While prison has become a familiar subject to the public through TV dramas and films, “Do the Right Thing” goes a step further, taking viewers directly to prison cells.
JTBC’s new reality TV show on the justice system “Do the Right Thing” aired its first episode Friday, with an aim to elevate the public’s awareness of the law by describing the jurisdiction system.
Poster for “Do the Right Thing” (JTBC)
“There were big events last year that made the public wonder ‘What is it like in prison?’” producer Jae Young-jae of the program said at a press conference Thursday at the broadcasting station. “And I was one of them.”
In cooperation with the Ministry of Justice and National Police Agency, the production staff plans to put its cast -- boy band Winner’s Lee Jin-woo, JBJ’s Kwon Hyun-bin, TV personalities Yoo Byung-jae and Kim Jong Min, composer Don Spike and actors Kim Bo-sung and Park Gun-hyung -- in a prison cell.
The staff set up a legally ambiguous situation for each cast member -- through intensive discussions with legal experts -- to stage fictional situations and commit crimes in secret.
The first episode showed some of the fake crimes, including Lee Jin-woo’s involvement in starting a fire and Park Gun-hyung assisting a criminal on the run -- which the stars believed were real.
They were apprehended by real policemen and were taken into custody. Then, they were taken to an actual jail cell as prisoners on trial.
During the show, the fictional criminals were startled by tight security and substandard conditions. The cells, accommodating seven people, were as wide as 12 newspapers, and equipped with a small restroom open for all to see.
At the press conference, Lee Jin-woo described the cell as a “cage.” He said, “It was like a cage about 3 square meters in size. To be ‘not free’ was scary.”
Kwon Hyun-bin added, “(After the experience) I will live ‘doing the right thing’ as the program’s title.”
JBJ’s Kwon Hyun-bin (left) and Winner’s Lee Jin-woo (JTBC)
The first episode, marking a viewership rating of 3.5 percent, wrapped up its 90 minutes with the cast dreading for their future.
Before the program aired, many had cast doubts as to the show’s legitimacy, fearing it could romanticize criminals and make fun from a serious subject.
“There isn’t an intention to make a caricature or glamorize crimes. That’s why we categorized the show as ‘judicature reality,’ not an entertainment program,” producer Jae said, emphasizing that other inmates would never be featured.
He added, “The shooting was done in a serious atmosphere. There are just elements of comedy-likeness that come from the irony of the situation.”
The show has been unable to evade comparisons to recent hit drama series “Prisoner’s Playbook,” as both portray prison life.
“Drawing up plans for the show a few months ago, I heard that the drama was to air. I actually became more confident that I am going in the right direction -- ‘There is something to a prison,’” the producer said.
But Jae is confident the show will be different from the hit drama, as his work is more like that of a documentary.
“The drama was shot on a set, taking motifs from the prison where we shot the show,” he said. “Drama has to be dramatic. But a reality program is just about how real it can be.”
Jae said, “By watching the whole process of the jurisdiction system, the public can think for themselves. The intention of the program is the same as its title: ‘Do the Right Thing.’”
The reality show, produced by YG Entertainment, airs Friday at 9 p.m.
By Im Eun-byel (firstname.lastname@example.org)