Tunnel: Episode 7
Oh my god, this episode! Tunnel brings its best game yet as everything converges this hour to bring twists, reveals, and reversals that keep you on the very edge of your seat nibbling away at your nails. Our two mismatched detectives lock horns as secrets come to the fore, and the whole affair as we know it is set on its head with what they find out…
EPISODE 7 RECAP
We open with a scene we’ve seen before: Young Park Kwang-ho tears down a highway in panic, nearly hitting our Kwang-ho before speeding off, hotly pursued by another car.
This time, we follow the chase. We see young Kwang-ho was drugged by his attacker earlier, and his driving becomes increasingly erratic. He struggles to remain conscious, but his pursuer finally forces him off the road and his car hurtles down a ravine.
Somehow still alive, Kwang-ho flees from the wreckage, but his pursuer creeps up on him. After an intense struggle, he’s overpowered, and his attacker chokes him slowly to death. He leaves Kwang-ho’s body in the open, just like that. I’m so sad right now.
In the present, Sun-jae comes upon the body half-hidden under fallen leaves. He quickly searches its pockets and comes out with young Kwang-ho’s police ID. Back at the wreckage, he finds nothing until he steps on something in the dirt—it’s Kwang-ho’s wallet, which holds his driver’s license. He compares it to the ID card, shocked by the familiar name with its unknown face.
Meanwhile, our Kwang-ho and Sung-shik are busy retracing young Kwang-ho’s last known steps, which in this case is the speed camera that caught his car. Sung-shik worries about the young officer but says that they can’t launch an official search either, because it will expose our Kwang-ho.
At the site of the body, Sun-jae mulls over Kwang-ho’s text and finally makes a call, asking someone to come over. Night falls with Sun-jae still standing guard over the body, and he thinks it’s too far from the car to be from an accident. Was he running away? he asks himself.
He raises his gun at the sound of footsteps, until he realizes that it’s Dr. Mok. Sun-jae shows him the body, and taking a closer look, Dr. Mok guesses he’s been dead some time. He agrees to keep the body a secret for now, and Sun-jae asks him to find out the man’s identity and how he died. (But but but shouldn’t there be a forensic examination of the scene before you move the body??)
On the drive back, Kwang-ho calls the car to a sudden stop, startling Sung-shik. But it turns out that it’s just to make a pit stop at a dumpling place, which seems to mean something to Kwang-ho, although he doesn’t explain.
“Oh right, do you have some money?” Kwang-ho asks. Sung-shik reluctantly hands over his wallet, and Kwang-ho exclaims at the array of notes, especially the 50,000 won one. Which he pockets. Hahaha.
Later, Kwang-ho knocks at Jae-yi’s door (still calling her “agasshi”). When she finally opens it, he offers her the bag of dumplings, but she just closes the door in his face. Still, he somehow ends up at her table and explains that he brought the dumplings because he thought she’d have trouble with her injured hand.
“I don’t like dumplings,” she says, before telling him to eat them himself. Exasperated, he says that she really does match well with Sun-jae: “You’re both rude.” With a grin, he adds that they should just get married, and she dourly leaves the table.
Left alone, Kwang-ho grows quiet over the rejected dumplings. “Yeon-sook liked dumplings so much,” he says soberly to himself.
In his dark apartment, he turns his new smartphone over in his hands until he eventually dials a number which gives him an error message. But he talks into the silence anyway: “Have you been doing well, Yeon-sook-ah?”
Sojourning to the past again, we join Yeon-sook knitting (pink) baby clothes as she talks to her bump about Kwang-ho. “No matter where he went, your father used to call me,” she tells it. “If he knew I had you, he would call even more often,” she says, giving way to tears.
In the present, Kwang-ho smiles as he tells her about cell phones, and then sighs. “Although I can call you anytime… Yeon-sook-ah, wait just a little longer. I will definitely come back,” he promises.
The next day, Sun-jae recalls how Kwang-ho said that he was “not that Park Kwang-ho.” A perplexed Dr. Mok calls him in for the autopsy results and reveals that the cause of death was deliberate asphyxiation.
“If this man is Park Kwang-ho, who is the Corporal Park we know?” he asks Sun-jae in rising agitation. But Sun-jae warns him to keep quiet, saying that he has to find out who Park Kwang-ho is first.
Sun-jae gets his car dusted for prints, claiming it was broken into. In actuality, it’s to lift and analyze our Kwang-ho’s fingerprints, but he’s flummoxed when they come up with no matches in the system whatsoever. Who on earth are you? he thinks, as he watches Kwang-ho amble into the police station.
Kwang-ho checks in for information about the pursuing car, but it’s not a registered vehicle. Tae-hee complains about Sung-shik and Kwang-ho doing their own secret investigations, but Sung-shik just brushes it off.
“If it’s nothing, why can’t you tell us?” Sun-jae asks. Kwang-ho blusters that they’re on the same side—… “Exactly, we’re on the same side, but I don’t know who you are,” Sun-jae cuts in.
Unsettled, Kwang-ho heads off, taking Sung-shik with him. They talk about the pursuer’s car, and Sung-shik explains that they can’t track an unregistered vehicle. With no luck finding young Kwang-ho’s car either, they turn instead to his call records.
Sun-jae searches Kwang-ho’s empty drawers again and only finds the discarded box of his new phone in the bin. He’s puzzled to discover Kwang-ho’s number is registered to Sung-shik, and is also certain he overheard Sung-shik calling Kwang-ho “Sunbae-nim” that time. But that makes no sense, he thinks.
Tae-hee confronts him angrily when he goes though Sung-shik’s desk, but it doesn’t stop him. Finding a handwritten note with “Sunbaenim’s address,” Sun-jae heads off.
Meanwhile, Sung-shik and Kwang-ho track down the location where the last call young Kwang-ho received was made: a public payphone. It turns out to be in his registered hometown, and Sung-shik notes that it’s a remote spot without CCTV.
Sun-jae arrives at Kwang-ho’s address and finds the door unlocked. (Whyyyy?) Taking in the sparse furnishings and still-sealed boxes, he notes the name of young Kwang-ho’s former precinct on the labels and also finds the transfer order and speeding ticket on his desk. Recognizing the license plate as the same as the wreck, he begins to connect the dots. “Then… did that bastard kill the real Park Kwang-ho and assume his identity?” he wonders.
Sung-shik and Kwang-ho question a group of ajummas about who might’ve called young Kwang-ho. They learn about a Mrs. Kim who was Kwang-ho’s neighbor and something of a surrogate mother to him since his parents died, but she already passed away three months earlier. They note disapprovingly that Kwang-ho didn’t even come then.
The detectives explore Mrs. Kim’s empty house but find nothing of note. Sung-shik wonders if anyone told young Kwang-ho about her death, and Kwang-ho guesses the young man would have come had he known. As they leave, neither of them notices a phone lying half-hidden in the dirt.
Sun-jae acquires young Kwang-ho’s police personnel records, but he’s no closer to figuring out why our Kwang-ho is impersonating him.
Next, Sung-shik and Kwang-ho visit the person who made that last call. He and young Kwang-ho had studied for the police entrance exams together, and he says young Kwang-ho was looking forward to his transfer to Violent Crimes since there was something he wanted to investigate properly. That day, he called to congratulate Kwang-ho, and his friend had told him he’d gotten into something wrong. But that’s all he can tell the detectives.
On the way back, Kwang-ho wonders what the young man had been investigating. He tells Sung-shik to head to young Kwang-ho’s old precinct so they can find out more.
Sun-jae shares his findings—or rather, total lack of them—about Imposter Kwang-ho with Dr. Mok, wondering why he’d go so far as to steal an identity. “That would depend on what he wanted to hide, wouldn’t it?” Dr. Mok replies.
Night finds Sun-jae at young Kwang-ho’s old precinct. Uh oh! He hears that someone else has been asking about young Kwang-ho, and just as he asks who, the officer points behind Sun-jae—at our Kwang-ho, who’s just come in.
The men are surprised to see each other. After a tense moment, Kwang-ho (badly) styles out that he’s here to see his old colleagues, and he and Sung-shik bundle Sun-jae outside. Once there, Sun-jae demands an explanation.
Kwang-ho spins a story about some guy impersonating him, and says he came here because he heard the guy had been here. They don’t know that Park Kwang-ho is dead, Sun-jae thinks to himself.
Aloud, Sun-jae says, “I heard that, too,” and suggests the two of them find the imposter together. Plucking the call record sheet from Kwang-ho’s hand, he tells him to be ready the next morning. Once he’s gone, Sung-shik yells at him for not staying in the car like he told him.
What on earth are they hiding? Sun-jae wonders on his drive back. Consulting Jae-yi, he asks, “Did he kill that man and steal his identity?” She points out that they wouldn’t be looking for him if they killed him and advises him to ask himself if he thinks that person (ah, he hasn’t revealed Kwang-ho) could kill someone. She notes perceptively that he would already have arrested them had he thought that.
The next day, Kwang-ho dawdles at his door, reproaching himself for not listening to Sung-shik. He turns with a groan only to be met by Sun-jae, who shouldn’t know where he lives. “There’s not much I don’t know, apart from you,” Sun-jae tells him before ordering Kwang-ho to follow him.
Jae-yi hands back her class’s murder weapon assignments, but one girl doesn’t receive hers. Jae-yi reveals her A-grade to the class, saying it was because she examined why a murderer would use a pair of stockings.
Called on to explain, the student says she chose them because they wouldn’t leave fingerprints. But after experimenting on herself, she realized that killing someone with stockings was actually hard, because they stretch and keep stretching. She concluded the motive in using stockings was because the murderer took pleasure in the killing. Jae-yi reveals that there is such a murderer in Korea, though he has yet to be caught.
Kwang-ho makes various attempts to stall their trip, but unperturbed, Sun-jae continues driving. They meet another man from the call list, and Sun-jae introduces Kwang-ho as the real Kwang-ho who had his identity stolen. But the man had only called the number on a car that was blocking his, so he never actually met him. “Where was that?” Kwang-ho asks.
The detectives arrive at a noraebang (Kwang-ho: “Noraebang? So if you sing, you get money?”) but find it empty. Sun-jae goes off to search the building for the owner, but accidentally leaves his phone behind.
It rings with a call from his father. After a moment’s hesitation, Kwang-ho answers it. He introduces himself as Sun-jae’s colleague and remarks that Dad’s voice sounds familiar. Sun-jae comes back for his phone just as Dad hangs up and snatches it back from Kwang-ho.
Just then, the owner returns. Kwang-ho asks him why the other Kwang-ho sought him out. “He asked me if I knew a woman who died in a tunnel thirty years ago,” the owner reveals, to Kwang-ho’s great shock.
“What’s this? How did that guy know?” he puzzles, mostly to himself. But the owner says that’s exactly what he thought. He reveals that the woman who died in the tunnel was his sister. Jaw practically on the floor, Kwang-ho exclaims, “Jin Seon-mi?” and the owner confirms that was her name.
Confused, Sun-jae asks what that case was, and the owner tells him that thirty years ago, there was a string of murders of young women where the culprit was never caught. Young Kwang-ho had told him there were no records for the case and had asked him if he knew anything about the culprit. “He talked about a man, someone he was following,” he says, but can’t tell them anything else, since young Kwang-ho never came back after that.
The pieces begin to come together for Kwang-ho. “So it was this. That’s why he was the first person I ran into when I first came. He found something out,” he whispers to himself. Fed up with the cryptic comments, Sun-jae demands that Kwang-ho explain himself, but caught up in the whirl of his own thoughts, Kwang-ho runs out.
Jae-yi examines her Jung Ho-young evidence board. She notes how similar the victims are, and that they’re all wearing skirts. Retrieving her recorder, she replays a snippet of her interview with Lee Seon-ok (from Episode 2) which we haven’t heard before.
Lee had told her about a friend of hers, Hwang Chun-hee, who died (in Episode 1). “I didn’t kill her,” she said. She recounted that Chun-hee always wore trousers, but some man told her she’d look pretty in a skirt. A few days later, she was found dead with stockings wrapped around her neck. Noting that all the incidents took place in Hwayang, she calls Dean Hong to find her some case records.
Sun-jae thinks over the noraebang interview on his drive back. Like Jin Seon-mi, his mother’s death was also thirty years ago, also without any case records. He wonders if this could be the case Jung Ho-young was talking about, and also wonders how on earth Kwang-ho could know about it.
At the station, Kwang-ho is told that young Kwang-ho’s car was found. Sun-jae sees him sprinting into a taxi just as he arrives back, and follows.
Kwang-ho reaches the site of the wreck, but can’t find any sign of young Kwang-ho. “Surely he’s not… No, he must be hiding somewhere,” he tells himself, “You have to be alive.” He’s shocked when he comes face-to-face with Sun-jae.
“Who are you looking for?” Sun-jae demands. “Is it this guy?” he asks, holding up young Kwang-ho’s driving license. “You’re the one who stole the real Park Kwang-ho’s identity,” he accuses. “Why did you steal a police officer’s identity? Did you kill Park Kwang-ho? Did you?” he shouts.
At that, horror fills Kwang-ho’s face. “What? Park Kwang-ho is dead?” he asks. He can’t be dead, he says to himself, he can’t. Reading him his rights, Sun-jae arrests him for the murder of Park Kwang-ho.
Appalled, Kwang-ho says, “You asked who I was, right? Would you believe me if I said I came from the past?” Sun-jae stares, calling him a mad bastard. But that’s why he couldn’t say it, Kwang-ho says.
Sun-jae yells that someone died, and Kwang-ho shouts back, “Exactly! In a situation where I’m under arrest as a murderer, why would I say something so insane? Why? Because it’s the truth. Whether you believe it or not, I came from the past!” But he gets no quarter from Sun-jae.
Dean Hong tells Jae-yi that there’s no record for Chun-hee’s murder. Jae-yi is nevertheless certain that Lee Seon-ok was telling the truth, since Choon-hee fit Jung Ho-young’s victim type, and they were both in Hwayang at the time. She wonders if his first murder was actually thirty years ago, not ten, like the police think.
Elsewhere, Sun-jae’s dad returns home and finds his wife passed out on the floor. Meanwhile, Kwang-ho continues to protest his innocence to Sun-jae. He even reminds Sun-jae of how he cuffed him when he first saw him and says that it was because he thought he was an intruder—his desk now was Kwang-ho’s desk in 1986.
“I was working at Hwayang Police Station thirty years ago too,” he asserts. “Not as Corporal Park Kwang-ho, but Sergeant Park Kwang-ho. Park Kwang-ho with ten years in the Violent Crimes Division!”
Sun-jae remains totally unconvinced, and Kwang-ho snaps, “Hey, do you see me as a person who can murder someone? If you had said the same thing to me, I would’ve believed you, you jerk.” He points him to Sung-shik for proof, telling Sun-jae that they worked together thirty years ago, when he was Sung-shik’s superior.
Jae-yi tries to call Sun-jae, but he doesn’t pick up. Meanwhile, from the hospital where his wife was admitted, Sun-jae’s dad tries to call him too.
At the station, Sung-shik is shocked to learn that the car he was looking for (young Kwang-ho’s) was found, because he never got the message. Just as he scolds the junior officer, Sun-jae arrives, pushing a handcuffed Kwang-ho ahead of him. Eyes widening, Sung-shik orders everyone else out.
Sun-jae accuses Sung-shik of helping Kwang-ho despite knowing that he killed a police officer and stole his identity. He refuses to remove the handcuffs and informs the chief that he’s arrested “this fake Kwang-ho” for murder. But Sung-shik is just as horrified to learn that young Park Kwang-ho is dead. “So what you’re saying is… this Kwang-ho killed that Kwang-ho?” he asks.
“Isn’t it?” Sun-jae shoots back. Sung-shik blows up at him, referring to Kwang-ho as “Sunbae-nim” again, which makes Sun-jae crazy. “It’s the truth!” Sung-shik yells. He rips a picture out of his wallet and shows him the team photo from 1986, with Kwang-ho right there in the middle. He even tells him to check Kwang-ho’s fingerprints, predicting he’ll find nothing.
Looking from one man to the other, Sun-jae finally looks at the photo, where the resemblance obviously startles him. “I couldn’t believe it at first, but it’s the same person,” Sung-shik says.
Jae-yi ends up at the restaurant Kwang-ho had told her he got the dumplings from. She takes a bite, and the taste evokes a childhood memory of being fed (the same?) dumplings.
Leaning against a wall, Sun-jae tells Kwang-ho not to say a word. “You still can’t believe it?” Kwang-ho asks. Worried that the news about young Kwang-ho is really true, Sung-shik questions them both, though Kwang-ho refers him to Sun-jae for answers.
“Didn’t I tell you not to say anything?” Sun-jae growls. They’re caught in a standoff when a voice asks for Sun-jae: His father has come all the way to the station in search of him… but he freezes at the sight of Kwang-ho.
“Detective Park? Is it really you?” Dad asks, “You look exactly the same.” He tells him that he’s the husband of Seo Yi-soo, the fourth dot-murder victim, and Kwang-ho and Sung-shik both gasp as recognition dawns.
“Wait, then… Sun-jae…” Kwang-ho falters, recalling the baby back then. He snaps around to face Sun-jae and thinks, You were Seo Yi-soo’s son? That Sun-jae?
Omo, omo, omo! This is so good, I’m flailing and dying and oh my god, help!! Never has it been so hard not to immediately reach for the next episode. Okay, I need a drink.
Where to even start. Young Kwang-ho’s death? That surprised me. Last week, I was worried that his character was thrown away for a cheap shock, but it’s really working in the story. I still would have liked him to remain as a counter-character to our Kwang-ho, but his death changes the stakes in a way that makes things feel much more urgent and dangerous. Once again, Tunnel succeeds in making a character with very little screen time leave a strong emotional impact, although maybe I’m reacting to the sense of tragedy and unfinished quality in his efforts, and that he doesn’t ultimately form a part of our story going forward.
I always think absolute disbelief is the most sensible reaction to someone telling you that they travelled through time. Pictures can be doctored, people can be coached, it can be a very elaborate trick—but that’s real life. For story purposes, I need Sun-jae to believe Kwang-ho quickly, and I think his dad just tipped the balance.
On a side note, I’m absolutely certain Sun-jae will never unlock those handcuffs himself, even when he comes to believe Kwang-ho. And I find this endlessly entertaining, because think about it—do any of you see him unlocking them? It’s such a funny statement about his personality. I’m pretty sure we all like him without feeling conflicted about it, but not backing down when you’re wrong is generally considered a flaw, yet I don’t feel that way about Sun-jae at all. For all his prickliness, he’s endearingly simple, and there’s no malice in his character even when he’s harsh.
It’s funny how similar he is to Kwang-ho on the inside after all, despite their fairly opposite exteriors. Sun-jae tends to blow cool, whereas Kwang-ho is full of ready affection. I’ve been following a few of the comments criticizing Kwang-ho’s behavior as boorish, especially towards Jae-yi, but I find it hard to see him that way.
He’s certainly earned Jae-yi’s indifference and occasionally chilly treatment—as far as she knows, he’s a bumptious detective who insists on calling her agasshi when she’s a professor—BUT context matters, so I don’t think it’s fair for the omniscient viewer to judge Kwang-ho’s behavior against modern sensibilities when he literally stepped out from the ’80s. In his world, women participated in society in different ways, so a young woman studying serial killers (which, remember, didn’t even exist as a concept for him in his time) is, at the very least, an oddity which he has to find context for ihn the new world he’s coming to know. I find it quite similar to his absolute inability to see Sun-jae as either superior or senior, evidenced by his persisting use of banmal with him despite the fact that as a police lieutenant, Sun-jae outranks him even in his past life.
Right now, I think he calls Jae-yi “agasshi” out of habit more than anything, but just like he quickly acknowledged Sun-jae’s skill, he also recognizes hers (especially when his matchmaking arose from his comment about how they make a great crime-fighting team!). If anything, he’s like an embarrassing dad who talks a little too candidly for comfort, and considering that he’s sure to turn out to be Jae-yi’s real dad, I find the whole dynamic hilarious and quirkily adorable. It’s genuinely fun to see Jae-yi constantly shut him down and not give him the time of day, but it’s also fun to see him completely unfazed by it. Go Dad! I really find him the model of an old-fashioned man: a little on the gruff side, but kind, with a protective instinct that sometimes makes him come off harsh. He’s also been working violent crimes for ten years, and that requires a certain amount of steel that ends up staying with you.
As for where the story went this hour, Young Kwang-ho’s last moves raise a lot of new (and thrilling) questions. I feel certain that the man he was looking for in the end was actually our Kwang-ho, but like our team, my big question is, just how did he know about the cases from thirty years ago? What is his relationship to our team? If he’s not connected to them, then who is he connected to? I briefly considered that he could perhaps be Yeon-sook’s second child with another man, but that doesn’t fit her character.
Though it saddens me, I think the chances that Yeon-sook is still alive in 2016 are very slim. She would never abandon her baby, and she strikes me the kind of person who would hold out hope to the very end that Kwang-ho would come back, and so stay right where he left her. If she’s not there, it means something happened. And of course, if we’re assuming Jae-yi is her daughter, we know she was adopted at the age of six. Since it’s been heavily foreshadowed, my guess is that Jae-yi’s parentage will be revealed very soon. This show handles some of its timing really masterfully, such as the many reveals this episode, but its central character ones are a little clumsier, which saps the tension a little. Nevertheless, I’m staying right here with my tea and biscuits, ready for whatever Tunnel wants to throw at me next.
- Tunnel: Episode 1
- Mysterious dots and missing bodies in OCN’s Tunnel teaser
- Choi Jin-hyuk runs like crazy to solve a serial murder case in Tunnel
- Time-slipping to catch a killer in OCN’s Tunnel
- Choi Jin-hyuk pursues hooded man from past to future in Tunnel
- Vixx’s N joins OCN’s Tunnel as young police officer
- Past detective Choi Jin-hyuk emerges from time-traveling Tunnel
- Yoon Hyun-min, Choi Jin-hyuk form detective duo for OCN’s Tunnel
- OCN’s Tunnel courts Choi Jin-hyuk, Lee Yoo-young to star