Red Moon, Blue Sun: Episodes 17-18
So far all the instances of child abuse have been out of anger or neglect — but sometimes abuse can occur even when a parent desperately loves their child. Motivation doesn’t matter when the end result is still the same, and Red Cry makes it clear that there are no excuses when it comes to the well-being of a child.
EPISODES 17-18 RECAP
Thanks to the photo her childhood friend sent her, Woo-kyung realizes that the green dress was actually a birthday present from her mother. She struggles to recall glimpses of the little girl, happily wearing Woo-kyung’s dress — and then being pushed down and the dress torn off her.
Woo-kyung visits her sister, mentally asking the comatose Se-kyung if she knows who the little girl, the one who loved Woo-kyung’s birthday dress as much as she did. Because Woo-kyung still doesn’t have any answers.
She visits Mom in order to rummage around in the storage area again, except it’s completely empty. Mom says she wanted to clean it up, but Woo-kyung frets that the dress from her childhood might have been there. Mom’s more concerned that Woo-kyung’s still having hallucinations.
Looking at photos of Mom and the two sisters, Woo-kyung wonders what Mom thought when she first met Woo-kyung. Mom doesn’t want to talk about the past, but finally admits that her first impression of Woo-kyung was that she seemed mature for her age, and also a little depressed, which Mom assumed was due to losing her mother at such a young age.
Woo-kyung muses that they’re such a small family — they don’t have any extended family members, and a family is made up of memories. So not having anyone to share those memories with makes her lonely. Mom gripes that Woo-kyung’s been with her for the past thirty years, but Woo-kyung says she just misses Se-kyung.
After Woo-kyung leaves, Mom picks up one of the photos of her, the two girls, and their father. She accidentally drops it, breaking the frame and shattering the glass — a symbolic reminder of how fractured this family truly is.
Bit-na studies with her college-aged tutor, who apparently is “Teach” and the one who gave her the burner phone. He reassures her that the phone belongs to his younger brother who’s studying abroad, so Bit-na doesn’t need to worry about anyone finding out about it.
Except Ha-jung is suspicious, especially when she sees how chummy Bit-na and Teach are (because of course she’s spying on them from one of her cameras). She barges into the office and tells them lessons are over. Then, after her TSA pat-down of Bit-na, warns her daughter not to waste time chatting with her tutor. She slaps Bit-na, following it up with an “I love you” hug. Ugh, what a hypocrite.
Teach accidentally left his phone behind, and Ha-jung finds it because it keeps buzzing with text messages. She’s shocked to see they’re all from Bit-na, joking about how jealous her mom looked. Ha-jung realizes that Bit-na must have a secret phone, and unlocks the study closet to search for it.
Terrified, Bit-na pleadingly says that she’s sorry, but there’s a crazed gleam in her mother’s eyes as she grabs her daughters’s hair, demanding to know where Bit-na got the phone. Bit-na says it came from Teach, then defiantly asks if her mother is jealous that the tutor likes her so much.
Ha-jung still has the terrifying look in her eyes as she reminds Bit-na that all she ever thinks about is making sure Bit-na goes to college — why should she waste time thinking about a mere tutor? Then she grabs the girl, demanding to know why Bit-na keeps defying her and making her upset.
She turns around to grab a stick, which, based on the pedestal it sits on, is named “The Rod of Love.” Ha-jung tells her daughter to get undressed.
Soo-young’s followed up with Ha-jung’s alibis for Ji-hye and Doctor Park’s deaths, and Ha-jung is in the clear. However, Ha-jung seems to have been in the vicinity of the area where Red Cry’s phone was turned on the day Woo-kyung received the message.
When the detectives question Ha-jung about her whereabouts that afternoon, she admits she was on the highway they’re asking about, however so were thousands of other people, so there’s no reason for them to think that she’s connected to Red Cry. Um, except for the fact that the phone used was registered in her name.
The detectives search her apartment for the phone, all the while Ha-jung boasts that there’s no reason for them to find anything because she’s totally innocent. Except Ji-heon finds the study closet in Bit-na’s room. He’s also surprised by the CCTV camera, but Ha-jung confidently lies that her daughter asked for it, that it’s all Bit-na’s idea because she prefers to study without distraction and with the pressure of someone watching her.
Ji-heon is definitely not believing Ha-jung’s BS, especially when he finds “The Rod of Love” and comments that his house had one just like it, and that his mother used to beat him until he was in middle school. Aw, I guess no one on this show has had a decent childhood.
Ha-jung continues to lie that it’s just for show — she doesn’t actually use it, it’s merely a psychological warning. But Ji-heon’s not buying it, despite Ha-jung’s smug confidence. Her confidence starts to crack, however, when Soo-young confiscates her laptop and her phone. They didn’t find the burner phone, but they still need to investigate Ha-jung as a suspect.
Woo-kyung attempts to get information about her mother’s family, and the government worker reveals that Woo-kyung’s maternal grandmother died in 2008, and that there’s an aunt, however, since the aunt isn’t immediate family, the government worker can’t share any more information with Woo-kyung.
So Woo-kyung tries to look up her family tree online, but she’s interrupted by a visit from Shi-wan. The little boy tells her that this is his last day at the center. Woo-kyung’s surprised that his counseling sessions have ended so quickly, but Shi-wan says his father wanted it to be sped up so they could be over as soon as possible.
Woo-kyung seems to think that’s a bad idea, but instead she simply tells Shi-wan to get along with his classmates and to live a good life. Shi-wan asks Woo-kyung for her phone number, which Woo-kyung gives him. Then he asks her about the drawing of the little girl in the green dress, wondering if it’s her daughter because he thinks it looks like Woo-kyung.
Min-seok returns to the new home he’s made with Yeon-soo, happy to see Eun-soo waiting for him — but not so happy to see his former mother-in-law glaring at him in disapproval. She dropped Eun-soo off for a visit because she wanted to meet the infamous homewrecker in person, but Mom sighs as she admits that Yeon-soo seems like a good person.
She has another reason for being there — it’s to warn Min-seok that Woo-kyung is still having her hallucinations, and she begs him to help Woo-kyung return to her senses.
Woo-kyung asks Ji-heon to help her track down her aunt, but Ji-heon says this kind of informal investigation goes against protocol. Curious, he asks if this is somehow connected to the little girl in the green dress, and Woo-kyung says that no one seems to remember her childhood, and she can’t ask the people around her. Her father is dead, her sister is in a vegetative coma, and her step-mother wasn’t around during that time. Ji-heon, that big ol’ softy, says he’ll see what he can do.
Bit-na returns home, surprised to see her mother sitting helplessly in the dark. Realizing that Bit-na has a laptop, Ha-jung begs for it like a drug addict craving their next fix. Using her daughter’s computer, she logs onto the website (which is a horror-film site, not a rock band like I’d previously thought) to send a message to Red Cry.
She’s worried that the police will find evidence of their chats on her laptop, but Red Cry reassures her that if Ha-jung followed the proper protocol on logging into the website, then there won’t be anything for them to track.
Bit-na surprises her mother, who quickly closes the chat window, returning to the innocuous looking horror film site (which Bit-na stares at curiously). However Bit-na wants to know if her mother fired her tutor, and Ha-jung gruffly says that she did, and further told him to never contact Bit-na again.
Pointing out that her grades improved thanks to Teach, she pleads with her mother to let him keep tutoring her — she’ll study even harder (which seems impossible, considering how hard she’s forced to study already). But Ha-jung says that she’ll consider it.
Woo-kyung is not thrilled to discover that Mom went to Min-seok’s and met Yeon-soo, but Mom says that Eun-seo wanted to visit. Mom points out that Eun-seo prefers Yeon-soo because Woo-kyung has been so distracted lately, and if Woo-kyung had given her daughter the attention she needed instead of being distracted by other things, then all of this would have never happened in the first place.
That’s a brutal sucker punch to the gut, and Woo-kyung tries to hold herself together until after she hangs up the phone, then begins to sob.
At the police station, Chan-wook has done his best to search through Ha-jung’s laptop and phone, but there’s nothing suspicious. Ha-jung hardly uses them beyond the basics, and there’s nothing to connect her to Red Cry. The only minor odd thing is that, in her search history, she visits the horror-film website fairly frequently, which seems like an unlikely hobby for her. But judging the woman by her seemingly innocuous interests is not enough evidence against her.
Min-seok shows up to Woo-kyung’s apartment to take Eun-seo on vacation for a few days. Woo-kyung is furious because he never told her about it beforehand, but Min-seok insists that he did, but Woo-kyung’s just been too distracted lately to pay attention to what’s going on with her family. He warns her that if she continues to act like this, then he’ll have no choice but to take full custody of Eun-seo.
As Woo-kyung studies the bare-bones records she has on her parents, she thinks over Mom’s warning that if Woo-kyung doesn’t give up chasing after ghosts and instead focus on her daughter, she could lose everything. Woo-kyung folds up the paper and sits alone in her room, pondering.
Soo-young returns Ha-jung’s laptop and phone to her, and then returns to the car parked out in front of the woman’s shop. Ji-heon and Soo-young settle in for another stake-out to see if Ha-jung does anything strange.
They watch as Bit-na returns home, and Bit-na is delighted when she sees Teach’s shoes by the door. But when she walks into the kitchen, she sees Teach and her mother getting super cozy over dinner preparations. Shocked and hurt (since she clearly has a crush on Teach), Bit-na runs out of the home and to a nearby rooftop, where she looks out over the city and cries her heart out.
She calls Woo-kyung, who worriedly asks if everything’s okay. Through her sobs, Bit-na says she wishes her mother was dead. Bit-na pleads with Woo-kyung to help her. Woo-kyung tracks Bit-na down and takes her back to the children’s center. Eun-ho is doing maintenance near the front doors, and intently watches them walk inside.
As a video camera records Bit-na’s statements, she reveals to Woo-kyung that her mother installed the study closet when she started middle school and would lock Bit-na in to study for hours everyday. Once locked in, there was no way to escape until Ha-jung let her out, except for an emergency bell that Bit-na would ring if she felt sick or needed to use the bathroom.
If Bit-na’s grades went down, her mother brought out “The Rod of Love.” Woo-kyung wonders why Bit-na didn’t tell her any of this before, and Bit-na says that her mother is only doing it out of love — Bit-an only has to endure until she goes to college.
But Bit-na’s voice grows quiet as she confesses she might die before then. Woo-kyung takes photos of the wounds — both fresh and old scars — on the girl’s back.
Surprised on his stake-out to see Ha-jung being escorted from her home by the police, Ji-heon finds out that Ha-jung has been arrested due to a report of a child report from Bit-na’s counselor. Ji-heon accurately guesses that Woo-kyung was the one who reported it, and learns that Ha-jung refuses to talk to any of the cops and will only speak to Woo-kyung.
In the interrogation room, Ha-jung faces Woo-kyung, furious that Woo-kyung is causing unnecessary trouble. But Woo-kyung says that she regrets she wasn’t able to intervene years ago when she was first concerned about Bit-na. Ha-jung angrily insists that she’s done nothing wrong, but Woo-kyung pulls out photos of another boy, whose father the members of Everybody’s Child had accused of being animal due to the way he beat his son.
She sets down the photos of Bit-na next to them, revealing that the scars and wounds of both children are identical. Woo-kyung says that Ha-jung is no different than that “animal” of a parent, but Ha-jung shrieks that she’s completely different! In wide-eyed desperation, she explains did out of love for Bit-na, to encourage her to stay focused on her future.
Except that was the same reasoning the abusive father beat his son — his excuse was that he “had no choice” but to fix his son’s bad habits by beating him. In a voice cold with fury, Woo-kyung point-blank calls Ha-jung a child abuser.
At home, Woo-kyung prepares the sofa for Bit-na, who’s staying with her for the night. Bit-na asks after Eun-seo, and Woo-kyung says she’s with her father. Realizing that Woo-kyung is now divorced, Bit-na sighs that at least Eun-seo gets to see her father. Woo-kyung asks if Bit-na misses her own father, and there’s a telling pause before Bit-na says that she doesn’t.
Settling in her makeshift bed, Bit-na finds a children’s book (with the same title of the drama, Red Moon, Blue Sun). Bit-na recognizes the book, which is about two children and a tiger who disguises itself as their mother to trick them into letting the tiger into their home so it can eat them.
Woo-kyung says that the kids manage to escape and eventually become the “red moon” and the “blue sun.” Bit-na muses that she always thought the mother was the one dressed up as the tiger, because it reminded her of her mother. Ha-jung was generally a good mother, but sometimes she’d turn into a tiger when Bit-na misbehaved.
Which is why Bit-na was so determined to study hard and make her mother happy. A tear slips from the corner of her eye as Bit-na confesses that she thinks all her effort to be a “good daughter” might have been in vain.
Ha-jung seems to have been affected by the harsh reality of her actions, and pleads guilty on all charges of child abuse. Ji-heon marvels at Ha-jung’s hypocrisy — she was such a vocal opponent of child abuse, yet turned out to be an abuser herself.
Soo-young says that Ha-jung probably wasn’t fully aware of what she was doing, convincing herself that it was out of love, and therefore not abuse. Even so, it’s proof that Ha-jung can’t be Red Cry, because she’s actually the type of parent that Red Cry would target.
Once she returns home, Ha-jung opens up the secret messaging website, and gets a notification from Red Cry that he’s shocked and disappointed by her. Ha-jung insists she had her reasons, but Red Cry asks if her abused kid understands those reasons. Ha-jung stares at the secret chat-screen in horror as Red Cry warns her that he expects an appropriate conclusion soon.
Chan-wook gets a notification that the burner phone associated with Red Cry is in use at a post office, and Ji-heon and Soo-young rush out to track it down. As they drive to the neighborhood, the local police lock-down the post office and question everyone.
Except the phone is revealed to be on the move, so Ji-heon follows after it, ending up at a mail sorting depot. Ji-heon realizes that the phone is actually in a package — Red Cry purposefully sent them on a wild goose chase. Ji-heon racks his brain, trying to figure out why, and Soo-young realizes it must be to distract them from Ha-jung.
The detectives try to track down Ha-jung’s location, since they know she left her apartment that afternoon. Chan-wook pulls up her call history, and is surprised that the last call Ha-jung made was to Woo-kyung.
It was to set up a meeting with her daughter, and the two women and Bit-na arrive at a coffee shop overlooking the river. Ji-heon calls Woo-kyung to get their location. Soo-young and Chan-wook both eye him with doubtful suspicion as he insists it’s completely innocent despite everything coming back to Woo-kyung.
As the detectives speed to the coffee shop, Ha-jung sits with her daughter while Woo-kyung keeps an eye on them from a few tables away. Mother and daughter are both awkward with each other, and Ha-jung muses that the last time she was here was ten years ago on a family outing when Bit-na’s father was still around.
Ha-jung begins to cry as she confesses that Bit-na’s father didn’t abandon them, like she’d always told her daughter. Instead, they got divorced, which caused Ha-jung’s self-esteem to hit rock bottom. Then she used Bit-na to help improve her self-esteem by forcing her to the best at everything.
Bit-na also starts to tear up, although they seem more like tears of anger than sorrow, since she knows full well that her mother was just using her for her own selfish reasons. Ha-jung grabs her daughter’s hand, apologizing for everything, and telling Bit-na not to forgive her.
Chan-wook’s still tracking the phone package, and is surprised when the computer shows that it should be at the police station. Sure enough, a delivery man drops off the package, and Chan-wook carefully opens it. He unlocks the phone to reveal a message from Red Cry, warning everyone that his next target is Ha-jung.
Back at the coffee shop, Bit-na goes for a walk to calm down and also so that Ha-jung can speak privately with Woo-kyung. Ha-jung remembers the first time they met, Woo-kyung had read a touching children’s story to all the other mothers of Everybody’s Child. Which is why Ha-jung began to hate her, since Woo-kyug made Ha-jung feel like a phony.
Ji-heon calls Woo-kyung to warn her to stay put and not let Ha-jung out of her sight. Ha-jung finds it amusing that the police arrested her yesterday, but today they want to protect her. Woo-kyung explains that there’s a serial killer targeting child abusers, and Ha-jung muses that they must want to kill her, too. She insists, yet again, that her actions were only out of love for Bit-na.
But Woo-kyung cuts her off, pointing out that Ha-jung was too greedy, and shouldn’t try to paint over her actions with “love.” Ha-jung realizes how much Woo-kyung must hate her, too, then excuses herself to use the restroom.
Woo-kyung notes that it’s taking Ha-jung too long to return to the table, and discovers that the bathroom is empty. Ha-jung is gone. As Woo-kyung runs around desperately searching for her, Ha-jung checks her messages from Red Cry, who warns her that everyone is furious because they feel betrayed. Red Cry asks if Ha-jung has made up her mind, and if she’ll be her own judge.
Woo-kyung finds Ha-jung standing on a bridge walkway between two buildings. As the two women stare at each other, Ha-jung smiles and then falls off the bridge onto the concrete below.
Horrified, Woo-kyung watches from above as Ji-heon and Soo-young, who just arrived, run towards Ha-jung’s body. Bit-na also returns from her walk and throws herself on her mother, wailing in grief as Ji-heon and Soo-young try to pull the girl away. Ji-heon looks up to see Woo-kyung standing on the bridge, staring down in tearful shock.
That tutor is super suspicious. Not just because he’s clearly got a thing going with Ha-jung, but because he said he got the phone from his little brother who’s studying abroad. Which normally wouldn’t make me sit-up and take notice, but considering that Suk-woo’s mother was nearly run down by a part-time truck driver who’s studying abroad, I can’t help but make the connection. This isn’t the kind of show to sprinkle in such details that aren’t later going to be important, so I’m clinging to my vague suspicion that he’s the older brother to our errant truck driver — and they must, in some way, be connected to Eun-ho if only because Eun-ho has to be connected since he’s still the primary suspect for Red Cry. Why would they keep reminding us that Eun-ho sees everything and everyone coming into the children’s center. If he has access to the school’s records, then he would have been able to look up Woo-kyung’s notes (or even watched the video) and then realized that Ha-jung is just as horrible as the parents she tries to persecute.
I’m as frustrated as Ji-heon because I still don’t have any proof that Eun-ho is Red Cry. Just that it all fits. He’s got the access, the motivation, and presumably the connections to make things happen. Admittedly it’s just a theory, because the show is doing such a great hiding who Red Cry truly is — but I don’t believe it’s Woo-kyung, since she seemed genuinely distraught when she was looking for Ha-jung. She might hate Ha-jung for what she did to Bit-na, but I don’t think Woo-kyung wanted that end for the woman, especially since Ha-jung genuinely seemed horrified to realize that she went from over-protective tiger-mom to full-on child abuser.
The catch, though, will be proving that Ha-jung’s death wasn’t suicide, because it definitely was. Considering how hard it’s been for our detectives to convince Captain Hong that the other deaths weren’t suicides or due to natural causes, this will be difficult to explain that it’s connected to Red Cry. Well, except for the fact that Red Cry has purposefully outed himself as targeting Ha-jung.
That’s an interesting move, since it means Red Cry knows the detectives are after him (and I’m only saying “him” just for the ease of pronouns, since despite my suspicion of Eun-ho, Red Cry could be anyone). This also means the cat-and-mouse game can begin in earnest, although it seems like the detectives are the “mouse” in this situation, being expertly toyed with by the all-knowing vigilante. Honestly, I think this was the episode where I fully understood Red Cry’s motivations. I don’t know why Bit-na’s situation affected me more than the other children’s — perhaps because it wasn’t obvious abuse, like neglecting your child until they nearly starve to death, or making them dig through the trash, or dumpling them at an orphanage.
In all the other examples, these parents were genuinely horrible, and they would likely be the first to admit it. While we don’t know Ji-hye’s full story, at least with the other parents, we know that they seemingly didn’t want to be parents, that the children were a hindrance. These were also poor people, people on the fringes, scrabbling to make a life for themselves and feeling like their children were getting in the way. Ha-jung, however, is solidly middle-class, and obviously cares a lot about her daughter — too much, even. Which is why it’s so terrifying that the same actions born of hate can be used to express love.
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