It bugs me sometimes just how obviously "Criminal Minds" is an adaptation of an American drama. While the death penalty is still a possible legal sentence in South Korea, there's been a moratorium on it for the last twenty years. It's just not a thing that happens, certainly not to the extent that people would have political demonstrations about it. I liked how listless the extras were holding their signs. Even they had no idea how someone could have a strong opinion on the subject.
I did like, though, that apparently South Korea still does execution by hanging. Was that in the original version (season one, episode fourteen for reference's sake)? I just found it funny that the death of obviously evil serial killer Yeong-hoon (played by Gong Jung-hwan) is clearly supposed to be just and good, but the whole hanging aspect makes it look barbaric. Oh you silly Koreans. Don't you know that state-sanctioned murder is supposed to happen via lethal injection, which can be horrifically more painful but we pretend it's better since it doesn't look as medieval?
The message is further muddled by how Yeong-hoon's wife Yeo-jin (played by Kim Ho-jung) may be on death row unjustly. Emotionally we're supposed to like Yeo-jin more because, unlike Yeong-hoon, she seems thoughtful and nice. Legally speaking, though, any notion of her innocence seems pedantic, since Yeo-jin was at minimum an accomplice to Yeong-hoon's crimes, regardless of whether or not she killed anyone herself directly.
Which brings me to perhaps the most glaringly obvious question of all- why is all the conflict built around the notion of Yeo-jin's legal innocence when that is the job of lawyers, rather than criminal profilers? Why is the team even involved here in the first place? To find out if there were any extra victims? To collect more data for their criminal profiling database or experience subset or whatever?
No matter the reason, this is a pretty questionable story to do for the odd hour-and-a-half format "Criminal Minds" goes for every so often. Since Yeong-hoon dies by the end the only thing left to do is try and talk to Yeo-jin some more, and I can't see how the question of what Yeo-jin did to her son could possibly be relevant to any future cases. Unless it turns out that he became a serial killer too down the road. That would certainly be an interesting, if terrifying story direction, but I doubt the original "Criminal Minds" went there, so this one won't either.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Criminal Minds" Episode 12"
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