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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


Sandglass: Episode 3 Recap
Sandglass: Episode 2 Recap
Sandglass: Episode 1 Recap

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