Village: Secret of Achiara: Episode 4
More suspects emerge in the case, where increasingly, things are not as they seem on the surface. The harder our leads work to get to the truth of the matter, the harder opposing forces work to ensure the truth remains buried. On the upside, our leads are dogged and persistent, though they’ll need more than pure grit to outsmart the bigwigs with deep pockets and selfish agendas.
SONG OF THE DAY
10cm – “Stalker” [ Download ]
EPISODE 4: “Agasshi”
Yoo-na sneaks into Agasshi’s shack, determined to get some evidence that he’s Hye-jin’s killer. When Agasshi unexpectedly returns home, Ga-young calls Yoo-na to warn her, only the phone has been left behind in So-yoon’s apartment.
Yoo-na slowly turns to see Agasshi standing there looking at her, and starts to scream, just as Agasshi gets hit in the back of the head. He goes down—it’s So-yoon, holding a shovel. Moments later, the police arrive.
Agasshi shrinks when the police shine their lights on him, huddling to himself and asking why they’re doing this. He’s totally not the killer, is he?
Agasshi is taken to the local station, where he’s identified as Kang Pil-sung, who has two priors for public lewdness and has lived in Achiara for the past few years. Woo-jae doesn’t want to hand off the case and makes a minor protest about sending Agasshi to the police station (theirs is a local substation that only handles minor cases), though one bark from his sunbae has him scrambling to make the call.
So-yoon questions the two girls, not buying Ga-young’s explanation that Yoo-na pestered her for information about the killer until she gave it to her. So-yoon asks point-blank whether getting Ga-young a job was part of the deal, but the girls stick to their story, however unconvincing it may be.
Sergeant Han begins the questioning, and Yoo-na says she went to the house to find evidence that Agasshi killed Hye-jin. He asks why she thought Agasshi did it, and Ga-young declares that Agasshi’s a killer.
She explains how Agasshi is known around these parts for being a pervert, and some time ago some teenage boys sought him out and beat him up, calling him an embarrassment to manhood. Battered and bloodied, Agasshi had warned them, “I killed a woman.”
Agasshi copped to raping, killing, and burying women, and suffering nightmares afterward out of guilt. Then he started wearing women’s clothing, and it offered relief for his feelings, making the guilt disappear. What a coincidence that surfaced recently that he was the inhabitant of the lake shack, and then the body was discovered nearby.
That was suspicious enough for Ga-young to go with her friends to see for themselves, which is how she saw Yoo-na and Ba-woo that same night on their digging excursion. They’d seen Agasshi leaving his shack, and in her eyes, the conclusion is obvious: Agasshi is the killer.
Ga-young asks for a reward for catching the killer, though Sergeant Han points out that there’s nothing connecting Agasshi to the murders, and that the only clear crime here is their trespassing.
The two mothers arrive at the station, upset to hear of their daughters’ exploits. Woo-jae confirms that the dead woman is Hye-jin, and both mothers startle at the name, then cover up their reactions saying they just know her from seeing her around.
Ga-young throws a hissy fit to see her mother at the station and stomps out. Ji-sook collects Yoo-na calmly and drives her home, and advises her not to be too close to Ga-young. She’s pleased to have the case wrapped up neatly, saying that Yoo-na can stop worrying about this and turn to her studies now.
Yoo-na retorts that things may seem solved to her mother, accusing her of being happy that Hye-jin is dead. Ji-sook replies that Yoo-na’s under the wrong impression that she hates Hye-jin because she was Dad’s mistress, because if that were the case, she’d have to hate half the women in the village. (Although one wouldn’t preclude the other!)
Ji-sook declares that Hye-jin means absolutely nothing to her, though her voice gets increasingly heated the more she insists on it, and for a moment mother and daughter glare at each other.
Then Ji-sook’s attention is diverted from a knocking on the window of her car. The moving car. She looks up to see Hye-jin pounding on the glass pleadingly—ack!—and the shock sends her swerving into a traffic barrier.
Deeply shaken, she asks if Yoo-na saw it too. Yoo-na doesn’t know what she means, and the answer makes her even more scared.
At the station, Woo-jae advises So-yoon not to go rushing into dangerous situations; since she called the police, she should have waited for them. She says a student was in danger, then shares her happy news that her sister survived the old car accident.
Agasshi is escorted into a police car, to be transferred stations, and something about his face seems to strike So-yoon.
Once in the car, Agasshi starts toying with walnuts in his hand—so he’s the mysterious man from the bus. But then another woman is attacked and dragged off by a man in black, which means Agasshi’s not the serial killer.
In the morning, Ji-sook drops by her sister’s pharmacy and comments on last night’s events. Sister Joo-hee isn’t convinced the police caught the right villain, because it seems too easy—Hye-jin wasn’t one to die so readily. And isn’t it convenient that when there were people who wanted her dead, a stranger should pop up to kill her instead.
Ji-sook bristles at the implication, suggesting that maybe Joo-hee wanted Hye-jin dead too. But Joo-hee says that at least hearing of Hye-jin’s death doesn’t frighten her: “But unni, you look scared.”
So-yoon receives an update from the traffic department: Following the car accident, both sisters were sent to an orphanage until their grandmother could collect them, and an error must have occurred there. The officer gives her the official address linked to her sister’s ID number, which provides a lead to pursue.
So-yoon heads out in high spirits, just as she’s caught in a frenzy of police officers mobilizing in the wake of the new crime. As they clear out, she tenses to hear the telltale sound of clacking walnuts, and sees Agasshi standing nearby, having been released.
He stops her to ask, quite politely, for some cash (a few dollars’ worth) for the bus. Despite the garish makeup, Agasshi seems timid and unthreatening now in the light of day, though So-yoon is spooked and hurries away after thrusting some cash at him.
The new murder is assumed to be the serial killer’s sixth victim, and given that Agasshi had a strong alibi and they had no proof, he was let go. Woo-jae is disappointed to hear it, but then lights up upon hearing that Hye-jin’s case has been delegated to his substation while the main station is busy with the new case. He practically does a happy dance right there in the office.
Sergeant Han issues instructions for their next steps: Contact Hye-jin’s next of kin, find her phone and bank records, and confiscate her belongings from the apartment storage area.
The latest murder is splashed in all the news, which infuriates Assemblyman Seo and threatens his plans for building a tourist resort. (The murders have thus far been in neighboring Gyeonggi province, but this one crosses the line into Gangwon-do, which is where Achiara is.) He’s further disgruntled to hear that the murder suspect is no longer a suspect—Agasshi was in a car accident in Jeju during the time Hye-jin disappeared and was laid up in the hospital for two months.
This means the police will begin investigating Hye-jin in earnest, which Seo doesn’t want. The tourism deputy secretary gapes in surprise when the assemblyman orders him to block the investigation.
Woo-jae calls Hye-jin’s mother to inform her of her daughter’s demise, and gets glum thinking of how nobody knew or cared that Hye-jin was missing for two years. He asks Sergeant Han what he’d do if he ever went missing, getting super-earnest as he says he has no friends or family here, either: “You’d search for me, wouldn’t you?”
Next, Woo-jae collects Hye-jin’s belongings from storage, and we notice a curious amount of pregnancy-related books in her possession (though it escapes Woo-jae for the moment). He lights up when So-yoon drops by, his budding crush very cute and very obvious.
She accidentally knocks over a basket, and out falls an old photo album. It briefly catches her eye before she dismisses it, while the music tells us this is an important beat.
So-yoon thanks Woo-jae for his help in looking for her sister, happy to be one step closer to tracking her down. She’s puzzled over Agasshi being let go, and says that the photos he had of Hye-jin were curious—to her eye, it seemed that the photographer was attached to Hye-jin somehow. Not as a mere pervert-stalker.
So Woo-jae lays out the pictures to examine them more closely, trying to glean insight from them.
Unni’s address leads So-yoon to the orphanage where her sister lived until her first year of high school. It’s strange that this would be listed as her official address for so many years after she’d left, and So-yoon asks to speak to a long-time employee who may have known her sister.
One of the former orphans now works there, and supposes that Unni ran away, which isn’t an unheard-of circumstance. Hearing that So-yoon is the younger sister, she says disapprovingly that she could have written once to her unni, who was said to have gone crazy waiting for a letter from her little sister in Canada. She once spent days next to the mailbox, refusing to leave it, barely eating.
The woman supposes that Unni went looking for her mother, recalling that she mentioned it just before she ran away. So-yoon is puzzled, since their mother most certainly died.
Woo-jae drives to Agasshi’s shack with some friendly chicken and beer, and finds that Agasshi plans to throw away his women’s clothing and seek treatment at a hospital. He sighs that he can’t go around dressing that way and getting wrongly accused of crimes anymore.
Woo-jae asks how cross-dressing made him feel, and Agasshi hints at a sexual thrill, saying Woo-jae wouldn’t know the feeling. Heh. He’d made up the story about killing women to scare those boys, which worked because they stopped harassing him after that. As to the photos of Hye-jin, he first says he took them because she’s pretty, but when Woo-jae presses, he adds, “She’s a very special woman.”
In flashback, we see Agasshi walking the streets, waiting for the chance to face a woman and goad her into that scared, disgusted reaction that would give him a thrill. But Hye-jin was different, not batting an eye as she’d stared him straight in the eye. It had made Agasshi shrink back and run away instead, and he confesses that that was “the most shameful moment of my life.” It also made him take an interest in Hye-jin.
So-yoon returns to town that night, heart heavy over what she’s learned. The sound of a car honking at her flashes her back to the moment of the childhood car accident, and she stands like a deer in headlights. At the last second, someone grabs her out of the oncoming truck’s path—Ki-hyun.
She confides the day’s discoveries to him, sighing that she’s feeling confused. If the mother was dead, why did her sister say she’d look for her. Why did Grandma say her sister died?
Ki-hyun says sympathetically that there must be a reason, a secret in her family that she doesn’t know about. He asks if there’s anyone who knew her family, and So-yoon remembers the letter sent to Canada. She’d initially assumed a relative sent it, so he tells her to start with finding that relative.
Woo-jae bikes back to town after his visit with Agasshi, and spots So-yoon getting a ride with Ki-hyun. Aw, his disappointment is so cute, and he says sadly that the car is nice.
Assemblyman Seo wines and dines the police chief to pressure him into stopping the corpse investigation. The chief argues feebly that it looks bad to abandon the case when they’ve identified the body, and had put the local substation in charge as a stalling tactic (expecting them to get nowhere). But the assemblyman barks that they don’t have time to waste.
Woo-jae grumbles that women women only like men with nice cars, just as the boss arrives for a briefing on the case. Woo-jae lays out the facts, which put her disappearance in September 2013. Agasshi has been removed as suspect because his whereabouts were accounted for during that time.
One of the many curious things is that Hye-jin died without a wallet, purse, or personal belongings in her keeping, and those things were also missing from her apartment. Based on the timing and facts, they have to see this as a homicide case. Their boss heaves a sigh, since they’re right.
The problem is, the higher-ups still plan to close this case if no evidence comes to light within the week, and Sergeant Han shares this with Woo-jae.
So-yoon explains to Ki-hyun that she was able to find out about an aunt, but not any details of her whereabouts. Ki-hyun figures there are professionals who can track people effectively, and offers to put in the inquiry.
At school, Ga-young sneaks up on teacher Gun-woo while he’s painting in his school studio and covers his eyes with her hands flirtatiously, though he finds nothing amusing about it. She says she’s quitting school since she got a job and came to say goodbye, and also to return his umbrella from that night.
Ah, so Gun-woo was the driver who’d picked her up in the rain, who’d startled her when he put his hand on her leg. She says she’s been racking her brains to figure out why he’d done it, and has finally worked it out.
At the time, he’d seemed to come to his senses and withdrew his hand, but she’d held it there, saying, “If you want something, tell me. You never know, I might give it to you.”
He’d snatched his hand away and clarified that he wanted to see the red spot on her leg, and Ga-young had bared her upper thigh to show him the mark.
The thing is, nobody knew about her spot other than her mother and her friends, so she wants to know how he found out about it.
Then she adds that Hye-jin also knew, and steps closer as she asks, “Did you love her?” Gun-woo looks at her in surprise and maybe alarm.
Ki-hyun’s experts track down So-hyun’s aunt, so he drives her over to meet her.
Woo-jae sighs at the thought that Hye-jin’s case could be closed prematurely, which he finds unfair, just as he notices something about the photographs taken from Agasshi’s house. Rearranging them, he realizes that they were taken in the same place, over three separate days.
That sends him back to Agasshi, who explains having an interest in photography and shows him the camera where he snapped those photos. It has a massive zoom lens and a clear view of the field where Hye-jin had showed up one day, and the next, and the next. He’d wondered why she appeared to be waiting, and snapped photos while she was there.
Woo-jae is suspicious that Agasshi was so interested in her from one encounter, so Agasshi adds the detail that when they’d met, Hye-jin had asked him a question: “How would you r mother feel, seeing you like this?” It wasn’t in scorn or ridicule, he recalls, but in genuine curiosity to know the feelings of “a mother who birthed a monster.”
So-yoon meets her aunt and learns that she and her sister had different mothers, but shared the same father. Apparently her parents had had difficulty having a child, so they officially adopted Unni, and a few years later had So-yoon.
Unni had come to that conclusion on her own, since it explained why Grandma (mom’s mom) only took So-yoon and left the adopted daughter behind. When she sought out Aunt asking questions, Aunt had told her the truth.
Since Hye-jin showed up three days in a row waiting for someone, Woo-jae asks what happened after those three days. Agasshi had to leave town for Chuseok, and only now does he realize that those photos were taken right before Hye-jin disappeared, and he actually yells at Agasshi for needing to travel for the holidays and missing his chance to photograph the killer. Ha.
Agasshi gapes, “Then did that man kill the woman?” Turns out that he’d been so curious that he set up a timer to record in his absence, and he shows Woo-jae the footage. And there he shows up on video, his face turning slowly to reveal… Ki-hyun.
Being that we are in Episode 4, there’s no way Ki-hyun is going to be our killer, right? I like that the show is throwing us red herrings and false leads, and that the truth of a scene is shown to be something quite different with the addition of another flashback or POV shot. It keeps the target moving, and I like that much more than the cases where the target is identified and we spend weeks and weeks just trying to get the characters up to speed with what we know as the audience. (Because, man! It can be so frustrating being the omniscient audience while the cast remains oblivious; I’d gladly exchange some of that knowledge to gain more suspense.)
That doesn’t mean I’m assuming Ki-hyun is absolved of guilt, since it’s entirely possible he’s complicit, or guilty of a different offense. He’s certainly way too nice to seem normal, at least in a town this full of shifty characters. But I want to like him; in addition to having a warmth lacking in most of Achiara’s ranks, I can’t help but like him better as a romantic interest.
The initial descriptions seemed to set up Woo-jae as the main loveline, and I do find him cute in a puppy-dog sort of way, but for me the interest feels more compelling with Ki-hyun. I don’t even need a romance to blossom into a full-fledged storyline; in fact I prefer it as a sort of background presence, adding an extra layer to the scenes without necessarily taking over the scenes. So it’s not so much about who gets to “win” the girl for me, but that I like Woo-jae as the enthusiastic helper with a crush from afar, and feel more of a crackle when So-yoon’s with Ki-hyun.
That said, I actually find Woo-jae to be almost more of a main character than So-yoon, which I like in the sense that I like Woo-jae, but dislike in the sense that it can’t have been the show’s intention. It isn’t that So-yoon isn’t involved enough in the storyline, since she’s pursuing her own family mystery, but in terms of the show’s central conflict, it’s Woo-jae who’s driving the action. And while I want to like So-yoon more, I find myself worrying that she’s letting the men help her and direct her actions while she kinda stares with wide eyes. I don’t need her to be fearless or kickass—not everyone needs to be that kind of heroine—but I don’t want to see her becoming a passenger in her own mystery.
I have a feeling this is only a temporary concern, though, so I’m waiting for the show to pair her with Woo-jae. If Hye-jin is revealed to be her sister, that ought to provide the impetus to send her into the hunt in earnest, and I’m looking forward to that moment. Because right now, the story’s a little too slow for my liking, despite doing a good job creating tons of mood and keeping us guessing. But when you give us viewers more information than you give the cast, it becomes an exercise in patience for us while we wait for them to catch up, and I’d rather be running alongside the characters, rather than being ahead of them.
- Village: Secret of Achiara: Episode 3
- Village: Secret of Achiara: Episode 2
- Village: Secret of Achiara: Episode 1
- Oh Snap! Hands of death in the Village
- A missing woman and a dead body in the Village
- Village’s mysterious new schoolteacher and eager policeman
- More moody mystery in second teaser for Village: Secret of Achiara
- Secrets burned and buried in The Village
- First script reading for Village: Secret of Achiara