Suits: Episode 5
Yeon-woo is suddenly swamped as he and Kang-seok take on two cases and a mock trial. He’s excited to be learning so much, although he struggles to reconcile Kang-seok’s cold-hearted approach with his own compassionate nature. And there are some things he can only learn by making his own mistakes, which he’s about to discover in a very humiliating way.
EPISODE 5: “To catch a hyena, you must use rotten meat as your bait.”
Kang-seok is called back to the office by Ha-yeon, and when he approaches, he sees her hugging someone. He recognizes the man as CEO Kim of Yumi Pharmaceuticals, whose company has been sued for causing the deaths of three people.
Ha-yeon tells Kang-seok that she’s giving him the case, since she’s in the middle of another lawsuit against a chemical company. She says that she trusts CEO Kim, given that she was married to him for five years (which is news to Kang-seok) and knows that he would never play with people’s lives.
After her unsuccessful suicide attempt, Yeon-woo tells Se-hee that he’s always known that she likes his friend Chul-soon. Se-hee asks if he’s okay, and he says he’s not sure, but he doesn’t wan to go back to the way things were. She says sadly that she understands that he’s found his place, wondering where her place is.
In the morning, surprised by the revelation that Ha-yeon was married to CEO Kim, Kang-seok gives her a belated wedding gift and refuses the Yumi Pharmaceuticals case. She accuses him of not having confidence, but he says it’s because their marriage could be used against them in court and he’s not willing to bet his perfect record on it.
Kang-seok asks her real reason for not taking the case. Ha-yeon reveals that CEO Kim is still dating the woman he took up with right after their divorce, Jeon Mi-joo, who also happens to be his director of finances. Kang-seok muses that he’d be going into this case with an emotional handicap, and decides to take the case for the challenge.
A man saunters lazily into the Kang & Ham offices and locates the team of lawyers working on a class action suit against Noxi Chemicals with Ha-yeon. He gives them some documents and slowly walks out again.
In a meeting with CEO Kim and Director Jeon (who is also CEO Kim’s girlfriend), Kang-seok is educated about the baseball player, Lou Gehrig. He developed an illness where his motor functions failed while leaving his mind intact. The rare illness was named Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and its sufferers can only expect to survive three to seven years after symptoms start.
Kang-seok says that the patients deserve to live as long as possible, but the medicine his company produces shortens their already short lifespan. Director Jeon argues that their medicine actually doubles the patients’ life expectancies, but Kang-seok fires back, “Except for those whose livers were damaged.”
CEO Kim calmly outlines the money, time, and research that he invested in the medication before it was approved, including the fact that there were no harmful side effects found. Kang-seok asks about the three patients who died and the five who filed this lawsuit, and CEO Kim says that those patients have other complicating medical conditions.
Kang-seok advises him to settle now or it will cost him more in the future, not to mention the potential criminal charges if this goes to trial. CEO Kim states that he’s a doctor first and a CEO second, offended that settling would be the same as admitting his medicine is dangerous. Kang-seok: “Even Lou Gehrig, once called the iron man, had to put down his bat eventually.”
Meanwhile, Yeon-woo is helping to organize the people involved in Ha-yeon’s class action suit. Ji-na checks on him and asks after Se-hee, and he just nods and apologizes for not being able to properly thank her, offering to take her out another night. She seems nervous that he might tell someone of the fear of testing that she revealed, but he promises to keep it a secret.
Without even looking up, Kang-seok snaps, “I’m not buying,” when someone enters his office. The man asks in English if he looks like a peddler, which gets Kang-seok’s attention, but he just tells the guy he’s in the wrong office. It’s the man who brought Ha-yeon’s team the mysterious paperwork, and he smugly accuses Kang-seok of avoiding him because he knows he’s going to lose.
He thanks Kang-seok for sending someone named Lee Jin-seok to be lead witness, but Kang-seok doesn’t even know who that is. He tells the man to introduce himself first, and the guy says that he’s David Kim. Kang-seok is all, “Oooh, so you’re David Kim… and who’s David Kim?” LOL.
David says that right now he’s a freelance lawyer, but that he used to work for a famous firm in New York, “Which means I’m very competent.” Kang-seok notes that Lou Gehrig played for the New York Yankees, “Which means I don’t care.”
David says that he should care about Lee Jin-seok, the lead witness of Ha-yeon’s class action suit against Noxi Chemicals, who’s being questioned right now. He tells Kang-seok that Jin-seok’s father smoked for fifty years, served in a chemical force in the military, was trained in dealing with high levels of radiation, and once filed an ill-advised lawsuit against a popular chicken brand in Korea.
When asked why he’s here, David tells Kang-seok that he came to deliver the documents regarding that lawsuit, and that as soon as Lee Jin-seok’s questioning is over, every lawyer that’s in that room will be fired and he’ll be in charge of the case. Kang-seok sarcastically congratulates him on doing a good job with the delivery.
David tells him that he was sent by the head office of Noxi Chemicals to win the case, but he doesn’t want people to think he won just because he wasn’t up against the best attorney in the firm. Kang-seok informs him that it’s Ha-yeon’s case, and that if he thinks she’s not the best, then he can look forward to being crushed by her in court.
He tells David to get lost, but David reminds him that they almost went up against each other in a mock trial at Harvard, but that he was in a car accident and missed it. He says that Kang-seok only won that day because he was up against his substitute, and Kang-seok warns him to know his place or he’ll be sorry.
In private, Ha-yeon reminds Jin-seok that she warned him this wouldn’t be easy. He says he just wants to settle so that he has some money to leave behind to his child, but Kang-seok enters the room uninvited and says that’s what the opposition wants him to do.
He informs Jin-seok that many class action suits are dismissed in court, but that the opposition knows Jin-seok is a weak point. He tells Jin-seok that they’ll probably start threatening him, but that if he trusts his lawyers, he’ll be greatly compensated.
After Jin-seok leaves, Kang-seok says that he’ll take this case as well as the one for Yumi Pharmaceuticals. He tells Ha-yeon that David Kim insists on going up against him, and that although he doesn’t remember him from Harvard, the mention of the mock trial got under his skin.
Ha-yeon seems to know something about it, and she agrees that David was definitely out of line. She tells Kang-seok that she’s making him the youngest and highest-paid partner ever at Kang & Ham, including a fat bonus, and he jokes that he should take on two cases at once more often.
Kang-seok tasks Yeon-woo with finding out everything he can about David Kim, making Yeon-woo wonder why he suddenly cares more about the player than the game. He says Kang-seok should just hit a home run like Ryu Hyun-jin, so Kang-seok tells him that Ryu Hyun-jin reviews his opponents’ previous games to learn their playing styles.
Ha, he even pulls out his phone and dials, offering to let Yeon-woo ask the baseball player himself. Yeon-woo assumes he’s bluffing and takes the phone, then startles and hangs up when he hears the famous voice saying hello.
The entire firm gathers for the yearly mock trial. Da-ham tells Yeon-woo that this is like an audition for the firm’s lawyers to show make an impression on the senior partners. He asks about Kang-seok, whom Da-ham brags is legendary when it comes to mock trials.
The trial involves an anchor at a made-up TV station who impersonated the most popular anchor at the station at a personal gathering with her colleagues. The impersonation was filmed and went viral on social media, and the famous anchor reported it to the company. The junior anchor was fired, and she’s filed a civil suit demanding her job back.
Da-ham is excited to have an important role in the mock trial this year, since she felt she was much too sexy for her role as a cop last year, ha. Yeon-woo is chosen as one of the primary lawyers, but his opponent, LAWYER SEO (Lee Tae-sun) asks arrogantly why he has to go up against a trainee.
He points out that he won the national mock trials four times in school, from middle school to law school, while Yeon-woo has done nothing to distinguish himself. Agreeing with him, Geun-shik assigns Yeon-woo to represent the station, and Lawyer Seo sarcastically wishes Yeon-woo good luck.
Kang-seok calls Yeon-woo to his office for a report on David Kim. He went to a prestigious high school, studied law at Harvard, is an avid sportsman, was hired by a famous law firm (Spector and Laws, hee) straight out of law school, and was promoted faster than anyone in the history of the firm.
If he’s so fancy, Kang-seok wonders, then why did he quit and come to Korea? Kang-seok orders Yeon-woo to find out, and also to get a real financial statement from Yumi Pharmaceuticals. When Yeon-woo mutters that he has the mock trial to work on, Kang-seok just tells Yeon-woo to stretch 24 hours into 48.
He also says not to dare ask him for advice, though he reminds Yeon-woo of his number one rule: Don’t take things to court. He says that win or lose doesn’t matter, but the one who makes the rules never dies, even in a mock trial.
Geun-shik wanders in to remind Yeon-woo that he has less than 48 hours to prepare for the mock trial. He notices Kang-seok’s reproachful gaze and starts yammering that he’s not trying to torture Yeon-woo, that he was fairly chosen by drawing, etc. Kang-seok is all, “Did I say anything?” He dismisses Yeon-woo, and Geun-shik reminds him of their tradition — whoever’s side wins gets a wish.
The junior lawyers tell Lawyer Seo that this is his chance to teach the trainee a lesson, and he relishes the opportunity to humiliate Yeon-woo in front of everyone. Overhearing him, Yeon-woo asks Lawyer Seo to speak privately, which Lawyer Seo interprets as fear.
Yeon-woo says that he has a few tricks up his sleeve, and he offers that they come to an agreement instead of going to trial, but Lawyer Seo refuses since he’s confident he’ll win at trial. Yeon-woo points out that he was personally chosen by Kang-seok, which is why he assumes Lawyer Seo doesn’t like him.
He adds that he was hired by Kang-seok for a reason but he doesn’t want to use Lawyer Seo as an example that it was the right choice. Lawyer Seo says that everyone here is competent, but Yeon-woo asks, “Is there anyone who was picked by Attorney Choi himself?”
Looking unsettled, Lawyer Seo asks if Yeon-woo is planning to stab him in the back. Yeon-woo promises that they can both come out shining while others waste their time uselessly on the case. He quotes The Art of War: “Winning all battles doesn’t make you great. What makes you great is when you make the enemy succumb without fighting.” Impressed, Lawyer Seo shakes hands and agrees to work with him.
As she’s leaving work that evening, Ji-na passes Se-hee in the lobby. Se-hee recognizes her and asks where she can find Yeon-woo, saying that she’s a friend. Ji-na tells her to call Yeon-woo, and when he comes down to meet her, Se-hee says she brought him dinner as an excuse to see him.
She starts to say something else but hesitates, so Yeon-woo gives her time to think about it. They both seem to understand what they mean, and Se-hee thanks Yeon-woo as she straightens his tie. From outside, Ji-na watches them, then turns to walk away.
The next morning, Yeon-woo asks Ji-na to be on his mock trial team. She tells him coolly that Lawyer Seo already approached her, but later, Ji-na goes to Lawyer Seo and requests to be on his team, surprising him after turning him down yesterday.
The following morning, Kang-seok finds Yeon-woo waiting in his office and tells him to be on his toes, since they’re working on two cases at once. He says they need to have different masks for each client, because a trial isn’t where you decide who’s right or wrong — it’s a way to choose who is more convincing within the boundaries of the law.
Their first task is to get David to negotiate, but David calls just then, saying he wants to negotiate. As they head out, Kang-seok asks Yeon-woo if David is really doing this because of a missed mock trial over a decade ago, and Yeon-woo quips that David seems to be a lot like Kang-seok.
Kang-seok objects, asserting that he’s the only person like himself. Yeon-woo asks, “What about me?” having been told by Da-ham that he was hired because he’s just like Kang-seok. Kang-seok looks gobsmacked and vows to fire Da-ham immediately. LOL.
Yeon-woo meets with Director Jeon from Yumi Pharmaceuticals, who gives him the exact same financial statement as before. She asks if he’s sure, so he rattles off the exact figures she previously sent, which of course he remembers perfectly. He says that it doesn’t matter how he figured it out so quickly — what matters is whether both statements are even real.
He reminds her that people have died, and others are very sick, but she retorts that CEO Kim is also a victim. Yeon-woo asks for her full cooperation so that he can help her by knowing all the facts.
David arrives to meet Kang-seok on a pier, symbolic because Lee Jin-seok said he always wanted to live by the sea. Kang-seok suggests an agreement, since they both hate going to trial, and David agrees. Kang-seok asks for the real reason why David insists on going up against him, not buying the car accident/mock trial excuse.
David says that he’s always heard about how great Kang-seok was at that mock trial, so he was disappointed when he heard Kang-seok wasn’t going to take the Noxi Chemicals case and threw out some bait. He tells Kang-seok condescendingly not to be upset that he took the bait David only threw out for fun, and that he considers Kang-seok’s request for an agreement to be a win for him.
Suddenly Kang-seok changes his mind. David is still confident he’ll win, but Kang-seok says that the smoke the Noxi plant is putting out is causing cancer, which killed Jin-seok’s wife and is now killing him. David just listens, then muses that he was wrong about Kang-seok being the best because he doesn’t even know the real problem. He gives Kang-seok an envelope containing his settlement offer, and leaves.
Kang-seok’s informant brings him a recording of a call between David and Noxi Chemical’s branch manager, who got nervous when American lawyers were flown in and started recording his calls. Kang-seok says he can’t use it without disclosing how he got it, and that he’s not willing to lie and say it was an anonymous tip, so he gives it back.
Yeon-woo returns to the office empty-handed, having been convinced that Yumi Pharmaceuticals won’t show them any other financial statements. Kang-seok shows him David’s insulting settlement offer, which he advises Kang-seok not to accept.
They meet with the lawyer representing Yumi Pharmaceuticals’ victims. Without even sitting down, Kang-seok scribbles a settlement offer, which makes the other lawyer laugh out loud. He quotes the value of a human life as stated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, but Yeon-woo points out that the Korea Department of Environment values human life at about one-tenth that amount.
He calculates the worth of a person with Lou Gehrig’s Disease as much less, since they only have a few years to live and can’t work (not that he personally agrees). The lawyer calls him a smart baby, telling him not to forget that the time of a dying person is precious.
He jots down a counter offer, inflated to account for punitive damages even though they’re illegal in medical cases, saying that he’s “sowing the seeds of justice.” The amount he asks for would effectively bankrupt Yumi Pharmaceuticals, which would also kill the people who are doing well on the medication.Kang-seok is ready to walk, but the lawyer shows him an inflammatory news article about Yumi Pharmaceuticals. He says he hasn’t sent it yet, and that he’d probably be sued for defamation if he did, but it would badly affect Yumi Pharmaceuticals’ stocks.
Yeon-woo admits that he feels bad for the plaintiffs because they have a terrible lawyer, but Kang-seok says he’s actually perfect. Yeon-woo argues that he asked for punitive damages and threatened them, as if all he cares about is winning and not the patients. But Kang-seok says that the lawyer knows the victims would only get a small amount in court, so he’s being smart.
Yeon-woo mentions the Noxi Chemicals plaintiffs, wondering if they can use the same tactics on their behalf. Kang-seok says he’s being too sympathetic, so Yeon-woo thinks a moment. He argues that although the rule is not to sympathize with the client, Kang-seok also said they have to change masks when needed.
That night, Lee Jin-seok is attacked in his own home. He’s thrown to the floor by two men wearing masks, who slam an ax into the floor near his face. Suddenly they’re gone, leaving him with just his daughter, frozen in fear.
He’s a nervous wreck when he meets with Kang-seok and Yeon-woo in the morning. He reveals that the other victims have given him permission to settle, and they find the victims all together with David smirking down at them from a balcony. They go up to accuse him of being behind the attack, though of course David denies it. Kang-seok is also angry that David gathered the plaintiffs without asking him, but David denies that, too.
He says that he just came to talk, and raises his voice loud enough for everyone to hear: “Attorney Choi Kang-seok. To every single one of your clients, Noxi Chemicals is willing to compensate each person ten million won. If anyone is willing to take the offer, let me know. If anyone refuses, tell them that we have money and time, although we have no idea how long this will drag out.”
He tosses a handful of his cards to the crowd of plaintiffs, and as they all reach for one, he says in English, “Everyone wants to be a jaguar, but most of them, they’re just hyenas.” Kang-seok snaps that there’s only one hyena here, and that until now this has just been a game, but now, it’s a hunt. David is thrilled that Kang-seok is now throwing his best pitch, but Kang-seok snarls that he’s going to be pitching knives and spears.
As they leave, Kang-seok admits that David’s playing style is similar to his, but he still objects when Yeon-woo says they’re alike. Yeon-woo says that David is keeping a step ahead because he’s doing what Kang-seok would do, so to get ahead, Kang-seok needs to think like David.
Kang-seok says thoughtfully that he needs to do something he normally wouldn’t do. Then he looks at Yeon-woo (who’s nodding benevolently) and barks, “Are you crazy?! Keep that up and I might really fire you.” PFFT. Yeon-woo just barely manages not to crack up.
Changing his mind, Kang-seok takes the phone call recording back from his informant, saying that he’s curious what was said. He listens to it on his way back to the office (though we don’t hear what he hears).
While he’s ordering Yeon-woo to get Yumi Pharmaceuticals’ true financial statements, find out how bad the liver damage was, and learn every detail about the patients who died, Ha-yeon storms in to ask why they aren’t settling either case. Kang-seok reminds her of her promise not to intervene in the Yumi case, and Yeon-woo tries to slink out of the room, but Ha-yeon stops him to grab the paperwork he’s carrying.
She asks if Kang-seok’s intent is to drag the dying patients into court, and he asks if she’s trying to look good in front of CEO Kim, wondering when Kang & Ham became a place of compassion and sympathy. He dismisses Yeon-woo and asks Ha-yeon if she’s speaking as a representative of the firm, or as the ex-wife of a client. Refusing to dignify that, Ha-yeon growls, “Come to an agreement.”
But she’s unhappy later when she learns that Noxi Chemicals has offered their clients such a low settlement amount, which will make their firm look bad when the clients inevitably accept it. Kang-seok proposes they use the firm’s money for something, I’m not sure what. He even offers to give up his own pay, so Ha-yeon wonders why he’s going this far, but all he says is that it’s because of him.
Yeon-woo heads for the mock trial, stopping on the way to frown at Ji-na as she works closely with Lawyer Seo. The trial begins, and Yeon-woo stands to announce that they’ve already agreed on a settlement prior to the trial. But Lawyer Seo interrupts, saying that he’s ready to begin.
Yeon-woo looks to Ji-na, who just stares back at him blandly. Flustered, he tries again to say that they’ve reached an agreement, but Lawyer Seo says he’s mistaken. He acknowledges that they discussed it, but says that they never agreed on anything.
Alone in his office, Kang-seok mutters that to catch a hyena, he needs to use rotten meat as bait. He looks at the USB containing the phone call recording, then makes a call: “David? I’m ready to take the mound. Are you ready to bat?”
Ha-yeon (who’s playing judge at the mock trial) asks Yeon-woo if he got this supposed agreement in writing. He has to admit that he didn’t, so she starts the trial.
Grrr, Lawyer Seo, that evil little weasel. He only agreed to settle so that Yeon-woo wouldn’t prepare for the mock trial. That’s so cowardly, and it just proves that Lawyer Seo is scared that Yeon-woo would win in a fair fight. But I expected that sort of thing from him — it’s Ji-na who I’m really angry with. I get that she’s jealous, and that she had no obligation to tell Yeon-woo what her side was planning. But she lied that she’d already agreed to help Lawyer Seo just because she was feeling bitter after seeing Yeon-woo and Se-hee together, when she has no reason to expect anything at all from him. That was petty and small of her.
It’s interesting that Se-hee is suddenly interested in Yeon-woo, after years of not acknowledging his feelings for her. Maybe it’s because the gap between him and Chul-soon is so much wider now that she knows Chul-soon is a drug dealer without a future, while Yeon-woo is suddenly dressing snazzy and working at a law firm. I think that Se-hee is a sweet girl, and she’s probably not being an opportunist on purpose, but I find it off-putting that her interest in Yeon-woo only developed after he became someone respectable in the eyes of society. Nothing about him as a person has changed… he’s still the same honorable, kind man he was before.
I’m concerned that Se-hee’s attention will sway Yeon-woo, because while I do think his interest in Ji-na is both genuine and romantic in nature, and aside from her betrayal here I like the idea of them together, he barely knows Ji-na while he’s had feelings for Se-hee for years. I’m worried that their “take your time” conversation was about whether Se-hee wants to be with him, and that Yeon-woo will miss the chance to be with the woman who saw his worth from the beginning. In the short time she’s known him, Ji-na has been more of a friend to Yeon-woo than Se-hee ever has, so I hope he’s not too blinded by old feelings for Se-hee to realize it.
Professionally, it’s really fun to watch Yeon-woo learn Kang-seok’s tricks, then twist them to conform to his own set of ideals. He was even enthusiastic over seeing how Kang-seok acts while defending someone, and trying to figure out how to make it work while representing the plaintiff. His biggest hurdle will be getting over the idea that winning is the goal, because Kang-seok is right — in court, it’s not about winning, but about who is most convincing within the boundaries of the law. Nobody “wins” in court, it’s usually a series of compromises and neither side gets exactly what they want. Better to come to an agreement amongst yourselves than to let a third party decide for you.
Plus, it’s hilarious when Kang-seok oh-so-reluctantly hands out wisdom, only for Yeon-woo to mull it over for three seconds and come to a conclusion that makes Kang-seok head-tilt like a confused dog. It’s kind of cute that they are so alike, and yet they don’t understand one another at all, and they can take the same information and wind up with wildly different opinions. I don’t think Kang-seok is going to be successful at squashing Yeon-woo’s idealistic, compassionate nature… my bet’s on Yeon-woo to teach Kang-seok a few things about relating to his clients on a more personal level.