What can we learn from the movie New Trial?

In the first half of 2017, I rarely watched movies. However, when I watched movies, I wanted to learn life lessons from them. One of the movies that I was fortunate to learn from was New Trial (2017).

Based on Iksan murder case in 2000, New Trial (2017) depicts the story of Jo Hyun-woo whose life was stolen when, in 2000, he was accused of the murder of a taxi driver which he did not commit, and had to confess to the crime as he was tortured during brutal police interrogation led by detective Cheol-gi, because Hyun-woo previously rescued a bar girl whom Cheol-gi had an interest in.

A decade later, pressed by an insurance company chasing for compensation for the taxi driver’s bereaved family, Hyun-woo seeked help from a lawyer Lee Joon-young to clear his name. The greed-driven Lee himself had financial debts and wanted to use this case as a stepping stone for his career.

Be your best friend.

Be loyal to your friends, but do not expect the same from others.

Upon learning the betrayal of his friend who initially helped him to get a temporary job, Lee counter-lectured, “a good lawyer has less friends than a terrorist. So if you need a friend, raise a dog instead.” [1]


Education and credentials matter.

If Hyun-woo is an educated boy, without tattoos, he might be unlikely ended up as a framed victim by the corrupted police.


Help others to help yourself.

To quote Anne Frank, “No one has ever become poor by giving.”

Lee was told by his boss to assist Hyun-woo, as a corporate social responsibility campaign. He was reluctant at the beginning, but decided to help Hyun-woo later on. Motivated by the fact that if he succeeds the case for Hyun-woo, his boss agreed to make Lee a partner, Lee worked hard to garner evidence and witnesses.

A note here is that when we help others, we need to view and do it as a blessing. Sometimes, we may feel overwhelmed by our responsibilities, and hence feel burdened. It is ok to say No but remember to help others when we can.

Be careful of charming likable people.

Lee, a rebel, often made enemies everywhere he goes, hence was not likable but somehow the dispirited and deeply-wounded Hyun-woo found hope in Lee.

In contrast, the movies also revealed charming likable people (e.g. the prosecutor) who had no courage and willingness to ruffle feathers like Lee did for justice. Even worse, they will happily sacrifice others and sell out any pretense of justice for the sake of themselves (personal wealth, reputations, etc). These charming likable people are the one we need to watch for.

Don’t offend anyone.

Hyun-woo offended the detective Cheol-gi while rescuing the bar girl whom he liked, but the ungrateful bar girl refused to be his witness later. For revenge (and perhaps convenience due to Hyun-woo’s wrong timing and location), Cheol-gi and his subordinates abused Hyun-woo until he confessed to the murder crime that he did not commit.

Don’t step on other’s toes, especially the powerful. However, remember that there is nothing so powerful as truth.

If you need to do so to help someone, associate with the more powerful (but in many cases, this is easier said than done).


We must not 100% believe the experts.

Professionals such as lawyers and doctors, who charge pretty high fee in many countries, can be driven by personal gains than the original intention of serving humanities.


[1] A friend recommended accessing the website using only linux, not windows.


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