EDITING : 2024.4.22 월 18:51
The Gachon Herald
Are You a Real Adult Who Can Protect Others?Movies that deal with issues of child abuse, 'My First Client' and 'Miss Baek'
Choi Seh-min  |  cchloe1006@gmail.com
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Updated : 2021.06.23  18:09:04
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 Recently, there were so many child abuse cases that sparked outrage from a lot of people. The definition of child abuse is physical, sexual, and psychological maltreatment or neglect of a child or children. It can occur at the child's home, or in organizations the child interacts with. The case of Jeong-in, Daycare abuse, and Gumi child abandonment show the cruelty of child abuse and the magnitude of the problems that so many children are open to risk. The number of child abuse cases in South Korea were 4,133 in 2001, 19,208 in 2015, and 34,169 in 2017 which has increased tenfold over the past decade. However, most perpetrators were only put on probation or fine. Four out of five perpetrators of child abuse are parents, and there are not enough social institutions to take care of those children. Thus, I want to introduce two movies that will raise awareness about child abuse.
The Film, 'My First Client'
 The film 'My First Client' is based on an incident in 2013, the 'Chilgok Stepmother case'. A woman from Chilgok county abused her 12-year-old and 8-year-old stepdaughters. She then also killed the 8-year-old girl and forced the girl's sister to confess to murder. However, the truth was revealed. The stepmother was sentenced to 15 years in prison for fatally beating her stepdaughters. The father of two sisters was sentenced to 4 years. Because of this incident, the inadequate social mechanisms to prevent child abuse were revealed, and the National Assembly passed a special law on child abuse to help authorities take child abuse more seriously.
 This movie is focused on a world of indifference to the suffering children and their wounded hearts, rather than showing crucial scenes of children getting abuse. Jung-yub is a lawyer who always fails in interviews and is looking for a job. He has one ambition in life, which is to become successful and wealthy. To gain experience before getting into a law firm while also being forced by his older sister, he takes a job at Children's Aid Center. There he meets Da-bin and Min-joon, siblings who reported to the police station that her stepmother abuses them. They were so happy to live with their stepmother at first because they had only lived with their father, but the happiness did not last long. Their father and stepmother were taking care of them to receive the supporting fund. However, Jung-yub didn't take the problem seriously and even though he tried to help them, he finds out that the center can't do anything without an investigational right. Also, a few days later, a lucrative job offer comes in from Seoul and he immediately leaves for the job. However, one day he hears the shocking news that Da-bin killed Min-joon. Their stepmother was physically abusing them, and it got intensified eventually to a murder and Dabin was also blamed for the crime. Da-bin had no one to help her, so she did everything that her stepmother told her to do such as talking the guilt upon. Jung-yub was suffering from a sense of guilt that he did not protect the siblings. So, he started to defend the young client Da-bin. After a tough legal battle, they were able to punish the parents. However, the parents shout out that they are innocent to the end.
The Film, 'Miss Beak'
The film 'Miss Beak' is inspired by the 2016 barefoot escape child abuse case. An 11-year-old child was locked up at home and fed garbage instead of food. So, the child ran away from the house and was found in a supermarket while gobbling down all the cookies. The child's weight was only 16kg and she had a crack in her ribs. The child's parents got caught, and they were sentenced to 10 years in prison in the first trial but appealed to the court that the punishment is too much for them. However, they were found guilty and sentenced to 10 years again. To the last, they persisted in asserting their innocence and did not regret their wrongdoings at all.
 People call Sang-ah, 'Miss Beak' who became a convict after trying to protect herself from rape. She was convicted of murder. After serving years in prison, she had to live with the label of a murderer. Having gone through these experiences at such a young age makes her defensive, though, live persistently. She earns money by doing several small jobs. One day, Sang-ah encounters a skinny young girl named Ji-eun, who is abused by her parent. She tries to turn away from Ji-eun at first. However, seeing herself in the girl, Sang-ah decided to stay with her. Although Sang-ah took Ji-eun to the police substation, Ji-eun could not confess that she is being abused because she was afraid of even worse abuse. After a while, Sang-ah decides to leave the neighborhood to live in Jeju Island. As Ji-eun finds out Sang-ah is leaving the town, she escapes from the house and follows Sang-ah. To avoid the charge for child abuse, Ji-eun's father and stepmother report to the police that Sang-ah kidnapped Ji-eun. Even though Sang-ah is wanted, she promises to protect Ji-eun, and as Sang-ah opens up to Ji-eun, Ji-eun happens to know that Sang-ah has gone through a hard time and has a lot of bruises like herself. Thankfully, due to the efforts of Jang-sup, who always has Sang-ah's back when she is in trouble, it became possible to catch Ji-eun parents. Black boxes in vehicles and testimony from neighbors help Sang-ah to catch the stepmother but Ji-eun's stepmother runs away from the police and shows up to Ji-eun to kill her. However, Sang-ah and Jang-sup find out Ji-eun and save her life. Eventually, Ji-eun's father and stepmother are sentenced to 10 and 15 years, and the Jang-sup's family decides to take care of Ji-eun. A year has passed, and the film closes with Ji-eun and Sang-ah encountering while both leaving stable lives.
Two same-themed movies, what is the message of these films?
 The film 'My First Client' criticizes the world through the story of lawyer Jung-Yup and a young client Da-bin. It highlights the attitudes of people toward child abuse and the critical points of the legal system. When Jung-Yup tries to gather people, who can testify about the siblings' child abuse, some neighbors refuse the interview, and the others say they do not know them. The film 'Miss Beak' plainly shows the conditions of children who got abused. The film brings up the social reality that the number of child support agencies and home placement options is too small. This film has been a hot issue as a powerless woman protects a young child. However, reviewers say that the film is somewhat unrealistic because a person like Sang-ah can't help a child in reality. The two films cover the child abuse issues by showing two adults, Jung-yub and Sang-ah in different circumstances, trying to protect children. Also, the film is pointing out the problems of child abuse and shouting out for changes.
 "Da-bin once asked me what a mother is like…." This is the quote that Jung-yub cries out when the stepmother pleads not guilty to the crime. Many children have never felt that they were loved by their parents and had stable families. It is especially easy to be indifferent to what is happening around us due to social distancing. Why don't we take time to look for people or children who need help?
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