A Beautiful World: Episode 10
Sometimes people are more interested in sensational lies than the truth, and our heroes learn how quickly rumors can grow. It only takes a single seed of doubt to turn the tides, and when others wish to conceal secrets of their own, it will take more than a kind heart for our heroes to obtain justice for their son.
EPISODE 10 RECAP: Secrets and Lies
While Moo-jin presents an alternative explanation to the broken security cameras, the guard thinks back to his gambling and drug-addict son begging him for money and then the serendipitous timing of Eun-joo offering him anything to keep her secret. He tells Moo-jin that he chased bad guys for twenty years, unaware of the problems brewing in his own home. By the time he realized it, his son was a lost cause, but the guard couldn’t give up on him.
The guard firmly states his inability to help Moo-jin with Sun-ho’s case, but Moo-jin refuses no for an answer. He’s certain that the guard sent them the video, but his arguments sound like unrealistic textbook-answers to the guard. Moo-jin says that he’ll wait for him, and the guard compares Moo-jin to a cactus that endures harsh conditions. However, he has no intentions of being Moo-jin’s oasis.
After cram school, Sung-jae mentions Ki-chan’s absence, but when Joon-suk asks if he’s worried about him, he quickly denies it. Before they leave, In-ha comes up to them and takes Joon-suk to a café to talk. She asks him why he went to the school that night, but remembering Eun-joo and Jin-pyo’s words, Joon-suk continues the ruse. In-ha begs him to tell the truth for his sake as well, but Eun-joo barges in and stops her.
Eun-joo sends Joon-suk to the car and warns In-ha to leave her son alone. As a mother, she’ll do anything to protect him, but in In-ha’s eyes, Eun-joo’s actions are only harming him more. She reminds Eun-joo that being a mother can’t justify her crimes, but Eun-joo throws her words back at her, arguing that In-ha can’t bother people just because she’s the victim’s mother.
On their way home, Eun-joo takes the long route passed the school, and with a desperate look on her face, she repeats out loud what she told the police about taking this way from time to time. She even takes a “wrong” turn towards the back gate and drives by the food truck, which she notes as the witness the police mentioned.
At home, she teaches Joon-suk their new alibi, but her uncharacteristic sternness scares him. Eun-joo angrily says that acting normally would be strange given their situation, and instead of comforting Joon-suk, she tells him to bear with the suffering. Outside Joon-suk’s room, Jin-pyo confronts Eun-joo for her behavior towards their son, but she pulls away from him, promising not to ruin his life even if she has to live in hell. Despite her icy exterior, Eun-joo breaks down when alone in her closet.
Jin-pyo visits Joon-suk in his room and reminds him that it was all an unfortunate accident. He advises Joon-suk to not feel guilty because that would make him guilty, but Joon-suk points out that Eun-joo seems to not believe him. Jin-pyo explains that she’s simply stressed, and tells Joon-suk to trust no one but them.
On her walk home, In-ha passes a shoe store which triggers a memory of Sun-ho. Noticing his worn shoes, she offered to buy him a new pair, but with his usual smile, Sun-ho suggested that they buy his next time and get In-ha some comfortable shoes instead. Staring at the sneakers on display, In-ha regrets not buying him some back then.
After waiting all evening outside Da-hee’s house, Soo-ho and Dong-hee finally spot her coming home. They run up to Da-hee on the street, and Soo-ho asks why she didn’t meet Sun-ho that day. Da-hee says that she doesn’t know anything, but Soo-ho pushes her to answer, failing to see Da-hee’s growing nervousness. It isn’t until Dong-hee asks if she’s okay that Soo-ho realizes the severity of her anxiety.
As Soo-ho puts a comforting hand on her shoulder, Da-hee sees a smiling Sun-ho standing in front of her and falls to the ground screaming. Her mother runs up to them and instantly turns on the girls. Before Soo-ho can explain, Da-hee’s mother slaps her across the face. The incident rattles Dong-hee who goes looking for her brother at his part-time job. He finds her standing numbly outside, and she tells him that people are turning into monsters.
In-ha and Moo-jin anxiously wait for Soo-ho to come home, and when she ignores their repeated calls, Moo-jin offers to go look for her. Joon-ha stops by the apartment and learns of the slap which enrages her. She wants to return the favor, tired of seeing them being pushed around, but In-ha stops her since it wouldn’t solve anything. In-ha gets an idea of where Soo-ho might be and leaves Joon-ha to wait at home.
Soo-ho is at the hospital, talking to Sun-ho about the recent event. She shows him her swollen face and admits to feeling dumbfounded by the whole thing. Realizing how painful a slap is, she comments on how hurt Sun-ho must have felt as well, and she cries while remembering their morning fight. He pestered her about wearing makeup, and Soo-ho kicked him out of her room for being annoying. She apologizes to Sun-ho for being mean to him back then and begs him to wake up.
In-ha finds Soo-ho crying next to Sun-ho, and immediately cradles her face to check her cheek. Dong-soo told them about the slap, and In-ha vows to yell at Da-hee’s mother. To In-ha’s surprise, Soo-ho asks her to pardon Da-hee’s mother since Da-hee seemed really sick. In-ha tells her that assault can’t be overlooked because of sympathy, but Soo-ho realizes that she may have bothered Da-hee even if it wasn’t her intentions.
While she feels mad over the slap, Soo-ho can understand why Da-hee’s mother was upset, and wishes to let this issue go. In response, In-ha pulls Soo-ho into a hug and asks her to not mature too quickly. They say kids grow up fast if their parents are lacking, so In-ha wants Soo-ho to grow slowly for their sakes. From the hallway, Moo-jin listens to the conversation and checks a message from Reporter Choi, telling him that the article will be published tomorrow.
The next morning, Reporter Choi’s article creates a splash, and Soo-ho’s petition receives over 15,000 signatures as a result. Having been kept out of the loop, In-ha asks Moo-jin if he knows about the sexual assault charges against Reporter Choi, but Moo-jin reminds her that he was acquitted. He thought the reporter seemed sincere, but In-ha is still unsure about him.
Soo-ho runs out of her room to share the news about her petition, and as they sit down for breakfast, she announces her new dream to become a reporter—but quickly gives it up after hearing that she needs to study. Moo-jin offers to drive her to school, and noticing her parents’ stares, she assures them that the swelling is gone.
Jin-pyo marches to his office where the principal and vice principal are already waiting for him to discuss the article. Unlike the vice principal, the principal sees no fault in the actual content, but Jin-pyo points out the need to deal with the backlash. He questions Reporter Choi’s credibility since he was once charged for sexual assault, and the vice principal eagerly offers to organize a parent committee.
The vice principal vehemently calls all sexual offenders evil scums, but Jin-pyo orders him to keep his emotions in check. They just need to stick to the “facts” since they’re goal is to win over the public’s favor before Reporter Choi. After the meeting, the vice principal asks the principal when Teacher Lee will be disciplined, but the principal tells him that he won’t, warning the vice principal to not overstep his bounds.
Moo-jin drops off Soo-ho at school and warns her about the reactions she might get because of the article. She tells him not to worry, but he can’t help it since she seems too involved in Sun-ho’s case. He wants her to live her own life and enjoy the things she used to, and Soo-ho agrees to try. Unfortunately, Moo-jin’s worries prove to be true as students whisper and stare at the those mentioned in the article.
The chatter mostly consists of curiosity and annoyance rather than concern, with some even joking about filming the students involved. Ki-chan uses the tide of suspicion to corner Joon-suk in class and declares him to be the true ringleader. When Ki-chan loses his temper at Young-chul for lying, Joon-suk quickly turns the class against Ki-chan and has him labeled as the betrayer.
Eun-joo sits lost in thought as she recalls the conversation at breakfast. Jin-pyo coached Joon-suk on how to act, but Eun-joo thought it would be best if he skipped school. Joon-suk sided with his father, assuring Eun-joo that he was fine, but his words backfired. She asked incredulously how he could be fine when he should be suffering, but Joon-suk called her out for sending him mixed messages: Does she want him to endure or suffer?
Soo-ho’s petition continues to gain more signatures thanks to the article, and Teacher Lee wonders why Jin-pyo didn’t stop it. Teacher Shin informs him of the bad blood between Reporter Choi and Jin-pyo, but before he can elaborate, the vice principal walks in. He asks Teacher Ham to get drinks for the parent committee, but Teacher Lee offers to get them since the vice principal always orders Teacher Ham for these things. To no one in particular, the vice principal loudly announces Reporter Choi’s sexual assault charge and mutters about the hypocrisy.
Detective Park grabs a meal with his superintendent (cameo by Lee Sung-min) who tells him to stop digging into a useless case and focus on the important one. Detective Park casually mentions the need for a reinvestigation, but the superintendent warns him that he might lose his position if he meddles with a bunch of kids and forsakes his own case.
Detective Park’s partner also thinks that the detective is wasting his time, but Detective Park ignores his complaints and takes notes of all the cameras in Jin-pyo’s neighborhood. He tells his exasperated partner that they might catch their main guy, Ki Deuk-chul, as a bonus if they get to the bottom of Sun-ho’s case.
Moo-jin stops by Da-hee’s parent’s restaurant, but it’s temporarily closed. He notices a strange man—the spy who watched him and the guard earlier—but thinks nothing of it when Teacher Lee calls. Teacher Lee tells Moo-jin about the parent committee and the school’s attempts to shift the public eye. Meanwhile, Ki-chan’s mother storms into the bakery, having just heard from the vice principal that In-ha and Moo-jin hired a rapist reporter to write a slanderous article.
In another meeting with the other mothers, Sung-jae’s mother twists the recent article as a malicious scheme by In-ha to ask for more settlement money. The other mothers criticize In-ha for selling her son, and Sung-jae’s mother lies about how they refused to settle which caused this mess. She even has the audacity to insult In-ha for lacking love.
At the hospital, In-ha takes care of Sun-ho and tells him to wake up since she bought him new shoes. Afterwards, she visits Young-chul’s mother, worried about how she responded to the article, but Young-chul’s mother understands In-ha’s predicament and even says her son had it coming. She thanks In-ha for forgiving her, and grabbing her hands, she tells her to be strong since weird rumors are spreading about the article and how her family paid the reporter.
On her walk to the bakery, In-ha scoffs at the ridiculous lies being spread, and Joon-ha calls Teacher Lee to question him about them. While Teacher Lee knew about the parent meeting, he is unaware of the actual discussion and finds it hard to believe that the vice principal would have accused Sun-ho’s parents of paying a reporter. Joon-ha hangs up on his angrily, and Teacher Ham cautiously asks if Teacher Lee saw the comments on the article.
The article is filled with comments calling Reporter Choi unworthy, and Joon-ha grows more furious as she reads comment after comment criticizing In-ha and Moo-jin for scheming with the reporter to get more money. She slams her laptop shut when In-ha walks in, but she can’t hide it from her for long. In-ha looks shocked as she reads the barrage of nasty remarks about her and her family.
Having been updated by Joon-ha, Moo-jin goes back to the apartment to check on In-ha who quietly cries at the dining table. He explains how the comments are written by trolls, but even though In-ha knows that too, their words still hurt. Moo-jin holds her hand and tells her that she doesn’t have to act strong or pretend she isn’t hurt.
In-ha worries about Soo-ho who must have seen the comments, but Moo-jin tells her that she already called him. Soo-ho complained about Reporter Choi, but looking at the bright side of things, she was glad the petition got more signatures even if they were from trolls. Moo-jin tells In-ha that they’re eating out for dinner and even invited Dong-soo and Dong-hee. However, they get a call from Da-hee’s mother asking to meet tonight.
In his office, Jin-pyo berates Reporter Choi for writing a fiction novel instead of a factual article, but Reporter Choi has a different story in the works. He gives Jin-pyo a quick summary, telling him that Sun-ho met Joon-suk on the roof that night. Whether deliberate or not, Sun-ho fell off, and at the scene was the security guard. He reported everything to Jin-pyo who told him to cover it up.
Reporter Choi plays it off as a “story,” and Jin-pyo asks if he needs money. Reporter Choi wonders if he’s offering him some, but Jin-pyo laughs since he has no reason to do so. He takes out a recording device and blackmails Reporter Choi, but not to be outdone, Reporter Choi brings out his phone which was recording their conversation, too.
He challenges Jin-pyo to fight him to the end and see who wins. Jin-pyo asks if In-ha and Moo-jin know he’s using them for personal reasons, but Reporter Choi argues that everything is personal. He doesn’t trust those who claim it’s only business and hits Jin-pyo’s foot on his way out. Muttering under his breath, Jin-pyo calls Reporter Choi a crazy bastard.
In-ha and Moo-jin enter Da-hee’s parent’s restaurant which is empty except for Da-hee’s mother. They ask why she wanted to meet, and she brings up Soo-ho. In-ha understands that Da-hee is sick but still believes she was out of line for slapping Soo-ho. Da-hee’s mother scoffs at her complaint and asks if they think Sun-ho is the victim.
They might think Sun-ho is the kind, model student who was the victim of school bullying, but she describes him as a two-faced child. In-ha and Moo-jin are confused by her claims, but she shouts at them for interrupting. She screams, “Listen to me closely. Sun-ho is not a victim but an assailant. He’s not an unfairly treated victim but a horrendous assailant!”
Despite my aversion to mullets, I find myself drawn to Reporter Choi. He has an interesting dynamic with Jin-pyo that I find oddly funny. Their entire conversation was done in informal speech, and from their interaction, I got the impression that they knew each other very well. Despite the tense air between them, their exchange was filled with jokes, and I haven’t seen Jin-pyo act this way with anyone else. For the first time, he seems to actually be himself in a way—without the pretenses of a noble businessman who knows exactly what to say—because their disdain for each other is clear as day. Though Jin-pyo doesn’t speak with honorifics to Reporter Choi, I feel more respect coming from him when he’s with Reporter Choi than when he speaks formally with anyone else. It’s not a respect out of admiration but the kind you feel when you meet a worthy foe. Almost as if he’s begrudgingly admitting that Reporter Choi isn’t an easy pushover, Jin-pyo does not try to assert his dominance through his usual tactics of manipulation like he does with the principal and vice principal. In those scenarios, Jin-pyo puts on airs and speaks formally, yet his speech drips with contempt which the principal obviously notices but stays quiet about it since he’s the boss. When he’s with Reporter Choi, Jin-pyo openly mocks him but his words lack the power they usually hold because Reporter Choi returns every barb with his own. When Reporter Choi took out his phone to show he was recording the conversation, too, I chuckled because of how easily he deflated Jin-pyo’s ego and with the exact same tactic to boot. For once, Jin-pyo is dealing with someone who poses a challenge because his methods of manipulation require using the other’s person desires against them, but in this case, Reporter Choi’s wish is his downfall.
The other thing that I enjoy about Reporter Choi’s characterization is how he has a personal vendetta against Jin-pyo. Just as Jin-pyo claimed, Reporter Choi is essentially using In-ha and Moo-jin for his personal gain, but I like this rather unrighteous aspect of his character. He isn’t helping them purely out of the goodness of his heart (though I think he does care to an extent), and this might be an asset instead of a drawback for In-ha and Moo-jin. Since he wants to destroy Jin-pyo, there’s no worries of Reporter Choi betraying them because Jin-pyo proposed a tempting offer, which has already happened in the case of the guard. They’re on the same boat, even if their destinations may be different, and while this could cause some clashes between them about how far they want to take the case, it’s still reassuring to have an ally who hates the enemy as much as you do. Also, Moo-jin was right to judge Reporter Choi as sincere because he does want to uncover the truth behind Sun-ho’s case; it’s just that his motivation isn’t as pure as they imagined.
The show used Reporter Choi’s sexual assault charge to shed light on multiple issues this episode, and one of them was stigmatization. Though Reporter Choi was acquitted, no one cared about the court outcome and only harped on the fact that he was charged in the first place. In an older conversation between Reporter Choi and Detective Park, the latter commented on the subjectivity of public sentiment and how people only care about the crime and not the verdict. The public’s response reflected Detective Park’s musing and proved him correct. However, even more terrifying was the fact that people willfully ignored the court ruling and made their judgement based off their own conclusions. The mere existence of a sexual assault charge stigmatized Reporter Choi, and as the episode progressed, the truth was warped until people started calling him a criminal even if that was factually incorrect. However, Reporter Choi’s sexual assault charge is also used to mirror the other possible sexual assault charge in the show concerning Da-hee. People like the vice principal are quick to call rapists evil scum when he hears about Reporter Choi, but unwittingly, he just told Jin-pyo that Joon-suk is evil and should never be forgiven. Then at the end of the episode, Da-hee’s mother seems to imply that Sun-ho was a sexual offender, and even if she’s mistaken, we’ve seen the negative outcomes a mere accusation can have on someone. Moreover, the situation is even more complicated simply because it’s a sexual assault case which is a tricky subject. The bulk of the research on sexual assault finds that the majority of offenders never get convicted and the number of false accusations is miniscule in comparison to actual incidents. Furthermore, sexual assault cases get dragged into a “she said, he said” situation that makes proving guilt difficult, though I think a good deal of this ambiguity is because of the prevalent rape culture that permeates many societies, including South Korea. Especially given the recent scandals in South Korea and its entertainment world, hopefully the show deals with this issue with care and caution because it’s an important topic.
Eun-joo continues to be a walking pile of contradictions, and it’s finally blown up on her. Joon-suk was right when he criticized her for sending him mixed messages, and I don’t blame him for being frustrated with her. In one moment, she feeds him lies and tells him that everything will be okay, and then the next, she rebukes him for appearing fine and not suffering like she is. Ultimately, it’s Eun-joo’s selfishness that is causing all her problems, and I agree with In-ha that Eun-joo is only trying to protect herself and not Joon-suk at this point. When he considered confessing everything to Moo-jin, she was the one who stopped him and tried to convince him that nothing happened that day. Thus, it makes no sense to Joon-suk when she expects him to live with overwhelming guilt for Sun-ho’s fall when she was the one who stopped him from admitting his fault in the first place. I think these are signs of Eun-joo cracking under the pressure of all the lies she has spun as they slowly suffocate her. It’s the classic scenario of one lie begetting another, bigger lie until everything becomes too much to handle. Eun-joo truly is living in a hell of her own making, but instead of trying to find a way out, she sinks deeper into the abyss.