[1995] Đồng hồ cát - Sandglass - Lee Jung Jae, Choi Min Soo, Park Sang Won - Baeksang Art Awards 1995 Grand Prize

Sandglass là bộ phim có lượng rating đứng thứ 2 trong top những bộ phim truyền hình có rating cao nhất lịch sử phim Hàn Quốc, rating lên đến 64,5%

Rating: 64,5%

Số tập: 24

Diễn viên: Go Huyn Jung, Choi Min Soo, Park Sang Won...

Toàn cảnh The Sandglass (Đồng hồ cát) là bức tranh mô tả Tae Soo  Woo Suk, hai người bạn thân cùng nhau lớn lên trong thời kỳ chính trị Hàn Quốc đầy rẫy những hỗn loạn (1970 - 1980). Tae Soo mạnh mẽ và trung thành sau trở thành một gangster, còn Woo Suk thông minh đã trở thành một nhân viên làm trong ngành luật. Nhờ sự giới thiệu của Woo Suk, Tae Soo đã gặp Hye Rin (bạn học của Wook Suk), cô con gái xinh đẹp và sôi nổi của một chủ casino già có... Rồi họ rơi vào tình yêu.


The Sandglass được đánh giá là bộ phim không dễ gì quên, đặc biệt với khán giả thuộc thế hệ 6X, 7X, bởi ấn tượng quá đậm nét mà nội dung phim đem lại, với những bài học sâu sắc về giá trị hiện thực, nhân văn và thời sự. Vai Hye Rin trong Đồng hồ cát đối với Hoa hậu Hàn Quốc Go Huyn Jung là một vai diễn để đời. Nhắc đến Đồng hồ cát, người ta không thể không nhắc đến cô.

Không chỉ chinh phục cảm tình của người xem, The Sandglass còn mang về cả núi giải thưởng trong các liên hoan phim 1995 và 1996, bao gồm: giải Daesang, Phim hay nhất, Đạo diễn hay nhất, Biên tập hình ảnh hay nhất, Diễn viên chính xuất sắc nhất và Diễn viên mới xuất sắc nhất tại Lễ trao giải Baeksang lần thứ 31. Sang đến Giải thưởng truyền hình Hàn Quốc lần thứ 22Đồng hồ cát tiếp tục chinh phục hạng mục Phim hay nhất, Biên kịch hay nhất và Diễn viên chính xuất sắc nhất.

1 năm sau, tại Giải thưởng hiệp hội những nhà sản xuất lần thứ 8The Sandglass một lần nữa được vinh danh với giải Daesang và Drama hay nhất năm. Bên cạnh đó, với mức rating trung bình 64,5%, phim còn lọt vào danh sách 10 drama Hàn Quốc có tỷ suất theo dõi cao nhất trong lịch sử từ trước tới nay.



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DRAMA INFO

Title(s): Sandglass, Hourglass

Starring: Choi Min-soo, Park Sang-won, and Go Hyun-jung

Original Air Dates: January 10, 1995 to February 16, 1995

Broadcaster: SBS

Episodes: 24

Why It’s Worthy: Aside from being firmly rooted in its position as the third highest rated Korean drama of all time, Sandglass is also one of the most well regarded.  According to the Chosun Ilbo, for example, drama insiders rated it as the best drama since 1980. [FN1] The drama adroitly deals with some heavy subject matter—South Korea’s emergence from Communistic and repressive military regimes into the democratic state it is today.  It also addresses the political corruption that appears to have been rampant throughout the 60s, 70s, and 80s and some of the tragic events the country collectively suffered during those times.  It is one such depiction, the Kwangju Massacre, that actually reverberated beyond the small screen and led to a renewed national interest in establishing what really happened during that uprising.  Sandglass seemingly gave the country the strength to openly converse about its past.  It’s no surprise, then, that people went home early to ensure they didn’t miss this show and businesses began putting signs in their windows notifying passersby that they were screening Sandglass to combat the drop in sales they suffered whenever it went on air.  (At least that’s what the lore surrounding this drama claims.)

EPISODE 1 RECAP

Spring 1976

It’s nighttime.  Unidentified men arrive at a police station. An officer unlocks a jail cell and tells the men inside to come out.  Park Tae-soo (Choi Min-soo) is among the men who are released.  They leave the station and walk toward the cars waiting outside.  Their gang boss, Lee Sung-bom* (Lee Hee-do), stands in front of one of the cars.  He has bailed the group out of jail.

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The gang goes to a private room where a Congressman is waiting to meet them.  They start introducing themselves one by one as they enter, but the Congressman interrupts them when he sees Tae-soo. He asks Tae-soo if they’ve met before and then turns to Sung-bom. He wants to know if Tae-soo will be coming with them.  Sung-bom says he’ll leave that decision up to him.

In the next scene we learn the Congressman has hired Sung-bom’s gang to break up an opposition party political event.  Tae-soo sits on a bus with the rest of the gang heading to the event while organizers at the location are busy setting up—completely unaware of what is about to happen.  Tae-soo looks at a ring on his finger, then he takes if off and puts it in his pocket before they arrive. Once they get there, they begin their attack.  We see a man sitting in a car outside watching the chaos unfold.  As he drives away, we cut back to the hall where someone hits Tae-soo and knocks him down.  Tae-soo catches up to the man who hit him and begins pummeling him in retaliation.

Afterwards, the gang recuperates and celebrates their success at a hotel.   One of the party members thanks Sung-bom for their hard work.  He says their hotel bill is covered and tells them to enjoy the rest of their stay in Seoul.  One of the gang members comes in and tells Sung-bom that “a Mr. Chang” is asking to meet him.  Sung-bom sends Tae-soo to speak with him.  He doesn’t want his gang involved in whatever Chang may be proposing and throws the business card he received from him on the ground.  Oh Jong-do (Jung Sung-mo) slyly picks the card up and pockets it when Sung-bom is not looking.

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At the meeting, Tae-soo meets Chang To-shik.  He wants Sung-bom’s gang to work for him. Chang is the man we saw watching from his car as the gang destroyed the opposition party’s event.

Tae-soo has heard Chang works for the government. Chang confirms this by saying his salary comes from the government. Tae-soo asks if the government is in the business of supporting thugs and Chang says he prefers to use different terminology.  He notes that labeling someone a thug is a matter of perspective.  The Japanese police called Korea’s independence fighters thugs during the colonial period so the difference between a thug and a patriot is a matter of for whom the “thug” works.  Chang says as long as Tae-soo has fists, he may as well use them for his country.  Tae-soo remarks that Sung-bom doesn’t believe thugs should get involved in politics because they’re only setting themselves up for execution.  Chang laughs in response.

Later, Tae-soo goes to the gym for a work out.  Jong-do is there and tries to convince him to accept Chang’s offer.  Jong-do thinks he will regret it if he misses this opportunity.  Tae-soo wants to consult Sung-bom, but Jong-do disagrees.  Everyone listens to Tae-soo and Jong-do thinks it will cause Sung-bom unnecessary worry if he knows what they’re doing.  Jong-do says Sung-bom is getting old so they should handle things among themselves and tell Sung Bom later.  Tae-soo walks past Jong-do and says he’ll pretend they never had this conversation.

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Tae-soo goes to a residential neighborhood and begins walking around as though he’s looking for something.  As he’s walking up a hill, a taxi stops behind him.  He turns around and sees Kang Woo-suk (Park Sang-won) getting out of the taxi.  They spot each other and smile.

Winter 1973

Flashback to 1973.  At a high school in Kwangju province, a teacher introduces a new student to the class.  It’s a teenaged Park Tae-soo (Kim Jung-hyun). The teacher assigns Tae-soo to a seat next to teenaged Kang Woo-suk (Hong Kyung-in). Then he calls the roll and we learn that Jong-do is a part of the class too.

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During lunch, a classmate takes Tae-soo’s egg out of his lunch tin without asking first.  Then he makes matters worse by challenging Tae-soo to a fight.  Unfortunately for him, Tae-soo is a good fighter.  He easily beats the opponent elected to take him on first.  When the best fighter is knocked out cold, Tae-soo takes a moment to scan the crowd, then he points to Jong-do as the next person he’ll challenge.  Jong-do slowly approaches him, but instead of fighting, Jong-do sticks out his hand, introduces himself and welcomes Tae-soo to town.

Tae-soo takes Jong-do and a few other classmates home with him after school, including the student he beat up.  He lives at a gisaeng house and the boys are shyly thrilled to see so many women up close.  Tae-soo’s mother runs the gisaeng house.  Some of the women bring the boys food, and she shoos them away when she comes to greet his friends.  She offers them beer to go with their meal and they dig into the food with gusto as soon as she leaves the room.

That night, as Tae-soo studies, his mother lies on a pallet beside him watching him.  She tells him to stop and sit with her for a moment.  They have a drink and when she offers to refill his glass, he tells her he has a test the next day.  She tells him how much he looks like his father and caresses his face.  He looks at her lovingly and when she falls asleep he covers her with a blanket.

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Apparently, word has quickly spread that there’s a new jjang in town.  On a bus, a group of boys from another school start a fight with the boys from Tae-soo’s school.  When Tae-soo shows up, they all stop fighting to watch him approach.  He walks up to the leader of their group, punches him, and they all start to fight again.  The group goes back to their boss and reports that the “same guy” beat them again.

Unfortunately, the fight gets Tae-soo suspended from school.  His mother meets with the principal and argues that there should be a thorough investigation before they suspend him, especially considering she heard the students from the other school started the fight.

On their way home, she stops and sits down by a river.  She’s in a philosophical mood.  She knows it must be hard for him to study when he has to come home to giggling women, a drunk mother, and noisy customers.  She apologizes and says she should quit being an entertainer, but she doesn’t want to go back to being a vendor selling things at the market.  He lets her vent and, when they start back home, he tells her to get on his back and carries her home.

After this conversation with his mother, Tae-soo decides to do well in school and approaches Woo-suk, the top student, to tutor him.  As payment, Tae-soo says he’ll protect Woo-suk from anyone who tries to bother him.  Woo-suk turns him down though.  He tells Tae-soo he’ll have to fight or study, but he can’t do both.

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Tae-soo chooses to study and Woo-suk begins tutoring him.  One afternoon, they’re walking together when a group of thugs confront Tae-soo and say their “hyung” (in this context, their leader) wants to meet him.  Woo-suk yells that Tae-soo promised not to fight anymore as the thugs lead Tae-soo away.

At the gang headquarters, one of the thugs tells Tae-soo not to worry.  They just want to see how good he is and, if he’s good, they want him to join them.  Tae-soo initially begins to defend himself when they attack, but he spies Woo-suk watching from outside.  Woo-suk followed him in spite of Tae-soo telling him to go home.  Tae-soo sees how disappointed Woo-suk is that he’s fighting again and refuses to fight back.  The thugs beat him pretty badly.  He can barely stand when Woo-suk walks into the headquarters to get him.  When he sees Woo-suk leaning over him, he tells him he kept his promise (not to fight) and then passes out.  Woo-suk picks him up and starts to help him away.  The thugs block their path, but the boss (it’s Lee Sung-bom) tells them to let him go.  He says Tae-soo will be back.

After that day, Tae-soo and Woo-suk become inseparable.

April 8, 1975

Tae-soo’s mom calls him into one of the entertainment rooms and introduces him to Congressman Park (the Congressman who recognized Tae-soo earlier in the episode).  Congressman Park tells Tae-soo he asked his mother to introduce them because he heard about Tae-soo from others.  The word around town is that Tae-soo can get the young people to do anything he says.  The Congressman thinks it will be beneficial to meet Tae-soo while Tae-soo is still young.  He recommends Tae-soo looking for bigger fish to fry instead of staying in their small town and asks Tae-soo if he’s interested in “playing under a swindler.”

We don’t hear Tae-soo’s answer.  He goes back to his room where Woo-suk is waiting to get back to studying.  Tae-soo asks Woo-suk where President Park Chung-hee graduated from college.  Woo-suk tells him it was the Military Academy.  Tae-soo says he wants to go to the Military Academy so he can become president and get rid of all the dead weight lying around.

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He’s in for a shock though.  At the Military Academy entrance interview, as soon as he introduces himself, the men on the selection panel look at their paperwork and start whispering among themselves.  One of them asks if his father’s name is Park In-sul and whether he died in 1957.  Tae-soo says yes.

That yes seals his fate.  He won’t be going to the Military Academy or any college for that matter.  He’s been rejected because his father was a Communist guerrilla.  His mom explains that his father was a bank clerk who became a resistance fighter.  He fought on Mt. Chili and stayed after the war, which made him a “Red,” i.e. a Communist, she says.  She shows Tae-soo the ring his father gave her and tells him his father was eventually captured.  The government released him a year after his capture, but they came back for him when she was pregnant with Tae-soo.  The family buried him in a valley on Mt. Chili without a grave marker because they were too afraid to put one up.  She couldn’t find the grave after that because all the valleys looked the same to her.

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Later, Tae-soo’s mom stands on a peak on Mt. Chili and stares at the view.  When she comes down from the mountain, she’s visibly drunk.  She stumbles a bit as she walks on the platform of a train station. Her scarf blows away and lands on the train track.  She walks onto the track to pick it up and looks nervously at a train that is approaching the station.  She stands up and seems to stare at the train as it continues to approach.  Suddenly the scarf is blowing away and Tae-soo is in mourning attire as Woo-suk and his other friends restrain him.  He’s violently crying as he watches his mother’s coffin go into the fire for cremation. Afterwards, Tae-soo spreads his mother’s ashes on the same mountain peak she visited before she died as Woo-suk stands silently behind him.

With his mother’s funeral behind him, Tae-soo sits in the courtyard at home looking down at his mother’s ring.  He and Woo-suk go to a photography studio.  Woo-suk asks why Tae-soo wants to take pictures all of a sudden, but Tae-soo doesn’t answer.  Instead, he hands Woo-suk an envelope of money and says it’s for Woo-suk’s college tuition.  Tae-soo has decided not to go to college, but he still wants Woo-suk to follow his dream and go to law school. Tae-soo says he has his own place to go.  The scene ends when the photographer snaps the pairs’ picture.

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1976

Tae-soo and Woo-suk are in Woo-suk’s room in Seoul.  Tae-soo stares at the picture they took together back in high school, and then he looks around at all the books in the room.  He remarks that Woo-suk is still the same.  Woo-suk looks at the scars on Tae-soo’s hand and remarks that he’s still the same too.

They’re having a drink when Yoon Hye-rin (Go Hyun-jung) peeks inside.  She shrinks back when she notices he’s not alone.  She’s there to borrow money.  Woo-suk tells Tae-soo she’s his neighbor and they attend the same college, then he goes out to lend her the money.  While he talks to her outside, Tae-soo secretly watches them with a smile on his face, and the episode ends.

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MY THOUGHTS

For five plus years now, I’ve heard about Sandglass and read all the hype surrounding this classic K-drama.  One of the things I’ve heard over and over is that the actors involved gave some amazing performances.  Less than halfway through this first episode, I could already see why the performances were so praised.  In this episode, I found Kim Yeong-ae’s (Tae-soo’s mother) performance the most riveting.  I particularly enjoyed the scene where she sat in Tae-soo’s room watching him as he studied.  Physically, she didn’t do much.  She just lay on a pallet and talked to him, but her gaze and body language spoke volumes.  There was sadness, remorse, love, longing, apathy, and self-pity, in the way she moved, the way she looked at him and the way she drank—capped off by the way she caressed his face at the end of the scene.

The actor playing the young Tae-soo was great as well though.  Although in that particular scene, he too didn’t have to do much except sit, I thought he was very expressive anyway.  The way he looked at his mom and the things he didn’t say said a whole lot.  It was obvious he frequently indulged his mom’s whims and his patience with her reflected the love and respect he maintained for her in spite of her flaws.  The viewer could understand, even before his mother said as much, that perhaps she was the very reason he had learned how to fight so well and didn’t make such good grades.

The way the director handled the death of Tae-soo’s mother was exceptional too.  Although I didn’t convey this in the recap, there was no dialogue for a good stretch of the episode after Tae-soo’s mother told him about his father.  Instead, the Sandglass theme played.  So as a viewer, we got to watch (and feel) what happened instead of being told.  It was actually an effective way to handle her death.  And in the end I found I couldn’t think of a better way to shoot that scene because any other way would have muted its impact.

I like that this drama is not necessarily spelling things out for the viewers.  Although at the same time, it requires a lot of reading between the lines and it makes recapping a bit challenging.  As a newbie recapper and someone who can’t speak the language, I can see myself misinterpreting and misunderstanding some things along the way.

*One issue I’ve already encountered is with the characters’ names.  The subtitling was clearly done by different individuals and no one bothered to ensure that the names were consistent throughout.  For example, the characters I’ve identified as Baek Min-jae and Hong Jin-soo are incorrectly referred to as Mi-jung and Ji-soo in the subtitles.  It was relatively easy to pick up on these mistakes, but the name of Tae-soo’s gang leader is a whole other issue.  It appears the producers themselves didn’t bother to remember his name.  In this episode (and throughout most of the drama), I clearly hear him referred to as Lee Sung-bom.  However, toward the end of the show he suddenly becomes Park Sung-bom.  Without a definitive character list from the producers of the show (which I have been unable to find online) it is impossible for me to know which name is the correct one.  Either way, I will stick with Lee Sung-bom throughout these recaps.

[FN1: Author unknown (Feb. 11, 2009). ‘The Sandglass’ Voted Best Korean Soap Since 1980. The Chosun Ilbo. Retrieved from http://www.english.chosun.com (last accessed Jan. 5, 2015).]

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EPISODE 2 RECAP

1976

Student protesters line the hallway in a college building.  They are refusing to sit for exams until the government does away with the constitution.  An instructor walks down the hall and enters a classroom.   There are only two students inside.  One of them is Kang Woo-suk.  He passes out the exam to Woo-suk and the other student, and the camera pans to the blackboard behind him.  The protesters have written messages on it: “Support the boycott against testing.” “Refuse mid-term testing.” “We’ll elect our own student president.”

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After the exam, Woo-suk walks upstairs.  A few students approach him and ask if they can speak with him.  He meets with Student Leader Jung Un-gyong and a few other students who want to know why he is opposing the student body’s decision to boycott all studies.  Not only does Woo-suk oppose the boycott, he also supports mandatory testing Un-gyong notes.  Woo-suk asks what’s wrong with him opposing their decisions.  He says dictators are leaders who don’t permit opposition and accuses the protesters of doing just that.

He and Un-gyong go to a restaurant to continue their talk.  Un-gyong agrees with his earlier remark and says democracy does grow stronger through opposition and criticism.  However, he says Woo-suk is the type of person they fear will run the country’s judicial system.  He’s the boy genius in his hometown, the top student in high school who works his butt off in college and will become a prosecutor or judge one day.  But he doesn’t really know much about society and Un-gyong thinks he’ll have no problem sentencing someone to jail time or even death without asking why the person did what he did.

Their conversation is interrupted when a disgruntled patron yells at a woman at another table and slaps her.  Yoon Hye-rin is sitting with the woman who gets slapped, and she stands up and slaps the guy back.  He crashes to the ground, but he recovers and tries to attack her. Un-gyong grabs him before he can hit her and other patrons help drag the guy away.

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The next time Woo-suk sees Hye-rin, they’re both at the library and he sneaks peeks at her through the book stacks until she notices him watching her.  When he’s looking away, she goes to the next row and catches him looking around to see where she went.  She approaches him later and asks if he knows her.  He smiles (and we don’t get to hear his response).

Two men have a picture of Hye-rin and follow her as she walks home in the dark.  She keeps looking over her shoulder and eventually hurries away and hides.  Woo-suk sees her hiding and approaches her from behind.  She’s startled at first, then she’s relieved that it’s him.  He lets her hide in his house and asks what has her so afraid, but she just laughs.  He finally gets the chance to introduce himself.

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Some time later, Hye-rin sees Woo-suk in the cafeteria having lunch.  She walks over to him and says hi, then sits down.  She hungrily stares at his meal and asks if he’s going to finish it all.  He gives her the rest of his lunch and asks if she doesn’t even have money for ramen.  She shakes her head no.  He tells her he knows a young student looking for a tutor and asks if she’s interested in the job.  She declines though. She knows the student he’s talking about is actually the student he tutors and, if she takes the job, then he won’t have one.  He says he has another job so she agrees  to do it.  As she leaves, she tells him one day she’ll marry a guy just like him.

Hye-rin was right.  Woo-suk has to take a job driving taxis to make up for his lost income.  After he turns in his earnings at the end of a shift one night, he finds Hye-rin standing outside. She’s mad because he gave up his tutoring job for her and now has to drive taxis to support himself. She starts yelling so he ignores her and walks away.  She follows him and grabs his hand.  They take the bus home, and she falls asleep with her head on his shoulder.  He smiles to himself as the bus rolls down the street.

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Fall 1968

Flashback.  In the Korean countryside, farmer Kang Man-suk (Woo-suk’s dad) is refusing to sell his land to investors who are trying to build a golf course in town.  One of the investors argues that Mr. Kang will be living alone in a thatched-roofed house while everything around him is modernized.  Mr. Kang says he won’t be alone because he has his sons and his land.  When the investor leaves, Mr. Kang explains to a young Woo-suk that the issue is not about selling land. It’s about those investors wanting to take the land that people’s lives are built on and turn it into a playground and that’s just not right.  He tells Woo-suk to get back to studying and Woo-suk begins reading aloud about democracy.

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Some time later, Mr. Kang and his other son, Kang Young-suk, have gone into town for farm supplies.  Mr. Kang pays for the goods he buys and the employee at the store documents the sale on a clipboard he’s holding. There’s someone in an office looking at the exchange.  As they finish loading the wheelbarrow, the man watching Mr. Kang picks up the phone on his desk and makes a call.

On their way home, Young-suk asks Mr. Kang why Woo-suk gets to just study instead of helping in the house and taking care of the farm like he does.  Mr. Kang tells him it’s a matter of national importance.  “From a national perspective, one boy must study and the other must work,” he says, “The country needs smart people, but it needs workers too.”  He asks Young-suk if he likes studying, and Young-suk admits that he doesn’t.

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That night, someone knocks on the door calling out for Mr. Kang.  It’s the police.  They let themselves in and start dragging Mr. Kang away.  Mrs. Kang resists though.  She demands to know why they’re taking him.  They ignore her, but Woo-suk blocks their path before they can leave.  He asks what crime his father is accused of committing. The police officer claims Mr. Kang stole farm supplies from the co-op.  Woo-suk calls the officer a liar.

Meanwhile, another officer comes from the Kang’s storeroom and says all five bags of the missing goods are there.  He notes the bags have the same serial numbers as the bags reported missing.  Mr. Kang insists he paid for the supplies, and the officer asks if he has a receipt as proof of payment.  Mr. Kang doesn’t, but Young-suk says to himself he knows his dad paid for those bags.

The next day, Woo-suk and his mother go to the co-op office.  The guy who sold the supplies to Mr. Kang denies seeing Mr. Kang at all the previous day.  So later that night, Woo-suk goes looking for witnesses to testify for his dad.  He finds a farmer from the next village who says he was at the co-op that day and saw Mr. Kang.  He also saw Mr. Kang pay for the supplies.

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Having procured a witness, Woo-suk and his family wait outside the police station expecting Mr. Kang to be released. Other villagers gather outside to wait too.  The farmer Woo-suk got to testify for his father comes out of the station.  Woo-suk is excited to see him emerge, but the farmer has changed his story.  He insists he didn’t see anything and tells Woo-suk he doesn’t even know his father and starts to leave.  Young-suk asks what’s going to happen to their dad now, but Woo-suk can only stand there and stare as the farmer walks away.

That night at the station, one of the officers tries to convince Mr. Kang to give in quietly to the conspiracy against him.  The officer implores him to think about his children.  According to the officer, his son has the makings of a general and it wouldn’t look good to have his father redlined on the family register.  Mr. Kang hangs his head, and in the next scene, the family of four have all their possessions packed on the back of a truck and leave town.

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Woo-suk sits in the back with his father and has tears in his eyes.  Mr. Kang tells Woo-suk to go to law school, pass the bar exam, and become a judge.  He wants Woo-suk to help the unjustly accused when he becomes a judge.

Woo-suk’s family moves to Kwangju where he eventually meets Park Tae-soo.  Tae-soo and Woo-suk are studying at Tae-soo’s house one day when Woo-suk’s father shows up.  He yells for Woo-suk to come out.  Tae-soo’s mother comes out as he’s fussing at Woo-suk for staying at a gisaeng house.  He remarks that Woo-suk left a perfectly good home to shack up with some prostitutes.  Tae-soo’s mom introduces herself, but Mr. Kang ignores her and demands that Woo-suk pack his things and come home.  Tae-soo’s mother gets on her knees to apologize and Mr. Kang drops down to his knees too. She thanks Mr. Kang, saying because of his son, her son has cleaned up his act and is studying hard.  She blames herself for asking Woo-suk to live with them because he’s such a good teacher to her undeserving son.  She offers to get them separate housing immediately if he allows Woo-suk to stay.

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Mr. Kang doesn’t respond, but Woo-suk is allowed to stay.  Woo-suk takes his father to the train station to see him off.  As they’re standing together on the platform, Mr. Kang tells Woo-suk things are either right or wrong and if you start compromising with evil, you’ll find yourself sucked in with no way out.  He remarks that a swan shouldn’t play with a raven and tells him to keep that in mind if he’s going to practice law in the future.  Then he gets on the train and leaves.

There is a montage of Tae-soo crying over his mom’s coffin and the picture of Tae-soo and Woo-suk that they took when Tae-soo announced he wasn’t going to college.  We see a teenaged Tae-soo fighting with his gang alongside Oh Jong-do.  Then the scene transitions to an adult Tae-soo fighting.

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Adult Woo-suk runs to a hospital looking around for someone.  He’s there to see Tae-soo, who has been injured in a fight.  Jong-do spots Woo-suk first and remarks that it’s been a long time since they’ve seen each other.  Woo-suk walks pass him without responding and goes to Tae-soo’s hospital bed.  He helps Tae-soo into a wheelchair and pushes him away from the ward.  He lectures Tae-soo as he pushes the wheelchair, asking how long he’s going to go around fighting and going in and out of jail.  Woo-suk wants Tae-soo to leave with him and make a fresh start.  He says he’ll help him, but Tae-soo tells Woo-suk he has nowhere to go.

Woo-suk says he’s going to be a judge or a prosecutor one day.  If that happens and Tae-soo keeps living like this, they may go up against each other. Woo-suk asks if that’s what Tae-soo wants. Tae-soo says he’ll be too big by then and Woo-suk will be too afraid to touch him. “That’s the way the law really works,” Tae-soo remarks, “They don’t touch the chiefs–just the Indians.”  Woo-suk looks at him and pulls an envelope from his pocket.  It’s the money he borrowed from Tae-soo.  He’s written down his address in Seoul too and invites Tae-soo to visit whenever he wants.  He starts to leave, but Tae-soo calls after him asking if they’re still friends.  Woo-suk turns around and looks at Tae-soo but doesn’t answer.

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Tae-soo serves a prison sentence.  On the day he’s being released, Woo-suk arrives outside the facility with tofu in hand to welcome him home.  Tae-soo’s gangster friends are waiting just outside the prison too though.  Before Tae-soo sees Woo-suk, the other gangsters greet and hug him. Woo-suk watches from afar as Tae-soo gets in a car with his gang members and rides away.

Back at university, Hye-rin and Woo-suk get off the bus (it’s after their taxi stand argument).  Instead of walking away, Hye-rin just stands there staring at Woo-suk, refusing to go home.  Woo-suk gets her a room at a motel and tells her to get some sleep.  She yells at him for wasting money and says she can sleep in his room.  He cuts her off and tells her to call home before she goes to sleep.  She says her mom is dead and she can’t call home because her dad is a gambler who will sell her off to someone before long.  Woo-suk looks at her awkwardly and says he’ll leave her to rest.

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In the morning, he’s waiting outside when she comes out.  They head to school together and it’s comical to see how shy he is.  He clearly wants to put his arm around her shoulder as they walk side-by-side, but he can’t muster up the courage to make a move.  Luckily for him, Hye-rin isn’t bashful and grabs his arm and holds onto it as they stroll.

Woo-suk writes home to his father later.  In voice over we hear him tell his dad he’s returning the money dad sent and asks that he not send anymore because he’s too old (being all of twenty) to receive an allowance from home. He assures his dad that the student protests he reads about in the papers haven’t affected his studies.  However, as he writes, we see Hye-rin and other protesters making posters.  Woo-suk visits her while she’s working and they have lunch together.  Afterwards, Hye-rin has her head on his lap and naps as he reads on the steps at a park. Woo-suk ends his letter by telling dad that he’s focused on his goals, and he is happy and at peace.

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Some time afterwards, Woo-suk is studying in the library when he hears a huge commotion outside.  Soldiers have come to campus to arrest the protesters.  He sees Hye-rin among the students trying to escape and runs out to help her.  He locates her in the crowd, and they run into a theater where the students, totally oblivious to the chaos outside, are practicing for a performance.  He grabs her and kisses her when a group of soldiers enters the theater looking for protesters.  The soldiers see the pair kissing and leave.  Once they’re safe, Hye-rin pulls away and slaps him.  He just smiles in response.

MY THOUGHTS

Another good round of performances from the actors in an episode that continued to set up the back story of our main characters.  This episode, it was Woo-suk’s dad who was the standout to me.

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EPISODE 3 RECAP

Autumn 1972

A couple of men square off at a poker table. They each sign a contract and push it to the center of the table. The dealer confirms that the contract requires the loser to give all his stock to the winner. If Mr. Yoon wins, Mr. Jung will transfer his stock to Mr. Yoon. If Mr. Yoon wins, Mr. Jung gives his stock to Mr. Yoon, the dealer says. Mr. Yoon is Hye-rin’s father, Chairman Yoon Jae-yong (Park Geun-hyung).

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After the cards are dealt and it’s time to show their hands, Mr. Jung places his last card face up on the table. Chairman Yoon stands up without speaking, bows, and walks away. Mr. Jung stands up too. He begins inspecting the contracts, then he glances at Chairman Yoon’s cards, one of which is still laying face down where the Chairman left it. Almost as an afterthought, he decides to have a look at it. When he turns it over, he’s stricken. He lost the game.

The scene begins alternating between Chairman Yoon’s home, where his family is celebrating Hye-rin’s birthday, and the takeover of a casino. The men were gambling for ownership and control of a casino. Even though Chairman Yoon won, Mr. Jung is not letting it go without a fight.

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As the Yoon family prepares for the birthday celebration, Chairman Yoon’s men arrive outside the casino. A bus loaded with gangsters drives straight through a wall. The gangsters on board stream out and start to destroy the hotel and attack the patrons. Meanwhile, at the Yoon home, Hye-rin’s mom looks as if something is wrong. She clutches her chest and falls as the gangsters finally complete the takeover.

Hye-rin’s mom is resting in bed by the time Chairman Yoon gets a call with an update on the situation there. Hye-rin peeks in at him as he talks. He’s inquiring after the dealer his men found working at Mr. Jung’s (former) casino. He tells his man to bring the dealer to see him because the dealer may be of some use to them. His mind is already moving forward, planning out the day-to-day operations of his new business.

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Unfortunately for him, Mr. Jung is not quite done putting up a fight. When Hye-rin leaves school one day, there’s a gangster waiting for her. She tries to walk pass, but he kidnaps her. She sits in a dark room as her kidnapper and some other men play a game of cards. He warns her to “say her prayers” and we see a teenaged boy among them who looks at her sympathetically as Mr. Jung walks into the room.

Word reaches Chairman Yoon that Hye-rin has been kidnapped, and he quickly figures out that this is Mr. Jung’s doing. Mr. Jung has left a message that he’ll call at seven.  Chairman Yoon doesn’t want to just wait around until then, but his men assure him that they’re working to find out where Mr. Jung and his men are keeping Hye-rin. Hye-rin’s brother is outside the office looking in morosely. When Chairman Yoon sees him, he warns him not to breathe a word about the situation to his mother.

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When Mr. Jung calls, Chairman Yoon is remarkably cool. He lets the phone ring a few times before picking it up. Then he asks to speak with Hye-rin and she’s just as dumbstruck as I am when he tells her that he won’t cooperate with Mr. Jung to get her back. “If I get you back by doing as they demand, they’ll just kidnap you again later. So I’m not doing anything they ask me,” he says. Mr. Jung says they’ll kill Hye-rin and we see tears streaming down her face as she listens. The thugs snatch the phone from her and Chairman Yoon tells Mr. Jung that daughters are raised to get married off to someone else. “I’ll just pretend she went overseas and got married a little early,” he says and hangs up.

Hye-rin’s brother hears this and looks horrified. He starts calling for his mom and runs upstairs (and omg, I just realized it’s a young Heo Jung-min!).

Chairman Yoon looks pained/sad/psychotic after the phone call. His wife comes down the steps calling out for Hye-rin. She grabs her chest and falls when she’s almost at the bottom. Chairman Yoon sees her fall and gets angry with his son and slaps him. Medical staff are taking mom to an awaiting ambulance outside when Chairman Yoon gets word that his men have found Hye-rin.

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Perhaps aware that Chairman Yoon will be able to find them, the kidnappers move Hye-rin to a more remote area in their hideout. One of the gangsters approaches her and creepily pushes the hair back from her face. Someone hits him from behind, and he grabs his shoulder and turns around. He gets hit again and this time he goes down. It’s the teen boy who looked at Hye-rin so sympathetically earlier. He has a pipe in his hand and signals for her to be quiet. Then he unties her hands from behind her back. She runs and hides, scared of him too, but he holds his hands in the air in front of her. She sinks to the ground in relief that she’s safe, and he sits down too.

He’s roused when he hears loud bangs and shouts from his former gang. They are trying to break in and get to Hye-rin. He can only barricade the door for so long though. Eventually they break through and attack him. Hye-rin gets hurts too, but luckily Chairman Yoon’s men arrive just in time.

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One of her father’s men is carrying her away when she sees the teen lying on the ground. She looks at him as her father comes running down the stairs calling her name. He holds his arms out to her expecting her to embrace him. His man even puts her down for her to go to her father, but she refuses to move toward him. She looks at her dad and the teen lying motionless on the ground and chooses to go to the boy instead. Her father stands there hurt and shocked (although I don’t know how he didn’t see that one coming) until he slowly lowers his arms.

Back at the hospital, Chairman Yoon walks out of his wife’s room and past his two children without saying a word. When they see him, they run into the room but can only stand and stare through the glass window as their mom’s face is covered with a sheet. Chairman Yoon sinks into a chair and hangs his head.

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When Hye-rin gets home from school one day, she sees the boy who saved her talking with her father in his office. His name is Baek Jae-hee (Lee Jung-jae). He’s eighteen and used to be one of Mr. Jung’s up and coming talents. Chairman Yoon asks what made him call them that day? (So he’s how they found out where Hye-rin was.) He looks toward Hye-rin’s hiding spot behind a wall. It’s not clear if he sees her, but Chairman Yoon continues questioning him. He asks what Jae-hee wants and offers to send him oversees to study or give him a position in any of his numerous businesses. Jae-hee says he just wants to work for Chairman Yoon. Chairman Yoon leans down and whispers in his employee’s ear and we see that Jae-hee eventually begins martial arts training.

One day Hye-rin comes home from school and sees a man in her father’s office begging for more time. He gets on his knees as he asks for just one more month. Chairman Yoon’s attorney, Lawyer Min (Kim Jong-kyeol), is in the office too.  He reads his paper ignoring Chairman Yoon and their guest. As the guest implores Chairman Yoon to consider his son, who will die if they can’t pay his medical bills, Lawyer Min stands up and tells the man to just sign the document he thrusts his way. The camera pans to Chairman Yoon who is reading paperwork with his back turned and isn’t even listening to the begging man.

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Hye-rin goes to the yard and sits on a swing deep in thought. Two employees drag the begging man away as he screams that he’ll get Chairman Yoon back for this one day. Jae-hee comes out and puts a coat over Hye-rin’s shoulders. He stands there for a moment and then walks away. The camera spins around Hye-rin multiple times until it’s the adult Hye-rin (Go Hyun-jung) sitting on the swing. Jae-hee comes and puts a jacket on her shoulder and tells her that her father is waiting.

She arrives at a restaurant with her father and Jae-hee. Jae-hee goes to the bar and looks in on them as Chairman Yoon introduces his daughter to the various politicians and businessmen in the room. Eventually Hye-rin leaves her dad with his colleagues and wanders into an area where there are some young people playing pool. She starts to play darts alone until one of the guys in the room invites her to play pool with them. He tells her he’ll teach her the game if she’s never played before.

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There’s no need to teach her a thing though. She’s on the verge of beating him when one guy sneakily prepares to interrupt her next shot to prevent her from winning. But good old Jae-hee comes behind him and leads him away before he can make his move. She doesn’t even realize Jae-hee saved her as she smiles sweetly at her opponent and asks if he wants to play again.

Spring 1976

Hye-rin is at university now. She’s walking with some friends as the uni staff work to remove protest posters and flyers from around campus. After she bids her friends goodbye, she almost collides with another student. He looks frantic and keeps looking behind him as if he’s being followed. It’s Jung Un-gyong! He makes a split second decision and surprises her by shoving his carrying case into her hands and running away. Hye-rin is confused until she sees two men coming up the steps below her and realizes they’re after the student who just gave her his carrying case.

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She runs into a nearby building and looks into the bag. There’s a paper inside with “Voice of the People” written on it. She finds Un-gyong’s passport too and that’s how she figures out who he is and where to find him.  She tracks him down in a classroom working on a protest sign. He easily guesses that she’s a new student. He says he can tell by how the red letters surprised her and we see part of the message on the banner he’s working on has “Yushin Regime” on it in red paint.

That is Hye-rin’s introduction to the opposition movement. She quickly becomes immersed. She smuggles anti-regime posters and flyers around campus and distributes materials to students and other activists throughout her day. She’s careful to avoid being caught, but it’s apparent she’s not careful enough.

Her dad sends for her one day, and when she goes home he tells her he’s spoken with Chang To-shik. Her name is among a list of students who have been demonstrating against the government. She insists it’s just a study group, but he confronts her with flyers and asks if they’re from the group. She acknowledges that they are, and he demands that she quit. She doesn’t want to quit though and defends her actions, saying she’s learning things that aren’t taught in class, like who’s helping and who’s hurting society. He asks what the group would say about someone like him, and she tells him he’s one of the people hurting society. He wants her chauffeured to and from school from now on and tells his secretary to look into some study abroad programs to send her away. She goes to her room, packs, and leaves the house instead.

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Woo-suk is at the rooming house cooking when Hye-rin arrives. She says she’s moving in. The landlord welcomes her and shows her to her room. She tells Woo-suk she moved because there were too many people living in her small house, then she asks if he can see about getting her a part-time job.

MY THOUGHTS

This drama holds up amazingly well for being almost twenty years old. I’ve been talking about the stellar performances from the cast. That is a major part of what is so appealing about this drama. But the writing is great too. On an entertainment level, I love what they are doing with Chairman Yoon in making him so unrelentingly calculating (except in regards to his wife), but as a human being I find him frighteningly sociopathic. While I can certainly understand the logic behind what he said to Hye-rin, it’s just wrong on so many levels. To tell your child who you voluntarily brought into this world and have a duty to love and protect that you may have to let them die for the principal of things is so sick and cruel.

And my issues may be totally shining through, but as much as I can see the foundations for totally loving Jae-hee, I also kind of dislike him already. Can we not do another hired thug in love with the boss’ daughter or the silent background guy who will do whatever to protect his charge?  Ugh.

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EPISODE 4 RECAP

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Kang Woo-suk is working a shift driving for the taxi company. That evening, he picks up a fare outside of a night club. He witnesses the male passenger assaulting the woman in the backseat and reports  the incident to the police.  The woman disappears though, and the police detain him at the station instead of the abuser. Apparently, the passenger has connections in high places. Luckily for Woo-suk, he’s a law student who may end up being a prosecutor one day, so the officers release him too.

It’s morning by the time he gets home and his housemates are leaving for class as he is coming in. He sees Yoon Hye-rin and she asks why he never came home last night. He tells her to ask him where he was, but she’s totally unfazed when she hears he was at the police station. In a cell. All night. He laughs incredulously at her nonchalant attitude as he goes inside to rest.

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Oh Jong-do meets with Chang To-shik, who fills him in on more background information on why the powers-that-be are using Lee Sung-bom’s gang as muscle. According to Chang, the political event they destroyed was a party convention for the opposition party. No Joo-myung works for the opposition and the men they fought are members of Mr. No’s gang. Mr. No will be running a casino on behalf of Oh Dong-man, and it is set to open soon. Giving Mr. No a casino would be like giving a tiger wings, Chang says.  And because he’s not on their side, they have to stop him. As he’s talking, we see Mr. No, Mr. Oh, and other men signing contracts to open the casino.

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When Woo-suk gets home from school, Park Tae-soo is cooking dinner. The scent of the meat reaches Hye-rin and she invites herself to eat with them.  Tae-soo asks about her, and Woo-suk tells him she’s from a large family but they live in a small place so she moved out. He says she works to pay her rent and tuition. Tae-soo is clearly smitten. He just stares as she digs into the food and heartily takes a shot of the soju.

While Tae-soo is busy with Woo-suk, Jong-do plots to have his gang support Chang’s decision to takeover Mr. No’s casino. He lies to Baek Min-jae that Tae-soo is already onboard and is at the casino to prepare for the attack. Min-jae is angry that Tae-soo didn’t talk to Sung-bom or himself first, but he won’t let Tae-soo fight alone.  

When Tae-soo finally gets back to the hotel, Hong Jin-soo is the only one still there. He’s waited for Tae-soo and tells him everyone is already in place. Tae-soo has no idea what he’s talking about, but Jong-do calls and fills him in. He begs Tae-soo to help him just this once and says he’s sure they can pull it off because Mr. No is out of the country. Tae-soo wants Jong-do to pull their men out immediately, but Jong-do tells him their blood is on his hands if they fail, and he hangs up.

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Jong-do leads the charge as the gang starts their assault on Mr. No’s casino. Tae-soo arrives at a different entrance and fights his way into a private room where he confronts Mr. Oh. Jong-do and the rest of the gang aren’t fairing well and Mr. No’s second-in-command blocks their path in a hallway. He wants them to kneel (and acknowledge defeat), but Mr. Oh calls out behind him. He turns around and sees that Tae-soo has Mr. Oh. Tae-soo tells him from today on, they’ll be running the casino.

Mr. No’s second-in-command remembers Tae-soo from the political rally and Tae-soo asks if he got hurt badly that day. (The second-in-command is the one Tae-soo retaliated against for punching him when Sung-bom’s gang was attacking the opposition party’s political event in Episode 1.). He tells Tae-soo they’re out of their league, and then he encourages Mr. Oh to come to him. Jong-do steps forward instead. He strikes out at the second-in-command. We don’t get to see the attack, but Tae-soo tries to run and stop Jong-do, and we see the second-in-command’s eyes go wide in shock at whatever Jong-do does to him.

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Sung-bom is livid when he finds out. He punches Tae-soo, who falls to the floor from the blow. Sung-bom knows Tae-soo wasn’t behind the take-over though. He turns to the real culprit, Jong-do, and berates him for attacking Mr. No’s second-in-command with a knife. (Apparently, Jong-do stabbed the guy.) Sung-bom says the gangs may be enemies, but they’re all in the same racket. He declares that they use fists to fight, not knives. Jong-do apologizes, but Sung-bom ignores him. He pours alcohol on a cloth and uses it to press a wound on Tae-soo’s head. Then he leaves with Tae-soo as Jong-do watches from afar.

Outside, Sung-bom asks Tae-soo if he knows what he’s doing going against Mr. No.  Not only is Mr. No a formidable opponent, but he’s controlled Chungmuro for ten yrs and has backing from all the opposition party members. He warns Tae-soo to be wary of Chang, who uses people for his own schemes too. Tae-soo says he’ll stay and fight to the end and sees Sung-bom off.

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Mr. No visits his second-in-command in the hospital. The guy looks feverish and his leg is in a cast and elevated in a sling. Jong-do must have stabbed him in the leg.

Tae-soo presses forward with the take-over of Mr. No’s holdings. While Woo-suk is busy taking the first part of the bar exam, Tae-soo successfully captures one of Mr. No’s liquor warehouses.

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Afterwards, he returns to Woo-suk’s boarding house. Hye-rin lets him in to wait for Woo-suk and goes back to washing her bed linen. She explains that soon Woo-suk will be taking the second part of the bar and Tae-soo asks if she’ll be going to the testing site to support him. She tells Tae-soo he has the wrong idea about them, they’re not lovers. He watches her ineffectual attempts to wash her sheets and tells her she has to take off her shoes and step on the them instead of handwashing them. He shows her how to do it and helps her wring the water out to hang them on the clothesline. She sees his bandaged hand and tells him he looks like a gangster. She laughs at her “joke” though, convinced he couldn’t be a gangster.

Hye-rin leaves with Tae-soo before Woo-suk makes it home. When he returns later, two men are following him. He finds Woo-suk inside and gives him an envelope of money. He wants Woo-suk to stop driving taxis, but Woo-suk doesn’t want to accept the money because he knows how Tae-soo earned it.

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Woo-suk leaves to finish the next round of the bar exam. He sees a black jeep speed up the street and stop outside of the boarding house. He hesitates when he sees men in black suits jump out and head in. He takes one step back toward the house, but then he changes his mind and keeps walking toward school. He can’t leave Tae-soo though, and eventually he runs back to the house. He uses a side door to reach Tae-soo first and warns him that he’s been followed. When the men break into the house, he holds them off so Tae-soo can run away. Tae-soo steals a delivery driver’s motorcycle to make his escape. Jae-hee is sitting in his car nearby and sees Tae-soo get away.

Woo-suk makes it to school, but he’s too late to enter the testing room. He stands outside the door sadly looking at his empty desk.

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Tae-soo is waiting for Woo-suk when he returns that night. Hye-rin is heading out too and she asks Woo-suk how the test went. He doesn’t respond. Instead, he walks past both of them. Tae-soo asks about the test again and Woo-suk just stands there.  He slowly turns toward Tae-soo, but he still doesn’t say anything. Tae-soo realizes what his silence means and is disappointed. Woo-suk asks him if he’s hungry and puts his arm around Tae-soo’s shoulder as they go inside the rooming house.

MY THOUGHTS

Things just got a little more real for our friends, and I’m finally invested in this drama. It’s one thing to know you’re on different paths and, while not seeing eye to eye, being able to accept the other person for who he or she is as someone you care about. But when that person’s misdeeds start to negatively affect your life, many people would draw the line. Woo-suk really struggled with whether to help Tae-soo in this episode. When he started to walk away after he saw those men going after Tae-soo, I didn’t like his decision on an emotional level at all.  In fact, inside I was screaming–What!? You’re really not going to help your friend?  What kind of person are you?

On the other hand though, I totally understood his decision intellectually.  In fact, I rationalized that it was a smart thing to do.  Tae-soo has always been very clear that he’s on a collision course with death, prison, infamy, or all three.  And if death, prison, or even just serious injury were on its way to get him, then why should Woo-suk partake?  This is Tae-soo’s life, after all, and it is in no way Woo-suk’s responsibility (friend or not) to get him out of this.

After consoling myself a little with these thoughts, boy was I glad Woo-suk changed his mind and ran back to help Tae-soo.  I cheered inside and felt a huge amount of relief that Tae-soo escaped and Woo-suk was unhurt. That sigh of relief was short lived though. My heart sank when I saw Woo-suk had missed his exam. His lifelong goal gone (at least for now) in the blink of an eye because of his loyalty to his friend. And let’s not forget. This is not merely a dream he’s cherished. He has the weight of his family on his shoulders and memories of the unfair way the government treated his father to wipe away with his success.  But if ever I trusted someone to do what they set out to do, it’s Woo-suk so I’m sure he’ll find a way to make his father proud.

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EPISODE 5 RECAP

Chairman Yoon Jae-young is meeting with Chang To-shik and Lawyer Min at his home office.  Chang reports that Park Tae-soo and his gang have taken over several of No Joo-myung’s businesses within the past month.  Chang is surprised Mr. No is letting them have their way, but Chairman Yoon isn’t.  He says Mr. No would lose a lot more if he tried to fight them because they have all the power now.  Oh Dong-man will be turning the casino over to Chairman Yoon soon and he tells Lawyer Min to handle things when Mr. Oh brings the paperwork. 

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Chang also reports that his daughter, Yoon Hye-rin, is working with other students to start an underground newspaper. Chairman Yoon interrupts him before he can go on and asks if he knows anything about antique ceramics.  He says doesn’t know much about them, but he gives Chang an antique vase and says he hears it’s the real thing.

When Chang leaves, Lawyer Min asks if the antique vase was a sufficient kickback for Chang.  He wonders if they should have given him money too, but Chairman Yoon says no.  Chang is from a different mold, the Chairman muses.  He then brings up Hye-rin and makes sure Baek Jae-hee is keeping an eye on her.  Lawyer Min assures him that Jae-hee constantly tails her, and Chairman Yoon tells him to send Jae-hee in to see him as soon as he comes home that day. 

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Hye-rin is drunk when she returns to the boarding house that night.  Good old Jae-hee watches her from a few buildings away as she stumbles and falls and struggles to pick up the rice she spilled from the bag she’s carrying.  She finally makes it home and yells for Kang Woo-suk to open the door for her.  He helps her inside and tells her to rest in his room until her room heats up. 

She goes to his room and starts berating him.  She asks if he’s ashamed that he’s studying for the bar exam so he can live well.  He ignores the dig and tells her to sleep it off and he’ll wake her when her room is warm.  She agrees but warns him not to be too nice to her.  It embarrasses her, she says.  She gets up to leave, but she’s too drunk to stand and crashes back to the floor. 

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Woo-suk realizes something has happened to bring on her mood and asks what’s wrong.  She reveals that she’s upset from seeing protesters on a hunger strike at Tongil Textiles.  The fasting protesters are putting their lives on the line to change society and she’s out buying rice, she says.  Then she dissolves into tears.  Woo-suk sits next to her and lets her cry on his shoulder. 

Soon afterwards, the police raid the underground newspaper’s hideout.  Hye-rin and her friends are arrested.  Woo-suk finds out about the arrest when he returns to the boarding house and sees that the police have searched her room.  He calls her family to tell them about the arrest and Jae-hee brings Hye-rin’s brother, Yoon Young-jae, to meet with him. 

Woo-suk takes them back to the rooming house where Hye-rin’s things are piled in a heap in her room.  Her brother is taken aback by the humble surroundings.  He looks in the kitchen and asks if Hye-rin really cooked her meals there.  Woo-suk says that she did. 

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Woo-suk is confused too though.  Hye-rin’s brother is clearly wealthy, what with having a driver chauffeuring him in an expensive car and all.  He tells Young-jae he doesn’t look like someone from a poor family and asks if he’s really Hye-rin’s brother.  Young-jae doesn’t respond.  Instead, he turns and walks away. 

Back at the car, Young-jae guesses that Jae-hee has known what Hye-rin was up to all along.  Jae-hee admits he’s been following her since she left home.  Young-jae gets angry that Jae-hee didn’t intervene when he saw Hye-rin being arrested, but Jae-hee explains he was just doing what Chairman Yoon told him to do, which was to leave her alone.  Young-jae disgustedly says that sounds just like his father.  If he hadn’t heard about Hye-rin’s arrest, he’s sure his father would have just abandoned her to the wolves.  He wonders how his father could just sit there receiving reports about his child and do nothing about it. 

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Apparently her brother’s interference works.  At the station, the police have found out that Hye-rin is Chairman Yoon’s daughter.  A detective goes into the interrogation room where they are holding Hye-rin and scoffs that a rich kid is out there causing so much trouble.  He thinks her involvement in the movement is just for kicks or she’s blindly following her poor lover around.  Chang arrives to get her out of jail and saves her from the detective’s diatribe. 

Young-jae and Jae-hee are there as well.  They take her home, and Chairman Yoon asks if she came home on her own volition.  She admits that she didn’t, and he tells Young-jae he wasted his time getting her out of jail. 

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Hye-rin hugs her father and says she’ll get going.  When she leaves, he asks Jae-hee about her life in college.  He wants to know if she lives comfortably and has plenty of fuel for heat.  Jae-hee says yes and adds that she pays her own tuition too.  Chairman Yoon says he bet she does and smiles.

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Young-jae and Hye-rin are still outside when Jae-hee comes out.  Young-jae wants her to come back home, but she refuses.  He offers to get her an apartment and Jae-hee says he wants her to come home too.  He had to just sit there and watch as she got arrested, and he never wants to have to go through that again, he says.  She stands up from the swing she’s sitting on and tells him one of the reasons she hates being at home is because he speaks so respectfully to her.  She’d like to talk to him just as she talks to everyone else, she says, and she walks away. 

Tae-soo and Hong Jin-soo are hanging out a local pool hall when Mr. No finally makes a move on their gang.  When the pool hall proprietor sees Tae-soo, he makes a phone call and Mr. No’s men arrive soon afterwards. Tae-soo spots them, and he tells Jin-soo to keep playing as if they’re not aware of what is about to happen.  He wants Jin-soo to get the motorcycle ready for a quick escape though.

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When the gangsters attack, Tae-soo tries to hold them off so Jin-soo can make it out.  Jin-soo gets stabbed in the neck and is seriously injured, but he manages to get out the door.  By the time Tae-soo jumps out of a window and meets him, Jin-soo is barely conscious.  He has started the engine though, and Tae-soo drives them away and carries Jin-soo to a hospital. 

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Sung-bom calls a meeting with the leaders in his gang to discuss some business.  He asks how Jin-soo is doing and tells them Mr. No’s attempt to ambush Tae-soo is why they call him “the tick.”  He advises Tae-soo to lay low for a while.  Jong-do disagrees though.  He thinks they’d have a morale problem without Tae-soo around, and Sung-bom calls him out for being more concerned with climbing up the ranks than Tae-soo’s safety.  He’s heard all about Jong-do mingling with big shots and asks Jong-do if he’s trying to take over his duties. 

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Jong-do is sufficiently hushed for now, but he’s not pleased when Sung-bom puts everyone except him in charge of day-to-day operations.  Sung-bom will not be returning to Seoul very often so he assigns the liquor warehouse to Chang Il-do, he gives Tae-soo the nightclubs, and Baek Min-jae, who he adorably calls Baek-kum (white bear), gets the casino.  When he’s done, Tae-soo can only look at Jong-do, who just sits there silently fuming. 

Later Tae-soo tries to get Sung-bom to change his mind about leaving Jong-do out.  He claims he can’t handle running the nightclubs because he’s not good at keeping records and doing other administrative stuff.  He thinks Jong-do would be a better fit for the job.  Sung-bom is unmoved by his spiel though.  He admits he would have gotten rid of Jong-do a long time ago if it weren’t for Tae-soo.  He does agree that Tae-soo can give Jong-do something to do if he wants, but he warns Tae-soo to always keep Jong-do beneath him.  Jong-do is going to swallow them both one day, Sung-bom muses.

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Hye-rin eventually makes her way back to the boarding house. She goes to Woo-suk’s room, and he tells her he met her brother and found out her father may just be one of the richest men in Korea.  Woo-suk remarks that it’s mighty interesting.  He has two friends—one has become such a low life he can’t approach him and the other is so high up he can’t reach her. She asks if he’s practicing for a part in play and he says yes.  He’ll even tell her about it.  It’s about a textbook example of a bright, just, and courageous young prosecutor.  The prosecutor doesn’t marry a rich man’s daughter he doesn’t love.  Instead, he marries a woman from a poor family who spends her time helping people poorer than herself.  They’re a perfect couple because the prosecutor would know better than anyone the plight of the poor.

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Hye-rin asks if he’s finished with his story.  He just sits there and she starts to leave but changes her mind.  She turns to him and asks what was the point of his speech. Did he like her enough to marry her when he thought she was from a poor family, but he won’t now that he knows she’s a rich man’s daughter? He doesn’t respond and she gets angry and starts to hit him.  He tells her he failed the bar exam, and she freezes.  He says he dropped out of school too and will be going home the next day.  She just stares at him, and then he backhugs her.  He tells her he’s glad he could at least say goodbye before leaving.

Woo-suk’s stay at home is only temporary though.  He gets his draft notice to enlist in the military.  He’s helping his father on the farm one day before he leaves, and his dad tells him that his little brother, Kang Young-suk, is a big farmer now.  Young-suk has been through droughts and floods and has realized how precious the land is, he says.  After all, it’s hard to appreciate a good harvest unless you’ve gone through a few bad ones.  His dad asks him if he understands and Woo-suk says that he does. His father is glad to hear that.  He was afraid Woo-suk would fail the bar exam once, then call it quits.  He thinks it may be a good thing for Woo-suk to go to the military and get stronger.  He wants him to study while he’s there though so he won’t forget everything. 

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Tae-soo makes the trip down to Kwangju to see Woo-suk before he leaves.  He’s heard that Woo-suk enlisted and the friends walk along some train tracks in town talking before Woo-suk boards. 

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Their separation is destined to be short-lived though.  After boot camp, Woo-suk’s unit is stationed in Seoul.  The head officer informs them of their destination onboard a military train headed toward the city.  The soldiers break out into applause and shouts when they hear the news. 

MY THOUGHTS

There’s just so much I could discuss about this episode, but I will try to be concise.

Hye-rin is foremost in my mind because I find her behavior the most egregious at times.  Although I really do not want to belittle the very real issues she has experienced with trying to find herself and establishing an identity in the midst of her fractured world, I can’t help but loathe how she lashes out at the very ones who care about her and have the lest to do with her internal struggles. It’s part of the human condition to evaluate yourself and your place in your societal structure and even to question it.  We all go through it to varying degrees and it’s not something that someone on the outside looking in can judge. 

I also understand that when you’re wealthy and you’re on that journey, people react very much like the officer who released Hye-rin from jail—assuming because she’s a part of the one percent, she shouldn’t have anything to complain about.  I even get that it’s not fair that it’s more socially acceptable for a poorer person to be able to reject their condition and the hierarchy they see around them and strive for something better.  However, some of her antics just serve to reinforce the idea that she doesn’t deserve empathy because she’s trampling on the very people whom she’s trying so hard to prove that she gets.

Although I may eventually grow tired of Hye-rin’s poor-little-rich-girl behavior, I really was very indignant for her when Woo-suk unceremoniously made it clear he was bowing out of the running for her affections once he found out about her family background.  I admire and esteem Woo-suk’s integrity, but I can’t totally approve of him as a person because most of the time, he’s too much head and not enough heart.  His life is very much about checking the right boxes and I can’t help questioning the depth and sincerity of his feelings as he goes through life (Tae-soo and his family excepted of course).  

As for our anti-hero Tae-soo, I see the foundations for his loved ones to abuse his loyalty and devotion already.  Jong-do, for one, seems fated to betray him.  Even though Tae-soo is clearly set up to portray a steadfast and faithful friend, I can’t help but wonder when, if ever, he will decide to use his common-sense and draw a line in the sand.  

Finally, I must confess I’ve completely fallen under the spell that is Baek Jae-hee.  Last episode, he was literally on screen for about a minute and he didn’t even have any dialogue.  But I found myself really charmed by him without knowing why.  This episode pushed me over the edge.  I love him! And he may just go down in my books as my favorite character ever.  His appeal has a lot to do with his silence and stoicism.  He looks so calm and cool on the outside, but he has an inner charisma brimming underneath the surface that you can almost physically feel.  I’m still not in love with his unrequited love for Hye-rin arc, but if it means I get to see him on the screen a little more, I won’t complain.    

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EPISODE 6 RECAP

New Korea Democratic Party Headquarters

The Jongil Labor Union fills the opposition party’s headquarters.  The union is staging a sit-in to protest the closing of the Jongil Textile Factory, which employs an all-female staff.  Apparently, it shut down with no notice and the women never received their last pay checks.  Reporters swarm the building asking for comments from the congressmen, who support the protesters and use the media attention to gain public support for the opposition movement.

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The students support the union too.  Yoon Hye-rin meets Jung Un-gyong at an anti-government bookstore to pick up some anti-regime papers to distribute to the media.  She’s being followed and they have to talk quickly so she can leave.  Before she leaves, she tells Un-gyong she admires the union’s gumption to occupy a building for their cause.  Un-gyong does too, but he thinks it’s only a matter of time before the police storm the building and forcibly removes them.

Un-gyong gives her the materials she came to get and the bookstore owner lets her exit through a hidden panel in the wall just as the men who followed her come into the store.  Hye-rin hurries down the sidewalk before they can see her.

It seems Un-gyong was right.  The powers-that-be in government hold a meeting and decide they can’t let the protest go on any longer.  Allowing the workers to succeed would set a bad precedent.  They have to be careful though because they don’t want to lose public support for the ruling party.  They also need to make a police invasion of the opposition party’s headquarters look legitimate to the opposition party as well as the American government, which has been pushing for expanded civil rights for the country’s citizens.

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They call Chang To-shik, who of course calls Oh Jong-do. He requests about two hundred men for the job and Jong-do readily agrees to provide them.  While the government prepares its assault on the protesters, we see Hye-rin has arrived at the headquarters to show support for the union’s protest.

When Jong-do approached Hong Jin-soo to gather men for the attack, he insisted on waiting for Park Tae-soo’s approval before the gang participated in Chang’s scheme.  But when Tae-soo returns to the office that night, he’s not pleased to hear Jong-do wants to use the boys to rough up a bunch of young female factory workers.  Jong-do lies and says they’re not going to beat up on the women, they just need to cause a commotion and the police will follow them.  Tae-soo still doesn’t want to do it, but Jong-do says they can’t refuse.  It’s because of them (Chang and the ruling party) they’ve been left alone and none of their boys have gotten hurt yet, Jong-do says, so they have to do as Chang asks now.

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Jong-do pretends he’s sorry for asking them to do something like this, and he bows his head as Tae-soo gives in.  But Tae-soo knows Jong-do is not really contrite.  He tells Jong-do he can stop with the subservient act now.  “No one likes someone who can’t keep his head up,” he remarks.

The gangsters arrive outside of the headquarters about 1:00 a.m. as planned.  They surround the building, set up bright lights and prepare safety nets to catch anyone who tries to escape via the second floor windows.  Inside, the students and protesters hear the noises outside and wonder what’s going on.  They start looking around and, before they know it, the gangsters enter the room and start attacking them.

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It’s painful to watch as the women are beaten and dragged away.  Tae-soo is visibly affected and, after a while, all he can do is stand in one spot and look at the chaos around him.  He finally comes out of his reverie when he spots Hye-rin among the crowd.  He makes his way to her and helps her up from the floor.  She struggles against him at first, unaware of who he is, and then their eyes meet.  She’s shocked to see him and realize what his presence there means.

Tae-Soo takes her away in one of the waiting cars.  When they’re a safe distance away, she tells Jin-soo, who is driving, to stop and let her out.  He doesn’t want to because it’s after curfew, but she insists.  Tae-soo follows her to make sure she’s safe.  When he sees her stumble and fall, he rushes to help her up, but she pushes him away.  She starts throwing trash at him until he restrains her and covers her mouth to avoid being caught by the nighttime patrol men who come their way.  When the patrol men move away, Hye-rin berates him for being a hired government thug.  He doesn’t defend himself.  Instead, he just stands there staring at her.  He walks away, but he doesn’t go far.  He gives her space, and they both hunker down where they are to await the end of curfew.

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Perhaps the last attack was the breaking point for Jin-soo because in the next scene, Jong-do has other members of the gang beating him.  He wants to leave the gang and return to his hometown, but Jong-do won’t let him.  Baek Min-jae thinks Tae-soo should handle the matter and he tells Jong-do to call off the beating.  When Jong-do ignores him, Jong-do finds himself on the receiving end of a beatdown.  Tae-soo arrives and steps in to stop Min-jae from going further, then he talks to Jin-soo alone.

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Jin-soo tells Tae-soo he wants to quit so he can return home and open a restaurant with his mother.  His mother always wanted a real restaurant instead of just a street stand so he put a down payment on a small place for her.  It’s too much work for her to handle alone though, so he wants to help her.  He admits he’s not happy doing what he’s doing. He doesn’t feel right beating on others. Tae-soo sighs, but he puts a wad of cash in Jin-soo’s hand and gives Jin-soo his watch too.  He tells him to buy supplies for his restaurant.  Jin-soo asks if it’s okay to go? Tae-soo nods, so Jin-soo asks if he can catch a train that night, lol! As he leaves, he tells Tae-soo to come down and visit him sometime.  The train station is not far from their place and he’ll even meet Tae-soo at the station.

October 4, 1979

Newspaper Headline: Party President Kim Young-sam Expelled from National Assembly

October 18, 1979

Newspaper Headline: The Puma Incident

October 26, 1979

Newspaper Headline: President Park Chung-hee Assassinated

May 1980

Chairman Yoon Jae-young is in his home office trying to make travel arrangements to go to Hong Kong.  The protests have begun at the universities and in Kwangju by now though, and it’s not easy to leave the country.  He’s on the phone giving instructions to his secretary when Chang stops by.  Chang is there to talk about Hye-rin.  The government is investigating the students’ activities and if they find she’s involved in the recent protests, he may not be able to help her.  Jae-hee is nearby and he listens intently at Chang’s words, then leaves the room.

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As expected, Jae-hee goes straight to Hye-rin, or at least he tries to.  As he walks down the hall of one of the buildings on campus where the students are staging a protest, he sticks out like a sore thumb.  He’s in his usual suit and tie (with his hair slicked back) while everyone else is in jeans and t-shirts.  One of the students approaches him and asks who he is.  Jae-hee ignores him and continues walking, but soon a group of students surround him and demand to know who he is.  Only students are allowed inside they yell.

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He sees Hye-rin down the hall, but she doesn’t intervene.  The students force him to leave so he has a good view of the building when the police arrive and attack the students.  Hye-rin is among a group rounded up and loaded onto a bus.  Jae-hee sneaks up on the driver and knocks him out with a few quick blows, then he drives the bus away.  Hye-rin and the other protesters are a little confused as they see officers yelling and chasing their bus.  She finally looks at who’s driving and sees that it’s Jae-hee.

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The next thing we know, Hye-rin is in the backseat of one of the family’s luxury sedans.  Jae-hee drives up to a police checkpoint.  As they wait for an officer to inspect their car, Hye-rin puts a nice jacket over her clothes and Jae-hee tells her she should probably stay at home for a while.  An officer comes over and walks around the car, and he peers at Hye-rin in the backseat.  She stares straight ahead imperiously and the officer lets them through.

Once they’re safe, Hye-rin changes back into her clothes.  She asks how he knew to bring clothes, but as usual, he remains silent.  She’s appreciative that he helped her, but she tells him it may have been better for him not to have saved her.  She doesn’t feel right being free while so many others got caught.  She won’t be returning home either, she says.  Not only would she be embarrassed to be the only one safe, but it’d also make her feel like she’s not on their side.

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She gives Jae-hee the clothes he brought her from home, and he just stands there staring at her.  (And I still can’t figure out how he does that? Say so much without opening his mouth?)  She gets tears in her eyes as they look at each other, but finally she walks away and gets on a bus with the other activists.  Jae-hee watches as the bus rolls away.

Meanwhile, Woo-suk’s unit is still preparing for deployment.  One of the recruits tells Woo-suk they’ll likely be posted on a college campus.  He’s excited at the prospect of ogling the girls, but Woo-suk is more concerned about whether it’s true they’ll really be assigned to a university.  The recruit assures him it’s true.  He talked to their unit leader and they’ll be deployed to enforce martial law.  The students are why there’s martial law so it makes sense that they’ll be placed on campus, he says.

That night in the barracks, Woo-suk and the rest of the unit are supposed to be sleeping.  The recruit Woo-suk was talking to earlier has the bed beside him.  Apparently the recruit sleeps in his boots so he’s always prepared for emergency drills.  Woo-suk is telling him to take his boots off when the door opens and it seems the recruit may have been right about a drill after all.

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But when the officer enters, he only asks for the men who have been to college to step forward.  Woo-suk and a few others line up and the officer actually starts hitting them one by one.  He blames them for the country’s mess and for the fact that he can’t go home to see his new baby.  His eyes land on the recruit who’s still wearing his boots.  He asks if they taught him to wear boots to bed in college and goes to hit him again.

The recruit closes his eyes and flinches—preparing for the blow to come.  Luckily the officer changes his mind and lies on one of the beds to go to sleep.  The former college students stand there for a while to make sure the officer is not getting back up before they go back to their beds.  The recruit takes his boots off this time before getting in bed though, lol.

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Tae-soo has taken Jin-soo up on his offer to visit him at home.  Jin-soo meets him at the station as promised, then takes Tae-soo to the family’s restaurant.  Jin-soo’s mom greets him warmly.  She’s heard all about how well Tae-soo treated Jin-soo at the “factory” where they worked.  Jin-soo signals for Tae-soo to play along as his mom expresses her gratitude for Tae-soo’s haven given him lots of bonuses, treated him like a little brother, and given him a place to live.  When Jin-soo’s little brother, Hong Myung-soo, comes home from school, he introduces him to Tae-soo as well.

May 18, 1980

(It’s the day of the Kwangju Democratization Movement or Kwangju Uprising.)

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Jin-soo and Tae-soo are at the teahouse where Jin-soo’s crush works.  Her name is Young-ju and he sneaks peeks at her as he tells Tae-soo he wants to marry her.  When she delivers tea to their table and doesn’t speak (or even look Jin-soo’s way), Tae-soo wonders if they got into a fight.  Jin-soo assures him that’s not the case.  They’ve never actually spoken, he says, lol.  Tae-soo chuckles at Jin-soo’s naivete as they leave.

Outside the teahouse, they see a group of student protesters marching down the street.  Jing-soo starts heckling the protesters.  He calls them worthless and complains that their parents are paying good money for their education and they don’t even bother studying.  One of the protesters accidentally bumps him with a sign, and he hits the guy back.  Tae-soo has to pull him away, and then they all start running because the police have arrived.

Meanwhile in Seoul, the military issues a red alert, which is most likely related to what’s going on in Kwangju (although the show doesn’t state as much).  The officers start gathering their soldiers for combat.  As one of the officers inspects the soldiers standing in rank, we see he’s in charge of  Woo-suk’s unit.  They are headed to Kwangju Province.

MY THOUGHTS

A little history lesson may be in order because I anticipate the next episode will contain one of the pinnacle scenes of this drama: a reenactment of the Kwangju Uprising wherein hundreds of citizens were massacred during protests against the government.  I have yet to read a comprehensive review or commentary on Sandglass that fails to touch on the drama’s portrayal of the Kwangju Uprising.  According to one source, the scenes were “the most impressive re-enactment of the Kwangju Massacre ever seen in Korea at the time.”

In its simplest terms, the uprising in Kwangju began as a student protest of the closure of the university there.  But as we can see from watching this drama so far, it was much bigger than the mere closing of the university.  To fully understand the protests and the significance of that day, it will be necessary to take a brief detour into the history of Korea. Unfortunately, I am too ignorant of Korean history to give a comprehensive review of the political landscape and this is certainly not the forum to go into that anyway.  But I will provide as concise a background as possible to understand the subject matter that has been at the forefront of Sandglass all along and to explain what will happen next.

Here it goes:

After World War II and the Korean War, in theory, South Korea was a democratic state.  However, in reality, it was much more autocratic.  President Park Chung-hee, whose October 26, 1979, assassination was noted in this episode, controlled South Korea after a military coup in May 1961.  He had been a general in the military and was in power for about eighteen years until his assassination.  The political opponents to his regime who pushed for democracy were referred to as the opposition party (whose political rallies we see Park Tae-soo and his crew breaking up in Episode 1).

Students and civilians had been protesting against the government since the end of World War II, but President Park was one of the few leaders able to retain control during that time.  He had no problem taking steps, such as dissolving the legislative bodies and declaring martial law, to retain his power.  In 1972, for example, he pushed through the adoption of the Yushin Constitution, which allowed him to control Parliament and gave him the means of remaining president indefinitely in spite of historically imposed presidential term limits.

During the 70s, much of the student protest was against the Yushin system and in support of a more liberal democracy.  (Recall: Jung Un-gyong was working on an anti-Yushin Regime banner when Hye-rin returned his bag to him in Episode 3.)  After President Park’s assassination, martial law returned to South Korea and there was a coup by another military general, Chun Doo-hwan, in December 1979.

When students (and others, such as professors and civilians) began protesting against another military regime seizing control of the country and for various other causes, such as democratization, freedom of speech, and an end to martial law, Chun Doo-hwan tried to suppress the growing protests.  One of the measures he took was the closure of universities.  He handed down the decree affecting the universities, among other things, on May 17, 1980, thus leading to the events of May 18th wherein students of Chonnam National University went to school that day to civilly disobey its closure.

Chun Doo-hwan responded to the protesters at Chonnam National University with military force and ignited a full-scale rebellion throughout the city.  There is no agreed upon figure for the number of lives lost that day or over the course of the uprising.  Figures range from about 150 to 2,000 with the number likely between 500 and 900 dead.  What is known is that the protest spread throughout Kwangju and then the country.  The military did not regain control of Kwangju until about nine days later, on May 27, 1980.

It will take someone much more versed in history, or more intimately connected to the country during that time, to explain the significance of that day.  But suffice it to say, from all that I’ve read, May 18th was a watershed moment in the quest to bring democracy to South Korea.  It is deeply imprinted on the minds of the citizens and celebrated each year with reverence and respect for the bravery of those who lost their lives fighting for basic freedoms for the country’s citizens.

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EPISODE 7 RECAP

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Yoon Hye-rin has gone to a remote fishing village to hide from the police, who are arresting student protesters involved in the recent unrest.  As she stands on a dock, she sees fishermen and women at work harvesting seaweed and pulling in their catch from a day at sea.  She notices an elderly woman trying to pick up a heavy load of seaweed and she rushes to help her.  (It’s Kim Young-ok!)  The Grandmother feeds her lunch and invites her home with her when she finds out Hye-rin doesn’t have a place to stay.  The Grandmother thinks Hye-rin is running from a bar where she likely worked as a prostitute and got involved with the wrong man.  However, when Hye-rin notices a newspaper article about the uprising in Kwangju, the Grandmother figures out she’s a runaway college student.

Kang Woo-suk’s unit is on the train on its way to Kwangju.  The officer in charge tells them they’re going to  provide support to the other units who are having a hard time quelling the riot there.

However, in the next scene we see that the soldiers are doing more than riot control. As a taxi rolls down the street, the driver is shocked to see an innocent civilian being beaten. When the soldiers notice the taxi, they pull the passenger from the backseat and start beating him too.  The driver tries to help and tells them the passenger is a resident on his way to work, and not a student, but that just gets his windshield smashed.

Hong Jin-soo’s restaurant is not safe from the soldiers’ wrath either.  When his mom returns from a pre-dawn shopping trip to prepare for the days’ meals, a pair of civilians runs through the restaurant trying to escape the soldiers.  Soldiers barge in after them breaking the glass in the windows as they enter.  One of them asks Jin-soo’s mom where the pair went, but he hits her before she can respond, sending her crashing to the floor.

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The noise causes Park Tae-soo and Jin-soo to wake up.  Aware of what must be happening, Tae-soo stops Jin-soo from going downstairs and helping his mom.  When Jin-soo finally breaks free from him, the soldiers are gone and his mom is on the ground bleeding.

Later that morning, Woo-suk’s unit arrives at Kwangju station and they are sent out to the college campus to stop the rioting and arrest protesters.  Archival footage is interspersed with the scene as the military vehicles roll through the streets to campus.  

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Once there, the soldiers enter a classroom where students are at their desks working and start attacking them.  They pull the students outside the building, but before they can go anywhere hundreds of civilians surround them and protest against how they’re treating the students.

May 20, 1980

KBS and MBC’s broadcasting buildings are set ablaze.  (Apparently the protesters set the tv stations on fire due to anger over false and inaccurate reports about the uprising.  Among the complaints is that the tv stations are underreporting the number of civilian casualties and falsely claiming the protesters are pro-communism.)

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It’s the morning after and Tae-soo and Jin-soo are out in the street looking at the aftermath of the previous day’s military intervention.  They watch as a group of soldiers attacks people and drag them away.  Then they see tanks rolling down the street.  Tae-soo has decided to head back to Seoul and wants Jin-soo to come too.  He points out the soldiers are not just after students.  They’re treating all young people the same.  Jin-soo refuses to leave though.  After the way the soldiers treated his mother, he’s decided to support the protesters.  When he sees a group of protesters heading to the Provincial Hall, he joins them.

Again, there’s archival footage of actual events interspersed with the recreated scenes.  The archival footage shows hundreds of citizens, young and old, marching to Provincial Hall.  When military vehicles arrive outside the hall, the protesters chant for them to withdraw.  Jin-soo arrives at the front line, and he climbs on top of the taxi with the busted window (it’s the driver who tried to stop the soldiers from beating his passenger earlier in the episode) and joins in with the chanting.

Back at the restaurant, Jin-soo’s mom packs food for Tae-soo to eat on his bus ride back to Seoul.  She wants him to take care of Jin-soo when he gets there.  She’s going to send him to Seoul as soon as she finds him, she says.

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As she’s preparing drinks for Tae-soo, one of her neighbors returns dinnerware she borrowed and thanks her for lending them to her.  The neighbor is heavily pregnant and Jin-soo’s mom tells her to be sure to go home and stay there because it’s so dangerous out.

At Provincial Hall, the protesters continue chanting their demands.  They want the troops to withdraw from town and an apology from the government.  They’d also like the students freed and an honest account of whether the missing are dead or alive.  As the leader continues to outline their demands, Jin-soo spots Young-ju (his crush) among the crowd.  He makes his way toward her and picks up the scarf she dropped, then he asks her if she remembers him.

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Meanwhile, Tae-soo arrives at the station.  At the restaurant, he learned the government had suspended phone service throughout Kwangju so no one could call in or out of the city.  At the bus station, he finds the bus service has been cancelled too.  He’s barely finished reading the sign announcing the closure when soldiers arrive and start attacking anyone within reach.  Tae-soo starts running, just like everyone else in the station.  He hides behind a wall in the back of the terminal and spots a young high school student lying motionless on the ground.

As the soldiers load the protesters and others they’ve captured onto a truck, we see the pregnant woman who visited Jin-soo’s family restaurant walk nearby.  She stands among a group of women who watch the arrests from the sidewalk.  A soldier sees the women watching and pulls out his rifle.  He starts shooting and chaos spreads throughout the city as more shots ring out.

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At the Provincial Hall, Jin-soo grabs Young-ju and they make a run for it as Tae-soo grabs the student he saw on the ground and runs too.  Tae-soo takes the boy to the hospital, but it’s full of trauma patients and more and more people arrive by the minute.  He can’t find anyone to help.

Jin-soo’s mom is at the hospital too.  She’s heard about her neighbor, the pregnant lady, who has been shot.  She walks home with Myung-soo afterwards crying because what the military is doing is wrong.  When she hears that the hospital is out of blood, she gets the idea for Myung-soo to write on her apron asking people to donate blood, and she carries the new “banner” around the neighborhood.

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Tae-soo is among the first to donate.  As he sits at the hospital getting his blood drawn, Jin-soo and Young-ju arrive.  Jin-soo offers to take her home or to the teahouse, but she lives at the teahouse and the soldiers have the area blocked off.  She’s also afraid to stay there because the soldiers smashed it up and arrested all the customers.  He offers to take her back to his place just as his mom and brother spot him.

He introduces Young-ju to his mom and Tae-soo joins him as he heads back home to take Young-ju to a safe place.  Tae-soo is curious about how they ended up together.  Jin-soo tells him he saw her at the Provincial Hall and he grabbed her and ran when the soldiers showed up with their guns.  Young-ju trails behind them as they talk, and she interrupts them to tell Jin-soo she’s decided to go to a friend’s house.  It’s not far from where they are, she says, and because there are so many people around she thinks she can make it there by herself.

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Soon after she leaves, they see soldiers swarming the area.  Jin-soo gets nervous because the soldiers are coming from the street Young-ju just walked down.  He runs back looking for her and finds her lying in the middle of the street.  She’s been shot dead.

Young-ju’s death sends Jin-soo over the edge.  Not only is he joining the protesters, but he’s going to fight back too.  Tae-soo tries to dissuade him, but he can’t condone them continuing to shoot down innocent women in the street.  Tae-soo points out that the soldiers are trained for combat and have guns, but Jin-soo doesn’t care about that either.  Those guns were purchased with taxpayers’ money, he says, and if he doesn’t fight now the government will just come back and do things like this again.

The military intervention continues and the protesters start arming themselves to fight back.  

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Woo-suk’s unit is driving down the street when shots are fired at their vehicle.  The unit stops and returns fire.  Woo-suk and his recruit friend, Private Kang, are sent into a nearby house, where they think the shooters are hiding, but instead of finding gunmen, they find a woman and child.  The woman has been shot and Woo-suk runs out to report that a child’s mother is wounded.  The commander, Officer Ma, orders the soldiers to retreat, but Woo-suk tries to help the woman anyway.  Officer Ma draws his gun, points it at Woo-suk, and orders him to retreat.  With gunmen still shooting at them, they can’t risk their lives to help the woman.  He says he’s retreating now and he’s taking all of his subordinates with him.  He stares at Woo-suk and asks if he understands?

MY THOUGHTS

That was certainly hard to watch unfold.  I think the depiction was pretty clearly made to show how the brutal and unreasonably broad military response served as the catalyst to spread the protest throughout the city.  It became bigger than the students protesting the closure of the universities and fighting against Chun Doo-hwan’s regime, and it became about the rights of them all.  This was especially so in light of the soldiers indiscriminately targeting students and citizens alike.

In Episode 6’s post, I gave a brief review of the history leading up to the Kwangju Uprising and said that this event was a catalyst for the democratic reforms to come.  Unfortunately, in the immediate aftermath of the uprising, democracy looked as far away as ever.

Even though General Chun Doo-hwan’s policies directly contributed to the protests, he blamed the opposition party for inciting the rebellion.  It didn’t help that the opposition leader, Kim Dae-jung, was actually from the province.  The government tried and convicted him and a few other opposition party members for their alleged roles in the uprising.  And Chun Doo-hwan continued in power for almost another decade.

It is worth noting, though, that Kim Dae-jung eventually became the first opposition leader elected to lead South Korea, and he served as president from 1998 to 2003.  What I find even more interesting is that Park Chung-hee’s daughter, Park Geun-hye, is the current president of Korea.

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EPISODE 8 RECAP

Hong Jin-soo has joined the protesters in the Kwangju Provincial Hall.  They put him to work distributing firearms, and he is at a table documenting the men who pick up the guns and ammunition when Park Tae-soo arrives.  When he sees Tae-soo, he tells him not to waste time trying to talk him into going home.  But Tae-soo surprises him by saying he’s there to join them.  He tells Jin-soo he made a promise to his mom to bring him home safely and he wants to keep that promise.

Later, the male volunteers prepare to head to the front line to defend the city against the soldiers.  Tae-soo and Jin-soo are on a truck that is about to pull out when Hong Myung-soo (Jin-soo’s little brother) tries to join them.  Jin-soo forces him off the truck and tells him to go home.  As they’re arguing, his mom comes running through the crowd calling his name.  He tells her trying to talk to him won’t do any good.  He’s determined to fight so she should just take Myung-soo with her and go home.

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Realizing he’s serious, she accepts his decision, but she pulls a ring from her finger and tells him to wear it.  She wants to be able to recognize him if he’s hurt or killed.  She turns to Tae-soo and grabs his hand.  She says she’ll entrust her son’s life to him, and then she takes Myung-soo and leaves.

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Woo-suk’s unit is assigned to guard the Kwangju border.  According to the commander, Officer Ma, their mission is simple: shoot anyone who approaches.

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The protesters have a mission too: find a way out of the city.  All of the roads leading out of Kwangju are blocked by the military police force.  The phone lines are out too, and the newspaper and tv stories are full of lies.  No one on the outside knows what is truly going on so they decide a group of men need to escape to tell their side of the story.  Jin-soo volunteers for the mission so Tae-soo steps forward too.

At the border, Woo-suk and his recruit friend, Private Kang, are on guard duty near one of the roads leading out of Kwangju.  Private Kang wonders aloud if the mother who got shot earlier has died.  He thinks there may be instigators behind the uprising and wonders why the government is coming down so hard on the protests.  He’s from Kwangju too, and every time he hits someone he’s afraid it will be someone he knows and they’ll recognize him.  Either way, he regrets his bad timing.  He says he should have gone to college for a year before joining the military.

As they’re talking, we see the protesters who volunteered to escape from the city crossing a body of water nearby.  Tae-soo suggests they split up into small groups and spread out across a wider area.  He will go ahead of the group and act as a scout to ensure it’s safe before they proceed.

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Tae-soo does a pretty good job of leading the men forward.  However, one of the men following him accidentally drops his firearm and it discharges.  The shot alerts Woo-suk’s unit that the protesters are nearby and the soldiers scan the area.  Tae-soo orders everyone to take cover as the soldiers start firing on them.  The protesters return fire and there’s a chaotic shoot out. 

After a while, the protesters try to make a run for it.  The soldiers start chasing them and Woo-suk sees Private Kang fall.  He’s been shot, oh no!  Woo-suk pulls him to safety and calls for a medic, but it’s too late.  Private Kang can barely breathe and his voice is weak as he asks if he’s dying.  He calls out for his mother, which is the last word he says before he dies.

Woo-suk returns to helping the other soldiers still engaged in the shootout.  The protesters are still trying to run away and several of them get shot.  Jin-soo sees one of them dying and gets angry.  He runs behind a tree and yells for the soldiers to stop the killing as he fires his gun.  Tae-soo calls for him to get down and runs over to him, but he arrives a second too late.  A bullet pierces Jin-soo’s body and Tae-soo catches him as he falls. 

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Unconcerned for himself, Tae-soo picks him up and tries to drag him away.  He’s fully within site of the soldiers though, and Officer Ma takes aim.  Before he can pull the trigger, Woo-suk sees that the protester Officer Ma is about to shoot is Tae-soo.  He grabs Officer Ma’s gun and they scuffle.  Officer Ma gets the shot off, but luckily it misses Tae-soo.

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Tae-soo makes it back to the city with Jin-soo on his back, but he collapses before he can make it to the hospital from the fatigue.  He calls Jin-soo’s name over and over, but there’s no response.  He tries to perform CPR and begs him not to die, but Jin-soo is gone.  Tae-soo can only sob over his body.

Tae-soo takes Jin-soo’s body to a mass funeral hall.  Dozens of coffins fill the room.  Most of the coffins are draped in white cloths, and there are mourners sitting near them grieving for the loved ones they lost.  As the families grieve, men continue to bring in more coffins.

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Jin-soo’s mom and siblings arrive and stare at Tae-soo from the entrance as he sits near Jin-soo’s coffin.  They slowly move toward the coffin.  When she gets there, Jin-soo’s mom kneels beside the coffin and runs her hands down the length of it as if she’s touching her son for the last time.  Then she unfolds a flag and drapes it over the coffin, taking her time to carefully smooth out any wrinkles.  When that’s done, she just sits there for a moment.  Then she starts calling Jin-soo’s name, and finally she starts to sob.  It’s heartbreaking to watch.

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Afterwards, Tae-soo returns to the front line where the protesters have put up a blockade against the military presence there.  Jin-soo’s mom makes her way to him.  They’ve heard the soldiers are planning a final assault on the city.  Many of the protesters are gathered at the Provincial Hall to defend the city.  Myung-soo went to the Provincial Hall too and she wants Tae-soo to help her find him.  She wants to be able to see his face one last time in case something happens to him.

As soon as they get to the hall, they see one of Myung-soo’s classmates, who tells them Myung-soo is upstairs.  Tae-soo offers to get him, but Jin-soo’s mom says she doesn’t need to see him anymore.  Seeing his classmate made her feel like she was seeing her own son, she says.  She’s going to return home and she wants Tae-soo to come too.  She cries as she tells Tae-soo he needs to survive and tell their story.  The media won’t believe them, but as an outsider, people will believe him.

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Tae-soo doesn’t want to leave though.  He already lost a good friend and doesn’t want to let his friend’s brother die too, he says.  But she begs him to do it for Jin-soo.  She acknowledges he’ll probably live with the guilt for the rest of his life so dying may actually be the easier way out, but she wants him to live.  She breaks down and sobs into his chest.  Eventually, he returns his gun to the ammo pile and walks away.

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Later that night, Myung-soo and his classmate stand at a window on the upper floor of the Provincial Hall waiting for the military assault to begin.  Tae-soo and Jin-soo’s mom sit on the roof of one of the city’s buildings where they have a good view of the hall.  Soon gunshots start to ring out, and they both look toward the battle, fear and worry etched on their faces.  Tae-soo stands up and puts his hand on her shoulder, and the screen fades to white.

While the battle rages in Kwangju, Yoon Hye-rin is still hiding from police in the remote fishing village.  She has been staying with the kind Grandmother she met on the dock the first day she arrived in town.  The Grandmother must be in the habit of taking in runaway girls because there is another young woman living there too.  Her name is Sun-ae and she has nightmares that wake her up at night.  One of her nightmares wakes Hye-rin up too, and Hye-rin watches as Sun-ae takes off her shirt and apologizes over and over and begs not to be hurt.  Grandmother patiently puts her shirt back on and assures her that she’s safe and can go back to sleep.

The next morning, Hye-rin asks one of the village women about Sun-ae.  The villager tells her Sun-ae worked at the Tong-il Textile Factory in Incheon.  She was a part of the labor union and they were all arrested during a demonstration.  Whatever the police did to Sun-ae affected her so badly she was in a mental hospital for five months after they released her.

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The protesters removed their shirts during the protest and the villager thinks they were after money from the company.  Hye-rin tells her the protest actually had nothing to do with money.  But the village woman becomes suspicious when Hye-rin says the women had their reasons for taking off their shirts and starts explaining what happened.  The incident wasn’t covered in the newspapers, so the villager wonders how Hye-rin knows what really happened.  Hye-rin claims she heard about it from someone and the village woman remarks that they report people like her as spies.

[Side note:  They are likely referring to a peaceful protest waged in August 1979 to protest the company’s decision to close a Y.H. Textile and Wig factory.  About 200 female employees occupied one of the company’s dormitories and held a vigil and fast (Hye-rin referenced this in Episode 5).  Police forcibly broke up the protest on the fifth day.  One worker died during the incident and her death triggered rioting throughout the country (and contributed to the collapse of President Park Chung-hee’s regime).  It is unclear if the attack on the women at the opposition party headquarters (in Episode 6) was supposed to represent the attack on the women in their dorm or if the attack at the headquarters was a separate incident.]

When Hye-rin returns home that evening, Sun-ae is having an anxiety spell and is using scissors to destroy her clothes.  Hye-rin cuts herself on the hand trying to take the scissors from Sun-ae.  She tells Sun-ae she knows what happened to her at the factory.  She says she was a college student at the time and seeing the union members on a hunger strike inspired her to get involved.  Sun-ae shrinks away from Hye-rin and starts tearing her clothes by hand.  Hye-rin grabs her arm and implores her not to live like this.  She yells that if Sun-ae keeps it up, she’ll go crazy too.  She starts crying and says she can’t live in comfort knowing people like her are suffering.

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Later, Sun-ae is walking along the dock at the harbor.  Just the sight of a police officer scares her so when she sees an officer disembarking from a nearby boat, she panics.  She stops and stares at him in fear, then she slowly starts backing away and runs.  He sees her reaction and calls out for her to stop.  He catches up with her when she trips and falls, and she immediately starts apologizing and begging him not to hurt her.  Recalling that she may have information that will save her, she grabs onto the officer’s leg and tells him there is a college student hiding at her house.

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After her encounter with Sun-ae, Hye-rin has decided to leave the fishing village.  The Grandmother sees her packing and asks where she’s going.  Hye-rin tells her she’s going to stay with a friend, but the Grandmother wonders if she’s really heading to Kwangju.  She tells Hye-rin if leaving will make her feel better, she should go.  She gives Hye-rin some money and tells her she’s always welcome to come back if she needs a place to stay.  Hye-rin thanks her and makes her way to the train station.

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As the train is about to pull into the station, Sun-ae arrives with the police.  Sun-ae points Hye-rin out to the officers, and they eventually catch her and take her into custody.  As her captors lead her down a dark jail corridor to an interrogation room, she sees another officer lead a beaten and bruised Jung Un-gyong past her.

Inside the interrogation room, the interrogator tells her to bow her head.  When she doesn’t comply, the officer in the room with them hits her on the head with a baton.  She’s commanded to take her shoes off and the officer removes her handcuffs.  The interrogator throws paper and a pen at her and tells her to write down the names of the students in her group.  She pretends she doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but he knows she’s bluffing.  He tells her not to test his patience and then yells at her to take her top off.  The officer kicks her from behind, she falls to the floor, and the episode ends.

MY THOUGHTS

That was tough to watch.  I don’t even know where to start and, even if I did, I am not in the proper frame of mind to form coherent rational thoughts on what I just saw.  Each episode keeps upping the tension level and pulling me deeper into this dark and complex world.  It kills me that this is not just a show to enthrall and entertain.  These are real events and real lives lost.  What’s more is that as hard as it is to watch, it was actually much worse in Kwangju for the protesters and residents than the producers chose to show.  From the little I’ve read on the subject, it appears the producers toned down the military’s brutality and violence to make it more palatable for tv.  That was certainly a wise move on their part.

As for Hye-rin, I’m sure she will survive but I can’t help but wonder if it was a smart move not to return home when she had the chance.

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EPISODE 9 RECAP

Having captured and arrested Yoon Hye-rin, the police subject her to extreme torture methods to get her to talk. The scene opens with her in an interrogation room. When she falls asleep, they play loud music to scare her awake. Her eyes take on a vacant look and we can see her lips moving but we can’t hear what she is saying. She’s bruised and bloody though, and after a brief reprieve in her cell she’s taken back to the interrogation room for more.

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This time they want her to confirm the information she’s given and give her a stack of papers to fill out and stamp. When she’s done, we see a dirty and bloody hand appear on the table. Another prisoner is in the room with her. The prisoner tries to lean on the table to stand up, but he’s so weak he only manages to lift his head. It’s Jung Un-gyong. The officer grabs Un-gyong’s face and asks Hye-rin who he is. She looks at him and the officer asks if Un-gyong was the leader of her club in college and an anti-government, North Korean sympathizer. Hye-rin says yes and tears fall from her eyes as another officer drags Un-gyong from the room.

Apparently, Yoon Young-jae is working tirelessly to secure Hye-rin’s release. He meets Chang To-shik at a bar and over drinks he asks for Chang’s help. Chang guesses that Chairman Yoon doesn’t know he’s there. He tells Young-jae it’s not Chairman Yoon’s style to approach him like this when he wants something. He thinks Young-jae would be wise to learn from his father.

In the next scene, Chairman Yoon shows us how it’s done. He invites Chang to breakfast and makes small talk during the meal. Afterwards, they go to the living room and Chairman Yoon casually mentions he’s taken up golf. Golf is only interesting when you have friends to play with though, and with the recent change in government, he’s sure Chang can introduce him to some new golfing buddies. Chang remarks that there are probably some golfers where Hye-rin is being kept, and he says he’ll see if he can find a few. Chairman Yoon nods nonchalantly and walks away.

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That conversation is enough to set the wheels in motion. Lawyer Min prepares the paperwork and Chairman Yoon charms his new golfing buddies on the green. After the game, Chairman Yoon presents his golfing partner with an expensive watch. Lawyer Min walks the golfing partner to his car and gives him an envelope he says is the warranty for the watch. As his car pulls away, the guy looks inside and it’s the paperwork Lawyer Min prepared for Hye-rin to be released.

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Baek Jae-hee and Young-jae are there to meet her when an officer brings a battered and zombie-like Hye-rin out of custody. Her eyes are out of focus and she can barely walk. In fact, she collapses as soon as the officer lets her go and Jae-hee has to catch her before she falls. He’s shocked at the state she’s in and picks her up to hurry her to the car as her brother calls her name over and over. Jae-hee wants to take her to straight to the hospital, but Young-jae wants to take her home first. He says his father needs to see this. Jae-hee has no time for the power play between the men though (especially when it comes to his boo) and says he’s going to the hospital first.

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It’s evening time and Park Tae-soo arrives at one of the gang’s nightclubs. As he hands his motorcycle over to a staff member, he sees a car pull up. It’s Chang and he’s dropping off Oh Jong-do. Tae-soo steps forward to show Jong-do he saw him with Chang. Jong-do is visibly surprised to be caught, but he quickly hides the look and tries to appear relaxed.

Inside, we learn Jong-do has called the meeting with the leaders in the gang. Besides Tae-soo, Lee Sung-bom, Chang Il-do, and Baek Min-jae are there as well. As the head of their organization, Sung-bom doesn’t like being summoned by a junior member, and he’s even more displeased when he learns Jong-do wants them to become traitors. Apparently, Chang wants the gang’s help in getting rid of the president of the casino they run. If they don’t support the change, they won’t be protected anymore.

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Jong-do tries to explain himself, but Sung-bom cuts him off and tells Il-do to rip his face off if he opens his mouth one more time. Jong-do wisely decides to shut up. Sung-bom stands up and says he’s confident of one thing and that’s loyalty. “Loyalty is the one thing I have treasured throughout my life. That’s the one thing I’ve been true to,” he says and he demands that Tae-soo get “that pest” out of his sight once and for all.

After Tae-soo escorts Jong-do out, Min-jae asks Sung-bom if he’s sure he wants to break ties with Jong-do.   Jong-do has connections in high places, he says, and it’d be unwise to underestimate him. Sung-bom knows cutting ties with Jong-do means it’s likely the end for them, but he points out they don’t have a choice. It’s not like they have anything to fall back on or any marketable skills. They may be dirty, but even in their profession the only thing they have is their name. If they lose that, they’re finished so aligning with Jong-do would be the end of their gang too.

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Kang Woo-suk is on a train headed to Seoul. When the train arrives at the station, he changes into civilian clothes and goes to Tae-soo’s club. They both grin ear to ear as Tae-soo runs into the bar when he learns Woo-suk is there. Over drinks and grilled meat, Tae-soo is curious as to why Woo-suk took leave just to visit him. Woo-suk admits he missed Tae-soo and wanted to see him (aww, he was really worried about his friend after seeing him in Kwangju).

Woo-suk is so relieved to see Tae-soo (and probably still reeling from the things he saw in Kwangju) that he gets drunk. Even Tae-soo is surprised to see him down shot after shot of soju. When they leave the restaurant, Tae-soo can barely keep Woo-suk in check as they walk down the street. Woo-suk is loud and unruly, and Tae-soo has to keep him from falling over and running into oncoming traffic. They end up at the riverside where Woo-suk throws up and Tae-soo remarks that he looks much more human when he’s drunk.

As they sit and stare out at the river, Tae-soo asks Woo-suk where he’s stationed. He wants to visit. Woo-suk says he’s stationed at the DMZ, but he tells Tae-soo not to bother coming to see him because he’ll be discharged soon. They both lie awake on the riverbank throughout the night and it seems Kwangju is on both of their minds. Tae-soo tells Woo-suk he was in Kwangju in the spring, and he asks if the military told the soldiers what happened there. Woo-suk says they didn’t, but he heard about it later. Tae-soo thinks Woo-suk was in Seoul at the time and says being in Kwangju seems like a dream. In fact, that’s what he wonders to himself sometimes—was it all a dream?

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Jae-hee walks down the hallway at the Yoon house and stops outside of Hye-rin’s door. She’s sitting on the floor beside her bed curled up in a ball with her head resting on her arms. Young-jae is sitting next to her trying to coax her to leave the room and go for a walk, but she doesn’t respond. She’s been home for fifteen days and she won’t talk to anyone or leave her room. Her doctor tells Chairman Yoon she needs to be hospitalized, but Chairman Yoon refuses to listen. She’s strong and he knows his daughter, he says. She’ll bounce back. He curtly dismisses the doctor, who leaves without further protest, but Young-jae walks past and glares at his father for not taking the doctor’s advice.

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Jae-hee silently watches over Hye-rin as she continues in her depressive state. She moves from the floor to the bed at times, but she doesn’t eat or talk and continues to be almost catatonic. Sometimes Jae-hee sits in a chair in the hall outsider her door. His back is straight as a board as he waits outside through the night. (See, this is why I love this man.) Other times he sits on the floor or he just stands in the hall deep in thought as he waits. But he’s steadfast in staying by her side even though Hye-rin doesn’t even notice when he’s in the room with her.

As Hye-rin tries to pull herself together, we see that Chang makes his move on Sung-bom’s gang. Sung-bom is fishing on a lake when police arrive to arrest him. Then they storm the casino and capture Min-jae. Someone calls Tae-soo and warns him to hide out because everyone is being arrested. But Tae-soo has no need to worry though. Jong-do meets with Chang to make sure Tae-soo is not captured. He tells Chang they need Tae-soo because it won’t take long for the boys to get out of hand with Tae-soo gone, and then they won’t be of any use to them.

It looks like the gang won’t be faring well in police custody. Sung-bom is in an interrogation room when an office enters and asks him if he was the ring leader. He slaps Sung-bom before sitting down at his typewriter to begin the interview. Min-jae is worse. He is strung up by his feet. As he hangs upside down, one of the interrogators assures him their superiors won’t hold them responsible if he dies during questioning. Il-do has it the worse out of the three though. The officers have stripped him down to his underwear and tied his arms behind his back in a chair. They douse him with water and cover his face with a cloth. As the officer leaves the room, he tells Il-do to wiggle his toes when he’s ready to talk.

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As his former gang members are being tortured, Jong-do is at a spa getting a massage. Tae-soo has tracked him down though and barges into the room and grabs him by the neck. He asks Jong-do how he could turn on the gang like this and Jong-do starts groveling (and I start to get pissed). Jong-do claims he tried to stop Chang and even got on his knees begging Chang to take him instead, but it did no good. Jong-do’s lies seem to appease Tae-soo, and Tae-soo lets him go and sits next to him on the massage table. (And I’m getting mad at him now. He’s so blind when it comes to Jong-do. UGH.)

Tae-soo and Jong-do leave the spa together and Jong-do claims he didn’t know the boys were arrested until the day after it happened. He went to Chang when he found out, but Chang couldn’t intervene because the government is cracking down on gangs. The boys were arrested because their names were on the government’s list. Jong-do says his name wasn’t on the list. He thinks he’s too small time for the government to be interested in him. Tae-soo’s name wasn’t on the list either, Jong-do tells him. They can’t get the boys released. It’s already been decided they’ll be court-martialed and severely punished. The best they can hope to do is get their sentences reduced.

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Meanwhile, the powers-that-be in government push forward with their plan. Chang takes Chairman Yoon to see a high ranking government official. We don’t learn his name in this scene, but he’s later identified as Kang Tong-hwan (Kim Byung-gi). Apparently, Kang asked Chairman Yoon to meet in secret to ask for a favor, but we don’t get to hear what he wants.

As Chang walks Chairman Yoon and Lawyer Min back downstairs after the meeting, Chairman Yoon questions Chang on what the government is really after. He asks if Kang wants him to sell one of his casinos in exchange for keeping his gambling license. Chang says there must be another way to give them what they want and Chairman Yoon asks if he’s supposed to sell his house then? Chang says Kang is trying to stabilize the government. After that is taken care of, then they can promise Chairman Yoon more stability in his businesses. (I’m still not sure what Chang and the powers-that-be are up to or what they are asking Chairman Yoon to do.  My best guess is that they asked for an extremely large sum of money.)

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Back at the Yoon house, Jae-hee is delivering that day’s newspaper to Hye-rin when an article in the paper catches his attention. Whatever is in the paper makes him hesitate for a moment, but he takes it to Hye-rin anyway. She’s sitting on the floor next to her bed with her knees to her chest and her head on her arms again.

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Jae-hee goes outside and stands in front of her old swing staring at it. He touches the rope and pushes the swing back and forth before he goes back inside. Hye-rin is still in the same spot where he left her and she hasn’t read the paper either. He starts to leave, but he stops at the door, throws the paper down and turns around. He’s finally had enough and tells her to come out from the corner because she doesn’t belong in a corner.

He picks her up and puts her in her chair. Then he opens the curtains to let some light into the room. She cowers away from the light and covers her face, but he grabs her hands and pulls them away. They start to tussle as he tries to force her out of her shell. He tells her if she wants him to let her go, she’ll have to say so.

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She doesn’t speak, but eventually she opens her eyes and starts to fight back with some vigor. She screams, then she slaps him and breaks down crying. Jae-hee tells her that’s better as she starts hitting him on his chest. She finally hugs him as she continues to sob. Jae-hee pats her back and they slide to the floor with him still holding her as she cries. He looks as if he wants to cry too as he gently pats her head, and the episode ends.

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EPISODE 10 RECAP

September 1, 1980

Chun Doo-hwan is inaugurated as President of South Korea.

Hanguk University

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Yoon Hye-rin returns to campus to submit paperwork to take a leave of absence from school. When she drops by to say a quick hello to her former friends, they refuse to speak to her and ignore her attempt to engage them in conversation. Outside, most of the students won’t even look at her. In fact, they move out of her way when she walks by to avoid all contact with her. Finally one person calls out to her, but it’s just to express the anger everyone else has held inside. “Do you know what happened to Jung Un-gyong?” he asks. “He was sentenced to life for sedition.”

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Hye-rin walks away without responding, but she’s clearly shaken by the experience. She goes to a club and drinks until well past closing time. She’s so drunk that she ignores the waiter when he tries to tell her the bar is closed and it’s time for her to go. She gets into a scuffle with the staff and they are about to call the police when Park Tae-soo comes from his office in back and sees her. It turns out she’s in one of Tae-soo’s clubs and he smiles to see her as feisty as ever.

Tae-soo follows her out of the club. As he’s trying to figure out where she lives so he can send her home, Baek Jae-hee and a few of Chairman Yoon’s men show up at the club looking for her. They’re not happy to find she’s no longer there. When Oh Jong-do comes out to greet them, he’s met with a punch to the face.

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Luckily Tae-soo calls from the hotel where he’s taken Hye-rin. Jong-do frantically asks where he is and if “she” is there with him. We see Jae-hee pacing behind Jong-do with a grave look on his face as Jong-do tries to explain the gravity of the situation to Tae-soo. He asks Tae-soo if he has any idea of who Hye-rin is. The scene shifts back to Tae-soo. We don’t get to hear what Jong-do says, but Tae-soo looks at Hye-rin lying on the bed with shock in his eyes. He puts his head down and the hand holding the phone slowly falls.

The next morning, Hye-rin wakes up with a hang over. Tae-soo has medicine ready for her though, which she gratefully takes. After he gives her the medicine, he asks if she purposely came to his club, and she admits that she did. She tells him she looked for him and eventually found out where he worked. He wants to know whether she asked her father or one of his men to tell her where he was.

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Hye-rin, realizing his question means he knows who she is, just stares at him for a long moment. She lets the weight of his words sink in, then she grabs her bag and starts to leave. Before she walks out, she turns to him and asks if he was going to say he’s sorry. “Once they find out who my father is—whose daughter I am, they all say the same thing: ‘Oh really, I didn’t know. Sorry about everything.’ Then they just turn around and leave. That’s what my school friends did, and Woo-suk did it too. Sorry. I guess I was wrong about you. I just needed a friend,” she says and she walks away.

Tae-soo stands there staring out of the hotel window as Hye-rin makes her way back home on foot. When Tae-soo comes to his senses, he follows her on his motorcycle and pulls up beside her. She keeps walking at first, but he stops next to her again and holds out his hand. She stares at him for a moment and ignores his outstretched hand but gets on the back of the bike. She just sits there though so Tae-soo grabs her arms and wraps them around his waist so he can pull off.

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They end up spending the day together. First they have breakfast.  Afterwards, they sit near a park and watch some kids play soccer. The kids are having so much fun that Tae-soo can’t resist playing too. He gets so caught up in the game he loses sight of Hye-rin. He starts looking around for her and the camera pans around and around until he sees that she’s joined in and is playing too. Hot and sweaty from the game, they wash up with a nearby water hose and have fun splashing each other.

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Back on the motorcycle, he asks Hye-rin if she would have gone to the hotel with anyone else beside him. She starts laughing but doesn’t answer. They ride to a scenic river and sit among the rocks in the middle of the stream. Hye-rin asks him if he’s afraid of her (now that he knows who her father is). He tells her he was afraid of her. But that was when he thought she was a poor college student. She starts walking toward him trying to balance on the uneven rocks. He looks worried that she may fall. She asks if he’s afraid of her now. She’s about to lose her balance though. He catches her before he can answer and when she backs away he pulls her into an embrace and kisses her. (I guess that would be a no, lol.)

That night, they return to his club. When they walk inside, it’s eerily empty. We soon learn why: Chairman Yoon’s men and Jae-hee are still there. They grab Tae-soo and Jae-hee slowly walks up to him and looks him in the eye. (Uh-oh, this doesn’t look good.)

The scene cuts to the staff locker room where Jong-do and other club employees are gathered. One of the employees paces back and forth and looks as if he wants to leave, but Jong-do yells at him to sit down. The reason for all the angst: Jae-hee is beating Tae-soo. It’s pretty brutal. Tae-soo tries to fight back but Jae-hee has a weapon and Tae-soo is no match for Jae-hee’s skills. Apparently, Chairman Yoon’s men dragged Hye-rin to an awaiting car outside. She manages to escape and runs back into the club yelling for Jae-hee to stop. She cries for Jae-hee not to hit him anymore and says Tae-soo is her fiancé.

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Back at the Yoon household, Chairman Yoon meets with Tae-soo and Hye-rin, where she repeats her intent to marry Tae-soo. Chairman Yoon asks who Tae-soo is and Lawyer Min tells him he is one of Lee Sung-bom’s men. He explains that Sung-bom took over the Royal Casino and controls the Chungmuro District, and Tae-soo has been running the show since Sung-bom’s arrest.

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Chairman Yoon turns to Tae-soo and asks if he thought he could expand his power base by hooking up with his daughter. Or maybe he thought once he became Chairman Yoon’s son-in-law he would be able to do something even better. He asks, “Did you really think you could marry her?” Tae-soo looks at Hye-rin, then he looks back at Chairman Yoon and says yes, he thought he could.

Hye-rin has a drink with her brother, Yoon Young-Jae, after the impromptu family meeting. He asks if this is her latest way to disobey their father. He doesn’t want her to leave home again because he’s thinking about studying abroad. If she leaves too, their father will be all alone. He tells her in spite of his best efforts to be like their father, she’s the only one of them who can actually be like him. That’s why their father trusts her and waited for her even after she left. She says she doesn’t want to be like their father though.  She loathes the way he will do anything for a buck. Even so Young-jae tells her he doesn’t want her to marry someone just to spite their dad. He asks if she loves Tae-soo. She doesn’t, but she says she will love him one day. Young-jae says Tae-soo may be in danger and muses that she still doesn’t know their father very well.

Sure enough, Chairman Yoon has no intention of allowing Hye-rin to marry Tae-soo. He tells Lawyer Min he’ll have to keep Hye-rin in the house for a while and leaves it up to Lawyer Min to break them apart. We don’t know what they’re planning, but Chairman Yoon directs Lawyer Min to be sure not to use any of their men to do the dirty work.

Meanwhile, Chairman Yoon moves forward with taking over Mr. Oh’s casino. Mr. Oh is livid when Lawyer Min presents him with the purchase contract. He accuses them of ripping him off and says the purchase price amounts to blackmail. Jong-do is at the meeting and he pulls out an ink pad and strong arms Mr. Oh into dipping his seal in the ink and stamping the contract.

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As Lawyer Min and Jong-do leave Mr. Oh’s house, Lawyer Min mentions Jong-do’s former request to meet Chairman Yoon. Now that Chairman Yoon has taken over Mr. Oh’s casino, Jong-do works for him, and Lawyer Min says he will arrange a meeting between the two. In exchange, Chairman Yoon has a request to make. Jong-do assures Lawyer Min he’s willing to do whatever the Chairman needs. “Just say the word and I’ll take care of it,” he says. Lawyer Min smiles at the words and gets in his car.

Unaware that the Chairman is still plotting their break up, Tae-soo and Hye-rin move forward with their marriage plans. Tae-soo picks her up one day and she stoically gets on the back of the motorcycle. He catches her smiling in his rearview mirror and when he turns around to look at her she bursts out laughing. She got a job, she tells him excitedly, then she hurries him so they can finish up some errands.

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They go to their new apartment to finish unpacking. Their new place overlooks a train station and, during a break, they sit on the platform watching the trains go by. Tae-soo moves a little closer to Hye-rin and takes his mom’s ring from his finger. He slides it onto Hye-rin’s hand and tells her it belonged to his mother. He says his parents couldn’t have a wedding, but they will have one—it’s what he really wants. She asks him to tell her more about his parents and they sit on the platform talking well into the evening.

Later that night, when he goes to the club for work, it’s deserted. There’s only one staff member outside and he tells Tae-soo that Jong-do took the boys to some kind of rally. He doesn’t know exactly where, but Jong-do said he’d call when they get there. Tae-soo says ok and goes inside, but I don’t have a good feeling about this.

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Meanwhile, Hye-rin is still at their apartment. When she gets out of the shower, she sees one of her father’s men behind her. She turns around and sees Jae-hee too. She was drying her hair when they came in. She tries to maintain her composure and goes back to drying her hair with a hand towel. She nonchalantly tells them to let her father know she’ll visit him this weekend. But they’re not there to negotiate with her. One of the men starts pouring gasoline all over the floor and her father’s headman holds up a lighter.

Jong-do has his men at a different club in the city. He sits down in a private room and picks up the phone and it’s easy to guess who he’s calling.

Unaware that Chairman Yoon is making his move, Tae-soo sits at his empty club having a drink. At the apartment, Chairman Yoon’s men escort Hye-rin to a car to take her home. She asks what will happen to Tae-soo, but Jae-hee doesn’t answer.   Realizing he’s in danger, she gets in the car at first, but when the men are distracted, she opens the door and runs away. She runs to a taxi and makes it inside before they can catch her.

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At Tae-soo’s club, one of the conspirators unlocks the back entrance and the police sirens sound as the police arrive to arrest him. Tae-soo has fallen asleep, but the noise wakes him up. He tries to run, but he’s too late. The police have surrounded the building. He’s handcuffed and led away.

As an officer drives him away, Hye-rin passes him in the taxi, but she’s so focused on the club up ahead that she doesn’t notice. She arrives at the club moments too late. In the distance, she sees a car approaching. It’s Jae-hee. He gets out of the car and silently holds the door open for her.

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At the station, the police have Tae-soo seated with one of the detectives. The detective types up a statement and tells Tae-soo to put his thumbprint on it. Tae-soo demands to know what it is, but the detective tells him he talks too much and all he needs to do is put his thumbprint on it. Tae-soo refuses. He wants to know what’s going on first. The detective signals for an officer and the officer hits Tae-soo and forces him to put his fingerprint on the statement.

In voice over, we hear Chang explaining the penal system in place at that time. According to Chang, offenders are screened and placed into categories from A to D. Category A offenders get a minimum of ten years. The maximum penalty is execution. Category B offenders get one month of correctional education and six months of hard labor. Category C gets two weeks of correctional education and Category D gets released.

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Chang is in his office speaking with Jong-do. Despite helping Chairman Yoon set Tae-soo up to be arrested, Jong-do seems worried about Tae-soo and asks what will happen to him now. Chang tells him Tae-soo will likely fall into Category A because of his criminal history and ties to organized crime. Chang remarks that it doesn’t look good for Tae-soo, but it’s a good opportunity for Jong-do. Jong-do is now the top man in town.  Jong-do hangs his head and asks what will he do without Tae-soo. He starts crying (but I still ain’t buying it buddy) and tells Chang that he and Tae-soo are more than just friends. He says Tae-soo is like a brother to him. Tae-soo saved his life, gave him a place to stay and food to eat. He’ll never forget that. Chang puts his arm around Jong-do’s shoulder and leads him out of the office. He says he’ll see what they can do for Tae-soo.

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Tae-soo goes in front of a panel of three judges for his court martial. They’ve already made up their minds what to do with him from the looks of things. They ask him a few questions about his family and then call for the next offender. As an officer leads Tae-soo away, one of the judges writes a B on top of his paperwork—hard labor. He gets his mugshot taken, then taken to a cell, and the episode ends.

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EPISODE 11 RECAP

It’s late at night when Park Tae-soo and a group of prisoners arrive at one of the military’s correctional education facilities. From the looks of things, their “education” will involve getting brutal beatings from soldiers. After their beating, the commanding officer tells them they are the garbage of society and one of its most virtuous institutions, the military, has been entrusted to recycle the trash. He encourages the prisoners to cooperate so they can be reborn and returned to society.

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The soldiers then escort them to their sleeping quarters. The commanding officer tells them it’s the start of the process of cleansing their hearts and minds. He points to one of the prisoners and tells the prisoner to come forward. When the prisoner stands up as ordered, the officer kicks him in the chest, knocking him to the ground. The prisoner fights back and the other soldiers on duty attack him. Tae-soo is visibly shocked by what he sees, and he jumps in to defend the prisoner. A soldier gives him a hard hit with a baton and he goes down. He’s so hurt from the blow that he can’t get back up.

When he comes to the next morning, he’s on the floor in a cell.  He sees someone lying beside him.  It’s the prisoner he helped the night before. Tae-soo helps the guy sit up and introduces himself. He asks the prisoner if he remembers him. Ah, so Tae-soo recognized the guy. It’s the head gangster from No Joo-myung’s crew! His name is Jung In-jae. (He’s the guy Tae-soo beat up in Episode 1 at the political rally. Recall also that Jong-do stabbed him after the gang faced off with him at the take over of Mr. Oh’s casino in Episode 4.)

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Suddenly shots ring out and they take cover, wondering what the heck is going on. The cell doors open and light floods in as a soldier steps inside. The solider takes them outside where the prisoners are kneeling in long lines waiting for a barber at the front of the line to shave their heads.

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Kang Woo-suk has a visitor at the military base where he’s stationed. When he gets to the visitor’s hall, he’s surprised to see that it’s Yoon Hye-rin. She tells him about Tae-soo and says she turned to him as a last resort because so far all she’s been able to find out is that Tae-soo received a level B sentence.

Woo-suk asks if her father had anything to do with Tae-soo’s sentence. She tells him yes. She says it was her fault though because she told her father to his face she was going to marry Tae-soo. Woo-suk is surprised to hear this and asks Hye-rin if the pair was really engaged. She shakes her head yes, and he takes her hand and sees the ring Tae-soo gave her. He stops her when she starts to explain how she got the ring. He already knows it was Tae-soo’s mother’s ring.

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He stands up and walks away to think. Hye-rin gives him some space at first, but after a while she follows him. She tells him she knows he never wanted to see her again. She almost didn’t have the courage to visit, but he was once a friend to Tae-soo and her, and she hopes he can help them. He agrees to ask for leave and see what he can do. He just needs her to find out the location of Tae-soo’s retraining center in the meantime.

From the looks of things at the retraining camp, their help can’t come soon enough. Each day the soldiers make the prisoners do exhausting drills under a barrage of blows from their batons. The soldiers beat the prisoners whether they’re working hard or not and no matter how well they’re doing on the drills

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At mealtime, the prisoners eat heartily. One day, Tae-soo and the others are eating when In-jae sees someone he knows among a new batch of prisoners being brought into the facility. He jumps up and pushes pass a guard to hurry to the hallway. He has a limp though and it impedes his ability to move very fast. In the hallway, he puts his hand on the shoulder of one of the prisoners and calls out “Hyungnim.” The prisoner turns around and it’s No Joo-myung! His boss is in the same “retraining program” as he is now. The guards surround him before long though and he gets a violent beating for his insubordination.

Woo-suk has obtained leave by then and visits his former commander, Officer Ma, who is currently stationed at one of the retraining camps. Tae-soo is not at his camp, but he tells Woo-suk even if he was it’s not easy getting a prisoner released, especially if the prisoner is a real criminal. Most of the prisoners are normal people who are wrongfully imprisoned, he says—a teacher, an opposition party member, someone picked up for singing a song after drinking, etc. If it’s possible to get him out of the camp, he thinks Woo-suk should do it. If not, Tae-soo will be lucky if he can still walk after six months of labor camp, he says. He tells Woo-suk there may be a way to get Tae-soo out, but it’s a secret (which we don’t get to hear).

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The scene shifts to people gambling at a slot machine operation. Chang To-shik and Chairman Yoon are meeting with Kang Tong-hwan, who apparently is a top ranking government official whom Chairman Yoon routinely bribes. Chairman Yoon is pushing to get into the slot machine business, which Chang explains the Chairman will use to funnel money to the government as a sort of national endowment.

After the meeting, Chairman Yoon and Lawyer Min leave to work on raising money for the new operation. Chang stays behind with Mr. Kang, who asks Chang what Chairman Yoon really wants from them. Chang tells him the Chairman will need to secure the proper licenses to run the slot machine operation. He’ll need capital as well so he probably needs help from a bank. Mr. Kang agrees to do whatever needs to be done to move forward. However, he tells Chang to ensure the operation is not under Chairman Yoon’s name. Chang should give Chairman Yoon enough to keep him happy, but one of their guys should have majority ownership.

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Chang introduces Chairman Yoon to the government’s designated straw man over a game of golf. His name is Park Seung-chol and he tells Chang, Mr. Kang and the Chairman that he has no problem with them using his name as the record owner of the new venture. He does have one condition though—he doesn’t want any decision-making authority or to be involved in the day-to-day operations.

After the meeting, Lawyer Min fills Chairman Yoon in on Park Seung-chol’s history. According to Lawyer Min, Mr. Park is a director in a public corporation, but he spent the majority of his career in the military in frontline units. Lawyer Min thinks Chang recommended Mr. Park as opposed to someone more influential because Mr. Park spent his career away from the policy makers and doesn’t have connections. He also thinks Mr. Park will be satisfied with whatever he makes in the deal.

When they get back to the Yoon household, Chairman Yoon tells Lawyer Min they need to reconsider their plans. He agrees that they need a figurehead for the slot machine operation, but he’s not sure Mr. Park is the right man to use.

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As he walks down the hall to his office, he passes Oh Jong-do, who has been waiting to meet him. After he finishes his conversation about Mr. Park, he asks Lawyer Min who Jong-do is and why he’s waiting. Lawyer Min tells him Jong-do used to be one of Tae-soo’s men and masterminded the Gold Star Hotel Casino takeover. The Chairman realizes he’s the one who doublecrossed Tae-soo. He doesn’t feel like meeting Jong-do, but he tells Lawyer Min to put him in charge of the casino for now and get him involved in the slot machine business later.

He puts his hand on his chest and grimaces a bit then he takes some medicine. (Uh-oh, is this foreshadowing heart trouble?) He laments that Hye-rin met Tae-soo before he did. He thinks Tae-soo has all the attributes Jong-do lacks and says it’s a shame things turned out this way.

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At the purification prison, the men do more drills while the guards continue to beat them whether they’re doing well or not. There’s a particularly hard scene to watch where the guards cruelly beat them for no reason at all. Afterwards, Tae-soo is lying on the floor in a cell when he gets a visitor. He’s practically unconscious and the guards toss a bucket of water on him to rouse him. It barely shocks him, but he does manage to roll over onto his back. It must be freezing in the room because steam flows from his mouth as he breathes.

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Tae-soo goes to the visitor’s room and Woo-suk is there to see him. The emotion running through Tae-soo’s face is palpable. He’s clearly glad to see his friend, but he manages to maintain his composoure. Woo-suk is visibly affected by seeing Tae-soo though. He stares at his friend and when Tae-soo starts to lift his hand for a hand shake he steps forward to embrace him. He holds onto Tae-soo for a long time and a tear falls from one of Tae-soo’s eyes.

Later, Tae-soo eats hungrily as Woo-suk looks on. He’s self-conscious about how he’s tearing into the food. He’s only been there for two weeks, he says, but he’s become an animal in that time. He spends his time counting the days because his stay there ends in four weeks, but they may send him somewhere else at the end of the month. Woo-suk tells him Hye-rin found out where he was being held. Tae-soo stops eating for a moment. He realizes that’s how Woo-suk knew about his imprisonment and asks how she is. Woo-suk tells him Hye-rin is worried about him and blames herself because her father is connected to his arrest and sentence.

Woo-suk asks Tae-soo if he knows what will happen after the four-week program. Tae-soo has no idea. He knows he may have to do six months of public service, but he can’t stand to think that far ahead. Woo-suk tells him he may be able to bribe a prison official to get him released, but Tae-soo thinks Woo-suk is too upright to resort to bribing someone. Woo-suk surprises Tae-soo though by saying he wants to at least try.

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Hye-rin makes a deal to work for her father in exchange for a loan. She gives the money to Woo-suk and they go to Officer Ma’s station. Hye-rin waits nearby and watches as Woo-suk thanks Officer Ma for his help. Officer Ma gets on a bicycle and pedals away and Woo-suk starts walking toward Hye-rin. She smiles at him initially, but he stops walking and just stares at her and her smile fades. He walks away leaving her on the sidewalk. (Does that mean they won’t be able to get Tae-soo out? I’m confused.)

Back at the retraining camp, Tae-soo and In-jae are in the midst of more drills when Tae-soo tells In-jae it may be possible to make a deal for early release if they can bribe the officials during their interviews. They have to stop their conversation when a guard comes their way to avoid being hit. Luckily the guard overlooks them, but the poor elderly man next to Tae-soo is not so fortunate. He’s struggled throughout the camp and one of the guards attacks him.

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That night the elderly guy dies, and the officers carry his body away on a stretcher. When the commanding officer comes in to inspect the men, In-jae stands up and asks if he can speak with him alone. They walk outside together and Tae-soo looks on in alarm as he sees In-jae kneeling at the officer’s feet.

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The next morning, the prisoners get a new member added to their platoon. It’s No Joo-myung. (So In-jae must have asked the commanding officer to put Joo-myung in their unit.) In-jae approaches him as soon as they’re alone and takes his sack from him to unpack. Tae-soo goes up to Joo-myung too and bows, but Joo-myung ignores him. When Tae-soo tries to help get Joo-myung get settled in, In-jae tells him to stay out of his business from now on. He wants Tae-soo to pretend he doesn’t know them because Joo-myung is his responsibility

In-jae takes his commitment to Joo-myung seriously, but unfortunately it catches the attention of the officers. An officer sees In-jae helping Joo-myung when the prisoners are digging a trench and Joo-myung gets lightheaded. So he gathers the unit outside the next day and calls In-jae and Joo-myung to the front of the group for “attitude readjustment training.” He says he’s going to cut the bonds that make In-jae a lackey to Joo-myung.

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He forces Joo-myung to refer to himself as a pig and he makes him get down on his hands and knees and crawl around squealing like a pig. In-jae tries to intervene but the other officers beat him with their batons and hold him back. He cries and screams as Joo-myung crawls around oinking.

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Tae-soo watches it all and gets angrier and angrier until he leaves his place in line and starts walking forward.  And I’m dying here.  Can’t you mind your own business just once Tae-soo?  Ugh. Tae-soo attacks the officers and has the upperhand until the commander pulls out a gun and points it at him

Finally, it’s the end of the correctional education month and the prisoners gather to hear whether they will be among the ones released. The men whose names are called are overjoyed and eagerly line up to leave the facility. The ones who remain inside are visibly morose. It looks like In-jae and Joo-myung will be staying.  They are among the group that returns to the prisoners’ sleeping quarters.

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Soon after the prisoners return, an officer drags a totally battered and bruised Tae-soo through the doors. The officer lets him go and Tae-soo falls to the ground. He’s completely unable to stand. In-jae runs to him and cradles his head in his arms. Tae-soo’s right eye is swollen shut and the left side of his face has a large contusion. He’s in rough shape indeed.

MY THOUGHTS

I think it goes without saying that I really feel for the prisoners in the retraining programs as the brutality of the scenes is hard to watch. But I have to admit a part of me chuckled as I watched the drills they were doing. I’ve actually paid instructors to torture me with the same drills at my boot camp fitness classes (minus the beatings of course). So as I watched the scenes, a part of me was horrified while another part of me thought about what a great workout they were getting. This is probably why my shallow side should not be allowed to watch serious dramas, lol.

All jokes aside though, I did have two very different feelings watching the way the prisoners were treated. On the one hand, I firmly believe Tae-soo, In-jae and Joo-myung deserve to be in prison. I know Tae-soo is a central character and he may very well be a good guy underneath it all, but the fact of the matter is he has committed some very atrocious crimes. He harms innocent people for a living and operates illegal businesses so he should be punished and I’d like nothing better than for him and his associates to be behind bars.

But does that mean he and the others deserve to be treated the way the officers are treating them? Absolutely not. Which is why on the other hand, I can’t stand to see him locked up and so horrifically abused. Here’s to hoping Woo-suk’s connections come through and our anti-hero walks free soon.

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EPISODE 12 RECAP

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Kang Woo-suk walks along the side of a railroad track after getting off a train. His younger brother, Kang Young-suk, is there to greet him. He’s returned home to see his father, who is sick.  His father doesn’t act happy to see him when he arrives though.  He sits up from his pallet on the floor and remarks that the military sure has changed if they gave him leave just because his father has a cold.  Then he waves Woo-suk away and tells him to go have his mother make him dinner.

Woo-suk goes to greet his mom, who is already at work on dinner in the kitchen.  He asks her to tell him the truth about his father’s prognosis, but she doesn’t answer.  Instead, she assures him his father is doing better already merely being at home again.  He hugs her, but she pushes him away and shoos him out of the kitchen.

After dinner, Woo-suk tries to get some answers from his brother.  He suggests they take their dad to a hospital in Seoul, but Young-suk gets offended that Woo-suk thinks he’s not smart enough to make the proper medical decisions for the family.  Woo-suk apologizes and lets the subject drop.

Young-suk then brings up a subject Woo-suk would rather not talk about: their father’s dream for him to pass the bar.  When dad was hospitalized, he’d told Young-suk he wanted to see Woo-suk become a judge before he died.  The next day, the family gets a visitor and he encourages Woo-suk to take the exam as soon as he’s discharged to help the family out.  Woo-suk shocks him when he admits he’s thinking about staying home and helping on the farm instead of taking the bar.

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When his father gets the news, he’s shocked and upset.  He struggles to sit up and tells his wife to leave the room so he can beat some sense into Woo-suk.  However, he’s too weak to do anything except grab Woo-suk and cry.

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Young-suk is angry too.  He yells at Woo-suk for not discussing his plans with him first and tells Woo-suk he no longer consider him his brother.  Woo-suk asks Young-suk if he has any idea what he’s done in the army. He says he’s beaten people, taken bribes and even killed people. He no longer feels he’s qualified to be a judge or a prosecutor telling someone else they’re guilty of a crime.  Young-suk grabs his collar and asks if he thinks it’s that simple—that because he’s comfortable and happy coming back home everyone else will be too?  He drops to his knees and starts sobbing.  He tells Woo-suk their dad has liver cancer and the doctors say they can’t help him.

Now that he knows his father is dying, Woo-suk stays by his side.  Even though he’s weak, his dad whispers to him that he should take the bar exam.  He tells Woo-suk he knows he can do it, and Woo-suk agrees to try.  A tear falls from the corner of dad’s eye when he hears this and he closes his eyes and goes to sleep.  Woo-suk falls asleep too, and by the time he wakes up, his father is dead.

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It looks like Chairman Yoon’s slot machine businesses are up and running.  He goes to the casino and meets with Oh Jong-do and Lawyer Min who update him on the progress of the currently open operations as well as their plans for future locations.  Jong-do uses the meeting to ingratiate himself with the Chairman.  Every time the Chairman asks a question, he quickly speaks up before Lawyer Min can get a word in edgewise.  Chairman Yoon pretty much ignores him until he’s about to leave.  Then, he compliments Jong-do on a job well done and tells him he’ll have the opportunity to put some of the operations in his name too.  He warns Jong-do that rule number one is to keep the whole thing quiet and keep minors out so there’s no trouble. Jong-do assures him he’ll do just that and Jong-do turns to leave.

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On his way out, Jong-do sees Jae-hee, and Jae-hee asks him if he’s heard from Park Tae-soo.  He hasn’t, but he tells Jae-hee he’ll do what he can to find out where he is.  He asks if Chairman Yoon asked Jae-hee to find Tae-soo, but Jae-hee doesn’t respond.  Instead, he tells Jong-do he’d like an answer as soon as possible and Jong-do says he’ll get right on it.

Chang To-shik is waiting outside the casino, and he and Jong-do go to a bar and have a few drinks.  Jong-do apologizes for not stopping by to see him since he started working for Chairman Yoon.  Mr. Chang tells him now that he’s graduated from the back alleys and has seen the light, he has to seek higher ground.  He may make money, but Chairman Yoon’s management style will always keep him beneath the Chairman, Chang says.  Money isn’t the number one thing that counts, he advise Jong-do.  He says it’s people and Jong-do needs to start networking now.  He gets a phone call and has to leave.  He pats Jong-do on the shoulder as he goes.

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The scene shifts to the government’s labor camp where the prisoners are working on laying a railroad track.  Tae-soo and Jung In-jae are discussing the possibility of escaping.  One of the things they have to contend with is the fact that the soldiers have guns.  In-jae thinks that may work to their advantage because the guns give the soldiers a false sense of security, and he asks Tae-soo to take Joo-myung with him whenever he makes a run for it.

Jong-do has come through and told Jae-hee where Tae-soo is being held.  Unfortunately, the guards won’t let Hye-rin into the prison when they get there.  She dejectedly gets back in the car with Jae-hee, and he starts driving her away. 

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However, she’s so desperate that she jumps out and tries to climb a fence on an unguarded part of the premises.  Jae-hee stops her and tries to get her to come to her senses.  She struggles for him to let go, saying she just wants to see Tae-soo’s face one time and she has something to say to him.  Jae-hee grabs her and holds her until she calms down, and he shields her when a military vehicle drives by.

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He stops along the route home and lets her stand by a bridge and think.  He patiently sits in the car well into the night watching over her as she cries and keeps staring at Tae-soo’s mother’s ring on her finger.

When she returns home that night, her father tells her Yoon Young-jae will be leaving for Paris the next month.  He asks her what she plans to do, and she tells him she’ll start working for him to repay the loan he gave her.  With Young-jae gone, she knows he’ll need someone he can trust by his side. She says she’ll stay with him, but in return he has to have Tae-soo released.  She gives him her word that she won’t meet him anymore and tells him when he gives her proof that Tae-soo has been released, she’ll start working for him.

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Tae-soo has no intention of waiting for anyone to help him though.  He moves forward with his escape plans.  As the prisoners wash their clothes by a riverbank one day, In-jae encourages Joo-myung to go with Tae-soo when he runs away.  In-jae knows Joo-myung doesn’t want to die in prison, and even though he’s older now, In-jae tells him to go for it.  Joo-myung is reluctant, but finally he tells Tae-soo he’s always though of In-jae as his little brother so he’ll listen to him.  He doesn’t want to burden Tae-soo though, but Tae-soo says it’d be impossible for him to escape on his own and welcomes Joo-myung to join him.

That night they make their move when all the other prisoners are asleep.  Tae-soo gets up first, then he rouses In-jae and Joo-myung (and my heart is racing—I’m so nervous. This is too much for me and they haven’t even done anything yet!).  The three of them get dressed and wait for the guards to move away so they can sneak outside.

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Tae-soo and Joo-myung scale a barbed wire fence with In-jae’s help and crawl through a hole in another fence, then Tae-soo signals for In-jae to come too.  They used a blanket to protect them from the barbed wire along the fence, but when In-jae tries to climb over, he gets caught in the wire.  He makes too much noise trying to get untangled and the alarm sounds that there’s an escape attempt.  Tae-soo runs back to help him, but In-jae won’t let him.  He pushes him away and Tae-soo and Joo-myung are forced to start running when they hear soldiers approaching.  In-jae manages to hide until the guards pass by, then he stands up and bows in the direction that Joo-myung ran.

Deeper into the woods, Tae-soo and Joo-myung hear a shot ring out and they both pause as they realize In-jae has been shot and is dead now.  Joo-myung’s head drops in resignation and sadness, but they can’t spend any time mourning now.  They use a home-made rope to climb down a ravine and make it to a train station.  Tae-soo has to half drag/half carry Joo-myung the last part of the way.  He’s somehow broken his leg.

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When they make it inside the railway car, Tae-soo tears Joo-myung’s pants leg and splints the leg to relieve his pain.  Tae-soo says he’ll take him to a hospital as soon as they’re clear of the prison, but Joo-myung isn’t hearing him.  He asks Tae-soo not to tell his children that the prison guards had him crawling around like a pig when he sees them.  Tae-soo stares at him for a long moment, then nods and promises he won’t.  Then he goes back to tying the splint.

As the train travels down the track, Joo-myung gets more and more fatalistic.  He tells Tae-soo to visit his son and be sure to let his son know he paid for his crimes.  He says, “I’ve done wrong all my life. I’ve been the cause of a lot of tears. And I’ve crippled many people. Now it’s time to pay. My son must never grow up to be like me.” Tae-soo asks him what he’s thinking, but Joo-myung doesn’t respond. 

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When Tae-soo wakes up the next morning, the railway car door is open and Joo-myung is gone. Tae-soo goes to the door and looks around, then he falls to his knees in anguish.

Tae-soo gets off the train later in the day.  He even steals clothes and changes out of his prison garb, but it’s not enough to disguise him.  He’s walking down a rural road and a military vehicle drives by.  He turns around and walks in the opposite direction, but the guards chase him anyway.  He runs as fast as he can, but soon he’s surrounded and captured.

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MY THOUGHTS

Well that was short-lived.  It seems Tae-soo didn’t even make it a full twenty-four hours before he was captured and taken back to prison.  Yet, In-jae and Joo-myung had to die.  Their deaths seem pointless if Tae-soo wasn’t going to actually be successful in his escape attempt.  But I suppose the show needed a way to kill them off, and if that’s the case, they certainly accomplished it.

I’ve been disappointed here and there with the writing in this show, which I’d heard praised to no end before I watched this series.  I do think it’s well-scripted and I believe that overall it’s an objectively very good drama, but it’s not without its flaws. One of those flaws is that things feel contrived at times.  It’s obvious the writer wanted certain things to happen at certain times and used certain characters to convey certain messages throughout the progression of the show.  One of the primary tools used to do this is a revolving cast of supporting characters.  The problem is sometimes I just don’t buy it.

Hong Jin-soo’s story line (in Episodes 7 & 8) is one such example of what I’m talking about.  The writer needed a way to get Tae-soo to Kwangju during the protests and Jin-soo was a good vehicle.  I was fine with using Jin-soo that way.  I was even fine that Jin-soo was an example of a Kwangju resident who initially opposed the student protests but joined the movement when he saw the military’s brutality.  But I was not okay with the way he died because it was totally nonsensical.

Instead of letting him die from a gun shot during a legitimate exchange of fire between the protesters and the soldiers, the show wanted him to make a political statement first.  So he didn’t bother to stay low and out of the line of fire.  Instead, he stood up (marginally hiding behind a tree) and shouted for the government to stop the killing (giving away his location and inviting bullets his way).  So he essentially committed suicide to get the writer’s point across and diminished (for me at least) the impact of his death.  

I got the same vibe from In-jae and Joo-myung’s deaths in this episode.  It wasn’t so much that the writer was trying to make a statement this time, but that In-jae and Joo-myung served their purpose and it was time for them to go so the main cast could move on to the next phase of the drama.  I wasn’t cool with it, but I can live with it.  Frankly, as long as Jae-hee is okay I don’t particularly care who dies, but it’d be nice if the drama flowed a tad bit smoother.

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EPISODE 13 RECAP

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Kang Woo-suk is discharged from the military and moves to Seoul to continue studying for the bar exam.  His brother comes with him on his first night in town to help him unpack and get settled.  When they arrive at the boarding house where he will be living, a woman comes out to greet them.  She doesn’t speak though so Woo-suk introduces himself as the new boarder and asks if she’s the landlord.  Instead of answering him, she tells him to follow her and she rapid fires the house rules.  Then she points out his room and the restroom and walks away.  She peeks back at him when she gets to the side of the house as Woo-suk and his brother look after her with bewildered looks on their faces.

That night, Woo-suk goes outside to get water and sees her taking care of her elderly father.  When he gets back to his room, his brother Kang Young-suk tells him he talked to the law student in the next room and found out she’s the landlady, Chung Sun-young (Jo Min-soo). She runs the boarding house and takes care of her frail father, which he remarks is really impressive.  He looks pointedly at Woo-suk as he talks about her, but Woo-suk doesn’t take the hint that Young-suk is trying to make—that she may be a good prospective wife—so Young-suk tells him to forget it, and he turns over to go to sleep.

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Someone walks into one of the gang’s old night clubs.  It’s Park Tae-soo!  (How’d he get out?)  A staff member sees him and tells him he’ll have to leave because they’re not open yet.  When Tae-soo ignores him, he tries to forcibly remove Tae-soo, but Tae-soo isn’t having it.  Some of the hired muscle come over to help and suddenly one of them recognizes Tae-soo.  He runs up to Tae-soo and bows and introduces himself as Lee Jong-kun.

Jong-kun takes Tae-soo to Chairman Yoon’s casino where Oh Jong-do has his main offices.  He fills Tae-soo in on Jong-do’s growing stature since he’s been away.  He tells Tae-soo that Jong-do’s power base has grown and he’s picked up a mob of followers.  Tae-soo smiles wryly at this news.  He looks almost proud of Jong-do.  (Does he not realize Jong-do betrayed him to get where he is now?)  Jong-kun tells him he heard Jong-do was the one who orchestrated his arrest and imprisonment.  (Well, he knows now if he didn’t know before.)  He tells Tae-soo most of their boys aren’t around anymore.  If the boys didn’t take sides with Jong-do, he sent them away and a lot of them are pretty bad off now.

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When Jong-do finally has time to see them, Tae-soo steps forward with a smile on his face and goes to hug Jong-do, but Jong-do sticks out his hand instead.  He shakes Tae-soo’s hand and greets him with a cool “Long time no see. Please step inside my office.”  Inside the office, Jong-do sits down at the opposite end of a long boardroom table and lights a cigarette.

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His secretary interrupts them, letting him know there’s a car waiting to take him to a meeting.  Tae-soo asks if he came at a bad time and Jong-do doesn’t respond.  Tae-soo tells him to say whatever it is he’s holding back, and Jong-do explains that things are different now.  Organized violence is gone and he’s running a clean operation with the Chairman.  Tae-soo asks if he’s trying to say he can’t afford to have ex-cons like him wandering around, and Jong-do says that’s the way it is for now.

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Tae-soo asks about Lee Sung-bom and the others.  Sung-bom got twenty years, Chang Il-do got five and Baek Min-jae got three years, he learns.  Jong-do slides an envelope of money across the table and tells Tae-soo he should go back to his hometown for a while.  Tae-soo looks at Jong-do and admits he thought it was him who had gotten him released, but now he knows it wasn’t.  He doesn’t take the money and goes to leave.  Before he walks out, he turns around and asks Jong-do how much of a hand he had in all of this.  Jong-do looks at him and we don’t get to hear his response.

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Yoon Young-jae is leaving for Paris.  Baek Jae-hee drives him to the airport, and Yoon Hye-rin rides with them to see him off.  In the car, Young-jae tells her he heard Tae-soo has been released.  She heard about his release too and says she’ll be working for their dad now.  Young-jae wonders if she’ll be okay, but she assures him she’ll be fine.  He really needs to be worrying about himself, she says, as he’s the one traveling to a foreign country.  He tells her he won’t be going alone though.  He has a girlfriend he’s been keeping a secret all this time.  He knows their father wouldn’t approve of her (she’s an orphan and the aunt who raised her runs a small store) so he’ll marry her as soon as they get to Paris and he’ll tell their father about her after they have a baby.

Hye-rin is surprised, but not unhappy, at the news.  She warmly greets his girlfriend when they get to the airport, and they stand together talking as Young-jae asks Jae-hee to look after Hye-rin for him.  (As if he has to even ask.)

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When they go back home, Tae-soo is standing on the corner near the house.  Jae-hee drives pass Tae-soo and parks the car in the driveway.  Hye-rin has seen him, but she gets out of the car and goes inside.  Jae-hee stands there looking at Tae-soo for a moment, then he goes inside too.  Tae-soo waits for a while, but eventually he starts to walk away.

Before he gets far, Hye-rin comes running down the street after him.  She tells him she at least wanted to say hello, but they can never meet again and he shouldn’t come by the house anymore.  She gives him back his mother’s ring and starts to walk away, but she stops and asks him to say something.  Isn’t he angry, or has he forgotten how to be angry, she asks.  He just stares at her as she stands there with tears in her eyes.

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She puts her head down and apologizes and starts to leave, but this time Tae-soo stops her.  Silently, he raises his hand and touches her face, then he kisses her on the forehead.

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He gently pushes her away and lets go of her shoulders, and he starts to walk away too.  But Hye-rin stops him again and pulls him into a hug.

They end up going away together.  They take a train to the ocean and then board a boat.  (And I’m thinking, really Tae-soo, did it not sink in over the past few months that you need to stay away from this girl?)  On the boat ride, they stand on the deck and Tae-soo backhugs Hye-rin.  In voiceover, we hear Tae-soo say to himself: I thought about you every day that I was gone. Why would you do that? Why did you say you would marry me? Was it just because it seemed the right thing to do even though you didn’t even like me? So why did you accept my ring? Could it be that you actually do care for me?

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When they get off the boat, they sit overlooking the water and Hye-rin asks what’s on his mind now?  He tells her it doesn’t matter whether she really cares for him or not, because she’s still his woman and he’ll never be so powerless again that someone can separate him from his woman.  He tells her to believe in him, and she asks a little incredulously if he still thinks they can get married.  He doesn’t say anything.

Instead, he pulls out his mother’s ring.  He tells her his mother had to live her whole life alone. When he was in school, the other women said mean things about her, and he could never put Hye-rin through something like that.  He gives her back the ring and tells her if she believes in him, she’ll stand beside him.

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Hye-rin looks at the ring in her hand, and in the next scene they’re in a minbak (a rented room in a private house).  When she falls asleep, he rubs her head and then holds her hand.  She’s wearing his mother’s ring (so perhaps she decided to believe in him after all?). 

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In the morning, she’s gone. She left a note though. Only, when he opens it, he finds it’s not a note.  His mother’s ring falls out and he turns the paper over but there’s nothing written on either side.

Soon after that, Lawyer Min takes Hye-rin to the casino to begin her training.  She’s going to start as a card dealer and Jong-do introduces her to the head dealer, Chae Yoon-shik, who he says is the best card player in Asia.  Mr. Chae reminds Jong-do that they’re not hiring at the moment, but Jong-do says it’s a special favor for him.  He tells Mr. Chae to find her a spot within two weeks even though the usual training period is six weeks.  Mr. Chae is none too pleased, but he takes Hye-rin on a tour of the casino as Jong-do asks.

When they leave, Lawyer Min reminds Jong-do that no one there can know Hye-rin is Chairman Yoon’s daughter.  He tells Jong-do to forget that she’s the Chairman’s daughter too.

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Mr. Chae takes Hye-rin to a card table in the casino and spreads a deck of cards out in front of them.  He asks if she knows how to play poker.  When she tells him she does, he puts a stack of chips in front of her.  It’s her first month’s salary, he says, and they play a round of poker with the chips.  She loses, of course, and accuses him of cheating.  He remains studiously calm and serious as he tells her any dealer caught cheating is fired on the spot.  No exceptions.  She’s still angry though and asks if this is his way of teaching new employees the ropes.  He tells her yes, at least employees who claim they know how to play poker.  He tells her to rest for now and they’ll try some roulette later.

Hye-rin goes to the women’s locker room and sits on a bench looking a bit dejected.  One of the other dealers tells her not to worry so much.  Mr. Chae acted that way toward her because she got in so easily while the other employees had to fight tooth and nail for their jobs.  She introduces herself as Cho Hyun-sook, then she asks exactly who got her a job there.  Hye-rin doesn’t respond.  Instead, she stands up and hautily apologizes that she used her connections to get the job.  Hyun-sook laughs at Hye-rin’s attitude and jokingly tells the other girls they’ll have to keep an eye on her.

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Tae-soo and Jong-kun scour the city rounding up the old gang members to join them once more.  They find one former member teaching a taekwondo class.  Another one is a day laborer.  With some of old gang back intact, they go to No Joo-myung’s funeral and Tae-soo talks to Joo-myung’s son after the service.

Joo-myung’s son asks if his father had it bad on the inside, but Tae-soo lies and says everyone, including the soldiers, treated Joo-myung with respect.  His son is relieved.  He’d heard a lot of stories about how the prisoners are treated and was worried about his father.  He says even though he knows the government sent his father to prison because of his father’s involvement with the opposition movement, it feels good to know even his rivals respected him.

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As Tae-soo is leaving the funeral, a group of Joo-myung’s men approach Tae-soo and ask if they can talk to him for a moment.  Their designated leader steps forward and tells Tae-soo they’ve heard he and Jong-do have parted ways.  If Tae-soo is thinking of offing that bastard, they want to join him, he says.  He introduces himself as Jung In-young.  He’s Jung In-jae’s brother! And he wants revenge against Jong-do for cutting off In-jae’s foot (oh so that’s what Jong-do did that day. Why did we have to wait nine episodes to find that out?).  He also has a score to settle with Jong-do because most of their gang were either turned into vegetables or sent to prison when Jong-do took over after Joo-myung and In-jae were captured.

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He asks Tae-soo to be their boss now.  Tae-soo stares at him for a long moment, then he sticks out his hand.  In-young takes his hand and bows and calls him Hyungnim.  The rest of the men behind In-young follow suit.  (And I know they’re still bad guys, but I find this so touching.)

It doesn’t take long for Jong-do to hear that Tae-soo is back in business.  He runs to Chang To-shik with the news.  He’s scared and asks Chang if they should just let him be.  Chang feigns as if he has no idea who Tae-soo is and tells Jong-do not to worry about back alley thugs.

Chang is more interested in getting the list of names of the people Chairman Yoon is secretly using as front men for his gambling operations.  Apparently Chang asked Jong-do to get the information to him and Jong-do gives him the list at the meeting.  In exchange, Chang tells him he’ll introduce him to some more prominent businessmen and recommend him as a speaker for an upcoming national sporting event.

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As Tae-soo works to build up a new gang, Woo-suk sits for the bar exam over the course of several days.  When he finally passes, his landlady is more excited than he is.  She bursts into his room to share the news, but when she tells him he passed, he doesn’t even react.  She deflates a little and starts walking away, but he stops her and asks if he can call home.  She takes him to the main house to use the phone and it happens to ring before he can pick it up.  It’s Tae-soo!

Apparently everyone knew Woo-suk passed the bar before he did.  Tae-soo invites him to a private room in a restaurant for a celebratory meal, reminding Woo-suk that he’d told him long ago he’d be the first to congratulate him when he became a prosecutor.

Chairman Yoon brings Hye-rin to the same restaurant for lunch with Kang Tong-hwan and Chang.  Jae-hee, who remains in the hall after his charges enter the private luncheon, is the only one who knows they’re all in the same building.

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Inside their room, Tae-soo and Woo-suk sit down at the table.  Woo-suk is happy to see Tae-soo, but it’s not long before he brings up their old issue: Tae-soo’s involvement in the underworld.  Tae-soo says they should enjoy their food as he know this will be the last time they’re able to do this—sit together, laugh together and share a meal.  Woo-suk asks him if that means he plans on doing what he’s doing indefinitely?  Tae-soo tells him there’s no other path for him to take.  “This has been my destiny all the long,” he says.

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Both groups finish their meals around the same time.  In the lobby, Jae-hee watches as Tae-soo and Woo-suk leave their private room and head to the elevators.  Not far behind them is Chairman Yoon and Hye-rin.  The Chairmand and Hye-rin make it to the elevator just as the door is closing and there’s a brief glance of her just before it shuts completely.

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This entry was posted in Drama Recaps and tagged Choi Min-soo, featured, Go Hyun-jung, Lee Jung-jae, Park Sang-won, Sandglass. Bookmark the permalink.
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EPISODE 14 RECAP

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Chang To-shik arrives at a public garden facility to meet Park Tae-soo, who is waiting for him inside.  Tae-soo has asked Chang to meet him there because he wants Chang’s help taking down Chairman Yoon and Oh Jong-do.  Chang doesn’t respond when Tae-soo asks him for help.  Instead, he chuckles that Tae-soo, who used to want nothing to do with diplomacy and politics, is now offering to help him in a quid pro quo exchange. 

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However, Chang must have given Tae-soo the green light because in the next scene he’s hard at work going after his enemies.  At his headquarters, he has an intricate chart drawn on a white board.  (And this is a perfect example of how the fact that I can’t speak or read Korean hurts me because I have no idea what the chart says or what it’s about. I can only assume it is related to the revenge operation.) 

We don’t hear what he’s saying, but he crosses out a line on the chart with his target’s name and identifying information.  Then he turns to Jung In-young, Lee Jong-kun, and a few of his other men in the room to give them more instructions.  In-young bows and heads out with some of the members of the crew.  They go to a political rally and bust it up like they used to do in the old days. 

Still at the office, Tae-soo gets a phone call and he goes to the chart and crosses another target off the board.  Scene after scene plays where Tae-soo’s men attack various events and Tae-soo receives a call then crosses a line off the chart.  When he takes over the gang’s old liquor warehouse, the police help him by arresting the men who are there. 

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While Tae-soo takes down his enemies, over at the casino we see that Yoon Hye-rin has become quite a proficient dealer by now.  Her prowess even earns her a fleeting smile of approval from Mr. Chae when she catches a patron cheating. 

She’s not only a dealer though.  After her shift on the casino floor, she works as a server in the restaurant too.  She uses the time to eavesdrop on the diners’ conversations to develop her business acumen.  A fringe benefit is that she hears stock tips.  When she overhears two businessmen discussing a merger, for example, she calls her broker to buy shares in the acquiring company. 

Working on the waitstaff has served her so well, she’s able to quickly repay her father for the loan he gave her.  When she hands him the envelope of money to pay in full he’s skeptical.  He says there’s no way she could have repaid him this fast on her salary alone.  She tells him she invested in some stocks and assures him that she’ll continue working at the casino even though she no longer has to.  She’s found she’s come to like it, she says. 

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With the first round of takeovers finished, Tae-soo and Chang meet at a park to discuss moving in on Chairman Yoon.  Chang says that the Chairman has gotten too big and the powers-that-be in government want to bring in someone else who is willing to do what they want.  He gives Tae-soo a list of Chairman Yoon’s gambling operations.  They’re listed under false names, but he wants Tae-soo to lean on them one by one and says he’ll take care of all of their expenses. 

Tae-soo confronts Jong-do first.  He tells Jong-do he wants him to do two things: visit Lee Sung-bom (who Jong-do hasn’t seen even once since he’s been arrested) and turn over his gambling operations.  Jong-do tells Tae-soo he’s not the old Jong-do he used to be able to push around and says he’s not turning over a thing.  He doesn’t know who Tae-soo has backing him, but he says Tae-soo would be wise to watch his back from here on out.  Tae-soo just stares at him and says he’ll keep that in mind. 

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In the meantime, Chang pushes forward with taking over Chairman Yoon’s holdings in spite of Jong-do’s refusal to cooperate.  He introduces Tae-soo to President Park Seung-chol (who became the record owner of many of Chairman Yoon’s slot machines and other gambling operations at Chang’s recommendation in Episode 11).  Chang proposes giving day-to-day control of the businesses to Tae-soo and President Park agrees to go for it.  With his greed and Tae-soo’s strength, he thinks they’ll succeed, he says. 

Jong-do, perhaps realizing Tae-soo is on the move, follows Tae-soo.  He goes to the restaurant where Chang, President Park and Tae-soo are meeting and sits in the next room.  He bribes the waitress who is serving the trio to report to him what they are discussing so when she leaves the men, she goes to Jong-do and tells him what she overheard. 

Jong-do visits President Park a few days later and lobbies for the job he just gave Tae-soo.  He wants to run President Park’s new casino as well as the businesses that are rightfully Chairman Yoon’s.  Jong-do tells President Park he knows Tae-soo works for him, but he shouldn’t allow someone like that to get involved in his operations.  President Park acts like he’s shocked to hear what Jong-do has to say, then he tells Jong-do that Tae-already warned him he’d get a visit from him and Tae-soo told him exactly what he’d say too.    

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Over at the casino, Hye-rin has gotten so good that Mr. Chae has her training the new dealers.  She’s also the only one able to shut down pro gamblers.  She’s in the middle of one of her training sessions when Mr. Chae signals for her to come see him.  He points out a few Yakutza gang members at Cho Hyun-sook’s table who have been winning huge sums of money and tells her to take over for Hyun-sook because she’s the only one who can shut them down.  She heads over, but as she walks away she saucily remarks that it sounds like she needs a raise, lol. 

Sure enough, the Yakutza gang members lose on the next hand she deals.  When she goes to pick up the chips she’s won, one of the gangsters grabs her hand. She surprises him when she speaks fluently in Japanese and says, “Sir, I believe that’s my hand you have there.”  He tells her it’s a lovely hand and lets go. She takes the chips and replies, “My heart is far sweeter,” and they all laugh.

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After her shift, Hye-rin walks with Hyun-sook as they’re leaving for the night.  As they pass through the lobby, a patron who’d admired Hye-rin earlier in the evening approaches her and invites her to breakfast.  She politely declines, but he puts his hand on her arm to stop her from walking away and tells her if she doesn’t like the restaurant they can go to his room instead.  Hye-rin turns to Hyun-sook and tries to laugh it off, but the guy is insistent and refuses to let go of her.  Suddenly good old Baek Jae-hee swoops in from out of nowhere and restrains the guy.  Hye-rin excuses herself and walks away with Hyun-sook.  Jae-hee follows the pair out.  Hyun-sook, who is still shocked by Jae-hee’s sudden appearance, hilariously keeps looking after them when they part ways outside.  (I wonder if she’s caught on that Hye-rin is not just an ordinary dealer yet?)

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After Hye-rin and Jae-hee leave Hyun-sook behind, they go to the Han River and sit on the riverbank staring at the water.  Hye-rin has a bottle of soju, which Jae-hee turns down when she offers him a drink.  She asks him how many words he speaks a day.  He doesn’t respond, and she says he’ll probably explode one day because he doesn’t drink, he doesn’t smoke, and he keeps everything he wants to say inside.  (Was that suppose to acknowledge the fact that the writers hardly bothered to give Jae-hee any dialogue?) 

Hye-rin says she has a lot of stuff inside that she wants to say, but she can’t say it either, and she starts to cry.  Jae-hee guesses she must be upset about Tae-soo and he tells her Tae-soo bought a house in the Yangjae-dong area of Seoul.   She can find him there, he says.  Then he asks her if she’ll still see Tae-soo after all this time. 

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Kang Woo-suk has become a prosecutor in the Seoul’s District Attorney’s office by now.  As expected, he was the top graduate from the service institute and his supervisor notes he’s a hard worker too.  However, his supervisor is concerned that he is a little too conscientious.  Apparently the police department has been complaining about “this Kang fellow” who keeps throwing out their arrest warrants and denying their requests.  Woo-suk says he’s just doing what he was trained to do, but the supervisor tells him to remember he’s a prosecutor not a defense attorney.  There are already rumors going around that he’s taking bribes from the suspects.  Woo-suk just smiles an “as if” smile at the insinuation and leaves.

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At the boarding house where he lives, his landlady Chung Sun-young gets a strange visitor one day.  An older woman walks into the courtyard and asks if Prosecutor Kang Woo-suk lives there? She doesn’t identify herself despite Sun-young asking her a few times why she’s there.  Instead, she looks around and even has the gall to ask where Woo-suk’s room is located and if Woo-suk has a girlfriend.  By the time she says she’s there on behalf of the family of Woo-suk’s prospective bride, Sun-young has had enough of her lack of manners and escorts her to the gate to leave. Before she walks out, the older woman turns to Sun-young and asks if she has a soft spot for the prosecutor.  She scoffs at the idea and leaves. 

The woman must have been spot on.  (Sun-young is clearly peeved.)  She gets a bowl of salt and throws handfuls of it around the gate.  That doesn’t seem to be enough so she ends up tossing the whole contents of the bowl for good measure too, lol.

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Woo-suk gets back to the boarding house late that night.  He was so busy he didn’t have time to eat so he asks Sun-young if there are any leftovers.  She doesn’t respond, but later she brings a tray of food to his room.  He apologizes for troubling her and says he’ll be sure to eat before he comes home in the future.  She still doesn’t say anything (what is with all these strong silent types in this drama?) but she doesn’t leave either. 

When he notices her still standing there, she finally breaks the silence and asks if he’s getting married.  She tells him a lady stopped by earlier asking about him.  Woo-suk asks her to describe the lady and guesses that it must have been a matchmaker he knows who scouts all the single prosecutors.  Sun-young tells him it must be nice to be in the position to marry a rich girl.  If he’s wealthy, she opines it will be easier to resist the temptations in store for a prosecutor.  Woo-suk just stares at her (he’s probably shocked she spoke more than three words at once).  

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After he eats, he takes the tray back to the kitchen.  This time, he’s the one who lingers well after he should have gone back to his room.  When Sun-young, who’s busy making kimchi, doesn’t acknowledge he’s still there, he kneels down beside her and tells her he’s been thinking about what she said earlier.  He agrees it may be beneficial for a prosecutor to marry into a rich family, but he’d quickly tire of that kind of life, he says.  Then he stands up and leaves.  (Was that his way of saying he likes her too?  Sun-young’s smile tells me she thinks it was a confession too!) 

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Unaware that Chang and the other high-ranking government officials are no longer loyal to him, Chairman Yoon unveils his grand plan for a large scale luxury vacation destination.  He tells Hye-rin he plans to build the resort near Mt. Chili and he’s been buying the land for it ever since he got into the casino business.  He’s had a model made and shows Hye-rin the different amenities it will feature, such as a theme park, golf course and skiing facility in addition to the hotel and casino.

As they’re discussing the plans, Lawyer Min arrives with bad news.  President Park has signed a deal for a hotel and casino Chairman Yoon thought he was suppose to be acquiring.  Chairman Yoon asks where Chang was when all this was going on, and Lawyer Min drops another bomb.  Chang is the one who helped President Park get the deal. 

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Chairman Yoon and Lawyer Min pay a visit to Kang Tong-hwan and Chang to get to the bottom of things.  The Chairman is calm and diplomatic at first.  He asks if he’s offended Mr. Kang and brings up President Park’s receiving governmental approval for a casino he’d applied to run.  Mr. Kang acts as if he has no idea what the problem is so Chairman Yoon gets a bit more assertive and asks about the land in Mt. Chili.  Not only is President Park buying up land in the area, it can’t be a coincidence that President Park owns the very land he’s been trying to buy, which is adjacent to the land he’s trying to develop. 

Mr. Kang claims to vaguely remember Chairman Yoon mentioning he’d wanted to build a theme park so Chairman Yoon gets straight to the point.  He asks for permits to begin construction on the resort he’s been lobbying to build all along.  Mr. Kang doesn’t seem amenable so Chairman Yoon reminds him that he hasn’t made his monthly deposit into his secret Swiss bank account yet.  Undaunted, Mr. Kang stands up and walks out of the room.  And the Chairman is surprised to see someone enter after he leaves.  It’s Tae-soo!  But Chairman Yoon doesn’t quite recognize Tae-soo yet.    

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Chairman Yoon learns that Tae-soo is there on behalf of President Park.  Tae-soo tells him President Park is grateful to him for starting him out in the slot machine business, but he’s decided to involve himself directly as well as in name in the businesses he owns now.  As Tae-soo finishes his speech, Chairman Yoon finally recognizes him and his mouth drops open in shock.

MY THOUGHTS

Well played Tae-soo.  Well played.  And a little Edmond Dantes-esque if I may add too.  But it’s really too soon to tell how all this will play out.  I’m not totally in love with these turns of events even if I do think Tae-soo is justified in seeking revenge for Chairman Yoon’s part in his arrest and imprisonment.  It just seems a little sudden for the powers-that-be to back Tae-soo instead of Chairman Yoon, especially when the Chairman has been funneling money to them for decades.  So I have to wait a little longer before I fully comment.

What I can comment on is Hye-rin.  I think more than any other episode, this one showed she’s definitely her father’s child—something she’s been fighting against all this time.  Apparently everyone around her knew her better than she knew herself.  I’m not sure if she’s finally accepted herself or if she still harbors the idealism that sent her on a path of activism, but I’m inclined to think it’s a little of both. 

As usual, my favorite aspects of the show are those small moments with Jae-hee, who is too smoldery and strong and silent for his own good.  This is new territory for me.  I’ve crushed on second leads before, but never a secondary character—especially one who plays no actual part in the storyline.  He saved Hye-rin and then essentially became background eye candy, yet I must admit I wouldn’t be able to take this show if he weren’t around.  It’s not the show’s fault either.  This is an objectively very good show on its own merits, but it has the unfortunate distinction of introducing  a character I now can’t live without—even if I only get to see him for a minute or two each episode.  

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This entry was posted in Drama Recaps and tagged Choi Min-soo, featured, Go Hyun-jung, Lee Jung-jae, Park Sang-won, Sandglass. Bookmark the permalink.
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 EPISODE 15 RECAP

West Side Hotel & Casino

It’s the Grand Opening of the West Side Hotel and Casino and Yoon Hye-rin attends the event with Baek Jae-hee and Laywer Min. When the trio arrives at the casino, they greet President Park Seung-chol, who asks if he can speak with Lawyer Min in private about a matter.

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Hye-rin and Jae-hee explore the new casino on their own as Lawyer Min and President Park go into another room to talk. As they’re walking around, Jae-hee spots Park Tae-soo.   Hye-rin notices him a moment later, and she purposely looks the other way and heads in the opposite direction to avoid him.

President Park takes Lawyer Min to the poker room and makes small talk until Lawyer Min asks him what he wanted to speak with him about. Then he gets to the point: he wants to buy Chairman Yoon’s land around Mt. Chili. He tells Lawyer Min the Chairman will never get the permit to develop the land as he plans and he offers to pay over market value for the land if he agrees to sell.

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By this time, Hye-rin has gone outside and is sitting by the pool. When she sees Tae-soo approaching, she stands up and starts heading back to the casino. She drops the glass of wine she’s carrying when she gets near him, and they both stand still staring at each other for a moment. When she tries to keep walking, Tae-soo stops her and finally breaks the silence. He says he believes they met three years ago, and he puts his hand on her cheek. Tae-soo sees Jae-hee behind her and notes she still has a bodyguard, then he walks away.

Jae-hee steps forward and asks if she’s okay. She says she’s not okay, and buries her face in Jae-hee’s chest and cries before she pulls herself together to return to the casino.

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Confidant that he will get Chairman Yoon to sell the land he needs to complete his project, President Park moves forward with building a new hotel and casino near Mt. Chili. He pays a visit to the site, where construction is already underway, and on his way back to town we see men block off the road when he passes by. Up ahead, a big truck drives toward the car he’s in and suddenly cuts him off. With another truck directly behind him, President Park’s car goes careening over the side of the rail and violently crashes into the ravine below.

Seoul Prosecutor’s Office

A few days later, a man approaches Kang Woo-suk as he leaves his office. The guy doesn’t identify himself, but he tells Woo-suk about President Park’s death. He says even though the death was reported as a simple car accident, President Park was actually murdered. He points to Chairman Yoon Jae-young as the likely culprit due to a recent falling out with President Park. Then he walks away and gets into a car waiting nearby. Tae-soo is in the car already and obviously sent him to make contact with Woo-suk.

As expected, Woo-suk starts looking into the accident and gets a break in the case right away. President Park was in a foreign luxury car and would likely have had foreign tires on the vehicle. However, the tread marks on the road, which indicate the President’s car crossed the center lane into oncoming traffic before crashing into the guardrail, are from Korean tires. Woo-suk has an expert examine the car again, and the expert concludes that the tread marks on the road weren’t made by President Park’s car. Someone made fake tread marks to make the crash look like an accident, he says. 

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Woo-suk presents his suspicions to President Park’s son and asks the family to file a formal petition so he can conduct a full investigation. President Park’s son asks whether Woo-suk can follow through to the end if he files the petition. Woo-suk pauses and we don’t get to hear his answer.

When the son leaves Woo-suk’s office, a woman is walking down the hallway. President Park’s son catches her eye, and she stops and stares at him as he passes by. Then she takes note of Woo-suk’s name above his office door too.

With the petition from President Park’s family, Woo-suk starts with Kang Dae-young, the driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident. Woo-suk questions him about the timing of his employment. Apparently the company hired him one week before the accident, and he quit immediately after the accident. The driver insists he only quit because the company forced him to do so, and he sticks to his story that there were no other vehicles at the accident scene.

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He takes two pencils and demonstrates how the accident happened, which Woo-suk notes is exactly what he said when he was questioned initially. Woo-suk asks him how many times has he practiced his lines, but the driver refuses to budge on his version of events.

During a break in the interrogation, Woo-suk tells his clerk, Mr. Oh, to research Dae-young’s bank accounts. He suspects they’ll find a large deposit around the time of the accident. Mr. Oh agrees to look into it, but he says it’s unlikely the money was placed in his own name.

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Chairman Yoon sends his armed muscle to the casino to pick up Oh Jong-do. They barge into his office and grab him and slam him onto his desk. Lawyer Min walks in behind them and tells Jong-do he’s fired and to get his passport because he’ll be going overseas for a while. Jong-do starts protesting, and Lawyer Min reminds him of the promise he made when Chairman Yoon hired him: no unnecessary violence. Jong-do pretends he has no idea what Lawyer Min is talking about, but then one of Chairman Yoon’s men brings Dae-young into the office and Jong-do realizes they know what he’s done.

The men take Jong-do to Chairman Yoon who’s livid he carried out a contract murder without his knowledge or consent. Jong-do acts as though it tore him up inside to do something of this magnitude behind the Chairman’s back, but he assures Chairman Yoon that he has it under control. Chairman Yoon isn’t buying it and asks Jong-do who ordered him to do it. Jong-do acts confused by the question, so Chairman Yoon asks him if he carried the murder out on his own just to shut down Tae-soo. Jong-do says he did and the Chairman points out that it’s unlikely Tae-soo will just stand still and do nothing now that he’s murdered his boss.

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Chairman Yoon also brings up the fact that Jong-do publicized his secret list of operations. Jong-do has no defense to this so he drops to his knees and puts his head to the floor. Chairman Yoon glares at him, then he turns to Lawyer Min who confirms that Dae-young admitted Jong-do paid him to kill President Park. Chairman Yoon tells Lawyer Min to find out who’s heading up the investigation, but Lawyer Min’s already on it. He tells him it’s a new prosecutor working under Chief Prosecutor Seo Yong-ho. Lawyer Min says the prosecutor is still new so he probably doesn’t know what to do yet (but I’d say you’re underestimating the wrong one).

Jong-do goes down to Busan to leave the country aboard one of the ships. Unfortunately for him, Tae-soo has his men guarding the ports and they go after him as soon as he tries to board. Jong-do runs away and a chase ensues.

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The scene then cuts to Woo-suk’s office where a woman walks in and starts talking to Mr. Oh. It’s the same woman who noticed President Park’s son leaving the officer before Woo-suk started the murder investigation. Her name is Shin Young-jin (Lee Seung-yeon), and she’s a reporter at the Korea Daily News. She introduces herself to Woo-suk then starts prying into the murder investigation. Woo-suk ignores her until she picks up something from his desk and starts reading it. Then he asks her if she’ll leave on her own or if he should have her thrown out.

She keeps talking though, telling him her beat is organized crime and she can give him a run down on criminal organizations dating back to the 1920s. Woo-suk finally gathers her things and opens the door for her to leave. She leaves, but she sticks her head right back in to ask Woo-suk if he knows that Dae-young worked for Jong-do and Jong-do worked for Chairman Yoon. She asks if he’s familiar with the name Chairman Yoon Jae-young.

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That little tidbit gains her entrance, and she uses a blackboard to give Woo-suk a rundown on Jong-do’s relationship with Chairman Yoon and the recent happenings in the underworld. She explains that Jong-do has been working for Chairman Yoon for about three years since the gang crackdown back in 1980. Before that, Jong-do worked under Lee Sung-bom, who came to Seoul from the Jeolla Province and shut down No Joo-myung’s gang. She tells Woo-suk there’s one point of special interest and that is the late President Park recently hired a man named Park Tae-soo to manage his men. Tae-soo used to be Sung-bom’s right hand man so it would appear that Tae-soo and Jong-do are on the same side. However, from what she can gather, that’s not the case. She thinks the two actually have been arch rivals since 1980, but she admits she doesn’t have clear details as to why.

Just then Mr. Oh comes back into the office with good news. He found a $10,000 deposit to Dae-young made under a false name a few weeks back. He’s already traced the source of the money to one of the casinos Jong-do manages as well. Woo-suk doesn’t respond right away. Between Reporter Shin’s lesson and this new discovery, he takes a moment to let it all sink in and think about what to do next.

Eventually Woo-suk has Dae-young arrested, and even though Jong-do is in hiding, he has his men watching Dae-young so they convey news of the arrest to him as soon as they can.  

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Woo-suk meets with Tae-soo one evening to question him off the record. He’s put two and two together and suspects Chairman Yoon was responsible for Tae-soo being imprisoned. He’s also figured out that Tae-soo partnered up with President Park to take down Jong-do. Tae-soo refuses to confirm or deny anything. He tells Woo-suk he’s the prosecutor and it’s up to him to figure out the answers to these questions.

When he stands up to leave, a bunch of men start coming his way. Tae-soo knows they’re after him and he whispers to Woo-suk to pretend he doesn’t know him. But Woo-suk, not one to back down, follows Tae-soo and tells the men he’s a prosecutor at the Seoul District Attorney’s Office. One of the men shines a flash light in Woo-suk’s face and they back away and leave, unwilling to incite the man hunt that will ensue if they kill a prosecutor.

After the men leave, Woo-suk asks Tae-soo if he thinks Jong-do sent the men. Tae-soo nods and Woo-suk nods too, as if he suddenly understands everything. He starts walking away and Tae-soo calls out after him asking if he suspected him of murdering President Park. Woo-suk admits he doesn’t know. But he says he wanted to find out if he was powerful enough to put Tae-soo away if he was implicated in the murder.

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Woo-suk’s supervisor, Chief Prosecutor Seo, gets a call from Kang Tong-hwan. We don’t get to hear what Mr. Kang wants, but when they hang up Chang To-shik asks Mr. Kang if he’s sure he wants to anger Chairman Yoon this way. Mr. Kang tells Chang that Chairman Yoon has already called a secret meeting to deal with the situation. Prosecutor Seo was at the meeting and if he decides to side with Chairman Yoon things could get sticky for them. He tells Chang to find someone who can run a casino. The person has to be as smart as Chairman Yoon, but more cooperative with his superiors, he says.

With Dae-young in custody, Woo-suk begins questioning him on what really happened to President Park. Dae-young truthfully describes the accident, but he insists he doesn’t know the names of any of his accomplices and won’t implicate Jong-do in the crime. His story makes no sense so Woo-suk presses him to stop lying, and eventually Dae-young points to Chairman Yoon as the culprit. (Don’t fall for it Woo-suk!)

With all the evidence pointing to Chairman Yoon, Woo-suk doubts his supervisor will approve the subpoena necessary to question him. But he’s shocked when he asks for it anyway and Prosecutor Seo gives him the go-ahead. (I guess we know what Mr. Kang said when he called Prosecutor Seo earlier in the episode.)

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That night Woo-suk gets an unexpected visitor at his house. It’s Reporter Shin (and his landlady Chung Sun-young shoots daggers at her when she arrives, lol). Reporter Shin tells Woo-suk she’s there to make a deal with him because she has information he may find helpful.

She has information on the land in Mt. Chili that Chairman Yoon and President Park own. Notably, the land is adjacent to each other and the size of the plots indicate it won’t merely be a golf course. She speculates that they must be trying to build some sort of large scale amusement center. (And I think it’s really reaching for her to guess that, but the PDnims had to find a way to get the info out so let’s just roll with it.) She asks what Woo-suk is willing to give her for the information and tells him if he holds a press conference he needs to give her two items of information he doesn’t share with the other news organizations.

While Prosecutor Seo holds a press conference, Woo-suk visits the head DA, whom he met in the last episode, and admits he thought it was way too easy to subpoena Chairman Yoon. He wonders if someone is using him to get to Chairman Yoon and the head DA says he’s more curious about what Woo-suk is going to do if that’s the case.

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At the casino, Hyun-sook is still curious about Jae-hee so during a lunch break she questions Hye-rin about their relationship. Hyun-sook tells her to start from the beginning so Hye-rin says they met when she was thirteen. Hyun-sook hilariously interrupts her and tells her the beginning sounds boring so she should skip ahead somewhat. Hye-rin ignores her and says Jae-hee has been by her side since they met. She describes their relationship as the distanced and uncomfortable feeling you get when one person always gives and the other person always receives.

Hyun-sook keeps pressing for more info, but Hye-rin just smiles and gets up from their table. As she’s about to leave, a newspaper catches her eye. She picks it up and becomes absorbed in the headline, which reads: Yoon Jae-yong Subpoenaed by Prosecutor.

Jong-do has a newspaper too. He reads the article and chuckles. He tells his right hand man (who I will call Sideburns Guy because the show doesn’t identify him) he’d never have dreamed things would turn out this way. He thinks Chairman Yoon will end up confessing, but he says they need to be more concerned with Chairman Yoon’s daughter than Chairman Yoon. After all, the Chairman has groomed her as his successor and is teaching her all of his tricks, he says.

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The next thing we know, Sideburns Guy and some other men go to the casino and confront Hye-rin. They claim Chairman Yoon wants to see her, but she’s not fooled. She tries to walk away and Mr. Chae comes to her defense. Jong-do’s men restrain Mr. Chae and force Hye-rin out of the casino and into an awaiting car.

Jae-hee is sitting outside on a nearby bench. Does he wait outside throughout all of her shifts? Either way, it’s a good thing he’s there because when he sees Hye-rin being kidnapped he springs into action. He jumps into his car and follows them, then he rams their car until it eventually crashes. Hye-rin sits in the back seat as calm as can be throughout the ordeal knowing Jae-hee-oppa has her back.

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When the car finally stops, Jae-hee grabs his stick and gets right down to business—fighting Jong-do’s men. He has the upperhand at first, but eventually he gets hit. (Oh no, don’t tell me something is going to happen to him. Warning: if uri Jae-hee-sshi doesn’t make it, I can’t guarantee I’ll finish these recaps.) There’s just too many of them compared to him and they start getting the better of him. He’s bloody and beaten, and even though he does manage to get in a few hits here and there it looks like he’s going to lose this one. I can hardly watch . . . or type for that matter.

Hye-rin finally gets out of the thugs’ car and runs to Jae-hee’s car to try to escape. She starts the engine and begins driving away. Is she leaving Jae-hee!? Luckily, he runs after the car and jumps into the window, then he practically collapses in the backseat. (Whew. My heart is pounding. Show, you’ve been warned. You can carry every single cast member to the bottom of the ocean if you want to, but you better leave Jae-hee alive and well at the end, do you hear me?)

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He sits up looking as though he can barely hold it together, and he groans in pain. Instead of asking to go to the hospital, he apologizes for not paying better attention. He says he guesses he was looking the other way. Hye-rin has tears streaming from her eyes and she slams on the breaks. The car stops and she turns around and glares at Jae-hee out of the corner of her eyes, and the episode ends.

MY THOUGHTS

Sorry about my excessive comments intermixed with the recap at the end. I couldn’t help it. I was genuinely anxious for my boy. Jong-do almost killed my favorite character and I was not going to be able to handle it if he died. So Jong-do, for whom I have already developed a deep-seated loathing, is now firmly entrenched on my list of characters that need to die asap.

Maybe I’ve been watching dramas for too long, but the antics surrounding Jong-do and his continued survival is starting to get on my last nerve. To me it never made any sense for these people, who are hardened underworld figures, to let him continue to wreak havoc in their lives with absolutely no consequences. It started with Sung-bom who admitted way back when that he didn’t trust Jong-do and would have gotten rid of him long ago if it weren’t for Tae-soo. I can understand him keeping Jong-do around to appease Tae-soo for a while, but at the point where he knew keeping Jong-do around meant his downfall, then it became completely nonsensical for him not to get rid of him.

Then it moved on to Chairman Yoon, where it was equally nonsensical for him to bring Jong-do into his organization and give him so much power and access to key information when he knew it was only a matter of time before Jong-do betrayed him. Chairman Yoon is portrayed as a razor sharp, ruthless businessman so it is wholly illogical, at least to me, for him to bring someone he clearly could not trust and take no action when that person stole from him and leaked his secrets to outsiders. Even Chairman Yoon’s response to Jong-do’s murder-for-hire plot can’t be described as an objectively reasonable reaction. He basically did nothing and then let him go. I’m not (usually) one for violence, but couldn’t he have arranged for Jong-do to disappear at the bottom of a deep lake or go on a permanent vacation over the Arctic or something? If peaceful nonviolent me can justify offing him, why couldn’t anyone else do it too?

As for Woo-suk, I’m glad he’s at least skeptical about the motives of his superiors, but I wonder where his dogged pursuit of truth will really lead him? So far, he’s so sure that Chairman Yoon is behind President Park’s murder and I can’t see any set of circumstances that will point him in the right direction with the current state of events. So at this point we’ll just have to wait and see how it plays out I guess.

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This entry was posted in Drama Recaps and tagged Choi Min-soo, featured, Go Hyun-jung, Lee Jung-jae, Park Sang-won, Sandglass. Bookmark the permalink.
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EPISODE 16 RECAP 

News of Kang Dae-young’s arrest and Chairman Yoon’s suspected involvement in President Park Seung-chol’s murder has broken, and reporters surround the Yoon household clamoring for a glimpse of him.

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Chang To-shik and Park Tae-soo are watching a broadcast of one of the news reports together and Chang tells Tae-soo the powers-that-be in government want to replace Chairman Yoon quickly and quietly.  They have no problem with Yoon Hye-rin taking over for her father, as long as Tae-soo is by her side.  Chang tells Tae-soo he’s always wanted Chairman Yoon’s position and asks what he thinks about their idea for him to partner with Hye-rin.

Perhaps to ensure Tae-soo is amenable to the idea, he also tells Tae-soo about Oh Jong-do’s recent attempt to kidnap Hye-rin.  That tidbit of information surprises Tae-soo, and I’m thinking Jong-do better watch his back from here on out.

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Hye-rin pays Kang Woo-suk a visit at the boardinghouse, and as usual the landlady Chung Sun-young is none too pleased to see a young, attractive woman show up looking for her man (she’s so funny, lol).  Hye-rin has come to ask Woo-suk the real story behind the things she’s heard in the news.  He tells her although things have been slightly exaggerated, it’s just as it appears: her father is implicated in a murder-for-hire plot.  She tells him her father would never murder anyone, and if he did he would not have left evidence behind.

She insists her father has been set up and says it’s the only reason Woo-suk has been able to link him to the crime.  But Woo-suk reminds her that she told him herself what her father was capable of doing when he sent Tae-soo to rehabiltation training.  He’s also offended she thinks he’s not powerful enough to touch someone like her father without support from someone higher up the ranks.  He opens the door to his room for her to leave.  With the matter still under investigation, he won’t be discussing anything else with her, he says.  She looks disappointed and sad, but she complies with his request and leaves.

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A little while later, Jong-do is happily playing miniature golf in his hotel room when he hears men banging on his door.  Knowing it’s not just a social call, he runs to the balcony and climbs down to a stairwell to escape.  Whoever is after him has already thought of that escape route though, and when he sees men waiting for him below, he turns around and runs to the hotel’s roof.  There’s someone waiting for him on the roof too.  It’s Jung In-young and Tae-soo!  Jong-do is relieved when he sees Tae-soo and tells Tae-soo he thought they were the police.  (He must be delusional to think he’s safe just because it’s Tae-soo, but hopefully this is the end of his storyline. Can’t say I’m sad to see him go. Annyeong!)

As soon as Jong-do calms down, Tae-soo tells his men to take him to the police.  Jong-do threatens to take Tae-soo down with him if his men really turn him in.  Tae-soo doesn’t seem that fazed by the threat, but since he wasn’t really going to turn Jong-do in anyway, he grabs Jong-do and tells him he better not ever touch Hye-rin again.  If he does, he’ll kill him he warns.  Then he lets Jong-do go and walks away.  And I’m disappointed.  (I guess there are too many episodes left to get rid of him now, but I’m counting down to the day he’s gone. They wouldn’t keep him around all the way to the finale would they?)

When they go downstairs to get in their cars and leave, In-young asks Tae-soo why he didn’t turn Jong-do in to the police. Tae-soo tells him it’s not the right time yet, but In-young disagrees and offers to do it himself.  Tae-soo pats him on the shoulder and tells him they’ll have to wait, and they drive away.

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At the Yoon household, Chairman Yoon walks around the grounds of his estate. He’s pensive and melancholy and suddenly looks like an old lonely man instead of the powerful kingpin he used to be.  He has an appointment with a government official, but we see Kang Tong-hwan visit the official prior to the appointment.  Mr. Kang hands him a file, and after the official reads it he cancels the appointment.  Chairman Yoon is disappointed when he gets the news, but seeing the writing on the wall, he tells Lawyer Min to change the Swiss account numbers and codes to avoid not being able to protect the money later.

Chairman Yoon goes to the casino and asks Mr. Chae if he can speak to one of his dealers.  He points to Hye-rin and admits she’s his daughter and thanks Mr. Chae for training her so well. Hye-rin is livid that her dad has revealed her identity, but he has no time to lose and tells her he needs her to help him.  She’s all he has left now, he says.

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She stares at him wondering what’s wrong.  Although we don’t get to hear her answer, in the next scene we see Chairman Yoon introducing her to board members and other businessmen in a conference room.  She stands up and bows to the men.

That night she finds him sitting in the dining room.  The lights are off and he’s staring at the hourglass his wife bought on their first trip abroad.  She turns on the lights, and he tells her to join him.  Then he picks up the hourglass and gives it to her.  He tells her their lives are just like the sand in the hourglass: it’s finished once all the sand is gone.  He asks her to forgive him because she will have to take his place now even though he didn’t want to hand things over to her until she was ready.

She tells him he should let the greedy people take whatever they want and go to Paris to visit Yoon Young-jae or move to the U.S. or Southeast Asia.  He asks what about her if he leaves, and she tells him she has no need for his money anymore.  He tells her his assets are more than just money.  They are things he gave birth to and raised.  She doesn’t understand why he’s trying to hold onto them and tells him she can only stand by his side for just a little while longer.  Then she stands up and walks away.  He looks after her for a moment, then he slowly lowers his head.

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At Woo-suk’s office, it’s all abuzz with activity.  The head DA knocks on the door and signals for Woo-suk to come to his office.  Over a game of padeuk, the head DA asks him if he’s really going to the National Tax Administration to investigate President Park’s murder.  Woo-suk confirms that he is.  The head DA interrupts him and starts talking about two padeuk players who learn the game at the same time.  He says only one of them improves because only one of them learns from his mistakes.  He tells Woo-suk if a player can’t learn to strategize, he should just give up on the game.  Woo-suk asks him if he’s trying to tell him something and the DA responds, “I just told you.” Then he puts the final padeuk piece on the board to win the game and asks Woo-suk what he plans to do.

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Chairman Yoon pays a visit to Mr. Kang as he’s leaving a restaurant one day.  He tells Mr. Kang he realizes he has two options: he can beg for forgiveness or he can make a deal.  It seems to him it’s too late to ask for forgiveness so he’s there to make a deal.  Mr. Kang laughs and asks if he still has a card up his sleeve.  Chairman Yoon assures him he does.  He tells Mr. Kang he started hustling when he was fifteen years old and one thing he’s always done is maintain a ledger.  He thinks a lot of people might be interested in the ledger he’s maintained documenting the funds he’s used for his lobbying activities.  Mr. Kang asks if he’s suggesting they both go down together, and Chairman Yoon tells him he’s just using the only option he has left.  Mr. Kang smiles and asks if they should see who will win in the end.

Now that Hye-rin is taking over for Chairman Yoon, she visits the casino to check on things.  When she sees Cho Hyun-sook on the casino floor, Hyun-sook walks past without speaking.  Hye-rin stops her and tells her to treat her the same as she’s always treated her, then she asks to see Mr. Chae.

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As she’s talking to Mr. Chae, police arrive to execute a search warrant on the casino.  She tells Mr. Chae to stall for more time and she’ll get all of the Korean nationals out of the casino.

Mr. Chae meets Woo-suk and a group of men from the police department on the stairs leading to the casino.  He introduces himself as the manager and asks why they’re there without giving prior notice.  Woo-suk steps forward and introduces himself.

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Meanwhile, Hye-rin goes to the VIP room and apologizes to the Korean nationals, but tells them they have to leave immediately.  They’re outraged, and she tries to appease them by claiming there are newspaper reporters there and she’s trying to protect them from appearing in the paper.  Woo-suk gets by Mr. Chae and eventually makes it to the VIP room.  By the time he gets there though, Hye-rin has gotten all the Korean nationals away.  He sees her coming out of the room and walks past her without speaking.  When he sees that the room is empty, he turns around and looks at her, and she silently walks away.

The police execute a search warrant on Chairman Yoon’s house next.  Luckily Chairman Yoon has his ledger hidden in a safe deposit box by then, but Hye-rin tells Lawyer Min it’s time for him to tell her the truth about what’s going on.

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Lawyer Min explains that it all began when the powers-that-be in government brought in President Park as a sort of check on Chairman Yoon.  Things got complicated when Jong-do killed him because now it’s clear they think it will be easier to just get rid of him.  Everyone knows he had nothing to do with President Park’s murder, but it’s unclear whether Jong-do was working alone.  Lawyer Min tells her Jong-do claimed he killed President Park to stop Tae-soo from getting too powerful, but Tae-soo and Jong-do may have been in on the whole thing together.  They were once a part of the same gang and it’s well-known Tae-soo has been out to destroy Chairman Yoon.  He says Tae-soo is the one who went to the district attorney’s office, and he asks if she knew the investigating prosecutor is a friend of Tae-soo’s

Chairman Yoon contacts the press and announces he will be holding a press conference.  Reporter Shin Young-jin is excited when she gets the call informing her about it, but it doesn’t look good for her.  Her editor is listening in on the call and tells her to come to his office as soon as she hangs up.

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As workers hurriedly set up the room for the press conference, Reporter Shin walks into Woo-suk’s office and asks if anyone would like to have a drink with her.  She’s depressed and says on a day like today she likes to tie one on.  Woo-suk’s clerk, Mr. Oh, pulls a bottle of liquor from under his desk and pours her a drink, lol.  But she’s more concerned about Woo-suk’s non-reaction.  She asks him if it seems strange she stopped by asking for a drink today of all days.  Woo-suk doesn’t say anything and she turns to leave.  Before she goes, she tells Mr. Oh she’s sworn off alcohol, but she was so mad it made her want to drink.

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We find out why she’s mad in the next scene.   Chairman Yoon arrives at the press conference venue and Lawyer Min tries to stop him from entering the room—because no one is there.  Apparently Mr. Kang has flexed his muscle and forbidden the news organizations from attending the press conference.

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Chairman Yoon is shocked when he opens the door and finds the room completely empty, but he stays calm and remarks that he must be a bit early.  He says he’ll wait, and he slowly makes his way to the front of the room and sits at the head table.

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Lawyer Min goes back in the hallway, and Chairman Yoon just sits there looking around the empty room.   The camera starts to pan around and around, and Chairman Yoon looks as though he’s ill.  He loosens his tie and then he starts gasping for breath.  He slumps forward in his chair and reaches in his suit pocket for his bottle of pills.  He can’t get the top off though and when he finally does the pill bottle drops and the pills scatter across the floor.  He tries to reach for the pills, but he loses his balance and falls forward.  He overturns the table as he falls and ends up on the floor.  It looks like he’s trying to say something or call for help, but nothing comes out.

He’s rushed to the hospital, and by the time Hye-rin and Jae-hee come running down the hallway to his hospital room, his heart has stopped.  The doctor stops trying to resuscitate him and goes out to inform Lawyer Min that he’s died.

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Hye-rin hurries inside the room where a doctor is covering Chairman Yoon’s body with a sheet.  She stops him and yells that they need to do something.  The doctor tells her it’s hopeless so she turns to her father and asks him to hold on.  Then she begs the doctor to help, saying she has to speak to him—she has one last thing to tell him before he goes. Jae-hee grabs her and holds onto her until she stops struggling and calms down.  When she’s relatively calm, he tells her to pay her last respects to her father. She puts her hand by his face, but she can’t bring herself to touch him and starts crying again.

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At Chairman Yoon’s funeral, Young-jae and Hye-rin walk behind his casket as attendees wheel it to the alter at the front of the church.  As the camera pans out, we see that Mr. Kang, Chang, and other governmental officials and businessmen are there.

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After the service, Young-jae and Hye-rin stand by the casket and bow to the visitors as they place white flowers on top of it.  When Chang bows in front of Hye-rin, she doesn’t bow back.  She just stands there staring at him until he walks away.  Then she spots Tae-soo coming through the door to pay his respects. Jae-hee refuses to let him through until Hye-ring gives the go-ahead though.  She nods to Jae-hee to let him know it’s okay, and Tae-soo walks down the aisle and puts a flower on Mr. Yoon’s casket. 

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He bows in front of Chairman Yoon’s picture and walks over to Hye-rin.  He bows to her, then he turns to leave.  Halfway down the aisle, he turns around and stares at her for a long moment before he finally leaves the church, and the episode ends.

MY THOUGHTS

So Chairman Yoon is gone. Wow! As much as I thought of him as an amoral greedy villain, I have to admit I felt really sorry for him in the end.  Because even if what he was doing was wrong, the fact of the matter is he had a relationship with Mr. Kang and the government officials for many decades and it all came down to nothing in the end when they abandoned him.

His final scene in the empty press conference room was really amazing.  I loved it and hated it at the same time.  Chairman Yoon’s reaction when he entered the room to find that it was completely empty was hard to watch.  And when he went to the front of the room and sat down at the head table even though he knew no one was coming—it was such a powerful moment.  It made me want to reach out and hug him.  All along he had been this powerful, untouchable almost-diety and then he was just a weak old man in a room alone.

The part that bothers me though is the motive behind his downfall.  No matter how much the show tried to sweep that part under the rug, I could never see a legitimate reason for the political machine turning on him.  He certainly had not outgrown his usefulness to them in funneling money into their pockets and into the government’s coffers.  And he hadn’t shown any inclination to stop sending money their way so I’d say this story arc failed to provide a true motivation for the decision to bring him down.

Think about it. When Tae-soo approached Chang for help, what rational reason did Chang have for accepting the offer? Chairman Yoon was running his operation and benefitting the politicos just as smoothly as ever. Yes, he had a hand in sending Tae-soo to rehabilitation camp, but none of them cared about that because it didn’t affect their money. Later, they tried to make it seem as if Chairman Yoon was getting too big for his britches (so to speak), but if that was truly the case, we never saw any evidence of that in the earlier episodes. In fact, Chairman Yoon was quite skilled at playing the modest businessman, a trait Chang recommended Young-jae observe and adopt from his father.

It was only after they decided to take him down, did we see Chairman Yoon try to flex a little muscle.  And that was merely to save himself.  They got a little lucky when Jong-do orchestrated President Park’s murder because that legitimized their efforts to bring him down, but without the murder, I’m quite curious as to how they would have justified their decision to get rid of him.  There had to be something going on—it prompted Chang (and whoever is behind him) to bring President Park onboard in the first place, but the lack of a rationale behind this move (aside from being purely a plot device to move the story along) baffles me.

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This entry was posted in Drama Recaps and tagged Choi Min-soo, featured, Go Hyun-jung, Lee Jung-jae, Park Sang-won, Sandglass. Bookmark the permalink.
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EPISODE 17 RECAP

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Kang Woo-suk goes to Chief Prosecutor Seo Yong-ho’s office.  He’s there because he just heard Prosecutor Seo transferred President Park’s murder case to a special investigation unit.  Woo-suk accuses him of using him to go after Chairman Yoon and discarding him now that Chairman Yoon is dead. 

Prosectuor Seo is prepared for Woo-suk’s anger though, and he tells him he knows of his connection to Oh Jong-do, who is a suspect in the murder, as well as his relationship with Park Tae-soo.  He brings up the fact that Woo-suk met Tae-soo several times after President Park’s death, and he points out that Woo-suk failed to put those meetings in any of his reports. 

With his hands tied, all Woo-suk can do is go back to his office and watch as the investigation unit removes the files from his office. 

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He’s still determined to get to the bottom of things though, so he visits Kang Dae-young in jail and asks whether Chairman Yoon was the one who ordered the murder.  Dae-young insists on having his lawyer present during questioning and refuses to answer him.  Dae-young’s mention of his lawyer causes Woo-suk to remark on Dae-young being able to retain such an excellent attorney.  Woo-suk says not only did Dae-young hire an expensive lawyer, but his wife and children are doing well in spite of the fact that the family breadwinner is locked up. 

Unable to get anything from Dae-young, Woo-suk decides to turn in his letter of resignation.  The head district attorney is disappointed when he receives it and asks what’s the true reason behind him wanting to resign.  He asks Woo-suk if he’s going to give up just because he wasn’t able to discharge his duties the way he wanted.  

Woo-suk tells him he was unqualified from the beginning and admits he only took the bar exam because it was his dying father’s last wish.  He also explains how he felt unworthy to serve after serving in the military during the Kwangju Uprising.  The head DA says everyone carries around scars from Kwangju and he doesn’t want Woo-suk to use that as an excuse to resign, but Woo-suk is underterred, and he bows and leaves the office.

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That evening, he goes out for drinks with his clerk, Mr. Oh.  Shin Young-jin walks into the restaurant and sits down with them.  She’s heard that he resigned and asks if he’s going to be a defense attorney and make some money now that he’s no longer a prosecutor.  As usual Woo-suk ignores her question.  He offers her a drink instead.  She turns him down, claiming she developed stomach problems from drinking and is still trying to recover.  He guesses that it’s more likely she never drank, just like she likely never smoked either.  She asks how he knew and he says it was just a hunch.  She says he would have made a good prosecutor, then she asks why he quit so easily.  He assures her it wasn’t easy.  “I never thought of a prosecutor’s job as a game,” he tells her. 

They’re interrupted when a phone call comes through for him.  He gets up to take it, and Mr. Oh, who has been asleep on the bench the whole time, suddenly sits up.  He admits he’s been awake ever since he heard her voice and tries to play matchmaker for them.  He tells her Woo-suk is a good guy who’s uninterested in personal gain and will make a loyal and faithful husband. (Little does he know Reporter Shin has fallen for Woo-suk long ago.)   

Woo-suk comes back to the table, but it’s just to grab his things.  He has to go.  Mr. Oh guesses it must have been his landlady on the phone because Woo-suk called her when they arrived and told her he was there.  He’s right.  She was calling from the hospital, and Reporter Shin hurries after him to give him a ride. 

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When he gets there, Chung Sun-young tells him her father collapsed.  She hasn’t been able to do the admission paperwork or pay for his treatment because she rushed him to the hospital without any money. Woo-suk comforts her when she starts crying, and Reporter Shin looks at them from the end of the hallway.  She smiles to herself and then sadly walks away.

At the Yoon residence, it’s time for Yoon Young-jae to return to Paris.  His wife is pregnant, and she’s due any day now so he has to head home.  He apologizes to Yoon Hye-rin for leaving her alone to handle everything on her own.  She assures him she’s fine and walks him outside to an awaiting car when he leaves for the airport. 

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When she gets back inside, she asks Lawyer Min about the upcoming shareholders’ meeting.  He tells her the date is set and asks if she will be able to handle it.  All of the shareholders are old men set in their ways, he tells her.  She doesn’t respond, but we see that she starts studying and diligently preparing for the meeting.  Good old Baek Jae-hee is by her side as she studies.  When she works late into the night, he replaces her cup of coffee with a glass of milk so she stays well fed (see, this is why I luuurve him!).

On the day of the meeting, he walks behind her and Lawyer Min as they walk up the stairs leading to the boardroom.  She enters the room and slowly the shareholders stand to their feet.  When everyone is standing, she bows and introduces herself again. 

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Tae-soo is with Chang To-shik as the meeting begins.  Chang looks at his watch and remarks that it must be underway already.  He asks Tae-soo if he’s met Hye-rin since the funeral.  Tae-soo says that he hasn’t.  Chang recalls them being close at one time and tells Tae-soo a number of people want Chairman Yoon’s position.  They thought matching him with Hye-rin would ensure he gets it.  Tae-soo says he has no desire to talk women with Chang, and Chang tells him he’s not talking women, he’s talking business.  Tae-soo asks if Chang is saying he can’t take Chairman Yoon’s place unless he wins Hye-rin’s heart.  Chang laughs and tells him that Hye-rin made a deal with Chairman Yoon to get him out of rehab camp.  He’s implying Hye-rin really cared for Tae-soo, but Tae-soo has no time to respond because it’s time for them to go. 

Apparently, they were waiting to make an entrance at the shareholder’s meeting.  Inside, the shareholders make it clear to Hye-rin they have no intention of letting her run the casino.  They think she’s too young and, even though her father trained her before he died, they have no patience to let her learn the ropes when it means putting their money at risk.  They’ve already selected a new chairman, they tell her, and Tae-soo knocks on the door at that moment and enters the boardroom.  

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Hye-rin stares daggers at Tae-soo as one of the board members introduces him as the chairman they’ve unanimously elected.  They try to move on with the meeting, but Hye-rin  interrupts and points out that Tae-soo may be well versed in diplomacy, but there’s clearly someone behind him pulling the strings.  She asks who that person is, and Lawyer Min presses her arm trying to signal to her to stop. 

She apologizes for being out of line but reminds the shareholders of the rules of order that require all important matters to be decided by vote.  She announces she will call another meeting in two weeks to vote on a new chairman, then she adjourns the meeting and leaves before anyone can protest. 

In the car, she tells Lawyer Min to get her information on all of the stockholders.  She wants to find a large enough block of votes to defeat the shareholders who were at the meeting. 

Chang returns to his office, where he gets a visit from an investigator he’s hired to follow the Yoons.  The investigator tells him that one week before Chairman Yoon died, he rented a safe deposit box at the bank—a box he only used one time.  Chang stands up and starts pacing, deep in thought about what to do with this new information.

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He has one of his men call the Yoon household and one of the employees comes into the living room where Hye-rin is sitting with Jae-hee.  The employee tells her Chang asked to meet.  Jae-hee goes with her to meet him, and when they arrive at the restaurant, Tae-soo is there as well.  Chang tries to make small talk, but Hye-rin cuts to the chase.  She asks if Tae-soo promised to give them more support than her father did.  Chang remains unperturbed by her bluntness and tells her he’s going to offer her some advice.  “Anyone who’s going to run a business must know which things may be spoken, and which must not be said,” he tells her.  But she continues in the same vein and asks how much money he makes and wonders if she should recruit him to her side.  He laughs and says he’ll think it over. 

Then he turns to Tae-soo and suggests he talk to Hye-rin about the old days since they’re already acquainted.  Tae-soo agrees that they thought they knew each other a long time ago.  She had a great distaste for money then, he says, and Chang says he doesn’t think she’s changed all that much.  Tae-soo says either way, running a casino is filthy business.  He tells her it doesn’t suit her and it’d be better for her not to try. She asks exactly what is it he thinks she can’t do.  She reminds him that he was once in the same gang as Jong-do.  She accuses them of colluding to steal her father’s assets and implicating him in President Park’s murder.  Then she admits there’s no doubt she wouldn’t be able to do those kind of things. 

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She’s had enough of them by then and stands up to excuse herself and leave.  When she drops her purse, Jae-hee picks it up for her and he escorts her out, telling her to be sure to hold her head high in front of them.    

Back at home, Lawyer Min gives her the key to the safe deposit box with Chairman Yoon’s ledger in it.  He tells her Chairman Yoon would have only used it as a last resort, and Hye-rin assures him she won’t use it just yet.  She doesn’t think they’re at the point where they need it, but she wants to confirm what’s in it, she says.  She asks Lawyer Min just how detailed are the entries, and he tells her they documented everything: the amount given and received, locations and dates of the transactions, and names too. 

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As Lawyer Min and Hye-rin prepare to combat Chang and his backers, Chang goes to meet with Jong-do.  Jong-do is jealous that Chang is supporting Tae-soo now, but Chang drops a subtle hint that Jong-do may be able to redeem himself with the powers-that-be.  He suggests Jong-do return to his hometown and says he may be able to build a new power base there.  Jong-do bows (signaling that he is agreeing to leave) and tells Chang he’ll do whatever he wants him to do as long as Chang gets him off the wanted posters.  Chang smiles to himself, but we don’t get to hear what he says in response. 

However, we get a pretty good idea of what he asked Jong-do to do in the next scene.  Lawyer Min and Hye-rin are at the bank to get Chairman Yoon’s ledger from the safe deposit box.  They haven’t been inside long when cars pull up outside the building and men jump out to get to the pair.  Jae-hee and the other men are there to fight them off, but there are way more of Jong-do’s men than there are on Hye-rin’s side. 

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When Lawyer Min and Hye-rin leave the bank, Jong-do’s men have Jae-hee and the other body guards occupied.  That leaves a few of Jong-do’s men left over to separate Lawyer Min from Hye-rin and grab Hye-rin’s bag to get away with the ledger.  Once they get what they want, they all leave, and Jae-hee comes running up as the cars are pulling off.  Lawyer Min yells at him, asking where the hell was he when they needed him.  Jae-hee is about to go after the men, but Hye-rin stops him and says it was her fault they lost the ledger.  She underestimated her enemies. 

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With the ledger in hand, Jong-do meets Chang down in Kwangju and hand delivers it to him.  Chang checks to make sure everything is there, then he tells Jong-do he looks like a returning hero now that he’s back in his hometown. 

Jong-do remarks that Kwangju is definitely different from Seoul.  It’s all about initiative in Kwangju, he says, and Chang tells him that’s a fine thought.  Chang is ready to head back to Seoul though, and he stands up and Jong-do signals for his men to head out.     

MY THOUGHTS

This was quite a packed episode.  I guess I will follow the show’s lead and start with Woo-suk.  It’s very easy to discount Woo-suk as the less interesting of the three main characters because he’s so serious and lowkey.  But he’s the one I admire the most perhaps because I can identify with him the most.  I’m a lot like Woo-suk in that I tend to be serious and almost fatally idealistic at times.  But unlike Woo-suk I’m not prone to despair and giving in, and that’s the thing that I dislike about him.  He’s stubbornly determined to do right until he runs into a roadblock.  Then instead of trying to figure out a way over, around or under the roadblock, he just gives up.  That’s sad to watch because it’s a criminal waste of his talent. I want to shake him and yell at him to focus on winning the war and not worry about the small battles he’s losing along the way. 

Hye-rin is a whole other matter.  She could use a little less chutzpah and a lot more finesse.  However, she’s so spirited that I feel comfortable depending on her to pull through in the end.  She’s not as bright as Woo-suk, but she has a whole lot more energy and often times I find that’s even more important than aptitude.  But I can’t mention Hye-rin without talking about Jae-hee, who continues to be the star of each episode in spite of his small amount of screen time. 

Tae-soo didn’t have a whole lot to do this episode, but I look forward to how the show will present his impending showdown with Hye-rin.  I find it almost comical that he transformed (seemingly overnight) into a seasoned and polished businessman.  I imagine we are supposed to believe this current version was always underneath the scruffy old Tae-soo we’ve seen all along, but I think that’s a bit of a stretch.  Tae-soo and Hye-rin are about the same age and it wasn’t lost on me that the shareholders didn’t like the fact that she’s so young but had no problem entrusting the casino to one of her contemporaries.  I guess the fact that he’s a male (and has ties to some unknown governmental power base) is enough for them.  But this is one of those plot holes I’ve noticed the show doesn’t adequately address and probably never will so I’ll let it go and see how it all plays out.  

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