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Forest of Secrets: Episode 15

After sifting through numerous suspects, clues, and scenarios, we’re finally narrowing down to what initially sparked these horrific murders. It’s been one hell of an emotional ride, with Shi-mok and Yeo-jin having to see the worst parts of this case, and as a result, the worst parts of the people they thought they once knew. But the betrayal and heartache isn’t over yet – oh no, that was all child’s play compared to what lies ahead for them.

 
EPISODE 15 RECAP

There’s a huge commotion outside the airport as former Section Chief Yoon is handcuffed and taken out by security. Yeo-jin makes sure to cover his face with a jacket before sending him out to the flashing cameras and watches him go, hurt and betrayal still in her eyes.

She joins her team in a separate van, and they head towards Yoon’s home. An officer voices his surprise that the culprit was a prosecutor and that Yeo-jin and Gun had been so close to him. But Yeo-jin seems too lost in thought to be listening.

As Shi-mok watches Yoon get escorted into the prosecutor’s office, he also becomes lost in thought, remembering all the times that Yoon had been cheery and helpful. He can’t help but contrast that version of Yoon against the cold and dark Yoon getting his mugshots taken.

Yoon’s tattoo gets photographed as well, and we see in flashback that Ga-young had first seen it when she’d weakly tugged on his shirt, only for him to strike her unconscious and stuff her in a bag.

After Chief Prosecutor Kang gets the call about Yoon (looking more disappointed than shocked), he heads down to the interrogation room where Yoon is being kept, watching from the other side of the two-way mirror. Moments later, Shi-mok enters the room and sits across from Yoon, the tension thick between them.

Yeo-jin’s team arrives at Yoon’s home, and they search the room until Yeo-jin manages to find a big black bag underneath the bed. She pulls out various items, including the red rope that was used to tie Ga-young up, as well as a black jumpsuit. They set up a black light, and sure enough, they see that the suit is completely spotted with blood.

In the interrogation room, Shi-mok gets straight to the point and asks Yoon, “Why did you kill [CEO Park]?” Yoon blankly answers that CEO Park had to die by his hands — he’d wanted CEO Park to understand the pain of being burned by fire. Shi-mok is confused, so Yoon elaborates that he heard being burned alive is the worst pain of all… and that’s exactly what his six-year-old son had to endure.

Yoon describes how he had sent his son off on a tour bus with the rest of his kindergarten class, promising to pick him up afterwards. Sometime later, Yoon’s heart had dropped when he’d heard the news that the very same bus had crashed and exploded. “It wasn’t an accident,” Yoon tells Shi-mok.

Apparently, the bus company had removed the stabilizer (a device that helps vehicles maintain balance) in order to save money. Furthermore, the driver had once gotten fired for using his phone while driving. But the verdict, Yoon says shakily, was the “faulty” construction of the guardrail the bus had crashed into.

Many people, including fourteen children, had been killed. And yet, Yoon adds brokenly, the driver and bus company owner got off easy. It was all thanks to a broker that had had their backs: CEO Park.

Yoon says that he only wishes that his son had died on impact. He tries to maintain his composure, but the tears start flowing as he continues that he hopes his son’s body only burned after he had passed — that’s all he’s prayed for since the day of the accident.

In the other room, Chief Prosecutor Kang recalls meeting Yoon when he’d returned from his one-year leave. He’d assured Yoon that it was right for him to come back and that he should forget about the accident. Kang hangs his head, now seeing that Yoon has never been able to forget.

Shi-mok asks Yoon who accepted CEO Park’s request to defuse the case, and Yoon responds that it was the chief prosecutor at the time, Bae Sang-wook. Shi-mok sighs and says that Yoon has just admitted to committing murder.

Shi-mok pulls out the photo of the fake CEO Park glancing out the house window, and Yoon flashes back to when he’d put on CEO Park’s clothes and looked out the window for the camera to see. “It was me,” Yoon confirms.

It turns out that Yoon had meticulously planned the murder for a long time, from tampering with CEO Park’s TV and getting Kang Jin-sub there to smearing the blood on the metal bars nearby. Shi-mok asks if he truly planned this all on his own, making him ask if Shi-mok doesn’t believe him. (Hmm, methinks you are lying, sir.)

As for Ga-young, Yoon had hurt her in order to let the people know what their so-called leaders traded for people’s lives. He sees Ga-young as no different from CEO Park, since she’d used her body the same way Park had used money. That may be true, Shi-mok says, but Yoon was mistaken to believe that he had the authority to punish them for it.

Yoon counters that it’s not like those with actual authority were going to do anything anyway. At that, Shi-mok asks why he killed Eun-soo, but to Shi-mok’s surprise, Yoon replies that he didn’t.

Yoon insists that he doesn’t care what happens to him now… but Eun-soo’s death wasn’t his doing. If that’s the case, Shi-mok asks, then why did Yoon try to flee? He asks again why he killed her, but Yoon no longer wishes to talk.

So Shi-mok gets up to leave, but he stops and asks if killing CEO Park made Yoon feel any better. Yoon turns to him and says that he’s felt empty since the day his son died. But he does admit that that emptiness was replaced with fear when he’d watched the life drain out of CEO Park.

Shi-mok finds Chief Prosecutor Kang waiting outside. As they watch Yoon being taken away, Kang reveals that Yoon had refused to have an autopsy performed on his son; Yoon had been scared that soot might be found in his son’s lungs (meaning that he was alive when he was burned), and preferred not to find out.

When Yoon’s car is brought to the police station, Yeo-jin takes the chance to search it. She doesn’t find much, but she does take notice of an air freshener in the back. She remembers Ga-young’s mom mentioning that Ga-young had had convulsions when Yoon had brought her over, and it suddenly clicks.

Ga-young had smelled the air freshener when Yoon kidnapped her, so when she was brought over in Yoon’s car again, the familiar smell must’ve triggered her seizure. Yeo-jin mentally kicks herself for not figuring it out sooner.

Chief Prosecutor Kang takes Shi-mok back to his office, where he makes a call to request a search warrant on Bae Sang-wook (who is now an assemblyman). When he hangs up, Shi-mok asks him if he knew that the former chief prosecutor was involved with the bus incident.

Kang says that he didn’t, making Shi-mok wonder how Yoon knew if the other section chiefs didn’t. Kang doesn’t know what to think about that — he doesn’t know what to think about Yoon’s claim of not killing Eun-soo either, but he hopes that it’s true. He sends Shi-mok out, sadly congratulating him on the arrest.

Meanwhile, Chief Secretary Lee is deep in thought as he sits in his darkened office. Later, he comes home to find his father-in-law watching the news of Yoon’s arrest. Chairman Lee notes that Yoon must have held a grudge against CEO Park as well, and Chief Secretary Lee noticeably gets shifty eyes as he denies any knowledge of it.

His father-in-law asks about the “rat” that might be in his office, and Chief Secretary Lee says that he gave both of his secretaries false hotel information and that nothing got leaked out. As he heads upstairs, he hears Chairman Lee switch the TV back and mutter that it was a strange coincidence for Yoon to get arrested at the airport.

Chief Secretary Lee enters his office to see Yeon-jae sitting at his desk. She’s here to talk things out, but Lee just hands her a flight itinerary and tells her to visit their daughter in the States.

She starts to argue, but he says that he’ll soon be making a public disclosure of all of their assets and that there’s sure to be an uproar; he doesn’t want her around for that. He teases her not to forget about him while she’s gone, making her expression soften a bit.

Lee turns to leave when Yeon-jae calls out, “I don’t regret it.” She clarifies that she doesn’t regret going to her brother’s trial. While Lee thinks that she shouldn’t have come, she disagrees and says that if she hadn’t have gone, her husband wouldn’t be with her now.

Lee turns back with a faint smile and says that Yeon-jae looked so pretty back then. She asks if she’s still pretty now, so he walks over to where she’s sitting, embraces her, and tells her that she is. Yeon-jae shuts her eyes and smiles, enjoying their tender moment, while Lee’s serious expression melts into one of sadness. Augh, my heart hurts for them.

As Shi-mok heads into a pojangmacha for a drink(!), he calls Yeo-jin and immediately notices that her voice is shaking. She tells him that she’s at home, the place where she nosily butted into Eun-soo’s business and invited her over. But Shi-mok says that he’s the one who unknowingly invited a murderer to their team.

He tells her that Yoon did what he did because CEO Park and Bae Sang-wook covered up his son’s accident. Even so, Yeo-jin sighs, Yoon should’ve thought about what he was doing to other people’s children if he was so upset over his own child — even if he’d chosen to live a certain way.

She reveals that Yoon had gotten a divorce after the accident, which Shi-mok understands. “When something goes wrong with the child, the parents come to hate each other,” he says, as if speaking from experience. Yeo-jin thinks that the parents should stick together at times like that, and Shi-mok figures that there are families like that somewhere.

Yeo-jin asks about his own parents, but he doesn’t respond. She asks why he didn’t tell her about his brain surgery, and he finally answers that it wasn’t important. Yeo-jin: “Your head doesn’t hurt now?” Shi-mok: “No, it doesn’t hurt.” Though she’s genuinely relieved to hear that, she still wants him to tell her the next time it hurts. Awwww.

She starts to hang up when Shi-mok mentions Yoon’s claim about Eun-soo. He tells her that he’ll be sure to look into it, but he says that if Yoon’s claim is true, then Yeo-jin inviting Eun-soo over had nothing to do with her death. They end their conversation there, and Yeo-jin gazes at the view from her rooftop. “It’s been such a long day,” she says, her eyes still shining with tears.

The next day, Chief Secretary Lee drives Yeon-jae to the airport himself, the mood rather light. He hands her some paperwork so she can sign her assets over to her scholarship foundation and recover them later. They then arrive at the airport and he sweetly asks for her hand as they go inside. Okay, he’s making me nervous… all these gestures feel like a very permanent goodbye.

Just as I’d feared, Lee sends his wife off with one last goodbye and then turns away with determination in his stride. As he exits the airport, he calls someone named CEO Song and asks him to come over to his office.

At Yongsan Police Station, the officers are perplexed to find none of Eun-soo’s blood on Yoon’s clothes. Frustrated, Team Leader Choi spits out that Yoon could’ve worn something different when he murdered her.

However, it looks like Yeo-jin is starting to have her doubts; she suggests they start looking for the person who’d bought the floral-pattern knife again. Before her team can respond, they turn to see Jung-bon. He’s here to see Yeo-jin and Gun, and is understandably saddened by Yoon’s surprising arrest.

Jung-bon looks at the group photo of the special unit, amazed that it was only taken a few days ago. They all wonder how they were completely clueless about Yoon, and Jung-bon voices his wishes for people to have clear warnings on their foreheads, stating things like “kind person” or “bad person.”

Yeo-jin agrees, saying that there are plenty of questionable people here in the station. When Jung-bon leaves, Gun pulls Yeo-jin aside and asks what her comment meant. She tells him that she suspects Team Leader Choi in particular, especially since he’d apologized to Kyung-wan the day before he posted the truth online.

Gun sighs that no one is truly good or evil and that they all just go with where their lives take them. If they just passively take that path, Yeo-jin asks, what would happen if they ended up somewhere unexpected? Touché.

Dong-jae visits Shi-mok with news: After snooping around the chief secretary’s office, he’s concluded that Lee and Yeon-jae are getting a divorce and that Lee is leaving the country. (It cracks me up that he never has the correct information.) Dong-jae is sure that Lee can’t be the killer.

Shi-mok brings up Yoon’s claim, but Dong-jae immediately waves it off. So Shi-mok reminds him that Young Il-jae was framed because he knew something. He tells Dong-jae that Eun-soo might’ve taken the files containing those secrets, and if she died because she had them, then the culprit could’ve been Chairman Lee. Or Chief Secretary Lee, Dong-jae realizes with disappointment.

Just then, Shi-mok gets a call that Young Il-jae is waiting downstairs, so he and Dong-jae hurry out to meet him. Young Il-jae is upset that Yoon is refusing any visitors, but Shi-mok guesses that that’s not the only reason why he came. He asks that Young Il-jae reveal the contents of the files.

So Young Il-jae finally tells all: Chairman Lee has been distributing his assets to his children since they were young and buying his subsidiaries’ shares. In doing so, he’d managed to evade hundreds of millions of won in taxes. Young knew that the children were involved and that if the investigation had been pushed forward, Yeon-jae would’ve been arrested for tax evasion.

Dong-jae figures out that in that case, Chief Prosecutor Lee would’ve had to choose between betraying Young or sending his wife to jail. Young Il-jae nods, saying that Lee even came to his house and got down on his knees, crying.

Young begs to see Yoon so he can find out what happened to his daughter. Young starts getting choked up, so Dong-jae places a hand over his and reassures him that all he has to do is trust that Shi-mok will bring the truth to light.

Dong-jae escorts Young Il-jae out and Young quietly apologizes for hitting Dong-jae during Eun-soo’s funeral, though Dong-jae finds that unimportant. He asks what the files look like, and Young answers that since he’d gathered them while at the prosecutor’s academy, they have the academy’s seal on them.

When Dong-jae returns to work, he sneaks into Lee’s office and tries to find anything with the seal on it. But Lee suddenly bursts in, making Dong-jae bolt up.

Dong-jae immediately reorganizes the desk, but Lee doesn’t even appear angry – he just comments on the fact that Dong-jae is here on his day off.

Dong-jae is still feeling uneasy, but Lee just hands him a letter to deliver (addressed to a scholarship foundation) and lets him go. Moments later, Lee is visited by the man named CEO Song.

Chief Secretary Lee tells CEO Song to get ready to sell the bank. However, he is worried that if the payment is directly deposited into his father-in-law’s account, it might get traced. CEO Song looks at him with confusion – the major shareholder is no longer Chairman Lee — it’s Lee Sung-min, Chief Secretary Lee’s brother-in-law.

Chief Secretary Lee’s smile instantly fades, realizing that this means his brother-in-law will receive all of the profit. He sends CEO Song out and then calls someone to take care of the documents that Yeon-jae had signed.

Lee then calls Bae Sang-wook, saying it’s been a long time. He tells the assemblyman that it’s only a matter of time before he gets into trouble, and they decide to make a deal to help each other out. Once Lee hangs up, he uncharacteristically props his feet on his coffee table and sits back as he listens to some music.

Meanwhile, Chairman Lee gets a call from CEO Song, who tells him about the chief secretary and how he hadn’t even known the major shareholder had changed. Chairman Lee wonders what his son-in-law is up to.

Shi-mok has Clerk Kim gather all the footage from the airport so they can get a better look at Yoon’s behavior. As they watch the footage, Clerk Kim notices that Yoon had acted pretty casual considering he was trying to flee – he’d gone from place to place, looking all around him. “He’s looking for someone,” Shi-mok says. Clerk Kim gasps, thinking it might’ve been an accomplice.

Shi-mok remembers asking Yoon why he’d been in a rush at the airport if he didn’t care about what happened to him, as well as Yoon’s refusal to answer. Bolting up, Shi-mok orders Clerk Kim to send Yoon to the interrogation room.

Once he’s in the room with Yoon, Shi-mok starts firing off questions about the girl he’d sent to Sungmoon Daily. Yoon answers each question correctly (and a little too fast). Next, Shi-mok asks why Yoon went to Sungmoon in the first place — how did he know the CEO would print the story?

Again, Yoon knows the answers a little too well. Shi-mok mentions this, but Yoon merely says that it was his job to collect intel. In that case, Shi-mok says, Yoon should relay the details of what he did over his one-year leave. How did he find out his information? Was it from someone else?

Yoon is practically sweating now, but he still won’t crack. Shi-mok leans on the table, switching to banmal as he says that Yoon must’ve gone to the airport to meet his accomplice.

And perhaps, Shi-mok continues, the accomplice killed Eun-soo and that’s why Yoon is insisting that he didn’t kill her. Shi-mok wonders if the accomplice betrayed him and ran off. “Or is he still here?” he asks.

Shi-mok knows from the airport footage that Yoon was trying to catch this accomplice – he’d gone from the ticketing booth to departures, scared that his accomplice had taken off without him. Shi-mok asks Yoon who it was. Yoon calmly states that he has nothing to say, making Shi-mok slam his fist on the table and shout, “Who is that bastard?!”

Shi-mok then slides out of his chair, walking around Yoon as he asks how he must’ve felt to see his special floral-pattern knife lying by Eun-soo’s side. Yoon must have known then that someone set him up to blame all of the murders on him.

Shi-mok: “You must’ve tried your damnedest to catch that bastard. Why? Because you consider yourself different from the psychos who kill without reason. You had the idea that it’d be okay to kill any criminal. And that’s why you’re even worse than those psychos.”

Shi-mok takes out the photo of the man with the umbrella and calls that man the real culprit before asking why Yoon is trying so hard to protect him. Yoon turns to him and firmly says that he will exercise his right to remain silent. Shi-mok shuts his case file, seemingly shutting away his frustration as well. He switches back to formal speech, saying that he knows Yoon has a reason for staying quiet — and he intends to find out why.

Chairman Lee calls Dong-jae into his office to ask if he was the rat who leaked the Matsuyama deal to Sungmoon. But Dong-jae manages to play it off, saying that he knew nothing about it.

But he does tell the chairman that he delivered a letter for Chief Secretary Lee – a letter to Yeon-jae’s scholarship foundation. Chairman Lee remains calm as Dong-jae leaves, but he’s furious to hear that his son-in-law is moving money without his permission.

Dong-jae gets Shi-mok on the phone, and Shi-mok quickly asks if the man with the umbrella might’ve been someone who worked with the chairman or chief secretary. Maybe even Secretary Woo?

Dong-jae doesn’t see why it would be Woo, but when he looks back at the photos, he does recognize the back of his head. His eyes widen as he asks if this is a coincidence, since Woo is no longer at the chairman’s office.

Knowing it can’t possibly be a coincidence, Shi-mok runs to his office and tells his clerk to check if Woo left Korea. He then grabs all the photos of his suspects and tries to narrow them down. “Someone who knew Secretary Woo,” he thinks. He places Chairman Lee and Yeon-jae on the board.

“Someone who knows about the CEO of Sungmoon’s jealousy.” He places Chief Secretary Lee and Young Il-jae on the board. “Someone who knew that Bae Sang-wook pressured the Incheon Prosecutor’s Office when the car accident occurred.” Yeon-jae’s photo is taken off…

“Someone who knew that Secretary Woo was leaving the country yesterday afternoon.” Young Il-jae’s photo is taken off, leaving only Chairman Lee and Chief Secretary Lee.

And finally, Shi-mok thinks, “Someone who would use Section Chief Yoon to chase after Secretary Woo.” He takes Chairman Lee’s photo… and crumples it up. Chief Secretary Lee is the only one left.

Still sitting in his office, Chief Secretary Lee thinks back to meeting Yoon late at night. Yoon had been shaking with anger (maybe even fear?), clutching something inside his jacket. Lee had grabbed Yoon’s arm and made him drop something covered in newspaper – a knife.

“Killing just that one dog,” Lee had said, “will make you nothing more than a butcher.” He’d told Yoon that if he was determined to see CEO Park bleed, he needed to hear him out first.

Lee then gets a call from his father-in-law, and he hits the record button before answering.

Back in Shi-mok’s office, Clerk Kim bursts in to announce that Secretary Woo did, in fact, leave Korea yesterday.

 
COMMENTS

Goddammit, Lee Chang-joon! I wanted to believe in you! I didn’t think anything could top Yoon’s betrayal, but this really takes the cake. Shi-mok has always had Lee on his radar and made sure to make him know that, but as I’m sure we all did, there was this tiny part of Shi-mok that was hoping his superior wasn’t the one responsible for all of this. The man was the one who made Shi-mok decide what kind of prosecutor he wanted to be. So while their relationship has been hostile all series long, there was still this sense of a mentor/student relationship between them.

When they had that confrontation in the courtroom (when Lee had declared that he would never present himself as a defendant in front of Shi-mok), I wanted to believe that Lee was being so defensive because he really was innocent – because he was plotting something against the real Big Bad and he still wanted Shi-mok to trust him. But no, it turns out Lee is the Big Bad. That just hurts. But then again, I’m… not too sure. When have we ever been 100% sure of anything in this show? I still think that we’re dealing with at least one more person. Forest of Secrets has proved again and again that it’s an extremely smart show.

It’s made us suspect literally everyone – even our two heroes – and even when those we suspected were revealed to be a villain, it still came as a big hit. The fact that Lee has been a suspect from Episode 1 doesn’t make the reveal any less impactful. The shock and betrayal all came from built-up interest and admiration of his character. As we got a deeper look at his home life and his (twisted yet sweet) love life, the part of me that wanted to like him grew inch by inch. He’s definitely one of my favorite drama villains, and while I think his father-in-law is an actual villain – a man so deep in his corruption that he’s incapable of remorse – Lee was just a man who found himself going down the wrong path.

But once Lee was on that path, he seemed to think that it was too late to turn back. Even when he shows regret, you still see that he feels the need to move forward, like he needs to finish what he started. And that snap decision to keep moving forward in their terrible deeds is what separates the average person from the corrupt. And unfortunately, whether it’s in dramaland or real life, there’s far too many of the corrupt in law enforcement. We’ve seen that temptation is a powerful thing, and it takes a lot of strength to overcome it. But for some, the strength is already there. And it’s always nice to see that there are plenty people like that in the force too. For people like Shi-mok and Yeo-jin, there was no logical reason for them to take the darker path _ they care too much about serving justice for the people around them to take the “easy route” for themselves.

I was impressed with the acting before, but I think everyone truly shined in this episode. From Yoon’s retelling of his son’s story to Yeo-jin blaming herself for Eun-soo’s death, my emotions were flying everywhere. But it was Yoo Jae-myung as Lee Chang-joon that completely took me by surprise. He’s been absolutely stellar throughout the entire drama, but he was scary good in this episode. He had me hurting for him when he said goodbye to his wife, and then – in the blink of an eye – he had me fearing him as he immediately went back into cold business mode. I guess if he really has to be our big villain, there is no one better.

If there’s any complaint with this show, it’s that we didn’t get to spend as much time with Shi-mok and Yeo-jin as I wanted. We didn’t get to see too much of their pasts, and I just wanted to know a little more about them. Yeo-jin, in particular, was such a great heroine and I would’ve loved to see what shaped her into the woman she is today. But I’d say that’s more of a nitpick. If anything, I’m just upset that we don’t get any more episodes. Is it too much to ask for a Season 2? Everyone else is doing it at the moment! *cries*

 
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I wanted Shi-mok's reaction to Yeo-jin knowing about his surgery and I got it!
That phone call really got me in the guts.

It warmed my heart so much that I cried, that even when heartbroken and guilt-ridden, YJ still had enough room to worry about Shi-mok and offer him support. His response of simply closing his eyes gutted me. I think he was truly comforted by what she said. It was like a weight was lifted off his shoulders, as if in that moment, he realized he could finally rely on someone. I think that was gratitude written all over his face.
And when he made sure to reassure her that Eun-soo's death wasn't her fault...my heart just couldn't take it anymore.

That phone call really highlighted how far these two have progressed in their relationship. Shi-mok has come to trust Yeo-jin, to the point of seeking her out when he's overwhelmed by work, and even opening up and being comfortable enough to share his worries with her.
On her side, Yeo-jin doesn't walk on eggshells around him or hide things from him, be it information or her general emotional state. She tells him things as they are, and unlike many other characters who assume he doesn't care about anything because of his apathy, she actually treats him like a normal person.
Gosh, these two! I love them so much, individually and together. Their friendship brings tears to my eyes, it is too beautiful.

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The conversation over the phone between Si-mok and Yeo-jin ♡♡♡

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And did you notice that he ordered soju? Shi-mok hates alcohol but on that night he called Yeo-jin, talking about their regrets with regards to Eun-soo and comforting each other, it's like "Screw it, I'm having a drink."

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Well said. The phone call was so emotional and I loved that Shi-mok was the one to call Yeo-jin. Their relationship so genuine and comfortable, its nice to know that they can rely on each other.

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Yes! That moment when he closed his eyes. JSW's such a great actor, I mean he just closed his eyes but that totally leveled up the emotion in this scene.

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This episode just full of feeling, every scene just that good that even after I write about my opinion on certain scene, I immediately agree on the another one when I read people's comments.

Shi Mok and Yeo Jin scene warm my heart so much. Compared to Shi Mok in earlier episode where he said to Jung Bon that probably he'll be alone till the end (and look so sad by saying that), now Shi Mok have Yeo Jin to be his friend (and won't be alone anymore)

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Right?!?! I'm so glad that Jo Seung-woo played Hwang Shi-mok - I have a hard time imagining anyone else nailing down the character so perfectly because his portrayal is just too goooood. ?

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This! their talk about the surgery and YJ showing her concern and support to SM was beautiful to see, nothing over the top on that scene but they just showed that their relationship was past to just colleagues to genuine friendship.

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Their conversations have been my favorite parts ?! To see Shi Mok trust Yeo Jin and she caring for him?, the best.

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I really love the relationship between SM and YJ. It signals a new type of "romantic" relationship, one that might be devoid of sexual tension or passion, but is one based on an equal partnership and companionship. They behave like an old couple, they confide in each other about their problems, and they speak to each other about their insecurities. I love it that SM is the one who calls YJ first. In fact, I realize he calls her quite often.

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What on earth?

You all see way too much of what isn't there. New type of romantic relationship. Jesus.

You know what they are acting like? Friends. Because not everything is shipping.

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I'm assuming final recap will be Laica, so I just wanted to say thank you for the fantastic work on recapping the show. Didn't want to post anything else as it'd inevitably be a spoiler for those just reading along :)

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Yes! Thank you ladies for the wonderful recaps. Really appreciate it <3.

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i know people have said it before but i'm going to say it again: BEST DRAMA OF 2017

Yoon made my heart break this episode, the scene with his son was so sad.
The reveal of Lee Chang-joon stillcame as a surprise, I agree with the recapper that despite suspecting everyone all the reveals have been so impactful and even shocking that I really have to give props to the writing and directing. I really am hoping for a season 2 or atleast another drama written by this writer... possibly next year? I'm feeling so much post drama withdrawals I'm tempted to start this one again.

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Lee Chang Joon has always been shady and bad.. but the revelation in this episode takes one step further. The writer really knows how to craft an engaging, twist-turning story. Kudos to the writer!

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This show has crafted two of the greatest characters in Kdrama land.

Lee Chang Joon - most complex antagonist. Always wary, manipulative with a glimmer of hope.

Yeo-jin - the most human and strong protagonist (M or F) of Kdramas. Her character is tinged with human foibles yet determined and kick-ass in a doing kind of way. She could walk out of the screen and almost be a real person.

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Han Yeo Jin is the epitome of Kdrama heroine. Bae Doona is a girl crush material!

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This is another one of those dramas that has me screaming "Where is season 2?" while also quietly, at the back of my brain, has me worrying that there's no way it could live up to the first season

But I definitely agree that it's the best drama of 2017 (at least so far), and maybe, if we're lucky, we'll get more of it

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We want Season 2!!

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In the final episode it looked like they left it open ended for another season, we can hope.

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This kind of ending is my favorite, you can let your imagination fly free.
I would like to see another season too. But is it even possible? Such a combination of acting, scenario, directing and overall fluency is rare. And also now we have an ideal and such high standarts.

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right?? i love that the ending struck that perfect note of ambiguity where it makes sense that a season 2 could definitely follow, but it also has enough finality as an ending to a standalone drama.

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A r

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Oh how I hope! This is my first Kdrama, and I am already feeling withdrawal syndrome. I'd definitely watch a season 2.

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When faced with such corruption and deep betrayals such as this, it's easy to be disillusioned. The phone conversation between Shi-mok and Yeo-Jin was so heartfelt. It was proof of their friendship that they seemed to take courage and comfort from each other. They really do make an awesome pair.
The reveal of the mastermind behind the murder and kidnapping was well done. The episode built up tension while slowly confirming my fears. Though it's horrible how Yoon's son died, taking another life is never the answer. Ultimately he was just a weapon wielded by chief secretary Lee.

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Yoon's quiet recollection of his son's accident broke my heart. His anguish and devastation was so palpable and even Shi-mok couldn't help but become affected by it. Still, that doesn't mean he has the right to kill or hurt others. Though the more disturbing things this hour came from Chief Lee.

It's astonishing, the kind of things he is willing to do in order to unearth a massive corruption. I assume he found Yoon before his first murder (since Lee said something about Park must not be at home at that time). That means he either put a stop to Yoon's plan and use other people to carry those crimes then use Yoon as the fall guy, which is too inefficient. Or the 2nd option that makes more make sense: He use Yoon's revenge to further his own agenda, making elaborate plans that involving Kang Jin-seob, Ga-young, Shi-mok, and also Sungmoon Daily. And the idea of Chief Lee taking advantage of Yoon's desperation to make a deadly trap for his father-in-law and maybe several other important figures is chilling. I'm not sure how to feel about him willingly becoming a monster to catch another monster.

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More likely it's the 2nd option. He was definitely using Yoon's grieving state to start his long fight against the system he so hated but is a part of it.

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This is an emotionally charged episode through and through. As the camera panned across Yoon's dusted home with his bed being the only sign of some kind of life is totally devastating and heartbreaking. A silent few seconds yet conveying so much.

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Thank you for the stellar recap! It was all the small moments in this episode that were heart-wrenchingly, heart-breakingly sad.....Lee and his wife expressing their love really got to me, it was perfectly captured.

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The slow revealing of their loving relationship (and as a result, both their true characters) as the show progressed was a complete surprise and pleasure for me too! It was unexpected and very poignant.

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I never thought Do Bong-soon appa (aka Yoo Jae-myung) one day become one of my most favorite actor...I loved YJM performance in this drama so much!

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Oh wow, for some reason I never even put it together that he's also Do Bong-soon's father! That's some impressive versatility right there

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And also lee dong hwi's dad in Reply 1988

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He was Dongryung's appa in Reply 1988 and he was hilarious in it. That's even more of a contrasting character.

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also doting bodyguard, Pa-Oh, from Hwarang. Yes this guy: https://youtu.be/FLsDltPo9AA?t=1m15s

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I didn't realize that either! But I was just watching Jealousy Incarnate recently and he's the newscaster who returned from England.

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I started low-key fangirling over him ever since JI. I love his character there. And then Reply 1988, Hwarang, Do Bong-soon, and Forest of Secrets happened. And now he is one of my fave ajusshi. What a versatile and amazing actor. ?

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Oh golly! I totally forgot YJM was Bong Soon's appa! Granted I dropped the show early but still! What a stark contrast between the characters. Awesome awesome actor!

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I'm so happy for Yoo Jae-myung, he's so versatile, probably because he has a theater background. See this interview : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxR3szFpnkM

I've watched him stealing scenes in many shows: As the Twist dancing Dean of Student aka Dong-ryong's dad in Reply 1988, slightly cheesy but professional anchorman in Jealousy Incarnate, puppy-level adorable King's bodyguard who shamelessly shaved his age in half in Hwarang, and Bong-soon's timid but ultimately loving dad in Strong Woman Do Bong-soon. His role as Lee Chang-jun is probably the biggest to date in terms of screen time, and since he nailed it and made such an impact, I'm sure the industry will be clamoring to cast him in future projects.

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ooooooh mmmyyyyy goooosh!!
(it just hit me!)

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I'm speechless right now. I did not recognize him at all... And I loved both dramas...

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God, I absolutely loved it in that phone call scene between Shi mok and yeo jin where he said it doesn't hurt anymore, basically the entire conversation, they're both such lonely people and the fact that they at least have someone to talk to is wonderful

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Their friendship has been the high point of an already amazing series for me. It's so wonderful that they're able to find solace in each other

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I liked how after she mentioned the surgery, she asked him if his head hurt. Nothing about how he can't express emotions.

And I liked how he relieved YJ of the guilt she felt about ES's death.

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They almost don't need dialogue the way they can act with their expressions (even though Shi Mok is supposedly emotionless).

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The phone conversation...wow!

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This drama has always been about broken, imperfect people trying to heal themselves or others in righteous ways (Shi Mok) or insane ways (Prosecutor Yoon). This episode broke my heart. Shi Mok's interrogations of Yoon and that phone call between Shi Mok and Yeo Jin are at the heart of everything.

It's not to take away from the larger picture of a broken system (I've been finding a lot of apt comparisons to my own country, the US), but the individual stories really are moving.

Lee Chang Joon! Talk about the long game... He's horrible and human and pitiable all at once. This is another actor I've liked before, but he was a revelation here.

On another note, is it wrong of me to get distracted by Lee and Hwang in the no-tie, open necked shirt look? I feel really, really guilty about noticing, but I cannot lie: what amazingly attractive men!

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Definitely not wrong, the change on the ties were an interesting change ;)

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The no tie was so effective - particularly when matched with the change in camera ....When wearing no tie, Shi-mok is nearly always shot off-vertical --ramping up the on edge intensity. This is also when they shot him from above eye height. This show has done amazing and subtle camera framing to make Shi-mok dominate scenes despite his relative height.

As Shi-mok regained his composure (and verticality) - the no tie aligned with him breaking out of his previous confines.

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I will have to go back and check the framing in detail. But I felt it and it was very efective.

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god i hope not, i've been so distracted by hwang shi-mok's no-tie look too that i genuinely space out in his scenes sometimes and need to rewind to catch what he's actually saying or doing LOL.

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I knew I couldn't be the only one! ;-)

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That's why we need a season two, to spend more time on SM and YJ and also watch them kick more ass!

Was wonderfully surprised with Lee Kyu-Hyung, who plays Mr. Yoon, in this drama. His expressions and his voice, you can definitely feel the pain, talking about his son was poignant and his only wish. And then you find out he didn't get an autopsy bec he was afraid of what his son went through ?

Searched his name and found out he played the mean husband of the ghost (who is also Shi-mok's secretary, Kim So-ra) in Goblin.

Thank you ladies for the wonderful recaps and to the beanies! Looking forward to the last ep recap.

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I would settle for a show just with them just eating at Pojangmacha.

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Yes, and adding water to their food bec it's salty.

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I'd be a happy camper :)

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maybe they should cameo in the 3rd season of Let's Eat! They'll be eating as usual and then Gu Dae Young will interrupt with a spiel about the best way to eat udon.

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ha ha ha ha ha!
that would be the BEST cameo ever!

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10/10 would watch every week.

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I never say this about a kdrama, but I could use another thirty episodes.

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There was another quiet moment that made me cry (I cried a lot this episode): when Chief Prosecutor Yang remembered telling Prosecutor Yoon to forget and heal. It's the kind of thing folks say when they don't really know what to say. Yoon needed counseling not stoicism. He may have had no other path but violence, but I wonder if a few things had been different-- someone listening to his pain for instance, helping him plan a legal means to justice-- could have changed everything. That's true for everything, of course, but it hit me there.

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That flashback between C.P Kang and Yoon was particularly striking, and sad and heartbreaking. It was said with good intentions, but telling Yoon to forget his child must have been such a blow.

This episode was filled with so much sadness, with almost everyone regretting something and wondering if things would've turned out different, had they made other choices.
I cried a lot too, for them and along with them.

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I felt my heart break during that scene. He must have felt so alone. It doesn't seem like he had other family. His wife even left him. It was even worse that while he was a prosecutor who brings criminals to justice, he wasn't able to get justice for his son.

I hate that LCJ took advantage of Yoon. But LCJ was also the only one who noticed him, heard him, and reached out to him.

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And the movement of Yoon's head at that moment. He slightly looked up as if he wanted to say, 'Do you think I can do that?' CP Yang then awkwardly avoided his eyes because deep down he knew the advice he just offered was simply not feasible for Yoon (moving on and living his life). The two actors could do so much with their body language without the excess of words.

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"The two actors could do so much with their body language without the excess of words."

I agree. This is something not all actors can do - acting with your whole body instead of just the face. My top peeve of late is stock expression and I see nothing of this bad habit in these actors.

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The acting was just astonishing.

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Real corruption is not Action packed (as is the typical approach) instead it is intensely personal and human.

This show breaks your heart as it dares to give all characters depth and nuance. Yeo-jin's comment that "following the path can lead to where you don't expect" is one of the best summaries of the show.

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When YJ said that, I unconsciously looked back and wondered if I too was taken into unexpected situations just bc I went with the flow.

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That is just one of many things that this show got right. Instead of filling episodes up with stupid black suited gangsters with sticks, they showed just how insidious actual corruption can be.

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"they showed just how insidious actual corruption can be."

Insidious is the word. It doesn't need to be big all the time, it starts from small things and slowly but surely, it becomes a way of life.

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Thank you so much for the recap SailorJumun! This has brightened my day.
I have been mourning the end of this wonderful drama. Then suddenly there is this recap. It feels like such a bonus for me.

In this episode, What struck the most for me is Yoo Jae Myung as LCJ. This is the first time I saw him in a serious role. He is an amazing actor as I remember all the various father figures he has played in the past. He has made this role memorable since he has managed to make LCJ sympathetic and complex.

As for Mr Yoon, I was drawn to his character. Then the reveal on his involvement in the murder of Park Moo Sung felt like such a huge personal betrayal. I knew that everyone is a suspect. But it still didnt hurt any less.

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My soul left my body about 5 times during that episode. I finished ten minutes ago and it still hasn't returned

Ahhhh the reveal with Lee Chang-joon! I also never quite believed him to be the Big Bad--corrupted and conflicted, yes, but I just couldn't bring myself to make the jump to series villain. But I can't say it doesn't make sense--everything, in one way or another, has tied back to him, and his character has been so complexly written that I appreciate the betrayal even if it hurts

I'm definitely Team Season 2, but I'm also Team Spinoff About Yeo-jin and Shi-mok's Daily Fluffy Adventures. Whatever will I do without Yeo-jin's gentle teasing and Shi-mok's quiet sass?

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Hahahahaaha
YJ and SM Daily Fluffy Adventures should definitely be a thing. Maybe a slice of life webtoon if not a drama?

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I would be all over a slice of life webtoon about it

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I would watch that! Every episode would end with them sharing a bottle of soju.

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Great idea, no that Shi mok knows how to enjoy a drink and Yeo jin doesn't have to drink alone! watching them get drunk would be so much fun. Cheers

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It must also include more drawings of SM by YJ.

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There could be a new one each installment, with Shi-mok getting progressively less grumpy about it (because you know he secretly loves the pictures)

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My body is ready for YJ and SM's Daily Fluffy Adventures!

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After watching the last episode, I confidently claim that Forest of Secret is the thriller korean drama for 2017

Oh my God, season 2 please. The ending is so fitting that there's a mixed of hope and bitter reality.

And like the usual, this episode also blow my mind one way to the other. When Yoon cry, I just want to hug him. His prayer for his son make me cry so much, he doesn't 't even pray that his son didn't died but instead he died before the fire, imagine how bleak his feelings...

Also Lee Chang Jun... Man, word can't even comprehend my feeling to him, it just... Man

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Aw, LeeChangJoon. Most complicated character ever in Korean drama which so well written.

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To me personally I am certain that FoS is the best legal drama of 2017 (and likely the best regardless of genre). Looking at the list of upcoming projects I don't see one that would come close. However I will be overjoyed to be proven wrong because no one should complain about having more quality dramas really.

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Elsewhere, people call this a social drama above genres. So very true.

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I love the interaction between Lee Chang Joon and his wife, YeonJae just so happy whatever LCJ done to her. Despite of their complicated marriage-like business life and Chairman Lee, they still love each other.
Is it me or Yoon in the last 2 episodes looks so painfully handsome? I never noticed before, ShiMok just awed me so much.

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Not just you! He has a really nice profile (which shaves like 10 years off his face) and I feel like they seemed to be shooting more profile shots of him lately.

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Ikr? that's why!

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Season 2!

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I don't mind if there is 5 seasons of it

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If this is not happening, who's up for a rewatch? ????????

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Guilty as charged. I've already done that and now that I know how it ended, it certainly is an eye-opening viewing experience. Because I'm no longer feeling puzzled over the mystery, I start noticing MORE things that I missed previously (is that even possible?) I highly recommend re-watching past episodes, for a different context.

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Good idea, I shall do that!

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That's one of the reason why I want to watch it again. Once I've got time, it's on the top of the list!

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im not sure what to think of lee chang jun, he seems principled and feels guilty about his own complicity in corruption but he also doesnt seem to care that much about justice for ordinary folks as he is willing to murder others to achieve his goals. kind of like a evil batman?

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LCJ proves the pitfalls of vigilante justice. I love vigilantes and characters going above the law, but they you get into these grey areas of having one person play jury, judge, and executioner. And what happens when that vigilante deems things like prostitution=bad so prostitutes=only to sacrifice for the greater good and everything is hunky-dory?

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But is Lee ChangJoon really the pupeteer or did he "just" include Yoon into his plans to uncover the machinations of his farher-in-law?

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@sailorjumun if there was anyway to fav this recap I would! What a wonderful read! I was impressed with Yoo Jae Myung's acting too. This man was one of the revelation of this drama beside prosecutor yoon.
And gonna join you there in the silent chant for season 2.?

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I think I might be one of the few people that doesn't want a second season (and the finale cemented that feeling).

Yoon and Lee Chang-joon were the real MVPs this episode; obviously not for their deeds, but for their performances! So good.

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I think the finale left kind of an open end for another season. But it would only work if the two main actors, writer, and director was the same.

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Oh, I agree -- I definitely agree that it's open-ended. Rather than looking at it as an invitation to expand on the story, I interpreted it as a "this is the end as you see it BUT [redacted because I'm not sure who hasn't watched the finale yet]", if that makes sense. And I was totally satisfied with it.

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I love this show.

When Prosecutor Yoon was describing the horrific death of his child juxtaposed with the police discovering bloodied suit he used to kill Eun-soo, it was such a powerful shot. His son’s death is unfair and awful - clearly Yoon was a great father that loved his family - but seeing how horrifically he murdered so many people it’s also hard to feel for him. The show tears me in pieces because I completely sympathize with Yoon’s pain and loss, but am terrified by the onslaught of death he caused as revenge.

It’s also fascinating how such a “small” event (the death of one person - not to downplay the loss of any person) can unravel such a huge conspiracy of corrupt prosecutors, police, corporations. I think it just shows who really suffers from corruption. It’s not the business’ that fail, or the unfair promotions, it’s the common folk that are “unintentionally” hurt from these games, who have no power to fight back and have to take matters into their own hands.

Shoutout to the actor playing Prosecutor Yoon, he kills it (hur hur) in his role. When he looks up at Si-mok when they being their interrogation… Actually, screw it, shoutout to everyone in this goddamn amazeballs drama. UGH. I need more.

To me, this drama is like a legal Signal. So beautifully made, planned out, shot, acted, written, directed, eaten, broiled, condensed, laminated. LITERALLY everything. I’m happy I didn’t have to wait so long for another classic to come along. Hopefully, another one comes even quicker.

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I wondered why Yoon hadn't gotten rid of all the evidence after all this time. It's not like the police has any substantial evidence that pins him to the crimes. He might have actually gotten away with it had he got rid of the evidence. At least, burn them, for goodness sake.

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Has there ever been a finale week like Forest of Secrets? I don't think so or at least I can't recall any.

Starting with Yoon. Man, I cried and couldn't stop. This is the most brilliantly written, directed and acted interrogation and confession I have ever seen. I don't know if the writer is a parent but Yoon's lines resonated with me who is one. I've often wondered myself how far I'd go to protect my babies(always will be no matter what age) and what I'll do if anyone harms them. When Yoon described his son's soft skin, I bawled more. After watching, I just had to check this actor who played Yoon because I don't even know his name. He's not listed in many sites only on wiki and he has only acted in a few projects. Lee Kyu Hyung is the name. He knocked it out of the park as Section Chief Yoon. You can feel Yoon's immense pain and grief radiating from his every pore, often with no words but just the look in his eyes and tiny shifts in facial expressions. I've grown very critical of kdrama actors who overdo this kind of melodramatic scenes and this is an excellent example of an actor doing it right. I am sure the director has a part to play because this drama has top notch acting from the leads to secondary characters. I hope they will use FOS to teach those at drama schools be it writing, directing or acting.

I am never one who hanker for romance in a drama which isn't the genre. Yet this drama delivers more touching moments than others with their contrived romance. I didn't expect the phone between Shi Mok and Yeo Jin to deliver such feelings. It wasn't romantic but it was so touching to know how they grown close and cared for each other.

I am not surprised it's Lee Chang Joon, having eliminated the possible suspects over the past week. Still, I was holding on to a sliver of hope that he wasn't the one who ordered Park killed.

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Yoon did a perfect portrayal of a grieving father who also felt empty inside.

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I totally agree with your comments on Yoon. Every time Yoon was crying, I was crying. What a tragic and misguided character. I haven't felt such sadness from a character in any drama in a long time. I hope this is Lee Kyu-hyung's chance at being more widely recognized!

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I'm there with you with the bawling during the interrogation scene. The script was perfectly written and acted. With so many MVPs in this drama it's hard to pick just one but I think he did really well, since we could clearly see the change in personality between Yoon as doting father, Section Chief Yoon a member of the Special Investigation Team and lastly a grief-stricken revenge-driven murderer (he has three different tones!)

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@m3lon4 Yes! He really did portray those three really well. I didn't expect myself to empathize with him so much after we learned that he's a murderer but I was bawling when he was crying. I agree with @astromantic too that I hope this wonderful performance gets Lee Kyu-hyung more offers to showcase his talent more.

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'I am never one who hanker for romance in a drama which isn't the genre.'

Me too! But, I ship SM and YJ a lot... I mean, I didn't know it was possible to ship characters who doesn't even have a hugging scene (the behind the scenes of them laughing and hugging sent me to heaven). YJ only slapped SM's back and arm!

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Goodness gracious! This show just can't stop getting better and better till the end!
Lee Chang Jun is one character that was so twisted, from the beginning he was in the grey area for me. We finally get to see his big scheme in this episode and get to see how twisted he is. He trully loves Yeonjae, when he sent her off to the airport.... I was afraid that's going to his last seeing his wife.
It's hurt and I cried watching Yoon tells Shimok about his son death, I kind of understand why Yoon takes the darker path to get his vengeance. The man is in pain but the culprit behind all the faulty is got away unpunished.
The phone call between Shimok and Yeojin was so emotional!
Maybe to Shimok there are no other person he can speak to other than Yeojin, she knows what he's been through and maybe she's the only one that earn his trust from the beginning. I love to see more of their interaction and maybe take their relationship go further than only friendship! XD

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With two young kids of my own, I just cried and cried for Yoon. Though all his vengeful deeds are wrong and deserving of punishment, objectively, it is obvious he is a good man at heart who was, and is, completely and utterly devastated by loss. The way his young and beautiful son was taken from him (not just through fire but by all the horrible corruption surrounding it), seriously shattered his soul. I am always surprised by not only how strong and resilient humans can be, but also how seriously fragile we also are. I think many of us are just one tragedy away from absolutely losing it or giving up on life. And though this is not meant to be a justification of his actions, it makes me reflect on easily one could fall into such a despair and drown in it. For him, getting revenge was the only way for him to escape it, it seems, even his life be damned.

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Well written!

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One tragedy away, indeed. I cannot imagine how broken I would be if something happened to my younger brother.
But still, our decisions define who we are. So I cannot agree that he is a good man after what he did. Revenge is partly giving up on ones humanity.

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THIS??SHOW?? is perfection in any language.

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I feel so conflicted about Yoon. On the one hand, I hate what Yoon did to GaYoung, how he perceived Ga Young as being a lesser person for selling her body, how he lied to his teammates (just sat back and watched them wrack their brains trying to figure this all out), and how he framed that poor guy for killing CEO Park. On the other hand, I feel such pity for him because of what happened to his son and the injustice that followed. And I don't feel bad for CEO Park's murder. He was involved in a ton of shady, illegal crap. I guess I have darker morals than most people. I guess such an attitude wouldn't endear me to Shi Mok and Yeo Jin. No invitations to eat udon and ramen with them. :(

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About Yeo-jin...I feel the need to say this
Am I the only one who really wasn't bothered by the lack of a Yeo-jin backstory? Of course it would have been an added bonus to the amazing character that she already is, but I never felt that it was absolutely necessary (although it did make me suspect her just a little).

Considering everything we knew about her in the present, it was easy for me to accept her. She's a hardworking and passionate policewoman who is deeply devoted to her cause, a truly warm and empathetic person, reliable, firm in her principles, non-judgmental and doesn't take shit from anyone. She proved all of these time and again throughout this show, that I hardly had time to desire a backstory. Also, I would like to think that she is simply an inherently good person, who wasn't necessarily just a product of her environment. And I thought only knowing who she is in the present added a sense of realism to the show, because frankly, we don't always know everyone's past.

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You're not alone. I questioned why people NEED her backstory, for me it's unnecessary. A kid is born pure, it's the growing up makes them see colour and choose them. YeoJin simply choose the nature of human to choose what's good. Just like a kid believe justice will always win, YeoJin just never change that mindset.

YeoJin is real for me *it reminds me of Liar Game where the heroine is too good to be true. Too kind, to naive. THAT, you can say it's not realistic* YeoJin is never naive. She observed and she knows what or how to act

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Nope, I wasn't either.

I wrote in Criminal Minds recap that having a backstory is a very common method of giving details to a character. If a story or character can be interesting without having a dramatic backstory, it is an accomplishment. That drama is an example of a lesser writing where the writer felt the need to embellish the main character with more than one tragedy. I read that the American original also had sad backstories for the characters so this is hardly confined to kdramas. However, the remake takes it a step further by making a melodrama out of it. The actors then deliver the final punch by acting overly angsty and pained. Did it achieve the desired outcome? I guess it works for some but it sure didn't for me. By avoiding all these cliches and overly dramatic touch in everything, FOS team shows that less is so much more.

As @Tom so aptly said in his post above:
"Yeo-jin - the most human and strong protagonist (M or F) of Kdramas. Her character is tinged with human foibles yet determined and kick-ass in a doing kind of way. She could walk out of the screen and almost be a real person."

In the hands of Bae Doo Na, this character stands out like no other in the kdrama landscape.

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Outofthisworld

Loved your comment on backstories. They do tend to force actors into over-emotion to live up to the angst of their past. I.e. because this character is tragic all their reactions must now be filtered through tragedy.

This show let relevant character information be revealed by their actions. Eg. Yeo-jin: felt for every victim, viscerally reacted to injustice (we shouldn't do what we wouldn't do in cartoons), careful and wily in her observations (taking the Parks in to her tiny flat while observing them + the drawings), generous and joyful (is there anyone better to have a drink with).

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I also hope the other dramas will look at FoS as an exemplary attempt to do emotional right.

When I think about it, it often makes me wonder how realistic the heavy-handed portrayal of characters with pained and troubled past is. From my personal experience, very few if at all of the people I have met and interacted with would wear such tense and gloomy expressions on a daily basis. They act and behave just as everyone else and I would only learn of their troubled past when I'm close enough for them to tell me. It's not to say that people forget or trivialise terrible things that happened to them, but I believe they do not relive such traumatic experiences on a daily, or even hourly basis. Many of those I know would only look pained and distressed when there is something recent that reminds them of such experiences. Most of the time the emotional punch would be much more shattering and impactful when it comes with an emotional breakdown that we do not expect, rather than when the actors wear it constantly.

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Thank you for saying this @maskros, you are right about how people with personal tragedies actually go about in real life.

This is why I marvel more at this writer. When Yoon was introduced in this drama, the farthest thing we'd thought is how tragic a figure he was. The very first clue was his sudden change in demeanor at the dinner in Lee Chang Joon's house when Yeon Jae asked about kids.

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"If a story or character can be interesting without having a dramatic backstory, it is an accomplishment"

Yess, this is exactly why I appreciate how her character was written. Maybe (everything else considered) BECAUSE she wasn't given any tragic backstory. I was a bit relieved tbh, bc as you mentioned it is a very common method to use, especially in kdramas.
To me, this is just another point that proves how skilled this writer is.

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Knowing her backstory would be a bonus but not necessary. Sometimes people feel connected to a character if they knew where and how they grew up. But for Yeo-jin, her questioning the injustices around her, taking care of CEO Park's mom, becoming a trusted friend to SM and many more things made me connected to her than any character in the drama.

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I agree. It's actually a nice change to have a kdrama protagonist without a ridiculously painful backstory and lots of flashbacks. And even with Shi Mok, they held back and just hinted, for example, at the problems his parents had (that was really well done in the phone talk, almost like a telepathic conversation between Shi Mok and Yeo Jin).

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"...knowing who she is in the present added a sense of realism to the show, because frankly, we don't always know everyone's past."

so well-said haha. not every main character needs a backstory to inform their actions, and tacking on an unnecessary backstory can sometimes just feel lazy and uninspired writing, especially when that same backstory is used again and again to justify the character's every action. and i feel like it's a true mark of good writing and acting when a character can feel fully realised and complete without a backstory at all (as we can all see in yeo-jin).

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YeoJin is the ultimate badass girl one would want to be. She is the real-life superhero. Well, almost.
Also, you, Pandarama, Outofthisworld and Tom have far surpassed all that I would be able to say about YouJin's character and BaeDonna and I agree wholeheartedly.

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I agree. What I love about the writing here is that the writer keeps everything concise and only brings up whatever is relevant to the show. YJ's upbringing might not be relevant to the case which is the heart and focus of this drama, so it's natural that it can be left out. We don't need to know where YJ grew up and whose her parents are to love her as a person. Sometimes less is more and I'm glad this show is exactly that.

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I wasn't particularly bothered either.

I would have liked to know more about her background, because I would like to know more about her (like I would in real life, if I befriended her) BUT as neener said, in this show it would have been bonus, not absolutely necessary.

Plus, it seemed to me that the writer knew it would have been filler: it wasn't needed for the story – her actions in the present fully explained the kind of person she was, which was all that was needed – , so it wasn't added. That was the approach with other characters too – we don't really know Dong-jae's backstory either (other than his claims to have a wife and child), because all we needed to know in his case was that he had a flip-flopper personality.

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Interesting. My admiration to BDN just grew! Not everyone can convey and transform that character from paper to screen so wonderfully like her ??

Btw, I'm sharing the link of the interview to my Fan Wall for other beanies to see. I hope you don't mind. ☺️

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I agree! Backstories are good if executed well. These days they're just used to overly explain things as if the audience isn't smart enough to get it, or to act as fillers. I'm glad they didn't have to resort to that and just let the characters show their complexities through their reactions and interactions with others - a feat that only amazing writing, directing, and acting can produce.

However, I am curious about the writing process of the script. I'm guessing that the writer may have had a character profile for Yeo-jin where details about her character are filed (including a backstory). Every one of these details doesn't have to be shown or let be known to the audience but it helps writers be consistent with the character, especially when they get stuck at some point. This is just a guess since each writer has his or her own technique and quirks when it comes to the process. But if this writer has one, I want to read that character profile!

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Waaah, I can't believe it's over. The main problem with this drama is that it makes all the others look like bad. There was no acting hole, the directing and writing were great... Love love love. I dropped all my other dramas, they just looked too juvenile in comparison. SIGH.

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Juvenile is the word. There's Forest of Secrets, and then there's the rest of them (that I don't care about).

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Jondae to banmal to jondae hits the right spot every time. But why did the police only take pictures of Chief Yoon's tattoos? Why didn't they take off the entire shirt to show some skin? Why wasn't there a flashback of Chief Yoon taking off his black outfit to reveal his torso? Why didn't Shi Mok undo another button on his shirt? Who is really responsible for these clothing crimes?

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"Why didn't Shi Mok undo another button on his shirt?"

!!!! i demand a second season dedicated to cracking this case.

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Lol!!!

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That though is one of the reasons why this drama is so good – that stuff is filler and fanservice and this show never did any of that.

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Ok, I'm going to be the voice of dissent, but I totally sympathize with Yoon and understood why he did what he did. Maybe it's because I just gave birth and my hormones are out of whack but if anybody hurt my baby, I would be the first person in line to stab the son of b* in the gut. I cried when he recalled how his son died. It hit a cord in me. His pain was so palatable that I found myself on his side, no matter how terrible his crime was.

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I understand the reasoning, but he killed someone's father. He might make Park's son a killer one day, and the cycle will continue. Nothing justify killing

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I believe that there are some crimes that deserve the death penalty. Some crimes are too henious to let go. Now, do I believe in putting justice in your own hands...? Realistically, I probably lack the guts to do it but will I acquit someone that does? Probably. For example, if I was on the jury of a parent that let's say, killed the rapist and murderer of his child? I can't say I would convict him. Does that make me a psycho? Meh. A psycho can't empathize and the problem would be, I'd empathize too much with the parent.

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Will it make you feel better if I say I can't be certain I will do things differently if I was in Yoon's shoes? Of course, there is a huge divide between thought and action but what is it that truly pushes the hand that deals the fatal blow? I guess it's a pain which no one can imagine unless you've been in the exact circumstance.

The show is subtle but firm in making the stance that Yoon is wrong and can never be justified. Now that he had the revenge which defined his existence in the aftermath of his son's death, did he feel better? The question was never about alleviating his pain but rather simply an eye for an eye.

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I agree. I think a typical, normal person that went through what Yoon went through would grieve and think about killing the person responsible millions of time in their head but wouldn't actually go through with it. Yoon crossed that line and he's wrong for it and paid the price, but I don't think he's an evil person. Not a monster. Just a grieving father that want justice for his child.

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Also, YeoJin confronted Yoon about his action saying that what he did invalidated all the other grieving parents that also lost their child and didn't resort to murder. I'm not sure I agree with her. The other parents may not resort to murder but I guarantee you that they thought about it, and if she put all the parents of the children on that bus on Yoon's jury, Yoon would probably be a free man.

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<I guarantee you that they thought about it

I don't think she questioned thinking about it though – I think most people will realise that that situation is precisely when someone might have such dark thoughts and wouldn't necessarily judge that or not judge it that harshly. But 99.9% of people wouldn't go beyond thoughts.

I'm actually pretty certain (and glad) that even though Yoon is going to be in prison, he won't be there alone – Yeo Jin, despite her feelings about what he did, is bound to pay him some visits, as is Kim Jung-Bon I think (and perhaps even some other members of the Scooby gang).

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Best K-Drama Ever!!
Really hating to see this end. Last episode kinda sorta maybe hinted the plot is open for a 2nd season, but I might just be getting my hopes too high.

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Thank you again for yet another awesome recap. It's been wonderful and love the insight at every end of recap!

I'm wrong about who-murder-who, but i'm true on Yoon as a murderer because he has motive (like i write on previous ep recap). And to know the motive being revealed and told by Yoon himself in this episode just broke my heart into pieces. Ah the pain~ he's a gentle father but so believable to become a killing motive. what an amazing actor to deliver it. YET! it never justify killing. Nope. It never will. Chang-joon's sentence of Yoon killing Park “Killing just that one dog will make you nothing more than a butcher,” gives me chill. What a psycho mindset.

That, gives another prove of how complex Lee ChangJoon as a character. I will comment of him more on last episode recap. He definitely shines in this episode, being so subtle (yet meaningful) from the beginning.

What i feels so satisfying about the confrontation of Shimok & Yoon is that of what i didn't get from Tunnel. The way Shimok blurt out his stand about what's right & wrong, even if the law doesn't side you, i applaud him. Shimok's cool and reasoning and the way the spoke about it at the right amount is so on point. I wrote in last comment of Tunnel that the bad guy didn't deserve the ending,it's too soft for him, will never change his view as killer. But in here, i believe Yoon will regret all his life thanks to Shimok's points.

YeoJin, already awesome, continue being awesome. Her eyes show her emotions so much. The hurt from betrayal, the heaviness. And phone call from Shimok. She received it while feeling guilty of Eunsoo, but still cared for how's Shimok doing. I just love their friendship.

Dongjae, his small actions to YoungIljae surprised me. Now i know how he survived hopping to good and bad side vice versa for so long. He's actually a guy (not so much towards women) who treats people well. Sometimes in real life, these small actions are things that soften our heart. It does play big parts sometimes.

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Doona Bae has been one of my favorite actresses for a long time, and she totally nailed it in this one. Never seen an actress that could say so much with just an expression.

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Dong Jae reminds me of the Jessica Rabbit quote "I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."

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Dong Jae is a PR guy. He placates people, softening them up, offering comfort when needed. In Il Jae's case, he even seemed sincere. He's so unlike Shi Mok who just goes right in with his questions. Abrupt and to the point (except that one time when he interviewed Yon Jae in her home regarding her hospital visit.

Dong Jae in some ways is similar to Yeo Jin who precedes her questioning with comforting words. Remember the time Shi Mok and Yeo Jin met CEO Park's mom at her work place? Shi Mok just fired away his questions at the old lady but it was Yeo Jin's gentle intervention that drew the old lady out. Same thing happened when the two of them visited Ga Young at the hospital when she just woke up. Yeo Jin went down to Ga Young's level, offered words of comfort and fit Ga Young's cooperation.

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..got Ga Young's cooperation.

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So many shows to watch and I've tried some but I just couldn't love any of them like I do with "Secret Forest."

I'm probably alone in not wanting a 2nd season. I want this to stand alone and a 2nd season is not going to be the same.

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I'm having the same problem. I started watching Falsify and I found it so hard to get into it. Even though I loved Namgoong Min as Chief Kim. I think Hwang Shi-Mok and Yeo-Jin have set the bar on prosecutors and lieutenants!

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Hah! I couldn't even try any new shows. As I've said before, this show has sucked the drama juices out of me and I've none to spare for any other show. Even the shows that I've started have been put on hold. ?

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It's hard to to put my finger on what made this one of the best k-dramas ever. There are so many parts that just all fit together. But aside from the obvious - the great acting, writing, and directing these are my thoughts:

1. An almost total avoidance of tired and overused cliches and tropes.

2. Attention to detail - we have all seen the usual dramas where someone is locked in a room and panics, while the door shot shows that the latch is right in front of the victim - nothing like that in this one. No phone batteries dying at the most critical time. Not filled with phony ahjussi laughs and endless questions about "are you eating well".
3. Conversations for the most part were like real actual people would talk - and the silences were all in the right place.
4. Realistic scenes - nobody fell off an 8 story building into a pile of trash and lived.

There are many others, but these are what struck me the most.

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In addition to your point (2)...there was no magic "black box" to magically solve hard problems. The show had to work the details and in the main the protagonist/s had the same information as the audience.

Shi-mok was just better at putting them together than most. If you have seen good game players and designers, this is how they work. Skilled players continuously plot the moves until a way forward becomes clear - then there is a huge leap in their position.

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So true. And sometimes Shi-Mok gets it wrong before he corrects himself with new information. In some sense the whole Yoon reveal was like that. And there are no last minute saves when the good guys make mistakes. It's written very realistically.

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I think there's the fact we've got a stellar ensemble cast (like you'll often find in Japanese dramas, while on the kdrama front they usually throw in a bunch idols in key roles, weakening the ensemble) – and they took those that normally do more film than dramas. And they were actors who weren't necessarily the most popular, but who were simply good (I don't know much about Jo Seung-woo, but Bae Doona is of course highly respected in Chungmuro and by film buffs, but I'm not sure the general Korean public really caught onto her).

And the fact that lead characters and many, many supporting characters were all fully written, 3-dimensional beings. No one was there as a 'device' merely to further the plot or the development of another character.

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Jo Seung Woo is one of the most bankable film and musical star in South Korea...

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Thank you for all the recaps, @sailorjumun! Admittedly, I never planned on watching FoS because I'm a rom-com kind of gal. But I got curious about it because I kept on seeing rave after rave about it in the What We're Watching posts and have seen a lot of comments on the recaps. I ended up trying it last Thursday and it didn't really grab me right away. Maybe because it's not my preferred genre and because it didn't feel like a kdrama but more of an American TV show. This is the first kdrama I've seen where we don't know anything, not really. I continued on with it and next thing I know, I've binged the first 8 episodes until 4AM. Perfect timing though because I didn't have to wait every week for new episodes since I was able to watch until episode 14 last weekend and the last two episodes this Monday. (Thank you, Netflix!)

And good lord, I agree with everyone that it's the best kdrama of 2017. I don't think anything's gonna come close to this perfection.

Anyway, THIS. EPISODE. Somehow, it shouldn't be surprising that Chang-joon was behind it all but it's a testament to the writer that all of us still got surprised and ultimately, betrayed. I think it mirrors what Shi-mok feels because he held out hope, time and time again, that it wasn't Chief Secretary Lee. All to realize that all along, it's been him. GAH

Also, this episode BROKE. ME. I know Yoon is a murderer but the tears won't stop flowing when he was telling the story of his son's death. Good lord my heart. Then we get that amazing phone call too between Yeo-jin and Shi-mok. MY HEART, IT'S A MESS.

Can't wait for the recap of the final episode and talk about EVERYTHING without any caution for spoiling people! Hahaha

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same thing happen to me!
I started to download this when TVN aired 8 episode, meant to watch it slowly over the weekend but end up with binge all 8 episodes and then get tortured waiting 2 episode per week. Definitely worth it though... hahaha

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I don't think I could have managed to wait for the episodes every week with this show. I'm so glad I binged it or I would have lost my mind with the torture of the wait. Haha!

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The scene when Yoon tells about his son made me cry so much. I also loved the phone call between Shi Mok and Yeo Jin, i love their relationship. This is by far the best drama of 2017, acting, writing, directing is all superb, i particularly love Bea Doona and Jo Seung Woo, they are two brilliant actors, i will never get tired to watch them.

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It's interesting 'cause when Hwang Shi Mok was interviewing the special investigation team individually after Eun Soo's death, Yoon hoped her parents wouldn't see the body (he was speaking from experience), and yet he left CEO Park's body blatantly after murdering him. Interestingly, Shi Mok was the one who spared the CEO's mother from that sight.

I love that whole comment about not being strictly good nor bad. That's it. That's the whole show. Since the suspects all have motivations but also redeeming qualities, I never had a confident bet on who the culprit was but I did write down my thoughts after ep 14 (I've never done that for any show before, which says a lot about my luv for the show). They're not that organized, I mean, hello, my brain was hurting trying to connect the dots but I just checked and I was right about the mastermind.

(I entertained the thought of the mastermind hiring a random dude to do it. I guess that was right too, though the dude wasn't so random after all.)

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I think it's because Yoon doesn't identify himself with the Park family.
Regardless of what we think of him, the thing that Yoon and Lee Chang-Joon share in common is that both justify their actions and the path they choose. They identify themselves as the righteous one, unless someone else knocks some sense into them. That's why they have been letting those who they identify with (the 'good' and the 'righteous') to have their way while sparing almost no thoughts or considerations for others who they clearly distance themselves from (the exception being Lee and his wife - he also distances himself from the likes of his father-in-law). This also explains why Yoon didn't punch YJ in the airport scene. He identifies with her and therefore would do her no harm.

Or that's how I interpret Yoon and Lee Chang-Joon.

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Thus was the end of a rare phenomenon in a show, an abstinent.

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I really hate myself for starting this drama sooo late since I missed out on the discussions here. But, boy am I glad that I still started it and damn is it a godsend drama. One of the best Asian dramas I have watched. This is really the best drama of 2017 and 2017 isn't over yet.

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There have been countless interrogation scenes in K-dramaland, and in this episode particularly, when Shi-mok asked Yoon "Did you kill Prosecutor Young Eun-soo?" then he repeated it again "Did you kill her?" How many times have we heard this line before, and yet I remembered feeling in awe at how well he delivered it; his tone and expression, just elevate everything.

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