Village: Secret of Achiara: Episode 5
Some mysteries come into clearer focus, but happily for the story’s sake, those answers just serve to spawn more mysteries. The identity questions are rather obvious so I’d hoped the story wouldn’t get stuck figuring those out (since we’d figured them out already), and it’s a relief to move forward with the mystery, which hints at deeper goings-on underneath the surface. For being one lonely person without roots and without much family, it’s intriguing to see just how deeply entrenched Hye-jin is in the secrets of the town. Now, we just have to figure out why.
SONG OF THE DAY
Romantico – “Ghost” [ Download ]
EPISODE 5: “The reason for their silence”
At the shack near the lake, Agasshi shows Woo-jae the video footage he took of the day Hye-jin disappeared two years ago, and the man who’d shown up to speak with her: Sweet-faced, mild-mannered assemblyman’s son Ki-hyun.
Ki-hyun is at the moment accompanying So-yoon to meet her aunt, who explains how the sisters were separated. She pleads with So-yoon not to hate her grandmother for abandoning one sister (who wasn’t blood-related to Grandma or Mom), but So-yoon is upset, saying it wasn’t right to leave unni or to say that she was dead.
Aunt recalls that when Hye-jin came looking for her, she’d been insistent on finding out where she was from, and struggled to remember. Finally, she’d recalled the name of the place: Achiara.
So-yoon puts together the pieces, sure now that it was her sister who sent her that mysterious letter as a clue to her. Ki-hyun suggests that it’s a pretty complicated puzzle to give to someone, his voice getting harder as he asks how So-yoon decided to come to Achiara.
She explains that it was a coincidence that she’d seen the brochure when choosing schools, but adds that she wouldn’t have come if she hadn’t gotten the letter.
Woo-jae compares the video of Hye-jin near Agasshi’s house to the picture of the clothes she died in. It’s looking more and more likely that she died this day, not far from her eventual burial site, and that solidifies his feeling that Ki-hyun is the killer.
Sergeant Han muses, “It’s that family again.” Woo-jae affirms, “It’s that family again. The family where everyone—father, son, daughter—are all strange.”
The two officers drive to his house to question him, explaining to Ji-sook why they’re here. She says Ki-hyun never even knew Hye-jin, and is shocked when she’s told they looked quite familiar with each other.
Speaking alone with Ki-hyun, they ask for his accounting of that day. He recalls that he would often drop his sister off at her art class, and knew Hye-jin that way. Asked about that encounter near the lake with Hye-jin, he describes everything as very uneventful, supposing that they merely exchanged Chuseok greetings, and he’d asked if she was going to her hometown.
The officers ask about her response, and now Ki-hyun’s face grows shadowed as he recalls how she’d answered: “This is my hometown. I’m actually from Achiara too.” But he replies that she only said she’d be resting at home for the holiday.
Ki-hyun says he’d returned to U.S. a few days later, and hadn’t known she’d disappeared until recently. Woo-jae looks at him hard, clearly still suspicious, and comments that the place where he’d run into Hye-jin was not an easy place for a stroll. Ki-hyun answers easily that there’s a lumber mill nearby that he used to play at as a child, which he often walks to.
Woo-jae asks what Hye-jin was doing there. Stony-faced, Ki-hyun just asks how anyone knows what she was about.
Assemblyman Seo dines with an important bigwig, though it’s not quite clear who it is. But given that Seo is the most important man in Achiara and is clearly subservient here, we can presume this Mr. Bigshot is way up on the food chain.
Mr. Bigshot makes cryptic reference to “that child” causing more problems, even when she’s dead. Assemblyman Seo says he can take care of the immediate fire, but Mr. Bigshot says he doesn’t want the fire moving to a new area.
Ji-sook calls in the middle of the dinner to warn him that the cops are at home questioning Ki-hyun. Seo is stunned but hangs up on her to return to the boss, who assures him he won’t abandon him, and promises that the girl will not ruin his life.
Woo-jae continues eyeing Ki-hyun with suspicion, pointing out that he was the last to see Hye-jin alive, showing the video of the encounter. He compares her dress in the video to the decayed dress on the corpse, which look to be the same.
Ki-hyun is unsettled but forces calm, and notices that in the video, she’s not wearing the bracelet that was on her body. So it would seem he wasn’t actually the last to see her alive.
Woo-jae bolts up to confirm that he’s right, and he and his sunbae leave after the questioning. As soon as they exit, Ki-hyun looks suddenly exhausted and excuses himself. He mulls over the latest facts, such as Aunt revealing that Unni was headed to Achiara, and Hye-jin saying that she’s originally from Achiara. And curiously, he’s teary-eyed. Why, Ki-hyun? What do you know?
His father calls to ask about the officers, and Ki-hyun assures him that he didn’t reveal anything about Dad’s affair with Hye-jin. Dad is in the middle of asking how they found out about Ki-hyun’s connection to Hye-jin when Ki-hyun hangs up on him mid-sentence.
Hm, and then we cut back to Agasshi’s computer, where we see Hye-jin leaving her encounter with Ki-hyun, walking away healthy and unharmed. Timestamp reads 3:31 PM.
News travels fast of the officers’ visit to the esteemed Seo household, and the ajummas gossip all about how Hye-jin’s death benefited that family. One ajumma notes that elegant matriarch Ji-sook wouldn’t commit such a crime, but another insinuates that she doesn’t need to when she’s got her trusty stepson to do her bidding.
They shut up fast when So-yoon arrives at the beauty salon to get her hair done. The salon owner takes down her name and birthdate for a discount membership, and So-yoon asks to see if her sister’s name and birthdate is in the computer. Unni, named Han So-jung, isn’t in the database—but that birthdate pulls up a different name. Kim Hye-jin.
This gives So-yoon the idea to ask various businesses around town if they have any record of Han So-jung. She gets nowhere with that name, and the friendly pharmacist Joo-hee tries to think whether there were any female outsiders who’d passed through Achiara in the past few years. She can only think of the art teacher.
Yoo-na waits for So-yoon outside her door, blinking back tears because Oppa’s encounter with the police has her spooked. She’s heard that the last witness usually turns out to be the killer, and although she’s sure Oppa would never kill anyone, she’s still worried.
So-yoon eases her fears, assuring her that the police just needed information, and that her brother was helping them.
In her relief, Yoo-na grabs So-yoon in a hug, saying, “I was so scared.”
Ki-hyun’s encounter with the police is all the talk at school, and it’s an awkward way for Ki-hyun to be introduced to his staff as their new director. Talking to So-yoon afterward, he guesses he’s the topic of gossip, and she tells him of Yoo-na being scared that he was the last witness. He says he was, but adds that the real culprit will surely be caught in due course.
So-yoon asks why he lied when he said he didn’t know Hye-jin, and he tenses. But he acts as though he can’t remember saying that, and explains that Hye-jin was his father’s mistress, so he must have lied because it’s a touchy subject for their family.
He gives So-yoon the referral to the investigative service he used to find her aunt, since she’ll be using them to track down her sister. Ki-hyun looks uneasy when she says Achiara is a clue—they’re both starting to think Hye-jin is that sister, though they keep those thoughts to themselves.
Next, Ki-hyun orders the school principal to find out everything he can about So-yoon’s adoptive circumstances, down to the letter.
Yoo-na’s friend Ba-woo drops by the pharmacy, where she eagerly takes a box from him—it’s Hye-jin’s time capsule, and she’d been the one to tell him to get it. She assures him that she’s doing this to help Hye-jin, to find her killer, and gets him to promise to keep this secret.
But when her boyfriend Gun-woo drops by unexpectedly, she quickly covers the box and does her best to act natural, moving it out of sight. Gun-woo’s sharp as a tack and notices, though he doesn’t comment on it.
Ga-young starts work at Assemblyman Seo’s company, where Ji-sook drops by during lunch hour. She’s here to see Ki-hyun and asks about the police visit, worrying that word will spread and trouble will get bigger.
Ki-hyun points out that it’s no secret that Hye-jin was having an affair with the assemblyman, and that the worst that will happen is that people will gossip.
Ji-sook asks why he never said anything about seeing Hye-jin on her last day, and he says they didn’t say much worth remembering. Which is a lie, since we see that she’d said the assemblyman was trash, and that Ji-sook was the worst trash of all.
Ki-hyun asks if she knew Hye-jin was originally from Achiara, which she can’t believe, since it’s unlikely that they wouldn’t know her. Ji-sook grows increasingly agitated—manic, even—as she asks, “Surely your father couldn’t have done it, could he?” She frets that she can’t handle all this and cries into his shoulder… just as Ga-young overhears from outside and sees them through the doorway. It’s not a romantic moment, but I bet it looks like one from the video she’s shooting on her cell phone.
Yoo-na drops by to see Ba-woo, who’s been ignoring her calls. She tells him about the police talking to Ki-hyun, but Ba-woo doesn’t even acknowledge her, just whittling away at a piece of wood like he can’t hear anything she’s saying. Yoo-na notices pills from the pharmacy nearby—are those the medications Joo-hee recently changed?
Woo-jae returns to the art academy to talk to the director, and now that the body has been identified as Hye-jin, the director is all exaggerated tears for the dear teacher they lost, after previously scorning her as irresponsible and flighty. She introduces Woo-jae to the one teacher who worked here while Hye-jin did, but the woman has nothing to say about Hye-jin whatsoever.
When Woo-jae asks about the possibility that Ki-hyun and Hye-jin were involved, the director declares that a definite no.
Sergeant Han asks Ga-young’s mother about Hye-jin, noting that she was a regular customer at her restaurant. Sergeant Han is exasperated that a neighbor could go missing and nobody would say a word, and says this isn’t the Achiara he knew. Ga-young’s mother, who speaks to him like a longtime friend, points out that it’s not reasonable to go away for ten years and expect nothing to have changed.
He presses for information, insisting that the villagers know things that they aren’t telling the police. He asks if she “still has lingering feelings” for Assemblyman Seo, and refuses to believe that she truly knows nothing. Mom thinks back and recalls something about Hye-jin doing volunteer work for the elderly, and playing tennis with the pharmacist who has no other friends in town.
Sergeant Han is a step too slow, arriving at the pharmacist moments after Joo-hee leaves in a rush, closing up shop for the day.
Joo-hee hurries to Gun-woo’s apartment looking for something. She had clocked his interest in the time capsule, which must be missing, and while she doesn’t find what she’s looking for, she gets into his messaging account to see that he’s been engaging in illegal gambling.
Woo-jae doesn’t get very far looking into Hye-jin’s former co-0workers, since many of them have moved on and are out of touch. He does see that Gun-woo is among them, though he doesn’t get a hold of him. He digs around in Hye-jin’s online search logs, hoping to find a clue. Meanwhile, Sergeant Han looks through one of Hye-jin’s books about caring for the elderly, which has been marked up heavily.
The officers head to the volunteer service office to ask about Hye-jin’s activities, and she explains how before she’d cared for the elderly patients, she tended to the Haewon Steel’s elderly mistress, aka Grandma. As a major sponsor of their program, it’s a gesture of gratitude that the volunteers provide, but what’s curious is that Hye-jin had specifically requested to take on the duty.
Grandma has heard about the body, and asks Ji-sook whether it’s true that the dead girl was the same one who used to look after her. She must not know much of the scandalous background, because Grandma is dismayed and sorry to hear that such a beautiful girl could die so terribly. She recalls how well Hye-jin cared for her, never once doing anything to upset her fussy self.
Grandma is further shocked to hear the police talked to Ki-hyun, and Ji-sook goes a little strange, getting oddly assertive as she tells Grandma to keep her mouth shut to the police if they come back. Her sudden attitude change scares Grandma, and Ji-sook warns that all sorts of secrets are sure to come out into the world, and that Grandma’s dear son will be hurt by it. So to minimize that risk, Grandma ought to stick to the story: Hye-jin was her caretaker, that’s it.
Using information from Gun-woo’s chat account, Joo-hee finds the illegal gambling hall, where she finds Gun-woo slumped over, asleep and unkempt.
Woo-jae receives furtive instructions to meet an informant at a restaurant, which turns out to be the art school employee, who acts like she’s in a cloak and dagger thriller and swears him to secrecy. She informs him that the director has been telling him lies, and had issued a gag order to her staff. She tells him that Ji-sook had gotten into a knock-down-drag-out fight with Hye-jin, with hair-yanking, screaming, and biting.
Ki-hyun had jumped in to pull Ji-sook off, while the art teachers dragged Hye-jin back. She’d broken free and gone back for round 2, and the ladies had gone for each other’s throats, literally.
Woo-jae is comically naive about the reason and has to have it spelled out for him, that the women were fighting over a man, and that the teachers clammed up because Haewon Steel owns the art academy. The employee sighs that Woo-jae looks cute, but is kind of stupid. Ha.
Joo-hee takes Gun-woo back and asks how long he’s been back at the gambling habit. He says after Hye-jin disappeared, asking if she’s never felt scared or anxious. She demands the box, slapping him when he feigns ignorance. He demands to know what she’s up to: “Hye-jin said she was quitting!”
Joo-hee yells back, “The Hye-jin who said she was quitting is dead!” She asks how long he’s going to waste away gambling, calling this an opportunity for them.
Gun-woo accuses, “You killed Hye-jin, didn’t you? Because she said she wouldn’t do it anymore? Isn’t that right?”
She retorts, “And if that’s true, what’ll you do? Report me?” She adds, “There isn’t any room for choice—hand over the box!”
So-yoon hears back from her investigator that there’s no record of Han So-jung in the village, or even any young woman asking about a birth mother. She’s dejected at the response, though the investigator goes next to Ki-hyun with a more thorough report. Ki-hyun doesn’t instruct the investigator to thwart So-yoon’s requests, but he does ask him not to tell her Ki-hyun wants him to track down her sister’s friends, saying it’s just so she doesn’t get her hopes up.
Woo-jae mulls over the timeline he’s put together, which puts the fight one month before Hye-jin’s disappearance. Sergeant Han reasons that the Seo family would want things covered up, given what they have to lose.
Hye-jin’s mother arrives at the station, shaken and still in disbelief that her child is dead, asking to see the body to make the truth sink in.
Yoo-na arrives at the closed pharmacy just as So-yoon walks by, and So-yoon takes her home since Yoo-na admits to not wanting to go home. Grandma’s back and sure to nag, she says.
Yoo-na’s eyes grow big when she sees the heart necklace So-yoon found, recognizing it as Hye-jin’s. She recalls that Hye-jin was upset when she thought she’d lost it, explaining that it’s from Hye-jin’s childhood—she’d had a matching set with her sister.
Now it’s So-yoon’s turn to be stunned, especially when Yoo-na says the little sister died in a car accident. She goes to the police station just as Hye-jin’s mother is leaving, and once she hears who it is, she races after her to ask if Hye-jin had a sister. Mom replies that Hye-jin was an only child, leaving So-yoon more confused than ever.
She asks Woo-jae to confirm Hye-jin’s date of birth, which is a different month from her sister’s.
Hye-jin’s mother is taken to the morgue, where she is shown Hye-jin’s remains. The shock overcomes her, and she falls to the ground screaming in grief.
That night, Ji-sook informs her husband (sporting those manic eyes) that she needs to have another baby.
Yoo-na goes to bed wearing Hye-jin’s necklace, and as she sleeps, a ghostly hand stretches out over the blanket… reaching up… around her neck…
Sleeping fitfully, Yoo-na finally jerks awake. The hands are gone. Oh god. She coughs, feeling her throat, and turns to see Hye-jin reaching out to her with beseeching eyes.
Yoo-na grasps her hand, then Hye-jin starts to retreat, hand still outstretched, until she disappears into the shadows. Yoo-na opens her hand to find something in her palm. A chip of Hye-jin’s broken fingernail.
Eek! Although Village isn’t as scary as I’d wanted it to be, there’s usually one scene per episode that’s genuinely chilling, and I hope that keeps up. More than scary, though, I’m curious to know what ghost Hye-jin wants, because surely she can’t be showing up to Yoo-na without a reason, right?
True, there were a few eye-rolling moments in this episode (SBS, I sure hope that smartwatch is bringing in bank to compensate for how jarring that PPL is), but mostly I’m intrigued with where we’re headed and happy that the mystery is moving forward, rather that getting stuck on the question of whether Kim Hye-jin is So-yoon’s unni. SHE IS. WE GET IT. CAN WE MOVE ON NOW. It’s a case where the show is being so overt in the storytelling that while it makes sense that the characters are figuring it out step by step, it’s annoying for the audience since we’re so far ahead.
But at least we’re dealing with new questions, such as the shadiness that is the whole Gun-woo and Joo-hee Show. Those two are creepy and enigmatic in the best way, and I enjoy seeing how they navigate their world, all pleasantries on the surface and cold, calculating opportunism on the inside. The veiled references to whatever activity they’d done with Hye-jin hint at something big and creepy (and illegal), and I’m both curious to know what they could have been doing and worried that the reveal won’t be as exciting as the buildup. (Please be exciting!)
I like that we’re seeing more and more characters voicing suspicions about Hye-jin’s killer, and that they’re just as curious as we are. It does clear a few suspects out of the way—Ji-sook and Ki-hyun, for instance, since they don’t know who the killer is—and also hints that they may start turning on each other, which would be really entertaining to watch.
Frankly I find So-yoon to be the least interesting character of the bunch (sadly!), because she seems very simply written and kind of dim (sorry to say), and she’s not really doing much to drive anything. But in the absence of an awesome heroine, I’m thrilled that we have so many multi-faceted other characters filling out the cast, and acted so strongly—Ji-sook, Ki-hyun, Joo-hee, Gun-woo. Even Ga-young, who’s a big ole brat but at least dramatically interesting. If only they could amp up So-yoon’s character…! Come on, Village. You can do it. Every other female in the show is layered and interesting, I’m sure you can find something for your heroine to do!
- Village: Secret of Achiara: Episode 4
- 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