Falsify: Episodes 19-20
Moo-young has reached a point in his journey where everything he believed about his brother has been stripped away, and he’s realizing the pain his reckless pursuit of vengeance can cause to those he cares about. To stay on this path, he’ll need more than his anger to fuel him now. Meanwhile, both Seok-min and So-ra begin to understand the depths of the danger they face while investigating this case — and while our heroes battles with their conscience, our villains plot to undermine each other.
EPISODE 19 RECAP
So-ra manages to get away from the killer and stumbles down the road as Moo-young looks everywhere for her. Finally, he finds her curled up on a street corner as concerned pedestrians worry over her frazzled and bloody appearance. He hurries to her side and tries to reassure her as So-ra grapples with the shock of nearly being murdered.
Seok-min sits outside the office and thinks back to a time when he was young and tried to get an article about a corrupt company printed, even though he knew that they advertised with the paper and that his piece would never get approved.
Chief Gu had brought him into the Splash Team then, saying that he liked Seok-min because journalists like him “try even though they know it won’t work.” In the present, Seok-min swears that just like Chief Gu had taught him, “I’m going to return what you did to me.”
In his office, Chief Gu talks to his wife on the phone and asks her to remain in the hospital for a few more days. Gently, he tells her to rest, then hangs up and looks at Nam Kang-myung’s picture on his monitor. Aloud, he wonders if Seok-min will take the bait and worries that he might give up the scoop.
The Splash Team watches the videos Chief Gu provided in the pen-drive. Yoo-kyung is convinced that the man in the recording — which seems to have been taken recently in China — is Nam Kang-myung, but Reporter Na is less sure, given the grainy quality of the video.
Seok-min decides that they can’t ignore the resurrection of a criminal just because they feel uneasy about the source of the information, so they have to find out more about their new quarry. Around the same time, Prosecutor Cha is giving her superior the run down on everything she’s discovered about Nam Kang-myung.
Both teams discuss how Nam Kang-myung constructed a paper company called New Harvest that got the National Pension Service involved, then disappeared with $1.8 billion. Before the money could be recovered, Nam Kang-myung’s rotting corpse was found and the case was closed.
Prosecutor Cha ends her presentation by asking her superior for permission to pursue the now-alive Nam Kang-myung and find the powers behind the man. Her boss is reluctant to let her loose on such a case, but upon seeing her determination, he allows it. He adds that Prosecutor Cha may end up losing her job if she doesn’t do more than blow a horn this time, but Prosecutor Cha tells him that she’s ready for anything.
Reporter Na, on the other hand, worries that the team is throwing away self-preservation in pursuit of a scoop. Yoo-kyung tells him that she needs a motive to justify spending so much time away from her young child more than she needs protection. She believes that finding meaning in her work is the most important thing.
This shuts up Reporter Na, who looks pleadingly at Seok-min, but his team leader reminds him that he’s still out of favor, so he doesn’t have a right to vote on the matter. Then, he sends the team off to investigate the fake death of Kang-myung.
So-ra sits with a police sketch artist to draw a picture of the killer. As she describes his features, she remembers his face as he tried to strangle her, and So-ra visibly struggles to compose herself. Moo-young notes this and puts a reassuring hand on her shoulder. Giving her a break, he begins to describe the man to the sketch artist.
Seok-min looks through the trunk of a car and unearths a notebook that belonged to Chul-ho when he worked for the Splash Team. Meanwhile, Yoo-kyung talks to a journalist in their office who had been sent to cover Kang-myung’s death on site.
She probes him until he admits that while he was excited to get the scoop, he was soon replaced by another reporter. Editor Jung listens to the exchange nearby and smiles into his coffee.
Yoo-kyung reports to Seok-min that while the first journalist wrote a short article on the death, a second, longer article was written by Chul-ho soon after. The body found had been at an advanced state of decomposition, prompting a lot of speculation about whether it was truly Kang-myung’s corpse. It was Chul-ho’s piece, quoting a foreign researcher, that silenced the conspiracy theories.
Seok-min observes that Chul-ho had written this article just before joining the Splash Team. When Yoo-kyung asks why they keep running into Chul-ho’s ghost in these cases, Seok-min tells her about his fabricated articles.
Seok-min hands her Chul-ho’s journals from the Splash Team days as well another one he collected from the local press office. He tells her that their ultimate goal is to find the first case that Chul-ho faked, because that will lead them to whatever forced Chul-ho to turn against his principles.
Editor Jung informs Chief Gu that the team is looking into the case. He wonders what’ll happen if Seok-min delves too deeply into the clues, and Chief Gu implies that he hopes that will happen.
He hands the editor an invitation to a private gathering of journalists and judiciaries and directs him to tell them that Daehan Daily fully supports the Splash Team’s investigation into Nam Kang-myung’s fake death. Editor Jung realizes immediately that the chief set this up for Lawyer Jo’s benefit, but Chief Gu silences his speculations by telling him to act like a loyal dog.
Moo-young brings So-ra an ice pack and wants to take her to a hospital to get her bruises looked after. But So-ra tells him that she still has things to check at the police station. This angers Moo-young, who thinks she’s being childishly stubborn, after a man just tried to kill her.
So-ra corrects Moo-young: the killer wasn’t trying to murder her, he was trying to scare her. Taking a deep breath, she tells Moo-young that she can’t let the killer have what he wants. “I have to catch him,” she says. “Before I am a victim and a woman, I’m a prosecutor.”
Moo-young studies her for a prolonged moment, then leaves as he says that he’ll go look for the detective. But outside the station, his eyes light up with rage and he promises the killer that he’ll die by his hand.
Reporter Na and Ji-won are at the same station, both trying to get one of the detectives to talk about the Nam Kang-myung case. He stonewalls them until he gets a message informing him of his son’s low grades in school.
Ji-won perks up at this and tells the man that she used to be a famous tutor who’d pulled up the grades of many students back in the day. Suitably impressed by her credentials, the detective invites them inside, eager to help. Bewildered, Reporter Na follows the two.
Seok-min and Yoo-kyung go through all of Chul-ho’s notes and published articles until Yoo-kyung comes across something in Chul-ho’s journal: a torn paper and the imprint of something on the next page. She takes a pencil and shades the design to make it clearer, which is when her eyes fall on a note that Chul-ho made about not being able to interview a certain researcher.
Looking up the name of the researcher Chul-ho quotes in the Nam Kang-myung case on Facebook, Yoo-kyung finds that the man had been volunteering in Africa when the article was published.
Yoo-kyung shows this to Seok-min and wonders how Chul-ho could have lied so brazenly when a single email sent to verify the interview could have exposed him. Seok-min says that the powers-that-be used Daehan Daily’s infallible image to protect this kind of fake article so that even after exposure, very few would remember the mistake in the face of the paper’s impressive reputation.
But Seok-min puzzles over another mystery: He looks at the notes Chul-ho made on the fake case where a girl apparently got injured after being hit by a gasoline bomb. The article had been instrumental in ending a labor union strike, but it was also the first one that Seok-min had found out about.
What intrigues Seok-min now is Chul-ho’s final use of a memorable name for the fake victim, when in his initial notes, he’d used a common one, which might have helped him escape detection. Yoo-kyung notes that Chul-ho made another mistake by publishing Seon-woo’s article thirty minutes before the police arrived on the scene.
Neither believe that Chul-ho would repeatedly make such mistakes. Seok-min realizes that he could have only two reasons: Either there was an unavoidable situation, or he was trying to tell them something. Across the table from them lies Chul-ho’s notebook with the globe tattoo revealed under Yoo-kyung’s pencil shading.
Ji-won and Reporter Na go through the case file provided by the detective and ask him how he verified that the body was Nam Kang-myung’s. He tells them that the clothes, height, and a missing digit matched Kang-myung’s, and they even had a fingerprint match. Unconvinced, the duo leave, but they hear about So-ra on the way out.
Prosecutor Cha hears about So-ra’s attack as well and runs out of her office to be by her junior’s side. (Aww, she’s the best sunbae!) At the same time, Paralegal Park comes to the station and berates Moo-young for not being able to protect So-ra. But when Moo-young immediately and sincerely apologizes, he runs out of steam.
While they wait for the police to look into the traffic CCTV footage, So-ra tells Paralegal Park to send the recording she made for voice analysis. She asks Moo-young if he didn’t notice the lack of any emotions or tone in the killer’s voice. At this, Moo-young thinks back to his memory of the killer’s voice and realizes the toneless speech was what had stood out for him too.
The detective on So-ra’s case comes back to apologetically tell her that they lost sight of the car after a while, but they did manage to lift a fingerprint from her jacket. But even this doesn’t seem to be good news, as he regretfully tells them something more. From behind some shelves, Reporter Na and Ji-won strain to hear this exchange and fail.
As the group walks away, Reporter Na tells Ji-won regretfully that he would have been walking with them right now if he hadn’t fought with Moo-young. Ji-won pertly reminds him that the “fight” had been pretty much one-sided. Reporter Na protests that it had been a contest of equals, and Ji-won pretends to humor him.
He calls up Seok-min and tells him about So-ra’s attack. Looking concerned, Seok-min tells them to go home and decides to head to the police station. On his way out, he wakes up Yoo-kyung, who is dosing at her desk, and tells her to leave.
But as he turns away, his eyes fall on the page of the notebook she was looking through. He picks it up slowly and wonders why Chul-ho had drawn the killer’s tattoo in his journal.
EPISODE 20 RECAP
The killer meets Lawyer Jo and hands over Lieutenant Jeon’s lighter. The lawyer pockets the tiny pen-drive hidden inside it, and advises Killer to lay low for a while. He notices the burn wound on Killer’s arm and tells him to do something about it because it “stands out and isn’t pleasant to look at.”
When Killer doesn’t react, Lawyer Jo grows irritable and reminds him of the purpose of his existence. Killer hides the wound and leaves, still expressionless.
After frowning at the departing hitman, Lawyer Jo arrives at the exclusive party of lawyers and newspapermen that Chief Gu had asked Editor Jung to attend. He cheerfully tells other papers that they should take advantage of Daehan Daily’s weak position, then spots Editor Jung.
On his way to the editor, he’s greeted by a man who shakes his hand and leaves a note in his palm. Losing his good cheer, Lawyer Jo meets the man in a quiet corner and asks what he means by writing that they could all be exposed. The man reveals that Daehan Daily’s Splash Team is looking into Nam Kang-myung’s case and worries that his own part in the cover up may be revealed. This considerably shakes up Lawyer Jo, and he takes out his anger on the man by humiliating him.
Meanwhile, Chief Gu is doing some investigating on his own by meeting a man named Doctor Kim, who seems to have been the one to fabricate Kang-myung’s death. The chief has the man cornered and presses him to spill the reason for Kang-myung’s return to South Korea. (Oh, if you only worked for the forces of good!)
Seok-min drives and thinks about the clues Chul-ho left behind, which were disguised as careless mistakes. Seok-min considers the fabricated cases they keep coming across and wonders if Chul-ho is pushing them into these investigations.
Deep in thought, he parks the car and considers the possibility that Chul-ho wanted to make things right. He thinks back to the last conversation he had over the phone with Chul-ho after finding out about his involvement in Chairman Min’s fabricated diagnosis of dementia.
He had angrily asked Chul-ho to come back and tell everyone that the dementia story was a lie, but Chul-ho had asked numbly if anything he said would change what happened. He had said that he meant to set things right, but…
Chul-ho must have said something important, but we don’t find out what it was. In the present, Seok-min nods to himself as his memory confirms his hunch.
At the police station, the detective delivers bad news to So-ra: While they lifted Killer’s fingerprint from her jacket, he doesn’t exist in their database. When Paralegal Park promises to catch him regardless, Moo-young points out that the killer uses untraceable poison and is likely a professional.
But when he suggests that Killer might belong to an organization where his identity cannot be revealed, another cop laughs at his vivid imagination. Just then, Seok-min walks in and points out that the scenario is completely feasible since back in 2000 an accident victim without an identity was later found to be an intelligence operative. This silences the cops.
Prosecutor Cha walks in soon after and So-ra gets up awkwardly to greet her. The prosecutor notices Seok-min and the two withdraw to have a private word. Seok-min quickly guesses that Prosecutor Cha still has her hand on Nam Kang-myung’s case, but the prosecutor no longer trusts him enough to cooperate.
She calls Daehan Daily the expert on faking news and tells him to stay out of this case. Seok-min says that he can’t give up trying to make things right, and Prosecutor Cha accuses him of having no shame. “No, I am ashamed,” he tells her. “People with less twisted minds might even call this repenting.”
When So-ra finally leaves the police station, Paralegal Park goes to fetch the car, and she turns to Moo-young. He apologizes, but she tells him to stop feeling sorry. He asks if it’s because she wouldn’t have started if she felt afraid, but So-ra admits that she’s embarrassed at how scared she was.
Prosecutor Cha comes out then, and So-ra leaves with her. As they walk away, Moo-young hears her refer to him as “a reporter I know,” and wonders why that annoys him so much. Heh.
The Patriot News team seems to have the answer to his question and curse the unromantic cells in Moo-young’s body that let a woman walk away like that. Chief Yang huffs that they should leave the two idiots to figure things out the hard way on their own.
Having been stranded by his team, Moo-young looks around the parking lot, when Seok-min suddenly bears down on him and accuses him of being reckless. Moo-young takes Seok-min’s rage in stride, and when Seok-min gruffly tells him to get in his car, Moo-young just mumbles that Seok-min is a strange man.
Lawyer Jo calls Chief Gu in a panic, reminding him that he would go down with them if the truth about Nam Kang-myung’s case comes out. The chief laughs that he was a complete outsider in that case. Despite Lawyer Jo’s threats, Chief Gu remains cheerfully uncaring about exposing their other joint ventures.
Back in his office, Lawyer Jo finds Prosecutor Im waiting for him. He hands the lawyer a copy of Prosecutor Cha’s person-of-interest chart and explains that his office is considering going after Nam Kang-myung.
Lawyer Jo pretends not to know Kang-myung, and Prosecutor Im smiles smugly as he tells the lawyer that he doesn’t have long to think: “Let’s not shoot that comedy where the dead come back to life.”
Outside Noah’s office, Prosecutor Im calls Chief Gu to report on the delivery of his threat. He also tells the chief that Nam Kang-myung’s ship will be landing soon and asks if he’ll be able to handle the consequences if the man is arrested. Chief Gu remains glibly unconcerned.
After much thought, Lawyer Jo calls someone and says that he needs to report Chief Gu’s activities to the elders.
Seok-min and Moo-young sit at a roadside restaurant and go over Chul-ho’s fake articles. He shares the hunch that Chul-ho left deliberate mistakes in his articles with Moo-young, who seems unmoved by the idea. Stinging from his brother’s betrayal, he asks why some slip-ups in these fake articles matter.
Seok-min explains that it is because of Chul-ho’s slip-ups that they found out certain things that would have otherwise never surfaced. “Don’t you think Chul-ho wanted someone to recognize his mistake?”
Struggling with his emotions, Moo-young asks why Chul-ho never told anyone so that he could stop writing those articles. Seok-min speculates that Chul-ho probably began by thinking that he would be able to stop, but eventually figured out that there was no going back. So, Seok-min theorizes, Chul-ho began to look into a case that couldn’t be revealed, and that became his last.
Seok-min tells Moo-young that the ball is in his court now. “Can you embrace your brother’s regret? Can you forgive him?” Moo-young doesn’t think his forgiveness will change anything, but Seok-min is adamant that forgiving his brother will set Moo-young free.
He admits that when he saw Moo-young expose Daehan Daily in Seon-woo’s case, he thought it was all right to use his thirst for revenge to purge the swamp that his workplace had become. But he regrets that now and says that he shouldn’t have involved Moo-young.
When Moo-young protests, Seok-min bluntly points out how people keep getting hurt because of his recklessness. Blaming Moo-young for So-ra’s attack and Boss Park’s death, Seok-min leaves Moo-young to stew in hurt silence.
In flashback, we see Seok-min’s last call with Chul-ho again, and this time, we hear the rest of what Chul-ho said. He said that he had thought to fix everything, but the matter was bigger than he had imagined.
Seok-min told him to come back so he could help, but Chul-ho made him promise not to get involved. “I have to be the one to end this,” said Chul-ho, adding that if he failed, he didn’t want anyone he loved getting hurt by following in his footsteps.
Remembering that call in the present, Seok-min tells Moo-young that Chul-ho wouldn’t have wanted him to get hurt. Then, he says harshly that Moo-young should stop before he ruins the case by trying to avenge his brother.
I can’t tell if Seok-min is just trying to save Moo-young’s life with this talk or if he’s trying to save the case from Moo-young’s impulsive maneuvers. I suspect it’s the former, but Moo-young has proven himself so unreliable as a team player until recently that I wouldn’t blame Seok-min if he genuinely wanted Moo-young away from the case to keep him from meddling.
I find that I like Moo-young a lot more now than I did initially. His single-minded pursuit of vengeance was almost selfish in the first act, but he has mellowed somewhat now, and has even begun to worry about the people around him. He’d clearly felt responsible for Boss Park’s death, and his immediate apology in the face of Paralegal Park’s fury showed show hard he is taking So-ra’s attack.
So, twisting that knife into his conscience is perhaps not the best way to make him disengage from the case. He’s more emotionally invested in it now than ever before. He’s no longer chasing the faceless killer who murdered his brother, he’s trying to protect people he cares for in the present.
I hadn’t expected a romantic subplot in this drama, but I like So-ra and Moo-young together. She loosens up when she’s with him and sheds the impassive professional mask with which she deals with everyone else in her world. Their race to catch the stalker was hilarious and very revealing. She might be law-abiding, whereas he distrusts the law, but they’re both childishly competitive and surprisingly stubborn when they go after something.
My favourite character in the show is finally having some fun now. It’s not satisfying to watch the bad guys being taken down, unless their powers of evil have been properly explored. Chief Gu has always displayed a delicious cynicism that let him espouse the ideologies of an honest, hard-hitting newspaperman, while undermining the functions of a free press in aid of a corrupt system. But greed is a predictable motive for crimes. Watching Chief Gu wage war on Lawyer Jo to bring him under his power and manipulate the donor system to get his wife a new heart is a lot more riveting.
Suddenly, as our chief bad guy uses our heroes to manipulate his erstwhile ally, Chief Gu becomes a character who is charismatic in his cleverness and a villain you suddenly find yourself rooting for. I want his powers of evil to end up being used by our protagonists, so that he ends up on the side of good and truth. But until that happens, I’m going to watch with glee as Chief Gu takes down Lawyer Jo and shows him what he’s capable of.
- Falsify: Episodes 1-2
- The news and the law come together for Falsify
- Righteous prosecutor and journalists challenge the corrupt in Falsify’s first teaser
- SBS’s Falsify finds its female lead in Eom Ji-won
- Two more actresses decline SBS’s Falsify, show still without leading lady
- Search for Falsify’s female lead narrows in on Kim Ok-bin
- Namgoong Min offered spot on Jeon Hye-bin’s Falsify team
- Jeon Hye-bin up to join SBS’s Falsify as photojournalist
- Chun Woo-hee, Yoo Joon-sang consider new SBS legal thriller Falsify