Room No. 9: Episodes 11-12
Choices are made and consequences are met as our protagonists get closer to the truth. Whether or not the chairman knows who’s after him, Hwa-sa’s revenge plan won’t be deterred by a few roadblocks, and it won’t stop our team in their pursuit. However, the repercussions of their actions may be more than what anyone bargained for, and small decisions spiral into irreversible outcomes that can’t be undone with a few hopeful “what ifs.”
EPISODE 11 RECAP
November 2007. Hae-yi excitedly opens her mail, but reading the letter, she throws it on the floor. Grubby Intern Bang finds the crumpled piece of paper indicating Hae-yi’s rejection, and on the rooftop of their goshiwon, he encourages her to keep moving forward, suggesting a job in the countryside rather than the capital. His words spur an idea, though she has no plans of giving up.
Dressed as a server, Hae-yi infiltrates a fancy restaurant where Attorney Ma dines with Chairman Ki and the other lawyers from the firm. She pours Attorney Ma a glass, but he immediately reprimands her on the C-grade wine. Hae-yi reveals herself as the top-scorer on the recent bar exam and explains how the wine is her bribe. Attorney Ma assumes that she’s here to ask about her rejection, but she knows all too well why she failed: Eulji Sung.
Hae-yi tells the group that she won’t live like her father and promises a 100% success rate. Attorney Ma laughs at her ridiculous claim and asks what she needs to achieve it, to which Hae-yi replies, “Desperation.” Unlike the others, Chairman Ki takes an interest in Hae-yi and asks what her desperation is. She says that she cut ties with her father, and pouring the chairman a glass, she declares her willingness to do even more.
In the present, Officer Oh and his colleague drag Hae-yi away as a suspect for Attorney Ma’s murder, but Hae-yi wonders if she should be held responsible for a crime committed by Hwa-sa even if it was her body. Reporters swarm Hae-yi as she’s taken away, and Prosecutor Kim watches everything from the law firm, unperturbed by the turn of events.
Hae-yi asks the officers to see Chairman Ki, and though the other officers mock her for her bold request, Officer Oh remains silent. While Prosecutor Kim reports to Chairman Ki on the success of their plan to dispose of Hae-yi, Officer Oh arrives at the chairman’s mansion to the others’ disbelief.
Yoo-jin confronts Director Bong about the photo of Ki Se-woong with the real Ki San, but instead of answering his questions, Director Bong tells Yoo-jin about his past as an autopsy specialist. Taking a book from his shelf, Director Bong reveals a hidden photo inside the back cover: the missing crime scene photo of the deceased.
Yoo-jin doesn’t understand how Young-bae could have stolen Ki San’s name, but Director Bong corrects him, “To me, he was Ki San from the start.” Flashing back, Director Bong grabbed a scalpel, about to begin the autopsy on Ki San, but Young-bae marched in, introducing himself as the one who’ll make Director Bong the hospital director.
With Officer Oh’s help, Hae-yi meets with Chairman Ki, and she accuses him of pinning her down with a witness statement. When he cites Chan-sung’s arrest as his reason for turning his back on her, she blames Hwa-sa for handing over the dash cam footage. On her knees, she begs Chairman Ki to retract the witness statement since she never betrayed him.
Even so, the chairman points out that she still killed Attorney Ma, but Hae-yi tells him that Hwa-sa did it. Though it might be hard to believe, she explains that they switched bodies, but Chairman Ki finds it oddly convenient that they switched back again. Opening the door, he motions for her to get out since he’s let go of her hand.
Officer Oh questions Hae-yi about the murder, showing her all the evidence from the security footage to the testimony from the hotel housekeeping about the missing towel and shower cap. He also plays for her Secretary Park’s witness statement—though Officer Oh, himself, was suspicious of the sudden confession. He tells Hae-yi that he genuinely wants to help her, but to do so, he needs the truth. She thinks he won’t believe it even if she told him and asks to use a phone instead.
Prosecutor Kim gathers the senior partners to discuss Chan-sung’s case, but when they ask about Hae-yi, he orders a hands-off policy since either way, her career is ruined. Intern Bang’s phone suddenly rings in the middle of their meeting (his ringtone warning him not to answer since the fool from the police department is calling), and though he hears Hae-yi, he pretends to talk with Officer Oh and hangs up.
Intern Bang visits Hae-yi in the interrogation room but ignores all her requests since he can’t help her. Despite her pleas and bargaining, Intern Bang knows Hae-yi will do fine on her own and offers to buy her a drink when she comes out. Having overheard everything, Officer Oh calls Intern Bang cold-hearted, but Intern Bang accuses Officer Oh of breaking the law by allowing the suspect to use his phone.
Yoo-jin finds Hwa-sa to confirm if the real Ki San was next to her in the car, and after seeing the photo, Hwa-sa is certain that Young-bae killed Ki San that day. Yoo-jin argues that it still doesn’t explain how Young-bae became Ki San, but Hwa-sa surmises that Ki Se-woong must be involved.
As Chairman Ki looks around Yoo-jin’s room, he remembers the evening when Ki San died. Ki Se-woong cradled his dead son’s head in the stairwell while Young-bae begged for forgiveness, but the late chairman kicked Young-bae down the stairs. After the second kick, Young-bae pushed his father and declared his intentions to reveal everything, but Ki Se-woong slapped him, commanding him to lower his voice.
Yoo-jin still can’t accept the fact that Ki Se-woong would hide the truth and goes outside to cool his head. Hwa-sa joins him and explains how blood ties mean instantly heating up and instantly breaking your heart. Facing Yoo-jin, she tells him to avenge his father and take back the SHC Group since it’s rightfully his.
Chairman Ki tinkers with his car while waiting for Yoo-jin to come home since he has some news to share. Handing Yoo-jin plane tickets, he tells him to go abroad to a partnering hospital for a year, but Yoo-jin notes that the flight is for tomorrow. Unwilling to obey orders, Yoo-jin walks away, but Chairman Ki announces Hae-yi’s arrest for Attorney Ma’s murder.
He tells Yoo-jin to keep away from all the scandals, but Yoo-jin refuses to listen. Though the chairman shouts at him about the power of money and offers to help Hae-yi if he goes abroad, Yoo-jin calls Chairman Ki out for threatening him and leaves to find Hae-yi. However, Secretary Park and the security guards block Yoo-jin’s path and knock him out.
While everyone orders soup, Officer Oh asks for pizza and a salad, but it’s clear that his odd menu choice is for Hae-yi. While another officer delivers the food, Officer Oh visits Hwa-sa on Hae-yi’s request. After hearing about the arrest, Hwa-sa follows him to the police station, and on their way there, she remembers their scooter ride from before while he asks about her mother.
Officer Oh kicks out his captain and the other officer to let Hae-yi meet with Hwa-sa in private, and his captain reprimands him for ignoring all the evidence pointing to Hae-yi. Officer Oh argues that there’s no motive and firmly believes that something else is going on.
Hae-yi blames Hwa-sa for ruining her career and demands to know everything that happened that evening. Hwa-sa tells her that she took a small sip of whiskey and one bite of pufferfish sashimi, but Hae-yi scoffs at her claims since her body should be able to handle that amount easily. She thinks Hwa-sa’s memories must be wrong, but after she leaves, Hae-yi lays out all the evidence and thinks over her statement again.
When Officer Oh visits, Hae-yi tells him that the body often controls the mind, and to his surprise, she says that she might not have killed Attorney Ma. The amount of tetrodotoxin found in Attorney Ma’s blood was ruled as nonlethal, but she points out that his gastritis and gastric ulcer could have made the poison spread faster, leading to his death. He finds her theory hard to believe, so Hae-yi reminds him to repay his debt since she gave him the dash cam footage.
On Hae-yi’s orders, Officer Oh calls his detective buddy about the evidence from Attorney Ma’s case, and luckily for him, they kept everything. He takes the box of evidence to the NFS and then calls Hwa-sa to ask for a favor from Han-byul and her boyfriend. He explains that 0.754mg of tetrodotoxin was found in the whiskey bottle, and since 1mg is considered lethal, there’s a possibility that Hae-yi didn’t kill the attorney.
Han-byul’s boyfriend finds a seller of tetrodotoxin online, and after setting up a deal, Officer Oh catches the seller at the meeting spot. After some threats, the seller hands over his client list to Officer Oh, and among the buyers is a familiar name: Park Eun-sung.
Yoo-jin wakes up in the hospital with Chan-sung watching over him, and Chan-sung tells his uncle to keep his promise about not fighting with his dad since he doesn’t want his role model fighting with the person he loves most. Though Yoo-jin can’t keep his promise about that, he does tell Chan-sung that his affection for him will never change.
Officer Oh interrogates the seller with Hae-yi about Eun-sung, and the seller remembers the buyer since he didn’t negotiate the price and then offered US dollars as payment. Because of the buyer’s strange behavior, the seller broke protocol and snapped a photo as a receipt in case the money was fake. Hae-yi and Officer Oh instantly recognize Chan-sung in the photo.
Secretary Park worriedly reports something to Chairman Ki, and soon, Chan-sung is called to the chairman’s office. Showing his son security footage from the hotel, he asks him why Attorney Ma visited his room. Flashing back, Chan-sung drugged the whiskey bottle and met with Attorney Ma to talk about his daughter. He poured him a glass of whiskey, but Attorney Ma was preoccupied with other things and left the room without drinking the cup. Quick on his feet, Chan-sung offered the bottle as a gift which Attorney Ma gladly accepted.
Yoo-jin arrives at the police station, looking for Hae-yi, and Officer Oh takes him to her. He asks her if Hwa-sa killed Attorney Ma while in her body, but Hae-yi tells him that Chan-sung is the culprit. Back in Chairman Ki’s office, he slaps his son, asking him why he did it, but Chan-sung asks a question of his own: “If Dad is Choo Young-bae, then who am I?”
Epilogue. Fall of 1985. Ki Se-woong stands in front of Ki San’s grave holding baby Yoo-jin. He promises his son to return his name after Yoo-jin grows up and takes over the company.
EPISODE 12 RECAP
Officer Oh releases Hae-yi now that the real culprit has been found, and as Yoo-jin escorts her out, another officer teases Officer Oh for barking up the wrong tree. He threatens to hit the officer, but watching the two of them leave, Officer Oh sighs since he can’t help but have these feelings.
While Chan-sung admits to Chairman Ki that he met the deceased professor while looking into his dad’s past, Yoo-jin asks Hae-yi about Chan-sung, and she tells him that the accident might have been murder. Flashing back to that evening, Chan-sung waited in a parked car for the professor to exit a convenience store, and as soon as she stepped into the crosswalk, Chan-sung sped up and hit her.
Chan-sung tells Chairman Ki that he should be worried about something else and slides over a picture of Ki San standing next to a pregnant Esther. Meanwhile, Yoo-jin drops off Hae-yi at the law firm, and noting his shock, she admits to not wanting to tell him the truth since ignorance is bliss.
Hae-yi’s return causes a mini-commotion at the law firm, especially for Intern Bang who betrayed her. Called to Prosecutor Kim’s office, Hae-yi saunters in after getting changed, and he tells her to take her time at home since she’s fired. He tells her to sue if she thinks this is an unlawful termination, but Hae-yi vows to return since this is the best law firm and she’s suited for the best.
As Hae-yi takes her things to her car, her assistant and Intern Bang step out. But rather than say farewell, they’re here to retrieve her car keys and ask her to move out of her apartment. Hae-yi trudges home with a box of items, and her day gets worse when she sees Hwa-sa and Mi-ran still in her apartment.
Hearing Mi-ran ask if she was fired sends Hae-yi over the edge, and she chucks her box to the ground, breaking her senior partner nameplate. She blames them for ruining her life, and grabbing a wad of cash, she throws it at their feet, shouting at them to leave. Hae-yi collapses to the floor and breaks into uncontrollable sobs.
Hwa-sa sits next to Hae-yi and apologizes for their current twist of fate. She soothingly reminds her that she’s endured worse, but Hae-yi cries about how hard she worked to get here. Hwa-sa pulls Hae-yi into a hug, and though Hae-yi pushes back at first, she sinks into Hwa-sa’s arm and cries into her shoulder.
Chairman Ki stares at the giant picture of Ki Se-woong and calls his father conniving for hiding the identity of the real Ki San’s son. He kicks the picture and throws a cup at it, and someone angrily reprimands him from behind. Chairman Ki turns around and in walks Ki San from thirty-four years ago.
He grabs Ki San’s lapels, but when Ki San calls him “hyungnim,” Chairman Ki returns to his senses and sees Yoo-jin standing before him. The two return to their respective rooms, and Chairman Ki stares at the photo of Ki San and Esther, musing that he always assumed the uncanny resemblance was due to the fact that they were brothers.
Yoo-jin orders Director Bong to meet with Hwa-sa, but when the latter declines, he tells him that owning the hospital comes at a price. Likewise, Hwa-sa initially refuses joining hands with the man who helped put her in jail, but Yoo-jin forces her to choose one target: Will it be Young-bae or Director Bong? Hwa-sa agrees to team up, but only under the condition that Hae-yi handles her appeals trial.
When the two meet, Director Bong attempts to make small talk, but Hwa-sa immediately tells him to drop the act. Hae-yi arrives last, unaware of the nature of this meeting, but unbeknownst to them, another party joins—from a different room, Chairman Ki watches everything through a hidden camera.
They ask Hae-yi to handle Hwa-sa’s appeals trial as well as an identity verification lawsuit, and Yoo-jin explains how they want her to prove that the real Ki San died next to Hwa-sa in the car. Yoo-jin tells her that the current Chairman Ki is a fake, but Hae-yi dismisses his accusations and leaves the room.
Hwa-sa follows Hae-yi and asks her if she’s afraid of the chairman since she must have already suspected the truth. Hae-yi doesn’t deny it, but questions Yoo-jin’s involvement. Hwa-sa merely tells her that he needs her help, but Yoo-jin joins them and tells Hae-yi the truth. Showing her the pictures of Ki San, he calls him his father.
Returning to the room, Hae-yi points out the lack of crucial evidence needed to win the case, and Director Bong chimes in since he has what they need. After they finish their meal, Director Bong takes the check, but Chairman Ki suddenly appears behind them and offers to pay instead. They watch the chairman leave, and while Director Bong wonders if he knows everything, Hwa-sa bluntly asks if he’ll quit then, because unlike him, her determination remains unwavering.
In his office, Director Bong plays a recording of Hwa-sa’s mother and a firefighter who was at the scene of the crime. The firefighter told her that the deceased’s neck was broken, and though he couldn’t say anything definitive about the case, he did know that the cause of death wasn’t carbon monoxide poisoning. The recording is enough to bring Hae-yi on the team, and she warns them that she’s expensive.
In the car, Mi-ran guesses that Hae-yi’s sudden change of heart is to get back at the law firm rather than a newfound sense of justice, and Hae-yi confirms it. They arrive at the nursing home to play the recording to Hwa-sa’s mother, but she doesn’t recall anything. Hwa-sa realizes how much her mother must have worked and suffered to acquire this evidence, and while Hwa-sa cries, Hae-yi watches the mother and daughter together in silence.
To repay her debt, Hwa-sa makes food for Hae-yi who’s busy working, but Hae-yi rejects her offer at first since carbs make her sleepy. With a sigh, Hae-yi takes a bite out of courtesy and compliments Hwa-sa’s cooking. She then orders Mi-ran to investigate the fire department deployed to the crime scene and continues eating the food Hwa-sa made.
Mi-ran gathers information about the individuals who were at the crime scene, but of the two most likely, one of them doesn’t remember talking with Hwa-sa’s mother while the other has gone missing. Hae-yi decides to ask Officer Oh for further assistance, and Hwa-sa hands her a lunchbox to give him, though she asks for her identity to be kept a secret.
The homemade lunch delights Officer Oh who assumes Hae-yi made it, and keeping her promise, she doesn’t correct him. She hands him the picture of the missing firefighter and asks for a background check. Officer Oh notes how she’s here to request something an aid would usually do and correctly guesses that she was fired.
Prosecutor Kim watches the recording of Hwa-sa’s secret meeting with her team, and he suggests to Chairman Ki that they call Director Bong and interrogate him. However, Director Bong is the least of the chairman’s concern, because before they can decide on who to cut down first, both Secretary Park and Prosecutor Kim receive a call notifying them of Chan-sung’s arrest warrant.
Officer Oh and his partner retrieve the warrant from the prosecutor, and as they arrive at Chairman Ki’s mansion, Chan-sung tries to run away despite his mother’s pleas. The security guards block the officers long enough for Chan-sung to ride his motorcycle, but Officer Oh quickly pursues him and calls for backup.
They manage to corner Chan-sung, but he ignores Officer Oh’s orders and lowers his visor with a smirk. Revving his motorcycle, Chan-sung drives at full speed towards the parked patrol cars blocking his path, and he collides with them head on. The impact throws him off his bike, and he soars through the air, landing on the ground with a sickening thud.
Chan-sung is transported to the hospital where Director Bong and Yoo-jin begin his surgery, but despite escaping death, Chan-sung broke his spine and will be paralyzed for the rest of his life. Still shaken, Yoo-jin tries to go to Chan-sung’s side, but Hae-yi tells him to rest and keep his distance from Chairman Ki for the time being. She drives him to the mansion to grab his stuff, but at that moment, Chairman Ki flies into a rage and runs to the yard with a gun.
Yoo-jin comes face to face with the enraged chairman who’s looking for revenge, and Chairman Ki aims his gun at him. Yoo-jin stands unflinching while Prosecutor Kim fights with the chairman, and though it looks like Chairman Ki may shoot Yoo-jin at any moment, he suddenly falls to the ground and gasps for air, his bad heart acting up again.
Hae-yi helps Yoo-jin unpack his stuff into the new room and suggests putting the lawsuit on hold. Though he feels pity towards Chan-sung, he thinks that the identity verification lawsuit is a different matter and expresses his deeper pity towards his father. While Yoo-jin looks off to the distance, lost in thought, Hae-yi rests her head on his back and silently comforts him.
Also needing to find a new place, Hae-yi looks for an apartment, but on her way out, she runs into Intern Bang who’s here to bring her back to the law firm. Prosecutor Kim and Chairman Ki want to meet her, but the sight of the chairman reminds Hae-yi of the gun incident from before.
Prosecutor Kim shows her all the evidence of her illegal activities and bribes, but rather than threaten her, they offer a proposal: just like when she stopped Hwa-sa’s term reduction, they want her to sabotage Yoo-jin’s plans. To their surprise, Hae-yi refuses, so Chairman Ki promises to ruin her career worse than her father’s.
Hae-yi walks with a heavy heart to Professor Kang’s office where Hwa-sa and the others are waiting for her to join them for dinner. Though Professor Kang praises Hae-yi for preparing such a difficult lawsuit, she looks dour and approaches her father after dinner. She asks him if he regrets his decision of helping Hwa-sa, and Sung admits that he does.
Sung says that it was painful living as a failure, but when Hae-yi asks if he would do things differently if he had the chance, he muses that “ifs” are just life’s romantic escapes. Looking into Hae-yi’s eyes, he tells her that helping Hwa-sa was still the right choice, and that fact keeps him going even today. Down the hall, Hwa-sa overhears their entire conversation and silently cries.
Meanwhile, Chairman Ki and Prosecutor Kim are still waiting for Hae-yi’s reply, but as a precaution, Prosecutor Kim has everything ready to report them for bribery if Hwa-sa’s appeals request goes through. Chairman Ki hands over the case to Prosecutor Kim since he’s busy dealing with Chan-sung.
Officer Oh returns Hae-yi’s lunchbox and tells her that the firefighter she asked about committed suicide in 1988—just a month after his conversation with Hwa-sa’s mother. Hwa-sa is certain that Chairman Ki is behind it, and though Hae-yi argues that she only has speculations, quick flash backs show the firefighter getting kidnapped and thrown into a reservoir.
That evening, Hae-yi ponders over Sung’s words of regret as well as Chairman Ki’s threat to ruin her, and she stays at her desk until the sun comes up the next morning. Expressionless, Hae-yi gathers all the documents and evidence for Hwa-sa’s appeal at Professor Kang’s office and goes out alone to submit them. Hwa-sa stops her in the hall to express her thanks, and she hugs Hae-yi before she leaves.
Hae-yi puts on her sunglasses and narrates that the continuous flow of time filled with small and big decisions is called life while the irreversible moment when life changes from X to Y is called fate. She marches into Chairman Ki’s office and places the documents on his desk—making her choice to change her fate.
At the hospital, Yoo-jin watches Chan-sung who remains unconscious, and back in the office, Chairman Ki pats Hae-yi on the shoulder, acknowledging the fact that she was his person all along. As he takes a seat, Hae-yi stays standing, and though her glasses hide most of her face, a tear rolls down her cheek.
After the body switch, the show has focused its attention on Hae-yi’s character, and I’m enjoying the depiction of her conflict and choices. She’s still conniving and self-centered, and the basic motivation of self-preservation behind her actions remains the same. Rather than have her learn her lesson while in Hwa-sa’s body, the switch gave her an opportunity to slow down from her fast-paced life. Thus, Hae-yi is still the same person she always was when she returns to her body, but the experience allowed her to re-center herself and evaluate what she considers important in her life. She helps Hwa-sa not out of a sense of justice but to help Yoo-jin and get back at the law firm. However, I think Hae-yi has warmed up to Hwa-sa a lot more than she lets on.
As Hwa-sa mentioned to Yoo-jin, only Hae-yi has an inkling of what life is like as “Hwa-sa,” and I think the body swap gave Hae-yi perspective on what sort of person Hwa-sa is. Despite knowing all the hardships Hwa-sa goes through, Hae-yi witnesses the quiet determination and gentle kindness inside her. Though Hae-yi also worked hard and long to achieve her goals, her troubles pale in comparison to what Hwa-sa has endured, and I think some part of Hae-yi recognizes the kindred spirit of a fierce woman inside Hwa-sa. However, it’s not enough to convince Hae-yi to side with Hwa-sa, and I’m actually glad the episode ended with her betrayal. The final scene in Chairman Ki’s office portrayed how much Hae-yi has changed yet stayed the same. Old Hae-yi would never have debated the issue of helping Hwa-sa or the chairman, but the fact that she now deliberates over these major decisions and even sheds a tear over her choice gives depth to Hae-yi’s character beyond the prideful and sly lawyer. It’s easy to say that one would choose justice over comfort, but in reality, it’s immensely difficult to sacrifice your well-being in order to do the right thing. Especially for someone like Hae-yi who’s had to fend for herself and faced rejection based on things outside of her control, it would be unreasonable to expect her to suddenly help Hwa-sa in a sacrificial manner that she knows will ruin her life. Also, it was shown again and again how scared Hae-yi truly is of the chairman despite her bravado, and I think she avoided answering Hwa-sa’s question at the restaurant because it was true. While I accused Hae-yi of being reckless, I’m starting to think that she’s acting this way out of fear, and to her credit, she might actually realize how dangerous Chairman Ki is more than anyone going against him, which is also why she switches sides.
The show revealed the true murderer behind Attorney Ma’s death these episodes, and I was satisfied the overall reveal and outcome. I didn’t actually consider Chan-sung a suspect, though now that I think about it, his proximity to the crime scene and reaction to the commotion outside should have made me suspicious of him. I clearly underestimated how much of the truth Chan-sung knew, and now that he’s unconscious, I wonder if he’s out of the picture or hiding a few more curveballs. His end was befitting of his character with his unpredictability and slight craziness pushing him over the edge during the chase scene in what could be seen as a suicidal escape attempt. However, I do wish the show had started this reveal earlier and given more time for the repercussions of Chan-sung’s accident. The investigation went by quickly (with Officer Oh basically pulling an all-nighter gathering evidence) and so did the reactions to Chan-sung’s predicament. Besides the one breakdown by Chairman Ki, news of Chan-sung’s coma and paralysis hasn’t made a huge dent in the story which is surprising given the reveal and how much the show built him up as the chairman’s Achille’s heel.
As for Yoo-jin, he’s still mostly just there, and despite being an important piece of the puzzle, he feels one-note. He’s the kind doctor who wants to figure out his past, but unlike the other protagonists and villain, there isn’t a lot of internal conflict going inside of him. I think the show has wasted potential to make his character interesting and part of the problem is that his reactions feel bland in comparison to the truth he uncovers. Essentially, Yoo-jin learns that his whole life was a lie but his response (which is mostly sitting and brooding) doesn’t reflect the magnitude of his discovery. His initial goal was to find his mom, but while on that quest, he found an even deeper secret surrounding his birth. Unfortunately, the show never develops the internal struggles Yoo-jin should be feeling, and as a result I don’t understand his motivations or feel as invested in his character. Compared to Yoo-jin, I find Chan-sung and his existential identity crisis much more interesting because I understand his motivation (protecting his dad) as well as why the truth affected him so powerfully to the point of murder. Though Yoo-jin sounds interesting on paper, I really think he got the short-end of the stick when it comes to character development.