A Beautiful World: Episode 9
Our heroes get closer to the truth, but they need evidence to untangle all the lies surrounding their son’s case. When the perpetrators can twist reality to fit their convenience, speculations can only get them so far. Although there are many who wish to stop them, our heroes slowly but surely change hearts and gain allies through their perseverance.
EPISODE 9 RECAP: The Catcher
The night of the incident, Sun-ho stared up at the full moon while waiting for Joon-suk on the school rooftop. Once he heard him enter, Sun-ho secretly turned on his phone’s voice recorder. He blamed Joon-suk for Da-hee’s attempted suicide and accused Joon-suk of sexually assaulting and blackmailing her.
Joon-suk called her a liar and begged Sun-ho to believe him since they’re friends, but Sun-ho no longer considered him a friend. Hearing Sun-ho denounce his character, Joon-suk mockingly admitted to the accusations, and Sun-ho punched him. As they fought, he asked Joon-suk why he did that to Da-hee, and in the present, Eun-joo sheds tears as she hears what happened that night.
In-ha and Moo-jin look over the security footage and notice Eun-joo’s car heading towards the back gate. In-ha assumes that this must be the real secret she tried to hide, but Moo-jin warns her against jumping to conclusions. Even if it’s frustrating, they need solid evidence if they want to expose Eun-joo’s lie.
Meanwhile, Eun-joo confronts Jin-pyo, asking how long he knew about the incident. He tells her that the guard called him that night, which means he knew she was lying this entire time. Eun-joo yells at him for being a terrifying person, but he shouts back at her for hiding the truth first. Whether done intentionally or not, she made him feel like a stranger by stripping him of his role as husband and father through her silence.
Eun-joo recalls the instances of Jin-pyo’s cryptic messages which were actually chances he gave her to confess, and she admits to him that she was afraid of his response. She believed Joon-suk’s word at the time, but not anymore. She breaks down into sobs, regretting her actions that night, but Jin-pyo stares at her with cold eyes.
He asks if she’ll apologize to the family and turn Joon-suk in to the police with her own hands. He hands over the recording, giving her the opportunity to fix her mistakes, but they both know she can’t. The moment she meddled, the incident no longer was an “accident,” and Jin-pyo tells her that the truth is merely what they believe.
Soo-ho comes home and finds In-ha sitting numbly in Sun-ho’s room. Spotting the new cactus, she comments on its pretty spines, which surprises In-ha. Back at Joon-suk’s house, Jin-pyo orders Eun-joo to forget about Sun-ho’s claims concerning Da-hee. Though Eun-joo wants to ask Joon-suk about it, Jin-pyo forces her to keep the recording a secret. He tells her to live in this hell of her own making since he won’t let her ruin his life, too.
Elsewhere, Detective Park and his partner stake out in front of the guard’s house, but their goal today is to let him know of their presence and nothing more. Since the guard’s son will need to contact him sooner or later, all they have to do is wait and follow the guard to his son. As predicted, the guard notices their car as he walks home.
Moo-jin stops by the school’s back gate and asks the food truck owner if he remembers the car he saw that night. The truck owner vaguely recalls a fancy white car and agrees to testify to the police. At home, In-ha flips through Sun-ho’s copy of The Catcher in the Rye and reads the highlighted portions.
Sun-ho narrates the passage about Holden’s dream to be “the catcher in the rye” as scenes, both past and present, play on screen. Moo-jin sits by Sun-ho’s side, Dong-hee remembers Sun-ho sitting with her at lunch, and Da-hee stands outside the flower shop in tears.
Sun-ho: “What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff-I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be. I know it’s crazy”
Eun-joo pours herself a drink to swallow her pills, but in the end, she decides against it and grabs water instead. Joon-suk finds her in the kitchen and asks why she didn’t pick him up from cram school. Noticing her odd behavior, he wonders if she’s sick, but when he steps closer, she nervously backs away from him.
Joon-ha calls Teacher Lee late at night and has him accompany her to the restaurant run by Da-hee’s parents. She asks to meet Da-hee in order to fight the injustice Sun-ho is experiencing, but Da-hee’s mother scoffs at her request. Both parents are clearly offended at the thought of Sun-ho being innocent but refuse to share what they know.
Joon-ha and Teacher Lee go out for drinks, and after a few bottles of soju, Teacher Lee pours out his grievances. He tells Joon-ha about his first school and a bullying case he handled. He tried to reason with the bullies, and all seemed well until the bully brought her/his parents to school and accused him of coercion.
The two of them argue over who has it worse, and Teacher Lee slurs, “At least you’re doing what you like.” Though being a good teacher was once his dream, now he sees it as a job that pays the bills. Joon-ha calls him spoiled since nothing is stopping him from achieving that dream, and tells him that a good teacher is someone who exists for the students.
After meeting In-ha at the park, Young-chul’s mother stares at her son as she remembers In-ha’s suspicions about Young-chul’s sudden closeness with Joon-suk. Young-chul’s mother cautiously asks if he knows who Sun-ho planned to meet that night, and he immediately asks how she knew about Sun-ho’s meeting. His mother quickly deduces that he knows something based off his odd reaction and urges him to tell her the truth.
Young-chul looks frightened when his mother mentions the possibility of murder, but earlier that evening, Joon-suk met with Young-chul to make sure he would keep his secret. Wholly convinced that Joon-suk is his friend, Young-chul lies to his mother that he knows nothing and storms out.
Early the next morning, Moo-jin tucks in In-ha who fell asleep in Sun-ho’s room and delivers food to Dong-soo’s home. He then prepares breakfast much to In-ha’s surprise, and though they smile and laugh, a quiet air of melancholy hangs over the table. After breakfast, Moo-jin thanks In-ha’s mother for the food, and from outside, In-ha overhears his call.
At school, the vice principal yells at Reporter Choi over the phone and threatens to take legal action if he slanders the school’s reputation. He hangs up in a huff, and Reporter Choi mutters at his phone in frustration. He spots Moo-jin from a distance, but Moo-jin doesn’t see the reporter as he heads towards the police station looking determined.
Moo-jin shows Detective Park the footage of Eun-joo’s car and tells him about the truck owner. They verify that the car in the video belongs to Jin-pyo’s foundation, but the junior partner doesn’t think the footage is conclusive evidence. Moo-jin yells at the detectives for not conducting a proper investigation in the first place and vows to use whatever means possible if the police refuse to cooperate.
Detective Park agrees to investigate the car as well as around Joon-suk’s house, but he isn’t doing this because of Moo-jin’s threats. He explains the need for precaution to Moo-jin, and promises to request an official reinvestigation once he gathers evidence. As Moo-jin leaves the station, Reporter Choi comes running up to him.
In-ha drops by Eun-joo’s house to pay for Sun-ho’s hospital bill since the hospital staff won’t take it. Eun-joo asks if she still doesn’t believe her, but In-ha tells her that people don’t change. Just like in high school, In-ha sees Eun-joo as a doll stuck in a display window. Eun-joo’s voice hardens as she accuses In-ha of not changing either, but In-ha states, “At least I don’t lie.”
She knows Eun-joo was at the school at the time of Sun-ho’s fall, but Eun-joo tries to play it off as baseless speculations. In-ha says that the truth is scarier than fiction and warns Eun-joo that her actions are hurting Joon-suk, not protecting him. She asks if Eun-joo can sleep at night since she must be suffering, too.
Reporter Choi informs Moo-jin about his meeting with Soo-ho and his own reflections on the case. He’s certain the incident wasn’t an attempted suicide, but no one is willing to talk with him. If Moo-jin allows it, Reporter Choi plans on publishing an article with the facts he has, and Moo-jin gives his permission as long as he shows him the article beforehand. Based on his own speculations, Reporter Choi tells Moo-jin that a lot of people may be involved in the case, but Moo-jin is determined to uncover the truth.
Jin-pyo hears from Eun-joo about the police coming over to interview her, and he reassures her that they don’t have evidence of her involvement because he would have known. Still shaking, Eun-joo takes another handful of pills while Jin-pyo makes a call to the police department’s superintendent.
Young-chul’s mother stops by the bakery to visit In-ha, but Joon-ha tells her that she’s at the hospital for Sun-ho’s transfer. Young-chul’s mother wonders if Sung-jae’s mother retaliated for the water-slap, but she’s been quiet for now. Of course, that doesn’t mean she isn’t plotting anything since the four parents are meeting again.
Having received calls from Reporter Choi, Sung-jae’s father suggest that they come up with a plan in case he publishes an article, but their conversation soon dissolves into petty arguments. Apparently, Ki-chan’s mother told Joon-ha about the parent meeting since Sung-jae’s mother ostracized her from the group. The husbands fight over which wife should apologize first, but eventually, Sung-jae’s parents just leave—without paying for their coffee which irks Ki-chan’s father. Heh.
As Soo-ho leaves the faculty office, she runs into Dong-hee who’s been called by the vice principal. He scolds her for spreading lies and causing a ruckus like she did at her old school, but Teacher Lee barges in and stops him. With Teacher Shin’s support, Dong-hee is escorted out of the office where Soo-ho waits for her.
Teacher Lee defends Dong-hee for telling the truth and wonders how many testimonies it’ll take for the vice principal to believe her statement. He accuses the school of teaching its students to be honest, yet in reality, they hush and reprimand those who are brave. The vice principal claims to be acting for the school, but Teacher Lee shouts, “Without the children, there is no school, and there are no teachers.”
Soo-ho worries about Dong-hee, but she says that she’s fine because she had Teacher Lee and Soo-ho on her side. She reminds Soo-ho of Sun-ho, so she tells Dong-hee to speak her mind next time and not hold back.
Eun-joo trembles as she pours coffee for Detective Park and his partner while Jin-pyo calmly asks about their superintendent. Though it’s not an official investigation, Detective Park explains how her car was found on camera near the school and wants to double-check her alibi. Clearly prepared, Eun-joo answers all his questions with ease, and her odd appearance on camera is explained away as a wrong turn.
As their interview concludes, Jin-pyo offers them their dashcam, and Detective Park gladly accepts. Despite their cordial exchange, Detective Park’s glance betrays the doubts he’s harboring about Jin-pyo, and as if on cue, he receives a call from their superintendent the minute they step out. His partner nags him to answer, but Detective Park lets it ring.
Moo-jin sits alone at a restaurant, lost in thought. Earlier that day, he met with Dong-soo, updating him about Dong-hee’s situation and how he got her old school to make the students promise not to bully her. Dong-soo gave him a full bow in thanks, and Moo-jin smiled at his out-of-character politeness. Before he left, Dong-soo asked about the CCTVs and speculated on the possibility of someone sabotaging the cameras. If Sun-ho didn’t commit suicide, then there’s only one person capable of hiding the evidence: the guard.
Soo-ho waits with Dong-hee outside Da-hee’s house, and over the phone, she explains to In-ha that she skipped cram school to do something important. Dong-hee suggests that they leave for today, but Soo-ho is certain that Da-hee must be hiding something. While they try to figure out that secret, Jin-pyo wishes to conceal it, and he burns the recording device that contains the rooftop argument.
The guard joins Moo-jin at the restaurant—along with his tail—and Moo-jin pours him a drink as thanks for helping Sun-ho. He tells the guard about In-ha’s and his suspicions about Sun-ho’s accident, but without any evidence, he can only lament their misfortune over the broken security cameras. Although it’s a stretch, Moo-jin suggests a what if scenario: If the camera wasn’t broken that night, but rather, someone destroyed the footage, who could it be?
Once he started asking that question, an unlikely suspect suddenly appeared. A person who Moo-jin only felt gratitude towards also happened to be the only one able to delete the footage. However, he has no evidence to prove his speculations.
Despite all this, Moo-jin believes that person is still good and must have a desperate reason for acting this way. The guard finally looks Moo-jin in the eyes when he asks him directly, “Can you please tell me that reason?”
This show is ultimately a story about a tragedy and how it affects the everyday lives of a relatively mundane family. It centers around In-ha and Moo-jin who aren’t exceptionally bright or crafty, and as a result, their quest for truth tends not to be an epic tale of uncovering conspiracies and tricking their foes but tiny steps toward progress. When they discover something new, they are quick to share the information and confront the perpetrators because they aren’t seasoned veterans who understand the importance of timing and the art of interrogation. More often than not, they reveal all their cards, and at times, I wonder if they choose not to hide anything because they’re naïve or if they can’t hide it because they’re too emotional. However, it’s this perceived normality of these main protagonists that I find interesting because in the end, it isn’t investigatory skills or cunningness that uncovers the truth but their plain doggedness that gets through to people.
I said it before, but the charm of this show lies in its characters. Every episode we not only learn more about Sun-ho and his family but also about those involved in this terrible event. Side characters are developed, and people like Detective Park are shown to be more than they initially appeared. At the start, he was a callous officer who was too busy to care about Sun-ho’s case, and his investigation was superficial. However, he starts to change his mind when In-ha and Moo-jin throw discovery after discovery in his face, and we learn that Detective Park isn’t a terrible officer, just a busy one. Though In-ha and Moo-jin may be wary of his help, I’m glad he’s on their side because he’s smarter than I gave him credit for, and In-ha’s team needs a bit of craftiness if they want to beat Jin-pyo and his team. Besides the “good” side, even someone like Jin-pyo is shown layers, and I was surprised by how I felt a twinge of sympathy for him this episode—though it didn’t last very long. We heard his side of the story and learned that his cryptic remarks weren’t tests to catch Eun-joo’s lies but opportunities for her to confess them. Apparently, he does have feelings, and his confession about feeling like a stranger to his own family was surprisingly sad. However, he ends their conversation by telling Eun-joo that he won’t let her mistake ruin what he built, and I’m quickly reminded that just as Eun-joo made her own hell, so did Jin-pyo.
Another character that is going through his own character arc and gave one of my favorite scenes this episode was Teacher Lee. In his conversation with Joon-ha, he recalls his years as a beginning teacher and describes an influential event that shaped his outlook. His experience with the realities of teaching contradicted his dreams of being a good teacher, and instead of fighting back, Teacher Lee submitted. He gave up on his dreams because it seemed delusional, but Joon-ha points out to him that no one made him give up; he chose it himself. This was the wakeup call he needed to finally push him to become better, and the results were marvelous. When Dong-hee needed him, Teacher Lee appeared, and he showed her that he wasn’t preaching empty promises when he said he would help. His speech to the vice principal about schools and teachers needing children, not just the other way around, was moving because we saw his journey to the moment. He wasn’t being self-righteous as the vice principal claimed, and the audience knew that because the show spent time with him to reveal his gradual change. What I enjoy most about the show is how we see the case from different perspectives. There’s Sun-ho’s parents and their battle; the little investigative duo of Soo-ho and Dong-hee; Joon-suk and his parents’ view of the incident; the teachers’ and school’s viewpoints; and so many more. However, all these perspectives are weaved into one story, and it adds depth to the show. While In-ha and Moo-jin are clearly the main heroes who center the main narrative, they aren’t the only ones affected by this tragedy, and it’s this deliberate choice of world building that makes this drama special.