Korean law shown through drama “Flower of Evil”

Lee Jun Ki in the wildly popular movie “The King and the Clown” (2005) Photo credits

When the movie “The King and the Clown” was released in South Korea (2005), men and women left cinemas awestruck by the beauty of 23 year old rookie actor Lee Jun Ki. Much understandably so…

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Loads of Korean idols and actors with dazzling looks grace our Instagram feeds and TV screens nowadays, but I think Lee Jun Ki really is a timeless beauty. Plus, this man seriously doesn’t age. This is him 15 years later, a 38 year old in 2020:

Lee Jun Ki in “Flower of Evil” (2020)
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Lee Jun Ki stars as Baek Hee Sung, a man who seems like the perfect husband and father to a lovely girl. Actress Moon Chae Won stars as a fiery detective and a loving wife to Baek Hee Sung.

Lee Jun Ki and Moon Chae Won in “Flower of Evil” press conference Photo Credits

Not many minutes into the drama, it’s clear, though, that the seemingly perfect Baek Hee Sung isn’t really all that he seems on the surface… (hint: possible connections to serial killing & change in identity) For more information on the plot, you can refer to this site or watch this trailer.

A murder that occured 18 years before is one of the central plots in the drama. (Spoiler alert!!) Baek Hee Sung is suspected to be responsible for that murder- a secret that could be doubly ruinous for his relationship with his wife given she’s a detective. (we’re all hoping there’s some big misunderstanding…)

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One small question non-South Korean viewers could have watching the drama is, “How exactly does identity reveal of criminals/suspects work in South Korea?” (SPOILER) It seems like despite being a suspect of a major murder case, Baek Hee Sung was so quite easily able to hide his real identity.

I’m no expert in Korean law, but one thing I know is that it’s not that easy for suspects to go into hiding in South Korea… According to famous foreign psychologist Professor Lee Soo Jung, about 97% of murderers are arrested successfully- a staggeringly high rate.

So yes, Baek Hee Sung’s case is really a fiction in a drama.

Regarding identity reveal of a convict, though, opinions have been divided in South Korea for quite some time. Only in about 2019-2020 did the prosecution/police revealed the faces of the convicted who have committed heinous crimes. Public opinions in South Korea, too, have leaned more toward revealing convicts’ faces.

“The public has the right to know the faces of criminals who committed heinous, horrible crimes.”

“Why prioritize human rights of those who haven’t respected human rights of victims?”

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“Criminals, too, have human rights. Their faces/identities shouldn’t be revealed.”

“Revealing criminals’ faces isn’t helpful for reducing crime rates.”

The police and prosecution in South Korea have been under fire for not firmly, consistently setting hard guidelines for when exactly the identity and face of a convict should be revealed. Perhaps that’s why they’re increasingly revealing identities of individuals who have committed shocking crimes in 2019-2020.

Supporters of the policy of revealing criminals’ faces have often compared South Korea’s system to that of others like UK, US and France which make the reveal of convicts’ identities/faces via main media platforms mandatory (e.g. news).

What is your stance on this?

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