Village: Secret of Achiara: Episode 14
You’ve gotta hand it to Village—it sure doesn’t lack for twists. Some of them are more surprising than others (and some aren’t very surprising at all), but I respect the drama for stocking the show up to the brim with plot, secrets, and ever-changing directions. The characters continue to develop dimensions, and as we head into the final stretch, the big question remains hanging in the air.
A reminder that we only have one episode this week—Village will wrap up next week with Episodes 15 and 16.
SONG OF THE DAY
Lucia – “너의 존재 위에” (On your existence) [ Download ]
EPISODE 14: “The power of horror is strong”
After being knocked out by Agasshi in his laboratory basement, So-yoon wakes up groggy and disoriented. As she makes sense of her surroundings, she sees the IV drip in her arm and starts to panic, but her arms have been strapped to a chair that’s been bolted to the ground.
Agasshi arrives and adjusts the IV, telling her soothingly that she’s about to become happy. He actually sounds like he believes he’s helping her, and So-yoon asks if he did this to her sister too. He says with regret that he couldn’t make her happy before she died, and when she pleads with him to stop because Hye-jin wouldn’t like this, he says that Hye-jin would be fine with it if she knew what it was.
Then he ties a gag around So-yoon’s mouth and waits as her struggles grow weaker, her head lolling as the drugs take effect. Agasshi receives a call and hurries to meet someone, leaving her sitting there, with fragments of childhood memories flitting through her mind.
Fortunately, Woo-jae and Sergeant Han are suspicious of Agasshi and head over, as do the team of detectives who get a fingerprint match identifying Agasshi (from the post office where he was trying to mail out a package as Sweet Boy).
Yoo-na wakes up in the middle of the night and sees So-yoon sleeping in her bed. Hye-jin comes up next to her, covering Yoo-na’s eyes with her hand, both sisters looking ghostly pale. Hye-jin calls So-yoon’s name… and in Agasshi’s lab, that snaps So-yoon out of her drugged daze. She tries to break free of her constraints, struggling so hard against the chair that the bolts start to loosen, rubbing the skin on her wrists raw against the straps.
Woo-jae and Sergeant Han arrive at the house, and hear as So-yoon’s struggling knocks glass to the ground. Once inside, they don’t see or hear much, but they look for a hidden room that might contain a secret lab. Belowground, the bolts finally loosen on So-yoon’s chair, and it tips over with a loud thud, alerting the cops to her presence. They rush to her aid and work her free.
Agasshi heads out to the field to meet the carpenter, who has agreed to finally explain his relationship to Hye-jin. Agasshi already has an idea, and guesses that Hye-jin is his daughter, but he’s eager for the confirmation. The carpenter, however, looks tight and nervous, and when police sirens sound in the distance, he whips out a wooden stick and beats Agasshi over the head with it multiple times.
The police team moves in on Agasshi’s shack, heavily armed and nearly ready to shoot Sergeant Han when he steps into their sights. Soon So-yoon is being attended to by medics, and as she’s loaded into an ambulance, she sees Hye-jin standing nearby, smiling at her.
The police examine the lab for evidence, and Woo-jae finds Hye-jin’s half-burned ID card. One more clue linking him to her death.
Thinking of the last time he saw Hye-jin alive—and the envelope Ji-sook had given her, containing a hospital business card—Ki-hyun goes around collecting all the cards from that hospital, trying to find a match. He finds it, and it turns out that doctor belongs to the organ transplant department.
Agasshi awakens where he fell, and heads back home in the morning, only to find that his house has been turned into a crime scene.
So-yoon is visited by Ki-hyun and Yoo-na in the hospital, and Yoo-na says she was afraid So-yoon had died. Ki-hyun sends his sister out for a moment so he can tell So-yoon what he found out about the transplant center, and shares his hunch that Ji-sook had been planning to donate a kidney after all. But why would she lie about that? So-yoon wonders if there could be a different reason.
Gun-woo visits his father the carpenter, and tells him harshly to leave the town and not to cause any more trouble. The carpenter insists that everything is in the past, and that he doesn’t do “that” anymore—he’s worked hard to build up a new life. Gun-woo challenges him about taking Ga-young home when he found her collapsed in the rain, asking if he really had no intentions toward her.
The carpenter thinks back to that night, when he’d taken her home and set her down, and for a brief moment had looked tempted. But he had stopped himself, and now insists to Gun-woo that he really did nothing. When Gun-woo warns that he’ll report him if he doesn’t leave voluntarily, the carpenter asks if Gun-woo would make his sister (the carpenter’s very young child) a criminal’s child, pleading with him to let this go so he can live a normal life.
Sergeant Han is officially reinstated, which is good timing since every officer in the region is now on the Agasshi case. He and Woo-jae visit So-yoon in the hospital, and she explains how Agasshi spoke of the victims not in terms of killing but as “making them happy.”
Woo-jae explains that Agasshi is suspected of killing Hye-jin, but she feels otherwise, recalling how he had said she died before he could make her happy.
Woo-jae shares this with Detective Choi, who isn’t convinced. Agasshi was something of a stalker with Hye-jin, but that doesn’t disqualify him from being a killer too—it’s entirely possible that he killed her in a different fashion because he thought of her differently, or that she died before he could drug her, or that someone else entirely is to blame. What’s important, he reminds Woo-jae, is that no theory is confirmed, and they shouldn’t jump to conclusions.
Ji-sook brings her husband lunch and sweet-talks him about why he doesn’t want to get rid of her yet, citing all the ways she’s still useful to him. She points out that she’ll be heavily pregnant at the time of his election, and it could be a very good PR opportunity for him.
But Assemblyman Seo has had enough of her manipulations, and says that while he used to think that way, he considers her his biggest liability, even more than Hye-jin. He calls Ji-sook a time bomb waiting to explode, and has even decided he’d rather not run in the election (and be rid of her) than stay in it and potentially be ruined.
Ki-hyun drops by the pharmacy to ask Joo-hee if she knew about Ji-sook donating a kidney to Hye-jin. He also asks with some suspicion why Hye-jin didn’t ask Joo-hee since they’re also sisters—what is their relationship? Joo-hee replies that it must be because she doesn’t share a blood type, and says that Hye-jin was like her—they were both half-sisters with Ji-sook, both deprived of their mother’s love, and both resentful and jealous over it.
The Fabry disease researcher calls So-yoon with some information about that older man patient she was looking for. She hasn’t heard anything official, but because he’s such an unusual case, there’s been talk of his situation through the grapevine. He was diagnosed late in his 40s and has a 7-year-old daughter, and because of the hereditary nature of the disease, the girl has been screened every year for signs of it. Those details are enough to get So-yoon thinking of the carpenter family, which fits the profile.
When she arrives back in town that night, police cars patrol the streets and safety notices are posted. As she walks along, So-yoon is grabbed by someone in the shadows—Agasshi, who makes her promise not to scream before letting go of her.
Far from acting guilty, Agasshi seems as well-meaning as ever, and he says he has information about Hye-jin. She agrees to talk to him but remains on edge as they relocate to her place, asking for his information. Agasshi tells her that he almost got beaten to death by the carpenter last night, and explains that the man had struggled with urges to do “bad things” to women.
He says that the carpenter insisted he didn’t kill Hye-jin, though, and the man never lies. However, his wife has lied—they did live in town when Hye-jin was here. It’s quite likely that Hye-jin’s appearance in the field were meant for the carpenter to see. She tells him he’s a murder suspect because of Hye-jin’s burned belongings found in his possession, and he replies that he merely found them in the woods.
When So-yoon asks if he means to kill her, he exclaims that of course he isn’t—he just wants to make her happy, and tells her about another woman whose face he was able to make smile forever. But he won’t be able to do that anymore, he says with disappointment, because the police took all the drugs he’d worked so hard to make. He promises to create a new batch someday and make her happy then.
She argues that taking life isn’t happiness, but he tells her she enjoyed being drugged. That makes her think back to the brief flashbacks she’d experienced—happy memories of her and Hye-jin as little girls. “When you have such good things, why would you live with sadness, pain, and fear?” he asks.
“Because that’s living,” So-yoon replies. “Because feeling sadness, pain, and fear is of my will. I decide my life with my own will. You have no right to decide things for other people’s lives.”
He swoops in closer and she flinches, but he just touches her hair and marvels at how well she speaks.
She calls the police as soon as Agasshi leaves, and the cops mobilize quickly to track him down. Detective Choi gets pretty close to catching him in an alley, but Agasshi outruns him and hides, managing to evade capture.
Woo-jae and Sergeant Han try to convince her that she needs constant police protection, but So-yoon feels certain that Agasshi doesn’t pose much harm while he’s out of drugs.
So-yoon visits the lumber mill the next day, and encounters the carpenter’s little girl, Da-in, outside. There’s something curious about the childhood ditty Da-in sings, and the girl explains that her Dad sings the song all the time.
So-yoon wastes no time getting to the point with the carpenter about kidnapping Ga-young, and he insists on his innocence. She warns him fiercely that he can’t cover this up like he did two years ago: “My sister couldn’t do it, but I will.”
She leaves as the carpenter’s wife arrives, who is immediately alarmed at the thought that So-yoon knows everything.
Ga-young is still in bad shape in the hospital, and her kidneys have worsened to the point where she may need a transplant. Ga-young’s mother is grateful to Gun-woo, who has offered to be tested for a match; she doesn’t know of their kinship, and thinks he’s just a very thoughtful teacher.
So-yoon knows better, though, and it’s enough to connect the dots for her. She confronts Gun-woo about being a half-sibling to Ga-young, Hye-jin, and little Da-in, asking accusingly whether he knew of his father’s crimes all this while.
Gun-woo explains not having much contact with his father growing up, having been raised by his grandmother, and says he first heard of everything from Hye-jin. So-yoon asks if he meant to hide it forever. He asks if she could find it easy to reveal the truth.
Assemblyman Seo informs Ki-hyun of his intentions to divorce his wife, and prepares to liquidate his stocks, knowing she won’t go quietly. Despite everything, Ki-hyun is still on Ji-sook’s side, appalled that his father would cast her aside so easily, and asks what she did that was so bad that he would just get rid of her.
Assemblyman Seo mutters that he’s undergone a lot because of “her lousy daughter,” then catches himself and adds that he means that damned mother who had those three lousy daughters, Ji-sook, Joo-hee, and Hye-jin. Hm, was that actually a slip of the tongue?
Joo-hee argues with Gun-woo’s decision to give up a kidney for Ga-young, not wanting news to become public that he is a rapist’s son. Gun-woo argues back that So-yoon knows the truth and is determined to reveal it—and he’s of like mind. If she’s ashamed of his connection to his father, then they can break up cleanly.
Joo-hee’s taken aback at that, and then blurts, “Do you know who Hye-jin’s mother is?” Ah. There IS more to the story.
On Grandma’s instruction, Ji-sook goes to the temple to offer up prayers to soothe the deceased soul—and the plaque tells us that it’s for “Yoon Ji-sook’s daughter Kim Hye-jin.” AHA. Furthermore, Grandma’s name is on it, meaning she knows too.
When Ji-sook reads the words, she flings the plaque aside in alarm.
Ki-hyun suggests that So-yoon call the organ transplant center—the one whose card Hye-jin had—and pose as Hye-jin to get information about Ji-sook’s consultation. The answer makes her eyes widen. “My mother?”
Ji-sook’s face crumples and her hands shake. We flash back to the day Hye-jin was born, which we first saw through Joo-hee’s eyes. Now we see Ji-sook’s mother coming upon a young Ji-sook drawing outside, stopping in alarm to see the blood staining her dress. A baby screams nearby, and Ji-sook says calmly, “It’s a monster.”
In the present, Ji-sook shakes her head in denial, screaming, “No! That’s not it!” She breaks down in sobs, and then falls unconscious.
Woo-jae finds that the carpenter has two prior offenses on his record, dating back a decade to when he (and Agasshi) lived in Jeju. One was an attempted rape and the other a suspected one, but the latter case was dropped with eyewitness testimony absolving him—testimony from Agasshi. Next up: check his alibi.
Ji-sook returns home in full possession of her composure, to Grandma’s surprise. She turns this around on Grandma, saying that Hye-jin told her filthy lies, and hints that Grandma may be going senile.
Woo-jae and Sergeant Han ask for the carpenter’s alibi during the time Hye-jin went missing. The carpenter shows them a photo taken near that weekend when the family had attended a musical performance, and checking with the production company confirms that the family had left Achiara the day before Hye-jin was presumed to be killed (currently her last morning alive was September 15). While it’s possible the carpenter drove back to town the next day, there’s no proof of it.
It takes a bit of wheedling and pestering, but Woo-jae gets Detective Choi to agree to issue a warrant.
So-yoon confronts Ji-sook about being Hye-jin’s true birth mother. Ji-sook denies it, of course, but So-yoon says the transplant center employee recalled the situation very clearly, because it was so unusual for a woman to be someone’s mother but insist on keeping that relationship off the books.
So-yoon says she isn’t here to argue about why Ji-sook denied Hye-jin or lied. She merely wants to understand why Hye-jin would have been so sad after her mother finally agreed to help her.
That sets Ji-sook off: “Mother? Who’s her mother? Do you think I had a even fingernail’s worth of pity for that child and agreed to give her a kidney over that? Never in a million years. If I could get rid of her, I could have cut off my arms and legs! That’s how bloodcurdlingly scary she was!” Her face shrivels in disgust as she exclaims how repulsive Hye-jin was to her. “Do you think she was human? She’s a monster.”
Agasshi shows up at the carpenter’s house that night, borrowing a suit and taking the money he’s given this time. He asks if he beat him the other night because he didn’t want to admit to being Hye-jin’s father, and the carpenter admits that Agasshi scared him, when all he’s trying to do is live normally.
Ga-young wakes up in the hospital, for just long enough to tell her mother that she’s sorry. Moments later, the monitors beep as her vitals spike, and her mother watches in shock as a team of doctors attempts to revive her. She flatlines.
Yoo-na dreams again, and this time it’s Ga-young who shows up to hold out a hand and wave goodbye.
Yoo-na wakes with a gasp, and somehow looking at the wooden box she bought from the carpenter makes her wonder, “Grandma?” (Her mother’s mother.)
Ji-sook’s mother tells her nurse, “Tell my granddaughter I want to see her.”
Ga-young’s mother walks into the police station, blank-eyed and grief-stricken, and tells the officers she wants to report the man who attacked her nineteen years ago.
Ji-sook drives Yoo-na to the nursing home, seeming quite tired today. When Yoo-na asks if she’s ill, she answers that she is, and Yoo-na takes her hand and tells her not to be sick.
Ji-sook’s mother is quite lucid as she greets Yoo-na, and when Ji-sook steps aside, she asks Yoo-na about “that thing” she has containing a mirror. Yoo-na’s startled that Grandma knows about it, and Grandma tells her she must give it to So-yoon.
So Yoo-na gives that wooden box to So-yoon that night, not really understanding why but explaining that her grandmother instructed her to.
As she sits in her apartment, So-yoon hears a voice calling out to her, almost like it’s coming from the box, whispering, “Save me.” She moves closer to the box—and sees a figure in the mirror. She whirls to face Hye-jin.
Aghhh with the mirror ghost reflections! There’s just something so spine-tingling about that horror trope, and I can’t help feeling chills every time it’s used. Shudder.
Most Village episodes have featured a pretty brisk pace and a steady stream of revelations, but I thought this episode really stepped it up, bringing together the many pieces in an emotionally resonant way. I do wish the Ji-sook revelation were more of a surprise, but even without the surprise factor, I like what it does with the story and where it takes Ji-sook’s character so the complaint is a mere quibble.
Ji-sook is such a fascinating character (not to mention thoughtfully portrayed by Shin Eun-kyung), and written with such intricacy that the revelation fits perfectly with what we know of her character. She’s so tightly laced and controlled that you can feel the pressure simmering under the surface, and she is exactly as her husband described with reference to a ticking time bomb. Even her facade of placidity felt charged with energy—manic, suppressed, and dangerous. Her tactic in dealing with minor disruptions (say, Yoo-na’s rebelliousness) has been to ignore it and steamroll over it until she can pretend it never happened, so it’s completely fitting that she would have coped with her trauma by shoving it deep in the back of her mind, refusing to let it out to hurt her—but also, by extension, refusing to let it heal, either.
I do wonder whether she’s been able to fool herself into forgetting the rape all these years, or if she’s been consciously aware and just refusing to admit it. It looks likely that teenage Ji-sook had been more of the former, not even realizing she was pregnant until the baby came, her mind having denied the attack. But her adult denial seems more forced, and her revulsion for Hye-jin as the Other Woman suddenly makes more sense in context of seeing her as a disgusting monster, born of an atrocity.
There’s an interesting parallel with Ji-sook’s denial and Agasshi’s, since both of them seem able to convince themselves of a truth so far removed from reality that it must be pathological. Perhaps it’s an accidental irony that both are tied to Hye-jin but in opposite ways, one desperate to get rid of her and the other wanting to make her happy forever. Agasshi almost feels worse, though—or at least, more dangerous—in that he’s so far beyond reason that you can’t even get him to see reason. If Ji-sook is a time bomb, Agasshi is a loose cannon, ready to fire in random directions without warning. Ji-sook may be destructive when she’s got you in her sights, but Agasshi can destroy when he’s trying to help. With these two nearby, Hye-jin never even had a chance.
- Village: Secret of Achiara: Episode 13
- Village: Secret of Achiara: Episode 12
- Village: Secret of Achiara: Episode 11
- Village: Secret of Achiara: Episode 10
- Village: Secret of Achiara: Episode 9
- Village: Secret of Achiara: Episode 8
- Village: Secret of Achiara: Episode 7
- Village: Secret of Achiara: Episode 6
- Village: Secret of Achiara: Episode 5
- Village: Secret of Achiara: Episode 4
- Village: Secret of Achiara: Episode 3
- Village: Secret of Achiara: Episode 2
- Village: Secret of Achiara: Episode 1