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EPISODE 5 RECAP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MY THOUGHTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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