Whisper: Episode 12
Young-joo and Dong-joo’s partnership only grows stronger as they work together to try and reveal the truth about Chairman Kang’s death. Jung-il also wants the truth to be known, and will do whatever takes to see Lawyer Choi removed from his Taebaek fortress. But Lawyer Choi’s formidable power means he won’t be easy to trap, even as Secretary Song’s loyalty begins to crumble.
EPISODE 12 RECAP
Dong-joon attends Chang-ho’s memorial and finds only Young-joo there. She sadly tells him that hardly anyone has stopped by — not even friends and relatives. She worries that there won’t be enough people to carry her father’s coffin, but Dong-joon volunteers himself, Ki-yong, and anyone else he’ll be able to find.
He wonders if it would be appropriate for him (the one who originally sentenced Chang-ho and started all this mess) to carry Chang-ho to his final resting place. But Young-joo wants him to carry her father’s coffin, since even those who her father was close to don’t want to have anything to do with the funeral — she was even told that his hometown doesn’t want him buried there. All because people don’t want to be associated with a supposed murderer.
This is all weighing heavy in his mind when he later has breakfast with his in-laws. He tells his mother-in-law that this morning he will say grace. Instead of bowing his head and closing his eyes, he looks directly at Lawyer Choi and says that, even though God said to love your enemies and leave vengeance to the Lord, he’s unable to do so. He vows to do everything he can to revenge the righteous man.
Later, in her father’s office, Soo-yeon wonders what Dong-joon could be thinking. Lawyer Choi tells her not to worry about it, because Dong-joon can’t possibly have any ammunition against them. Besides, he’s planning to quietly kick Dong-joon out of Taebaek as soon as the time is right.
More important to focus on now is Jung-il, who will surely make his move soon since he’s been cleared of any suspicion of murder. Lawyer Choi advises Soo-yeon to hide behind her father, since if Jung-il tries to take a shot at them, then he’ll fall as well. After all, his father’s company and Taebaek have been so entwined the last thirty years that if Jung-il attempts to destroy Taebaek, he’ll end up destroying his father’s company as well.
Lawyer Choi’s confidence doesn’t last long, since Secretary Song rushes in to turn on the TV, revealing Jung-il giving a press conference where he promises to donate his father’s entire multi-billion dollar company to the government. Not only that, he’s requesting an official audit of the company’s activities since it was founded so that the country can praise his father’s note-worthy actions — or punish any wrong-doings.
Soo-yeon confronts Jung-il, pointing out that if he allows his father’s company to be audited, then everyone will find out about his father’s corruption. But Jung-il is more focused on the fact that it will also mean Lawyer Choi’s corruption will be revealed.
He’s fully prepared to throw away his father’s business to destroy Lawyer Choi, especially since he plans to take over Taebaek when Lawyer Choi is out of the picture. He reminds her of the wine bottle they last emptied, and that he plans to fill it with something — either her tears or her father’s blood. But Soo-yeon says that he’ll have to fill it with his own tears or blood. She’s not going to give up her father without a fight.
Dong-joon watches Young-joo sprinkle her father’s ashes alongside the lake. The only other people in attendance are Chang-ho’s grieving widow and Yeon-hwa. He then arrives at a restaurant where his step-brother Dong-min is celebrating his birthday with his mother and Dong-joon’s father. He hands over his birthday present — an investigative report into the plastic surgery center that details all the irregularities and corruption that went into establishing the center.
His step-mother is furious that he’d give a present that will only end up hurting Dong-min (and the rest of the family), since he’s the president of the plastic surgery center. But Dong-joon informs his father that today was Chang-ho’s funeral, and starting today, Doctor Dad only has one son. Dong-joon is disowning his family.
If his father wants to fix their relationship, then Doctor Dad will need to do something he normally never does: right a wrong. Later, Doctor Dad is at the Blue House where the President’s Chief Secretary informs him of his upcoming schedule. But Doctor Dad actually has a favor to request.
Meanwhile, Dong-joon presides over Young-joo’s reinstatement hearing. He addresses the reasons she was originally fired, pointing out that the civilian she supposedly assaulted is a known gangster who’s currently on the run, throwing doubt on Sang-gu’s claims of assault. Young-joo then shows a list of officers who have been accused of leaking information to the public about on-going investigations, pointing out that all of them were given either probation or a reprimand — none of them were fired like she was.
The police chief reminds them that Young-joo is under suspicion for Chairman Kang’s murder, but Dong-joon insists that she had nothing to do with the body in her trunk and is instead merely a witness in the case — just like so many police officers are witnesses in cases. The chief of police gets a phone call, and the committee adjourns to discuss the hearing. When they return, the chief declares that Young-joo is reinstated. Yay!
Young-joo and Dong-joon return to Taebaek, but only for Young-joo to clear out her desk. She finds it odd how quickly the reinstatement hearing proceeded — just a day after she requested it, she’s suddenly back at the station. She knows that Dong-joon must have had something to do with it, but he simply tells her that he now has something in common with her. He, too, has lost a father.
Speak of the devil, Doctor Dad calls him, letting him know he found the diamond tie pin that Dong-joon left behind. But Dong-joon left it on purpose — he now knows what he should keep and what he should abandon. Hmmm, it seems Doctor Dad might have used some of his political influence to help get Young-joo reinstated.
Dong-joon and Young-joo head to the team leader’s meeting, where no one is particularly thrilled to see them. Young-joo informs everyone that today is her last day at Taebaek, and then she returns Jung-il’s condolence money for her father’s memorial. She tells him that he gave too much, and instead vows that she’ll get back what her father gave him — a confession for Sung-shik’s murder.
With a smirk, she tells Soo-yeon that she won’t be able to write her English speeches anymore, but she’ll be happy to help her write her sworn testimony. Ha! As she bids everyone adieu, she tells them that she’s confident she’ll be seeing some of them again soon in the interrogation room.
Young-joo is sworn back in as a lieutenant and returned to her rightful role as the chief of her unit. She returns home, still in her dress uniform, and studies the photo of her parents happily posing after her graduation from the police academy. She remembers her promise to her dying father that she would live a good life and tell her children about what a great man he was.
At the station, she settles into her desk, organizing her belongings — including the photo of her parents. But it’s strange to see Hyun-soo’s desk empty next to hers. He apparently volunteered to be reassigned to a rural station, and it’s implied he ran away because of her. But she’s got work to do, and orders her team to focus on Secretary Song.
Secretary Song is already nervous because Young-joo knows too much about what happened the day Chairman Kang was killed, even if she doesn’t have any proof. Lawyer Choi decides to send his driver (the only other witness that day) to America so that he won’t be questioned, but Secretary Song warns him that if he sends the driver away, then Secretary Song will confess everything to avoid being blamed for Chairman Kang’s death.
Despite Young-joo’s reinstatement and her threats, Attorney Jo is convinced there’s no way that they’ll be able to successfully accuse Jung-il of murder. But Jung-il muses over what will happen if Young-joo and Dong-joon get rid of Lawyer Choi — if Dong-joon becomes the head of Taebaek, then that power combined with Young-joo’s anger and authority as a detective means they’ll focus on Jung-il. That’s not a desirable outcome for him.
Instead, Jung-il vows to become the head of Taebaek, and Dong-joon and Young-joo will brushed away like dust. Even so, since he and Dong-joon are after the same enemy, it’s time to offer up a little gift.
He goes to Dong-joon’s office, telling him about his time in the army when he practiced shooting at a target. He only had ten bullets, yet his target ended up with twenty bullet holes. It turned out someone else was shooting at the same target — just like he and Dong-joon are after the same target, Lawyer Choi. But Dong-joon rejects his analogy and adds his own — he has ten bullets but two targets, Lawyer Choi and Jung-il.
But Jung-il also reveals that Lawyer Choi’s standard operating procedure is to destroy everything around someone and then offer them a saving hand. It was because of Lawyer Choi that someone investigated him using his influence as a judge to help his mother’s nursing home, which then became a tipping point for him getting fired as a judge.
When Dong-joon returns home that evening, Soo-yeon is ready with an offer to partner up to go against Jung-il. Instead, he asks her if she was the one who requested the NHS investigation and then spoke to the Chief Justice. Even if she was only following her father’s orders, she was still the one who put it into motion.
She reminds him that it was his choice to carry out the verdict on Chang-ho and then marry her. He agrees, adding that he plans to make a choice this time, too. His target hasn’t changed, but he’ll make sure to aim for Secretary Song in order to reach Lawyer Choi. He warns Soo-yeon that she should be careful not to be struck by any wayward “shrapnel” after he makes his “shot.”
Secretary Song is already stressed because he’s discovered the police have found CCTV footage of him filling up containers of gas the night Chairman Kang died and the office burned down. Young-joo calls him and cheerfully tells him to meet her at a restaurant next to the gas station.
She shows him that in addition to the CCTV footage, she’s pulled up the records of his purchase. He bought more gas than the tank of the car could possibly hold, which is suspicious. He dismisses it as circumstantial and easily explained, but then she reminds him that it’s usual for arsonists to stick around the scene of the crime and thus they often get caught on video. She’s already requested copies of all the video footage of the fire.
If he’s discovered to be found hanging around during the fire, then that will be a little harder to explain away. She shows him a photo of his seven-year-old daughter, adding that if Secretary Song turns himself in today, then he’ll be out in time for his daughter’s wedding.
That hits a little too close to home, and he warns her that he has the power of Taebaek to support him and stop her from investigating. But she warns him that any interference in an official investigation will be seen as akin to a confession. But he’s definitely rattled.
Young-joo calls Dong-joon to let him know that she’s poured the fuel on Secretary Song and it’s up to him to light the fire. It’s cute how he awkwardly stops in his tracks when she says that they work well together and they’re a good fit. Yay, adorable teamwork!
When he runs into Secretary Song, he reveals that Lawyer Choi’s driver left for America. He’s confident that Secretary Song knows what that means — Lawyer Choi is setting him up to take the fall for Chairman Kang’s death. He also knows that Lawyer Choi will promise Secretary Song a hefty reward for being the scapegoat, but Dong-joon warns him that Lawyer Choi’s money will be worthless by the time Secretary Song gets out of jail because he’ll make sure Taebaek is ruined before then.
Soo-yeon is busy persuading (and bribing) those connected to the audit to be on her father’s side, or at least promise to drag out the audit for a few months until the current auditor’s term is over and Lawyer Choi can put someone more sympathetic to his cause in office. The current auditor is one that has too much integrity to be bought by Lawyer Choi.
Except Jung-il already anticipated this move and has turned over the documents to the auditor, who promises to look through Chairman Kang’s files before his term is over. Attorney Jo is concerned that they’re moving too fast, but Jung-il points out that if they give Lawyer Choi time to react, then they won’t be able to repay his father’s debt. The only way to penetrate an immovable boulder when your only weapon is a pistol, is to make sure the bullets are faster than the speed of light.
Young-joo carefully combs through footage of the fire, but can’t find any glimpse of Secretary Song. However, if they can at least make Secretary Song believe he was caught on film, then they’ll be able to flush him out. He’ll try to run away with the thing he loves most: money.
When Young-joo returns to the station, she loudly tells her team to get ready to summon Secretary Song as a witness — and possible suspect — since he was caught on film at the scene of the fire. Ha, it’s all an act for Detective Bae. She knows he’s the leak, and sure enough, he warns Secretary Song about the reason behind the summons.
Dong-joon stops by Secretary Song to give him a cup of coffee, musing that this is the second time he’s received a summons. The first time was when Dong-joon accused him of being a corrupt prosecutor. He remembers that Secretary Song begged Dong-joon to save him that time, and even though he didn’t then, he offers to help him now.
If Secretary Song confesses that Lawyer Choi was the one who killed Chairman Kang, then he’ll only get a few years in prison for starting the fire instead of a few decades for murder. With a glance at his daughter’s photo, Secretary Song decides that he doesn’t like either option. I’m just impressed he gulped down a full cup of piping hot coffee without flinching.
Secretary Song confronts Lawyer Choi with the summons, warning him that if he wants to remain the head of Taebaek, then he’ll have to save him. Lawyer Choi is busy working on an alibi for the time of the murder, even going so far as to bribe the Minister of Justice with promises of helping him become the Prime Minister. All the Minister has to do is confirm that Lawyer Choi was meeting with him when the murder happened.
He makes a point to clarify that Secretary Song was not with them at that meeting. He won’t be taken down with Secretary Song, and any statement Secretary Song tries to make about witnessing Lawyer Choi kill Chairman Kang will be conveniently refuted by the person who is in charge of the nation’s police. Lawyer Choi promises him that he’ll only get ten years in prison.
That’s not an answer that pleases Secretary Song, and he throws a frustrated fit when he returns to his office. Remembering Dong-joon’s threat that Taebaek will be ruined before Secretary Song would be released from jail, he uses his authority to get the bankbook for the attorney’s fees this month, which total over a twelve million dollars.
He declares that Lawyer Choi wants to investigate a discrepancy, but in reality he takes the money and exchanges it at some shady money changers. He hurries to the the airport, briefcase full of cash in hand, getting ready to head through security so he can catch his flight to Macau. Over the phone begs his ex-wife to meet him there with his daughter — he has something to give her.
But Young-joo’s men spot him and they race through the airport to catch him. It’s Young-joo who finds him first and knocks him down as she handcuffs him. His wallet with a photo of his daughter is left behind in the struggle. How symbolic of him losing everything that’s important to him.
Soo-yeon waltzes into Dong-joon’s office to figure out how to redesign the office into a conference room, smugly informing Dong-joon that he won’t be there for long. Then she tells him that her father wants to see them.
Lawyer Choi reveals that the reason he originally chose Dong-joon to marry Soo-yeon and join the Taebaek family was because he thought he saw himself in Dong-joon. They both had humble beginnings and are people who can’t stand failure. But Dong-joon is relieved that they’re different.
Still, Lawyer Choi was convinced that Dong-joon would be swayed to stay by Taebaek and Soo-yeon’s side. Dong-joon snarkily thanks Soo-yeon’s god for giving him the power to withstand temptation. Soo-yeon hands over her request for a divorce — she’s already signed so it just needs his signature. It’s time for Dong-joon to leave Taebaek. With a small smile, Dong-joon tells them that he can’t do that.
Secretary Song is in an interrogation room, and as soon as Young-joo walks through the door he blusters that there’s any number of reasons that he would have been caught on film during the fire. Amused, Young-joo simply tells him that he wasn’t. However, she’s now more curious about his embezzlement of Taebaek funds and violating currency exchange laws.
She tells him he’s lucky — Lawyer Choi isn’t going to press charges, so he’ll be safe if she decides to let the case slide. It all depends on what he’s willing to give her.
In Lawyer Choi’s office, Dong-joon reveals that Secretary Song was arrested for embezzlement — and Secretary Song is not the type who will keep a secret if it means saving himself. This is news to Lawyer Choi, and Dong-joon muses that his father-in-law will soon be arrested for murder. Dong-joon tells Soo-yeon she can continue her plans to remake his office into a conference room because he’ll be taking over this office.
He settles into Lawyer Choi’s office chair, enjoying the power that comes from being the head of Taebaek. Because with the kind of power that can even persuade the Minister of Justice to create an alibi, he’s sure to catch Jung-il and reveal the truth of Sung-shik’s death. In return, he’ll be able to restore Chang-ho’s honor.
Lawyer Choi orders him to get out of his chair. Dong-joon agrees, at least for now. But he promises that Lawyer Choi will be the one to leave Taebaek before Dong-joon. With a glance at the celadon vase, he asks if it’s same as the one that he used to kill Chairman Kang. Meanwhile, Young-joo asks a distressed Secretary Song how Lawyer Choi killed the chairman.
I love, love, love that Young-joo is finally reinstated as a detective. She never felt quite right as a rogue “assistant” — or maybe it’s because she just never belonged at Taebaek in the first place. There’s something freeing about her returning to her rightful position and being able to use her own authority to get the information she needs. Plus there’s the bonus that she gets to the men who once lorded over her with their powerful connections now tremble in fear. For the first time in weeks, I actually believe that she’ll be able to use the law and truth to her advantage.
My only disappointment is that, with Hyun-soo written out of the script, we’re missing the added emotional tension of working alongside the person she was in a relationship with for years, and who she thought she was going to marry before all this happened. I would have liked to explore the dynamic that would have been similar to that of Jung-il and Soo-yeon, who are now enemies after betraying each other to save their fathers. Keeping Hyun-soo around as the spineless detective who’s more focused on protecting his career than helping the woman he supposedly loves — and making him the leak instead of Detective Bae — would have made a greater impact (because let’s be real, no one likes Detective Bae).
This was also a missed opportunity to highlight just how different Dong-joon is from Hyun-soo. Even if Dong-joon was her enemy at first, he’s the one who’s by her side now. He’s the one who, in the same room where Hyun-soo lied to the police chief during the original hearing, fought to prove that she deserved to be reinstated. He’s willing to throw away his family to help save her and her father, whereas Hyun-soo wanted to keep things on the down-low after her father was arrested because his family didn’t approve of the relationship. Then again, I suppose it’s easy to prove that she and Dong-joon make a great team when the only person who could possibly be considered a rival has completely disappeared.
As for Secretary Song, well, while anything can happen (and does seem to happen on this show), I’m of the opinion that he’ll be spilling the beans on Lawyer Choi soon enough. It’s really the only choice for him, since I can’t particularly see him remaining loyal when he knows that Taebaek is about to fall. I wish he could at least have a chance to see his daughter before he goes to jail, since obviously she was one of the things that was taken away from him during Lawyer Choi’s “destroy everything they have and believe in, then they’ll love you for saving them” strategy. Because if he truly loves his daughter (and, presumably, his ex-wife), then he’ll want to get rid of the very person that sucked him into this black hole in the first place. If it weren’t for Lawyer Choi, he might not have become a corrupt prosecutor, Dong-joon might not have sent him to jail, and all of this could have been avoided and he could have had a happy life.
Honestely, it seems like so many of our characters could have had a happy life if Lawyer Choi didn’t intervene, destroying them and scooping them up to serve his own purposes. Then again, maybe Lawyer Choi would have had a happy — but poor — life if he hadn’t agreed to establish Taebaek with Chairman Kang thirty years ago. Maybe it’s one of those “chicken and egg” arguments. Was Lawyer Choi corrupt to begin with or did working at Taebaek and with Chairman Kang make him corrupt? Because I feel like there has to be a lack of integrity to agree to establish a partnership with the chairman in the first place. Or was there a secret plan to use the money and prestige to eventually get rid of Chairman Kang for good.
Smashing the vase over his head certainly seemed like an impulsive act, born in the heat of the moment — but how many times did Lawyer Choi secretly imagine all the ways he’d like to kill the person who remained just out of reach from all of Taebaek’s power and influence. How many times did he aim his gun at the chairman when they went hunting together — was it just the once, or was it every time? Too bad he didn’t have a better aim, or perhaps this would have been dealt with before even Chang-ho got involved.
But let’s hope Dong-joon is more skilled with his “pistol” and that his shot aimed at Secretary Song will indeed carry on to Lawyer Choi. It’s high time that the power structure of Taebaek was altered permanently.
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