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104

Police Unit 38: Episode 6

What’s really fun about ensemble dramas is not only do you have a lot of personalities around, but they collide with each other in fascinating, messy, and unexpected ways, modulating and changing one another until the personalities you finish with have somehow all become puzzle pieces of each other. It’s beginning to happen to our band, and you know, it’s pretty damn beautiful.

Note: We reckon the con team has earned the right to be more than nicknames, so we’re switching over to real names from now on: Burner is HAK-JOO, Keyboard is JA-WANG, and our elegant Lady Wallet is MADAM NOH.

 
EPISODE 6 RECAP

Detective Jae-sung gloats about locking up the con team while Jung-do objects that there hasn’t even been a fraud yet. Jae-sung chuckles darkly that he expects him to collect Ma Jin-seok’s signature on the con-tract (get it, get it?) tomorrow himself, and that’s the moment he’ll swoop in to arrest him.

His words have a nasty edge and Jung-do struggles to master himself. He agrees, but challenges Jae-sung to catch him if he can. Before he goes, the cop leaves Jung-do a pair of handcuffs and tells him to do him a favor and cuff himself tomorrow, because he can’t be bothered.

As soon as the door beeps shut, Jung-do swears, his agitation spilling out. He calls Jin-seok to rearrange the meeting to today, explaining that something came up for the real estate agent, so Jung-do will be bringing the contracts himself.

Sung-il tries to negotiate with their captors at the police station, but Mi-joo points out to him that the purpose of their wholesale detention is to trap Jung-do into incriminating himself.

In her office, Wallet, aka Madam Noh, thinks back to her meeting with Mr. Kim (Chairman Wang’s subordinate in prison) when he told her that Jung-do actually saved the chairman’s life twice. She’s dismayed to hear news of the team’s arrest and grimly asks her daughter (whose name is CHOI JI-YEON) about Jung-do’s whereabouts.

Jung-do makes his way out of his building, shadowed all the while by plainclothes police. Jae-sung’s anticipated his move and, curb-crawling behind his target, instructs his officers to arrest Jung-do as soon as the contract’s signed.

Jung-do knows he’s being tailed, although he doesn’t break his purposeful stride. He slows to check out what’s going on behind him through the reflection on his phone screen. Growling, he breaks into a sudden, wild sprint and the cops give chase.

He screams with frustration as Jae-sung’s car catches up. They pull out all the stops in their pursuit until they finally corner him. He doubles over with exhaustion, but just as it seems like it’s all over, a black car screeches up and the window rolls down to reveal Madam Noh’s dour face. Lighting up, Jung-do leaps into her car and they flee.

Breathing heavily, he gives Madam Noh a grateful thumbs-up. She just snorts at him. Aw, you know you like him despite yourself!

Jae-sung won’t give up so easily and orders his team to continue the chase. But they’re totally thrown when an identical black car appears right next to Madam Noh’s car. And then there’s a third! Jae-sung spits fury as the cops are forced to give up at a huge intersection where no less than seven black cars peel away in different directions.

Jae-sung rips into his team for losing them, punctuating his words with vicious kicks. He realizes they can still catch Jung-do if they find Ma Jin-seok, but one detective points out that they’ve just made a mess in another department’s jurisdiction for a crime that hasn’t even been committed — they had much better worry about themselves at this point. Innit, though.

While Jae-sung splutters, his fate is sealed when the other detectives simultaneously receive an alert to detain him. The rest of his team arrives, and despite his struggle, Jae-sung is placed under arrest. Good, serves you right.

Madam Noh goes through a car wash with Jung-do, the noise masking their conversation, and she remarks that being able to buy multiple identical cars is one of the perks of wealth. He grins, and wonders how she knew to find him. She got a call, she says, but it seems neither of them knows who it was.

Her daughter Ji-yeon arrives at the police station where the con team is being held, and they crowd eagerly at her appearance. “Shall we go?” she says to them. They’ve got work to do.

Jung-do, impeccable once again, finally meets with Jin-seok to sign the land contract. With cool efficiency, he reminds Jin-seok to read it through carefully first. Then, Jin-seok lays his seal on it and has the money wired over immediately… and it’s done.

Jin-seok can’t keep the smile from his face. He leans closer to Jung-do now with a proposal: How about they cut Sung-il out of this? Instead of half of the five percent promised to Sung-il, Jin-seok offers him a straight-up three percent. Jung-do’s face right now is a mixture of entertainment and disbelief, and he laughs, which Jin-seok mistakes for agreement.

“You’re a lowlife to the end, aren’t you?” a voice says. Jung-do gets up and the just-arrived Sung-il takes his place. Addressing him harshly, Sung-il tells Jin-seok that he’s just been conned — the plot of land he bought for that exorbitant price is practically worthless and not even developable.

Jin-seok can’t compute it and seeks assurance from “Section Chief Kim.” Jung-do grins and tells him his last name is Yang, not Kim. He tells Jin-seok all about the fake website where he checked the wrong plot of land, and Jin-seok dives for a nearby customer’s laptop. But the real land registry only proves their words true. Jin-seok frantically dials his brother to block the money transfer, but it’s all too late — the money’s gone.

Sung-il observes his panic impassively (Jung-do, on the other hand, enjoys it all very much), and likens Jin-seok’s expression to the water-drinking ajumma’s. And that’s why he shouldn’t play with people with his money, Sung-il says.

Jin-seok now clings to them, kneeling and begging. But his humility lasts for all of twenty seconds before he seizes Sung-il by the shirt-collar, teeth bared and screaming. Hak-joo (Burner) saunters in then, out of disguise, and gives a cheerful greeting. He’s quickly followed by the rest of the team: Mi-joo, Ja-wang (Keyboard), and even the ever-unruffled Madam Noh.

As the extent of the deception sinks in, Jin-seok laughs desperately. He pulls out his phone to report the con, but Sung-il takes it from him and sits him down. Formally, he declares Jin-seok’s taxes paid off and all his arrears cleared. The whole team radiates satisfaction and Jin-seok closes his eyes in defeat.

Sung-il leaves him with the parting advice that they shouldn’t live dishonorably and be an embarrassment to their kids. One by one, the team files out, leaving Jin-seok seething.

At City Hall, the news about Ma Jin-seok paying his taxes spreads until it reaches Commissioner Ahn, who’s in a meeting with Mayor Chun. The mayor wonders why Ahn is so troubled over the guy, and Ahn explains that Jin-seok is the lifeline and money source of one BANG PIL-GYU — a bigwig connected to an even bigger wig, CHOI CHUL-WOO, who are basically their secret overlords.

Commissioner Ahn admits that Jin-seok’s case had been strategically assigned to Sung-il under the assumption that he wouldn’t be able to collect, therefore keeping their web safe. But if either of those three are threatened, Ahn tells the mayor, the sword would then be pointed at the two of them.

At the same time, Sung-hee briefs her task force on their next target, Bang Pil-gyu: He’s the former CEO of the now insolvent Woohyang Development, a subsidiary of Woohyang Group owned by Bang’s hometown sunbae, Choi Chul-woo, and the whole company is mired in controversy.

The team asks Sung-hee why they’re taking on such a big job. She tells them plainly that it’s to save their chief Sung-il, and they fall silent. A quick flashback shows Chief Kang telling Sung-hee that if they expose Bang’s tax evasion and lavish lifestyle in front of TV cameras, public sentiment will force the tax bureau to act.

She relays this plan of attack to the team, and they anticipate that exposing Bang will draw out Jin-seok too, thus giving them the leverage to negotiate for Sung-il to be cleared of both the assault and alleged bribery. That’s their goal, she notes — saving Sung-il, not getting Jin-seok’s money. Ohh they don’t know yet that Jin-seok’s cleared his taxes! This can’t end well.

Sung-hee teases Chief Kang for putting on makeup for the cameras, since they called a bunch of reporters to the scene. He appoints her as the mission leader (which everyone recognizes as a scapegoating tactic), but she takes charge efficiently. They pile into vans and she instructs them to search for a safe locked in a secret room.

She also tells them to play up to the cameras by staging scenarios like going for the wife’s luxury goods, so they can get a shot of her fighting with them for her preciouses. A flash-forward shows it all unfolding precisely to plan. But everything depends on them finding the safe and revealing its contents, she emphasizes. That’s where they expect to find the big money.

But once they arrive at the property, nobody answers the doorbell. A multitude of cameras are trained on them as Sung-hee calls for a ladder and gets one of the men to scale the wall to let them in. Chief Kang stays busy telling the reporters that this is all Perfectly Normal and Legal.

President Bang (whose face remains obscured from our view), having watched their entrance from a high balcony with a smirk, takes a leisurely shower.

Sung-hee announces herself at the front door, and pounds on it to no avail. She sends for the ladder again, and they’re visibly relieved as her right-hand man, INVESTIGATOR PARK confirms there are people inside. They break the lock (still perfectly legal, Kang assures the reporters) and finally gain entry.

Chief Kang stops dead when he sees the man at the table — Bang Pil-gyu. He reels into a memory of encountering him before, where Bang asked his name and told him to stop something. And for all the tease about revealing his face, it’s an ordinary one after all. He gives Chief Kang an alligator-smile before greeting him like an old friend. In front of the flashing cameras. Shrewd.

Sung-hee comes forward and President Bang praises their diligence. But before they begin their search, he turns an earnest face to the cameras and explains that the reason he didn’t pay these taxes is because he wanted the media to hear his words.

He tells them that he was framed as a swindler and so he lost everything as his company was sacrificed for political ends — all because they refused to engage in bribery. Haha, right. Sung-hee rolls her eyes too, unable to argue in front of the cameras.

Claiming to be racked with guilt, he bows deeply in apology to his thousands of former employees for not protecting their livelihoods. The reporters just lap it up. Speaking of which, I don’t know how it’s okay for a media circus to be present at a search-and-seizure, but having set his stage, Bang smiles sharkishly at Sung-hee, who has his number and isn’t cowed.

And with that, the whole mission is wrong-footed — that flash-forward wasn’t a flash-forward at all, just a glorified visualization exercise. Instead of enacting the scene of the wealthy tax-evading woman clutching her expensive handbag, the searchers come off as the bad guys.

They confiscate jewelry, which she tearfully tells them was a gift from her daughter-in-law, and pleads to keep. President Bang nobly tells her to relinquish it, adding in a note of self-reproach for having to now mooch off his son like this by living in his house. The lesson: Never play games with alligators or politicians.

There’s still no safe, and the team quietly worries that they’re in dire straits. But Sung-hee isn’t ready to give up yet. Approaching President Bang, she asks him to unlock the room upstairs. Argh I love how self-possessed she is. He tries to stall her, but eventually opens it — and there it is. The safe. He says it’s just personal items inside, but she firmly insists he open it.

“Must you go this far?” he asks her. “Yes,” she replies diffidently, “Going this far is my job.” I seriously love her. Before opening it, though, he fixes her with long look and asks her name. You know it makes her a marked woman, but she answers him clearly.

“I’ll remember that name,” he tells her, menacing in his mildness.

And the doors open to reveal… nothing? No, an envelope with a picture of an old man inside. Sung-hee and Chief Kang exchange wide-eyed looks, knowing they’ve been outplayed, while Bang performs for the cameras again. It’s all he has left of his late father, he tells the reporters. And with a long-suffering sigh, he leaves the officers to deal with the aftermath. Well that backfired spectacularly.

A little later, President Bang calls out to Sung-hee on her way out. He asks her if she came here to put on a show or to actually collect taxes. If it’s the latter, she’s in for trouble. “I came here to work,” she tells him with a level smile. His menacing face abruptly switches to fatherly affection, and he lets her go. Chief Kang’s protectiveness of her is sweet, as he ushers her away from danger.

President Bang then receives an urgent call from his son, BANG HO-SEOK, with news about Ma Jin-seok that does not go down well with his father.

Back at City Hall, Sung-hee also finds out that Jin-seok’s back-taxes have been cleared, and she’s stricken. Leaving the office, phone to her ear, she suddenly encounters Jung-do. Understanding dawns: It was them, wasn’t it? They scammed Jin-seok’s taxes out of him.

She marvels at how ill-fated she and he are. Thanks to him, they’ve lost the leverage over Jin-seok that would have given them a shot at saving Sung-il. But Jung-do knows nothing about the impending disciplinary action and is genuinely taken aback. She condemns congratulates him for saving himself from prison — but it was at her chief’s expense. She marches away, leaving him troubled.

At home, Sung-il prepares a memorial meal for the co-worker who killed himself. Ohh, not merely a co-worker, but his actual brother-in-law. His wife joins in the rites, while berating her dead oppa: Because of him, she married this good-for-nothing man. Sung-il argues back that she’d called him her ideal type. Haha. In the background, a news report talks about plans to assign special overseers for the biggest tax arrears. The news of Jae-sung’s arrest also flashes on the screen, as a detective who’d taken bribes.

They’re surprised when the doorbell rings late, and Sung-il opens it to Jung-do’s chipmunky grin. Before you know it, he’s happily sharing their meal, while Sung-il’s wife tries to recruit him for a blind date before he can even swallow a spoonful. He turns his attention on daughter Ji-eun instead, who tells him to quit trying to ingratiate himself with his boss’s daughter (“Ajusshi, you’re a swindler, aren’t you?”). Hahaha, touché.

Later, the men go out for drinks and Jung-do asks about the person in the funeral portrait. Sung-il tells him about the suicide six years ago, and how his brother-in-law had been slammed with a bribery charge. He’s full of regret for not believing in him then, and for his last words to him being about just wanting to make his pension.

Jung-do questions whether it was truly bribery, or was it that he provoked the wrong people? It was Woohyang, Sung-il tells him. They had gone after its president, Choi Chul-woo, because he had the biggest arrears in the district. But they couldn’t even get close because someone called Bang Pil-gyu blocked them off so thoroughly, with all his City Hall connections.

Sung-il says that President Bang had made just one call, and everything was over. One by one, all involved — Commissioner Ahn, the other Baek Sung-il, Chief Kang, and finally Sung-il himself — abandoned his brother-in-law. And then he was gone. Just like that.

Jung-do wonders who had the kind of clout to move City Hall’s most authoritative, but Sung-il just confirms that there is someone like that. It seems like he knows who, too. My guess is Mayor Chun, especially given the photo of them together in an earlier episode.

Jung-do lightly confronts Sung-il about the disciplinary hearing, and asks him why he didn’t try to cut a deal with Jin-seok. But Sung-il figures that since he never took a bribe, he’ll get a demotion at most for the assault, and it’ll be fine as long as he makes a good showing.

Jung-do laughs at the unlikeliness of such a showing, and tells Sung-il he has something to give him. Look at him munching that carrot like Bugs Bunny, lol. Sung-il holds out a hand semi-expectantly but Jung-do laughs again — not now, he says. It had better be the money you swindled off him, kiddo.

Elsewhere, Jin-seok shamefacedly admits to President Bang that he got swindled into his paying taxes. President Bang’s son, Ho-seok, sneers in contempt. Planting himself before Jin-seok, Ho-seok orders him to hit himself. Vile little monster.

Jin-seok does as he’s told, while President Bang looks impassively on. Not satisfied, Ho-seok takes over the task himself, delivering blow after vicious blow. But when he progresses to kicking, Jin-seok grabs his leg and daddy dearest finally calls him off.

Coming to sit by Jin-seok, President Bang calls an end to their relationship. Shocked, Jin-seok pleads: Without President Bang’s connections, he’ll be ruined. But Bang remains implacable. He tells Jin-seok he must survive his trivial little existence on his own, and be grateful even to have rubbed shoulders with dragons such as himself.

Shortly after, President Bang interrupts Ho-seok’s abuse of his driver to check if he did the thing he asked him to. Ho-seok guesses that Dad must be hard-pressed by City Hall to need such a thing done. Dad smiles grimly, “They tried, the louts.”

At home, Sung-il mulls over Jung-do’s visit. Heading out, he makes for the team hideaway. The others are already assembled there for a secret meeting, where Jung-do has apparently already told them about Sung-il.

Smiling a little, Jung-do admits he feels bad for the ajusshi who got tangled up with them unfairly, but joined hands with them in good faith. And unexpectedly, he tells them, he found a sense of satisfaction in bringing a bad guy to justice. “Wasn’t it fun?” he asks. So what if they keep going, and help Sung-il keep his job?

The camera lingers a moment on each face as they consider it, and Sung-il walks into their midst at that very moment. They’re surprised to see him, but not as much as he is when he turns to find the wall covered in posters of his division’s tax defaulters. What are they planning to do with that, Sung-il asks.

Half-sheepish, half-pleased, Jung-do asks if getting three hundred people to cough up their taxes is enough to save his job. Sung-il’s kind face breaks into a tiny, hopeful smile.

 
COMMENTS

Aww, Sung-il. What’s great about his character is how totally transparent he is — you always know exactly what’s going on with him. With Jung-do, on the other hand, I’m left constantly second-guessing. Like is his rousing speech at the end here a sincere product of the moment, or another calculated manipulation, albeit for a good cause? It’s why his encounters with Sung-hee become increasingly interesting. It feels like those moments, laden with a subtle tension, are his most honest. Not because he’s actually telling the truth (God forbid!), but because he becomes less and less able to hide it, especially from himself (he can barely meet her eyes right now). It’s actually really fun to see him shaken as his scam gets away from him.

But my favorite thing this episode was Sung-hee, and there was a slight shift from focusing on Jung-do to highlight her. She’s gutsy, competent, and inventive, she is — like Jung-do, but also the opposite of Jung-do, which is fitting because he’s the reason she chose to become who she is now. And unlike him, she seeks solutions within the law (or through its loopholes and blindspots, of course), which requires far more ingenuity. Her face-off with President Bang showed she has clear potential to match him, I think, in his maneuvering. Yes, she was outplayed, and yes, their tactics were inadequate… but they won’t be next time. She’s got the measure of him now. Call this a test game, where the purpose of the first encounter isn’t to win, but to gain the knowledge of how your opponent thinks. It’s actually pretty exciting to have a smart, strong woman as his arch-nemesis, and I don’t doubt her capability for a moment. I only hope she keeps being quietly badass.

We reach a turning point this episode as the show lifts the veil on its real villains, and the deft power-plays are what this hour was all about: turning the situation to your advantage and telling the story better — an important lesson to Sung-hee about taking immediate control of the narrative. The fundamental problem both she and Sung-il have is that they think too honestly. For example, Sung-il is endearingly naïve in the belief that his innocence will save him, which of course, it won’t (although it also shows that there’s still some idealism left in him). In the shark-infested waters they’re now in, they can’t afford to be minnows if they want to live. They have to evolve — and perhaps ally with a piranha or five.

Since I watched the last six episodes in marathon, I feel better placed to appreciate the world-building without feeling like it was too slow. There’s a quality to it in the earlier episodes which really put me in mind of Misaeng. There’s the weary, workaday world and the tired salaryman, there’s struggling for trivial victories, there’s office politics. There’s a stark and grinding misery that underlies Sung-il’s daily existence, and all of those elements feed into driving him to break out of the box he crept into after his brother-in-law’s death (speaking of which: suicide, or murder?).

But the shame and guilt that drove him inside then are the same shame and guilt that cause him to break out now. It’s what makes his parting words to Jin-seok fall more heavily, because it’s so evident that he’s lived by them himself. He stands out as something of a wild card: His allegiance is to the law. Which should be a given, but in the world he exists in, it’s money that moves people. And, he’s increasingly learning, the law is allegiant to money, and that’s the root of the moral crisis that drove him to join hands with Jung-do at all. Jung-do gives him opportunity, and he gives Jung-do direction.

I find that last a vital point in Jung-do’s development. I was discussing this with festerfaster, who felt like it was an uncharacteristic about-face for him to suddenly be all about upholding the law. But I find it a believable progression. Jung-do’s been shown as adrift, and I think there’s a headiness in doing good that is easy to underestimate. Doing good is implicitly tied with having purpose, both in an everyday way, but also in a wider, existential way. I think his team is (and is meant to be) representative of those at the fringes of society, unable to find a place in the “normal” world, even when they’re as affluent and influential as Madam Noh.

Although we don’t get Detective Jae-sung’s whole deal, wasn’t it satisfying to see him lose the upper hand he had over Jung-do? From seeming at first like a benevolent father figure, his recent behavior and frenzied pursuit of Jung-do speaks of another agenda entirely. I was genuinely shocked to learn that he was chasing Jung-do around outside his jurisdiction. Nothing else says “vicious vendetta” more clearly, but whether it’s personal or whether he’s acting under the orders of someone bigger, we can only wait and see. What’s evident, though, is that all the small fry are connected to a web that extends higher and wider than the humble Tax Division could imagine. Pick a scab, unleash a tsunami.

 
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What a ride this episode is!!!
I am watching with 100% concentration (first time since Signal); trying to categorize who in which side, and by far fail in the effort. Even JD is a bit shady. But please be good to Papa Bear.

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If anyone messes with our bear, I will be really upset. He is just so cuddly.

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I think there are con artists who con for the money, and then there are con artists who con for the art. The money ones are like gamblers and typically get caught because they couldn't give up money they should have walked away from when things started going bad. But the artists are interesting, because they're more interested in the chameleon aspect of it all and can easily walk away from the marks that law enforcement would consider "big", instead going after ego- or experience-driven cons.

That's where people like Frank Abagnale crop up, and it sure does look like Jung Do follows the same model: enjoys the con for the game of it, and sometimes winning means money, sometimes it means winning. I can completely imagine Jung Do converting to an Abagnale-like second career "consulting" for the tax office. So while the idea that he suddenly is in it for justice and the law is a little weird, it's absolutely believable to me that he would see how this routine brought an arrogant thief to his knees and really enjoy the thought of doing that across the board.

...that said, there's obviously something going on with his dad, the Chairman and is violent detective stalker. But none of that seems money-driven either, more personality-driven.

Either way I'm hooked. And I do love straight-arrow, still-waters-run-deep Sung Hee. She does not seem to get ruffled when things start heading south - she'd probably make a great addition to the con team, though I doubt she'd ever do it unless absolutely against the wall.

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Spot on Miranda!

One of the things that makes JD such an interesting character to play off of is his approach to the task of conning. he's so upfront about how his whole life is conning. When something is so soaked into your blood that it's part of your essence it's never about the ends but the means! I have no doubt that a smart con artists could end up in a similar position as say Lady Wallet (Madame Noh). I think part of the reason JD is where he is now is he romanticizes his own accomplishments to feel a level of self worth.

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I'm thoroughly hooked. Sung Hee crashed into their otherwise perfect plan unexpectedly. She is sassy, competent with some help & stubbornly brave no doubt but a little naive to my concern. She was naive during the flashback with Jung Do, she is still naive at the present moment. But I'm sure the writer has meant for her to be friend/foe to Jung Do's character & can't wait to see them work/fight soon.

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Yes, Saya is back! Thanks for the recap!

I agree with you and @Miranda that Jungdo's motivation for cons isn't really money. When he was arrested, he said that he was conning the people on the list because they were bad people, and I think he meant it. He was doing it out of some sense of justice, because life had taught him that justice doesn't come from the law. I think Sunghee will learn that also, and join the team.

I'm interested to learn Jungdo's backstory, and also that of the mysterious Chairman -- will the Chairman turn out to be good or bad?

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Suicide or murder? I think neither! I'm convinced the mysterious old man in the jail is the brother-in-law! It's just a crazy conspiracy theory, but I'm calling it now!

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Now that you've said it, it might be logical to think that the Chairman Wang could be the "dead" BIL because if we rewinding the story back to the 1st episode, the names in the target list are all seemed to be related to BPG's case that the BIL try to crack. And even MJS's name was listed in the hit list and we all know that all of those names came from Chairman Wang's order for YJD to hit. And MJS was one of the strong ally of BPG.

Even if Chairman Wang might not be the BIL, but I think the event that lead to his arrest must be related to the case 6 years ago.

Interesting discovery, especially after the real revelation about how BSI bribery case happened in ep 7, it made me think that i need my full concentration when watching this because there are scenes that contained crucial information about the story line but was presented in a "blink-and-you-missed" it way.

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exactly! What pushed it over the edge for me was that Sung-Il was actually the only section chief not on the hit list, Jung-do scammed him because he had him confused with the Section 1 chief who has the same name. Also, the list seems to be full of people who tacitly or otherwise provide the support for the corruption BIL was trying to take down. Maybe he faked his death to protect his family and committed some crime against the conspirators that got him locked up?

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And the show made it an effort not to show CW's face in the prison, what with his long grey hair covering his face and all. And he got his henchman to talk on behalf of him....

And the plot thickens...

This is so exciting, what could be the possible story line of this drama. The actual story. And I think YJD's dad went to prison at almost the same time as all of those happenings 6 years ago. Would could had happened at that time? How every single one of them related? Was YJD mixed of of the other BSI, an accident? Or was it CW actually orchestrated it that way so that our teddy bear ahjussi got involved with the group?

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OMG this whole thread :O

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I'm also dead certain the job a young Sung-hee tried out for (the one where Jung-do met her) was a pyramid scheme - iirc Jung-do actually said that last ep, or at the very least strongly implied it, given that he was so reluctant for a girl he's so obviously drawn to, to end up in the same workplace as him.

The plot thickens indeed...

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I really really really hope that Jung-do returned Sung-il his 5000 dollars. Poor man - he needs the money. I was initially very angry when JD conned him of it. But am appeased that it was a case of mistaken identity. But still, please return it to him, Jung-do. You have a nicer apartment and you don't have a family relying on you.

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yeah, give the nice ajusshi his money back, Jung-do! By all rights it should be with interest (though I'm guessing Sung-il will be too nice and honest to take that).

And with all that con money floating around, it would be nice if someone bought poor, beleaguered Sung-il that car he wants so badly too.

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Even if it was never shown I always assumed Sung Il got his money back

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Jung-do scammed him because he had him confused with the Section 1 chief who has the same name

Shades of Oh Hae-young Again, perhaps? :)

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I tend to slightly disagree with the BIL being Chairman Wang because of his connection to Madam Noh. I don't think BIL could possibly be connected to Madam Noh in any way. But this is k-drama and anything can happen. One thing I'm sure, JD's father is connected or even a victim of that shady detective and the baddies.

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I think he could be... especially once all legal avenues were closed to him when he lost his job, I could see him turning to the 'dark side' and recruiting a team to pull a con. Maybe this is history repeating itself??? The original team got burned so badly by the bad guys that Jung-do's dad doesn't even speak... I could see scamming running in the family, especially with how the detective seemed to know Jung-do's dad and carries such a distaste for them both.

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I'm convinced Sung Hee is key to this plot just as well. Jung must have really had the intention to con her, or at least use her in a con, that 6 yrs or 4yrs ago? Perhaps in a plot to avenge his father's incarceration?

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People over at Soompi are speculating also that SH is the mayor's daughter as they both have the same last name. It could be the reason why JD and MJ were planning to con her initially.

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I also guessed that she could be his daughter but thought that maybe not after watching a SH/Mayor scene at episode 7

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Love the daughter, a fierce mini version of Sung Il! Sung Il's smile at the end slayed me, so bashfully hopeful, like he can't believe Jung Do & co. would actually help him, aaw.
The bad guys and their believe that having money is the same as having privilege above everybody else is so disgusting, feel like puking every time they are on-screen.
Am impatiently waiting for capable Sung Hee to join the con, bet she will be a fast learner.

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I know it's a leap of thought but it's been part of my thinking while re-watching the episodes with the recaps. Does anyone else see the subtle parallels between JD and SI?

Here are two people who life treats unfairly. they both approach it differently because of circumstance/training/choices whatever. However they are both yearning to buck the tide. They internalize and recognize an unfair/broken system yet both powerless against it. In JD's case his reaction is to thumb it at all costs. he chooses to steal and con as a way to rationalize the unfairness. On the other hand SI chooses to work within the system believing rightly or not in the justice of the world he lives in. What seems common is that they both allow themselves to be labeled and marginalized. Neither of them actively seek to alter where they are until they meet.

I wonder of we'll get an episode soon (I haven't watched 7+8 yet) with them having this moment of clarity where each rebels against the labels people put on them.

I may be projecting so ignore me if I am.

Also SIIIIIGGGGGG YOOOU ARE MY LOOOOVE!!!! I watched his BTS stuff and cried cause I couldn't touch his cute face. Yeah I'm totally fan boying now ....

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I love, love Sunghee. I haven't seen Sooyoung in anything before this role, but she's been killing it.

Also, I think one of the most recent episodes explain Jungdo's sudden kindness in offering to go after the 300 tax evaders, but I'll wait to remark on that more when that episode gets recapped.

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why this daughter.... Sung Il ought to teach her that Seo In Guk is no ajussi. dammit.

I loved this episode and especially confrontations between Jung-Do and Sung Hee, but I also see similar potential in her as in our team of swindlers. while at first I assumed she´d realize that potential by joining #Team Swindler, now I think the drama might aim into the direction of "law saves" aka they will let her find a way thta is legal... which is a pity though. But maybe I am wrong.

the car chase was epic.

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nothing wrong with being an ahjussi. If won bin can be an ahjussi, so can sig. ^^ For my part, that just means less competitions against youngsters for the hot fox. kkkk.
i have a feeling because they keep making sung hee be frustrated and ask again, and again about whether there's no solution within the law, that in the end, she'll prove that there actually is. which i dont mind, and for practical purpose in real life, is actually the more hopeful message... but my evil side keeps wanting to prove her wrong. crazy what a hot con man can do to your moral compass. XD

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I didnt think it possible for me to hate any1 more than ma jin seok, but i hated that old man's gut before I even saw his face, when they showed a "mysterious" figure calmly waiting for the tax collectors to come to their house. But my blood truly boiled up the moment i saw his calm, righteous, "reasonable" demenour once the tax people were in. Just a few minutes of him, not doing anything, and I already hate him more than the cop AND ma jin suk. You've got to give it to this entire cast. Everybody is killing their role.

Kuddos 38 for making me go bald with frustration.

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hahaha same here! Though what really got my goat was that he was standing there in the middle of his massive house and luxuriously landscaped garden.....while making noises about how he can't pay his taxes.

I'm rather surprised South Korea doesn't have some kind of provision against the kind of fraudulent asset transfer old man Bang was using to keep his property - it's pretty common for tax evaders in my country to transfer major assets to family members too, but I think there are laws aimed at preventing that? Or maybe SK has them too and we just don't see it because it's not convenient for the story.

(I don't think anyone Korean was in the Panama Papers but some rather high-profile public figures were...talk about embarrassment).

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I think the reason is that while Ma Jin Suk is a caricature of a villain (very well-acted), or should I say "typical" one we're used to in k-dramas, his boss is a whole other breed. If there were no captions to what he was saying, we could be thinking he was talking about the weather, instead of how much he despises all the "lowly" people. Chilling. He's so well-done as a villain, I wonder how they'll portray the even bigger boss later on. I'm worried it'll be hard to top him, without exaggerating. So far, the big boss never spoke, and just sat there eating.

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Exactly. He doesn't need Ma Jin-seok's bluster to make the point that he's a powerful man with no regard for the law - and that makes him both more realistic and scarier.

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Bang Pil Gyu makes me throw up (and not the spring onions in whipped cream I accidentally made). He has a presence of a pervert of sorts. money perv.

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I'm totally onboard since this episode.
All the characters here so solid and interesting. Even the supporting ones.

All the female here such badass. The Wallet and her daughter, Sung Hee, Mi Joo, even Sung Il wife and daughter. SI's wife such an ordinary woman but her figure as a mom and wife so strong and tough.

The Wallet, Oh I love this woman. She's so classy and rich. When she said "Guess why it's good to be rich. You can buy many of these cars." Ha!! You got the point Madam.

And I like how SIG acting in run scene here. He's so totally immersed and pro in acting. He didn't keep to maintain his handsome and clean image there. I kinda disbelief and frown when actor do a run and chase scene but they still look nice and clean.

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A+++++++

The reason (or one of many) why I love 38 so much, is because of how all the women in here are so cool, with no particular emphasis on how their lives revolves around romance. Mijoo & Wallet's daughter particularly have a classy vibes around them, which is a feat considering what they do for a living. lol

Of course, it's not just the women, but all the minor characters, men or women are well developed and/or acted enough that you believe in them.

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if you watch seo in guk in variety shows (like law of jungle, i live alone, taxi, strong heart, etc.), you'll see that he has zero instinct for keeping his image. you can see a bit of that in the BTS of his dramas as well, but his actor image goes down the drain the moment you let him loose to do his thing on variety shows. kkk. I'm always cracking up whenever I see him on acting award shows, being all actor-like and dignified, because it's so far off from how dorky and unrefined he is in real life. blows my mind how he can play suave characters so well.

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If you look at SIG's instagram account (seo_cccc)... hahaha omoo some of his posts really show how dorky he is. I often talk to my self 'geeeeesssh this guy is crazy' yet I love him for it.haha. He is a kinda public figure that doesn't really care about keeping his 'always- good' image.

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Hahaha that's true. Whenever I watch him in those reality series, there isn't the slightest bit of projectio from his end. Lol that one show where he forget there were hidsen cameras and he just took off his pants revealing his undies. Hahahaha. In one BTS of 38 squad, he said he got told off for being so goofy on set--and he was actually filiming that catch me if you can intense scene with sa jae sung!

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There was an interview of him having a hard time separating himself from his character, particularly HSKOS but he says that after that drama, beginning King's face, he starter learning to separate himself from his characters. Is he cool or what?

And now 38 squad and no matter how I love SIG, i still can't love Yang Jung Do. He's past pop days. He's an actor.

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lol yeah I can believe that part - about the character separation, I mean. His 1997-era interviews and edia appearances all have him looking and sounding vaguely smitten by Jung Eun-ji, no wonder people ended up shipping them in real life if this was how they were.

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I am not suprirsed he fools around, cause it can be a long wait on the location before you get it filmed. so I guess he became bored, I would be too, I am not too patient and waiting turns me into a prank monster.

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I'm rather surprised that Jung-do revealed the con job to Ma Jin suk so quickly. Such a large sum of money normally takes time to transfer? And for all of them to reveal their faces to him, I feel isn't too wise.

But it was another thrilling and enjoyable episode.

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Whenever I watch them transfer money I feel like my country is outdated. When I transfer/receive money it takes some time for it to appear in my account. Guess they are pretty fast in South Korea

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In my country If you use immediate transfer (IBT) the money will trnsfr immediately into the 3rd party acc n there will be srrvice charges included.

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It's fairly fast in my country too. (I often use my friends as personal atms) hehe

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Wow so fast! We've got sort of "banking delay" in my country. Meaning the money is taken from your account or on it's way to your account but it doesn't appear right away. Even when I use my credit card it does not appear right away but one day later or something.

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It goes through immediately where I'm from so one dares not make a mistake.

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Saya, I marathoned eps 1-6 too and this is the episode that "sealed" it for me.

When MJS seal was hovering over the contract, I was so scared that something was going to go wrong again. That's when I realized that all the past eps were like a slow burn to make this victory so worth it.

If you're just here for the plot progression, it might seem slow to reach this point at ep6. But kudos to the writer for filling the first 5 eps with great dialogue and twists to keep you on your seat.

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I know what you mean, I was mentally going STAMP STAMP STAMP the entire time. This team does know how to keep us on tenterhooks!

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I was thankful for a couple of seconds when he stamped on it but then I was like "THE MONEY??? TRANSFER THE MONEY. TRANSFER IT NOW!!!"

Only when Jung-do started scoffing at MJS did I know we were in the clear. *whew*

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I didn't relax until the minion started running through the office like a headless chicken to stop the transfer....only to find his underling had sent it through :)

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Guyss, please no spoilers!! Or at least put spoiler alerts!

Some things are not what they seem.. One minute JS is this big bad shark and the other, hes a harmless little fish who begs and kneels to others..
Sunghee surprised me in a good way in this ep.! She has backbone and would probably work within the boundaries -but pushing them to the limit- of law to make the bad guys pay.
The ConTeam seems to be enjoying making -other- bad guys pay even tho there was that shady moment when JD asked if the thing was done.. maybe they took more money from JS?
Theres this thing about the brother in law im not sure.. is he really dead?? And if hes really dead, did he took his life or someone killed him?? Why is that Chairman in prison targeting the people who apparently played a part in his dead? We have seen all these scary people have hidden agendas that killing to preserve their shady kingdom wont be an issue.

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I knew that bust was going to go, well, bust the minute we saw the team and Chief Kang talking about it so openly and planning it all. Moral of the story: when people in your office are corrupt, DO NOT go talking about top-secret raids on dirty money around them - or around people who could relay it to them!

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Also, dead co-worker hyung was Sung-il's brother-in-law?! I had a major moment of 'hey why does that guy look familiar' when we saw his memorial pic but then realising that was his actual brother-in-law.....damn that has to hurt.

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Saya! Glad you're here. Thank you for the recap. Love the way you rewrite this series.

One thing, car chase scene. So brilliant! Slick and elegant! The adrenaline, the rush, the thrill, the scene was so well executed, the bgm is well chosen, and SIG, oh so perfect on camera during that running scene. Hoping that the following episodes deliver this kind of awesome action scenes.

Spoiler alert. Ep 8 and 9 definitely has that. That walking down the streets and the presentation scenes. Speechless. Great job, Police Unit 38!

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Ups, I meant ep 7 & 8 hehe. Talk about being impatient waiting for ep 9.

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The opening scene was brilliantly done. SIG really killed it in both the opening sequences for eps 5 and 6.

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This is kinda cliche but do you think Jung-do has a shared childhood with Sung-hee?

I just don't buy the conman Jung-do falling in love at first sight with Sung-hee. (In the previous ep, she walks into his workplace for the first time and he was stunned to see her.)

They also have that shared habit of being nice to poor or crying kids. Jung-do fed the brother/sister pair in the mini-mart and Sung-hee gave some cash to the kid whose house they were repossessing in a previous ep.

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I thought of something similar too but not exactly something like shared childhood. Maybe JD got to know SH from somewhere else, observed her from afar and after awhile fallen for her. I don't think it was the first time JD saw SH at his office. However when she first walked into that telemarketer office, it was JD first real interaction with her. Hence the stunned look and obvious nervousness.

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That's possible too. Jung-do's stare in the telemarketer office was too loaded with FEELINGS for it to be a first encounter on his side, at least.

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I will laugh if SH was JD's first love from childhood, unrequited and from afar.

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I bet baby Sung-hee gave baby Jung-do food once while he was hungry or something.

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I like this theory :)

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I'm leaning towards the same theory as well. Based from how JD acted when he first met her, it's as if it is not really the first time. They (with Mi Joo) seem to be doing a con but JD looked surprised when it turned out to be on SH.

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I guess i'm the only one who finds sung hee's character really annoying, right when things are getting interesting she jumps in and ruins the moos ! Sooyoung doesnt suit the role imo, she looks more elegant type but sung hee's supposed to be a plain yet righteous girl. Also her plastic surgery :( well i skip her scenes anyways so.... I hope she wont have an important role lol so i dont end up skipping anything important. This might sound a bit harsh but trust me i loved sooyoung in cyrano also love her in varieties but here she's such a turnoff idk.

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She'll get around soon. Let's just give her a bit more time. But I think her role is also important. As what Saya said, Jung-do's interactions with Sung-hee looks like it's one of the few times that Jung-do seemed genuine and not calculated.

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I think that's just how they wrote her character, purposely. Like someone said above, straight arrow, strong and stubborn. But once she realizes that that behavior doesn't work in a corrupt organization, I bet she'll turn and we'll all be glad she's on our side.

I was really hoping to see the scene from the teaser, where Ma Jinseok grabs her wrist after she puts a lock on his car and she calmly slaps a tax sticker on his watch. But I guess it wasn't really in the drama. Oh, well.

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I agree ! I just didn't get why she scolded JD on the lost opportunity of using Je Seok's taxes to secure SI's freedom..
In episode 5 she had already offered to bury je Seok's file in exchange for SI's freedom and got shot down by the boss. So that's not an option anymore is it ?

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Nope, she gets on my nerves too. She doesn't seem bad ass to me, she seems nosey and naive. She doesn't know all the details but she jumps into something that doesn't concern her and because of it there are grave repercussions. If she had of listened to Sung Il none of it would have happened. I don't like her. She also does that thing I hate the most, not letting the other person say anything or explain what she's talking about when the other person is clearly confused. She should know that if there was a way to get the money by the book Sung I'll would do it. But she feels like she knows better even though she doesn't know 85% of what is really going on. Maybe later I will like her but not right now. For me, right now, she's too self righteous.

*sorry if I used a different name I couldn't remember which name I used before so I went with the one I use most. :)

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I freaking love this series, it's such a joy to watch. I can't even watch two episodes back to back, because I want it to last. So I'm stretching them like every two day. But now it's Wednesday and I have to wait again. Nooooo

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I honestly, wholeheartedly enjoy these recaps. It's all of what i think in every single punctiation mark. Dramabeans rocks.

I, too, have the Misaeng feels. There's that sort of impact. Jung Do's smile, let alone his supposed good will doesn't convince me at. There's more to it.

This drama deserves to be watched on a Marathon.

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Yes, the Misaeng feels are strong with this one - the bleakness of most people's lives, the central connection of the show being between a young man and an older man (also this is getting to broken record levels but Seo In-gook and Ma Dong-seok are amazing anyway but they are even better together <3)

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what makes this drama special and fun, is the dynamic of older - younger men, but with a twist. sig is very much the mentor in this case, particularly regarding the con stuff, but even in "life" he's very much an equal to sung il. there's no such thing as seniority, which is rather refreshing. I'm so sick of the bullying by elders in dramas.

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yeah, I love that they threw hierarchy out of the window and let the younger of the two be the one to lead the con - it's a really refreshing change from the expected.

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exactly what I said at ep 3 already. the same applies for Mi Joo - she has no "boss", she is her own boss. I dont think it is a spoiler if I mention her telling Jung Do "I know what I have to do better than you!" or something in those lines in ep 8.

also, the swindler team doesnt sacrifice anyone in the name of their cause, but both the Big Money and tax office can do that.

in a way both teams are underdogs. it is such a small victory in this very corrupt world. but 1 is better than zero.

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At this rate seo in guk will lead me into hell, and I'll go with him. I swear he could play a murderer and I would fall for his "chipmunk" grin as Saya so aptly said. Not a stretch given that I've fallen for him as a sociopath, and now a conman.

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I swear he could play a murderer and I would fall for his “chipmunk” grin

well, Park Bo-gum did it and we all fell like a ton of bricks anyway, not surprised at the idea that big bro could pull off the same.

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tell me about it. Bogummy is incapable of being repulsive. but he still managed to be chilling at times and his eyes were scary. Seo In Guk on the other hand... can be intense if need be, cold, a little menacing, but I cannot imagine him having a true psycho expression in his eyes and being truly terrifying.

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imo, we never know - SIG's range is so great that there's not a shade of Yoon Yoon-jae in Yang Jung-do, not even when Jung-do is at his boyish cutest. I think he's well capable of giving us a good scare a la Lee Joon in Gap-dong, if he wants (but why does he have to be an 87er, whyyyyyyy. Military service :( )

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Yeah! Now that you put it that way... I remember Kang So Ra's character in Sung Hee as well. And the suicide.... oooooohhhh never really compared it point per point but now that you mentioned it... but it is more upbeat. Funnier. Cuter.

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Misaeng is my all-time fave but boy did it put my heart through the wringer for our kid and our 'good guys'. This time, at least the people we're rooting for get to actually beat the system for a bit!

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Misaeng is a favorite too. Squad 38 is rewarding to me because it feels like vigilante justice. Where everyone just suffered at Misaeng, in squad 38 they fight back. Hah!

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I love your theory! Jung Do could be another Yoon Jae; the one who has a crush to a girl, loves her from a far, Sung Hee's secret admirer.

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*this is supposed to be nds.cookie's reply. Sorry I dunno what happens with my browser that this often happens.hehe ✌

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Excellent review, Saya!
I especially loved your words here:
"Doing good is implicitly tied with having purpose, both in an everyday way, but also in a wider, existential way. I think his team is (and is meant to be) representative of those at the fringes of society, unable to find a place in the “normal” world, even when they’re as affluent and influential as Madam Noh."
I'm glad you see a lot of different ways the writing will unveil more information. I did recognize that the detective was patronizing when he and Jung-do first met at the park (their first scene) and it speaks to the actors excellent portrayal of the detective's underlying motives (which did not seem fatherly). The character seemed too nonchalant to be truly caring and I remember thinking that the actor might as well have been biting into an apple so further how how much unattachment he felt towards Jung-do. But you predict that the detective may also have an overlord and that's a keen sense to tv writing that I didn't see :)

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Terrific and insightful summation. This is one of those dramas (in crime/procedural dramas especially) that really needs continuity and marathoning it in order to ensure that continuity has increasingly become necessary (to me anyway) as procedural kdramas become more and more complex and adult in nature. Since I'm normally watching at least 15+ dramas at a time, I have defaulted to waiting until 6 are up and subbed before starting. Otherwise my poor old brain loses that continuity and I am constantly trying to think back to figure out how my cast got to this place!

I love this drama! I have from the very first episode. I was like this with Misaeng too...madly in love with Misaeng, which is why your comment: "There’s a quality to it in the earlier episodes which really put me in mind of Misaeng. There’s the weary, workaday world and the tired salaryman, there’s struggling for trivial victories, there’s office politics. There’s a stark and grinding misery that underlies Sung-il’s daily existence" hit the truth spot so directly for me. Probably because that was my work world for over 40 years!

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Misaeng is easily one of the GOAT (greatest of all time) among kdramas, or dramas anywhere now. It's also the only kdrama till date that's actually captured that sense of weariness and just how much an ordinary office job can take out of its workers - PU38 is close, but since the storyline is centred on running a con, the bleakness gets alleviated a great deal.

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It's like Baek Sung Il could have existed as a character in the Misaeng world, except that he went on to dare the world in ways that Misaeng did not. It's like a refreshing spin off with a slick vengeance component. After having my heart squeezed by Misaeng, this one is just satisfying. Hahaha

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omg this comment is the actual best and most accurate.

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I've just found two dramas to marathon for excruciatingly long holidays. Hahaha. Thanks to you!

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And how cool is it that actor MJS speaks English!!
https://youtu.be/VRebIk5q8RU

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*MDS

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Sightly late to the party, but can I just say, I frigging love this show!! Just caught ep3 and am now eager to start ep4, yes, this is me in marathon mode!! Will catch up with the recaps once I've caught up - many thanks for recapping such a fun show!

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Most dramas seem to start going downhill after about the 3rd episode. this is just the opposite, it just keeps getting better.

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When I find dramas like that from episode 1, I'm almost reluctant to love them too much at the start because we're so used to the midway slump of most kdramas. Misaeng was one of the very few that started off great and just kept getting greater with each episode (doubly terrifying to love that one because they didn't pre-produce)

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This has been getting better and better w/ more layers as each layer is peeled.

Let's hope it continues (ep 7&8 don't disappoint).

Once again, this is so refreshing to watch after the typical makjang dramas or paint by numbers romcoms.

This and "Bring it On, Ghost" are making up for the recent slew of blah shows.

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I really cannot wait for friiii-daaaaay....

if anyone can find more BTS footage please share, to pass time till next episode

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Someone posted on Soompi:

http://program.interest.me/ocn/taxteam38/3/Vod/View/159405

So weird seeing the bad guys so cute and smiling.

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That pic is adorable <3

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I have a question! Well, questionS.

Did the con-team get a cut of the $6M? It seems like they did not, since City Hall clearly stated that there MJS cleared his 5.65M in arrears.

However, if I remember correctly, YJD first assembled the con-team with promises of 'taking the entire 6M' for themselves.... or did I understand it wrong?

Or did they get $6M from MJS, pay off city hall 5.65 and keep approximately 300k for themselves?

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I'm confused about this too. :/ Jung-do even told Ms Noh earlier that if she finds her 20% too small, she can try and steal all of the team's money.

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I really like the scene in which they revealed to Ma Jin Seok that he is been conned and the members enter one by one on the restaurant.. I'm really loving this team. I also like the appearance of the multiple identical cars.. Can I have at least one of it?

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The past episodes leading up this one has definitely been a slow burn. The show has been sorta interesting, but didn't capture my attention that much until now/the ending scene.

Sung-il's small smile was sweet. I liked seeing the expression of each team member.

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I really want to see Commissioner Ahn get his punishment for being a corrupt official.

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Does anyone know the song at 22:00?

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What is the name of song that is playing in the background when Ma jin seok was conned?

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