Juvenile Justice season 1, episode 5 recap – bad idea

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: February 25, 2022
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Juvenile Justice season 1, episode 5 recap -


Juvenile Justice examines how and why bad decisions are made as it closed off the Pureum case.

This recap of Juvenile Justice season 1, episode 5 contains spoilers.

What has defined Eun-seok since the beginning of Juvenile Justice has been an unswerving belief that young offenders are irredeemable monsters responsible for all their own decisions, and that they should be punished to the full extent of the law and then some. This episode, the second of a two-parter involving the Pureum Home for Girls introduced in the previous outing, is where she finally begins to soften, or at least acknowledge that there are various other, important factors that influence a minor’s decision-making.

Juvenile Justice season 1, episode 5 recap

The episode begins with Seon-ja returning to Pureum and learning that A-reum has trashed the place and run the girls out. The girls themselves are still missing, and are going to be difficult to find. Luckily, one of them, Min-gyeong, turns up, beaten by the group’s leader, Yeong-na. This being Juvenile Justice, flashbacks detail the assault, just to hammer the point home. This group isn’t entirely close-knit.

Naturally, Kang is furious when he finds out about all this, adding another layer of tension to proceedings since Eun-seok and Tae-ju are now against the clock to find the girls. It’s another tip-off from one of the girls that gives the judges a more concrete lead. This time it’s Yeon-ji, who’s in a bad situation. What is the quickest way for pretty young girls to make money on the streets? Prostitution, which is what Yeong-na and the others have forced her into. Before she knows it, she’s locked in a hotel room with a punter who carries chains, padlocks, and other worrying implements.

This is another instance of Juvenile Justice using violence against youngsters — and in this case, like the third episode, young girls — as a kind of shortcut to dramatic urgency. It’s a bit much that Yeon-ji happened to immediately get a hostile, dangerous client who resorted to trying to kill her when the police knocked on the door, but such things do happen, so I suppose it’s justifiable. The copper who breaks in is the same one we met in the third episode; Eun-seok asked him for a favor. The others, including Seon-ja, manage to round up the other girls with the exception of Yeong-na, who remains missing.

Luckily, A-reum can help with that. She also manipulated Yeong-na into believing her mother was dying, so Yeong-na went to track her down and discovered that she was alive and well — she lied about being ill just so she could abandon Yeong-na, and when Yeong-na tries to confront her about it, her mother’s boyfriend beats her in the street. Eventually, Seon-ja finds and comforts her.

Almost all of these girls made bad decisions, but the episode is careful to point out that, true or not, they at least seemed like the only decisions, ones that had to be made out of necessity, or perhaps for attention. Young people struggle to have a voice that people take seriously in society; their claims fall on deaf ears, their problems are written off as hormones or simply “acting out”. Making a point is hard when you’re a young woman who is already looked at as nothing more than a criminal. And Eun-seok keeps all this in mind when she tries the girls with all of their legal guardians present — and the guardians are lectured to the same extent as their kids. Juvenile delinquency is, fundamentally, a failure of parenting, at least more often than it isn’t.

At the end of the episode, the focus switches to what will inevitably be the next case — the matter of a prestigious high school’s exam papers having been leaked by a group called Descartes. Kang, who has decided to hand in his badge after this case, is asked directly if he has any personal involvement in this case, and he claims not to have. But he’s wrong! As he’s on his way home, he gets a call from his son, Sin-u. The police are at the door. And even though he left the group right after the leak, Sin-u was part of Descartes.

You can stream Juvenile Justice season 1, episode 5 exclusively on Netflix.

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