Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho 2: episodes 7-8
The more our protagonist tries to learn about his foe and the Kookil Group, the more he realizes that the corruption goes much deeper and spreads much wider than he suspected. Nobody will give him any answers, because they’re too afraid of bringing his foe’s wrath. Our hero’s only choice is to follow through with the trial, and see what turns up.
While Deul-ho confronts Ja-kyung again, Jung-ja whines to Man-soo about how Deul-ho passed out in court. She demands to know where he is, but Man-soo doesn’t know — until he gets a call to pick up Deul-ho at the police station.
He’s there for property damage, which happened when he went to an arcade to play Whack-A-Mole to vent his frustrations. He moved on to the punching machine, but he missed the punching bag and accidentally punched a hole in the machine.
Outside the station, Deul-ho and Jung-ja get into a loud argument, Jung-ja angry that she’ll never get repaid her money if Deul-ho can’t stay conscious in court. So-mi surprises everyone by announcing that she’s a lawyer and volunteering to represent Ji-yoon… wait, she’s a lawyer??
It’s true, and she has the license to prove it. Deul-ho looks a little miffed as So-mi explains that she recently passed the bar exam, and when everyone says it’s great because they have someone that can defend clients and make money, he snaps, “What’s great about it?”
After they all leave, Deul-ho searches his office for the file on Baek Seung-hoon’s rape trial. The prosecutor was the same on both cases, a Prosecutor Park Woo-sung (he doesn’t know it yet, but it’s the same Prosecutor Park that’s on Chairman Kook’s payroll).
Still in her office, Ja-kyung takes the wine glass that Deul-ho smashed and puts it in a glass case for safekeeping, along with her collection of rings.
That night, So-mi asks Deul-ho why he said that her being a lawyer isn’t a good thing, when it means she can repay her father’s debt herself. Deul-ho just says he’ll pay it, but So-mi replies that she wants to work as a lawyer, and asks for his help. He just stares at her, and she’s all, I’ll take your stare as permission, then…
So-mi makes breakfast in the morning, insisting on earning her keep. Man-soo takes the opportunity to suggest they split the bills three ways, especially since So-mi insists on showering every day, ha. Later at the office, So-mi shocks them again by reciting the Kook family’s entire list of criminal violations.
Deul-ho follows Judge Shin to a restaurant and plops himself down next to her, startling her into a nervous stammer. He insists on eating with her, saying that it won’t cause a scandal because he’s passed Ji-yoon’s case to another lawyer as she told him to. Judge Shin tells him that’s awesome, and to go sit over there, ha.
Ignoring her, Deul-ho says that the lawyer he found is new with no experience. Judge Shin reminds him of those chicks they used to sell in front of schools, and says that her mother told her to only get one if she was confident she wouldn’t kill it… so she never got one. Deul-ho doesn’t get her point, so she says plainly that if he cares so much about this case just because he’s going against Kookil Group, it only makes things more difficult.
Ja-kyung meets with Assemblyman Baek for dinner, and she tells him that Deul-ho finally figured out the truth about Seung-hoon. Assemblyman Baek says that’s not a good thing, but Ja-kyung says there’s no proof, so Deul-ho can’t do anything about it.
Deul-ho visits a costume store, and he takes a bunch of costumes back to the office and tells everyone to pick one. He appoints Man-soo as the judge, Jung-ja as the prosecutor, So-mi as the lawyer, and Dong-chul as the criminal since he chose the black and white striped costume. Deul-ho hands out scripts and says they’re going to practice.
Chairman Kook arrives at the Kookil Group building for a board meeting. Meanwhile, Deul-ho shows up at Kookil Group claiming to be looking for Jong-bok, and when he’s told that he’s out, he says he’s here to deliver a subpoena and settles in to wait.
In the middle of Jong-hee’s presentation on the company’s sales in the past year, Chairman Kook asks Ja-kyung about other similar companies’ sales. Kookil’s declined much more sharply than anyone else’s, so he asks Ja-kyung to make a list of employees who failed to meet the target and should be reassigned.
When the meeting is over, Chairman Kook is walked out of the building by Ja-kyung and his children (minus Jong-bok). In the lobby, Deul-ho (who’s having some wine with his ddukbokki, hee) calls out to them, but Chairman Kook dismisses him as having no manners.
Outside, a voice yells out Chairman Kook’s name, and a man runs over and stabs him in the stomach. He’s quickly pulled off of Chairman Kook by the security guards, but Chairman Kook is badly hurt.
He’s rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery, and the doctor tells his family that he’s going to be fine. It infuriates Jong-hee that Ja-kyung is so calm, but Jong-seob says they should go home and let Ja-kyung handle things.
The man who stabbed Chairman Kook is Ahn Chang-hoon, the man that Minionette visited at the life rehab facility. Posing as Ja-kyung, she’d told him that his wife died ten years ago of carbon monoxide poisoning, and his son was shot and killed while serving his army duty.
She said that both incidents were suspected of being intentional, but there’s no proof. Shaking with grief, Chang-hoon asked fearfully if his daughter is also dead. Minionette told him that she worked in a bar near a harbor, but that her whereabouts now are unknown.
Now he’s stabbed Chairman Kook, clearly blaming him for his family’s fate. Ja-kyung wonders if she was too harsh — she didn’t think he’d do something like this.
Man-soo and the loan sharks are amazed that a prominent businessman was stabbed outside his building, yet there’s nothing about it in the news. Man-soo explains that it’s because companies like Kookil will threaten not to buy ad space, so the reporters don’t write about the incident.
Deul-ho asks Man-soo to find out the name of the man who stabbed Chairman Kook, and where he’s being held. Man-soo calls all of this contacts, but nobody is willing to talk, making Deul-ho suspect that someone high-up is blocking the information.
After a visit to the chairman, Ja-kyung calls a Director Han, who says that he did the research and the articles will post soon. Ja-kyung asks him for another favor.
Man-soo and Deul-ho manage to show up at the police station as Chang-hoon is being moved under dark of night. They follow the police van, not to another station, but to an isolated area where he’s transferred to a black, unmarked van.
Deul-ho instructs Man-soo to drive into the black van and stop them, and when he does, everyone jumps out and grabs the nearest thing to use as a weapon. In the kerfuffle, Deul-ho grabs Chang-hoon out of the van. They take him to a rooftop house being used as storage, and they ask him why he stabbed Chairman Kook in broad daylight, but he’s reluctant to speak.
Ja-kyung visits Chairman Kook again, and he tells her that he had a dream about Jong-bok. In the dream, every time he saw his son, something bad happened. Ja-kyung asks why he’s not scolding her for Chang-hoon getting away, starting to cry, but he stops her and says there’s no need for that.
In her office, she watches the CCTV footage from the police station while Chang-hoon was being moved, and sees Deul-ho watching from his car. She calls Deul-ho and arranges to meet at a restaurant, and he immediately notes how strange it is that Chairman Kook was stabbed but the news has gone silent.
He asks if the news blackout is her doing, but Ja-kyung just asks him to make a deal — she’ll give him Jong-bok in return for Chang-hoon. Deul-ho guesses that Chang-hoon must be an important man for her to be willing to trade Jong-bok, and as he drinks soju and snacks on veggies, Ja-kyung’s face twists as if what he’s doing is nasty.
Deul-ho notices, but he just says that he’s already got Jong-bok in his claws, so she’ll need to offer something better for Chang-hoon. Ja-kyung says that he’s terrible at bluffing, warning him not to lose what little he has. Deul-ho retorts that he’s not bluffing, because to bluff, he’d have to have something to lose.
As she leaves, Ja-kyung tells Minionette to hire some “useful” guys and have them tail Deul-ho. They follow him to his office, but of course, he’s well aware of them.
Deul-ho bursts in on Man-soo and makes sure they’re keeping an eye on Chang-hoon, then asks how quickly they can get ahold of Young-chul, Jong-bok’s supplier. He places an order for Chinese delivery, and when the delivery guy drives away, it’s Deul-ho under the helmet, ha.
Having fooled Ja-kyung’s tail, he drives the delivery scooter across town to check on Chang-hoon. He’s stubbornly silent, but Deul-ho asks him again why he stabbed Chairman Kook. He says that Chang-hoon’s attempted kidnapping proves that Chairman Kook’s people control the police, and that he’s trying to keep him alive.
Chang-hoon mutters that he wouldn’t have stabbed Chairman Kook if he were afraid of dying — he fears something else. He asks Deul-ho to allow him to be investigated, and seeing the bleak expression on his face, Deul-ho agrees. In return, he asks if Chang-hoon knows Ja-kyung, but Chang-hoon lies that he doesn’t.
Deul-ho gets a call that Young-chul, Jong-bok’s drug supplier, was caught. At the news, Ja-kyung orders Minionette to find Jong-bok before Deul-ho does.
Hyung-tak, Man-soo’s detective friend, gleefully taunts Young-chul (by trimming his toenails at him, HAHA), but the drug dealer refuses to speak without a lawyer present. That’s Deul-ho’s cue to burst in, and he offers to defend Young-chul if he tells the nice detective where to find Jong-bok.
Deul-ho and Man-soo wind up at a fancy high-end nightclub, followed by the police with a warrant. They get into a fight with the bouncers because why not, and inside, a waiter warns Jong-bok that the police are here for him.
He runs out screaming at the club employees for not doing their jobs, while Deul-ho and Man-soo search for him room-by-room, and Ja-kyung plays a game of chess with herself on her bedroom floor for some inexplicable reason.
The place is pandemonium by the time Minionette shows up. It’s a race to find Jong-bok, with Minionette and her men checking out the back door while Deul-ho scours the dance floor. He spots Jong-bok trying to sneak out and bellows for Man-soo, and they chase him out a side door and into a nearby tunnel.
Jong-bok stops to take a breath but Deul-ho is right there, telling him to keep running if he wants, lol. After some trash talk, Jong-bok picks up a bottle to swing at Deul-ho, who grabs a blanket from a homeless person’s crash spot and waves it at Jong-bok.
He gets it over Jong-bok’s head and kicks his feet out from under him, hitting him several times to subdue him. But Deul-ho doesn’t see Minionette come up behind him, and she knocks him unconscious.
Jong-bok yells at Minionette for taking so long, and he makes one of her men pick up Deul-ho and take him with them. They take him to an empty construction site, and Minionette calls Ja-kyung to tell her that everything is ready. Ja-kyung orders her to “just grind him up.”
Man-soo and the loan sharks are worried when both Jong-bok and Deul-ho seem to disappear at the same time. They’re particularly worried because Ji-yoon’s trial is in the morning, and if Deul-ho doesn’t show up, they’ll have to ask for another postponement.
So-mi thinks she can handle the request, though she does ask Man-soo to call if he hears from Deul-ho. But Prosecutor Park gets loud when So-mi asks Judge Shin for the postponement, making So-mi nervous, so that she stammers even more than usual. Because So-mi can’t explain why she needs the trial postponed, Judge Shin decides to proceed.
Minionette has Deul-ho tied up in the trench of a wood grinder, and as the belt moves him closer to the teeth of the machine, Deul-ho wakes. Thankfully, he manages to wiggle himself off the moving belt before he’s ground to a pulp.
Prosecutor Park presents doctored evidence that Ji-yoon moved money from the company’s accounts into her personal account over ten times, totaling hundreds of millions of won. So-mi manages to look relatively confident as she hands the judge copies of payment request forms that correspond with the company fund withdrawals, except that she accidentally gives them the final page of the mock trial script. Yikes.
She quickly hands out the correct documents, and she says that she called both Jong-bok and Kookil’s senior manager of accounting to be witnesses, but the accounting manager was transferred overseas. She starts to talk about Jong-bok, but she drops her papers and when she picks them up to read from them, she accidentally reads from the Chinese restaurant’s menu.
Fed up, Judge Shin calls So-mi to her chambers to yell at her for being unprepared. She wonders what Deul-ho was thinking by making So-mi Ji-yoon’s lawyer, when she’s obviously very green.
Ashamed, So-mi exits the judge’s chambers and overhears Jung-ja telling Man-soo what happened in the courtroom. She slinks away, only to run into Prosecutor Park, who accuses her of putting on a show in the courtroom on Deul-ho’s orders.
She shrinks even further into herself, and she tries to flee the courthouse, but she runs into Deul-ho on his way in, still covered in grime from the construction site. He knows something bad happened when So-mi just ducks her head and starts to cry.
He asks what happened, but Man-soo barrels over with the loan sharks in tow, demanding to know where he’s been. He gets the bare facts and apologizes for not coming sooner, and he makes a point to say that So-mi looks great in her suit. Aww.
As they leave, Minionette calls Ja-kyung to tell her that the trial went well, but that Deul-ho is still alive. Ja-kyung laughs uproariously, saying that it would have been boring if he’d died, and she tells Minionette to leave him alone for a while so she can enjoy the show.
Welp, still confused. We have several trials or upcoming trials all mixed up together — Ji-yoon’s supposed embezzlement, Jong-bok’s actual embezzlement, and Chang-hoon’s stabbing of Chairman Kook, and it definitely all circles back to Kookil Group and Ja-kyung. But it just doesn’t feel… cohesive, I guess? The story is there, and the plot points are all interesting and well-explained, but there’s something keeping it all from working well as a whole. Usually when I feel this way, I have at least a vague sense of what might be missing, but here I just can’t tell. It feels like when you’re cooking but you can’t find the recipe, so you just go by what you can remember of the ingredients and spices and techniques. You’ll probably create something that tastes mostly like it’s supposed to, but it’s not quite right because you’ve probably left out something crucial… but since you don’t have the recipe, you have no idea where you went wrong.
What I’m really curious about is, why did Jung-geon take out such a large loan just before he died? He obviously had a lot of secrets, and as much as they keep going on and on about the loan, I feel like it’s somehow significant to whatever he was doing before Ja-kyung killed him. He seems to have disappeared several days before Ja-kyung got hold of him — So-mi said her father was gone for ten days by the time she contacted Deul-ho, and he was killed on the eleventh day. But Ja-kyung herself said that she’d only had him for five days when she killed him. So where was Jung-geon for the six days prior to that, and what was he doing? The loan may be a big clue, if Deul-ho can figure out what it was for.
I still like Ja-kyung as a villain, because she’s deliciously bizarre both in behavior and mannerisms. But I’m dying to know more about her, and why she acts like she does, since in the glimpse we saw of her as a child, she seemed perfectly normal. We keep getting these random scenes of her doing odd things like singing and playing with rings, playing a giant game of chess with nobody, saving broken wine glasses… but why? I really want to believe that there’s a reason and that she’s not simply written as quirky just as a, “Look how quirky our villain is! Isn’t she strange and fascinating?!” tactic. Because if that’s the case, then it’s a lazy writing technique, and despite the drama being disjointed and often difficult to follow, the writing doesn’t strike me as lazy. I still believe there’s a great story here, it’s just that the writer seems to be struggling with how to tell it.
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