While You Were Sleeping: Episodes 25-26
Okay, now we’re talking. That middle stretch of the show was a bit of procedural hump to get over, but as expected, the final arc brings with it the case we’ve all been waiting for, and we finally start to really dig into the ways in which our characters are connected through that one tragic and fateful event in the past. And some of the answers turn out to be surprising.
EPISODE 25: “Going To See You, Now”
As they look out at the ocean, Hong-joo thinks to herself, “The moment was like a gift, enough to make me thankful for all of the choices that led us here. The choices that seemed childish became clear, and the choices that I regretted became right. Everything was that fluttery and pretty.”
She kisses Jae-chan on the cheek, and then continues in voiceover, “Everything was a relief. Except one thing…” She wonders aloud if the soldier’s brother, Junior Cop, is still alive and well.
Jae-chan says that he’s still alive, thinking of the stacks of letters he’s received from the ajusshi, but that he doesn’t know where he lives or what his name is. Hong-joo is just happy to know he’s alive.
Flashback 13 years. Junior Cop wakes up in his hospital bed and his partner excitedly gets up to bring him food. But he stops on his way out to make sure that Junior Cop isn’t thinking bad thoughts again, and Junior Cop replies that he’s not going anywhere: “My ending isn’t now. There’s someone I have to meet in the far-off future.”
Hong-joo wonders in the present whether they’d be able to recognize each other now, pointing out that even she and Jae-chan didn’t recognize each other at first. He supposes that they could’ve already run into him and never known, and they both agree that they’d like to see Junior Cop again.
Jae-chan wonders if Junior Cop would want to see them though, and takes Hong-joo’s hand for a stroll along the shore.
As Junior Cop writes his resignation letter back in the past, Jae-chan narrates that in the future, the ajusshi would tell them that he wanted to see them much, much more than they did. But he says that for a long time, they weren’t able to recognize him. While he narrates, we see an ajusshi walk through a buffet in a suit, and casually pocket the cell phones sitting on other people’s tables. Uh-oh, did Junior Cop go from cop to thief?
Seung-won’s classmate Dae-gu crumples to the ground with his father’s ashes in his arms, and Seung-won walks up to stand by his friend.
As the waves crash at his feet, Jae-chan narrates, “And the small cases that were separate like small waves began to come together and steadily come toward us and collapse, leading us to Ajusshi’s side.”
Dae-gu says he’s not going to hold a funeral for his father since no one would come anyway, and then notices Seung-won’s oversized suit. Seung-won says it’s his brother’s, who has “needlessly long arms and legs,” and Dae-gu agrees, admitting that he saw Jae-chan in court.
He says it was awesome how Jae-chan destroyed the defense, and that he felt grateful because the defense attorney was the former prosecutor who put his father away: Yoo-bum.
Speak of the devil, Yoo-bum laughs when he sees Chief Choi and Hyang-mi whither in front of the ATMs in the lobby of the prosecutor’s office. He offers to match whatever salary they demand if they come work for him, and Hyang-mi’s hand darts up instantly.
But Yoo-bum’s true interest is in Chief Choi, of course, who still refuses to take the offer. Yoo-bum tells Hyang-mi that she can come work for him if she can convince Chief Choi to come with her.
Chief Choi tells Hyang-mi not to say anything about Yoo-bum scouting him to Jae-chan, and she scoffs that she’s not a gossip.
…Only to go straight to Jae-chan to spill the beans. Jae-chan looks nervous but insists that Chief Choi likes working with him better than working with Yoo-bum, and Hyang-mi deflates his bubble right away, pointing out how slow Jae-chan is and how he creates more work and long hours for everyone.
She advises Jae-chan to be good to Chief Choi while he still has the chance, and to resort to aegyo if he has to. But Jae-chan refuses to rely on such tactics to hold Chief Choi back.
But of course as soon as he returns to the office, Jae-chan is suddenly attentive and kind, grabbing files from the top shelf for Chief Choi, and bending down to tie his shoelaces.
Jae-chan says that he heard everything from Hyang-mi and won’t hold Chief Choi back if he wants to go. But while he’s saying all this in a serious tone, he whips out his phone for cutesy couple selfies with Chief Choi, and then uploads one as his online profile photo with the tag “With my mentor ♡.” Hee.
At her staff meeting, Hong-joo pitches a feature on wearing a pregnant suit and going about your daily routine, to note what public services and workplaces could change to be more accommodating to pregnant women.
Bong sunbae in turn pitches a feature on following prosecutors on the job, and Hong-joo’s wheels immediately start turning. She points out that it would be much more effective for a man to do the pregnancy story, and Bong sunbae agrees.
So their boss swaps their assignments, making Hong-joo quietly fist-pump and Bong sunbae cry out in objection.
She gleefully straps him into the pregnant suit, pretending to be sad that he’ll probably win an award for this piece, and the whole team chants to cheer him on while he grumbles impotently. I love Bong sunbae.
Jae-chan types out a text message asking Chief Choi not to go to Yoo-bum, but goes back and forth on whether to be pleading or assertive or placating… and when Seung-won interrupts him, he ends up accidentally sending the text in banmal. Pfffft.
Seung-won gets a beating for it, but then Chief Choi responds right away saying that he won’t go, and Jae-chan starts dancing in his living room. Must. Replay.
The best part is Seung-won’s deadpan expression, and he wonders with a sigh what Dae-gu sees in his brother to entrust him with this. He hands over Dae-gu’s father’s will, explaining that he’s the IV serial killer who recently committed suicide in prison, and claimed that he was innocent.
Jae-chan doesn’t think much of it until Seung-won mentions that Yoo-bum was the prosecutor who put him away, and that he won an award for that particular case. He begins to read the will in earnest.
The pickpocket ajusshi returns to his home, and a team of detectives look on from across the street, waiting until he meets with someone to make their move. He takes out the cell phones he stole and adds them to a bigger stash, but one of the phones has incoming text messages asking him to return it in exchange for ten million won, no questions asked. What the heck is on that phone??
He wonders the same thing and holds the phone up to a lamp to see the finger smudges and unlocks it in one try.
In a dream, Jae-chan and Hong-joo happen to run into each other in a room where a man is lying either dead or unconscious. Someone locks them in and then a fire breaks out, and they have nowhere to go as the flames engulf them.
Someone wakes up from that dream, just as Jae-chan explains to everyone over breakfast that Junior Cop Ajusshi could have dreams about them too, if Woo-tak’s theory is correct.
The boys share the theory with Mom and Hong-joo, that each of them is having dreams about the person who saved them, because of the overwhelming feeling of gratitude and the desire to repay the favor.
I cannot believe you’re only sharing this theory now. But Jae-chan really only started giving Woo-tak’s theory credence once he found out that Hong-joo was Chestnut who’d saved him 13 years ago.
Just as they’d predicted, a man wakes up and writes down the details of the dream in a notebook, including the fact that Jae-chan and Hong-joo will die. But if that’s true, why isn’t Woo-tak having the same dream? These rules, man.
Hong-joo wonders why Junior Cop Ajusshi hasn’t come to see them if their theory is true, but Mom says that he might not want to, because it’s not like they were connected through pleasant events.
The two boys have been peeling apples the entire time, and when Hong-joo finally reaches to eat one, Jae-chan watches carefully and then actually fist-pumps when she chooses his bunny-shaped apple over Woo-tak’s plain one. You dork.
Hong-joo tells them that she’s going to be following a prosecutor on the job for the next three days, and that she plans to stick to Jae-chan like a piece of gum. A montage of Jae-chan’s work embarrassments flash through his mind and he wilts, not wanting Hong-joo to see him like that.
She says that his boss promised to assign her to his department’s most competent prosecutor, and Woo-tak says it’s sure to be Jae-chan.
Cut to: Hong-joo being introduced to Hee-min, while Jae-chan shuffles his feet sadly and glares at the chief prosecutor like an angry puppy. Adorably, Prosecutor Lee and Prosecutor Shin are on Jae-chan’s side, and wonder why the boss overlooked him.
But the chief prosecutor says it’s because he cares for Jae-chan that he’s looking out for him, pointing out that an in-depth story would only reveal how slow he is to whittle down his enormous stack of unsolved cases and shatter his positive image. Ha, poor buddy.
Hee-min, meanwhile, acts like she’s doing a shampoo commercial on camera, flipping her hair excessively and strutting down the hallway like it’s a catwalk.
But she’s impressive in the interrogation room, and Hong-joo is so wowed by her that Prosecutor Lee notes from the observation room that Jae-chan should just consider himself lucky that Hee-min is a woman, otherwise Hong-joo would’ve fallen for her by now. Jae-chan sadly agrees.
Prosecutor Lee offers to let him borrow his car to cheer him up, and then asks for Jae-chan to cover his on-call shift tonight in return. He happily texts someone that he’s free for a date tonight and then skips away down the hall. Who’re you dating?
Jae-chan joins his team for lunch and weakly thanks them both for sticking by his side when he’s so incompetent. Chief Choi snaps at him to stop it, crying that he’s not going to leave, so he can quit it with the mushy talk.
Jae-chan brings up the IV serial killer case and says that the killer’s will left him with some questions, but Chief Choi says that all criminals feel wronged, and insists that it was an open-and-shut case. Jae-chan accepts his answer, but doesn’t look convinced.
The pickpocket ajusshi goes to the appointed place to make the cell phone ransom exchange, and a young man shows up to give him the money as promised. Hm, it’s the same man who looked very dead in the dream earlier…
But one of them has been followed by a team of cops, and both Ajusshi and Phone Dude flee in a panic.
Woo-tak thinks back to his partner jumping in to tell him that the radios were charged when he couldn’t tell, and he tentatively starts to bring it up. But they’re interrupted when Phone Dude runs past them, chased by a detective.
They run after them to help, and the detective gasps for them to go after the one in gray. Woo-tak scans the crowd ahead of him, but panic rises when almost everyone looks to him like they’re wearing gray. Oh, so he’s more than just red-green color-blind.
He’s frozen in place just scanning the crowd, but his partner thinks to tell Woo-tak to look for plaid pants. So he knows!
Woo-tak zeroes in on the pattern and then immediately goes into Terminator mode, taking Phone Dude down swiftly. But before he can be arrested, Phone Dude throws his phone into the river. Seriously, what the heck is on that thing?
The chief prosecutor worries when he finds out that Hong-joo will be filming all night, and that Jae-chan happens to be on the night shift tonight. Jae-chan freaks out when he gets the call and starts flailing around the office, trying to hide the enormous stacks of case files before Hong-joo gets there.
He sniffs his prosecutor robes, remembering that he’s never cleaned them once, but figures that you can’t capture smells on camera.
Unfortunately for him, Hong-joo is already standing in the doorway with his boss waving his arms behind her, and she’s caught his whole embarrassing freakout on camera.
Meanwhile, Phone Dude gets questioned at the police station, and he insists that he’s just a middleman who delivered the money for the real phone owner. It’s obviously suspicious to the cops, since they all saw him throw the phone into the river.
The pickpocket ajusshi is being questioned at the next desk over and surreptitiously puts a tiny thumb drive in his sock. The detective is surprised when he asks to be questioned by the prosecutor in person rather than over video conference.
The chief prosecutor hovers over Jae-chan so protectively that he can’t do anything but smile awkwardly at the camera. But as soon as the boss steps away, the first thing Jae-chan does is fall out of his chair trying to look suave while answering the phone, and Hong-joo tries not to cringe.
The pickpocket ajusshi is brought to Jae-chan’s office in handcuffs, and when he sticks his gum on the doorframe before going in, the chief prosecutor notes it curiously and wonders where he’s seen that man before. Then he overhears Jae-chan say that he shares a name with the chief prosecutor, who now remembers him as the man who sullied his good name.
Ajusshi tells Jae-chan that he was once a government employee too, but because of something his younger brother did, he lost all his money trying to clean up after him and his wife left him too. He says that his only daughter hurt her back in a traffic accident when she was nine, and he can’t hold a steady job because he has to take care of her, which is why he resorted to stealing. He says through tears that he’ll comply with the investigation, and pleads not to be imprisoned so that he can go home to his child.
Jae-chan seems to believe him, while his boss clucks from the hallway and bursts in to say that the thief’s repertoire hasn’t changed in ten years. Jae-chan seems reluctant to just have him imprisoned without checking on the daughter first, while the chief prosecutor tells him privately that his supposed daughter was nine years old ten years ago too. Ha.
The chief prosecutor lights into Jae-chan for being so naïve and spending too much time on basic things, likening him to a doctor who’s letting trauma patients die because he’s taking so long administering a band-aid.
Jae-chan trudges out after the lecture, shoulders slumped, and Hong-joo asks if he’s okay. Chief Choi assures her that he’s not always getting yelled at, but she just asks what’s so wrong about being fooled by someone, pointing out that it’s not a bad thing to trust people.
Woo-tak finally finds the nerve to ask his partner, “You know, don’t you? That I can’t distinguish between colors very well.” His partner says yes, and when Woo-tak asks why he hasn’t said anything when it’s grounds to be kicked off the force, he simply asks if Woo-tak lied to pass the vision test.
Woo-tak says he didn’t—that it was a mistake in the testing—and his partner waves it off as no big deal then. Woo-tak isn’t as sure, but his partner points out that Woo-tak was the one who caught the culprit today, arguing that his huge belly is more grounds to be fired than Woo-tak’s eyes.
Jae-chan goes to the ajusshi’s house anyway, just in case the daughter is really at home alone. But a neighbor tells him that the man lives alone, and Jae-chan deflates. Hong-joo finds him, having guessed that this is where he’d be, and he asks her to edit out his footage tonight because he doesn’t want to be an embarrassment to his department.
But Hong-joo says she just asked the grandma selling hotcakes on the corner about the ajusshi, and learned that he really did have a nine-year-old daughter who was injured from an accident. Ten years ago, he was arrested for a similar crime and imprisoned, and his daughter died while he was locked up.
Hong-joo says that if that man had met Jae-chan as his prosecutor ten years ago, his daughter might still be alive today. Jae-chan finally smiles a little at that, and Hong-joo assures him that she’s going to cut all of his footage out of her report, because she doesn’t want other women chasing after him.
He leans in and kisses her all of a sudden, and then notes cheekily that the hotcake she’s eating is really sweet. Kyaa.
He only now notices that she’s wearing his ring and thanks her, and they shyly steal peeks at each other.
Jae-chan goes to see the ajusshi down at the police station in the morning, and tells him that he’ll be imprisoned. The ajusshi scoffs that they’re all the same, but then his expression changes when Jae-chan says he went to his home last night and heard about his daughter’s death. Jae-chan says that he knows it’s no use to apologize now on behalf of the prosecutor’s office, but does so anyway, bowing deeply.
Ajusshi is moved and says that he’s told that sob story to six different prosecutors, but Jae-chan is the first to ever go check on his daughter. He decides to give Jae-chan a reward, and digs out the thumb drive from his sock. He says he doesn’t know what’s on it.
Oh man, I’m beginning to think that Junior Cop isn’t the thief, but the serial killer…
With Chief Choi and Hong-joo looking on, Jae-chan starts going through the thumb drive, which so far consists of photos of food and dogs. Jae-chan wrestles with Hong-joo to prevent her from filming his screen, and that’s when Chief Choi gets to a series of photos that drains the color from his face.
They’re photos of hospital patients, and Jae-chan wonders if the cell phone owner was a doctor. But Chief Choi says, “They’re victims… of the IV serial killer,” which sends chills up everyone’s spines.
They find 19 patients’ photos on the cell phone, but Chief Choi says there were only 11 victims in the IV serial killings. They wonder what that means for the remaining people, and whether the owner of the phone could’ve been an accomplice… or the real killer.
Meanwhile, Phone Dude calls the real phone owner and assures him that he threw the phone into the river and told the cops nothing. Huh, so he really was just a middleman. He’s still talking to the friend when he enters the storage container where he lives, and is surprised to find him there, waiting for him. Ack, run!
Jae-chan takes the photos to his boss, who yells at him for digging into a closed case and listening to a con man. But Jae-chan tells him that the thief really did have an injured daughter, and that she died ten years ago because the prosecutor back then refused to believe him. Jae-chan says he doesn’t want to be that kind of prosecutor.
Chief Choi’s head is swimming with the memory of Yoo-bum saying that it takes so little for a prosecutor to falsify evidence. He marches over to Yoo-bum’s firm and asks him straightaway if he falsified evidence on the IV serial killer case, and screams at him to answer.
Yoo-bum falls silent, and all he says in reply is, “You were there too.” Ugh, is that an admission? It’s so vague!
Hong-joo can barely suppress her laugh when she finds Bong sunbae with his pregnant suit on, and while they’re talking he drops a stack of papers. Every time he fails to pick them up, he grunts out a promise to treat his wife better. Aw.
Hong-joo asks him to call in a favor with a detective to get Phone Dude’s address, and then heads there that night. Jae-chan heads out to do more investigating as well, telling Hyang-mi that he has to do it in his off-hours because the boss refused to approve it.
When Hong-joo arrives at the storage container, Jae-chan is already there, just like in the dream. They’re surprised to see each other, and then she’s further shocked when he shows her Phone Dude’s dead body.
Just then, a figure dressed in black padlocks the door behind them, and begins pouring gasoline into the room. He drops a lighter and the container is ablaze in seconds, and Jae-chan tries throwing things at the windows, but they’re all barred. He hugs Hong-joo close, not knowing what else to do.
A man runs furiously near the river. We only see him in shadow, but could this be Junior Cop, coming to save them? As he runs, the events of that fateful day 13 years ago flash by, as young Jae-chan and Hong-joo pulled Junior Cop out of the water.
Jae-chan and Hong-joo huddle close together surrounded by fire, while the ajusshi arrives outisde the container. He kicks and yanks at the door in futility and then finds a rock nearby, and uses all of his strength to hammer it at the padlock over and over, until it finally breaks.
As this is happening, Woo-tak’s theory about seeing the future of the people who saved his life plays over the scene in voiceover. The ajusshi opens the door and runs inside… and it’s Chief Choi.
OHMYGOD, Junior Cop is Chief Choi!
He runs over to them and gets everyone out safely, and even goes back for the dead body. Outside, he stumbles over to them and asks if they’re okay, and if they can recognize him.
They only recognize him as Chief Choi, of course, but he breaks down in tears, beside himself with relief that they’re alive. Chief Choi hugs them both and sobs uncontrollably while saying over and over that it’s a relief. Oof, that made me cry.
Flashback 13 years. The night that Jae-chan got caught for the motorcycle and for forging his grades, Junior Cop and his partner had been standing by as Dad yelled at him.
Junior Cop had tried to defuse the situation by offering to take over the case, and chided Jae-chan for forging his grades when his father had been so proud of him.
Then the camera pans down to his nametag, which reads: Choi Dam-dong, aka Chief Choi’s full name.
Okay, you totally got me. That was a great twist. I thought that the pickpocket ajusshi was a red herring, but I was preparing for some horrible reveal that Junior Cop had grown up to be a serial killer or something. It’s those past-tense voiceovers from the future—they fill me with so much dread, and then I’m always assuming the worst. I never imagined that Junior Cop would be so close to them, and it makes me wonder if he saw into the future and purposely positioned himself to be in their lives, or if he was just as surprised to end up working with Jae-chan. It can’t be a complete coincidence that he left the police force for the prosecutor’s office and ended up on Jae-chan’s staff, right? (Random thought: Could Woo-tak quit the force to be an investigator at the prosecutor’s office too? I don’t know if color-blindness is a deal-breaker there too, but maybe not.)
The serial killer case is particularly sticky now, because if Yoo-bum did fabricate the evidence, there’s no way he’s going down without Chief Choi. I’ve always thought that Yoo-bum’s fixation with Chief Choi is that he feels validated and in the right when Chief Choi is on his side, so recruiting him would somehow make his side right again. He has the habit of missing the point—that you’d be on the right side if you were in the right—and reaching for the trappings instead. But today I also began to wonder if maybe he thinks Chief Choi knew that he falsified evidence and was under the impression that they were alike all this time.
I wonder how long Chief Choi has been having dream visions of Jae-chan and Hong-joo, whether he’s been dreaming about them for the past 13 years, or if it started recently like it did for Jae-chan. The show has made it clear that Woo-tak’s theory is the one to go on, but they still need to explain why Jae-chan’s dreams were triggered now in adulthood if Hong-joo saved him all those years ago. The rules are definitely inconsistent, since technically Jae-chan should’ve dreamt of the fire if Hong-joo’s life was in danger, and Woo-tak should’ve dreamt it because Jae-chan’s life was in danger. Maybe there’s a quota on how many times you can save a person. Or maybe the dreams are just a plot device and we were never meant to think this hard about it. Unfortunately, I think the latter is the case.
But I’m very happy to see the show return to the overarching mystery, and finally start to bring all of our characters together. There’s definitely an excitement that builds when the show focuses on these seemingly loose threads that slowly reveal themselves to be part of the larger picture after all. I already loved Chief Choi as a character, but this backstory adds such dimension, and in hindsight there’s a consistency between the young cop who’d offered Jae-chan advice that he’d heeded his whole life, and the mentor who patiently guides him through his toughest moments on the job. It hurts my heart to think of the possibility that Jae-chan might see him differently once he learns the truth. Right now Chief Choi is a father figure to him, but he’s also the brother of the man who killed his father. Ultimately I don’t think Jae-chan will let that change things, but I do think it will be a painful road for them both.