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Police Unit 38: Episode 14

This show! It doesn’t run out of twists! Every week leaves me scrabbling around for my brains, but isn’t the utter assurance of the storytelling just so compelling? It plays its cards astutely and without a trace of self-satisfaction at its own cleverness, focusing instead on delivering well-timed curveballs and payoffs. But most reassuringly, it knows its win ultimately doesn’t lie in its complexity, but in its ability to take us along for the ride.

 
EPISODE 14 RECAP

Madam Noh greets the newly-released Chairman Wang with a full retinue of henchmen, over which he’s jovially dismissive. He tells Madam Noh that his first port of call is Jung-do.

In a humble neighborhood, Chairman Choi plays baduk when someone approaches him. It’s Jae-sung, out of prison and unpleasant as ever. Displacing Choi’s game-partner, he places a piece on the board and remarks on the irony of coming out of jail to find his old provider President Bang behind bars himself.

He offers to sell Choi information worth good money—specifically, $5 million—which will have Mayor Chun at his beck and call, but Choi doesn’t bite. Jae-sung smirks and tells him to call him if he changes his mind. In a parting shot, he adds that Jung-do, that guy who nearly took him down, was also released on parole.

Madam Noh brings Chairman Wang to the Freezer, which he finds most unexpected, though not as much as its occupants. He finds Hak-joo enormously entertaining and jokes that he should share his luxuriant tresses with balding Ja-wang.

Jung-do finally appears, and greets the Chairman casually. Wang seizes his ear and demands to know why he didn’t come to meet him, while Jung-do hops and yelps. The Chairman decries his lack of manners, and Madam Noh, Ji-yeon and Mr. Kim look on, amused at the literal and figurative (and deserved) ear-bashing. Haha.

Jung-do promises to go next time (“Next time? Are you telling me to go to jail again?”), which very nearly earns him another round, but luckily for crybaby Jung-do, Sung-il’s arrival interrupts them.

“Is that guy a professional wrestler?” Chairman Wang asks. Aww no, he’s a professional BEAR. Jung-do introduces him as the person he told him about before. “He can’t fight,” he adds. And neither can you!

Mayor Chun arrives late for a dinner-date with Chairman Choi, but is dismayed by Choi’s other guest, whom he introduces as Woo Soo-myung, a candidate for another party. Candidate Woo excuses himself, leaving Chun alone with the Chairman.

The Chairman asks him if he knows Jung-do’s out of prison. He’s sure to come after them again, and Choi points out that the latest indications show that Chun could well lose the mayoral election. Chun asks him if that’s why he’s wooing the opposition. Choi chuckles darkly that that’s to keep him on his toes.

He offers to use whatever funds Chun needs to make sure he stays mayor, since he doesn’t want his work all this time to go to waste. Plus, he’s willing to spend a little now to rake in tenfold later. Chun stares at him with an inscrutable expression.

After Mayor Chun and Candidate Woo see Chairman Choi off, Chun stiffly asks how his rival’s preparations are going. Woo laughs that it took a mere twenty minutes to mortgage the house it took him twenty years to buy. But no, he didn’t come here for Choi’s money, but rather to see how the man who owes $100 million in taxes lives.

The humor leaves his face and he vows that should he become mayor, he’ll start by collecting from Choi in full. Still inscrutable, Chun says it won’t be easy. “Still, it must be done,” Woo replies. That’s how they’ll erase their unfair privileges. He reminds Chun that that was why he set up the tax bureau in the first place.

Jung-do and Madam Noh join forces to instruct Sung-il on how to get Chairman Wang on his side. He mustn’t presume anything, nor lie, nor smirk, nor repeat himself. Madam Noh helpfully chimes in each time that those are the things the chairman hates the most, haha.

In conclusion, they tell him to be absolutely honest, sincere, and direct. “Then Chairman Wang’s heart will open up to you, ajusshi,” Jung-do smiles.

Those instructions replay in Sung-il’s mind as he meets the chairman. Mr. Kim further tells him that he can’t simply ask for help, but he has to convince him, and then asks Sung-il what he wants.

“For Chun Gab-soo to be defeated in the election,” Sung-il replies. He explains that it’s the only way he can collect Chairman Choi’s unpaid taxes, a symbol of the unfair privilege he enjoys. He wants to break the system that demands only the poor pay their dues while the rich enjoy all the rights.

Interested, Wang asks what Sung-il wants of him. Sung-il’s plan is that he make a generous donation to the city on behalf of his own company, Sangjin Group, and garner some media attention. We flash forward to noisy press conferences, with Wang making charismatic speeches in support of public welfare. Since welfare is Chun’s special interest, he’ll seek Chairman Wang out himself, Sung-il says.

It all unfolds to plan and Chairman Wang lands a private dinner meeting with the mayor. He genially tells Chun that he voted for him, and confides that he’s interested now in him, not Seowon city. He promises to vote for Chun again, and asks bluntly if he has campaign funds.

Chun is discomfited by his directness, but Wang says that he’s different, and insincere wooing isn’t his style. He tells the mayor that he’s not seeking a hold over him—he doesn’t need Chun’s help when he does just fine on his own—but making friends at this age is hard, and it’s friendship he wants. Chun remains noncommittal.

Chairman Wang predicts that he won’t bite so easily, not when he’s entangled with Choi. Sung-il tells him not to worry, because Jung-do will be visiting Chairman Choi to shake things up a bit more…

Jung-do takes a seat by Chairman Choi and introduces himself affably. Unflapped, Choi asks what brings him here. Jung-do delivers a warning that they’ll be taking his $100 million of tax one way or another.

Choi smiles a little and asks if he can help. His chuckling only grows as Jung-do advises him to pay up, and his superficial cheer vanishes when he remarks on Jung-do’s rude tone. Jung-do just grins that he’s been rude since the day he was born.

He gets up, and looking around the rundown neighborhood, he tells Choi to stop this pretence of being poor. It’s especially unsightly considering how he lives by grinding everyone else beneath his heels, “Seowon City’s number one tax evader, Chairman Choi Chul-woo,” he finishes.

We cut back to Sung-il, who tells Chairman Wang that Jung-do’s warning to Choi is merely a decoy. In a voiceover from Jung-do, he explains that their true goal is to bring down Kukjin Construction (Choi’s company) and call off the Maseokdong redevelopment, which will in turn save Dami’s grandpa’s little diner.

Released by the police, Grandpa returns to his diner to find it full of the gang, from rumpled Ja-wang to sleek Madam Noh. Dami leaps into his arms, and they welcome him home. As they file out, each one offers an encouraging word or touch. Sung-il goes last, promising to return tomorrow.

Jung-do’s voice continues as the gang ambles away in good spirits: If the city won’t protect that neighborhood because it doesn’t bring them high tax revenues, then they at least should. “As for the people who fulfil their duties as citizens, we have to protect their rights. That…that’s what’s just,” he finishes.

Chairman Choi dines with now-Director Ahn, and the two Kukjin heads, President Cha and Director Jo. Choi asks the latter why they haven’t gone ahead with the Maseokdong demolition, when the media and protestors have all been dispatched. He frowns at their excuses and turns to Ahn to ask how long he has to listen to this drivel. Coolly efficient, Ahn replies that he’ll take care of it.

The other two try to follow Ahn’s lead, but Choi dismisses them from the meal saying they don’t deserve it. He then tells Ahn about Jung-do seeking him out. With a slight smile, Ahn confidently tells him he’ll take care of that, too, which earns him more praise from the chairman.

At the Freezer, Jung-do presents the plan of attack he came up with while in prison, but admits it’s a long game. Sung-il offers an alternative plan, one that he’s been working on the past two years.

He hands it out and Madam Noh and Jung-do are both impressed. “Wow, you totally became a real conman,” Jung-do says admiringly. Sung-il smiles back at them, shy and pleased with himself all at once.

But both Madam Noh and Jung-do identify the plan’s kick-off stage as problematic. Jung-do says it’s too risky for Sung-il to do—for any of them, since their faces have all been exposed. Instead, he tells them that he’s enlisted a mercenary.

A man walks through the warren that leads to the Freezer, while his face remains hidden from us. Sung-il reacts with curiosity, but Jung-do is all enigmatic smiles as he tells him that the guy’s just a jobless joe. Not quite trustworthy, but he’s got a solid grudge against Chairman Choi, President Bang, and that whole line.

Jung-do’s really enjoying this build-up, and with good reason. “Long time no see, Chief Baek,” comes a familiar voice behind Sung-il. Ohhh okay show, this is awesome, because who should his mercenary be but Ma Jin-seok.

Sung-il turns around with a start, and Jin-seok gives everyone a friendly greeting. He holds out a hand to Sung-il, who refuses it and turns to Jung-do. “It can’t be this guy!” he complains. But Jung-do vouches for him, saying he got to know him while they were behind bars. Jin-seok avers: He went to jail for the Bangs, who are now inside themselves, while he’s been reduced to nothing. He’s decided to take the big guns down, and live a model life thereafter.

He puts a hand on Sung-il’s arm, eager to convince him, but Sung-il shakes him off and turns back to Jung-do. Two years of hard work is at stake, Sung-il insists. But Jung-do (observing this all rather beatifically) continues to vouch for him.

But the decision is made when Madam Noh puts her funds at their disposal once again. She gives Jin-seok a pat on the shoulder as she leaves, and tells him to do well. Which makes him look pretty scared, ha.

“Ajusshi, there’s nothing more sure than a person who’s in for the money. Besides, don’t you trust me?” Jung-do asks, smile oddly sweet. Wearily, Sung-il gives in, and asks how they’re using him. Jung-do plans to have him do the risky thing he didn’t want Sung-il doing. Their mark is Director Jo Sang-jin, Chairman Choi’s money-man.

Sung-il explains that their goal is loan fraud. They’ll get President Cha and Director Jo to take out a loan illegally by giving artificially inflated sales figures. Once they take the money from the bank, Jung-do says he’ll tip off the press. And that will ruin Kukjin, Jin-seok concludes happily.

“The company that began from a scam…” starts Jung-do, “…should be destroyed in one,” finishes Sung-il. Aw, you’re finishing each other’s sentences now!

We return to the scene in the previous episode where Director Jo received a mysterious visitor—Jin-seok, of course. The idea, Jung-do explains, is to have Jin-seok reek of riches and drive Director Jo wild with curiosity about where he got it when he’s a ruined man, and how he can get a piece for himself.

And so follow a string of “incidental” meetings, like Jin-seok appearing at Jo’s golf club with a luxury bag, or popping up at a restaurant with an expensive watch. Director Jo’s eyes really bug out when he pulls up alongside him in a lavish car. Before long, Jo snags a dinner-date with him for himself. Exactly as predicted, he wheedles Jin-seok to share his secret, and his resistance only whets Jo’s appetite more.

And that, Sung-il says as we cut back to the meeting for a moment, is the moment to reel him in. Jin-seok grins good-naturedly that it’s just like when they scammed him, which makes Jung-do enjoy a nostalgic moment.

We return to the dinner. Leaning close, Jin-seok confides that a hyung he knows uses his shell of a company to get loans by inflating its value. Jo’s eyes widen at the “paltry” amount he claims to have acquired, but still thinks it’s too risky. Sure it’s illegal, Jin-seok beams, but since when did they do any differently? He plans to take the money and start over abroad, but notes that Jo and President Cha seem content to just clean up after Chairman Choi.

Jo objects to Jin-seok’s words, but the discontent on his face shows they’ve hit home. Jin-seok brings up the Maseokdong project as the perfect opportunity to skim a bit off and do a runner himself, but Jo is outraged and fearful at the open suggestion that he should betray Chairman Choi.

And that’s all part of the plan. He can’t bite, Sung-il points out, since he’s not the company president. They just want to plant the thought in his head. “Con artists aren’t lions, they’re crocodiles,” Sung-il remarks mildly, meaning that that make their prey come to them. He and Jung-do exchange smiles.

Their next target is President Cha, whom Sung-il describes as greedy, but scared since he got caught embezzling company funds by the chairman. Mi-joo works her bar routine to catch Cha’s eye, and he readily agrees to her suggestion to go elsewhere. Outside, Hak-joo approaches the pair and socks him in the face, knocking him out.

When Cha comes to, he’s in the Freezer, tied to a chair opposite a bloodied Ja-wang. Ha! Ja-wang warns him not to cry out unless he wants to get beaten up like him. But too late, Hak-joo returns with Mi-joo and his lackeys— HAHA! Sung-il and Jung-do look every inch the cold gangsters in their flowery shirts and showy jewelry.

Cha’s fear grows as Hak-joo tortures poor Ja-wang. Sung-il helpfully provides a running commentary on how much hair that guy’s lost and how bloated he’s gotten in the month he’s been here, and smacks Cha when he starts sobbing noisily. He asks “Assistant Yang” (Jung-do) for the pliers to take this guy’s teeth out, but Jung-do replies that he’s only got a hammer, so why not take out his whole jaw at once instead?

Brandishing the hammer, Sung-il “reveals” to Cha that they’re acting under Chairman Choi’s orders. Of course Cha won’t recognize him: No one who ever met them has lived to tell the tale, he says. In the background, Jung-do ominously sharpens a cleaver and laughs goonishly while Hak-joo leers in anticipation. They’re really enjoying this far too much.

Sung-il waves a document at Cha that shows he stole fifty million won from the Chairman. But the true total was twice that, Hak-joo had pointed out in the meeting. Again, it’s all part of the plan: If Cha thinks they only know about half, he’s going to live in terror of the other half. Oh, I understand the plan now: Jo was given the method for taking in extra money, while Cha is now given the impetus.

Jung-do prepares to take a swing at Cha when Sung-il calls a halt because he has a call from the “chairman”. It’s Cha’s lucky day, he says, because the chairman’s decided to let him go this time, but he’s dead if he steals another won.

They release him and he can’t get out fast enough. But shouldn’t they cover his eyes or something? But somehow the funniest part is Ja-wang saying a polite goodbye. The second he’s gone, everyone rushes to poor Ja-wang, who breaks down crying while the boys do their best to comfort him. Aww.

President Cha returns to work, haunted by the fear of discovery over the other half of the money, just as Sung-il planned. Jung-do grins at him proudly, and Sung-il jokingly asks if his diligence won out over Jung-do’s genius. He reflects that conning is about tapping people’s insecurities and discontent with their reality.

As he speaks, we see Director Jo arguing with his son over maxed out credit cards, and he and Cha try to drink away their nerves. “They have no option but to enter the crocodile’s mouth,” says Sung-il, “Fun, right? That’s how you do a con!” The whole crew grins back, none more pleased than Jung-do, who still looks like he just can’t believe how far ajusshi’s come.

Sometime later, Sung-il approaches Jung-do to ask if he really trusts Jin-seok. Jung-do asks if he remembers how they met Jin-seok, but offers no more than a cryptic little smile. Wait, what does that mean?!

At Kukjin, Director Ahn calls Chairman Choi to tell him that thanks to “the friend who helped us two years ago,” he’s found out what the swindlers are up to. “Loan fraud?” asks Chairman Choi, lip curling.

That night, Jung-do waits for Sung-hee and lights up when he sees her. She smiles back. She knows their plan is in motion, but holds out hope that her dad will turn honest and reject Chairman Wang’s offer. But she confesses that she has no idea what he’ll choose.

Sung-il’s working late at the Freezer when Jin-seok calls in that their fish have bitten. Sung-il instructs him on how to proceed, but ends with the warning that he doesn’t trust Jin-seok yet.

As he rounds a corner, Sung-il stops in shock at the sight that awaits him: Chairman Choi, who greets him with a nefarious chuckle.

Taking out his phone, Sung-il interrupts Jung-do’s goodbye with Sung-hee to summon him back immediately. “A guest has arrived at our warehouse,” he says, worried eyes on the chairman.

COMMENTS

There was some talk last week about whether knowing that our team will win out leaches the plot of tension, and the question occurred to me again as the gang executed their plan and everything goes as intended. But here’s the thing: It’s not boring. The fact that people behave exactly as expected is actually rather fascinating. Every moment, they’re presented with the option and possibility to do otherwise, but they most often don’t.

If there’s anything our con artists have underlined, it’s that people are essentially the same. As ever, it’s a truism that bites harder because it holds true for human nature in general, even outside the dramaverse. If, like Jung-do, you can “read a person’s heart” and know what they want most, you can predict with reasonable accuracy what they would do in any given situation. A successful manipulation relies on those expectations, but the key to these cons is to nudge their marks to act by their own will, using their own fear and greed against them.

Jin-seok’s reappearance has definitely injected a new burst of energy (and fun!) into the story. That’s not to say it was getting stale, but shaking things up is this show’s thing. However, although Jin-seok seems to genuinely want Sung-il’s approval (and is no longer obnoxious, though still a little cocky), I think Sung-il’s resistance to him is realistic, considering what the man put him through.

But the more interesting thing it points to is Jung-do’s ability to bring out people’s unlikelier sides: the “little less good” in Sung-il and the “little less bad” in Jin-seok. It’s a quality that you can measure against nearly everyone he’s involved with, as they find themselves doing the opposite of what they expect from themselves, (no) thanks to him. In a way that seems counterintuitive, that Jung-do seems to be properly trusting after all: He trusts people to be true to their natures, but he also recognizes their innate changeability, either to become better or worse. Since he computes it all at a basal level, statements like “I have a good feeling” actually carry weight when he says them.

However, I don’t think that the band’s regrouping is because of Jung-do. He mobilized them, but I believe the impulse sprang from seeing Grandpa’s ordeal. They can dismiss poverty and injustice in the abstract, but here’s a sweet old man they know personally, fed through a broken system that then discarded him like a used tissue. Our kids are only fraudsters, not monsters. By the very nature of their jobs, they target the rich. But Grandpa is the poorest of the poor and the weakest of the weak. What happened to him makes them burn.

As for actual monsters, beady-eyed Chairman Choi’s single-mindedness is intimidating. There’s something pathetic about an old man still filling his coffers and clinging to his wealth, but Choi is anything but pathetic. For a physically feeble person, he has formidable presence—notice how he uses his entire body language as a weapon. It’s actually entertaining to see both Jae-sung and Jung-do pit themselves against him, because he doesn’t frighten them. The opposite, in fact. And who doesn’t like to see the hunter become the prey?

Ships, ships, let’s talk about ships! I find myself lapping up every moment between Sung-il and Jung-do. I know, I know, we’re all bored of what a sucker I am for bromance, but there’s usually a difference between the bromance you wish for and the bromance you get. But the distance between the two here is no wider than a ribbon. Like I mentioned last week, their relationship has so many levels, but they express every level of it with such richness. I thought they would bring out the father-son aspect more strongly, but somehow the teacher-student one is far more touching. The number of times Jung-do just looks at him, all pride, admiration and affection. But their relationship is also very much that of acknowledged equals, if not in an obvious way, with each of their respective experiences and personal qualities answering the needs of the other. And—heartwarmingly, strangely, ironically—it’s built on a foundation of rock-solid trust.

But as much as they become increasingly attuned to each other, I think this episode also served to show us how different they still are. Jung-do is, well, a natural criminal and a strategic thinker, as is Madam Noh, and this hour, he aligned much more with her. For example, neither of them dwell on Jin-seok’s past, because his present motives outweigh his previous actions. It’s interesting after all this time to see this line of similarity and contrast drawn now, although perhaps not surprising that it should come right after the moment we think, “Ah! The student has surpassed the master!” Though whether the odd-man-out is Sung-il or Jung-do, I’m not quite sure. But maybe that’s the truth of it, after all—that they’re both outsiders of sorts, and so of course that connects them.

I’m left this episode with two questions. One, is there something significant about how the bears met Jin-seok? And two, who on earth is “the friend who helped us two years ago?” I swear, every reveal in this show raises far more questions than it answers. It’s sad to think that there’s only one week left, but if there’s a single thing we can be assured of from the finale, it’s that at least we will have ALL the answers. And some man-hugs. Please give us some man-hugs, show. Is that too much to ask?

 
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my head is spinning because of the writer...when i thought left side then it goes the right side...but man the script and actors are so amazing

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Speaking of head spinning... I realized how insane this drama made me when it was only halfway that I became aware at how thoroughly conned I was by the writers:
you know a drama is good when you end up rooting for the tax collection agency to survive and thrive, without even realizing how completely against your own instinct that is. I mean. What the fudge. MIND BLOWN.

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Loooool. I had the same moment. I was like waitaminute... did I end up liking the Korea's version of IRS and got sad when it was in danger of being disassembled????!!! WUUUU???? What is happening, it's the end of the world.... nooooooooo.........

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For all we know, Squad 38 is actually produced by the government of Korea to get its citizens to pay taxes with a patriotic heart. Hah. What a show. Cons up to the end.

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just when I think I´ve got the knicks of it they kick me in the guts and run away giggling evilly.

Jung Do as a thug. If a thug looked like this, I would give him all my money, my dog, my hamster and my neighbors´ car (well, I don´t have one myself). Actually, I don´t have a hamster or a dog either, but I would get them from somewhere and then give to Jung Do. .... Actually, I don´t have money either. Take me! LOL

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LOL, you are sooo funny, Redfox. Did you realize that the moment you write that comment you had successfully being conned by Jung Do to become a thug! Hahaha

Well, SIG as Jung Do in that flowery shirt and gold chain and super smoking hot sexy charm can TAKE ME too!!! Who could resist that swoon-worthy gum-chewing lips!

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thanks for the recap

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I'm so glad they gave Ma Jin-seok back but also feeling weird about myself that I'm glad?

I remember being conflicted in the final parts of his con because he seemed to find Sung-il weirdly adorable. I half-shipped that fake friendship over the bean sprout allergy, but then I remember he's the kind of guy who beat up Sung-hee and was rude to his househelp.

Anyway, what if the friend from two years ago was Sung-hee? Was it clear who tipped off Chairman Choi in the previous con about Sung-il and Jung-do's Martin Kim plan? We only know that Commissioner Ahn asked Sung-il to protect the tax bureau, but we don't know if he was privy to the plan details.

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Me too.
I'm glad that he's joining the gang, but I can't help but feeling a little bit doubt though...

Love when he's acting 'rich', thus conning all the higher ups.

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My first thought was Sung-hee as well but then I started digging around in my memory trying to remember who knew about that Martin Kim plan and afair it's only our two con men....but who else could it be at this stage ...

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I'm glad he's back too! He's sleazy as all get out, but so super charismatic that it's hard to hate him. He and Sung-il have a Betty and Veronica/frenemy thing going that I really love... but unfortunately, I wonder if HE is the 'friend from 2 years ago'... say it ain't so, Ma Jin-seok!

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Sung-hee's possible, but isn't it totally out of character for her? It doesn't fit at all. She also doesn't know ALL the details, because she's not quite an insider on the swindlers' team, she only knows some things.

I don't knooooooow. My heaaaadddd...! But it has to be someone we've already met, that much I'm sure of.

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I'm thinking that Choi finding out about this latest con is no accident. Their target is to split Choi and the Mayor so the Mayor will go to Wang instead. So I'm guessing they're having someone feed "fake intel" to Chairman Choi that the Mayor is working against him or that the Mayor can't control Sung-il.

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I had the same thought as you Mary. Because I'm pretty sure the group is being super careful and the fake intel was used before.

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As soon as the director showed the close-up shot of his butt as he walked towards the Freezer, I knew it was Ma Jin Seok.

I have no idea what this says about me, nor do I want to know.

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LOL. You're hilarious. I knew in that instant it was him, but more because it had to be (I've probably watched too many procedurals and thrillers). You're either visually perceptive or... I don't wanna say. LOL.

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Rofl... for me it was also his back that made me instantly know it's him...but the back of his head. :-P

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I guessed it from the "back" shot too. :|

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Tell me why I'm so glad that it wasn't only me that saw the back side and was like it's HIM! LOL (I had forgotten his name at the moment.)

But yeah, IDK why I was never really able to hate Ma Jin Seok even though he was cocky, arrogant, there was just something that made him...likeable!! Unlike the cop Jae Sung. UGHHHHH. LOL love the actor though! so goood! The whole cast!

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So saddd... it's only 2 eps left. Ugh. This week has been had for me to say farewell for 2 mind blowing drama ended (soon).

I watched TF38 & BM because of your recommendation and recaps.

Thank you for enlighten me. Enjoy every single word of it.

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I'm so sad it's the end for Beautiful Mind and Police Unit 38 :(

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Chairman Wang is hilarious.

And who's that friend from two years ago?

Geez, I can't think no more, my head hurts from all the twist.

Anw, that scene when the con-artists + Papa Bear gathered in Dami's diner waiting for grandpa home...

TT^TT

feeeeeeeeeeels

and no, I'm not crying.

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Oh!

I forgot to mention OCN should give SIG award for best satoori-speaking actor this year seriously.

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It's an achievement that deserves recognition. Preferably one which comes with a prize ticket to a hotel room with me.

*tee hee*

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More like he should receive an award for his Seoul-accent. It's flawless, like a native, with no moments where he slips back into his old accent. His satoori is native, he's from Ulsan, but his Seoul accent is so good people tend to think he's faking his satoori. XD

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Yeeeeessss. I saw him in I Live Alone and when his mom visiting, or when he meet his hometown friends he speaks in full satoori with them. It was also his idea to speak in satoori on his first drama because the script was written in Seoul accent. That satoori also led him to try audition for a role in Reply 1997.

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Predictable this drama is not. PU38 has one of the tightest writing I've seen in dramaland, no lie.

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SQ38 might be "predictable" in broad strokes, but it's never boring because it often leaves enough questions that one can never be sure what is what. Motivation is super vague for enough characters that we're on our toes guessing and second-guessing. Is Chun redeemable? Is Ma Jin Seok someone Jung Do trusts? Has he changed for real? Who is Chairman Wang, and what is his motive? Is Chairman Choi omniscient or has he been deceived? Will Sunghee fall into blood ties in the end? Is Madame Noh on the squad's side more than the Chairman? Etc etc. I could go on.

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It helps that most of the players in PU38 are either crooks or conmen. It significantly amps up the tension, albeit in the background that almost all characters in this drama have a working brain, and have the ability, if not even some propensity for deception. And like you said, either their loyalty is divided, or their motivation is rarely one-note. Except for the absence of airbags (directing), almost every detail in this drama makes sense, and ironically, the logical writing makes things less predictable, because it's so darn intelligent and well thought-out.

I love Saya's opening remarks "It plays its cards astutely and without a trace of self-satisfaction at its own cleverness, focusing instead on delivering well-timed curveballs and payoffs. But most reassuringly, it knows its win ultimately doesn’t lie in its complexity, but in its ability to take us along for the ride."

If we look at the overall plans, like Jungdo explained to Sungil ages ago, there's nothing super complex about cons, or in this case, the drama. But that's just the skeleton. What gives flesh and complexity to PU38 are the complex humans written in it. Because the humans are complex, simple situations and scenarios become complex and compelling.

I think because the writers have so much confidence in their characters, and they have such a clear idea of the directions they want to give this drama at all times (small details from episodes ago are getting used long after), it gives them the assurance to tell a story without need for extraneous gimmicks. When you're good, everything speaks for themselves, no need to show off. As befitting of the truly great.

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I want to say something smart here, but all I can focus on is your pen-name. Can I just say how awesome it is! This is how I am counting time too :P

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Lol i scroll back up and now cant stop laughing

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Your screen name is everything. These are the shows I think almost all of us are living for right now.

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Your name is everything I need to know.

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The flowery-shirty, gold-chainy, gansta Jung-do.

H.O.T

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Seo In Guk in absolutely any outfit. HOT.
Seo In Guk in absolutely no clothes.... I forgot what I was typing about.

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Your username reminds me, every time I see Choi playing go, I want Taek/Min to come and teach him a lesson.

Regarding gangster Jungdo -- yes, you are correct.

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Dress SIG in anything and he looks amazing. But yes, the Hawaiian shirt and gangsta look were especially hot. Who would've thought.

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Jungdo's relationship with Sungil is truly beautiful, it's many things rolled up to one. While Jungdo teaches him how to bend the rules, Sungil reminds Jungdo to have a conscious. He was after all the second person to make him feel true guilt for his actions.

Despite playing a jackass most times, the actor who plays Ma Jinseok has one of the most engaging smiles. Like it's attractive, that though I felt like smacking him afew times due to Ma Jinseok and his role in Comeback Adjussi, his smile is so damn pretty.

Also the fake gangsta scene was everything. SIG makes shady gangsta look sexy as hell. The white pants, flowered shirt with more than necessary buttons open, hair combed back and gold chain. What has this man done to me.

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As we all have said time and time again, SIG looks sexy as hell in everything. If you haven't seen that crazy conversation, then here is a link, starting from comment no 26: http://www.dramabeans.com/2016/05/police-unit-38-will-lie-cheat-or-swindle-you-for-your-taxes/#comments

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What's funny is that his doppelganger BtoB Sungjae has the same quality. Depending on what he is wearing, his vibe changes, it's crazy. Waiting for the day they are in the same drama (with N too).

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They would have to play twins or brothers! And what amazing bromance we might get!

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What do you mean 'crazy'?
It's an EPIC conversation.

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Lol @elvira By the crazy conversation, I meant 'awesome' actually! :D I was just being humble you see :P

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That whole convo was hilarious and I'm guilty for visiting the DF-link time and time again. (was just using angie back then as my nick until I realized that there are 2 or 3 other angies here)

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You are THAT angie?? I want to thank you again for that link. That has now been bookmarked and favourited, for research purposes :P

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Haha, you are very welcome. Everything concerning SIG is just for research purposes of course *looks at Google search history which has the weirdest entries thanks to the finger discussion in BoW, cough cough*

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@angieya Didn't they provide a link for it. Or at least a link for the page where you can find the link.

I wonder what mary would be thinking when reading such comments. Maybe sth like: Should I ignore these or should I ask these guys to stop talking or should I maybe join in!

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ON NO U DIDUN!!!

I have never seen that link before, and I just spent the whole time with my mouth opened. what the freak. this should be illegal. dsf;lksjf;ldskjf I protest!!! that post should not exist. my poor heart. *DIES*

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Thank you for the link. It feels like travelling back to Before38 with all the anticipations. 38 does exceed our expectation in a great way!
Your comments on how sexy SIG is on point. Mary's question though... :)))) Poor my heart trying to shake off my imagination after her questions...

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I know what you mean. It is just so much more than what I was expecting. I was hoping for something which could touch half the brilliance of IRY and what I got was so much more. I mean these two shows can't be compared but I do think that they are both equally brilliant.

And Mary's question was the funniest!

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There seems to be a white pants trend for guys these days. Very, very snug white pants. Not that I'm complaining.

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....Especially not when SIG is the one wearing them, *cough cough* *lalala*

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i know i might not get any sexy lip action from inguk. i have to let the hope go now. so yeah.. least we could do are man hugs or manly bromance embrace between the two squishies. my papa bear n my baby foxy. nyaaaaaaaa

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Chairman Wang cracked me up with his comments about our squad. (And every time I see that actor I'm waiting for him to bust out a pet chicken. lol I know History of a Salaryman is already from years ago but I'll never forget that :-D )
I like this man already but I cannot help to think that there must be more to him for helping Jung-do so much than just the fact that he saved his life (if he really did). Hmm...maybe he tipped Chairman Wang off two years ago? I cannot wait to find out what's really happening.

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I never knew that bringing Ma Jin-Seok back to work with the rest of the gang was all I ever wanted, but, here I am, STOKED because Show brought Ma Jin-Seok back to work with the rest of the gang. I love it. I love it so damn much. Thing is, I totally expect to hate him all over again at the beginning whenever I decide to rewatch this drama. But I love them together now. Looking forward to seeing the actor work with SIG again in their next drama, even if I can't expect it to be nearly as amazing as this one.

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I think I had started liking Ma Jin Seok by the end of the con on him. I actually felt a little bad about him. SO I am glad too that he came back.

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Me too! I feel a little guilty that I'm enjoying his comeback so much. I keep thinking back to what he did to his poor housemaid and how awful he was to Sung-il and the others, I really hope he's changed. Jung-do's comment about Sung-il remembering how he first met him was a bit cryptic too, hmmm...

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the point I decided he was alright was when it got revealed that he *didn't* maim Chang-ho - he's immoral, but not evil. Except he was a *bit* evil, but I don't have a good memory so I can look past it.

and did you see those points where he catches Sung-il and Jung-do smiling at each other in their special way, and smiles to see them? I think that's the moment where he redeemed himself to me. He genuinely likes them and probably ships them too!

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I think i saw the actor who played Ma Ji Seok in the photos of the drama reading for King Louie - starring SIG!

My reaction when i saw the photo was - hey they are together again!

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Apart from man- hugs I wouldn't mind some nipple- biting fights! That was the best scene ever and I would love it if they fight over something again. preferably something very childish.

Here is looking forward to a kick- ass weekend with 2 Squad 38- worthy episodes. I want bromance, a lil romance, a lot of group-mance and a whole lotta slick conning!

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I laughed so hard at the offscreen, grumbly "he can't fight" from Jung Do. It was so like a little sibling undermining his brother, jealous about the positive attention he was getting.

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Where did this happen?

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At the end of the scene where Chairman Wang asks if Sungil is a wrestler. I laughed too. Sungil CAN fight, it's Jungdo who resorts to sand-throwing and biting.

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I read an article that the actress that plays Mi joo, Lee Sun-bin is lined up to debut in a girls group as an idol. And I told myself why bother when she's already one hell of an actress! I do hope her acting career kicks off from this drama as she has such a natural onscreen presence. Made me feel like she's been acting for years. Rookie to me, she is not.

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I know the team in Bad Guys are completely incompatible with our Squad. For one, they are much darker, and our poor Squad would probably pee themselves in those situations, and for two, two Ma Dong Seok might end up two much for my brain... but I can't help but fantasize about Squad 38, and Bad Guys teaming up in a crossover, or even Season 2. Squad can be the brain, and Bad Guys the brawl.

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Yes!!! They'd be an unstoppable combo. Personally, I want to see the squad take on the Liar Game. Pretty sure they'd eat it for breakfast haha!

Also, your username is giving me life right now.

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I want both teams to participate in liar game/variety show the Genius. they'll eat each other alive, then come out besties in the end. <3

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Excellent writing as always! This show never disappoints <3

Interesting shift in the dynamic between JD and SH. Their body language during the conversation almost seemed... flirty? Like, I wouldn't call the content of the conversation romantic but there was definitely something in the way they were smiling at each other.

Perhaps the show is trying to imply that they reconnected on some level when she used to visit him in prison?

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I also felt it! I'm glad I'm not the only one who saw that.

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FMV time!

Cool: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEU0s3Bkwxw - this one has clips from aaaalll the episodes so far!

If anyone else finds awesome videos, please share. I need to not lose the next week to youtube watching EVERYTHING it tells me to...

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I FOUND YOU MANHUGS https://youtu.be/hE6w5qOyeYg (start at 3.05)

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ty for posting this. I absolutely love all fitting the lyrics are. the soundtrack for this drama and Bad Guys are quite different yet underratedly awesome. Shhh. it's our secret.

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Saya, your writing is da bomb!! You basically said everything I wAnt to say about this show..but so eloquently.
The writers of this show are freaking fantastic..I so wish this was 20 episodes n not 16.
How awesome would it be if PU38 writer and the writer of W got together for a time travelling con artist show..I am sure that would be legendary!!

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When Jung-do said he'd brought someone else in, I thought, "mayor's daughter!" Then, when it was obviously a guy, I thought "Deok-bae!"
When it was Ma Jin-seok, I squealed. And I don't squeal for many dramas.

Squad 38, you are special.
You've set me up so that I will believe ANYTHING! I will believe any one of these guys will be loyal. I will believe any one of these guys will turn. I believe any of the (so far) good guys are actually bad guys. And I believe (almost) any of the bad guys will turn out to be Jong-do's plants.
The writing. The actors--even the small parts--are SO GOOD. (I am so conflicted, though. I want to watch next week to see how it ends. But I don't want to watch next week because I don't want it to be over.)

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So many ends need to be tied up. 2 eps don't seem to be enough. I'm worried the writer will leave it to season 2. That's the last thing I want. OCN has bad reputation of digging holes but never filling up. There are some OCN good dramas that have got a pending suspense in the last episode and viewers are waiting forever for the next season (one of them is vampire detective from the same writer). I don't mind seasons 2 or a open ending but I hate unanswered suspense, especially SIG is almost due for military service season 2 won't come soon.

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Saya thanks for the awesome recap of theis episode!

Your astute comments about human nature was eloquently put. I had thought of the same while watching the episode.

This drama is my all time fav. I enjoy the bromance; the different ships and the planning of the cons; the actors n actresses and their respective characters. But what really got me thinking is the way human nature acts n reacts. It has been very fascinating!

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+1

It's what I enjoy about this drama. It keeps me guessing about what really motivates the characters to do what they do. I love that the show gave us complex villains also.

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Does anyone know what happened to Chang Ho? Like the guy who was in the coma? I am just curious because I hope he isn't dead.

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I'm really, really, really hoping he comes back. Since he wanted to be a cop, he can come back with Deokbae and heroically save the team from some terrible situation they've gotten themselves in.

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yerah, he was kind of abandoned floating on the ocean of unconsciousness. I was thinking about him too

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Chairman Wang's last name seems to be Kim. So he is actually Chairman Kim. He is called Chairman Wang because he is the king of chairmen.

And I thought the dude who helped them out two years ago was MJS. JD has already taken MJS's nature into the calculation and counts on his betrayal. I thought that's what it meant.

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That's what I thought too. When SI asked "Do you trust MJS?" and JD answer "Do you remember how we met him?"

Jung-do didn't say he trusts MJS. Sneaky, sneaky!

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Me too! Which is another reason why I don't trust Ma Jin Seok

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I cracked up when Chairman Wang asked if Sungil was a pro wrestler, but laughed even more at Saya's response: No, he's a professional BEAR. Hahahaha, oh goodness.

Saya, you need to write a book (in between recaps, of course) if you haven't already. I promise I'll buy 5 copies of it.

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I will buy 5 too and gift it to my friends. I would also help with word of mouth publicity. Just because I really really love Saya's writing.

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Can I already order advance copies? :-) Thank you for the recaps, Saya. I really enjoy reading them.

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Awww you guys! I'm going to hold you to that!

(It will happen. One day. When I've figured out how to get enough sleep, not slack off at my day-job, get faster at my night-job...yeah. One day! I'll tell you guys first!)

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You have a day job?

This is part-time? Yikes...

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Wait, what do you mean "this" is part-time? I thoughts the writers were volunteers, or doing this out of hobby? Do they get paid for this? I'm guessing it probably can't sustain them even if they do...

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I think she meant that her DB "job" is just a hobby. Javabeans probably doesn't pay these writers anything, at most just chump pocket change. You would be broke if you treated this as a full-time job. lol.

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I still can't trust Ma Jin-seok no matter what,for some reason i still think he betrayed them,like infiltrating himself into the gang to sniff off their plans and tell Ahn about it in exchange of getting his own little payback at them and getting on the good graces of the old man, something Jung Do might very well know he will do but let him in and pretended he is conned to conn them all,also how funny is that the two actors will be best buddies in SIG next drama

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well, I don´t trust anyone or anything. I don´t trust Ma Jin Seok even if he is secxy as heck, I don´t trust whatever I trust. I don´t trust the chair. I don´t trust the door. I don´t trust shop clerks or waitresses. [redfox and Fox Mulder raise a sign together: "Trust No One!"]

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Yeaa, that's what I was thinking too, the trust issue. I mean, Jung-do is an extra-fine specimen of man, but if we are in any kind of relationship, every time he did something, my insecurity will think: did you do that to make me do this instead of that, so then you can do that, and so in the end we'll be doing this..?

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you know. Ma Jin Seok is hella sexy.

funny how every week ends the same way since this show aired. I just walk forth and back nervously, mumbling to myself: "Do not panic. Do NOT panic. DO not panic." etc.

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Is chairman choi also the good chairman in the hospital in doctors
Korean actors are really versatile.
And you will see them in many dramas at the same time.
Unlike in our country.. Actressess/actors are contracted to stay at 1 network station

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Yes, Chairman Choi is Ji-hong's dad in Doctors :D

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OMG I'm so shocked! I did nit recognize him! It just shows how great of an actor he is

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Watch this. Simply hilarious. LOL.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7usEDxmt6A

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And this. Our super conmen.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qort8ssdmqU

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Hahaha this is hilarious! Thanks asmara.

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Does anybody else want to plant a knuckle on Ahn Tae Wok's forehead? I swear that guy just annoys the wits out of me.

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Yes! Ugh. I can't believe his character made a comeback. Can't wait to see him go down...again! D:<

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Gosh, the beginning scenes with Chairman Wang made me chuckle. He seems kinda scary, but kinda cool. However, I'm curious about what his crime was....

Seeing Ma Jin Seok with the team just blew my mind! I was stunned... It made me laugh in disbelief. But I can't trust him yet. I hope he surprises us and doesn't betray them.

My memory is pretty bad sometimes. Right now, I cannot remember how they first met Jin Seok... I remember how Sung Il was at his house with the tax team.

Chairman Choi is pretending to be an ordinary citizen, but is he saving all his wealth up? What is he doing with his money? Making investments and/or making more money? So what? I don't know. It's just lame that he's faking his lifestyle in front of the public.

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I actually began watching this show because people had commented about SIG and MDS' bromance here on Shopping King Louie recaps/eps. I thought they were referring to the earlier episodes when Jung-do conned him, but as soon as he mentioned he hired someone, I knew it had to be him :')

Also, I'm glad they're not focusing on a romantic relationship b/n Jung-do and Sung-hee. Can't happen now that we only have two hours left, right? I like them as friends to be honest.

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