Whisper: Episode 7
The bigger they are, the harder they fall. It’s a race to see who will be the first to strike the major blow, causing the wobbly Jenga tower of puffed-up egos and multi-million dollar companies to finally teeter. The toppling results may be surprising, but not even the most powerful are safe when it comes to the stalwart David valiantly fighting against the Goliath of corruption.
EPISODE 7 RECAP
As Dong-joon hugs her tight, Young-joo weeps at the realization that her father only has a few months to live.
Meanwhile, Chairman Kang continues to prove that he’s the worst person ever by laughingly reminding Lawyer Choi of a time when they were boys and Lawyer Choi’s mother was beaten for trying to sneak some food home for her son. Lawyer Choi smiles and agrees that those were indeed “the good days,” but then he turns to a very unamused Soo-yeon, letting her know that the injuries sustained during that punishment was the reason her grandmother would never give her piggyback rides when Soo-yeon was a child.
The two families are enjoying dinner to celebrate the end of their thirty-year partnership, a fact that surprises Chairman Kang. He insists that they were never partners. Lawyer Choi was essentially nothing more than “hired help” to him, and Chairman Kang makes it clear that he still calls all the shots.
But Lawyer Choi pulls out the old contract to dissolve their partnership, informing Chairman Kang that even though Chang-ho didn’t die on the operating table, Chang-ho still won’t live until the end of the years. Chairman Kang isn’t eager to sign the contract dissolution, but finally agrees when Lawyer Choi tells him that he’s managed to keep the National Assembly from investigating the corrupt defense contracts.
Just as he’s about to put his thumbprint on the contract, he gets a call to turn on the news. Chief Justice Jang is reported to be looking into the corruption cases with the defense department, specifically requesting the maximum punishments possible for the companies found culpable — which includes Chairman Kang’s company. Looks like this so-called “partnership” will continue.
The younger generation speculate on their fathers’ states of mind, knowing that neither will be pleased about Chang-ho’s surgery or Chief Justice Jang’s actions. But Jung-il’s made a deal with the Chief Justice, promising to get rid of Dong-joon from Taebaek and hand him over to the Chief Justice. It’s a deal that satisfies Soo-yeon, because even if it disrupts Taebaek, only Dong-joon will really suffer.
Young-joo is the one who’s currently suffering, though, as she wonders what she should tell her father when he wakes up. Should she tell him the surgery went well? Or that he won’t live to see another year? Dong-joon takes the matter into his own hands, striding purposefully into Chang-ho’s room.
He introduces himself as the judge from his trial, and starts to tell him about the surgery, but Chang-ho’s already ahead of him, asking him bluntly if he’ll live through the year. Dong-joon silently shakes his head “no,” but Chang-ho seems to take the news stoically well.
He’s already aware that Dong-joon is the reason he was able to get the surgery at all. Thanks to him, he was able to get the suspension on his case and have one of the top surgeons take care of him. But Dong-joon confesses he made the wrong judgement originally and destroyed the evidence because he was afraid of what would happen to him.
But Chang-ho doesn’t blame him, because he also wonders what would have happened if he hadn’t so stubbornly stuck to his principles. Would his family have suffered like they are suffering now? For the first time, he regrets his idealistic desire to live justly and honestly. No matter how great a reporter he was, he’ll still be remembered as a murderer.
Dong-joon promises that he’ll get a retrial, and that Dong-joon will make sure to rectify his incorrect ruling. That would mean becoming a judge again, though, and I can’t imagine that’s going to be an easy journey, especially knowing how much the Chief Justice resents him.
Even Soo-yeon, who cooly tells him that she thought she hated him the most, admits that Chief Justice Jang hates Dong-joon even more. She’s there to take Dong-joon home from the hospital, and when she asks him if he has everything, he cryptically tells her that he’s finally learned what to take and what to leave behind.
When Dong-joon arrives at Taebaek, Jung-il is waiting for him. What a great “welcome back” present. He points out (with his fancy “get well soon” orchid) that he apologized for what happened at the docks, and hands over a giant stack of work. He adds that if Dong-joon leaves Soo-yeon and Taebaek, he’ll get rid of the Chief Justice. After all, it’ll be difficult for Dong-joon to endure it if he stays.
Dong-joon agrees it’ll be difficult, but he’s determined to fight back nevertheless. He once thought of living with his eyes closed, but now he’s seen Chang-ho’s life. He also considered living with his ears covered, but now he hears the whispers. Oooh, title shout-out!
He leans in, letting Jung-il experience the “whispers” for himself: “Turn yourself in for the murder of Sung-shik.” He then adds that he knows how to catch a culprit even when there’s no evidence, warning Jung-il that he’d better get comfortable in prison. Now who’s the one who will have to endure?
Lawyer Choi meets with Chief Justice Jang, and they both politely dance around the issue of Dong-joon. Lawyer Choi admits that he can’t get rid of his son-in-law — instead, he must protect him. Like the Chief Justice was able to protect his own son-in-law from the embezzlement charges?
It all comes down to the difficult decision of what Lawyer Choi wants to protect more — Taebaek or his son-in-law. Dong-joon is fully aware of this, and when he meets with his father-in-law later, he bluntly tells Lawyer Choi that he’s considering leaving Taebaek. Lawyer Choi warns him that he won’t be able to protect him from the Chief Justice if he does so, but Dong-joon has a plan. By using Taebaek’s power, he’ll unmask the Chief Justice, and by doing so, will consider it his “going away” present.
Lawyer Choi finds it difficult to believe that Dong-joon would give up the opportunity to take over the powerful law firm. But echoing Lawyer Choi’s earlier words, Dong-joon tells him that he would rather choose powerless justice than justiceless power. He then continues to quote Lawyer Choi by asking if he’d like to team up with him in a “tenancy dispute.”
At the hospital, Young-joo watches the news where Lawyer Choi is given commendation for all the pro bono cases Taebaek has done for disadvantaged families. But she knows the truth about Taebaek, and that her father’s death was originally pre-arranged because it suited Lawyer Choi’s needs. She vows that her father won’t be remembered as a murderer.
Dong-joon leaks reports to the news stations that Chief Justice Jang’s son-in-law actually embezzled twice as much than was originally reported, and that there’s currently an investigation to see if any of the funds went to the Chief Justice. Jung-il realizes that this means Dong-joon is making his move, and promises the Chief Justice he’ll block any further news reports.
Undeterred by his snide remark about her father dying soon, Young-joo tells Jung-il that he should get ready to enjoy most of his life in prison. By the time he’d be released, he’ll be old without any family left. She suggests Dong-joon’s mother’s nursing home as a place to go since no one else will be around to take care of him.
Jung-il points out that she’s just like her father, but she doesn’t take it as the insult he intends. Instead, she muses that he’s also like his father — who is a criminal. Perhaps their relationship would improve by spending time in the same prison together.
She joins Dong-joon for lunch, or, rather, she makes him share his lunch. It’s symbolic how he readily agrees to give her half, making sure she takes the best share of everything. They’re clearly partners now. It’s also sweet how he immediately agrees that her father can stay at his mother’s nursing home during his recovery.
She wonders about his next move against the Chief Justice, and Dong-joon reveals that he’ll force the Chief Justice to visit the judge presiding over the son-in-law’s second trial. Then he gives her a camera so she can secretly follow the judge.
Meanwhile, the Chief Justice visits Taebaek. He’s offended when the security woman asks for his phone (as standard protocol so no one records anything during a meeting with Lawyer Choi, but the high ranking and “trustworthy” usually don’t need to check in their phones and watches). Secretary Song points out that he’s the Chief Justice of Korea’s Supreme Court — and the Chief Justice assumes that he’s defending his right not to hand over his phone, but instead Secretary Song emphasizes she ask for it more politely. Ha!
In annoyance, he storms into Lawyer Choi’s office, insisting that Lawyer Choi isn’t the type of person to sacrifice Taebaek just to save his son-in-law. But the person in the desk chair swivels around, and to Chief Justice Jang’s surprise, it’s none other than the son-in-law himself, Dong-joon. Double ha!
Dong-joon informs the Chief Justice that he’s looked into his son-in-law’s embezzlement. He admits it’s unclear how much of the funds were used for the son’s company, but then points out how interesting it is that Chief Justice Jang’s wife has memberships to multiple golf clubs, even though she doesn’t play. Whether or not the Chief Justice was aware of the funds supporting his family’s personal investments, it’s still considered bribery.
Nothing Chief Justice Jang says can dissuade Dong-joon from calmly pointing out that his son-in-law will still get a severe sentence. As the Chief Justice stands to leave, he reminds Dong-joon that, as the top person at the highest court, he’s the one who decides the basis for trials, and he can’t wait until Dong-joon appears in court (as a defendant, that is).
Just as Dong-joon predicted, Chief Justice Jang meets with the judge overseeing his son’s trial. Waiting for them outside the restaurant is Young-joo, who photographs their interactions. She shows the pictures to Dong-joon, telling him that it’s suspicious that the Chief Justice paid for an expensive meal with the judge of his son’s case.
Dong-joon plays the devil’s advocate, pointing out all the rational arguments against her reasoning that the two men are colluding, until she reveals more evidence that proves that the judge is in the Chief Justice’s pocket. It turns out it’s mostly all a show for the nervous judge, who realizes that Dong-joon is threatening to out him as a corrupt judge. Or he could help save the judiciary branch by doing the honorable thing.
In the end, the nervous judge leaves a detailed post online about the bribes offered by Chief Justice Jang if he ruled in favor of his son-in-law. It’s the breaking news of the day, and Chief Justice Jang tries to defend himself in front of the reporters by telling him that it’s simple slander. But the reporters are buzzing about the rumor that Dong-joon was forced to resign because he refused to be pressured into ruling in favor of the Chief Justice’s son.
Dong-joon meets with the Chief Justice in secret — the only way they can meet, since reporters are watching Dong-joon like a hawk, hoping to get any kind of statement from him. Chief Justice Jang grumpily tells him to keep his mouth shut so the judicial branch can keep their integrity intact. In return, he’ll make sure to call off his order to strictly punish anyone involved with the corrupt defense industry cases.
Except Dong-joon wants the exact opposite, much to the Chief Justice’s surprise, since it means Taebaek will be effected. Dong-joon specifically requests that the judicial branch be as severe as possible when dealing with the corrupt defense industry cases.
After discovering that his company is suffering strict punishment in the defense contract cases, Chairman Kang barges into Lawyer Choi’s office, demanding to know if Lawyer Choi was going to destroy his company as soon as they agreed to part ways. Secretary Song interjects, stating that Jung-il was the one who attempted to use the Chief Justice against them as a way to ruin them both.
But Chairman Kang blames Lawyer Choi, and especially Dong-joon. He warns his old “friend” that he’ll steal all the lawyers at Taebaek and set up a new law firm for Jung-il. All that will be left of Taebaek will be Lawyer Choi.
Lawyer Choi points out that there will plenty of people at the chairman’s company who will be ruined by this. Chairman Kang scoffs at his concern, and in frustration, throws his cup against the original framed calligraphy of Taebaek’s logo, breaking the glass. More symbolism!
Chairman Kang’s got more than enough resources to weather this storm, though. Besides, he’s only taking back the “land” (Taebaek) he gave his “servant” (Lawyer Choi), who’s now determined to set fire to the stored harvest. What kind of “landlord” would he be to let the entire property be destroyed?
Young-joo and her mother help Chang-ho get situated into his room at Dong-joon’s mother’s nursing home. She reassures him that they’ll live will — she’ll get married and tell her children to be like their grandfather. After all, he was the only person her mother respected. Aw, Mom tries to hide her tears behind her gruff exterior.
Dong-joon is also there, and his mother assures him that she’ll personally care for Chang-ho. But a call from Secretary Song soon has him returning to Taebaek and entering his father-in-law’s office. He notes the broken glass of Taebaek’s sign, the symbol of the fracturing that’s already starting to occur.
Lawyer Choi demands to know why Dong-joon didn’t tell him about his plan to use the Chief Justice to push Chairman Kang’s company into a corner. But Dong-joon wants to know why Lawyer Choi didn’t tell him before his wedding that he was using Dong-joon to break apart Soo-yeon and Jung-il.
If Lawyer Choi is afraid of losing Taebaek, then he should fight to save it. Secretary Song protests, pointing out that Chairman Kang has connections to all the most powerful people in the country. But Dong-joon says that even if the chairman always won before, sometimes the truth wins. He asks his father-in-law to give him Taebaek’s best litigation lawyers, and in return, he’ll prove that Jung-il is guilty of killing Sung-shik.
Since Jung-il is the only son and heir, if he’s arrested for murder, it will effectively cut off Chairman Kang and his company for good. Lawyer Choi realizes that Dong-joon used him to try and save Chang-ho. Dong-joon points out that it’s thanks to his father-in-law that he learned how to survive even if he can’t live according to the law. Once again, he asks if Lawyer Choi wants to continue this “tenancy dispute.”
At the next department meeting, Dong-joon redistributes his cases among the various team leads. Annoyed, Jung-il demands to know what he’s up to, and Dong-joon innocently tells him that he’s too busy focusing on a criminal case right now — Sung-shik’s murder case. Even if he can’t become the legal counsel due to his involvement as the judge in the original trial, he’ll be overseeing the litigation team that will be working on it.
When Soo-yeon scoffs that Taebaek wouldn’t be devoting so much effort on a simple criminal case, he pointedly tells her that her father specifically assigned him to it. He then reveals that Young-joo is now the main administrator for the case and everything will go through her.
One of the other attorneys assigned to cover one Dong-joon’s other cases offers to give it to Jung-il, who is more experienced in that area. But Dong-joon insists he keep it. If he assigned it to Jung-il, he’d have to reassign it, anyway — thanks to the unspoken implication that Jung-il will be arrested for murder soon.
Jung-il stops by Chief Justice Jang’s office, and as he caresses the blindfold on the statue of Lady Justice on the desk (more symbolism!), he asks how long he believes Dong-joon will keep his silence. He reminds Chief Justice Jang that there are many others who can testify to why Dong-joon wasn’t reappointed, pointing out the other judges who were on the committee.
When he returns to Taebaek, he finds Soo-yeon in her office, having discovered the hidden camera that Young-joo had left there. She’s worried now, since she was once so confident that she made sure all the evidence was erased, but now the best lawyers in the firm are analyzing Sung-shik’s death.
She wonders where she went wrong: Was it when she asked Sang-gu to retrieve the documents about the faulty body armor? Or when she asked her father to save Jung-il? Or when she married Dong-joon? Or is it when she first met and started to fall for Jung-il before all this happened, back when they were in America? Pulling her into an reassuring embrace, he promises her that Chang-ho’s trial will be stopped.
Young-joo is in a good mood as she shows Dong-joon the subpoena requesting Soo-yeon as a witness. He cautions her to not get her hopes up just yet — they still have a long road ahead of them. She pities his pessimism, refusing to let it get her down. But even he can’t help but faintly smile when he reads the subpoena.
Now it’s his turn to greet Soo-yeon with a glass of wine. He tells her it’ll help relax her from the stress of having to appear in court. He shows her the subpoena, reassuring her that they’ll ask her where she was that day, and it’ll all be over quickly if she simply tells them Jung-il was there.
But she smugly sips at her wine as she tells him that there won’t be any trial. He gets a message from his buddy Ki-yong, who shows him pictures of the Chief Justice meeting with the other judges that were on the personnel committee.
The next day, Young-joo hurries into his office, warning him that there will be a press conference that afternoon. She’s convicned that the judges will back up the Chief Justice and their decision to fire Dong-joon from his judgeship. But she doesn’t understand what Jung-il will get out of this maneuver.
Dong-joon suddenly realizes that Jung-il is counting on using the Chief Justice to help postpone the trial by reorganizing the justice department. If he postpones it long enough, Chang-ho will die and then the trial will, by default, be over.
He orders Secretary Song to get him details about the other judges’ records. Secretary Song balks at such an order, because it will require him to put his nose into business that could get him into serious trouble. But Dong-joon points out that he’s doomed either way, especially if Chairman Kang destroys Taebaek since Secretary Song has nowhere else to go.
As the committee judges arrive at the court house, Young-joo appears with an envelope that is presumably filled with offenses worthy of blackmail that were dug up by Secretary Song. At least he’s a fast worker.
Dong-joon requests a meeting with the Chief Justice, and as they stand in the very courtroom where Dong-joon was stripped of his judgeship, the Chief Justice smugly tells him that the press will have a field day reporting on the committee’s declaration that Dong-joon was a corrupt judge. He reminds Dong-joon that if he had just listened to him and let his son-in-law off easy for his embezzlement, none of this would have happened.
Dong-joon angrily asks him if being a judge means ruling as others tell him to. Turning on the television, he says that it’s too late for the Chief Justice to regret what he’s done. The press conference is beginning and the committee judges declare that they were forced by Chief Justice Jang to exclude Dong-joon from reappointment.
The Chief Justice is stunned, not the least because Dong-joon was able to persuade them to change their stance in only a couple of hours. Dong-joon tells him that, thanks to the Chief Justice, he’s learned that one must be more diligent than evil in order to triumph over it.
He steps into the judge’s seat, the same one that Chief Justice Jang sat in when he declared Dong-joon a corrupt judge. Dong-joon directly quotes him as he declares the Chief Justice will be remembered as a disgrace to the judicial department for many years to come.
The press conference continues, and a frustrated Jung-il listens as Dong-joon’s name is cleared. Furthermore, his trump card is destroyed, since the Chief Justice will resign due to the investigation.
Young-joo confirms that this means her father’s trial will continue as planned. She studies Dong-joon for a moment, unable to deduce how he feels about their success in getting rid of the reason he was forced to go to Taebaek in the first place. He solemnly tells her that starting today, he’ll begin to express every joy and sadness. Then he smiles. Aw, I’ve missed those dimples.
Watching them from her office, Soo-yeon wonders suspiciously if Dong-joon sees Young-joo “as a woman,” that is, if he’s attracted to Young-joo. Her assistant thinks they’re just partners who trust each other. But Soo-yeon decides to find a way to break up that trust.
She brings a reporter into his office, cheerfully telling Dong-joon that they want to interview him. She plays up the role of doting wife as she tells the reporters that he can’t say “no” to his wife even as he resists the Chief Justice.
But Soo-yeon’s more focused on keeping an eye on Young-joo’s reactions as she drapes herself over Dong-joon. She reiterates that they’ll grow old together, adding that one of their hobbies is relaxing over a glass of wine. Well, that’s one way to describe it. Then she kisses him, and even though she watches for Young-joo’s reaction, it’s really Jung-il who’s shocked to see Dong-joon and Soo-yeon kissing.
For a show that’s kept my attention so well since the first minute, this episode was actually a bit of struggle for me to get through. There was so much exposition as everyone reorganized their alliances and figured out what new tactic to take in order to bring down their enemy. Admittedly, if one must have endless scenes of people talking to each other, at least the language is evocative and symbolic, but I still long for a glimpse of the angry Young-joo, full of her fighting spirit as she knocks out a few bad guys in her attempt to save Dong-joon.
While I’ve generally appreciated the fact that everyone seems reasonably intelligent so that I generally remain unsure which way the endless cat-and-mouse games will go, I have to admit I’m baffled by Soo-yeon’s sudden kiss. Attempting to undermine your enemy by getting them to mistrust each other is an age-old tactic for good reason, and I can appreciate it for that measure. But I’m not sure she realized that the trust that would be undermined will likely end up being between her and Jung-il.
Of all the people to be most affected by that kiss, it will be him. He’s the one who loves Soo-yeon and resents the fact she’s had to marry someone else. Dong-joon is his clear enemy, and he’s been doing all he can to save Taebaek so that he can also save Soo-yeon (since he could have left long ago and let Taebaek burn while carrying on with his father’s business — or as the head of his own law firm, courtesy of his father). The only reason that he’s still fighting for Taebaek is because of Soo-yeon. Or, at least, I assume that’s the main reason, although there could be some foolish pride in there somewhere, too.
As for Young-joo, while she may no longer have the rage-filled urge to destroy Dong-joon — or at least hold him personably responsible for every terrible thing that has gone wrong — I don’t exactly feel the supposed romance just yet. They’ve only barely begun to work together in good faith — there’s still a long ways to go. Not to mention Young-joo has never expressed romantic attraction to him (and she undoubtedly has her own love scars to heal first, considering the harsh way her fiancé abandoned her. That’s right, Hyun-soo — you may have suddenly disappeared from the script, but I haven’t forgotten your cowardice!).
Does Soo-yeon think that Young-joo will be offended by Dong-joon being once again forced to keep up appearances as the dutiful husband? Or that she’ll be jealous by Soo-yeon’s obvious acting in front of the news reporter? I mean, even if Young-joo was more obsessed with figuring out where Soo-yeon was hiding those documents, her hidden camera probably saw a lot of what went on in that office when Soo-yeon and Jung-il thought they were alone. The only thing I can assume from this kiss is that it will help ruin the trust between Jung-il and Soo-yeon, and as much as I enjoy their “ride or die” relationship, the fracturing of their loyalty to each other will only benefit our heroes.
Soo-yeon aside, I am curious to know how the second half of this show will turn out. The dramatic salvation of Dong-joon’s reputation is something I’d normally assume would appear near the end of most dramas, yet here we are, barely halfway through, and our heroes are in a good place to take down their opposition and save the day. I know there must be more trouble ahead, and maybe the show will find a way to convince me that this kiss is actually a serious reason for worry, but honestly I’m just pleased that there might actually be a way for Dong-joon to return to his judgeship and bring the gavel of justice down on everyone.
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