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EPISODE 18 RECAP

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A few weeks after Kang Woo-suk resigns from the Seoul Prosecutor’s Office, he gets a surprise visit from Shin Young-jin and the head district attorney.  Woo-suk learns the head DA asked Reporter Shin to bring him over as a special favor because he wants to speak with Woo-suk about something.  Woo-suk takes him to his room while Reporter Shin waits outside for them.

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Inside, we don’t get to hear what the head DA says, but whatever it is makes Woo-suk uncomfortable.  He smiles and then gives an awkward laugh and rubs his neck, but he doesn’t respond.  The head DA tells Woo-suk he’s being serious.  “A man needs a wife if he’s ever going to get some real work done,” he says.  (So head DA is talking about marriage then, and I’m guessing the prospective bride is Reporter Shin and that’s why she stayed outside?)  Woo-suk says he’ll keep the head DA’s words in mind, then he asks what made him visit him today.

The head DA tells Woo-suk that Oh Jong-do is no longer a suspect or wanted in connection with President Park’s murder.  With the all points bulletin on him lifted, Jong-do has returned to Kwangju and will probably try to start organized crime activities there.  The head DA wants Woo-suk to transfer to Kwangju and go after Jong-do.  He tells Woo-suk his vacation is over and Woo-suk is confused and asks what he’s talking about.  He tries to point out that he no longer works for the Prosecutor’s Office, but the head DA cuts him off.  He tells Woo-suk to check the personnel roster.  He’ll find that he’s officially out on leave now with a transfer to Kwangju pending.

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When the head DA leaves, Reporter Shin asks Woo-suk what they talked about.  She really just wants to know if they talked about her, she says.  She confesses that the head DA is her uncle and she only agreed to bring him to Woo-suk if he agreed to help them.  Once again Woo-suk is completely confused and asks how the head DA would help them?  She’s as blunt as ever and tells him she’s talking about marriage.  She says her family is pressuring her to get married and he’s the best man she knows so she wants to marry him.

Based on Woo-suk’s non-reaction, she realizes pretty quickly he’s just not that in to her.  She drops her head and mumbles to herself that she wasted her time, then she starts walking away.  She turns around before she gets far though, and she asks him to walk her out.  He smiles and goes with her to the car.  She admits the head DA warned her he’d turn her down if she told him the DA is her uncle.

He denies turning her down because of her uncle, and she asks if he’s that in love with his landlord.  He claims that’s not the case either, but Reporter Shin reminds him that he’s lived in the boardinghouse for three years when he can afford better accommodations and she sees the way Chung Sun-young looks at him.  And if that wasn’t enough, she points out that when she came to the house just now he was packing clothes to take to the hospital for Sun-young.

She admits that she knew, even without her uncle telling her, that he’d turn her down.  She could never be as good a wife to him as Sun-young can be, she says.

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As Woo-suk contemplates going to Kwangju, it looks like he can’t arrive too soon.  Jong-do already has enough clout that he’s called most of the major businessmen in the area together for a meeting.  They’re already in the room seated when he arrives flanked by his bodyguards.  He enters the room and walks to the head of the table.  Then he announces that he’s returned after experiencing some rough times in Seoul and asks them for their support.  He bows, and they break out into applause.

The scene then cuts to a prison.  We finally get a peek at Lee Sung-bom!  He’s been locked up since the governmental crack down on gangs, but he’s still regarded as the head hyung on the inside too.  He has a visitor one day and his cellmates bow to him before he leaves the cell.  As he walks down the corridor to the visiting room, one of the prisoners loudly announce that the “boss has a visitor” and the others bow to him as he passes their cells.

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In the visitor’s room, it’s Park Tae-soo who has come to see him.  He tells Sung-bom that Jong-do returned to Kwangju and now controls all of North Jeolla Province and will soon control South Jeolla as well.  Tae-soo knows that Chang is bankrolling Jong-do and he remarks that he’s learned well from his time with the rich and powerful.  Apparently he’s working on a new project and that’s the real reason for his visit.  He has aspirations of growing bigger than he is and he knows the powers-that-be won’t like it.  So he plans to keep his project under wraps for now, but he thinks his actions may affect Sung-bom’s chances of getting paroled.

Sung-bom tells Tae-soo not to worry about him.  He says he’s comfortable and he likes it there. Tae-soo has brought Jung In-young and Lee Jong-kun with him on the visit.  After assuring Tae-soo that he’s fine, Sung-bom turns to them and thanks them for coming but asks them to step outside so he can talk to Tae-soo in private.

When they’re gone, Sung-bom asks about Yoon Hye-rin.  He’s heard she’s quite sharp and Tae-soo agrees.  He says she was quite sweet too—at least that’s how he remembers her.  He looks a bit nostalgic as he says it and Sung-bom laughs at him.  He asks Tae-soo if he really thinks he’s going to be able to become strong enough that no one will be able to stop him.  He wants to know if Tae-soo has ever known anyone powerful who is able to sleep through the night, then he says Tae-soo doesn’t know what true power is and still has a lot of growing up to do.  He mimics Tae-soo’s calling Hye-rin sweet and starts laughing again.

In spite of Sung-bom’s ridicule, Tae-soo moves forward with his plan to increase his power and influence.  He’s joined the board of the Slot Machine Association and the board recognizes him at one of their meetings for facilitating a relationship between the association and the National Tax Administration.

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His connection to high ranking officials on the National Tax Administration makes him privy to upcoming audits and businesses come to him for help when they need to get through or avoid the auditing process.  One such businessman, who has gambled away company funds, calls Tae-soo and begs for help.  He tells Tae-soo he’ll do whatever Tae-soo wants him to do if he helps him get through his upcoming audit.  Tae-soo tells the guy he has to make one promise: never gamble again.  If he can promise that, Tae-soo says he’ll help him.  The guy hangs his head and Tae-soo smiles to himself.

Some time later, perhaps because the guy broke his promise not to gamble anymore, or perhaps because that was his plan all along (we’re not given a reason), Tae-soo’s men storm the business and attack everyone in sight.  They’re taking over.  After Tae-soo’s men subdue everyone there, In-young sits at the head table with a piece of paper in his hand.  Unfortunately, I have no idea what the paper says. It looks like an I.O.U. or contract of some sort.  In-young pulls out a lighter and sets it on fire.  Then he sits there watching it burn.

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Meanwhile, the casino shareholders who support Tae-soo in his quest to become the next chairman of the board visit him and warn him against underestimating Hye-rin.  They’ve heard she’s reaching out to other shareholders.  She only needs 9% of the vote to take the position and they don’t like it.  Apparently, their main issue is that she’s female.  One of them says he sunk all of the money he made in the army into the casino and he never thought he’d have to take orders from a “wet behind the ears girl.”

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The shareholders are right about Hye-rin.  She has reached out to minor shareholders, but her chances aren’t looking great.  She arrives at the traditional tiled roof house of one of the stockholders and the first thing he does is marvel that young women in short skirts are struggling for control of casinos nowadays.  She asks if that’s his way of voicing his opposition to her taking the position, but he tells her not to interrupt her elders.  He says he invested in her father when her father was practically destitute because he admired how hard her father was working to support his family.  Out of respect for her father, he says he’ll give her some advice: find herself a husband.

He doesn’t believe in the women’s liberation movement and tells her that a man’s job may look plush and fancy, but it’s torturous to carry out.  Hye-rin assures him she’s not going after the chairmanship for glamour and prestige.  But he interrupts her again (he must not believe in women speaking their minds either) and berates her for interrupting him.  Hye-rin has no time for his rambling so she tells him he can scold her if he wants to but she has to get to the point of why she’s there: she needs his stocks.  She offers to buy him out immediately if he doesn’t want to vote for her, but by then he’s had enough of her refusing to let him say his piece so he tells his butler to escort her out.

Hye-rin keeps talking though, refusing to leave.  She tells him he doesn’t really have a problem with the fact that she’s a woman.  He’s really concerned about his profit.  He’s aware that she doesn’t plan on bribing officials or giving kickbacks to ensure the government leaves the casino alone and he fears the business won’t survive if it’s run honestly.  The shareholder ignores her and tells his butler more than once to kick her out as she continues to speak.  Hye-rin is so stubborn that the butler resorts to begging her to leave and she finally relents.  Before she goes, she thanks him for seeing her and bows.

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It seems Sun-young’s father has been in the hospital all this time.  But he’s terminally ill and one day Woo-suk arrives to find Sun-young sitting in the hallway outside his room.  She’s grief stricken because her father likely won’t make it through the night.  Woo-suk asks if she has any relatives to contact, and she shakes her head no.  She’s all alone, and that propels Woo-suk to finally make his move.  He goes into her father’s hospital room and asks for permission to marry her.  Sun-young goes over to her father, who is still unconscious, and puts her head on his chest.  Then she bursts into tears.

During the funeral when Woo-suk mentions the wedding, Sun-young thanks him for asking for her father’s permission to marry her.  She’s sure her father died happy, but she says he can stop the act now.  She tells him she’s strong and can make it on her own.  He asks if she’s turning him down and, if she is, he wants to know what she dislikes about him. She tells him they haven’t even dated, and he asks if they can find time to date and romance each other after they’re married.  She asks if he’s serious, and he responds that he doesn’t make light of love—ever.

She asks him if he wants her for who she is or is he looking for someone to keep house.  He asks if what she really wants to know is whether he loves her, and she says yes.  He tells her that he wants to love her if he can. “I’m prepared to do just that. I want to love you for the rest of my life,” he says.  She doesn’t say anything for a moment, then she starts crying and goes back to preparing food for the funeral.

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On the day of the wedding, Reporter Shin arrives at the wedding hall early and walks into the room where Sun-young is preparing for the ceremony.  Sun-young bought a white dress to wear to the wedding instead of a wedding gown, and Reporter Shin says she’s going to do the same when she gets married.  Sun-young tells her the dress cost the same as renting a wedding gown and she decided to go with the dress because at least she’d be able to wear it again (sensible girl, I like her!).

Reporter Shin admits she wanted to talk to Sun-young alone before the ceremony and asks if it’s okay with her.  Sun-young agrees so they sit down for a chat.  Reporter Shin tells Sun-young about her failed marriage proposal to Woo-suk.  She says he’s a good man and she’s seen other prosecutors like him.  They have conviction and a strong sense of justice, but they don’t last long on the job because they end up giving up.  She was confidant she could stand behind him and ensure he never gave up if she married him.

She asks if Sun-young understands what she’s trying to say, and Sun-young says that she does.  Sun-young invites Reporter Shin to visit them in Kwangju and assures her that she’ll be a good wife to Woo-suk.  Reporter Shin tells her as soon as she saw her dress, she knew she’d make a good prosecutor’s wife too.

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The head DA officiates the ceremony, and then the Sandglass OST plays as we see the guests throwing confetti and clapping as Woo-suk and Sun-young walk down the aisle. 

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Woo-suk looks up and sees Tae-soo in the back of the room clapping along with the other guests.  After making eye contact with Woo-suk, Tae-soo hurries away.  Woo-suk runs after him, but by the time he gets outside, Tae-soo’s car is already halfway down the street.  Woo-suk stands there with a wry smile on his face as the car disappears around a corner.

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MY THOUGHTS  

Even though a whole lot of nothing happened in this episode, I really liked it.  It felt like the calm before the storm and we got another (microscopic) dose of romance in getting to see Woo-suk finally get hitched. I am torn about that non-proposal.  Was it sweet and touching? or was it lazy and presumptuous? I can’t figure it out.  And I’m not sure how much I like the thought of getting married based on just a promise from my future husband to try to love me if he can.  What if he tries and can’t.  Then what?  But I’m sure they’ll be fine.  They both have that whole stoically serious persona going for them so they’re well-matched at least.  

I’m still waiting on the showdown between Hye-rin and Tae-soo though.  I’m hoping there will be a surprise or twist to make it a bit interesting because we can already guess what will happen due to this drama’s excessive use of foreshadowing.  (Has anyone watching the drama noticed this? I’m not sure how much I am able to convey in a recap and I don’t have the time at this point to re-read the recaps to pinpoint specific examples of it, but it seems like three quarters of the things that happen are expressly hinted at prior to it happening.)  I won’t spoil it for any of you if you haven’t guessed, but I will say that generally I like the use of foreshadow.  However, I think it’s most effective when it’s broadly drawn so that you only realize the show hinted at an occurrence much later in the show, or (which is the best method) when you rewatch the show and see all kinds of hints and warnings that you didn’t notice the first time around.  

This drama, on the other hand, drops all kinds of hints everywhere and it kind of ruins it for me—at least from the standpoint of being surprised at how things turn out.  It’s a good thing the show is so awesome in other areas–namely execution, directing and acting, or else I’d really be limping along now that we’re in the final stretch.  

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