Tunnel: Episode 12
Tunnel sets up what promises to be a thrilling conclusion for this fast-paced drama, and this is only the beginning. The action has accelerated in recent episodes as a long-hidden murderer pulls our team into his dangerous game. Even though the killer manages to stay one step ahead of the police, Kwang-ho will never give up until he catches the man whose path he first crossed over thirty years ago.
EPISODE 12 RECAP
Jung Ho-young meets his prison visitor, who explains that he heard that he witnessed a murder thirty years ago. Dr. Mok looks amused when Jung assumes that he’s a reporter who wants details about the murders. Jung explains that his victims were choked multiple times, but Dr. Mok corrects his narrative and says that they were killed right away.
Jung looks at his visitor with understanding and breathes, “It was you.” Then, Jung laughs as he wonders aloud, “Who will recognize whom first? And who will catch whom first?” It’s Dr. Mok’s turn to laugh as he outlines the life that Jung can look forward to in prison, locked up just as he was in the mental hospital.
Jung trembles as Dr. Mok details life in solitary confinement, flooded by memories of his terrifying years in the mental hospital. Back in his cell, Jung is tormented by his mother’s words and Dr. Mok’s question, “Did it hit you yet? Will you be able to stand it?”
Jung clutches a bible as he feverishly mutters the Lord’s Prayer, but nothing can calm the fears planted by Dr. Mok, who had promised him, “You can get out of here after you die.” Dr. Mok laughed at Jung as the prisoner noticed the fountain pen in his pocket, with the name “Noel” visible on the cap.
In his cell, Jung tears his shirt into strips and takes out his bible. Eerily calm, he scribbles something onto a page and tells himself, “I can’t leave just one present. The game needs to be fair.” Once that’s done, he gazes at the window.
Jung’s feet dangle over the floor as his body hangs from the window bars, the scribbled note clutched in his hand. Sun-jae, Kwang-ho, and Jae-yi join the rest of their team at the prison, where Kwang-ho asks a guard if something happened, insistent that Jung had no reason to kill himself.
Jae-yi inquires about a note and the guard hands Kwang-ho the torn page with an explanation that it was left for him. Everyone reads the one word written on the page: “Noel.” Just then, Jung’s body is wheeled out, and Kwang-ho unzips the bag to look down at his face, frustrated that death silenced the killer forever.
Dr. Mok gazes out his office window with a huge smile when Sun-jae enters. He visits with Dr. Mok and laments that Jung’s suicide means that they will never know if he saw the face of the killer.
Dr. Mok learns that Kwang-ho was the one who realized that Jung was a witness. He saw the killer smoke a cigarette in the tunnel, but Jung never smoked. When Dr. Mok asks how Kwang-ho can know a detail from thirty years ago, Sun-jae can only stammer.
Dr. Mok reasons that no one but the detective in the tunnel would know about the cigarette and then remembers Jung’s amused question, “Who will recognize whom first?” Kwang-ho walks in to summon Sun-jae, mindful of the doctor’s stare as he becomes lost in the memory of that fateful night.
Kwang-ho asks if the doctor has something to tell him, but Dr. Mok shakes off his distraction as Sun-jae stands to leave. Outside, Kwang-ho asks Sun-jae if he told Dr. Mok that he’s from the past, but he reassures Kwang-ho that he doesn’t need to worry about the doctor.
Dr. Mok watches Kwang-ho depart, sure that the detective from his past died, and we see a young man smiling down at Kwang-ho after he was hit on the head with the rock. In the present, he laughs to himself and says, “It’s nice to meet you again.”
At Hwayang University, Jae-yi updates Dean Hong on the fact that Jung Ho-young was a witness to one of the murders thirty years ago. They agree that the experience influenced the young Jung Ho-young to become a copycat killer, which explains the similarities in the murders. Jae-yi admits that she’s bothered by Jung’s suicide because it doesn’t fit his profile, and Dean Hong is surprised to hear that he left a clue for Kwang-ho.
Jae-yi joins Dr. Mok in his office for a game of chess and asks for his theory on Jung’s suicide. He explains that as a former mental patient, Jung was probably triggered by his memories of being locked up and decided to end his life.
Dr. Mok notes how powerful memories can be, and Jae-yi admits that she has no memories of her early years in Korea. She learned that someone is looking for her, but she can’t think of who it could be. Dr. Mok suggests that her memories will return when the time is right.
At the police station, the Violent Crimes team studies Jung’s clue. Because of the suicide, the seven murders attributed to him will be closed, and the search for the real culprit responsible for the deaths of Yoon Da-young and Nam Joo-hee will end. Sung-shik warns his team that they must continue their investigation in secret.
Kwang-ho quotes Jung Ho-young as he briefs the team, “This is the case that no one knows of and has no record of,” and reviews the six cases for their benefit. When he admits that the investigation in 1986 was a complete failure, Sung-shik points out that even if they are late, they can still catch the culprit.
Kwang-ho lists the common traits of the victims: they were in their late teens or twenties, were strangled with stockings, and were marked by the killer with dots and murdered around 9:00 p.m. Tae-hee is confused when Kwang-ho claims that they visited the site of the crime at that same time while armed with flashlights.
Min-ha points out that he must be talking about the chief and cautions his partner to focus. (Oh my, the look on Tae-hee’s face!) Sun-jae adds that thirty years later, Yoon Da-young and Nam Joo-hee became Victims #7 and #8, and were killed and displayed in the same manner as the previous victims.
Min-ha asks why the killer murdered again after thirty years, especially when the statute of of limitations had expired. Sun-jae proposes that the killer was somehow triggered, and Kwang-ho mumbles that perhaps it was because of the dead Park Kwang-ho. When Min-ha asks who died, Sung-shik rushes in to change the subject.
Sung-shik thinks that in addition to the clue left by Jung and the ink produced by Shin Ae Chemicals, they need to determine the recent victims’ movements on the day that each was killed. Before they leave to investigate, Kwang-ho takes Sun-jae and Sung-shik aside and suggests that the murderer began to kill again because of the other Park Kwang-ho.
Sun-jae and Sung-shik agree that once the killer removed whatever threat he posed, he had no reason to kill again. Sung-shik suggests that they consult with Jae-yi, but he’s confused when Kwang-ho says that he won’t allow it.
Sun-jae intervenes and, after Sung-shik learns the truth about Jae-yi, he can only mutter, “I thought nothing else could surprise me.” Undeterred, Sung-shik insists that they need her help to profile the killer and tells Kwang-ho, “The faster you catch him, the faster you’ll go back home.”
Sun-jae contacts Jae-yi and admits that there is little information on the cases. Aware that Sung-shik worked on the original investigation, Jae-yi asks if he can provide details on the victims, since she believes the information will help her to profile the killer.
Sun-jae realizes that Jae-yi’s recent attack is behind her request and apologizes as Kwang-ho mutters his disapproval, but she assures Sun-jae that she wants to solve the case. He urges Kwang-ho to provide as many details as possible about the victims for Jae-yi’s use, and he readily agrees. Kwang-ho glances at the evidence board and reads out Jung’s clue, “Noel.”
Tae-hee and Min-ha interview Yoon Da-young’s friend to determine her movements the day of her murder and learn that she took a walk along the Haein River, a spot she frequented when she was frustrated over rude customers. Nam Joo-hee’s classmates share that they went home to study for an exam, but that she stayed at the playground because she didn’t want to go home.
Sung-shik interviews a former employee of Shin Ae Chemicals and learns that the ink was used in ballpoint and fountain pens, the most common writing tools of the day. Eventually, the product was the reason that the factory had to be shut down.
Sun-jae and Kwang-ho examine the different associations for the word “Noel,” and Kwang-ho remembers when Lee Seo-yeon’s brother explained that her necklace was engraved with her baptismal name, Lucia. He suggests that “Noel” could be a baptismal name and proposes that they investigate cathedrals that were present in 1986.
Kwang-ho and Sun-jae manage to compile a list of members with “Noel” as their baptismal name. Their final candidate, KIM GYUNG-TAE, becomes concerned when the detectives ask him about his whereabouts the days of the recent murders, but he has security footage from his convenience store to prove that he never left.
Kwang-ho concedes that perhaps Noel wasn’t a baptismal name, but Kim Gyung-tae shares that there was another member at his church who shared that name. He can’t recall the man’s real name, but he does remember that he was odd and always interested in the stories of a Vietnam veteran who bragged about the people that he killed. Once the old soldier died, he claims, Noel was no longer seen, and there’s no one who would know what happened to him.
At his desk, Dr. Mok taps his fountain pen and concludes, “That’s why he had no records or registered fingerprints.” He ponders the twist of fate that united Seo Yi-soo’s son with the detective from thirty years ago and marvels, “I never imagined that you would prepare such a chess game for me. Thank you. I will gladly play.”
Jae-yi studies her evidence board and asks herself why the killer marked his victims with dots. At the station, the team reviews their investigation, and Min-ha concludes that the killer couldn’t have followed the recent victims for long without being seen or recorded.
The section chief walks in and surprises the team as they rush to hide their evidence board. He orders them to provide backup for their fellow officers, who are busy with a gambling ring.
Sung-shik hands Kwang-ho a list of products made with the Shin Ae Chemicals ink and then leaves with Tae-hee and Min-ha as ordered. Kwang-ho announces that he’s headed for home and cautions Sun-jae not to follow him. On their way out, the detectives run into Dr. Mok, who uses the “I was just passing by” excuse.
Kwang-ho paces as Dr. Mok eyes the half-hidden evidence board and inquires about a new case, but Sun-jae admits that it’s the killer from thirty years ago who became active again. Dr. Mok notes that there must not be evidence for any of the cases and moves to flip the board over, but Kwang-ho slams his hand on it and explains that the information is confidential.
Just when Dr. Mok turns to leave, Kwang-ho notices the fountain pen in his jacket pocket. On his way out, Dr. Mok tells himself, “I don’t think he recognized me.” Sun-jae argues that it would be best to share the information and get help, but Kwang-ho reminds him of Sung-shik’s warning to keep the investigation a secret.
Kwang-ho knocks on Jae-yi’s door, worried when she doesn’t answer. She finally opens it and cheekily demands, “Are you going to break the window again?” Inside, Kwang-ho acts like an overprotective father and checks to make sure that all of her windows are secure, but he stops when he sees her whistle.
Jae-yi remembers his questions after her attack and asks if he recognizes it. She tells Kwang-ho that he asked for her identity when he saw the necklace, but he denies it and leaves, only to stare at her window from outside and apologize.
At the prison, Kwang-ho and Sun-jae learn that Jung had a visitor the day of his death, and they react in surprise when the log shows that it was Dr. Mok. When they ask him about the visit, Dr. Mok explains that he was curious about a deviation in the murders of Yoon Da-young, who was killed immediately, and Lee Seo-yeon, who was choked several times, as evidenced by the congestion on her face.
Jung’s admission that he choked Lee Seo-yeon repeatedly proves Dr. Mok’s theory that there were two killers. Kwang-ho is bothered that Jung killed himself immediately after the visit, and the atmosphere becomes tense while Sun-jae looks on uncomfortably. Kwang-ho stares at Dr. Mok’s smiling face as Sun-jae insists that it’s time to leave.
Jae-yi lectures her class and presents the 1986 case, interested in their theories as to why the culprit would kill again. One of her students proposes that there must have been a serious reason that moved him, and Jae-yi agrees before admitting that they have yet to figure it out.
As Jae-yi compares the dates of the murders, she notes that Yoon Da-young was killed two weeks after the discovery of Kim Young-ja’s body parts. She conjectures that the killer was unaware that she survived and that the discovery of her remains was the trigger that moved him to kill again. Jae-yi calls Sun-jae when she realizes that the killer has to be someone close to the investigation.
The next morning, Kwang-ho arrives at the station and learns of Jae-yi’s theory as the team meets privately to consider the unpleasant possibility that a policeman could be the killer, since they were the only people aware of Kim Young-ja’s recent death. Kwang-ho thinks to himself that Dr. Mok autopsied Kim Young-ja’s leg and appears lost in thought while the team eliminates all but two officers.
Kwang-ho stays behind at the station while the others leave to interview the two officers who could be the killer. Kwang-ho studies a photo of Jung’s clue, “Noel,” and suddenly pulls out the list of products that contained the ink used to mark the victims.
Kwang-ho’s eyes widen when he notices that it was used in fountain pens as he recalls the pen in Dr. Mok’s pocket. He turns to an officer to ask for a favor, and he discovers that Dr. Mok lived in Hwayang in 1986.
Kwang-ho runs outside as he recalls all of the times that Dr. Mok expressed interest in the case. He tells himself, “That scumbag was playing games with us. He had an eye on our every move.” Enraged, Kwang-ho runs from the police station.
As Jae-yi pores over her notes, she looks at the whistle around her neck and remembers Kwang-ho’s tearful admission that everything is his fault, puzzled as to why he would say that. Her phone rings with a call from her friend in England, who informs her that she found the name of the policeman who was looking for her.
Kwang-ho runs to Dr. Mok’s office at the university to search for a fountain pen and finds it in the doctor’s lab jacket, engraved with the name “Noel.” As he reels from the realization that he’s found the killer at last, Kwang-ho gets a call from Dr. Mok, who tells him, “I know who you are. I believe you’ve found out who I am.”
When Dr. Mok observes that they have an interesting connection, Kwang-ho erupts in anger into the phone, only to be told to calm down. Kwang-ho reacts in shock when Dr. Mok tells him, “Come to the tunnel right now,” with the explanation that they should settle things where they first met.
Dr. Mok warns, “If you don’t want Lieutenant Kim and Professor Shin, who lives on the first floor, to get hurt, come alone. I don’t want to kill another person because of you.” Kwang-ho’s face convulses in anger as he vows to kill Dr. Mok if he harms either of them.
Jae-yi arrives at the Yeonju Police Station to look for JUNG JAE-HYUNG, who turns out to be the friend that Sun-jae recruited to search for Yeon-ho. She’s surprised to learn that Sun-jae asked him to find her and that he explained it off as a personal matter.
Sun-jae can’t reach Kwang-ho, but he gets a call from Sung-shik and explains that his theory didn’t work out after all. Jae-yi calls him next and asks to meet right away.
Kwang-ho pants as he approaches the tunnel and pauses to pull out his flashlight. He approaches Dr. Mok, who waits calmly as he smokes a cigarette. He smiles as he greets Kwang-ho, “It’s good to see you, Detective Park Kwang-ho.”
Dr. Mok is pleased when he confirms that Kwang-ho is from the past, as there will be no record if he dies — people will just assume that it was the real Park Kwang-ho. When Kwang-ho asks about the real Park Kwang-ho, the doctor explains that he gave him a warning not to go any further.
The real Park Kwang-ho sought out Dr. Mok to inquire about an old man named KIM PIL-SOO. It seemed that when Dr. Mok volunteered at a senior center, the young man noticed that the doctor reached for an isolated syringe to inject into the old man, who died the next day.
Dr. Mok claimed that he gave him a vitamin injection, but Park Kwang-ho insisted that the old man was very healthy before his death. Park Kwang-ho tried to determine what medications Dr. Mok brought to the center, but was told that he needed a warrant.
He staked out Dr. Mok’s office, but was awakened by a call from the doctor, who called from a phone booth to caution, “In this world, there are some paths that you don’t need to walk.” Dr. Mok threatened to kill his grandmother unless he met the doctor alone. (Sounds familiar.)
When Park Kwang-ho ran home to check on his grandmother, Dr. Mok came from behind and plunged a syringe into his neck. As Park Kwang-ho fought back, something flashed in the garden. Even though Park Kwang-ho managed to drive away, he was chased by Dr. Mok.
Eventually, Park Kwang-ho succumbed to the injection and his car careened down the embankment. When Dr. Mok found him, he choked Park Kwang-ho to death with his bare hands.
In the present, Dr. Mok admits that he almost laughed when he first met Kwang-ho just after he had killed the real Park Kwang-ho. Dr. Mok smiles and assures Kwang-ho that he didn’t manipulate the cause of death and claims, “I’m not as nasty and cowardly as you think I am, Detective Park.” His smile tightens when Kwang-ho answers, “Shut that mouth of yours, you piece of trash.”
When Sun-jae meets with Jae-yi, she asks why he didn’t tell her when he learned her real name. He explains that he’s not the one to answer her questions, so she asks, “Then who should?”
That would be Kwang-ho, who gets slammed to the ground by Dr. Mok as the air shimmers around them. Jae-yi demands to know why Sun-jae would suggest that she approach Kwang-ho with her questions and is shocked when he stammers, “Because… he’s your father.” Jae-yi retorts that Kwang-ho is younger than she is, so Sun-jae explains that he’s from the past.
Dr. Mok attacks Kwang-ho with a syringe, but he manages to fall back and throw the doctor over his head as a flash splits the darkness. Dr. Mok isn’t so calm as he screams for Kwang-ho when he finds himself alone. Kwang-ho looks around and demands to know, “Where did this bastard go?”
As Kwang-ho runs through the tunnel, he passes a bicyclist with a battered radio strapped to his bike that plays a song from the past. Kwang-ho scans the tunnel in shock and asks himself, “Am I in the past again?”
What a thrilling and well-paced episode, packed with even more information to keep us occupied as the show takes a week off to prepare the final episodes. If this hour was any indication, I can’t wait to see what the writer has in store for us. The fight sequences have managed to up the intensity of the story as our heroes give everything they’ve got to catch not one, but two serial killers now.
It’s hard to imagine that, after all the angst surrounding Kwang-ho’s steadfast desire to return to the past, that when he finally got there, it’s not immediately as welcomed as he anticipated. How could it be? Kwang-ho finally knew the identity of the serial killer that plagued Hwayang thirty years ago, only to find himself ripped from the tunnel mid-fight, leaving behind a maniac who just threatened to kill Sun-jae and Jae-yi. As happy as Kwang-ho will be to be reunited at long last with Yeon-sook, there is sure to be a pull on him from 2017, where an undetected killer moves freely among those he cares for. I sincerely hope that Kwang-ho will manage to catch the serial killer in the past and protect the future that he’s glimpsed firsthand now that he knows who he’s looking for.
We learned a great deal about the man who marks his victims with dots and how the other Park Kwang-ho figures into his story. Surprisingly, we discovered that Dr. Mok hasn’t refrained from killing all these years, rather, he’s targeted elderly patients whose deaths don’t sound any alarms, at least until the sharp-eyed real Park Kwang-ho noticed that “special” syringe that equalled death. I think we have yet to discover Dr. Mok’s true reasons for killing, although we have been given some hints. Obviously, he considers murder a game of some sort, and he seems emboldened by his ability to evade detection and capture. With his ever-present smile as a mask, Dr. Mok has successfully hidden out in the open, free to kill again and again. He’s a truly frightening villain, and now, the only person standing in his way is Kwang-ho.
As Kwang-ho made his breakthrough, he became isolated from his team, unable to voice his suspicions out of concern that someone (I’m looking at you, Sun-jae!) would confide in Dr. Mok. This is where the two Park Kwang-ho’s meet: They both possess incredible intuition and a tenacity that leads them to the truth. Kwang-ho had the same problem in the past, when he was convinced that he was looking for one killer guilty of multiple murders, a concept that was unheard of at the time. It’s how he found himself alone in the tunnel with the killer before his trip to the future. The future is no different as both Park Kwang-ho’s fight/fought the same enemy, with neither one being able to garner any support against a well-respected suspect.
What happens when Kwang-ho goes missing yet again? Will the team figure out who the killer is and stop Dr. Mok? How will Jae-yi respond, fresh from the news that Kwang-ho is actually her father? I can’t imagine that we’ve seen the last of our future team, but how the two timelines will resolve is anybody’s guess, because I don’t have a clue. I’m hoping that Jae-yi avoids the trap that Sun-jae has fallen into and realizes that Dr. Mok isn’t who he seems to be. If she’s anything like Kwang-ho, she must have good intuition, which would serve her well in this case. As far as Kwang-ho’s return to the past, if I were him, I would go find Dean Hong and enlist her help. But before he gets back to solving cases, Kwang-ho needs to find Yeon-sook and prepare to meet his daughter.
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