My Fellow Citizens: Episodes 21-22
Through the wild scramble to run for office, Jung-gook realizes that he may actually enjoy politics and meeting people on the campaign trail, especially with Mi-young at his side. Amidst this realization, Jung-gook receives a sweet deal from Hoo-ja and needs to reconsider his priorities. But he’s got more options than he realizes, and thanks to Joo-myung, he sees that he could possibly trailblaze his way through this election.
EPISODE 21 RECAP
Jung-gook and Mi-young snuggle in bed, and they look like the adorable couple they once were. But while they’re enjoying their renewed romance, Hoo-ja is disclosing all of Jung-gook’s secrets to Sang-jin, who’s accepting her offer to support his political candidacy.
At first, Sang-jin doesn’t believe Hoo-ja’s claim that Jung-gook is a conman and demands evidence. The prepared mob boss she is, Hoo-ja offers him something better than evidence: a witness. Apparently, Henchman Choi tracked down this person all the way to Panama to stand witness, and it’s none other than Hee-jin — Jung-gook’s scammer girlfriend (from the first episode) who stole the con team’s money.
After Hee-jin shares her testimony, Sang-jin looks reluctantly convinced. Hoo-ja looks pleased with her persuasion and once again presents her offer to give Sang-jin the 15% popularity that Jung-gook currently has. That would put him ahead of opponent Kang Soo-il at 43%, but only by a 3% margin. They need a larger lead, and Hoo-ja suggests that they crush Kang Soo-il using her methods.
We see drunk Kang Soo-il getting a ride home as Hoo-ja proposes a hypothetical in which Kang Soo-il gets charged for drunk driving again, after multiple past offenses. Hoo-ja says that citizens are quick to believe the idiom, “Old habits die hard,” so they’ll be quick on the uptake of this scandal.
Drunk Kang Soo-il sleeps in the back seat of the car and wakes up to cars honking and drivers yelling. He finds the driver seat empty and walks out of the car, confused by the situation. He spots his driver loitering across the street, but before he can resolve the situation, he’s caught by police officers for drunk driving.
The next morning, Sang-jin turns on the news to find his opponent effectively framed by Hoo-ja’s drunk driving scheme. He smirks in disbelief and disgust, and he calls his team to finish off this despicable political race with a press conference.
In front of the press, Sang-jin deplores Kang Soo-il’s unacceptable actions and demands that he withdraw from the race. After the scandal breaks the news, Sang-jin’s friends confirm that the numbers have swayed in their favor.
Over a round of billiards, Joo-myung tells Hoo-ja that her scheme only seems to benefit Sang-jin — not Jung-gook. Aha, so he doesn’t know Hoo-ja’s big picture scheme. Hoo-ja reveals that she’s going to make Jung-gook withdraw from the race with parting words that express support for Sang-jin. Joo-myung finally realizes that Hoo-ja has been using Jung-gook all along and doesn’t look particularly pleased.
Joo-myung accuses Hoo-ja for being discourteous, but Hoo-ja doesn’t feel bad because Jung-gook never wanted to run for National Assembly anyway. Despite Jung-gook’s initial hesitations, Joo-myung knows that now, Jung-gook is genuinely doing his best to win the race and he feels bad. Aw, Jung-gook has grown on Joo-myung.
Hoo-ja also informs Joo-myung that someone from the People’s Party will be reaching out to him. As she strikes the pool ball, Hoo-ja looks satisfied at her successful scheme that will put everyone in their rightful place.
Over breakfast, Mi-young suggests to Jung-gook that they go door-to-door to meet the citizens of their district. Now that they’re nearing the end of their campaign period, Joo-myung advised Jung-gook to publicize himself everywhere. Mi-young suggests the opposite –instead of the people knowing Jung-gook, it’s important for Jung-gook to know the people.
Mi-young tells Jung-gook that there are people in the world who don’t have the courage to speak up and find him. They can’t leave those people behind, so the power couple sets out to find everyday people with everyday problems: rusty water coming out of the faucets; the dust from nearby construction polluting the fresh air; the request for a crosswalk, which Jung-gook ends up painting himself.
When Joo-myung enters the campaign office, he finds an unwelcome guest, a colleague from the People’s Party (Joo-myung’s former party affiliation before he was ejected from the Assembly). Over samgyupsal and soju, the People’s Party colleague tries to coax Joo-myung back to the People’s Party. He requests for Joo-myung to jump ship from Jung-gook’s camp to Sang-jin’s camp and bring the approval ratings with him.
Joo-myung has no reason to support the People’s Party, but the colleague shares the offer: 1) Joo-myung will be reinstated to the People’s Party; 2) Withdraw Sang-jin from the next election; 3) Nominate Joo-myung as the party’s candidate for the next election. That’s an enticing officer, and Joo-myung looks tempted.
Back at the campaign office, Joo-myung sheepishly watches Jung-gook work diligently on campaign preparations. Jung-gook spots Joo-myung brooding and considerately suggests that Joo-myung go home early to rest. Before Jung-gook leaves for dinner with Hoo-ja, Joo-myung preemptively compliments Jung-gook that he’s done a good job so far.
At the police station cafeteria, Mi-young’s loyal team members pick a fight with the traitors (Hoo-ja’s bribed minions), but their fight is quickly ended by Chief Kim. In her office, Chief Kim scolds the team for getting petty revenge for Mi-young and yells at them to get out, except for Officer Gu. Once they’re alone, Chief Kim asks Officer Gu to conduct a covert investigation of a conman by the name of Yang Shi-chul (Jung-gook’s father), who was arrested back in 2001.
Jung-gook enters a fancy restaurant for dinner with Hoo-ja, and turns out, she rented out the whole place. She tells the waiter to give her the usual, and Jung-gook assumes that she’s a regular at the restaurant. She responds that this is her second time there in 5 years, but she just asks for the usual so that she’s treated well. Looking at the menu, she criticizes it for all the English and then proceeds to call for the waiter in English to give her the usual wine. Ha!
As they eat, Hoo-ja asks about the campaign, and Jung-gook happily responds that it’s going well. He’s enjoying spending time with Mi-young, and his giddiness seems to irritate Hoo-ja. She prefaces her reveal by saying that she’s usually a straight shooter, but she’s uncomfortable with what she’s about to say.
Jung-gook laughs at Hoo-ja’s attempt at being courteous because it’s so out of character for her. So Hoo-ja assumes her normal character and drops the news. She tells Jung-gook to withdraw from the election.
EPISODE 22 RECAP
Jung-gook looks confused at Hoo-ja’s sudden order to drop from the election, but she clarifies that she’s made a deal with Sang-jin, who agreed to fulfill her request to repeal the Interest Rate Regulation Act. She admits that she never intended for conman Jung-gook to progress any further in the election, so she’s scheduled a press conference tomorrow to announce his withdrawal from the race. She justifies her one-sided decision by claiming that a conman could never to be elected as a politician.
Though Jung-gook initially agreed with this, he’s come too far to turn back now. Now that Mi-young is involved, Jung-gook feels obligated to see this through and refuses to withdraw from the election. He claims to be a more trustworthy candidate than Sang-jin, whose fickle opinions sway to whatever will win him the election.
Hoo-ja offers to settle his debt once he withdraws from the race, but Jung-gook still doesn’t agree with her terms. Frustrated by Jung-gook’s obstinance, Hoo-ja says that he was never one to be moved by words, so she invites him out on a walk.
From afar, Hoo-ja and Jung-gook watch Mi-young on the streets campaigning for her husband. She meets a supportive fan, and we see that it’s Hee-jin, Jung-gook’s scammer ex-fiancée. For now, she just introduces herself to Mi-young as a big supporter, and in the car, Hoo-ja assures Jung-gook of this. But she threatens that “run-ins” could expose Jung-gook’s real identity.
Hoo-ja reminds Jung-gook that as long as she knows Jung-gook’s conman background, he’ll have to do whatever she tells him to do. So the press conference for the withdrawal isn’t optional, unless he wants Mi-young to know his shameful conman background.
After successfully convincing (read: forcing) Jung-gook to obey her orders, Hoo-ja calls Sang-jin to report on Jung-gook’s agreement to withdraw from the race. She complains that she had to go as far as threatening with Mi-young again, and she’s disgusted by doting Jung-gook.
She’s tempted to just blab everything to Mi-young, but Sang-jin asks that they leave this issue for the couple to resolve. He says that the truth hurts even more when you hear it from someone else and not directly from the person. “If neither side can be happy with the truth, then I think it’s right to leave it buried.”
Sang-jin seems to speak from personal experience and says that Mi-young already has enough painful experiences. He calls his sister “our Mi-young,” and Hoo-ja yearningly says that everyone who called her “our Hoo-ja” is now dead.
Shaking off her sadness, Hoo-ja tells Sang-jin that once Jung-gook withdraws tomorrow, Sang-jin will have a 48% approval rating. She reminds him of her significant contribution and the consequences of that in his political career.
That night, Mi-young tiredly climbs into bed and snuggles next to Jung-gook as he stays awake in a dilemma. He asks Mi-young for her thoughts on him dropping from the race, and she says that she’ll support him either way, since he’s her husband and the person she loves. Jung-gook smiles in relief.
But Mi-young adds it also doesn’t seem right to drop from the race, after meeting so many supporters. There’s a difference between losing a race and giving up on the race, and she thinks that they owe it to their supporters to try their best until the end.
That night, Jung-gook wanders into his campaign office, and so does Joo-myung. They drink soju as they discuss the impending end of their campaign. Jung-gook admits that he initially despised the idea of running for office, but he realized that his work was genuine and made people happy.
Previously as a conman, Jung-gook says that he’d only made people smile through scams. Through the campaign, he had expressed his true thoughts and opinions to people, and that made them smile. Now that they’re returning to their original places, that’s all coming to an end, and Jung-gook apologizes to Joo-myung for a premature end to their campaign.
Joo-myung asks if Jung-gook wants to become an honorable person after going through this campaign process, and Jung-gook responds that he wants to become a useful person. Joo-myung curses Jung-gook for that response because it’s making him falter. When Joo-myung first wanted to become a politician, he, too, said those words: He wanted to become a useful person. He degrades himself for becoming a useless person who’s helping a conman and offers an alternative.
The next day at the press conference, Jung-gook walks in confidently with Joo-myung at his side. Right before he speaks, Jung-gook picks up a call from Mi-young, who asks if he’s going to withdraw from the race. We don’t hear the answer and dive right into the press conference.
Everyone watches the press conference in anticipation for Jung-gook’s withdrawal announcement, and Sang-jin seems sure that Jung-gook will remain true to his word to withdraw. Jung-gook starts off his speech with filler language and seems to be buying time. He glances at Joo-myung for support, and Joo-myung keeps an eye on his phone for any updates.
Jung-gook starts to quote his father, “My father once said that if you share a fire to another candle, that makes two lit candles. And then, if you share that light with another candle, that makes three lit candles, and soon enough, the darkness disappears.” Watching at home, Dad wonders if he ever said those words, and Mi-jin notes that those words sound familiar.
Watching from the campaign office, Seung-yi recognizes those words and begins to sing along to g.o.d’s One Candle as Jung-gook continues to repeat the lyrics as his speech. Haaa, this is my jam! Jung-gook looks at his script, with the one highlighted line for his withdrawal, and then, he looks to Joo-myung, who checks his phone and shakes his head.
Jung-gook begins to read his withdrawal message, but then, Joo-myung receives a notification on his phone. It’s news of drunk driver opponent Kang Soo-il announcing his withdrawal from the race! Sang-jin’s camp begins to celebrate prematurely, until Kang Soo-il reveals that he’s bequeathing his support to Jung-gook. Huh?!
Back to drinks at the campaign office, Joo-myung suggested to Jung-gook that they go rogue. He’s tired of following Hoo-ja’s every order and feeling obligated to his party, so he encourages Jung-gook to run for office. He says that Jung-gook should become a useful person for once and seems determined to make it happen. When a notorious conman and notorious politician join forces, there’s only one thing to do: gamble.
So Joo-myung worked his notorious politician tactics by meeting with Kang Soo-il, and he somehow convinced him to get revenge on Sang-jin for framing the drunk driving incident. A slick persuader, Joo-myung told Kang Soo-il that in the age of social media, his campaign is already down the drain, and losing to a newbie like Sang-jin would end his career for good.
Joo-myung advised Kang Soo-il to be strategic and support the maniac candidate aka Jung-gook, who could easily be beaten in the next election. Kang Soo-il would then have time to fully prepare for the next election, in which he would run against Joo-myung, his arch nemesis and credible rival. Joo-myung targeted his opponent’s pride, and Kang Soo-il took the bait.
As soon as Joo-myung gets the message from Kang Soo-il agreeing to their terms, he looks up in shock and smiles at Jung-gook. Joo-myung signals the news to Jung-gook through a ridiculous and silly sign, and Jung-gook pauses in the middle of his withdrawal statement to make a full U-turn.
Jung-gook grabs the mic and jumps down from the stage to announce that he won’t be withdrawing from the race. With a newfound energy, Jung-gook promises to see how far he can get in this race. Watching on their TVs, the campaign team in the office and Jung-gook’s family erupt into cheers.
Hoo-ja looks utterly shocked by this news, and Gwi-nam runs in with more bad news. She turns the channel to Kang Soo-il’s withdrawal and announcement of support for Jung-gook. Then, Hoo-ja receives a call from Joo-myung, who lays out the current situation: Jung-gook at 34% approval and Sang-jin at 33% approval. Who’s she going to side with now?
At home, Mi-young changes into her campaign jacket, ready to hit the campaign trail once more. We see that in their call, Jung-gook had asserted that he wouldn’t withdraw from the race, since he owes it to his supporters to stay in the race until the end.
At the press conference, Jung-gook speaks with a rejuvenated energy. He promises to stay in the race as long as there is one person who supports him. And that’s his genuine truth.
I love this twist! Joo-myung and Jung-gook going rogue is the unlikely notorious duo that I didn’t know I needed, and I’m so looking forward to how they pull off this race. I enjoyed watching Jung-gook realize the freedom in living his truth and how the fruits of his labor are sweeter when his work genuinely makes people happy. Joo-myung is a sly dog, with his persuasive tactics to get Kang Soo-il on board with his plot twist, but I think we also got a chance to see his more idealistic and innocent roots here. He believes in Jung-gook’s simple drive to become a useful person, and that reminder of his youth was enough motivation for him to shake up the game — screw the manipulators, clear the gameboard, and make his opponents play by his rules.
Jung-gook is slowly turning over a new leaf, and I love that he’s experiencing this alongside his renewed romance with Mi-young. He desperately wants to be his true self with Mi-young, and I think this campaign became that vehicle for him to get closer to the person he wants to be for Mi-young. He’s so close to achieving a genuine identity that he’s proud of, and I think it’s sweet that he’s working so hard to make her happy and proud of him. Of course, that doesn’t erase his entire conman history, and I think it’s hilarious how Hoo-ja just won’t let that go. She never gets tired of threatening to drag him through the mud.
Hoo-ja is my favorite character of this show — she just cracks me up. Her character is essentially the manifestation of a mob boss hyperbole, but she actively employs the powers of being this exaggerated mob boss. So I was a bit surprised at that small moment where she let down her mob boss persona and seemed to yearn for the kind of affection that Mi-young received from Jung-gook and Sang-jin. I was briefly reminded that mob bosses are humans too, that they can also have everyday concerns like the everyday folk. Their everyday concerns just happen to include more threats and crime than your everyday person.