Suits: Episode 9
Kang-seok’s no-emotions rule is beginning to unravel as he’s faced with a case he feels personally responsible for. He decided to lock his emotions up years ago, and it’s served him just fine in corporate law. But he’s going to have to tap back into his heart to fight the war I sense is coming.
EPISODE 9: “You can’t go back in time and start over again, but you can still aim for a new ending starting now.”
After Yeon-woo brings it to Kang-seok’s attention that his mentor tampered with the evidence in his very first case, Kang-seok visits the man he put in prison for murder twelve years ago. His name is Jang Seok-hyun, and he was convicted of murdering a woman he claimed was his girlfriend.
But there was no evidence proving their relationship, so he was deemed a liar, which counted against him in his trial. He’s definitely not pleased to see Kang-seok, and when Kang-seok says he knows he’s innocent, Seok-hyun scoffs and asks how long he’s known.
At the food cart in the morning, Kang-seok asks Yeon-woo about the sneakers he always wears, saying they don’t go with his suit. He announces that they have to investigate Jang Seok-hyun’s case all over again, but this time he plans to request a retrial and act as his defense attorney.
Ha-yeon balks, since it could be bad for Kang-seok and the firm if Seok-hyun is found innocent. But Kang-seok says that he’s not asking permission, and that he’s prepared to give up his senior partner position. He says that he’s just trying to make things right, just as she did two years ago with the mistake that Attorney Ham made.
Meanwhile, Yeon-woo buys several huge law books and presents them to Ji-na, asking if she’d like to study with him. She stares at him until he starts to fidget, then she smiles and says she’s thankful. He also gives her an adorable stuffed bunny wearing a red bow tie that he says he won his first time playing a crane game, though the truth is that it took him many tries.
Awww, she’s already got one with a blue bow tie, and Yeon-woo sees it and quickly leaves, nearly running over Da-ham in the hall. Da-ham asks Ji-na if Yeon-woo confessed or asked her out, but Ji-na admits that she’s the one who confessed that she likes him.
Going into unni mode, Da-ham warns Ji-na that starting a relationship at the firm is hard, but it’s even harder to make it last. She says that she knows Ji-na won’t make a mistake, but she’s worried that Yeon-woo might.
Yeon-woo learns that Seok-hyun had had a record of selling drugs, so people assumed he was guilty of Kim Min-joo’s murder. Kang-seok knows he’s guilty of sending an innocent man to prison and he tells Yeon-woo that mistakes should be set right. When Yeon-woo looks nervous, he’s all, “I don’t mean you!”
But Yeon-woo says it’s different, because Kang-seok wasn’t aware of his mistake, while Yeon-woo chose to make his. Kang-seok says that Yeon-woo will have to make his mistake right someday, just not now. Yeon-woo finishes his thought: “If something goes wrong in the process, your career and mine… No, it might have an effect on this entire firm.”
At the same time, Geun-shik tells Ha-yeon that he asked the other senior partners and they all agree that it’s a bad idea for Kang-seok to go against the prosecution. Ha-yeon snaps that it’s Geun-shik who’s endangering the firm by creating conflict from the inside. She reminds him that the firm belongs to her, and orders him to just do as he’s told. Aw, he looks like a puppy who just got his nose swatted.
Kang-seok asks Yeon-woo why he’s nervous about this appeal idea, when he’s the one who brought Kang-seok’s mistake to his attention. He says that his biggest mistake was hiring Yeon-woo, then gets serious and says that he can’t go back in time, but if he sets things right for Jang Seok-hyun, he might get a new ending.
He goes to visit Seok-hyun, taking with him the love letter from the murdered girl that Seok-hyun had insisted would prove that he loved her and didn’t kill her. Seok-hyun asks angrily if it just appeared out of nowhere, and Kang-seok admits that someone got rid of it twelve years ago.
Reading the letter, Seok-hyun’s voice goes wobbly as he reminds Kang-seok that he said and Min-joo were together. Then his expression goes hard again, and he breathes two names… Han Sun-tae and Kim Jin-gyu. They’d pointed out Seok-hyun as the man they saw running from Min-joo’s house the day she was murdered.
Seok-hyun says that every day, he’s imagined killing Sun-tae or Jin-gyu, and some days he wanted to kill Kang-seok. Kang-seok says he understands, but that just because they testified against him doesn’t mean they’re the real killers. Seok-hyun asks why he’s here, and Kang-seok tells him that he wants to defend him.
Seok-hyun lunges across the table and grabs Kang-seok’s lapels, snarling, “What?! You let me rot in here for twelve years, and now you want to defend me? Why? Do you think I’d be grateful if you got me out three years early? Do you think I’ll believe you?”
Kang-seok says he doesn’t expect Seok-hyun to believe him, that what he should believe is that he’s not the real murderer, and that Kang-seok will get him out. Seok-hyun screams that he’ll serve his sentence then get revenge on everyone, and the guards have to pull him off of Kang-seok.
Back at the office, Kang-seok tells Yeon-woo that Seok-hyun is refusing a retrial. Yeon-woo guesses that it’s not the retrial he’s rejecting, but Kang-seok. Kang-seok tells him that Seok-hyun thinks the false witnesses are the real killers, and Yeon-woo agrees that they seem the most obvious suspects. He offers to talk to Seok-hyun himself.
In the meantime, Kang-seok says there’s another urgent problem to solve. He takes Yeon-woo to meet a woman he addresses as “Professor,” who directs them to her son, Joon-gyu, who seems nervous and frightened. She says that Joon-gyu turned twenty yesterday, but Kang-seok firmly insists that he has to tell him himself.
He asks what happened, and Joon-gyu says haltingly that he had a birthday party at a club, and on the way home, he think she hit a person with his car. Unfortunately, his car’s black box wasn’t working. Yeon-woo asks if he was drinking, but Kang-seok warns Joon-gyu that if he tells them, they can’t lie about it in court.
Joon-gyu says he wasn’t drinking, which Yeon-woo finds hard to believe considering he was at a party at a club. Joon-gyu says he can’t drink, which they can confirm with his friends. He tells them that he doesn’t know what happened to the person he possibly hit, and that he’s not even sure it was a person because it was so dark.
Annoyed with Yeon-woo’s questioning, Kang-seok pulls him aside. Yeon-woo says that they can’t defend Joon-gyu without knowing all the facts, though he admits he got emotional. Kang-seok says it was his own mistake for bringing Yeon-woo here knowing that his parents died in a hit-and-run accident.
He says he’ll take care of this case if Yeon-woo wants to step out, but Yeon-woo respectfully declines. He says that he wants to do this right, and that if he can’t handle it, then he’ll quit.
Geun-shik catches Ji-na sighing over Da-ham’s advice about relationships. He asks her what Yeon-woo’s told her about Kang-seok’s retrial, but she has no idea what he’s talking about. He also asks what she knows of Yeon-woo personally, but she informs him that such questions are against company policy.
She wonders why he’s so interested in Yeon-woo anyway, and asks if he likes him. HA, I like her style. Geun-shik insists that he hates Yeon-woo because Ji-na and Da-ham were on his side before Yeon-woo showed up. Ji-na laughs in his face that she was never on his side, so he tells her darkly to decide soon which side she’s on, and that if she chooses wrong, she’ll really be sighing.
Looking at the location of the damage on Joon-gyu’s car, Kang-seok asserts they can claim that someone jumped out from the side. Yeon-woo has located the victim, a student named Park Sung-hwa, who was brought into the ER with fractures and a concussion. Joon-gyu says that he called 119, so Kang-seok says that everything should be fine if Joon-gyu turns himself in.
His mother is confused why he should, since it was an accident, but Yeon-woo points out that he could be arrested for leaving the scene. She wants to take the risk that the authorities won’t find out who was driving the car, but again Yeon-woo pipes up to say that Joon-gyu is a legal adult as of yesterday, so it’s his decision to make.
Joon-gyu decides to do the right thing, and at the station, Yeon-woo assures him that everything will be fine. Joon-gyu admits that he’s scared of going to jail, but mostly he feels ashamed. Yeon-woo sighs that he’s been in a similar situation himself, though not a car accident, adding that everyone makes mistakes but that it’s not too late to start changing things.
Yeon-woo stays behind to talk to Seok-hyun, who assumes Kang-seok sent him. Yeon-woo asks him to focus on the fact that they’re trying to get him freed rather than who they are, but Seok-hyun doesn’t see why he should trust Kang-seok. Yeon-woo asks him to do it for Min-joo, who was murdered and the man she loved sent to prison.
Seok-hyun’s eyes flicker with emotion, and he asks what Yeon-woo is trying to say. Yeon-woo tells him that he made a mistake selling drugs, but Min-joo still believed in a future with him. When Seok-hyun growls that he didn’t land in jail on his own, Yeon-woo says that that’s why Kang-seok wants to make it right.
That night, Seok-hyun reads Min-joo’s letter. We see her, a happy young woman, writing it and giving it to him. He’d asked if she was sure she wanted to be with someone like him, and she’d said that everyone makes mistakes, so if he’d done something wrong, he could always make it right. Seok-hyun jumps up and screams for the guard.
The next day, Kang-seok is glad to hear that Seok-hyun agreed to a retrial, and soon the courts grant permission. Yeon-woo assumes it’s based on a law that allows retrials when the prosecutor in the original case is found guilty of a crime, but Kang-seok says that he filed on grounds that new evidence has been found.
Yeon-woo has original eyewitness accounts from Sun-tae and Jin-gyu, which say that they witnessed Seok-hyun running from Min-joo’s apartment covered in blood. But during the initial police interview, which wasn’t mentioned at trial, they’d both said they weren’t anywhere near the area that day, while Seok-hyun had said he saw them running from her apartment just before finding Min-joo’s body.
Sun-tae and Jin-gyu are from good families and had known Min-joo since childhood, while Seok-hyun was an ex-convict. In addition, Sun-tae’s father is an assemblyman who used to be a judge.
A bloody baggie of marijuana was found at the scene, though there was no trace of drugs on Min-joo’s body. Kang-seok and Yeon-woo believe the drugs were left there by the real killer(s) to draw suspicion to Seok-hyun.
Interestingly, the blood on the baggie didn’t belong to either Min-joo or Seok-hyun, but nobody ever looked into it further. Kang-seok says that back then, there was no evidence that Sun-tae or Jin-gyu used drugs, but five years later, Sun-tae was arrested for using marijuana. Kang-seok feels guilty for falling for Sun-tae’s tricks, and for blindly believing in Deputy Chief Prosecutor Oh.
Kang-seok is alerted that a prosecutor has been chosen for the retrial. He knows Prosecutor Heo, and that he probably believes that Kang-seok turned on Deputy Chief Prosecutor Oh. He decides they need a weapon, and instructs Yeon-woo to go through all of Deputy Chief Prosecutor Oh’s cases again for weaknesses they can use against Prosecutor Heo.
Ji-na takes the books that Yeon-woo got for her to him, and he looks guilty when she reminds him that he asked her to study together. She guesses he’s working on the retrial and tells him that Geun-shik seems awfully interested. Yeon-woo says he must be interested in discovering Kang-seok’s weakness, but Ji-na says he’s more interested in Yeon-woo.
Yeon-woo goes on his guard, but Ji-na reassures him that she didn’t tell Geun-shik anything about him because she didn’t know anything. He says he doesn’t know much about her either, and there’s an awkward pause before Ji-na changes the subject.
Instead of looking at Deputy Chief Prosecutor Oh’s cases, Yeon-woo looks into Prosecutor Heo’s cases for information to use against him. Kang-seok notices how tense Yeon-woo is when they arrive at the prosecutor’s office, assuming that he’s scared because he’s not a real attorney, but Yeon-woo haughtily denies any such thing.
On their way in, Kang-seok gets a call that Joon-gyu is being investigated for his hit-and-run. They stop by to see Prosecutor Kim, the lawyer on Joon-gyu’s case. She disagrees that this is a simple accident and not a criminal case, claiming that Joon-gyu only turned himself in because he knew they’d trace his 119 call.
Still using his polite voice, Kang-seok repeats that this was just an accident. He suggests they settle on a fine or community service, which is when Prosecutor Kim drops the bomb — the man Joon-gyu hit, Sung-hwa, suffered a turn for the worse, and has died.
Kang-seok argues that it was still an accident, but Prosecutor Kim snaps that it’s now a murder case, and that Joon-gyu will serve at least five years in prison. No longer sounding so confident, Yeon-woo stammers that Sung-hwa came out of nowhere in the dark, and Joon-gyu wasn’t drunk.
Prosecutor Kim asks incredulously if this is all they have. She expresses disappointment that Kang-seok showed up unprepared, considering his reputation. When they leave, Kang-seok criticizes Yeon-woo for getting so shaken.
They go to see Prosecutor Heo, who’s so annoyed that they’re late that he completely ignores Kang-seok’s greeting and outstretched business card. Yeon-woo hands him a file of cases that they’re considering asking for retrials after finding doubtful claims from the prosecution.
Prosecutor Heo takes offense at the threat, but Kang-seok says cheerfully that the firm is only trying to give back to society. He invites Prosecutor Heo to look at their evidence of Seok-hyun’s innocence, but he tells them to prove it in court so that everyone can see the mistake Kang-seok made.
He tosses the file on the floor at their feet, and Kang-seok gives Yeon-woo a pointed Please leave glance. Once they’re alone, he tells Prosecutor Heo that he doesn’t want to fight him in court, because he knows that someone will lose their job if he wins.
Prosecutor Heo isn’t intimidated, and he tells Kang-seok not to try to weasel back in as a prosecutor if he loses his attorney job, because everyone considers him a backstabber who betrayed his boss. Kang-seok denies having done any such thing.
Prosecutor Heo says sarcastically that all the evidence against Deputy Chief Prosecutor Oh must have jumped out of nowhere by itself. He notes Kang-seok’s surprised expression and says that it doesn’t matter who turned in the evidence, because everyone blames him, regardless.
On the drive back to the firm, Kang-seok tells Yeon-woo that he’ll handle the retrial himself. He sends Yeon-woo to discuss an agreement with the hit-and-run victim’s family.
So Yeon-woo visits Sung-hwa’s family’s restaurant, where the family is holding a service. He pays his respects, which reminds him of his parents’ funeral when he was a child, and an ajusshi who had smiled at him creepily. He hands Sung-hwa’s sister an envelope and leaves.
Looking thunderous, Kang-seok asks Da-ham if she has anything to tell him about Deputy Chief Prosecutor Oh’s investigation evidence. He says that today is the first time he’s ever considered firing her. He asks what she took from the prosecutor’s office when he quit the job, but she says she only took her journal.
She confesses that she wrote down everything Deputy Chief Prosecutor Oh did, and when Kang-seok yells that he told her not to say anything, she yells back, “That’s right! Until something happens to you.” Kang-seok says she still had no right.
But Da-ham argues that it doesn’t matter who handed the evidence over, and besides, it was her journal. She says that she did it because she couldn’t see him fall and just do nothing.
She asks if she should pack her things, but Ha-yeon bursts in. She says that Da-ham brought the journal to her, and that they did want they had to do. Kang-seok is still angry that they stabbed Deputy Chief Prosecutor Oh in the back to rescue him, so Ha-yeon says that he couldn’t have sat back and watched one of them in trouble and done nothing.
She tells Kang-seok not to torment Da-ham because she did nothing wrong. She leaves, and Kang-seok tells Da-ham that he never considered firing her because he trusted her, not because she worried about him. But he doesn’t fire her.
Yeon-woo takes photos around the intersection where Joon-gyu’s hit-and-run happened. He even takes shots of some fresh-looking graffiti on a nearby wall. Later, he recognizes the tag on one of the graffiti shots as the same signature from a piece of art at Sung-hwa’s funeral.
In the morning, Yeon-woo shows him the photos and tells him that Sung-hwa was a graffiti artist. Since graffiti is illegal, artists usually work at night to keep from being seen, which means they wear black clothing. They also usually paint near streets so they can make a quick getaway if necessary.
Kang-seok concludes that Sung-hwa was running to keep from being discovered when he was hit by Joon-gyu. He tells Yeon-woo to meet with Prosecutor Kim about this, and when Yeon-woo balks at going alone, Kang-seok points out that Prosecutor Kim has a chip on her shoulder about him, wanting to beat him for the prestige, which means she’s thinking emotionally.
He says he’s not interested in being a rookie’s self-improvement project, so he challenges Yeon-woo to handle this alone. Yeon-woo freely admits that he’s emotional, but says that understanding the victim’s family doesn’t mean he can’t handle the case.
As soon as she sees him, Prosecutor Kim tries to establish dominance by asking what class he graduated in, assuming he’s her hoobae. Yeon-woo just says that’s not important when they’re talking about the life of a young man.
He shows her the graffiti photos, proving that Sung-hwa was on the run after committing a misdemeanor crime when he was hit by Joon-gyu’s car. The fact that Joon-gyu called 119 within two minutes of the accident shows that he didn’t flee the scene criminally.
Prosecutor Kim sneers at Yeon-woo for daring to ask her to free Joon-gyu without settling with the victim’s family first. She says that if he settles with the family, she’ll give Joon-gyu probation. She calls it mercy towards Kang-seok for choosing a terrible associate.
But she advises he work quickly, because the moment her chief prosecutor finds out that Kang-seok took this case, Joon-gyu will be jailed and they’ll demand the maximum sentence. She tells Yeon-woo that prosecutors all over the country are hoping for a case with Kang-seok’s name attached.
Yeon-woo says they’ll probably have to pay for this favor, and she marvels that now he sounds like the kind of lawyer she aspires to be. Yeon-woo figures out that she’s not trying to win this case over Kang-seok for her career in prosecution, but because she wants to impress Kang-seok and land a job at Kang & Ham.
When Kang-seok hears this, he tells Yeon-woo to make a deal with Sung-hwa’s family, and he’ll worry later whether to hire Prosecutor Kim. He says to go now before their sadness turns to anger, but Yeon-woo interprets that to mean that now is the best time to use them.
He tells Kang-seok that his parents passed away after being in comas for a month after their accident. During their funeral, a lawyer came to bargain the price of his parents’ lives. He clearly remembers the man’s voice, as well as his expensive clothes and watch. That’s when he first decided he needed to become a lawyer.
Looking at Yeon-woo’s ever-present sneakers, Kang-seok tells Yeon-woo that he’s different from that lawyer, not because he refuses to wear a sharp suit and expensive shoes, but because of the thoughts in his head. Yeon-woo says the result is the same, but Kang-seok reminds him that he said this case was different.
Yeon-woo says that it’s Kang-seok who told him to correct something once he finds out it’s wrong. He still wants to finish this case, because he understands how the family feels more than anyone. But despite understanding them, he says he won’t let it effect his work.
He does say that Kang-seok is being emotional right now, and as he catches a glare from prosecutor Heo, Kang-seok admits that he feels emotional. He says it’s because every word he’s about to say will determine Seok-hyun’s future, yet he’s standing here listening to Yeon-woo’s immature complaints.
Seok-hyun’s retrial starts, and Prosecutor Heo states that he’s discovered that Seok-hyun stalked, confined, and assaulted the victim, and even injected her with drugs against her will. Kang-seok argues that no drugs were found in the victim’s body, but Prosecutor Heo points out that the letter wasn’t found back then, either.
The judge warns Prosecutor Heo that his statement could cause a huge problem. But Prosecutor Heo stands by his claim, so the judge gives Kang-seok time to discuss this with Seok-hyun. Prosecutor Heo mutters to Kang-seok that he could always drop the retrial.
The court is adjourned, and Kang-seok makes a beeline for Prosecutor Heo. Grabbing his arm, he says that Seok-hyun was falsely accused once before, asking if Prosecutor Heo cares nothing for an innocent man who was locked up for twelve years.
Prosecutor Heo says cryptically that it’s not always best to pull out a sword that’s stuck in the wrong place, warning that he’ll cause infection and a scar and asking if Kang-seok understands how this works now. Kang-seok lets him go, wondering what to do next.
I was very touched when Kang-seok made an allowance for Yeon-woo’s emotional reaction to the hit-and-run case. He’s always been firmly against any emotional response in regards to his cases, so it was a huge concession for him to practically apologize for putting Yeon-woo in a position where he couldn’t help but get emotional. It was kind of him (and yes, emotional!) to offer to let Yeon-woo step out, but you could tell he was impressed as well as worried when Yeon-woo declined.
Yeon-woo has a point, that this type of case will determine if he’s even cut out to be an attorney, but if I were Kang-seok I’d be concerned that it might be too soon for him to be dealing with a case that cuts so close to home. On the other hand, I like the lesson that Yeon-woo is taking from the hit-and-run case. Instead of not taking cases that remind him of his parents’ deaths, or only representing the victims, he wants to work for the other side because he knows how the families feel. More than anyone, he can make sure those families are treated fairly, because he understands them and because by being on the other side of things, he can ensure that they aren’t taken advantage of. That’s smart thinking, and very honorable of him.
I’m starting to think that Kang-seok may know more about Yeon-woo than he’s admitting. He’s never asked Yeon-woo for details about his past or the mistake he wants to put right, but he seems to understand a lot of the reasons why Yeon-woo behaves the way he does. Yes, he’s good at reading people, but you have to observe people to read them. I think it’s possible he’s been observing Yeon-woo for a lot longer than Yeon-woo knows.
As for Kang-seok’s personal wake-up call, I’m really enjoying seeing him not so confident for once. It was obvious that he never thought to wonder how all this evidence against his old mentor suddenly appeared after so many years, or who dug it up in the first place. And while I can understand why he doesn’t want to betray the man he thought was a good person, he’s known that Deputy Chief Prosecutor Oh tampered with evidence for a decade now, so I’m not sure I agree with Kang-seok’s decision not to testify against him. Deputy Chief Prosecutor Oh endangered Kang-seok’s career for years, starting with his very first case, and that right there should be enough for Kang-seok to realize that he’s not a man worth protecting (not to mention all `the guilty people who went free, and the innocent people who suffered in prison).
But I’m guessing that there’s a lot more to it than simply evidence tampering, and that this is going to be the thing that finally makes Kang-seok emotional. And I honestly hope that he totally breaks and just loses his cool completely, because it can’t be healthy to be so self-contained all the time. Plus, I just want to see him go gloriously batcrap crazy, just once, even if just to let some of the bottled-up steam out. Keeping your emotions in check is good advice for a budding lawyer like Yeon-woo, but Yeon-woo also has a point that emotions can help you steer the right course.