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179

Police Unit 38: Episode 16 (Final)

How many times can a show blow your mind before there isn’t any mind left? When you think there just CAN’T be any more twists, Police Unit 38 ups the ante once again, taking a whole new direction as the past collides with the present in one last, all-out, life-or-death showdown between the bad guys, the other bad guys, the not-so-bad guys, the maybe-bad guys, and our resident bears. But when your philosophy is to fight until you win…surely it’s only a matter of time?

 
FINAL EPISODE RECAP

Jung-do wraps up his council of war at the Freezer and thanks Madam Noh for agreeing to the plan. He sends Mi-joo along with her, but before they go, Sung-il instructs them to each save themselves, should things go wrong.

Afterwards, the two men remain in silence, Jung-do with his head bowed, until Sung-il asks if he’s not going to tell them the whole plan, since they’ll be hurt when they find out later. “So what if they get hurt?” Jung-do replies, raising his head with a half-smile, “Ajusshi, I’m a con artist.” But despite his words, it’s clear he cares.

Madam Noh parts with Mi-joo with the warning that this scam could end them all, so she should find her own way out. She and Ji-yeon drive away, and Madam Noh agrees when Ji-yeon says they should do as Chairman Wang tells them.

Sung-hee phones Sung-il to tell him that the mayor has found out the relationship between Chairman Wang and Jung-do. Jung-do immediately receives a call from Mr. Kim, which has him turn wide eyes on Sung-il. But Jung-do leaves casually, with a reassuring touch on Sung-il’s shoulder. Once outside, however, he rushes to his car and takes off.

Jae-sung’s eyes widen greedily at the bag stuffed with banknotes from Chairman Choi, who now asks him what his great tidbit is. Jae-sung asks him if he remembers Kim Min-shik (Sung-il’s dead brother-in-law), and Choi recalls him as the man who tried to take him down via President Bang, but then killed himself.

“Who said that it was suicide?” Jae-sung asks. He reveals that President Bang killed him, and Mayor Chun covered it up as suicide. Choi starts to chuckle, and a hooked grin spreads across Jae-sung’s face.

Mi-joo ignores a call from Hak-joo, Madam Noh’s warning on her mind, and enters a police station. Meanwhile, Sung-il remains alone at the Freezer, and we now see Jung-do had told him to wait there until “that person” comes.

Madam Noh receives the fateful call from President Wang telling her that he’s cutting ties with Jung-do, and she should, too. Flustered for a moment, she agrees, just as Ji-yeon arrives with a reporter they called. On the other side, Director Ahn is pleased at this outcome.

The reporter asks her what kind of exclusive she called him here for. Giving him a searching look, she smiles suddenly. There’s a swindler for him to catch, she tells him. Noo, don’t do it!

Jung-do arrives at the restaurant where Chairman Wang is meeting Ahn. Mr. Kim refuses him entry, but Jung-do tries to push his way in anyway. Blocked by guards block, he becomes increasingly agitated, screaming and pleading, “Chairman! You can’t do this to me!”

Inside, Ahn smiles smugly as the chairman ignores him. Mr. Kim looks dispassionately on as Jung-do collapses from the guards’ blows.

Jae-sung still has one more carrot for Chairman Choi, and tells him that for another five million, he can get rid of Jung-do and Sung-il once and for all, and control Mayor Chun forever. Choi is skeptical, and Jae-sung tells him that Ma Jin-seok hasn’t yet given up their names. But one word from Jae-sung, and he will, he leers.

Caught by the bait, Choi eventually agrees, but faffs around saying he’ll have it wired over in a few days. But Jae-sung flatly refuses anything but cold, hard cash right now. His hand forced, Choi puts in a call to his chief loan shark to gather the amount and bring it to him.

The agent collects the cash from various locations across the district and when it’s ready, Choi phones Prosecutor Park and finds out that Jin-seok has held his silence, even though he was told he’d go free if he named the brokers. The chairman asks for Jin-seok to be put on the phone, and Jae-sung tells him that he’s got the money so he’s now free to reveal all. Jin-seok turns back to Prosecutor Park with a smirk, ready to name names. Oh Jin-seok, I believed in you!

Jae-sung gloats to Choi that his bag sure is heavy with all that money, and commandeers Choi’s men to load it into his car. But Choi has the last word: “That money? It’s something I’m just lending to you for a while. It will come back to me again.” He warns Jae-sung to watch his back, which makes Jae-sung snort as he leaves.

Now we replay the call Choi made to Mayor Chun last episode, revealing that he heard Min-shik’s death wasn’t suicide after all. Chun recoils in shock, and asks the chairman where he is right now.

Still on the road, Jung-do turns his car around after getting a call from someone. Meanwhile, Prosecutor Park sets out with a team to storm the Freezer, where Sung-il continues his lone vigil. Jin-seok goes free, and arranges to meet Jae-sung to split the money.

Prosecutor Park catches Sung-il unawares. He explains that Jin-seok divulged their names as instigators in the loan-fraud, and asks for Jung-do’s whereabouts. Full of worry, Sung-il says nothing and Park orders his arrest.

He’s led out in cuffs, and it looks like Jung-do has arrived just in time to witness the scene. Still in his car, he watches from a distance, shocked and tense, as they take him away. He departs in the opposite direction.

Mayor Chun arrives at Chairman Choi’s office and asks fearfully how much he knows. Choi replies that he knows President Bang killed him while Chun covered it up. His demand is simple: He wants to be let back into Seowon city’s affairs. “And into your life,” he finishes, smiling smugly.

Jung-do rushes into the basement of a building—ah, it’s Ja-wang’s den. He rummages around looking for something, and phones Ja-wang for help locating something. Finding it, he strides back out.

It’s Sung-il’s turn to be questioned, and Prosecutor Park offers to cut him a deal if he gives up Jung-do. After a long pause, Sung-il asks, “Prosecutor, why have you sworn such loyalty to Chairman Choi?” He says that they’re public servants whose salaries come from taxes paid by ordinary citizens. They owe it to the public to work for their sake, not for the private advantage of a privileged few.

Park lets out a frustrated sigh and points out that he’s in no position to be preaching to anyone right now. Sung-il agrees, but earnestly asks if the prosecutor will hear him out all the same.

Director Ahn suggests a variety of methods to Chairman Wang for transferring funds to them. But the chairman is adamant it must be cash, since other methods leave a trail. He calls in Mr. Kim and instructs him to amass as generous an amount as he can right away. Ahn is impressed, and the chairman beams, “This is how I do business!”

A stricken Mayor Chun pleads with Chairman Choi to release him, “I really want to become an outstanding mayor.” He lowers himself to his knees, and Choi spares him a glance. “You’re already an outstanding mayor. There’s no one better than you…to me,” he says, and dismisses him.

Jae-sung arrives at his meeting point with Jin-seok emptyhanded. He sneers at Jin-seok that since he did all the work, he’ll keep all the money. Jin-seok’s face darkens, but Jae-sung threatens to spend a few notes and get Jin-seok put away again.

Jin-seok tries cajoling now, but the ex-detective only leans in and tells him to live well. He leaves Jin-seok muttering profanities behind him, while he gloats all the way to his car. What comes around, goes around?

Chairman Wang asks Ahn how he’ll hand over the Maseokdong project, but Ahn assures him that Choi won’t be an obstacle. Mr. Kim arrives just then to tell them that the money’s ready and Ahn readily gives up his car keys, looking more and more like the cat who got the cream. He checks that the money is safely stowed inside, before driving away.

At the tax bureau, Sung-hee receives a call from her father which she’s hesitant to answer. He asks her what kind of mayor she thinks he is. He tells her how he thought it would be okay to accept their help just a little back then, in the hope that he could do much more good if he could only become mayor.

In a defeated voice, he tells her that it all becomes a slippery slope. Concessions and favors added up to unfair advantages, and now those things are dragging him down. Sung-hee’s only answer is pained silence, and he realizes then that if he had been a worthy mayor, she wouldn’t have helped the con-team. “I’m sorry, Sung-hee-ya,” he says, eyes full.

Prosecutor Park asks Sung-il if what he’s just told him is true. Sung-il confirms it is, and appeals to the prosecutor to do his job as it ought to be done. “Right now, I’m giving you a chance,” he says, eyes hopeful.

Director Ahn reports his successful wooing of Chairman Wang to Mayor Chun. But Chun reveals that Chairman Choi found out about Min-shik. Although he’s taken aback, Ahn assures him that he can take care of it. But the mayor cuts in asking just how far they have to go. “To the end,” Ahn replies grimly, and tells him to forget Choi and focus on Wang.

The mayor tiredly acquiesces. About to leave, Ahn turns back and tells the mayor to bear it a little longer, “I haven’t yet been able to show you the Seowon city I envision.” But why does that sound more like a threat?

Chairman Wang returns to Madam Noh, pretty pleased, and asks when something is going to come out. Madam Noh tells him that it should be about now, and she gets Ji-yeon to turn on the TV. By now, everyone is in front of a TV screen, one way or another—the prosecutor, Mayor Chun, Chairman Choi, Mi-joo, and even Hak-joo and Ja-wang. Oh god, the tension is killing me.

We see Jung-do sit silently in his car somewhere, as if waiting, while elsewhere, Jae-sung gets out of his. He pops open the trunk, and his eyes widen…because it’s empty. Totally cleaned out. Whaaat.

A special bulletin reports the breaking news that Seowon city’s mayor accepted illegal campaign funds. It names Choi as the recipient of a cash fund collected from various illegal lending businesses, and notes he has $100 million in tax arrears. Chairman Choi watches the report agog.

Jae-sung turns around to find himself surrounded by plainclothes police, who arrest him immediately. On TV, the report continues that the money was delivered to a broker. Camera footage shows Jae-sung leaving his car, while a second broker appears— WHAT? NO REALLY WHAT?! It’s Jung-do, a cap pulled low over his face.

In his car, Jung-do watches the report unfold…with Jin-seok beside him. What! Laughing a little, Jung-do thanks him, and tells him not to make trouble anymore. Jin-seok promises he’s a changed man, and the men part as friends.

And now, the full plan is laid out at last as we return to the council of war from the beginning of the episode. Jin-seok had learned that Jae-sung had met with Chairman Choi, and they figure he’s out to sell him information for cash. Madam Noh explains that the cash would have to come from Choi’s moneylending activities. And while Jae-sung’s on the move with the money, Jung-do says they’ll be setting a trap.

The holes are filled in further, and we now learn that the item Jung-do took from Ja-wang’s den was some kind of car-hacking master-key. While Jae-sung met with Jin-seok—car keys on the table beside him—Jung-do had followed behind with the device. As soon as he clocks the correct frequency, he heads out and unlocks both cars, immediately transferring the boxes of cash from Jae-sung’s car to his. And then he’s gone.

They’ll take that money to Chairman Wang, Sung-il explains next, who will pretend it came from him, and hand it off to Director Ahn. Since Ahn already found out about their relationship, Jung-so says they’ll play it like the chairman switched sides. This way, they conclude, the money that originated from the illegal loan sharks will go to Choi, and then pass through Jae-sung as the first “broker”. A second broker will then transfer it from Jae-sung to the Chun campaign, as an illegal donation.

Mi-joo notes that every person in the chain—Chairman Choi, the brokers, Ahn and Mayor Chun—will go down, and asks who the second broker is. Jung-do lightly replies that he bought someone who’ll go to prison for them. There is a flaw in your plan, Jung-do.

Wrapping up, he instructs Madam Noh to get the reporter to follow them with a camera, and Mi-joo to report it to the police. Madam Noh looks penetratingly at him and asks if Chairman Wang ordered it and you get the feeling she knows his real plan. “No. It’s my decision,” he tells her with a smile.

We return to Prosecutor Park’s interview with Sung-il. Park points out that without insider testimony, they’ve got nothing. Sung-il offers up Jung-do as their insider. Impassioned, he tells Park, “If that fellow didn’t fight like this, we would never be able overcome those villains.”

Mi-joo watches in shock as the news footage clearly shows Jung-do as the second broker. At the hospital, Hak-joo and Ja-wang also recognize him, and perhaps Madam Noh didn’t guess after all, because she looks as shocked as everyone else.

Sung-il has one last appeal for the prosecutor: “Who must public officials like us look to? For whose sake and against whom must we fight? Please show the people for once, whose side is the law really on.”

Park mulls on those words as he watches the report. Nodding slightly to himself, he picks up the phone and orders Sung-il’s release.

Jung-do walks into the police station, and smiles as he and Sung-il cross paths. Saddened, Sung-il apologizes, but Jung-do brushes it off. He’s sorry for not keeping his side of their promise, but reminds Sung-il that he must, “So don’t get fired.” His composure falters a moment, but he collects himself. “Then let’s go our own ways,” he tells Sung-il.

But just before he passes on, Jung-do asks Sung-il for one last favor: His father will be coming out in a year, but there’s no one to meet him. Of course he’ll go, Sung-il says. “Thanks…hyung,” Jung-do says, half-smiling and half ready to cry. Pulling his cap back on, he vanishes inside, and Sung-il wipes his eyes. There’s something in my eye, too.

Mayor Chun receives an agitated call from Chairman Choi. Chun offers him three options: They can shift the blame onto Ahn, Choi can save himself by destroying the mayor with the truth about Min-shik’s death, or they can both go down together. Choi doesn’t like the first or third options. Chun replies that he disagrees, and hangs up. Choi barks at his Secretary to get Prosecutor Park on the line, but he’s not taking their calls.

Prosecutor Park arrives to question Jung-do, who begins his confession immediately. He took Chairman Choi’s money via Jae-sung, and delivered it to Mayor Chun, he says.

Sung-il comes to see Mayor Chun now that it’s over. Chun visibly deflates, and as Sung-il’s about to leave, Chun stops him. He confesses that Min-shik was murdered by President Bang, and furthermore, he had covered it up. But to his shock, Sung-il already knows, having discovered everything during his investigation into Chairman Choi.

He admits that he wanted to pulverize him, but first he needed to finish what Min-shik started—what Chun himself had tried to do back then. He wishes Chun could go back to how he used to be, “Back then, hyungnim, you were really magnificent.”

Sung-hee calls her father to answer his question. Quietly, she says that as a mayor, he was how her mother had described him as a husband: well-intentioned, but never there for them. She asks him not to be that way to the citizens. As she hangs up, both their faces are wet with tears.

With new resolve, Chun addresses a press conference the next day, and reveals that it was true that he had received illegal campaign funds. He goes on to disclose the full extent of his and Choi’s misconduct over the past eight years.

He says he came to realize that giving up his conscience and going outside of the law were not the way to make the citizens happy. He promises to take responsibility for his wrongdoings and co-operate with the investigation. He also withdraws from the mayoral election, and offers a deep bow of apology. Director Ahn watches the broadcast in his car, convulsing with silent laugh-sobs.

As a last request the night before, the mayor had asked Sung-hee to collect Chairman Choi’s $100 million arrears. Her team reach Choi’s office, where he stubbornly ignores their arrival. She announces their search and seizure, having confirmed the true extent of his assets. As the operation commences, the screen fades to black.

Sometime later, Sung-il pays Choi a visit in the poor neighborhood he likes to hang out in, and finds the old man bitter. With a diffident smile, he formally pronounces Choi’s $100 million tax arrears as paid in full, “Although it took a while.” Haha.

At City Hall, Sung-il now enjoys the respect of his colleagues—as Section Chief of Division Two. Aw, yeah! He drifts towards the TV, where a news report announces a rain of cash over a university which had recently suffered from the director’s corruption, along with a rumor that said director had recently fallen victim to real estate fraud. Sung-il grins, but not as broadly as Sung-hee does to see him smiling.

Across the city, Madam Noh and Ji-yeon also enjoy the report. Still headquartered at the Freezer, Mi-joo, Hak-joo and Ja-wang (now recovered) eagerly watch the screen, grinning in elation.

EPILOGUE

It’s meal-time in prison and Jae-sung spots Jung-do chomping down his food. Jung-do finishes up begins to head out. Eyes narrowed viciously, Jae-sung extracts a shiv concealed in his waistband. Just as he’s about to lunge for Jung-do, a hand grabs him, and he’s disarmed…by Sung-il? What? He punches Jae-sung in the face and says, “I’m Park Woong-chul, you jerk.” OH MY GOD, ARE YOU REALLY?

Jung-do, mouth still full of apple, blinks at his savior in shock: “Sung-il hyung!” Woong-chul asks, “Do you know me?” Guards yell at him for causing trouble, and he mutters to himself that he’s meant to come out soon. But then he turns to look straight at the camera, eyebrow cocked.

COMMENTS

BEST CAMEO EVER, GUYS. BESSTTTT. For those who haven’t seen it, that was a special appearance from Ma Dong-seok’s character in Bad Guys, who (as of episode 1) is the total opposite of kindly papa bear. Aww, seriously, my heart was so ready to ache without that epilogue.

I’m thankful that we weren’t left with the kind of semi-resolved ending these OCN shows like to torture us with (for subsequent seasons that may never happen but you never give up on! You know who you are, shows.). Everything about this finale—both parts—was just perfect, in what was a lovingly-crafted send-off for a fantastically written show. The care is evident not only in how our characters’ arcs conclude, but also in how it stayed true to its overall spirit and concept. The weary world it painted was one where the kernels of hope were buried deep and required introspection and effort to uncover, not just on the characters’ parts, but also ours. It exemplifies, to me, what has always set K-dramas apart from the herd, even (or perhaps especially) in genre dramas, with that reflective quality that gives us thrillers with heart and comedy capers with a core of anguish. Those are the things that elevate a show from forgettable to indelible.

If not for the epilogue, my heart would be bleeding for Jung-do, who looked like the loneliest person in the world as he walked into that police station. His cocky veneer has always masked the tragedy of his arc, and his origin story bears a strong similarity to Liar Game’s Ha Woo-jin. But it’s been clear for some time that he’s a far softer target, easily affected and forming strong loyalties. It’s these bonds that give him motive, and ultimately govern all he does.

The question of motive has always been central to unlocking the heart of the show, whose entire conceit is built around dissecting the mechanics of what makes people tick. That’s the battleground from which twist and counter-twist (and counter-counter-twist) emerge, and that knowledge becomes by far the most powerful weapon, not just for second-guessing people, but for controlling them.

In a way, Jung-do makes Chairman Choi’s methods look crude, because his require much more subtlety and a more sophisticated understanding of human nature. Unlike Choi, Jung-do’s interest isn’t in controlling people outright, but in using their natural behaviors to his advantage. With a few tweaks, of course. Choi might win in a battle of brute force, but in a game of infinitesimally complex moves, that’s all Jung-do’s.

The emotional current of this episode was carried on Jung-do’s choice to sacrifice himself, and it doesn’t underplay the dire seriousness of his gambit. Their whole plan was essentially a big gamble, and they knew it. But if there’s anything we’ve learnt from Sung-il and Jung-do, it’s that victory demands a price. So does escape, as Mayor Chun discovers, when he realizes that the only way to end Choi’s hold over him is to go down with him. His trajectory this episode strangely mirrors Jung-do’s, perhaps because both of them want to end Choi’s dominion. But that Chun was part of the problem is something it took him all this time to recognize.

From the show’s first breath, it has asked whether ends justify means, and I think the mayor eventually becomes one of the most fascinating characters to answer that. Something of a demi-villain at one point, he was the mayor who was bad because he wanted to be good. The irony is that pretty much everyone spends the majority of the show breaking the law—for the greater good and otherwise—but Chun occupies the unique position of holding significant (political) power in one hand, and potentially inexhaustible means in the other. It’s an intoxicating combination of circumstances.

Another proof of the integrity of Police Unit’s universe is how well it bears multiple, concurrent interpretations. It’s particularly well exemplified in the team reunion over the last few episodes. In this final con where they have nothing to gain, they wouldn’t take such big risks without better motives. So did Jung-do manipulate them? Somewhat. Did Grandpa move them? Somewhat. But ultimately, it’s their own emotions and consciences that make them go the distance, not pragmatism. Was Hak-joo’s return to the fold for the sake of the team? Absolutely, among other things. I enjoy how it suggests that loyalty—or perhaps betrayal—is the more powerful currency among thieves. There’s a level of intangibility to it that someone like Choi will never comprehend. And if Jin-seok isn’t living, laughing proof of that, I don’t know what is.

The ending scene before the epilogue strikes a chord of both humor and hope, as you realize that they don’t go back to their old ways, but go forward into new ways. I would have been disappointed if Sung-il put his conning behind him. That reduces it to little more than a plot point, when the reality of the characters is that they’ve endured a years-long crucible that has fundamentally changed them. But if I had to make a complaint, it would be that the female characters were underused, although it’s offset somewhat by how well they’re written. Sung-hee, Mi-joo and Madam Noh prove consistently intelligent and resourceful, and are never treated as accessories for a hero’s (or anti-hero’s) journey.

There’s a particular joy in watching a show that revels in its cleverness, but its true soul lies in how much life the characters have: All the plot in the world doesn’t mean anything if we don’t care about the people. But over the past few weeks, we’ve watched our team failing, adapting, and making the unlikeliest of saves. We watched them patiently bide their time and we agonized for them. And that’s that best kind of show. Long after you forget the details, you still remember how it made you feel. And this show? It made me feel all the feels.

 
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This drama has the best material to be #1 OCN's drama this year. The writing, the actors, the bromance <3, even the villains. Hahahaha...

Talking about villains [because our con artists, I believe, have been garnered praise], are the actors playing the villains trying to escape the good/bad image from their previous/current works? Or trying to prove their versatility in acting? Lee Ho Jae (who's playing Chairman Choi [the 100 million tax evader]) was a loving father in 'Doctors' and he's a evil king of all things that evil in this drama. Jung In Ki (who's playing Detective Sa) was always playing a great dad (e.g. in SeGa) and playing lovable character in Lucky Romance, here he's playing this hugely annoying and disgusting detective. Oh Dae Hwan who plays Ma Jin Suk was always playing baddies, but I kinda like his character here... and other more baddies in 38.

I love that there's a reference to another OCN's big hit 'Bad Guys'; Papa Bear twins. *fandoms collide*

Anw, is that how JD saved chairman Wang back in the jail too? Why do I kinda believe that he's the one 'controlling' Park Woong Chul (Papa Bear's twins) from behind the bars to throw 20 million from the university?

I know I shouldn't be hoping for more of 38, but the ending makes me kinda wishing there'll be more of them. Hear, hear, ye DramaGods.

I love that 38 keeps my stomach in knots in every episode. Can you even believe the plot twist is there until the end?

I have nothing but praise for the whole crew and congratulation that 38 has ended well, both story wise and rating wise, despite at first it's considered one of the low-key dramas this year. Well done, 38.

Now, HOW CAN I SPEND MY WEEKEND?

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Ah your last question. Please kindly tell me if you found the answer.

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Well, there will be one more 'special' episode this Friday, with BTS and NGs and commentary from the actors. Maybe they'll have the BTS of the playground fight? Let's hope.

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What do you mean by "I kanda believe he's the one controlling him ----"? Hahah I don't quite get it.

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People who are didn't squeal at the last scene are missing out. Go watch Bad Guys, and then return to this scene. It will be worth it.

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Funny that you mentioned that... I just started Bad Guys right the cameo and I am on episode 9, so good! It's been on my list for awhile but that cameo gave me a shove to watch!

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Good for u!!!!! I started IRY because of Squad 38 as well, and I can see why fans of one would be of the others.

Bad guys is just like I Remember You. It made it possible that you would hate the crime, not forgive the criminal for their past crimes, and yet at the same time, empathize with that same criminal, and root with all your heart for them to find a future for themselves, with better purpose and less loneliness. They might not have society forgiving them, but you hoped they would forgive each other at least. Brilliant drama.

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Another thing the 3 had in common: the ending. Not all was resolved, but all parties were satisfied with what they had, and plenty of hope for the future for them, and hope for us for a 2nd season. Please make it happen.

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I'm hoping for season 2 on those 3 dramas..

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don ´t get me there, I started IRY all over again for the 28th time. I know it is a crazy number of times, but until they give me season 2, what do I have left?

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Awww, now I gotta go rewatch I Remember You! ... which is as good a way as any to fill in the blank hours due to no more PU38 and Olympics pre-emptions!

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Curious if they are hinting at a Bad Guys Season 2!!!I want a Squad 38 Season 2 but with In Guk knowing amy duty who knows :(

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Watching Bad Guys now.

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I don't know which one is real and which one is a con. I don't know which way is up anymore. And that's the greatest thing about this drama. What an awesome thriller, even without the usual amount of violence. Not to mention about Jungdo pulling the last big con against his own team. I just turned into a puddle of tears right then and there.

And what is that epilogue, bad guys' world and squad 38's world colliding? Oh gosh, make it happen please... I never knew I want that until you dangled it right in front of my nose. Now I can't unsee it...

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Thank you Saya so much for this last recap (T____T)!!
I've liked you during the KMHM days, but truly loved you with Sassy Go Go recaps. And your stellar writing for Squad sealed your position in my heart in the Recapper Hall of Fame. If this recapping is paid, I hope you get a raise. ^^

Speaking of gratitude, there were many things worthy of being grateful during this Squad 38 experience.

- I am grateful to the writer for providing one of the tightest scripts+ in dramaland from beginning till end. I've watched dramas since early 2000's, and I can say this doesn't happen often, at best once every blue moon. Every detail is meaningful, and I feel as if they had everything planned from the beginning, which was why they could insert hints of future twists several episodes ahead. The writing was not perfectly complete (I wished there were more episodes to show us even more flashbacks into the past), but what was shown was perfectly planned. Its intelligence, respect of viewer's intelligence, and most of all, respect of all characters' intelligence (from minor characters like poor Changho and his thoughtfulness, to villains and women), made the experience fulfilling in a way that is rare. In that sense, I find it perfect. All the villains had their own agendas and complexities, and I will never forget how all the female characters in this drama, even the gold-digging wife of Bang Jr., had a brain of their own, and pulled their equal if not superior weight against the male characters.

- I have to be grateful to the crew. The directing was almost movie-like, which I immensely appreciated, and the editing gave us all whiplash, and conned us until the very end. The soundtrack gave me life and I almost had a pavlovian anticipation for epicness every time the theme song would come on. The acting, of course, was stellar, from everyone, minor, major, villains (all distinct), heroes. Sunbin as Mijoo with her hair-flips was a revelation (Irene look-alike!!). But surprisingly, so were Ma Dong Seok and Seo In Guk despite being familiar with them. I still maintain that Yoonjae (and his lesser known but adorable Won il in No Breathing) suits Seo In Guk the best as a role, but as a skill, his acting improved even more from I remember You, and that's no easy feat. Best performance to date. I always see Ma Dong Seok in a tough role, so I loved how believable he was as a "meek" upright everyday salaryman. Congrats on Train to Busan. And of course, the chemistry was the best. I will never forget the awesome hilarious moments of fake spouses in the cafe, and the playground fight. If the Martian can get a golden globe in comedy, then Squad 38 can get at least a nomination in the comedy category. Also, THE squad's march of fame in the street was squad-goals worthy.

- Finally, this might sound counter-intuitive, but I'm grateful for its low-key profile in DB, with the readers and staff. Its unrivaled time-slot, and the fact that it wasn't so much...

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(Continued...)

- Finally, this might sound counter-intuitive, but I'm grateful for its low-key profile in DB, with the readers and staff. Its unrivaled time-slot, and the fact that it wasn't so much in the spotlight meant that it didn't receive hate from frustrated fans of less popular or rival dramas. There were no negative comparisons, and people who didn't like it just left at the beginning and left it alone subsequently. Nobody questioned its ratings, or its hype. Mainly because there were no hype. lol. Its popularity was just enough that the comment sections weren't desert-land, and overall, it made for a pretty rare DB experience where you could experience the best of both world: fan enthusiasm, unmarred by negative comparisons or criticisms and frustrations from other fans. Quality. Popularity. Without hate. And I don't know about you, but I am so glad that my entire experience watching Squad 38 was so quietly positive from beginning to end. This is the sort of drama that's so intense you can just savor it alone anyway. But being able to share the experience in such a positive atmosphere is the cherry on top of the cake. It made watching this drama into a positive and special memory. Thank you fans, and thank you to others for leaving us alone this one time. It made everything pleasant from beginning to end.

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Reading your comment about fans' response to Squad 38 made me realize that the drama itself reflects that. Squad 38 never did too much, or fall into the trap of self-indulgence. Rather than bask in it's own cleverness, it never lost sight of the end goal. It had a story to tell and told it well, without deviating. Same with its ending. It was not perfectly neat in that it had to be perfectly happily ever after, all problems solved. But not being perfectly happy did not take away from the fact that the ending was a happy one. it didn't show us a perfect happy ending, but trusted us to understand that everyone was happy, had hope for future happiness, and doing their best for other's happiness. I loved that it made sense, gave the sense that everyone had a life to move onto, and gave us reason to hope for more. Just enough.

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I really liked the perceptiveness of the Saya's comments in this episode. now, I'll be checking out her drama choices and recaps in the future, the same way I do with javabeans' :)

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Did they tell for how long was JD inprisoned? I wanted an end scene of him coming out of the jail with the team and sung hee welcoming him. Nevertheless great work team squad 38.

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Season 2 (?)

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Knowing OCN, I have already accepted in my heart that this show ends here. So, if they decided to follow it up after a few years(uhuummmm...Vampire Prosecutor) or never(Bad Guys), I would not be that much disappointed. But how great it would be to have JD join our group of criminals in Bad Guys - a gangster, an assassin, a psychopath and now, a con artist- DREAM TEAM!

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OK, so I demand a mashup of Bad Guys and Police Unite 38 for both second season.. The alternative title could be:

"Bad Guys Unit 38"

??

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Now that you've mentioned about titles. I've never got the chance to ask, but why was this show call Police Unit 38 in the first place? ?

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Now that you’ve mentioned about titles. I’ve never got the chance to ask, but why was this show called Police Unit 38 in the first place? ?

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@deathbychocolate

I read about it on wikipedia, that it's named after article 38 of Constitution of South Korea:

All citizens shall have the duty to pay taxes under the conditions as prescribed by Act.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/38_Revenue_Collection_Unit

?

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Thanks @Maknaee. ?

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I get the "38" part, but they're not *police*. There was an alternate title "Squad 38" which works better.

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It's listed under all of these names:

38 Task Force
Squad 38
Police Unit 38
38 Revenue Collection Unit
Tax Team 38
38 Police Squad

Another blog called it "the drama with 38 in the title".

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@blnmom: we say: HEAL LAPSEL MITU NIME

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@blnmom

Lol. ? I'll use that as a reference in the future for this drama -- something with 38 on it.

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This is my ideal season 2:

Team Bad Guys compete with Team I remember You (Trio psychos included please), compete with Squad 38 to solve crimes and take down baddies. Bad Guys would kick their way out of the solution and deal with the underground world. Psycho trio (ft. Police team and smart Cha Ji An) would deduce and out-psycho their way to the solution and work with the police, and Squad 38 would con everybody and their mother out of their money and into prison. We would see their "secret" office established just like how it was shown in the teasers before the drama started. The "specials operations" office would be established just like the Mad Dogs team from Bad Guys, and our crooks would be legitimate but secret employees. ^^ And by the end of the series, everyone would have bonded in a love-hate relationship and start to work together.

We'll get to see more about Jungdo x Sunghee background & future romance, Jungdo x Mijoo's background, Jungdo x Chairman Wang's background, Sungil x Major Chung x Minsik background, Madam Noh's background, what happens to the Tax 38 team, including if Changho is ever out of his coma, and if Police buddy will be reinstated, or will join the Mad Dogs team. Jungdo will form a bromance with Park Woongchul (because he can charm his way into anyone's heart), and Sungil will start to be jealous, hence the bromance triangle ensues. Then, in the original bromance triangle, Lee Joon Young returns and kidnaps big brother this time, and Jungdo pretends to be Hyun/Dave/David and cons Min to get inside information on the rival team, and Min wants to kill him in retaliation but can't bring himself to in the crucial moment because of his resemblance to his brother, and I just realized this is dangerously going close to fanfic territory and I should stop. ^^"""""

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lol at ur name. XD But I agree.

I'm one of those people who don't think that Squad 38 would benefit from an episode extension because the pace was just a right balance between thrills of cons, and trust-building. So adding background stories might have made some people impatient for the next con, especially when some find it slow already (I disagree).

This is when a second season would be perfect. we would get to know more of the past stories, and balance it out with present cons. OCN, make it happen! If you had Vampire Prosecutor 2, why not Squad 38 2, or better yet, Squad 38 + Bad Guys crossover?

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Hahahahaha. What will happen when Park Woong Chul meet Baek Sung Il and when Lee Hyun meet Yang Jung Do face to face for the first time? They are basically twins.

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Probably the same thing that happened when Sung Appa 97 met Sung Appa 94. Long lost cousins! lol

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On second thought, I really hope it will be like in Reply and not, let's say, Mask...

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Reading your first line, "Team Bad Guys compete with Team I remember You", really flatters my heart and I cant continue reading your comment because I know my heart cant handle it.. Sorry but please give me more time to prepare myself to read your comment.. Hehehe

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I both loved and hated the end. Its a redemption for Jung Do, from his pure revenge at any cost. But oh, the price!

Woong Chul's cameo helped, but not enough.

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for your consolation, we were not told how long he is in for. perhaps it is a year, cause he didnt keep any money...

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That's my peeved grievance. How come Jungdo ends up in prison and Chairman Choi gets to continue to play baduk? What about Mayor Chun? He just drops out of the campaign.. but no arrests?????

And what about Sung hee and Jung do? No romance?

At least, Jae sung is in prison too.

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I asked festerfaster the same question, and her answer was most excellent:

"Any case against him (or the mayor) will go on for a long time before much happens in terms of jail time. Also, the PU38 world doesn't have perfect conclusions. Chances are that the chairman will be let off with a slap on the wrist. His bigger punishment was the loss of reputation, power, and his core source of income."

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Why are you two smart people having these conversations behind the curtain? Please let us in on them! Maybe you can have one special post where you and festerfaster review the whole series, conversation style like JB and GF do.

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Trust me when I say 99% of the conversation goes, "omg I need to sleep," and "ffs why can't I spell"! The rest of the time we're trying not to spoil each other's impressions. Anything genuinely lucid finds its way into our comments somehow! (Or not, because at 3 in the morning, god knows I'm only pretending to be lucid, haha.)

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@Saya
Thanks for the prompt response. Makes a lot of sense, but it would be sooooo gratifiying to see them behind bars...Ahn included.

Thanks festerfaster too, for your answer within an answer.

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To be honest I think Sung Hee is ready to move on from JD. She managed to have the much needed closure for JD's betrayal (altho JD clearly still has feelings for her), and is finally able to see the truth of what JD was doing. Perhaps that earned her respect, and definitely repaired the bitter feelings she had, but I don't see Sung Hee pursuing a future relationship with JD.

Also, I'd like to believe Ahn and Mayor were convicted, and that it's just not seen - maybe for public figure it's not so simple as an arrest??

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Agree. And also Jung Do is an ex-convict, committed previous crime, testify and surrendered himself that's why he was convicted and jailed easily than others. Although the video is an evidence, I guess it is still debatable in court as a strong evidence to convict the other 3. But the public shame and loss of reputation is already a punishment for them.

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Wait, i think i am the only one who doesn't understand the ending. This os my first time watching drama like this. Can somebody explain to me what happen actually? Thank you.

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Which part? The final con or why is "Sung-il" inside the jail?

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This show is like that satisfactory sheen after an orgasm. Disappointment that its over mixed with elation, satisfaction and joy.

<3

SIG!!!

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I'm so glad I watched this drama. It was thrilling and kept me waiting each week to see how see how our team is going to take down the bad guys. I loved the ensemble cast; they were like family. I especially loved the friendship between Jung Do and Baek Sung II.

We need more dramas like this that are well-written, directed, and acted. There should be season 2 for this and Bad Guys and Missing Noir; and a season 3 for TEN. Haha.

Thank you for recapping this drama series!

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I'm also waiting on all those shows plus Vampire Prosecutor.

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Yes

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Yes, that one too!

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BEST CAMEO EVER. Haha, I know right!!

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A season 2 for Liar Game too. How could I forget???!!

P.S. - Is anybody else having trouble with typing here? My cursor is all shivery and it takes sometime for the words to appear after I type.

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... and the golden age of Kdramas is coming to an end. I've never seen 4 such fine shows at the same time as W, Bring It on Ghost, this show, and Wanted.
And I doubt I will again. But if I do, these last few weeks will be demoted to silver age.

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Oh the thing that jungdo used to copy jaesung's car keys frequency, is the same thing that mijoo used to control the golf machine when sungil was conning ma jinseok! :p

*just to clear things up so it doesnt seem like a copier machine just pops out of nowhere :p*

Also a comment above talked abt what jungdo did to save director wang... But i just realized they had never explicitly say what jungdo did! So im confused lol~~

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Yeah, they also never told us how JD managed to turn a 10year sentence of imprisonment into 2 years.

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Chairman Wang's assistant told JD in an earlier episode that they used their connections at the Prosecutor's Office for him to get paroled.

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Thanks to DB for picking up PU38. I know it wasn't planned and probably messed up the whole recapping schedule but all of us 38 fans are so grateful! And of course, thank to Saya for your stellar insight and writing skills.

I really loved the ending too. For many if not most dramas, the end craps out and lessens my love for the whole drama, but this one was great, except for making me sob in Jungdo/Sungil's goodbye scene. Things for the most part got wrapped up nicely (I'm just curious as to the whereabouts of a few previous characters who have gone missing) and none of the evil people got away with everything they had done.

I would love if this writer wrote an ensemble piece for women, maybe even a 38 spinoff with the gals. He might have to do it for JTBC instead of OCN, though, lol.

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where are the missing characters? frozen in time inside a webtoon?

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Oooooooohhhhhhhhh, whyyyyyyyyyy did you say that? Now I'm going to think of poor Changho and Deokbae frozen for all time! Kang Chul, go save them!

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Saya, you're the most intelligent and insightful recapper I've encountered, and it's only fitting that you've recapped the finale for one of the most intelligent dramas I've watched. Thank you and much love to all.

Season 2 please.

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When Jung Do said Hyung instead of the usual Ahjussi... Oh be still, my breaking heart. What a beautiful bittersweet moment encaptured in one word.

Thank you recappers for all your hard work and insight on this show! I for one would not have known about the bad guys cameo, but that's just a tiny example of how much worth reading your recaps bring. I know there was a lot of catching up to do since db started recapping this late, but I thank you for sticking with it and catching up so we could all squeal at the understated brilliance together! It looks like the creators of this show are teasing a "we will be back" feel at the end... I for one would welcome our beloved squad that truly became the best family for one another. I feel like there's still so much story they can continue!

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there is at least some talk of a special episode at the end of November, prob a longer one.

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omg this gave me hope! thanks redfox!

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Really?! how do you know? Is there any official announcement?

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dont get your hopes up, I read it on twitter but I am not sure I understood correctly. some say there is an NG episode on friday

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yep, I knew about the special ep. it's NG and making. I really want a prequel. It feels like JD's back story haven't been fully unfolded. If only the writer can fill those holes...

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I think that "Hyung" was one of my favorite SiG moments ever. That line delivery was just great and heartfelt.

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Yes! Yes! Yes! It's the kind of stuff that gets replayed as spiel during nomination presentations for Baeksang awards!

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I haven't watched the last 2 episode, skipped reading the recap and go straight to the epilogue part. Following this drama from the beginning to 14 religiously, i trust that it would end beautifully and satisfactorily.

Thank you for recapping this wonderful drama, Saya~!

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This show! I could write so much about it and still not finish half of what feelings it gives me!

But I have to really thank DB, Saya and Festerfaster for starting the recaps just because we fans were colonizing every other recap thread/ post with comments about PU38.

I loved that we were given an open-ish ending. We don't know when Jung DO will be released, what else happens with each of the team member, etc. What we do however know is that they all continue to be awesome! :D Aaaand that cameo was seriously the best cameo ever. It almost seemed like the writers heard us screaming for a Bad Guys- PU38 mash up!

I wish we had gotten more from Sung Hee. There was almost no romance in the show, but the scenes where Sung Hee and Young DO were together- their chemistry exploded. Also where did that policeman (Dokbae) go? i so wished he was there in the last 2 episode. He was as much a part of the con gang as any other. But I have to say the show had some really bad ass female characters.

The actors were all awesome, but Seo In Guk was just too special in this whole drama. It almost seemed like he was racing against time to give everything he has. Looking forward to Shopping King Louie now. Till then, I am gonna make do with W and Park Bo Gum (after all Min is a close second to Hyun)

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I'm also looking forward to Shopping King Louie which already had its scriptreading. But now I wish both dramas were switched in air time because I wanted him to leave with a bang...but how you gonna top that, SIG?

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there is plenty of potential for a layered and conflicted character in SKL when it is SIG. It is def a role that he can make his own.

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Oh I never doubted that SIG will give us another stellar performance in SKL, I'm rather talking about the whole drama and I just don't see SKL being able to come anywhere close to PU38 in terms of perfect casting, tightly written script and directing. But of course I'm more than willing to eat my words later.

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You never know. Sometimes the sillier dramas can be greatly affecting.

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I am undoubtedly nervous about that drama because I don't know that major channels could provide good ones, especially for live shot ones. I mean, really, I'm a TVN kind of girl (this is my first OCN show).

But when I did see script-reading footages, I figured SIG is going to nail this again. It's a script-reading picture and I could already sense that he'll have chemistry with Nam Ji Hyun--- in the leagues of what he had with Eun Ji. And that's saying a LOT. There's probably going to be some criticisms on the editing and the plot (Hello TKF?) so the bet would have to be placed on the OTP and not on the Drama quality, per se. Although MBC is known for its feel-good pieces, so I can somewhat stay optimistic that if the script is above-average and the editing believable, this can be a good thing.

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There is so much material here for both prequel and sequel dramas...

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Well, it was great, all of it. The acting, the pace, the twists, the perfect piano BGM, the ever-so-timely commentary on all our corrupt political worlds, the bromance, the lack of romance...and especially the recaps and Beanie comments. It wouldn't have been nearly as good without you all and I wouldn't have understood nearly as much. What an all-around WOW, it's so sad to have to say goodbye to the gang.

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Ive been curious about something for a while. I was watching SIG old dramas waiting for the next PU38 episode, and was wondering... what happened to his eye? One of his eyes used to show some white but that disappeared? Did he get some therapy? what was the disorder?

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*sniff*

the first time I tried to watch the finale raw, I couldnt understand much but it was also too hard to say goodbye, so I kept stopping, rewinding, forwarding, closing, opening again... after I had calmed myself and read a few reviews and watched it again, it hit home for me.
This Fellowship of The Con has to come together again.

the only criticism I have for the drama is that it was too male-centered. I wonder if they didnt want to show women as bad, or if they thought the images of Ms Noh and Mi Joo wouldnt have shone so brightly, but next time, I want more girl power.
I am ok with Sung Hee fading to the background and the romantic aspect just dying out, even if I would have loved to see more bickering interaction with Jung Do and SH. Initially, her character had more spunk and I even thought she might win the legal way... well, actually they did collect the taxes the legal way after some illegal pushing.
I am so glad our Fellowship has sticked together and I am glad all loyalties inside the team were given to the cause, not a person. But have they really succeeded? if I go by the comparison with LotR, then is the ring really destroyed? Corruption is an evil that will probably never disappear. players come and go, but eventually someone loses to the greed... all we can do is what Sung Il said, fight not getting tired.

how does Seo In Guk manage to always pick the "smart" dramas? It is never just candy fluff with him, it is always serious brain food but also comic moments. in this drama, the humor had a lot of irony in it, which is very realistic. there are situation where you want to be angry at someone, but a silly twist appears.

Let´s twist again like we did last some will have a new meaning to me from now on. and naturally, I switched my ring tone.

well, I guess I´ll start over then.

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also, here is a cold patch for Sayas´ forehead, whose every recap started with "My mind is so blown I don´t know what´s what anymore!" Poor you, rest now. Have a calming foot path *sprinkles sea salt in water*. Such a twisty drama will not come again anytime soon, you can recuperate. and thank you for always being THE fan, who doesnt hold back with emotion describing the awesomeness of Squad 38.

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ngl, this made me roflmao XD I didn't even notice that my last three intros were variations on a theme, that's how much of a goner I was. All the cold patches! Gimme! Nao!

Thanks to all of you guys for bearing with us so well while we caught up. You've got more patience than Sung-il running a long con!

(...okay, that didn't quite have the same ring as the twist jokes. Shush, I'm tired!)

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You guys are fantastic and we are so grateful for the gifts you gave us of PU38 recaps! The thought that we almost went without them makes me feel faint *fans self*!
Deep, deep bows of gratitude.

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no, it was an ok pun *ka-ching!*

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I don't really crave more romance from Jung Do and Seung Hee, but if they'd shown them working together (her helping the con team while JD was in jail; JD telling SH before he permanently derailed Mayor Dad's political career ... okay, he kinda did before, but it doesn't hurt to check again!) it would have added more meaning to their relationship.

As for collecting taxes the legal way, it was cool that the last thing Mayor Dad said to Sung Hee was to go get that unpaid $100m. That was probably the sweetest and rightest thing he could possibly have said at that moment!

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Your criticism about the women being side-tracked, though definitely not disrespected, is definitely accurate. I have a sense (nay, an over-assumption) that this drama is meant to be for the male market. That SIG chose it makes me feel like he's really thinking his career through because if the interpretation that this drama is targeted towards the male market is somewhat correct, it then balances his marketability, which will expand from drooling women to a broader, less flower boy appeal. He's entering military and he needs market expansion to ensure that he would have a career to return to. When he returns, he'd be 31-32 and more serious, non-commercial roles would provide more longevity and depth. Then he accepts SKL, which seems to be sooooooo much more commercial than any of the past dramas he's done-- voila, it's market expansion. The target audience of SKL seems more female and much younger and leaving with an A-star status than just as an underrated celebrity underling is much better for him. I'm betting my tongue this guy has impressive emotional and intellectual intelligence which allows him to assume roles and manipulate his character portrayal so effectively. With that, a well-calculated career path is totally not impossible.

I think I've seen way too many roles of his as a genius. KKKK. (Yoon Jae, Lee Hyun, Lee Hyun Seok, Yang Jung Do, rest well now) It's just that every role he has chosen, whether a flop or not, is so totally well-thought of. Even the times he chooses to appear in variety shows is timely! (After consecutive drama roles, he picked LOTJ and Mari and I) which relieves his character associations. He is not owned by Jellyfish, literally. He definitely thinks for himself.

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ah, this makes so much sense now. see, I am one person who cannot for the life of me think about the market expansion! and then I want to sell my backbags I just started making... I NEED SOME OF HIS BRAIN.

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This is probably going to be a very minority opinion, but here goes.

As much as I was entertained by the twistyness of the show, for me, the lack of explanation for character's motivations for a lot of the side characters makes it hard to say that it was great.

I wish there had been more so that I could connect with the characters as people, but as the show continued, I felt more and more like the characters were just plot twist and plot point providers.

For example, Ma Jin Seok was a great plot twist as a conner, but we don't really see the change that would make his change of heart (even in flashback). Seon Hee was essentially a foil for both the Mayor and Jang Do and wasn't used much aside from being their consciences. Chairman Wang doesn't seem to have any reason for being in this world aside from being Jang Do's Deus Ex Machina for getting Noh in on the deal and providing the last twist (as part of it, we never are told how Jang Do saved him TWICE).

I could continue, but these are examples of aspects that prevented this drama from being great in my eyes.

Now, I wait for the fangirls to bring me down :p....

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why would I bring you down? you are expecting too much reaction. you are entitiled to say what you want.
I just think getting an explanation for everything isnt always necessary. do you even get that in life? people dont come with flashbacks floating around them. they keep things hidden.

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Like in I Remember you, we dont find out how the gallery guy owns Hyun so much that he has to do everything he asks for? I am really curious, but I am not FBI to dig so deep and break someones´ personal locks.

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I would've thought that not being sure what MJS' motivation or change of heart was what made that last con really interesting. One was never quite sure whether he was reliable or not and then it looked liked he wasn't. And then... he delivers.
Besides he says he joined up because he was majorly angry with the top dogs that threw him under the bus.

I think a big part of the charm of this beast is that one never knew or one could ever be sure about any one's motives. It made almost everyone potentially untrustworthy.

Which is what makes this show what it is. :D

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Yes, I agree. This show has fitted itself in a genre and it definitely lived up to it.

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To be honest, I get waaaaaaay more critical of a drama whenever Seo In Guk is in it, because I've been in his fandom for sooo long. But I wasn't particularly disappointed in this one. This sits with IRY for me. Although IRY was undoubtedly more philosophical and engaging for me (because I enjoy existential discssions), PU38 was equally well-written plot-wise and is equally competitive as a mind puzzle, though more entertaining than engaging. The pace tended to get slow at some points but the twists whenever it unfolded were consistently fun to the point of making me feel giddy. I think that perhaps because PU38 has a more familiar taste to it compared to IRY (because I'm a bit more familiar with tax collection woes rather than the urge to kill), it became less of a brain pique, though undoubtedly entertaining.

On the "engaged-with-a-drama-front, however" I was more emotionally attached to Misaeng than I am attached to PU38 simply because Gurae's struggles were so real. I found my loser self in Gurae and I wanted to hug her and pat her on the back, as I would do to Gurae if I had the chance. So, after re-thinking it, I reckon that you're right in pointing out that the drama invested in the pace more than in extracting emotional reactions from the viewer. It was like reading a fast-paced novel that I couldn't put down, but I wasn't exactly seeing my self in any of the characters to the point of excessive engagement----except the scenes with Mayor Chun Gap Soo in the final episodes, and that point when we all thought Sung Il betrayed Jung Do. Those were just painful to watch, and I mean that as a compliment to the drama. But still this is not to say that the character arcs were poor, because on the contrary they were all consistent and essential even if for some of the leads, the shining moments were few and some barely had any. I would charge this on the number of characters that the stories engaged---there were too many. Ja Wang and Ji Yeon are two characters that I would have wanted to get to know better. It's important to note, however that Misaeng has 20 episodes while PU38 has 16. I like to believe that if PU38 had 4 episodes more, we could have known more of the characters and had gotten equally more invested.

So, like a broken record, season 2. Please. (After SIG's MS when he's all back more buff and glorious?)

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Oh and it must be mentioned that I think the plot-loops were more impressively written in this one than in Misaeng.

Also, I think PU38 has THE best ending for a Korean Drama that I've ever seen in a long time. It was tightly written, wrapped with a pretty black ribbon. It ended strongly. It definitely beats the sloppy editing of IRY and that "this-is-an-after-thought" ending sensation that I got from Misaeng. Although the same note of open-endedness is still there, and the same element of surprise (I'm talking about the funeral clip at the end of Misaeng), the editing and wrapping up for PU38 is just more cohesive. I like that it left good points open, but the essential plots resolved but not in a corny way.

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IRY sloppy editing? what? It was one of the bect.

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All I have to say is:

*slow clap*

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You know I did that exact thing as Jung Do testified against Chairman Choi and Mayor Chun... It was necessary that he was planted in the midst of the con to complete it. It was so conclusive to his character arc that he be the one to assume that sacrifice. I was slow-clapping both for Jung Do's conning skills and the writers'.

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It was the most appropriate conclusion for the drama to place Mayor Chun Gap Soo at the arc of this episode. He is the ultimate point of intersection between bad and good, past and present.... the analogy of his mayorship in contrast to his fatherhood was so poignant in that he exemplified what it is to be the brackish water of human values. As the drama consistently showed a parallel between conventional and unconventional goodness, the mayor, this whole time sailed right smack in between these borders to the detriment of his existence. And this detriment is so compellingly appropriate because nobody can keep overcompromising between values for too long without getting burnt. It was as if the parallels of the drama converged towards the end in both the Mayor and Jung Do, who also ended up in his own detriment. I could not contain my "feels" as I watched the mayor in tears and Jung Do in a dark cap as the 2nd broker... it was just right for such uncoventional semi-antagonists and semi-protagonists to end on similar arcs. Chairman Choi as well as Sung Il also remained in their respective protagonist-antagonist positions providing contrast to Jung Do and Mayor Chun.

But, I am however deeply disturbed by the loose end that is Ahn Tae Wok... I just know he'll rise up from his antagonist ashes and emerge an even bigger antagonist than any. For the drama to keep his end untied provides a certain sense of continuity like an ellipsis... like a second season brewing.

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I only watched the finale once but I thought Ahn was committing suicide in his car? He was moving slowly and talking weakly (though it's hard to tell with this actor, he doesn't move around much!) I thought he was gonna die the same way Min-shik hyung did.

As much as I hate his character, if there's ever a season 2, he'd make a great villain. He's smart and devious and efficient AND severely power-hungry. Plus he can carry a grudge well. I wanna see this "Seowon" that he dreams of.

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Was he? I thought he was just getting an anxiety attack. He twitched as painfully when Chairman Wang was giving him cold cash so soon. He loosened his tie acutely aware that something was wrong although he couldn't pin his hand down on it. He did say he would be home late.... though him dying the way Min Shik did (sort-of since Min Shik was apparently killed) is poignant, I get a feeling that Ahn Tae Wok is too much in love with money and power to give up so easily. Maybe? Oh I could be wrong.

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Yeah, Park Woong Chul's got nuthin on this guy - Commissioner Ahn is WAY scarier! He did all the Mayor's "dirty work", after all ... I wonder what exactly he did?

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Yes, I thought he was at the very least considering whether he was going to kill himself or could figure a way out when he said "I'm going to be late". That actor was such a surprise, he seemed so minor in the beginning and ended up being so important but he always grabbed your attention. I look forward to seeing him and the Ma Dong Seok actor in the future.

I am left quite curious whether Ahn's Seowon is a city where the poor man is king or just the pinnacle of a politician's singular greed.

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the director and producer praised their choice in that actor they were really happy to nab this guy as a villain.
Ahn reminded me of a komodo dragon, he was sly, slow and so poisonous it makes your flesh rot just having him in the vicinity.

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what I mean by slow is he talked almost in slow motion but he seemed to teleport if necessary... so he could take his time saying his stuff.

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So I google-stalked the guy playing Director Ahn (Jo Woo-Jin).

Turns out he played a character called "Nose Hair" (in the movie Mama) and he was also in Dr. Jin. 'Nuff said: he was born to play this villain!

Now that you mentioned the komodo dragon, I can't unsee it!

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I forgot about him!!! He's worse and definitely more eeevil than Mayor Chun.

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Huhhhu.... It's hard to say goodbye.
I am still wailing in grief, why it has to end quickly.

Jung Do, please be friend with Woong Chul in the jail. He's not the type of boring friend. Trust me!!! Coz I'm not a conman.

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What happens when the Mayor goes to jail and meets up with Jung Do and "Park Woong Chul"?!

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This drama was simply a gem. I loved every bit of it although the epilogue almost gave me a heart attack.

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Mayor Chun is a complex villain. We know that his intention to save Sewon from corruption is good-natured. However, the method he used to fulfill that is not, causing him to reproduce the same oppresive system that he seeks to destroy. (Isn't this one of the most important lessons in our present times, especially after the damages caused by the American government's "War on Terror"?)

And who wouldn't love the parallelism between his role as a father and as a mayor? I like that Sung Hee represents both the children of a dysfunctional family and the people of a society burdened with corruption. Her social distance and indifference to Mayor Chun speaks so much about our attitude toward government authorities when they fail in their promise.

These layers of characterization and meaning make Police Squad 38 a compelling reflection of our society, and perhaps one of the most well-written kdramas of the year.

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Love your analysis of Mayor Chun'scomplex character. I'm glad that in the end, Sung her was able to act as her father's conscience asking him to stop, to not make the citizen's of Seowon City another casualty of good intentions but bad judgement/execution like her mom and herself.

I'm glad he listened. And no, I don't feel sorry for Director Ahn at all. His ambition killed him, figuratively speaking, of course.

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oh yes about Sung-Hee.

some may think she's been relegated to a minor role, but when you come to think about it, the story moves forward because of her - her incident with Ma Jin Seok is the first thing that triggered Sung-Il to fight back, her encounter with Bang Pil Gyu caused consequences that inspired another con, and her insight as a daugther made her an important catalyst for the mayor's change of heart. for me, she's the real crucible of the show.

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In another drama, one single of PU38 twists could have been used as a cliffhanger for the next episode. I can't believe the writer had enough in him to give us dozens of those per episodes. Love it. Will miss it. And will remember it for a long time.

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THAT WAS THE BEST REFERENCE TO BAD GUYS EVER! lol ??✌️❤️

OK. I'm done shouting.

I couldn't help squealing at the last scene where Park Woong chul appeared. Way to go! Writer nim. Way to go!

On another note, Jung do looked so defeated and sad these last two episodes. Nothing like his usual debonair self. We can see why, but it's sad all the same. It's sad that he's spending more years of his life behind bars than out of it. Sad, but realistic. To get those evil people, he had to play outside the rules and there's a price for that.

What's wrong with this writer-nim's characters? They always end up in jail. Here's looking at you, Bad Guys!

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Saya, I really always liked the way you recap. It feels like I'm not reading it alone but together with you in person as I can hear your reactions here and there. Truly elevating the experience of watching the drama.

How sad that this always all gorgeous slick con team must end. And Jung Do oh our Jung Do. You put it so well, Saya, there is a flaw in your plan, Jung Do-ya. But maybe that is a redemption for Jung Do since he's not a criminal to begin with. Maybe he feels the need to pay for his sin.

Still, SO SAD. That short goodbye with Sung Il. Oh my aching heart. After all the saga, should they end like this?

Another great point, Saya, on "But despite his words, its clear that he cares." How did SIG do that. He said something. But all of his presence denies it completely. Truly a very satisfying stellar acting to watch. How can I not love you more and more? Is there a limit for this crazy adoration? Can my heart take it? Can my real world commitment take it? LOL.

And the ending. OH MY GAWD. HOW EPIC!!!

That is the beauty, and the flaw, at the same time, of this drama. Once it makes you bleed inside, a second later, you LOL hard forgetting the bleeding heart in a blink. What's left after that? A mixed emotions that will stay long in memory. I will miss you, 38 SQUAD!!!

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As much as it hurt me to see JD back in prison again at the end I also have to give it to the writer for staying realistic and having the balls to not give us a happily ever after. Him letting JD take the fall and sole responsibility for the con is just totally in character as we've already seen in the past.
And how satisfying to know that our squad continues his legacy...he's put an amazing team together and after going through so much I don't doubt their loyalty to each other. Will there be members who'll sway and be tempted now and then? Sure because that's just human but at the end of the day they always know the right thing to do. And I'm totally picturing them all going to pick him up (again) when he's released, this is definitely not the end of the cons and our squad!

Now I finally need to go watch Bad Guys which has been on my to watch list forever.

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no matter how sad the way Jung-Do ended up, I'm also relieved that he went to prison knowing that he successfully avenged his family and that he was able to show his love for his team - by sacrificing himself without burdening them.

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Love the show. Just very sad that Jung Do had to go to prison again. How many more years does he have to spend inside?

I had 1 glaring question - why does Choi have to pay 5 million to find out that Bang Pil Gyu killed Min Shik?? He has been Choi's minion for the longest time and Choi didn't know that he killed Min Shik for the sake of both him and Choi?? i find that difficult to reconcile.

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#Squad38OneMoreConJob

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Sung-il's line that goes something like 'fight not to win but fight till you win' will be my guiding principle in dealing with the on-going peace process in my country. Just like Sung-il, I should carry on and wait till my country achieve just and lasting peace.

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where do you live? sorry if you´ve mentioned it and I haven´t noticed

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Brilliant brilliant show!!
The writer has complete control over the story and characters which is rare in dramas nowadays.
Saya, you are the most insightful and intelligent recapper I’ve read. Thank you from the wonderful recaps.

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i remember the first time I was 110% impressed with SIG's skills as an actor. He had charisma and charm in 1997, but it was during King of High School when he acted as the older adult brother, and managed to be convincing as another person despite looking identical in face and in hair as the teenage brother, that I pegged him as an outstanding actor. PU38 gave me the same feeling, and so did Hello Monster. It's fascinating how each new SIG drama makes me rediscover him anew, breaking the highest of expectations. Bravo.

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ikr!! how can one person exude multiple such different auras. He's at his most endearing as a "bum," and then with different roles in between, he's at his hottest as a cold man. His older brother role in King of high school resembled a bit his role as David lee and the manager role he hijacked in PU38, but still different. its freaking amaaaaaaazzzzzzzzzing. I am willing to bet the college degree I have he would have killed it if he took ji sung's role in kill me heal me. he's just that good, if not better. And he has something that skills alone isn't enough, and that is charm to spare.

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not just charm but the ability to let the game take over and guide him. he has the "flow" that multiplies what you put in and carries it forward, making the character come alive. how he hasnt crossed the line and become the character for real is beyond me

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I completely agree!! Every time I think, "he couldn't possibly be any better than this", his next role proves me wrong. He is definitely a natural but the fact that he is always improving himself goes to show how much dedication and hard work he must put into each role.

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Ah, Seo In Guk! He could be a con artist, a stalker, or a murderer, and he'd still make me care ...

So glad we'll be seeing him again soon!!

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so, you said when is season 2 starting?!!

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n the last moment they go... we will never stop working hard and we will come back.... WORST THING TO LEAVE US WITH. anyways, by far the best ending i have experience with kdrama. usually have open ending or possible better alternate. this was super smooth. btw need help from yu guys, they are collecting number of interest with the directors cut DVD, u dont need to pay of course, if u decided not to buy also ok. they just need to see numbers so tht theres a possibility of the dvd set. can u help spread the world and email to them? just for the sake of numbers!! thank u! https://www.instagram.com/p/BItqlXEgK6y/?taken-by=384dvd

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email sent, but I know shipping to Estonia from korea would be too expensive to me.

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I watched the last episode half asleep at 5am because I just couldn't wait another day to see how it ended. But my brain was not functioning correctly and was like "wtf is going on?" the whole time and even like "Who is that? I don't get it" at the epilogue.

2 hours later, I was on my bike on my way to work and finally waking up when it hit me all at once. I screamed "OMG!! BAD GUYS!! YOU CAN'T BE SERIOUS!!! I CAN'T EVEN!!". My mind was blown and I was laughing like a maniac.

I got some funny looks. Those poor souls had no idea what they were missing out on :P

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I wanted to see what happened to Doek-bae, the policeman. Also, what happened to Chang-ho, the Team 38 agent who got his back broken by President Bang's son?

Other than those 2 lose ends, this show is in my top 10 favorite Korean TV shows, ever.

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they are inside the W world frozen in time

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Watching Jung Do conning people is weirdly beautiful and elegant, like watching graceful ballet pirouettes! He knows exactly which buttons to push - it's all so smart and creative that I almost forget that conning people is ... wrong?!

Baek Sung Il is almost as good as Jung Do, by the end. I vote them the Bromance Couple of 2016!!

I love that they just came up with this crazy creative new method of "money laundering", and ended up using Chairman Choi's cash six ways to Sunday!

That Bad Guys cameo ... now I want another season of both PU38 AND Bad Guys!!

The more I think about it, that Park Woong Chul cameo was totally tongue in cheek, wasn't it? "We'll be back" my foot! They don't mean a word of it - OCN are the biggest con artists of all!!!

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*bangs head against the awall till she can see the Dramabeansies´ living rooms* But I want to believe they meant it! (I haven´t learned a thing, have I? I am so gullible, I know*
Dramabeans: who the heck is mumbling there at the corner
*redfox pulls head back into her kitchen*

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omg, redfox, I just laughed so hard ?

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*pops head back into a random bathroom* who said that? gosh, too much steam. Is this a shower scene? I hope it is post army...
Dramabeansies: What? WHAT??? Who is that? is it a ghost? Is it a stalker? is it a lost facilitator?
redfox: xcuse me for intrusion. *tries to leave, gets sucked into a wormhole* I was just looking for my slippeeeeeeeeers...*fade*

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"I haven´t learned a thing, have I?"

HAH, right there with you!!

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Thank you so much for this recap! I was biting my nails waiting for it. I knew I could count on you to explain the last scene!!!!! I saw Bad Guys, but didn't make the connection.

Definitely best cameo ever! :-)

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Maybe not Season 2, at least a special movie to satisfy our hunger for more twist?

*twist* there is prequel...

Oh i'm so liking twist.

The reason some of us (me included) feel like the other characters should be explained more, is that the minor character (can i say all?) gives such huge impact that we were invested in them, care for them, and we want more highlights. But hey, it's 16 episodes, not everyone is the hero here. Quoting from W "time that doesn't revolved around the hero move significantly fast". We might need another drama for Ma jinseok as hero for him to actually show he truly changed! Haha!

Love this drama. And Woong Chul. OMG best cameo! Mafia ahjussi!

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Thank you show! Never have I watched a drama that made my blood rush to my head so many times and go Whuuuuuuuut! that I lost count. ^^

So cleverly written and well executed, all praises go to the writer and PD, and of course the cast. I am def gonna be looking out for their work so please make more awesome dramas! Seo In Guk, I love you! ♥

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Thanks @Saya for a masterful review!

How I love this show and this episode. The first thought that struck me on watching it end was, "Now this is the way a show ought to be done!!!" There was no need for frills or romance or cliches. Everything hung together wonderfully, every circumstance led organically to more change and growth, and best of all, the characters were so engaging: bad, semi-bad, good or so-so characters, all.

I kind of wish we could also have seen a bit more of what it is like at the end with Sung Il's family, his police friend Dok Bae and any news on Sung Hee's colleague who was in hospital. However this was one of the best written, tightest scripts ever and I'm so glad to have watched this show.

Thank you Writer-nim and all in the Production Team for a wonderful show!!!

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omg that ending!!!! we need that Bad Guys sequel now!!!! Ma Dong Seok is <3<3<3

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This is the best drama ever of all the Korean dramas that I have watch. I'm more deeper into Korean drama now and really really look forward for more of this genre from kdrama. Can anyone recommend more similar to this? I'm so going to watch bad guys now

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Start with Bad Guys and then check out these other crime dramas:
-I Remember You (Hello Monster) with Seo Inguk
- Signal if you haven't seen it already
- Special Affairs Team 10 (Ten) has 2 short seasons

Also, I have yet to watch it but Vampire Prosecutor is from the same writer and I heard it is really good.

Finally, the channel OCN specializes in crime dramas so you might want to check out what else they've got :)

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Where Can I watch these with subs?

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Thank you, Saya and festerfaster, for the cleverly written recaps. I enjoyed reading all of them.

SIG is really fantastic as an actor, from his scenes as a slick conman, his emotional plea to his colleagues, his comedic scenes (his playground fight with SI and pretend husband-wife skit with SH were epic), his bittersweet scenes with SH, up to his satoori-Chinese accented tele-evangelical-like speech during the BPG con were all executed very well. Thank you for really getting into your character and for a job well done. Seriously, k-drama gods, when are you going to give this guy hallyu king status?

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he deserves to be a top star so much more than 99% out there, but I wonder if that would put too much pressure on his mind to have to choose certain type of roles? what has made him good was his choices, his freedom, he has picked roles so cleverly and they suit him so well. as an a-lister, would there be such freedom, to choose based on interest not on the hoped result in fame and ratings? freedom is the best, if you loose that, living and working with passion is difficult

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