By Kim Boram
SEOUL, March 4 (Yonhap) -- Seasoned actress Kim Hye-soo said Friday that she hopes her latest legal drama, "Juvenile Justice," will play a role in jumpstarting social discussion on the controversial issue of young offenders and the age of criminal liability.
"Juvenile Justice," a Netflix original released a week ago, depicts five crimes committed by youngsters aged under 14, who are excluded from criminal responsibility. The cases are based in part on true incidents that made the headlines in Korea in the past.
"I liked this piece because it deals with current issues that our society is now struggling with," the actress said in a media interview. "The main idea of this project was so serious and grave that I felt a stronger sense of responsibility for my character than my previous ones."
Kim took the role of Eun-seok, a devoted elite judge who is well known for her antagonism toward juveniles and thinks they have to be strongly punished despite the age of accountability. She keeps a cold-hearted stance on juvenile offenders and allows no emotional interruption in her legal judgment.
"Eun-seok looks strong and capable and keeps showing her dislike towards juvenile crimes," said Kim. "But she knows her role as a judge and as a grownup in the society who is responsible for this issue as a whole."
The actress said Eun-seok's heartlessness is not related to dislike of young perpetrators as she keeps saying. The judge just tries to take an objective stance on offenders, victims and their families.
"She sees the crimes from a balanced point of view," she said. "She just tries to charge them with their crimes to take full responsibility for what they did."
To prepare the character, the veteran thespian, whose career spans more than three decades, observed juvenile trials and sought advice from active juvenile judges.
Still, she admitted it was difficult for the sympathetic actress to play a stony-hearted character. When filming a scene, she was so overwhelmed by the kindness of Eun-seok's colleague, Tae-ju (Kim Mu-yeol), who sticks to the hope that all young criminals can be rehabilitated.
"I tried to be Eun-seok every moment on the road and at home," she said. "When filming the scene with Mu-yeol, I asked the director to shoot it without a rehearsal. I thought I would have assimilated into Tae-ju's feeling even through a practice session."
She thanked global fans of "Juvenile Justice" for supporting the show despite its relatively downbeat atmosphere and grave messages. The 10-part drama placed sixth on popular Netflix TV show chart by Flixpatrol as of Thursday, up from 10th place on Sunday.
"It's amazing that a Korean TV show is shown to global audiences through Netflix," she said. "It talks about juvenile issues in Korea, but they are also discussed all around the world."
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