[Herald Review] Ugly side of justice rears head in ‘Minority Opinion’

By KH디지털2

With an excellent cast and compelling plot, Kim Sung-je portrays society's flaws without being excessively self-righteous

  • Published : Jun 30, 2015 - 17:02
  • Updated : Jun 30, 2015 - 17:55

“Minority Opinion” begins with a disclaimer: “The following story is fictional and does not depict any actual person or event.”

Yet the events depicted in the film have a deep tinge of reality for Korean audiences, especially at a time of deep mistrust of government authority due to continued safety crises and political gridlock.

In the film, a young police officer and a teenage boy are killed at the site of protests over forced evictions as part of an urban redevelopment project. According to the prosecutors, the father of the boy killed the police officer, and the boy was killed by a mercenary hired to enforce the evictions. Park Jae-ho (Lee Gyoung-young), the father now charged with murder, claims self-defense, saying that his son was killed not by a hired hand but by a police officer.

Park's case drops into the hands of a young public defender named Yoon Jin-won (Yoon Kye-sang), who is doubtful of Park's claims until he is approached by a reporter named Gong Su-gyeong (Kim Ok-bin). She has her own suspicions about the government's account of the tragedy. Yoon teams up with fellow lawyer Jang Dae-seok (Yoo Hae-jin) to pursue the truth through a jury trial.

Yoon Kye-sang and Yoo Hae-jin star in “Minority Opinion” (Cinema Service)

Right off the bat, the film will evoke memories of the “Yongsan tragedy” of 2009, where six people were killed in a clash between redevelopment protesters and riot police. But even beyond that, there are scenes and emotions that allude to what many people consider to be problematic of the government and justice system: cronyism, corruption and elitism, all justified in the name of “law and order.” According to director Kim Sung-je, the ultimate message is about the definition of a “minority opinion.”

“Our country’s jury trial system is still evolving,” he said at a press preview on June 18. “The opinion of nine jury members is weaker than the decision of one judge. It’s only an advisory opinion. Who is the true minority? Why even have this system if the judge can choose to ignore the jury? I wanted the audience to think about the meanings of majority and minority.”

Yoon Kye-sang and Yoo Hae-jin star in “Minority Opinion” (Cinema Service)

The struggle of a rookie lawyer to gain a foothold against the machinery of the justice system is easy to relate to, especially as Yoon’s own personal flaws and compromises in moral judgement are put on display as well. The plot of the film moves at a sufficiently fast pace to keep it from becoming didactic, punctuated with excellent comic relief from Yoo Hae-jin. Kim Eui-sung is convincing as a misguided villainous prosecutor, while Kim Ok-bin, Kwon Hae-hyo and Lee Gyoung-young create a strong supporting cast.

“Minority Opinion” opened in local theaters June 24.

By Won Ho-jung (hjwon@heraldcorp.com)