Forest of Secrets: Episode 12
You’d think that by now I’d be used to all the twists, but each dark turn this show decides to take still has me reeling. I love that with Shi-mok’s condition, he’s incapable of feeling any kind of fear toward the people around him – or more importantly, toward the people above him. He’s going to need that effortless bravery as he’s forced to confront every single person out there trying to keep him out of the picture.
EPISODE 12 RECAP
Shi-mok and Yeo-jin greet Kyung-wan in front of his old home before making their way to the basement. They take in the old, cluttered space, speculating that this might be where Ga-young was held.
Shi-mok suddenly gets a thought and asks Kyung-wan to go upstairs and play loud music. Sure enough, a few moments later, they can hear the music booming from above. But the music is cut short when they hear Yeo-jin’s team leader knocking on the door. Yeo-jin goes out to see him while Shi-mok holds back, having noticed something.
When Yeo-jin comes back with her team leader, they find Shi-mok crouching down where Ga-young would’ve been. He points to a sack sitting across the room, a big “7” right on the front. However, Shi-mok says that Ga-young wouldn’t have been able to see it from where she was lying down.
Yeo-jin tells the team leader about the numbers Ga-young had said, and the team leader notes that there’s no “0” anywhere around. So Yeo-jin takes a closer look, soon noticing something odd: scratch marks up the concrete stairs.
Upon further inspection, Shi-mok deducts that the marks were made by metal, most likely from a large wheeled bag. Dragging a person around would look suspicious, so Yeo-jin thinks it’s highly possible that the culprit used the bag to carry Ga-young up the stairs.
The team leader sighs that the forensics team must not have paid too much attention to the basement since all the commotion had been upstairs. But he wonders why the culprit would’ve kept Ga-young down here for a day.
Remembering the case report, Shi-mok says that the students came to the house earlier than they usually did, supposedly because it was one of the kids’ birthday.
So, the team leader says, if the kids were already partying in the house, the culprit must’ve decided to put Ga-young in the basement first. Then, they dragged her upstairs the next day and—…
“Stabbed her?” Kyung-wan finishes, standing by the door. He asks why the culprit didn’t just stab her in the basement when it would’ve been more convenient. Instead, he notes that the culprit waited an entire day to stab her upstairs.
Shi-mok answers that if the culprit hadn’t waited, Ga-young would’ve bled out and died. That must mean that the culprit waited for the perfect time to stab her so that she would be saved.
But Kyung-wan doesn’t understand why. He asks why the culprit spared Ga-young while his father, who’d done nothing wrong, had to die. No one has an answer for him, so he turns away and heads back upstairs.
Yeo-jin goes after Kyung-wan, but Shi-mok holds the team leader back. He asks the team leader if he can look into what music the kids were listening to upstairs on that day. If Ga-young listens to that music, he explains, she could remember things faster.
When the team leader joins Kyung-wan and Yeo-jin inside – and Kyung-wan noticeably looks away – Yeo-jin asks why he came in the first place. To her surprise, the team leader drops to his knees, facing Kyung-wan.
He says that it was Dong-jae and Soo-chan who had told the press that Kyung-wan had lied about being beaten. And while the team leader says that he knows Kyung-wan may not believe him, he felt so ashamed after what happened in the station. He apologizes for doing nothing while he just let Soo-chan use violence against Kyung-wan.
But Kyung-wan doesn’t want to hear it as he gets up and heads straight for the bedroom. Yeo-jin suggests the team leader leave before following Kyung-wan inside, where she joins him on the floor and carefully asks if the team leader really didn’t do anything.
Kyung-wan just says that it’s not a big deal; his father was stabbed to death, so getting beat up a little was nothing to him. Yeo-jin tries to tell him that his father’s death wasn’t his fault. Keeping his back turned to her, Kyung-wan says that he actually hated his father and the way he lived his life. But after finding out his father had died, he hated that too.
His voice shakes as he begins to cry, saying how he wished he had just one day with his father to say he didn’t really hate him. As he cries that he had no idea how terrible he would feel with his father gone, Yeo-jin’s eyes glisten with tears of her own as she wordlessly pats Kyung-wan’s back. Outside, Shi-mok listens, but turns when he spots a framed photo of CEO Park smiling with his son.
Once Chief Secretary Lee leaves his office to escort the chairman out, Dong-jae sneaks back in to retrieve his phone. He crouches down to reach under the couch for it when Lee suddenly opens the door and demands to know what he’s doing.
Dong-jae momentarily panics before coming up with the excuse that he dropped a spoon when he came in with the tea. Lee tells him to move the couch then, wanting to see for himself. So Dong-jae pushes the couch away to reveal… nothing.
Dong-jae laughs nervously, saying he must’ve been mistaken. Lee still looks pretty unconvinced as Dong-jae clears the cups away and heads out again. Dong-jae breathes a sigh of relief once he’s out, and we see that he managed to snatch his phone just in time (he’d hidden it under the tea tray when Lee burst in).
Dong-jae whips out his earphones to give the recording a listen, and he’s happy to hear that it’s all there. However, the music Lee had turned on drowns out most of the conversation. Dong-jae strains to hear it and barely makes out “Hong Kong” and the “-kraine” in “Ukraine.”
Lee leaves in his car, thinking back to what the chairman had said about making a large investment through Hong Kong. They’ll eventually pull the investment and sell, their assets alone amounting to seven trillion won. The chairman had said to just wait and leave it all to him.
Shi-mok goes over to the Lee household to talk to Yeon-jae. He tells her that he’d heard how she and her husband had gotten together, and how she supposedly liked him first. While Yeon-jae admits that’s true, she wonders if Shi-mok is trying to pull a new tactic by beating around the bush.
At that, Shi-mok gets straight to the point and asks if she made a deal with the other person who’d gone to the hospital to see Ga-young the day her ventilator was unhooked. Had they promised to pretend they hadn’t seen each other? Yeon-jae stresses that she didn’t go to the hospital, so she wouldn’t know something like that.
Shi-mok stands up with a sigh and says that he has no choice but to summon her for questioning. He starts to say that a nurse definitely saw her, but Yeon-jae finally breaks and insists that she just wanted to see what Ga-young looked like. “What did I do wrong?” she spits out. “Why do I have to go through this just because of some idiot?”
Yeon-jae confirms that it was Chief Kim she saw in the ICU. She says that she saw him press the pillow down on Ga-young’s face before he ran away, looking terrified. When Shi-mok nods, Yeon-jae tells him that he can’t tell her husband any of this. Shi-mok merely says that he’ll consider it.
In his car, Shi-mok listens to a radio broadcast about the Ministry of National Defense and their plan to import a detection radar system that was produced by a Ukrainian company. When he returns to his office, he gets a simple text from Dong-jae that reads “Hong Kong and cranes.” He calls Dong-jae, who excitedly says that he discovered the chairman is importing cranes from Hong Kong. (Ha.)
Shi-mok asks question after question, making Dong-jae hang up. But remembering the radio broadcast about Ukraine, Shi-mok puts two and two together: A deal was brokered by Hanjo Group and Bahn Group, and the Ministry of National Defense is buying weapons from Europe. But Shi-mok doesn’t see how Matsuyama fits into all of this – why would Chairman Lee meet with a Japanese company instead of a European one?
Dong-jae arrives at the hospital, flowers in tow, and finds Eun-soo waiting outside Ga-young’s room. He’s not too surprised to be running into her, assuming that she’s going to ask Ga-young to confirm that Chief Secretary Lee is the culprit. Knowing Dong-jae is on Lee’s side, Eun-soo assumes he wants Ga-young to confirm Lee isn’t the culprit. Dong-jae just gestures her inside, promising that he won’t blow her cover.
Ga-young’s mother starts at the sight of unfamiliar faces, but Dong-jae reassures her that he worked on Ga-young’s case and that he currently works at the Blue House. It’s not until Eun-soo introduces herself as a coworker of Shi-mok’s that Mom is able to relax a bit, and Eun-soo uses that to get Mom’s permission to show Ga-young a photo.
Eun-soo pulls out Chief Secretary Lee’s photo, asking Ga-young if she’s ever seen him before. Ga-young doesn’t react to the photo, but when she looks past it and sees Dong-jae’s face, she suddenly remembers Dong-jae chasing after her taxi the night she was kidnapped.
Memories of a bang on her door and someone grabbing her flash in her mind, making her cry out in terror and duck under her covers. The doctor rushes in to check on her, kicking Eun-soo and Dong-jae out.
The two wait out in the hall, both contemplating Ga-young’s reaction. To Eun-soo, it looked like Ga-young had been cowering from the photo, but it looks like Dong-jae may have noticed Ga-young’s eyes flicker toward him.
Dong-jae turns to Eun-soo and tells her not to catch Chief Secretary Lee like she tried to catch him. Eun-soo doesn’t understand, so he reminds her of the night he nearly strangled her to death. If something had happened to her, he says, he would’ve been done for. (Always thinking about yourself, aren’t you, buddy?)
Nevertheless, Dong-jae says he wants to see her succeed in her career. Eun-soo notes that she only realized this when he left the profession, making him scoff. He says that he’s eventually going to come back as chief prosecutor, so she better get ready for all the work he’ll be giving her.
Back in the hospital room, Ga-young’s mother remembers that Shi-mok had shown Ga-young Chief Secretary Lee’s photo as well, and wonders why Ga-young only reacted to it now.
Shi-mok meets with the CEO of Sungmoon Daily to ask about the whistleblower who exposed the bribery at the prosecutor’s office. He asks if the whistleblower had been targeting the prosecutor’s office or Hanjo Group, since news of bribery would hurt both.
The CEO figures that Shi-mok must know something and asks what it is. But instead of answering, Shi-mok wants to know why they released the news so quickly when they only had a little information.
When the CEO smiles and says that it’s a personal reason, Shi-mok shoots back, “If it hadn’t been personal, I would’ve found out about it before coming here.” Seeing that Shi-mok isn’t about to back down, the CEO gives in and reveals that Chief Secretary Lee’s wife was initially supposed to be his wife.
Shi-mok dubiously asks if this was all because of one woman, but the CEO asks in return if Shi-mok really doesn’t know what it means to be the son-in-law of Chairman Lee. He still curses the fact that a “peasant” like Lee Chang-joon stole Yeon-jae and his chance of getting the main branch of Sungmoon.
Shi-mok asks who knows about the CEO and Yeon-jae, seeing that the whistleblower had to know that the CEO would still be angry and would willingly publish the news. The CEO tells him that a high school girl came in with a letter, having been paid by an older man.
When he doesn’t say who the girl is, Shi-mok offers some information to make things even – he brings up the Ukrainian company that will be manufacturing weapons for the Ministry of National Defense, and Matsuyama’s weapons manufacturing business in Japan. He tells the CEO that he’ll be curious as to where the weapons will truly be manufactured.
Satisfied, the CEO stands and says that he’ll give Shi-mok the girl’s information. However, before Shi-mok leaves, the CEO asks that Shi-mok keep his engagement to Yeon-jae a secret.
After their discussion, Shi-mok now knows that the whistleblower had to have known three things: the relationship between Chief Secretary Lee and CEO Park, the broken engagement between Sungmoon and Hanjo, and the CEO of Sungmoon’s grudge. “The person who would know all of this…” he wonders, but then his thoughts trail off.
It looks like the CEO was quick to act — it’s not long before Sungmoon Daily prints their latest story about the source of the weapons being fabricated. Everyone is shocked to hear this, suspicious as to what ulterior motives the Japanese company may have when it comes to manufacturing their radar systems.
In their office, Jung-bon asks Shi-mok why he gave the information to Sungmoon instead of having their investigation team release it, and Shi-mok explains that by the time they would’ve released the information, the weapons would’ve been imported already. The backlash would’ve been bad for them, but not for a powerful company like Sungmoon.
Meanwhile, a frustrated Chairman Lee is already dealing with the consequences as he assures the national defense minister to simply continue as planned.
Chief Secretary Lee has Sungmoon’s CEO come to his office, and they certainly seem friendly enough – it doesn’t take much for the CEO to reveal the tipper and hand over Shi-mok’s business card. The CEO thinks it’s a shame that the president Lee is serving will be out of office soon when he worked so hard to get to his position.
“All I have to do is entertain my guest as best as I can during his stay,” Lee states, adding that rich people like the CEO sure love to think like that. The CEO counters that a long-term “guest” like Lee must actually think that he’s one of them now.
When the CEO leaves, Lee calls Secretary Yang in to inform her that he’ll be having a guest from Ukraine soon. He tells her to reserve a room at the Triple Hotel and to keep it a secret from Dong-jae.
He sends Secretary Yang out and calls his father-in-law, telling him that his assumption of the tipper being Shi-mok was correct. He asks his father-in-law what he should do, and after hanging up, he dials the prosecutor general’s number.
A few moments later, Dong-jae is sent in next. Lee tells him the exact same thing he told Yang, but to make the reservation at Myeongdong Hotel. He says this while remembering Dong-jae sneaking around the couch. (Hmm. Did he see Dong-jae take his phone?)
Back at the investigation team’s office, Yeo-jin declares that they should all have a staff dinner. Everyone enthusiastically agrees, but they deflate and turn back to their work when Shi-mok doesn’t answer. He tidies up his desk and then asks, “Aren’t we having a staff dinner?” Lol.
However, the team doesn’t get a chance to celebrate. Shi-mok gets a call from the prosecutor general telling him that the special investigation team is to be disbanded and that all of their findings are to be transferred to the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office. Despite his team’s worried looks, he tells them to lock the door and wait here while he goes out.
Shi-mok marches all the way to the prosecutor general’s office and demands to know the reason behind his order. The prosecutor general merely states that the team has done quite enough, but Shi-mok knows that’s not the real reason, asking who ordered the disbandment.
The prosecutor general angrily says that it was his order, but again, Shi-mok doesn’t believe it. He reminds the prosecutor general of what he said when Shi-mok was promoted – that he was to prove to the public what a true prosecutor was.
Still, the prosecutor general says, Shi-mok has captured a coworker and a police chief, and at this rate, he’ll empty out the entire prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor starts to say that Shi-mok’s own workplace is opposing him, when suddenly, they hear a knock on the door.
It’s Section Chief Kang, and he files in along with his fellow coworkers. Kang explains that they came here with one request: “The special unit… Please do not disband it.”
The prosecutor general sighs that he’s a person carrying a lot of responsibility and that he must protect the existence of prosecutors. To that, Kang asks that he protect the reason for their existence instead.
Kang and his coworkers continue that they still have their pride, and they don’t want him to succumb to his orders. Still unwilling to move, the prosecutor general shouts that the order was based on his judgment and his decision.
“The Korean Prosecution belongs to neither you nor us,” Kang argues. “Furthermore, it must not be controlled by a sole person.” Shi-mok adds that his team still has twenty days to investigate; he asks that they at least finish with the amount of time they were given. Finally stumped into silence, the prosecutor general sits down in defeat.
Shi-mok exits the office with Section Chief Kang and the other prosecutors, thanking them for backing him up.
Kang coolly states that he did it because he didn’t want to be humiliated as a prosecutor, not because he likes Shi-mok or anything, and mutters under his breath that they really need a chief prosecutor at times like these.
Once his sunbaes take their leave, Shi-mok calls Dong-jae and asks him to relay a message to Chief Secretary Lee. The next thing we know, Chief Secretary Lee is waiting for Shi-mok in a courtroom.
When Shi-mok makes his entrance, he notes that this very courtroom is where he and Chief Secretary Lee first met. There had been a lawsuit against the government that day, and the prosecution had already decided to side with the government. Shi-mok remembers that Lee did something different, and it was that day that Shi-mok decided what kind of prosecutor he wanted to be.
Lee almost smiles, flattered to hear that Shi-mok actually wanted to be like him. But Shi-mok continues that Lee has caught his attention again – he wants to know why Lee was so scared that he would destroy someone who’d been like a father to him (Young Il-jae). And he wants to know what’s got Lee so scared right now that he would try to disband the investigation team.
Lee doesn’t think “scared” is the right word. After all, he says, he sent Shi-mok into the special unit because he was in the way. And now he’s trying to disband it because Shi-mok is still getting in his the way. Letting that sink in, Shi-mok decides that him getting in Lee’s way must mean that he’s heading in the right direction.
His eyes hardening, Lee asks if Shi-mok brought them here as a threat that they would soon be standing as prosecutor and defendant. Shi-mok holds his gaze, saying that Lee is the only one who knows whether or not he’s at the end of his pursuit.
Lee firmly states that Shi-mok can’t get him to stand here as a defendant —
it won’t happen, ever. Shi-mok asks if that was a confession, but Lee just repeats that it’ll never happen, so Shi-mok just nods and says that he’ll work harder then.
The team is still waiting on pins and needles by the time Shi-mok returns to the office, and they all heave a big sigh of relief to hear that they’re not getting disbanded after all. They think this calls for a celebration, but Shi-mok thinks it’s not the best day for a staff dinner anymore.
Yeo-jin says that it would be weird if anyone saw them drinking and celebrating. With a smile, she says that they just have to celebrate in a place where nobody can see them then. The team rejoices while Shi-mok watches with the same blank look on his face (though he’s pretty much emitting annoyance, ha).
Eun-soo stops by Shi-mok’s apartment and leaves a little note reminding him to submit his tax reassessment. She heads back into the elevator just as she hears someone step out of Shi-mok’s apartment… but the elevator doors shut before she can get a proper look, so Eun-soo figures she just misheard.
The investigation team set up their little party outside Yeo-jin’s apartment. While Shi-mok is away, they notice that Eun-soo is calling his phone. Jung-bon notes that she’s the girl Shi-mok’s seeing, making Yeo-jin’s ears perk up.
As Eun-soo exits Shi-mok’s building, she keeps trying his phone. She turns to see a man come out behind her, an umbrella shielding his face. When the man sees her, he abruptly turns the other way and leaves. She finds that strange since it’s not raining, but her attention is brought back to her phone when Yeo-jin answers Shi-mok’s phone.
We find Gun pacing outside Yeo-jin’s building (she called him to deliver the alcohol), kicking himself for storming out on the team before. He then spots Eun-soo approaching, carrying alcohol as well, and is relieved to see that he doesn’t have to go up alone.
The team is pleasantly surprised to be joined by Gun and Eun-soo. As Eun-soo awkwardly takes a seat beside Shi-mok, the team playfully teases Gun for ditching them. Now that they’re all together again, they all say a big “Cheers!” and clink their glasses. Yeo-jin smiles, soaking in the light atmosphere.
Later that evening, Eun-soo joins Yeo-jin inside to help cut some fruit. After a moment, Yeo-jin turns to Eun-soo and tentatively starts to ask about her and Shi-mok, only to shake her head and change the subject. (Kyaaa. Wait, should I be hopeful? I’m gonna choose to be hopeful.)
Eun-soo turns to take the fruit outside, accidentally bumping into Section Chief Yoon and spilling water on him. She quickly grabs some napkins to clean him off, but stops when she notices something through his soaked shirt — a tattoo. Before she can ask about it, Yeo-jin hurries over to help clean the mess.
Yoon leaves them to it and heads over to the bathroom to wipe himself off. As he wipes his shoulder, his expression suddenly becomes alarmingly dark. He removes his wet dress shirt, revealing the elaborate tattoo written across his shoulder blades. His undershirt covers most of it, but what’s peeking through looks like a very clear “07.” OH MY GOD.
After getting cleaned up, Yoon puts his shirt back on and makes his way back outside.
He stops at the door, watching everyone have a good time. And then his eyes fixate on Eun-soo, remembering that she’d noticed the tattoo.
Yeo-jin sees him standing there and gestures him over with a smile. The intensity in Yoon’s eyes fades away and he smiles right back, shutting the door before joining his team again.
Again, OH MY GOD. Oh my god. I feel like I say this with almost every episode, but I did not see that coming. As I said in the last recap, I’ve been really enjoying the natural chemistry between the investigation team. After getting to know them bit by bit and watching them put so much effort and hard work into this case, I couldn’t help but form an attachment to them.
So this shocking reveal really took the wind out of my sails. I should’ve known better than to cross the team off my suspect list so easily. I’d had a bad feeling that a lovable Scooby gang was an obvious trap, but I fell for it anyway. But in a way, I’m really glad I fell into the trap because now, Yoon’s possible betrayal stings a lot more. I liked his character so much that I still want to give him a chance. I still want to believe that he perhaps found Ga-young and she just happened to see his tattoo. But it’s not looking too good for him. The way his demeanor completely changed in the bathroom has “suspect” written all over it. He definitely has a reason to want revenge – his child dying in the car accident – but I wonder how that ties in with Ga-young. As Shi-mok said, the culprit had wanted Ga-young to be found alive. If he truly is our culprit, did he leave her alive as some sort of protest? As a warning? And who would the warning be aimed for?
Since Yoon obviously couldn’t be in two places at once, I also wonder who the mysterious man at Shi-mok’s apartment was. I tried rewinding and pausing multiple times to get a better look at the man’s face, and I’m almost positive that it’s one of two people – either Dong-jae or Chairman Lee’s secretary. They both had the right build and face shape, but considering the events of the episode, I think it was most likely the secretary. Shi-mok has been a constant thorn in Chairman Lee’s side, but after the stunt he pulled with Sungmoon Daily, he pretty much made himself an open target. I’m so scared for Shi-mok to return to that apartment. The mystery man could’ve simply planted something or taken something, but right now, I’m only thinking the worst.
We’ve seen that there are plenty of people in the prosecutor’s office who still want to respect their job title, and want to live up to what it truly means to be a prosecutor. We’ve seen that with Chief Secretary Lee too, but he failed. We’ve seen that happen with the prosecutor general, but he also failed. All around Shi-mok, there are those claiming that they still hold the term “prosecutor” close to their heart. And it seems like Shi-mok wants to believe them, but he knows better. There will always be a need for money, a need for power, or a need for security. No matter how much someone wants to hold onto that term, there will always be an excuse to let it go.
Section Chief Kang restored a bit of Shi-mok’s faith – and my faith – in this episode, but Shi-mok still has a new mission on his hands. Everyone around him may sit around and claim to know what a true prosecutor is, but Shi-mok is going to try his damnedest to be that prosecutor. No talk, just action. I want him so much to be the one man who can hold the title of a prosecutor proudly and I have no doubt in my mind that he has every capability to do so.
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- Premiere Watch: Forest of Secrets
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