Mystery Queen: Episode 12
While they may have had their differences before, Seol-ok and Wan-seung are definitely on the same side now as they face off against Inspector Woo (and of course, the criminals). As for Inspector Woo, he’s still the enigma that he was before, but a few layers are peeled back this episode, and we’re given a new look into why he may be so doggedly determined to capture the Seodongmun Market serial killer.
EPISODE 12 RECAP
As a forensics team officer explains to Wan-seung that both the brand of duct tape and the string found at the crime scene don’t match up with the duct tape and string found in the car of the underwear thief, Wan-seung thinks back to how Seol-ok had pointed out the exact same thing when she had confronted Inspector Woo — she had argued that the thief’s duct tape and string seemed completely unused, and therefore, he could not have been Joo-yeon’s murderer.
Wan-seung wonders if the underwear thief really isn’t Joo-yeon’s murderer before complaining that these fake profilers need to use more science to back up their investigations. The scene cuts to one said “fake profiler,” Inspector Woo, who is currently briefing a superior on what he knows about the Seodongmun Market serial killer: The killer is in his thirties and works in an occupation where his uniform resembles a police officer’s.
As Inspector Woo explains the serial killer’s modus operandi, we see the serial killer creepily cleaning a mannequin with alcohol before moving on to do the same to his human victim. Inspector Woo adds that the killer does this because he considers his victim to be a filthy object in need of cleaning and fixing, which is why he uses the alcohol and duct tape.
Their superior wonders why the killer stopped committing crimes for seven years, and Inspector Woo lists a host of potential reasons: military service, death, mental hospital institutionalization, prison, and immigration. Inspector Woo says that he’s narrowed the list to thirty-eight total suspects and expects to get it down to one person by the next day.
The scene cuts back to the serial killer, who sadistically begins to wrap his terrified victim in duct tape, taking immense pleasure in the poor girl’s fear as he slowly suffocates her to death.
At Joo-yeon’s rooftop apartment, Wan-seung makes a call to Seol-ok, bragging about the accuracy of his sixth sense — just as he had thought, there was something fishy about the underwear thief. It turns out that the thief had seen Joo-yeon’s murderer coming up to the rooftop, and the fact that this intruder didn’t come in or out through the front gate means that it was someone who lived in the same apartment building.
Seol-ok adds that the intruder could’ve also come from the building next door if the two buildings aren’t that far apart. After hanging up, Wan-seung takes another look around the rooftop before coming across an unused air conditioner lying in the corner — he curiously notes the duct tape stuck to the sides.
At the interrogation room, Seol-ok and Wan-seung question Joo-yeon’s rooftop neighbor, who grows indignant when Wan-seung asks whether he enjoys peeking into other people’s homes. Feeling wronged, the neighbor demands to know why everyone’s so suspicious of him.
The rooftop neighbor explains that the other night, he had just stepped out of his apartment for some fresh air when he happened to see Joo-yeon putting her laundry away. Her downstairs neighbor had been with her, and playing the part of a possessive boyfriend to a T, he had complained about the rooftop neighbor staring in her direction. The rooftop neighbor claims that the downstairs neighbor had then angrily kicked over her drying rack, much to Joo-yeon’s bewilderment.
Seol-ok and Wan-seung move on to questioning the downstairs neighbor, who gives a very different version of the story: He insists that he was helping Joo-yeon with her laundry and that the rack fell over by accident. The downstairs neighbor explains that after getting discharged from the military, he started to work at the market and met Joo-yeon there.
When Seol-ok asks if there were any suspicious men around Joo-yeon, the downstairs neighbor mentions a rumor about their male landlord previously breaking down Joo-yeon’s door. That leads to Seol-ok and Wan-seung questioning the landlord, who adamantly denies any wrongdoing and insists that everything was a misunderstanding.
The landlord (who also reported Joo-yeon’s murder) adds that he never would’ve even gone up to Joo-yeon’s apartment that morning if he had completely sobered up — he was just absentmindedly listening to his wife’s orders when he was hungover.
Seol-ok notes to Wan-seung that all three — the rooftop neighbor, the downstairs neighbor, and the male landlord — are all a little suspicious in their own ways. Wan-seung says that he has a gut feeling about one guy in particular, but when a skeptical Seol-ok questions his supposed sixth sense, he cheekily refuses to divulge his guess.
At the lunchbox store, Seol-ok and Wan-seung discuss the case while Seol-ok keeps trying to feed Wan-seung her inedible dishes, ha. Wan-seung tells Seol-ok that the culprit is the person who folded Joo-yeon’s clothes, and Kyung-mi notes that the clothes on the bottom shelf are folded like they are at clothing stores, which is completely different from the way the clothes on the upper shelf are folded.
That gets Wan-seung thinking, and suddenly, he realizes that the upper shelf’s clothes are folded military-style. At that moment, he also gets a call from the forensics team officer, who reports that the duct tape found on the old air conditioner is the same as the one found on the crime scene. The officer also adds that traces of a few unusual materials were found after examining the clothes on the upper shelf.
In the middle of the night, Seol-ok sneaks out of her house as Wan-seung warns her over the phone that he’s not taking responsibility for her divorce if she gets caught by her in-laws. Seol-ok retorts that he shouldn’t have told her that he was going to catch the culprit if he didn’t want her to come — at that point, he’s just being a tease (hee!).
At the market, Wan-seung and Seol-ok walk through a narrow alleyway as Wan-seung wonders if Seol-ok harbors any ulterior motives towards him — why else would a married woman come running after getting a call from man in the middle of the night? Seol-ok scoffs that she doesn’t even see him as a man, and besides, she’s here as a civilian profiler, not as a married woman.
Wan-seung warns her that he has no intentions of ever accepting her feelings because he’s the bad boy type (ha), and Seol-ok remarks that it shows before slightly pushing him to move out of her way. Wan-seung accidentally bumps into a few of the mannequins placed eerily along the alleyway, and one falls to the ground as Wan-seung struggles to catch the other.
At that moment, Seol-ok sees the downstairs neighbor passing through one of the bigger streets, and she gestures for Wan-seung to hurry over. They find the downstairs neighbor working as he loads bags of clothes onto a truck, and Seol-ok approaches him as she discusses the usefulness of duct tape.
Wan-seung comments pointedly that duct tape is so great, it can even be used to repair an air conditioner, or it could even be used to murder a person. The downstairs neighbor asks Wan-seung what he’s talking about, and Seol-ok answers that the forensics team found traces of completely different fabrics in Joo-yeon’s folded clothes on the upper shelf, which suggests that those clothes made contact with something different — this would make sense if the person who folded Joo-yeon’s laundry also packed clothes into plastic bags during the day.
Wan-seung adds that the clothes were folded military-style — a hard habit for guys to break when they’ve been released from the army not too long ago. The downstairs neighbor rolls his eyes as if the accusations are ridiculous, until he suddenly hits Seol-ok with a bag of clothes and pushes her over with force before making a run for it. Wan-seung immediately rushes to Seol-ok’s side (awww), but she urges him to go after Joo-yeon’s murderer.
With Seol-ok following right behind, Wan-seung chases the downstairs neighbor through the alleyways, but the neighbor makes a turn, and they lose him. The neighbor steps out when he sees that they’ve gone elsewhere and jogs slowly in the other direction, only to be eventually apprehended by Kwang-tae and Joon-oh.
In the interrogation room, Wan-seung demands to know why the downstairs neighbor killed Joo-yeon. Their conversation is juxtaposed with a conversation between Seol-ok and Joo-yeon’s friend, YOO-JEONG, who’s been severely traumatized by Joo-yeon’s death.
Yoo-jeong explains that Joo-yeon had only gone out once with the downstairs neighbor because he said he had free movie tickets, and not too long after, the neighbor had started acting like he was Joo-yeon’s boyfriend. Joo-yeon had clearly been uninterested in him and had planned to go on a blind date with someone else, which infuriated the neighbor.
In the present, he tells Wan-seung how he had planned to “have” her before another guy could (gross), but he hadn’t expected Joo-yeon to resist so strongly — Joo-yeon had hit her head on the table while he dragged her across the floor, and that was what killed her.
Yoo-jeong explains to Seol-ok that people are still talking about the Seodongmun Market serial killer even now, and in the interrogation room, Wan-seung concludes that the downstairs neighbor probably thought that he could’ve disguised it as another one of the serial killings.
The downstairs neighbor thinks that he wouldn’t have been caught if only he hadn’t folded the laundry, but Wan-seung corrects him — gloves leave traces, just like fingerprints do, and he would’ve been caught in the end anyway.
Yoo-jeong is horrified to hear that her coworker, the downstairs neighbor, is Joo-yeon’s murderer, and she cries to Seol-ok that she can’t trust anyone anymore. She asks Seol-ok to get the police to protect her, and Seol-ok agrees, reassuring her that now that the culprit has been caught, things like that won’t happen to her anymore.
A hiker treks through the woods when suddenly, he comes across a sight that frightens the daylights out of him: the corpse of a woman half-covered in fallen leaves, her head wrapped in duct tape.
Kwang-tae and Joon-oh are helping Kyung-mi out at the lunchbox store, and Kwang-tae comments on how strange it is that Seol-ok and Wan-seung always bicker when they’re together, yet they always end up solving the case anyway. They wonder if there’s something going on between the two of them, and when Joon-oh asks Kwang-tae why Wan-seung is always so mean to Seol-ok, Kyung-mi just sighs at Joon-oh’s innocent inability to understand that bickering is not always mean-spirited.
Seol-ok and Wan-seung arrive at the store together, and Kyung-mi asks suspiciously if they spent the night together. Seol-ok affirms it, and when Wan-seung tries to explain it wasn’t like that, Seol-ok clarifies that they were together sporadically throughout the night, ha.
Joon-oh runs up to Seol-ok to make sure that she’s not too tired and assures her that the police will be doing the hard work from now on. Seol-ok smiles and says that instead, she has the whistle necklace that Joon-oh gave her, and Wan-seung snaps that Joon-oh shouldn’t be buying things like that for a married woman.
Wan-seung asks Joon-oh jealously where his necklace is then, especially when he’s always the one being put in danger because of Seol-ok. Joon-oh answers plainly that he doesn’t have one for Wan-seung, and Seol-ok cutely blows on her whistle to show it off.
Later, Seol-ok and Wan-seung make their way to the police station, where they hear that the Special Investigation Team is holding a press conference about the Duct Tape Serial Killer on the third floor. Seol-ok worries that Inspector Woo has continued erroneously believing that Joo-yeon’s murderer is the Seodongmun Market serial killer, and she rushes off to find him.
She approaches him as he preps for the press conference, trying to explain that the downstairs neighbor had attempted to disguise the murder as a serial killing, but Inspector Woo just spits out the neighbor’s name, age, and occupation — he seems to be fully aware that Joo-yeon’s murderer was never the serial killer.
Confused, Seol-ok asks why he’s holding the press conference then, but Inspector Woo summons the police guards to force her out of the conference room. She sneaks back into the room from the back door, and during the conference, she interrupts Inspector Woo as he tries to make his report to ask whether the case really was a serial killing.
Inspector Woo ignores her and explains to the media that another victim of the Seodongmun Market serial killer has appeared after seven years. Seol-ok realizes that the serial killer really has returned, and she meets up with Wan-seung.
Seol-ok notes that Inspector Woo probably had hints that the serial killer would be coming back and that he purposely described Joo-yeon’s murder as a serial killing in order to get the funds to form the Special Investigation Team.
Inspector Woo drives off to the crime scene where the victim’s body was discovered, and we cut to a flashback of a younger Inspector Woo working overnight at the police station. On watch with Inspector Woo was his friend, JIN-YOUNG, who had been sleeping at his desk.
Inspector Woo had chided his friend to go sleep in the night-duty room instead of the office and roughly nudged Jin-young when he didn’t respond. Instead of groggily waking up as Inspector Woo had expected, Jin-young had lifelessly rolled over across the table, and it was then that Inspector Woo had realized that his friend was dead.
In the present, the officer standing guard at the crime scene tells Inspector Woo that no one was allowed in except for the forensics team. Barely acknowledging him, Inspector Woo thinks aloud: “That’s right. I knew you wouldn’t be able to stop. I’ll stop you. Let’s end it this time.”
Currently examining the body is the forensics team — that is, Wan-seung and Seol-ok disguised as the forensics team, ha. Wan-seung wonders why the serial killer would use duct tape to murder his victims if it would take so long for them to die, and Seol-ok answers that it means the killer enjoyed the process of watching his victims suffocate to death.
Wan-seung comments that this guy really is a crazy bastard when suddenly, they hear footsteps directly behind them. Seol-ok jumps back in shock to see Inspector Woo, who roughly grabs her by the shirt. Wan-seung immediately flings Inspector Woo off Seol-ok, but Inspector Woo just glares at Seol-ok as he reminds her that he warned her to stop interfering.
Seol-ok insists that she’s not interfering and that she’s going to catch the killer no matter what Inspector Woo says. She has a tense staredown with Inspector Woo, before Kwang-tae interrupts to ask Inspector Woo to let them work together with the Special Investigation Team, reminding him that Jin-young was a precious colleague to him too. Inspector Woo flatly refuses and drives away without even taking a second look at Kwang-tae.
Later, Kwang-tae and the team try to get another look at the body, but they’re barred from the scene by the guards on duty. Wan-seung declares that they’re going to be the ones to catch the killer, and Seol-ok agrees that it has to be done as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, the serial killer works at his day job as a security officer. He creepily eyes a female office worker, but looks away when she tells him to fix a particular surveillance camera before agreeing to do so. Oh no, he has access to the surveillance cameras!
In the car, Wan-seung wonders what serial killer detectives have to go on if the killer’s motives have nothing to do with money or drugs. Seol-ok explains that serial killers have something called a “signature” to define themselves. It’s the way the serial killer’s impulse is manifested, and in this case, the duct tape on the face and the way the body is laid out can be considered the serial killer’s signature.
Inside a stakeout van, Inspector Woo speaks into his walkie-talkie, noting that the serial killer is definitely at the market.
At Seol-ok’s office in the lunchbox store, Wan-seung comments that the pictures of the duct-taped faces look awfully familiar. He can’t seem to place his finger on it, when suddenly, he recalls bumping into the mannequins along the alleyway the other night and it clicks — the duct-taped faces look like mannequins.
Seol-ok adds that, considering the serial killer hasn’t murdered anyone for seven years, he must be doing things to get back into practice. She thinks that Inspector Woo probably predicted the serial killer’s return based on these practice cases and notes that there were a ton of cases where women in the Seodongmun Market area got splashed with alcohol. Seol-ok explains that it’s kind of like a warm-up for the serial killer before he begins the actual killing.
Kwang-tae heads off to talk to a friend of his who works at the police station in that area, and the friend comments that someone from the police headquarters came by the other day asking the same question. The friend describes the cases of women getting splashed by alcohol as especially horrifying. Not only did the women get the alcohol poured all over them, the alcohol was red. Blood red.
Nearby, Joon-oh speaks to one of the locals, who talks about a mannequin he saw that was being taken away by the police. He notes that it was barely held together by some duct tape and adds that Inspector Woo also came by to ask about the same thing, wondering why everyone’s so curious about the mannequin.
Wan-seung wonders why the killer would’ve left the body in such an easily discoverable location, and Seol-ok answers that it was probably so he could reminisce about the killing.
In the mean time, Inspector Woo and his squad of officers burst into a security company’s office looking for PARK YEONG-SOO; they’re told that the man has gone out to fix the surveillance camera.
Wan-seung gets a call from Kwang-tae, who tells him that Inspector Woo called for backup at Seodongmun Market. Seol-ok concludes that Inspector Woo has found out who the culprit is, and as they’re making their way over, they run right into Inspector Woo and his group of officers.
Inspector Woo angrily demands to know how the two of them found out that Park Yong-soo is here, accidentally revealing more information than he intended. He grabs Wan-seung by the collar and forcefully reminds him that he said he wouldn’t let it go if they kept on interfering with his investigation.
Seol-ok insists that they’re not interfering and that they’re just trying to catch the culprit on their own. But Inspector Woo shoots her down, telling her that she’s not even a cop. Wan-seung comes to her defense and argues that with all his makeup and ajumma fans, Inspector Woo isn’t much of a cop either — he’s more a celebrity than anything else.
Inspector Woo points out that it’s thanks to his fame that he was able to form the Special Investigation Team to capture the serial killer; without his popularity, he wouldn’t have been able to obtain the budget nor the manpower to get the serial killer. He leaves Wan-seung and Seol-ok with a final warning to stay out of his sight and moves on to look for the serial killer.
As the police officers work to track down this Park Yong-soo, we see him getting dressed in his police uniform before making his way out to the market.
Seol-ok tells the others that the serial killer will definitely start the hunt today, considering that Inspector Woo’s already on the move. Seol-ok admits that they won’t be able to match Inspector Woo’s profiling ability, but she notes that they can predict Inspector Woo’s movements to get to the culprit first.
At night, the serial killer goes back to his hideout behind the abandoned building and removes the tarp covering his police car, preparing for the night’s attack.
At the market, Joo-yeon’s friend Yoo-jeong is absentmindedly working at the clothing store when a coworker tells her to just go home for the night. Yoo-jeong makes a call to Seol-ok asking to be picked up, and Seol-ok readily agrees to get a nearby precinct’s police officer to pick her up.
Yoo-jeong waits alone on a dark street, and the serial killer pulls up to her in his police cruiser. He bites his lip when he spots her, excited to see his prey, and he smiles when Yoo-jeong asks if he’s the officer who got the call from Seol-ok.
In the car, Joon-oh sees Seol-ok’s worried face and offers to drive to the clothing store to see if Yoo-jeong is all right. Before they get to the store though, they see a suspicious police car driving by, and Seol-ok’s eyes widen in horror. She immediately tells Joon-oh to follow the car.
Seol-ok makes a call to Yoo-jeong, and Yoo-jeong tells the serial killer (who she thinks is just a police officer) that Seol-ok must be calling to check up on her. The serial killer looks her dead in the eye and tells her not to pick up before grinning evilly and snatching away her phone. Yoo-jeong begins frantically pulling at the door, but the serial killer knocks her out with one punch and continues driving.
The serial killer’s car, followed by a number of other police cars, passes by Kwang-tae and Wan-seung, who wonder why Inspector Woo is pulling out all the patrol cars. Inspector Woo explains to his team that the serial killer is pretending to be a cop, so their new plan is to arrest everyone driving in unidentified patrol cars.
In Joon-oh’s car, Seol-ok points out that the serial killer’s car is a fake — there’s no indication of the police insignia on the lights on top, and the police’s eagle mark on the side of the car is below the yellow line. Seol-ok is sure that she’s found the serial killer.
Inspector Woo races out of his stakeout van, and elsewhere in the marketplace, Wan-seung races to get to the killer too. Suddenly, a shot rings out, and everyone hears it. The scene cuts to Inspector Woo standing in front of serial killer’s car, his gun ready to fire.
It’s interesting to see that with the formation of Inspector Woo’s Special Investigation Team, Wan-seung is slowly but surely starting to understand how Seol-ok used to feel when he used to be the grumpy authority figure telling her to butt out of his investigations. On one hand, I’m not so sure that, as a civilian, Seol-ok actually has any right to demand to be a part of these investigations (especially when she doesn’t seem to be that far ahead of Inspector Woo and has to piggyback on his profiling ability to get to the culprit).
But on the other hand, it’s just fascinating to watch how Wan-seung comes to her defense when Inspector Woo yells at her — it really shows how much their relationship has grown, how highly Wan-seung has come to think of Seol-ok, and how much he trusts her now compared to before. Even when he teases her about staying home for her in-laws, it’s a friendly kind of ribbing that doesn’t hold the same connotation of him looking down on her for being a housewife as it used to before.
Also, now that we know that Inspector Woo isn’t a Ho-chul 2.0 (i.e. a smart but corrupt authority figure) and that he’s actually passionate about capturing the serial killer for the sake of his murdered friend, it gives me hope that perhaps Inspector Woo will be more like Wan-seung and have a similar change in opinion towards Seol-ok once he recognizes what she’s capable of. For now, she’s just a meddlesome civilian who keeps getting in his way, but I’m sure that Seol-ok will show him her worth once she’s given the chance. While she may not have any personal vendetta against the killer, Seol-ok has consistently proven her dedication to finding justice for the victims — especially the female ones.
The only thing I’m slightly concerned about is how Inspector Woo essentially used Joo-yeon’s murder to form his special investigation team. It would be one thing if her murderer had actually been the serial killer, but Inspector Woo knew fully well that it wasn’t. In that case, was he just planning to let Joo-yeon’s real murderer go free for the sake of capturing the bigger fish?
I’m also still curious as to how exactly the serial killer is involved in Jin-young’s death; considering that the serial killer focuses on murdering young women in their twenties by using duct tape and that Jin-young’s death didn’t fit any of those characteristics, I wonder if Jin-young was the officer in charge of investigating the Duct Tape Serial Killer, and perhaps that’s what led to his death. While I had written off Inspector Woo as just another roadblock to Seol-ok’s budding civilian profiler career, it seems that he has just as interesting of a history to share.
In that same vein, I’m also glad we’re taking a break from the corruption circle of Jang Do-jang and Ha & Jung Law Firm. I certainly want to know how everything ties back to Wan-seung and Seol-ok’s past, but I’m tired of seeing just snippets here and there every time Wan-seung mourns the loss of Hyun-soo — maybe it’s the impatience talking, but I want the full story so I can decide how much to hate/fear CEO Ha.
On the other hand, I must say I’m pretty impressed by how each case so far has been weaved into the overarching story — there have always been hints about each case before it actually came to light. For example, Yoo-jeong’s case with the Duct Tape Serial Killer started during the investigation of Joo-yeon’s murder, Joo-yeon’s case started even before the Noh Doo-gil case, and the fact that Noh Doo-gil existed was planted when Seol-ok had been investigating the Jang Do-jang case. It makes me wonder if there are any other apparently innocuous, and even funny, scenarios that hint at a bigger case to come — are we just missing the clues?
It also shows that a case isn’t really over once it’s solved and the criminal is put behind bars. As was the case with Hee-chul, who we saw grieving after his entire family was found to be complicit in the murder of his mother, Yoo-jeong is another example of how traumatizing these crimes can really be. While Yoo-jeong had not been the direct victim when Joo-yeon was murdered, the killing really affected her psychologically because it made her paranoid and suspicious of everyone. The poor girl was already terrified even before she got kidnapped by the serial killer — even if Seol-ok manages to save her, I can’t help thinking that Yoo-jeong’s trauma will be nearly impossible to treat.
- Mystery Queen: Episode 1
- Rocky start to ajumma-ace detective partnership in Mystery Queen
- Petty rants and bickering partners in Mystery Queen’s mockumentary teaser
- Swing dancing in the spotlight in new Mystery Queen teaser
- Detectives, spies, liars, and new hires in poster parade for spring dramas
- Pretty boy cop and adorable ajumma make a puppy-dog team in Mystery Queen
- Ajumma Choi Kang-hee and Officer Kwon Sang-woo team up in Mystery Queen
- Kwon Sang-woo up for crime-solving with Choi Kang-hee in Mystery Queen
- Lee Won-geun up to play cop to Choi Kang-hee’s Mystery Queen
- Choi Kang-hee courted to be ajumma detective in KBS’s Mystery Queen