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Falsify: Episodes 29-30

It’s time for our heroes to step up to the plate as we get ready for the final face-off against the big bad. In the end, we’re left with interesting questions to ponder: Where is the fine line between what is considered free speech and what is considered illegal public manipulation? At what point does patriotism turn into terrorism? And finally, what should be the relationship between the media and the state?  


 
EPISODE 29 RECAP

Nam Kang-myung calls Moo-young, who gets in his car as he receives the phone call. Patriot News is already watching from their hidden cameras, and has let Prosecutor Cha’s team know of the evolving situation. Both Lawyer Jo and Chief Gu have heard from their respective sources that Nam Kang-myung is on the move, and that he may potentially reveal himself.

Yoo-kyung calls Seok-min to tell him that their suspicions were right—Chief Gu’s wife has been hospitalized under a different name.

Because Patriot News still doesn’t have a clear shot of Nam Kang-myung’s face through the hidden camera, Chief Yang tells Moo-young to earn time and keep Nam Kang-myung on the line. The criminal agrees to meet Moo-young at a neutral location, but asks to know why he’s doing this: Is it because he’s a victim of one of Nam Kang-myung’s white collar schemes? Or does he want a scoop? Nam Kang-myung tries to cut Moo-young a deal by offering him a part of his wealth.

Moo-young replies that he’s only interested in the globe tattoo. The Patriot News team finally gets a glimpse of Nam Kang-myung’s real face, but they plead with Moo-young to keep from riling up Nam Kang-myung so that the plan can go on smoothly. But at this point, Moo-young is too involved in the conversation, and wants to know about the tattoo and why Seo Hae-young from the orphanage was killed without reason.

Nam Kang-myung tells Moo-young that Seo Hae-young knew exactly why she died: She died because she talked. Laughing, he recounts her final pitiful moments, and says that Moo-young should be asking him how he can avoid the same end.

Nam Kang-myung then realizes that Moo-young is asking too many questions and that he’s probably being recorded. He finds the hidden camera and makes a death threat against Moo-young.

Unperturbed, Moo-young tells Nam Kang-myung that he has his money and the rest of his vault keys, giving Nam Kang-myung reasons to be compliant to his demands. Nam Kang-myung tells him to go ahead and try, because they won’t know until it will end until it ends.

Moo-young quickly calls Patriot News to tell them to expect Nam Kang-myung to invade their headquarters. However, Nam Kang-myung is taking a different route—he’s going to target someone completely unexpected: So-ra.

Speaking of, we find her in the middle of analyzing an audio file when Paralegal Park calls her. Because of that, she doesn’t receive his call.

Chief Gu knows exactly where Nam Kang-myung is due to his GPS tracker on the phone. He reflects on his conversation with Lawyer Jo, who revealed that Nam Kang-myung had promised to hand over an item to the elders that he had smuggled from North Korea. The elders want to start that project up again.

Lawyer Jo gets anxious when he doesn’t get a response back from the elders. He needs a decision from their end so he can end Nam Kang-myung’s life, because if he’s caught by the police, their entire operation will be jeopardized. Chief Gu walks past just as Lawyer Jo ends his phone call. Has he overheard?

Of course, he’s still a journalist at heart. As soon as Lawyer Jo is out of earshot, Chief Gu calls Prosecutor Im and tells him to arrest Nam Kang-myung. Chief Gu’s logic is that if they can make out Nam and Lawyer Jo to be the main perpetrators of the various crimes involved in this convoluted plot, he and Prosecutor Im can probably escape without taking responsibility.

Unsettled because it seems wishy-washy to want Nam Kang-myung dead one day and then just captured and in jail the next, Prosecutor Im still does as he’s told and makes an anonymous report to the police.

Meanwhile, Prosecutor Cha arrives at the bank vault where Nam Kang-myung made his phone call. She asks the bank manager where his location is, but he only remembers the license plate number. They receive the police tipoff, and realize that So-ra is the closest to Nam Kang-myung’s current location.

So-ra finally receives Prosecutor Cha’s phone call and starts heading over to Nam Kang-myung’s location by herself. (Wow. Without backup? Really?) Thankfully, Moo-young has already spotted Nam Kang-myung about to meet up with his Incheon gang buddies. The police also show up and scare Nam Kang-myung into speeding back onto the highway, so Moo-young tries to intercept his car and block it.

Lawyer Jo finally gets the go-ahead from the elders to end Nam Kang-myung. He begins reading the alphanumeric code to Nam Kang-myung’s heart device, which would allow hackers to stop the artificial heart from working. Unbeknownst to him, Seok-min’s tape recorder has been on the entire time, and has been capturing his phone conversation from when he ordered the hack to begin.

Moo-young speeds ahead of Nam Kang-myung and successfully stops him momentarily, and then does a reverse turn to keep pace with him as Nam surges forward again. It’s then that Nam Kang-myung finally finds the tracking device Chief Gu put in his phone.

But it’s too late—the hackers have already executed the electronically-transmitted commands to stop his heart. In that moment, he realizes that his artificial heart was a trap and that he’s a dead man. He slows down to a halt as Moo-young gets out of his car and approaches Nam Kang-myung.

His last words are to tell Moo-young: “The tattooed men are a plan. What you stole…” but he trails off as he dies. So-ra arrives on the scene and tries to shake him back awake, but he has no pulse. Moo-young is frustrated that he was so close to learning the answers he so desperately wanted, but he’s been eluded once again.

Chief Gu is confused when he learns of Nam Kang-myung’s death, but he always has backup plans for his backup plans. He re-enters the room where he was speaking with Lawyer Jo (in the same room as Seok-min’s recording device), and they continue their conversation.

Reporter Na reports to Seok-min that they’ve tracked down Chul-ho’s footprints from his last investigation to a photography studio. Seok-min goes to the hospital where Chief Gu’s wife is being treated, but Yoo-kyung is still hesitant about approaching her because she isn’t directly involved in Chief Gu’s shady dealings. She knows they’re involving a civilian, but Seok-min presses his case by saying if they don’t pursue this now, it might be covered up again.

They present Chief Gu’s wife with all the evidence of Chief Gu’s corrupt dealings, and she’s distressed when she recalls a conversation with her husband where he couldn’t answer why she was able to get a heart transplant twice.

They inform her that they plan on releasing an article listing Chief Gu’s misdeeds, even if all the evidence has been erased from the records, and that they might have to bring up her medical treatment as well. They ask for her cooperation so that they can bring truth and justice to Chul-ho’s brother, who deserves to know. Initially, she’s adamantly against them, but later as she lies in bed alone, she looks conflicted.

Patriot News, now having the video clips of Nam Kang-myung, know that they’ll be able to rise from public scrutiny by working with the prosecutors, but they’re still worried for So-ra and the Splash Team who still look like they’ll lose their jobs.

So-ra enters the VIP hospital where Nam Kang-myung received his artificial heart transplant and interrogates the doctor and nurse there. They both deny knowing Chief Gu and Lawyer Jo, but when Prosecutor Cha sees Chief Gu’s picture, she’s intrigued. So-ra asks for a favor from her.

Seok-min enters Chief Gu’s room again to retrieve his device, and he thinks that the hacking mention is important. He calls up Prosecutor Cha to ask if there were any other possessions (that might be related to hacking) in Nam Kang-myung’s hospital room. She says no, and asks him in return about Lawyer Jo’s father.

Alone in his room, Moo-young wonders how all the dots are connected between Seo Hae-young, the Faith Center, and Killer.


 
EPISODE 30 RECAP

At her disciplinary hearing, So-ra admits her guilt, but asks when the power of the prosecutors began to be wielded to betray the weak. Prosecutor Im is given the chance for his testimony, and he says that although what So-ra might have done may be legally innocent, her actions betrayed the prosecutor’s office by lowering its reputation—and more importantly, she betrayed the public.

Thus, she’s guilty in their eyes for acting unethically in her capacity as a prosecutor. She asks what the proof is, and they play the tape. Initially, Prosecutor Im satisfied to see his point being proven, until he hears his own voice in the continuation of the recording proving his collusion with Lieutenant Jeon.

Prosecutor Cha enters with an arrest warrant against Prosecutor Im for collusion and dereliction of duty, adding that they have nearly three years’ worth of evidence from Lieutenant Jeon’s backup USB. He’s escorted out, but first, So-ra asks a question about the cop that Lieutenant Jeon was closest with, the same one with the globe tattoo. He doesn’t answer, and leaves huffing.

Then, Prosecutor Cha distributes the latest Patriot News article regarding Nam Kang-myung being alive. She then asks that they pardon So-ra, because she was such an important asset to the Nam Kang-myung investigation.

Seok-min calls Chief Gu to ask to meet, and he tells him to check his CCTV if he wants to know why. In the video footage, Chief Gu realizes that Seok-min placed a recording device in his room. He has no choice but to show up at Seok-min’s negotiating table; otherwise, his shady dealings may be uncovered.

At the table, Seok-min asks whether Chief Gu knew that Nam Kang-myung was alive, because according to last night’s recording, his buddy Lawyer Jo sure did. Chief Gu denies all of Seok-min’s pointed questions and says that he knew nothing, despite having been the one to furnish the Splash Team with the stowaway tape evidence of Nam Kang-myung being alive.

Seok-min entraps Chief Gu by making him say two opposite things in conversation. Chief Gu first states that he believed Chul-ho’s articles because the job of a good team leader is to trust in his members. Then, in the next moment when Seok-min corners him, Chief Gu is forced to say that he didn’t know that several of Chul-ho’s articles were fabrications.

He excuses himself by saying that because he runs a large company and doesn’t have the ability to specifically know each and every article that is printed by his newspaper. So Seok-min asks which is it: Did Chief Gu trust Chul-ho, or was he an incompetent leader who couldn’t keep track of Chul-ho’s activities?

Chief Gu then asks Seok-min what he wants, and Seok-min lays out his terms. He wants the Splash Team to remain with him as its leader, and for the Seoul Post article that accused both the Splash Team and So-ra of collusion to be retracted.

He says that he knows Chief Gu will agree because Chief Gu came at his one phone call despite claiming to not know anything that Lawyer Jo said on the recording. And by calling his confrontation with Seok-min a “negotiating table” in the first place, Chief Gu has already implicitly admitted that Seok-min has something worth negotiating, meaning that Chief Gu has some degree of knowledge about the incriminating evidence that the recording may contain.

Then, the rest of the Splash Team enters with a couple other non-Splash Team colleagues in tow to ask what Chief Gu is doing there, but he lies that he’s there to congratulate the Splash Team on their Nam Kang-myung scoop. By having other employees present, Seok-min has neatly trapped Chief Gu into a situation where he must be accountable for his words.

So Seok-min asks Chief Gu whether the Splash Team will continue to be disbanded. Chief Gu leans back and says that he supposes they should remain, and in their handshake, Seok-min surreptitiously hands over the recording device. In his ear, Chief Gu tells Seok-min that he’ll pay for stabbing him in the back, and Seok-min warns him in reply that they’re investigating the Faith Center, which makes Chief Gu stop in his tracks.

As soon as he leaves the room, Chief Gu orders Editor Jung to print any and all of Splash Team’s scoop-worthy articles in another team’s name. He plans on making their lives miserable by crediting their work to others, but the Splash Team also suspects that he hasn’t given into their demands so easily.

As she searches through Prosecutor Im’s office, So-ra discovers a recording he made of a conversation with Chief Gu, where the newspaper CEO told him about Seo Hae-young and Lawyer Jo’s connection. It allows the prosecutors to arrest Lawyer Jo, and he goes along with them without a fuss.

Later, when Daehan Daily’s newspaper is printed, Seok-min checks the Splash Team article and sees that it has been printed under the Social Team’s name. He briefly mentions that there is a page that Editor Jung never checks to Yoo-kyung and the rest of the team.

But the whole business has reaffirmed his prior suspicion that Chief Gu was the one who covered up the Faith Center article, and he thinks it’s time to let Moo-young know about Chief Gu’s involvement in the Faith Center case.

In their conversation together, Moo-young lets Seok-min know that Seo Hae-young was the whistleblower at the Faith Center. Like a mentor, Seok-min helps Moo-young realize that he’s been following his brother’s fabricated articles up until this point, and that every case has been related to the current mystery. Seok-min says that there may be a Chul-ho article that Moo-young hasn’t seen yet.

On Moo-young’s wall of articles, Seok-min posts the banal car crash report that he had confirmed earlier was peculiar for the strange bruises on the child who died. Then, Seok-min lets Moo-young know all his suspicions.

Years ago, Chief Gu was one of the reporters who covered up the strangely bruised child’s death as a tragic but everyday car crash because he received help to get his wife’s transplant and following medical treatment from an organization called Sahae Foundation. Seok-min learned through Prosecutor Cha that the foundation was headed by Lawyer Jo’s father, and donated to the Faith Center through Nam Kang-myung.

Seok-min lets Moo-young know that he’s seen traces of Moo-young in every location he’s investigated regarding this case. A flashback shows Reporter Na and Ji-won at the photography studio, where they confirm that Chul-ho was once there searching for the Faith Center’s event photos. There, they find a photo of Nam Kang-myung shaking hands with a younger Chief Gu.

Instead of being grateful, Moo-young begins crying with tears of anger that Seok-min didn’t tell him back when he started having these suspicions. Seok-min apologizes, but claims that he needed more evidence to back up his claims—but to the grieving Moo-young, it sounds cold. Seok-min lets Moo-young know he has the chance to finish what his brother died investigating by getting to the bottom of the mystery surrounding the Faith Center.

The next morning, Editor Jung tries to escape the office as he realizes what a big mistake he’s made, but he’s barricaded in by a crowd of Daehan reporters with Yoo-kyung at its head. When Chief Gu checks the newspaper, he sees something on the last page of ads that makes him stand up in fury.

A mysterious someone begins typing a text to Seok-min, stating that he’s proven himself and now it’s time for him to keep his promise, but stops midway. When Seok-min and Moo-young pick up Daehan Daily’s paper, they check the last page, which poses a direct accusatory question at Chief Gu:

“You made the Splash Team mute, but we cannot stay silent. We ask Chief Gu: What truth about the Faith Center has been covered up?”

Moo-young asks if Seok-min’s crazy, because apparently Seok-min took out a housing mortgage to afford the full-page ad. He quips back that what’s crazy is Seoul’s housing market, but just then, he receives a call from the mysterious texter.

The man on the other end of the line gives his congratulations for Patriot News catching Nam Kang-myung, and for the Splash Team’s uncovering of the Faith Center. They’ve restored his faith in the media, and now he thinks it is time for him to give them his evidence.

 
COMMENTS

It’s a trap. It’s got to be a trap, right? Who is this mysterious texter? I’m hoping that it’ll be someone we already know in the context of the show, because it’s too late to get me invested in another character. I want the heroes to find out for themselves by making an effort and by burrowing further into the mystery, instead of having the solution fall right from the sky and into their laps. Doing so would only be a disservice to the characters who have earned the right to show that they’re competent reporters/prosecutors who are fully capable of solving things on their own.

For instance, it got my blood pumping to see Moo-young’s masterful execution of his capture of Nam Kang-myung. Everything was carefully planned, although things turned awry at the end due to Lawyer Jo’s machinations. It just showed that the Patriot News team was more than just a bumbling group, and it brought me back to the beginnings of Falsify, when they first found Boss Park’s warehouse corpses, back when I thought this show had the potential to be a diamond. I think perhaps this show is at its best when its in the middle of a caper scheme, either from Patriot News or the Splash Team. The talks between Lawyer Jo and Chief Gu stopped interesting me a long time ago, and the prosecutors (even sadly to say Prosecutor Cha) seem to be a superfluous entity. Their importance is only to underscore that the still unnamed bigger evil has its dirty little fingers in every corrupt corner of Korean’s political/legal system.  

Speaking of the evil-that-has-not-been-named, maybe that was the problem. By keeping the ultimate thing our heroes had to face a nebulous entity, we, as viewers, had no concrete object to concentrate our hatred on. Thus, for me at least, my anger toward the corrupt establishment was dispersed among several minor villains like Lieutenant Jeon, Lawyer Jo, Chief Gu, Prosecutor Im, etc. As a result, I’m left with a vague feeling that those villains should deserve their own comeuppance, but I have no strong emotional investment in having our heroes triumph over them. 

As for Seok-min’s reveal to Moo-young that Chief Gu was the one orchestrating his brother Chul-ho’s spiral into corruption and fabrication, my first reaction was, “Well, that’s pretty late in the game here.” And perhaps because of the awkward timing of it all, the emotional impact of it didn’t hit me as it did Moo-young, because I as a viewer already knew and had already processed that Chul-ho died because of Chief Gu’s decisions.

At this point, Moo-young has all this hatred toward Chief Gu, and I just feel like it’s an unequal relationship between a girl who has an obsessive one-sided crush on a boy who’s blatantly uninterested. Sure, Chief Gu is aware of Moo-young’s existence and finds him annoying, but in the way that a tiger might find a particularly stubborn thorn in his side annoying. It’s just a bizarre setup and it makes me care about Moo-young’s “revenge” even less, especially because now I empathize with Chief Gu and can see how his wife’s critical condition may have sent him off into the black corrupt abyss of no return. Whereas, there are no real stakes for Moo-young—getting back at Chief Gu might be satisfying, but it won’t bring Chul-ho back to life. 

But onto the subject of Nam Kang-myung and his demise—his best moment was in a prior episode where he cannibalistically and enthusiastically bit and ripped off the bank manager’s ear. That gave me chills in a masochistic good way, but then in this episode, he became a tame villain. And while he showed signs of his prior ruthlessness and intelligence, those few moments were soon overshadowed by great stupidity, probably due to his unfailing narcissism. 

For instance, even though it went against his greater judgement because he knew he shouldn’t be revealing himself and should have known that money wasn’t the most important thing in the current situation, he walked into a Patriot Team ambush without even bringing backup. Why couldn’t he have even thought to bring or call Lawyer Jo into this? What did he have, such that he was so confident the elders wouldn’t kill him to shut him up like they did to Hae-young (corpse woman from the warehouse wall)? Was it because he thought he had been such a good soldier in the elders’ ultimate political (terror?) plan that he felt so assured that they were on his side? In any case, veteran actor Lee Won-jong’s performance in his cameo role as Nam Kang-myung was excellent, even if the character himself proved to be a disappointment.

Overall, I’d be hard-pressed to say whether Falsify has added anything to the larger collection of dramas out there about battling corruption and prevailing with truth and justice. Maybe the big picture message was just to say that the media influences our perception greatly, and no matter if an article comes from a no-name publication or a world renowned one, we should always be wary to take our news with a grain of salt because corruption can slither into any weakened crevice of even the most reliable journalist team. In the end, Falsify for me was largely surface-level enjoyment, but ultimately not one I’d put in my Hall of Drama Wonders. Hopefully, Argon will hit it out of the ballpark and do what Falsify couldn’t.

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Excellent wrap-up comment, partner. =)

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Glad I'm not the only one to be a bit disappointed by how this show has turned out. Or is "glad" the wrong word?

It’s a trap. It’s got to be a trap, right?

Yes, a trap for viewers - after Chief Kim, dangling Nam Gong-min in front of a so-so story.

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Holy bleep! This post has been up more than 12 hours and only 2 comments till now? Even Manhole can do better than that.

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The number of comments was pretty low from the beginning. Episode 1 had some 30 at most, if I remember right? Perhaps because none of the male stars market themselves as 'the boyfriend', is the conclusion of a discussion on episode 1's thread.

I really liked the first two-three episodes, but just never got round to watching any more. And now I just checked into this episode's recap to see why it was getting so few comments - but this is ridiculous. Looks like even otherwise, it failed to resonate with the international audience.

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Is there any bromans in the drama? Nam Gong-min is usually good with his male costars.

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