Forest of Secrets: Episode 10
This woman might be my favorite heroine of all time. Everyone in the special investigation team is working hard to gather evidence and stay one step ahead of their powerful adversaries, but ultimately, the hour belongs to Yeo-jin. As always, she’s strong and principled in the face of every challenge, but this time, even her moral equilibrium is shaken by the unpleasant duties she must carry out in the name of justice.
EPISODE 10 RECAP
The news quickly spreads that Ga-young has miraculously awoken. Shi-mok and Yeo-jin rush to the hospital to find that Ga-young is disoriented and unable to communicate much. Team leader Choi calls Ga-young’s name loudly, but Yeo-jin stops him and gently tells the girl that they’re the police, and that everything will be okay now.
Ga-young calls for her mother with difficulty, and her mom runs into the room, sobbing over her daughter in relief.
Team Leader Choi receives a call from Chief Kim of the Yongsan Police Station. Yeo-jin and Shi-mok share a look as Choi tells Chief Kim that Ga-young can’t speak yet before he hangs up and tells Soon-chang that Soo-chan is coming to relieve them.
Yeo-jin pulls Shi-mok into the hallway and says that they need to move Ga-young to a safe place now that she’s awake. He agrees, but Eun-soo calls him to say that Kim Tae-gyun, the man who delivered the bribe money to her father three years ago, is on the run—and she’s hitched a ride in the back of his truck to make sure she won’t lose him. Section Chief Yoon calls Shi-mok as well to let him know that he’s following Eun-soo in his car.
Yeo-jin tells Shi-mok to go ahead, and that she’ll take care of moving Ga-young. Shi-mok apologizes and leaves in a hurry.
Section Chief Yoon honks at Kim Tae-gyun until the man turns around and pulls over, after noticing Eun-soo hanging on in the bed of his truck. He gets out to confront her, but Section Chief Yoon quickly apprehends him with a flying kick and a tackle. Damn, Section Chief Yoon!
Team Leader Choi asks Yeo-jin if CEO Park’s bribes included girls, assuming that CEO Park was a pimp. Yeo-jin says it’s possible, and Choi says that the men at the Seoul Western Prosecutor’s Office must know Ga-young. “It’s our job to find out who knows what,” replies Yeo-jin. “Other organizations might be involved too.”
She asks about Kyung-wan’s case, and Team Leader Choi says irritatedly that it will take forever to resolve if the human rights commission gets involved. Yeo-jin gives him a disappointed look.
She goes inside Ga-young’s room and, under the cover of embracing the girl’s mother, whispers into her ear that they need to move her. Yeo-jin warns her not to tell anyone, looking significantly at the window where the team leader is visible. Ga-young’s mom follows her gaze, and nods.
Dong-jae informs Chairman Lee that he saw former minister Young Il-jae’s wife when he was taken in for questioning by the special investigation team. At this, Chairman Lee dismisses his assistant, Secretary Woo, and Dong-jae says that Shi-mok offered to go easy on him if he gave him information on the Young Il-jae case. Dong-jae claims that he was so conflicted about what to do that he fell down the stairs.
Dong-jae begs and flatters, asking the chairman to save him from getting arrested. Chairman Lee says that he’s a businessman first and foremost, and asks what Dong-jae is selling. Dong-jae eagerly offers to find out what the special investigation digs up, but Chairman Lee asks why that should matter to him. Realizing that he’s made a mistake, Dong-jae bows deeply and apologizes profusely, making a huge (and seemingly purposeful) scene in the process.
Dong-jae exits the room still bowing and apologizing, but when he walks away, he smiles smugly and says to himself that one hurdle has been cleared. In his office, Chairman Lee tells Secretary Woo to tell his son-in-law (who is on his way to Tokyo with Yeon-jae to visit their daughter) to come back immediately.
Secretary Woo informs him that he can’t find deliveryman Kim Tae-gyun, the only loose end in the Young Il-jae business, and that Ga-young is awake. Chairman Lee tells him to take care of it.
Team Leader Choi is paged to another floor, and as soon as he leaves, a doctor and a team of nurses arrive with Yeo-jin, efficiently transferring Ga-young onto a gurney. Soon-chang asks what’s happening, and the nurse who was on duty the night Ga-young was nearly smothered comes in at the sound of all the commotion.
Yeo-jin tells her to keep this patient transfer strictly confidential—Ga-young’s life depends on it. Soon-chang asks if Team Leader Choi knows about it this, and and in response, Yeo-jin asks if Soon-chang trusts her.
When Team Leader Choi passes, the nurse hides Ga-young’s transfer paperwork behind her back. Meanwhile, Yeo-jin and her team rush Ga-young outside, covered in a blanket, to where Clerk Choi is waiting with a car.
They’ve gotten Ga-young and her mother into the backseat when Soo-chan arrives, and Yeo-jin and Clerk Shin duck down out of view just as the nurse comes outside, calling, “Detective!” Soo-chan turns to look at the nurse, but Soon-chang soon appears and leads him away just in time.
Once they’re gone, the nurse tells Yeo-jin that Ga-young had what she thought were very bad convulsions one day, but she’s having doubts now that she knows that Ga-young’s life is in danger (seriously, how did she not know this before?).
Yeo-jin sends the others ahead and goes to the hospital security room to ask for the CCTV footage from that day, only to be told that they just gave it to Soo-chan. Worse, Soo-chan rushed them, so they didn’t have time to make a copy and gave him the original hard drive.
Meanwhile, Eun-soo questions Kim Tae-gyun, reminding him that he was the one who told her to seek out CEO Park, but he denies everything. Shi-mok arrives and gives Eun-soo an irritated look, while Section Chief Yoon tells him that Eun-soo’s been following Kim Tae-gyun since yesterday.
Shi-mok reminds Kim Tae-gyun that they met three years ago, and when the young man claims that he paid for his crimes already, Shi-mok says that was for siphoning off U.S. dollars—there’s still time left in the statute of limitations for perjury.
Kim Tae-gyun tells them to lock him up, then—it’s better than being stabbed to death. Eun-soo jumps on this as an admission that he lied and framed her father, but Shi-mok gives her a look, and she subsides.
Shi-mok tells Kim Tae-gyun that he’ll die if he does stay quiet, because the murderer wants CEO Park’s crimes to be exposed, and those who have sinned to be punished. Eun-soo pleads with Kim Tae-gyun to admit to his lies, but Shi-mok says that they can just let him go and see if he ends up like Ga-young.
At that implicit warning, Kim Tae-gyun ends up testifying that Young Il-jae returned the 800 million won to him, which Section Chief Yoon records on his phone. Shi-mok tells Section Chief Yoon to take Kim Tae-gyun to the central prosecutor’s office and charge him with perjury, for his own protection. Section Chief Yoon tries to tell Eun-soo to come along, but she only has eyes for Shi-mok and thanks him profusely.
But Shi-mok is not happy, and he asks her if she’s lost her mind. She says that she had to do something when Shi-mok was working so hard, but he counters that he wasn’t doing it for her. But Eun-soo just thanks him again.
Shi-mok loses his temper and uncharacteristically yells, “It’s not like that!” He frowns at her and says that she’s not acting normal. Eun-soo agrees, and says that it’s impossible for her to act normal—her family has been desperately waiting for this day after being framed for three years for a crime they didn’t commit. And Shi-mok is the one who fixed it, she adds.
Shi-mok gets in the car, late for a meeting with Section Chief Kang, and Eun-soo joins him. Shi-mok gives her a fed up look, and she uncomfortably says that he can just drop her off on the way.
Yeo-jin shows the nurse a picture of Yeon-jae, whom she identifies as the woman she saw in the ICU the night Ga-young’s oxygen got disconnected. Yeo-jin informs Shi-mok of this new development, and says that she’ll try to get the hard drive from Soo-chan. Shi-mok notes that if Chief Kim and his cohorts have seen the CCTV footage, they know who moved Ga-young, but Yeo-jin says that she already knew that they would check the footage once Ga-young disappeared.
At Yongsan Police Station, a shocked Chief Kim watches the tape of Yeon-jae exiting Ga-young’s room. He deletes it, and then watches today’s footage of Ga-young being evacuated. Soon-chang soon finds himself cornered by Soo-chan, who asks him where Ga-young is, telling him that Yeo-jin is just Shi-mok’s minion.
Yeo-jin arrives and demands that Soo-chan give her the CCTV footage, but he wants to know Ga-young’s location in exchange. Yeo-jin refuses and angrily searches Soo-chan’s desk, finding nothing.
Shi-mok arrives back at team headquarters to find Section Chief Kang steaming at being made to wait for over two hours (and playing wastepaper basketball, ha). Section Chief Kang confesses that he had a few meals with CEO Park. Shi-mok says he knows, and refers to the case file Section Chief Kang himself wrote, saying it’s missing one important detail: Young Il-jae’s home was on the first floor.
Agreeing, Section Chief Kang recounts the events of that day, from the time the money was delivered to when Kim Tae-gyun came to pick it up at the family’s request, but Kim Tae-gyun was seen leaving the building empty-handed. There’s a CCTV at the building’s entrance but not in the hallway where the apartment is located, and Section Chief Kang speculates that Kim Tae-gyun tossed the box of money over the railing to a waiting accomplice in order to avoid the cameras.
Shi-mok confirms that Kim Tae-gyun’s confession matches this story, and Section Chief Kang, relieved, says that he knew Young Il-jae wasn’t that kind of person. Shi-mok frowns and asks what gave him that certainty, and his superior says that such a high-profile case was cause for a special investigation team.
Yet no such team was formed, the case was closed in two days, and everyone who worked on it was scattered to remote areas—including Shi-mok, who was only there for the initial search of the Young home.
Shi-mok asks if Section Chief Kang knows who ordered the case closed and why they did it, but the other man asks why he’s trying to dig this up. Shi-mok says that it was around that time that CEO Park started to frequent the prosecutor’s office, with then-Deputy Chief Lee’s tacit approval. Section Chief Kang says, “Three years ago, I was still young. If I get pushed out again, I won’t be able to recover.”
Shi-mok stares at him and remarks that if he’s afraid of retaliation, he must know something. Section Chief Kang indicates that the meeting is over, but Shi-mok guesses that he’d continued the investigation even after his team was disbanded. At that, Section Chief Kang just tells Shi-mok to give him some time to sort things out.
As he leaves, Section Chief Kang reflects that their current situation is odd—after he and Shi-mok were transferred away from the eastern office, he never thought they’d work together again.
Yeo-jin and Gun pore over the records of Ga-young’s stays at the Crown Royal Hotel where she would meet her clients, noticing that every credit card used for parking was different, even though the reservation was always under her alias, Kwon Min-ah.
Yeo-jin remembers Ga-young’s driver saying that he saw her using the lobby phone once last summer, and notices that at one point, Ga-young’s preferred room number changed from 510 to 610.
She asks the desk clerk if they had to suddenly move their guests from the fifth floor the previous summer, and he remembers that they had a problem with their AC and had to shift their guests. Yeo-jin asks the clerk for the call records for the lobby phone that day.
Next, we find Yeo-jin sitting at Ga-young’s bedside, even though the girl is covered from head to toe with a blanket. Yeo-jin says that she’s a police officer, and while some people would feel safe and comforted by that, she feels the need to apologize to Ga-young.
A knock sounds, and Yeo-jin signals Shi-mok to be silent with a finger to her lips as he enters. She says to Ga-young, “The man who used to call you on your days off… I don’t know what you were thinking when you went to meet him. But whether you wanted to do it or not, I’m sorry.” Ga-young remains silent.
Yeo-jin asks if she saw her attacker, and if it was the man she met every Monday. And still, Ga-young doesn’t move or respond. Shi-mok asks if the culprit is a prosecutor, or if she heard or remembers anything; he asks if the man she used to meet gave her money, and who he is.
We see Chief Kim smashing the hard drive with a hammer, extracting the chip, and flushing it down the toilet, as Yeo-jin says: “It’s the chief. My chief. The police did something they should never do.”
They go out into the hall, and Shi-mok asks Yeo-jin to find out from Chief Kim’s driver where he went every Monday last year. Yeo-jin calls Gun, who scoffs in disbelief but does as she requests; the driver tells him that Chief Kim used to go play indoor golf every week.
That alias seems to get Chief Kim off the hook, at least until Gun makes the realization that the indoor golf lounge where Chief Kim went every Monday is directly across the street from the hotel where Ga-young would entertain her guests.
The team holds a press briefing on the progress of the investigation. Shi-mok announces first that they’ve found the bribery charges against Young Il-jae inadmissible; second, that the man whom the second victim met through CEO Park was Yongsan Police Chief Kim Woo-kyun; and third, that they’re waiting on arrest warrants for multiple prosecutors at the Seoul Western Prosecutor’s Office. Shock ripples through the crowd of reporters.
Dong-jae catches Shi-mok’s eye in the crowd and claps silently, eventually following Shi-mok back to his office to offer to pay for his crimes by digging up information on Chief Prosecutor Lee.
Shi-mok dryly asks if he’ll do that while figuring out which side to join, and Dong-jae says that he’ll do anything to survive—Shi-mok just has to tell him what he needs.
Young Il-jae takes out a USB from his dresser, but hides it again when Eun-soo enters his room to ask if he’ll do an interview. The request came from Sungmoon Ilbo, the paper that broke the news, but he says it’s all politics and wants no part of it. She helps him to bed, but looks back at the dresser before she leaves.
Arriving home, Yeon-jae’s upset that they didn’t even get to see their daughter, and she tells her father that he shouldn’t have called them back. Chairman Lee snaps that her husband shouldn’t have caused this situation then, and Chief Prosecutor Lee gently suggests that she go and rest.
Once they’re alone, Chief Prosecutor Lee apologizes, saying that he didn’t know that Shi-mok would dig up the Young Il-jae case, but assures the chairman that as a mere prosecutor, Shi-mok won’t be able to do anything unless Young Il-jae holds a hidden card. Chairman Lee dismisses that possibility and tells his son-in-law to take advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity he’s provided for him. In return, younger man promises to end the special investigation.
Yeon-jae, who had been eavesdropping, goes into her bedroom to speak with someone who informs her that Ga-young awoke, and is now hidden away somewhere. Upset at this revelation, Yeon-jae tells the person to “do the other job well.”
Reporters mob Chief Kim when he arrives at the Seoul Central Prosecutor’s Office the next day in response to our team’s summons. The team watches on TV as he declares to the press that he’s innocent, and that the prosecutors have manipulated evidence to frame him. The others ask Yeo-jin if she’ll be okay questioning her boss, but she says matter-of-factly that it’s just work.
Jung-bon asks Yeo-jin if any police officers witnessed Kyung-wan getting beaten, since the pictures aren’t enough to prove torture, but Clerk Kim chides that to ask her such a favor will make her an outcast once she goes back to the police station.
Yeo-jin gathers herself before she goes in to interrogate Chief Kim. He glares at her, and once she begins to ask questions, he says that he has never met Ga-young, and gets up to leave. Yeo-jin tells him to sit down, asking if he was threatened by CEO Park. Chief Kim asks angrily why she keeps talking about a dead man, and she replies, “Because he’s dead. Please sit down.”
Chief Kim asks if she’s trying to dump the murder on him because they can’t link him to Ga-young, but she just calmly recites his alibis for both days, which makes him livid. He says he’s dead to his family because of what they’ve done, and declares again that he doesn’t know Ga-young and never touched her.
Yeo-jin places photos before him, captured from the hotel security footage of him and Ga-young. He stares at them in horror. Yeo-jin says, “If you continue to deny it, we’ll have no choice but to publicize these photos. Please admit it and apologize. That’s the last thing I can do for…”
She stops and stands up, her eyes moistening. She moves to look him in the eye as she says, “It’s the last thing you can do for the democratic and civilian police, and for your colleagues at Yongsan Police Station. Please do it for us, sir.” She bows.
Chief Kim asks to go to the bathroom as he is escorted out. When Gun takes him, Chief Kim pushes him against a stall door and tells him he needs a favor—he wants a copy of the damning security footage. Oh, no.
Back in the team’s office, Gun acts as though he thinks the photos are fake, so Yeo-jin opens her laptop to show him the video, and Gun watches carefully as she enters her password, mouthing the letters. He tells her he doesn’t need to see the actual footage, and when she leaves, Gun is left alone with her laptop. Ack!
Shi-mok and Dong-jae meet Section Chief Kang, who tells Dong-jae to spill what he knows. Dong-jae says that that Chairman Lee ordered CEO Park to give the money to Young Il-jae. CEO Park wanted to do business with Hanjo Group, so he brought women to have drinks with Chief Prosecutor Lee. Chairman Lee got in touch through Secretary Woo in order to get CEO Park involved, and to strike at his son-in-law’s Achilles heel. That weakness, known to both men, forced Chief Prosecutor Lee to go along with Chairman Lee’s strike against Young Il-jae.
Section Chief Kang comments that Young Il-jae was like a father to Chief Prosecutor Lee. But, Shi-mok wonders: If CEO Park really provided Lee with women as Dong-jae says, why would Chairman Lee use his son-in-law to get rid of Young Il-jae? Section Chief Kang says he doesn’t know, and recalls how CEO Park was investigated for the insider trading he did with Hanjo Distribution stocks—and that Hanjo protected him from conviction at that time.
He tells them that Chairman Lee’s children own a large percentage of stocks in that company as well. Yeon-jae has 1.5 billion won’s worth, and her half-brother has 3.5 billion won, while CEO Park had invested 1.4 billion won. Shi-mok wonders what the connection is with Young Il-jae’s bribery case—perhaps he knew something he shouldn’t. But Section Chief Kang says the old man never told him anything.
Prompted by a phone call, they turn on the TV to see that former Chief Prosecutor Lee has just been appointed chief secretary to the President of Korea. Section Chief Kang says that the criminal division is going to congratulate their former boss, and tells them to come along.
Dong-jae suddenly claims to have other plans and disappears, leaving Section Chief Kang to ask if Shi-mok trusts Dong-jae. Shi-mok says he has no choice, since there’s no one else he can send to investigate Hanjo. Shi-mok asks him to hold off on firing Dong-jae until he’s arrested.
Shi-mok then wonders if Chairman Lee might have found out about CEO Park when he invested that large amount of money in Hanjo Distribution, and Section Chief Kang promises to look into it.
As they walk out, Section Chief Kang tells Shi-mok to treat Section Chief Yoon well because he’s a good guy, and, literal as ever, Shi-mok asks what he should do to “treat him well.” His superior bursts out laughing and says that question only sounds sincere coming from Shi-mok. He tells him that attitude is all he needs, and says mildly, “Be good to me too, you punk.” Shi-mok assents.
Chief Secretary Lee Chang-joon admires his new office, ignoring a call from Chief Kim and blocking his number in the process. Gifts arrive, including one from Chief Kim: a picture captured from the security footage of Ga-young exiting Chief Secretary Lee’s room. A note on the back threatens to reveal who was staying in that room at the time.
At a knock on the door, Chief Secretary Lee stuffs the photo in his pocket and welcomes his hoobaes. Shi-mok notices the opened box that the picture came in, and seeing this, Chief Secretary Lee moves in front of it. The two men stare at each other.
Meanwhile, Yeo-jin arrives at the Lee home to question Yeon-jae.
Yeo-jin has consistently been the bright spot in the midst of all these sober, tense, plotting characters—the one character who always looks for the good in people, who waits and observes and gives people chances to live up to their potential. She’s not naive in the least, nor does she allow anyone to take advantage of her, but she wants to believe in people, and she gives them a chance to be better, even when she suspects that they’re not going to take it. I could feel her disappointment and disgust with her team leader at his comment about Kyung-wan’s case, although as usual, she was careful to let very little of that emotion show.
So that made it even more heartbreaking to see her face the moral corruption of Chief Kim—to realize that not only was he involved in covering up the crimes of his powerful friends, he himself participated in the long-standing abuse of poor Ga-young (we can’t forget that whether she was willing or not, Ga-young was underage). As Yeo-jin apologized to the silent Ga-young, steeled herself for her interrogation of Chief Kim, and then finally confronted him with the evidence while refusing to be intimidated, I was riveted, and my heart broke for her.
Clearly, the most painful thing about this for Yeo-jin was the betrayal of the ethical code that the police have sworn to uphold—of the people the police have sworn to protect—and I wanted to cheer when she took Chief Kim to task for trying to avoid taking responsibility for that betrayal. I was proud of her for standing on her own, and yet I was also reminded that in many ways, Yeo-jin is just as lonely as Shi-mok.
In fact, she was working mostly on her own in this episode, whereas Shi-mok seems to be finding allies left and right now that he’s in a position to make some real progress, and because he’s also earned the trust of people like Section Chief Yoon and Section Chief Kang. I did notice Shi-mok’s concerned looks at Yeo-jin and his regret that he couldn’t help her out, so I hope we get to see these two working together again next week.
On a different note, I keep getting the sense that Eun-soo imagines herself as the heroine of an epic revenge melodrama. She continues to force herself into situations in order to further her own goals—there’s nothing natural about anything she does, and her encounters with Shi-mok feel especially forced. I can’t help but wonder if this show is subtly mocking the typical setup of a revenge melo by giving us a hero so uncomfortable in Eun-soo’s presence, one who’s so irritated and suspicious when she jumps to conclusions about him caring about her or doing things (that she feels are) for her. It would be kind of brilliant if that were the case, not to mention hilarious. And it would certainly fit with this writer’s ironic sense of humor.
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