We are all victims, but what matters is how we cope with the loss. With Hong Jong-chan in the director’s chair, legal thriller Kdrama ‘Juvenile Justice’ handles its touchy subject with commendable neutrality. The series begins with the arrival of Sim Eun-seok as an associate judge in the Yeonhwa Juvenile Justice Department. Teaming up with Cha Tae-ju, she seeks to decode gruesome and macabre cases of child crime. With the gripping premise and am a-lister cast ensemble, the series comes off as a refreshing detective thriller set within the maze-like bureaucracy of the court. If you seek to recollect the final moments of the story, let us put the final minutes under a magnifying glass. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Juvenile Justice Season 1 Finale Recap
The drama intensifies with the arrival of Na Geung-hee as the chief justice following the departure of Kang Won-joong. Na Geung-hee’s nonchalance towards the juvenile cases comes off as shocking to the ever-persuasive Sim Eun-seok. Moreover, Sim Eun-seok remembers Na Geung-hee from the case from five years ago, which altered her life drastically. To give you a context, Kang Won-joong resigns from his post to stand in the elections as a Liberty Party candidate.
However, after the Moonkwang High School paper leak incident, his life veers off course. His son, Shin-u, is part of the group Descartes, which is responsible for the leak. When Shin-u thinks of confessing about his deeds to the police, Kang Won-joong dissuades him. Kang wants to shove the incident under the rug, but thanks to Sim Eun-seok’s whistleblowing, Kang loses everything. After the car crash case, Do-seuk, a past offender close to Cha Tae-ju, goes into a coma. Due to the lack of evidence, they cannot give harsh sentences to the kids.
In the finality, we come to the Yeonhwa Gang Rape Case, which connects to the past case that changed Sim Eun-seok’s life. On her way back home, Sim Eun-seok meets her former husband, Namgung I-hwan. Looking at the case file in the morning, Sim Eun-seok collapses in her office, and Cha Tae-ju takes her to a hospital. He looks through her contact details, and upon finding them empty, he signs up to be Sim Eun-seok’s guardian. Cha Tae-ju takes Eun-seok home and leaves a pack of water bottles outside her apartment door.
The following morning, Na Geung-hee briefs them about the cases – one is a juvenile criminal case, and another, a protection case. Construction workers at a construction site found 17-year-old Kang Seon-A, bruised and senseless. In her statement, Kang Seon-A divulges that three boys got her drunk and raped her. Thankfully, Kang Seon-A was taken into a hospital shortly after the discovery. Thus, the police have found two different DNA traces, following which, So Dong-gyun and Ooo Gyeong-su have been arrested. They have also confessed their crimes upon the arrest.
The third guy, Hwang In-jun, was at the scene, but the police do not have evidence to implicate him in the crime. Thus, his case becomes a juvenile protection case. His only apparent crimes are procuring alcohol by illegal means and forcing the victim to drink the alcohol. Later, Kang Seon-A spills that there may have been a fourth person involved. Despite her terrible health, Sim Eun-seok persuades the head judge to let her handle both the cases methodically, but Na Geung-hee does not like rude judges. Meanwhile, Sim Eun-seok has received a recording from the police.
Seon-A’s father went to Hwang In-jun for a confrontation, and he laughingly replied that he could not rape Seon-A since he could not get erect. However, since the confession is forcibly extracted, they cannot do much with it. In front of the jury, Hwang In-jun seems repentant, and his attorney makes it look like the other boys coerced him to do it. However, Ko Gang-sik, the local police officer, has retrieved the dash cam footage of a car parked nearby. The footage reveals that In-jun was in the crime scene, and with the incriminating evidence, In-jun heads to a juvenile classification center for three weeks.
Juvenile Justice Ending: Why is Sim Eun-seok so Strict? What Happened Five Years Ago?
Sim Eun-seok’s staunch persona is the result of a tragedy from five years ago. While looking at the file of Hwang In-jun, we find that he has been tried for six previous cases, and one of them, an accidental homicide. The victim of the homicide was Sim Eun-seok’s toddler son. The death led to the divorce between Sim Eun-seok and Namgung I-hwan. The incident is also the reason why Sim Eun-seok despises juvenile criminals.
Hwang In-Jun and Baek Do-hyeon killed the toddler by throwing a brick from the rooftop. They were arrested, but judge Na Geung-hee was handling the case. She did not even let Sim Eun-seok, the mother of the deceased, enter the court, since it was a juvenile protection case. The trial was wrapped up in less than five minutes, and the perpetrators got away scot-free, since they were not under 14 years of age. The child’s unfortunate death marked a deep discord in the life of Sim Eun-seok, and it also made her take up the job in the juvenile justice department. Na Geung-hee gets to know about the past event and takes Sim Eun-seok off the cases. However, Sim Eun-seok has to defy orders to chase a clue.
Who Is The Fourth Guy? What Punishment do the Perpetrators Receive?
The fourth guy involved in the Gang Rape Case, we come to know, is Baek Do-hyeon, Hwang In-jun’s accomplice in the brick murder case. From Ha-rin, another of the gang’s victim, Cha Tae-ju comes to know of Baek Do-hyeon’s role in the gang. From footages from the local hotels, the officer identifies the gang of four, which was a racket in the area.
The police looks into similar cases. Sim Eun-seok digs further and contacts previous victims of the gang. Some girls deny, but Eun-seok finally gets a lead from one of the spiteful victims. The lead takes Eun-seok to the second floor of Daeho Inn. She has an unexpected encounter with Baek Do-hyeon, and the latter intends to kill the former. However, the police arrive in the nick of time. Officer Ko Gang-sik intends to take her to a hospital, but Sim Eun-seok insists on going back to the office. In the office, Eun-seok meets Na Geung-hee who gives her some first aid.
Sim Eun-seok reminds Geung-hee of the case from five years ago, where Sim Eun-seok did not get justice. The conversation seemingly instills enough emotion in Geung-hee for her to take the right decision. Moving on to the case hearing the following morning, there are quite a few incriminating pieces of evidence against Baek Do-hyeon and Hwang In-jun. Cha Tae-ju convinces So Dong-gyun and Ooo Gyeong-su to testify against Do-hyeon and In-jun. The police also find Baek Do-hyeon’s secret phone and the victims’ videos in it. With the evidence, Na Geung-hee sends their case back to the prosecution, and it no longer stays a protection case. Na Geung-hee lets them know that if the prosecution finds ground, a criminal case can be held against them. After the verdict, Sim Eun-seok finds solace, but her quest against juvenile criminals does not stop here. She faces the disciplinary committee with conviction and reasserts her unwavering pursuit of child criminals.