Manhole: Episode 13

Unfortunately, one impulsive move further alienates Pil from his friends, family, and especially Soo-jin. He finds himself more alone than ever now that no one seems to believe him, which happens right as Jae-hyun’s sinister tendencies creep to the surface. With the manhole out of commission and no one on his side, Pil’s desperate to reverse his current reality, but nothing seems to ever work in his favor.


Gu-gil happens upon a masked assailant — whom we know to be Jae-hyun — viciously kicking a man on the ground. He frantically calls Pil to report the assault, but when the attacking noises stop and he goes to check on the injured victim, Jae-hyun re-emerges and proceeds to attack Gu-gil, knocking his phone to the ground.

Pil’s still on the line, unaware that Jae-hyun is pummeling Gu-gil, but he quickly leaves the manhole and heads to the scene, sensing that something’s gone awry.

In the middle of their scuffle, Gu-gil tries to remove the assailant’s cap, but Jae-hyun grips the brim tightly, which is also when Gu-gil spots Jae-hyun’s long, silvery scar on the inside of his wrist.

After Jae-hyun beats Gu-gil unconscious, he overhears Pil’s voice coming from Gu-gil’s phone, and he finally registers that he just beat Soo-jin’s friend senseless and that Pil is on his way over. Jae-hyun hides as soon as Pil arrives then quickly heads home, carefully stowing his black assailant garb in the trunk of his car and dusting himself off.

At home, Pil’s uncertainty of Jae-hyun’s true nature weighs heavily on Soo-jin’s mind. Jae-hyun arrives, and she notices the sweat on his face, but he attributes it to exercise. Soo-jin then answers a call informing her of Gu-gil’s injured state, so she and Jae-hyun rush to the hospital, with Jae-hyun feigning concern.

At the hospital, Pil stays with Gu-gil, who’s looking quite bloody and battered. Seok-tae, Jung-ae, and Jin-sook rush to Gu-gil’s side, and Jung-ae in particular is visibly upset; Soo-jin and Jae-hyun arrive soon after, and luckily, Gu-gil comes to, appearing to be in weak, but stable condition. Pil asks Gu-gil if there’s anything he remembers about the assailant’s face, but Gu-gil says no, since everything happened so fast.

Pil vows to catch the guy who attacked Gu-gil, and a glimmer of unease crosses Jae-hyun’s face.

The police are at the scene of the crime, which has been cordoned off. Pil arrives and learns from his older colleague that zero evidence was found, no thanks to a meticulous criminal, but Pil spots a nearby security camera and suggests that they examine the footage.

They go through the footage at the station which caught Jae-hyun at the scene, but because he’s dressed in black and his face is concealed by a mask, no one’s able to identify him apart from his slender, tall frame.

The next morning, while in the bathroom, Jae-hyun notices a small cut on his neck from the scuffle. As Soo-jin’s preparing breakfast, the news is on, and she watches the report on Gu-gil’s assault, which includes the assailant’s characteristics as well as a screen capture of the video footage.

When Jae-hyun steps out, she notices his cut, but he assures her that he’ll tend to it and nonchalantly asks if Pil discovered anything further about the incident. He veils his relief when she replies that she hasn’t spoken to Pil about it yet.

Pil goes around the neighborhood with the security footage photo, asking people if they’ve seen the assailant. But no one’s able to offer any input, not even the assault victims themselves.

Soo-jin visits her mom, who’s alarmed to learn that the latest assault victim is Gu-gil. She wonders who the lunatic is and recommends that Jae-hyun leave work earlier just to be safe, adding that Soo-jin should be good to such a fine man like him. (Psshh.)

She gives Soo-jin some homemade side dishes she prepared for Jae-hyun, and Soo-jin decides to give some to Gu-gil when she visits him at the hospital.

Dal-soo and his secretary pull up to Jung-ae’s juice truck to order juice for their meeting like last time, but they find the truck closed. The secretary calls Jung-ae and learns that she’s not working today, which makes Dal-soo wonder if something’s wrong.

Instead, Jung-ae is at the hospital feeding Gu-gil some homemade food. Gu-gil’s looking much better, and he loves that Jung-ae is taking care of him. Soo-jin arrives with the side dishes, and Pil arrives soon after, which makes Soo-jin feel uncomfortable.

Gu-gil tells Pil that he remembers seeing a scar on the assailant’s wrist, and he illustrates it on a sheet of paper, which reminds Pil of the scar he saw while tussling with a violent man inside the tunnel on a prior manhole trip. Pil’s certain the man with the scar who got away last time is the same guy who beat Gu-gil.

As they’re heading out, Pil offers Soo-jin a ride home, but she curtly declines and says she can no longer be friendly with him because of his antipathy toward Jae-hyun.

At home, a visibly unstable Young-joo hums to herself and gazes into a mirror, where we see red bruises on her neck, the wounds she sustained after Jae-hyun throttled her for contacting Soo-jin. But Young-joo laughs and ominously states that if she can’t have Jae-hyun, no one can. Yeesh.

As Soo-jin’s stowing side dishes in the fridge, she acknowledges to herself that she feels iffy because Jae-hyun has a scar on his wrist, but her thoughts are interrupted when Young-joo calls and suggests that they grab tea.

They meet at the park, and their conversation starts out pleasant enough, with Soo-jin complimenting Young-joo on the pretty scarf around her neck, which Young-joo says was a gift from her boyfriend who eventually married another woman despite their long dating history.

The atmosphere changes, and Soo-jin tries to sympathize with her by saying that she’ll meet someone better, but Young-joo says she still loves the man and doesn’t need anyone else. When Young-joo asks if Soo-jin would relinquish her husband if she found out there was a woman he loved more, Soo-jin says no, and Young-joo snaps.

Livid, Young-joo says that Jae-hyun was originally her man, and she screams at Soo-jin to return him to her since she’s Jae-hyun’s lover. Rattled by Young-joo’s sudden insanity and warning that she (Soo-jin) can’t handle Jae-hyun, Soo-jin gets up to leave and calls Young-joo crazy. Young-joo grins and asks if Soo-jin knew that Jae-hyun was convicted of assault and hospitalized in a mental institution before, but Soo-jin refuses to believe her and walks away.

Shaken by the encounter, Soo-jin tells herself to stay alert and pay no more mind to crazy Young-joo.

Jae-hyun rubs his temples at work, annoyed that he was caught on the security camera and that footage is swirling around the internet. He calls a travel agency and expresses his desire to fly to the UK. Trying to flee, are we?

Soo-jin reels in silence at home and recalls Jae-hyun not knowing who Young-joo was as he was looking through the photos she took. Jae-hyun arrives and notices Soo-jin looking unwell, and Soo-jin tells him that she met up with Young-joo today, who claimed she dated Jae-hyun for awhile. Soo-jin’s eyes brim with tears and she asks if this is true, and Jae-hyun admits it is.

She wonders why he acted like he didn’t know Young-joo when he landed on that photo of her, and he says that he didn’t want Soo-jin to know about her and that he warned Young-joo to stay away from Soo-jin—a warning she didn’t end up heeding because Young-joo is mentally unstable.

Jae-hyun says he suffered because Young-joo stalked him even after they broke up, but he apologizes to Soo-jin for not being transparent sooner and accepts the blame. Soo-jin understands that there’s only so much he could’ve done for an unstable woman and they embrace, with Jae-hyun promising to make sure that Young-joo doesn’t come near Soo-jin from now on.

Meanwhile, Seok-tae’s taking a break outside the office when his colleagues inform him that the cement sealing the manhole has shattered. That night, he runs to the manhole to inspect it and is incredulous that Pil went so far as to use a hammer to gain access to the manhole.

Pil informs his colleagues at the police station of the wrist scar clue and is instructed to relay this detail to the detective so that Pil can resume patrol duties. Just then, Seok-tae bursts in and demands to know why Pil messed with the manhole.

They converse outside, and Pil explains that he was desperate and had no other choice, since Seok-tae understandably wouldn’t believe him. Seok-tae calls Pil crazy, but asks him why he wants to time travel so badly, and Pil solemnly answers that he’s unhappy: “This isn’t the reality I chose. No matter how much I try, I can’t change anything in this reality.”

But Seok-tae doesn’t buy Pil’s sincerity and warns him not to mess with the manhole again.

While laying out Jae-hyun’s clothes the next morning, Soo-jin finds two plane tickets to London inside his coat pocket. Jae-hyun admits that he wanted to surprise her for their upcoming wedding anniversary since she wanted to take photos there, and Soo-jin is touched by the sweet gesture. Because Soo-jin’s mother’s birthday falls on their trip dates, Jae-hyun enlists Soo-jin’s help to pick out a birthday present for her and suggests that they go out and shop for one together.

Gu-gil is discharged and returns to the billiards room, although Jung-ae’s not thrilled that he’s returning to work so soon. Jung-ae answers a call from Dal-soo’s secretary and says she’s not open for business today either, but Gu-gil takes the phone from her and says she can definitely deliver forty cups of juice to them today. Jung-ae protests since she doesn’t want to leave Gu-gil alone, but he assures her that he’ll be fine and encourages her to make the delivery.

The secretary informs Dal-soo that the board meeting is about to start and that he ordered juice for it as instructed. Dal-soo instructs him to do that for every meeting, but when Dal-soo learns that the juice truck was closed the other day because Gu-gil was assaulted and hospitalized, Dal-soo rushes out, ignoring his secretary’s pleas to stay put and not miss the meeting.

As Dal-soo’s waiting for the elevator, Jung-ae steps out with her juice cart, and her face falls upon seeing him. She realizes that Dal-soo was the one secretly ordering juice from her and is angry that he felt the need to support her because he pitied her. Dal-soo tries to explain that he still cares for her and the gang, but she doesn’t buy it because he cut all of them out from his life when he moved out of their neighborhood.

Just then, Dal-soo’s mother appears, and luckily, she doesn’t spot Jung-ae behind her son. She’s here to attend the board meeting and grab lunch with Dal-soo afterward, so he has no choice but to leave Jung-ae and follow his mother.

Jung-ae is in tears as she wheels the juice cart out of the building. Meanwhile, Pil sits outside the police station and wonders why he and Soo-jin keep growing apart until his colleague hands him a stack of wanted posters of the assailant to post all over town.

Jae-hyun takes Soo-jin and her parents to a massage chair store and encourages them to pick one out. And of course, the parents are delighted that Jae-hyun continues to spoil them.

After shopping, they all grab lunch together, and Soo-jin’s parents thank Jae-hyun for the massage chair and gush over him even more when they find out he’s taking Soo-jin to London for their wedding anniversary. Jae-hyun excuses himself since he has to return to work, but he forgets to take his phone, so Soo-jin decides to stop by the pharmacy on her way home.

Jae-hyun is dismayed to find Pil outside the pharmacy distributing wanted posters. In the middle of unlocking the doors, Jae-hyun drops his keys, and Pil picks them up, which is when he notices that the keychain is broken. Pil says he found a broken key chain part inside the tunnel while investigating an assault incident, but Jae-hyun is unfazed and says that he passes through the tunnel often to get to work, adding that his keychain broke awhile ago.

Remembering Gu-gil’s observation about the wrist scar, Pil asks to see Jae-hyun’s wrist, and Jae-hyun answers that Pil’s bitterness toward him is making Pil unjustly suspect him of being the culprit. Jae-hyun continues to push buttons by claiming that Pil probably wishes that he was the culprit just so that Pil can take Soo-jin. When Jae-hyun dares Pil to catch him, Pil loses it and punches Jae-hyun in the face, yelling, “You did it, didn’t you? You attacked Gu-gil!”

While Pil continues to throw punches at Jae-hyun, passersby outside the pharmacy call the police to report that a police officer is beating a pharmacist, which is coincidentally when Soo-jin arrives. She rushes inside and pulls Pil off of Jae-hyun, who’s got a busted lip and a gash on his face. Jae-hyun fills her in on why Pil suspects of him of being the culprit, and she’s so appalled that she tells Pil that their friendship is officially over.

Pil warns Soo-jin that Jae-hyun is dangerous, but she doesn’t believe Pil and yells at him to get out.

Outside, his older colleagues arrive and reprimand him for beating a civilian in broad daylight, an act that can cost Pil his job. They order him to beg for forgiveness from Jae-hyun, but Pil refuses to do such a thing.

At home, Soo-jin treats the wounds on Jae-hyun’s face and apologizes for not knowing how much Pil hated him. However, she cautiously asks if Jae-hyun can forgive Pil just this once and not report him, since Pil could lose the job that he only recently acquired. Jae-hyun’s annoyed, but he begrudgingly agrees to let it go.

Inside the bathroom, Jae-hyun wonders why Pil wanted to see his wrist. He angrily flings a glass against the sink, shattering it. Soo-jin witnesses this burst of rage through the door crack and is visibly unnerved.

Pil walks through the tunnel that night and wonders why things are getting so complicated and why his suspicions always go to Jae-hyun, but he knows it’s because he’s worried about Soo-jin. Midnight strikes again, but nothing happens at the site of the sealed manhole.

The next morning, Soo-jin’s mom visits Soo-jin and flips out when she sees Jae-hyun’s injured face, demanding to know who did that to him. Uh oh.

Cut to: Soo-jin’s parents angrily barging into Pil’s house and demanding to see Pil, furious that he beat up their precious son-in-law. This is news to Pil’s parents, so they ask Pil for a reason behind his actions. But Pil’s in no mood to talk, further frustrating his parents.

Word has reached Jung-ae, Gu-gil, Jin-sook, and Seok-tae that Pil beat up Jae-hyun, and all of them are shocked that Pil would do that to such an upright guy. Pil happens to walk past them, and they all chide him for allowing his jealousy to get the better of him. Fed up with their ignorance, Pil walks away.

Meanwhile, Pil’s older colleague visits Jae-hyun at the pharmacy and apologizes to him on Pil’s behalf while also expressing how grateful he is for Jae-hyun’s leniency.

At the station, Pil’s older colleague reminds Pil how lucky he is that Jae-hyun didn’t press charges, but because beating a civilian is still unlawful, Pil gets slapped with a one month suspension.

Soo-jin replays the image of Jae-hyun angrily flinging a glass and figures that it’s possible for people to act that way when they’re angry, although she doesn’t seem fully convinced.

Moments later, Pil spots her at the park and wants to talk, but Soo-jin has no desire to associate with him anymore and coldly explains that she only asked Jae-hyun to not report him because she thought of Pil’s parents, who were so happy when Pil became a police officer. She states that this is the last favor she’ll do for him since they’re no longer friends.

Pil goes to the manhole that night and sighs that no one believes him, and because Soo-jin hates him more and more. “How can you take me away from this awful place? What can I do?” Pil asks. Seok-tae finds him there and instructs him to stop pestering Soo-jin and let her go for the sake of her happiness, and Pil just crouches before the manhole, feeling utterly defeated.

Gu-gil visits Jae-hyun at the pharmacy to buy ointment and expresses concern for Jae-hyun’s battered face. When Jae-hyun hands Gu-gil the ointment, however, Gu-gil spots the scar on Jae-hyun’s wrist and does a double take.

When he walks out, Gu-gil notes that the scar looked just like the one he saw the day he got attacked, but laughs off the notion that Jae-hyun could be the assailant. OMG, you big dolt!

Meanwhile, Soo-jin excitedly packs a suitcase for the upcoming London trip and offers to retrieve Jae-hyun’s suitcase from the trunk of his car. But after handing her the keys, he realizes that the trunk also contains the duffle bag which holds his black assailant apparel. Uh oh.

Soo-jin opens the trunk of the car and takes out the suitcase, but the duffle bag catches her eye. She unzips it and finds a black cap and mask and recalls from the news that the assailant was wearing the same thing.

She then thinks back to Young-joo’s warning that Jae-hyun has a history of assault and was institutionalized, and she starts to tremble. “It can’t be… it can’t be you, Jae-hyun,” Soo-jin tells herself right as Jae-hyun arrives and stands behind her, looking menacing.


Ack. Soo-jin, run! Run away!

As if Pil wasn’t already a sufficiently frustrating character, now everyone else, even the insignificant friends of his, plus Soo-jin — who was pretty reasonable (or uncomplicated) up til now — are annoying me with their sudden loss of brain cells. Pil could’ve totally nabbed Jae-hyun with concrete evidence and clever planning, but I was so disappointed that even as a police officer, Pil hasn’t learned how to act smarter without letting his emotional impulses take over his rationality. He used his fists first in a heated moment instead of using his brain, and look how well that worked out for him. Soo-jin also chose to ignore her gut and multiple red flags in order to convince herself that Jae-hyun wouldn’t hurt a fly. Did it really take the discovery of a black mask and cap in his trunk to jolt her to reality? Two very ordinary, unspectacular articles of typical K-drama villain clothing?

Gu-gil is another example of a character who literally stares right at conclusive proof (the scar), but thinks nothing of it. Face, meet palm. Also, the love triangle involving him, Dal-soo, and Jung-ae is so unbearably dull that I’ve lost interest in who Jung-ae will end up with in the end, because between Dal-soo and Gu-gil, neither one stands out as “the one,” or even a catch. I’m not sure what the end goal is for this trio, but Jung-ae has two unremarkable potential beaus, and she deserves better. Interesting how now that Jin-sook has been conveniently paired up with Seok-tae, she’s taken a narrative backseat to the not-at-all compelling conflict of “Jung-ae’s Choice.”

But Pil is damned if the manhole’s sealed, damned if it’s open. Sealed or open, Pil still remains insufferably the same, inexplicably unable to push himself beyond his capacities to prove everyone wrong. I also don’t believe that if the manhole were open, Pil would know exactly how to right every wrong. After all, he has no idea how the manhole even operates. I doubt the manhole itself knows how it functions; it’s an arbitrary time travel water slide! Pil can’t just conveniently select a certain year and travel to the time period of his choice. He has no control over the manhole, so I don’t understand why he sees it as the only ticket out of his lousy reality.

The only characters that somewhat grab my attention are the two crazies: Young-joo and Jae-hyun. As for Pil, I have a feeling he won’t snap out of his slump until Soo-jin is in grave danger, and judging from that final shot, danger is terribly close. Pil better get moving, because I think we’re all pretty tired of tapping our feet and checking our watches. Where are the googly-eyed aliens when we need some comedic relief?


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