Forest of Secrets: Episode 13
The special unit has dealt with their fair share of victories and losses, and have always managed to stay afloat somehow. But as long as they’re around, they’ll remain a threat to those they’re trying to capture, and their enemies know it. But when loss strikes, will it galvanize our team, or will it be enough to break them?
EPISODE 13 RECAP
Our investigation team is in high spirits and they snap a few pictures to commemorate the evening. Everyone is all smiles except for Shi-mok (of course) and Section Chief Yoon, who’s still got that chilling look in his eyes.
They all get back to drinking, while Gun wanders off to join Yeo-jin and Shi-mok. He hesitantly admits that he’d seen the footage of Chief Kim and Ga-young in the hotel. Yeo-jin’s eyes narrow as he continues that he’d searched her computer for the footage and sent it to Chief Kim.
Yeo-jin is understandably upset and Gun apologizes, saying that the chief had convinced him that sending a copy of the file wouldn’t really hurt anyone.
Furthermore, Gun continues defensively, he didn’t think it was a big deal since the chief technically didn’t kill anyone; it was just because of one girl. Yeo-jin looks at him incredulously, asking if he seriously thought that that made it okay.
“Is that how he used it?” Shi-mok wonders out loud, thinking back to the “gift” that had been on Chief Secretary Lee’s desk. Gun sighs and asks if they believe Chief Kim could be the culprit. And if that’s so, Gun asks if he helped a murderer.
Clerk Choi remembers Chief Kim’s desperate, panicked state when he’d thought she was Ga-young. On top of that, she says that Kim must’ve been especially terrified to have come to Gun for help, so the team thinks he may not be capable of murder. Gun is relieved to hear that. “Then the chief has nothing to do with that ’07’ thing, right?” he asks.
Ack! Yoon’s eyes flick up at that. Eun-soo asks what this “07” business is, and Yeo-jin explains that Ga-young had given them that one clue and that she could’ve seen the numbers when she was kidnapped.
Clerk Kim assures everyone that it’s only a matter of time before they capture this kidnapper. Yoon agrees with a smile, though it drops as his gaze wanders back to Eun-soo.
After they wrap up the party, the team breaks up to go their separate ways. When Eun-soo is asked if she has a ride home, Yeo-jin smiles knowingly and jumps in to suggest that Shi-mok drive her.
The ride back is silent until Eun-soo asks if Shi-mok went straight to the party from work. When he confirms that he did, she says that she’d stopped by his apartment and that she’d heard someone open his door when she was in the elevator.
She finds it even stranger that the man who’d followed her out had had an umbrella when it wasn’t raining. Shi-mok asks if the man did anything and she answers that he just left.
After a beat, Shi-mok then asks if she can take the subway from here. She seems a bit disappointed, but agrees to be let out. (I’m a little nervous to have her go off alone though.)
Shi-mok returns to his apartment and heads straight for the bedroom, only to stop when he sees something in the darkness.
Shi-mok whirls around and quickly scours the rest of the apartment for any intruders. When he sees that it’s empty, he turns on the lights to reveal one of his suits hanging off the ceiling by the tie, the jacket torn apart. He stares at the suit curiously and immediately calls Yeo-jin and Gun over.
While Gun photographs the evidence, Yeo-jin sweeps the area for any wiretaps. She comes across the drawings she’d given Shi-mok and smiles at the fact that he kept them all this time. (Aww.) The three of them later search through the CCTV footage and sure enough, they see the man with the umbrella that Eun-soo had told Shi-mok about.
Gun wonders if the man had left the suit as some kind of warning. Yeo-jin remembers a movie about a general that had snuck into the king’s quarters to cut a lock of his hair. After that, she says, the king was afraid of the general. She requests to obtain footage from the rest of the apartment block, with the intention to track down the mystery man’s escape route.
Yeo-jin and Gun worry about Shi-mok going back home, but as usual, he’s completely unfazed – he figures that the culprit wouldn’t come back. Still, the two watch with concern as he heads back alone. Gun offers to drive Yeo-jin home and she completely ignores him and walks away, ha. However, she turns back to look up at Shi-mok’s building.
In his apartment, Shi-mok looks up at where the suit had been, a thought bothering him: “Why did you only cut off a lock of my hair? You should’ve gone for my throat.” Before he can finish the thought, someone rings his doorbell – it’s Yeo-jin again, back with tea to help him sleep. Okay, double aww.
She starts to leave, but Shi-mok stops her and invites her in. They settle on the couch, where Yeo-jin asks if his mystery intruder could be the murderer. Since the tactics were completely different, she thinks that the intruder could be someone from Hanjo Group trying to scare him.
She also asks if he’d already known that it would happen. He assumes that she means the intrusion, but she clarifies that she’s referring to the almost-dissolution of the special unit. She figures that he must’ve known that tipping Sungmoon Daily would lead to repercussions. Shi-mok replies that he merely did what he had to do – they had to put a stop to Hanjo Group’s fraud somehow.
And in return, he tells her, he was able to get the identity of the whistleblower. He sends her the high school girl’s information and she agrees to question the girl about the man who’d sent her to Sungmoon. She says that she’ll sketch out the girl’s descriptions herself, and Shi-mok gives her this stern look before telling her to just take a composite sketch software. LOL.
He also tells her the three things the whistleblower had to have known: Secretary Chief Lee and CEO Park’s relationship, the marriage plans between Hanjo and Sungmoon, and the fact that Sungmoon’s CEO is still angry about the broken engagement.
And Shi-mok thinks that there are three people who fit all of that criteria: Chairman Lee, Chief Secretary Lee, and Lee Yeon-jae. Yeo-jin does think that all three carry a clear motive, but if one of them really were the culprit, why would they go out of their way to spare Ga-young? Before Shi-mok can answer, Yeo-jin notices how late it is and gets up to leave.
Meanwhile, Eun-soo is still mulling over the “07” clue. She remembers seeing the tattoo on Section Chief Yoon’s back but shakes her head, thinking it doesn’t make sense.
News breaks out that the government is refraining from buying the radar system, making it a tense morning at the Lee household. Chief Secretary Lee asks his father-in-law plans to do and the chairman calmly says that all he has to do is apologize. Still, Chief Secretary Lee calls the prosecutor general and tells him to get rid of the special unit once and for all.
The investigation team are happy to hear from the news that the Army Headquarters and the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office will be working together to reveal the truth. (Yeo-jin and Shi-mok even share an awesome high-five.) However, they’re shocked to hear that their investigation has supposedly “ended successfully” with the arrest of Chief Kim. They’re officially dissolved.
Section Chief Kang is looking anxious as he visits the prosecutor general’s office. And soon after, when he leaves, he’s looking a lot happier.
It’s time for Chairman Lee to face the press – in his usual professional manner, he apologizes for creating such a ruckus. However, he states that he did not know that the Ukrainian company was a subsidiary of Matsuyama’s company.
He continues that either way, he is still at fault for worrying the citizens of Korea. He gives one last big apology before bowing before all the reporters.
The investigation team clears out their office with heavy hearts. Shi-mok turns the whiteboard over to reveal his elaborate suspect board and everyone marvels at all the detailed findings. Shi-mok takes it all apart one by one and then turns to his team to sincerely thanks them for all their hard work.
They all file out, with Yeo-jin taking one last look at the office. They pack all their boxes into their cars and Shi-mok looks back at their building, followed by the others, and all that they’re forced to leave behind.
Yeo-jin and Gun return to Yongsan Police Station and discover that Soo-chan is no longer there – their team leader had posted an apology online for overlooking Kyung-wan’s abuse and as a result, Soo-chan was fired. A fellow officer sighs that Soo-chan had been working hard to assure his child with ADHD was taken care of abroad.
Yeo-jin finally gets ahold of the footage from Shi-mok’s neighborhood and she goes from video to video, tracking the man with the umbrella as he leaves the apartment complex and heads into the city. However, the man eventually walked out of CCTV view. Yeo-jin prints out the last location and decides to go from there.
The former investigation team return to the prosecutor’s office, running into a pensive Eun-soo in the hall. She greets them absently and wanders off, to the confusion of the team.
She stops to glance back at Section Chief Yoon, who stops where he is and starts to turn back. Eun-soo quickly escapes into her office, but Yoon has already seen her.
Shi-mok meets with Section Chief Kang to apologize for failing when Kang had stood up for him. Kang waves that aside and mentions that Chief Kim will be re-investigated soon, though it’s most likely that Kim didn’t commit murder.
While that may be true, Shi-mok does state that Kim did attempt murder and that they have Lee Yeon-jae as their witness. Kang tells him to just leave it alone since they already have enough evidence against Kim, but Shi-mok is determined to reveal everything.
Clerk Kim debates whether or not to relay to Shi-mok his findings of all the companies for which CEO Park acted as a broker. Clerk Choi suggests that they leave it all behind now that the special unit is over and done with.
Young Il-jae welcomes Shi-mok into his home and sits him down so they can talk. He tells Shi-mok that Chief Secretary Lee seems rather upset since the person he’d raised is now stabbing him in the back.
Lee had once told Young Il-jae that he’d found a promising new prosecutor – Shi-mok – who had rebelled against his higher-ups for wanting to cover something up. Lee had thought that if Shi-mok never changed, they could look forward to his accomplishments.
“You’re the one who stopped the weapon import, right?” Young Il-jae asks. He scoffs that the CEO of Sungmoon Daily hasn’t changed a bit, latching onto Shi-mok’s tip. Shi-mok notes that Young Il-jae knows about the relationship between Hanjo and Sungmoon.
Shi-mok then gets to the reason why he came – he tells Young Il-jae that that Chairman Lee must’ve hurt him because he was afraid. But what was Chairman Lee afraid of? Young Il-jae refuses to answer, saying that his family has had to suffer because of his work.
“‘A judicial officer will always be doomed to an unrequited love toward justice. It’s the ultimate ideal.’ That’s what you, Minister – no, Professor – said on the first day of prosecutor school,” Shi-mok reminds him. “You need to let me follow your teachings.”
Young Il-jae looks at Shi-mok and says that to him, justice is the safety of his family. He tells Shi-mok to leave and heads back into his bedroom. As Shi-mok calls out that he’ll be back, Young Il-jae glances down at the dresser where he’d hidden his USB.
Chairman Lee calls Secretary Woo into his office and tells him to find someone new for the plan – someone who isn’t like CEO Park. Secretary Woo agrees to do so and then informs the chairman that Shi-mok visited Young Il-jae.
Chairman Lee sighs that the warning Secretary Woo sent must’ve failed. And even though Young Il-jae swore not to talk, Chairman Lee is sure that if Shi-mok keeps prodding, Young Il-jae could make a reckless decision. The chairman tells his secretary that “it” must be in Young’s house and orders him to find it.
Yeo-jin finds the last location that the mystery intruder (who we now know was Secretary Woo) went and gets the footage from there. She sees that he got into a taxi, so she gets the license plate and contacts the driver. Apparently, the driver had dropped him off in an alley right after a subway station.
Yeo-jin heads over to Shi-mok’s office to show him a screenshot of the footage, but he doesn’t recognize the man. She also shows him the sketch she got from talking to the high school girl, the man’s face mostly covered by a mask. Shi-mok tells her that there’s one more person he thinks could be the whistleblower: Young Il-jae.
Young Il-jae knew about the relationship between Hanjo and Sungmoon, he had no real grudge against Ga-young (and would therefore spare her), and he benefitted the most from the special unit’s investigation. With all of this piled against him, Yeo-jin believes he does fit the bill.
All except for one thing, Shi-mok notes. Young Il-jae doesn’t have the determination to kill someone. After all, he had something against Chairman Lee and kept quiet about it for three whole years.
Before Yeo-jin can ask what Young Il-jae had against the chairman, there’s a knock on the door. Eun-soo comes in and Shi-mok urges her to sit down and take a look at the photos of his intruder.
Eun-soo confirms that it’s the same person she saw and asks if the intruder did anything. And curiously, Shi-mok tells her that nothing happened. She presses that something must’ve happened if he called her in like this, but Shi-mok denies it and tells her to go back to work.
When she leaves, Yeo-jin tells Shi-mok that he should treat Eun-soo well and he looks up, a little confused. “But I am treating her well,” he replies. Hmm.
As she walks back to her office, Eun-soo flashes back to moments before when she’d approached Shi-mok’s office. She’d heard Shi-mok and Yeo-jin talking about her father and Chairman Lee before knocking on the door and coming in.
Shi-mok tells Yeo-jin he’ll send Dong-jae the photos of the intruder when Clerk Choi comes in with news that a new chief prosecutor has just been announced. As Shi-mok heads out to greet the new chief prosecutor, he gets a call from a panicking Dong-jae.
Dong-jae tells Shi-mok that he doesn’t recognize the intruder, but that Shi-mok needs to stop sending him things like that. He knows that Chief Secretary Lee had told him and Secretary Yang different information to test him, which means that Lee could know he’s communicating with Shi-mok.
Shi-mok runs into Section Chief Yoon and they both head up to the chief prosecutor’s office together. Well, no wonder Section Chief Kang looked so happy earlier – Shi-mok and Yoon join the other section chief to congratulate the newly appointed Chief Prosecutor Kang.
Kang puts his arm around Shi-mok and throws the congratulations right back; he announces that Shi-mok is now the section chief of unit 3, which moves Yoon to the investigative unit.
Shi-mok doesn’t exactly seem excited about this, and neither do the other section chiefs. As they leave Kang’s room, the section chiefs grumble that the hierarchy is all messed up now that people are skipping ahead.
Shi-mok gets a call from Yeo-jin, saying that a reporter broke into Ga-young’s hospital room. Yoon sees Shi-mok’s face and assuming it’s about Ga-young, volunteers to go in his stead. Shi-mok gives him the okay and Yoon leaves with an ominous determination in his stride. Oh god.
Meanwhile, Chief Prosecutor Kang already has a new assignment for Shi-mok – in the United States. However, Shi-mok doesn’t want to accept this promotion. He wants to commit to the last ten days he has for his investigation.
Kang doesn’t see why Shi-mok is so determined to keep the promise of solving the case in two months when no one probably remembers. “It’s because I remember it,” Shi-mok states. “I’m sure the culprit remembers it too.” Kang sighs, seeing that any argument is futile. He tells Shi-mok to keep his promise then.
Shi-mok returns to the office to find that his clerks have already packed everything up. He interrupts their excited squeals and tells them to unpack since he’s not accepting the promotion. He then gets a call from Yoon saying that Ga-young isn’t at the hospital anymore; apparently, the hospital had told him that a nurse saw Ga-young’s mom leave with a man. Shi-mok tells Yoon to search the hospital while he goes out to visit Ga-young’s mom.
He then gets a call from Eun-soo asking to meet up, but he answers that they’ll have to do so later. He goes over to Ga-young’s mom’s house, but there’s no answer from either Ga-young or her mom.
Yeo-jin calls him and he starts to tell her about Ga-young, but Yeo-jin has even more shocking news: the body of a young woman was just found in Ga-young’s old apartment. Oh god oh god oh god.
Shi-mok heads straight for the crime scene, joining Yeo-jin, Gun, and their team leader. A body lies on the floor, covered by a sheet, and off to the side, there’s Yoon covered in blood and looking shaken.
Shi-mok turns to Yeo-jin and… oh no, that look on her face. Her eyes tear up as Shi-mok bends down to remove the sheet from the victim’s face…
…And there he sees Eun-soo, her throat brutally slit.
Oh, wow. I don’t even know what to say; I actually got a little teary-eyed during those last few minutes. With the way Yoon had been glaring at Eun-soo, her death was definitely expected. She’d seen too much, and I’m guessing from her last call to Shi-mok that she’d probably figured out too much. But to actually see her lying there under that sheet… it made my heart stop. That room was filled with such tension and such sadness, and to have our worst fears confirmed like that just hit hard. Eun-soo was an amazing female character – an amazing character, period – and I hate that we had to lose her like that.
Eun-soo was always a bit of a question mark, but she was innocent enough that I didn’t have to worry about her actually hindering the case in any way. She had her own agenda, just as everyone else in this drama does, and I understood it. In her perspective, she had to be the hero of her family and swoop in to save them. So her acts of excessive eagerness and persistence never really bothered me (at least not too much). And I thought that it was her persistent behavior that made Shi-mok shut her out. He’d been consistently pushing her out of the investigation, even losing his cool and yelling at her when she got a little too far. At first, I read this as Shi-mok trying to keep her out of his way, but after this episode, I see that he was just trying to protect her.
I remember Young Il-jae saying that he was scared for his daughter because he trusted her, and I think that Shi-mok felt the same way. He knew that she was capable enough – that she was strong, feisty, and hardheaded. And with what she was going after, those traits were sure to put her in danger. We didn’t get much of a reaction from Shi-mok after her body was revealed, but I have a feeling this could really break him. He’s been fighting so hard to solve this case and to protect the people involved, so I can see him blaming himself for this terrible loss even though it’s not his fault. And then there’s Young Il-jae, who’s been working just as hard to ensure his family’s safety. With his daughter now dead, I wonder how he will handle the aftermath. Will he give up what he knows now that the one thing he’d been trying to protect is gone?
Along with feeling torn up about Eun-soo’s death, I’m still feeling the sting of Section Chief Yoon’s betrayal. (I liked him so much, dammit!) He has to be the one who killed her – unless the show is trying to play games with our minds again – so forgiveness is no longer an option. No matter what foul play was included in his child’s car accident, it in no way justifies taking an innocent life. And to take an innocent life just because she knew too much seems way too cruel. Sorry, Yoon, but you’re out of the team in my book. But I guess you never were a part of the team in the first place, were you?
Apart from that heavy ending, there were so many moments in this episode that I enjoyed. The scene of Shi-mok’s torn suit was especially chilling – when the suit was first revealed in the darkness, I honestly thought it was a body hanging there and I nearly screamed. I was so glad to have Yeo-jin come back and comfort him, even if he didn’t necessarily need the comfort. But this act really was a fail on Chairman Lee’s part. He was obviously trying to stir up fear in the wrong guy. Of course, seeing that Shi-mok was unmoved will just tempt the chairman to go beyond a warning. We’ve seen what the rich and powerful are capable of doing when they don’t get their way. And Shi-mok has given the chairman enough reasons to want him dead.
I was sad to see the special unit official disbanded, but my mood was immediately picked up when it was made obvious that disbandment wouldn’t stop them from continuing their investigation. We knew that Shi-mok and Yeo-jin would never give up (it was so satisfying to see Shi-mok deny his promotion), but it was also nice to see people like Clerk Kim have the urge to investigate further. And while Chief Prosecutor Kang seems to think it’s best to leave things behind, he still allowed Shi-mok to go and finish his mission. It’s hard to trust anyone in this show 100%, but I think Kang will make an excellent chief prosecutor. He was right in trusting Shi-mok because it feels like he’s this close to finishing his mission. Eun-soo was a smart girl, so I’m sure she did something or left something for Shi-mok to find. Hopefully, her death won’t be in vain – she could very well be our team’s next step to solving this case.
- Forest of Secrets: Episode 1
- Premiere Watch: Forest of Secrets
- Jo Seung-woo and Bae Doo-na search for truth in the Forest of Secrets
- It’s a concrete jungle of intrigue in new Forest of Secrets poster
- Everyone is a suspect in Forest of Secrets
- Corruption and dark mystery in new Forest of Secrets teaser
- Guns loaded in Forest of Secrets teasers
- A tape-recorded warning teases thriller Forest of Secrets
- From behind the scenes and the script reading of tvN’s Forest of Secrets
- tvN thriller Forest of Secrets confirms leads, adds Lee Jun-hyuk