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INTERVIEWKim Hye-soo felt great responsibility for her role in 'Juvenile Justice'

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Actress Kim Hye-soo plays a juvenile court judge in Netflix's new courtroom series,
Actress Kim Hye-soo plays a juvenile court judge in Netflix's new courtroom series, "Juvenile Justice." Courtesy of Netflix

By Lee Gyu-lee

Actress Kim Hye-soo has felt great responsibility in portraying her role of Shim Eun-seok, a juvenile court judge, in Netflix's latest Korean language series, "Juvenile Justice," she said.

"I've felt much more responsibility with this work than I ever had before," Kim said in an interview with The Korea Times, Friday.

"I contemplated a lot how I could portray my role so that I could deliver (to the audience) the things I've learned and felt while preparing for this series, and messages through the role of Shim. There was a greater sense of pressure in making this series than in my previous works."

The courtroom series, which premiered on Feb. 25, revolves around a stern, unsympathetic judge, Shim, who has a strong antipathy towards young offenders. Holding firm on her beliefs and the values of justice, she tackles complex cases committed by minors, including those whose age legally excludes them from responsibility for criminal acts. It is directed by Hong Jong-chan, who led the series, "Dear My Friends" (2016), and written by newcomer Kim Min-suk.

The actress described her character as an idealistic judge who holds impartial views on the cases. "She seems to despise the young offenders on the outside, but she is actually an idealistic judge who gets to the bottom of the cases from an objective perspective and takes into account the different dimensions the cases have," she said.

Shim believes everyone, even minors, should be held accountable for their actions. And in doing so, she chases after each case to reveal who is really responsible for the crimes and tries to seek justice for everyone involved.

A scene from the series, 'Juvenile Justice' / Courtesy of Netflix
A scene from the series, 'Juvenile Justice' / Courtesy of Netflix

The actress shared that working on this series has led her to have a different take on juvenile delinquency issues.

"I started to really think about the social, structural framework that deals with juvenile crimes," she said. "I really wanted the series to come out well and do a good job in portraying the issue that we should be discussing in real life. I wanted it to resonate with the audience and offer a chance for people to change their perspective."

She added that the series offers a sense of guidance on how we should look at such crimes. "I thought that our society has had interest in young offenders and their crimes, and that we needed something to guide that interest," she said.

"Juvenile crimes are not just what matter to those in the judiciary or those committed to protecting and correcting young offenders, but are something that all of us should think about. We should take some practical actions before it's too late."

The series involves cases that are based on real-life juvenile crimes, such as high schoolers abducting and murdering an elementary school child and middle school students causing a fatal car accident with a rental car they had stolen.

Kim consulted with real judges who handle juvenile cases and observed court hearings herself to prepare for her role.

"There have been cases that caught public attention but the rulings were not heavy enough to match the public anger. And many would blame the judge, saying, 'That's why our society is like this,'" she said. "But as I took part in this series and talked to such judges, I learned about the enormous responsibility and serious sense of duty they have in their jobs."
Lee Gyu-lee

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