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[2016] Mật danh K2 - Ji Chang Wook, Im Yoona, Song Yun Ah

Mật danh K2 (Hangul더 케이투, tựa phim tiếng Anh: The K2) là một bộ phim truyền hình Hàn Quốc được công chiếu năm 2016 với sự tham gia của các diễn viên nổi tiếng như Ji Chang-wook, Im YoonaSong Yun-ah. Bộ phim được phát sóng trên kênh tvN vào thứ Sáu và thứ Bảy hàng tuần lúc 20:30 (KST) từ ngày 23 tháng 9 đến ngày 12 tháng 11 năm 2016

Nội dung

The K2 xoay quanh Kim Je-ha (Ji Chang-wook thủ vai), một người lính yêu nước nhưng bị tổ quốc và đồng nghiệp phản bội, anh được thuê làm vệ sĩ cho Choi Yoo-jin (Song Yun-ah thủ vai), phu nhân của một ứng cử viên Tổng thống (Jo Sung-ha thủ vai), là ái nữ của một gia đình tài phiệt, luôn giấu những tham vọng của mình sau vẻ bề ngoài vô cùng ân cần, thân thiện; và Go Ahn-na (Im Yoona thủ vai), con gái riêng của vị ứng cử viên Tổng thống đó, luôn coi tình yêu chính là một loại công cụ để trả thù.

Diễn viên

Diễn viên chính

Ngày trước tham gia vào quân đội Iraq nhưng vì một sự việc nghiêm trọng xảy ra, anh đã bỏ trốn, bị truy nã bởi Interpol. Khi trốn về Hàn Quốc, anh và Yoo Jin đã gặp nhau trong một hoàn cảnh đặc biệt, khiến Yoo Jin phải nhận anh vào JSS. Một người lính đánh thuê hoạt động dưới lực lượng đặc biệt JSS, anh được JSS bao che, đặt tên là Kim Jea Ha/K2 để dấu tên thật. Jea Ha làm việc cho Yoo Jin, lúc đầu, anh bảo vệ cho Yoo Jin, nhưng dần dần nhìn thấy những việc độc ác mà Yoo Jin đã và đang làm, anh đã dần rời xa cô và đến với Anna. Đứng giữa hai người phụ nữ, một bến là cứu sống mình, là đồng minh nhưng lại tàn ác, một bên lại mang đến tình yêu ngọt ngào anh cần chở che, liệu Jea Ha sẽ chọn ai?
Phu nhân của vị ứng cử viên Tổng thống và là con gái duy nhất của một gia đình tài phiệt. Cô là một người rất có tham vọng. Từ nhỏ đã học về kinh tế và có tiền đồ rất sáng. Nhưng chỉ vì tình yêu dành cho Jang Se Joon mà từ bỏ quyền thừa kế gia tài của bố. Nhưng tình yêu của cô cũng bị phản bội khi Jang Se Joon đã gặp gỡ, yêu và có một đứa con chung là Anna với người phụ nữ khác trước khi đến với cô vì vụ lợi cá nhân. Yoo Jin phải sống trong những ngày tháng đau khổ, cô đơn vì hôn nhân không hạnh phúc, cô tìm đến tham vọng và quyền lực để giảm bớt đi nỗi đau. Khi Yoo Jin gặp được Kim Jea Ha/ K2, cô cảm thấy mình được cứu vớt từ trong chuỗi ngày cô độc. Cô sắp xếp để K2 làm vệ sĩ cho Anna đồng thời là kế hoạch cho việc ám sát Anna. Cùng K2 vượt qua biết bao khó khăn nhưng người phụ nữ ấy không thể khẳng định tình cảm của mình dành cho K2 và lại một lần nữa chìm trong ghen tị và đau khổ khi thấy K2 bảo vệ cho Anna, và quay lưng lại với cô.
Một người con gái ngoài giá thú của ứng cử viên Tổng thống với một ngôi sao nổi tiếng. Sau khi mẹ mất, Anna bị mẹ kế là Yoo Jin bắt ép, đưa sang Tây Ban Nha với mục đích là tránh để giới báo chí biết được, có thể dập tắt con đường tiến cử của chồng mình. Sau 9 năm bị " giam lỏng" ở một tu viện, Anna trở nên cô đơn, sợ hãi mọi người xung quanh và ánh đèn máy ảnh. Nhiều lần cô cố chạy thoát nhưng đều bị bắt lại. Trong một lần chạy chốn, Anna bắt gặp Jea Ha và cầu cứu sự giúp đỡ nhưng bị từ chối vì anh ta cũng đang chạy chốn. Cô từ Tây Ban Nha về Hàn Quốc và tình cờ gặp lại Jea Ha. Jea Ha được Yoo Jin sắp xếp là vệ sĩ cho cô, đồng thời chuẩn bị cho việc ám sát Anna. Nhưng giữa hai người lại nảy sinh tính cảm. Cả hai đã cố gắng để vượt qua mọi trở ngại.

Diễn viên phụ

Một ứng cử viên tổng thống và là bố của Ahnna.

Mật Danh K2 – Đỉnh cao diễn xuất của nam thần hành động Ji Chang Wook

Được mệnh danh là “nam thần hành động” của màn ảnh xứ Hàn, Ji Chang Wook “bỏ túi” rất nhiều vai diễn hành động xuất sắc trong sự nghiệp diễn xuất. Tuy vậy, rất nhiều khán giả đánh giá vai diễn Kim Jae Ha trong Mật Danh K2 là tác phẩm hành động đỉnh cao của nam thần tượng này.

Được công chiếu trên đài tvN vào cuối tháng 9 năm 2016, Mật Danh K2 nhanh chóng trở thành bộ phim truyền hình được yêu thích trên toàn châu Á. Với dàn diễn viên quy tụ những gương mặt hot nhất nhì làng giải trí, sự thành công của Mật Danh K2 được nhiều người dự đoán từ trước đó. Bộ phim được đánh giá là một trong những “bom tấn hành động” thành công nhất của Nam thần Ji Chang Wook trong sự nghiệp diễn xuất của anh.

Mật Danh K2 –  Diễn xuất “xuất thần” của Ji Chang Wook 

Đảm nhận vai diễn Kim Jae Ha – Mật danh K2 trong bộ phim này, từ thần thái đến những pha hành động võ thuật của Ji Chang Wook khiến khán giả theo dõi phải trầm trồ khen ngợi.

Nếu Cười Lên Dong Hae đưa tên tuổi của Ji Chang Wook phổ biến tại Hàn Quốc, Hoàng Hậu Ki (Empress Ki) là “bệ phóng” đưa anh trở thành ngôi sao hạng A, Healer đưa tên anh trở thành một trong những ngôi sao Hallyu được săn đón bậc nhất châu Á thì Mật danh K2 chính là sự khẳng định cho diễn xuất và danh xưng “Nam thần hành động” trong sự nghiệp của nam diễn viên này.

ji chang wookDiễn xuất của Ji Chang Wook được đánh giá rất cao trong Mật Danh K2 (ảnh: internet)

Từ một lính đặc công đến cận vệ bên cạnh phu nhân ứng cử viên tổng thống do nữ diễn viên kỳ cựu Song Yun Ah thủ vai, Ji Chang Wook đều hoàn thành xuất sắc vai diễn của mình. Vai diễn Kim Jae Ha được Ji Chang Wook truyền tải trọn vẹn, sinh động qua từng thước phim.Mật Danh K2 - Đỉnh cao diễn xuất của nam thần hành động Ji Chang Wook - BlogAnChoi

nam thần hành độngSự biến hóa trong diễn xuất của Ji Chang Wook làm nên thành công của cả tác phẩm (ảnh: internet)

Những phân đoạn ấn tượng thể hiện đỉnh cao của diễn xuất của Ji Chang Wook vẫn được khán giả tua đi, tua lại rất nhiều lần.

phu nhân choiMột trong những cảnh quay ấn tượng nhất của Mật Danh K2 (ảnh: internet)

Những pha hành động mạo hiểm trong Mật danh K2

Mật Danh K2 chắc chắn là một trong những bộ phim có nhiều pha hành động mạo hiểm nhất mà Ji Chang Wook tham gia nhưng đây lại là yếu tố quan trọng thể hiện được tài năng của nam diễn viên. Đấu súng, đánh nhau và những pha giật đuổi như trong “bom tấn Hollywood Fast and Furious” khiến người xem hồi hộp khi đón xem Mật danh K2.

mật danh K2Những pha hành động mạo hiểm xuất hiện dày đặc trong Mật danh K2 (ảnh: internet)

Với những khán giả theo dõi phim thì phân đoạn chiến đấu của Ji Chang Wook với các thành viên khác trong đội cận vệ dưới quyền của phu nhân ứng cử viên tổng thống trong nhà tắm chung hay phân đoạn giải cứu người phụ nữ quyền lực Choi Yoo Jin trong vụ mưu sát không thành để lại ấn tượng sâu sắc trong lòng người hâm mộ của anh.

Bước đột phá trong kịch bản phim

Được mệnh danh là “nam thần hành động” của màn ảnh Hàn Quốc, Mật danh K2 không phải là bộ phim hành động đầu tiên mà Ji Chang Wook tham gia trong sự nghiệp. Trước đó, trong Healer, anh đã thực sự lột tả được tài năng diễn xuất của bản thân trong tác phẩm hành động nổi tiếng châu Á này. Tuy vậy, Mật Danh K2 vẫn được đánh giá có nhiều điểm mới so với những tác phẩm trước đó của anh.

người tình của tôiHealer là một trong những bộ phim hành động thành công của Ji Chang Wook (ảnh: internet)
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2 đánh giá

Mối quan hệ phức tạp trong gia đình tài phiệt Hàn Quốc, mưu đồ chính trị, lợi ích kinh tế của những nhân vật chủ chốt trong hệ thống chính trị – kinh tế của đất nước được biên kịch Jang Hyuk Rin mang vào trong Mật Danh K2. Những nút thắt của phim được nhà sản xuất mở dần kích thích sự tò mò từ phía khán giả truyền hình.

nam thầnNhững bí mật kinh tế – chính trị dần được sáng tỏ trong 16 tập phim (ảnh: internet)

Vốn là một trong những đề tài nhạy cảm nên Mật danh K2 dễ dàng thu thu hút được một lượng lớn khán giả theo dõi. Thêm vào đó, sự tham gia diễn xuất của nam thần Ji Chang Wook và “nữ thần quốc dân” – thành viên nhóm nhạc huyền thoại SNSD Im Yoona càng thu về cho bộ phim này một lượng fan khủng. Dàn cast của bộ phim này được đánh giá cao về thực lực khi đều là những tiền bối trong nghề.

16 tập phim Mật danh K2 mang lại cho khán giả vô số những cung bậc cảm xúc. Bộ phim cũng mang lại cho Ji Chang Wook và dàn diễn viên trong phim những đề cử danh giá tại các sự kiện.

325 September 24, 2016September 25, 2016

The K2: Episode 1

by gummimochi

Damn, tvN’s newest bodyguard-action drama The K2 promised us lots of action, and boy did it deliver. Bloody and brutal, the intensity hardly lets up in the opening hour from the first punch to the finishing blow. Just when we get a moment to catch a breath, the acting commands our attention once more.

Each character in this dramaverse has a secret, some found halfway around the world. It’s a complicated web of relationships and messy backstories, and there’s still so much we’ve yet to learn of this world, including the former soldier-for-hire at the center. Looks can be deceiving, but one glare from this mysterious man could kill.

 
EPISODE 1 RECAP

A young girl climbs out of her canopy bed to say a prayer and brightens when a light passes by her window. Believing it to be her father, she ventures downstairs to greet him, only to see the front door wide open.

Her eyes fall upon the only moving light inside the dark house peeking through a crack under the door. She approaches with caution, squinting to get a closer look, and the beam flickers off at the sound of her voice.

Calling out to her mother, she opens the door to a horrific sight: Mom lying unconscious on the floor, a spilled bottle of pills, and an open window. But what’s even more treacherous is this: a figure waiting behind the door. That’s so creepy.

Whoever this shadow is, he slowly closes the door, an action followed by a piercing scream.

Some time later, a car pulls up to a monastery in the mountains of Spain, where the girl is left in the care of the nuns who reside there. As she’s led through the grounds, she looks back to the hooded figures who pass by.

Her eyes are filled with sadness, but the next time we see her she’s all grown up. This is GO ANNA (Yoon-ah), who flees the monastery barefoot and in a similar nightgown she wore as a child.

Her feet are caked with dirt by the time she reaches the city and runs through the busy streets in her grimy clothes, constantly looking behind her as if being pursued. Bumping into a pedestrian crossing the street, she bends down to pick up the spilled change. Drivers angrily honk their horns when the light turns green, but she scans her surroundings with fear-filled eyes.

In another part of the city, a bloodied man gasps awake in a room. He checks the time, then painfully slips out of bed, clutching the bandaged wound to his side. We’ll come to know him as KIM JE-HA (Ji Chang-wook), who swigs a drink and takes a drag.

He struggles to his feet and staggers to the window, where he performs a visual sweep of the street below. He gets dressed and sets out into the city, trying to avoid the surveillance cameras while shaking off unwanted attention.

It’s nightfall by the time Anna stumbles into a metro station. Her entry is caught by a pair of men on a stakeout, and one man follows her underground. She runs up to the ticket window to pay her way in and urges the employee to hurry.

Once she has her ticket, Anna dashes past the gate and crashes into someone. It’s Je-ha, and when she apologizes in Korean, he asks in their native tongue if she’s all right. Hardly able to believe her luck in finding a compatriot, she clings to him and desperately pleads for his help.

He tries to shake her off, but she begs him to save her from her oncoming pursuer. Seeing him, Anna runs down to the platform and hides behind a pillar. She shuffles over to remain unseen, but the man hears her sharp intakes of breath and calls her out.

She refuses to “go home” as told, and he grabs her when she tries to make a run for it. But that’s when Je-ha intervenes and orders Anna to leave. She obeys, running over to the next pillar while he deals with her pursuer.

She looks on as Je-ha wrestles the man’s arm and combats the counterattack with a flying kick. He keeps the oncoming punches at bay and lands one good punch into his opponent’s gut. He evades attack, but the man lands a punch to his jaw and runs after Anna.

Je-ha is quick to follow and jumps the benches to stop him. He gets in some jabs and flips over, using the momentum to toss the man onto the ground. He knees his opponent over and over when the latter charges at him, and a few more strikes stuns the man enough for Je-ha to flip him over and strangle him until he passes out.

Checking the man’s pockets confirms that Je-ha has just attacked a cop. He picks up his things while security calls in the disturbance down below.

Anna is waiting for him when he exits the platform, much to his annoyance. She implores him for his help, citing that her father is a great man who will reward him if he can take her to Madrid.

But he isn’t interested in helping her anymore, let alone for a reward, as Anna continues to cry that there are bad men after her. He gives in to her pleas and tells her to leave when a pair of officers draw near. She lingers for a moment before disappearing around the corner.

Je-ha sizes up the officers before swooping in to swiftly disarm the gun and kick down the officers. He returns their swings with a takedown and breaks an arm as a finishing move. But his troubles aren’t over when he clambers up the stairs and sees Anna in the cops’ car.

She immediately cries out to him, and now Je-ha is faced with the same dilemma for the third time tonight. He silently shakes his head no this time and climbs into a taxi. She sobs as the taxi drives off, taking her rescuer with it.

Six months later. Seoul. We find Je-ha at a banner advertising warehouse on a blazing hot day putting the finishing touches on a mural of a beach. He sinks into a ratty armchair with a beer to cool off, and feeds a stray kitten some dried squid before resuming his afternoon nap.

Dusk falls when he gets a call from his boss telling him that a large banner hanging on a side of a tower needs re-tightening due to the strong winds. This is our first glimpse of presidential candidate, Assemblyman JANG SE-JOON, whose poster reads: “I dream of a nice world for children to live in.”

Je-ha is initially barred entry because it’s after hours, but the cleaning lady recognizes him and her mention that “the madam” had put in the work order gets him in. He thanks her in the elevator, and when she worries about his safety on a windy night like tonight, he assures her that he’ll be fine.

After securing himself to the roof, Je-ha climbs over and rappels down the building. As he secures the ties, the camera pans down to a room a couple of stories below, where Se-joon (Jo Sung-ha) arrives and wraps his arms around a half-dressed young woman.

He stops kissing her to tune into a TV interview of his wife CHOI YOO-JIN (Song Yoon-ah), who is told that she was voted most popular among the candidates’ wives. Se-joon watches on as his wife shows modesty towards her wifely duties and gracefully accepts the praise of being a wonderful cook.

He polishes off the glass of wine handed to him, completely oblivious to the fact that it’s been drugged. Down below, a group of masked men charge into the building and beat down the security guards in their path.

As the masked men make their way upstairs, their leader reminds his men to capture the footage they need. Hm, do you mean Se-joon’s infidelity? Speaking of which, Je-ha rappels further down and catches Se-joon and his lover in mid-kiss.

He gets a good look at Se-joon’s face but pays little regard to the intimate session. Se-joon turns away, however, and tells his lover to close the curtains. But that’s when the effects of the drug kick in and he collapses. The woman sends Je-ha a wink, then closes the curtains.

Je-ha sees the kind cleaning lady while securing a corner of the banner. He sees the masked men burst into the office and raps on the window in warning, but the masked man strikes her down anyway.

One of the injured bodyguards sounds the alarm, which automatically locks the door to the suite where Se-joon’s lover had been trying to put herself and an unconscious Se-joon in a compromising position in bed with.

With no way in or out, the masked men try to manually ram their way inside. Je-ha’s attempts to kick his way through the glass are futile, so he pushes off the window with his feet and hurls a pick at the glass to create enough of a crack enabling him to crash his way through.

He unties himself and uses the rope to tangle up one lackey and kicks away another. He rushes to the injured cleaning lady’s side, and withstands a few strikes before getting up and pummeling his attackers.

Je-ha throws a few potted plants at the men while also taking a few hits. But he makes sure that his opponents pay for the slugs they got in with a sweeping kick and powerful flips onto the furniture.

He pins the one responsible for hurting the cleaning lady on a desk, noticing the burn mark on his right wrist. Soon the masked men learn that they’ve got company in the form of JSS agents, so the leader calls retreat.

Je-ha tends to the unconscious cleaning lady with a head injury just as a bodyguard and the JSS arrive. He demands for an ambulance while the suite is unlocked.

Back at the TV studio, the host inquires if Se-joon’s successful political career can be credited to his wealthy in-laws—Yoo-jin is the eldest daughter to the illustrious JB Group, after all.

Yoo-jin takes a beat before answering that question, saying that she feels sorry toward her husband for marrying a woman like her. He would’ve made a fine son-in-law if he’d married someone else, and she lets her voice waver when saying that her late father was against a marital union with a politician.

She remains silent when asked if her marriage to Se-joon was the reason why her family severed ties with her and she gave up her inheritance rights. She wipes away a tear and speaks of the importance of loyalty to the one you love. At the comment that she must’ve loved Se-joon very deeply, Yoo-jin turns to look straight the camera and says, “Yes, and I still respect [him].”

The building is swarmed by the press when Je-ha drives away. Upstairs, Chief Joo of JSS is puzzled at how a man could’ve broken through tempered glass from the outside.

At the same time, the interviewer hones in on more sensitive topic, namely her shares in JB Group she allegedly donated. As far as the host knows, Yoo-jin shares an amicable relationship with the charity’s board of directors—would it be possible that she still owns said shares?

Yoo-jin smiles, and her right-hand woman signals to the crew to go to commercial break. During the break, Yoo-jin turns off her mic and cues the interviewer to do the same. It turns out that the two women are on friendly yet tense terms, and Yoo-jin softly reminds her that she didn’t wish to speak about the JB Group shares.

But the host smiles back that it’s probably better than she touches upon this sore spot than anyone else, which has Yoo-jin gently point out how everyone has a weakness: “Just like the matter regarding your son.”

That topic effectively gets the host to back off, and Yoo-jin smiles, saying that they should just stick to the script.

After the interview, Yoo-jin shows her thanks by gifting an adoring staff member with homemade treats. She tenses when she hears about the latest incident regarding her husband, though isn’t the least surprised that the break-in was likely another politician’s doing.

She outlines the next steps as her chief secretary wipes off her makeup, including how they can keep “that girl” around since they’ll find a use for her later. Observing her own aging face, she’s pleased that the girl is in her late twenties.

Se-joon checks in just then, chuckling over the interview he saw. He trusts that this wife will clean up the mess, but there is one tidbit that bothers him: the banner hanger who got a look at his face.

So Yoo-jin follows up with the head of JSS, her suspicion and disappointment still clear through her soft voice. Je-ha, meanwhile, drives home to pack some essentials, but the sound of tires rolling over the sewer hatch tips him off of the JSS agents’ arrival.

Chief Joo is shocked when he reviews the security footage which captured Je-ha’s face. He beelines for his superior’s office to urgently ask that the agents sent after Je-ha be called back, lest they all end up dead.

His boss laughs at the idea that their elite agents are in danger from a man Chief Joo trained back when he was in the Special Forces. But perhaps this is no laughter matter, as we see the JSS agents entering the building and scanning for Je-ha, who gears up for a fight.

Even though JSS has sent their best men, Chief Joo knows better than to mess with someone like Je-ha, and tells his boss that he’ll come to eat his words.

Back at the factory, one JSS agent comes face to face with Je-ha, who throws him onto a desk and snaps his neck with his foot. Suddenly everything goes dark, and Je-ha emerges with a spray paint gun.

He sprays a pair of agents full in the face, and by the time they retaliate with their tasers, Je-ha is long gone. In their discombobulated state, they accidentally turn on a boombox, and the dramatic operatic music reverberates throughout the building.

The agents outside venture inside where Je-ha is waiting for them. He cracks both of their helmets with his hands, and takes down both men with a powerful punch and flying kick.

He moves on to his next target on the railing, shining a flashlight in his face in greeting. When the tag lands on him, Je-ha shakes it off and charges at the agent. He kicks him off the platform and checks that the agent is still alive.

The music is still playing when Je-ha jumps off to knock down another JSS agent with an aerial takedown. He twists the other agent’s arm and swipes his baton to use it against him. One final kick to the face seals the deal just as the song ends.

A lone JSS agent unable to get in contact with his fellow men heads inside. Je-ha appears from above and swiftly gains possession of his gun and disassembles it. The agent searches for another weapon and grabs a baton, but Je-ha is nowhere to be seen…

…before he reappears wielding a taser gun. After taking care of that last JSS agent, Je-ha heads out, abandoning his phone in his wake. Chief Joo arrives much later, utterly relieved that all the men are still alive.

Se-joon arrives home to find Yoo-jin waiting for him. She has unsettling news, which prompts him to ask if anyone else is causing trouble other than himself. Rising from her chair, she answers, “Your daughter.”

He tugs her towards him so that their faces are inches apart when he breathes, “What about Anna?” Oh, so Anna is your daughter. Yoo-jin: “She ran away again.”

She should have outgrown this behavior by now, Yoo-jin continues, though she wonders if Anna can’t help it as his own flesh and blood. Se-joon seethes and collects himself before warning his wife that should anything happen to Anna, that will also bring about the end to their deal.

Speaking of whom, Anna runs frantically through the streets in Spain, occasionally looking behind her to check for any pursuers. She runs straight into oncoming traffic, which stops just in time.

Anna trembles with fear as her mind flashes back to an earlier memory: her as a young girl handing her mother the bottle of sleeping pills. Caught like a deer in headlights, she utters in Spanish through terrified sobs: “I did not kill.”

 
COMMENTS

Wow, that was an intense episode. I was honestly torn coming into The K2 because while the teasers showed promise, I still had a sense of reluctance with the production credits. Director Kwak Jung-hwan (Chuno, Basketball) and writer Jang Hyuk-rin (Yong-pal, Reset) have put out series that were either lauded or left viewers scratching their heads, so I remained cautiously optimistic, hoping that the show would live up to the hype.

So I’m pleased to find that between the impressive action-heavy sequences, there’s plenty of mystery going on under the surface. We’re thrown into the mess from the start, with Anna hidden away in Spain, Je-ha’s bloodied introduction, and Se-joon and Yoo-jin’s strained marriage, just to name a few. Much of what we’ve seen between these complicated characters is unsaid; their actions speak louder than their words, though any lines of dialogue we do get packs a punch.

Speaking of punches, I do enjoy how raw and intense the fights are—not only does Je-ha deliver some swift and expertly-skilled moves, he’s sometimes on the receiving end of an unexpected swipe. Even then, we can see his fighting prowess shine through, which also highlights the rigorous training Ji Chang-wook underwent for the role. All that hard work has certainly paid off because the end product is not only slick but also fantastic. There’s so much we’ve yet to learn about Je-ha, who keeps to a low profile whenever he can. Still, we can see the hints of sympathy in his character when someone is in danger, be it Anna in Spain or the kind cleaning lady.

Then there’s Anna, who is currently halfway around the world dealing with her own fears. We don’t know how many times she has attempted to escape over the years, or how much of the outside world she knows. Her mind is fixated on the idea of running away to find her powerful father (which makes me wonder how much she knows about him) and the traumatic memory of discovering her mother dead on the floor. As far as we know, the horrors began that night when she was taken from her home, and I’m itching to know the truth behind her mother’s death.

Not only that, I’m intrigued by Yoo-jin, who carries herself with social grace yet can induce fear into nearly anyone with expert precision. My hopes are high for Song Yoon-ah challenging her acting range by portraying a layered and calculated character like Yoo-jin. Watching her makeup being wiped away was like watching the façade of her character fade away to reveal her deeper and darker colors, which we see glimpses of in her rocky and tense marriage to Se-joon.

So now you’ve got my attention The K2. Come at me.

 
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302 September 25, 2016October 23, 2016

The K2: Episode 2

by gummimochi

Running a tight ship at home will prove difficult when unexpected attention forces our crafty politician’s wife’s hand; she’ll have to choose whether to keep the danger close or let it roam freely in the streets. And escaping handcuffs and evading the authorities is all in a day’s work for the former mercenary, but Je-ha will realize that living in hiding will no longer be an option when that lifestyle endangers the lives of innocent people.

 
EPISODE 2 RECAP

As Anna stands paralyzed in the street, the flickering headlights remind her of when she had arrived at the police station following her mother’s death and had been bombarded by the bright camera flashes from the press.

She had undergone questioning, where the psychiatrist had tried to coax an answer out of her. The detective had been frustrated when she’d said she didn’t know what happened, though the flashback within this flashback gives us a bit more insight: At her mother’s silent insistence, Anna had placed the bottle of sleeping pills in her mother’s outstretched hand.

She had peed herself remembering that, and tears had streamed down her cheek as she’d cried over and over again: “I killed my mother.”

Back to present-day where one of car’s passengers, a fashion designer, sees Anna and declares her his new muse. Er, never mind the fact that she’s standing there petrified.

Trembling, Anna says repeatedly in Spanish: “I did not kill.” A granny who leads her off the street is taken aback at the phrase, and Anna hobbles down the sidewalk, alone.

Je-ha gets off at a bus station where he spots the police. So he heads to the bathroom and swipes a soldier’s uniform in order to blend in and exit without suspicion.

Even in Yoo-jin’s gentle voice, her disappointment in the JSS for letting one man slip through their fingers is clear. She’s amused by the head of JSS’ pleas for a bit more time, since the banner hanger could’ve gone to the press or struck a deal with a rival candidate.

Chief Joo, however, disagrees with his superior, believing that capturing Je-ha will be virtually impossible. He had been present during Je-ha’s training, thus can say with certainty that his abilities are beyond the JSS’ capabilities. Yoo-jin chuckles, “So you’re saying the JSS isn’t incompetent, but that he’s good?”

After being dismissed from the Special Forces, Chief Joo explains how Je-ha had belonged to an elite private military company named Blackstone. He had also fought in Iraq as a mercenary, but he’s currently on the run, so there’s no way someone would’ve enlisted his services.

Everyone in Blackstone is a wanted man, and while the rumors say those men fell into the hands of terrorist groups, Chief Joo can confirm that one of them—Je-ha—-is currently in Korea. But all that information doesn’t change the resolution—that JSS is unable to handle the job.

All of their appeals fall on deaf ears, including Chief Joo’s suggestion of recruiting Je-ha. To that, she instructs Chief Joo to do a better job of protecting her husband.

As Yoo-jin watches her husband leave, she muses on how he’s not the least bit apologetic. She scoffs at the idea that she’d feel let down in times like these, and her right-hand woman, Secretary Kim, assures her that she’ll take care of Je-ha.

There is, however, one other matter that demands Yoo-jin’s attention: although Anna was caught last night, her picture has gone viral on social media. The uploader is a well-known fashion designer, but Secretary Kim will do her best to prevent it from making headlines. Isn’t it a little late for that in this day and age?

Yoo-jin would agree, roaring that all of Europe would want to know who Anna is if the designer gets a hold of her. She swears she hears noises again (oh?), and when Secretary Kim suggests that they use this opportunity to do away with Anna for good, Yoo-jin shuts down the idea: “Anna is the only tool I can use to control Se-joon! Do you think Jang Se-joon would stand for it if anything were to happen to her?!”

Yoo-jin has a sudden breakthrough: perhaps it will be better if Anna is transported to Korea, where she can keep an eye on her. With the presidential election just around the corner, she has better things to worry about than her own nerves and orders Secretary Kim to get it done.

Once she’s alone, Yoo-jin gets a good look at the photo of Anna and remarks, “They resemble one another.”

Se-joon has his men pull off to a quiet location so he can speak with Chief Joo in private. He knows that Anna is safe and still has social phobia, but he can’t go to see her because of the upcoming election, and even he knows that makes him a pathetic dad. He knows that Chief Joo is loyal to his wife “but I’m the one who will become president.”

He’ll be the one to appoint Chief Joo as his head of security once he’s sworn in, so that makes Chief Joo the only one he can trust to look out for Anna. He knows how much Anna must resent him, but she’s the only reason he’s yielded to Yoo-jin’s demands all these years.

He orders Chief Joo to relay a warning: Should the hostage (Anna) die, the one holding her hostage will die too. In other words, if anything were to happen to his daughter, everything Yoo-jin has worked toward will crumble. Chief Joo swears to protect Anna, no matter what.

Time to quickly check in with Je-ha, who is unable to hitch a ride, so he helps an old couple stranded on the side of the road. He offers to help with the farmwork, but the old man angrily refuses—he’ll put Je-ha up for one night, and that’s that.

Meanwhile, the head of JSS pays a visit to a police commissioner to help him find Je-ha. He has some valuable information in exchange for his services: At present, Se-joon doesn’t have much of a chance to win the presidential race because he’s running as an independent party candidate; however, he’ll soon be changing parties.

That grabs the police commissioner’s attention, and it’ll be in his best interest to help him out.

Anna flies first-class on her flight to Seoul, and when the flight attendant worries that she’s been asleep too long, her neighbor explains that she’s recovering from a wild night. Turns out that Anna has been drugged, as the camera pans to the syringe beneath the seat.

She dreams of the day when a woman with red fingernails came to collect her from the hospital and take her to the airport. She’d been told her father was waiting for her, but Anna called out the woman on the lie, refusing to drink the bottle given to her. Omo, it’s Secretary Kim, who flashes a camera in Anna’s face.

We know what happened from there, and a lone tear rolls down Anna’s cheek.

Je-ha can hear the old man’s wife sobbing behind closed doors. As for the grumpy grandpa, he sets out a simple meal for him, apologizing that this is all they have and for lashing out on him earlier.

After hours of searching, the JSS team pinpoints Je-ha’s location at a bus station earlier that morning. Anna isn’t the only ones having troubled dreams of the past, as Je-ha dreams of his days when he was a mercenary.

His group had been forced to walk through a minefield, and upon hearing that they needed to take a detour to avoid a civilian zone, the wounded civilian in their party offered to pay the mercenaries triple the amount of their original offer.

He had chosen to keep moving, but soon they’d been caught in a crossfire. Je-ha tosses and turns in his sleep as the memory becomes more violent, and a bullet pierces through his chest.

Je-ha wakes up with a start, but the memory is still vivid, as we see him fall to the ground and slip into unconsciousness. He curls up and breathes heavily until the panic subsides. It’s at that moment he hears the old lady’s sobs once more and finds her husband up drinking.

The old man explains that today is the 49th day following their son’s death, and they’d been traveling back from the temple when they’d ran into Je-ha. He follows the grieving old man to the fields, and agrees to help him clear all the overgrown trees the deceased son had previously taken care of.

He’s already out in the fields when the old man wakes up the following morning, but instead of cutting down the trees, he’s busy trimming the brush underneath them. Touched, the old man joins him, and his wife tears up seeing the two men happily working together.

When they sit down for lunch, the old lady places some food over Je-ha’s bowl of rice. Aw, that affectionate gesture always gets me. He’s welcome to stay longer if he’d like, and he graciously accepts the clothes once worn by the old couple’s son.

He takes the truck later that day to run a quick errand, unaware of the mystery car he passes on the road. Uh oh. He’s immediately suspicious when the car is still there upon his return. Next thing we know, the couple is tied up and claims that Je-ha is long gone.

So the assailant pours flammable liquid over the couple and the house. Just as he’s about to set the entire place ablaze, Je-ha shuts the lighter and kicks the man away. His opponent unsheathes his knife while all Je-ha has is a brushcutter blade wrapped in newspaper.

Je-ha avoids the oncoming swipes including one that narrowly misses his neck. While the man gets in the first cut, Je-ha slices the assailant’s stomach. They go cut for cut until Je-ha throws the man into a pile of jars.

The assailant knocks Je-ha down with a kick, blocks the swipes at him, then engages in a struggle until he knocks the blade out of Je-ha’s hand. He kicks the unarmed Je-ha into a tower of crates, then charges at him with his knife.

Je-ha remains alert, avoiding the jabs long enough to grab the man’s arm and knock the knife out of his hand. A flying kick sends his opponent crashing into the front gate, and the ongoing brawl moves out to the road.

Now this is a throwdown of fisticuffs, and Je-ha uses a counterattack to grab the man’s arm, twirl his body to the ground, and dislocate his shoulder. When the assailant charges at him again, Je-ha twists his jacket around his neck to strangle him. For his finishing move, he spins and breaks the man’s arm. Oh, and kicks him twice for good measure.

Je-ha confronts his attacker when he comes to, asking him who sent him. He isn’t surprised when the man doesn’t give up a name, though the latter says it isn’t personal—it’s all the same for guys in their line of work.

Je-ha shares the same sentiment, as he grabs a hammer to use. Oh shit, are you going to smash his fingers? His attacker says Je-ha’s a dead man anyway, which he agrees with. He understands why the assailant came after him, but it infuriates him that his attacker would dare to harm the old couple.

His attacker laughs at that because that threat was intentional: “All the people who try to help you hide from this point forward will die.” Which means those old people are done for whether Je-ha likes it or not. Unfortunately for him, Je-ha is willing to wait for an answer and gags his attacker so he can start smashing in pseudo silence. Just as he’s about to pound down, his attacker makes a noise.

That’s how Je-ha shows up outside Yoo-jin and Se-joon’s estate later that evening, as a still unconscious Anna is carried inside and wakes up face to face with Yoo-jin.

Pretending to make a delivery, Je-ha does a quick job of taking care of the guards outside. Meanwhile, Anna struggles to rise, her body still trying to wake up from the sedative.

“You’ve become an adult,” Yoo-jin says. “You’re pretty, because you look like your mother.” Anna grits out “devil,” which Yoo-jin points out is no way to speak to her longtime distant caretaker.

“Think of all the things you did to a nine-year-old who knew nothing,” Anna gasps. Yoo-jin acknowledges that those things must’ve upset Anna, though stands firm that everything was for Anna and her father’s sake.

“I remembered everything,” Anna gruffly replies. “Mom didn’t kill herself.” Yoo-jin takes a long pause before reaching out to pet her and pulls in to say Anna should’ve become a nun then.

Yoo-jin supposes that dinner is off the table then and sends Anna upstairs. She helps herself to some wine, and… are those tears I see welling up in her eyes? She drops her glass in shock when Je-ha marches up to her.

But that’s as far as her surprise goes as she can tell that the young handsome man before her is the one she was after. She had no idea that he would come to her, and Je-ha gets straight to the heart of the matter: “Leave me and the people around me alone.”

“And if I don’t?” she asks, smiling. Je-ha replies, “If you don’t, I’ll come and find you, wherever that may be. This first encounter will end with a simple warning, but if I come for you a second time… you will die.”

But Yoo-jin has done her homework on him, thanks to Chief Joo. As her bodyguards rush in, she explains how she learned that men in his line of work are taught to attack the source when they themselves are under attack. His body is lit up with red dots as she says how Je-ha was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time and saw something he shouldn’t have.

Asked if this is how she expresses her love for her cheating husband, Yoo-jin laughs, saying that she envies his naive outlook that she could ever love her husband. While she has his attention, she would like to know why he came back since he could’ve chosen to live the rest of his days as a runaway.

“Because… I can’t let innocent people die because of me,” Je-ha answers. She asks if he means the old farming couple whom he met just yesterday—he would endanger his life to save who she would think were strangers?

People like her who lost a part of themselves a long time ago wouldn’t understand, Je-ha explains. Those who have been in a war zone for too long feel a similar effect, forgetting why they fight altogether. He asks Yoo-jin not to harm the old couple especially because they know nothing about him.

She finds him oddly trustworthy and thus decides to believe him, however: “I don’t think I can let those people live.”

There’s a gun pressed against Je-ha’s temple when he steps toward her, as Yoo-jin makes clear that believing his words and gambling with her own destiny are mutually exclusive concepts.

She finds his warning that she’ll come to regret this amusing, since she believes they won’t ever see each other again.

Her men gag Je-ha, toss him into the back of a van, and tie his feet together. But the approaching sound of sirens interrupt them, as a cop car parks outside to investigate a stolen delivery motorcycle.

Struggling against his handcuffs, Je-ha shuffles over to open a bottle of motor oil and pour it on his wrist to painfully pull it off. A bodyguard checks on him when he hears movement, and Je-ha greets him with a kick to the chest and slams his head against the bumper.

He waits for an opportune moment to knock down the other guard, and all the commotion makes the cops outside suspicious.

Meanwhile, more guards are called to the garage to deal with “the mouse”. Je-ha emerges from above the van and jumps to the adjacent car, taking down one bodyguard with a sweeping kick. We get a 360-degree slo-mo look for his next flying kick and he punches the others.

Just outside, the cops refuse to leave, arguing that they must follow procedure. One cop hilariously thinks that “the mouse” is giving the guards a great deal of trouble, while we cut to what’s going on inside.

There’s another 360-degree shot as Je-ha kicks the bodyguard off the car. That bodyguard shoots him with a taser gun, and the voltage is still in his system when the guard charges at him. Je-ha covers his face with his own jacket, gets in a few more hits in before kneeing his body into the car window.

After unlocking himself, Je-ha grabs a gun and heads inside the house. He catches Yoo-jin on her way down the stairs and lifts the gun to her jaw: “This is the second encounter I was telling you about.”

He cocks the gun and presses it against Yoo-jin’s temple. But they aren’t alone, as a voice behind him softly says, “Shoot.”

It’s Anna, who screams, “Shoot!” Je-ha turns his head and recognizes her from their encounter in Spain months ago. Again, Anna hollers, “Shoot! Shoot!”

 
COMMENTS

Now that’s what you call an awkward second meeting, though I suppose if we’re counting, it’s more like fourth encounter. Still, it can’t be easy for Je-ha to find himself caught between the woman he’d like to kill and the woman he saved and left behind in a foreign country six months ago. (Although to his small credit, Anna could hardly run ten feet before running into more trouble.)

I may have enjoyed this second episode more than the first since we got to learn so much more about the characters that inhabit this world. There’s Se-joon, whom I didn’t anticipate we’d learn much of this hour. His level of self-awareness honestly caught me by surprise, because he knows his wife controls virtually every facet of his life. He hasn’t fooled himself into thinking that he can break free from that, though his rebelliousness seems to come in the form of infidelity and letting Yoo-jin clean up the mess. He knows he isn’t the best father either, what with his daughter held hostage in Spain. Still, he cares for her and her safety, so I’d imagine he’d have something to say when he finds that Anna is home. If he’ll actually do anything about it is an entirely different matter altogether, but with Yoo-jin at the helm of this ship and his goal of becoming president, he may not have much of a choice at present either.

We also got to find out more of Anna’s past as well; she was a spirited child even after her mother’s death and a wary one when she called out Secretary Kim in the airport. That reveal was a well-played card, since I hadn’t entertained the thought that Secretary Kim has worked for Yoo-jin for as long as she had. Although Anna now claims to have remembered everything, we’re so early in the series that I’m sure that there’s more to the story than her own memories. I’m pleasantly pleased with Yoon-ah’s performance here, especially with the world’s most awkward family reunion with Yoo-jin.

While we’re on the subject of Yoo-jin, I found it interesting that the usually composed woman can also reach a breaking point. What those noises might mean remains to be seen, but that tidbit is something we can keep in mind as the stakes get higher and the situations even more intense.

I didn’t expect myself to be drawn into the side storyline with the farming couple, but their scenes cemented the idea that Je-ha is willing to provide help when it’s needed. Even though he’s still haunted by the battlefield and other traumatic events, he refuses to let innocent people die on his watch. Although Yoo-jin may not fully understand Je-ha’s reasons for protecting who she considers as strangers, he knows that an ounce of compassion goes a long way.

 
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222 October 1, 2016October 23, 2016

The K2: Episode 3

by gummimochi

Politics can often feel like stepping into a dangerous minefield, where one misstep could mean the end to a career. But the importance of the ballot will be stronger than the bullet this hour, as Je-ha is thrown into the orbit of an ongoing political war he has no interest being a part of. Everyone else’s ambition will direct where the barrel of the gun is pointed at, and he’ll need to stay on his toes to figure out who his next target will be.

EPISODE 3 RECAP

Je-ha’s eyes open wide in recognition as a screaming Anna is dragged back into her room. Turning back to Yoo-jin, he remarks, “So there was someone else besides me who wanted you dead.”

He whips Yoo-jin around when more bodyguards armed with guns rush in, and he orders them to ready a car. The gun still pointed at her temple, Yoo-jin tells them to do as he says.

At Yoo-jin’s threats that he won’t make it out alive, he reminds her that her life is currently at stake. He’ll take care of himself thankyouverymuch and she’s in no position to be making demands.

Je-ha plucks a phone out of a potted plant and explains that he’s just sent an email containing a video that recorded their entire encounter here. It’s scheduled to send to the press, prosecutors, and the Blue House in 24 hours’ time, so she better leave him and the people he cares about alone.

He’s the only one in control of the fate of this email, so she’s better off praying that he remains alive every day. He tosses the phone into the microwave where it bursts, and coolly orders Secretary Kim to ensure his safe passage out of the grounds.

Se-joon prevents Chief Joo from heading back home when they get the call about Yoo-jin’s hostage situation. Chief Joo is his bodyguard and heading back there would put him in danger. To that, Chief Joo explains that he’s keeping his promise to protect Anna, and she’s at the house.

The traffic cops are still there when Je-ha ushers Yoo-jin outside and into the driver’s seat. He climbs into the backseat and the car takes off, at which point Secretary Kim and the other bodyguards immediately follow.

In the car, Yoo-jin admits that she underestimated him, though Je-ha retorts that he had no interest in her husband’s extramarital affair. She says to name his price for the email because everything in this world can be bought off with money.

He humors her, saying that the email is as valuable as his life because handing over that email would mean his death sentence. Since she still wants a price, he gives it to her: If her husband was offered to either save that email for his own political pursuits or her life, which would he choose?

When Yoo-jin says nothing, Je-ha wonders if that means her life is worth less than that email. But they’ll have to continue that conversation a little later because they’ve got a motorcyclist tailing them.

Back at home, Anna escapes back into the room upon her father’s arrival. She does, however, crack the door open to sneak a peek of him, only to close it when he looks in her direction. She places an ear to the door as Se-joon is asked if he’d like to see his daughter. He draws out a long breath before replying no, an answer that breaks her heart.

The motorcyclist and his passenger catch up to the car when it enters a tunnel. What’s scarier is that they have external control of the car, forcing it to speed up. Stepping on the brake does nothing, and Je-ha surmises that there’s another party out for Yoo-jin’s life.

The motorcycle keeps up while the car zooms down the highway. Je-ha is about to shoot through the window when it won’t budge, only to forsake that idea when he’s told it’s bulletproof.

Yoo-jin starts losing control of the speeding car and makes a sharp left to avoid passing traffic. Je-ha climbs into the driver’s seat to take over, while all of these updates are relayed to Secretary Kim and Chief Joo in their respective cars.

Je-ha identifies an upcoming curve in the road, which he believes is a perfect place to fake an accident. He attempts to swerve the car into the motorcycle, only to crash into nearby cars. Yoo-jin gasps when he steps on the gas, but he says they need to escape the remote control’s radius.

He puts the pedal to the metal, driving the car through oncoming traffic to try and lose their pursuer. But still the motorcycle keeps close and Je-ha instructs Yoo-jin to keep pressing on the button to the power windows.

Their pursuer loses the signal just as Je-ha is forced to turn left and gives Yoo-jin enough time to open the window. He gives her a heads-up before he swerves the car, shoots his gun through the open window, and regains control again to keep driving.

Je-ha notices Yoo-jin’s bodyguards actually decide to do something about the motorcycle, though he reasons it’s too late. But right now, he has bigger things to worry about like a brake that won’t listen no matter how much he stomps on it.

The car tears through a road work site thanks to that motorcyle, which stops to observe. But that gives the car carrying Secretary Kim—who is out for blood—the perfect opportunity to crash into the bike.

Je-ha still doesn’t have control when he blows through the traffic barriers around the bend. Yoo-jin yelps as the car sails through the air, flips over, and lands upside down. Bloody but conscious, Je-ha is pulled out of the wreckage.

Just then, there’s a spark, and Je-ha rushes over to wake Yoo-jin. Secretary Kim has to be pulled back from running at the burning car, though her eyes widen in surprise as she sees Je-ha carrying Yoo-jin in his arms.

Je-ha walks with heavy steps away from the car and drops to his knees when it explodes behind him. A muffler flies towards them and Yoo-jin buries herself in his chest as it hits him in the back.

He winces in pain and Yoo-jin stares at him in perhaps a new light. Her bodyguards rush to collect her and she tries reaching out to Je-ha, who collapses onto the ground.

After learning that he’s still alive, she instructs her people to take Je-ha to a hospital. She tells Secretary Kim that he mustn’t die; the two share a silent exchange that has Secretary Kim reply that she understands, though Yoo-jin continues the thought in her head: “No, you don’t know.”

We flash back to Je-ha’s days as a soldier when he had known a young woman named Rania, who had asked him if he thought the sunset would be more beautiful in heaven. At his skepticism that such a place exists, she had believed that heaven was a war-free place—perhaps Korea would be quite heavenly.

He had scoffed at that, saying that was a matter of perspective. He had found her mastery of Korean language and pop culture amusing, which had offered him a segue that he’d be heading home soon.

He’d asked if she’d like to come with him, fumbling in his pocket to present her with a broach. He had bumbled through what turns out to be an awkwardly cute proposal, stammering that he couldn’t get a ring and she could stay in Korea if they get married.

At her surprise, Je-ha had clarified his intentions were noble—they’d only be married on paper and he just wanted to help her escape the desert. When she starts welling up with tears, he doesn’t know what to do with himself. Oh my god, you’re just adorable.

He had added that he wouldn’t stop her if she changed her mind or left elsewhere later on, but she’d responded, “Yes, let’s get married.”

She had removed her head scarf, and Je-ha had sealed the deal with a kiss.

Je-ha pulls out of that memory and comes to at the hospital, where he’s been tied down with restraints. He can hear voices arguing outside his door as a pair of detectives (oh hi, Sung Dong-il) are barred entry.

A flash of the JSS badge is enough for the detectives to give up for now, as the senior detective reminds his hoobae that the CEO of JSS is friendly with the police commissioner. In short, JSS isn’t an agency to be trifled with.

Je-ha tunes into a current events show on TV where an assemblyman refers to last night’s accident as a political terror attack. Even when the host points out that there isn’t enough solid evidence to draw such a dangerous conclusion, the politician is convinced that there is a person or group behind the act.

Plus, it’s not like he specifically mentioned that one of Se-joon’s political rivals were responsible, a statement that gets a hearty chuckle out of Se-joon himself. He’s watching the broadcast in Yoo-jin’s hospital room, where Yoo-jin instructs her secretary to pay the man a compliment after the show.

She asks how “the bodyguard” is doing when the doctor arrives, and looks relieved when she’s told he’ll recover just fine. Se-joon hones in on the mention of Je-ha, whom Yoo-jin plans to make him an actual bodyguard.

It doesn’t really matter if Je-ha agrees to it or not, since she believes that it’s best to keep someone she’s most wary of by her side. Se-joon sighs, “Like with Anna.” He then walks up to her and adds that Yoo-jin cannot keep Anna by her side.

After we see Anna shedding tears in her dark room, we cut back to the hospital, where Je-ha is surprised to see Chief Joo. Once they’re alone, he makes his resentment towards Chief Joo known since he was “behind it all.” While Chief Joo left the army as an officer, Je-ha had been driven out as a private.

He doesn’t believe Chief Joo’s excuse that he didn’t have enough authority back then either—Chief Joo probably had no thoughts of helping him. To that, Chief Joo states, “One needs power to make their aims comes true, it seems.”

Yoo-jin has an unexpected visitor in the form of her younger half brother, the chairman of JB Group, CHOI SUNG-WON (Lee Jung-jin), who fusses over his noona being hospitalized. He believes that Se-joon’s rival PARK KWAN-SOO is responsible for the incident, catching himself when an insult escapes his lips.

He refuses to insert forced relational distance with his sister by speaking to her in jondae, though his smile momentarily falters when Yoo-jin points out that they were never that close. He seems to have a cordial relationship with Se-joon, though, seeing as he gives him a little cheer.

Before Se-joon can leave to face the press, Yoo-jin fusses up his hair and shirt to make him look like a concerned husband who never left her bedside. Se-joon remains tense but he keeps up pretenses by calling her a good wife and wise mother. He chuckles a moment later, saying that he should drop the “wise mother” part since Yoo-jin is childless. Ooh, burn.

He puts on a wonderful performance in front of the press, welling up with emotion at just the right moments while asking them to think about what it must’ve felt like for him to sit vigil by his wife all night.

Yoo-jin watches as Se-joon grasps at pity points, painting his loving wife as a figure of lifelong devotion and sacrifice to his ambitions and humble background. Sung-won is both amused and impressed by his brother-in-law’s performance, and Yoo-jin thinks to herself: “Because… that much was true.”

Downstairs, Se-joon’s speech continues as he questions his ability to bear the burdens of this nation and its people. He wonders if he should keep putting his wife through this treacherous path of politics, words which pique the reporters’ interest.

He then collects his voice to declare, “As of this moment, I will… stop all of my political activities regarding the presidential race.” Everyone in both the hospital lobby and Yoo-jin’s room wait for Se-joon to respond whether this means he will withdraw from the race.

Se-joon keeps his eyes closed and says nothing, and it’s in that moment the saddened civilians in the lobby cry out in dissent. He lifts his head to face the reporters and accept their pleas; in exchange for staying in the race, he will change his approach to battle all the evil forces who threaten the lives of the people head-on.

He believes that this conviction is even more important than becoming President, which is an effective way to gain public sentiment. Needless to say, it works as the people chant his name for office, and he bellows that he will stand by the people’s side and come out victorious.

Watching Se-joon be hoisted into the air as the crowd chant his name, Yoo-jin smiles over how Se-joon still has feelings even if his morals are gone.

The current events show cover Se-joon’s latest announcement, which the assemblyman emphatically claims was Se-joon’s personal declaration of war against violence. Unlike the host, he prays that Se-joon stays in the race, calling upon Yoo-jin herself to persuade her husband.

During the commercial break, the host asks if the assemblyman is too strong with his support for Se-joon, but the latter believes that this presidential election is the inflection point for change.

Turns out someone else had seen Se-joon’s rousing announcement as well—his political opponent, the ruling party leader Park Kwan-soo (Kim Gab-soo). Representative Park is also amused by the broadcast and decides to head over to the hospital.

Speaking of, Chief Joo presents Je-ha with an identification card under the same name we’ve come to know Je-ha as so far. Ah, so we don’t know his birth name. (It also makes sense since no one has actually called him by name yet. But for simplicity and consistency’s sake, we’ll keep calling him Je-ha)

Turns out the other Kim Je-ha is overseas, and Chief Joo has gone through the trouble to make sure this identity will check out. The only catch is that he can’t obtain a passport with this identity.

Sung-won believes his big sister is on her way to the Blue House now with Se-joon’s emotional speech. She wonders if JB Group has fallen upon hard times lately because she’s heard a few rumors through the grapevine. He assures Yoo-jin that her stake in the company is safe and secure overseas, happily claiming that his sister will probably pay him far more than that once she becomes the First Lady.

Representative Park is bombarded by the press when he arrives at the hospital and fields questions asking whether he was responsible for this incident. He exchanges a civil greeting with Sung-won when they cross paths.

Je-ha isn’t interested in the offer of becoming Yoo-jin’s bodyguard. He doesn’t plan on pledging his loyalty to any nation or organization anymore, to which Chief Joo replies that he shares the same sentiment. But this is a job, and one that pays well.

He knows that working under powerful people means that he’ll be thrown away as soon as his use is up, though Chief Joo figures he’ll throw those people under the bus before then. Je-ha notes how much Chief Joo has changed in the time they haven’t seen one another. Chief Joo: “It’s the world that’s changed.”

JSS is no ordinary security organization, Chief Joo continues. Not only do they collect information about JB Group’s deepest and darkest secrets, but JSS gathers all kinds of intel on the country from the economy and finance to politics and the media.

The people he’s working for aren’t to be trifled with—he believes they’re headed to the Blue House. And if that happens, Je-ha could be granted a pardon.

Je-ha sighs that he’s tired and useless,and he’s a runaway now. Chief Joo fires back, “Why? Because you can no longer kill?” He knows Je-ha suffers from PTSD and reassures him that he was the only one who read the file from Blackstone.

He frankly thought it was odd how Je-ha didn’t kill a soul when JSS ambushed him at the factory, to which Je-ha asks why Chief Joo is trying so hard to recruit him. Chief Joo laughs, “Do you think a bodyguard is some agent who kills people?”

He believes that Je-ha’s keen instinct and skills will make him an excellent bodyguard. Furthermore, it’s not like Je-ha is able to betray his master anymore. It doesn’t seem to bother Chief Joo that Je-ha still has that email—instead he asks Je-ha to join the ranks so that they can get to the Blue House and get back at the bastards who betrayed them.

Nothing about that sounds appealing to Je-ha, who had once left this country and swore never to return. He isn’t interested in working under anyone either. So Chief Joo asks that Je-ha join and stay in JSS until the election is over, at the very least. If he does, he doesn’t have to keep running away from the authorities while he’s in Korea.

But Je-ha is burned out and holds a jaded perspective on the world—as long as no one messes with him, there won’t be any deaths. As for the email, he’s erase it once the presidential election is over.

Yoo-jin’s hospital room is adorned with bouquets when Park Kwan-soo arrives. He comments on how rude it was for the other officials not to pay her a visit in person, especially if they’ve had her cooking.

But Yoo-jin delicately replies that they wouldn’t have bothered to have a humble meal like cheonggukjang (fermented soybean soup), but then remembers how Representative Park did come by often when her late father was still alive.

She adds that she doesn’t serve the soup anymore either because of the smell, a burn Representative Park takes in stride. He can dish it back too, noting her late father’s forethought in appointing her younger brother in the CEO position over her. I do enjoy how both secretaries snicker at their bosses’ insults.

Park Kwan-soo climbs into the same elevator as Je-ha whose eyes open wide in recognition. His mind flashes back to a memory of him dropping a gun and sobbing over a body. Is that… Rania?

Je-ha collects himself and spies a gun in an officer’s holster. He assesses the situation before knocking aside two bodyguards, grabbing the gun, and shooting a guard at point-blank range.

The camera spins as he pushes the officer away and kicks him down. He twirls the bodyguard around and shoots the cop, then the guard protecting Representative Park followed by another bodyguard behind him. He raises the gun to Park Kwan-soo’s quivering face.

 
COMMENTS

More life-threatening encounters, eh? As much as I enjoy getting wrapped up in seeing baddies trembling in the face of a barrel of a gun, I must admit that we haven’t traversed that much narrative ground in the past three episodes. Don’t get me wrong—the action sequences are fun to watch (even if the graphics in the elevator fight were a tad cheesy) and we’re learning more about Je-ha’s past than I would’ve anticipated.

It’s that there are times when the story would move just a tad quicker, especially since we’ve yet to be introduced to the code name in the show’s title. Honestly, it’s a minor complaint when I look at the show as a whole, though it’s hard to shake off the worry that there may not be enough plot to drive the story through sixteen episodes. Sure there’s plenty of action to keep our eyes occupied and for the show to live up to its bodyguard-action categorization, but we all know how strenuous and tiring those scenes must’ve been for our lead Ji Chang-wook.

You can attribute that worry to the writing and some similar brushstrokes between The K2 and Yong-pal. Namely we have another heroine locked away for the first few episodes, and we saw so little of Anna in this episode following her screams that ended the first week. Not only that, the imminent threat of the email wasn’t picked back up again until Je-ha’s conversation with Chief Joo, whose words placed more precedence on Je-ha’s residential status. If anything, I wish there would be a greater sense of urgency behind the threats made so that we can feel the tenseness during the full hour, and not just the buildup for the action sequences.

Still, the story is moving along because Je-ha has been extended an offer to join JSS. I appreciate that we did get a few flashbacks into Je-ha’s past that can explain his current jaded outlook on society and weariness. I frankly think it was silly that Chief Joo had to dig up confidential files in order to confirm that Je-ha suffers from PTSD because you would think he’d know that an active duty soldier would suffer from some kind of lasting psychological trauma after serving in a warzone. And while we might know just what was behind Je-ha and Chief Joo’s earlier fallout, it is interesting to know that Chief Joo harbors his own interests and plans for revenge. It’s rather naive of him to think that ambitious folk like Se-joon and Yoo-jin would reward his loyalty if for whatever reason that very loyalty got in the way of their goals, but it seems Chief Joo is determined to meet his own aims before that happens.

So Je-ha may not have anywhere or anyone to pledge fealty to, and would rather be a lone man on the run. But I’m sure it’d be nice if he could have a name he could claim as his own and have a place to call home.

 
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417 October 2, 2016October 23, 2016

The K2: Episode 4

by gummimochi

Things take a sharp turn this hour when Je-ha pushes the pause button on his past to embark upon a new chapter of his life as an elite bodyguard. While his fighting skills may be a cut above the rest, he’ll need to rely on an entirely different skillset to face the challenges headed his way. Getting accustomed to this shift in lifestyle may take some time for both him and for us, but if that means revealing an endearing emotional underbelly for our hero, then count me in for the ride.

EPISODE 4 RECAP

We pick right back up with the elevator fight where Je-ha takes down the bodyguards and points the gun at Representative Park… and snaps out of the fantasy. What the? It was all in his head?

In reality, Je-ha reaches for the gun, only to draw back from an oncoming panic attack. His breathing labored, he crumples and clutches his chest. The JSS bodyguard helps him off the elevator, and Representative Park sighs in concern before the doors close again.

Drawing in deep breaths, Je-ha asks who that man is.

We hear the answer once Je-ha is back in his hotel room: Park Kwan-soo is another presidential candidate whom everyone working for Yoo-jin believes was responsible for the attack against her and Je-ha.

Je-ha recalls how he had seen a glimpse of Representative Park making a deal back in when he was a soldier. Rania (previously written as “Nania”, my mistake!) had also been present, and he’d seen her being taken upon the politician’s leave.

A shot had rung out, and by the time he caught up to her, she was on the ground, dead. Both his past and present self pour out their grief with loud screams, and present Je-ha yells Park Kwan-soo’s name.

Some time later Je-ha assembles what looks like a makeshift remote-controlled motion sensored booby trap set to burst upon approach. He finds his opportunity the next time Representative Park gets his next shave and Je-ha slips the remote into the politician’s blazer in the dressing room.

He waits for Representative Park in the lobby, rising to watch the impending spectacle. But in that moment, a child runs ahead of Park and gets caught in the revolving doors… exactly where the device is installed. Uh oh.

Je-ha is stopped from getting any closer as the child bursts into tears. He sees the flashing light indicating that the device is seconds from explosion, which is when Representative Park is escorted through another exit, putting distance between him and the device, much to Je-ha’s relief.

He turns to leave, but the officer who stopped him flashes his badge at him. Je-ha hones in on the distinct burn mark on his wrist… the same one the blue-masked leader was wearing the night he’d caught Se-joon’s illicit affairs. Aha, so Park Kwan-soo had sent his men after his political rival.

But it seems the officer recognizes him from that night too as they both throw punches at one another. Je-ha flips him over in greeting and takes off up the escalator. He runs through the kitchens and runs through the building with Representative Park’s men hot on his tail.

He kicks a men down and pushes another into the horde before running off again. As a scanner picks up the remote on Representative Park’s person, Je-ha races to a rooftop where he’s prepared a harness. But there’s a surprise waiting for him below: Chief Joo.

Je-ha has already descended to the ground by the time Representative Park’s men reach the rooftop. He reluctantly gets into the car with Yoo-jin, and Chief Joo remarks that Je-ha’s booby trap plan wasn’t half-bad, save for the execution.

He thanks Yoo-jin for helping him escape, and when she asks about the email, he tells her that’s probably why she’s still safe and sound. Calling him by name, she asks him what exactly kills an enemy—the bullet or the gun used to shoot him? Or could it be the finger that pulls the trigger?

She’s aware that Je-ha is unable to pull the trigger thanks to his PTSD (and Je-ha sends Chief Joo a piercing death glare). He declines her offer of pulling the trigger for him, saying that he’ll do it himself. But she disagrees—today’s events prove that he can’t do it alone.

Park Kwan-soo is no easy target, and while she may not know why Je-ha is after him, but like the saying goes, an enemy’s enemy is her friend. If Je-ha accept JSS’s help, the organization will be his gun when the time calls for it.

“Become the bullet… and I’ll pull the trigger for you,” Yoo-jin states. She calls him a “friend”, citing that they met under the perfect circumstances.

Up in a remote estate, Anna’s personal bodyguard—the same one who brought her back to Korea—complains to the housekeeper about how this job of protecting her charge for two years in Barcelona and then here in Korea put her entire life and career on pause. She couldn’t care less whether Anna can hear her or not, and can’t wait until the presidential election is over in a year’s time. Er, how much time has passed, exactly?

Anna seethes in her room as she overhears her bodyguard scoff at the idea that the assemblyman will pay a visit to see his daughter. As long as Yoo-jin is in charge, no one will ever foot in this godforsaken house.

Anna hangs onto that last statement, convincing herself that Yoo-jin is the reason why her father cannot come to visit her.

After a long run, Je-ha enters the JSS headquarters and draws immediate attention. But first we meet two staff members: a doctor who removes Je-ha’s cast and a pun-loving martial arts master who scowls when she’s sweet to the handsome young’un.

He demands that Je-ha joins training with the other trainees starting today, and doesn’t even let him sit down before calling him to the mat. Introducing himself as master SONG YOUNG-CHOON (Song Kyung-chul), he explains how his name makes him the true successor of the Wing Chun (youngchoon) martial arts form.

Master Song invites Je-ha to come at him, and he gulps when Je-ha strikes and stops his hand an inch to his neck. He walks Je-ha through common martial arts decorum and assumes a fighting stance. Je-ha simply reciprocates the stance, so Master Song breaks to explain a teaching point, then tries to trip Je-ha up.

Unfortunately for him, Je-ha anticipates the oncoming attack, leaving Master Song to collapse on the mat. Master Song then tries flipping Je-ha over, only to praise him when he doesn’t budge.

Having had enough, Je-ha retaliates when Master Song tries attacking again and puts the man in a body lock. When Je-ha is called away, Master Song claims that Je-ha got off easy today. And then Je-ha doubles back to properly greet his master. Pfffft.

Chief Joo is pleased that Je-ha’s probationary period is over now that his cast his removed. Je-ha’s potential superior Team Leader Seo is against the idea of Je-ha joining his VIP team so soon, and once they’re alone does he remind his boss how Je-ha wiped the floor with the JSS agents during their last ambush.

Chief Joo launches into a metaphorical lecture, describing a hunter whose new hunting dog wasn’t welcomed by the pack. What should the hunter do? He should throw the newbie to the wolves, so to speak, and let the pack figure out their new pecking order. Time will tell whether the rookie will submit to the others or emerge as the new alpha.

We get a clear shot of Je-ha’s various tattoos while he’s in the shower (one says “Honor, Destiny, Glory”, another is of praying hands). A neighbor recognizes him from their last encounter, but he’s not the only one in those showers holding a grudge.

Je-ha ducks after he spies an oncoming attack from behind, then uses his towel to ward off the first few who charge at him. He takes a brief break to rinse off the shampoo, and then wraps the towel to grab a guy’s arm and flicks the towel at another.

He slips another agent before hitting his face with a bottle, then squirts the contents all over the wet floor. Placing his towel on the ground to stabilize himself, he waits for the agents to come at him and slip all over the floor while he casually tells them to be careful.

A few men push him into a bath, where Je-ha strikes one down, buries another agent’s face into the water and kicks away a third agent. He steals a towel out of another bodyguard’s hand to wrap around his own fist and start punching away. He kicks one last guard in the shin before flipping him into the bath too.

Chief Joo watches the video feed in amusement. Okay, the fact that you have security cameras in the baths and you’re watching this right now is super creepy.

Je-ha runs into Master Song when he exits the showers, though the latter is clearly still bitter at him. It’s only when Je-ha hears the man slip and fall does he finish the sentence, “It’s slippery.”

A research analyst pockets a tiny chip retrieved from the car wreckage. He doesn’t mention it to his boss. Interesting.

Je-ha is introduced to the entire VIP team, and now we finally hear his code name: K2. Team Leader Seo isn’t happy about the new addition either, but they’ve failed in protecting their client and they can now learn from this hard lesson. The researchers are hard at work creating a new security system and they’ll be changing up the assignments to prevent something like this from happening ever again.

Je-ha’s assignment is a night shift in Section C, which we learn is a task Team Leader Seo only gives to someone he hates. But this also means that Je-ha is tasked to act as Anna’s bodyguard.

That’s exciting news for Anna’s female bodyguard MI-RAN, who jumps to get ready. Having eavesdropped on the call, Anna wonders who Kim Je-ha might be.

In the car, Je-ha is curious about his new charge as well and learns that Anna is Se-joon’s daughter who has been kept away from the hidden eye. Her existence cannot be made known to anyone, least of all Representative Park.

Once they arrive at the estate, Je-ha is introduced to a dolled-up Mi-ran. Upstairs, Anna sneaks a peek at Je-ha and identifies him from their previous encounters.

Je-ha and Chief Joo sit down to learn everything about Anna’s severe panic disorder. The housekeeper (and Chief Joo’s sunbae) explains how the curtains remain closed because of Anna’s sensitivity to strong flashes of light. Things like sunlight or a camera flash can induce an episode of short-term memory loss, so Anna rarely ventures outside no matter the time of day.

Anna has a routine as well: She gets up at 9 PM and takes an hour-long shower, which is when they clean and search her room for prohibited items. She doesn’t like strangers thanks to her social phobia and prefers to be and eat alone, so the housekeeper and bodyguard stay out of her way unless they’re called.

Mi-ran claims that she always responds at a moment’s notice, though a flashback teaches us how untrue that statement is. Additionally, Anna tends to stay up at night watching TV, particularly the home shopping channel.

Chief Joo believes Je-ha has nothing to worry about during his night shift, but if anything should happen, he should immediately report it.

Je-ha is brought to the surveillance room where the bodyguard runs through the details of the night shift. Every corner of the house is monitored 24/7, save for the rooms and bathrooms, which for privacy reasons, have thermal cameras.

The bodyguard takes notice when Je-ha responds in banmal to this explanation, pulling rank over him as the sunbae. But Je-ha doesn’t blink an eye because he’s heard that the bodyguard used to be in the Special Forces too. And if we’re counting those years, Je-ha is technically his sunbae. Well now.

He has the bodyguard fix him a strong cup of coffee with two packets, and when the latter thinks the second packet is for him, Je-ha corrects him: “For me.”

While Chief Joo casually picks up the chip from the research analyst, Mi-ran puts on a show for the cameras. She figures that “Je-ha-sshi” can’t hear her anyway and notes how warm it still outside. Even with her back turned, the housekeeper can tell that Mi-ran undid another button.

Mi-ran believes that Je-ha is probably salivating while watching her on screen when in reality it’s the other bodyguard ogling her. Je-ha wakes up from his nap while Anna takes a peek to watch the women eat their ramyun together.

At a cultural diplomacy event, Yoo-jin observes her husband drinking with a group of beautiful women. She maintains her smile when Representative Park remarks on how popular Se-joon is with the ladies, replying that he should be when women make up half the voting population.

When Representative Park makes another barb about her own safety, Yoo-jin is armed with her own, particularly Representative Park’s recent close shave at his barber’s. He rests assured that he’ll find the culprit, which prompts Yoo-jin to cue the entrance of another staffer to bring the chip found in her car.

As it happens, Yoo-jin’s new staffer knows Representative Park’s secretary, who suddenly looks very uncomfortable. Did the secretary set aside some private business time with her employee? And to that, Yoo-jin comments how being beautiful isn’t a crime, but the problem lies with “serpent-like men”. Oooh, guess who won this round.

So Representative Park can’t help but laugh awkwardly when Yoo-jin delicately says that her staffer would love to clear her conscience. He calls for a ceasefire, which she graciously accepts.

It’s about 10:30 PM when we check in with Je-ha, who leisurely monitors the security cameras. He sees Anna stop outside the bathroom after washing up and head downstairs before stopping again. So he zooms in the camera just as Anna stares directly into the camera.

He’s legitimately spooked and talks to her image as if she’s in front of him. He watches with curiosity as Anna head to the kitchen and bypass the prepared food on the table to open the fridge instead.

His commentary continues as she closes the refrigerator door looking disheartened, and he tries to guess what she’s looking for. It’s almost as if Anna can hear him when he provides direction around the kitchen, but she finally beams when she finally finds what she’s looking for: ramyun.

Je-ha’s face breaks into an amused smile as Anna twirls around holding the packet of ramyun. Her euphoria in such simple pleasures captivate him, and he comments that the large pot she first takes is too big.

He watches how Anna contemplates her choice and exchanges it for an appropriate size. He talks to the screen while she fills the pot with water, stammering nervously when she fills it to the brim. Hee, can you always be this adorable?

He watches intently as Anna struggles with the gas knob, and he searches around to find out that the valve is turned off. He instructs her to look up and to her left, even gesturing as if that would help.

He grows adorably frustrated when Anna gives up, wondering why she can’t find the valve. Because she can’t see or hear you, buddy! He’s a bundle of nerves when Anna exits the kitchen and grabs another dish before heading upstairs.

He tries following her with the cameras, urging her not to give up: “Ra…myun…” But Anna enters her room, leaving Je-ha to get up from his chair and point to his screen, wondering aloud why she didn’t keep trying.

Exasperated, he asks, “How can a girl not know how to make one ramyun for herself?” Heh.

He contemplates whether or not he should make it for her before shaking off the thought.

When Yoo-jin and Se-joon leave the event, she advises her husband to take a different car since he’ll need to attend to other business. It would be rude of him to keep his ladyfriend waiting, wouldn’t it?

Se-joon says through gritted teeth that she needn’t be so considerate, but he takes Yoo-jin up on her offer anyway. She convinces him to greet the press before they go, and when the reporters ask for a doting pose, Se-joon lightly embraces his wife, then places an arm around her.

Thinking about the small affectionate gesture has Yoo-jin shed tears in the car, as she bites her lip to try and keep her emotions in check.

Je-ha checks in on Anna in her room before heading out to the balcony for a smoke. He looks up toward Anna’s window and smiles. Just as he’s about to light up, he spots a glint on the roof.

He strains his eyes to get a closer look at the moving light, and then he sees something much more distinctive: a shadow.

 
COMMENTS

Even if it’s unclear whether that shadow is friend or foe, I think it’s safe to say that Anna is in constant danger anywhere and everywhere—though the chances get exponentially higher whenever Je-ha’s around.

So before we get into the areas I loved about this episode, I have to say I’m still recovering from the tonal whiplash from the first half-hour. Nearly all the scenes that took place in the JSS building were a mind-boggling, confusing watch from the filler scenes focusing on peripheral characters introducing a brand of humor never before introduced in this show to an unexplained narrative jump between Yoo-jin’s offer-demand of Je-ha joining the JSS and then catching him on the tail-end of an unseen probationary period. What concerns me most isn’t the filler scenes themselves but rather the use and execution of them because their sudden insertion does little to erase the deep-seated fear for a well-rounded plot.

Not only that, but the depiction of JSS cuts down on Chief Joo’s claims in the previous episode that they’re an elite security service privy to the most secretive of secrets… which is guarded by perhaps the most un-elite of bodyguards. And while a part of me knew that JSS wouldn’t be portrayed as the best of the best, I wasn’t prepared for the organization to be painted as a potential butt of the joke either, especially when compared to Representative Park’s men. I have this unsettling feeling that we’ll be seeing more of people like Master Song and Mi-ran, whose scenes weren’t necessarily my cup of tea in terms of comedic relief.

Instead, I found myself giggling over Je-ha and his endearingly awkward side that contrasts with his super slick action moves. His stammers reminded me much of the bumbling character Park Bong-soo in Healer, a portrayal I very much enjoyed at the time. His first night on the job watching Anna was the strongest part of this hour, and the emotional buildup made for a thoughtful execution for both of these characters who had previously met under stressful circumstances. I did love how the passing mention of ramyun segued into a beautiful euphoric moment for Anna to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. Even if Je-ha didn’t speak to her in person, I adored how he tried to point her in the right direction, even getting frustrated when she would give up.

And for Anna, I would hope that her late-night craving for ramyun also speaks to an inner yearning for social contact. Although her social phobia, panic disorder, and a desire to be loved by Dad currently stand as huge emotional and psychological obstacles, she still pokes her head out to see what’s going on around her… and tried to escape the monastery in Spain numerous times. I can only imagine that her bodyguard Mi-ran was busy lounging around to keep tabs on her. And somehow she’s still on the job?

Lastly, I didn’t anticipate to enjoy the heated exchanges between Yoo-jin and Representative Park as much as I do. The thinly-veiled insults they send to one another makes for an engaging watch, especially when both characters work hard to keep up a polished public image. I appreciate how a few plot points did come full circle in this episode with the reveal that Park Kwan-soo is trying to tarnish Se-joon’s candidacy. What he was doing at the Iraqi desert is still shrouded in mystery, but I rest assured that Kim Gab-soo will pull off an impressive performance as the enemy’s enemy.

So while some of the narrative traffic signs point to a potentially dangerous curve up ahead, I’m looking forward to watching more of the characters who count. Just like those cameras, I’ve got my eye on you, The K2.

 
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271 October 8, 2016October 23, 2016

The K2: Episode 5

by gummimochi

Ruling the political sphere takes an iron fist, but when all the world is made of trust funds and unfaithful relationships, Yoo-jin begins to realize just how fragile her life could be. As her enemies encroach on her lifelong goals, protecting what’s hers will only become more important to secure her future. And while gaining someone’s trust is never easy, she at least has one bodyguard she can depend on, even if his presence makes her both safe and scared for what may come next.

EPISODE 5 RECAP

Upon noticing a shadow on the rooftop, Je-ha tries calling Mi-ran. There’s no answer, so he hops across and peers over the roof… to see Anna nibbling on uncooked ramyun. She isn’t alone either, as the kitten eating by her feet paws at her for more food.

But Anna denies the petite feline of the noodles, replying that it’s too dry—the same words Je-ha told his stray kitten in Episode 1. She eventually gives in and offers up some chewed-up noodles, to the kitten’s delight.

Je-ha watches on with a warm smile as Anna sends the kitten off to its mother. But then Anna immediately breaks down sobbing, recalling her mother’s final moments, and Je-ha sits and waits where he is.

He follows Anna back inside as the latter checks the camera before collecting the thermal blanket acting as a heat mass. She carefully slips back into bed, leaving Je-ha struggling to crawl into the attic.

He first checks on Anna, and upon seeing the thermal blanket, he quietly chuckles at the brilliantly simple switcharoo tactic. Among the piles of books in the room, he picks up an old photo of a young Anna in happier times with both of her parents.

The following morning, Mi-ran kicks herself when she realizes that she’s missed Je-ha’s call last night. She wonders what hurry he could’ve been in on his very first night, then rushes into the kitchen to fix him a homemade meal.

Unfortunately for her, Je-ha is long gone when she drops by the security room all dolled up. Which means she has to watch the other bodyguard (the Special Forces hoobae) K1 wolf down that food instead.

Mi-ran worries that Je-ha will be tired after his night shift, which prompts K1 to ask if she’s still feeling hot from last night because he saw her on the computer monitors. Oh no, dude—that makes you sound like a perv.

And that’s exactly how Mi-ran takes it, reeling in disgust before storming out.

Following a post-soccer game lunch, Representative Park sends each assemblyman off with a box of vitamins which are filled with wads of cash. His secretary informs him about the recent death of Yoo-jin’s aunt, Choi Sun-ja, whose husband runs an international finance conglomerate.

Representative Park believes attending the funeral will be a wonderful opportunity, and his departure is witnessed by Je-ha, who watches from above.

As Secretary Kim does Yoo-jin’s makeup for the funeral, the latter wonders if her aunt’s death sets a precedent for those who die childless. Despite her great wealth, her aunt died alone in a sanatorium, and Yoo-jin claims she only looked after the old woman in her final years in order to acquire her JB Group shares.

Secretary Kim disagrees, believing that both Yoo-jin and her aunt cared for one another. Yoo-jin sees their relationship as a “misery loves company” situation, chuckling to herself that she has no niece of her own. Her deceased aunt will look so pale today, she notes, though that will be of use to Yoo-jin today.

Je-ha is pulled back onto the road by Chief Joo when he arrives at the office. In the car, Chief Joo remarks how Je-ha’s revenge against Representative Park will be a slow play. Right now, they’re headed to pay their respects to their employer and the death in her family.

All the JSS agents are barred entry per the family’s request, though Representative Park drives on in. Yoo-jin and Se-joon are on their way as well, as the latter comments on how happy she must be to acquire her late aunt’s shares.

Yoo-jin isn’t so sure since her aunt leaves behind a husband and son whom she knows won’t easily hand over that stock. It doesn’t matter to her if that son isn’t related to her aunt by blood, since she thinks all sons tend to be pathetic. Oof, burn.

Chief Joo fills them in once they arrive and expresses his concern that the stringent security doesn’t allow the JSS to protect them during the funeral. Yoo-jin doubts that anyone would dare to attack them while Se-joon is with her, but since she is allowed two employees, Chief Joo sends in Je-ha and Team Leader Seo.

After Yoo-jin and her husband pay their respects, Je-ha grabs a moment with Yoo-jin alone to slip an item into her purse. He instructs her to press it once if she thinks something is off so he can listen in, twice if she’s in danger. When she asks, “And if I press it?” Je-ha replies “Who knows?”

We learn that the aforementioned item is a specialized pen with a limited range in reach. Inside, Yoo-jin sits in a locked room with the bereaved family along with her half-brother Sung-won, his mother, and his father-in-law. The attorney presents a briefcase containing Choi Sun-ja’s will, though confesses that someone present here has the key.

Everyone in the room turns to Yoo-jin, who realizes that the entire family was aware the key was in her possession. While the attorney reads the will aloud, Yoo-jin takes out the pen Je-ha had given her.

After the attorney is sent away, Yoo-jin presses the button once so Je-ha can listen in. It turns out Choi Sun-ja left her entire fortune to Yoo-jin’s non-profit organization, and Sung-won’s mother remarks how Yoo-jin can’t have everything, notably the presidency and JB Group.

It’s an open secret that Yoo-jin is using the JSS to monitor JB Group, though Sung-won jumps to his noona’s defense saying that she’s just looking out for him.

But we know that Sung-won would want those funds to circle back to the troubled JB Group, and his father-in-law is prepared to see that happen. How about Yoo-jin sell both the JB Group stock she’ll acquire from her aunt and the shares her scholarship foundation already holds to him? If she does, he’ll give those shares to his son-in-law.

He’s offering double the stock’s current value, believing that should be more than enough to pave the way into the Blue House.

Yoo-jin can hardly believe her ears as Sung-won’s father-in-law ups his offer to triple the stock’s worth. Se-joon thinks it’s a good offer, but it takes all of Yoo-jin’s willpower to reply in a level voice that she has no right in selling off a non-profit organization’s shares.

Her smile drops as she’s threatened how her scholarship foundation will soon call for an urgent board of directors meeting where they will appoint a new CEO. Yoo-jin angrily rises from her seat, accidentally sending the pen into Sung-won’s hand.

Sung-won clicks the button, which cuts off the feed to Je-ha’s radio. Back inside, Yoo-jin says any decisions made during a board of directors meeting without the CEO present is null and void. To that, Sung-won’s father-in-law replies that they plan on dismissing her from her position first, then seek to reinstate her after they sell the JB Group shares tucked within the scholarship foundation.

Furthermore, Sung-won’s father-in-law will financially support Se-joon’s presidential campaign. Yoo-jin grabs her phone, only to be told it wouldn’t work in this room. As the situation sinks in around her, Yoo-jin bursts laughing, dumbfounded by the absurd trap she’s stepped into.

She declares that her father worked to the bone to build up what JB Group is today, and outright argues against Sung-won’s mother whom she feels is no better than a former secretary her father took in as his mistress.

Outside, Je-ha worries that something might be going awry, though Team Leader Seo believes it’s your run-of-the-mill chaebols fighting over an inheritance. But Je-ha can tell that Yoo-jin is too proud to let her ambitions be bought, so he climbs out of the car with an umbrella in hand. Tell me he’s about to stir some shit up in here.

While Je-ha pretends to be on his phone while assessing the security detail outside the locked room, Yoo-jin is hit with more pointed barbs: “Do you know why your father didn’t choose you as his successor?”

“Because you’re a woman?” Sung-won’s mother continues. “No… because he didn’t love you.” She claims her father found out just how horrible a person Yoo-jin actually is, and knew what would happen to the company and Sung-won if he’d left JB Group in her hands.

Her father knew that Yoo-jin was trying to instate her husband as the President so that she could eventually have JB Group for herself. Sung-won’s mother can own up to her identity as a mistress, but that’s nowhere near as awful a person Yoo-jin has become. “Are you even happy?” she asks.

Sung-won finally intervenes, but the emotional spikes have already lodged into Yoo-jin, who fights to hold back angry tears.

Je-ha walks back to the hallway looking like a man on a mission. So when he’s stopped by the first bodyguard, he responds with a hard punch. He uses the umbrella to bring the next guard to his knees and sends him to the floor with a kick to the end.

He moves on by kicking down two more guards before plunging the pointy end of the umbrella into another bodyguard’s sternum. He whacks down another, then uses the umbrella to strangle a guard and then put him down with a few punches.

Lastly when Je-ha is kicked away, he responds with a final flip, dusts himself off, and picks up the umbrella.

Next thing we know, the fire alarm is going off, thanks to a bin on fire. The automatic sprinklers turn off before the guards can unlock the doors, though when they do, Je-ha is waiting with the umbrella. Aha, how convenient.

Everyone but Yoo-jin and Je-ha rush out of the building, and Je-ha opens the umbrella over her head. She looks up at him with wide eyes as he tells her that he’s called off the board of directors meeting. His lip curls up slightly as he tells her that they should get going, and Yoo-jin returns the smile.

He hands her a handkerchief, a thoughtful gesture that isn’t lost on her. With that, they step out together, and Yoo-jin thinks to herself how Je-ha had come to her aid even though she didn’t press the button twice.

“He knew that I needed him anyway,” Yoo-jin says to herself. “No one has ever made a move without my command before. But he… didn’t need an order from me nor my permission. That’s right, he wasn’t a hunting dog. He was a wolf. How dangerous. I’m sure I won’t be able to tame him.”

She stops abruptly when Je-ha places a hand at the small of her back. He tells her to straighten her posture and keep her chin up because her enemies are still watching her.

Yoo-jin walks past the family with her head held high, and her uncle finally speaks by calling off his security guards so she can pass. Se-joon makes some belated complaints, but Yoo-jin will have none of it today, telling him to take a separate car and make nice with Sung-won’s father-in-law.

Not too far away, Representative Park tsks over how some people are too greedy for their own good.

Yoo-jin sheds silent tears in the car before gruffly telling Je-ha to never act without orders again. He gives an apathetic yes, and they head back to the JSS headquarters.

Upon her arrival, the head of JSS proudly explains how he put an end to the board of directors meeting. He leans back when she draws near, and she gives him an uncharacteristically enthusiastic compliment. She’s here to check in on Cloud Nine, a secret Je-ha isn’t privy to.

Master Song walks out of the doctor’s office looking resigned after having to listen to the blow-by-blow account of Je-ha’s fight and rescue earlier today. He takes Je-ha out for a meal, feeding him handmade wraps.

The JSS doctor who couldn’t stop gabbing about Je-ha earlier is Doctor KIM MI-KYUNG, who counts down the last seconds of her shift. As soon as the cllock strikes six, she heads downstairs just in time to witness Master Song and Je-ha awkwardly act out a fake argument. Ha, is this an effort to try and impress the doc?

Je-ha worries how flat the floor is before Master Song flips him over. But then Doctor Kim rushes over to Je-ha’s rescue, hitting Master Song repeatedly with her purse. Although Je-ha is perfectly fine, Master Song gasps at the bloody tear on his bald head.

Turns out Doctor Kim’s purse is full of self-defense metallic objects, and she berates them both for putting on the act. When Je-ha stammers that he was just trying to be Cupid’s helper, she says a woman doesn’t fall for a man just because he’s a good fighter.

She softens when Master Song apologizes to her and Je-ha, and then runs after him, leaving Je-ha utterly bewildered. Ha. Next thing we know, Je-ha is celebrating with Master Song for successfully winning over the doctor. He jokes that the martial arts master owes him another round of meat, and smiles at the man’s concern for Doctor Kim.

When Anna emerges from her room to take a shower that night, Mi-ran and the housekeeper sneak into her room for their daily inspection. They don’t think much of the thermal blanket, and the housekeeper is concerned about how Anna hasn’t been eating much lately.

She sets a spread for Anna as usual, and a moment later, we see Je-ha entering the dining room and rolling up his sleeves. Are you going to make ramyun for her?

He runs back to the security room in time to watch Anna head downstairs. He waits with excitement as she makes her way to the dining room… and he proudly tells the monitors: “Ta-da!”

Sure enough, there’s a pot of boiling water on the stove, and both of them pump their fists. Je-ha kicks his feet up and watches with pride as Anna happily cooks her own ramyun. Both of their feet tap with giddy excitement.

And then, Anna suddenly stops dancing and looks up toward the security camera. She grabs a chair and climbs up on the counter and peers into the camera before covering it with a tissue.

Alarmed, Je-ha switches over to a different camera and spots her from a different angle. He jumps up excitedly as Anna continues cooking and starts dancing as if no one is watching. Her reaction has Je-ha utterly ecstatic and he’s beyond proud of himself for making Anna smile.

He keeps watching as Anna prays over her meal before joyfully digging in. His smile stays on his face as Anna bounces in her chair. He’s still in a good mood when he takes a smoke break—that is, until Mi-ran comes running in her not-so-athletic skirt and heels.

What follows is an awkward conversation with Mi-ran apologizing for not picking up his call last night. She lies that she was torn, and she blushes when Je-ha sighs that his number should’ve been a priority.

She takes every opportunity to cop a feel, and shares how it was so hard watching over Anna in Barcelona, especially when the girl was pining over her dad. That’s why Anna took every opportunity to escape and go find her father, which reminds Je-ha of his first encounter with Anna in Spain.

He smoothly slides away from Mi-ran when she shuffles toward him, asking why Anna’s father hasn’t come to see her then. She believes Anna’s father had no interest in seeing his daughter, especially since her relayed requests went unanswered time and time again.

She thought there might’ve been a slim opportunity when Se-joon had a business trip in Madrid, but he didn’t come see Anna then either. Anna ran away that time too, and her team had the unpleasant task of collecting her.

Je-ha comments on how sad that is, and Mi-ran misunderstands his words, thinking that he’s showing her sympathy. A moment later, Mi-ran takes a call and tells Je-ha that he’s off-duty tonight.

That’s followed by a call from Chief Joo, and Mi-ran gasps when she learns that Je-ha has been called to the ninth floor of the JSS headquarters. “You’ve been summoned to Cloud Nine!” she exclaims.

He has no idea where her astonishment is coming from, and when he climbs into the front of the car that picks him up, the bodyguard instructs him to sit in the backseat. But Je-ha insists on staying put, and he is suddenly met with respect by the other JSS agents.

He climbs into the elevator and presses the button for the ninth floor. He presses it again when the number indicating the floor doesn’t change, then the speakers asks him for an access card.

So he places his ID badge over the sensor which now grants him access. His eyes grow wide as the numbers tick upwards but the elevator descends underground and the doors open to an empty hallway.

 
COMMENTS

No matter how stellar the newest recruit may be, I think we can all agree that letting him in on the company secrets on the second day of the job probably isn’t the wisest decision. So while I’m torn over how his access to the secretive project keeps the plot moving and yet no rookie would ever be allowed to see behind the veil even on his best day, I’m willing to accept that in this world, Je-ha is being rewarded for going above and beyond in protecting Yoo-jin.

And despite Mi-ran’s excitement, we don’t know what Cloud Nine actually entails. At the very least, I’ll be happy if his entry comes with an increased emphasis on more serious narrative territory since I didn’t care too much for the comedic antics in the JSS headquarters. It’s hard to say whether joining this project will put Je-ha further from his personal revenge or get him a step closer to it, though Chief Joo’s remark that revenge is a slow burn makes me think we won’t revisit that plot point right away.

I’m more than willing to wait as long as the writing doesn’t spend too much time away from Je-ha’s personal aims and goals, or drama gods forbid, drop it altogether. If there’s anything these cliffhangers have taught me thus far is that they can build suspense, only to cut it down moments later. Even with the odd choices in writing so far, I still enjoy watching some of the minute details weave themselves back into the story, such as Se-joon’s previous lover as Yoo-jin’s new staffer (thanks to everyone who pointed that out!) as well as Anna’s claims about her father being in Madrid were in fact backed up with the truth.

That brings us to Yoo-jin, who continues to be a wonderfully compelling villain. Everything about her aunt’s death and inheritance made for an amazing watch—her inner fear that her aunt’s passing may say something about her own future or how her half-brother’s father-in-law threatened to cut her down in one fell swoop. Having her ambition exposed by the people she despises the most left her incredibly vulnerable, and we could see the mix of emotions washing over her as her tactics were spelled out before her.

And that makes her growing to Je-ha that much more important. Even in these handful of episodes, Yoo-jin and Je-ha have moved leagues beyond their initial stand-off at the estate. Her opinion of him began to change once he saved her from the burning car, and now Je-ha has given her another reason to ponder who he is to her. I loved her inner monologue of how he simply knew he needed to come to her aid and yet recognizes that the young buck will likely never be tamed.

She likely has no idea that Je-ha has now become Anna’s personal cheerleader at home, helping her cook ramyun and watching her from his monitor. Speaking of whom, we haven’t made much headway with Anna either, aside from learning that she continues to escape for a literal breath of fresh air. She may have won part of Je-ha’s heart, but I think we all know who has really won over ours: the hungry hungry kittens.

 
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338 October 9, 2016October 23, 2016

The K2: Episode 6

by gummimochi

New dangers are in store for Je-ha, and they’ll require the use of his heart rather than his gun. Reopening deep emotional wounds can often be an unpleasant task, but if that’s the cost of getting one step closer to the bottom of the truth, then our bodyguard is more than willing to pay that price.

EPISODE 6 RECAP

Following a lengthy series recap, we pick back up at the sub-basement where Je-ha steps into an empty corridor that leads him to a glass door that requires a two-step identification verification for entry.

Behind that door houses an expansive glass conference room, where Yoo-jin, Secretary Kim, the head of JSS, and Chief Joo are reviewing the profiles of the scholarship foundation’s board of directors who had sought after her dismissal.

Je-ha takes a seat as we zoom in on the ongoing conversation inside. Yoo-jin plans for a long, grueling legal case against one director and putting him on a recruiter’s blacklist. There’s video proof of another director getting it on with another woman, which Yoo-jin says they can expose to the world and have someone make sexual assault claims against him.

But then on second thought, Yoo-jin decides that the director’s children should see that video first. Everyone else is taken aback by those words, and she finishes Chief Joo’s sentence about the children’s reaction to seeing a sexual video of their father: “Wouldn’t they want to commit suicide?”

Or maybe not, with this video alone, she concludes. But the topic of death has been lingering in her mind—when she was faced with the rest of the family at the funeral, she had thought to herself what method of death would bring the least amount of pain?

Seeing Je-ha waiting patiently outside, her face splits into a faint smile before composing herself once more.

Anna overhears Mi-ran and gossiping about Je-ha being part of Cloud Nine downstairs. Mi-ran’s world comes crashing down when she realizes that means there’s no one on night duty tonight, and Anna looks up to the cameras.

Je-ha steps inside the glass-encased conference room once the others leave. He admits he’s impressed by this structure Yoo-jin probably spent a pretty penny to have built. Not only are they several stories underground, but it’s also soundproof, making it ideal in keeping out potential eavesdroppers.

He gets right to the point—why did she call him here? She wants to hear every bit of his life story because not everyone runs into a den of enemies with an umbrella and handkerchief these days. She’s curious about the man behind those actions, and when Je-ha asks what she really wants to hear, she raises her eyebrows in surprise. “But it’s true,” she thinks to herself.

Since she’s heard about his army days, Yoo-jin says she’d like to learn more about his time in Iraq. She tells him: “Soon we’ll begin the hunt on Park Kwan-soo. Is that enough of a reason for you?”

His eyes flicker, attentive now, as she reminds him that no one will know what they share here thanks to these soundproof walls. He asks who’s listening in on the mics in this room then, and Yoo-jin identifies the computerized voice as her Magic Mirror, like the one in Snow White.

He scoffs at that, so to prove it, Yoo-jin chants, “Mirror, mirror, who in this land is fairest of all?” Her computerized magic mirror voice answers, “Snow White.”

While Anna picks up on a news story about her father visiting a church tomorrow, Yoo-jin shares how her Magic Mirror is smarter than the other artificial intelligence systems available today.

This room acts like the brain of JSS, a hub that stores all the secrets of the world. Her Magic Mirror is a highly-advanced software whose function is to comb through all that information and give her the most accurate answers to her questions. So if Je-ha shares his story, Magic Mirror will satiate his curiosity.

“Why do you think there would be things I’m curious about?” Je-ha posits in return. Yoo-jin replies that he wouldn’t have joined the JSS if he weren’t curious. She knows he doesn’t have a comeback for that, and tells him that she’s the only one who can access the encrypted data because Magic Mirror only responds to her voice commands.

Anna sneaks downstairs into Mi-ran’s room, rummaging through her drawers for her JSS ID badge. She takes a few more items, then discovers a stash of syringes.

We cut back to the glass house where Yoo-jin asks what happened to him and why he’s after Representative Park. Je-ha sits down and breathes deeply before starting his story about Rania.

We’re taken back to the day of Representative Park’s visit to the Blackstone campsite when Je-ha had seen the secret deal go down. He had tried to grab her attention for a few moments before settling in for a nap in his car.

Representative Park had given another mercenary a nod before climbing into his car, and Je-ha had witnessed Rania being taken. We know how this story goes—a gunshot followed by him seeing her body on the ground.

But we learn something new now: someone knocks him out with a punch, and Je-ha found a gun in his hand when he’d come to. He’d thrown it aside to stagger toward Rania’s body, and was still wailing when he’d been apprehended.

He’d essentially been framed for Rania’s murder and managed to escape a week later. Representative Park had been long gone by then, and the private military company had already moved their campsite. So he traveled with a group of Syrian refugees and eventually made it to Europe.

“That’s the reason why I must kill Park Kwan-soo,” he states, his bottom lip quivering. Yoo-jin considers that a good enough reason, so she instructs her computer to answer all of Je-ha’s questions.

Per Je-ha’s request, Magic Mirror brings up Representative Park’s activities on September 15, 2015. But when he asks to learn why the politician was at the Blackstone campsite that afternoon at 15:30, the computer is unable to identify why.

Yoo-jin instructs her computer to widen its search parameters, and now Magic Mirror states there was a 53.3 percent chance the politician was in a secret meeting. When Je-ha asks with whom Representative Park was speaking with, the computer asks for a location.

He gives it, and the computer generates four names: Representative Park, Rania, an unidentified Blackstone agent, and the leader of the Kumar group Abdul Omar. He asks for the reason for their meeting, only for the computer to state that the reason is unknown.

So Je-ha asks why Representative Park had Rania killed, to which Magic Mirror says there is a 68 percent chance it was because she knew information that couldn’t be leaked. Je-ha slams his fist on the table upon seeing the results, and asks to find out what the men discussed.

But that information can’t be traced either, and Yoo-jin says it’s pointless to inquire more deeply when the data isn’t there. Then Magic Mirror states that Abdul Omar escaped the CIA’s grasp two weeks following that meeting and assembled a new military group.

Yoo-jin wonders if that means Representative Park has been supplying arms to Abdul Omar’s men.

Meanwhile, Anna sneaks outside dressed in Mi-ran’s suit after slipping some of the contents of the syringe into her mug. She jumps when the security car outside flashes its headlights, and she uses her earpiece to communicate that she’s out for an errand.

Anna climbs into a taxi by early morning and sticks her head out the window to feel the breeze. She puts on her sunglasses to protect her sensitive eyes.

Yoo-jin surmises that Je-ha must’ve loved Rania, but he isn’t sure whether he found love during the most miserable days of his life or what he felt was useless compassion. “Useless?” Yoo-jin repeats, and Je-ha explains that he was the one who introduced Rania to the Blackstone mercenaries.

Je-ha gets up to leave, but he refuses the offer to stay in the JSS residences just because he’s part of Cloud Nine now. But Yoo-jin emphasizes that she protects her inner circle including their families.

He says that sounds an awful lot like calling him her slave, and Yoo-jin says she’s never betrayed anyone who hasn’t ever betrayed her. To that, Je-ha bites back: “There’s no such thing as a master who does not betray his slave.”

He turns to leave, but then looks back at her: “There are people who don’t betray their friends, though. Isn’t that right… friend?”

Anna gets off at her old neighborhood and stands outside her childhood home. She thinks back to happier times with her mother when they would cook outside and dance together, a memory that brings tears to her eyes.

We briefly check in on Je-ha’s ride back from the JSS headquarters, where the bodyguard who drove him there believes that Je-ha had failed to be included in the elusive Cloud Nine.

Anna imagines more happier memories with Mom while she roams the streets. Seeing an old photo of her and her mother on display outside a local photo studio, she inquires about it with the owner who needs a little push to remember her.

The owner remembers Mom with fondness, sharing how the movie star once came in with Anna to have her passport photo taken before she left for the States. Evidently Mom had also wanted a family portrait as well, so the photo on display was of her, Anna, and a family friend.

He shows Anna how he folded the photo so that the third subject wouldn’t appear in the frame. Seeing the photo now, Anna remembers that there was a family friend.

So when Je-ha returns to the house to find Mi-ran asleep and Anna gone, Chief Joo calls his superior to suggest that that they search for Anna without letting Yoo-jin know. He berates Mi-ran for her ineptitude and breathes a sigh of relief when she gets transaction updates on her phone because Anna is using her credit card.

Anna takes another taxi to pay a visit to that family friend who resides at a sanatorium. She finds the woman lying in her bed, barely lucid. She calls Anna by her mother’s name Hye-rin, and asks for food.

Anna bends down again and identifies herself. This time the woman repeats her name correctly, then rises from her bed in alarm, calling Anna by her mother’s name again. “Hurry and run away! Go to America with Anna!”

“Choi Yoo-jin has found out everything! Run away!” the woman cries. “That person will kill you and Anna! You must hurry!” Anna is taken aback by the woman, but now she has confirmation that Yoo-jin wanted her and her mother dead. She tries prying for more information, but the woman has slipped back to her babblings.

Thanks to her stolen earpiece, Anna finds out that the JSS agents have arrived at the sanatorium. Mi-ran checks the patient’s room but Anna is nowhere to be found. Je-ha isn’t surprised that the news of Anna’s disappearance has reached Se-joon’s ears when he calls Chief Joo, though Se-joon has instructed that Anna doesn’t show up at his scheduled church appearance today.

Just then, someone walks out the door behind them—it’s Anna, disguised as a nun and telling herself that her father is under Yoo-jin’s influence.

Yoo-jin and Se-joon look like saints when they help an elderly woman up the hill to the church. Conversely, Representative Park’s car obnoxiously honks its horn to make way, much to the attendees’ chagrin.

Se-joon and Yoo-jin help the elderly woman to the pew, then nervously look around hoping that Anna isn’t around. Representative Park loudly insists that they join him in the front pew, and sees the couple modestly accept seats next to the old woman.

Once Mass begins, Anna enters the church with a group of nuns. She sees her father in the pews and utters, “Dad.” Se-joon narrows his eyes to get a closer look, then looks away.

Anna sees her father quietly grab Yoo-jin’s attention, and Yoo-jin turns from surprise to bewilderment once she sees Anna. She texts a clue to Chief Joo, who then relays the intel to the rest of the team.

The priest stops the JSS agents from interrupting the service to apprehend Anna. She remains standing even after the song ends, her tear-filled eyes fixed on her father. Je-ha internally tells Anna not to expose herself and calls off the order to move in.

The priest says there’s another song, and Anna opens her mouth to sing “Amazing Grace.” Her angelic voice carries throughout the chapel, and the other nuns join in on the next verse.

Tears roll down Anna’s cheeks and drop from nearly every eye of the attendees, including angry ones from Yoo-jin. Once the song is over, Je-ha takes a few steps toward her and stops, trying to communicate to her with his eyes: “Don’t do it, Anna-yah. You can’t.”

Anna stands for a few more moments then walks off to the side. She turns to get one last glimpse of her father and Yoo-jin’s scowl. Je-ha tries catching up to the nuns to find Anna, but she’s already gone.

One nun hands him a note, though, and he delivers that to Se-joon. In it, Anna writes that she must’ve lost her way. She asks that her father come and get her: “You know where that is, don’t you?”

Se-joon is well aware that everything will come crashing down if Anna’s identity is exposed to the world now. What he wants to know is how Anna was treated that she would resort to such extreme measures, but Yoo-jin will have none of it today and tells him to figure out the location in Anna’s note.

When he says he doesn’t know, which Yoo-jin finds hard to believe. Even she’s saddened by how Anna is convinced that a father like him would come and find her. She instructs Chief Joo to leave, and now that they’re alone, she reminds him of the last breakfast she ever made for him fourteen years ago.

She wouldn’t have despised Se-joon as much as she does now if he had just left her that day. That was the day the news of Anna’s mother’s supposed suicide hit the front page, and Se-joon had dropped a cup in shock.

Before he could storm out, Yoo-jin had threatened him that Anna would die if he left now. Back in the present, Se-joon asks, “Should I have left Anna to die in your hands then?”

“You murderer,” he sighs. Yoo-jin had shared a similar thought—that Se-joon was trying to protect Anna from her, but now they both know the real reason why Anna was kept hidden from the world: “You were afraid that Anna would be an obstacle to your ambition!”

Whereas the JSS is nowhere near cracking Anna’s code, we see Anna sitting alone on a park bench. She remembers the day she went to the amusement park with her parents, who did their best to make sure she had a good time.

When the speakers made an announcement about a missing child, Se-joon had asked young Anna what to do if she ever lost her way. He was impressed when she chirped that she’d take a taxi, then asked what she’d do if she were abroad.

“I’d have to hurry and find you,” she’d answered. Se-joon had bent down to meet her eye level and explained how it’d be impossible for him to find her if she kept running around. Instead, she should stay put at the exact location where they lost one another.

“No matter how scared you get, you must endure and wait,” he’d instructed. “Then I’ll come find you where you are.” Young Anna had told him that he had to promise to come and get her.

So that park bench must be where Anna and her father had lost one another. A pair of girls stop to take a selca, unaware that Anna is in the background.

But that photo pops up on the JSS’ systems, and the agents are sent to her location. In the car, Je-ha asks Team Leader Seo for a favor.

Anna prays in earnest, and when she opens her eyes, she sees her father walking towards her with a big smile and an ice cream in each hand. She smiles, and the camera pans behind her to reveal that it’s actually Je-ha.

She looks crestfallen, and Je-ha tells her that her father was busy, so he sent him. He takes a seat next to her and says she put up a strong front back at the church. But she’s still fixated on her father’s reaction to her sudden appearance. Was he mad?

Je-ha says somewhat unconvincingly that her father was worried about her, and offers up the ice cream, telling her that her father wanted her to have it. She accepts it, since it’s from Dad after all.

While Team Leader Seo and the other JSS keep watch from a distance, Anna shares how this park used to be an amusement park called Dreamland. She describes that it was also her own sort of “dream world”, a phrase she says in Spanish.

She was so happy that she got to spend time with her father back then, because that gave her something to brag about. He empathizes with the joyful childhood memory, but her breathing becomes increasingly shallow as she says she couldn’t brag because no one was supposed to find out who her father was.

She struggles to breathe as she shares how her mother told her that her father was a powerful man, and bad people will come and harass him if they ever found out about them. She didn’t know what that meant at a young age, and she gasps to say the next few words: “But I was afraid… of the bad people… harassing my father… so I think I held it in.”

She’s gasping now, and Je-ha places a hand on her arm, asking if she’s okay. She utters in Spanish: “Wishful thinking.” Fighting for breath now, Anna says she realized that she was that very bad person all along.

With that, Anna faints in his arms. Je-ha calls for an ambulance while Chief Joo learns that Anna has a severe strawberry allergy.

Je-ha reports that Anna has a faint pulse, and he’s instructed to make sure that Anna keeps breathing. So he starts mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and screams at her to wake up. She opens her eyes for a brief moment before slipping into unconsciousness once more.

 
COMMENTS

As much as I’d been looking forward to Anna’s re-emergence into the world, I have to say watching her behaviors and actions in this episode was disorienting. Gone is the girl holed up in her room and avoiding strangers, because now she’s been replaced by a girl able to both initiate conversations with strangers and is surprisingly okay with personal space.

Sure Je-ha isn’t exactly a stranger to Anna, but their interactions have been limited and short in duration so far, save for the two nights he was on night duty. But it’s strange to watch Anna act as if her social phobia was a thing of the past now that she’s thrust into the real world. What’s even more astounding is that she can even correct people and clarify what she actually means, which begs the question—if she’s been kept hidden for so long, where did she learn these communication skills from?

Her proactive decision to sneak out and find her father is less surprising, since we’ve been told that was her primary reason for escape. Once she learned that her father was in Madrid, she ran out of the monastery with purpose, even if it meant running barefoot. We saw some progression when she had cleverly used a thermal blanket as a cover, but that simple trick suddenly evolved into a much more complex level of foresight in her latest escape and a master of disguise. So while I’m glad that we are seeing Anna has a sense of agency when there is a motivation, the leap was so great that I’m not sure what the requirements are for Anna to have a sense of agency—access to resources? A familiar environment? Superpowered ramyun?

Or perhaps it’s because the writing would like to push the reminder that this story contains some fairytale influences from Snow White. Yoo-jin would be the evil stepmother seeking to rule a kingdom while trying to do away with the fairest in all the land, Anna. And who should she send but her own huntsman Je-ha. If we’re following the fairytale now, many of us will know that the Huntsman shows compassion to Snow White, which is similar to how Je-ha sees Anna at present.

Even though Je-ha had lied about acting under her worried father’s commands, I still found it a bit strange how she opened up to him so quickly. It seems that night in Spain when he left her to her captors is a long lost memory in Anna’s mind because there isn’t an ounce of resentment in her voice when she’s speaking to him. Bringing it up now makes it seem like I’m the one holding a personal grudge in her stead, but surely that moment of abandonment in her greatest time of need would bring with it some relational consequences?

Speaking of relationships, I thoroughly enjoy watching Je-ha and Yoo-jin electrifying interactions onscreen. Not only is Yoo-jin genuinely interested in Je-ha’s backstory, she also knows she has something to gain (bringing down Representative Park) if she can help Je-ha exact his revenge. I’m relieved that Cloud Nine is a possible outlet for him to vent, and this fancy software will hopefully be a helpful way to acquire more information later on. What’s important is that Je-ha is part of Yoo-jin’s inner circle now, and he’s right to take her word of trust with a grain of salt because you could work for years to build her trust, but it takes just one moment to destroy it.

 
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193 October 15, 2016October 23, 2016

The K2: Episode 7

by gummimochi

Surviving this world of secrets will require a sharp mind that can keep any incoming dangers at bay. But when emotions threaten to break the surface for some of our characters, they’ll use a weapon more powerful than any gun: their words. Dodging a bullet will be easier than a sharp tongue, and whether they choose to use those words to heal or hurt others is entirely up to them.

EPISODE 7 RECAP

Je-ha pleads with Anna to stay alive while Chief Joo is barred from transporting her in an ambulance. Once he arrives on the scene, he rides with Anna in the car while Je-ha takes the wheel. He relays the order to head back to JSS headquarters, much to Je-ha’s frustration.

So Je-ha guns it down the streets, honking the horn to alert people and traffic to move out of the way. Immediately upon their arrival, Anna is wheeled into the infirmary.

Meanwhile, the girls who took a selca in the previous episode decide to ask the internet if the pretty girl photographed behind them is the one the famous designer was looking for in Barcelona.

Je-ha is a bundle of nerves as he waits outside, his mind retracing the conversation leading up to Anna’s severe allergic reaction. Anna dreams of the fateful night of her mother’s death, and as the shadow hiding behind the door grabs her, her eyes fly open.

It takes a minute before Anna can catch her breath enough to ask where she is. Told that Je-ha brought her here to JSS within an inch of her life, she sees Je-ha standing outside, peering in.

Once they’re outside, Doctor Kim reassures Je-ha that Anna is in good hands here. She’s more concerned about Anna’s mental health and recommends a psychological follow-up. When Mi-ran asks if she herself played a part in Anna’s condition, she’s immediately scolded for thinking about herself.

Je-ha, meanwhile, storms into Chief Joo’s office demanding to know who exactly called off the ambulance. Such is Anna’s plight, Chief Joo explains—where her death would be easier than her existence being exposed to the world. Je-ha had given her strawberry ice cream, which Anna voluntarily consumed even though she knew it could kill her.

Knowing who sent away that ambulance will neither help his cause nor change Anna’s circumstances—if they had taken her to a hospital, then that would’ve been a death sentence to everyone at JSS assigned to her care.

Je-ha likely would’ve been spared as a member of Cloud Nine, but the best thing he can do now to protect Anna and anyone else is to act natural.

Je-ha sits with Master Song, who claims all he knows about Anna is that she was forced to live abroad because of her parents. And for someone who doesn’t know much about her, he does know a surprising amount about Anna’s familial background, like how Anna isn’t legally Se-joon’s daughter because they do not share the same surname.

Anna’s mother, Um Hye-rin, was already pregnant when she got married and left for the States. Master Song isn’t sure what happened there, but the mother returned to Korea one day with young Anna in tow. By then, Se-joon had gotten married to Yoo-jin, so he believes Se-joon kept that family a secret from Yoo-jin.

But then Anna’s mother met an untimely death, and Anna was sent abroad again. Master Song believes Anna’s mother ended her own life, and he worries that Yoo-jin might do something to Anna.

Yoo-jin meets with the Presidential Chief of Staff about a proposal, prodding him how the lame-duck president is nearing the end of his term in office. She’s come prepared with documents that could safely compromise the president as well as JB Group and her scholarship foundation. Knowing each other’s weaknesses should be enough to strike a deal, yes?

A pair of hikers is turned away from the restaurant, and the burn mark on one hiker’s right wrist is unmistakeable—these are Representative Park’s men.

The chief of staff remarks that he now understands why Sung-won fears his noona. He wouldn’t dare to speak against the nation’s future first-in-command—meaning her—though they both chuckle over the idea that the title would be reserved for her husband, the presidential candidate. In regards to when Se-joon would join their political party, Yoo-jin asks that the chief of staff pave the way for them first.

Needless to say, Yoo-jin is elated afterward and celebrates in the car. Her staff is silent at first but laughs alongside her when instructed.

Representative Park is tipped off about the meeting, which he concludes likely ended well for Yoo-jin. He’s well aware that politics is a dirty game, and tells his secretary that whoever exposes what is dirty and corrupt ends up being the nation’s hero.

We briefly cut to Se-joon, who is filled in Yoo-jin’s activities while being prepped for a motivational speech. He sends a wink to the makeup artist while keeping a hand on her leg.

Yoo-jin heads straight to the JSS infirmary to see Anna, shutting down the idea that Anna should receive additional treatment at a hospital because of her suicide attempt. She sends everyone away so she can speak with Anna alone, and Je-ha doesn’t leave his spot outside the door.

Yoo-jin breaks the ice by commenting on Anna’s singing voice and nun’s habit, though her voice quickly turns sharp: “But what were you expecting by showing up [at that church]? Did you think I was stopping your father from seeing you?”

She reminds Anna of how her father reacted when he saw her at the church—of how he averted his gaze and informed her of Anna’s presence. “Your father doesn’t want to meet you,” Yoo-jin continues. “He won’t appear before you. Just like how he didn’t show up the day your mother died, or the day you left for Spain.”

Anna stares at her intently as Yoo-jin acknowledges that it must hurt, but this is her reality. As a daughter herself, she understands how all daughters have a special place in their hearts for their fathers, but the thing is, fathers don’t understand how their daughters feel.

Yoo-jin’s voice carries into the hall as she continues, “You must have thought you were all your father had left, but you aren’t everything to your father. You are but a very tiny yet very burdensome fragment of his past.”

When Anna asks to meet her father so she can ask him herself, Yoo-jin replies that she couldn’t possible drag her father here against his will. Out of consideration of their marriage, she couldn’t possibly do that to him, she adds.

And to that, Anna retorts, “Dad… doesn’t love you.” Ooh. Yoo-jin’s smile fades for a moment before she calls it up again, asking, “Is that what your mother told you?” A tear rolls down Anna’s cheek as Yoo-jin speaks of how she understands that her mother must’ve hated her, and softly says there’s something about her Anna was too young to understand at the time.

Being re-elected is the most important thing for any politician, but her mother used her to blackmail her father when the election was just around the corner. Now that bitter tone turns to fake pity as Yoo-jin remarks on how sad it must’ve been for young Anna to hand her alcoholic mother the pills that would bring her death.

Anna immediately refutes that statement, saying that it wasn’t the pills. Someone else was in that house that night and tried to kill her too. Yoo-jin’s expression turns stoic: “And was that me?”

She flicks the switch to mock sympathy, adding that Anna’s memories must be lying to her because the reality was much too painful to remember. She states, “The truth is that your mother died because of the pills you gave her.”

Anna calls bullshit on that statement—their old housekeeper told her everything at the sanatorium. But Yoo-jin counters that with this logic: “If I had killed your mother and the housekeeper had known about it, would I have let her live?” What’s even more chilling than those words is the faint smile that follows it.

Having heard enough, Je-ha enters the room to put an end to the discussion. Yoo-jin acknowledges Anna must be tired from running around all day and tells her to get some rest and to take care of herself. She instructs him to come down to Cloud Nine (er, wouldn’t you think Anna might wonder what that means?), but Je-ha tells Anna to stop crying because he’ll be back with her father.

He arrives at the event hall in time to see a glimpse of a group of men emerging from a bathroom with bags. He doesn’t tell Team Leader Seo about the men, but keeps a keen eye out during the event.

He alerts the other agents about a suspicious-looking man sitting in the audience, and then quickly identifies the other suspects. Team Leader Seo says there’s no reason for alarm because all those men passed the security check.

Je-ha steps outside and sees a police van before heading back to the auditorium. He remains in the doorway and keeps watch as the suspicious men send each other nonverbal cues.

He tries reporting to Team Leader Seo again, and waits with bated breath as one man reaches inside his jacket… to take out a phone. Again, Je-ha is shut down.

Just then, one man gets up from the front row and Je-ha runs to knock him down. It’s K1, who tells him to stand aside, and he and the other men start protesting against Se-joon and throwing eggs at him.

The JSS agents apprehend the men, but Se-joon orders them to stop and let the men speak their minds. He launches into a speech about how their protest is a response to how the politicians have let the people down, then chuckles that a few eggs never hurt anyone. Seeing how the audience laughs with him, it becomes clear that this stunt was a PR move.

Je-ha steps to the sidelines as Se-joon revs up his speech, promising the audience that he will shape up as a politician. In order to establish a greater sense of transparency, he declares that he will allow himself to be thoroughly investigated for corruption. He adds that if the prosecution finds anything on him, he will withdraw from the presidential race.

He ends that motivational speech with the hope that those who previously opposed him would give him the eggs that were meant to be thrown at him so he can give them to his loving wife to cook with. And to that, the audience chants his name over and over.

Se-joon heads back to the dressing room afterward and sends his men away, citing that he’ll be taking a long shower. Not alone of course, since the makeup artist is waiting for him inside the room, and he invites her to join him in the shower.

She, however, knocks at the door where the man Chief Joo has left behind hands her a syringe. Just around the door, Je-ha witnesses everything.

She peeks her head inside the shower before getting pulled back outside again. A moment later, Je-ha appears. As Se-joon gets dressed, he explains how the guard and the makeup artists were accomplices. He says the police are in on the plot too, and they’re likely barging their way inside, so they have to go.

He and Se-joon make a break for it, and stops just long enough to tell Chief Joo that the police are working for Representative Park. So Chief Joo and the other agents engage the cops in a stand-off, and ask to see an arrest warrant.

Burn Mark says they don’t need one when the woman reported the politician for sexual assault, but Chief Joo says to call in the report that the cops were conspiring to murder a politician.

Both sides put down their guns when they get the news that Je-ha and Se-joon has fled. Speaking of whom, Se-joon laughs in the car and thanks Je-ha for the close call. He asks where they’re going, and when he hears it’s to see Anna, he screams for Je-ha to stop the car.

Je-ha yells back that if Se-joon doesn’t want to see his daughter, he can tell her in person instead of giving her false hope. Even dogs have an instinctual sense of duty, so Se-joon should put up with this at the very least. “Do you know where I found Anna today?” he asks. “Dreamland.”

Se-joon winces at that, and Je-ha tells him how Anna’s first words to him were of concern for her father. Se-joon raises his voice once he hears about the allergic reaction, but Je-ha is well aware of how severe Anna’s strawberry allergy is.

“I don’t think Anna was trying to die because she hated you. I believe she realized she was a burdensome existence to you, and consumed strawberry to try and get rid of herself,” Je-ha finishes.

Once they arrive at their destination, Se-joon makes Je-ha swear to him that he’ll vow to protect Anna to the end if his intentions are noble. If so, Se-joon will go see his daughter. Je-ha swears it.

Chief Joo calls just then, and after Se-joon tells him where he is, he tells Je-ha that he didn’t go see Anna because that would put her in danger. He’s sold his soul to the devil for his ambitions, and in exchange he’s lost his morals and his loved ones.

Because ambition doesn’t come with brakes, all he can do is speed ahead to escape Yoo-jin’s clutches. Anna is a hostage and he needs the greatest power available in this nation to save her, Se-joon says. Furthermore, he can’t turn back now lest Yoo-jin deems Anna useless, which would only place her in more danger.

If he were to breathe one wrong word to Anna, Yoo-jin would find out about his plans and hide Anna someplace where he can never find her. So he considers Anna’s return to Korea as divine grace, though Je-ha never should have brought him here to see her.

But what’s done is done, and he asks that Je-ha keep his promise. “Let’s go…” Se-joon says, tears welling up in his eyes, “…and make my poor daughter even sadder.”

It isn’t long before Yoo-jin learns of Se-joon’s arrival, and she instructs Magic Mirror to link to the camera in Anna’s room. Se-joon registers the camera’s presence and announces his presence in a rich voice.

Seeing as Anna keeps her back toward him, he asks if she’s sleeping. He’s told she’s not, and he chuckles that his daughter must be angry with him. He apologizes that he’s just been very busy, and pretends to act surprised that Anna has a severe strawberry allergy.

He scolds the staff instead, then turns to her to baby her. Yoo-jin tsks while watching the feed, and Se-joon sends everyone else out.

Now that they’re alone, Se-joon sits on the bed and turns Anna over. He tells her warmly that they’re alone now, but Anna keeps her eyes shut. He wipes a tear from her cheek, and she opens her eyes.

She bursts into sobs and hugs him, as Se-joon pats her back. He thinks in voiceover, “I’m sorry, Anna.” She cries that she missed him, and he returns the sentiment.

He does his best to keep his tears at bay, then steps back to get a good look at his daughter. He says she’s all grown-up now, and asks her to wait until he becomes president, when she can have a normal life, like hanging out with friends and going on dates.

He tells her not to worry, and then Anna asks her father to listen: “Mom didn’t kill herself. I remembered everything that happened that night.” She tells him of how she found her mother unconscious, and someone covered her eyes and ears.

Yoo-jin is still watching as Se-joon tells Anna that that’s all in the past now—she must forget. Anna insists that it’s true, and she’s convinced that Yoo-jin killed her mother. Se-joon’s voice turns stern, as he tells her that he mustn’t say that to anyone. Doing so will endanger his career as well as her life.

He tells her that she went through a traumatic incident at a young age, and when Anna protests that she did give her mother the pills because she was crying, Se-joon cuts her off. He threatens to never see her again if she utters another word about it, leaving Anna shocked.

He pulls her in for another hug and apologizes to Anna again in his head. Je-ha arrives outside the door just as Anna asks, “Did you love Mom?” Again, Se-joon breaks into that trademark hearty chuckle and answers, “Of course I did. That’s why you were born.”

She then asks if her mother used her to blackmail him. Se-joon is taken aback by the question, but readily identifies that Yoo-jin is responsible for inserting that thought into Anna’s head. “You devil,” he thinks to himself.

“Is that why you threw me and Mom away?” Anna asks with tears in her eyes. Yoo-jin doesn’t tear away from her monitor as Se-jon replies that those are matters for a grown-up.

She argues that she’s an adult now too, but Se-joon tells her that none of those past matters matter anymore. Crying, she cites how her father just said he loved her mother, but Mom died and she was sent away and he didn’t even come looking for her.

Se-joon says he’s a man doing great things for this country, which means that smaller matters simply fall by the wayside. He breaks out that chuckle once more, and Anna utters, “She was right.”

“About what?” Se-joon asks. Anna thinks back to her earlier conversation with Yoo-jin and relays to her father that Yoo-jin was right. “Wishful thinking,” she breathes in Spanish, then sinks back into her bed.

Se-joon gets up from her bed and tells her to get some rest and take care of herself, the same parting words Yoo-jin left Anna with earlier. He promises to come and see her often, as Anna sobs quietly into her pillow.

Se-joon leaves the room with murder written on his face. Down in the sublevel, Yoo-jin bursts laughing—though the tear that rolls down her face betrays her laughs—and she thinks to herself, “To think that I placed my fate in the hands of a man like you.”

 
COMMENTS

I’ve been wondering this for some time now, but if keeping Anna hidden from the world is of utmost importance, why are there so many people in this world who do know so much about her? Her existence is supposed to be a constant threat to Yoo-jin and Se-joon, and yet we have characters like Master Song (who are great for exposition) claim they know very little, but in fact know a great deal about Anna’s background to teach to Je-ha.

But while exposition can be a helpful tool in learning more about our characters, sometimes in great depths, there are times here when we’re left to question how much of that information to trust. Take for example with Master Song, whose words are mixed in with some truth (like how Anna’s surname is Go) with some still unclear conclusions (like the public belief that Anna’s mother committed suicide). Most of what we know about Anna comes from an outside source, and if parts of that information are potentially unfounded or downright false, then what we have to work with is whatever she tells us herself which, aside from the few convictions of her father to keep her going, is still a new development for us onscreen.

What’s even sadder is that Anna is back in another prison following a near fatal allergic reaction. She had marked herself as the bad person in her father’s life, and her act of consuming the strawberry has everyone in this world suspecting that she would disappear out of concern for her father. That’s a morbidly sad thought, and for now, Anna is again under Yoo-jin’s lock and key in the JSS building. And yet she got to speak with both Yoo-jin and Se-joon separately, even if both conversations weren’t necessarily private.

Her conversation with Yoo-jin was an interesting dance, especially since Yoo-jin appealed to Anna’s plight as a potentially unloved daughter. One could say that Yoo-jin could be projecting some of her own father-daughter issues when she says fathers don’t truly understand how their daughters feel, but she also has a mastery in the art of manipulation. Well, as long as she has the upper hand. Watching Anna stick to her own memories was a good reminder that she sticks to her convictions, but then all it takes is planting one tiny idea to let that grow into a greater shadow of doubt.

In Se-joon’s case, he was aware of the camera, so anything he uttered aloud would be for Yoo-jin’s benefit. Despite his scoldings to Anna to not utter any ill of Yoo-jin, his “I’m sorry, Anna” voiceover and his pretending to not know about her allergy do suggest that he does care for Anna. But much like Yoo-jin and so many others, we’re left to question how much we should actually believe. His plans to have Anna live out a normal life had similar versions—he told Je-ha that he needed more power to save Anna, and he then told Anna aloud that he needed to become president for him to do all the fatherly things he’d like to do. With Yoo-jin holding so much power right now, I don’t know if he’ll be able to meet any of those promises to Anna. But if Yoo-jin says Dad’s lying, and Dad thinks that Yoo-jin’s lying, then who are we left to believe?

 
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249 October 16, 2016October 23, 2016

The K2: Episode 8

by gummimochi

Loyalties will be put to the test when more dangers are thrown in Je-ha’s path which require him to stay alert at all times. He won’t be the only one in harm’s way though, since a series of unexpected events will threaten to tip the political scales against Yoo-jin’s favor. Everyone has something to lose, but if a few of them play their cards right, they’ll have everything to gain.

EPISODE 8 RECAP

In the morning, Je-ha relieves a dozing Mi-ran and housekeeper of sitting by Anna’s bedside all night. He asks if Anna needs anything before he returns to the safe house later that day, and takes her silence as a no.

“Why… did you bring my dad?” she asks. He answers, “So you wouldn’t die.” She doesn’t see why it would matter to anyone whether she lives or dies, which is when Je-ha tersely returns that a lot of people were worried about her.

She apologizes for making all the “baddies” like him worry, a term Je-ha takes in stride. He counters that she could at least appreciate how everyone is breaking their backs to protect her. “Making me ramyun, giving me ice cream, and pretending to be like my dad… is that what you call protecting me?” She fires back.

She tells him to leave, and Je-ha mutters that he made a worthless promise to her father before storming out. “Promise?” Anna muses.

Yoo-jin lashes out at Chief Joo and his superior, CEO Gook, when they arrive at her office regarding the latest attempt on Se-joon’s life. She scoffs at Chief Joo’s declaration to step down from his position in show of taking responsibility for the mess: “Don’t you know what the ways of stepping down are like here?”

She moves on for now and learns that the police are pretending to investigate the case. She decides to deal with the woman accusing Se-joon of sexual assault at a later time, but right now they must hunt down the agent who betrayed them.

Meanwhile, the prosecutor’s office follow up on Se-joon’s call for investigating major international finance corporations for corruption. While one company is presented with an arrest warrant, another undergoes a search and seizure.

As promised, Se-joon arrives at the prosecutor’s office for his own investigation. Not only does the press bombard him with questions there, they’re also waiting outside Se-joon’s home.

Yoo-jin graciously invites the prosecutors inside, showing them the boxes of documents she already organized for them to take. She’s also prepared lunch, and the others are led away while she speaks alone with the lead prosecutor.

She asks how the ongoing investigation is going, and when the prosecutor says he’s unable to show much leniency to her relatives caught up in the case, she instructs him to be strict and impartial with her relatives.

Speaking of whom, Sung-won’s father-in-law is still unable to get in touch with the Presidential Chief of Staff. He chuckles at how Yoo-jin may have the chief of staff wrapped around her finger, but Yoo-jin wouldn’t dare to strike his conglomerate Jinhan Group nor JB Group since she couldn’t finance Se-joon’s campaign otherwise.

But Sung-won’s mother believes that Yoo-jin will stop at nothing to get what she wants, and Sung-won’s father-in-law adds that they must find an ally before Se-joon is sworn in as president.

Representative Park is filled in on the ongoing investigation through the radio while he gets another shave. His secretary cites that all the companies currently involved are their sponsors, and get the green light to name in front of the politician’s barber the few assemblymen left who still support him.

Representative Park sends his barber away, then asks his secretary if Se-joon has a lucky streak or if they’re cursed with bad luck. His secretary believes that Se-joon has someone special on his side, namely the one who tried to attack the politician with the remote and revolving door.

Following an angry conversation regarding the investigation of the other politicians, Representative Park fumes to hear that Se-joon is unlikely to be indicted.

Remember that photo of Anna floating around social media? Yoo-jin finally gets wind of the photo’s existence, and Secretary Kim nudges the idea that Yoo-jin should make a decision about what to do with Anna.

During the ride back to the safe house, Anna thinks back to when Je-ha gave her mouth-to-mouth. She purses her lips, then softly asks what sort of promise Je-ha was referring to. When he doesn’t readily answer, she yells the question at him.

He tells her that he isn’t deaf and to sit back down. He explains that he promised her father that he’d protect her no matter what. He won’t let anyone touch her, even if that person is Yoo-jin.

She says no one asked him to, a statement Je-ha agrees with. Despite her father’s request, he’ll respect Anna’s wishes since she’s an adult. He asks if she understands, and she returns a soft “yes”.

Anna thanks Je-ha for agreeing to her father’s request and bringing him so she could find out for herself that her father abandoned her. Je-ha tells her to stop whining because her father didn’t abandon her. She gets worked up at that statement, and Je-ha cuts her off and agrees that her father is a terrible man and politician.

But if her father had truly abandoned her, she wouldn’t even be alive to this day. Yoo-jin doesn’t gamble with uncertainty either, so Anna needs to grow up quickly if she wants to enter a battle against Yoo-jin.

An entertainment news writer is one step behind another writer when it comes to writing a piece about the fashion designer’s Korean muse. Elsewhere, one young man’s speculation that he’s seen Anna in his neighborhood is quickly shot down, but then he spots Anna riding in the car and trails behind in his scooter.

He drives up to the safe house and gets caught snapping a photo of Anna. He doesn’t get far because his scooter won’t start, then shows Je-ha the photo of Anna circulating the internet.

Je-ha sends the guy away and collects Anna from the car. He makes a fist, gesturing for her to “freeze” in place, then opens his hand to signal at her to “go”. She isn’t familiar with the concept, so he quickly explains the rules. She catches on when he signals at her to “go” and she walks forward.

He then instructs her to sit, and he smiles and pats her head when she obediently complies. Dude, she’s not a puppy. He keeps using the Freeze-Go tactic on her as they head upstairs, but he doesn’t respond when she tries it on him.

Per Je-ha’s request, Master Song makes an anonymous call to an entertainment news department telling them that the “Barcelona Angel” is a girl named Anna, who is also the daughter to the late movie star Um Hye-jin.

At the same time, Scooter Boy uploads Anna’s photo to support his claim that he saw Anna. He even leaks the address to safe house, which we learn were also part of Je-ha’s instructions.

This mean Yoo-jin’s no-good-very-bad day is about to get even worse, because by the time Yoo-jin hears about the leak, she’s told that the safe house is already surrounded with reporters and fans.

Yoo-jin calls CEO Gook, who is heading over to Anna with a team as they speak. He asks if it’s possible to make a call without Yoo-jin’s prior authorization depending on how severe the situation is at the safe house.

He pretty much expects Yoo-jin’s answer that it’s easier dealing with a corpse (Anna’s) than silencing a crowd, but he doesn’t think her husband will agree.

So Yoo-jin instructs Secretary Kim to make a call. The strike squad leader (Jo Dong-hyuk) picks up and receives his instructions. Yoo-jin tells the man that he should be scared of her right now, as the squad leader rests a gun on the car seat.

While the news reporter who wrote the article on Anna inquires into who the true owner of the house is and Anna’s relationship to Um Hye-rin, Chief Joo barks at Mi-ran to stay put inside the house.

Je-ha is busy scanning the neighboring buildings when Chief Joo calls to inform him that CEO Gook and the strike squad is headed their way. He’s told that Anna’s fate rests in his hands now.

In the car, CEO Gook instructs the squad to take Anna out if she’s about to spill the beans about her father. The squad leader instructs one of his men to keep close to the target, and then the CEO jumps back in to tell the squad that if they get caught, they don’t know one another. Way to step on the squad leader’s toes there.

Je-ha heads upstairs to collect Anna, who sits nervously on her bed. He reassures her that she can do it, and that makes her smile. Just as CEO Gook and the strike squad arrive, the housekeeper ventures outside to ask the crowd to refrain from using flash photography when Anna appears.

She heads back inside to get Anna, who peers outside to see Je-ha. Anna doesn’t know that Je-ha has already taken out a sniper, and recognizes his raised fist as “freeze”. He gives her a thumbs-up in approval.

Her eyes scan across the buildings to see Je-ha—who has taken down another sniper—in another spot. He shows her his open palm. “Go,” she utters and nods. Anna says a prayer to herself and her eyes fill with determination.

Je-ha heads downstairs and spots the squad leader descending the neighboring staircase. They meet at the bottom, and the squad leader chucks his gun into the grass. He then charges at Je-ha with a scissor kick, then spins around to throw a punch.

Je-ha catches his arm and responds with a flying kick, but the squad leader avoids the attack and tries to catch Je-ha with a low swooping kick. Both men are evenly-matched blow for blow.

Meanwhile, Anna steps outside to an enthusiastic crowd who quiets down to hear her speak. She takes a deep breath and introduces herself. It’s at that moment Yoo-jin arrives and she gapes upon seeing the crowd.

Time to check back in on the fight, which has now moved to the grass. A flying kick sends the squad leader down, and Je-ha takes a punch before spinning on the ground and pull the squad leader down with him.

He grabs him in a leglock, but the squad leader wrenches himself free, leaving a cut on Je-ha’s cheek. The squad leader removes his blazer, and soon both of them are sporting some cuts as they simultaneously kick the other in the chest.

Je-ha grabs the squad leader’s legs again, but the latter frees himself once more and pins Je-ha to the ground. He gets a few jabs in until Je-ha grabs his head in a leglock. When he spins out again, Je-ha locks his arm in a different position.

But yet again the squad leader breaks free and he hits Je-ha’s head with his knee. That breaks the hold, and while Je-ha suffers from a dizzy spell, the squad leader pops his dislocated shoulder back in.

Back to Anna’s press conference, where she explains that she was in Barcelona, but she’s not an angel. Desperate, Yoo-jin pushes through the crowd just in time to hear the reporter ask Anna who her father is. CEO Gook instructs his snipers to shoot, but they’re both unconscious.

Everyone waits with bated breath for her answer, and CEO Gook signals a squad member to make his move. The man bears a pocket knife and draws near, which is when Mi-ran spins around and takes down the man.

Anna explains that she is a Korean citizen, and adds. “And my father is…” She pauses and scans her surroundings to meet Yoo-jin tensely shaking her head no.

“My father…” Anna starts, her eyes still fixed on Yoo-jin. “… is the late director Go Jun-ho.” She and Yoo-jin share a telepathic conversation where Yoo-jin thinks, “What are you trying to play at?” Anna: “Hard to say. I’m sure you’ll find out soon enough.”

But then Secretary Kim uses the flash on her phone and the other photographers quickly follow suit. Anna collapses to the ground, and Yoo-jin rushes to her side acting like a concerned mother.

Je-ha stands victorious from the long fight, albeit bloody and bruised. He checks in on Anna later that night, and seeing her tears brings tears to his eyes too. He heads downstairs and takes full responsibility for today’s events, much to Yoo-jin’s displeasure.

When Yoo-jin asks why he did it, Je-ha candidly replies that this outcome was better than having Anna killed in the public eye. Secretary Kim wonders why he didn’t report his plan ahead of time, but Yoo-jin concedes to the idea that Je-ha acted in a swift manner.

She gives him an airy “good work”, adding that she isn’t disheartened because she could easily have Anna killed tomorrow. Je-ha says nothing.

She dismisses the ladies so she and Je-ha can speak alone. He takes a seat, and Yoo-jin remarks on how hard Je-ha has been working—he saved Se-joon from Representative Park’s clutches and he saved Anna from her.

Yoo-jin asks if he’ll keep up this immature act and give up on his personal revenge. Now that their enemies have drawn their swords, she’d very much like to pull the trigger.

Secretary Kim argues in the car that Je-ha was lying, to which Yoo-jin barks back that she knew he was. She berates her for butting in, saying that Secretary Kim should be able to discern the difference when she is pretending to be duped versus when she’s actually fooled. Her greater concern is that Anna now wields the power in her hands. Is that… a pout I see?

Sung-won’s mother watches the news story covering Anna, the “Barcelona Angel”, and her guardian, Yoo-jin. Smiling, she makes a call.

Back at the safe house, Je-ha resumes his nightly duties monitoring the cameras. He notices Anna head for the attic and gets up, knowing that she’s headed for the roof.

He sits at a distance, watching her and thinking back to their entire history together. He jumps to action when Anna wobbles on the tiles, sliding toward her and sprawling out on the roof when she turns back. He’s in a not-so-casual mid-crawl when she points him out. Heh.

He awkwardly gets to his feet and insists that he’s unhurt. He then berates her for coming up to a dangerous roof, and when he turns to leave, she asks him to stay. She encourages him to sit because it’s more dangerous to stand, and Je-ha takes a seat as he says it’s not at all dangerous for him.

They sit next to each other as Anna thanks him for everything, from Barcelona to the ramyun to the ice cream to bringing her father to earlier, and even to this very moment.

Je-ha cocks his head and puffs up in agreement that Anna should be grateful. She laughs, and he tells her to keep going. The mood turns solemn again when he tells her that her life will be much different now—she’s now free to travel wherever she’d like and no one will bother her if she wishes to be alone.

“But… you can’t be alone,” he says. Anna will die the moment she’s out of the public eye, and the reason is because Yoo-jin didn’t have to be on guard when it came to Anna. But the tables have turned, and now Anna could destroy Yoo-jin in one fell swoop.

So while Yoo-jin may appear to act nice to her now, she’s waiting for the moment the public loses interest in Anna. “What if I first tell the world that Jang Se-joon is my father?”

“Then you’ll become the child who destroyed her father,” Je-ha replies.

Anna realizes that this perfect storm is what caused her mother’s death. Her mother must’ve also feared ruining her father’s career, but all she wanted even on the day of her death was for her father to come.

She recalls how her father was supposed to visit them that night, but he never showed up, so Mom drank her sorrows away as she was wont to do on the nights he broke his promise. In her drunken ramblings, Mom concluded Se-joon had no intention of leaving with them to the States, and vowed to tell the world.

Anna hated it whenever her mother was drinking because the smell of alcohol, sweat, and tears disgusted her. Whenever Mom came into her room and embraced her afterward, Anna thought to herself that this must be why her father doesn’t come to see them.

That night, Mom had stretched out her arms for a hug, but young Anna stepped back holding the pills behind her back. Mom had apologized for reeking of alcohol, but she’d told her daughter that she was so sad.

Even though her mother had pleaded once more for a hug, Anna didn’t embrace her. Crying now, Anna says she thought those words were simply a drunken rant. “Mom, I was in the wrong!” she cries.

Je-ha wraps an arm around her and pulls her to his chest. He tells her that it’s okay; she was still very young then. Anna shakes her head, saying that she was horrible to her mother, and it’s what happens next that still haunts her.

She had offered her mother the sleeping pills, and Mom had said Anna mustn’t like seeing her cry. Asked if Anna would like to see her mother live for a long time, young Anna had nodded to herself, hoping that her mother would stay asleep without waking up.

Mom had said she’d like to sleep for a long time, and young Anna had told her to take this and sleep. She’d promised to wake up Mom when her father comes by. “When your father comes?” her mother repeated. “Then I must sleep for a long, long time.”

With that, Mom had looked back at Anna one last time before closing the door to her room.

In the present, Anna cries that she killed her mother. “If I’d known that would be the last time I would see her…” she utters before sobbing all over again. Je-ha holds her, softly patting her shoulder comfortingly until she falls asleep.

Representative Park sits down with the police commissioner, whom he says has been enjoying cushy pocket money from him and Se-joon. He’s willing to move on from that topic for now and asks for the documents he requested.

He’s given a full breakdown on Je-ha from his alias to his mercenary days, and how Je-ha is a wanted man. But then Representative Park’s eyes fall upon an interesting fact and bursts laughing: “Iraq? Blackstone?”

 
COMMENTS

If there ever was a character whose trajectory has turned on its head since his introduction in this show, it would be Representative Park. The once threatening foe could’ve given Yoo-jin a run for her money when both initially showed off a polished public image yet would engage in some shady dealings. The barbed remarks he and Yoo-jin exchanged were an absolute thrill, and it saddens me to see him devolved into a victim of villain decay.

Having two intimidating characters made for an interesting corner in the storyline, especially when Yoo-jin and Representative Park were on parallel narrative tracks. But this week shows that the supposedly cruel and ruthless politician only has the same few tricks up his sleeves by plotting the same sneaky tactic to take down Se-joon. To rub salt in the wound, despite the numerous threats Yoo-jin faces, she’s still making key political alliances. This is all to say that I’m not nervous for Je-ha when it comes to Representative Park finding out about their past mutual connection in Blackstone. I still want to know what the politician will do with this information, but from what we’ve seen of the man’s revenge tactics so far, I would be hard-pressed to keep my hopes up for something clever and well thought-out.

So as much as I’m relieved to see that the show has picked up on parts of Je-ha’s past and his personal vendetta again, it’s a peculiar choice to have Representative Park focus on this plot point over Anna’s exposure to the public. One would think that after Yoo-jin flaunted his loose end (Se-joon’s lover) in the form of her new staffer, the man would think of a scheme of how to use Yoo-jin’s greatest vulnerability (Anna) to his advantage. Choosing this course would be ripe with possibilities and pump in some much-needed villainous acts, but again, I fear we’ll get bogged down with political subplots that pad the hour instead.

But at least there is forward movement in the areas that count, namely the developing relationship between Anna and Je-ha. Anna’s declaration and desire to be treated like an adult is a giant step for her, since so many people in this world were treating her with delicate hands. Given all the people who supposedly cared for her in the past, it makes sense she would be skeptical about anyone who claimed to genuinely want to protect her. So it’s great to see that Je-ha is willing to respond to that call and test her on what it actually takes to be viewed and treated like a grown-up. He won’t take her whining, tells it like it is, and he challenges her to become a formidable enemy against Yoo-jin. He has his heroic moments, but he’s also a figure of encouragement and a pillar of support in Anna’s life. He may beat himself up for having a sense of compassion for others, but if you ask me, that’s where Je-ha truly shines. That, and an adorkable side we can’t help but love.

 
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140 October 22, 2016October 23, 2016

The K2: Episode 9

by gummimochi

Catching a few winks in this world won’t be easy, especially when constant threat lurks just around the corner. But a bit of rest can do wonders for the soul and allow some time to address the matter of the heart. Someone new will step into the picture, but whether this person is friend or foe is all a matter of perspective.

EPISODE 9 RECAP

Anna wakes the following morning, smiling at the thought of Je-ha’s encouragement yesterday. Downstairs, the housekeeper supposes that Anna’s so-called sociophobia was more of Anna trying to avoid them than anything else.

Still, Mi-ran feels guilty for everything she’s said about Anna, but both women are spooked when Anna greets them with a bold “good morning.” She’d like to join them for breakfast, and everyone else initially stares in shock to see her while the sun is up while she eats.

Anna comments on how nice it is to have company and announces that they all should eat together every morning from here on out. She apologizes to Mi-ran (even calling her “unni”) for making her job difficult—she’s grateful that Mi-ran saved her yesterday, and promises to speak with Yoo-jin about having her leave the safe house.

Unfortunately, K1 is the bearer of bad news: none of them will be able to leave this house, even if they wanted to.

Je-ha heads down to the Cloud Nine sublevel where he levels with Yoo-jin about how he isn’t here just to babysit Anna nor is he here to watch her nearly die before his eyes because her stepmother called off an ambulance.

He gets frustrated when Yoo-jin plays dumb to the accusation, telling her that she isn’t different from Representative Park when it comes to getting rid of everyday people, be it an interpreter or a guy hanging outside a window. Yoo-jin attacked him and other innocent people on the off-chance he would talk. He fires at her: “You people all are like Park Kwan-soo, you know that?”

Yoo-jin is shaken by his words that he doesn’t want another death like Rania’s, churning over how Anna could be just as important to him as Rania was. She calls up a smile, thinking how happy that would make Anna and drops this topic for a more important task: Representative Park.

But before she activates her magic mirror, she poses, “If all the wrongdoers in this world are Park Kwan-soos and all the victims are Rania, then couldn’t I have been a Rania too? And my father, a Park Kwan-soo? And I was a Rania to Se-joon.”

A wolf isn’t evil for devouring sheep because that’s how nature works, Yoo-jin muses. But because a wolf cub like Anna later becomes a wolf herself, Anna is no innocent lamb. Yoo-jin keeps the oncoming tears at bay while she turns on her magic mirror.

While K1 tells Anna that everyone who knows about her existence will later be disposed of, Yoo-jin tells Je-ha that they need to find proof that explains why Representative Park needed a unique interpreter like Rania.

Je-ha is skeptical that such evidence even exists anymore, but Yoo-jin knows the inner workings of a baddie’s mind: men like Representative Park always save their receipts in case they ever run into trouble in the future. Je-ha clarifies that his motive is revenge, not to get involved in politics. Yoo-jin is well-aware of that, and tells him that this is the best way to do that.

Mi-ran is still upset about how disposable she is until she hears that she could later be rewarded once Se-joon becomes president. Filled with new resolve, she runs when Anna calls for her.

There’s a crowd of adoring fans waiting for her when she exits the house. Anna offers to take a group photo with them while Mi-ran and the housekeeper look on.

Meanwhile, Yoo-jin explains how death for politicians means taking away the ability for them to work in the political sphere. But Je-ha reminds her that his aims are simple: have Representative Park feel regret for killing Rania, then die by his hand.

Yoo-jin counters that a revenge like that is ineffectual and odd against a man of great dreams like Representative Park. They first need to crush his dreams and destroy him so that he’ll never dream again, she adds. In his final moments, Je-ha can give a regret-filled Representative Park the rope he’ll use to hang himself. She finishes, “A bullet isn’t the only thing that can kill a man.”

Anna heads over to JSS headquarters, where Master Song introduces himself and offers to give her lessons in self-defense. That’s how Anna ends up in her first class as Master Song teaches her some simple moves, like poking her attacker in the eyes, pulling back his pinky, or kicking him right in the family jewels.

With that he invites her to the mat, and several agents feign injury and run away. When Doctor Kim offers to try a few moves herself, Master Song backs down and ends class early. Ha.

Sung-won catches the tail end of class and greets Anna with a hug, much to her confusion. In the elevator, Yoo-jin tells Je-ha to take care of himself. When he replies that he’ll stay alive to delay that incriminating email every day, she says it isn’t about that. Omo.

She’s taken aback when she runs into Sung-won and Anna in the lobby. Her barbs bounce right off of Sung-won, who says he’s taking his “niece” out, which makes her clutch his arm in fear. Sung-won says he’ll just tell the whole world who Anna is, and finally Yoo-jin loses her cool.

Anna is silently amused by Yoo-jin’s outburst, and at Sung-won’s statement that she no longer needs permission to do anything, she says she does… and asks Je-ha if it’s okay. She smiles when he says he’ll come too.

All Yoo-jin can eke out is for Je-ha to look after Anna. She’s visibly shaken and clutches her chest and admits that she’s not okay.

Anna sits in the backseat with Sung-won while Je-ha sits in the front, but both of them are surprised when Sung-won says they’re headed for another hospital. He knows Anna isn’t getting the treatment she needs, which reminds Je-ha of the doctor’s suggestion to get psychological help.

Sung-won’s contact is the head of psychiatry department there, who seems to recognize Anna by name and perhaps Je-ha as well. Sung-won says Anna will be in for a surprise, though Je-ha pulls her back and shows her a fist so he can first examine the office.

He send her a “go” sign to tell her that the coast is clear, and the psychiatrist, Doctor LEE SUN-YOUNG, is the same kind woman who had questioned Anna soon after her mother’s death. Remembering now, Anna embraces the doctor.

Sung-won pulls Je-ha aside for a chat, and when the latter isn’t interested in beating around the bush, he tells Je-ha to stay by Anna’s side and come work for him. As a chaebol, he has much more power than a president who serves a five-year term, though Je-ha thinks it’s unlikely Sung-won will even last five years at his job.

Even Sung-won chuckles in acknowledgement, though the smile fades at how that’ll only be the case if Anna disappears. He believes Anna will end up choosing him, but Je-ha isn’t so sure.

Sung-won says Je-ha can ask Anna himself, tapping his watch and adding that she’s probably made her decision by now. That’s when Je-ha flies out of the room and back upstairs, only to find the office empty.

By the time he doubles back, Sung-won is long gone. Incensed, Yoo-jin shatters the glass in her hand and deploys all JSS agents at JB Group to hunt Sung-won and Anna down.

Sung-won’s mother is beside herself that Yoo-jin would dare to come to the house while Sung-won’s father-in-law reassures her that everything is going to plan.

While CEO Gook has his JSS agents try to pinpoint Anna’s location, men from Sung-won’s father-in-law’s company, Jinhan Group, march up to tell the JSS agents that they’re fired from protecting JB Group.

Team Leader Seo tears up the termination notice, while Yoo-jin is in awe of these turn of events. She officially declares war, and the JSS agents are given license to cut everyone down.

The JSS surveillance team finds out where the parked car is before their feed is cut off. CEO Gook calls the police commissioner, only to be told that the police is no longer on their side because it’s nice and cozy on Representative Park’s couch.

Je-ha tracks down the parked car and finds it empty, save for one man who gives him a phone. It’s Sung-won on the other end, and he tells Je-ha to come alone lest Anna fall into greater danger.

So Je-ha rushes over to the remote beachhouse where Sung-won, Anna, and the rest of the staff are waiting. He’s just in time for dinner, and he breathes a sigh of relief.

He calls Yoo-jin and hands the phone to Sung-won, who says he’s keeping Anna for just a little longer. Yoo-jin tamps down her anger and grits out he should’ve said something earlier because she was dangerously close to having his wife killed.

Sung-won refuses to be trifled with, and Yoo-jin says if he keeps letting his father-in-law take care of things, the old man will take JB Group for himself. While he tells Yoo-jin that he’ll let the Jinhan bodyguards take care of things for now, Je-ha silently checks in on Anna, who nods that she’s fine.

Once Yoo-jin hears that Sung-won’s father-in-law’s men have backed down, she orders the removal of her own men from Sung-won’s residence and balls her bloody hand into a fist.

Anna and Je-ha take a stroll on the beach where she comments on how impressed she was with her uncle pretending to threaten him over the phone. Even though they aren’t related by blood, she’s decided to call him her uncle, and she drinks in the salty air.

Mi-ran and K1, aka SUNG-GYU, follow a few steps behind. She asks if he chose to enter the safe house despite knowing he could never leave this assignment, and when he nods, she asks why.

He confirms that he came for her, and she pulls him in for a kiss. They break apart, and Sung-gyu says the guy should be the one to initiate and kisses her.

Up ahead, Anna says she plans on staying here for now since she doesn’t want to go back to the safe house Yoo-jin set up for her. Asked if she trusts Sung-won, she confesses she’s not sure yet, but they both hate Yoo-jin. She adds that he needn’t worry, since she’s got him by her side.

Sung-gyu and Mi-ran run up ahead of them, which prompts Anna to ask Je-ha to try and catch her, too. It looks fun to her, and Je-ha whines that those two are just crazy. Lol.

But Anna puts up a fist and says he has to come catch her, before opening up her palm again. He says he won’t do it, then starts running after her. Pfft, you softie.

Sung-won observes from the house, and believes Je-ha and Anna are a great match. The housekeeper is grateful to him for saving Anna and the rest of the staff, and Sung-won says all they need to do is care for Anna.

He insists that they all sit together for dinner that evening including Je-ha. They toast to Anna’s dreams, and everyone but Je-ha enjoy themselves during the meal.

He finds Je-ha alone afterward, and laughs at Je-ha for trying to think of what scheme he’s trying to pull. Sung-won calls himself a simple-minded fellow, but Je-ha knows what trouble he would’ve caused by taking Anna away from Yoo-jin.

To that, Sung-won says he’s trying to keep his noona from taking JB from him, and by a great stroke of luck, Anna appeared on the scene. He knows Anna is Se-joon’s daughter, and he’d like to keep her as his guardian angel who guards JB Group from being taken away from him.

He gets a call from Se-joon just then, and reassures him that everything’s fine. Handing the phone to Je-ha, he tells him to be careful because Se-joon likely isn’t alone. Sung-won is right on the money about that because Se-joon is still being held for his investigation.

Se-joon checks in to make sure that Je-ha is holding steadfast to his promise, then hangs up. He’s playing baduk with the prosecutor and doesn’t plan on leaving until tomorrow in order to keep his public image up.

He utters a baduk saying where one must first save himself before attacking his opponent, and makes his next move.

Sung-won asks Je-ha who he’ll choose: him or Yoo-jin. Upon hearing that Je-ha will be leaving once he’s taken care of things here, Sung-won says it’s too bad since he thought Je-ha and Anna looked good together. He asks what that business is, which Je-ha doesn’t divulge.

Representative Park shares a late-night drink with Sung-won’s father-in-law who says he could only do so much to force Sung-won’s hand. He amuses the Jinhan Group chairman with a mix of adages that boil down to the idea that a company can easily change hands.

Je-ha and Sung-gyu are on patrol when they see Anna exit the house. And ha, he pushes Sung-gyu aside. Anna says she’s out for a walk because the wine has made her cheeks warm, and when he places his hands on her face, she notes how cold his hands are.

He places both hands on her cheeks, and when she snuggles into his touch, he pinches her cheek. He gets her an ice back once they’re inside, and she sighs when Je-ha turns to leave for patrol. That means there isn’t anywhere she can go where it would be safe, but she says it’s okay because she had fun today.

Je-ha smiles to himself and then hands her a walkie-talkie, just in case ya know, she hears something go bump in the night. Uh huh. He shows her how to use it and breaks into another smile.

She immediately tests it out while he’s out on patrol and scolds him for not saying “over” at the end of his transmissions. He in turn reminds her that she needn’t sound so formal, and she asks if he isn’t scared to patrol the premises on his own.

He says he isn’t. Anna intermittently checks on his location and gets up when he’s says he’s back in the house. She asks if he’s tired, and he replies that he’s fine. He does, however, advise that she get some sleep, and buries his face in his hands while she thinks on that.

She bids him goodnight, and he does the same, though sits anxiously waiting for the next transmission. She keeps the walkie-talkie beside her and utters, “Je-ha-yah. I think I like you.”

She pulls the covers over her head, only to pull them down again and pick up the walkie-talkie. She speaks, asking if he’s asleep, then sneaks out of her room when he doesn’t answer.

She finds him asleep in the living room, albeit restless. He’s dreaming of the day Rania was killed, and just as he uncovers the wrap, he bolts awake, gasping. Still trying to catch his breath, he pulls Anna toward him.

He comes to his senses a few moments later, and they both break apart and sit on opposite ends of the couch. She asks if he had a dream, and he stammers that it must’ve been.

They both awkwardly get up, and when Anna says she was putting a blanket on him because she was afraid he’d be cold, Je-ha says it’s hot out. She lingers for a few more drawn out moments before heading back into her room.

Je-ha beats himself up and contemplates talking into the walkie-talkie, only to forfeit that idea and start towards her door and give that up seconds later. He walks back and forth while Anna beams in her room.

She can’t help but smile thinking back to their embrace minutes earlier. She’s too excited to sleep and presses an ear to the door, unaware that Je-ha is doing the same on the other side.

Je-ha slowly reaches for the door handle while Anna grasps the handle on the other side.

 
COMMENTS

Given this enclosed web of politics and revenge, I honestly hadn’t considered Sung-won as a potential player in this league. But he too has something to protect, even if JB Group is a conglomerate falling apart in his hands. At the bare minimum, his motivation is to keep his noona from getting her hands on the company herself, and for a while there, he seemed satisfied with letting his mother and father-in-law do the dirty work for him.

It’s hard to say whether or not he orchestrated this plan to take Anna from her former captor, but I would hope that Sung-won is more cunning than he lets on. He certainly did his fair share of homework by tracking down the psychiatrist Anna knew as a girl and even thought to take the JSS employees with her when he “kidnapped” her right under Yoo-jin’s nose. He had to know that those same employees would be potentially disposed of when their use was up, and to toy with Je-ha’s instinct to protect Anna at all costs. His approach to give her a sense of recluse and security so that she would choose him over her stepmother is a brilliant little plan because then his ambitions are masked by her voluntary choice.

It’s somewhat reassuring that Je-ha won’t be easily fooled, and even challenges Sung-won’s ideas that a chaebol in financial trouble would wield more power than a future president. Aside from a temporary place of shelter and his word, Sung-won doesn’t have much on his own to counter Yoo-jin’s widespread network. He may have his father-in-law on his side now, but what businessman would move mountains for his son-in-law without seeing a return?

At least Sung-won does know that Yoo-jin always has her little birdies on hand, especially when he’s talking to Se-joon. He knows to be on guard, and like any other businessman, knows that Anna is his insurance policy against Yoo-jin and her plans. So the best thing Je-ha can do right now is keep his promise and protect Anna whilst also respecting her wishes. She currently chooses to stay away from Yoo-jin because she doesn’t have anywhere else to go. What worries me, of course, is that this new prison is a facade for something much worse.

Then there’s Yoo-jin, who also sees herself as a victim caught in this complicated web of politics. As a potentially unloved daughter to maintaining a perfect public image in an unloved marriage, it’s easy for her to see everyone else as a wrongdoer despite her own evil decisions. It couldn’t have been easy for her to listen to Je-ha talk about protecting Anna and other innocent lives when she doesn’t see Anna as an innocent herself. After Je-ha went to such lengths to protect her, seeing him guard Anna and speak of her on the same level of his past love is a hard pill for her to swallow. And to top it all off, now Anna is slowly but surely making decisions for herself. Her world is falling beneath her feet—could a bloody iron fist be enough to save it?

 
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260 October 23, 2016October 29, 2016

The K2: Episode 10

by gummimochi

Ensuring Anna’s safety will be even more important this hour when nearly everyone around her is preparing for battle. Everything may be fair in love and war, but it’ll take everything in Je-ha’s arsenal to keep her out of the crossfire. When this world is full of people who are eager to use her for their own benefit, she’ll have one bodyguard who will shield her from any attack no matter what.

EPISODE 10 RECAP

Je-ha’s fingers are clasped around the door handle when Anna’s voice transmits through the walkie-talkie. He leaps across the room in silence, nearly hurting himself before picking up in an even voice.

She says he forgot to tell her goodnight, so he does. Content, she tells the radio to sleep well, as he does the same.

Mi-ran applies makeup on Anna’s face the next morning, and giggles that Anna needs to have her first kiss too. Recalling how Je-ha administered mouth-to-mouth resuscitation following her allergy attack, Anna says she’s already been kissed.

Anna pouts while Mi-ran laughs at how that doesn’t count as a kiss—why, she was even kissed yesterday. Curious, Anna clings to that slip-up, and Mi-ran quickly changes the subject, explaining how she let Anna have Je-ha.

Anna rolls her eyes at that, and Mi-ran smiles that they’ll apply some lipstick that make her lips magically kissable. She runs out looking for Je-ha, and looks disheartened when she’s told that he left early this morning.

What she doesn’t know is why, as we hear the housekeeper recall how Je-ha had planned to meet Yoo-jin so she wouldn’t hunt Anna down anymore.

We see Je-ha get out of his car for a smoke when he’s sent a selca of Anna looking dolled up. He scoffs, and the text is quickly followed up with a call from Anna herself, who anxiously asks for his opinion.

She beams when he says she looks pretty and declares that he’s hers now. He’s initially puzzled and then sighs, telling her to think however she likes. She tells him to stay safe today, and he replies that he will.

He meets Yoo-jin outside her home and rides along in the car, where she asks if Anna likes her new situation. He answers “yes”, but when she asks when they’ll return, he says nothing, which infuriates her.

Secretary Kim later reminds Yoo-jin to keep her bubbling anger in check prior to her last interview regarding Anna. She’s already working on making sure the public forgets Anna soon enough.

Down in the parking lot, Chief Joo wonders what Sung-won may do next because he must know that Yoo-jin won’t let this current arrangement continue if her husband is elected. Which is why Chief Joo believes that Anna isn’t a shield to Sung-won, but a sword he can use to strike Yoo-jin.

Anna is makeup-free when she greets Sung-won, who hands her the case files regarding her mother’s death. During her TV interview, Yoo-jin is asked how she became Anna’s guardian. She explains how she and Anna’s mother became friends while she was working at JB Group and the latter was a commercial model for the company.

Anna’s mother had met her future husband, Director Go, at JB Group since the company had been producing one of his projects. Yoo-jin thinks calling herself a matchmaker would be a stretch, but she feels as if she’s the reason why those two had gotten married.

The interviewer picks up on that note of guilt, asking if it was because the marriage didn’t last. Emotions well up in Yoo-jin’s voice as she confirms it and tearfully nods that was why she later took Anna in.

Seeing those tears, the interviewer pauses for a commercial break. Yoo-jin stiffens and turns off her mic to remark how it would’ve been better to keep going, to which the host returns a casual apology, knowing how difficult it must’ve been for Yoo-jin to wring out those tears.

But then the host does a little fact check—to her knowledge Yoo-jin was studying overseas during the time she claimed to have been working at JB Group. While the makeup artist fixes her makeup, Yoo-jin softly answers she came back to Korea from time to time.

And to that, the host says her brother-in-law was at JB Group at the time, and even he couldn’t corroborate her story. Yoo-jin returns that an ordinary employee couldn’t have known, and the host answers, “He was a president there.” Oh my damn.

The host doesn’t bat an eyelash when Yoo-jin suggests that they stick to the script—her son is currently overseas, thus Yoo-jin won’t be able to use him to manipulate her. And this time, she’ll get the last word: “Will my son be separated from his mother and wander alone in this world for ten years?”

On that note, the host continues the interview, noting how Yoo-jin must’ve kept in touch with Anna’s mother, Um Hye-rin, following her divorce and return to Korea. It takes a few moments for Yoo-jin to snap out of her daze and formulate an answer about how much it pained her to see Hye-rin so distraught.

Her words get caught in her throat when Yoo-jin speaks of Hye-rin’s death. She confirms that Anna has been her ward since then, and that Hye-rin did not know the fashion designer who is currently searching for Anna.

Noting how it’s a pity Anna isn’t present, the host points out how Yoo-jin described how Anna was a “sick child.” Yoo-jin affirms that statement, describing how Anna is unable to even leave the house because of her social aversion and panic disorder. Uh oh, I see where this conversation is going.

It’s at that moment the host invites Anna to join them on stage. Yoo-jin’s eyes widen as she sees Anna walk in with Sung-won, who exchange nods with the host. Je-ha appears worried, but Anna boldly walks to the stage.

The crew has dimmed the lights for Anna’s benefit, and the interview continues. Anna explains how she knew who the designer was, but she had no idea he was looking for her. She claims her mother had brought up his name from time to time, because the fashion designer was one of her mother’s friends.

But this version of the story doesn’t match with Yoo-jin’s earlier claims, and Yoo-jin can’t come up with a defense. They watch a video message from the designer himself who speaks of how much Anna looked like his former muse: her late mother. He belatedly learned of the mother-daughter connection, and asks Anna to be his new muse so he can make her a star.

Anna surprises everyone with her answer that she won’t be traveling abroad anytime soon. Her priorities are to treat her panic disorder and take care of business here first. When asked what that is, Anna turns to a tense and silent Yoo-jin, then answers that she plans on cracking the case regarding her mother’s death.

Rather than a refusal to acknowledge her mother’s death as suicide, Anna would like to know the reasons why her case was ruled as such. Her mother was still a popular celebrity at the time, and they were supposed to leave for the States. She had even prepared a passport for her, but she had died that night and hadn’t left behind a suicide note.

Sung-won appears satisfied with the interview and turns to leave while the host asks if Yoo-jin has any information to offer Anna since she and her mother were close friends.

Yoo-jin can’t think of anything, so Anna turns to the camera and makes a public plea, asking for any and all information regarding her mother’s death.

That gets people questioning the case, and afterward, Je-ha confronts Anna for putting herself in her enemies’ direct line of fire. He wonders if Sung-won was responsible for the surprise appearance, but Anna claims that the idea was hers and Sung-won had tried to persuade her not to. Oh, Sung-won, how sneaky of you.

Once they’re alone, Je-ha’s voice softens to concern. Anna says Sung-won will help her get back at Yoo-jin, and Je-ha will be there to protect her.

Needless to say Yoo-jin is still shaking when she returns to the dressing room. She admits that she must’ve miscalculated and that she should’ve listened to Secretary Kim’s suggestion of killing Anna when they had the chance.

As Je-ha reads over the case documents, Anna explains how her mother actually died a painful death because her nails were broken when they found her. CEO Gook meets with the police commissioner who says how the tables have turned against Se-joon now. He whispers the shocking reason to CEO Gook, though we’re not privy to hear it yet.

Both Anna and Yoo-jin get made up in separate salons. Secretary Kim reassures Yoo-jin that she’ll take care of things before she meets Se-joon later that evening, but Yoo-jin decides that it’s best not to strike Je-ha for now—they’ll find a use for him later. She wistfully adds that he still has the email.

While Anna is busy being attended to, Je-ha chats with Sung-won. He remarks on how all company chairmen must have a lot of free time on their hands, to which Sung-won chuckles that his employees are the ones making the money.

People like him are busy fighting wars over castles they’ve built and stolen from one another. He describes it as a vicious, never-ending cycle of battles and conquering and battling some more, which prompts Je-ha to retort that Chief Joo was right that Sung-won is using Anna like a weapon.

Sung-won is impressed and cheerily confirms that he’s correct; however, he doesn’t see anything wrong with helping Anna get her revenge if that means he gets to keep JB Group. He laughs when Je-ha accuses him of deliberately handing over case documents that contain graphic crime scene photos to a girl prone to panic attacks.

He reminds Je-ha that the woman he loves is no longer a child. Je-ha retorts that Sung-won must not know his noona at all, because he would never have brought Anna to the studio if he did.

Midway through Anna’s photoshoot, the photographer informs Sung-won that he’s limited without the use of flash. So Sung-won sends everyone away for lunch, and gives Anna some anti-anxiety drugs prescribed by Doctor Lee.

He claims the medication will kick in about an hour’s time, which should hopefully allow them to use flash photography. Having overheard the exchange, Je-ha examines the bottle and says she should be receiving medication directly from her doctor instead of Sung-won.

But Anna trusts that Sung-won wouldn’t give her anything dangerous and hopes that the drugs will work. Oh honey.

As Sung-won and the photographer’s crew leaves the building, a delivery man pulls up with a flower basket for Anna. He takes down the guards when he’s denied entry, then signals the other men inside.

Je-ha doubles back when he sees the men carrying in trunks containing gas masks and other equipment. He sees the men release anesthetic gas into the air, and he’s unable to get through to anyone since those men have disabled the wireless service within the building.

He hurries back to Anna and instructs her to escape through the ducts. She refuses to leave him behind, but he reminds her that he can fight his way out of this building. He’ll be at a disadvantage if she stays since he’ll need to protect her, but Anna argues that he’ll be useless against the gas anyway.

He sees the gas nearby, but Anna continues to protest, so he begs her to leave first lest they both die. Anna relents, and he sends her up through the air duct while the room continues to fill up with gas.

Thankfully Je-ha is able to use the landline to call Secretary Kim, and when she says Yoo-jin is busy, he realizes that it was her. Secretary Kim has no reason to call those men off since she neither likes Je-ha nor cares for Se-joon.

Everything was going according to plan until Je-ha showed up on the scene and threw everything into chaos, she continues. Now it’s time to place everyone back in their rightful place.

Je-ha manages to tell Secretary Kim that he’ll be coming for her before the line goes dead. He hides in the corner until the men in gas masks show up, then takes them down one at a time.

He swipes one of the gas masks and marches toward the next group of masked men who wield knives. He avoids their oncoming swipes, but his mask is ripped off of his face. Coughing, he waits for a masked man to attack, and avoids their jabs and strikes.

Anna happens to see the fight from above as Je-ha takes a few punches before grabbing one man to use him as a launching pad for a flying kick. He knocks the knife out of his hand and removes his gas mask.

Je-ha wields a knife against the two other masked men, slashing one man’s arm and twirling the knife in his hand before slashing another arm. Unfortunately, he’s kicked down to the ground, and just as the man is about to strike, Anna appears behind him and takes down both men with a fire extinguisher.

She screams at Je-ha to come to while one man approaches her with a knife. She runs down the halls, hollering Je-ha’s name. She hides from her pursuer, but is unable to stifle a cough, and that gives away her position.

Just as her attacker is about to turn the corner, Je-ha appears from behind and strangles him. He falls to the ground moments later, and Anna removes the gas mark and manages to put it on him before she too falls unconscious.

Seeing the small group of protesters outside the prosecutor’s office, Se-joon says it’s about time for his release. The prosecutor agrees, but instead of coming back to collect Se-joon, the prosecutor announces that the politician is subject to be investigated for a different crime.

Both Se-joon and Yoo-jin tense at the news while Representative Park laughs maniacally in his office.

Mi-ran and Sung-gyu find Je-ha and Anna in the building. Everyone is awake by the time Sung-won returns to the building, and Je-ha suggests that Anna be moved to the safe house since Secretary Kim wouldn’t dare to strike JSS.

He calls Chief Joo to fill him in while the group led by Yoo-jin heads down to the Cloud Nine sublevel to find out about Se-joon’s newest investigation. Incensed, she tells her legal team to do whatever they can to prevent an arrest, then follows up with her accountants to make sure the documents they handed over to the prosecutors were error-free.

She’s unable to get through to the presidential chief of staff, Chief Min, because he’s busy asking if Representative Park is trying to force the president’s hand. But Representative Park insists that he’s simply taking preventative measures against Se-joon, believing he shouldn’t join their political party.

He admits he is scared of an ordinary man like Se-joon trying to battle the political nobility. So what he’d like is for Chief Min to stay out of sight until the election is over, at which point he’ll reserve a cushy position for Chief Min.

He hangs up to rejoin the celebratory party he’s holding for the other politicians he’s “saved” from the corruption case, welcoming them all back with open arms. Hearing that there are some younger politicians outside who would like to join in on the festivities, Representative Park instructs his secretary to set up a separate room for them.

Yoo-jin, meanwhile, tries to wrap her head around what Representative Park has up his sleeve. CEO Gook believes that Representative Park is using Chief Min to get to the president so that they can get an arrest warrant against Se-joon and drag on the case until the presidential election.

Even if they win the legal case, CEO Gook says they’ll lose their shot at the presidency. So what they need to do now is to attack Representative Park tonight. Yoo-jin questions whether or not that’s actually possible since the politician likely called upon the most elite bodyguards he could muster.

CEO Gook points out that they have someone even better than those men: Je-ha.

Speaking of whom, Je-ha sends the JSS agents to check out the safe house before collecting Anna. She confesses that she’s too scared, so Je-ha takes the blanket on her lap and covers them both with it.

Taking small steps together, Je-ha tells her to be careful since they can’t see what lies ahead of them. He turns to her to ask if she’s scared. She is, and their faces are mere inches apart. He gulps at the close proximity… and then her stomach growls. Je-ha: “Are you hungry?” Way to kill the mood, dude.

She asks if that was her, and he says it was. Feeling awkward, she says she was just surprised, and then declines his offer to make her ramyun. Je-ha: “Then why is your stomach making noises?”

She insists that her stomach is fine, and then they both trip on the steps. They walk for a few more seconds before he asks if she’s okay now. Anna says she’s still a bit scared, and Je-ha’s face draws nearer for a moment before he turns away and they both trip again.

He reaches for the door and once they’re inside, he asks what she wants to eat most. She thinks about it for a moment, then says she doesn’t know. They take a few more steps together before Je-ha says they’ve arrived. Anna: “Already?”

Je-ha asks if she’s still scared. She murmurs in agreement, and he swoops in to kiss her. In the kitchen, Mi-ran squeals when she realizes what the lovebirds are doing. Sung-gyu protects her when the housekeeper scolds her, only to be scolded himself. Lol.

Over at Cloud Nine, Chief Joo says that the best attack is one when the enemy least expects it. But Representative Park will expect them to retaliate tonight, which makes their chances of success slim, even for someone as skilled as Je-ha.

But it seems Yoo-jin is willing to act on that sliver of success because Je-ha answers the call on the condition that the safe house is protected. He tells Anna that he’ll be back, but Anna knows that means he’s headed for danger. She tells him not to go and embraces him.

Je-ha leaves anyway, and sits with Cloud Nine to learn that while he has a chance to assassinate Representative Park, it’s unlikely he’ll return alive.

He agrees to do it, but he has several conditions. Yoo-jin braces herself before hearing the first: he wants Secretary Kim’s head. Secretary Kim agrees to that, but has a condition of her own: Je-ha needs to off Representative Park first.

All parties agree that the deal is a fair one, and Je-ha names his next condition: Yoo-jin will promise to leave Anna alone. If Yoo-jin does that, he’ll persuade Anna to stay out of her way. Yoo-jin agrees to that.

Je-ha says he’d like reinforcements so that he isn’t the only one taking all the blows. CEO Gook agrees and asks if they can’t have the email Je-ha is holding hostage. But Yoo-jin says they don’t need it, since they’ll be done for anyway if Je-ha doesn’t succeed.

Everyone but Je-ha is dismissed, and Yoo-jin says affectionately, “Je-ha-yah. You can turn back if you think the situation is too dangerous.” He asks where this sudden concern is coming from, but she needn’t worry—he got rid of that email long ago.

“Je-ha-yah…” she repeats. Je-ha walks up to her and says, “I believe you’re someone who upholds her promises.”

Anna calls him just before the agents move out, and asks that he bring back some ddukbokki later. Tears well up in her eyes as she says it’s okay if it’ll be late, and refuses to let anyone eat some besides them.

Secretary Kim calls Team Leader Seo to issue an additional order: regardless of how tonight’s assassination goes, Je-ha must be taken out and his phone must be confiscated.

At the same time, Je-ha jokes that he’ll need to pick up the food if he wants to stay alive. Anna tells him to come back alive. “That’s an order.”

Je-ha: “I’ll make sure to come back to you.”

 
COMMENTS

Not if Secretary Kim has her way, that is. I know I should feel a greater sense of dread about Je-ha being thrown into the front lines of this mission, but I’m also reminded that we simply can’t lose a hero three weeks to the end. I do, however, fear that he might come dangerously close since the phrase, “I’ll be right back” is every hero’s parting words before he enters a fight he might not win.

Still, Je-ha hasn’t been beaten yet, especially when it comes to protecting those whom he holds dear. Now Anna is on the top of that list, and he’ll do anything it takes to come back and protect her from the wolves that are eager to devour her. Even if that means asking for Secretary Kim whose loyalty to Yoo-jin has never wavered. We’ve previously seen just how far that loyalty goes, from escorting a young Anna to the airport to offering to have Anna killed and even now, ordering that Je-ha be done away with. Despite all the evil deeds she’s carried out for her boss, she hasn’t shown an interest in trying to take a cut of the ambitious pie herself, instead sticking to Yoo-jin’s side like glue. It makes me wonder if her actions are an extension of her sense of loyalty or a deeper sense of affection.

Even though it seems like we’ve been waiting a while since Representative Park found out about Je-ha, I do realize that only a few days have passed in this dramaverse. Seeing him take down Yoo-jin’s whole world and network in a matter of hours did pump in some tension into the story, though the execution was rather underwhelming knowing that all of that was magically orchestrated offscreen. Luckily for him, we have Yoo-jin to walk us through her crumbling world with her emotions, which have been on edge this week.

She’s been losing a lot of ground in this ongoing war, and her anger and fear threaten to boil over the thin mask she puts on to hide them. Although she knows that Je-ha would do anything to protect Anna, her final conversation with him proves that she wishes to protect him too. She breaks down the emotional distance by calling him “Je-ha-yah” and even gives him an out, even though his escape would mean losing everything she’s worked for.

These two characters have toed the line between business partners and friends from time to time, giving us some crackling acting chemistry. Although Je-ha is devoted to Anna now, Yoo-jin is willing to admit her attachment to him. I sometimes wonder if it’s almost romantic on her end since her husband doesn’t love her, but at the very least, she would feel threatened to lose her own protector.

Speaking of which, it is nice to see Anna looking out for Je-ha. He’s always been the one to protect her, but her concern for others extends to him too. Sure she’ll still refuse to leave his side in clear danger and is still too trusting with Sung-won, but the girl has gotten a proper first kiss now, so you know she’ll want him to come back for a second.

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102 October 29, 2016

The K2: Episode 11

by gummimochi

A tumultuous war threatens to break out this week when one mission will put more than one life in danger. Knowing who to trust will be the key to navigating this complicated maze of politics, where one wrong move can spell death. Je-ha will need to rely on the only ray of sunlight in his life to pull through the darkest of times with obstacles that could potentially pull him back under.

EPISODE 11 RECAP

Master Song insists on joining the JSS agents on their mission to take out Representative Park while CEO Gook calls the police commissioner about switching sides. The politician’s men spot the drove of vans leaving the JSS headquarters, and thanks to the police commissioner, Representative Park is tipped off about tonight’s planned attack at his home.

His secretary decides it’s safer to escort Representative Park to a hideout, knowing full well that they’re being followed. Indeed the car behind them is from JSS, and they’re momentarily stopped by a traffic cop who’s actually working for Representative Park.

As a supply truck leaves the JSS headquarters, the agent tailing Representative Park reports that he’s lost the target, only to spot a similar car a minute later. It’s a classic diversion technique, as the real car transporting the politician drives away safely.

While the JSS agents stare down at Representative Park’s men in their respective vehicles, we see the supply truck—which contain JSS snipers—park outside the politician’s hideout. Sure enough, they see Representative Park’s car pull in.

Yoo-jin is pleased to hear everything is going according to plan, even praising CEO Gook for his efforts. Over at the hideout, the policemen following Representative Park look awfully familiar—it’s Je-ha and Team Leader Seo.

Representative Park’s secretary ask the men if they’ve eaten, but then everyone freezes when Team Leader Seo answers “yes.” Je-ha realizes that was a secret question, and he finds himself surrounded before he can pull out his gun.

The men are instructed to shoot, but that’s when the JSS snipers start shooting them down like flies. Je-ha and Team Leader Seo take cover in the ensuing shootout, and run after Representative Park, who is escorted away from the crossfire.

Both men keep their eye on the target, shooting at every opportunity. The snipers provide reinforcement, taking a shot whenever the target is in sight. Je-ha and Team Leader Seo tail Representative Park and his bodyguards into an office, where Representative Park’s secretary shoots Team Leader Seo in the back.

The secretary throws the now empty gun away, and Je-ha comes face to face with more of Representative Park’s men. When one of them puts a gun to Team Leader Seo’s head, Je-ha shoots him down.

He then rushes over to Team Leader Seo, who screams at him to stay focused on the target. Seeing Representative Park crawl away, Je-ha jumps into a chair and rolls across the room while shooting his gun.

As Representative Park runs into his panic room, Je-ha slides underneath the closing door. He keeps his gun trained on the terrified politician, and he curses himself as the symptoms of his PTSD rise to the surface.

Angry tears fall from Je-ha’s eyes as he breathes heavily, unable to pull the trigger. He shoots at the ceiling instead, letting out agonized screams. It takes another minute for Je-ha’s breathing to become even, and now that he’s no longer in immediate danger, Representative Park asks Je-ha to hear him out.

At the words that Je-ha won’t be able to come out alive even if he kills Representative Park, he’s reminded of Anna’s orders to return to her. Representative Park offers double however much his employers are paying him for his assassination. Reminded of Yoo-jin’s words that a bullet isn’t the only thing that can kill a man, Je-ha can’t help but laugh.

Representative Park starts awkwardly laughing with him when Je-ha says money is exactly what mercenaries like him love to hear. The politician is instructed to sit and grant the JSS agents safe passage.

Je-ha realizes that Representative Park knows who he is, though he wonders how much the politician knows. He’s relieved when it appears Representative Park knows that he’s killed before but unable to kill anyone at present. He outwardly ponders the offer and calls Yoo-jin to tell her all about it.

Yoo-jin realizes this means Je-ha is currently operating alone, thus unable to kill Representative Park. She mulls over the situation and asks to speak with the politician.

She smiles when Representative Park admits defeat, though she doesn’t take up the man on his offer to release Se-joon in exchange for sparing his life right away. He gets her attention when he offers that Se-joon can join his political party, to which Yoo-jin says amusingly that she might consider if Representative Park withdraws from this election.

Representative Park chuckles before saying he’s better off being killed, but she knows where he stands now and gives him fifteen minutes to deliberate. She asks to speak with Je-ha and tells him: “Come back alive, no matter what.”

Next thing we know, all the JSS agents move out, much to Master Song’s confusion. He’s even more puzzled when he’s told that they’ve won. Se-joon is released from the prosecutor’s office while the Democratic Party announces a formal invitation for Se-joon to join their party.

Yoo-jin won’t celebrate until Je-ha returns safe and sound, which only makes Secretary Kim more nervous. So when Secretary Kim tries calling Team Leader Seo, the call goes unanswered.

Representative Park hands Je-ha a bagful of cold hard cash from his safe, then sits down to casually mention how he knows Je-ha was a part of Blackstone. Despite his initial surprise, Je-ha keeps his cool, and Representative Park says he had once hired the Blackstone mercenaries to protect him.

Representative Park appears surprised himself when Je-ha pinpoints that he must’ve been there on private business. When Je-ha says it reeks of oil in this room, Representative Park retorts that it isn’t oil, but likely the smell of blood.

He admits he likes Je-ha, whom he’d been trying to arrange a private meeting with. He chuckles that he should thank Yoo-jin for dropping Je-ha at his feet, because he knows Je-ha is in her inner circle.

He offers Je-ha to work for him and his country while earning some pocket money on the side. Je-ha agrees to being brought on for-hire (though methinks it’s just to make sure he leaves the building alive), and Representative Park makes sure that Je-ha leaves safely with the money in hand.

Je-ha rejoins the other JSS agents and says nothing when Team Leader Seo asks about the money. Se-joon is filled in on recent events through Sung-won, concluding that Yoo-jin wanted Anna dead. When Chief Joo says Sung-won made the first move though, he asks if Chief Joo’s loyalties lie with Yoo-jin.

Chief Joo doesn’t have much of a defense to how Anna’s life was in danger, adding that it was Yoo-jin who was responsible for his release. But Se-joon refuses to hear any more.

Yoo-jin congratulates Secretary Kim for not losing her life. She warns her not to mess with Je-ha lest she actually has a death wish. Desperate, Secretary Kim pleads with her, saying that she can do anything Je-ha can do for her.

Yoo-jin shares in that same earnest sentiment, but for Je-ha. Therefore it’s to Secretary Kim’s best interest not to push her to the edge and to focus on what she does best rather than try to do what Je-ha can do for her.

Anna stands vigil by the window and brightens when she sees Je-ha pull into the driveway. She runs down excitedly and briefly stops short at the steps outside before running into his open arms.

She welcomes him home, and he apologizes for not picking up the ddukbokki because he left his wallet behind. She says she can let him off just this once and agrees to go out to have something even better.

Se-joon’s return, however, is far less romantic as he greets his wife with a slap across the face. He seethes and Yoo-jin tells her staff to leave them. Se-joon loudly reminds Yoo-jin of their arrangement: she doesn’t harm Anna and they’ll both go to the Blue House.

“You’re nothing if I don’t become president, Choi Yoo Jin!” he bellows. Yoo-jin backs down and asks if Se-joon doesn’t wish to become president. He asks if that’s a threat, and she explains how she probably could get a few subsidiaries from JB Group if she were to strike a deal with Sung-won.

Se-joon laughs in disbelief, knowing that Yoo-jin won’t be truly satisfied with just acquiring the dregs. “Is that right?” she returns in an innocent voice. Her voice then finds in roots when she says she could entertain something bigger: “Should I make a deal with Park Kwan-soo like I did with you?”

She’d just be trading out one despicable politician for another, and she’s sure Representative Park would be enticed if she offered to hand Se-joon over in exchange for JB Group when he’s elected president: “Would [he] decline such an offer?”

She says Se-joon must think she’s joking when he chuckles, adding threateningly: “Have you forgotten who I am?” Yoo-jin reminds him that he’s nothing without her, and Anna can die too if she crosses the line. If Se-joon doesn’t like it, he can simply drop out of the presidential race.

She calls him out for the pitiful look on his face, arguing that she’s the pitiful party here. She’s the one who fell for him despite his lofty political ambitions and was never loved in return. She’s willing to make herself vulnerable in this moment, confessing that until quite recently her heart would flutter at his slightest touch.

He must’ve known that and used that to his advantage, but unfortunately for him, she doesn’t have an ounce of feeling for him anymore. She invites him to test that theory and touch her, then laughs at his face when he does nothing.

Yoo-jin admits that she was swayed by him in his heyday—he was impressive, intelligent, and just. Or that’s what she was led to believe, just like the voters. But she turns upon him with a look of disgust, saying he was just as lewd and cunning then as he is today.

He used her rage and jealousy to betray Anna’s mother, whom he loved and left her to die. She grits through clenched teeth that despite Se-joon’s hand being the first one that has ever struck her, she’ll let him keep it to continue his campaign.

“Take good care of it,” she warns, tears threatening to spill from her eyes. “Because I’ll come back to claim it once you don’t need it for your political activities.”

Yoo-jin does her own makeup without the help of Secretary Kim and calls up a tiny smile before it fades away.

Je-ha and Anna, meanwhile, joins the other JSS agents on a celebratory dinner. He stops Anna from drinking, worried that her cheeks might flush pink again, but she insists that she’ll be fine. The other agents whoop excitedly as she downs the glass, and when Mi-ran makes a wrap for Sung-gyu, Team Leader Seo swoops in to eat it. Lol.

Yoo-jin watches the group celebrate from her car. Her eyes trained on Je-ha and Anna celebrating together, she declines the suggestion of bringing Je-ha in, letting him take the night off to enjoy himself.

The entire group heads back to the safe house afterward, where Je-ha feels uncomfortable when Team Leader Seo looks at him fondly: “What’s with you, hyung?” Touched by the term of endearment, Team Leader Seo pulls him into a hug. Je-ha kicks him away.

Since everyone’s been drinking tonight, the group opts to spend the night at the safe house. Cut to: the JSS agents in sheet masks, including Team Leader Seo whom Mi-ran smacks into submission.

He refuses to join in, though he winces when Anna hits his back. He argues that someone as handsome as him doesn’t need to partake in this, a statement that offends all the other agents. But then he ends up wearing a sheet mask too. HA.

Je-ha can hardly sleep amongst the snoring men and their odd sleeping habits. Anna can’t sleep either, thinking back to the kiss earlier that afternoon. Remembering Je-ha’s injured back, she sneaks out to grab the first-aid kit.

She checks in to see if he’s awake, and he invites her up to the roof. She squeals excitedly when she sees that he had the attic organized, then proceeds to start unbuttoning his shift. He’s taken aback, but she doesn’t explain herself and keeps trying, and he replies softly, “No, I’m not ready yet.” Pfft, what sort of thoughts are you having?

She tenderly treats the cut on his back and berates him for treating his body so recklessly when he belongs to her. He says he won’t anymore and thanks her, adding that it doesn’t hurt anymore.

With that, they head up to the roof, where Anna notes how chilly it’s gotten. But Je-ha isn’t worried as he opens a window to reveal a blanket he’s hidden… and wraps it around himself. Heh.

Anna gives him a dirty look and starts coughing, which is when he laughs and covers them both. When she asks if they only have one blanket, he answers no, and she giggles, “Why are we sitting like this then?”

He stares at her face for a few moments before snuggling closer and asking if someday into the future, she might want to live with him in Spain. He wonders if she doesn’t when she says nothing, and Anna explains how Spain was somewhere she so desperately wanted to escape from.

Still, she acknowledges it’s also where they first met, so she agrees to go. “I think it’ll be okay if I go with you.” It’s at that moment she realizes she doesn’t know that much about him. Honey, you aren’t the only one.

She asks what he was doing in Spain when they met, and he takes a beat before answering that he was on the run. Asked why, he replies, “Because I’m being framed for murdering someone I couldn’t protect.”

“Was it someone you loved?” she ventures. He grunts in affirmation, and Anna realizes this must be why he’s suffering from his nightmares every night. He says it is, and Anna places his head on her shoulder, comforting him. “It must’ve been hard for you,” she says before correcting herself. “No, it still must be hard for you.”

He buries his face in her shoulder as a tear rolls down his face. “It’s okay,” he says before burrowing deeper. He then lifts his head and tells her that he used to think he had nothing to lose because he didn’t have anything to protect.

“But now I’ve found someone I want to protect,” he continues. “So… I think I can be happy now.” They both smile at that, and she wonders when they can both leave for Spain. Caressing her hair, he answers, “When this war is over?”

Je-ha is met with a parade of thumbs-up by his fellow agents when he arrives to work the next day. He heads down to the Cloud Nine sublevel where Yoo-jin is already waiting for him. Je-ha tells Secretary Kim not to worry since he didn’t take Representative Park’s life, but the latter is apologetic anyway.

Yoo-jin greets the hero of JSS in a melodic voice, though Je-ha doesn’t feel comfortable with the new status. He notes how he didn’t take out Representative Park, but Yoo-jin still offers to hand Secretary Kim’s life over to him, and Je-ha remarks there are times when her jokes sound dangerously genuine to his ears.

She laughs that she must be that great of an actress, and is pleased to hear that he’s gained Representative Park’s trust.

Sung-won checks in on Anna and informs the rest of the staff that they now work for him. When Sung-gyu says this safe house belongs to JSS, Sung-won reveals that JB Group owns this property, so they should go ahead to switch out the entire security system… he says with the JSS security system still in place.

He hands over his unlimited credit card and tells Anna to continue to live here because he’ll put her name on the deed. She doesn’t quite understand the terminology, and the housekeeper says she should be incredibly grateful to Sung-won, who laughs that she needn’t know these things.

Back at Cloud Nine, Yoo-jin ruminates over Representative Park’s rhetoric of “the smell of blood.” It’s possible he could’ve been referring to his weapon dealings, but she believes it’s best they check in with her magic mirror.

She mentions she’ll need to lay out her trap because it won’t be long before Representative Park will try to enlist his help. The politician will want her head, and Je-ha must continue to foster his trust.

When Anna asks about her mother’s grave, Sung-won promises to go and pay their respects together prior to the fashion show held in her mother’s tribute later that evening.

Je-ha says nothing to Secretary Kim on his way out, and Yoo-jin invites her inside. She states, “It’s time for you to do your work, too.”

Secretary Kim replies that things are already in motion, and Yoo-jin returns that Je-ha must never know about this.

 
COMMENTS

Ooh, know about what? Putting Anna in danger again? Because that would be the nerve to pinch if Yoo-jin doesn’t want Je-ha to find out. That, and Je-ha didn’t complete the kill, therefore technically allowing Yoo-jin to continue to target Anna. Her concern toward Je-ha mirrored Anna’s affection for him more than ever this hour, particularly when she issued the same order for Je-ha to return alive. Yoo-jin is keenly attuned to Je-ha’s known vulnerabilities, immediately picking up that Je-ha was unable to pull the trigger even though he had Representative Park cornered. The choice of words in her voiceover is misleading, however, since it almost suggests that Je-ha couldn’t finish the kill because he wasn’t flanked by the other operatives.

So we have to trust in the idea that Je-ha is currently unable to pull the trigger to take a life because of his trauma, not just because he was facing Representative Park alone. It’s possible that she and Je-ha could’ve trusted in another agent, though I wonder how satisfied Je-ha would’ve been if, say a sniper were to have taken Representative Park out. This is where the deal gets rather tricky since it seems like Je-ha had to be the one to kill Representative Park though both he and Yoo-jin would’ve known how tough it would’ve been for him even if all the conditions were right.

Furthermore, our characters seem to focus more on the takeaways of the supposed failed assassination. Although the cards seemed stacked against Yoo-jin last week, she anticipated the diversion along with her enemy’s desire to recruit Je-ha. Even Representative Park put a positive spin on the attack because it gave him an unintentional audience with Je-ha. The politician would be a fool if he thinks that Je-ha is but a mere mercenary who goes where the money is, so we’ll have to wait and see if Representative Park is someone who sets up clever fail-safes (like the secret question) or falls into other traps.

In that same vein, while it was good for Je-ha to test how much Representative Park knows about him, he really should question the veracity of how much comes out of the politician’s mouth. He may think that the politician doesn’t know that he can’t shoot to kill, but if Chief Joo was able to dig up his PTSD diagnosis, then it’s altogether possible that Representative Park knows as well. He’s surrounded by politicians and those involved in business, who would promise almost anything if they stand to have something to gain.

But perhaps this is all because like Anna, we still don’t know all that much about Je-ha aside from his tragic hero backstory, his revenge, and his love and desire to protect Anna. We don’t even know his real name, either, and despite the moment Anna directly asked him about his past, we left that scene knowing just as much as we did before. Then there’s Yoo-jin, who laid out her vulnerability on the table with Se-joon. We’d seen hints of emotion whenever Se-joon let her down, but now we can confirm that at one point, she did love her husband enough to strike this business deal with him, even though she knew full well that his heart remained with someone else.

Like she said, she could barter new deals with anyone at this point, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s already cast a line with everyone she mentioned. Because if anyone is best prepared for war, it’s the woman sitting across her vanity mirror putting on her armor all on her own.

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211 October 30, 2016October 30, 2016

The K2: Episode 12

by gummimochi

Being the center of attention isn’t always easy, but Anna will need to stay in the spotlight in order to face her enemies head-on. Publicity acts like a double-edged sword this hour because while she isn’t the only one placed under the investigative microscope, the public exposure can invite other unforeseen consequences. The limelight will wait for no one, least of all the Barcelona Angel.

EPISODE 12 RECAP

Se-joon joins the Democratic Party by Representative Park per his deal with Yoo-jin. It’s all smiles for the cameras but Representative Park grits out that this fight between them isn’t over until one of them is dead.

Their secretaries exchange pointed barbs, one of which flies at Chief Joo, who acknowledges that it’s all due to Representative Park that he left the military long ago.

Sung-won upholds his promise by taking Anna to her mother’s gravesite, though their visit is accompanied by the press. The reporters wonder why Yoo-jin would’ve left her allegedly close friend’s grave to be neglected over the years.

Anna’s eyes well up in tears before her mother’s tombstone, and she places her hands over the mound. “Mom…” she softly cries. She tearfully apologizes that it took so long for her to get here, and adds that Mom shouldn’t wait up for her father because he won’t come. She asks her mother to sleep peacefully without any pills now.

Her choice of words leave the reporters puzzled, so Sung-won bends down and says her mother and father are now reunited in heaven. He steps away to get a call from his informant: the TV host who has conducted Yoo-jin’s interviews.

She has another tidbit on Anna’s mother that we don’t get to hear but Sung-won is appreciative.

Master Song is still upset that he was left out of the classified details on the attack against Representative Park. But he does know how Sung-won ended up inheriting JB Group in spite of Yoo-jin having much of the subsidiaries’ support. Yoo-jin was an excellent student but had poor taste in men, so when a playboy like Se-joon courted her, she naturally fell for him.

Not only did the late chairman oppose the union, JB Group had fallen on tough financial times. So the late chairman lined up a bunch of chaebols for Yoo-jin to marry instead, but she refused to marry any of them. Conversely, Sung-won readily married his father’s choice of wife, so it’s all thanks to his in-laws that he became the JB Group chairman, which is why he’s acts so subservient to his father-in-law.

But that doesn’t make Sung-won any less of a threat—in fact, he’s even more dangerous because no one could ever tell what he was truly thinking. Master Song has been part of JB Group even before JSS was even created, which is why he knows so much.

Sung-won and Anna pay a visit to an inmate in prison who recognizes her. Oh, is he the shadow from her mother’s room? He is, and he wonders if Anna doesn’t recognize him because he was the one who shone a flashlight in her face. Ah, that would explain the trigger to her panic attacks.

Anna seems to remember now, and the man launches into his story: He’d snuck in to rob another rich person’s house, only to find it was the movie star Um Hye-rin’s home. He hid in a corner when he heard a noise, thinking it was another burglar.

But that wasn’t the case, and the man stops himself, amusingly worried that the next bit could traumatize Anna. She swallows her fear and tells him to continue, so he does: someone had smothered Anna’s mother and stuck a syringe into her neck.

Anna realizes that her memory hadn’t failed her, and the man confirms that he saw the face of the true culprit. He teases that he probably remembers, but he won’t give that information up for free.

Sung-won chuckles, and his lawyer states it is possible to reduce the man’s prison sentence by a few years. Now they have the man’s attention, and he doesn’t need a photo to remember: “It was the ajumma next to you on TV. That woman.”

Anna’s memory pulls up an image of Yoo-jin smothering her mother. Sung-won looks smug and agrees to deal with anyone who might harm the inmate.

Anna is irritated that they can’t report Yoo-jin to the police now since that would jeopardize her father’s presidential campaign. That might not matter much to Anna, but Sung-won explains that her father needs to become president for her to be free. Yoo-jin should be punished for her crimes, but they need to make her father look like an innocent victim in all this.

All they need is a few days, but she mustn’t breathe a word of this to Je-ha because it could reach Yoo-jin’s ears. He sighs at Anna’s naivete that Je-ha wouldn’t betray her, saying that Je-ha is working for Yoo-jin and may not have a choice.

Speaking of whom, Je-ha gets worried when he’s unable to reach Anna. He’s directed to the salon where Anna is, in fact, getting ready for the fashion show tonight. He asks why she sent Mi-ran away since that means she didn’t have a bodyguard, but he tamps down his frustration.

The salon owner notes how they don’t seem to share a typical bodyguard-client relationship, and Je-ha’s eyes go wide when Anna introduces him as her boyfriend. He’s shoved into the chair, as a hint of doubt crosses Anna’s face.

They show up to the fashion show looking sharp, though Je-ha’s expression hardens when Sung-won confirms that Anna has taken the medication he gave her earlier. They swing by to see the designer, who expresses how honored he is to feature Anna before the other well-known designer, Jean-Paul Lafelt, looking for his Barcelona Angel.

While she’s getting ready, she asks Sung-won for more medication to calm her nerves. Sung-won obliges, though Je-ha swipes the bottle and pulls Anna aside to remind her that this would be her third dosage today.

He fears she might overdose or grow dependent on them, but Anna wants to make sure she does a good job today to honor her mother. She asks him to let her today and softly asks for the pills.

Anna is pulled away just then, so Je-ha confronts Sung-won about the real reason why he’s feeding Anna medication and having her stand onstage. Sung-won plays dumb and says Anna is paying tribute to her mother.

A celebrity is both easily loved and easily forgotten, so they need to stir the public’s curiosity about why Anna’s mother died. “That’s what Anna and I want,” he finishes.

Je-ha softens when he’s delivered a water bottle with a note from Anna. He takes a gulp and flashes the bottle to her when she steps out of the tent in her wardrobe. He looks on as Anna speaks to the crowd, thanking everyone for coming out in remembrance of her mother.

As the crowd applauds, Anna vows to her mother to unearth the truth behind her wrongful death. Je-ha is there when she steps off, and he praises her.

The show begins, and prior to her turn, Je-ha sees Anna ask for more pills. Even Mi-ran is concerned, but Anna steps on the catwalk albeit with a shaky gait.

She keeps walking past the bright lights, her walk wavering with each step. Sung-won nods to a staffer who then signals a light operator to shine a beam in Anna’s face. As she starts to fall, Je-ha runs toward her and whips her around away from the beam.

Yoo-jin reads about the fashion show the next morning and smiles when she zooms in on the photo to see Je-ha. Secretary Kim enters her office and is reluctant to read aloud an online post claiming that Anna is Yoo-jin and the late Director Go’s daughter.

She scoffs at the absurd story, but there’s more to it: Apparently, Um Hye-rin married the director without knowing this and was tasked to raised Anna. However once Um Hye-rin found out, she returned to Korea to blackmail Yoo-jin for money, and Yoo-jin later killed her for fear the world may find out.

Secretary Kim stops herself again, but Yoo-jin instructs her to continue. This story believes that Yoo-jin and Se-joon’s marriage is just for show, and now Anna is in Sung-won’s hands. Aha, this must be the tale Sung-won has been planning to release, though Yoo-jin fumes at how this story portrays Se-joon as an innocent.

Sung-won readily admits to being responsible for spreading such a wild tale when Anna asks him about it. He defends the idea that the press eats up outlandish stories, but Anna still doesn’t get how sullying her mother’s name will come back to hurt Yoo-jin.

To that, Sung-won patronizes Anna for her naivete, saying this will start an investigation against Yoo-jin, and that’s when they’ll use their hidden card.

All this talk about the criminal justice process flies over her head, and Sung-won tells Anna to trust him—he would never frame Anna’s mother for anything, and the truth will come to light once the investigation begins. He makes sure that Anna hasn’t said anything to Je-ha, and adds they’ll go to the police station today.

The current events show discusses this rumor on their latest broadcast. The assemblyman pokes holes in the story’s veracity, like how Anna was born before Yoo-jin and Se-joon were married, and a simple DNA test would prove whether the women are mother and daughter.

He finds the very idea that Yoo-jin would kill Um Hye-rin because of blackmail absurd. He empathizes with Anna’s desire to get to the bottom of her mother’s mysterious death, and calls for the police to reopen the case. He even calls upon Yoo-jin to undergo questioning, which has Yoo-jin wonder if the assemblyman is still on their side.

Sung-won and Anna are bombarded by the press when they arrive at the police station. He angrily hollers that he’ll take legal action against those responsible for the offensive post, only to break into a smile once they’re past the mob.

They sit down with the police commissioner, and Sung-won asks that he take special measures with the case of Anna’s mother. This may all start like a classic case of defamation, but a few key testifiers could open up a few more cases.

Afterward, the police commissioner relays to Representative Park that he thinks Sung-won is after Yoo-jin. The politician laughs that of course they need to reopen the case, amused that Yoo-jin and Sung-won are having it out without him having to lift a finger.

The gears are surely in motion, as we see a reporter seek out the prosecutor for the inside scoop on Yoo-jin and the chances of reopening the case. Sung-won is pleased to see an article about it pop up not long afterward.

Yoo-jin, meanwhile, takes part in her volunteer event as scheduled. A swarm of reporters circle around her asking for a statement, and she can feel her head throbbing before she faints.

She’s taken to the hospital, and Sung-won laughs at his noona’s quick thinking of being hospitalized. Little does he know that it was actual fainting spell, and though CEO Gook outwardly says it’s likely all part of a well-thought-out plan, he too appears worried.

The entertainment news reporter finds the entire situation surrounding the online post odd. There’s talk that there’s a witness to Um Hye-rin’s murder, and the netizens scorn Yoo-jin while showing Se-joon pity. He worries that at this rate, Anna’s name could be dragged into the mess.

Over at the house, Se-joon decides to head upstairs to see his daughter when Anna refuses to see him. He knocks on her door, but she sends him away.

Master Song is initially barred entry when he tries to see Yoo-jin at the hospital. But she hears the noise and lets him in, and he hands her a juice she used to enjoy. She sends everyone out so they can speak alone, and it’s apparent they share a longtime amicable relationship.

He laughs when she suggests that he speak in banmal, but then he solemnly asks Yoo-jin to leave Anna alone. She tenses when he confirms that’s why he came here, and gets more upset at his hunting analogy of letting the baby animal live even if the mother is killed.

Master Song continues to try her patience when he mentions how her late father would’ve opposed her decision to do this and that he’s not sure he might do if Yoo-jin keeps this up. He isn’t fazed when she throws the bottle of juice to the floor and calmly leaves.

Se-joon heads to the JB Group headquarters where Sung-won, his mother, and his father-in-law are popping the figurative champagne over how Se-joon is free to join their ranks thanks to the online post.

Je-ha checks in on Anna, wondering why she didn’t see her father. He moves on to remark on the online post, explaining how Yoo-jin isn’t someone who would do her own dirty work. Furthermore, if there had been a witness, she would’ve already dealt with them.

Anna disagrees that it isn’t the case this time, and then ventures, “Are you on my side… or Choi Yoo-jin’s side?” He answers that he’s on her side, but she counters that he’s still part of JSS whereas Mi-ran and Sung-gyu have already made the jump to JB Group.

She asks what he and Yoo-jin are up to, and he explains that he hasn’t told her because nothing good will come from this knowledge. He finishes the thought in his head, “Because… it involves killing someone.”

CEO Gook has dinner with the police commissioner, who’s still bitter about being deceived the night Representative Park was cornered. A drink is all it takes to smooth things over, and CEO Gook mutters that despite all the commotion, Se-joon has a good shot at becoming president.

Laughing, he tells the police commissioner that they’ll just play both sides and reap the rewards. So the police commissioner can still keep collecting information from Representative Park, and they toast to that.

Still troubled, Je-ha seeks out Yoo-jin to find out the truth. He wouldn’t be surprised if she actually killed Anna’s mother, since it’s likely not the only life she’s taken. “Why do you want to know that?” Yoo-jin returns.

“Because of Anna,” Je-ha replies. Anna believes Yoo-jin was the murderer, but he isn’t sure if he should stop her from doing anything about it. Yoo-jin says to let Anna do whatever she likes, an answer he accepts. Still, he would love to know the answer to this question to satiate his curiosity: “Did you… kill Um Hye-rin?”

Yoo-jin pauses before agreeing to tell him and only him: “I… didn’t kill Um Hye-rin. I certainly didn’t order anyone to kill her, either.”

He asks why she let Se-joon and Anna think that she did then, and she answers, “Because that way, Se-joon would truly believe I was capable of killing Anna. Because that way, Se-joon wouldn’t be able to leave my side that night or any night afterward. And because I… know who the real culprit is. But I can’t say who it is.”

If Je-ha is still curious, he can go ask her magic mirror about it because her computer knows everything about her. She’s adjusted the controls so that it’ll listen to his voice too now, and someone will need to listen in on their enemies while she undergoes investigation.

“Why is that me, of all people?” Je-ha asks. She reminds him that he deleted the email he treasured like his own life because he trusted her. Now she’s returning the favor by entrusting him with what she holds most dear: her magic mirror.

Sung-won barges into the room with a half-apology that he didn’t knock before entering again. He notes the gloomy mood, sending Je-ha a smile when the latter leaves. He isn’t fazed when Yoo-jin criticizes his writing skills nor when she threatens to destroy JB Group if he continues to test her.

He cheerily says Yoo-jin can give him Cloud Nine then, and Yoo-jin says she’d been wondering why their father had left him with JB Group, but gave JSS to her. It may have been a strategic move for Sung-won to form a marriage alliance with Jinhan Group, but what if their father was trying to protect his company from being taken over by Jinhan Group later on?

She wonders if that’s why Sung-won’s father-in-law is so anxious to have Cloud Nine for himself, but Sung-won returns that though with another question: “Do you think JB Group would’ve survived to this day if I had trusted my father-in-law?”

Sung-won says he probably would’ve taken over Jinhan Group if it weren’t for Cloud Nine keeping such a close eye on him. He laughs when Yoo-jin says it’s a relief he didn’t take after his mother, then offers some of subsidiary companies from JB Group.

She won’t have much time to think it over, Sung-won continues—she’ll either undergo a light questioning or be arrested for Um Hye-rin’s murder.

Je-ha heads down to the Cloud Nine sublevel where he no longer has to pass through any security measures. Just as Yoo-jin said, the computer recognizes his voice and affirms that he has full access to the informational database. He’s free to ask any and all questions, including ones about Yoo-jin.

Se-joon comes down to the hospital per Yoo-jin’s request. She explains that it’s better that they head to the police station together if they’re both expected to be there. When she asks that she’d like for him to be by her side, he answers, “Why? Do you need someone to catch you?”

He offers to send her with his bodyguards, but they show up to the station together. The press are eager for a statement, so she gives it. Not only is Anna watching this broadcast but so is Sung-won and Representative Park in their respective offices, and so is Je-ha down in the sublevel.

She apologizes to the people for not coming clean sooner, and speaks with tears falling from her eyes: “My Anna… is my daughter. And Anna is like my own daughter.”

“Anna is…” she says carefully. “…my husband, Assemblyman Jang Se-joon’s biological daughter.”

 
COMMENTS

Surely this couldn’t be the plan Yoo-jin had in mind when she hinted in the previous episode’s cliffhanger about a plan in motion, could it? Or maybe, like so many other times, we’re left to wait several more episodes before any statement is brought back into the narrative foreground again.

Yoo-jin’s public declaration takes away the one card that could’ve been used against her, but what she does next will determine whether or not it was to her advantage. Neither she nor Secretary Kim could’ve anticipated the gossip online post about her and Anna, though she isn’t the least surprised that Sung-won was responsible for it. As for her fainting spell, while there are some characters who hope to believe that the moment of weakness was a part of a bigger plan, I’m inclined to think that her head throbbing was real, since she has previously mentioned it in times of extreme stress. It’s a bit hard to believe that a story everyone questioned the validity of would be her tipping point in this hour, but her hospitalization did give us some important exchanges.

The most crucial of those is her admission to Je-ha that she did not murder Anna’s mother or call for the hit. Given her level of concern for him, I don’t think she would’ve lied to Je-ha about this admission. Even if it was misguided, she acknowledges that it was this idea that enabled her to control Se-joon, whom she loved once but did not love her in return. If we are to take her words at face value, then she knows who truly killed Anna’s mother and cannot speak the name. That statement begs the question of who that might be and why she either cannot or chooses not to divulge the culprit.

Her admission contradicts Anna’s memory in this episode, which called upon an image of Yoo-jin smothering her mother. What’s also confusing is that the shadow mentions the woman who sits next to Anna during her interview, which leaves open the tiny possibility that it wasn’t Yoo-jin. But then if the murderer was the TV host, I would think that Yoo-jin would have no qualms about getting rid of her. So basically, we’re left wondering who is telling us the truth.

What we don’t know is just how far Sung-won has cast his net either. While he pulls off publicity stunts like tribute fashion shows and Anna’s visit to her mother’s grave, we see some ripples that hint that he’s also working toward something else. If we’re to believe that Sung-won is as cunning and mysterious as Master Song says he is, that is. He’s planted a seed of doubt in Anna about Je-ha, and he’s actively keeping Anna confused about his methods, masking his true intentions for possibly exposing Yoo-jin and acquiring Cloud Nine by focusing on reopening the case of Anna’s mother’s death.

I really do wonder what advantage Yoo-jin’s supercomputer has in this political war since any social media or online post about her or Anna is transmitted through her human secretary. Aside from the look into a few notable board members and digging into a part of Je-ha’s past, the mirror hasn’t added that much to the narrative. While you may not be able to see your own reflection in its transparent glass, Magic Mirror sure is a convenient way to watch television below ground.

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108 November 5, 2016November 5, 2016

The K2: Episode 13

by gummimochi

The success of every calculated plan depends on its execution, but gauging that success only gets harder when everyone has an ongoing scheme of their own. Je-ha will need to tread carefully if he wants to protect the lives of those he holds dear, especially when all of his enemies have cast their nets far and wide, and are eager to scoop up anything they can get their hands on.

EPISODE 13 RECAP

Yoo-jin’s tearful announcement that Anna is Se-joon’s biological daughter leaves the reporters abuzz. She faints moments later, and Se-joon wheels her inside.

Representative Park celebrates in his office while a furious Sung-won catches up to Se-joon prior to his press conference. His initial confusion turns into anger when Se-joon expresses his disappointment in him—the inmate who claimed to have been a witness to Anna’s mother’s death was an actor.

During the briefing, Se-joon recounts how he’d fallen in love with Anna’s mother back when he was a lawyer in 1993. They had plans to marry, but in the following year, he’d been arrested while running for office and Um Hye-rin had married Director Go.

Although the news had left him heartbroken, he was able to become an assemblyman two years later thanks to his current wife Yoo-jin. He goes on explaining how Um Hye-rin returned to Korea with a young Anna, and he describes the revelation that Anna was his daughter as “a nightmare.”

Anna is in disbelief at the words, but Se-joon isn’t done yet: He portrays Yoo-jin as a devoted wife who accepted his past whereas Anna’s mother had threatened to reveal the truth unless Se-joon accompanied her and Anna back to the States.

“Lies,” Anna utters at the TV. She refuses to believe the words coming out of her father’s mouth as Se-joon says he had refused to comply to Um Hye-rin’s demands. He becomes more emotional when he touches upon that fateful night Anna’s mother’s death: Like so many other times, she’d threatened to kill herself unless Se-joon went to see her.

He hadn’t believed her, and she was found dead the next day. While the death was ruled out as suicide, he feels responsible for the morbid consequence. He takes all the blame because his wife has been through enough by taking in Anna along with his painful past.

Watching her father deeply bow in apology, Anna mutters, “Wait and see. Once the witness steps forward, Choi Yoo-jin is done for.”

Speaking of whom, Yoo-jin sits in the interrogation room when the inmate is brought in. The detective grows frustrated when the man says he told Anna that he probably witnessed Yoo-jin killing Um Hye-rin, but he never actually said it was her.

The corner of Yoo-jin’s mouth curls upwards while on the other side of the glass, the police commissioner is told that this man had a solid alibi on the night of Um Hye-rin’s death. Sung-won calls Anna to inform her that they’ve been set up—they’ll be lucky if they aren’t charged for providing a false witness.

Down in the sublevel, Secretary Kim confirms that the false witness was a trap for Anna. She doesn’t feel a bit of remorse for besmirching Anna’s mother’s reputation because she was protecting her boss. She smirks when Je-ha tells her that this ploy was a mistake on her part.

Upon Yoo-jin’s release, she barely listens to the police commissioner’s apology before cutting him off and instructing him to give Representative Park her regards. She wears an apologetic mask in front of the press who ask if it’s true Um Hye-rin blackmailed them and if Anna knows about it.

In a hair salon, a pair of ajummas watch the story unfold. Not only do they buy into the story that paints Um Hye-rin in a negative light, they also pity Yoo-jin and believe that Representative Park is trying to humiliate Se-joon again.

Once Yoo-jin is whisked away, the police commissioner is left to face questions from the press. He denies that the police is currently cross-examining the supposed witness, and explains that Yoo-jin had simply participated in some questioning. Representative Park turns off his TV and chuckles that Se-joon and Yoo-jin have pulled the wool over his eyes once again.

Yoo-jin is met with public support when she’s taken into the hospital. Sung-won is already waiting in her room, and when he apologizes, she smiles. And then the camera hones in on that specialized recorder pen stuck in a potted plant.

Je-ha uses that to listen in on the conversation inside, as Yoo-jin tells Sung-won to wait until she decides what to do with him. He readily agrees to stop seeing Anna and do away with the staff assigned to Anna once she’s sent overseas.

But before Sung-won leaves, he asks if it really was Yoo-jin who killed Anna’s mother. Je-ha waits with bated breath, but Yoo-jin doesn’t take the bait, asking if Sung-won is recording their conversation.

Sung-won chuckles and leaves, though he looks plenty annoyed once he’s alone and ignores Anna’s call. Yoo-jin, however, sits alone with her thoughts and remembers how Anna’s mother had been gasping for air and reached out to her for help.

Yoo-jin had shaken her off, causing Anna’s mother and that bottle of pills to spill onto the floor. “Save me,” Um Hye-rin had faintly pleaded. Tears welling up in her eyes, Yoo-jin had replied, “I’m sorry. Love wasn’t meant to be shared.”

More tears fall from her eyes as Yoo-jin mulls over that memory now. Anna is unable to get in touch with Sung-won, and she and Je-ha head up to the roof where she apologizes for not telling him about her visit with the prison inmate.

He pulls her closer when she calls herself a fool, and he tells her not to cry because she needs her strength to fight the real battle ahead of her. He points out that her father has arrived and advises that Anna hear him out.

So Anna sits with her father, who takes a few beats before apologizing to her. He admits that everything he said at the press conference was a lie—her mother never blackmailed him but sought him out in earnest. “And… your mother didn’t commit suicide,” he adds softly.

He admits to lying to her when they were first reunited at the infirmary because Yoo-jin was watching them. He’s only telling her all this now because he’s a coward and he fears losing Anna.

Anna wipes away her tears and retorts that her father likely fears for his political career. Se-joon doesn’t deny it but explains that politics means everything to him and it’s the only way to save her and make her happy. “Do you know why [politics] is your everything?” Anna returns. “Because you threw my mother and myself away for it.”

Se-joon winces at the truth, and a tear rolls down his cheek. Anna’s voice stabilizes and she asks what he wants her to do now—stay hidden until the election is over? Do nothing to Yoo-jin, her mother’s murderer?

She rises to her feet and says her father didn’t lie to her; his words were sincere. He has nothing to fear, she adds, “because you’ve already lost your daughter.”

Je-ha spots Se-joon’s disheartened exit, and while he debates with Magic Mirror for a deeper analysis, Se-joon continues his campaign activities. Secretary Kim sees Je-ha alone in the sublevel while Anna visits her mother’s grave again. “I’m sorry, Mom. I’ve ruined everything,” she cries.

Anna isn’t alone for long, however, as Yoo-jin pulls up in her car. She sets down the bouquet of hydrangeas, saying that Anna’s mother loved them. She knows this because Se-joon once came home drunk and gave her a bouquet of these flowers.

Although hydrangeas weren’t her favorite, Yoo-jin says the gesture made her feel good… until she went to Anna’s home and saw a vase filled with them. She knows Anna despises her enough to want her dead, but she never hated Anna that much even when she considered killing her.

“Because in a way… you and I are quite similar,” Yoo-jin explains. “Like you, I didn’t have a mother when I was your age. There was a stepmother in her place who had stolen my father away. She was my father’s secretary, then his mistress, and ultimately became his wife.”

“That very woman is the mother to Sung-won, whom you call ‘uncle.’ Ironically enough, I’ve become your stepmother,” Yoo-jin continues. It’s possible that Anna’s mother could’ve gotten married without knowing that she was pregnant, then gave birth to Anna and had gotten a divorce.

She even understands the possibility that Anna’s mother would’ve returned to Korea to see Se-joon, and yet what was she supposed to do? “I threw away everything I had to choose your father.”

“So are you trying to say that was why you killed my mother?” Anna counters. Yoo-jin returns, “How nice would it have been if you were my biological daughter?”

She tells Anna that her surname will change from Go to Jang, which makes Anna her daughter by law. Because she’s childless, Anna could go on to become the president’s daughter and later own JB Group. “If you want to take revenge against me even after you’ve inherited everything I have, do it then.”

Yoo-jin turns to leave, but that’s when Anna says she doesn’t need any of that. To that, Yoo-jin marches back and tells Anna to leave and live her own life however she sees fit then, whether that’s being a model or something else.

Yoo-jin is more than willing to help her because there’s nothing here for Anna now: her mother is dead, her birth secret is now public, and her father can’t be trusted. “Do you want to keep living with a stepmother like me?”

“What if I say no? What if I said I’ll work to the end to reveal my mother’s murderer?” Anna argues. Yoo-jin answers, “Then I suppose your life will continue to be tragic. You’ll see everyone you love die.”

Everyone from the housekeeper to Mi-ran, and most importantly, Je-ha. Every life that has tried to protect her will die in the pursuit, but Anna disagrees: “No, Je-ha will kill you before that happens.”

In a taunting voice, Yoo-jin points out that Anna still doesn’t know why Je-ha is working for her. Je-ha is unable to take a life because of his PTSD, so she’s helping him complete his revenge. Je-ha is trying to avenge his deceased fiancee, and he’ll likely leave Anna once he’s seen it through.

She realizes that Anna didn’t know about any of this and scoffs that Anna should’ve asked Sung-won about it. But Anna refuses to believe it and reveals her plans to leave the country with Je-ha.

“Is that what he told you?” Yoo-jin fires back. Smiling, she asks if Anna even knows that the name Kim Je-ha is an alias. At Anna’s silence, Yoo-jin notes that Anna really does know nothing. Anna tries to argue that she already knows Je-ha is a wanted man, but that he was framed for his crimes.

“So that’s what he told you,” Yoo-jin responds without skipping a beat. “That he was framed for Rania’s murder?” Yoo-jin is amused when she realizes Anna didn’t even know the name of Je-ha’s late fiancee either, so she lays out all the cards on the table: Je-ha wasn’t framed for murder, but he’s a wanted man for killing civilians when he was a mercenary in Iraq.

Anna is free to confront Je-ha about all this, but Yoo-jin needs only one phone call to unmask his veiled identity she’s created for him and put him behind bars for the rest of his days.

Je-ha speaks with Se-joon alone after the latter completes his volunteer work. After reassuring Se-joon that Anna is holding up, he voices his opinion that he believes Se-joon is a horrible father.

But he has a proposition that could get Se-joon back into Anna’s good graces where Se-joon would win the presidential race and be freed from Yoo-jin’s clutches. What he asks for in return is for Se-joon to reveal the true murderer.

Yoo-jin is pleased when she hears that Je-ha has spent many hours speaking with her computer. “Do you know why ‘Mirror’ was given that name?” she poses. “Because one needs to show oneself before asking Mirror a question.”

So when Yoo-jin asks her computer what Je-ha has been looking into, it pulls up the search history. She wonders why Je-ha was so interested in learning about the current oil developments in Iraq and the Kumar group, and tenses when she learns that Je-ha has coined these activities as “Kumargate.”

Se-joon agrees to Je-ha’s terms, so Je-ha discloses that Representative Park is involved in a large scale corruption ring that implicates the current president. He has physical proof, which should be enough for Representative Park to back off. Not only that, it’s enough to take down Yoo-jin and JB Group.

Je-ha is offering this information because he knows Se-joon is a corrupt politician who would betray Yoo-jin if given the chance. He believes this is the way to bring Yoo-jin and Representative Park to justice while also protecting Anna and restoring her mother’s honor.

Se-joon agrees to acting like a father to Anna, and the men shake on it.

Down in Cloud Nine, Yoo-jin asks her computer if Je-ha has asked about her or Anna’s mother. She believes Je-ha is quite considerate when her computer says no, but Secretary Kim leaves open the possibility that Je-ha has found out that he cannot access information on her through the computer.

Yoo-jin says that doesn’t matter, then asks what Je-ha’s most recent search query was. Both she and Secretary Kim are puzzled when they hear he was looking into Korean civilians living in the Kumar area, and the results show a list of medical volunteers.

However one name catches Yoo-jin’s eye: neurosurgeon KIM SEOK-HAN, the president’s son. She realizes that Je-ha has drawn the same conclusion.

We know Seok-han as the doctor who introduced Sung-won and Anna to the psychiatrist. Ah, this must be why he recognized Je-ha, who we see scan the hospital’s security cameras to find the doctor in prayer in the chapel. Je-ha sits there for a minute before something dawns on him and he flies into action.

Representative Park isn’t surprised when he sees Je-ha waiting for him and perusing documents at his desk. Je-ha acts like he’s here for more money, laughing when the politician asks if he’s trying to switch sides.

With Se-joon’s popularity falling, Representative Park doesn’t have an urgent need of Je-ha’s services, but that’s when Je-ha counters that he should still be concerned about his past in Kumargate.

Representative Park freezes at the mention even though he’s likely never heard the phrase “Kumargate” before, asking how Je-ha found out about it. But Je-ha says he even knows that the politician is keeping tabs on the president’s son, Seok-han.

Yoo-jin remains calm when she hears about Je-ha’s private meeting with Representative Park. She reassures CEO Gook that it’s all part of her plan and assigns Chief Joo to support Je-ha. She tells her staff that this plan reaches further than the presidential election—it could change the fate of the country.

Seok-han is called to oversee Representative Park’s CT scan, and he sends the technician away to speak with the politician alone. When Seok-han says his visit puts him in a difficult position, Representative Park says it’s because he hasn’t been answering his calls.

He tells the doctor to keep a closer eye on the “dangerous item,” adding that Yoo-jin’s people have their eyes on it now. It’s best that the item is either moved or destroyed altogether.

Seok-han admits that he gave that idea some thought, but decided to keep whatever that item is after Representative Park used it to get rid of the presidential chief of staff. So it’s in the politician’s best interest to remember that he still holds that card in his hand.

After the exam, Seok-han says there’s no need for a follow-up. Representative Park chuckles that preventative care is always best and advises that Seok-han beef up his security lest something terrible happen to the president.

Je-ha watches Representative Park leave and notices a group of men eying an opportunity to slip through Seok-han’s security. Turns out Chief Joo is in the area too, because he calls to inform Je-ha that there even more of Representative Park’s men in the hospital.

Je-ha and Chief Joo speak alone, and Je-ha seems amused when he finds out Chief Joo is here on Yoo-jin’s orders. That means she found out about this plan thanks to her computer, so he requests that Chief Joo and the other JSS agents make it very obvious about monitoring a doctor.

Seok-han has been sitting on some important evidence which isn’t stored in his office because the hospital records show that his office was recently broken into. It’s likely the burglar was one of Representative Park’s men, but they found nothing which means that evidence is stored someplace that can’t be searched or hacked into.

Je-ha’s best guess is that Seok-han has stored the information on an external drive and keeps it close to the vest. The reason he wants to make it obvious that Seok-han is being watched is to make doctor feel so uncomfortable that he’ll store that drive somewhere else and show them the way.

Representative Park chuckles when he hears about the JSS agents at the hospital. Even though Seok-han has some security detail and could call upon the police for backup, Representative Park has the police force in his hands.

Still, Representative Park feels uneasy and orders that his men either swoop in to steal the evidence or destroy it.

Seok-han goes to pray at the chapel, and his hand nervously dips to the pew in front of him. He notices the JSS agent sitting a few feet from him and turns to leave, only to come face-to-face with Je-ha.

He passes Je-ha, who then runs over to the pew where Seok-han was sitting in. Neither of them spot anything. Seok-han, however, looks uneasy when he returns to his office. He sends his bodyguard away to make call, which goes ignored… by Sung-won.

Sung-won and his father-in-law sit in a dark conference room where the other men wonder who will end up with the memory card. His father-in-law states everyone in this room needs to decide to do away with either Representative Park or Se-joon, while Sung-won says the men in this room will likely need to side with whoever gains possession of that memory card.

One man speaks up and notes how they’ll all be at Yoo-jin’s mercy if she gets her hands on that memory card whereas nothing will change if Representative Park wins.

Back at the hospital, Seok-han is annoyed when one of the JSS agents stares directly at him and then steps back. Those agents make a show of going off-duty, and even Team Leader Seo sends him an obvious wink.

Seok-han then runs to the chapel just as Je-ha emerges. He orders his men to take hold of Je-ha while he runs inside and tips over the chair where he’s hidden the memory card. Having seen everything because the door is open, Je-ha thinks to himself: “So that’s where it was.”

Now that the memory card is safely in his hands, Seok-han doubles back and asks, “Who are you?”

 
COMMENTS

You know, I honestly wish I knew. This episode was trying to cover so many things in one hour that it felt like we were skimming each relationship and topic and being rushed to the finish. Everything about this episode drilled in the idea that the show is in its second to last week and the plot points were presented as if there just wasn’t enough time to cover it all.

Perhaps there isn’t despite how we’re still somehow preparing for the Very Important presidential election and our characters are still using the same threats about Um Hye-rin’s death for weeks now. Even though Yoo-jin managed to use the fabricated story about Anna’s mother to her advantage, I do have to wonder if Yoo-jin had enough forethought for a long-running failsafe in the form of the inmate on the off-chance that Anna would somehow seek him out. The timeline is a bit screwy here since the rumors came out after Anna’s visit to prison, but not only has the series shown us multiple times that Yoo-jin is rarely fooled and that everything is somehow part of a plan, this episode even has her telling us that it is.

Which brings me to her allowing Je-ha to have access to her computer. It’s rather odd that Je-ha would ask Magic Mirror if he could inquire about Yoo-jin only for Yoo-jin to later learn that he didn’t ask about her, then for Secretary Kim to suggest the possibility that Je-ha wouldn’t be able to access that information. Furthermore, Yoo-jin interprets Je-ha potentially not asking about her as a courteous gesture, but then uses his search history to learn more about him and his attempts to dig into Representative Park’s activities in the Middle East.

And to that end, I’m open to the idea of Je-ha asking the right questions to gain intel on Representative Park’s corrupt activities in Kumar and to find Seok-han. Even though he has full access to Magic Mirror’s database, he’d be a fool to think that Yoo-jin wouldn’t be keeping tabs on his activities. For some reason I can’t put my finger on, I get this wriggling feeling that he knows Yoo-jin doesn’t fully trust him with the computer and he might have something else up his sleeve. But then he’s taken that same information from Magic Mirror to potentially use it against Yoo-jin by helping Se-joon become a better father in Anna’s eyes. If this whole plan doesn’t sound long-winded yet, that’s because we haven’t even touched upon the supposed importance to the memory card to the half-masked businessmen in a dark conference room… though really I think we can leave those men be since their support or opposition isn’t much of a threat.

So it’s a pity that the strongest moments of this hour threaten to be bogged down by the convoluted plan mentioned above. Yoo-jin’s exchange with Anna by her mother’s gravesite was a conversation I’d been looking forward to ever since her first confrontation with Anna upon her return to Korea. Like a personified mirror, Yoo-jin has always seen a part of herself in Anna from their similar family setups to a common hatred for the woman who interrupted their lives. Her words of concern to Anna always mask an underlying threat, which is always expertly delivered by Song Yoon-ah. There are times when I do wonder if it’s Song’s acting prowess that inserts Yoo-jin’s words with more dramatic depth, because any retort seemingly falls to the wayside. Even a simple “Is that what he told you?” sends chills down my spine.

But it’s not only the sneers and threats when Yoo-jin has my undivided attention—it’s also the moments when she has no one else but her thoughts. We still don’t know for certain if Yoo-jin was the hand that killed Anna’s mother, but either she refuses to admit it to anyone else or won’t admit it to herself.

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232 November 6, 2016

The K2: Episode 14

by gummimochi

More than one life will hang by a narrative thread this hour when the battle over one object drives the fight to the gates of Yoo-jin’s fortress. Even if her enemies aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed, their persistence and relentlessness will still require her to put up a strong defense to give her some time to think of a better offense.

EPISODE 14 RECAP

Seeing the memory drive in Seok-han’s hand, Je-ha makes a move. He’s held back though, giving Seok-han a head start. Je-ha frees himself and immediately gives chase down the hospital corridors.

He’s soon thrown backwards by more men, and lands some punches while they get in a few kicks. Je-ha is held back by a bodyguard and spots Burn Mark smirk and head down to the parking garage. So Je-ha flips the bodyguard over, then kicks another man down and follows Representative Park’s men.

Burn Mark catches up to Seok-han in his car, tapping on the window and identifying himself as the police. When Seok-han doesn’t comply, Burn Mark’s partner points a gun at him.

Seok-han is instructed to get out of the car and while he’s being searched, he asks who they’re with: Representative Park or Yoo-jin. He takes an opportune moment to attack and escape, breaking into a run.

More men appear as he descends into a lower level, which is when Je-ha suddenly appears and kicks them away. He deals with a few more before chasing Seok-han again, and Burn Mark and his partner remain on Seok-han’s tail as he dashes back up the ramp.

They catch him before he can climb into his car, however, and Seok-han backs into a railing. Je-ha arrives just as Seok-han lose his footing and flips over the railing. He grabs Seok-han’s arm just in time, but now they’re both dangling from the railing.

Thinking fast, Je-ha swings him into the level below, and now he has the memory drive. Burn Mark breathes a relieved sigh when he sees that Je-ha is still alive. He demands that Je-ha hand over the drive, but Je-ha responds by jumping off the railing, landing on a moving truck, then rolling onto the ground.

But Je-ha doesn’t get far before getting shot in his side. He crashes into the sidewalk’s railing and hides the memory drive in the grass before painfully getting to his feet. A car drives up just then—it’s Chief Joo, who ushers him in.

Chief Joo tries to staunch the bleeding and urges a wounded Je-ha to stay with him while the police cars remain hot on their tail. Yoo-jin’s eyes grow wide when she hears about Je-ha’s injury while Anna is woken up to hear the news.

It turns out that Chief Joo’s car isn’t the only JSS vehicle on the road—at the agent’s signal, the JSS cars behind them block the police cars. Anna earnestly prays for Je-ha’s safe return before being called downstairs to watch the news report on how the president’s son is injured and the unknown assailant is still at large.

Representative Park is also watching this broadcast and decides to take this opportunity to attack the JSS headquarters. He calls the police commissioner and instructs him to gather his men and strike Cloud Nine by collecting all the secret intel Yoo-jin has and delete the data on the main server. Because it’s just that easy?

We see that the politician isn’t alone—Sung-won’s father-in-law chuckles beside him. But Representative Park feels they still have reason to worry should the memory drive falls into Yoo-jin’s hands.

Upon their arrival at the JSS headquarters, Chief Joo is instructed to wheel Je-ha down to the Cloud Nine sublevel instead of the infirmary. Yoo-jin gasps when she sees Je-ha injured and unconscious and orders Chief Joo to bring all the supplies required for surgery.

She inducts Doctor Kim into Cloud Nine on the spot and commands her to save Je-ha no matter what.

CEO Gook is present when the police commissioner arrives with his men. He has no choice but to let the police in because they have a search warrant, but of course Je-ha isn’t in the infirmary.

Je-ha is down in the Cloud Nine conference room which now serves as a makeshift operating room. Yoo-jin paces back and forth as Doctor Kim removes the bullet, but then Je-ha goes into sudden cardiac arrest.

Yoo-jin rushes inside as Chief Joo begins administering chest compressions. She cries, “No, Je-ha. Don’t die.” She too prays for Je-ha’s life, and moments later, there’s a faint pulse. Doctor Kim preps the defibrillator, then induces a shock into Je-ha’s body over and over again.

We enter Je-ha’s subconscious as he dreams of an idyllic time with Anna at… a Subway? Really? You’re choosing this life-or-death moment to feature a sponsor? The guy barely has a heartbeat!

He and Anna have a picnic in the park which is followed by a stroll and some games. He imagines Anna waiting for him back at the house so they can catch their flight. She heads upstairs when he doesn’t come right away, and we see that Je-ha is still injured in his dreams.

She’s shocked when she sees the wound and calls out to him as he collapses to the ground. (Quick, somebody wave a sandwich under his nose to bring him back from the dead!) And then Anna wakes up in her room. Did they just have the same dream?

Over at the JSS headquarters, CEO Gook accompanies the police commissioner and his men into the elevator. However, the elevator doesn’t move when the police commissioner presses the button, but a threat to have CEO Gook arrested forces the latter to use his access card.

CEO Gook leads the men into the server room and the technicians immediately get to work on the main server. Down in Cloud Nine, Yoo-jin watches the men through the CCTV feed and checks in with her computer that their most sensitive data will remain intact.

Representative Park is delighted when he hears the technicians have succeeded in hacking into the JSS database. Elsewhere, Sung-won’s father-in-law reassures the other men that he’s deployed his own technicians for the job, so there’s no way Representative Park will get a hold of the Cloud Nine data.

However the others believe it’s too early to celebrate because there’s still a chance the memory drive can still end up in Yoo-jin’s hands. They can neither be certain that the drive was actually taken from Seok-han until he comes to.

Speaking of whom, Seok-han wakes in the hospital and the first thing he asks is about what happened to the man who took the USB. Upon being told that the thief is currently hiding in JSS, Seok-han tells his bodyguard not to go after him because he helped him escape earlier.

The police commissioner is flabbergasted when he learns that the database the technicians hacked into doesn’t contain highly confidential information. He’s annoyed when he and his men receive orders from the Blue House to pull out, and CEO Gook escorts them out with a hearty laugh.

Once Representative Park hears about the presidential orders, he realizes that the memory drive has been stolen from Seok-han after all. Over at Cloud Nine, Yoo-jin arrives at the same conclusion—Seok-han has called off the search on Je-ha upon realizing that he now has the USB.

Now Seok-han must tread with caution lest Je-ha disclose the USB’s contents to the public. She’s positive that her theory is correct, so while Chief Joo searches for the USB, the rest of them will put on their best poker face and act as if the USB is in their possession.

Sung-won swings by to see Seok-han, who plays dumb about the stolen USB. But then Seok-han is taken aback when Sung-won pinpoints Je-ha as the thief. Elsewhere, Se-joon asks his driver if “it” (meaning, the USB) is truly in Yoo-jin’s possession now.

Chief Joo, meanwhile, conducts a not-so-covert search for the USB around the hospital parking garage. He joins Se-joon in his car and freezes when Se-joon asks if he’s looking for the USB Je-ha has lost.

Se-joon explains that Je-ha had stolen the USB for him so that he could use it to bring down both Representative Park and Yoo-jin. He knows that Chief Joo is more loyal to Yoo-jin, but he asks that Chief Joo give him the USB once it’s found. If it falls into Yoo-jin’s hands, he’ll be nothing more than a puppet president.

Chief Joo advises Se-joon to choose his words carefully because he can’t even guarantee that he can recover the USB yet.

As Doctor Kim grabs more medical supplies, Anna rushes into the JSS infirmary looking for Je-ha. Master Song guesses that Je-ha is probably on the ninth floor because he’s a Cloud Nine member, and Anna ignores Mi-ran telling her that’s a restricted area.

Sure enough when pressing the elevator button doesn’t work, Anna opts for the stairs instead. Yoo-jin sees her on the CCTV feed and orders her prompt removal. She then looks upon Je-ha (who’s now asleep in a crisp white shirt) and is relieved to hear that his condition has stabilized.

She arrives at the lobby in time to see Anna pleading with the JSS agents to allow her to see Je-ha. She’s offended when Anna addresses her as “Ajumma” and instructs her to call her “Mom” instead. “Isn’t a stepmother a mother as well?” she sneers.

So Anna gathers her voice and once again asks to see Je-ha. Yoo-jin swiftly denies the request, and that’s when Anna says it: “Mom.”

Yoo-jin is taken aback even though she was the one who told Anna to call her as such. “Mom,” Anna repeats, then gets on her knees. “I beg of you. Please let me see Je-ha… Mom.”

Aware of all the eyes on them, Yoo-jin asks what she’s doing. Biting her lip, Yoo-jin then bends down to scoop Anna into her arms. Her concerned expression hardens as she decides that she also needs to consider what may happen after Je-ha comes to.

So Yoo-jin leads Anna down to the Cloud Nine sublevel and informs her that Je-ha is still in critical condition. But before Anna can step inside, Yoo-jin asks, “Are you really not going to leave? Wouldn’t it be difficult for Je-ha to protect you in his current condition?”

Anna turns to her and replies that she’ll leave once Je-ha is all right, but Yoo-jin isn’t so sure that Anna will keep her end of the bargain. Je-ha can’t even receive proper medical treatment at a hospital because he’ll end up facing an attempted murder charge for harming the president’s son.

She’s putting everything on the line to protect Je-ha, Yoo-jin argues. “Anna, it’s time for you to protect Je-ha too.” Je-ha won’t be able to leave as long as Anna is by his side, and plus, he’ll eventually get caught.

“I’ll save Je-ha, so just leave,” Yoo-jin adds. “That’s the best thing you could do for him.” She once again offers Anna the opportunity to leave and live her own life. If fate is on her side, Anna may cross paths with Je-ha in the future.

Anna needs to think about the other employees tasked to protect her too, Yoo-jin says. Looking back at Je-ha, Anna tearfully agrees to leave—in exchange, Yoo-jin must save Je-ha. Yoo-jin nods.

Anna steps inside the conference room as fresh tears replace the old ones. She sobs over him and places a hand on his cheek. She tells him not to die and softly kisses him. On the other side of the glass, Yoo-jin looks away.

Her face still inches to his, Anna whispers, “Je-ha… I love you. You cannot die.”

The next day, Yoo-jin informs Se-joon of her plans to send Anna away to designer Jean-Paul Lafelt. Anna won’t be hidden away this time since the entire world knows who she is, and the negative public opinion about Anna and her mother won’t matter once she lives in another country.

Yoo-jin will treat her so well that Anna won’t even want to return to Korea. She’ll be so kind that Anna won’t even remember her own mother, which prompts her to tell Se-joon of how Anna called her “Mom” for the very first time yesterday.

She uses the same taunting voice to repeat the term of endearment at Se-joon’s face, then breaks into a cackle. At the very least, Se-joon is relieved to hear that even though their plans are different, they’re both hoping for a happy ending.

Things aren’t looking good for Sung-won and his father-in-law, especially when everyone in the dark conference room receives a greeting text from Yoo-jin. That’s enough reason for the other men to switch loyalties and invite Yoo-jin into their secret circle.

As the housekeeper packs Anna’s things, Mi-ran wonders if this means they’ll be discarded. Anna reassures them that that won’t happen because Yoo-jin gave her word. Haven’t you realized that you can never trust your stepmother?

A tear falls from Anna’s eye as she thinks back to Yoo-jin’s promise to save Je-ha and everyone else here if she leaves.

Sung-won flags CEO Gook down on his way to work, hoping that they can chat. He then pays a visit to Representative Park and suggests that they join forces. Nothing has gone well for Representative Park after teaming up with his father-in-law whereas Sung-won helped him find success in Iraq.

He chuckles that he’ll take Cloud Nine while Representative Park recovers the USB. He lets out a hearty laugh when Representative Park says to come back once he’s gotten everything from the ninth floor. Sung-won: “Why does everyone keep thinking that Cloud Nine is on the ninth floor?”

While Chief Joo tells CEO Gook that Je-ha needs to wake up before their enemies find out that they’ve been bluffing about the USB, Je-ha finally comes to. Doctor Kim informs Yoo-jin of the good news, then instructs him to stay put.

Doctor Kim tells him that Anna came by last night, and he asks how she’s doing. Upon being told that Anna is holding up fine, Je-ha asks Magic Mirror to show him what happened in this room last night.

His heart breaks as he watches the video feed of Anna sobbing over his unconscious body. A tear escapes from his eyes as he listens to Anna telling him that she loves him.

Yoo-jin runs in with elated steps, but then stops short when she sees Je-ha watching Anna onscreen. She recalls the last words she spoke to Anna’s mother, about how love wasn’t meant to be shared. Omo.

Representative Park is on the literal edge of his seat when he hears that they have an opportunity to take Cloud Nine and Yoo-jin if they strike now. Sung-won believes that Je-ha won’t stick around for long even if he does wake up, and they can trust the one they’ve got on the inside.

Yoo-jin goes in to see Je-ha with the other Cloud Nine members in tow. She smiles, then asks if Je-ha succeeded in stealing the USB. He says nothing, so she asks where he hid it. “I didn’t steal that memory drive to give to you,” Je-ha answers.

Emotions well up within Yoo-jin, but she stops CEO Gook from ripping into Je-ha. When she asks why he stole it then, Je-ha tells her the half-truth that he wanted to destroy Representative Park with it.

Furthermore, Je-ha won’t give up the USB because he knows Yoo-jin wouldn’t dare to reveal its contents. Doing so would implicate JB Group because Sung-won is also embroiled in Representative Park’s corrupt activities, so unless Yoo-jin wants to see the end to JB Group, she won’t do anything with the information.

He didn’t steal that memory drive to protect Yoo-jin either. Much like the incriminating e-mail, this USB is now his ticket to protect himself and Anna.

CEO Gook gets worked up by the time he and Chief Joo return to his office. He believes Yoo-jin’s soft spot for Je-ha has hindered her judgment because she normally would’ve extracted the USB out of anyone else one way or another.

He scolds Chief Joo for being so blind to Yoo-jin’s affection for Je-ha, then asks if Chief Joo plans to remain here at JSS instead of pursuing his dreams to serve the future president at the Blue House.

Picking up on the oddity of these queries, Chief Joo chooses his words wisely. He confirms that he’s on duty to act as Se-joon’s security detail tonight.

Back in the Cloud Nine sublevel, Yoo-jin asks, “Then… did you do it to bring me down?” She interprets Je-ha’s silence as a yes, then asks why he did it: “You’re my friend, after all.”

When Je-ha asks if she ever shed a tear out of pity, Yoo-jin says her entire life is tragic. “No, not self-pity,” Je-ha clarifies—has she ever cried for someone else? Je-ha guesses that she hasn’t because people like her tend to be sensitive to their own pain but ignore the pain of others.

But everybody feels pain regardless of their age, class, or nationality. “All those people seek to be happy, just like you do.”

She acknowledges that people want to be happy within their own place in life, but Je-ha retorts that it’s people like her who can easily kill if it means maintaining their station in life.

“That’s why I can’t be your friend,” Je-ha tells her. Rather than a friend, what Yoo-jin needs is someone to either worship her, such as Secretary Kim, or someone for her to idolize, such as Se-joon all those years ago. Unfortunately for her, neither of those options work for him.

Sung-won checks in with CEO Gook to find out where his loyalties lie now. He grows smug when CEO Gook is on board, and Burn Mark leads the men to the JSS headquarters. CEO Gook creates a mess to distract the last of the JSS security team while Burn Mark’s squad rushes into the building.

Down in the sublevel, Yoo-jin tells Je-ha that she doesn’t want him to worship her. She starts, “I… just…”

But he cuts her off: “You probably wanted to own me… and just make me into another one of your slaves.”

Sung-won arrives at the JSS headquarters in time to be entertained by the ongoing fight. He greets CEO Gook with a smile, and the group descends to the Cloud Nine sublevel.

 
COMMENTS

And then do what? Even if all those men were to confront Yoo-jin in Cloud Nine, they still wouldn’t have access to Magic Mirror’s database which Representative Park just has to have this hour. A more likely reason would be to speak with Je-ha since he definitely knows where the USB drive is.

Speaking of which, I really do have to wonder if anybody in this dramaverse truly knows what sort of intel is contained in that drive. Everyone wants their hands on it but no one has been able to confirm its contents and whether or not it does give details that implicates Representative Park and JB Group’s corrupt business activities. We’re working on blind faith that this USB is an important narrative plot device, but then again we’ve been given so many false third-party claims in this series that I wouldn’t be surprised if someone actually took a closer look at the drive and found nothing. And when an item is surrounded in vague mystery, it’s difficult to feel the threat of its exposure to the public.

So it’s rather puzzling to listen to Representative Park and the men in their secretive conference room worry about the USB falling into Yoo-jin’s hands if, in fact, there is information that could bring JB Group to ruin. Her enemies are well aware of her bitter resentment over being passed over as heiress to the conglomerate and her desire to take the company for herself. Even in the tiny likelihood that she didn’t want the company anymore, they should’ve known what Je-ha does know: that she wouldn’t risk destroying the company her father worked so hard to build.

This week’s episodes felt like an odd attempt on the show’s part to stall for time before one final conflict and showdown by rushing to pad the hour with naive baddies pursuing even sillier schemes. Why Representative Park and Sung-won’s father-in-law thought that they even had a chance at overtly hacking into the JSS and Cloud Nine database is beyond me, because surely they couldn’t have believed that it would be as easy as waving around one search warrant and a threat of arrest. I feel like they shouldn’t have been surprised that the tactic didn’t work, but by this point, these characters are no more than low-level, harmless, incompetent baddies.

But the character who stays on my mind the most is Yoo-jin, who faced some tough criticisms from Je-ha in the final few minutes of this episode. Given the complicated relationship between Je-ha and Yoo-jin in this series, I expected there to be a fallout sooner or later, but somehow keeping Je-ha unconscious for most of the hour and then tearing into Yoo-jin soon after he woke up seemed like an odd choice to place this conflict. Unless he thought that she was only thinking about herself in regards to The One USB. At the very least, his points are valid since they question Yoo-jin’s level of compassion and how her closest relationships are people whom she orders around or puts on a pedestal.

She’s built false walls of affection out of emotional manipulation and romanticized ideas of closeness while justifying her wrongdoings as her way of protecting either herself or those she cares for most. Whether her deep fondness for Je-ha has romantic roots or not may never be confirmed since once again, we only have what we can interpret onscreen and whatever a third-party (CEO Gook) tells us. It’s too late for Yoo-jin to be romantic competition for Je-ha’s heart when the main pairing has been solidified for weeks now.

But hey—if Je-ha can dream about sharing a footlong with Anna on the brink of death, then maybe anything is still possible for this show.

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135 November 12, 2016November 12, 2016

The K2: Episode 15

by gummimochi

It’s a race against the clock in this penultimate episode when the threat of death and destruction looms over those Je-ha feels compelled to protect and those who simply wish to save themselves. Trusting in power and authority can only get our characters so far, because they’ll soon learn that everyone is powerless when time is ticking away.

EPISODE 15 RECAP

Sung-won ventures down to the Cloud Nine sublevel thanks to CEO Gook while Representative Park’s men corral the JSS agents. He marvels at the surroundings, and suffice it to say, Yoo-jin is not happy to see them.

She orders her computer to close the doors which creates a soundproof glass barrier between them. Upon hearing Je-ha point out the explosives they’ve brought, she turns off the soundproofing to greet her unwelcomed guests.

Eager to show off the bomb, Sung-won cackles while he inputs the sequence with a covered hand. He figures two hours should be enough for them to talk and makes himself comfortable.

Yoo-jin is miffed when Je-ha turns on the soundproofing to ask where Anna is. He’s told Anna is on her way to see Lafelt, and then the soundproofing is dropped right before Representative Park calls.

Greeting everyone with a hearty laugh, Representative Park points out that his knight has captured the queen. “So you sent him in to kill me?” Yoo-jin returns airily. The politician hasn’t forgotten how he nearly died when she came after him, and he has only one demand: the USB.

Sung-won chimes in that he just wants Cloud Nine, and so once again Je-ha mutes everyone else. He suggests that Yoo-jin honestly tell them that she doesn’t have the USB, and they’ll go after Representative Park. Again.

So they go through with that play when Yoo-jin unmutes the system and tells the politician that the USB isn’t in her possession. CEO Gook confirms it and directs them to Je-ha, who tells Representative Park that it was all Burn Mark’s fault the memory drive isn’t in the politician’s hands yet.

Representative Park declares that Je-ha has been working for him this entire time, which leaves CEO Gook in shock while Sung-won is simply amused. Although Yoo-jin calls Je-ha a traitor, she asks telepathically what he plans to do now. He responds in his head: “I’ll have to go catch Park Kwan-soo.”

Je-ha continues to act like a mercenary when he’s asked to fetch the USB, as Representative Park promises to pay him and give him a bonus for his services. With that, he leaves the siblings to chat.

Before Je-ha leaves, he and Yoo-jin turn their backs on Sung-won to have one final soundproof chat. When she worries about his weakened state, he tells her that he won’t come back to Cloud Nine. He advises that Yoo-jin do the same and leave this part of her life because she’ll likely be happier without it.

“I can’t leave Mirror behind,” Yoo-jin replies. “Because Mirror… is me.” He understands that this computer is a manifestation of her extensive power, to which Yoo-jin says that very understanding is why she gave him access to Mirror.

Sung-won is a man who has everything and yet goes to great lengths to have Cloud Nine for himself, Yoo-jin notes. Bringing her hand up to her chest, she adds, “But… this is already yours.”

Turning to her, Je-ha explains that anyone who experiences a taste of Mirror’s powers will have a voracious greed for Cloud Nine. The same applies for Yoo-jin, the ruling witch of this domain, so he tells her to leave this place while he takes out Sung-won and Representative Park.

Before he walks through those doors, Yoo-jin wistfully adds that they should have crossed paths at a better time and place. “Take care,” she says while thinking back to everything they’ve been through together.

Je-ha calls upon the computer to close the doors behind him when he leaves. Yoo-jin fights tears as he walks out, leaving her to deal with Sung-won.

Over at the airport, Anna shares an emotional farewell with her housekeeper and two bodyguards. Secretary Kim is there to see her off again, though Anna notes her father isn’t here again. When Anna asks her to look after Je-ha, she reminds her that she tried to kill the lovebirds. “I haven’t forgotten,” Anna answers. “But going forward, I’ll try to forget that.”

Yoo-jin checks that Je-ha has left before turning her attention back to Sung-won. She orders her computer to lock all the doors and shut down the cell reception, but she’s somehow able to connect this current video feed to Secretary Kim’s phone.

Irate, Secretary Kim orders more men to the JSS headquarters. Now Yoo-jin taunts wryly, “Shall we begin the game now?”

She starts off by having Mirror track down CEO Gook’s grandchildren in the States and deploying men to off them in an hour’s time. She temporarily calls off the hit when CEO Gook falls to his knees and begs, and isn’t sympathetic to the idea that the man betrayed her because he didn’t want to see the JB Group children bicker.

CEO Gook pleads for another chance, citing that he acted on the late chairman’s orders to clean up Um Hye-rin’s death. That’s news to Sung-won, and Yoo-jin grits out that’s why CEO Gook was rewarded by eventually becoming the head of JSS.

She does, however, agree to take his life in exchange for his grandchildren. She picks up on his initial reluctance, but CEO Gook agrees, much to Sung-won’s surprise. CEO Gook thanks Yoo-jin, swears to repay this debt in hell, swipes a gun from an agent’s holster, and shoots his own temple.

Yoo-jin smiles as she tells Sung-won that this is how you deal with Cloud Nine members. But he shouldn’t be so elated because she’s coming for him next. Then she immediately tells the other agents that whoever shoots Sung-won first will reap a great monetary reward.

When one agent turns his gun on Sung-won, Yoo-jin offers the same amount to everyone, and now Sung-won has three guns pointed at him. Sung-won tells them that he’s far wealthier than Yoo-jin and reminds her that he’s the only one who can defuse this bomb. Furthermore, the bomb has a GPS sensor so it’ll go off anyway should he choose to walk right out of here.

So Yoo-jin calls off the hit, though she’s inclined to think Sung-won will die tonight anyway. They dismiss everyone (including CEO Gook’s corpse) so that they can chat.

Yoo-jin acknowledges that Sung-won has put a great deal of thought into this plan, but soon those men will turn their guns on him to defuse the bomb, and they’ll need her to reactivate the elevators. That is, once those men off him of course.

Sung-won has no escape, Yoo-jin says as the camera turns to the timer on the bomb: D-87 minutes.

Meanwhile, Je-ha and Burn Mark head back to the hospital parking lot where Je-ha retrieves the USB. Burn Mark punches him in his injured side and calls Representative Park, who orders him to shoot him.

Just as Burn Mark readies his gun, he’s shot down… by Chief Joo, whom Je-ha asked to be sent waiting there. Representative Park stammers nervously when Je-ha picks up the phone and asks where to bring the USB now.

After agreeing to meet with Representative Park in his panic room, Je-ha climbs into the car with Se-joon, who is glad to hear that he’s secured the USB. He advises Je-ha go get treated, but Je-ha refuses to go to the hospital and to hand over the USB to Se-joon—Sung-won is keeping Cloud Nine hostage with a bomb, so they must expose the USB contents to the world.

Chief Joo argues that doing so will mean the end to Se-joon’s political career—he knows that they need to stop Representative Park and Sung-won, but going public now will only further complicated matters.

But Je-ha retorts that if they don’t act now either Sung-won will acquire Cloud Nine or Yoo-jin could die while being held hostage. Je-ha has no patience for Chief Joo’s concern for “the greater good” because that’s the same excuse he used against Je-ha in their army days.

When Se-joon sides with Chief Joo, Je-ha throws back: “What about Um Hye-rin? And Anna?”

Je-ha resolves to do it himself then, and doesn’t bat an eyelash when Chief Joo raises a gun at him. He remembers how Chief Joo told him that JSS wasn’t a group to be trifled with, but now the man would throw his last shreds of his morality for these people.

“What about you then?” Chief Joo counters. As he knows it, Je-ha is on the run for killing Iraqi civilians after being jettisoned from Blackstone.

Chief Joo has got it both right and wrong, Je-ha says—he was a former mercenary and cast aside by his home country, but he didn’t kill any innocent lives. And the reason he’s on the run is because Blackstone found out that he’d be testifying against them.

Je-ha grows frustrated when Se-joon says he’ll be nothing more than a scarecrow without that USB: “You have to be a father to Anna now!” Fed up, Je-ha slams down the USB, explaining how his original plan was to save Anna from Yoo-jin’s grasp and kill Representative Park.

He’s off to kill Representative Park now, and then ignores Chief Joo’s protests about whether or not he plans to blow himself up too with the C-4 explosives in the back of the van.

It’s D-79 minutes down in the Cloud Nine sublevel, and Yoo-jin laughs when Sung-won whines about using Mirror together. He tries appealing to sympathy, remarking on how much he always envied her courage.

She wasn’t illegitimate like he is, and when everyone thought she’d take over the company, she married for love whereas he agreed to an arranged marriage. He adds in a sigh for good measure, and when Yoo-jin says she would’ve fallen for that lie if she was slightly more gullible, he bursts out laughing.

He chuckles that Yoo-jin sure is clever, and wonders if it’s true that their father had CEO Gook cover up the fact that Yoo-jin killed Anna’s mother. “What would you know?” she sneers.

Sung-won opts for a different angle: he’ll give Yoo-jin half of his shares in JB Group if they can both use Mirror. Then when he takes Jinhan Group, he gives her JB Group. O how gracious of you.

But Yoo-jin wonders if he’s feeling the time crunch because she’s certain he didn’t plan on dying in this sublevel when he brought those explosives in. Plus, there’s no need for her to strike a deal with him when he has no choice but to defuse that bomb.

He’s better off disabling that bomb and leaving the premises with it, she chides. If he does that, she won’t kill him.

She accepts a call from Se-joon and laughs when he comments that the bomb must’ve not gone off yet. Sung-won is surprised when he and Yoo-jin learn that Se-joon is now in possession of the USB.

Hearing that Je-ha insisted upon Se-joon to expose the USB in order to save her, Yoo-jin lets that idea settle in, then tells her husband not to reveal the contents. He has no need to worry about Sung-won, who’ll likely deactivate the bomb before then.

She believes it’ll be more believable if Se-joon calls Sung-won’s father-in-law and Representative Park with the threat of the USB. Impressed, Se-joon lets out a hearty chuckle.

She asks after Je-ha and nearly asks where he is before refraining from finishing that inquiry. She then turns to Sung-won and points out that his ally Representative Park is done for. Should she take all of JB Group and start over instead?

So Se-joon calls Sung-won’s father-in-law who then calls Representative Park about the current whereabouts of the USB. Representative Park believes Je-ha has been acting as a double agent, then suddenly remembers that Anna is Se-joon’s daughter.

He sends his men to his hideout and vows to bury them all tonight, whether that’s Se-joon or Je-ha or anyone else.

Anna looks at a photo of Je-ha before being asked to turn off her phone for takeoff. As she wipes away her tears, Je-ha pulls to the side of the road and tries calling to no avail. Before the plane takes off, however, a police officer approaches to collect her.

D-60 minutes. The van drives into Representative Park’s hideout, and Je-ha appears from behind to take down a few bodyguards. Not only does he have a gun, but he’s also wearing some C-4, but that doesn’t stop the bodyguards from targeting him.

He holds one guard at gunpoint, but then the guard whirls around with a knife. Je-ha goes for the counterattack then disarms him. He then keeps the gun trained on the guard until they reach Representative Park’s panic room and instructs the man to place the C-4 on the door.

The door busts open, but Representative Park is nowhere to be found. He’s told that Representative Park got hold of Anna just before her plane took off, and the only way to get her back is to give the politician the USB.

Je-ha shoots the ceiling then points the gun back at the guard while stepping on his injured leg demanding to know where Anna is now. Next thing we know, he’s using the guard as a human shield and throws him to the other guards before spinning and taking one down with a bullet.

He takes a few more shots behind a desk before grasping his bleeding side. He inserts another clip then slides the gun across the room. He takes out another gun from his coat pocket and slides on the floor to catch the other gun and use both to take down two guards from both sides.

He calls Mi-ran from the car, filling her in about how Representative Park has kidnapped Anna. While Mi-ran checks with the airport, Representative Park gets in contact with Se-joon via video call.

Se-joon is all smiles until he sees Anna bound and gagged. Representative Park offers to exchange her life for the USB and suggests they all head down to the Cloud Nine sublevel to discuss matters there. Because that’s where the party is?

He reminds Se-joon that the data on that USB cannot be copied, and he’ll be sure to check that it’s genuine once they meet. He instructs his secretary to send Anna along to the JSS headquarters first. D-48 minutes.

Upon hearing that Representative Park really did kidnap Anna, Je-ha screams in frustration and slams on the accelerator. He’s still in pain and sweating bullets by the time he arrives at the construction site where the workers immediately attack him with tools and supplies.

His gun gets knocked out of the way, so Je-ha gets a few punches and kicks in before one worker hits him on the head with a piece of wood and another kicks him down.

Bleeding, Je-ha struggles to his feet and grabs a piece of wood from a lit barrel. He swipes the burning stick at them, using it like a sword to strike their backs and legs. He runs inside where more workers greet him with punches and metal pipes.

When one worker grabs him, Je-ha uses the momentum to swing his legs to take down a worker with a flying kick. He whirls away to avoid a few attacks and pulls himself back as a worker strangles him with wood and another wields a sledgehammer.

He escapes that hold, only to sustain more injury. He charges when one worker attacks with a metal pipe, then steals it to take down some more workers before delivering one final helmet-cracking blow.

He can hear Anna’s struggles in the distance and spots her being stuffed into a car. He gets past the pair of wood-wielding workers and locks eyes with Anna in the car.

Remembering Anna’s cries from when she was held in a car in Spain, Je-ha starts running and barely grabs hold of the car. More of Representative Park’s men appear in the company of the politician’s secretary, who screams at them to kill Je-ha.

One by one they draw near, and Je-ha uses a knife to swipe and stab any necessary body parts. He forsakes the last agent to face Representative Park’s secretary. D-44 minutes.

Meanwhile, there’s a knock at the JSS office—it’s Master Song who has stayed hidden during this takedown. He takes out one guard by poking him in the eyes and goes right for the family jewels of another guard.

He works quickly to release the other JSS agents, and the group head to another room in those outfits to save Team Leader Seo. They use those disguises to casually walk up to the men holding Anna hostage and take them out in the JSS lobby.

Anna finally breathes easy once she sees Master Song, who leads Anna to a stairwell before heading back to help out with the ensuing brawl. Anna runs to the parking lot just as Representative Park’s men come looking for her with flashlights.

She lets out a shriek when she sees headlights up ahead, and then someone grabs her from behind. It’s Master Song, and his hand over her mouth brings up another memory of the night her mother died… of Master Song wielding a flashlight and covering up her mouth. Oh.

As the image sinks in, she asks, “It was… you, Master Song?” He’s confused at first, so Anna asks him if she was the shadow in her mother’s room that night. He stammers a response, but Anna draws back.

A bloody Je-ha walks up to Representative Park’s frightened secretary, who tells him that he needs to hurry over to Cloud Nine. He tells the secretary to drive, but when the latter says they can’t, he asks why.

Je-ha raises the knife when the secretary doesn’t reply right away, and the secretary yells, “The bomb! The bomb will go off soon!”

He says they can just defuse it, but the secretary returns that there’s something Sung-won doesn’t know: the bomb cannot be defused once it’s been activated. Well, crap.

Je-ha screams in frustration as the camera hones in on the timer: D-38 minutes.

 
COMMENTS

And so the countdown continues. Even though there’s supposed to be a sense of looming doom and dread surrounding this bomb, I oddly don’t feel the same desperate threat of death as some of our characters do. If I take a minute to think about why that is, I’d have to point to my perception of time as a viewer in this penultimate episode.

At first I thought two hours would be barely enough time for Je-ha to retrieve the USB, encounter some trouble and make it back to the JSS headquarters to negotiate for Yoo-jin’s life (and now Anna’s it seems). But given how eventful this episode was with everyone traveling across town so speedily, it makes me wonder that in spite of Je-ha’s frustrated roars, he’ll have more than enough time to get everything done.

Whenever I felt that a good chunk of time must’ve passed, the occasional check-in would remind us that whatever happened only shaved fifteen or so minutes. Here’s where I feel seeing the clock running on the bottom of the screen would’ve helped pack in the suspense and drive in the idea that time is supposed to be working against Je-ha. Because with about 38 minutes left on the clock, no one except Yoo-jin and Sung-won are keeping a keen eye on that bomb.

But we’ll move on to the lives at stake because Representative Park’s plan is to pack everyone in the Cloud Nine sublevel like a pack of sardines. Little does he know that Anna isn’t part of the party he’s set up, and I honestly don’t think he’s thought about his plan backfiring on him in the sense of Je-ha calling Yoo-jin (because she can somehow get cell reception through Mirror) and Sung-won betraying him so that everyone can live to see another day. And if Se-joon is headed to Cloud Nine, is Representative Park banking on the assumption that the USB will be destroyed once the bomb blows?

We can’t let this episode pass without Anna’s most recent revelation about her mother’s death. Even though we’re in finale week and have little room pacing-wise to doubt the truth, Anna’s memory has triggered false positives in the past. Much like the other times, this memory is brief and we’ve yet to hear Master Song’s defense. So until we get our ducks in the row, I’m inclined that we still won’t get to the bottom of Anna’s mother’s death until the bitter end.

As of this moment, I feel much like Yoo-jin, who sees through Sung-won’s tricks and waiting for someone else to crack first. Even after Je-ha ripped into her, he was mollified to hear that at least Anna was safe (at the time), and on a basic hero level, worried about Yoo-jin dying within herself. I wouldn’t be surprised if placing the hand on her chest and calling it his had layered meaning about giving him Mirror, herself, and her heart, and now that she’s said her farewell, the queen must keep her sense of attachment to him in check.

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234 November 13, 2016November 15, 2016

The K2: Episode 16 (Final)

by gummimochi

It’s time for The K2 to show off its finishing move as our characters face the truth that finally comes to light in the midst of ongoing danger. Psychological warfare will be their best weapon as the timer continues to tick down to zero, and their lives won’t be the only things they stand to lose. With so much at stake, there is but only one voice we can call upon: Mirror, mirror on the wall—will Je-ha be able to save them all?

FINAL EPISODE RECAP

D-36 minutes. Je-ha races to the JSS headquarters while Yoo-jin tells Sung-won that he may as well give up now that he’s lost the memory card. But Sung-won is prepared to see things through to its potentially explosive end and even reaches for his cigarettes.

While they’re waiting, Yoo-jin asks how his name got roped into Kumargate when JB Group wasn’t among the listed parties. Sung-won explains that he initially meant to set up a trap for his father-and-law and the other mysterious consortium members.

He’d found out that Seok-han was a medical volunteer in Iraq and treating the leader of the Kumar group. Since he and Seok-han were schoolmates, he’d asked for an introduction. He then dropped out of the consortium before things imploded, but then Seok-han added his name to the Kumargate register.

Yoo-jin notes how Sung-won was so close to getting off scot-free, but now it’s clear that he orchestrated it all. “More or less,” Sung-won replies. He wonders how Yoo-jin figured it out without seeing the memory card’s contents, and she says it was all thanks to her computer…

…And finishes the thought in her head: “And Je-ha.” That leaves Sung-won even more impressed by Mirror’s capabilities.

D-33 minutes. Yoo-jin believes negotiations are over now and tells Sung-won to leave with his little bomb. She’d also like his shares before he leaves, though, and Sung-won gives a lazy no. He argues that he’d be penniless, so he may as well die here.

“Do you think dying is that easy?” Yoo-jin returns. Just then, Representative Park’s guards re-appear, demanding that Yoo-jin let them out. She smiles, having expected them to become desperate, and adds, “Should I teach you what’s even more difficult than dying?”

She brightens when Secretary Kim calls to report that the JSS agents have reclaimed the lobby. She isn’t remotely worried that taking back the rest of the building will take time, but that’s when Master Song runs up to report that Anna is somewhere in the building.

Secretary Kim orders a hunt for Anna, and as shocked as Yoo-jin is, she’s relieved that Anna hasn’t been caught by Representative Park’s men.

Speaking of whom, Anna is hiding behind a pillar in the basement level. She overhears her pursuer reporting to Representative Park that they’ve lost her, and Representative Park responds with destructive rage.

Amused by this turn of events, Sung-won walks right up to the glass and remarks how Se-joon likely won’t give up the memory card if Anna is held hostage. He makes a show about how he nearly deactivated the bomb earlier, but now he’ll just wait for reinforcements to arrive and defuse the bomb then.

Yoo-jin scoffs at that, saying that she’ll just replace Representative Park’s men who are itching to leave with her own. She dismisses them and orders them to put down their guns before they climb into the elevator.

They’re greeted by armed JSS agents once they arrive in the lobby and are escorted outside. Se-joon is filled in when he and Chief Joo arrive and is told to come down to the Cloud Nine sublevel immediately so he can trade the memory card for Anna’s life.

Je-ha finally arrives and staggers through the JSS doors to ask where Anna is. He runs over to the security room when he’s told that they can’t confirm her whereabouts, but the main feed won’t work.

On one screen, we see that Representative Park’s men are still looking for Anna in the boiler room. She waits with bated breath, but one agent grabs hold of her and Anna uses the self-defense techniques she learned from Master Song to fight him off and escape.

She crashes into Je-ha and soon they’re surrounded by Representative Park’s men. As they pull out their knives, Je-ha backs up and offers Anna his hand. She takes it, and then Je-ha turns back to the men.

He whirls around to evade the first jab, then lays low to knock the others down and swipe their knives to stab them instead.

Anna averts her eyes from the bloodbath, and then one of Representative Park’s men grabs her from behind and points a gun at her. Je-ha drops the knife and raises his hands…

…And balls one hand into a fist. “Freeze?” Anna wonders. He then gestures her to sit and as she crouches down, Je-ha whips out a gun and shoots the man down.

The sound of the bullet can be heard from the lobby where Secretary Kim order the JSS agents to find Je-ha. Speaking of whom, Je-ha collapses to the ground, barely conscious, and he ekes out: “We have to get out of here.”

Se-joon arrives at the Cloud Nine sublevel and joins Yoo-jin in the glass-enclosed conference room while Chief Joo is dismissed. She turns on the soundproofing, but as expected, Se-joon pulls out the memory card and tells her he cannot hand it over because he needs it to save Anna.

She reminds him that he’ll be throwing away the presidential race and lose everything, but none of that matters to Se-joon anymore. D-21 minutes. Sung-won knocks that they don’t have much time, but Yoo-jin is utterly taken aback by how Se-joon is willing to give up the presidency for his daughter.

Se-joon says he’s not entirely certain about that, but what he does know is this: “I wanted to become president so that I could be more powerful than you… and destroy you.”

She remarks on what a pity it is that Se-joon didn’t come off this strong sooner, but Se-joon counters that his hatred for her would’ve remained. And to that, Yoo-jin tells him what she already told Je-ha—she never killed Um Hye-rin or ordered someone to kill her.

She isn’t telling him this just to get the memory card because that would be as easy as taking candy from a baby. He asks why Yoo-jin acted as if she did kill Anna’s mother then, and Yoo-jin muses, “Could I have feared the idea of you leaving me?”

But then she revises that answer, saying that she likely feared the idea of finding out that she made the wrong choice. “Because I wanted to prove to everybody—no, my late father, that I made the right decision to the very end. Because I wanted to prove that I could make it so that my decision was the right one even if that happened to be the wrong one.”

Se-joon remarks that Yoo-jin worked so hard to seem clever when she, in fact, was so foolish. Getting choked up, she nods, “Yes, I was quite dumb. Happiness was something I never had to prove to other people.”

If that were the case, neither of them would’ve had to work so hard to live the way they’ve had. But too many years have passed now, and she adds, “I’m sorry to have made you live your life like this.”

Her sudden apology catches Se-joon off-guard, and he can only let out a hearty laugh of disbelief.

Je-ha is wheeled into the infirmary while Anna is dragged away. Both Se-joon and Yoo-jin look relieved, and after she asks to be put through to Sung-won’s father-in-law, she asks Se-joon to borrow that memory drive.

Sung-won’s father-in-law puts her on speakerphone, and Yoo-jin proves that she has the memory drive by texting the consortium members the banking information of their slush funds. She gives them ten minutes to remove Representative Park’s men from the premises lest she expose these slush fund accounts to the world.

D-18 minutes. Anna is dragged into Cloud Nine, where Sung-won motions for her to join her family. But just as Anna approaches the doors, Sung-won pulls out a gun and shoots Secretary Kim’s leg.

He then grabs Anna and demands that Yoo-jin open the conference room doors. Yoo-jin lets him in, and when he asks if she didn’t anticipate him having a gun, she admits that she hadn’t because “I thought only underlings would use a weapon like that. Oooh.

That sort of mockery doesn’t faze him, and after Sung-won sits Anna down, he invites the other two to join her. He asks Se-joon for the memory card, but Yoo-jin refuses, and as she calls out to Mirror to shut down the elevators, he shoots her point-blank.

Yoo-jin looks down at the bullet wound, then falls to her knees. Se-joon bends down next to her while Secretary Kim screams in agony. She shakes her head when Sung-won once again asks for the memory card. So Sung-won points the gun back at Anna’s chest, and Se-joon tosses the memory card to his feet.

Representative Park can guess that Yoo-jin demanded that his men back off when the police commissioner calls. He calls Sung-won’s father-in-law and the other consortium members to confirm it, then reveals to the room that the bomb in Cloud Nine is scheduled to go off in ten minutes’ time whether they like it or not.

He reminds them that their enemies and the memory card is in that room, so once everyone is blown up, he’ll be the only one with evidence about Kumargate. He’ll also be the only presidential candidate left in his party, and that gets the consortium members’ attention.

He orders the committee to cut off the power and all outside communication circuits to JSS. Ten minutes should be more than enough.

Je-ha comes to in the infirmary and declares that they must evacuate immediately because of the bomb. Chief Joo calls Se-joon to inform him that the bomb cannot be defused and that they must all leave immediately.

D-16 minutes. Sung-won steps down to check and starts to panic when he cannot deactivate it. He runs back to Yoo-jin, who’s bleeding out, and says they have to bring the elevators back online.

He calls out to Mirror, at which point Yoo-jin says her computer only listens to her. Just as she calls out to Mirror, the power goes out and the emergency generators kick in. Upon learning that neither the elevators nor cell reception is an option, she congratulates Sung-won because his political ally was responsible for this.

Sung-won runs out while Se-joon removes his tie and asks Anna to apply pressure on the wound. Even though Yoo-jin says she doesn’t have to, Se-joon silently urges his daughter to help. And so, Anna takes over so that Se-joon can assess the situation outside.

Yoo-jin looks up at Anna and congratulates her because she’s about to get her wish. Anna tells her not to speak, and Yoo-jin comments that she’ll die at this rate. “That’s right,” she breathes. “Your mother was already dying… when I arrived.”

“Like you, I once had a father. But the funny things about fathers is that they’re never around when you need them, but show up when you don’t need them.” Her words are intercut with the memory of a figure walking around Anna’s dark house all those years ago.

“My father found out about your mother and took it upon himself to deal with it,” she continues in a labored voice. “I begged him not to, but in the end… he ordered one of his men to kill your mother. For my sake.”

“And was that Master Song?” Anna asks. Yoo-jin replies, “So you knew.” We now see what happened: Master Song had snuck into Anna’s mother’s bedroom and stuck a syringe in her neck. She’d struggled and latched onto him, but then knocked over the pills on her bedside table before collapsing onto the ground.

He had hidden in a corner at the sound of young Anna’s voice. She had shrieked upon seeing the bright flashlight, so he covered her mouth and she passed out just as Yoo-jin had walked in.

Yoo-jin explains that she’d gone to the house because she’d found out about her father’s plan, but it was already too late when she’d arrived. She’d known that young Anna and Master Song were hiding in the corner, but she couldn’t bring herself to look at them.

“Because… I was afraid I’d see your face,” Yoo-jin admits haltingly. Just as she’d turned to leave, Anna’s mother reached out to her, and for the briefest moment, she contemplated calling an ambulance.

But then she decided against it, told Anna’s mother that love was never meant to be shared and turned her back on the dying woman. She knows she could’ve saved Anna’s mother, so the fact that she didn’t makes her responsible for Anna’s mother’s death.

“Afterward, I lived my life like my father did,” Yoo-jin confesses tearfully. “No, even harsher than that. On the night your mother died, I obeyed the commands of the devil within me.”

A tear rolls down Anna’s cheek, and Yoo-jin says she can let go now. “I’m the enemy that killed your mother.”

D-12 minutes. Je-ha follows Master Song down to the basement while Chief Joo is told to call for reinforcements. Je-ha forces the elevator doors open and puts on the harness. Securing himself to the wall, he tells the others to pull the rope up at his signal.

He rappels himself down while Se-joon rejoins Yoo-jin, who is barely lucid. Sung-won comes running back when he sees Je-ha and holds Anna at gunpoint. Je-ha runs into the room and examines the spilled blood and the injured parties. Yeah, a lot happened while you were gone.

Sung-won declares that he’ll be leaving with Anna first, and unbeknownst to him, the memory card falls to the floor when she struggles. To his surprise, Je-ha marches forward, but then Anna kicks the memory card away.

Se-joon tells Je-ha to follow Sung-won’s commands, so Je-ha leads them to the elevator. Sung-won puts on the harness and figures he should go up first. When Je-ha says Anna should go up first, Sung-won responds by shooting him in the leg. He throws Anna toward Je-ha, and calls on the group upstairs to pull him up. Anna tries to staunch the bleeding while Sung-won throws away the rope and announces that they all have to evacuate.

Je-ha gets in touch with the others via radio, instructing them to cut the elevator cable at his command. He and Anna double back to the conference room, and Yoo-jin smiles at his return.

He bellows that they have to leave, but Yoo-jin says it’s too late for her. “Is there a place for me to go anymore?” she muses. “I’d like to rest now.” Telling them to take Secretary Kim, she says, “I was wrong. Hurry and save Anna.”

Je-ha rushes to the bomb and urges Se-joon to leave with Secretary Kim. They have no time to argue, and Yoo-jin tells him to leave.

As Je-ha limps down the corridor, he explains to Se-joon, Secretary Kim, and Anna that the elevator has a safety feature in the case of freefall. He guesses that they can go further underground and escape the explosion, but that’s just a theory. Se-joon: “That’s… too bad.”

D-5 minutes. He and Se-joon force the doors shut and he orders the JSS agents to shoot. They all shoot at the cables, and upon seeing Je-ha and Anna hold one another, Se-joon opens the doors again.

They reach out to him, but Se-joon says he has no chance of saving Anna now: “I have to soften the blow.” He knows Anna will do just fine without him because she grew up just fine without him anyway.

She starts to cry, but Se-joon says she’s better off without a father like him. He entrusts his daughter in Je-ha’s care, then closes the doors from the outside.

He runs back to the conference room, to Yoo-jin’s surprise, and then lugs the bomb up the stairs and inside the room with them to help mitigate the explosion. Once he’s brought it in, she tells him to leave so she can close the doors. But Se-joon isn’t going anywhere: “Close the doors.”

So Yoo-jin issues her final command: “Mirror… close the doors. Tight.” A tear falls from her eye and Se-joon walks over to her side. Pulling her into an embrace, he asks her to accompany him in greeting the angel of death.

“We almost seem… like a happily married couple,” Yoo-jin says, smiling. “I’ll say,” Se-joon replies, holding her.

D-25 seconds. The JSS agents continue to shoot at the elevator cables until they finally snap. D-5… 4… 3… 2… 1…

Boom. Je-ha holds onto Anna as the building shakes from the explosion. Team Leader Seo calls out to Je-ha repeatedly, but there’s no response. Team Leader Seo screams out to empty space as the others begin wailing in grief…

…And then Anna’s voice responds, “This is K2.” Mi-ran asks after Je-ha, who haltingly responds, “Hurry up and get us out of here.” Utterly relieved, the JSS agents cry tears of joy. Listen, I know you’re happy, but the guy’s still in a lot of pain.

Some time later, Je-ha testifies against Blackstone while Mi-ran and Sung-gyu wonder what will happen to them now. The housekeeper says Anna inherited everything and lives in the estate now, but doubts that Anna has forgotten them.

While Anna is welcomed into the estate, the mysterious consortium members reiterate how Anna has inherited everything including Yoo-jin’s scholarship foundation. Although Sung-won believes she isn’t much of a threat without Cloud Nine, his father-in-law reminds him that she still has the memory card.

One member worries that Anna might act rashly following her parents’ deaths, but another believes Anna isn’t the exception—once someone has had a taste of power, they won’t easily give that up. It was the same way with Yoo-jin, and it’s only natural that those innocent girls grow up to become witches.

Anna enters Yoo-jin’s old office and sits in the chair her stepmother once sat in. Elsewhere, Representative Park chuckles that he isn’t at all afraid of one girl who will eventually come knocking for his help.

Someone climbs into the driver’s seat—it’s Je-ha. Cut to: Representative Park bound and gagged in the trunk. He passes out but comes to when the trunk door opens and he sees his secretary.

Sung-won walks up to his car looking chirpy until he sees who’s waiting for him in the backseat: Secretary Kim, and she’s got a gun. The men stuff him in, and Secretary Kim emerges from the other side leaving Sung-won’s body behind in her wake.

Representative Park’s secretary leads his former boss to a humble gallows. He bows deeply as Representative Park remarks he had no idea he would end up taking his own life.

Je-ha meets up with Anna at a Subway (c’mon, I was so close), and confirms that everything went well—he’s free to go wherever he likes now. He asks about her day, and Anna says it wasn’t much fun trying to walk in Yoo-jin’s footsteps for a day.

After Je-ha overtly expresses his love for sandwiches, they head back to the attic at the former safe house. Inserting a memory card in, he asks if she won’t regret this because this means giving up all the authority she received from Yoo-jin.

He tells her that all she has to do is press Enter to reveal the corruption among the rich and powerful, only to jump back when she presses it without hesitation. He whines that they should’ve sent the email together, but Anna says she doesn’t want to make a moment like this one meaningful.

She pouts when he complains that she’s doing whatever she likes as usual, but then turns that frown upside down to give him a peck on the lips.

He complains that she’s always acting like this, and when she shuts him up with another kiss, he kisses her back.

We catch up with the lovebirds who are now in Barcelona, and whose conversation we hear in voiceover. He asks if she regrets not being able to restore her mother’s reputation, to which she answers that she doesn’t because she got a father in exchange.

Anna: “Je-ha, I love you.” He says he knows, and as they exchange more kisses under the setting sun, she asks, “But hey, what’s your real name anyway?”

He takes a beat before answering, “Me? My name is…”

 
COMMENTS

Is that you, Yong-pal? I know at the end of the day, it might not matter what our hero’s real name is since he was simply known as “The Man” even before he got his code name and alias as Kim Je-ha, but frankly it still feels unfair to be robbed of what little information we could’ve scraped from him in this finale.

From the outset, much of his character was shrouded in mystery, which is all fine if the understanding is that we as viewers will come to understand him and his motivations behind his actions. But here we are at the end, knowing just a tad more than we did in the first episode—a former mercenary who is (sometimes) driven by revenge, but falls in love and at times turns into the most adorkable guy ever. So thank goodness that actor Ji Chang-wook injected color into a hero that could so easily have fallen to the wayside.

But turning back to the finale, I am glad that Je-ha and Anna got the happy ending they dreamed about. So much of the third act had them surrounded by absurd drama and conflict driven by even more ineffectual villains that I really did wish they would have a normal life one day. How they dealt with their final obstacles were swift and mostly hands-off, with Representative Park hanging himself and Secretary Kim directly avenging her longtime employer’s death. In the end, the writing didn’t choose for Je-ha to shoot to kill and instead handed over the deed to Representative Park’s own hands.

Then there was Anna’s character motivations, which became increasingly hazier by the story’s ending. When Yoo-jin was alive, she was determined to find her mother’s murderer, then later, she was determined to restore her mother’s reputation. But soon after she lost her father, that initial drive seem to fade into the background. Was it because she cherished her father now? Or that it was enough for her to remember her mother in her heart? Perhaps we’ll never know the answer.

All of this circles back to the writing, with each episode building up to an all-important cliffhanger, only to diffuse the dramatic oomph within the first few minutes of the following episode. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t continue to see Yong-pal brushstrokes during The K2rs&quo;s run, with its game metaphors and storybook references. By the end, the show’s main political conflict—the presidential race—became another sub-plot that died with the characters involved in it. This and the mysterious consortium members were two ongoing plotlines I held secondary importance to, though it was of primary importance to Se-joon, Representative Park, Yoo-jin, and others.

Even though there was plenty of slick action scenes and some even cooler fighting choreography (courtesy of PD Kwak Jung-hwan), I can safely say that I won’t be missing the constant shaky cam. I won’t miss the farce comedic moments with the JSS either since I never did think their intentional insertion never quite belonged in a show with such a dramatic premise. But still, I do admit that Master Song’s arc was a surprise, and I’m sure we’ll see the actor again in one of writer Jang Hyuk-rin’s future projects.

So after a mind-boggling game of seven unimportant consortium members, a not-so-special supercomputer, and the longest ticking time bomb ever, I’m ready to call it—…

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