Mad Dog: Episode 3

The Mad Dog team is caught up in a mystery that’s bigger than they ever imagined, and they have no idea where their investigation will ultimately lead them. When it comes to insurance settlements, Kang-woo is prejudiced against the beneficiaries, but some policies may be designed to resolve cases and end further investigation. Min-joon wants Kang-woo to dig deeper, but what exactly does he want him to discover?

EPISODE 3: “1 vs 4”

The entire Mad Dog team reacts with shock when Kim Min-joon reveals that he’s the younger brother of Kim Beom-joon, the pilot who crashed Flight 801. Min-joon lists the times that he and Kang-woo almost crossed paths, which included a trip to Germany to meet his foster parents. Kang-woo didn’t know that the Gebauers had abandoned Min-joon years earlier and didn’t even save a photo of him.

Kang-woo grabs Min-joon by the neck and shoves him against a pillar just as video clips of the Mad Dog team appear on Noo-ri’s monitors, proof of their illegal activities. When Kang-woo scoffs, clips of Soon-jung’s nurse friend, Detective Jo and the retired professor, fill the screens.

With Kang-woo’s hand still grasped around his neck, Min-joon asks, “Should we all fall into a bottomless pit?” Kang-woo tightens his grip and then suddenly releases Min-joon, who compliments his decision to spare the jobs and reputations of Nurse Oh, Detective Jo, and Professor Byeon.

Min-joon confesses that he wants Mad Dog to bring him what he wants. Kang-woo wonders why Min-joon thinks that they’ll cooperate with him just as he gets a call from Manager Park asking, “Kang-woo, are you insane? Why would you send me a cake?”

Ha-ri is about to run out when Min-joon clarifies that he sent three cakes: one to Manger Park at Taeyang Insurance, one to the police station, and one to the hospital’s offices.

Kang-woo heads for Taeyang Insurance while Ha-ri readies a fake ID on her way to the police station. Noo-ri yells for Soon-jung to roll up his sleeves as they ride his motorcycle to the hospital.

Ha-ri arrives at the station at the same time as the cake, and Detective Jo is surprised when she walks past him. With her fake ID, Ha-ri easily recovers the cake.

The cake at the hospital has a card that reads, “Greetings, there is a gift in the cake.” Soon-jung barges into the offices with Noo-ri, who has blisters all over his arms and neck. When Soon-jung sees the cake, he feigns an attack and knocks the cake to the floor before falling on top of it so that Noo-ri can recover the hidden USB stick.

The third cake is delivered to the lobby of Taeyang Insurance just as Kang-woo saunters in. He’s about to take it to Manager Park, just as he walks into the lobby and demands to know, “What are you doing?”

Manager Park carries the cake to his office, surprised that Kang-woo didn’t go straight to see Chairman Cha. He calls Kang-woo brazen for his recent visit with the chairman and repeats his promise to find proof that will send him and the Mad Dog team to jail.

Kang-woo steps closer to Manager Park (and the cake) and offers to turn himself in. Kang-woo then pulls out the cake and grabs a huge chunk, prompting Manager Park to call him insane.

When Kang-woo encounters Min-joon in the lobby with the USB from the cake, he’s promised the original video files if he does as he’s told, “That’s what dogs do. They smell something and follow the smell. Their owner is the one who does the hunting.” Kang-woo asks for the reason behind Min-joon’s actions, but he responds, “Tick-tock, tick-tock. Time is ticking.”

It’s nighttime by the time the team finds all of the bugs that Min-joon planted in the Mad Dog offices, and Ha-ri looks out of a window just as Kang-woo returns. He looks at the floor above Mad Dog and wonders why Min-joon revealed himself to them now. When he sees Ha-ri, Kang-woo motions that he needs to eat, and she joins him at the neighborhood eatery. When she asks what they should do, Kang-woo tells Ha-ri, “We’ll continue as usual.”

The next morning, Ha-ri follows Min-joon to a church and eventually follows him inside. When she moves to leave, the pastor asks her to introduce herself, and it gives Ha-ri a chance to notice the young woman seated next to an amused Min-joon.

Min-joon follows Ha-ri outside and is particularly interested in the brooch on her jacket. He stares at the camera hidden in the brooch and addresses Kang-woo, “Go ahead and follow me. But you know you’re only allowed to sniff.”

Soon-jung hears the message and shuts his laptop in frustration just as Kang-woo inquires, “How long will it take?” Soon-jung’s associate finally succeeds at picking a lock, and Kang-woo and Soon-jung enter Min-joon’s well decorated apartment.

Soon-jung checks on Min-joon’s computer, which triggers an alarm on Min-joon’s phone and allows him to watch real-time feed of the activity in his apartment. Min-joon tells the images on his phone, “There’s nothing in there,” which Noo-ri confirms when he discovers that the computer is empty.

Ha-ri tails Min-joon when he drives away from the church. Something about the apartment is suspicious, so Kang-woo suggests, “Let’s stop for a minute.” Ha-ri maneuvers her car in front of Min-joon’s and slams on her brakes, which forces him to come to an abrupt stop and sends his phone flying. Ha-ri exits her car to ask if Min-joon is hurt, but he ignores her attempts to detain him and drives away.

Noo-ri interrupts the video feed from the apartment with some previously recorded footage to give Kang-woo and Soon-jung a few minutes to explore in secret. Kang-woo discovers a bookcase that opens into a hallway and follows it to a secret room where the walls are covered with articles about Flight 801.

Noo-ri warns the men to leave, and Soon-jung shouts at Kang-woo to come out, but he’s overwhelmed by memories of the tragedy and can’t respond. Noo-ri’s panicked voice tries to break into his thoughts, “Get out of there!”

Min-joon enters his apartment, only to be greeted by a toy dog with a relentless bark. Min-joon is startled to find Kang-woo in the secret room and warns, “You dug in too much.”

Kang-woo wonders how far he managed to get and surprises Min-joon further when he produces a photo of the young woman from church named Kang Eun-joo.

Soon-jung visits the hospital disguised as a deliveryman and discovers that Kang Eun-joo is eight months pregnant and attends her appointments alone because her husband, Lee Soo-oh, died in an accident. Equipped with a Bible that holds a hidden camera, Ha-ri captures the church gossip that the husband’s death was a suicide.

At Mad Dog, Kang-woo is puzzled by Min-joon’s association with the young widow, but when he remembers Min-joon’s brother’s life insurance policy, he asks Ha-ri to search for insurance documents for Lee Soo-oh.

Hong-joo sits in a private dining room with her father as he reads a document, even though it’s her birthday. Hong-joo notices an incoming party that includes the Juhan Airlines Vice President, Joo Hyun-gi, and asks Chairman Cha if he has a meeting. He explains that he just needs to say hello to some people and discourages Hong-joo from leaving.

Hyun-gi meets with businessmen from Busan, and shares that he heard that someone is about to receive a huge promotion as he learns about the politics involved in such a move. Hyun-gi adds, “It’s said that people from their party will be appointed as a chief of anti-corruption, a chief of public peace, a director of public prosecutions, and a chief of Seoul Prosecutors’ Office.”

Hyun-gi promises the senior-ranking member in the room, “I’m working my very best to help you come back to Seoul.” The man asks after the chairman’s health, and his associate reminds him that the chairman became ill after the crash of Flight 801. Hyun-gi claims that the chairman has improved and might wake up soon.

Chairman Cha stops to say hello and surprises everyone when he greets the senior guest, “Congratulations on your appointment, Chief Ohn.” Phones suddenly vibrate with a text that announces that Ohn Joo-shik has just been promoted to chief.

Chief Ohn Joo-shik announces that the dinner is over and asks Chairman Cha to provide him with a return ticket to Busan. The entire party follows him out, and Hyun-gi suddenly finds himself alone in the private dining room.

Chief Ohn sits in Chairman Cha’s car and promises, “I won’t forget about what you did for me this time.” Chief Ohn asks if Chairman Joo Jung-pil will wake up, and Chairman Cha answers that he’s heard nothing to suggest that he will. Chief Ohn sees Hyun-gi and notes, “He sees no further than his nose. Chairman Joo must be worried so much, even after he dies.”

When the car pulls away, Hyun-gi can’t contain his laughter and tells Hong-joo, “Gosh, he just ruined my party. Chairman Cha’s impressive… I don’t know what a mere chairman of an insurance company lured the chief with.” Offended, Hong-joo announces her departure, but Hyun-gi grabs her hand and begs her to stay, “You know I’ll lose my dad soon. I’m going to be very depressed.”

Hong-joo jerks her hand away and chastises Hyun-gi for his lack of concern for his father, but he protests that his father is alive thanks to him. A call from Kang-woo interrupts them and gives Hong-joo an opportunity to part with Hyun-gi.

Kang-woo meets Hong-joo at Taeyang to ask if Kang Eun-joo took out an insurance policy on her husband. Kang-woo walks out without a word when Hong-joo shows him a document for Lee Soo-oh’s insurance policy, with his wife listed as the beneficiary.

In the Mad Dog offices, Ha-ri reports on the policy’s details: It provides $100,000 for a normal death versus $400,000 for an accidental death. Because the policy was just over two years old, it pays out even in the case of a suicide. Soon-jung glances at Min-joon as he points out, “There’s a high possibility he committed suicide for the insurance money, like someone I know.”

Soon-jung reports on the details of the accident — Lee Soo-oh met his friend, Han Seong-jin, who helped him to his car after lunch because he was very drunk. An hour later, the car burst into flames.

Soon-jung investigates the spot where the car burned, and at the same time, Min-joon interviews the restaurant owner. She remembers that Lee Soo-oh was knocked out by one glass of soju and that she didn’t see the accident because the air conditioning forced her to keep the doors and windows shut.

The woman admits that she hasn’t been able to sleep well since the accident, and Min-joon urges her to see a doctor. She’s touched by his concern, while Soon-jung watches from afar and calls him a con artist.

Back at Mad Dog, Noo-ri and Soon-jung talk about the way that Min-joon was able to charm the restaurant owner, even though he’s right there. He looks interested when Noo-ri mentions that Detective Jo can get them a copy of the security footage, but Soon-jung warns Min-joon to stay out of their business. Min-joon asks about Kang-woo, and Ha-ri will only say that he went to meet a teacher.

Kang-woo sits in Kang Eun-joo’s apartment and notices a number of chemistry books. He figures that since Min-joon sent him, they’ve known each other for a long time, but Kang Eun-joo claims that she just met him a few months ago. Calling him a good person, she grabs his hand and begs Kang-woo to help her prove that her husband didn’t commit suicide.

Detective Jo meets Kang-woo for lunch and hands over the video file of the accident. Kang-woo asks him to run a background check on the widow and find all of her previous addresses. When asked if she’s a killer, Kang-woo admits, “I have no idea. Why can’t I see anything clearly?”

Ha-ri interviews the friend who met Lee Soo-oh for lunch, Han Seong-jin. He tells her that he regrets that he didn’t take Lee Soo-oh home that day, but he had to return to work and expected his friend to wake up soon.

Professor Byeon is at the cafe where Kang-woo and Noo-ri meet with a retired fire chief to review the video of the accident. Noo-ri suggests that the fire was started remotely, so they review photos of the items found in the car to locate the source of the blaze.

When Kang-woo asks if Lee Soo-oh killed himself, the fire chief calls on Professor Byeon, a former medical examiner, for his opinion. Professor Byeon doubts that Lee Soo-oh set himself on fire because it would mean that he was conscious, and the intense pain would have driven him from the car.

The former fire chief points to a photo of a melted cigarette lighter and identifies it as the cause of the explosion. Kang-woo reviews the footage of the exploding lighter over and over and determines that Lee Soo-oh suffered a seizure.

Kang-woo asks Professor Byeon if there’s an illness where a bright flash triggers a seizure and learns about Lafora disease, a genetic disorder that first presents itself during the teenage years. The disorder would make Lee Soo-oh ineligible for life insurance.

Kang-woo pays another visit to Kang Eun-joo and discovers dark googles and blackout curtains in the office where Lee Soo-oh’s laptop sits. Kang-woo confronts the widow about Lafora disease and assures her that even though her husband’s disorder made him ineligible for insurance, she will get the money because the disease didn’t cause his death.

Kang Eun-joo blurts out that Han Seong-jin killed her husband for his research on new Lafora drugs. She believes that he was after the work that her husband devoted his life to.

Kang-woo demands to know her connection to Min-joon, and Kang Eun-joo explains that Min-joon offered to listen to her story and help her. He urged her to meet with Choi Kang-woo if he visited, and told her that he would take care of everything.

The desperate woman begs Kang-woo to help her, but he pulls his hand away and explains, “I don’t work with scammers.” He urges her not to file a claim and gives her money from his wallet instead. Kang Eun-joo tells Kang-woo that she won’t accept the insurance money until she clears her husband’s name and returns his money with the explanation, “My baby and I are not beggars.”

Min-joon studies the articles about Flight 801 that cover the walls of his secret room. He pulls open a desk drawer and stares at a photo of him with his brother as children, but shuts it when he hears Kang-woo approach. Kang-woo demands to know why Mad Dog was dragged into Lee Soo-oh’s case and is told, “If you want to know, solve the problem.”

The rest of the team is at the neighborhood hangout where Ha-ri admits that they probably won’t pursue the case since it was a scam. Noo-ri is worried about the incriminating evidence, but Ha-ri reminds him that they can’t be killed because of it.

Kang-woo watches the team as Soon-jung and Noo-ri register their approval over Ha-ri’s tough talk before joining them. After many bottles of soju, Soon-jung launches into his love story from 2008. In a flashback, we see a woman questioned by the violent crimes unit about a scam that involved multiple auto insurance policies and staged accidents that added up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in claims.

Soon-jung appeared and named the real culprit, but the woman confused him when she had insisted that her boyfriend, Na Jong-gu, wasn’t involved. The detective called the woman Oh Mi-ja, even though Soon-jung knew her as Set-byul, and showed her photographic evidence of her speeding with Na Jong-gu in her car.

The detective reminded Oh Mi-ja that someone died and that she could be sentenced to ten years for murder. Oh Mi-ja blurted out that Soon-jung was to blame for everything, “It’s this man. This man is a gangster. He’s an ex-convict. I was too scared of him. So I just did what he told me to.”

Soon-jung reminded Set-byul that he quit his criminal life so that they could be together, but she cruelly answered, “I’d rather die than live with you.” Heartbroken, Soon-jung confirmed his criminal record and tearfully confessed to all of the crimes that Oh Mi-ja was guilty of.

Later, Soon-jung was released from his cell, and the detective explained that if it wasn’t for Kang-woo of Taeyang Insurance, he would have spent ten years in prison. Soon-jung met Kang-woo and learned that Oh Mi-ja fled the country with Na Jong-gu. Soon-jung wondered why Kang-woo set a criminal free and wept when he was told that he was a very good man.

In the present, Soon-jung explains that was the first time in his life that someone called him a good man. Soon-jung brings up Lee Soo-oh’s case and reminds Kang-woo that they can’t know what happened just from appearances.

A drunken Kang-woo enters his apartment and momentarily forgets that his family is gone as he announces, “I’m home.” In spite of the late hour, his phone rings with a call from Detective Jo who tells him that Kang Eun-joo was just arrested for assault.

At the police station, Han Seong-jin insists that he wants to press charges against Kang Eun-joo. Later, he washes his hands in the bathroom and smiles as he mutters, “Crazy witch,” before he notices Kang-woo.

Kang Eun-joo is released when Kang-woo presents himself as her guardian, but he ignores her attempt to talk to him. She returns to her apartment alone while someone watches from across the street.

Kang-woo is awakened by a call from an ambulance attendant who found his business card and learns that Kang Eun-joo called for an ambulance. He finds Kang Eun-joo on a ventilator after an emergency delivery and remembers how he called her a scammer.

Nurse Oh speaks with an obstetrics nurse and reports to Soon-jung that Kang Eun-joo is in a coma after enduring a cardiac arrest during surgery. Soon-jung insists that his team didn’t do anything to cause trouble, but when Nurse Oh wonders why Kang-woo is by Kang Eun-joo’s side, he confesses, “It’s because we didn’t do anything.”

Ha-ri reports to Kang-woo that she called all the numbers on Kang Eun-joo’s phone and discovered that she has no family because she was an orphan. She informs Kang-woo that Kang Eun-joo called him at dawn but he didn’t answer, and a check of his phone shows that he has a voicemail.

Kang-woo listens to the message as he leaves the hospital, and Kang Eun-joo confesses that she considered the possibility that her husband killed himself, but believes that he didn’t. She tells Kang-woo, “It’s all in his laptop. The research about Lafora disease and his diary too. Please read it. I only have you. Please help me.”

Kang-woo returns to Kang Eun-joo’s apartment and finds Min-joon in the office. Min-Join claims that he’s there to look for evidence, but when Kang-woo asks about the laptop, he says that he hasn’t seen it. Min-joon tosses a book, Mother’s Note, onto the desk and claims that there’s nothing there that’s useful.

Kang-woo takes a swing at Min-joon before grabbing him by the collar and insisting that his reason for being there has something to do with his brother, Beom-joon. Min-joon looks away as Kang-woo reasons that he wants to determine if his brother is really responsible for the crash that killed sixty-seven of the one hundred and ninety passengers on Flight 801.

Kang-woo turns Min-joon to face him and asks, “Do you want me to tell you what Beom-joon really did?” He tells Min-joon about a twenty-three year old passenger, Kim Yong-joo, who missed her high school trip to Jeju Island because she didn’t want to burden her mother who cleaned bathrooms for a living.

When her mother found out that her best friends had planned a trip to Jeju Island, she saved enough money to buy her daughter a plane ticket and a new dress. That dress was found in her luggage and became her shroud and then her mother followed her in death two months later.

Kang-woo tells Min-joon that the only reason that he didn’t follow his family after their deaths is because of jerks like him, who deserve to be locked up for benefiting from the deaths of others. Kang-woo warns, “Beom-joon’s brother. Jan Gebauer. Kim Min-joon. Breathe and do nothing all your life. Don’t do anything… otherwise, you’ll die.”

Kang-woo meets with Detective Jo and learns that Kang Eun-joo grew up as an orphan in Gimpo before she moved to Donam-dong. Kang-woo calls Noo-ri and asks him if Min-joon ever visited either place and they’re both surprised to learn that he’s in Gimpo right now.

Min-joon visits the orphanage in Gimpo and an old photo of Beom-joon triggers a memory of Min-joon as a child. He begged, “Beom-joon, I’ll be a good boy. Please take me with you to aunt’s place.” But Beom-joon told him, “Go. I’m not your brother anymore.”

Min-joon takes note of the other children in the group photo from 1997 and compares it to a reunion photo taken in 2015, where the adult Beom-joon stands next to Kang Eun-joon and the insurance planner who sold him his life insurance policy, Ms. Lee.

Two hours later, Kang-woo visits the orphanage and stops in surprise when he sees the photo from 2015 that proves that Beom-joon, Kang Eun-joon, and Ms. Lee grew up together.


Just what in the world did orphans become involved with that they are disappearing one by one? Are Beom-joon, Kang Eun-joo and Ms. Lee the only ones who will be victimized, or are there others? Mad Dog just took a sharp turn as it revealed that there is more to this story than the mystery of Flight 801. Mad Dog reminds me of one of those jigsaw puzzles with thousands of tiny, interlocking pieces that all work together to create the entire picture. I think that’s what we have here, and why seemingly insignificant details may end up being very important down the road. The trick will be to sort out the red herrings from the facts that are key to solving the larger mystery.

Kang-woo nailed the mood at this point in the story when he complained that he can’t see anything clearly. Who exactly are the bad guys that are behind such a sophisticated and well hidden scheme? The soft-spoken and kind Chairman Cha wields more power that one would expect for the CEO of an insurance company, as Hyun-gi has already figured out. Hyun-gi himself is pretty suspicious as he lies that his father may awaken from his coma and make Hong-joo uncomfortable with his unwanted attention. There’s also the main suspect in the death of Kang Eun-joo’s husband, a scientist who probably used that parabolic structure in the building that borders the parking lot to ignite the lighter and kill his friend.

Not only did we learn that there is a bigger mystery at play, we got some backstory on Soon-jung, which was significant for many reasons. It’s hard to imagine that an ex-convict as tough as Soon-jung can be victimized in an insurance scam, but love will do that to you. Oh Mi-ja entrapped Soon-jung just so she could frame him for her crimes if she was ever caught, and it worked, but mostly because he was willing to sacrifice himself for the woman that he loved. It was so sad to see Soon-jung realize that he was used. But just when he was at his lowest, his life was turned around by an insurance investigator who dug deeper and discovered the truth, an insurance investigator who recognized that Soon-jung was a very good person underneath his tough exterior. Soon-jung’s life was never the same after that, and it explains why he’s so devoted to Kang-woo and is willing to do anything for him.

Kang-woo’s assessment of Soon-jung is the very same conclusion that Kang Eun-joo came to regarding Min-joon and Kang-woo: that they’re good people. But something in Kang-woo died when he lost his family, and he doesn’t respond when others reach out to him, which is the reason that he can’t see things clearly. Instead of recognizing that the young widow is desperate and alone, Kang-woo dismissed her as a scammer because of that insurance policy. He looks at Min-joon the same way—because he was awarded so much money, Min-joon can’t be a victim. No, in Kang-woo’s mind, the only victims are the passengers who died on Flight 801 and their families. But Soon-jung is the voice who reminds Kang-woo that you can’t trust appearances (he just needs to remember that when he sees Min-joon). Oh Mi-ja wasn’t who she seemed to be either, and Lee Soo-oh’s case may not be as simple as Kang-woo thinks. That truth is becoming painfully obvious now that Kang Eun-joo’s past links her with Min-joon’s brother and the late Taeyang Insurance planner who is connected to so many troubling cases.


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