Village: Secret of Achiara: Episode 7
Ah, I feel like our characters are finally catching up to speed with the rest of us, now that they’re putting together answers to some of our biggest questions. Next up is figuring out the whys of it all, as some serious doubts crop up and loyalties come into question. The problem with this town isn’t in figuring out who’s guilty of the crime, but rather, who’s guilty of which crime, since it’s starting to look like everybody’s got their fingers in some kind of shadiness. Maybe the reason there’s been no crime in Achiara in the last ten years is because everybody’s too busy covering their own ass to bother reporting anyone else? Just a theory.
SONG OF THE DAY
풋풋 (Fresh Girls) – “Mom” [ Download ]
EPISODE 7: “Mom, Save Me”
The storm worsens as Hye-jin’s funeral continues, and the power suddenly cuts out. Full-fledged panic breaks out when the villagers see the red writing on the wall, “MOM SAVE ME,” which looks like it’s dripping blood.
While everything swirls in chaos, So-yoon is the only one who notices that Yoo-na looks curiously unperturbed.
The storm clears, just as Agasshi arrives at the lumber mill.
Hye-jin’s mother collapses in shock, and is taken away in an ambulance. So-yoon overhears Yoo-na grumbling that the mother never cared about her daughter when she was alive. Then she clocks the red stains on Ba-woo’s shirt and the scrapes on his hand. Blood?
Agasshi asks about the lumber mill and the new lock on its gate, and the apartment landlord explains that the owner is back, intending to use the mill as a workshop. As the funeral car drives by, the landlord sighs about the latest disturbance.
An examination of the church wall reveals that the graffiti had been covered with a banner. One yank of a connecting string is all it took to reveal it at the right moment. Problem is, the church’s security cameras have been broken for months so they can’t see who pulled the prank.
A separate call comes in from a nearby shopowner, whose materials were stolen—specifically, a fresh can of red paint. Woo-jae declares it evidence, showing how the color matches the paint in the church by smearing it on a wall (and getting yelled at by the owner in the process).
Ji-sook prepares medicine for herself and her mother-in-law, explaining that they’ve started the in vitro fertilization process. Her mother-in-law scoffs at the ridiculousness of Assemblyman Seo having another child at his age, but Ji-sook promises to give her a grandson she’d adore, “not a daughter like Yoo-na.”
That’s when Yoo-na comes home, and Grandma calls for a bowl of salt, hurling it at Yoo-na to ward off her bad mojo. Yoo-na says defiantly that the ghosts told her that salt doesn’t hurt them, then asks if Grandma’s scared at the memory of Grandpa’s funeral—when that dead grandma showed up. “Don’t worry,” Yoo-na says while her mother’s eyes bug out anxiously, “Grandpa and that grandma are living well in the other world.”
Ji-sook begs Grandma to calm down and let it go, saying that Yoo-na’s words mean nothing because she’s just acting out. Then she storms up to confront Yoo-na, who scoffs at the idea of a woman getting that worked up over her husband’s mistress. Ji-sook declares that yes, women do hate the mistress, “Enough to kill.” She warns Yoo-na never to speak to Grandma of that woman again.
Yoo-na shows her mother the picture of the church graffiti, but it’s something else that makes Ji-sook recoil—suddenly, she sees a little girl standing in Yoo-na’s place, asking, “Mommy, why did you kill my little sibling?” She struggles to get a grip on herself, and when Yoo-na says she thinks Hye-jin was behind the graffiti message and asks why she’d do it, Ji-sook says she must have felt wronged.
So-yoon reviews the old episode of the program (Unusual People, Unusual Stories) featuring the Phantom Baby Mom, who would show up every day at the courthouse to protest her child being stolen from her. Recalling how the woman had said she and So-yoon were on TV together, she scans the episode for anything that might explain the comment. She pauses at a scene from the hospital, squinting at a figure that’s too blurry to make out.
She calls the program, and while the producer doesn’t take her very seriously, everyone snaps to alert when she gives her hunch: The infamous Achiara corpse was on their show.
That gets her access to the show’s video archive, and a producer recalls that while everyone was unnerved by the crazy Phantom Baby Mom, there was one woman who seemed to sympathize with her. They review footage from the hospital, where a woman assists in feeding the woman—it’s Hye-jin. So-yoon wells up in tears.
Woo-jae dusts the stolen paint can for fingerprints, and successfully lifts a few. So-yoon finds him at the station and shares her latest discovery, and it makes him wonder: If Hye-jin is her sister, who is Hye-jin’s mother in the hospital?
Upon arrival at the hospital, they find the woman gone, with only a note left behind saying that she has sent off her daughter and will also be leaving. Sounds like a suicide note, and the only clue they have is that she asked for a nearby water source and was directed to the lake.
They immediately head to the lake, calling in for emergency services. Sure enough, Hye-jin’s mother is there, and she wades in fully clothed, calling out to “my baby” Hye-jin and saying she’ll join her now. She walks until she’s submerged underwater and it doesn’t look like the rescue team will arrive in time—but then a hand grabs her and drags her up to the surface. Agasshi?
He pulls her to shore and delivers CPR, until she coughs up water. She gasps, “Hye-jin… I killed her.”
The rescue team arrives to take over, and Agasshi tells So-yoon and Woo-jae what she just said. It’s puzzling, but then, what in this town isn’t?
Hye-jin’s mother’s sister sheds some light on the situation. Mom had a daughter named Hye-jin who died in her teens, swept away in a swift current before Mom’s eyes and never found. Mom had blamed herself and been unable to accept the death fully, and she later took in a girl who worked at her store as a daughter, though the sister hadn’t known Mom had given her Hye-jin’s identity. She vaguely recalls that that adopted daughter was a runaway orphan, named something like So-jung. Well, that’s one mystery solved.
Another mystery is what Hye-jin’s mother had meant when she’d asked Woo-jae if seeing a decomposed body would help accept her daughter’s death. She must have meant her first daughter, whose death never felt real without the body.
Confirming her sister’s identity leaves So-yoon feeling subdued, and Woo-jae offers her a few comforting words. She asks him to be sure to find who killed her sister, and he promises.
A new crime scene is discovered in a different city, and police descend upon an empty construction site where a woman’s body has been found. Ah, back to the serial killer case, with this being the seventh victim. The lead detective on the case is pulled aside by Police Chief Park, who asks for a favor. He’s being pressured by Assemblyman Seo to drop Hye-jin’s murder case but can’t outright close it, and it looks ridiculous to keep the petty officers at the local substation in charge. So he wants Detective Choi to take the case as a mere formality: Don’t do any work on the hopeless case, just preserve the illusion that the police are investigating. Detective Choi agrees reluctantly, saying he’s only going to be active on the serial murder case.
So-yoon’s request instills new vigor into Woo-jae, who melodramatically declares himself to feel a heart-rending pain to see So-yoon’s struggle. He manages to track down Assemblyman Seo’s former driver to the farm where he now makes his living, asking what he knows.
The ex-driver says he doesn’t know much, saying that the assemblyman took extra care and he barely ever saw Hye-jin. The officers don’t believe him, noting that he must have won the lottery to so quickly rise out of debt and establish such a nice big farm. Sergeant Han says they researched his background and asks point-blank if the farm was a reward for killing Hye-jin for him. What was his alibi two years ago during the Chuseok holiday?
The ex-driver sticks to his story, but the minute they’re gone he puts in a panicked call saying that the cops may put him on the hook for a murder.
Unfortunately for those cops, their boss is unwilling to entertain their theories, no matter how suspiciously the facts line up. He orders them to give up the case on the police chief’s order, and barks at Woo-jae to clean up that paint can, since the church graffiti won’t be pursued either. With a grumble, Woo-jae starts to take the can away, but spills it instead… and mixed in among the leftover paint is something strange and stringy.
Ki-hyun does some digging into the school’s recent activity and presents his findings to Teacher Park, who was part of hiring So-yoon and has been reporting to pharmacist Joo-hee. Curiously, the listing for an English teacher that So-yoon responded to was only sent to her school in Canada—all the other job postings were canceled. They’d eliminated three qualified applicants who came before So-yoon, which looks an awful lot like they were luring her specifically.
Teacher Park laughs it off nervously, but Ki-hyun wonders if she was paid and demands to know who’s pulling the strings, threatening her with charges of fraud and bribery. She’s definitely rattled, but holds firm and challenges him to go ahead, saying she’s clear of wrongdoing. Ki-hyun looks up her resumé and sees that she’s the chair of Green Child Services.
That’s the name on a container in Joo-hee’s pharmacy, where she receives an angry late-night visit from Ba-woo’s father, who has heard Yoo-na’s suspicions and accuses her of feeding his child strange medications. Joo-hee calmly shows him the prescription and explains each effect, saying she’d have no reason to do anything to Ba-woo.
But his father says Ba-woo saw her with the dead art teacher before she disappeared, and even knows that she threatened to get Ba-woo’s father fired if he said anything about it. She’s unnerved that he knows, but says she told Ba-woo to be quiet to prevent unnecessary misunderstandings, swearing that the medicine is only to help him. Dad doesn’t seem ready to let this go, so Joo-hee asks what it’ll take to make it better.
So-yoon picks up Hye-jin’s framed painting, and the framer ajusshi hands her the envelope that had been hidden in a false backing. So-yoon flips through the papers, puzzled.
She’s called over to the station by Woo-jae, who hands her the object that was in the paint. So-yoon confirms that it looks like Yoo-na’s bracelet, and now recalls seeing Ba-woo smeared in red at the church. Woo-jae takes it for a childish prank and decides the children need a talking-to, and So-yoon offers to talk to Yoo-na.
She also shows him what she found in Hye-ijn’s painting, which turns out to be DNA results confirming a maternal line. She thinks it means Hye-jin found her mother before her death, but Woo-jae clarifies that the results point to sisters or an aunt-niece. That means Hye-jin likely found a half-sister who shared her mother, who lived in this village. And since this was a few years ago, he doesn’t mean So-yoon.
Cutting to Ga-young is rather suggestive, isn’t it? She calls Gun-woo looking anxious, and on the other end, Joo-hee sees the call.
Ji-sook broaches the subject of sending Yoo-na to boarding school in response to her increasing rebelliousness, telling her husband that “your daughter” is threatening the health of “my son” (the one she hasn’t conceived yet). Assemblyman Seo points out that Yoo-na is her daughter too, putting the kibosh on the suggestion straightaway.
At school, rumors fly and students eye So-yoon with morbid curiosity, even asking in class whether the dead body is actually her unni. So-yoon confirms it, then pulls Yoo-na aside to confront her about the church vandalism. Yoo-na denies any involvement, but when So-yoon accuses her of ruining Hye-jin’s funeral and making a mockery of her final passage, Yoo-na insists that she did it because Hye-jin asked her to.
She tells her about the night Hye-jin came to her in her dream, and this time, we see Hye-jin’s mouth fill with blood, and hear her whispering, “Save me… mother… please…” Yoo-na insists that her senses are never wrong, and that Hye-jin wanted her to return the necklace to So-yoon—which, with the revelation of their sisterhood, had to have been accurate.
But So-yoon tells her firmly that her actions won’t be let go with excuses, and Ji-sook is called to the church. She apologizes profusely and promises to repay the church, but the minister says he doesn’t want punishment, only for Yoo-na to own up to what she’s done. Yoo-na apologizes, though she just says it was a prank to scare people.
Once they’re alone, Ji-sook tells Yoo-na that she’s going to have a son soon, and begs/threatens Yoo-na to please let her have some peace. But as she walks away, she hears a little girl’s voice (child Yoo-na, I presume), asking, “If you don’t like [it/her], are you going to kill [it] again?”
Ji-sook turns, confused, seeing only Yoo-na there, and accuses her of saying it. When Yoo-na says in surprise that she hadn’t said a word, Ji-sook looks upset and worried.
Woo-jae’s friend calls in with an update, and it’s been so long that his findings aren’t helpful to the case. However, he does relay one curious fact—that somebody else was making the same inquiries into Hye-jin’s old schoolmates, and that somebody was supposedly So-yoon.
She wonders about that, but soon realizes who that could be, and meets with Ki-hyun. He asks if the police see anything differently now that Hye-jin was revealed to be So-jung, and she asks in a hard voice, “And what is it that changes with you, to have Kim Hye-jin revealed as Han So-jung?”
Having checked with the inquiry service, she asks why Ki-hyun already confirmed her sister’s identity but kept it hidden from her.
Ji-sook assists Grandma with physical therapy and massages her feet, sweet-talking her as she broaches the topic of sending Yoo-na away. Grandma isn’t averse to the idea, but it’ll require persuasion for Assemblyman Seo to agree to, and Ji-sook angles for Grandma to help.
In the distance, Yoo-na hears her mother trying to send her away and holds back hurt, angry tears.
Ki-hyun says he didn’t tell So-yoon the truth for her own good, which is an answer she heartily disdains. But he points out that once the affair was discovered, not a single soul blamed his father—while Hye-jin would have borne the brunt of everyone’s scorn. She points out that the funeral was filled with villagers, but Ki-hyun replies that the village is full of warm-hearted souls who find pitying the dead an easy task. “Don’t be moved by cheap pity,” he warns.
She asks if she’s supposed to be moved by his act of concern, and he apologizes for being short-sighted, saying he just wanted to avoid putting her in an uncomfortable situation. She isn’t convinced that’s the whole of it, and intends to find Hye-jin’s half-sister, even if that results in uncomfortable situations. Ki-hyun looks stricken to hear it, and I’d guess he has a good idea who that sister might be.
Agasshi returns to the lumber mill, locked up with a shiny new padlock. He leaves a note on the gate, which gets read by an older man that night: “I know you’ve returned. Please call me.” The man tosses the note, then unlocks the gate and heads inside.
Ki-hyun’s face looks thunderous after his talk with So-yoon, and as he drives back to town, he sees Gun-woo leaving the pharmacy. Something about it makes his eyes widen in shock.
Ga-young’s mother hears the news report of the seventh victim being found in their province, and it makes her look extra worried. She immediately calls Ga-young in worry, who snaps that she’ll be home soon and that she won’t be caught by a serial killer.
She’s waiting outside Gun-woo’s building, and catches him on his way in. He looks far from pleased to see her, but she insists that she’s a grown-up now and he can like her freely, and nobody will say anything about her being his student. It seems like the feelings are lopsided, though, because he says he has no feelings for her. When she threatens to tell his secret and what he did to her that day (in the car), he tells her to go ahead, since he did nothing.
The cold rejection leaves Ga-young fuming, and she grabs a nearby brick and slams it into his windshield. She storms off shaking in anger, muttering about revenge, and barrels right into a man and falls to the ground. Seeing Agasshi spooks her and she runs off in a hurry.
So-yoon’s story strikes the TV producer as a fantastic basis for a broadcast, with all the seeming coincidences that led her to discovering her sister’s identity and the Phantom Baby Mom and Achiara’s corpse. They put out a request on the show asking for information relating to illegal adoptions in Achiara thirty years ago, which has the town buzzing immediately.
Ga-young’s mother beelines for Joo-hee, saying that they’re looking for an adoption broker in Achiara.
Yoo-na shows up at So-yoon’s door, saying her mother is trying to get rid of her. She explains that when she was five, she saw her dead sibling inside Mom’s belly—that was the start of her ghost-seeing ability. “That’s also the start of Mom hating me, because I know her secret.”
So-yoon tries to console her, but Yoo-na says that she’s not like Hye-jin, who believed her. It’s what prompted her to paint that picture of the mother and child: “Does that mother still look like she loves her baby to you?”
So-yoon takes a look at the picture. Wait, is that a knife in the painting?
Agasshi takes out his telephoto lens and starts snapping photographs of the lumber mill—at least, what he can see beyond its tall metal gate.
At the hospital, Ji-sook continues with her in vitro procedures.
And over at the mill, the ajusshi embraces a little girl lovingly.
Yoo-na tells So-yoon that the mother is trying to kill her baby, “because she doesn’t need it.” And then, So-yoon sees the knife in the mother’s hand.
Ooh, I like the detail with the hidden dagger, since it had definitely been shown to us before and most of our eyes just glazed over it. I definitely disagreed with So-yoon finding the painting warm and loving, but not for anything having to do with that little Easter egg—just, you know, that lady looked creepy.
But hearing Yoo-na explain what she knows casts a wholly new light on it, though it remains to be seen exactly what her mother’s secret is. I don’t believe Ji-sook would kill her child in cold blood, which makes me wonder if it’s some kind of secret abortion, although with her fixation on having children to secure her place in the family, I would think she would be eager to have more pregnancies. In any case, the loss of a child (whether real or even imagined) explains some of Ji-sook’s intense fixation on having a child now, as though it would solve her problems. It’s not wholly unlike Hye-jin’s mother shifting feelings of guilt from one child to another, or finding closure through that same property of transference.
I wonder if the illegal adoption ring is going to be our big secret; it seems plausible, given the shift of the story and the inclusion of the television program. I’m not sure how I feel about that, because while it is a big deal, it feels less interesting than the murder angle, or the touches of ghostly and paranormal occurrences. It does give us more of a chance to mine the whole mother motif, since we have a lot of interesting dynamics going on, and a wide range of relationships. And I like that a drama’s taking a more complex look at what is a complex relationship (so often, issues of parenthood are reduced to good parents and bad parents, absent/abusive ones versus loving/present ones).
I’m still wondering at Hye-jin’s “Save me, Mom” message to Yoo-na means, and which mother she’s referring to. Hye-jin embodies a whole lot of our mother motifs, from the birth mother who gave her up to the adoptive mother who died, the grandmother who abandoned her, and the new mother who used her as a replacement. Plus, there’s the fact that Hye-jin remembered raising her little sister “like a mother,” and that she befriended a child with issues of mother strife. Is the cry to someone specific, or a general lament to a world that abandoned her?
Then we have So-yoon being drawn to Achiara intentionally—we don’t know who’s behind it, but we’ve seen Teacher Park report to Joo-hee so there’s a good chance our creepy pharmacist is a major player. But she looked alarmed to have attention drawn to the issue of illegal Achiara adoptions, in which case, why would she have brought So-yoon here?
Lots of questions, lots of episodes left to answer them in.
Also, the show released this map of Achiara, which informs us of all the major landmarks in town. Click to enlarge: