Vampire Detective: Episode 6
Now that our resident private investigators have got a few cases under their belts, today’s mystery hits cuts to the heart of our best dressed and loyal ex-cop turned detective. As we dig into the past, we learn more about Gu-hyung in one hour than we ever did about San in this series thus far. But then again, there’s not much to know at present about the vampire whose powers show up every other week.
What lies ahead of our team is a murder mystery that spins a complex web of friendship, love, and guilt. Nearly everyone is a possible suspect, and getting to the truth won’t be as simple as one confession.
SONG OF THE DAY
SS301 – “Pain” [ Download ]
EPISODE 6: “The Girl I Killed”
Per their agreement, San meets with Yo-na down by the Han River where her cronies are waiting to attack. She looks on while San takes down a few men before getting beaten down to submission.
She acknowledges that San must be very curious about her, from who she is to what happened to his friends. However it’s no fun if those answers come easy, and the purpose of today’s meeting is to make it clear that he is no match for her: “You’ll soon find out who the master and who the hunting dog is.”
We cut to a dark and empty high school, save for one classroom lit with candles. San circles around the small group gathered there and declares that the culprit is in their midst. Gyeo-wool looks troubled when he reveals the name: Gu-hyung. Huh?
With that, we rewind to an earlier time when Gu-hyung yells at Gyeo-wool for peeking at the high school reunion invitation on his desk. There’s a noted pause when she apologizes, and he breezily adds that he isn’t interested in seeing his former schoolmates anyway.
He claims to have been insanely popular with the ladies back then, likening himself to megastar Jang Dong-gun. He acknowledges that there was a neighborhood Go So-young too, briefly recalling a pretty female classmate calling out to him.
San finds Gu-hyung sitting outside looking at a group photo taken with high school buddies. Since it was a small town, the close-knit group stayed together through middle school and high school. The pretty girl he mentioned earlier is LEE SOO-YEON, and when San asks if they still keep in touch, he grimly replies, “No.”
Just then, another former classmate comes looking for him. Her name is KIM JI-YEON, who works in broadcasting. She’s impressed with how Gu-hyung has his own private eye agency, and is here to talk him into attending this particular gathering since it may be their last before the school is torn down next year.
At his argument that he’s a high school dropout, Ji-yeon argues that they still spent their formative years together. She also has a favor to ask of him, which we don’t get to hear.
Whatever it is, that leads to Gu-hyung drinking his weight in soju while Detective Park and San look on (as usual, San doesn’t eat or drink). He’s on the brink of sharing why he became a cop in the first place—a story Detective Park would love to know, too—before changing his mind and calling himself a coward.
It’s only when Gu-hyung takes out a dusty volume from a trunk at home do we start to learn why: his friends are placed in front of camera and state that they believe it was suicide given the many signs of depression and suicidal thoughts they saw and heard. But teenage Gu-hyung is the only one who doesn’t say much of anything.
Next thing we know, Gu-hyung has changed his mind and the gang heads down to his high school. They’re greeted warmly by his former teacher and led to the classroom where his old friends are waiting and more than excited to see him.
The friends catch up, and they all have a good laugh over Gu-hyung’s self-proclamation that he was popular in high school. His friends are impressed when Gyeo-wool tells them that Gu-hyung is a great detective.
No gathering is complete without food and drinks, and the group raises their beer cans over the candlelight once night falls. Ji-yeon vaguely remembers a night years ago when they drank together at the school. Gu-hyung pipes in, citing that they ended up drinking all night because it was too dark out for stargazing.
That story makes the other friends shift uncomfortably in their seats, and Ji-yeon smiles at how their teacher was present that night. The mood grows even darker when Gyeo-wool asks when Lee Soo-yeon will join them, and Gu-hyung excuses himself.
Gu-hyung sits on a school bench outside where he carved Soo-yeon’s name. She’d called out to him before he’d finished. Back in the present, he tells San that they all gathered together that night to watch a comet pass, but much like tonight, it was pitch black out.
“What happened [to Lee Soo-yeon] that night?” San asks. Gu-hyung hangs his head before answering, “She died that night.”
The camera pans to reimagine that night with Soo-yeon’s corpse lying on the ground nearby. Once they return to the classroom, the friends are reluctant to play the same game they played that night. It involved writing down tasks in a shoebox, and the person with the star card could pick one and dare people to complete the task.
A glimpse into the past shows that the tasks were innocent at first — a kiss on the cheek or a flick to the forehead. Ji-yeon insists on playing for old times’ sake and looks to Gu-hyung for support. Scanning the table brings back old memories, and he agrees to play.
San and Gyeo-wool also participate, and they all laugh when Gu-hyung has to be slapped by NOH HEE-SOOK. She opts to punch him instead, and he takes it like a champ. San and Gyeo-wool are tasked to kiss in the next round, to which Gyeo-wool chooses the punishment by finishing a bottle of soju.
A little later, Gu-hyung gets the star card but his face darkens at the piece of paper he chooses. The others are just as surprised, and San read aloud: “No. 3 will kill No. 5.” We see that the group read the same deadly task twenty years ago, and Ji-yeon refuses to let anyone leave the classroom.
She’s determined to find out who killed Soo-yeon and expose the truth of her death in her upcoming show. It’s at this moment Gu-hyung discloses that tonight is their last chance at learning what exactly happened that night.
One classmate IM MI-RA feels especially betrayed, asking if that’s why Gu-hyung brought in his team then. San and Gyeo-wool reply that they barely know anything about the case; they only tagged along for the reunion.
Mi-ra cries that it was an accident, but then Ji-yeon says that doesn’t explain the number card that was found near Soo-yeon’s body. Another flashback reveals that the group had agreed to take a break, and Ji-yeon had noticed that Soo-yeon hadn’t returned from the bathroom.
A sudden scream rips through the air followed by a thud. The friends run out and gasp to see Soo-yeon’s body on the ground. Their teacher is the last to join them, and a 5 card peeks through Soo-yeon’s pocket.
San finally reads through the records stating that Soo-yeon fell from the rooftop to her death. But the thing is, she wasn’t present when the cards were drawn. Gu-hyung admits that the friends didn’t tell the whole story to the police because the events leading up to her death was so absurd. Plus, it didn’t look good to have students drinking on school grounds.
Asked why the police ruled it a suicide, Gu-hyung says someone stated that Soo-yeon was depressed over a guy. When San asks if he still thinks whoever had the 3 card is their killer, Gu-hyung says everyone thinks that.
San says he should just find out who had the card then, but Gu-hyung says things aren’t that simple… because the person who had the 3 card didn’t commit the murder. “How do you know that?” San asks. Gu-hyung answers, “Because I had the 3 card.”
Back in the classroom, Ji-yeon is affronted when the friends think that Gu-hyung might’ve killed Soo-yeon. Why else would he have dropped out of school? Mi-ra exclaims that Ji-yeon once shared in that opinion, to which Ji-yeon hollers back that they were all young and scared back then.
Mi-ra doesn’t believe that Ji-yeon had any sympathy for their dead friend when she was, in fact, jealous of Soo-yeon’s beauty. She accuses Hee-sook of gossiping about Soo-yeon too, and gets worked up when she’s told she also had reason to hate Soo-yeon.
Gyeo-wool interrupts before the women are at each other’s throats and asks who was the last person that saw Soo-yeon that night. None of them can really remember, but when San and Gu-hyung rejoin the group, Mi-ra thinks it might’ve been Gu-hyung.
San takes the lead on the case, bringing us back to the scene in the first few minutes of the episode when he names Gu-hyung as the culprit. He offsets that by saying that it’s also possible that everyone would hope it was the high school dropout. He reveals that Gu-hyung had the 3 card, but he believes his partner isn’t the murderer.
He proposes that they reimagine that night twenty years ago. The present blends with the past as they recall Mi-ra and Hee-sook setting out together into the dark hall. Hee-sook had spooked the weak Mi-ra with ghost stories, then the girls gossip the rest of the way to the supply room.
They whisper about how Soo-yeon is said to be involved with their teacher Mr. Ji (hm, we’ve barely seen him all night, too). It seems Hee-sook had feelings for Gu-hyung, and she’s noticed that he likes Soo-yeon.
Even though Mi-ja calls Soo-yeon a flirt, the very idea upsets Hee-sook, who says she sometimes thinks of pushing Soo-yeon off a rooftop. Mi-ra shares that sentiment. You don’t say.
Mi-ra confirms that it was around 11 PM, and the friends had agreed to keep playing until midnight per their teacher’s orders. After that, Gu-hyung and Soo-yeon were tasked to travel to the nurse’s office. There Soo-yeon had asked if he liked anyone, smiling that she did.
Gu-hyung had said he knew, then corrected himself by saying he figured. Her face falls—he must’ve heard the rumors too then. She calls him out for trying to play dumb about having heard if she and Mr. Ji were romantically involved. To that, Gu-hyung says he doesn’t believe rumors that easily, and she’s grateful to have someone who believes her.
When a box of medicine falls to the ground, he and Soo-yeon bend down to clean up the mess. Her hand touches his and she draws it back in surprise. Her face inches to his, she tells him that the rumors between her and Mr. Ji aren’t true… because she likes someone else.
Although Gu-hyung doesn’t remember when they returned, Mi-ra can say for certain that they returned before 11:30 PM. She was still taking her meds back then, and when she briefly stepped outside for some water, she’d heard a male voice call out Soo-yeon’s name.
This was a tidbit Mi-ra had failed to inform the police of, especially since they were all drinking so heavily that night. Ji-yeon confirms it, adding that their teacher had advised them to speak with caution. Mi-ra said the voice sounded a lot like Gu-hyung’s.
The past reveals that Gu-hyung had returned first, then stepped outside and called out her name. A girl had been running away from him and walked past Mi-ra in the hallway. A tipsy Ji-yeon and Hee-sook were suspicious that Gu-hyung was gone for so long, and Mi-ra rejoined the group a little later.
San says he now has a general picture in his head, and in another break, Gu-hyung discloses that he knows whom Soo-yeon truly liked. It was Gu-hyung, as Soo-yeon places her hand over his. That’s why he feels like such a coward for dropping out of school without finding out the truth about her death.
In the classroom, Ji-yeon tearfully confesses that she was responsible for spreading the rumors that Soo-yeon and Mr. Ji were an item. She says she did it out of jealousy because everyone liked the much prettier and smarter Soo-yeon, and she feels so bad about it now.
Gu-hyung had come to Soo-yeon’s aid whenever she was bullied at school, like when he took her to the hospital after she cut her foot on a shard of glass in her shoe. Whereas she had the courage to reveal her feelings, he dreaded the possible ridicule he’d receive if that ever became known.
San says he hopes Gu-hyung would forgive his younger self: “I’m sure Soo-yeon would want that too.”
San checks in with Gyeo-wool, who wonders if her skills are actually useful here. She’s not a therapist who can understand a person’s psyche, but she’s told that it’s simple—the more distrust there is, the easier people are to figure out.
Once everyone regroups, San asks where everyone was when they took a break from the game twenty years ago. The male classmate PARK JAE-WOOK says he went to the back of the building for a smoke, Hee-sook went to get some water, and Gu-hyung was in the bathroom. Mira says she and Ji-yeon remained in the classroom, but her eyes seem rather panicked, don’t they?
San asks where Soo-yeon could’ve been then, and Gu-hyung imagines her sitting next to him before they all head up to the rooftop. San recounts that Soo-yeon was here, standing on the ledge, while the others were drawing their last round of cards.
It was here that she fell to her death and was found with the 5 card on her person. He asks everyone to look at their cards. Ji-yeon checks hers in both the past and present, which says 3.
So does Jae-wook’s and everyone else’s. Except for Mi-ra, that is. San explains how Mi-ra pulled off her act: She’d used sleight of hand to switch the set of cards to the ones she prepared and took the star card, using the group’s inebriated state to her advantage. That enabled her to act as if her already prepared note came from the box.
San had suspected something was off when Gu-hyung told him that he had the 3 card—he found it strange that everyone remained tight-lipped about the incident and told the police that it was suicide.
When San says it was a brilliant performance, Mi-ra laughs awkwardly and says there’s no evidence that points to her as the killer. And what about the 5 card? San answers flatly, “I simply said you were a great actress. I didn’t say you were the killer.” Oooh, burn.
He says someone else had the 5 card, someone who was biding their time. The murderer needed someone’s help, and that’s where Mi-ra came in. She’d pretended to step out to take her meds when she stopped Soo-yeon in the hallway and whispered for her to go up to the roof.
Mi-ra shouts before San can explain any further, crying that everyone but her and Ji-yeon would be suspects because they weren’t in the classroom. She shrieks that it isn’t true, and that’s when their teacher, Mr. Ji finally returns.
Everyone returns to the classroom where Mr. Ji reveals that yes, he killed Soo-yeon that night. He had prepared the cards, made the students drink and play the game, and he had called Soo-yeon to the roof.
We don’t explicitly see it, but it’s suggested that Mr. Ji pushed her over, but we do see him carefully tuck the 5 card in her pocket. Gu-hyung turns around and punches the man over and over again, crying out: “Why?! Why?!”
Gu-hyung finally brings himself to stop, tears streaming down his cheeks. His back turned, he asks Mr. Ji why he did it… and Ji-yeon says she knows why. Soo-yeon had confronted her about the rumors and showed her how very wrong she was.
And then Ji-yeon had seen it with her own eyes: Mr. Ji undressing Mi-ra. She had fallen back in alarm and ran away, leaving Soo-yeon behind to meet eyes with a fuming Mr. Ji.
With that Gyeo-wool slaps down Mr. Ji’s records which state that he left his previous school because of a similar scandal. Mr. Ji says that Soo-yeon never revealed who was with her that day, and San chimes in that that’s why the teacher set up an elaborate death trap to scare that other person.
Jae-wook finally loses it when Mr. Ji said he couldn’t bear his teacher reputation being ruined a second time, and Hee-sook and Ji-yeon break down in tears.
It’s morning by the time everyone leaves the building. Even though the statute of limitations has long passed, Ji-yeon is still set on using this case on her show—ruining her career pales in comparison to the years of guilt buried in her heart.
She thanks Gu-hyung for his help, and the remaining friends take their leave. Looking down at the unfinished carving on the bench, Gu-hyung says playing this game again was Ji-yeon’s idea. He hangs his head at how it all ended with a sad resolution.
San returns to the car so Gu-hyung can have a moment of solace. He looks up to imagine Soo-yeon sitting on the bench beside him, smiling in her school uniform. He rises as Dream Soo-yeon sheds a tear.
As the car drives away, we hear San narrate: “Learning a hidden truth is a painful matter. At times, it’s possible that it’s better for us to live believing what we know now is true… because nothing good can come from learning the truth. Even then, why do we still want to learn the truth?”
San receives a text from an unknown sender when he arrives home—it’s Yo-na, telling him to meet her on Saturday at 11 PM.
By now I find the weekly check-ins from Yo-na almost comical, because aside from dangling the narrative carrot about Yoo-jin and Tae-woo (remember them?) she doesn’t pose that much of a threat to San or the other private eye members. In fact, she’s pretty hands off with the cases the P.I. team handles each week, and it’s easy to forget that she even exists in this dramaverse.
I’d consider her more of a looming threat if she interfered with the casework week-to-week, but like many other plot points, she shows up when convenient for the overall plot, usually after a case is wrapped. And now that we’re past the halfway point, I can say with some confidence that Vampire Detective could’ve been a much easier show if it had been a straight crime procedural without an overarching vampire arc. Most times a supernatural ability isn’t a requirement to solve the cases our team is faced with, in so long as San is smart enough to pick up on the necessary clues. Well, when San is actually clever in cracking the case, that is.
Speaking of which, I’m relieved that there’s an upswing in the quality of our cases in the past two weeks. Even with some shortcomings, the execution held much more suspense while revealing the many layers of what led to Soo-yeon’s death that night. It was a complex touch to add how and why multiple people had reason to dislike Soo-yeon to the point of death, though it was a bit obvious when Mr. Ji was missing for much of the episode. Still, I was surprised at the pacing of the student-teacher relationship reveal, from the rumors that spread throughout school to learning who was responsible for them to learning that they weren’t true… but then actually were with someone else.
It’s a tragedy that Soo-yeon, who had a hard enough time at school, ultimately died for what she knew. It’s odd that Mi-ra and Mr. Ji seemed to have disappeared as soon as San cracked the case, and it does bother me that Mr. Ji can never be incriminated for killing Soo-yeon because the statute of limitations has expired.
It’s also rather pat that the instigator, Ji-yeon, will disclose the truth of Soo-yeon’s death under the seemingly noble intention that it could ruin her own career, to which I ask—how do Soo-yeon’s family feel about the broadcast? Like San said, learning the truth can often be painful and the broadcast can easily reopen emotional wounds that have scarred over in time. Not all truth leads to freedom, but can weigh even heavier on the heart.
Which brings me to Gu-hyung, who I love mostly because he’s played by Oh Jung-se. For a character who could’ve easily breezed each week with his quips, his delicious cooking, and his flirtatious interactions with Se-ra, we learned more about him in this case alone than all the weeks we’ve spent with San. We saw his vulnerability as the case unfolded, the guilt he felt from running away, and the new burden he must bear now that he knows what happened to Soo-yeon and why.
This chapter of his story might be over, but it’s his story I want to know more of, and what made him quit the police force like San did. Lastly, I really do enjoy watching Gu-hyung and Gyeo-wool’s relationship blossom with each week. Their bickering over every little thing makes me chuckle, and the hints of jealousy on Gyeo-wool’s part makes me wonder if she harbors some feelings for Gu-hyung. And who can blame her—he was, and is, devilishly charming with the ladies, after all.
- Vampire Detective: Episode 5
- Vampire Detective: Episode 4
- Vampire Detective: Episode 3
- Vampire Detective: Episode 2
- Vampire Detective: Episode 1
- OCN’s Vampire Detective drinks, dodges, and sheds blood
- Vampire Detective: To suck or not to suck
- Lee Chung-ah joins Vampire Detective amidst air of mystery
- Kim Yoon-hye joins Vampire Detective to romance Lee Joon
- Lee Joon becomes vampire private eye for OCN