Falsify: Episodes 23-24
Ah, and this is why Falsify is a win for me. When you give me villains with convincing moral conflicts instead of generic slimy characters with obsidian hearts, I’m sold. As Chief Gu closes his trap on our heroes and comes up ahead of the pack, it’s genuinely satisfying to see a smart antagonist setting up a proper challenge for the good guys to overcome. But even the biggest manipulator in the world of news has lines that he hesitates to cross. The question now is: Will the greed for power overcome Chief Gu’s few remaining moral scruples?
EPISODE 23 RECAP
As all three teams realize that they’ve stepped into a neatly laid trap, news breaks all over Seoul that con artist Nam Kang-myung is arriving at 1 A.M. at Goong-pyung Port, which is an hour away from the harbor where So-ra, her team, and the reporters have gathered. And it’s already past midnight.
All over the city people whose money Nam Kang-myung had stolen watch the news in shock and anger as the man’s new face is broadcast to the world. They drop everything they are doing to get to Goong-pyung Port where the stowaway boat will dock.
Editor Jung reports to Chief Gu that all but one news channel is reporting Nam Kang-myung’s return. Chief Gu tells his minion to send the hesitant channel the recording so they feel confident enough to make the broadcast—he wants all eyes on the port where Nam Kang-myung will allegedly arrive tonight.
Both Patriot News and the Splash Team reach out to their contacts in other media houses and realize that the Nam Kang-myung news piece had been reported on the basis of an anonymous tip-off. As Chief Yang berates some paper over the phone over their unethical broadcast, Moo-young and So-ra decide they should split up and head to the other port.
But Seok-min is wary. It dawns on him that this sudden, universal broadcast isn’t news but a coordinated show where every detail of Nam Kang-myung’s case is being revealed to an enraged public. He points out that all of his victims will be headed to the reported port at this moment.
This gives Moo-young flashbacks to the way Boss Park’s life ended, ahead of a mob of bereaved families who’d found out about his location because of Moo-young’s live broadcast. Moo-young pales as he sees the similarities between what they had done and what the news channels are doing right now.
Moo-young points out the parallels to his team, and everyone understands the emotional state Nam Kang-myung’s scam victims will be in when they arrive at the port. So-ra says that an accident may happen, but Seok-min says that the powers that be want the worst case scenario to play out since Nam Kang-myung’s existence is the only evidence left of his scam.
Yoo-kyung asks what the point was to get them all to gather at the wrong port, and Moo-young says that it was to waste their time, so there is no one to get in the way of Nam Kang-myung’s death by lynching.
Standing apart from the others, Moo-young tells So-ra that they should leave half her team here and head over to the other port. So-ra feels embarrassed that she wasn’t more suspicious of having all the information come to her so easily. She tells Moo-young that if he were a close friend or family, she would ask him to stop here, but he points out that she won’t say such a thing to him and that they should all do their best.
As Chief Yang prepares to leave with the part of the team going to Goong-pyung Port, the rest of Patriot News warns him to stay clear of Moo-young, since chaos always chases after him. Moo-young finds Seok-min looking at a message he received, telling him not to go to the port.
Seok-min tells Moo-young that this may be a trap or their last chance, and asks if he really wants to head over to the port. Moo-young reminds Seok-min of the time when he told him to stop because Seok-min believed he was solely out for revenge.
Seok-min asks what he concluded about his motives, and Moo-young says that after a lot of thought, he decided that he can’t give up and that chasing facts is all they can do. So, he’ll go to the port. Seok-min sighs in agreement that they can’t help who they are. Calling each other weird, they smile and get into the car.
On her way to the other port, So-ra calls Chief Prosecutor Im and asks him why he gave her false information. Lounging carelessly, he breezily dismisses her accusation and says he was simply helping her out. So-ra tells him that she knows that he was the one to leak information about her on the day she was attacked.
As the chief prosecutor blusters, So-ra promises that even if she loses Nam Kang-myung today, she’ll turn all her focus to making his life harder from now on. Hanging up on her boss, she leaves him to sputter curses at the dead connection.
Chief Prosecutor Im puts in a call to Chief Gu, who tells him that an article on So-ra will go up the next day, and that he’s relying on the chief prosecutor to manipulate the reaction of the prosecutor’s office.
Twenty minutes before the boat’s arrival, Killer reports to someone that everything is ready. Both So-ra and the reporters race in their respective cars to reach the port in time. Moo-young looks at the picture of Nam Kang-myung with the orphans, and then again at his new face in the news articles.
Moo-young wonders if it’s possible for an accomplished con man like Nam Kang-myung to not be aware of the leak about his new identity and arrival. He questions why they were warned not to go to the port, but Nam Kang-myung didn’t receive such a warning.
But then Moo-young stops his own line of questioning because despite his new, nobler reasons for pursuing the man, he hasn’t forgotten that Nam Kang-myung is the newest lead to finding the killer who murderer his brother. “I must catch him,” he thinks to himself.
Police have already gathered at Goong-pyung Port and they position themselves to wait for the boat, which has been sighted in the distance. Meanwhile, cops try to keep the growing crowd of civilians from entering the port, but they are unprepared for the vehemence of the victims.
Our heroes worry as the clock passes 1 A.M. and they still have some distance to go before reaching the harbor.
As the fishing boat docks quietly at the port, policemen burst on to the scene. Some board the vessel while others tether it to the dock so it can’t escape. The cops find stowaways in the belly of the boat and line them up. As the chief of police walks up to the last of them, a light shines on Nam Kang-myung’s new face.
The police cover everyone’s faces with jackets so the reporters can’t take pictures of the stowaways, but as they march the people up to the police vans, the barrier stopping the civilians breaks, and reporters and victims rush towards the police and Nam Kang-myung.
Despite attempts to control the crowd, one of the victims manages to pull Nam Kang-myung’s jacket away and reveal his face to everyone. As his victims look upon him, suddenly frozen, he smiles smugly. This triggers their rage, and they push past the police to get at him.
So-ra, her team, and the reporters finally reach the scene and run towards the port. Just then, in a split second, something slices Nam Kang-myung’s neck and the man clutches at his throat as blood gushes out.
Civilians scatter in shock, as Nam Kang-myung falls to the ground. Yoo-kyung and Chief Yang run towards the melee with their cameras, while So-ra stops Moo-young in place and tells him not to do anything that would make him a suspect.
Moo-young can hardly believe that Nam Kang-myung is dying like this, when all his hopes of finding the killer had been pinned on him. So-ra runs to the nearest police car and uses the microphone to warn everyone to stay in place: “Anyone who moves will be considered the culprit.”
A reporter from Seoul Post orders his cameraman to take pictures of Patriot News, Splash Team, and especially So-ra. Meanwhile, Moo-young notices something suspicious about one of the men being escorted away with his face hidden. In flashback, we see him staring at his laptop and observing that “that must be his habit when he’s nervous.”
But when he moves towards the man, he’s caught by a policeman who reminds him that moving means he’ll be considered a suspect. As he tries to explain his suspicion to the cop, the man is put into a car and taken away and Moo-young is handcuffed to a police van, right next to Seok-min.
Paramedics try to stop Nam Kang-myung’s bleeding, but his flailing hands inhibit their attempts to help him. So-ra watches as he’s loaded onto the ambulance.
As Yoo-kyung and Chief Yang take pictures of the scene, Yoo-kyung hears some policemen bully one of the stowaways—a young girl—who sits weakly on the road, unable to get up. Yoo-kyung loses her temper and intercedes, nearly getting arrested by the testy policeman.
Chief Yang pleads on her behalf and tries to drag her away, but helping the stowaway girl up, Yoo-kyung asks if he can’t see how desperate the girl must have been to come here like this. Realizing that the girl can’t walk by herself, Chief Yang piggybacks her to the police car, ignoring the anger of the cops.
Moo-young blames himself for the present situation, knowing that he set the example with his handling of Boss Park’s case. Seok-min agrees that he had done wrong, but refuses to blame Moo-young for Nam Kang-myung’s broadcast. He points out that every media outlet that printed this news like puppets helped bring this incident to fruition.
Moo-young says that even though he’s just a trash reporter, he is not exempt from being held accountable. Seok-min admits that he should feel responsible but tells him not to forget his original cause because of one bad judgment call: “That’ll just make you an empty shell.”
On the way to the hospital, Nam Kang-myung struggles against all attempts to help him by the paramedics. Then, as he passes away, his arm falls limply to his side, and we see the globe tattoo on his wrist.
So-ra reaches the hospital just as the ambulance does and watches as the dead man is wheeled out of the vehicle. Other police cars arrive with reporters in tow, and everyone begins to question the other stowaways about their association with Nam Kang-myung.
Inside the hospital, the Seoul Post reporter bribes one of the technicians to give him the fingerprint analysis before the police get their hands on it.
Prosecutor Cha’s men look for the doctor who’d helped fake Nam Kang-myung’s death but find that he’s gone into hiding. The prosecutor’s chief witness, Nam Kang-myung’s old accomplice, Mr. Kim, is now enraged that the con man died so easily, and he was denied the satisfaction of seeing him prosecuted in court.
Prosecutor Cha and her right-hand man question Reporter Na and Ji-won about the source of their information about Nam Kang-myung. Reporter Na insists that they got the video clip from an anonymous source, but the prosecutor says that that’s a convenient way to sidestep their responsibility for having killed someone.
She accuses the Splash Team of having leaked the information about Nam Kang-myung’s arrival to the media in order for him to be caught at any cost. She sketches a picture of reporters desperate to break the news first but finding themselves at the wrong port. As Reporter Na and Ji-won deny causing the crowd to descend on the port, Prosecutor Cha hones in on them and presses to know who the true source of the video clip was.
Ji-won looks ready to break, but Reporter Na holds strong against the prosecutor’s tactics and denies knowing the identity of the source. When Prosecutor Cha finally leaves them alone, Ji-won asks if they shouldn’t reveal Chief Gu as the source, but Reporter Na says that one word from them can put all of Daehan Daily in jeopardy. He knows that it’s a difficult situation, but they have nothing to back their claims up with.
Outside, Prosecutor Cha’s right-hand man suggests interrogating them separately, but Prosecutor Cha says they can’t keep journalists locked up. She’s also uncertain about how much the informant’s identity will help, since the scheme looks like the handiwork of someone who wouldn’t get his own hands dirty.
Finally, she worries that this may not be the end, as too many people were involved for it to be just a plot to get rid of Nam Kang-myung. “I have a feeling that this is a bigger scheme to bury someone else along the way.”
In Daehan Daily’s office, Chief Gu surveys the news channels covering Nam Kang-myung’s death at the port and tells someone in the background, “Let’s get started now.”
EPISODE 24 RECAP
Chief Gu and Editor Jung set the ball rolling on the final act of their master plan. “Everyone is desperately looking for someone to take the blame,” says Chief Gu. “Thankfully, Patriot News has pulled something like this before.”
Editor Jung asks what happens when people realize that they were not the ones behind this. Chief Gu says that a traditional media house might suffer consequences but Mr. Park’s trash news site won’t.
Reporters wait at the police station for the suspects from the harbor to be brought in by the police. As the van unloads stowaways and other civilians, several reporters recognize Chief Yang and ask if he’s also a suspect. He yells that he’s not and warns them not to write false articles like last time.
But a picture of Chief Yang in police custody is already being used by a trash news site to upload articles about Patriot News’ involvement in Nam Kang-myung’s death. As Editor Jung watches, Mr. Park writes a false article about Patriot News tipping off the media about Nam Kang-myung’s arrival and publishes it on one site, then directs his staff to write more articles based off his and publish them on two other trash news sites owned by them. Soon, their articles are trending on search pages.
Mr. Park proudly shows Editor Jung how to create rumors without facts online. Editor Jung asks if Mr. Park doesn’t get sued for defamation, and the trash reporter admits that it happens a lot, but there’s an easy way out. He starts deleting the articles he just uploaded, and points out that now that the rumor is out there, other news agencies will pick it up and spread it further, while the original article gets deleted.
And just as he predicted, soon, other news sites start uploading articles blaming Patriot News for the leak and consequent death of Nam Kang-myung. Editor Jung wonders admiringly why these other sites would base their articles off of Mr. Park’s, and the trash reporter smugly declares that his agency is the Daehan Daily of the tabloid world.
Chief Gu tells Lawyer Jo that the rumors will hurt Patriot News so badly that they won’t be able to recover when their name is finally cleared. Lawyer Jo asks if So-ra and Splash Team are next, and Chief Gu agrees that he’d allowed them to run free for too long.
After much self-congratulation, Chief Gu finally broaches the subject of Nam Kang-myung with Lawyer Jo, asking why the man was kept alive for six years. Lawyer Jo doesn’t say much, but Chief Gu can make an educated guess that the “elders” were less concerned about money and more about a certain project they started twenty years ago.
Lawyer Jo points out that curiosity isn’t always a virtue, and Chief Gu asks him to come clean. He’s already heard that the “elders” are dissatisfied with the current administration and guesses that Nam Kang-myung is to play a part in a plan to destabilize it. Lawyer Jo laughs that Chief Gu has already figured out so much on his own.
Chief Yang has his handcuffs unlocked at the station by a cooperative cop and pulls Moo-young away from the window—where he was scanning all the parked police cars—to get his cuffs removed as well.
Moo-young asks the cop where a certain police car is, quoting the license plate and pointing out that while seven stowaways were taken away from the port, only five were at the police station. Seok-min and Yoo-kyung look up with interest at this, while the nice cop suddenly looks shifty.
When another detective—the one who had handcuffed Moo-young at the port—comes towards them, Nice Cop tells him that the reporters are asking about “that.” The detective silences him sharply and kicks Moo-young and his colleagues out of the station.
So-ra speaks with the forensic specialist who tells them that the dead body matches the medical history and other features of Nam Kang-myung. When the fingerprints are brought in by the bribed technician, So-ra hands it over to Paralegal Park, telling him that they have to be absolutely sure this time.
The forensic specialist asks how far they are in catching the culprit and suggests that they look into gang members, since the precision of the cut severing the carotid artery shows the work of a professional. So-ra is stunned to realize that there was someone like that on the scene.
Outside the station, Moo-young explains that the stowaway escorted into the missing police car had an odd habit that was particular to Nam Kang-myung. Chief Yang and Yoo-kyung scoff but Seok-min encourages him to keep talking, saying that they can’t afford to ignore a lead.
Moo-young explains that he had noticed in a video of Nam Kang-myung that he tended to tap his middle and third finger when he was anxious, and he’d seen the same nervous gesture made by the missing stowaway who was taken away by the cops.
He asks his colleagues to consider that Nam Kang-myung may be alive. Seok-min is the only one who can see history repeating itself and points out how skittish the nice cop was. Yoo-kyung says that they all saw Nam Kang-myung’s face, yet Moo-young wonders if it’s possible that everything was fabricated from the beginning.
That’s when Seok-min realizes that they only believed that Nam Kang-myung had plastic surgery because the media said so. Chief Yang asks if they really killed an unidentified man to cover for the real Nam Kang-myung, and Moo-young says that the only person who can answer that is the dead man.
As Moo-young suggests they go find out if the dead man is the real Nam Kang-myung, a crowd of reporters emerge from the police station and run their way. Chief Yang yells back at them in confusion, wondering why they’re running at them like a horde of zombies, when the rest of Patriot News arrives in their van and hurriedly gets them inside.
As the van pulls away from the crowd of reporters, Moo-young and Chief Yang find out that they’re being called murderers because some articles are claiming that they posted Nam Kang-myung’s new face online for the victims to see. Distressed, Chief Yang starts thinking of a rebuttal article denying the accusations but Seok-min points out: “There’s no way to prove we didn’t do what we didn’t do. A thousand words will not be enough.”
So-ra tells Moo-young over the phone that the fingerprint analysis isn’t out yet since the police are being uncooperative. But she thinks of something else they can do.
Patriot News and Splash Team arrive at the hospital and they divide into two teams to go see the body and talk to the girl stowaway, who’s been hospitalized.
The Seoul Post reporter sees the teams at the hospital and calls Editor Jung to say that it’s time for that article. In return he asks for assurance that he’ll get a position in Daehan Daily. Editor Jung makes the promise and enters Chief Gu’s office to tell him that they’re ready to put up the article about So-ra.
But Editor Jung finds Chief Gu deep in thought. The man is deeply disturbed after his conversation with Lawyer Jo. In flashback, we see him telling Lawyer Jo that what they’re planning to do is an act of terror. Lawyer Jo answers that while power will come back to the administration they favor in five years, they’re impatient and want to build a legend that will last for the next fifty. “In the end, that’s patriotism,” says Lawyer Jo.
In the present, Editor Jung senses Chief Gu’s tumultuous thoughts and asks if there has been a change in plans. Chief Gu focuses enough to tell him to go ahead, and observes that they need Seoul Post’s credibility to knock down So-ra and the Splash Team.
So-ra tries to question the stowaway girl but gets nowhere until Yoo-kyung and Chief Yang come into the hospital room. What the girl reveals makes So-ra give Moo-young a call while he’s walking to the morgue.
Nam Kang-myung is alive, she tells him, and what’s more is that he calmly entered Korea right under their noses. Despite having figured it out already, Moo-young repeats the words in disbelief and the rest of the team stares at him in shock.
In a bathroom in an undisclosed location, the real Nam Kang-myung takes off the hat worn by the captain of the stowaway fishing boat. He smiles at his reflection and his fingers twitch at his side.
Clothed in a sharp suit and clean shaven, Nam Kang-myung emerges from the roadside public bathroom and gets into the backseat of a car accompanied by Lawyer Jo and Killer.
Lawyer Jo apologizes for all the trouble he’s had. Nam Kang-myung compliments him on the flawlessness of his plan and rues that Koreans fall for the same ruse every time. As he sighs over the gullibility of the citizens, Killer looks stonily ahead.
We see that on the stowaway boat, when the captain had recognized Nam Kang-myung, he was speaking to the real one. Once he and his henchman killed the real captain, Nam Kang-myung took over his position. So when the cops boarded the boat and questioned him, he only had to pretend to be a Chinese smuggler and point at the stowaways under deck. When the fake Nam Kang-myung was found, no one looked at the real one twice.
In the present, Nam Kang-myung addresses Killer, who’s caught staring at him in the rearview mirror: “You still haven’t fixed that habit of yours. Those eyes.” He tells Lawyer Jo that he took Killer in because guys with hate in their eyes can survive anywhere.
Lawyer Jo studies Killer and repeats, “Survive.” He tells Nam Kang-myung that he had foresight, since things happened as planned.
Moo-young and Seok-min run to the morgue as they realize that the dead man isn’t the real Nam Kang-myung. In the hospital, as Yoo-kyung shows the girl pictures from the port, So-ra stops her on one image.
When So-ra gets to the morgue with Yoo-kyung, they show her what they discovered on the dead man’s body: the globe tattoo. While the rest speculate on who the man could be, So-ra says that he must be a henchman who knew that he had to sacrifice himself. She tells them that he had been refusing the oxygen mask, like he was determined to die.
Seok-min counters that he could have been struggling as he was in pain, but So-ra tells him that the man who cut his neck is a professional at using knives, so that’s unlikely. Yoo-kyung then shows the group the image that had caught So-ra’s eyes—it’s of Killer in police uniform, leading away a man with his head hidden under a jacket.
Moo-young recognizes Killer immediately, and we see him in flashback as Killer moves amongst the other cops to reach the real Nam Kang-myung and escort him away in a police car. Moo-young states the obvious: that they had used the fake Nam Kang-myung’s death to cover the entry of the real one into the country.
Successful in his escape, Nam Kang-myung grins like a shark, while Moo-young narrows his eyes in thought.
I’m utterly delighted by the entry of this new villain. Just for that sharp, shark-like smile and those creepily adorable dimples, I love this guy already. I’m also happy that Killer has now been allowed one more emotion in his heart: hatred. I never found him truly expressionless, just grim in a sad way. The hint of childhood abuse and brainwashing in the assassin’s past nicely pads him with a few more dimensions. I have some hopes that he may turn into an anti-hero yet.
Falsify seems to excel in depicting the conflicts of morality in its villains better than in its heroes. Chief Gu continues to engross me as he finds that his thirst for power has an upper limit on body count. We know that he is a loving and devoted husband, but it’s fascinating to see him find moral scruples he didn’t know he had, when faced with an act that could destabilize the country and take innocent lives. I don’t know if the writer set out to make his character so complex, since there was no hint of it in the first act of the show. In the recent episodes, Chief Gu has become more and more compelling to the point that I was happy that his plan went off so flawlessly.
Lawyer Jo is the only relatively uninteresting villain, in that he is a slave to power with not many original thoughts or opinions of his own. He does seem to sense something off about Killer though—which is understandable given that the man tried to throttle him—and it’ll be interesting to see where their plotlines merge in the next few weeks.
Finally, I love that they brought back the issue of irresponsible, click-bait online articles and the frenzy and damage they can inflict. As Mr. Park proved, nothing posted online ever truly goes away—no matter that the original was deleted—and even outside the world of tabloid news, we know how easily rumors can tear down reputations and hurt people. Eventual reparations can never heal the damage and that’s the true evil of irresponsible journalism.
- 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