, the first half rockets out the gates so fast that the final episodes don’t quite compare. Don’t get me wrong, the show is still enthralling and gripping, but the decision to wrap up cases really quickly or throw two cases in one episode for example, upsets the tonal balance and oftentimes gives this a much quicker pace than it perhaps deserves.
There are definitely a fair few similarities to shows like The Devil Judge and Mouse too, and avid fans of K-dramas will instantly recognize that while watching this one. Unlike those two long series, Juvenile Justice actually feels like it needs another episode or two, just to quieten things down and allow more interactions between our characters.
With no romance to speak of, Juvenile Justice relies on its comradeship between characters but yet, there’s really not a lot of it in truth.
While that doesn’t stop this from being watchable, the moments between Tae-Ju and Eun-Seok feel fleeting and in desperate need of more time to develop. Likewise, there really isn’t a lot of depth to Woo Su-Mi and Seo Beom, two of the workers at the Yeonhwa District Court.
Despite these gripes, there’s enough to like with Juvenile Justice. The show has some pretty hard-hitting themes and it’s not afraid to really lay it on thick at times. This is not for the fainthearted, and the cases are brutal and oftentimes stomach churning. This works to really feel the full effect of the law and there’s certainly not always a happy ending to these cases.
Either way though, Juvenile Justice is another worthy Korean series to add to Netflix’s growing array of Originals, and a promising foundation for more to come should this be renewed.
Verdict - 8/10