My Fellow Citizens: Episodes 15-16
Our con artist has done his best to do as he’s told in order to protect his wife but he’s convinced that he’s on the wrong track. With proof that he can’t trust his handlers, Jung-gook decides that his days as a puppet are over and that it’s time to follow his instincts. In spite of Jung-gook’s efforts, Mi-young has just made herself the Boss Lady’s number one enemy.
EPISODE 15 RECAP
Over a meal, a senior police official orders Chief Seo to remove Mi-young from the Intellectual Crimes Unit. It seems that Intellectual Crimes investigates campaign violations, such as the official’s private meeting with Kim Joo-myung, which we see in a flashback. Using Jung-gook’s candidacy as an excuse, the official has Mi-young placed on vacation leave until after the election.
Chief Seo breaks the news to Mi-young and warns that she can’t stall for more than three or four days. Chief Seo suggests putting Hoo-ja’s case on hold but Mi-young decides to arrest her the following day. With Chief Seo worried about the mole on her team, Mi-young promises to confiscate all phones and to keep her plans a secret until the last minute.
Debate preparations are underway at Jung-gook’s campaign office with Charles posing as Sang-jin and Seung-yi as Kang Soo-il. When Charles (as Sang-jin) criticizes Jung-gook’s rejection of low income housing in favor of a luxury apartment complex, Jung-gook smoothly defends his position, but just when he’s expected to deliver a decisive punch, he freezes.
Jung-gook is worried because if promising to build a luxury apartment complex and a subway station were effective, his poll numbers would be higher. Kim Joo-myung slams down his notebook and fumes, “Fine…Forget the televised debate and everything.”
Jung-gook attempts to explain his concerns, “…if I keep lying and saying things they want to hear, I think I’ll lose.” With his life at stake, Jung-gook reasons that it’s not the time to con people.
Joo-myung angrily explains, “When your life depends on it,you shouldn’t make mistakes.” Joo-myung reminds Jung-gook that he was ousted from the Assembly because of his mistakes and snaps, “So, if you want to save your wife and save yourself, forget your sense of judgment and follow mine instead.”
Joo-myung resumes the debate preparation but Jung-gook remains silent. When Joo-myung bellows at him to answer, Jung-gook finally continues with his scripted response.
Later, during a ride through the district in the campaign truck, Kim Joo-myung smiles broadly next to a subdued Jung-gook. Joo-myung offers some last minute advice, “…tomorrow morning…Read exactly what I put down…Campaigns are about fooling people into buying your lies.”
Jung-gook notes that Sang-jin was a frequent target in their preparation and protests that his brother-in-law is a good person with good ideals. Joo-myung’s response is to hand Jung-gook the microphone and order him to attack Sang-jin.
Sang-jin and his team are campaigning nearby and hear Jung-gook’s attack, “Han Sang-jin sent $30 as a gift to his own sister’s wedding!” Some passing voters have nothing good to say about Sang-jin but he laughs off the accusation.
Horrified, Myung-im’s husband demands the truth, “But did you really give her $30,” and Sang-jin hesitates before answering, “It’s a lie.” Relieved, Myung-im’s husband declares, “Good. Only a piece of garbage would send that.” Ouch.
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Don’t vote for my stingy brother-in-law!
When Jung-gook’s campaign truck rounds the corner, Joo-myung sees Sang-jin and tries to stop Jung-gook, but he’s on a roll, “He gave his sister that $30…two years after she got married.” Jung-gook growls, “Han Sang-jin is by far the first person in history…,” but at the sight of Sang-jin he meekly concludes, “…to be such a good man.”
The two men sit together outside of a convenience store and Jung-gook apologizes for not telling Sang-jin that he was running for the Assembly. Jung-gook apologizes for his harsh comments as well but Sang-jin good-naturedly declares, “It’s okay. It was funny.”
When Sang-jin attempts to explain his $30 wedding gift, Jung-gook interrupts, “Mi-young said you probably made a mistake,” and the men declare the issue settled.
Their discussion turns to the election and Sang-jin admits that Kang Soo-il’s negative campaign has hurt his polling numbers. When asked why he doesn’t retaliate, Sang-jin explains, “I want to win right and lose right.”
Jung-gook suggests Joo-myung’s strategy, “…campaigns are about fooling people into buying your lies.” Sang-jin brings up the promise of a subway in the district as an example and Jung-gook urges him to use it to beat Kang Soo-il.
Sang-jin asks Jung-gook what he promised Mi-young on their wedding day. Jung-gook promised to make her happy and when asked if he fulfilled his promise, Jung-gook hesitates. Sang-jin points out that if a sincere promise can’t be kept, insincere promises are guaranteed to fail. Sang-jin believes, “When you run for office, you don’t do it for the votes. You do it for the people.”
Jung-gook is amazed by how different Sang-jin is from “someone” that he knows. Sang-jin defends Joo-myung, “Assemblyman Kim is an incredible man. He created some good policies too.”
As he’s about to leave, Sang-jin mentions that Mi-young is having a hard time. He asks Jung-gook to look after her and the two men wish each other luck as they part.
That night, Jung-gook stares at his wedding photo when he calls Mi-young. They talk about work and the campaign and Mi-young confesses that she won’t be able to watch the debate. Jung-gook asks Mi-young if there’s anything she wants to tell him, so she advises, “Do what you want. You can’t sleep at night if you’re forced to do something you don’t want.”
When Jung-gook assures her, “I’ll keep my promise to make sure you’re not harmed. So don’t worry…,” Mi-young glances at surveillance photos of Hoo-ja. As their call ends, we see that Mi-young has the same wedding photo as Jung-gook sitting on her desk. From his office, Jung-gook stares at the Assembly building in the distance and sighs.
The next day, Jung-gook leaves for the debate as Mi-young confiscates her detectives’ phones.
On the drive to the television station, Jung-gook sees some policeman confronting protestors in favor of the subway station. When they arrive, Kim Joo-myung guides Jung-gook past reporters and he joins Kang Soo-il and Sang-jin, who are already on the set. Jung-gook’s face is unreadable as he takes his seat.
Hoo-ja practices pool as she waits for the debate to begin. Jung-gook’s sister would rather watch a drama, which leads to a shouting match with her father during dinner. A worried Chief Seo texts Mi-young, “Be careful, daughter.”
After Mi-young’s team parks outside of a bathhouse, she orders everyone to load their weapons.
Joo-myung greets the moderator and leaves his phone sitting next to Jung-gook, allowing him to see an incoming text, “A civil complaint against Kim Mi-young is set to go.”
EPISODE 16 RECAP
When Kim Joo-myung returns, Jung-gook demands, “What civil complaint did you file related to Mi-young?”
At the bathhouse, Mi-young learns that their target isn’t clothed, forcing her to stay behind with only a radio to communicate with the team.
When Jung-gook raises his voice, Joo-myung claims that he actually helped Mi-young, “I gave her a vacation until after the election.” The television crew signals Joo-myung to leave the stage but he waves them off to defend himeslf, “Park Hoo-ja said to do it. I had no choice.”
Joo-myung reminds Jung-gook, “If your wife locks up Hoo-ja, everything is ruined.” Desperate, Kim Joo-myung insists, “You need to get elected first. That way you and your wife can live,” but Jung-gook jumps to his feet in anger.
Meanwhile, Mi-young hears one of the detectives shout that Oh Sung-taek is getting away as a shot rings out.
Jung-gook hisses, “I had to win the election to protect Mi-young. That’s why I…tried to do as you told me…But I can’t trust you anymore.” Jung-gook thinks back to what his father and Mi-young told him and makes a decision, “I’ll do what I want based on what I believe.” After Joo-myung is forcibly removed from the stage, Jung-gook has only seconds to get his emotions under control.
Mi-young’s team finally reports that Oh Sung-taek is headed her way, so Mi-young starts the van and waits. She’s ready when Oh Sung-taek runs out and pursues him with the van in reverse. After he refuses to stop, Mi-young opens her door and knocks Oh Sung-taek down and has him handcuffed by the time that her team reappears.
Gwi-nam is with Hoo-ja by the time that the debate begins. Both Kang Soo-il and Sang-jin introduce themselves and their parties and then offer a short explanation about what they hope to accomplish if elected.
Myung-im and her husband find themselves impressed with Sang-jin’s speech because he wrote it himself. The same can’t be said for Jung-gook’s father and sister, who are disappointed with Jung-gook’s disturbingly brief introduction, “Hello, I’m candidate number five, Yang Jung-gook. I am not with any party.”
At the station, Mi-young informs Oh Sung-taek that he’s been arrested for the contract murder of Ma Sang-bum (Con Hyung), paid for by Park Hoo-ja. Mi-young makes him consideration if he confesses to the murder as well as any additional crimes that he’s committed for Baekkyung Capital. Oh Sung-taek laughs and the detectives tackle him when they realize that he’s trying to eat his tongue. Eww.
By the time the debate tackles the issue of redevelopment, Hoo-ja has abandoned the pool table to pay closer attention to Jung-gook. Sang-jin answers that he’s against redevelopment because cities need old buildings. The moderator mentions Sang-jin’s plan for a cultural center before asking Jung-gook about his plans for luxury apartments.
There’s an audible gasp in the studio when Jung-gook admits, “I was wrong about that. I thought promising that would earn me votes…” Now that he’s so far behind in the polls, Jung-gook has decided to follow his heart and explains why he believes that redevelopment would be a mistake.
Charles and Seung-yi are worried that they’ll be killed along with Jung-gook if he loses while Wang-go argues that he shouldn’t be included. Jung-gook’s family is actually proud of him and they join together in a huge thumb’s up, while Kim Joo-myung mutters, “That scumbag.”
Kim Joo-myung gets a call from Hoo-ja and he explains that Jung-gook found out what they did to Mi-young. In the debate, Jung-gook passionately argues that property values aren’t affected by low income housing in a healthy real estate market. Hoo-ja drops her phone in disbelief when Kim Joo-myung acknowledges, “I don’t think he’s someone I can control. Jung-gook is a total maniac!”
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Unpopular opinion: assemblyman edition
Back at the station, Mi-young promises Oh Sung-taek that she’ll release him, but not until she starts a rumor that he gave up evidence against Hoo-ja. After Mi-young releases Oh Sung-taek, Detective Lee asks, “He’ll come back, right?” Mi-young sighs, “He has to. It’s the only way for both of us to survive.”
Oh Sung-taek makes it all the way to the lobby but soon he’s back in the interrogation room. He agrees, “I’ll tell you everything. About what Park Hoo-ja did.”
Gwi-nam slides a cake onto Hoo-ja’s desk before leaving her sister alone. Jung-gook accuses politicians of acting like loan sharks once they’re elected and admits, “I personally know a loan shark, and she is a very evil woman.”
After Hoo-ja gets a text that Oh Sung-taek was arrested, she picks up a piece of cake and devours it.
Mi-young reports to her mother, Chief Seo, that Oh Sung-taek provided enough evidence to arrest at least thirty additional suspects. Chief Seo promises to send Violent Crimes to assist her and gives Mi-young permission to make the arrests.
Kang Soo-il attacks Sang-jin over his excused military service. Kang Soo-il dismisses Sang-jin’s explanation of a childhood car accident and concludes that since he can manage a 12-hour flight to Germany, he must have lied about his condition to avoid service.
Kang Soo-il and Sang-jin are both surprised when Jung-gook speaks up, “Your smear campaigning is unbearable…all you do is say negative things about others.” Jung-gook decides to try using the same tactics against Kang Soo-il, “You were excused from military service, right? Pre-excitation syndrome?”
Kang Soo-il explains that it’s a deadly abnormality of the heart and confirms, “I’m very sick.” Jung-gook expresses doubts about Kang Soo-ill’s diagnosis, not because of his two DUIs, false resident registration and illegal property investments (love how he sneaks all of that in), but because all of his hobbies are sports related. Kang Soo-il even managed to climb a mountain.
Kang Soo-il claims that he was dragged and pulled by others, but an unconvinced Jung-gook warns, “If you play games with outrageous accusations again, I won’t sit idly by.” Jung-gook mentions that since Kim Joo-myung is on his campaign team, he has access to all of the dirt that was gathered on Kang Soo-il in previous elections.
Jung-gook pledges to reveal everything unless Kang Soo-il promises to refrain from using smear tactics. Kang Soo-il ignores Jung-gook and announces, “Let’s move on.”
Jung-gook repeats his question, “Will you or will you not use smear tactics? If you are going to, tell me now! I’ll share what’s in those boxes now!” Kim Joo-myung smirks when Kang Soo-il finally agrees, “I won’t use smear tactics! So let’s move on already!”
Mi-young leads an army of detectives to Baekkyung Capital where Henchman Choi and his thugs are taken into custody. By the time that Mi-young reaches Hoo-ja’s office, Jung-gook is talking about the reservoir.
Hoo-ja holds off Mi-young in order to watch more of the debate and together they listen to Jung-gook, “It stinks, it’s filled with insects. Who would go for walks there?” Jung-gook then calls Sang-jin’s plan to fix the site and transform it into a cultural center a great idea.
The next topic has to do with the expansion of the subway, which is planned for a neighboring district. Kang Soo-il pledges to do whatever it takes to bring it to Seowon and, after Sang-jin recalls how Myung-im and Jung-gook urged him to get elected, he surprises Jung-gook by making the same promise.
Hoo-ja turns off the debate and walks past Mi-young as she pulls out her handcuffs. Hoo-ja warns that she will regret handcuffing her but Mi-young barks, “Hands!” Mi-young declares, “We caught you,” but Hoo-ja smiles cooly and clarifies, “I let you catch me. Why don’t you get that?”
I couldn’t bear to see Jung-gook’s look of profound disappointment when Sang-jin did an about face on the subway issue in order to improve his chances of winning the election. Even though Sang-jin followed Jung-gook’s well meaning advice, he couldn’t appreciate how much Jung-gook respects and admires his principles. Even a con artist can admire a good and decent person and it turns out that Jung-gook was a serious fan of his brother-in-law/ opponent. At least until Sang-jin’s fumble.
Just before Sang-jin’s lapse of integrity, Jung-gook unleashed himself from Hoo-ja to wrest control of his campaign. It was invigorating to see Jung-gook follow his instincts and passionately defend his own ideas. He was on fire because the one thing that Jung-gook does understand is real estate. Redevelopment? Of course Jung-gook can grasp what that means for the district at every economic level. The subway station? Jung-gook knows that it will do little to affect property values in the district but it will help the neighboring district. The reservoir, if cleaned up and turned into a cultural center, can only mean good things for everyone. Jung-gook can see those issues so clearly and his passion may be what it takes to convince voters that he’s right.
As hard as Jung-gook is trying to redirect his campaign to get himself elected, Mi-young is working just as hard to put Hoo-ja behind bars to protect her husband. This couple has guts, especially when it comes to protecting each other. Unfortunately, Mi-young just made a very dangerous and powerful enemy.
I’ve always assumed that it’s only a matter of time before Mi-young discovers the truth about Jung-gook, but after his latest escape from discovery in Episode 13, I’m not so sure. It will be wild if Jung-gook can avoid getting caught and somehow transform himself into a real Assemblyman who sincerely cares about his district and its people. That may be the only way to insure that he and Mi-young survive. At this point in the drama, to envision such a far-fetched possibility is the result of the story’s unpredictability and characters who constantly surprise us.