My First Client, a Korean movie filmed by Kyu-sung Jang, deals with the issue of child abuse. It was produced in May, 2019 and it is based on a true story of child abuse by a stepmother that occurred in Chilgok, Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea in August 2013. The stepmother mercilessly beat her 8-year-old stepdaughter, who eventually died of a ruptured bowel. Based on the motif of this incident, this movie was reconstructed with cinematic imagination. It raises public awareness of child abuse, sincerely delivering a message that we should no longer have such terrible child abuse around us.
The movie represents the story of a 10-year-old girl who confesses to killing her younger brother. A lawyer “Jeong-yeop” seeks to uncover the truth about the incident, in which the stepmother “Ji-sook,” the 10 year-old-girl “Dabin,” and her little brother “Min-joon” are involved.
Min-joon and Dabin who have spent a long time without their mother think they would be happy to have Ji-sook as a new stepmother. However, contrary to their expectations, she commits ruthless violence against the children and gives unforgettable wounds to them just because they don’t listen to her or spill food.
Dabin can’t stand it anymore and reaches out adults for help, but no one offers practical help. Meanwhile, the stepmother’s violence causes Min-joon to die and Dabin makes a false confession that she beat her brother to death. However, her lawyer, Jeong-yeop, struggles to uncover the truth surrounding the suspicious death of Min-joon. Eventually, the truth is revealed, and the stepmother is sentenced to 16 years in prison for her crime of child abuse and injury, and Dabin and Min-joon’s father is sentenced to 5 years for aiding and abetting the child abuse. Ji-sook is a murderer who killed her step-son Min-joon, but Dabin can’t be safely removed from Ji-sook until the stepmother is arrested as the criminal. This reality leads to Dabin’s false confession in a desperate bid for survival.
At the end of the movie, the number of reports of child abuse in South Korea is shown. The number of child abuse cases in South Korea was 4,133 in 2001, but the number continues to increase from 19,208 in 2015 to 34,169 in 2017. However, most of the perpetrators were only sentenced to probation or fines, and surprisingly, four out of every five perpetrators of child abuse were parents. This movie reminds us of the seriousness of child abuse and suggests that related laws and punishments should be changed.