Mysterious Il-seung: Episodes 11-12
I’m not sure that there’s anyone left who actually believes that Jong-sam is really Il-seung anymore, but that doesn’t stop him from getting up to some major hijinks anyways as a pretend detective. Jong-sam and Ddakji’s reunion quickly turns bittersweet, as their brotherhood is set up to be their undoing yet again by those who need them to disappear.
EPISODE 11 RECAP
Ddakji has been abducted to lure back Jong-sam with the 100 billion won, and is now tied up and blindfolded in a shipping container. Jong-sam races back to the locker where he left the money, but he’s intercepted by Jin-young, who calls out his real name. He doesn’t deny that he’s Jong-sam, and furthers her suspicions by repeating the same words from their balcony encounter as teenagers: “It’s best to let me run away in a situation like this.”
Jin-young’s not the only one is pursuit of Jong-sam, and he tears away from her grasp as Prosecutor Kim and his team turn up to give chase. Jong-sam and Jin-young tear through the subway turnstiles, while the prosecutor’s guys are delayed by a rules-abiding subway attendant who insists they pay the fare before entering the platform.
Jong-sam’s duck-and-cover tactics are ineffective in throwing off Jin-young, and she handcuffs herself to his bag of money. After wasting time tugging the bag back and forth, Jong-sam finally just yanks Jin-young over and scoops her into his arms to sneak away to the elevator exit.
Even after they exit the elevator, Jong-sam continues to carry Jin-young until she asks him to put her down. When she refuses to remove the handcuffs from the bag, Jong-sam just does it himself, using a bobby pin from Jin-young’s hair (and makes it look way too easy). Jin-young doesn’t let go of him immediately, until he says that someone will die if she doesn’t. So she releases him, but then still chases behind, the prosecution team catching up.
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Sweeping her off her feet
Jong-sam locks himself into the ventilation room as he searches for an escape. While the prosecutor crew and Jin-young struggle with the locked door, Jong-sam finds a ladder and starts to climb. The prosecutor crew sends some men to block the vent exit, Jin-young darts off, and the others finally retrieve the key to the room and continue to pursue Jong-sam.
The vent exit is locked, but Jong-sam’s lock-picking skills come in handy again and he manages to climb through, where Prosecutor Kim and his men are waiting. But we know Jong-sam always manages to escape, and this time it’s thanks to Jin-young, who grabbed her car and arrives to serve as the getaway driver.
Jin-young wants to give Jong-sam legitimate police help to save the life he said was at risk, but Jong-sam insists that money, and not the police, is going to be able to fix things. So when Jong-sam tells her to pull over, Jin-young complies.
But instead of leaving him, she gets out of the car too and hands over her keys to Jong-sam to take, as long as he returns it eventually so that she doesn’t get into trouble. Jong-sam is all steely resolve as he drives off, leaving Jin-young behind with her rapid-fire questions.
In the shipping container, Baek Kyung removes Ddakji’s blindfold to reveal himself as his abductor. Ddakji now sees that it’s his old cellmate, released due to injury, who chloroformed him in the bathroom.
Baek Kyung places the blame on Jong-sam for this whole situation, and Ddakji recalls the money he discovered in the plastic bag Jong-sam gave him. Ddakji tries to claim that he has the money, but Baek Kyung doesn’t believe him.
Director Lee awaits word from his men alongside Chairwoman Gook. She thinks that she should go in to make sure her agents are able to finish the job, but instead the director recommends sending Detective Kang. The chairwoman doesn’t trust that he’s on their side, but the director indicates that Detective Kang won’t betray them because he has something to protect.
We cut to Detective Park’s wife Cha-kyung working in the station’s cafe. A young boy pokes his head in, and she catches up with her son as he tries to dart back out the door. She admonishes him for taking the bus alone to come see her and makes him promise not to do it again.
Detective Kang watches this exchange from across the street. He’s reminded of a moment in the past, when Cha-kyung made him make a promise as well (ack, Detective Park’s wife is Detective Kang’s ex-girlfriend? And they possibly have a son together?). Detective Kang receives his orders from Director Lee and heads to Incheon Port.
At the police station, Jin-young has asked her teammates to track her “commandeered” vehicle. It’s unusual for Jin-young to reach out for help, so they suspect that whatever is going on must be serious.
Still in custody, Gil-choon taps at the glass to demand attention from the officers, and when he doesn’t get what he wants, he thrashes on top of the interrogation room table in a rage. Detective Park tells Min-pyo to move Gil-choon back to his holding cell so that they can follow Jin-young’s car.
Jong-sam drives toward the port, where Baek Kyung awaits his arrival. Baek Kyung gets a few blows in to Ddakji with a metal pipe until the Men in Black arrive and stop him.
Jin-young arrives at the port and checks the main office, while Jong-sam runs into the rows of containers to confront Agent Kwak, money bag in hand. Agent Ki drags out an injured Ddakji for Jong-sam to see, and they blame his injuries on Jong-sam’s tardiness.
Jong-sam shows the agents the money in the bag, but refuses to hand it over until they release Ddakji. It’s a bit of a stand-off, until Agent Kwak detects a smell from the money that Jong-sam says is toner (ha, just like his first encounter with these guys). Jong-sam flicks open a lighter and wards off Agent Kwak with its flame as he threatens to set the money ablaze.
Agent Ki releases Ddakji, whose injuries restrict him to a slow limp. Jong-sam stalls for a moment to give him a chance to flee and then sets the bag on fire and tosses it. As the agents try to put out the flames, Jong-sam turns to help Ddakji, but Baek Kyung is still in play. He knocks Jong-sam to the ground with the pipe and beckons for Ddakji to come back or allow his hyung to be beaten.
Ddakji flings himself over Jong-sam to protect him, and soon the pair are tied up together in the storage container. Agent Kwak dumps the crispy remains from the burnt bag at their feet, but it turns out that the money in the bag was fake. Assuming the trade wouldn’t go well, Jong-sam hid the money somewhere else.
Of course, with Ddakji in their custody, Jong-sam has no leverage, since they’ll hurt Ddakji if he doesn’t talk. Baek Kyung presses the pipe against Ddakji’s throat, but he’s interrupted, this time by Detective Kang. Ddakji thinks it’s some kind of miracle, but Jong-sam understands that the detective isn’t on their side.
The Men in Black successfully recover the money from a nearby building where Jong-sam hid it. Agent Kwak instructs Agent Ki to remove the bands from the money, since it’s clear evidence that the money came from the NIS, and to count it as well.
The plan was never to let Jong-sam and Ddakji go, so when Agent Kwak returns to the storage container, it’s to say goodbye. They intend to leave them in the container to be loaded onto a boat, the supposed fate of Detective Kang when he disappeared ten years ago. Jong-sam asks if Detective Kang knew about this, shaken by the knowledge that his mentor would let things go this far.
Just then, Agent Kwak receives a call from Agent Ki—he’s stuck in the warehouse and can’t get the door open. Jin-young has arrived and holds the door shut against him. Agent Kwak leaves to help him, leaving Baek Kyung to secure the container so that it can be loaded on the boat.
After spotting a distracted Jin-young at the door, Agent Kwak knocks her to the ground with a board and releases Agent Ki. The sirens from Jin-young’s team blare in the background, and the rest of her squad arrive to even the fight.
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Cops versus ex-agents, duking it out
Fists fly and maknae Dae-woong does some impressive flying kicks while Detective Park calls in the incident. Jin-young faces off with Agent Ki while Min-pyo and Dae-woong knock around Agent Kwak (Dae-woong’s improvised handcuff-as-brass-knuckles are awesome!).
While ex-NIS and police battle, Jong-sam works to free Ddakji and himself of their bindings with his lighter. Detective Kang tries to take advantage of the chaos to go back to help Jong-sam, but Baek Kyung remains in the way.
Free at last, Jong-sam realizes that the detective has helped them all the same—he’s hidden a razor in the container for Jong-sam to cut through the wire used to close the container. They don’t have a lot of time to work, however, as the port worker arrives and raises the container to load it. The worker is distracted by a phone call, however, leaving the container suspended in the air.
Outside the container, the police take possession of the money bag and Detective Park fires a warning shot into the air. The agents back off and then scramble into a getaway car, Baek Kyung driving.
Jong-sam and Ddakji finally saw through the last of the wire, only to find themselves dangling high above the ground as the container doors swing open. The two men desperately cling to the door handles, their legs dangling above the long drop below them.
EPISODE 12 RECAP
Jin-young’s unit regroups at the port, and everyone’s a little worried that they’ve brought something in a little bigger than they wanted. Jin-young promises that she’ll take all of the blame or credit, whichever it is, when she spots the pair of ex-cons dangling from the container doors.
Detective Kang still lingers at the scene, but he stops short of helping when the police charge in ahead of him and direct the port worker to lower the container. The container descends, but Ddakji’s grip slips. Jin-young and Jong-sam act at the same time: Jin-young drives the police van under the two to lessen the fall, while Jong-sam grabs Ddakji in midair, cradling him to his chest as they slam into the van roof.
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Hanging on for dear life
They get the wind knocked out of them but are basically uninjured, and stagger to the ground. Jong-sam takes note of the money bag in police possession, then tells Ddakji to run as they both bolt (apparently Ddakji’s leg injury isn’t that bad anymore). Jin-young and her fellow officers start to give chase, but Detective Park calls them back, pointing out that they’re under no suspicion, so there’s no reason to chase them.
In the container stacks, Detective Kang calls Agent Kwak to check in. The agent is suspicious of Detective Kang’s true loyalties, since Jong-sam and Ddakji safely flee in Jin-young’s car, but the detective’s still playing everything as though it’s all part of the plan. Director Lee has asked to meet with him, so we’ll see if his act has the director convinced.
Detective Kang meets with Director Lee that evening, the chairwoman and Lawyer Ahn also in attendance. Chairwoman Gook thinks that since they removed the wrappers from the money, any investigation the police conduct will get them nowhere. Lawyer Ahn isn’t convinced that it won’t get traced it back to the institute, and thinks they need to steal it back from the police.
Chairwoman Gook’s recommendation is to forget the money and let things die down, so Director Lee tells her a little story about when he was a young, greedy lad who lost his money in a latrine and didn’t stop searching through the feces until he had recovered all 50 won (5 cents) of it. He even has the 50 won bill framed on top of his safe now, which appears to be on a ship.
Director Lee gives the order to fill up the ship, since it only comes yearly. Tasked with recovering the money, Chairwoman Gook suggests that Detective Kang go pay a visit to the detective that recovered the money, since they used to be partners (seriously?!).
And yes, seriously, as Detective Kang thinks back to a time when he and Detective Park drank together as partners. Detective Park suspected Detective Kang was up to something dangerous back then, though he didn’t know exactly what was going on.
To make sure that Detective Kang does as she suggested, Chairwoman Gook threatens him with information she’s got on him: Detective Kang was the one who sent Prosecutor Kim to the roof when the Men in Black were dangling Jong-sam over the edge.
At the police station, Chief Jang is as peeved about the new money evidence as anticipated, especially since it seems relevant to the one case he doesn’t want to get involved in. The chief tells Detective Park to focus on confirming Gil-choon’s guilt instead, since the papers have already started to insinuate the police are inept.
Dismissed, Detective Park returns to his unit, where Jin-young attempts to write up the incident report and poor Dae-woong is stuck holding the bag of money. Jin-young can’t decide whether to report Jong-sam as Jong-sam or Il-seung. Their evidence guy brings back bad news—they’ve got nothing from forensics to link Gil-choon to the other bodies and need a confession.
Min-pyo goes to get Gil-choon for interrogation while Detective Park asks Jin-young to contact Gil-choon’s old cellmates. Dae-woong is ready to be free of the bag of money, so Detective Park takes it down to the evidence locker. The door to the locker room can only be unlocked by the guard on duty, and the detective places the bag in a cabinet inside the room with a keypad lock on it as well.
Meanwhile, Jong-sam doctors Ddakji’s wounds in the hospital bathroom. Ddakji is so happy to be reunited with his hyung, even if it means being beaten up. Jong-sam wants to take the blame, but Ddakji tells him to just wash up, because he’s got to meet someone.
That someone is Eun-bi, and Ddakji introduces Jong-sam as Il-seung, the detective who rescued her from Gil-choon. Eun-bi’s snooty mother arrives and gives the boys a scowl, insisting that Eun-bi needs to be home for her grandfather’s memorial service. Ddakji tells his sister she should go home, but she makes sure that he takes the phone that she purchased for him, while Mom watches with a full-body eye roll.
The two guys head out to find food, though Ddakji worries that Eun-bi’s mother doesn’t care for her because she has an ex-convict as a brother. Neither can decide what to eat, until Ddakji has an idea.
Back at the police station, Jin-young’s request to visit Musan Penitentiary is denied. Jin-young suspects something must have happened, but the guards aren’t sharing any info. Jin-young gapes when Detective Park says they’ll just go talk to Gil-choon’s cellmate who is freely roaming outside of prison, but the detective means Ddakji, not Jong-sam.
The other officers drag Gil-choon in for interrogation, and Min-pyo hands over Jin-young’s car keys, left at the information desk for her. And when Jin-young finds her car in the parking lot, she also finds a package of bobby pins that Jong-sam has taped to the window to replace the one he stole.
Ddkaji’s dinner idea leads the guys to a playground with containers of tofu, in honor of their release from prison. Ddakji still hopes to finally do his celebratory Big Bang choreography at karaoke with Jong-sam, but Jong-sam is reluctant, especially when he spots Baek Kyung watching them from afar.
Ddakji asks about what’s going on now, and says that it feels as dangerous as it did back when they were convicted. Jong-sam reassures him that it should be all over now that the money is turned over, and Ddakji seems to take him at his word. Ddakji tries to rally one more time for karaoke, but Jong-sam says he’s got something he needs to take care of.
Jong-sam realizes that Director Lee will never leave him alone, and now Ddakji will also always be at risk. He hails a taxi for the director’s home, and then gets himself caught at the front gate by the bodyguards.
They bring him to Director Lee, and Jong-sam drops to the ground to offer to become one of the director’s men. For leverage, he points out that the person that he wants to protect, Ddakji, can be his insurance (and we know the director loves that kind of leverage). The director commands that Jong-sam prove himself and gives him his first assignment, to retrieve the money from the police station. Agent Kwak accompanies him to observe and provide assistance.
Inside the station, Gil-choon is still an interrogation dead end (though he’s hoping for some of that PPL pizza). A phone call from Prosecutor Kim draws Detective Park away from interrogation and towards the evidence locker.
Jong-sam’s eyes are still on the locker as well. He will have a five-minute window starting at 11 p.m. when the CCTVs will go offline. A phone call lures the guard on duty away and the countdown begins.
Jong-sam gets through the locked door with his lock picks pretty quickly, but the keypad lock holds him up. Agent Kwak gave him the code to the cabinet, but it fails when he tries it, twice. Three tries is all he gets before the cabinet will lock permanently, and the clock is ticking. While Jong-sam struggles, Detective Park meets with Prosecutor Kim and leads him towards the locker.
Jong-sam takes a moment to study the keypad, and notices that the pound key has been worn away with frequent use. Jong-sam guesses correctly that his passcode needs that key in the end, and tears open the cabinet at last and grabs the money.
Detective Park and the prosecutor converge on the locker at that moment, and Jong-sam ducks behind some shelves with nowhere to go. But without a guard to let them in, Detective Park takes the prosecutor to complete the paperwork while they wait for access. This leaves Jong-sam just one minute to flee the station before the cameras come back online.
He is almost held up at the front desk, but another conveniently timed call lures the guard away and Jong-sam makes a run for it. But someone’s missed Detective Park, who now stands in the lobby and calls out Il-seung’s name.
The money hangs from an opening in the bag, so there’s no denying what Jong-sam has in his hands. He backs slowly towards the door, but then slams into someone—Detective Kang. “It’s been a long time,” he says to his former partner. The CCTVs resume recording, and they capture the three men in the lobby, Jong-sam staring in shock at the two detectives.
I take back what I said last week, Jong-sam and Ddakji should have never reunited! I knew that once they were back together, it wouldn’t be long before someone used their bond against them. Why was I in such a hurry to get to that point?
I do think it’s interesting though that we’ve now set up Jong-sam to have a motivation similar to his mentor’s own reasons for working with the eeevil former president, but if Detective Kang hasn’t figured out a way out of it, it seems like Jong-sam is definitely in over his head.
Some of Jong-sam’s actions in these episodes make it very clear that he isn’t a hero, not yet at least. He’s always been a young man between the law, someone down on their luck doing what they have to do to survive. I like that right now, he’s not motivated by any great betrayal. I mean, yeah, he was framed for a murder that he did not commit, but right now there’s no shadow man lurking in the background to motivate him to seek justice. He just wants to disappear and go lead a quiet life.
And because he doesn’t have that motivation yet, Jong-sam can get a little gray in terms of his adherence to the law or what is just. Showing up and actually handing over the money to the bad guys, then offering to work for them… Jong-sam just wants to get just enough ahead of the game to get out. It’s great consistency of character, and asks the audience to root for this petty thief to do whatever’s necessary just get away.
But at some point, the show will have to give Jong-sam a goal that he can achieve. We’ve spent a lot of time on this money, and I don’t think we’re done yet. But that can’t be the only thing that Jong-sam is trying to fix or solve. We eventually need to find something to root for, and this just isn’t it. Director Lee’s little story of his greed even in his youth grossed me out and made me hope that his ship of money sinks with him aboard.
I also have to admit I just don’t love Gil-choon as a long-term villain. I find this fine line between evil and developmentally disabled that they’re toeing to be really uncomfortable, and I’d prefer that Gil-choon is eventually just tried for the crimes he has committed, and cleared of the bigger investigation. I prefer my antagonists full of intelligent smarm, so that I don’t feel bad about hating them.
I really thought that Detective Park’s wife was going to be unrelated to Detective Kang, and last week’s episode was just an editing choice designed to trick us, but now it seems that Detective Park married his missing partner’s girlfriend. Or did he? With so much misdirection and secrets still not uncovered, I don’t think we’ve seen enough yet to draw any conclusions about the relationships that these detectives had, with one another or anyone else.
And hey, we got to see a little more of Jin-young in action alongside Jong-sam in this hour. I’m still not won over yet, but I don’t think it’s Jung Hye-sung’s fault. This character doesn’t seem to be much more than a couple of clipped responses, tough glares, and off-the-wall kicks. I feel that the character is tough and I like the outline of it, but Jin-young just doesn’t get enough lines for it to feel lived in yet.
At first I thought the idea of Jin-young letting Jong-sam get away to take care of the hostage situation himself was nonsensical, especially if she’s actually convinced now that he’s Jong-sam and not Il-seung. Sure, they have this bond from childhood, but she’s a cop now. Her whole job is enforcing the law, and this is a criminal who should be in jail who is still doing shady things. But then I thought about the first thing that Jong-sam says to her in these episodes, when he asks that she let him run away in these situations. In the past, she didn’t let him get away, and in a way, that got him on track to his eventual imprisonment. She might not see all of that, but she might see some of it, and I could see how a small part of her wants to believe that he was right all along, and that if she lets him go this time, maybe things will correct course in some way.