Whisper: Episode 2
The twists and turns begin in earnest as we officially descend into the sleek and polished world of corruption. No one said it was going to be easy, and Dong-joon starts to discover that the path of least resistance is much more difficult than anyone could have imagined. It’s hard to stick to your principles when you’re just trying to survive and living in constant fear that everything you’ve ever stood for will be utterly destroyed in the blink of an eye.
EPISODE 2 RECAP
In the bathroom of the hotel room, a teary-eyed Young-joo is on the phone with her mother. Mom tells her that she’s finally eating something, and her mood seems improved as she confirms that Young-joo promised that she free her father. Mom reassures Young-joo that she’ll make sure to take care of her health for when she’s reunited with her husband.
Before Young-joo steps out of the bathroom, she readies herself by making sure there isn’t a trace of emotion on her face. Now steely-eyed, she confronts Dong-joon, who’s stunned by the discovery that he and Young-joo spent the night together and that she’ll use the footage as leverage against him.
Once again, he wonders why, of all people, it must be him. After all, there were plenty of others who were involved in the manipulation of Chang-ho’s case, so why is she specifically seeking him out? It’s because she trusted him based on his reputation of a just and honest judge.
He tells her that even if she released the video, it would likely be dismissed since it wouldn’t confirm coercion and she would probably be charged for making a false accusation. But Young-joo knows that Justice Jang is keeping a close eye on Dong-joon, and wonders what the verdict would be if the video fell into his hands.
Dong-joon, still reeling from everything she’s telling him, points out that the video would destroy her future as well, but she scoffs as she tells him that she didn’t know she had any kind of future left. She leans in towards him as she tells him that she’s the one who should be worried about him.
The wedding between Dong-joon and Soo-yeon continues as planned. But Dong-joon finds it hard to smile for the camera as he thinks about the wide ranging effect the video would have. Yoong-joo’s words echo in his mind as he wonders if there’s any of his family, friends, or colleagues who would support him.
After the honeymoon, Dong-joon and Soo-yeon are being driven to their first day at Taebaek as the newlywed couple. Soo-yeon’s assistant is helpfully informing Dong-joon of all the details about the law firm, but Dong-joon is distracted as he fiddles with his phone. He’s expecting a call from one of his lawyer friends who promised to look over Chang-ho’s appeal and see if he would take on the case.
As they arrive at Taebaek, Soo-yeon seizes the opportunity with just the two of them alone in the car to drop any pretense. Considering they’d only met twice before the wedding (and then spent the honeymoon in separate rooms due to barely knowing each other), she’s not exactly thrilled with the act they have to keep up. But she makes it clear that she holds the power in this relationship, so Dong-joon had better be careful how he treats her.
When her assistant informs her that they’ve spread the word that Dong-joon and Soo-yeon first started dating a year ago, Soo-yeon takes a certain glee in grabbing his arm as they walk into the law firm together. After all, if they supposedly knew each other for that long, then they should be friendly. She skips over her assistant’s explanation of the layout of the firm, instead quickly pointing out which is her office and which one is Dong-joon’s.
The secretaries politely greet the couple, and around the corner appears… Young-joo? Dong-joon stares at her in surprise as she walks toward him. He gets a call from his lawyer buddy just then, who tells him that he’s going to have to pass on Chang-ho’s case. There’s just no way it’ll win in the appeals court.
With a smile, she greets Dong-joon, introducing herself as Jo Yeon-hwa — his new secretary. When they’re alone in his office, he points out that there are hundreds of lawyers here, many of whom who handle criminal cases and may recognize who she really is. It’s too dangerous for her to be here, but Young-joo rhetorically asks him who’s really in danger, reminding him why she’s there at all.
Sighing, Dong-joon admits that he’s trying to find a lawyer who will take up her father’s appeal, but she cuts him off: “You were the one who destroyed the evidence, weren’t you?” She muses that he must have been happy to get her father’s phone so he could turn around and give it to his father-in-law.
As she was crying in front of the law, he was laughing behind it. As her mother was anxiously waiting for her father, he was anxiously anticipating his wedding. When her father spent a cold night in a solitary cell, he was enjoying his honeymoon, no doubt thinking about his future at Taebaek. She wonders if he’s ever really felt sorry for anything he’s done.
Quietly, Dong-joon tells her that if he could fix it with mere words, he’d say he’s sorry. He promises to apologize when Chang-ho is eventually acquitted. Even if it doesn’t happen at the first appeal, he’ll try again and again, looking for any way to either see him acquitted or on probation or out on bail. Young-joo points out that corruption is a slippery slope, and the idea of compromising one’s values and looking the other way “just once” leads to being eventually caught up in the thick of it.
She shows him a folder of information about the other car that was on the road that night, having deduced that the driver of the car was the one who actually killed Sung-shik. Based on the license plate taken from CCTV footage, she’s determined that it’s a company car owned by Taebaek. She orders him to figure out who was driving that car, adding that it should be easy for him to get access to that information.
Soo-yeon enters his office, greeting “Yeon-hwa” and wondering how she knows Dong-joon in order to be specially appointed as his secretary. Young-joo hesitates, and Dong-joon smoothly explains that she’s there by his father’s recommendation. Kinda like how he’s there based on Soo-yeon’s father’s recommendation, a point which Soo-yeon amusedly points out.
As they leave the office together, another man sprints around the corner and pushes them out of the way as he runs down the hallway. He’s hurrying his way to a practice run of a trial, where fellow Taebaek lawyer KANG JUNG-IL (Kwon Yul) counsels the CEO of Blue Dragon Electronics how best to appear before the court to get taxpayer funds to help her company.
But the running man interrupts the mock trial to whisper that the creditors have rejected Blue Dragon’s request for additional funds. Shocked, Jung-il goes to Lawyer Choi (who’s focused on trimming his bonsai tree), updating him on the status of the case. But Lawyer Choi tells him that there’s an overseas company looking into buying Blue Dragon, so there’s no issue with it not getting the funding.
Jung-il argues that Blue Dragon is a Korean institution, and selling it to an overseas company is like selling a national treasure. He reaffirms that if he can get the funding from the government, they can save the company. But Lawyer Choi angrily asks if it’s okay to throw away taxpayer’s money on a company run by a widow with no business sense.
He decides to give the case to Dong-joon, telling him to handle the sale of the company. Jung-il looks personally affronted, as well he might, since Blue Dragon has been his primary client. But he swallows his pride and anger, politely apologizing for his inability to save Blue Dragon, and that he’ll turn over all the documents to Dong-joon.
Soo-yeon watches him leave her father’s office, amused that rumors will spread that Dong-joon was handed a prestigious case on a silver platter. But of course Lawyer Choi has already prepared for such rumors, and will even spread more of his own, telling everyone that it was due to Dong-joon’s excellent persuasive skills that he agreed to bring Jung-il back into the project. It’s all part of his plan to build up the impressive reputation of his son-in-law.
It’s time for Taebaek’s monthly security system review, and it’s Soo-yeon’s turn to be in charge of it. She nonchalantly hands it off to Dong-joon, telling him she has other things she’d rather be doing. Conveniently for him, this allows him a chance to get a copy of the CCTV footage of the parking garage.
As he looks through the footage from that night, he sees a women get into the car with the same license plate as the one Young-joo pointed out to him. He recognizes her as Soo-yeon. She was the one who sped past Chung-ho that night, sending him into the railing — and, presumably, the one who drove into Sung-shik.
Jung-il enters Dong-joon’s office, causing him to quickly close his laptop so the other lawyer can’t see what he’s looking at. Jung-il tells him that there are two things that are impossible to do in a firm like Taebaek. The first is something Dong-joon will eventually discover later. The second is the ability to persuade Lawyer Choi. So for that, he’s thankful that Dong-joon was able to convince Lawyer Choi to put him and his team back on the Blue Dragon case.
But Jung-il refuses to accept the offer. He’s been working with Blue Dragon too closely to suddenly become the one who will sell them off to the highest bidder. Dong-joon wonders if he’s doing this just to see him fail at handling the case, and Jung-il seriously tells him that the world doesn’t turn out the way you want. After all, even the “righteous judge” became a “legal thief.” Then he breaks out into a smile, telling Dong-joon he was just joking.
He offers to show Dong-joon how to use the security codes for the computer, but as Jung-il reaches for Dong-joon’s laptop, Dong-joon suddenly tells him that he’ll sell Blue Dragon overseas by himself. Jung-il takes the hint that he doesn’t need any help, and he leaves the office with one last crack that he’d offer to buy him a drink sometime, but seeing as Dong-joon’s now a newlywed, he won’t be able to go out drinking like a single man can.
It’s an awkward dinner with the in-laws. The dads seem to be the only ones actually enjoying themselves, and Soo-yeon finally has had enough of her mother’s snide cracks about her lack of intelligence. Without shame, she tells her in-laws that she failed the bar exam four times, and even when her parents sent her to America, she still wasn’t able to become a lawyer. She wasn’t even able to learn any English while she was there because she spent all her time partying at Korean clubs.
She then asks Dong-joon’s father to take “Yeon-hwa” back, since it’s annoying having an employee that was sent by her in-laws. Dong-joon’s father leans over, asking, “Jo Yeon-hwa?” But instead of saying, “who is that?” he quietly tells his son to keep her around, since Dong-joon needs someone on his side. Crisis averted.
After dinner, Soo-yeon and Dong-joon retreat to their bedroom. Or, to be more precise, their wing of the Choi mansion. She blithely tells him that she’s more of a figurehead of the global team than anything else, and relies on translators and her assistant to take care of the legal matters. All she has to do is smile, look pretty, and sign paperwork.
Dong-joon just wants to understand what she does, but with a smile she says she doesn’t do anything — it’s all her dad’s work. She does the things that her father has to do, things that no one else knows. That reminds Dong-joon of the CCTV footage of her in the car. She starts to undress, reminding Dong-joon that they’re not yet at the point of familiarity to see each other’s underwear, and he leaves the room.
He walks his father out to his car, asking why he didn’t question who “Yeon-hwa” was. Dong-joon also wants to know what kind of person Lawyer Choi is. Considering his father has been Lawyer Choi’s personal doctor for the past twenty years, surely he’ll be able to tell him how far Lawyer Choi will go.
But his father just muses that Dong-joon should instead ask himself who he (Dong-joon) is and how far he will go. Justice Jang is poised to become the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, so Dong-joon should ask if he’s the type who can leave Taebaek and fight against the Chief Justice.
Taking off his tie clip, Dad tells him that the diamond in it was from a two carat stone. But in order to shape the diamond, 90% of the actual stone was discarded. As he puts the clip on Dong-joon’s jacket, he tells his son to think about what he should save and what he should discard. As a parting request, he asks Dong-joon to let him know right before Blue Dragon goes on sale so he can make some money for the hospital. Let’s add “insider trading” to the growing list of Dong-joon’s misdeeds.
Young-joo visits her father in jail, and he shows her the wood carvings he’s made of their family to give to his wife for her birthday. He asks Young-joo to apologize on his behalf that he wasn’t able to take her on a trip overseas before she turned sixty, but Young-joo tells him that she’ll get him out in time so he can spend Mom’s birthday with her.
But he starts to cough up blood, and that can only mean one thing — he’s dying. He sadly admits he doesn’t know how much time he has left.
The prison doctor tells her that it’s nothing serious, but Young-joo knows it’s a sign of various fatal diseases, and begs him to let her father seek a diagnosis and treatment at a hospital. The terrible prison doctor scoffs that it’s not like a prisoner can be excused on a day pass, and orders that Chang-ho get an injection of pain killers instead.
It’s a new day at Taebaek Law Firm, and as Dong-joon studies his father’s diamond tie clip, he thinks about how much he’s willing to throw away. Young-joo enters his office to give him his schedule, and she’s blocked out a certain amount of time for him to run an errand for her. She assumes he wasn’t able to get the CCTV of the parking garage footage, so she has another way to figure out who killed Sung-shik.
But Dong-joon tells her that she’s been moved to another department and will no longer be his secretary. She reminds him of the power she wields over him, and pointing at the news article that states Justice Jang is now officially the Chief Justice, she wonders what would happen if the Chief Justice saw the video.
In return, Dong-joon wonders if there’s anyone else who can save her father. It’s a rhetorical question, really, because Dong-joon points out that threat of a nuclear weapon is terrifying, but if someone actually uses one, the reality is both sides will be destroyed.
He insists that he is no longer going to track down the killer. If Chang-ho is not acquitted after the second trial, then he’ll find a way to post bond or request probation. Young-joo tells him that her father is sick, and if she follows his plan, it could take a couple of years before her father is free. But Dong-joon, unmoving, tells her that she’ll just have to wait.
An old friend and chairman of another company visits Lawyer Choi. This isn’t just a casual visit to play a game of Go, since Chairman Kang is there due to his connections with the director of the National Pension Service. The NPS does not want Blue Dragon to be sold, since presumably it would have a huge effect on the funds that are tied up in stocks — and they’re one of the largest owners of Blue Dragon stock.
Jung-il also attends the meeting — not only does he have an inside track on Blue Dragon, but Chairman Kang is his father. He asks his father to persuade Lawyer Choi that Blue Dragon shouldn’t be sold, and that it’s foolish to give such an important case to Dong-joon (under the pretense that it will be a damaging blow to Lawyer Choi’s son when the sale falls through). Battle lines, drawn.
Chairman Kang gets a call from the NPS director just then, and he tells him that they’ll meet later. Lawyer Choi orders Dong-joon to hand over the case back to Jung-il, who can barely hide his satisfied smirk.
As they leave the office, Soo-yeon, in her trademark bluntness, tells the men that if Dong-joon hands it over, it will reflect poorly on her father and people will gossip about it. Dong-joon tries to convince Jung-il that he should persuade his father that they can both work on the case, but Jung-il interrupts him to remind him that there are two things that are impossible at Taebaek.
All three of them get a text requesting an emergency meeting of all the team leaders. This morning, a video was uploaded to Taebaek’s social media. There were efforts to delete the video, but it kept being reposted under new accounts. Dong-joon stares in concern at the paused video of him in bed with Young-joo, but neither of their faces can be seen.
Jung-il thinks it’s a warning, based on the username of the uploader: Yeom Sang-gu. That’s also a character from the famous story The Taebaek Mountains who abused his authority and raped a powerless woman. Deducing that the rapist will be someone in Taebaek Law Firm, he orders the video to be played so they can see who it is.
As the video plays, Young-joo calmly walks into the conference room and serves everyone coffee. Dong-joon closes his eyes in expectation of his face being shown, but the video freezes with the phrase: “1 Day 1 Frame.” Based on the speed of the video, it’s believed that they’ll be able to identify the culprit in another ten frames — or, that is, another ten days.
Young-joo serves Dong-joon his coffee with a knowing look, and he nervously reaches for his water glass, knocking it over. Jung-il decides that it will be more cost-effective to deal with this quietly and give the uploader whatever they want to make it go away. The last time they had a scandal like this, it cost them millions of dollars in litigation fees and loss of clients due to negative publicity. How ironic (or convenient) that he tells Dong-joon to take care of it.
In the privacy of his office, Dong-joon angrily tells Young-joo that in her rush to try and save her father, she’s making it harder for the both of them.
She admits that once a nuclear bomb is detonated, they’ll both be hurt. But who will be damaged more — a murderer’s daughter who was fired from the police force? Or the son-in-law of Taebaek who has the whole world in his hand? Point this round goes to Young-joo.
She tosses down a photo of the gangster who was in charge of finding her father’s phone, revealing that his name is Baek Sang-gu, and that he often accepts jobs that require a certain amount of violence. She’s sure that whomever hired him from Taebaek is the real culprit. Dong-joon has ten days to figure out who that person might be.
Soo-yeon enters to give Dong-joon a case to handle, since one of his connections is the judge on the case, and he opens it to reveal that it’s for Sang-gu. Ah, the amazing coincidences of Taebaek Law Firm. Soo-yeon notes his reaction to the photo, but he says he’s just surprised that someone in charge of the global department would be dealing with a petty criminal.
She tells him that while the lawyers work during the day, he works during the night. A flashback shows that it was Sang-gu who helped Soo-yeon cover up Sung-shik’s death.
Dong-joon visits his adorable courthouse underling Ki-young, who cheerfully tells him that he’s fulfilled his public duty sentence and is now free to do whatever he wants. Thanks to Dong-joon, he’s decided to go straight and help his mother open up a restaurant. He promises Dong-joon that he won’t return to life a crime. But Dong-joon quietly asks him if he’ll return to it once more, and bring “the item” “that person” has. Ki-young loyally agrees.
Young-joo looks through the documents on Dong-joon’s desk, surprised to see Sang-gu’s file sitting there. She opens up the computer to see the request for Sang-gu’s legal representation, and using the code from his security card, denies the request in Dong-joon’s name.
The next day, Dong-joon is about to take his mother out for lunch when he gets a call from Soo-yeon, demanding to know why he rejected the request to represent Sang-gu. He knows who must be behind the denial, and calls Young-joo, who tells him that she has a plan.
She’s figured out where Sang-gu will be meeting with a Taebaek representative, and with some strategic hidden cameras, she’s preparing a trap. She tells him that the representative will be here in the next thirty minutes, and she’ll finally know who the real culprit is.
Mom can tell that he’s got something serious to take care of and cheerfully says she’ll take a rain check, but she watches him drive away with worry in her eyes. As he heads to the restaurant, he calls Soo-yeon, leaving a desperate voicemail letting her know that he’s aware she’s the one behind Sung-shik’s murder and that she’s about to walk into a trap. But instead of saving the message, he cancels it.
He finds Young-joo parked outside the restaurant, keeping a close eye on the video feed from inside. He reminds her that none of this will hold up in court since it’s evidence obtained illegally, but Young-joo plans on entering the room after they get the confession on tape, which will mean she’s now involved — and means the evidence can be admissible since she’s a part of it.
Dong-joo clenches his fist and slowly raises it, but whatever plan he might have had is thwarted when Hyun-soo pops into the car to let her know his men are at the ready and they’ll be able to arrest the culprit right away. He quietly says that once everything is cleared up, then maybe… But Young-joo cuts him off, telling him that she’s just a private citizen asking for help from the police force, nothing more.
A voice on the video feed gets her attention, and she focuses on the entrance, watching for the arrival of Taebaek’s representative. Dong-joon watches helplessly as the door opens to reveal… Jung-il.
I’m a little surprised to realize how much I like Soo-yeon. Yes, she may be a murderer, but she’s also refreshingly candid and seems to take such joy in needling all the other characters. Considering how serious everyone else is, it’s sort of nice to have someone be wryly amused most of the time. Despite her candor, I’m still confused as to what she thinks of Dong-joon. She keeps bringing up the fact that it was a marriage based a business deal as though she said she didn’t care in the first place. I get the feeling she does care, or might care, or possibly could care if she weren’t trying so hard to be the carefree rebellious daughter. Except, if she’s helping to cover up Taebaek secrets, she’s not really a rebel now, is she? It’s all so wonderfully confusing, especially since I’m expecting we’ll find out more to her depth and layers as the show goes on.
I also really like Jung-il, even though we know even less about him. Yes, he can be a bit of brat, but I feel like he’s more principled than Dong-joon right now. He might be one of Taebaek’s shady lawyers, but at least he’s willing to fight for what he believes in, even if means using his father to get what he wants. That’s why I was a little surprised to see him at the end, since I want someone — anyone — to have a somewhat decent bone in their body. I’m hoping it’s just because Soo-yeon called on him next to take Sang-gu’s case. What can I say? I want to root for someone, even though I assume that since he’s the second lead, he’s probably doomed. (Then again, who isn’t doomed in this show?)
At least Dong-joon is finally starting to take control of his situation — for a few minutes, anyway. I wanted to cheer when he told Young-joo that if she destroys him, then she destroys her chance at saving her father. Yeah, didn’t quite think that one through, now, did she? But I also understand her blind, fervent drive to free her father since she doesn’t know how much time he has left — definitely less than a year if he’s going to be stuck in prison with a doctor who’s not going to try and treat his coughing-up-blood disease. She’s put her ticking time bomb into motion, and now it’s a race against the clock to see who will emerge victorious. Or at least call a truce. If that’s even possible.
I kinda love that this show puts up a big ol’ “characters and events in this show are based on fiction and are not based on actual events” disclaimer at the beginning of each episode, because it’s probably the only thing saving the show from a lawsuit. There’s a thin veneer of fiction covering up the real-life source material. For starters, the Blue Dragon sale seems to be inspired by the scandal around the actual NPS chairman and the Samsung mergers a few months ago that was also linked to the political scandal surrounding former President Park. Then when Young-joo told Dong-joon that when children obeyed the order to “wait” and “stay where they are” (as he keeps telling her to do), they ended up waiting for the truth to be revealed from heaven — a reference to the Sewol ferry tragedy, which some believe to be a result of political corruption and greed. As surreal as this show can sometimes seem (so many convenient coincidences around every corner!), there’s still this fascinating layer of truth underlying all the greed and corruption.
In the previous episode, I wondered just how far Dong-joon and Young-joo would go down their path of darkness. But now I’m wondering just how far this show will go to shed light on the corruption that’s our world.
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- Lee Bo-young, Lee Sang-yoon lead script read for SBS’s Whisper
- Lee Sang-yoon up to reunite with Lee Bo-young in SBS’s Whisper
- Punch writer’s next drama back on schedule, Lee Bo-young up to star
- Lee Bo-young offered lead in SBS’s Advance