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EPISODE 14 RECAP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MY THOUGHTS

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

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

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

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