EPISODE 20 RECAP
The episode opens with an unseen narrator explaining that the primary focus of the organized criminal organizations in Jeolla Province is the construction industry. According to the narrator, most of the companies are backed by strong arms from one of the major gangs. They band together to bid on and win construction contracts. If other bidders don’t have gang connections, then they’re thrown off the bidding site before they can bid. Because of this, there was a lot of violence and fighting until Oh Jong-do moved to Kwangju. Jong-do came to town, stopped the fighting, and has united the region’s eight major gangs for the same cause.
As the voice narrates, we see various fight scenes—which occurred prior to Jong-do’s return to Kwangju. Then we see Jong-do walking down the hall in his office building and entering the conference room where the men give him a standing ovation when he appears. Jong-do shakes hands with various people as he makes his way to the front of the room. Once there, he bows to the group and the narrator continues his lesson by noting that there is a rumor that Jong-do has a powerful governmental backer. The narrator says the rumor appears credible in light of Jong-do’s ability to just waltz into Kwangju and began mingling with its power brokers from the start.
With this information in mind, Kang Woo-suk waits until the wee hours of the morning to bring in a construction industry insider for an off-the-records interrogation. The insider’s name is Mr. Kim and Woo-suk tells Mr. Kim that his office has identified him as one of the only construction firms that resisted the gangsters’ infiltration into his company. But his stance cost him many contracts and eventually he relented and hired one of the mobsters to help him get contracts again. Woo-suk asks for Mr. Kim’s help in removing the gangs from the industry so it can return to an equitable bidding system free from mob pressure.
Mr. Kim is reluctant to talk because he knows he’d have to risk his life to do so. Woo-suk assures him that any help he gives will be strictly confidential and eventually Mr. Kim relents and gives Woo-suk the names of the gang leaders involved in the gang consolidation.
Mr. Kim warns Woo-suk that he will have to hit all of the gangs at once or else the ones left untouched will just go into hiding and things will only get worse for the construction companies in the region. Woo-suk reviews the information Mr. Kim provided with Detectives Chang and Baik and Sergeant Cho Myung-woo. They’re meeting at his house after hours to keep their investigation top secret, and Woo-suk’s wife hears them discussing the dilemma of how to hit so many people all at once. As she brings them tea, she gives them the idea to have the gang members come to them instead of trying to chase after them one by one. They stare at her in amazement because apparently she’s given them an idea.
We don’t get to hear the idea, but a few days later the Detectives and Sergeant Cho make a surprise visit to the first construction company with a search warrant. They flash their warrant at the company’s CEO, Mr. Ahn, and commence to search his office. Back at the Prosecutor’s Office later in the day, it appears they’ve arrested Mr. Ahn, but they haven’t bothered to tell him why or to begin the interrogation process. Instead, they have Mr. Ahn sitting in the office as Mr. Oh walks around purposely making small talk with the other staff. Mr. Ahn gets progressively angrier and angrier that they’re wasting his time, and eventually demands that they question him or release him.
Mr. Oh goes to Woo-suk and tells him that Mr. Ahn is there in connection with the sworn statement the office received about the construction companies and the bidding problems. Woo-suk tells Mr. Oh he’s too busy to handle it and pushes it off on Det. Chang, so Detectives Chang and Baik take Mr. Ahn to the interrogation room for questioning.
Once there, however, it’s more of the same game playing they’ve been doing all along. Det. Baik starts asking some basic questions, such as how long he’s been with the company and the start date of his employment there, that gets Mr. Ahn riled up again. He yells that they can get that type of information from the company’s records, but Det. Baik ignores him. Det. Chang jumps in and acts as if he’s on Mr. Ahn’s side. He tells Mr. Ahn that they’re just following orders. There have been complaints from people outside of the bidding circle so they have to at least appear to investigate the complaints. According to Det. Chang, all the companies have to do is give their word that the bidding irregularities won’t happen again and he asks Mr. Ahn to help them out getting their assignment done.
Det. Baik must be playing the bad cop role because he asks Det. Chang whether it’s fair that Mr. Ahn will just get a slap on the wrist for his actions. Det. Chang says there’s too many people to lock up if they arrest all of the companies involved. Someone will have to be arrested for real though, Det. Chang says, so they’ll hold the really bad ones and let the rest go.
Mr. Ahn seems satisfied when he hears Det. Chang’s speech, and they allow him to leave the office. Unbeknownest to Mr. Ahn though, Det. Chang follows his car as it pulls away.
The next morning, Sergeant Cho delivers the news to Woo-suk that their trap has worked. Several representatives from the region’s construction companies have already come in to the office to make statements. And even more companies are calling in to set up appointments. Woo-suk’s secretary, Ms. Lee, fields the calls and schedules the appointments while Woo-suk and Detective Chang interviews the men.
Apparently, Woo-suk made his move when he knew Jong-do would be out of the country. Jong-do arrives at the airport on the day all of the men involved in the construction bidding fraud are scheduled to write their sworn statements. His head guy, Sideburns Guy, meets him at the airport and is surprised when Jong-do orders him to round up the men for a meeting. He tells Jong-do all the men are at the Prosecutor’s Office writing their pledges and, Jong-do, of course, has no idea what he’s talking about. Jong-do glares at Sideburns Guy and Sideburns Guy starts stuttering a bit trying to explain that they’d tried to call Jong-do but couldn’t reach him. Jong-do yells at him to stop stalling and explain what the heck he’s talking about.
The scene then cuts back to Woo-suk, who has gathered all of the construction company employees in a conference room. Ms. Lee passes out blank sheets of paper for them to use. Woo-suk explains that they’ve received three sheets of paper. The first is for them to write their letters of resignation. The second is a memorandum stating that they understand they’ll be subject to criminal prosecution if they’re re-employed in the construction industry within the next three years. The third is for their written apology. The longer it is the easier things will be for them, he says. He tells them that Mr. Oh is there to assist anyone who needs help, and he leaves.
We learn that writing their statements is not the end of the men’s troubles. Upon leaving the conference room, they are promptly arrested and carted off to jail. They’re furious they’ve been tricked into confessing their crimes and resigning from their positions, but Det. Baik is at the jail to strong arm any of them who gets too loud in decrying how they’ve been treated.
Jong-do has made it to his office by then and he throws a major hissy fit as he looks around the empty room. He throws his phone down to the floor and stomps on it for good measure, then he scoffs that this is Woo-suk’s work.
At a press conference about the arrests, the reporters are clearly on Jong-do’s side. Woo-suk admits that he is ultimately after Jong-do, but one of the reporters defends Jong-do as a young businessman who has worked hard to develop the local economy. Another reporter agrees and says Woo-suk is going after the wrong man.
We learn why the reporters sided with Jong-do in the next scene. After the press conference, Jong-do treats them to an expensive meal and explains his side of the story. He says he and Woo-suk went to high school together and mentions that he saw Woo-suk at a bar after Woo-suk transferred to the Kwangju Prosecutor’s Office. He says he didn’t speak to Woo-suk that night and thinks Woo-suk resented that. He implies Woo-suk has a personal vendetta against him, which is the real reason behind the investigation.
With Jong-do bribing the reporters, it’s no surprise that when the article appears in the paper the next day, the headline reads “Retaliatory Investigation by a Prosecutor.”
The article causes Woo-suk’s supervisor to call him to his office for a meeting. The supervisor knows why the Seoul Prosecutor’s Office sent Woo-suk to Kwangju, but his supervisor advises him not to go after Jong-do. He tells Woo-suk he knows Jong-do too and he’s already received numerous calls asking him why his office is wrongly targeting a young entrepreneur. Woo-suk gets angry and tells his supervisor that Jong-do is no entrepreneur. He says Jong-do is the head of a crime syndicate, but his supervisor asks him if he’s joking and questions his ability to fill the role of a prosecutor. Either way, he tells Woo-suk to wrap up the investigation quickly without embarrassing the Prosecutor’s Office.
At home that night, Woo-suk sees Chung Sun-young in the middle of cleaning. Feeling philosophical (and amorous), he interrupts her cleaning session to sweep her off her feet and carry her into their bedroom. (Rawr!) He tells her they didn’t have a Hollywood romance and he may not be able to provide her with a glamorous life or material things, but he can make a promise to her. That promise is to always tell her everything he does and every thought on his mind so she’ll always know what he’s doing and thinking. That will include all the good and all the bad, he says. Sun-young has tears in her eyes as he talks. As the tears start to fall she asks when they’ll start speaking to each other as friends (dropping the honorifics they still use even though they’re married—which I find quite weird but I guess it worked for them). He tells her he’ll drop the honorifics if she does, and she smiles and hugs him.
Back in Seoul, Park Tae-soo calls an impromptu meeting with some businessmen he knows. He surprises the men when he pulls out stock certificates, contracts, deeds and other documents and announces he’s there to sell off his holdings in the twenty-four slot machine operations he owns as well as five hotels and management rights to six night clubs. His men are even more astounded then the businessmen. It’s clear he didn’t tell them what he planned to do based on the look on Jung In-young’s face as well as the reactions of Lee Jong-kun and Chang-min. They turn to each other and start whispering among themselves.
After the meeting, Tae-soo confers with his three head men to discuss further dividing his assets. He starts to assign each of them management rights in his businesses, but Jong-kun interrupts him to ask why he’s doing this. He reminds Tae-soo that they’ve always done exactly what he told them to do. They’d even die if that’s what Tae-soo told them to do so how is it that he can do this to them now, Jong-kun asks.
In-young is bewildered too, but he tries to be more rational in his approach. He asks Tae-soo to at least tell them why he’s selling off his holdings and sending them away.
Chang-min chimes in too. He says he doesn’t mind doing whatever Tae-soo tells him to do, then he turns to Tae-soo and asks if they do as he says, will he not throw them away? He gets down on his knees and tells Tae-soo that he’ll be going wherever Tae-soo goes.
Jong-kun kneels down beside Chang-min and tells Tae-soo to sell off whatever property he’s held aside for him because he’ll be going wherever Tae-soo goes too. In-young, of course, follows suit so all three of the men end up kneeling before Tae-soo asking whether he’s in trouble and saying they’ll help Tae-soo in whatever scheme he’s devising.
Tae-soo thanks them for everything they’ve done. He paces back and forth for a moment, then he tells Jong-kun to get them all a drink. (And I have no idea what the heck that was all about, but I suspect it means Tae-soo is about to do something stupid.)
Meanwhile, Yoon Hye-rin is still dealing with the closure of the casino. She pays a visit to Hae-ahm, the lone stockholder to side with her at the shareholder’s meeting to elect the new chairman of the casino. The casino is about to go bankrupt, but he slides an envelope of money to her and tells her to use it to get the casino out of this crisis. He tells her the first order of business for them is to get the closure order lifted so they can start bringing in money again. She thanks him and promises to pay him back as soon as possible, but he tells her there’s no need for her to pay him back. She needs to get to work, he says, and he remarks that she should be too busy to have time for visiting. She just drops her head and starts crying.
A short time later, Hye-rin stops by Tae-soo’s office. The men don’t want to let her in, but Jong-kun recognizes her and takes her to see Tae-soo. He’s in the middle of packing, but he stops to pull out her chair and offer her a drink. While he’s looking for a glass to pour the alcohol he found, she tells him she’s there for his help. She wants to pretend they’re in a relationship so the powers-that-be in government will allow her to open her casino again.
Tae-soo tells her it’s risky to do that. He’d be gambling. If he’s lucky, he might win himself a lady. If he’s not lucky . . . . Hye-rin interrupts him and tells him she’s sure he knows where this could lead him, but she’s willing to do anything to get the casino open again, even using him if she has to. She tells him he can always refuse to play along. She knew the odds were against her from the beginning. Tae-soo smiles. Then he stands up and says what she’s proposing is definitely a gamble. But every game is like that and you can’t quit unless you lose everything, he says. Then he takes a drink straight from the bottle he’s holding as he thinks about helping her in her scheme.
Baek Jae-hee doesn’t agree with Hye-rin’s decision to use Tae-soo. After they leave Tae-soo’s office, he sits with Hye-rin as she has a drink and she tells him she has to find a way to make the powers-that-be in government feel secure in order to get the closure order lifted. Aligning with Tae-soo is a way to do that. Jae-hee reminds her that she’s always been opposed to scheming and trickery and the plots within plots that most people use to stay in business. She turns to him and admits that he’s right, but she has no choice this time, she says. He asks about Tae-soo. Tae-soo can get hurt, he says, and she admits she knows that too, but she doesn’t care. She gets angry and says that Tae-soo is the one who started all of this anyway and he knew what he was doing when he chose sides. She tells Jae-hee that she warned Tae-soo he could get hurt and he said he’s ready for the worse so she’s going to move forward.
With Tae-soo on board, Hye-rin sets up a meeting with Chang To-shik and Kang Tong-hwan. Jae-hee stays outside in the car. He has some sort of long range recording device that they’re obviously going to use to record the meeting.
Inside the meeting room, Chang announces that Tae-soo and Hye-rin are engaged. Mr. Kang congratulates them and Hye-rin wastes no time getting straight to the point. She apologizes for all the trouble she’s caused and slide a briefcase to the middle of the table. Chang goes to take it from her, but she doesn’t let it go. Instead she starts talking again, saying she’ll be relinquishing control of the casino after the wedding. Chang withdraws his hand so she lets go of the briefcase, and she leaves it sitting in the middle of the table.
Hye-rin turns to Mr. Kang and asks him to rescind the court order closing her casino so that Tae-soo can manage it from here on out. Mr. Kang looks a bit uncomfortable and starts clearing his throat so Chang takes the hint and speaks up for him. Chang tells Hye-rin that the court order she’s referring to isn’t in Mr. Kang’s jurisdiction. That’s under the realm of the Prosecutor’s Office, he says. Hye-rin tells him that Tae-soo plans to operate the casino the same way her father did. They don’t have her father’s ledger anymore to verify the deposits, but Tae-soo will resume depositing profits from the slot machine and casino operations into Mr. Kang’s Swiss bank accounts. She turns to Tae-soo for confirmation and tells Mr. Kang that she will also give him access to the money that is currently sitting in his Swiss bank accounts. She points out that it appears he hasn’t withdrawn any money since last October.
Chang looks a bit surprised at her moxy and Lawyer Min tells her that her father had the account numbers changed, which is why Mr. Kang stopped withdrawing money. Hye-rin tells him she’ll get him the new account numbers, but he asks whether she thinks it’s too late now to come to him for help. He reminds her of her stance against paying kickbacks, going so far as to call them leeches. Hye-rin is unrepentant and insists that what she said was the truth so Mr. Kang asks why she’s agreeing to pay out kickbacks now.
He starts getting angry and Chang tries to calm him down, but he keeps going. He asks if she think she’s the only one in Korea making payments. Or does she think they’d starve without her payments, he asks. Hye-rin says she’s sure that’s not the case. She says she’s sure every business everywhere pays its share and Mr. Kang starts yelling at her that Korea would be a mess if they put nickel and dime grubbers like her in charge. “Yes, industry pays to keep the nation afloat. It’s a dirty job, but it’s my job nonetheless. That money keeps the nation alive,” he tells her.
Mr. Kang has had enough of her by then and he tells Chang that he wants all of her casino holdings confiscated. He tells Chang to find a legal way to do it, but if he can’t then simply force her to close down. “Our country will survive without some stupid casino,” he says, and he stands up to leave.
Hye-rin stops him though when she opens the briefcase that has been sitting in the middle of the table all along. There is audio equipment inside and Mr. Kang is shocked to learn she’s recorded everything he just said. Chang tries to grab the equipment, but Hye-rin assures him that it won’t do them any good. There’s a second recorder and they’ll never get it. Mr. Kang asks what she wants and Hye-rin tells him it’s simple—she wants to be able to run her business. If she’s allowed to run the casino, she won’t make use of the tape.
Mr. Kang purses his lips, but he (wisely) doesn’t say anything. Instead, he walks out of the room. Chang drops the audio equipment back on the table and starts to leave too. Before he gets out the door he turns to Tae-soo and tells him he’s made a grave mistake. Tae-soo just stands there staring at Hye-rin. He looks upset. (Was he not in on it either? It doesn’t seem like he was.)
There’s a whole lot that could be said about this but that recap was pretty long and I am not inclined to write a novel so I will try to focus on one aspect of this episode. And that would be Hye-rin’s continued sense of entitlement and her total disregard for anyone’s feelings and personal safety except her own. I really can’t blame the poor little rich girl. She was just raised that way but it’s killing me here.
To claim Tae-soo started this mess is so typical. It’s like when my kid gets mad at me for punishing him for throwing the ball in the house and acts like I’m the bad guy in the situation when he’s the one who knowingly and intentionally broke the rules (and my damn lamp)! While she chooses to have selective memory, there’s nothing wrong with mine, especially since I happen to have recorded said memories in this trusty dusty blog of mine. If I recall correctly, she was the one who actually started it all. It was in episode 10 that she told her dear old daddy that she was marrying Tae-soo even though she had absolutely no intention to do so. She accepted Tae-soo’s proposal and even moved in with him only to spite her father (and admitted that she didn’t even have feelings for the poor guy). As expected, her father had no problem disposing of Tae-soo as if he were nothing and Tae-soo went through hell because of that.
She couldn’t even take a few weeks in prison when she was arrested for being a student protestor, but Tae-soo went through months of worse treatment than she received for doing a lot less than what she did.
And now because she’s changed her mind about her father and let go of her disdain for his business, she’s ready to use Tae-soo again knowing that this may mean he could actually die. And she’s fine with that because she’s willing to do anything to save the casino. Correction—she’s willing to sacrifice anything and anyone (except herself and her comfort) for the casino. Well there are words for people like her, but right now she’s not even worth the time or the cyber ink for me to pen them.
As for Tae-soo, I guess I would need to call out the writers more than the character here. On the one hand, he’s supposed to be a savvy businessman with enough influence to bring down Mr. Yoon. But on the other hand, he doesn’t have enough sense to know when it’s best for the bottom line to say no. Is love the motive for his involvement in this mess? If so, I find it ludicrous he hasn’t figured out that the Yoons love no one except themselves and perhaps he should stay as far away from them as possible.
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