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Village: Secret of Achiara: Episode 15

Just when I thought we’d all had Village figured out, the drama throws in a curveball, and it’s a doozy. You won’t hear me complaining about tossing in a late-game twist, since my concern was that there was too little mystery heading into the finale, with most of the clues being revealed to the audience while we waited for the characters to catch up.

The show hasn’t always been the most surprising, but I appreciate that it’s worked very hard to keep the story moving—not an easy feat, when so much of the plot happens in the past. It makes me curious to see what explanations are in store for us tomorrow, with only one hour left to go.

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Stella Jang – “뒷모습” (Appearance from behind) [ Download ]

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EPISODE 15: “Murderer”

So-yoon is drawn to the wooden box given to her by Yoo-na, and when she looks up in the mirror, she sees Hye-jin’s ghost in the reflection. She whirls to face her, and sees that the box is now in front of Hye-jin, and when she runs a finger across the lid, the nail breaks. So-yoon snaps awake—it was a dream.

She gets up to see the box lying where she left it, but now notices something in the pattern—right where Hye-jin broke her nail, it looks like an actual fingernail is embedded in the wood.

Ji-sook comes home to see a mountain of luggage in the entryway, and the maid informs her that Grandma wants her to move out. Ji-sook takes this about as well as you’d expect, and storms in to confront Grandma, screaming that she’s not leaving this house.

Her rage pushes her so far that she drops all pretense of respect and uses the lowest banmal to tell Grandma that she should be the one to leave.

Grandma is so stunned that she stiffens and gasps, and as Ji-sook looms over her, it seems as though she might even start to choke her. But Ki-hyun enters the room and rushes to Grandma’s side, and Ji-sook quickly composes herself. He may have missed the worst of it, but Ki-hyun has seen enough and stares up at her with horrified eyes.

The shock actually causes a cerebral hemorrhage, which kills Grandma. Ji-sook is overcome with emotion and begs Grandma to wake up, but neither Ki-hyun nor Assemblyman Seo look convinced by her distress.

So-yoon visits the craft shop and talks to the sales clerk about the patterning in the designs, which is created from a mix of bark and chips. She casually mentions the likelihood of a fingernail getting mixed in, and the clerk confirms that it could easily happen while woodworking. He points at the date written on the box, indicating that it was completed two years ago, on September 27. (Currently, Hye-jin’s death is pegged at around September 15.) She asks how long the carpenter would have worked on this box, and is told about two to three weeks. Very curious timing, that.

The carpenter’s wife comes out to join them, asking rather aggressively why So-yoon wants to know about the box. So-yoon shakes her off and says she was just curious, but the woman looks worried.

After Ga-young’s mother decides to report her long-ago-suffered attack, our two cops return to the lumber mill to confront the carpenter about his past crimes, laying out their suspicions—that he suffers the same genetic disease Ga-young had, that he raped her mother 19 years ago, that he raped another woman 32 years ago, that he raped a victim and got caught for it in Jeju.

But the carpenter argues hotly that there’s no proof of any of their accusations, that they cannot have seen his medical records, that they’re accusing him of crimes well past their statute of limitations, and that they’re not acting within legal bounds. Unfortunately, all of this is true. They have to leave empty-handed, to Woo-jae’s frustration.

Ji-sook wastes no time clearing out Grandma’s things, which further upsets Ki-hyun. She tells him briskly that there’s no use waiting on it, but notices that he’s now looking at her quite differently.

Agasshi dresses in a sharp suit to disguise himself, as he’s now one of Achiara’s most wanted, with signs posted in public with his picture.

So-yoon tells Woo-jae and Sergeant Han about her latest discovery, explaining that the box contains Hye-jin’s fingernail, which would prove that she was at the mill right before she died. Sergeant Han points out that they can hardly request a forensic exam on the fingernail on the grounds that she had a dream and saw a ghost.

She gets more concrete facts from Ga-young’s mother, whom she visits next. Ga-young’s mother has decided to leave Achiara, saying that she isn’t strong like Hye-jin and able to put up a fight on her own. She also recalls that Hye-jin called her before her death—her number was the last one in Hye-jin’s cell phone records—and mentioned going to fight one out with the monster.

Ki-hyun steps in when Ji-sook starts to scold Yoo-na for forgetting to pass along a message, and broaches the topic of taking Yoo-na back to the States to live with him. But she turns him down, wanting to stay with Ji-sook: “Because Mom is my mom.”

Ji-sook drops in to see Ki-hyun, understanding that he’s distanced himself from her. She confesses that she was Yoo-na’s age when she had Hye-jin, and desperately wanted to erase it from her life. That’s why she clung to the desire to live happily and well—so when Hye-jin showed up in her life, she was thrown into terrible old feelings. She says she didn’t do everything just to protect her cushy life—it was because she was legitimately terrified of her.

Ki-hyun’s expression remains stone-faced, and she adds that he can’t begin to imagine how she felt, and that when she saw that Grandma had packed her things, it’s like her mind went blank. She doesn’t even remember what happened or what she did—all she remembers is that terrified feeling. She tells him she’s not defending herself or saying she did the right thing, but even if it were to happen again, she wouldn’t be able to react any other way.

It’s clear Ki-hyun doesn’t want to be moved by her, but he’s not entirely cold, though he tries to keep up a stiff demeanor.

The police get confirmation of the carpenter’s car passing certain toll gates on the day of Hye-jin’s death which confirm that he had returned to Achiara. They confront him with the logs just as his wife comes into the room, and the couple exchanges quick looks before the carpenter blurts that he returned—alone. Ah, he’s totally covering for the wife, isn’t he?

He insists he didn’t see Hye-jin, though, and the cops ask why he returned to the workshop. He says it was to pick up a project he was working on, and flips through his record book to show them a picture—and his wife jumps in to grab the book, saying that he only came to pick up materials.

It’s entirely suspicious, and Sergeant Han insists on seeing book—it’s So-yoon’s box.

Woo-jae takes this to Detective Choi, who scoffs at the far-fetched explanation of the dream and the ghost… but then sighs that he’ll okay the forensic exam.

The carpenter only now learns from his wife that she’d driven back to the workshop that day—all this while, she’d lied that she’d visited family. But he realizes what this means and decides firmly, “You weren’t here.” She starts to protest, but he argues that he’s already sick, and she has to take care of their daughter. So he’ll take the fall.

The lab results confirm what we’ve suspected: It is in fact Hye-jin’s fingernail in that box. That’s enough to secure a warrant, and they return to arrest the carpenter for Hye-jin’s murder.

So-yoon fills Ki-hyun in on her theory of how Ji-sook reacted to her rape and pregnancy with denial, refusing to connect the baby with herself, which is why some rape victims even kill their newborns. It fits with Ji-sook calling Hye-jin a monster, like she’s something foreign to herself. She speaks of Ji-sook with some sympathy now, and when Ki-hyun worries about Ji-sook’s connection becoming public knowledge, So-yoon assures him that the police will make sure that doesn’t leak.

That’s when Woo-jae calls to inform her of the arrest. Currently, the carpenter sits in the interrogation room, and confesses to the killing. As he tells his story (I’m presuming some of it is fabricated), we see it in flashback:

The carpenter first met Hye-jin at a gathering of Fabry disease sufferers, then ran into her in town. But when he’d told her that Achiara was his hometown, Hye-jin had started to put the pieces together, suspecting him. Soon thereafter, she confronted him in his workshop, asking point-blank if he’d raped a young girl 32 years ago.

Following that, Hye-jin pestered the carpenter at every opportunity to turn himself in, threatening to reveal the truth if he didn’t. She’d shown up repeatedly in that field outside the mill, staring defiantly at the carpenter, who grew increasingly nervous and jittery. He swears to Detective Choi that he’d mended his ways and lived an honest life for years—and she showed up to ruin it all.

He’d begged Hye-jin to leave him alone and let bygones be bygones, arguing that it was all in the past. That had angered Hye-jin, who asked if his family was the only one that mattered—what about all the lives he trampled on with his actions? The argument had escalated and he had grabbed her, choking her in his workshop.

With the confession given, the lumber mill is taken over by the police, who inspect it for evidence. So-yoon relays the message to Ki-hyun that the police will make sure Ji-sook’s name is left out of the case.

Ji-sook takes Yoo-na shopping for a mother-daughter date, doting on her and apologizing for sending her to the hospital, promising to never do that again. Yoo-na smiles with happy tears, glad to have her nice mother back, and Ji-sook assures her that she could never hate her, “my one and only daughter.”

They arrive home in high spirits, and Ki-hyun tells Ji-sook that the criminal was caught. The news rattles her, but he passes on the assurance that her story won’t get out, telling her that it’s all over now.

Gun-woo packs up his belongings, having resigned his post and readying to leave, although it’s not to leave with Joo-hee, as she wants. She tries to persuade him to go with her, inventing new identities with her new wealth (from the school) and embarking on new lives together. But he argues that as long as they’re together, they won’t be able to live new lives, being weighed down with the past. He won’t ever be able to see her without thinking of Hye-jin or Achiara, and that’s why it’s better for them to split up.

Agasshi, still decked out in his smart disguise, reads about the carpenter’s arrest in the paper.

So-yoon meets with Joo-hee to request the full, unvarnished truth, pointing out that Joo-hee’s never given it to her before. So Joo-hee tells her what she knows, that Ji-sook had shot herself in the foot by trying to rid herself of Hye-jin initially by informing her of her mother’s hysterectomy. She thought that would be enough to convince Hye-jin she was barking up the wrong tree, not knowing that Hye-jin had already had a DNA test run on herself and Yoo-na, proving kinship. So if Ji-sook’s mother wasn’t who she was looking for, then it could only be Ji-sook or Joo-hee.

Joo-hee recounts how soon thereafter, she’d had a visit from her estranged mother, and it had made her light up in happiness… until her mother had told her the truth about Ji-sook giving birth to Hye-jin.

Joo-hee hadn’t known the truth until then, and her mother had argued that Ji-sook would lose everything—so she asked Joo-hee to say she was the mother, no matter that she’d only been ten at the time. “You have nothing to lose,” her mother had said, “You can just keep living. We have to save your sister!”

That had hurt, and Joo-hee explains how deep the pain runs when your mother loves her children differently. So she had decided then to do exactly the opposite as her mother wanted, and told Hye-jin everything—and proposed a way to get revenge. Hye-jin had accepted easily, making Joo-hee think she was a money-grubber. But now she knows otherwise, that Ji-sook had already rejected her.

Hye-jin had seduced the assemblyman, provoked a fight to get DNA samples, and presented the evidence to the assemblyman. He hardly wanted it known that he had an affair with his wife’s daughter, and they had further ammunition with the audio file of him ordering a hit on Hye-jin. She’d handed that over to the assemblyman’s co-conspirator, Chairman Noh, trusting that he had the contacts to find So-yoon’s whereabouts.

And all went according to plan, and she found out So-yoon’s address. But suddenly, Hye-jin had changed her mind, and wanted out of the revenge plan. That’s because Ji-sook had divulged to her the truth of her origins, and Hye-jin’s view of her changed—from terrible abandoning mother to pitiable victim. Hye-jin had started seeking out her birth father then.

So-yoon interprets Hye-jin’s change of plans to mean that she’d forgiven Ji-sook for rejecting her. Joo-hee begs to differ—Joo-hee couldn’t forgive her own mother for not loving her as much as her sister, so she can’t believe Hye-jin forgave a mother who treated her as inhuman.

So-yoon wonders why Hye-jin never told Joo-hee that she was sick. Joo-hee can only think of one explanation: She had given up her hope of living.

That night, the carpenter’s wife calls Ji-sook in tears, saying she can’t handle this. Ji-sook tells her coldly that it’s better than the wife going to prison.

Assemblyman Seo presents Ji-sook with divorce papers, informing her that their marriage has been loveless for a long while now. She protests that she’s been devoted to him, but when pleas don’t work, she changes tactics—suddenly shrewd, she asks meaningfully after Chairman Noh, the dearly deceased. “I know how he died,” she warns.

Joo-hee drops by to tell Ji-sook her last goodbye, and says bitterly that Ji-sook’s quite lucky. She ended up losing nothing, while Joo-hee lost the thing she wanted most—the person who can’t see her without thinking of the sister who died and his monstrous father. “You won everything,” Joo-hee says.

The carpenter is taken back to the mill for the police reenactment of his crime, and demonstrates on a dummy how he choked Hye-jin. He becomes flustered when the detective asks if that’s all he’s got, because there were signs of struggle, which means he probably knocked her around more. The carpenter mumbles that she “probably tripped” or something, and Woo-jae can’t shake the feeling that something’s wrong. The descriptions conflict, and there’s something that doesn’t quite work.

Agasshi is still on the lam, and borrows a phone from a stranger to send a text message to So-yoon. It merely says that the man doesn’t lie, while the wife does—but So-yoon recalls Agasshi saying that earlier and is sure he’s the one sending the message.

She turns over the text to the police, who jump to trace its origins, since he’s still wanted for the serial murders. So he sends her another text warning that if she hands this one over, he’ll give her no more hints. So-yoon writes back, “Please tell me.”

He replies with something that sounds like a riddle: “The child grows taller rapidly, the parents record it. Di-li-gent-ly.”

Meanwhile, Woo-jae takes another look at the traffic logs that noted the carpenter’s toll gate passages. This time, he notices that before going to Achiara, the car stopped elsewhere. Why?

So-yoon heads to the mill, thinking over Agasshi’s hint, and looks around until she sees the wall where the parents recorded the little girl’s growing heights, with the dates recorded by the hash marks. And wouldn’t you know it, there’s a notch marked the day of Hye-jin’s death—September 15. That means the child was here that day… and thus probably also the mother.

The wife finds So-yoon here, bristling with hostility. But So-yoon has put together enough facts to confront her about her hunches, warning her that the police are investigating right now. She asks point-blank whether the husband took the fall for her: “Did you kill my sister?”

The wife bursts out, “No!” She gets worked up with agitation, eyes darting as she mutters that if “that person” hadn’t done it, she would have. “It’s all because of that person,” she exclaims. “That person!”

Flashback to September 15. The wife walks into her home to see Hye-jin struggling as someone pins her down, choking the life out of her.

Ji-sook.

 
COMMENTS

Ah, in retrospect it isn’t shocking to find Ji-sook here as our culprit, but now that we’re here, it makes sense. Mostly, I appreciate my expectations being thwarted here, since it felt so obvious and simple to have the carpenter couple as the final answer to the mystery—it’s logically fitting, but we’ve had these suspicions for too long to be wholly satisfied ending on that note.

I’m guessing that Ji-sook either paid off the wife or offered some irresistible deal in exchange for her silence—or held her husband’s crimes over her head, maybe, the way she’s blackmailing her husband now into not divorcing her. It’s entirely her style to have found out damning information and use it to her advantage, and I like the idea of our ultimate culprit being someone who actually fills the twisted villain shoes with aplomb.

That’s not to say that the carpenter isn’t plenty guilty, and quite possibly beyond redemption as it is, especially after seeing him trying to dismiss his crimes as bygones—like it shouldn’t matter to the victim because it was so long ago and everyone’s totally fine now, right? But the couple strikes me as extremely weak, selfish people, full of fear and cowardice. I can see them killing someone if pushed to it, but narratively it’s less interesting.

It makes for a much more complex, rich story to bring this back to Ji-sook, who all drama long has been walking that razor-thin edge—sometimes sympathetic, sometimes inhumane, sometimes understandably selfish and sometimes reprehensibly so. She’s a brilliant villain figure, because as So-yoon says in this episode, it’s difficult to scorn her for her actions given what she suffered. Ki-hyun finds himself distancing himself too, but is brought back to a middle ground—he can’t see her as the loving mother figure he used to, but his caring for her isn’t swept away entirely either.

There’s a really nice (by which I mean twisted) irony in having Ji-sook cling fiercely to this notion that she gave birth to a monster as a way of coping with her trauma, which you can see as an attempt to compartmentalize her attack and keep herself separate from it. But in insisting Hye-jin’s the monster, it’s turned Ji-sook into a monster of her own, becoming the mother who denies her child not only her origins, her parentage, and identity, but also her humanity. But that’s what makes it a tragic irony, I suppose, in that Ji-sook is so often the creator of her own misery. With her at the center of it, no wonder this town is such a mess.

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Dang!

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I have been following the show through your recaps. Thanks again!

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haha, me too. thanks javabeans.

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Me three! I always look forward to your recap. Thanks for always doing this :)

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Really enjoy going through the drama by your recaps. This story turned out nicely with some twists and depth that I wasn't expecting. Ji-sook and Hye-jin's relationship is so tragic. And it actually makes psychological sense that Hye-jin seduced the assemblyman as revenge, as disgusting and vile as that was, since she has given up hope on life but didn't want to go out without being acknowledged by her mother. Sigh.

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If I am not mistaken, she seduced the assemblyman before she knew Ji-sook was her mother. When she knew Ji-sook was her mother, and then learnt about how she came to be, she changed her tactic.

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waoaaa....can't wait too watch it tonight..

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to

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The last picture is pretty frightening :s

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Thanks very much JB for recapping this drama. I enjoyed reading all of them and the plot twists and how all the characters contributed to the unraveling of the mysteries and horrors in Achiara. Great job Shin Eun-kyung!
I look forward to tomorrow's finale and your recap. :-)

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Finally one episode left. Village sure knows how to keep one on the edge. I feel ji sook's pain but at the same time it's not enough to rid her of the evil she has done. I really hope village is able to wrap up this story nicely with a big Christmas bow on top

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Is it just me or does Agasshi look quite handsome with his disguise? Lol

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*whispers* I think so too.

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Agasshi is actually handsome! But I agree when he suited up he's more handsome and looks a bit younger.

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No he's SUPER dapper. Now I want to see that actor in a nice role :)

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the show through your recaps. Thanks

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Shocking... shin eun kyung, daebak! Agassi, so cute :D

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Wow.

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oh my gad! JI-SOOK KILLED HYE-JIN
O_O

i am in shock she can kill her own daughter?!?!?!?!?
aside from the fact she didn't want her in the 1st place & didn't even shown any the tiniest speck of love....oh goodness graciousness... Ji-sook you are such an INHUMAN WOMAN aside from being heartless !
like she is the worst mother there can be? O_O
XP

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JiSook didn't kill her own daughter. She killed a monster that shouldn't have lived. Like a person killing a cockroach.

Just because a person gives birth to a being doesn't make that person a mother in society's sense of the word until she accepts it herself and acts accordingly.

JiSook was never a mother until YooNa (or KiHyun). That's JiSook's world.

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And that makes her not even a human

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Wait till next episode , you gonna change your opinion

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thanks for recap...can't wait for the last episode.. still curious for the ending

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I didnt expect this. I remember Ji Sook asked every one if they killed her (husband, Jo Hee?).. But right now, I think she is just someone who likely had a multiple personality. At least perhaps for a brief moment she committed a crime she wasnt actually normally conscious about, like killing a mosquito.
SEK did a great job!
Everyone played their part so well. But the story is really about Hye Jin and Ji Sook.
Cant wait for the finale. Waiting with a bated breath. May it be a sweet redemption for a damaged soul Ji Sook.

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wow didn't expect jisook to be the one who killed kim haejin
... man no wonder why hae-jin's "mum save me" blood writing at the funereal
everything is making sense now

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I was wrong lol. But this isn't too bad.

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Or was I ? XD

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Jisook is just crazy o:

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gotta admit ... I watch just to see how much more crazy Ji-Sook can go ... that lady knows how to do the crazy eyes ... she's my favorite by far in this whole cast.

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I guess from the start that it will be Jisook who killed Hyejin because she had the most reason to. And it seems to me that she really really hates her. And I have always find her character scary and that she will kill if pushes to her limit. Although the drama did make me doubt it (that maybe it's not Jisoo after all) at some point but ultimately for me it still make the most sense that it IS her. She also have the most things to lose so it make sense that it would be her.

I am sympathetic that she was rape. She was the victim then but she is the criminal now! Hyejin is never at fault for her being rape and yet suffered for it. But Jisook killing her own daugther after abandoning her like that just makes her a monster (like Hyejin said) in my eyes. She is no longer a victim but have long turn into a monster.

Hyejin life is so sad. Not only wasn't she acknowledge by her own mother her whole life but she was also murdered by her own mother. I pity her. Jisook is also potable at her own rights but in the end she still needed to pay her crime and the consequences of her actions.

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I thought since the middle of the series Ji-Sook had snapped and killed Hye-jin but I started thinking it was actually the carpenter's wife. Now we know she did it and probably the carpenter's wife helped conceal it, it makes a lot of sense and is satisfying. The actress playing Ji-sook is probably dusting off a place on her mantle for her next acting award because she is (no pun!) killing it here.

I have to say, for all the meddlesome, shrewish elders who have ever made life miserable, I was glad to see her snap and tell her off like whoa. And that the old biddy had a stroke from the shock of being talked back to? Schadenfreude of the highest order. She was horrible, her son the dirty politican was horrible, Ji-sook is twisted, the carpenter ahjusshi of course is a rapist, his wife is an accessory after the fact to multiple counts of rape and at least 1 murder, I still think carpenter ahjussi killed 1 girl during the course of the show because wasn't there a rainy wednesday murder that was just violent that happened while Agassi was in custody? I still think that was carpenter ahjussi.

I also think Agassi is going to go after the female lead. He bought a bunch of cold medicine and in the US that's a red flag for cooking meth. He's gonna make his happy drug and try to kill her in the finale.

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It's so heartbreaking, I watched the finale raw, and didn't understand a word but it left me in tears, GREAT DRAMA!!! Sadly it doesn't have a huge following, as many people prefer Romcom over mystery crime genre. It is deep and thought-provoking and tackles an aspect most Dramas rarely go down that corridor and gives us insight into the mentality of the criminal and victim! I just find this compelling and engaging, maybe it's due to my love of psychology. I learned a lot from this Drama and it left a profound impact on me!

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there are certainly no winners here.

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Too wimpy to watch this, but I definitely read through the recaps and am left shocked! What an intriguing story. I had a feeling that Ji-sook had something to do with Hye-jin. SEK is too much a beast at acting to not be involved. Goodness, I'm excited and terrified for the last episode.

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Holy guacamole! Been watching this drama since day one and I didn't see this coming. I really like how you described Ki Hyun cuz its exactly how I feel about Jisook. I was at a point where I sympathized with her but also thought she was crazy. She seemed better when she went shopping with Yoo Na. And then we find out she killed Hye Jin.

Holy smokes this actress was able to fool the other characters and the audience. I don't know what kind of deal Jisook offered the carpenters wife, but is it really worth letting him take the fall for this murder?

Looking forward to the next episode! Gosh I REALLY hope this writer makes another drama soon. I'm also hoping So Yoon gets some police protection cuz it looks like Aghassi is gathering meds to make her "happy".

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Everyone was suspicious from the start, actually. I had my bet either Assemblyman Seo or Jisook from the start because, well, he has power and money while she had fight with her to in the early episode. But the writer made us losing our focus by adding Agasshi, Chairman Noh and the carpenter Ahjussi. As said, it's not that suprising but the writer had done a good job.

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Can we all just slow clap for Shin Eun Gyeong aka Yoon Ji Sook. Wowwww. She needs to win an award for her portrayal of Ji Sook. Those EYESSSS get me everytime. She really blows me away with each episode. I wasn't watching at first just following the recaps... but the crazy eyes got me and reeled me. No actress has impressed me this much all year.*slow clap*

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No winners at all but that final episode totally got me in the feels. I agree qe need more suspense dramas like this.

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Ji Sook is a mad....mad woman.

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Ji-sook takes Yoo-na shopping for a mother-daughter date, doting on her and apologizing for sending her to the hospital, promising to never do that again. Yoo-na smiles with happy tears, glad to have her nice mother back, and Ji-sook assures her that she could never hate her, “my one and only daughter.”

False/fake/forced sincerity on Ji-Sook's part?

The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you've got it made. ~ Jean Giraudoux (1882 - 1944)

I think of this quote whenever Ji-Sook interacts with her daughter Yoo-na, stepson Ki-Hyun, sister Joo-Hee, husband Chang-Gwon, and her Mother-in-Law - basically the whole family.

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Death by banmal!

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