My Fellow Citizens: Episodes 17-18
Our political candidate Jung-gook’s enemy and protector go head to head as they finally meet as rivals. Neither is willing to back down, so their nascent rivalry is sure to cause Jung-gook some major stress. Meanwhile, Jung-gook goes rogue with his campaign and causes some major headaches. He didn’t think much about the consequences of breaking his deal with mob boss Hoo-ja, but fortunately, the universe seems to be on his side.
EPISODE 17 RECAP
At the televised debate, Sang-jin stalls in his response, conflicted about his stance on extending the subway in his district. Though he’s against the subway extension, he remembers his campaign aide friends advising him to publicly support the subway; otherwise, he stands no chance in this race.
Making up his mind, Sang-jin announces his stance: He promises to build the railway in the district. Sang-jin’s campaign aides cheer at his practical response, but Jung-gook looks shocked and disappointed by the pivot.
Meanwhile, Mi-young arrests Hoo-ja, who looks unusually calm. Before she gets on the police van, she warns Mi-young that she might regret this, but Mi-young is unshaken. From the car, Hoo-ja nods at lil’ sis Gwi-nam, who makes a call to prompt the operation.
At the debate, Jung-gook pointedly asks Sang-jin — who had previously opposed the railway extension because he prioritized public interests over economic interests — why he changed his mind. Sang-jin responds that the best politicians follow what the people want, and the worst politicians oppose the people’s interests. He admits that he was wrong.
Jung-gook looks irritated and reminds Sang-jin of the advice he shared on the campaign trail: Humans can’t even fulfill promises that they make sincerely, so how could they make fake promises? Elections aren’t won by votes but by people.
Sang-jin claims that he doesn’t remember this conversation, and Jung-gook erupts in anger. He gets so riled up that he calls Sang-jin hyungnim (“brother-in-law,” in this context), but Sang-jin maintains his professional boundaries and sticks with his claim that he doesn’t remember this conversation.
At the police station, a prosecutor (cameo by In Gyo-jin) runs in to interrogate Oh Sung-taek. He introduces himself as Prosecutor Choi and confirms with Oh Sung-taek that he’ll confess in front of the judge.
In transit in the police van, Mi-young receives an update on Oh Sung-taek’s cooperation with the interrogation. Hoo-ja smirks at oblivious Mi-young and warns her that the situation will be drastically different once they arrive at the station.
As the interrogation continues, Officer Gu freezes at the sight of an unexpected man: Ma Sang-bum aka Con Hyung. He’s alive! How?! Sang-bum introduces himself as an informant for the police, and Prosecutor Choi refers back to his report to confirm that he’s investigating the death of the guy who’s alive in front of him. Yes, he is.
Prosecutor Choi determines that Oh Sung-taek is just a lying mad man and sticks a flower in his hair. LOL the universal sign that you’ve gone loopy. He yells at the incompetent officers to get out and steams in anger.
At the debate, Sang-jin presents the evidence of benefits to gain from the railway extension, and Jung-gook glares at him. When it’s Jung-gook’s turn to share his opinion, Joo-myung silently pleads to Jung-gook, but it’s no use. Jung-gook has already gone off the rails.
Jung-gook argues that a subway stop is unnecessary in their district because the residents can afford to drive one of their many cars to work anyway. He points out that the support for the railway extension is rooted in personal monetary gain that results from the rise in real estate values.
When Mi-young arrives at the police station, she receives a call from Officer Gu about the Ma Sang-bum situation. Mi-young finally realizes that the anonymous tip about Ma Sang-bum’s murder was planted by Hoo-ja to invalidate Oh Sung-taek’s testimony against Baekkyung Capital.
Hoo-ja smiles at the revelation and says that Mi-young was too blinded by her chase to see the whole situation. She accepts the rivalry that Mi-young has built between them and casually comments that she’ll plant another minion at the police station, while she’s there.
Jung-gook starts to grind Kang Soo-il’s gears when he demands that he share his wealth and let everyone eat expensive samgyupsal with him, and Kang Soo-il yells back, “Who do you think you are?!” Jung-gook finally lets everything go and answers with relief, “I’m a conman!” Joo-myung freezes in shock, as do the campaign team and Jung-gook’s family.
Back at the police station, handcuffed Hoo-ja takes the elevator to the chief’s office while Mi-young beats up the mole who set this up for Hoo-ja. At the chief’s office, Hoo-ja warns Chief not to make this mistake again, lest she face drastic consequences.
Chief assures Hoo-ja that next time they meet, they won’t make a mistake. Hoo-ja claps back by saying that she hasn’t been caught by the police up to this point because she’s smart and tough enough to beat her older sisters in their claim for the inheritance. “I’m not an easy bitch — I’m a complicated one.” Yes, girl!
Hoo-ja finds her lackeys being released from their handcuffs, and she goes straight to Mi-young to be freed. Goading her rival, Hoo-ja gives her a “I told you so” about regretting this arrest and says that they’ll see each other soon to settle their unfinished business.
As Hoo-ja leaves, she reluctantly thanks Ma Sang-bum and acknowledges that he managed to be useful alive. Apparently, Sang-bum is taking care of Hoo-ja’s comatose father, and he starts to complain about the large load of excretion that he needs to clean. Eww. Hoo-ja gives him on glance, and he knows to get out of her sight.
In the car, Hoo-ja finally takes a breath after her successful operation. Then, she realizes that she missed the whole debate and asks Gwi-nam what happened.
EPISODE 18 RECAP
Cameras and reporters surround Jung-gook as he leaves the debate, asking about his conman claim. Joo-myung answers for Jung-gook and explains that he meant that as a general statement — that all politicians are conmen who can’t fulfill promises they make on the campaign trail.
Back at the campaign office, Joo-myung asks if Jung-gook is finally satisfied and sarcastically suggests that he just continue with this madman politician concept. Frustrated with this mess, Joo-myung advises Jung-gook to wear protective gear for inevitable stoning by citizens, and then he storms out.
Jung-gook asks his con mates how many volunteers dropped from their campaign, and it seems that people are dropping like flies as they speak. Even with dwindling numbers, Jung-gook looks to his con mates and Wang-go with a newfound confidence and says that he’ll run for office with people he trusts. Wang-go hilariously tries to take off his jacket but slides it back on when Jung-gook mentions him as a trusted colleague.
Jung-gook receives a call from Hoo-ja, but he ignores it. Instead, he’s faced with a gentler confrontation via an unexpected visit from Sang-jin.
Out at dinner, Sang-jin’s campaign aides (also a married couple) fight about old flames, and Jung-gook asks Sang-jin he should step in. Sang-jin says that violent quarrels are just their expression of love and assures Jung-gook that they have a happy family of seven children. Jung-gook takes that as an indication that they must really love each other, ha.
Sang-jin tries to justify his actions at the debate, but Jung-gook just accuses him of being like all other politicians. He means that as an insult — that all politicians seem to be well-educated but somehow always forget things at their convenience.
Sang-jin asks that Jung-gook not let his disappointment in Politician Han Sang-jin impact his views of Han Sang-jin as a person. Jung-gook interprets that as Sang-jin foreshadowing future disappointments and refuses to separate the politician from the person. Jung-gook says he can’t separate the person from politics because their intrinsically related — humans created and practice politics.
Jung-gook advises Sang-jin to focus on the election, since it would be embarrassing to lose to him. Before Jung-gook leaves, Sang-jin says that he overheard Jung-gook’s pre-debate argument with Joo-myung about Mi-young and asks how Mi-young is related to Jung-gook’s candidacy.
Jung-gook says that his answer may have been different a few hours ago, but now, he’ll respond just like Sang-jin did. He says that he’s not sure how Mi-young is involved and walks out with his campaign team.
After Mi-young attends her hearing, her team worries about her unfair suspension and suggests that they track down the mole in their team. Mi-young insists that they remain patient and allow for their traitor team member to return to their side. To lift their spirits, she suggests that they all play hooky and go out.
Over drinks, Mi-young tells their maknae team member to support the team well while she’s gone. Maknae wonders if corrupt police officers actually exist and jokes that in the movies, they tend to look like Officer Lee. Suddenly defensive, Officer Lee yells at the maknae and shoos him away to let the adults talk.
Officer Lee then proceeds to chug a bottle of soju (bleh) and confesses that he’s the mole. After running into Hoo-ja at the scene of the real estate fraud, he received a call from an unknown number. He met with Hoo-ja, and she bribed him with a duffel full of money. She knew that he was supporting his family abroad and assured him that he’s getting the most for his dutiful services.
Officer Lee insists that he had no idea about this Ma Sang-bum case, but before he can continue defending his betrayal, he’s beaten up by Officer Gu. Looks painful, but he deserves it. After the thorough beating, Mi-young offers Officer Lee a deal. She proposes that he stick with Hoo-ja as a double agent, and if he’s able to help put Hoo-ja behind bars, she’ll cover up his bribe.
Drunk Officer Na asks Mi-young if she can just punch Officer Lee once, and Mi-young implies approval by heading out of the restaurant. Officer Gu warns Officer Lee that he’s dead because Officer Na was a former boxer. The merciless beating proceeds as Mi-young enjoys the clear blue skies.
Jung-gook takes a break from his campaigning while the rest of this team continues to dance on the streets. Wang-go rushes to the van and apologizes for his tardiness. Jung-gook starts to complain that Wang-go can’t do anything right. He orders the wrong beverages and wrong meals. He’s literally only good at studying.
Wang-go runs off to join the campaign dance, and Jung-gook proceeds to ignore another call from Hoo-ja. Then, he’s confronted by his sister Mi-jin about not being paid enough for her campaign work. She argues that everyone on his campaign will drop when they figure out how little they’re being paid, but Jung-gook doesn’t have any money, not that he’s ignoring his sponsor.
Then, Henchman Choi appears and shoves Mi-jin to the back of the van. He punches Jung-gook in the face, and the next thing they know they’re tied up inside an abandoned building. Hoo-ja enters the building, and Jung-gook dramatically pleads that they let his innocent sister go.
Con instincts activated, Mi-jin claims that she has no idea who Jung-gook is and says that she’s just a temp on his campaign. She yells at Jung-gook to stop referring to her as his sister, and Hoo-ja smirks at the siblings’ dramatics.
Hoo-ja orders Henchman Choi to knock Mi-jin unconscious so that they can have a quiet conversation, but before Henchman Choi lays a finger on Mi-jin, she pretends to faint from hysteria. Jung-gook yells at Hoo-ja for attacking his family, and Hoo-ja says that he attacked her dad first. Touché.
At Hoo-ja’s command, Gwi-nam lays out the deal: The second public opinion poll gets released in exactly five minutes, and for every 0.1% that the polls fall under the initial popularity of 3.9%, he loses a finger. If it drops by 0.5% percent, he’ll need to eat with his feet, and if it drops by at least 1%, then he loses his head.
Jung-gook bluffs that they can’t threaten him anymore because he’s a public figure, but Hoo-ja assures him that they’ll release an official withdrawal from the race and the public will soon forget about him. Realizing this reality, Jung-gook attempts to negotiate himself out of this situation, but Hoo-ja is fed up with his lies.
As they count down the minutes and seconds until the poll results are released, Joo-myung also waits at the empty campaign office. Both Joo-myung and Hoo-ja receive a call from their contacts about their results: Kang Soo-il at 40%; Han Sang-jin at 32%; and Jung-gook… at 10%?
Joo-myung and Hoo-ja can’t believe the numbers, and Jung-gook also looks confused that his numbers bumped up to 10%. He slowly smiles in relief, and Hoo-ja sheepishly smiles before heading out with her gang. After they leave, Mi-jin wakes from her fake unconsciousness and yells in celebration about her brother’s miraculous comeback.
Hoo-ja meets with Joo-myung and asks how these numbers could be possible. Joo-myung smiles at her and says that they serendipitously found a diamond in the rough.
Mi-young also sees the numbers on the news and smiles to herself. She eats dinner with Mom, who breaks the news of her one-month suspension. Mom assures Mi-young that she can return to her position after her suspension and then urges Mi-young to get a hold on Jung-gook’s “debt.” Mi-young feels useless without the ability to work, but Mom says that she can help Jung-gook in other ways.
At the campaign office, Joo-myung briefs the team on the citizens’ reasons for choosing Jung-gook in the public opinion polls. They range from “He was bold in calling all politicians conmen” to “He’s ignorant and ignorant people are best at politics” to “He’s handsome.”
Joo-myung analyzes that the undecided folks seem concerned about the lack of campaign involvement from Jung-gook’s wife. The citizens worry that if Jung-gook can’t maintain a good relationship and communication with his wife, then he won’t be able to do this with his constituents.
Hoo-ja suggests that they reach out to Mi-young, since she’ll have spare time now. Jung-gook adamantly refuses to involve Mi-young, but then, the campaign office doors open, and in comes Mi-young. Jung-gook looks shocked.
We return to the dinner conversation with Mom, who advised Mi-young to prioritize saving Jung-gook. She knows that Mi-young loves Jung-gook, so she urged her daughter to help the only way she could now. Back at the campaign office, Hoo-ja smiles in satisfaction at the turn of events, and Mi-young looks determined to fulfill her role — both as her a wife and her husband’s protector.
I love how the main rivalry features these two fierce women, both stubbornly resolute in their respective missions. Although they’re not on the same page, their rivalry still works because they’re simply trying to outsmart each other. Hoo-ja may have a slight upper hand in this rivalry, since she’s privy to the full truth, but the truth doesn’t impact Mi-young because she doesn’t believe a word that Hoo-ja says. She simply knows that Hoo-ja is a threat to her and Jung-gook, so she’s got a one-track mind to extinguish that threat.
The self-proclaimed complicated bitch Hoo-ja was the highlight of this episode for me. She owns that title like the (mob) boss she is, and she knows her worth. Hoo-ja is such a likeable antagonist, with her relatable sass and low threshold for bullshit. I’m so amused by Kim Min-jung in this role as she pulls off the duality of a vulgar and sophisticated mob boss. Her comedic acting isn’t forced but executed to the fullest, and I love that she has a knack for comedy.
Hoo-ja and Mi-young control Jung-gook’s livelihood in drastically different ways, and I enjoy that Jung-gook’s fate is at the mercy of these two. Though he’s constantly at the whim of these two women, I sensed that he was liberated when he gave no shits about anything other than the truth at the debate. Jung-gook was living his full truth, and it was refreshing to see him break the mold of politics and the suffocating grasp of Joo-myung. He’s more like a fake diamond in the rough, but he’s pretty and sparkly, and that’s enough for most people. Including me.