Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho 2: Episodes 9-10
This episode gives us a little insight into our delightfully evil villainess as she drops clues while continuing her murderous rampage. Deul-ho has no questions whether she’s responsible for the recent deaths – the trick is proving it, when she has the money and power to protect herself. It’s going to take a lot of tricky maneuvering to stop her before she completes her revenge.
Man-soo finds Deul-ho sitting in his office, and he brings him medicine to doctor his wounds from his encounter with Minionette. They visit Chang-hoon, the man who stabbed Chairman Kook, and who they still have locked in the little rooftop room after Ja-kyung paid the police to turn him over to her.
Deul-ho asks Chang-hoon why he requested that they let a prosecutor question him, but Chang-hoon remains stubbornly silent. While they’re talking, Man-soo surreptitiously plants a tracking bug in Chang-hoon’s coat. All three of them go on alert when Chang-hoon’s phone lights up with a call from Ja-kyung. Suddenly, Chang-hoon flips the table, grabs his phone, and tries to smash it. Deul-ho rescues the phone and shakes Chang-hoon, demanding to know how he knows Ja-kyung.
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Caught by caller ID
There’s definitely money talk going on in the Kook family. Jong-seob approaches Ja-kyung about the company shares that Chairman Kook took from Jong-bok, acting as if he’s only interested in them so that he can fix the mess Jong-bok made of Kookil Produce.
Ja-kyung tells him that Planning and Coordination (her department) is currently deciding what to do about those shares, and Jong-seob accuses her of wanting them for herself. She ignores him and says that when they have a recommendation, she’ll let Chairman Kook know, and he’ll make the final decision.
When she next visits Chairman Kook, she tells him that Jong-bok is in the hospital being treated for his serious drug addiction, surrounded by security. Chairman Kook tells her to send Jong-bok to the U.S. for rehab once he’s detoxed, admitting that Jong-bok is his weak point and asking her to take good care of him.
Back at his office, Deul-ho discusses Ji-yoon’s embezzlement accusations with the team. There are two potential witnesses, but one isn’t a reliable witness. The other is Jong-bok himself, but they’re not sure where he is, so Deul-ho comes up with a plan.
He goes to see an old techie friend, who admits that it scares him when Deul-ho shows up, ha. Deul-ho asks his friend to restore the data on Chang-hoon’s broken phone, shamelessly invoking Jung-geon’s name, so his techie friend reluctantly agrees to fix the phone.
Meanwhile, Jung-ja and Dong-chul stake out Chairman Kook’s house. After two days, they still don’t know Jong-bok’s whereabouts, though So-mi says that he can’t have left the country since it’s a narcotics case. Deul-ho has an injured knee and Man-soo begs him to go to the hospital, which makes Deul-ho wonder if Jong-bok might be in the hospital.
Jong-bok is doing everything he can to convince his guard to bring him drugs, including threats, bribery, and even firing. Deul-ho uses his bruised knee as an excuse to go to the hospital, and when he’s refused treatment in the VIP wing, he claims to be visiting a friend. The look on the nurse’s face when he mentions Jong-bok’s name confirms that he’s there.
Ja-kyung invites the two prosecutors, Prosecutor Park and Prosecutor Yoo, in her office to discuss the trial, which will be continued tomorrow. She’s so confident of their success that she pours champagne for an early celebration, but she expresses her unhappiness that Jong-bok’s travel ban hasn’t been lifted yet.
The prosecutors tell her that since he hasn’t yet been charged with anything, it should be easy to handle. But Ja-kyung gets angry that she had to tell them to do this, growling that they should have done it already.
That evening, So-mi asks Deul-ho to help her practice her questioning of Ji-yoon tomorrow. They do some role-playing and Deul-ho gives her advice about how to talk to the judge, but she’s more nervous about Prosecutor Park, who was very aggressive to her last time.
Deul-ho tells her to just pretend he’s not there, and she asks him what to do if she’s still scared. Deul-ho says to pretend that there’s something in front of her she can hide behind, but that doesn’t seem to convince her. So he says to make believe he’s sitting beside her as co-counsel, and that makes So-mi smile.
She asks if he gets scared, and where he hides. Man-soo answers that Deul-ho is a big chicken, and that he doesn’t hide, he runs away. But Deul-ho says that he hides, too, somewhere only he knows about. He tells So-mi that if nothing works and she’s cornered, to think that he’s coming to help her soon, and he’ll be there.
In the morning, while So-mi prepares for her trial, Jung-ja dresses as a cleaning lady and gets into Jong-bok’s hospital room. She holds out her phone and tells Jong-bok that someone paid her to say “the mole sent me.” Jong-bok uses the phone to call his dealer, unaware that Young-chul is working with Man-soo and Hyung-tak, the detective. Young-chul arranges to meet with Jong-bok and sell him some drugs.
So-mi’s questioning of Ji-yoon goes well, and Judge Shin even ignores Prosecutor Park at one point when he tries to object. Ji-yoon testifies that Jong-bok called her into his office one day and told her to withdraw two million won in cash for an urgent company matter.
She’d tried to say she needed the senior manager’s approval, but he was out of the country, so Jong-bok threw a screaming fit and scared her into doing it without approval. Ji-yoon tells the court that this happened eleven times in a two-year period.
When it’s Prosecutor Park’s turn to question Ji-yoon, he accuses her of forging the senior manager’s signature. The senior manager, Manager Lee, enters the courtroom, and So-mi begins to shake. She remembers Deul-ho’s advice to pretend she’s hiding, and she tries to calm down.
When the time comes for Young-chul to meet with Jong-bok, Jong-bok bums a cigarette from his guard as an excuse to go to the parking garage. As he approaches Young-chul, Deul-ho pulls up in the van and grabs him. Hyung-tak cuffs Jong-bok and takes great delight in holding him down when he tries to escape (Hyung-tak loves his job soooo much, lol).
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It’s me, the lawyer in charge of trash
When Minionette tells Ja-kyung that Jong-bok was kidnapped, Ja-kyung immediately guesses that it was Deul-ho. She tells Minionette not to bother tracking him down, but to go to the courthouse, because that’s where he’ll show up.
At the trial, Manager Lee testifies that his signature on the withdrawal forms is forged. So-mi questions him too, but she’s so scared that she’s moved on to Deul-ho’s final suggestion — to think of him, and he’ll arrive. She takes a chance and calls Jong-bok to the stand, trusting that Deul-ho will be there.
And then the door opens, and there’s Deul-ho with Jong-bok, as he promised. Even Judge Shin shows grudging respect as So-mi asks to question Jong-bok.
When So-mi asks Jong-bok if he had Ji-yoon embezzle money for him, he scoffs that it’s his family’s money and admits that he told Ji-yoon to get the money. With Deul-ho urging her to continue, So-mi asks him about his drug use as the reason for the embezzlement. She reveals that Jong-bok forced Ji-yoon to go to a party and got her drunk, then injected her with drugs. He got her addicted and blackmailed her.
Prosecutor Park accuses So-mi of making up wild stories, so she calls another witness — Young-chul. When he’s led into the courtroom, Jong-bok loses his cool and tries to go after him, ha. The trial ends with Ji-yoon found not guilty.
Minionette showed up in time to see the drama in the courtroom, and she calls Ja-kyung to tell her what happened. Ja-kyung says they’ll deal with it later, and to move on to the next stage for now.
Everyone goes back to Deul-ho’s office to celebrate, but he gets a text and has to leave in a hurry. It’s his old friend, who’s fixed Chang-hoon’s phone and restored the data. He refuses payment – instead he asks Deul-ho to be sure and uncover any foul play in Jung-geon’s death.
Checking the phone, Deul-ho finds a series of texts from Chang-hoon to Ja-kyung. First he asks her to find his family, promising to be grateful for the rest of his life. As his messages go unanswered, his texts get more anxious, asking how long it will take and why she won’t answer his calls.
Deul-ho hurries to the rooftop room where they’re keeping Chang-hoon, but the lock has been broken and he’s gone. Deul-ho remembers the bug Man-soo planted in Chang-hoon’s jacket, so he activates the app on his phone, locates Chang-hoon, and calls Man-soo to have him send the police to the location.
Minionette has Chang-hoon tied up in a chair with a noose around his neck. He asks her why she’s doing this, still thinking that she’s Ja-kyung until the real Ja-kyung arrives and introduces herself. He stammers that she promised to save him, and we see that he’d called and told Minionette that he was being held captive.
Pretending to be Ja-kyung, she’d promised to rescue him. Now Ja-kyung tells him to think back about thirty years, when he was the head of Daesan Welfare Center, and just the mention of his former job puts a look of terror on Chang-hoon’s face.
Ja-kyung makes Chang-hoon stand on the chair, the noose still around his neck, as she asks why he stabbed Chairman Kook. He says that Chairman Kook promised to look after his family while he was in prison, but he complains that Chairman Kook didn’t do anything while his whole family died. Ja-kyung just laughs.
She asks why Chairman Kook should have done anything for Chang-hoon, when he donated to the Daesan Welfare Center for years. Ja-kyung scoffs that even aside from stabbing Chairman Kook, Chang-hoon committed many crimes while working at the welfare center. Chang-hoon argues that he spent thirty years in prison atoning for those sins, but Ja-kyung says sweetly that it’s not enough.
Chang-hoon stammers that he only followed orders by funneling the money that came into the center into fake accounts. Ja-kyung points out that he embezzled billions of won, turned homeless people into forced labor, sold the center’s occupants’ organs, and when they died, he sold their bodies.
She figures all that adds up to about seventy years’ worth of punishment, but Chang-hoon swears that he only took the fall, and spent half his life in prison for it. Ja-kyung doesn’t appreciate him claiming that he had nothing to do with the crimes, and she asks what he thinks is an appropriate punishment.
Chang-hoon starts screaming and begging for his life, but Ja-kyung just walks away. She stops to say that she never actually looked into his family’s whereabouts, and that they may be alive and well for all she knows. As she goes, Minionette kicks the chair out from under Chang-hoon’s feet.
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Ja-kyung recomputes justice
Following the tracker on Chang-hoon, Deul-ho narrowly misses Ja-kyung and Minionette driving away. But by the time he gets inside the building, it’s too late — Chang-hoon is dead. Later, as the police investigate the scene and take the body away, we see that Chang-hoon was killed in the abandoned Daesan Welfare Center building.
The entire Kook family watches the news, where it’s announced that Jong-bok got himself arrested while testifying in the Kookil embezzlement case. Chairman Kook isn’t pleased by the news reports that the trial was mismanaged by the prosecutor and that Kookil Group will likely be investigated. Jong-hee blames this on Ja-kyung and tells her father to do something about her.
Ja-kyung arrives, looking ashamed and contrite. Jong-hee and Jong-seob argue over what to do about Jong-bok, and Jong-hee sneers that Jong-seob just wants Jong-bok to stay in jail so he can have his shares of Kookil Produce. Chairman Kook snaps at them both to shut up and orders Ja-kyung to prepare a public apology.
Deul-ho gets a call from his friend, Prosecutor Kang, who asks him over to discuss Jung-geon’s autopsy photos. When he died, Jung-geon had strange bruising under his fingernails, which happens when someone dies of drowning — or from ingesting certain kinds of poisons, like cyanide.
Prosecutor Kang says that he asked for the case to be re-opened, but the higher-ups refused. He warns Deul-ho that this will be a tough battle, much tougher than even Deul-ho can imagine. Undaunted, Deul-ho goes to Captain Seo with the photos to demand the case be opened. Captain Seo says breezily that he already knows it was murder, and that the killer has been found.
There’s a suicide letter, supposedly written by Chang-hoon, confessing to poisoning Jung-geon. Deul-ho is understandably skeptical, so he has Hyung-tak risk getting in trouble to bring him the letter. In it, Chang-hoon claims that he went to see Jung-geon after he got out of prison to ask for his help finding his family, but was turned away cruelly.
He continues that he felt resentment towards Jung-geon, calling him a monster that made money off of children and homeless people, yet lived well while Chang-hoon suffered in prison. He says that he took Jung-geon to the oceanside for soju, which he poisoned with cyanide, then pushed Jung-geon’s body into the water.
Hyung-tak says that a handwriting analysis was done, and the suicide letter was definitely written by Chang-hoon. But Deul-ho insists that it, and the one Jung-geon supposedly wrote, were likely written under threat. He says that Chang-hoon wouldn’t have requested to speak to a prosecutor then killed himself, since he obviously had something to say.
They realize belatedly that So-mi is standing in the doorway, and that she heard them say that the police think Chang-hoon killed her father. She asks to see the so-called suicide letter, and she cries as she reads it, though Deul-ho tells her it’s all lies and promises to find the truth.
Minionette asks Ja-kyung if she expected Deul-ho to get involved in all this, and Ja-kyung says that she didn’t, so they’re relieved that they thought to frame Chang-hoon for Jung-geon’s murder. A flashback shows that Ja-kyung dictated the suicide letter to Chang-hoon and made him write it. She’s tied up all the loose ends, so she’s not worried that Deul-ho will find anything, though she tells Minionette to get rid of Captain Seo if he slips up.
After Chang-hoon’s autopsy, Prosecutor Kang tells Deul-ho that he died of a broken neck from hanging. Deul-ho believes that the deaths are the work of a serial killer, and that Daesan Welfare Center is the link between them. He asks to see the evidence file on the welfare center, but Prosecutor Kang protests that a prosecutor can’t just hand evidence over to a lawyer.
Looking at Prosecutor Kang’s ID, Deul-ho says pointedly that it’s an old picture that doesn’t even look like him anymore. Prosecutor Kang picks up what he’s putting down and says casually that an evidence file like that would probably be in deep storage where nobody would be looking for it.
He suddenly “remembers” that he has an important call to make and steps away, giving Deul-ho the chance to swipe his ID badge. Deul-ho finds the evidence file in deep storage as expected, and some photos fall out as he quickly looks through the box, so he pockets them. He’s taking pictures of some of the documents when he hears someone walk into the storage room — Prosecutor Park.
Deul-ho puts the box back and is forced to hide on top of the shelves as Prosecutor Park nears, looking for a different file. Prosecutor Park is standing directly under Deul-ho when Prosecutor Kang’s ID badge slips from his fingers and dangles from the lanyard, inches from Prosecutor Park’s face. Thank goodness Prosecutor Park is too absorbed in his task to notice, whew.
In her office, Ja-kyung sits by her jewelry case looking at her rings, which seem to be in different animal shapes. There are only three rings, but there are several empty stands waiting to be filled — oh, does she make a ring for each person related to Daesan Welfare Center that she kills? Then who does the first ring represent?
Deul-ho has Man-soo bring all of the public files on the case to the office, and sets the whole group to reading. Hours later, only Deul-ho and So-mi are still perusing the documents. Deul-ho makes them some coffee and tells So-mi to rest, but she says she’s fine.
She comes across the intake forms from the welfare center for Ja-kyung and her sister, Hae-kyung. The officer listed as having brought them in is Jung-geon, her father, and when she sees his name, she starts to gasp for air. Deul-ho comes over to look, and So-mi stammers, “My dad… brought people to Daesan Welfare Center.”
Clearly Ja-kyung is on a rampage to punish (A.K.A. kill) everyone involved in that welfare center that she feels wronged her and others who lived there. My guess is that something horrible happened to her and/or her little sister while they were there, or she possibly witnessed something, which resulted in Ja-kyung’s twisted mind — since she seemed normal enough as a child — and made her angry enough to wish them all dead. We saw her kill Jung-geon, who she believes “sold” her and her sister to the welfare center, then Chang-hoon who ran the place and whom she holds responsible for the residents’ treatment.
Ja-kyung appears to be working her way down a list of people, and I think the rings represent people she’s killed, since we saw her in the first episode, making a ring while Deul-ho was tossed into the ocean. She’s loyal to Chairman Kook because, if I remember correctly, he’s the one who got her out of the welfare center and gave her a home, plus she can use his power and money to get her revenge. I assume that Minionette also came from the welfare center, since she doesn’t exactly seem mentally or emotionally stable, but I do wonder what happened to Ja-kyung’s sister Hae-kyung and if she’s still alive.
Strangely, this episode felt a lot more cohesive and organized than the first couple of weeks did, but it’s too little, too late. Everything around Deul-ho feels like a lazy rewrite of the first season — a disgraced lawyer pulling himself out of homelessness after a disgrace by his bootstraps, a foe much more powerful than he is except for a wayward son who will inevitably be his downfall, a helpless female newbie lawyer who couldn’t possibly find her way around a courtroom if not for Deul-ho’s inspiring presence, and a few loan sharks for (dubious) comedy relief. It’s the exact same setup and the exact same story, just with different actors and character names. Not gonna lie — I feel let down that a rare and precious second season in Dramaland was wasted on a story that feels very recycled and phoned-in.
At this point, I’m still interested in Ja-kyung’s story — why she’s killing people that were involved with the Daesan Welfare Center, and what happened to her and her sister as children. That part is interesting, and Go Hyun-jung is frankly terrifying in her portrayal of Ja-kyung. But it’s not enough to keep me coming back… so due to all this, and the fact that there are so many shows coming up in the near future that look incredible and deserve our time and attention, we’ve decided that this will be the last recap for Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho 2 on Dramabeans. If you made it this far, thanks for reading along with me!
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