Jun 2016 VOL.62


  • Tackling Ignored Social Truths
  • by LEE Eun-sun / 11.30.2012

    Director KANG Yi-kwan | Cast LEE Jung-hyun, SEO Young-joo | Genre Drama | Running Time 107 minutes | Rating 15 or above | Release Date 22nd November
    JANG Ji-gu, who's on the social service's list of juvenile offenders, lives with his grandfather. He takes part in a burglary at an unoccupied house and is subsequently arrested. He is sent to a young offenders' institute for a year during which he learns of his grandfather's passing. Just as he thinks he is now alone in the world, his mother, who he assumed was dead, appears in his life.
    Juvenile Offender won the Jury's Special Award and the Best Actor's Award at the Tokyo International Film Festival. It has also screened at the Rites of Passage section of the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival. The film received praise for capturing an important social issue while moving people's hearts and at Tokyo Juvenile Offender was hailed as being this year's discovery which perfectly caught its' characters' inner feelings. Director PARK Chan-wook said he was impressed by LEE Jung-hyun's fresh acting skills and director YOON Sung-ho said that the film is one of the best works about teenagers and that he would highly recommend it to many people.
    Director KANG Yi-kwan carried out research for five months prior to filming, visiting young offenders' centers and shelters for homeless teens across Korea, interviewing some 60 actual juvenile offenders at ten different institutions as well as those involved in caring for them. The interviews were filmed for research purposes and this added to the level of detail and authenticity of the film. LEE said "Contrary to my stereotypical belief that they'd be hardened criminals, the teens were normal. Many news reports show us the most bizarre and violent crimes committed by these children and this makes us forget that they are, in fact, still children."
    The film began its life with the director's decision to approach a topic that has largely been ignored by the mainstream. The world seen through Ji-gu's eyes is an extremely cold place. He is put into a young offender's institution for the reason that there is no adult to take care of him and this intensifies his sense of isolation. But when he is released, he has to face an even more cruel reality. Ji-gu makes us look back on ourselves and our attitude towards juvenile offenders. The film helps us realize that juvenile offenders are no different from "normal" teenagers around us and poses the fundamental question of why they ended up becoming "juvenile offenders" in the first place.
  • Comment