One of the best feelings in the world is seeing good win and evil lose. Even if it takes years, the joy of seeing justice served to the wicked, especially those who thought they could get away with their wrongdoings, makes the world seem a little brighter, even just for a moment. It’s no wonder that these stories of triumph become the basis for many films.
Director Kim Tae Yoon made two such films titled Another Promise in 2014 and New Trial in 2017. The first is based on a taxi driver winning a massive legal case against Samsung. The second is the story of a lawyer, portrayed by Jung Woo, who accepts the case of a newly released prisoner, played by Kang Ha Neul, who claims he was wrongfully convicted and seeks justice.
Both are based on real events, but what’s truly remarkable about the real story behind New Trial is that the ending of the real-life case was even more satisfying than the movie! It all began in August 2000, when a man publicly known as Choi was first imprisoned after being convicted for the murder of a taxi driver in Iksan, North Jeolla Province. His sentence was initially set to 15 years in jail but was reduced to 10 years after an appeal. After serving his time, Choi filed for a retrial in 2013, claiming he was forced to confess to the crime while under duress. It was revealed that there was never any definitive evidence against Choi. In 2016, he was acquitted of all charges.
Not only was Choi relieved of all guilt, but another man, known publicly as Kim, was arrested and sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2018 after it was confirmed he was the true culprit of the murder. What a massive relief this must have been for Choi, who now is a father to two children. Kim was actually initially accused in 2003, but the case wasn’t pursued due to an alleged lack of evidence.
This is where the film ends the story.
But in 2021, Choi was finally compensated with ₩1.30 billion KRW (about $973,000 USD) for his wrongful sentence over 20 years ago. Choi’s family was also awarded ₩300 million KRW (about $225,000 USD). A beautiful silver lining for what they had to endure.
Although there is nothing that could completely make up for what Choi went through, hopefully, this is the beginning of healing for him, and the money can be used towards raising his family.
Watch the trailer for New Trial below.