Hidden Identity: Episode 2
If you thought Hidden Identity was all about a brooding bad-ass Bummie you’d be, well, mostly right. But there’s still so much more to this slick action-thriller, especially when it comes to the Investigation 5 Unit and the fearless man who leads them. It’s not easy being the one in charge of secretly protecting a nation, particularly when it comes at the cost of protecting one of your own.
EPISODE 2 RECAP
As thug 100-Percent holds a knife to Gun-woo’s throat, Teacher Jung asks Gun-woo if he’s a cop. In reply, Gun-woo shoves 100-Percent off him, then spins around to grab a sharp scrap of metal. He holds it out threateningly as he says that he’s just a designated driver, nothing more.
It’s his word against 100-Percent’s, who’s still convinced that Gun-woo is lying. Teacher Jung asks his other minions to weigh in, and they agree Gun-woo’s story checks out: he’s got a criminal history, has been in-and-out of police stations for years, and was recently released on probation.
Gun-woo swings his makeshift weapon around to Teacher Jung, reminding him that they dragged him here against his will; he didn’t ask for this. Stepping forward, Teacher Jung gently pushes the scrap of metal out of his face and leans in, sniffing Gun-woo. He laughs when he realizes that Gun-woo reeks of alcohol, gently chiding him for drinking on the job when he’s a designated driver.
Teacher Jung pleasantly sends Gun-woo on his way, much to the surprise of his minions. 100-Percent still isn’t convinced that Gun-woo isn’t a cop, but Teacher Jung knows that a cop wouldn’t drink before a mission. Even so, he’s made sure they’ve put a bug in Gun-woo’s phone, and Teacher Jung orders Bodyguard Lee to keep an eye on Gun-woo.
As Gun-woo slowly walks home, seemingly oblivious to his surroundings, we see in a flashback that Tae-pyung was the one who suggested Gun-woo take a drink and rub some soju on his clothes in order to smell of alcohol. It’s all in support of Gun-woo’s criminal-for-hire “Han Ki-joo’s” backstory.
Bodyguard Lee follows Gun-woo home, which only proves to Team Leader Jang (who’s watching from a safe distance) that Teacher Jung planted a tracking device on Gun-woo. Duk-hoo, with his trusty laptop, confirms that it’s the same kind of device they’ve used to keep tabs on Tae-in’s whereabouts — which only reminds them that it’s been over 48 hours since they’ve heard from him. A worried Duk-hoo believes the chances that Tae-in is still alive are growing pretty slim. But stone-faced Team Leader Jang just orders Min-joo to get ready.
Popping a piece of gum in her mouth, Min-joo saunters down to “Ki-joo’s” apartment, clearly acting as a prostitute for hire. Just a few doors down is Bodyguard Lee, carefully watching and listening in on the bug they’ve put in Gun-woo’s phone. Min-joo’s prepared for this, though, and after she carefully looks around for any other bugs, she carelessly says that she’ll take a shower first.
She turns on the tap in the bathroom sink and sets a timer for ten minutes — long enough for the team to hunt down the tracker. To kill time, Min-joo suggests an exchange of questions-and-answers to appease their curiosity. She starts first, asking how Gun-woo knows Team Leader Jang. In his terse way, he simply answers that he was shot by him eight years ago.
It’s his turn to ask a question: why are they trying to catch Teacher Jung? Min-hee cryptically replies by describing how, when you cut off the tail of a lizard, the body slips away and the tail eventually grows back. When Gun-woo asks who the body represents, she gives a little shrug.
Now it’s her turn: what is his relationship with Tae-in? Avoiding her gaze, Gun-woo says that he’s indebted to him, adding that Tae-in had a younger sister — and Gun-woo killed her. There’s no time for Min-joo to express her surprise because her alarm goes off.
She resumes her cover as a prostitute, but this time she storms out of the apartment, pretending to be irate that “Ki-joo” doesn’t have the money to pay her. She also gets in a few extra slaps for good measure, having a little too much fun playing the outraged prostitute. But it’s believable enough for the ever-lurking Bodyguard Lee.
That night, Gun-woo broodily showers…
…as he remembers the moment when Tae-in’s sister, held as a hostage, died right before his eyes — the same moment when Team Leader Jang shot him in the back.
Bodyguard Lee is a faithful watchdog and dutifully reports back that “Ki-joo” is, indeed, a gambling addict. As “Ki-joo” leaves one of the gambling halls, he’s stopped by “loan shark” Tae-pyung, who plays the “give me the money you owe or I’ll sell your kidneys” persona to the hilt. Gun-woo’s phone rings just then, and it’s Teacher Jung, requesting a designated driver.
As Gun-woo drives Teacher Jung and his minions, Min-joo and Tae-pyung follow in one car, while Team Leader Jang and Duk-hoo follow in another. Teacher Jung seems aware that they might have a tail and seems to randomly call out directions, causing Gun-woo to swerve across lanes to make the turns. He asks to see Gun-woo’s phone and then tosses it out the window, where it gets crushed by a passing car.
That cuts off all communication with the Investigation 5 Unit, and they scramble to keep Gun-woo’s car in sight since they can no longer hear Teacher Jung’s directions. But Teacher Jung orders Gun-woo to run a red light. Min-joo, realizing that they’re about to lose the car, ignores Team Leader Jang’s order to stop the car, and instead guns it to try and run the red light, too. But she’s forced to swerve at the last second to avoid colliding with oncoming traffic.
Team Leader Jang immediately puts out an APB, declaring Teacher Jung’s car stolen so they can at least get all available eyes looking out for it. As Gun-woo pulls up to a building, Teacher Jung steps out with the rest of his minions. Gun-woo stays in the car, fiddling with the car’s in-dash GPS system. But Bodyguard Lee walks up and knocks on the window, ordering him to join them.
Through the help of CCTV tracking the “stolen” car, Min-joo and Tae-pyung stop at a car repair shop. They ask the men working there to tell them who owns the “stolen” car, but the men only jeeringly tell Min-joo that they’ll cooperate if she has a drink with them. Tae-pyung points out there’s only three of them, and says she can handle them while he checks out the office, adding that she should go easy on them.
If by “go easy” he means “easily take them out,” then sure, because Min-joo swiftly destroys the punks in hand-to-hand combat as she demands to know where Teacher Jung is. So bad-ass.
Teacher Jung and his minions (including Gun-woo) are holed up in an abandoned warehouse. He orders Bodyguard Lee to collect everyone’s phones, and Gun-woo nonchalantly hands his over, but also sees 100-Percent carefully hide his phone to avoid having it taken away.
Tae-in is still chained up in the torture sauna, and this time his torturer takes the time to smash all of Tae-in’s toes with a hammer. Ouch.
100-Percent and Gun-woo have no love for each other, even less so when 100-Percent snatches Gun-woo’s treasured lighter to use for his cigarette. Gun-woo doesn’t take that lying down and dives after him. The men’s tussle is broken up by Bodyguard Lee and Teacher Jung, who warns Gun-woo that all the guys here are better fighters than he is, so he’d better be careful.
As a final warning, Teacher Jung spins around and shoots Gun-woo straight in the chest — it’s a blank, thank goodness, but it still knocks the wind out of him. Ooooh, but it looks like in the fight with 100-Percent, Gun-woo managed to steal a phone from Bodyguard Lee’s pocket. Sneaky.
Late that night, when the men are supposed to be sleeping, he surreptitiously uses the phone to contact the police station — enough to let them know the general area he’s in, based on where the call came from. It’s a relief, since they were solely relying on CCTV footage that only led to a dead-end at a toll station.
In the morning, Teacher Jung hands Gun-woo a bag full of cash — a deposit on his pay. Today his skills as a sniper are required. After switching out the license plate on the van, they drive off — just minutes before Min-joo and Tae-pyung arrive at the suspicious-looking abandoned warehouse.
Tae-pyung’s annoyed that they always seem to be one step behind, but as they go through the items left behind, he recognizes Gun-woo’s jacket. When he picks it up, a memory card falls out. It’s the card from the car’s GPS that Gun-woo managed to pull out before Bodyguard Lee made him go inside.
The memory card has all the places where the car stopped the past few days, which means they’ll be able to pin down where Teacher Jung is keeping Tae-in. Aw, Tae-pyung is adorably impressed with Gun-woo’s ingenuity.
On a rooftop, Teacher Jung hands over a case containing a sniper’s rifle. Gun-woo expertly puts it together, and Teacher Jung has him aim at the electrical cords on a rooftop power station across the way.
Gun-woo neatly hits the small wires in one shot, disabling the power to the office building across the street. Teacher Jung is suitably impressed, and it seems Gun-woo has proved his worth.
Meanwhile, Min-joo and Tae-pyung are busy trying to figure out where Tae-in is being held captive. One of the more obscure places listed in the GPS is a sauna that’s closed for business. Min-joo pretends to be a fire inspector to get inside, and even though the thug who answers the door is surprised to see her, he can’t resist her innocently flirtatious (yet completely calculated) ways, and leads her upstairs to the fire alarm system.
Tae-pyung sneaks in behind them and heads to the sauna lockers, picking the locks of the ones that are obviously in use. He finds a bunch of blueprints and a couple of flash drives in one of them — jackpot.
Dressed as employees from the power company, Bodyguard Lee, Gun-woo, and the rest of the minions head into the office building. 100-Percent, Gun-woo, and hacker-genius Kyung-soo enter the elevator to go up, but when the doors open again, it’s only 100-Percent that exits: Gun-woo and Kyung-soo have crawled their way into the ventilation shafts.
Excited by his find, Tae-pyung hurries out of the locker room, only to bang his shin into an opened locker door. He stifles his cry of pain as he stumbles to the floor, and Min-joo pulls out all her sweetly awkward feminine wiles to distract the thug from exploring the source of the noise.
Tae-pyung’s clumsy fall also gives him a glimpse of a room that’s locked by a heavy chain — one that looks like it’s been used recently, based on how clean the lock is compared to the rusty chain. He peers through a crack in the door, and as soon as he sees Tae-in chained up, he picks the lock and rushes in, desperate to save him.
But Tae-in has other ideas, and quietly whispers something to Tae-pyung. Instead of continuing to break Tae-in free from his chains, Tae-pyung instead calls Team Leader Jang. The bloody, bruised, and beaten Tae-in desperately begs Team Leader Jang to not rescue him — not yet.
For eight long years, Tae-in has been single-mindedly pursuing Teacher Jung. They’re too close to let him go now — if saving Tae-in means they blow their cover and let Teacher Jung slip their fingers, then he’d never be able to forgive himself. With a shaking voice, he says that he’ll do whatever it takes to see it through. He has to.
Min-joo’s been trying to buy as much time for Tae-pyung as she can, but she finally returns to the car, surprised that Tae-in isn’t there. She’s relieved to hear that Tae-pyung found him, but when she sees Tae-pyung’s bloody hands, she knows something’s up.
She’s ready to barge back in there and retrieve Tae-in by force, but Tae-pyung quietly tells her it was both Team Leader Jang and Tae-in’s decision to leave him behind. She’s not happy with that decision, to say the least.
In the ventilation shaft, techie Kyung-soo sets up the device to block all the security cameras, and Gun-woo remembers Min-joo’s orders to figure out Teacher Jung’s target before his crew kills off Tae-in.
The Investigation 5 team is back at headquarters, and an antsy Min-joo wants to know more about Tae-in. However Team Leader Jang is more focused on the building that Teacher Jung seems so interested in, the one that they had so many blueprints of. Turns out it’s one of the places that helped develop the security features of the new 50,000 won bill. Team Leader Jang guesses that Teacher Jung’s target is the code for the bill’s hologram, which will allow them to create a “supernote” (a high quality counterfeit that’s impossible to detect as a fake).
He reports this finding to the Chief of Police, who points out that this would be considered a threat to national security. Team Leader Jang assures him that they have a plan in place to replace the Teacher Jung’s USB drive that they’ll use to download code with an identical USB drive that has a fake code and a GPS tracker.
The Chief of Police points out that it’s a great risk to let Teacher Jung have the real code for even a second, but Team Leader Jang believes it’s worth the risk if it means they can capture Teacher Jung. They can’t just let them download a fake code in the first place because Kyung-soo would immediately know it’s a fake, and Teacher Jung would slip through their fingers once again.
As Gun-woo and the rest of the minions ride down in the elevator, still disguised as men from the power company, a few of the office employees get on the elevator, too. Gun-woo spots a phone in one of the women’s pockets and causes her to “accidentally” trip against him, allowing him to steal it from her. As the men reach the parking garage, Gun-woo veers off into the stairwell to call Team Leader Jang.
His first question is if they’ve found Tae-in, and Team Leader Jang simply tells him that they’re still searching. They quickly exchange information, confirming that Teacher Jung’s men have connected the camera blocking device to the building’s security system, and Team Leader Jang’s plans to swap out the USB with the hologram code. He adds that he’s heard there’s a cop on the team, spying on everyone, so he warns Gun-woo to be extra careful.
But Gun-woo is suspicious about the amount of information Team Leader Jang has. He knows where Tae-in is, doesn’t he? Gun-woo desperately asks where is he is, how he’s doing, but Team Leader Jang stays silent. Further answers aren’t possible, anyway, as 100-Percent barges into the stairwell, irritated that Gun-woo isn’t with the rest of the team.
He’s also determined to catch Gun-woo (who he keeps calling a cop) in the middle of a traitorous act. But Gun-woo just smirks and holds up his lighter, feigning that his departure into the stairwell was for a smoke break.
Team Leader Jang and Duk-hoo debrief Min-joo and Dae-pyung on the flash drive that they’ll be using to replace the one Teacher Jung’s team has, but Min-joo is too worked up over the fact that Teacher Jung’s men will likely kill Tae-in before the mission is over.
He reminds her that it was Tae-in’s request and they’re too close to catching Teacher Jung to let this chance slip through their fingers. Min-joo storms out of the room, Duk-hoo quietly following in her wake. As Tae-pyung gathers up his files, he sees Team Leader Jang rub his forehead like he’s suffering from a piercing headache, and gently reassures Team Leader Jang that no matter what happens, he still trusts him.
While Teacher Jung’s men regroup at another abandoned warehouse, Gun-woo hides out in the van and makes another call to Team Leader Jang. He demands to know why they left Tae-in behind, and Team Leader Jang tells him it’s just until this mission is over — they’re still keeping an eye on him. But Gun-woo knows that the men will proceed with their plan tomorrow, and demands that they go in and rescue Tae-in right now, since he’ll likely be killed before then.
In answer, Team Leader Jang plays for him — and on loudspeaker for all of the Investigation 5 Unit — the recording of Tae-in’s plea to keep going. Tae-in’s breathless, shaky voice strikes a chord with everyone as he begs them to continue with their plan, because if it fails due to them rescuing him, he’ll never forgive himself. “We must go all the way.” Interwoven are shots of Tae-in being tortured by waterboarding and barely clinging to life.
Gun-woo fights back tears as he listens to his mentor’s voice, but he’s quickly back to his stoic persona as he leaves the van and rejoins Teacher Jung’s crew.
Teacher Jung stands in front of Tae-in in the torture sauna, asking if he’s tired, adding it will be over soon. But when Teacher Jung gets a phone call from someone who gives him orders, Tae-in lifts his head and actually smirks. He asks if that’s Teacher Jung’s boss. He says that it is, and that Tae-in will be able to meet him soon — in the afterlife.
The thug in charge of torture unchains Tae-in’s arms where they hang on the hook, and Teacher Jung hands him a bottle of water. As Tae-in gulps it down, Teacher Jung sighs that, considering all their history together the past few years (where he was Teacher Jung’s right-hand man), it’s a pity they can’t share a final drink together.
Min-joo hurries after Team Leader Jang as he prepares to get on the elevator, asking him if he won’t regret his decision later. He reminds her that ever since they started this project, all decisions are his responsibility. He trusts Tae-in and would make the same decision, no matter what. But as soon as the elevator doors close and he’s alone, he slumps against the wall, sighing as he tries to pinch away his headache.
Torture Thug drags Tae-in out of the torture pool, and due to his injuries and exhaustion, Tae-in immediately collapses on the floor. The rest of Teacher Jung’s crew arrive at that time, and he waves Gun-woo over, telling him that this guy on the floor is a cop. He hands Gun-woo a switchblade, telling him to go ahead and do it — think of it as an initiation, or welcome party.
As Gun-woo takes the knife, he says it seems unnecessary to kill a cop. But Teacher Jung reassures him that the first time killing someone is the hardest, but it gets easier after that. So might as well take this opportunity now to get some experience.
Just then Tae-in raises his head, and Gun-woo tries to hide the rush of emotion that floods his face when he realizes who it is. The ever-skeptical 100-Percent scoffs at Gun-woo’s hesitation, saying that if Gun-woo doesn’t have the guts to kill the cop, then he should die, too. He gets up and pulls out a gun, aiming it at Gun-woo’s head.
But Gun-woo clenches the knife tightly as he turns around to stare down the barrel of the gun.
I love it. Love love love it. It’s the kind of action-thriller I’m used to seeing on OCN (aka “Only Crime [Shows] Network”), and I’m delighted to see that tvN hasn’t pulled any punches with the dark and gritty atmosphere of this one. Or maybe I shouldn’t be too surprised, since it is directed by the same guy who did Bad Guys. But I’m so used to tvN being the land of quirky rom-coms that I wasn’t quite sure what direction this show would actually end up taking (since, y’know, teasers can never be trusted).
But so far I love everything about it. The cinematography is stunning and the editing is perfect — it keeps the tension without losing any of the plot. It actually feels more film-like than drama-like (which is definitely not a complaint). The pacing made the hour fly by, and much of that hour I spent pretty breathless as I wondered if Gun-woo would be caught or if Min-joo and Tae-pyung would be able to find him. I’m thrilled that the back-story has been minimal so far, because it means we can be carried by the main action of the show. Even so, there’s been just enough back-story so far for us to understand the barebones motivations for our characters. Or at least make intelligent guesses regarding their motivations (because thankfully the director and writer realize the audience isn’t stupid and can read between the lines).
Honestly, this story isn’t anything new. All of our characters are standard crime-thriller archetypes. But because of the way the show is directed, edited, and acted (and styled! Helllloooooo, dapper villain and all your sartorial choices!), it seems fresh and exciting. I’m eager to see how the cat-and-mouse game is played out, especially considering that this isn’t just a game between Teacher Jung and Gun-woo. It’s really about Team Leader Jang and Teacher Jung — or the white whale of the crime boss that calls the shots for Teacher Jung.
Maybe it’s too soon to make such an authoritative declaration, but I’m pretty sure that I’m going to love watching these two men go head-to-head. Particularly since Team Leader Jang seems like a no-nonsense, heartless cop determined to get results, even though we know, in those brief moments when he’s alone, that the weight of responsibility falls heavy on his shoulders. You just know that he personally would do anything to save Tae-in, but he also knows that what they’re after is greater than one cop’s life.
The tie that binds us right now, of course, is Tae-in. While we don’t know (yet) all the details involving his sister, it’s safe to assume that she and Gun-woo were in love, and it was an error on Gun-woo’s end that resulted in her death (and his being shot by Team Leader Jang). There also seems to be more than just a business relationship between Tae-in and Min-joo, which gives us potential for our kick-ass cop to become even more kick-ass if she’s called upon to avenge his death. At least I hope so, because she’s awesome and I want to see her beat up more thugs. And play more saucy roles that require her to slap Gun-woo.
Which is why, despite me holding out hope that Tae-in will somehow survive (hey, this is Dramaland after all — anything can happen!), I’m also eager to see how the characters deal with the aftermath of his death. He’ll essentially become a martyr to the cause and the lynch-pin to Gun-woo’s involvement. I also desperately hope that Gun-woo finds a way to not kill him personally, but I’m also totally fine if they want to give me a dark story that explores how he deals with his guilt and grief by taking it out on the bad guys.
Because, really — those little moments where we get to see his character crack, when that carefully maintained stoic expression he wears actually shatters, and the grief and anguish he lives with is bared for the world to see — those moments are so excellent and only feed my desire to see this character be put through the wringer even more. Am I sadistic? Maybe. I just know that Kim Bum is up to the challenge, acting-wise, and that this director isn’t afraid to go to very dark, brutal places, plot-wise. So bring it on.
- Hidden Identity: Episode 1
- Kim Ji-won cameos as Kim Bum’s girlfriend for Hidden Identity
- Double lives and disguises for tvN’s Hidden Identity
- Flying fists and disguises for action thriller Hidden Identity
- Hidden Identity’s undercover squad gathers for script read
- Oh Snap! Hidden Identity’s hidden message teaser
- Casting complete for undercover cop drama Hidden Identity
- Kim Bum becomes an elite detective for tvN crime drama