Amid increasing crime rates around the world, only a few tend to take time to ponder and understand: What is the psychology behind criminal behavior? What goes on in the mind of a crime offender?
This year, two Korean series have explored on such delicate yet significant social issues and garnered attention both locally and internationally.
While Through The Darkness (2022) obtained its highest nationwide viewership rating of 8.3% through South Korea’s SBS TV, Juvenile Justice (2022) entered Netflix’s Global Top 10 upon 1st week of streaming.
Here are three reasons why these productions are two of the best Korean dramas in 2022:
1. The powerful and relevant narratives on criminal behavior.
“There are no perfect crimes.” Through The Darkness (2022) is a psychological-crime series that digs deep into the minds and behavior of a serial killer. It is based on the 2018 non-fiction book, Those Who Read the Minds of Evil by Kwon Il-yong, the first criminal profiler in South Korea and Ko Na-mu, a journalist and author.
In the drama, two police detectives joined efforts to form a new department, the Behavioral Analysis Team. Together, they embarked on a journey that studies the background of serial killers including childhood events, relationships with significant people in life, modus operandi, and the underlying motives to commit murder.
Despite lack of trust from the police officers on what they do, they held on to their strong belief that their team is significant in solving heinous crimes. They persevered through the years and were recognized as efficient and in-demand officers in the field of crimes, “The Behavioral Analysis Team will become the stepping stone to the much needed reform of police investigations.”
“I despise young offenders.” Juvenile Justice (2022) is a teenage-crime series that follows a female judge who sets high standards on the law of justice, her strong passion for juvenile cases, and her psychological discoveries on why teenagers commit crimes. It brings you to disturbing crime scenes as well as it unearthes the psychological-emotive side of juvenile delinquents.
While the judge despises young offenders, she strongly believes that “the purpose of Juvenile Law is to provide a structure where troubled kids can reform themselves and mature into better citizens.”
The two series may differ in plot and strategy but both offered powerful and relevant narratives—exploring the depths of criminal behavior and not just apply the law or justice based on facts.
2. The thought-provoking lessons on the impact of negative social interactions.
What draws attention the most about these two series is the realistic venture on human behavior problems and its thought-provoking lessons on how the wider society contributes to the underlying intent of a criminal offender.
As the judge in Juvenile Justice (2022) stated, “They say it takes an entire village to raise a child. In other words, a child’s life could be ruined if the entire village neglects the child.”
The drama reiterates the fact that legal guardians or parents are the most responsible persons when it comes to juvenile cases. Often, parental neglect, abandonment, and rejection or kids deprived of love and guidance from primary caregivers find belongingness in the wrong places. The counselor in the drama said, “When juveniles get hurt from home, they start to abuse themselves by committing a crime that they normally wouldn’t, or by associating themselves with the wrong crowd.”
However, juvenile cases are not taken lightly in the drama. The judge follows a strong conviction that regardless of age, an offender needs to see how harsh the law can be and must pay the consequences of their sinful acts. She also put emphasis on guardian education—that parents must feel the weight of their kids’ crimes as well and take responsibility.
Meanwhile, the serial killers in Through The Darkness (2022) were also given the opportunity to express their thoughts for the childhood traumas and abuses they received from their own homes or society. They were cases of bullying, domestic abuse, as well as social rejection that developed in them internal rage, a furious monster that seeks revenge or control through committing murders.
“That’s why what children experience is so important. They accumulate things without even knowing. Of course, not everyone will become a criminal from a bad experience. But kids can’t manage situations themselves. In the case of Nam Ki-tae, he accumulated all of his repeated traumas. I think that influenced his character-building greatly,” the captain said.
The Behavioral Analysis Team also believes that if the world is equally responsible for creating monsters in society, it should also share the weight of responsibility. However, at the end of the day, they still lean toward justice for the heinous crimes committed by an offender who needs to face the consequences.
Overall, both series emphasize that heinous crimes must be punished legally, homes must be good sources of emotional nourishment, institutions should put value on the study of human behaviors, and the wider society must take part in building a safe community for all.
3. The phenomenal performances of main leads.
Besides the powerful narrative is the phenomenal performance of the leads from the two series.
Kim Hye-soo‘s talent stands out in Juvenile Justice (2022). She did not only display a perfect portrayal of a tough and sharp judge, but she also showed great emotions of a devastated mother when her innocent son died from traumatic brain injury.
Kim Hye-soo is known to be one of the award-winning female Korean actors of all time who has received 52 wins out of 103 nominations including 4 Grand Prize (Daesang) awards for her acting abilities. Her other works include Signal (2016) and Hyena (2020), to name a few.
Meanwhile, actor Kim Nam-gil in the drama, Through The Darkness (2022), displayed great acting skills as well. He played as the reserved, deep, and conscientious criminal profiler who has the exceptional ability to discern thoughts and analyze behaviors. He also showed intense emotions when he came to an overwhelming state of psychological anxiety, mental fatigue, and burnout while studying various heinous crime behaviors without a break.
Kim Nam-gil has also received numerous acting awards including a Grand Prize (Daesang) title for his performance in the drama, The Fiery Priest (2019).
Once again, Kim Hye-soo and Kim Nam-gil have proven through their works in Juvenile Justice and Through The Darkness that they are indeed top-tier Korean actors.
Copyright 2022. Myra Bansale for KORB Blog.
Through The Darkness (2022)
Genre: Crime, Thriller, Psychological
Synopsis: It is about a criminal profiler who struggles to read the minds of serial killers.
Based on: Those Who Read the Minds of Evil by Kwon Il-yong and Ko Na-mu
No of episodes: 12
Starring: Kim Nam-gil, Jin Seon-kyu, and Kim So-jin
Written by: Seol Yi-na
Directed by: Park Bo-ram
Original network: SBS, Viu
Date: January 14 to March 12, 2022
Juvenile Justice (2022)
Genre: Crime, Legal, Drama
Synopsis: A tough judge balances her aversion to minor offenders with firm beliefs on justice and punishment as she tackles complex cases inside a juvenile court.
No of episodes: 10
Starring: Kim Hye-soo, Kim Moo-yeol, Lee Sung-min, and Lee Jung-eun
Written by: Kim Min-seok
Directed by: Hong Jong-chan
Original network: Netflix
Date: February 25, 2022