How The Case Against Adnan Syed Is Bringing Hae Min Lee to Life

Director Amy Berg explains her goals for the documentary series

By Chris Harnick Mar 11, 2019 2:49 PMTags
Watch: How "The Case Against Adnan Syed" Differs From "Serial" Podcast

HBO's The Case Against Adnan Syed started off its four-episode run bringing Hae Min Lee to life.

The first episode set out painting a picture of the young woman's life before her murder, more than Serial, the podcast that brought the murder and Adnan Syed to national attention, did. It was all by design.

"One of the main goals for the series was to bring Hae Min Lee to life," director Amy Berg told E! News. "I spoke to many of her friends, a family friend of her mother's and the journals and just really tried to build this picture of Hae Min Lee for the film."

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Lee was murdered in 1999 and her ex-boyfriend Syed was charged with her death. Syed has been in prison since 2000.

In The Case Against Adnan Syed, Berg interviewed a number of Lee's close friends, had access to her diary and worked with an animator to bring her story to life. The documentary also employed narration of Lee's journals. The first episode paints a picture of the relationship between Lee and Syed, as well as the girl Lee was before her death. The installment touches on Lee's allegations of past abused while in Korea and how she struggled with the weight of keeping her home and school life separate.


Lee's family was not involved in the documentary.

"I can't imagine that it's easy for them," Berg said. "We spoke to a close family friend who gave us her insight on the family. They didn't want to participate in the film, but I can't imagine how difficult this must be for them. They thought this was a closed case and justice was served, and then all these questions continue to come up for 20 years. As the mother of a young girl who was murdered and had her life taken away, I'm sure that it's horrific for them," Berg said.

The Case Against Adnan Syed airs Sundays, 9 p.m. on HBO.