Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho: Episode 6
Fasten your seatbelts, because this episode will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions. The highs will thrill and warm your heart, but the lows will give you plenty of heartache. In life and the courtroom, you win some and you lose some, and sometimes your best just isn’t enough. What are you to do then? Our beloved neighborhood lawyer grapples with this thought as he finds himself further than when he started, on a path that now seems unclear.
EPISODE 6 RECAP
Deul-ho sits on his couch in the wee hours of the morning, not having slept a wink. It’s the day of the eviction hearing, and he doubts any of the shopkeepers will show up to testify.
Fast-forward to the afternoon eviction hearing involving the restaurant and the sleazy landlord who works for walking fashion disaster Michael Jung. Eun-jo defends the landlord by emphasizing how old and worn out the restaurant is, arguing that it was built in 1980 and because it’s showing its age, reconstruction is completely justified.
Deul-ho counters by declaring that the restaurant has been renovated several times and is functioning properly. Yong-soo, the defendant and son of the grandmother who owns the restaurant, has successfully been running the place for thirty years. The problem lies not with the age of the restaurant, but with the landlord’s illegal interference with their business.
Deul-ho accuses the landlord of using aggressive tactics to evict the restaurant’s tenants and other neighboring businesses well before their leases are up by sending in thugs to wreak havoc and cut off their water and electricity. The landlord, however, continues to play dumb on these charges. The judge asks Deul-ho if he has any witnesses who can attest to their forced removal, and he’s at a loss for words. A quick look at the empty seats behind him confirms that nobody showed up to testify.
Just then, all the shopkeepers from last night’s gathering flood into the room, triumphantly declaring their presence with smiles and fists of solidarity. Their unexpected arrival moves Deul-ho, and his eyes glisten with tears as he beams with relief and gratitude.
The first witness on the stand is a man who sells blankets. Deul-ho asks why he agreed to leave per the landlord’s request and he tearfully replies that the law is not on his side. Deul-ho asserts that the landlord devised a settlement with the tenants sans compensation on the grounds of reconstruction; the law permits the eviction of tenants if the landlord plans to rebuild. However, there were never any plans to rebuild in the first place. The real motive was to renovate the property, hike up the rent, and get new tenants.
Deul-ho submits his pen as evidence, which had recorded Michael Jung’s admission that the plans for reconstruction and the development of a mall were just a ruse to get rid of tenants. Sitting in the gallery, Dae-soo realizes that this was the pen that Deul-ho had placed in his suit pocket right before he and Ae-ra disguised themselves as French corporate hotshots in order to scam Michael. He and Ae-ra are simultaneously impressed by Deul-ho’s cleverness, but also miffed that he didn’t trust them enough to get the job done without his help. Deul-ho assuages them with a cheeky wink. Hehe.
Deul-ho proclaims that the landlord may own the building, but the tenants are the ones who pour their souls and everything they have into their work, creating lifelong memories in the process.
In a stirring speech, Deul-ho expounds that the defendant devoted thirty years of his life to the restaurant, serving potato stew at a fraction of the normal cost and offering unlimited refills of rice. Why must a restaurant like this be kicked out of the market overnight? Are the landlord-tenant laws intended to protect the landlord’s greed, Or are they intended to protect the tenants?
The shopkeepers all rise, thunderously applauding Deul-ho’s impassioned words. His eyes brim with tears and his voice cracks as Deul-ho implores the judge to protect the citizens from abuse by the rich and powerful. There’s not a dry eye in the room, and even Eun-jo tears up.
Next we see Deul-ho and his gang marching in solidarity with the shopkeepers, clanging plastic bottles and thumping on drums in protest of Dae Hwa’s misuse of the law. A photo from the protest lands on the front page of the newspaper, and Chairman Jung is livid. He crumples it up and stomps on it—not unlike a large, angry child—and wonders why Deul-ho has it out for him. Attorney Jang advises him to drop this lawsuit, but the thought of losing to Deul-ho infuriates the chairman even more.
Attorney Jang shows him the video of his son Michael engaging in a physical altercation with Deul-ho on a rooftop. Jang warns that if the trial continues, Deul-ho may present this video in court. Because they’ve already lost in the public eye, the lawsuit should be dropped in order to save their corporate image.
The chairman does not like this one bit, and yells at his son to leave the country. Because of Michael, company stock prices have dropped and huge losses have been incurred. He orders his son to lay low, or else he’ll disown him.
Deul-ho surprises Michael outside his home with one final warning: to turn himself in for the arson and murder he committed three years ago. The warning falls on deaf ears, however, as Michael refuses and runs away, first straight into a wall and then straight onto his face.
Back at Geum San, Hae-kyung tells Eun-jo and her supervisor to drop the lawsuit. She says Michael is in the spotlight everyday for his bullying antics. Trials involving him take place both in the courtroom and the court of public opinion, and they’ve already lost in the latter. They don’t stand a chance in the courtroom either.
Unlike her supervisor, Eun-jo is loving where this conversation is going. She gets Hae-kyung’s okay to withdraw the lawsuit, and can barely contain her elation.
Back at the market, Deul-ho has the scaffolding and graffitied tarps pulled down from the restaurant’s facade. All the local business owners are gathered to help out. Ae-ra rushes in with great news—Geum San dropped the lawsuit, which means they’ve won! Everyone cheers and chants Deul-ho’s name, lifting their hero up and down. The restaurant owner happily treats everyone to potato stew to show his appreciation.
Once inside the restaurant, everyone focuses on the TV screen. Michael Jung’s resignation as CEO of Dae Hwa Housing is on the news, along with footage from the press conference held by Chairman Jung to publicly apologize for his son’s misdeeds. He bows deeply and sheds some crocodile tears.
Deul-ho and the gang celebrate their victory over a huge pot of potato stew and bottomless beer and soju, gleefully stuffing themselves as they lick their fingers and any remaining pork bones. Grandma is back in business and serving them extra helpings, and Ae-ra good-naturedly brings Eun-jo to the table after she drops by. Deul-ho is suspicious of her presence, and asks if she’s here to eat or spy on them. Dae-soo reminds him to love thy enemy, and pretty soon, they’re all eating, drinking, and being merry. Hae-kyung watches them silently from outside before walking away.
Back at Geum San, Attorney Jang explains to his daughter and Attorney Kim that Chairman Jung is very dissatisfied with their recent loss, and may take back some of the cases he gave to them. Attorney Kim suggests firing Eun-jo because she was in charge of both the arson and eviction cases. But just as Hae-kyung is about to conduct the termination, Eun-jo interrupts and formally resigns; she doesn’t think she’s a good fit at Geum San.
Eun-jo happily leaves Geum San carrying a box of her belongings. She lets out an ecstatic scream and yanks the ID from around her neck. She’s free from the shackles of Geum San!
Deul-ho meets Prosecutor Ji-wook at a café and hands him a thick envelope containing evidence of Michael’s illegal acts inside and outside the country. Ji-wook scoffs and asks Deul-ho if he actually expected him to be thankful. Deul-ho replies that the Ji-wook he knows is a competent prosecutor who doesn’t let others take advantage of him. He leaves the papers with Ji-wook and tells him to do with them as he sees fit.
That night, Deul-ho returns to his office with snacks, but just as he’s about to ascend the stairs, he’s struck from behind, knocked unconscious, and dragged out of sight. Ae-ra and Dae-soo arrive shortly after and see the scattered snacks, and while Dae-soo is dismissive, Ae-ra senses something is amiss. Calls to Deul-ho’s phone go straight to voicemail, and minion Yoo-shin discovers his phone on the ground outside under the stairs.
Deul-ho comes to and finds himself dangling from a rope off the edge of a tall building. He looks up and sees Michael sneering at him, their roles now reversed. Michael attempts to spook him and orders him to beg for his life, but instead Deul-ho calls him out for being a copycat. Plus, even if he begged, he knows Michael wouldn’t save him. And so, Michael starts sawing off the rope with a knife.
Ae-ra acts as navigator while Dae-soo drives, honing in on Deul-ho’s whereabouts with her phone. Through flashback, we learn that Deul-ho had purchased a location tracking device and placed it in his jacket so Ae-ra could find him if he went missing.
Back on the rooftop, Deul-ho eggs Michael on to cut the rope. After all, Michael had killed a man and set fire to its corpse three years ago, and killing him now wouldn’t be so out of character. Michael resumes slicing away at the rope as Deul-ho continues to taunt him, reminding him of that viral video of the rooftop scuffle. That video will undoubtedly put Michael at the top of the list of suspects, but Michael doesn’t seem to care since he always gets away with his crimes.
Just in the nick of time, Ae-ra, Dae-soo, and his two henchmen arrive at the roof. They’re ready to kick some serious butt, but it looks like Michael came prepared with a small army of reinforcements. Team Deul-ho is vastly outnumbered, but they go at it anyway. Meanwhile, Deul-ho is still dangling, literally hanging by a thread.
In another case of impeccable timing, Ji-wook arrives with his large group of law enforcement officers. He holds up his badge and declares that Michael and his thugs are all under arrest for attempted murder. “Cuff ’em!” he shouts.
Ah, bless the soul of Ae-ra! She had called Ji-wook moments before, seeking his help in rescuing Deul-ho. Ji-wook had no intention of helping until she mentioned that Michael may be behind Deul-ho’s abduction. That tidbit is what propelled him into action.
Now that Michael and his baddies are getting booked, Team Deul-ho scramble to pull their beloved boss back onto the roof. They struggle fruitlessly until Ji-wook climbs over them and stretches out his hand, yelling for Deul-ho to take it. Deul-ho gazes at the outstretched hand, reminded of the time Attorney Shin extended his own and hired him, pre-betrayal. He seizes Ji-wook’s hand and is successfully hauled onto the roof. Woot, teamwork!
As the baddies are stuffed into police vans, Deul-ho approaches Ji-wook and thanks him for coming. Ji-wook coolly rebuffs the gesture and states that he was just doing his job. In the car, Ji-wook thinks back to Deul-ho describing him as an able and principled prosecutor who refuses to be anyone’s puppet. He peers out the window, seemingly with renewed assurance.
Chief Prosecutor Shin gets chewed out by Chairman Jung, incredulous that Shin’s son arrested his son. He feels utterly betrayed and suspects that Attorney Shin put Ji-wook up to it. Attorney Jang says that he’s already assembling a legal team to work this out, but he admits that the problem is the victim, aka Deul-ho. The viral video of Michael assaulting Deul-ho on the rooftop is incriminating. Prosecutor Shin asks Chairman Jung for some time to ameliorate the situation.
Attorney Kim updates Hae-kyung and informs her that Michael was arrested by Ji-wook, and that Deul-ho is fine. She seems relieved by the news, but doesn’t feel the need to contact him.
Newly unemployed Eun-jo chats it up with a friend over PPL sandwiches. She’s been reaching out to her senior alumni for job leads, but they’ve all told her that there aren’t any open positions. The friend clarifies that there aren’t any positions for her; she’s on the blacklist for allegedly getting fired from Geum San. That’s what everyone believes, even though Eun-jo resigned of her own volition.
Eun-jo stops by her mother’s work place and tells a long-winded story about her successful public defender friends in hopes that her mom will say that she should leave prestigious Geum San for a smaller firm… but it doesn’t work. Her mom tells Eun-jo to just hang in there and stay put.
After quite an eventful evening, Deul-ho and his crew chow down on fried chicken back at the office. Eun-jo stops by, and Dae-soo fills her in on Deul-ho’s near-death scenario, recreated by dangling a piece of chicken and suddenly dropping it, haha. She’s alarmed by the story and shocked by Deul-ho’s nonchalance after such a terrifying incident.
Eun-jo sticks around after everyone leaves and waits to speak to Deul-ho one-on-one. She takes a deep breath and divulges that she resigned from Geum San. Deul-ho retorts that he hopes she wasn’t thinking of working at his office because there’s no room for her. Eun-jo’s disappointed by his response, since she’d been hoping he’d offer her a position.
Hae-kyung catches the two exiting together and is immediately suspicious of Eun-jo’s presence. Deul-ho’s surprised to see his ex-wife and invites her up to his office. Taking a look around, Hae-kyung wonders why he resigns himself to working in such a shabby place, but takes him by surprise when she asks if he’s okay. Unable to understand why he can’t just live a normal life like everyone else, she at least leaves him with a new set of shirts so that he can dress better from now on. He’s touched by her gesture and tells her to come by again.
Prosecutor Ji-wook sits across from Michael, ready to grill him and punish him once and for all. He throws a thick stack of papers on the table, the evidence containing all Michael’s transgressions. Michael, however, is unfazed and in high spirits. He maintains his innocence in the attempted murder of Deul-ho. Ji-wook warns him that his fingerprints are all over the knife he used to cut the rope, but Michael insists he took no part in the ordeal. He smiles as an associate enters the room and whispers something in Ji-wook’s ear, cackling maniacally as Ji-wook’s face darkens.
Ji-wook finds himself interrogating one of the thugs who was on the rooftop with Michael. The thug smugly claims that he orchestrated the attempted the murder of Deul-ho on his own, and that Michael arrived only to stop him from carrying out the foul deed. Ji-wook doesn’t buy any of his lies, but the thug confidently states that his fingerprints are all over the knife.
A short flashback reveals that someone had tampered with the evidence, swapping Michael’s knife with a different one, so that all physical evidence points to the thug. The thug asks for a reduced sentence on account of his confession, and Ji-wook is outraged by the sudden turn of events, since it means Michael will walk scot-free yet again. Chief Prosecutor Shin commends his associate for swapping the knives and directs him to make certain his son doesn’t find out.
Deul-ho storms into Ji-wook’s office, demanding to know why there’s a new suspect when Michael is unmistakably the perpetrator. It kills Ji-wook to inform him that the suspect and the evidence were changed, and despite catching Michael in the act and saving Deul-ho, all the evidence points to someone else.
The frustration of the two men escalates as Deul-ho reiterates that Ji-wook witnessed everything, so why can’t he do anything about it? Ji-wook knows what he saw, but regrets that he never saw Michael with the knife in his hands. Deul-ho asks him if he’s angry because he didn’t see that or because of something else, and swiftly walks away.
As Deul-ho leaves the courthouse, he hears Michael’s cackling and runs toward the sound. He watches as Michael boasts of his invincibility before stepping inside his chauffeured car as a free man.
Ji-wook addresses his father by his title and inquires as to whether or not he pulled some strings to make it so that he had no choice but to let Michael go. Chief Prosecutor Shin lies and says he has no idea what his son is insinuating. He warns his son that Deul-ho is manipulating him, and that he must stand firm.
Ae-ra frantically informs Deul-ho that Michael is leaving the country today. On his way to the airport, Deul-ho calls Ji-wook and pleads with him to impose a travel ban so Michael can’t escape. Ji-wook refuses to help him; it’s too late now and the case is closed. After hanging up, Ji-wook grabs his name plate and slams it repeatedly against his desk, fed up with his powerlessness.
Michael is his usual jokey self as he casually strolls into the airport and bids farewell to his guards before departing. Deul-ho quickly arrives soon after, but is unable to locate him in the vast airport. He doesn’t know where to look or where to turn.
Michael eludes capture for the umpteenth time after having ruined the lives of so many people, and Deul-ho is left wondering where he must go, how much longer he must continue, and where to even begin. What now?
This is really the first time we see Deul-ho at a standstill, and it’s a striking image. We’ve always seen him dashing in his black lace-ups, his charisma dialed to the max, ready to do whatever it takes to prove the innocence of his clients. So far he’d been more or less on an upward trajectory, digging up evidence and bringing truth to light in cases that seemed like he had no chance at winning. But the one time Deul-ho is the victim and the perpetrator is caught red-handed by a prosecutor, no less, a murderer walks free.
Deul-ho is a man of diminutive height, but his presence is unmistakably large. The wide shots of him standing in the airport made him seem very small, and reminded me that as good a lawyer as he is, he’s just one man fighting against a corrupt corporation with deep ties to the legal system. He’s fighting an uphill battle.
I wanted to give Ji-wook a hundred brownie points when he showed up on the rooftop and stopped the melee, and a few hundred more when he rescued dangling Deul-ho. However, when he merely asked his father if he had anything to do with Michael’s release and didn’t take it upon himself to investigate further on his own, I wanted to deduct some points. Where was the authoritative prosecutor who saved Deul-ho from falling to his death with one freakishly strong hand? The risktaker who had Michael arrested despite his father’s friendship with Chairman Jung? I understand his father is the chief prosecutor, but I still would’ve liked to see him at least try and figure out who meddled with the evidence. After all, evidence doesn’t just magically change. Why wasn’t his prosecutor prowess put to use? He gave up way too soon.
Also, if I was able to remember that the handle of Michael’s blade was black, and the blade with the thug’s grubby fingerprints had a gray handle, I’m hoping someone in the drama notices the discrepancy as well and follows up on it. This is sloppy tampering of evidence if an apple is replaced with a banana. Deul-ho obviously wasn’t going to die by way of falling several stories; we’re not even at the halfway mark of the series. Yet I still found myself very much drawn into the rooftop drama. It was well sequenced and visually interesting with some nice aerial and slo-mo shots of the fight.
Eun-jo took a back seat in this episode, and I have to say her absence was pretty conspicuous, and not in a good way. It was jarring to see her so involved with Deul-ho in previous episodes and then have her just pop in and out of a few scenes without making much of a mark. Yes, she’s jobless, but it would’ve been nice to see her ignore Deul-ho’s words about not needing her and joining Team Deul-ho right away. She could’ve helped rescue Deul-ho, too! I’m hoping we see some growth from Eun-jo because so far she’s just been playing the good girl newbie, and while she is a likable character, she hasn’t done anything particularly noteworthy. Her resignation from Geum San is laudable, but it was expected.
The Granny’s Potato Stew v. Landlord From Hell storyline was heartwarming, and I’m glad to have watched yet another strong courtroom scene following the one with the sassy granny and her yellow umbrella. Who doesn’t love a good story where the have-nots are victorious over the haves? It’s a familiar plotline, but it tugged at my heartstrings nonetheless because of Deul-ho’s personal connection to the restaurant and the community surrounding it. We saw a glimpse of Deul-ho and Hae-kyung during happier times and why the restaurant meant so much to him.
Now that Michael’s escaped, Deul-ho must figure out his next steps. The odds have always been stacked against him, but that’s never stopped him from forging ahead, has it?
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