Police Unit 38: Episode 3
Assembling Jung-do’s team may look like a simple task at the outset, but it’s not so easy to take a group of criminals and expect them to get along. And even if things went as planned, there’s no way to control every possible complication, and a pretty big one presents itself right off the bat. Jung-do may be an experienced con man, but even he may have bitten off more than he can chew this time.
EPISODE 3 RECAP
Jung-do tells Sung-il that he can help take down tax evader Ma Jin-seok, but Sung-il corrects him on one thing — they’re not taking his money, they’re collecting his lawfully-due taxes. Jung-do scoffs that it’s the same thing, and has to control his laughter when Sung-il launches into the legalities.
So detective Deok-bae speaks to Jung-do on a level he can understand: “If you con again, you’re dead meat.” Jung-do just rolls his eyes, and holds out his hands for his handcuffs to be removed.
The next day at work, Sung-il hears that the director of a local TV program wants to interview him. HAHA, it’s just Jung-go in another persona, and Sung-il actually tries to hide by just going face-down on his desk. Finally Sung-il follows him just to avoid a scene, and Jung-do grins like that was the most fun thing ever.
He tells Sung-il that he wants ten percent of the nearly six billion won they’ll be scamming Jin-seok out of, asking if Sung-il trusts him. Sung-il is all, Of course I don’t trust you!, but Jung-do says he doesn’t trust Sung-il either — this is all about the money. Sung-il doesn’t have much leverage to argue, but he does threaten to put Jung-do back in jail if he tries anything stupid.
Jung-do has been working on a plan, and he’s decided that with this amount of money, they need more than just two people… they need a whole team. Sensing that this thing is getting away from him, Sung-il tries to protest, but Jung-do argues that he’s the swindling expert, and he knows that things never go exactly as planned.
First up, they need to recruit BURNER (Heo Jae-ho) — he’s the guy who sells Jung-do the burner phones, the same guy that Sung-il terrorized so badly. Burner has high emotional intelligence, meaning that he’s good at managing his emotions and manipulating people with theirs, but his weakness is that he’s not all that smart.
Next up is KEYBOARD (Go Gyu-pil), a computer genius who builds web phishing sites and seems to have a bit of a manhwa fetish. Ha, he’s pretty embarrassed when Sung-il and Jung-do catch him surrounded by naughty animated movies and posters.
After recruiting Keyboard, they head over to meet Gold, also known as Mi-joo. Her specialty is her ability to size up people in an instant, and to figure out how best to manipulate them to get what she wants. Mi-joo takes one look at Sung-il and pulls Jung-do aside, unwilling to work with strangers. Heh, she doesn’t even bother trying to keep Sung-il from hearing her objections, and just tells Jung-do that she’ll think about it.
After she leaves, Sung-il complains about Mi-joo’s rudeness, and Jung-do explains that she’s been very hurt in the past. He offers to go see the next person on the list, Wallet, by himself since it might be dangerous. Sung-il attempts to take back control and insists on going with him… then heads off in the wrong direction. HA.
WALLET (Song Ok-sook) turns out to be a formidable older lady, who is currently intimidating the hell out of a man by serving him tea. She has her very pretty henchwoman help him with his hot tea by throwing it in his face, and she calmly tells him not to play with money like he plays with people.
Jung-do tries to convince Sung-il again to let him talk to Wallet alone, but Sung-il insists on handling this — up until the still-screaming man is dragged out of her office. Jung-do has fun with it, grinning and refusing to speak while Sung-il fumbles his way through a greeting.
Sung-il ends up throwing Jung-do under the bus, so Jung-do asks if she wants to fund their little caper. He promises it will be lucrative for her, and he has the nerve to insult her when she hesitates, saying that Chairman Wang (the grey-haired man from prison) was wrong about her. The name makes Wallet perk up, and she demands to know how Jung-do knows him.
After a little sassy pushback, Jung-do admits that he met Wang in prison, and Wallet calls in her bodyguards. Sung-il looks like he’s about to throw up when he sees the giant knife in one man’s belt, but Jung-do is cool as a cucumber, and a quick call to the prison (wow, look at everyone jump in the penitentiary when Chairman Wang gets a call) confirms that the chairman does indeed know Jung-do.
Not only does he know him, but Jung-do saved his life, and Wallet is told to take very good care of him. Wallet asks, in an awed voice now, “Who are you??” Jung-do just smiles and replies, “I’m a con artist.”
Sung-il goes back to his desk at work, reeling from the events of the day, and Sung-hee asks about the guy he left with this morning. She wonders if he asked Sung-il for money, but at Sung-il’s defensive response, she backs off. Sung-hee suggests they give up on Ma Jin-seok, saying sweetly that she likes Sung-il and wants to work with him for a long time.
Sung-il asks Sung-hee not to think like that — it’s not worth giving up just to protect him. Plus, if she makes a habit of giving up on the hard cases, she’ll start to pursue the wrong things.
It’s time for the team to meet and go over their plans, but things get off on the wrong foot. Burner tries to cozy up to Mi-joo, then pretends he was just joking when she’s disgusted by his advances. Burner and Keyboard dislike each other on sight, and Wallet is horrified by the conditions at Burner’s office.
Burner underestimates Wallet and invites her to leave, and by the time Jung-do arrives the whole group is pretty much refusing to speak to each other. He explains what they’re here to do, and they all gape — Jung-do is trying to collect someone’s taxes??
Wallet in particular complains that her cut is too small to be worth it, and she straight-up calls Mi-joo a prostitute when she expresses disbelief that Wallet is that much of a big shot. Wallet decides to decline, but she stops cold when Jung-do asks if six billion won is enough for her.
He plans to take it all, the entire almost-six-billion won they’ll be lifting from Ma Jin-seok, and offers to let her have it all… if she can take it. Wallet still thinks this sounds hinky, but she’s interested enough to stick around and see what happens.
When Sung-il arrives, Jung-do says they’ll start by “recycling the leftovers.” He tells Sung-il that a good swindle is all about teamwork, so he’s got to play by the rules or it will all go bust. Sung-il agrees to let Jung-do run the show, but only because he’s experienced, not because Sung-il is scared or anything. Right.
First, Mi-joo teaches Sung-il about voice phishing, which he’s predictably bad at. Keyboard teaches him how to make a fake ID, and Burner shows him how to jump in front of cars and get compensation money. Jung-do’s job is to show Sung-il how to con people in person, which will require a lot more charisma than he’s used to using, and how to observe and remember details around him.
Sung-il isn’t the most willing student — all of this goes against his principles, and he’s not exactly keen to break the law (especially as it pertains to throwing himself in front of moving vehicles). He’s pretty much terrible at all of it, anyway.
On a case with the team, Sung-hee spots Sung-il walking with Jung-do, and this time there’s no denying that it’s him.
Jung-do wakes Sung-il early one morning to summon him to Burner’s warehouse (which they’re using as a home base), and Sung-il has to reach over his sleeping wife for the car keys. She rolls over and looks right at him, but luckily she’s just sleeping with her eyes open. Ew.
Sung-il calls in sick, but Sung-hee is suspicious and follows him. He’s late so the team starts without him, beginning with a briefing on Ma Jin-seok. Interestingly, he owns twenty-two businesses in Gangnam, and not one of them is in his own name. Keyboard did some digging, and found that Jin-seok steals the identities of homeless men, and changes the names of his businesses every few months.
As for his personal life, it turns out that all of his bookmarks on his computer are for real estate sites. He uses an untraceable 2G phone, and likes to bet when he plays golf. He also doesn’t drink much, and he’s not that into women.
So their options for a swindle are golf or real estate. But Jin-seok has a pet shark real estate agent that won’t be easy to get past, so Jung-do figures they’ll have to get the shark on their side… by conning him, naturally.
Sung-hee follows Sung-il all the way to the warehouse and walks right into the middle of the meeting. Her smile freezes when she and Jung-do notice each other, but she finds her voice and says he looks good. She greets Mi-joo by name as well, and tells Sung-il it’s time to leave, assuming he’s the one being swindled.
Sung-il mutters that he knows it’s a swindle but it’s not what she thinks, and he leads her outside to talk. Jung-do and Mi-joo both look shaken to have seen Sung-hee, and Jung-do is especially shaken. What on earth happened between them?
Wallet’s pretty henchwoman keeps a careful eye on Sung-il, who tells Sung-hee that these people aren’t swindling him exactly, avoiding explaining that he’s already been taken for every penny he had. He says that he knows all about Jung-do, and that he’s here planning something with these people.
Sung-hee is ready to march in there and give Jung-do a piece of her mind, but Sung-il stops her. Frustrated, she asks if he loves his wife and daughter, and if he does, he won’t do whatever he’s planning with Jung-do.
Sung-hee gets in her car, and we flash back to the last time she saw Jung-do. Sung-hee has been fighting back tears, and a frustrated Jung-do says that he approached her to swindle her — she should be angry. He only dated her to take her money, he says, but Sung-hee asks if that’s so, then why did he never ask for any money?
Jung-do sighs that he thought she had money — he never would have dated her if he’d known she was poor. He insists that nothing he did had any feeling behind it, and he was simply deceiving her. Sung-hee holds herself together until Jung-do leaves, then gives in to her tears.
Back in the warehouse, Sung-il asks Jung-do what happened between him and Sung-hee. Jung-do says she used to have a crush on him, but doesn’t elaborate.
Late that night, as he’s working at his place, Jung-do runs across some old photos of himself and Sung-hee. His expression goes soft and he smiles. But he freezes up again when he finds a picture of himself with his parents, and he quickly shuts the suitcase. He calls someone, and says they should proceed as planned.
Sung-hee takes the next day off work, which worries Sung-il, but he calls Jung-do to say that they should do “that” today. Jung-do calls Mi-joo to tell her to proceed, and we see that she’s gotten a job as the secretary to Jin-seok’s pet shark real estate agent, Mr. Noh.
Some fancy hacking by Keyboard has Mr. Noh’s phone blowing up with texts, notifying him that someone is withdrawing money from his account a hundred won (about ten cents) at a time, ha. Mr. Noh calls the number that’s texting him, which of course gets him Burner and not his bank, as he thinks.
Posing as a bank executive, Burner advises Mr. Noh to take all the money from that account and take it home for safekeeping. He says the bank will send someone over, and for Mr. Noh to do exactly as they say. He gets his money and heads home, where a suited-up Jung-do soon rings his doorbell.
The first thing Jung-do asks is if Mr. Noh has other accounts and how much money is in them, and he tells Mr. Noh to withdraw every penny he has. Mr. Noh leaves Jung-do alone with the bag of cash to rush straight to the bank, with Mi-joo stoking his fears by telling him a story about a friend of hers who had this happen to them.
While he’s out, Sung-il shows up to his house, nervous but ready for his first swindle. Unfortunately Sung-hee is following him again, and she calls the police to report a fraud in progress.
This episode was really mostly setup, as we met each of Jung-do’s team members and saw them start to build the framework of Ma Jin-seok’s swindle. Not a lot of action happened, but I like how they isolated the person likely to stand in their way of conning Jin-seok and came up with a scheme to put him on shaky footing. Watching the team mobilize and do what they do best is exciting… I can’t wait to see more!
I’m definitely enjoying the way the team is shaping up — it’s kind of fun that they all pretty much hate each other’s guts. I like the different characters and the way they each have their specialty and modus operandi, and it makes sense that they would be suspicious and distrust each other. I’m very curious about Jung-do’s offer to let them take the entire amount they’ll be lifting from Jin-seok — I’m assuming this means he’s not just swindling Jin-seok for his tax money, but also Sung-il for the big payout. I doubt they’re all willing to go to such lengths for one-sixth of ten percent, and I have a feeling that Jung-do never did have any intention of handing that money over to Sung-il.
If that’s so, I think it adds an interesting layer of danger to the swindle — not only do they have to work with Sung-il to get the money, but they have to keep their true motive from him at all times. I’m pretty sure that poor Sung-il is being swindled again, and this time he’s actually, knowingly helping the con man do it. This should be good, because I think Sung-il is going to gain a lot of confidence and self-worth during this time with Jung-do, and he’s not going to take being tricked again so easily this time.
Sung-il and Jung-do’s relationship is shaping up to be exactly what I hoped — a sort of criminal odd couple, with all the conflict and hilarity that entails. It’s so cute how Sung-il keeps trying to take charge, and how Jung-do just lets him flounder until he realizes he’s in way over his head and gives Jung-do the lead. Poor Sung-il just wants someone to take him seriously, but I think that the way he is now, it’s not going to happen. I can absolutely see him earning Jung-do’s and the other team members’ respect over time though, as he gains confidence and comes out of his shell.
Speaking of relationships, there’s no doubt there was more to Jung-do and Sung-hee’s relationship than just another swindle. I can’t believe a guy as slick and prepared as Jung-do would accidentally date a penniless girl. And I noticed that during their breakup, despite his cutting words, Jung-do was the one downing soju like he needed the courage, and it almost sounded like he was trying a little too hard to convince Sung-hee that he didn’t feel anything for her. Then we saw his face as he looked at those photos of when they were dating, and that proved that Jung-do definitely wasn’t being honest with her. He seemed pretty rattled when they ran into each other again (and again, more rattled than she was), and I’m guessing that regardless of why he broke up with her, it wasn’t just a swindle to him — there were some pretty strong feelings there. Was it noble idiocy? Did he break up with her because he was going to jail? Did he plan to con her, fell in love, and backed out? I can’t wait to find out.
Knowing this about Jung-do, that he does have a gooey marshmallow center underneath all that bluster and snark, I’m guessing that his plan to take the money from Sung-il and run isn’t going to sit so well with him either, when it gets to that point. He’s gotten emotionally involved before, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he loses his heart to Sung-il this time, and has a hard time conning him. At least it’s a direction I can completely see the show taking us in, and though I may be totally off-base, I would really like to see that happen. What better justice than for the con man to lose control of the situation, and get conned by his own feelings?
- Police Unit 38: Episode 2
- Police Unit 38: Episode 1
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- Police Unit 38’s band of tax-collecting outlaws
- Police Unit 38 will lie, cheat, or swindle you for your taxes
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- Seo In-gook, Sooyoung for new OCN comic crime drama
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