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My Fellow Citizens: Episodes 33-34

Our conman-politician turns over a new leaf, as he goes rogue and attempts to serve the public interests. Jung-gook separation from bossy mob boss Hoo-ja and partnership with ex-opponent Sang-jin have given him the tools to be useful to the people he serves. But Hoo-ja isn’t keen on seeing Jung-gook succeed and letting her plans fail. Even though she’s already doomed, she doesn’t plan on going down alone. She’s dragging all of her enemies onto her sinking boat, including Jung-gook.

   
EPISODE 33 RECAP

Joo-myung resists Assemblyman Kim Nam-hwa’s attempts to shut him up and exposes their political corruption to the press. Assemblyman Kim tries to backpedal, but it’s too late. Joo-myung sits back and smiles in satisfaction of his incriminating confession.

Jung-gook watches the news of Joo-myung’s whistleblowing deed and tries to call him, but Joo-myung doesn’t answer. A fellow assemblyman (the one who informed Jung-gook that the Interest Regulation Act was essentially determined by Assemblyman Kim) enters Jung-gook’s office and provides an update on Assemblyman Kim.

The party has decided to expel him, so the assembly members are now free to make their own decision on the Interest Regulation Act, since there are no impending consequences of their vote. The only obstacle before the official vote is the chugyungahn (a supplementary budget), which Jung-gook dimly interprets as a person named Chu Gyung-ahn.

Jung-gook repeats the name Chu Gyung-ahn and demands that the assemblyman summon this person who stands in the way of them upholding the Interest Regulation Act. The assemblyman looks very confused. HA.

Sang-jin later explains to Jung-gook that the assemblyman was referring to a supplementary budget — not a person — and Jung-gook finally understands what they’re facing. Jung-gook proposes that they work together to draft up an agreement to negotiate both parties’ interests and ultimately pass a supplementary budget. Jung-gook just needs to borrow Sang-jin’s brain.

After thorough research, Sang-jin concludes that the key issues in this negotiation are fine dust, public welfare, and preemptive economic measures. Jung-gook misinterprets the economic measures as ones related to denuclearization, so Sang-jin patiently explains what he means.

Jung-gook wonders why the People’s Party wouldn’t support these important issues, and Sang-jin explains that their opponents will likely argue that this large budget will pose an excessive tax burden on the people. Their opponents also fear that this money will be used to fund the other party’s campaign for the next election.

Jung-gook ponders this contention and simplifies this to something he’s familiar with: One side knows that they’ll be shortchanged, so they ask for more money; the other side knows that their opponents will exaggerate their budget, so they cut the budget even more. This is Jung-gook’s area of expertise, and he knows that these people won’t respond to negotiation — only threats will get through to them.

Sang-jin doubts that Jung-gook can get their opponents to meet him, but Jung-gook is confident in his persuasiveness. “I have a way with words. Because I’m a conman.” Then, Mi-young pops her head out of their room, and Jung-gook quickly fumbles, “Because I love Mi-young so much!” LOL.

Mi-young throws Jung-gook finger hearts and snuggles next to him as he keeps up his cover. Sang-jin watches with amusement.

The next day, Jung-gook messages the two opposing party floor representatives and tricks them into thinking that the other is willing to compromise on the budget. After leading them into a hotel room, Jung-gook enters and proposes that they negotiate an agreement on the budget. When one of the representatives tries to leave, he can’t open the door, and we see that Sang-jin is blocking the door from outside.

Watch the video

Yang Jung-gook, purveyor of love and peace (and trickery)

 

Jung-gook also asks for the representatives’ phones, and Wang-go threatens to use his expert fighting skills, using the repeat line that he’s never been hit in his life. But what really gets the representatives to surrender their phones is his fierce grimace. His serious face with a slight twitch does the trick, lol.

Jung-gook warns the representatives that they can’t leave this hotel room without an agreement. “If you try to leave…” Wang-go shows off a jump kick. “If you can’t come to an agreement within 24 hours…” Wang-go spirit shouts in his next kung-fu move. “If you go back on our agreed terms…” Wang-go shoots finger guns at the representatives. HAHA, this is one brilliant take.

The representatives get the message and sit down to begin their negotiations, but the conversation quickly turns in a petty argument. Jung-gook summons Wang-go, who slices the neck of a beer bottle and shatters it. Wang-go cringes in pain but maintains his cool in front of the threatened representatives.

Jung-gook suggests a compromise by combining budget line items from each party, but the representatives stubbornly refuse to comply. The Minjin Party rep tries to walk out, but Sang-jin is still blocking the door from the outside. He looks stiff and uncomfortable as the cleaning lady walks by, questioning what’s going on. With an awkward smile, Sang-jin pretends that he can’t speak Korean. LOL.

Back at the negotiation, Jung-gook scolds the reps for holding up the official session, with many other important bills pending their approval. Listing off bills about child homelessness, domestic violence, and firefighter compensation, Jung-gook demands that the two reps come to an agreement to prevent harm to innocent lives.

After the speech, the two reps scoff at Jung-gook’s plea. Jung-gook expected the reps to be unmoved by this plea, so he signals Wang-go to unveil his next tactic. Wang-go rocks headphones at a turntable as he DJs a spliced-up recording of their most recent conversation. It’s a hilarious remix on their conversation with a beat and DJ Wang-go flair.

Jung-gook dances to their conversation remix, which makes the reps seem completely dismissive of Jung-gook’s plea for the people. Then, he threatens to release this recording to the press, but the reps aren’t threatened, since they could easily claim that it’s been fabricated. Jung-gook says that the reps will lose their spot as floor reps before they can explain this recording.

Given this situation, Jung-gook urges the reps to concede and ushers them into a picture. Jung-gook and the reps hold a sign commemorating their successful budget negotiation, and the National Assembly finally opens their long-awaited official session.

Just as the session opens, Hoo-ja walks out of jail with her newly granted parole, thanks to sister #3, Mi-hee. She’s greeted by Gwi-nam and Mi-hee, and she immediately asks about the open session.

Jung-gook and the newly elected assembly members get sworn in, and as they read their pledge, Assemblyman Kim receives a call from Hoo-ja. She demands that he leave the hall with his other party members to nullify the session, but Assemblyman Kim responds that he has no power now because he’s been ejected from party.

Watch the video

Politics is like math, is all about the numbers

 

Deeming Assemblyman Kim useless, Hoo-ja resorts to her list of assembly members who accepted her bribes. As she makes her round of calls, Jung-gook steps up to the microphone for his turn to introduce himself and promises to advocate for the citizens.

Returning to his seat, Jung-gook shakes hands with Assemblyman Kim, who informs him that Hoo-ja just got out of jail. Jung-gook doesn’t seem worried and tells Assemblyman Kim to look out for himself. But when Jung-gook gets seated, he notices another assemblyman stand up at Hoo-ja’s command over the phone. She orders him to fulfill her money’s worth and walk out of the session.

At Hoo-ja’s command, a group of assembly members exit the session, and Jung-gook looks worried. His ally assemblyman assures him that they still have plenty of buffer for quorum, but Hoo-ja is already working on cutting more members from session. She’s used up all her connections and has 36 more members to go, and luckily for her, sister #3 Mi-hee offers to help.

 
EPISODE 34 RECAP

The session proceeds with votes for the supplementary budget, which passes easily. As the assembly members vote for the following issues, Mi-hee makes a call to her well-connected husband and asks him to request a favor from his contact in the assembly.

Mi-hee’s request only results in one person exiting the session, and Hoo-ja yells at her sister in frustration. At Hoo-ja’s rude outburst, Mi-hee orders Hoo-ja to formally apologize, or else she won’t help anymore. Hoo-ja swallows her pride and politely apologizes, and Mi-hee surprises Hoo-ja by calling one of the floor party representatives, who happens to be her sunbae.

Hoo-ja looks satisfied by her sister’s connection, and Mi-hee pressures the sunbae to walk out of the session right before the Interest Regulation vote. He initially refuses, but when Mi-hee threatens to use her prosecutor power to investigate him, he immediately concedes.

The floor rep corrals his party members and walks out of the session, effectively disrupting the quorum for the Interest Regulation vote. Jung-gook looks defeated, and Assemblyman Kim approaches him to rub the defeat in his face.

Mi-hee asks what Hoo-ja about her plan during her short time out of jail, and Hoo-ja knows exactly who to target: Sister #1 Jin-hee. Speaking of, Jin-hee meets with one of her board members and brushes off the worry about Hoo-ja beelining to Baekkyung Capital to reclaim her throne. To ensure that she wins the upcoming board vote, Jin-hee offers the board ajusshi a birthday gift — a duffel full of money.

The bribed board ajusshi instructs his fellow board members to vote for Jin-hee, but their gathering is interrupted by Hoo-ja. She reprimands the mob ajusshis for taking all her money but supporting Jin-hee, and all the ajusshis remain silent in her dominant presence. To solidify her threat, she shows the ajusshis the consequences of turning on her — a beaten-up and bloody Henchman Choi.

She reminds the ajusshis that Henchman Choi knows everything about their illicit deals and bribes, and if she turns Henchman Choi over to the police, all the mob ajusshis will suffer. She doesn’t care if this also incriminate her because she’s already screwed. She asserts, “I won’t die alone. The bastards who fooled me, backstabbed me, manipulated me — they’re all dying with me. It’s only fair.”

Shaken by the threat, the board ajusshi asks what Hoo-ja wants. At the board meeting the next day, Jin-hee walks in with confidence. When the facilitator asks for a raise of hands from those who support Jin-hee as the new president of Baekkyung Capital, none of the board members raise their hand.

Furious about the board’s betrayal, Jin-hee yells at them to raise their hands as promised. But the facilitator announces another candidate for president. The doors open, and in walks Gwi-nam with Hoo-ja trailing right behind her. As she walks in, Hoo-ja gives Jin-hee a playful wink.

Back at the ajusshi circle, Hoo-ja acknowledged that she wouldn’t be in a position to run the company, given her upcoming sentence. She proposed Gwi-nam — the smartest, kindest, and most skilled of the sisters. She asked Gwi-nam if she was up for the challenge, and Gwi-nam nodded with a smile.

At the board meeting, Jin-hee erupts in anger when Gwi-nam wins the unanimous vote. She yells that the maknae isn’t qualified, but Gwi-nam calmly responds that she’s plenty qualified because Hoo-ja transferred all her shares to her. Essentially, Gwi-nam is richer than Jin-hee and thus, more powerful.

Jin-hee yells at her wretched sisters, and Hoo-ja takes it upon herself to shut her sister up. Hoo-ja approaches Jin-hee and tells her that she should have just taken and left with Hoo-ja’s offer. Jin-hee slaps Hoo-ja hard across the face, and Hoo-ja looks at her sister pitifully. “What happened to you? You used to be beautiful.” Before Jin-hee can attack again, she’s dragged out of the meeting room.

Hoo-ja meets with Assemblyman Kim and calls him pathetic for failing at his one job of being loyal. He gets offended at Hoo-ja’s banmal, but she claims that she’s speaking to him informally because he deserves it. Yes, girl you tell him.

She asks if they can repeal the Interest Regulation Act if they disarm Jung-gook, and Assemblyman Kim confirms that politicians would immediately dissociate with Jung-gook if a scandal were to discredit him. Hoo-ja decides to go all-in to bring Jung-gook down into infamy, and she hands a folder to Assemblyman Kim with their ammo.

At home, Jung-gook sulks about the unsuccessful vote, and Mi-young tries to cheer him up. He gets an urgent call from Wang-go about Assemblyman Kim’s press conference and heads to the office. Wang-go says that he heard that Assemblyman Kim would expose Jung-gook, but he’s not sure of the details.

Jung-gook nervously turns on TV in his office as Assemblyman Kim begins the press conference. He first discloses that Jung-gook is not a graduate from Seoul University. Wang-go finds this claim ridiculous and shakes his head, but Jung-gook isn’t amused.

Next, Assemblyman Kim describes the real estate fraud from last year and presents evidence that the laundered money all ended up in Jung-gook’s bank account. Assemblyman calls Jung-gook a conman. Wang-go can’t believe these claims and offers to set up a press conference to respond to this mudslinging. But Jung-gook goes speechless and looks numb. His secret is out.

Assemblyman Kim demands that Jung-gook step down from his position for manipulating citizens’ desires, fostering their anxiety, and breaking their trust. He calls for Jung-gook to confess his own wrongdoings. Hoo-ja watches this press conference with satisfaction while Jung-gook falls into a dilemma.

Jung-gook meets up with Sang-jin that evening to seek advice on what to do. He knows that everyone around him will advise him to deny the accusations, and he wants Sang-jin’s honest opinion. Surprisingly, Sang-jin also advises him to do the same because an unhappy truth is better left buried.

Jung-gook says that he’s not worried about unhappy truths; rather, he hates being embarrassed about himself. He feels like a hypocrite, after punishing politicians for telling lies. He’s resolute that worthy politicians can’t be liars.

But Sang-jin urges him to prioritize Mi-young over politics. He says that everything that Jung-gook and Mi-young have built up to now will be ruined if he stays true to his conscience. He knows that Jung-gook and Mi-young will have to suffer through too much pain. Jung-gook looks crushed to hear his nightmare being articulated, and he takes another drink.

When Jung-gook returns home, he finds Mi-young watching the news of the press conference. She doesn’t make a big deal of it and sets up dinner. Jung-gook worries that she was rattled by the news, but Mi-young seems confident that this was all a political scheme. Mi-young tells Jung-gook to stay strong so that he can protect the Interest Regulation Act.

Watch the video

Belief can be a burden

 

Jung-gook watches Mi-young sleep and continues to brood throughout the night. Then, he makes a decision and calls for a press conference.

The next morning, Mi-young pins the National Assembly emblem on Jung-gook’s suit jacket and sees him off. Before Jung-gook leaves, he hesitates to tell Mi-young something.

Jung-gook’s team has told the press that he’ll be denying the accusations, so Assemblyman Kim prepares to release evidence to the press if Jung-gook doesn’t own up to his wrongdoings. Wang-go hands Jung-gook the prepared statement for the press conference, and Jung-gook nods in approval.

Hoo-ja walks into the office and tells Gwi-nam to turn on the TV. She instinctively sits at the president’s desk, and the sisters belatedly realize that their roles are now switched. They awkwardly try to switch spots and dance uncomfortably around the desk.

Before Jung-gook walks into his press conference, Wang-go gives him an encouraging pep talk to crush Assemblyman Kim. Jung-gook asks Wang-go if he trusts him, and Wang-go confirms this. Grateful for Wang-go’s trust, Jung-gook gives his trusty aide a hug before heading into the press conference.

Jung-gook steps up the mic and pauses for a moment. Hoo-ja notices his hesitance and comments that he must have many thoughts running through his mind. At home, Mi-young sits on her bed with tears brimming her eyes. She cries, and Jung-gook faces the camera. He confesses, “I am a conman.”

   
COMMENTS

Finally, she knows! I was briefly confused by last week’s episode because I incorrectly assumed it was finale week. I would have been very disappointed if the series ended with Mi-young never found out about Jung-gook’s identity. I’m more at ease now that we’re seeing the story complete its arc, and I’m interested to see how the story leads us to the resolution of this life-shattering discovery.

I’m so happy that Sang-jin made a comeback because his post-election character is a hoot. He’s the worst liar, which also makes him the most entertaining liar. His awkward laughs and slightly too loud responses to suspicion make it so obvious that he’s doing something wrong, and it’s the best contrast to Jung-gook’s smooth-talking ways. I love that Sang-jin became Jung-gook’s confidant and trusted advisor, and I admire the teamwork of these two. I think they provide a nice balance to each other, and I appreciate how much Jung-gook internalized from his interactions with and admiration of Sang-jin. He’s left his past behind, and he’s ready to embrace a life of authenticity.

The highlight of this episode was definitely DJ Wang-go with his U.S. flag bowtie and turntable. I was cackling throughout that whole martial arts sequence, and the DJ scene just killed me. It was incredible, and it reminded me of how fun and absurd this show actually was. It didn’t have the most solid plot, but I don’t think the story was ever the charm of this show. It was the hijinks and levity in the portrayal of politics; it was the show’s willingness to embrace our cast’s comedic strengths; and it was the unexpected heartwarming moments that reminded me that criminals are just human. Hopefully, that last takeaway is something that Mi-young also learns to reconcile for the sake of her hubby.

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This episode had me weak, I was crying with laughter. Wang Go was most most excellent. I am disappointed the writers waited until the end of this episode for Mi Young to know. She is already an underdeveloped character, well ill wait to state my final thoughts in the next episode recap.

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This show is awesome and I feel uncharitable nitpicking anything. It's the most cohesive, well-planned, fun, well-characterised and just... satisfying... show I've watched in a long time. But there was a point where the show's conflict necessitated Mi-young being reduced to little more than the male lead's love interest. It is disappointed, especially in a show with such a great selection of awesome, varied female characters. The necessity for "My Mi-young" to be kept safe from the truth is the one sour note in what is otherwise an exceptionally enjoyable show.

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Wish they had taken this down the road of MY becoming aware of JG’s skeletons earlier despite the efforts to “protect” her. Her efforts to deal with that would have made for a much more satisfying arc... I found it hard to believe everyone thought MY was someone who needed protection from truth.

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In Jung-gook's defence, he was never worried that "poor Mi-young" wouldn't be able to cope with the truth. He was worried that bad Mi-young would kick his ass and leave him. Also, I think he was upset that he might be the reason she has to compromise her ethics and he didn't want to put her in that position. It's everyone else who is all about "poor little Mi-young" - I mean, have they met her?

Unfortunately the showrunners had written themselves into a bit of a corner here. They needed Mi-young's ignorance to motivate several characters over the course of the election plotline. Once she knew, the leverage Hoo-ja had would disappear. Jung-gook telling Mi-young was Jung-gook telling the world and that couldn't happen before now for structural reasons. But it means that Mi-young became nothing more than a source of conflict rather than a character in her own right. It's one of the show's few flaws.

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This episode is for laughs for sure. I'm always entertained by Wang-go and this time by Sang-jin also.

I'm disappointed that Sister #1 just passes by like that. We anticipated her arrival for so long, I thought she would have more teeth and brain and be a more worthy rival for Hoo-ja.

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I feel like this is one of those moments when I'm just going to start blathering on in my pseudo-intellectual philophiscal way and hope that I a) don't hit the comment limits and b) make some semblance of sense.

Because I absolutely loved this episode. And I love the entire journey the writers took us on to get to this episode. And, yes, there's still an episode to go that I haven't seen, so as usual I'm being premature. But I want to talk about this in a vacuum for a moment.

This show has done a fantastic job of teasing out interesting philosophical discussions around justice and around ethics - and not just personal but also societal. It's built up this picture of personal and common ethics brick by brick across 17 episodes and I found some of the culminations of that theme in this episode to be really compelling and really satisfying. Because the show has come down really clearly on the side of justice and it's done it in a way that isn't preachy or otherwise eye-rolling.

Your good deeds don’t outweigh your bad ones. Your good intentions don’t outweigh your past actions. And your desire to do better is only real if it includes a desire to face justice for your past sins.

I found the contrast of Jung-gook choosing to confess right at the moment that Hoo-ja threw her support behind her sister to be such a great contrast. Both of these complicated, morally-grey, compromised people chose to sacrifice themselves in order to hand the world to people who are better. Him by being honest about who he is and was, and her by handing power to her younger sister.

Hoo-ja could have come out of jail looking for revenge or to burn the world down. But instead she came out of jail looking for a way to preserve her vision of the company - and, let's face it, despite her methods she wants a company that's legitimate and operating legally. She wants a company that's on the right side of the law. And that's what she fought for - wresting the company from Unni #1 and handing it to somebody better, opening up the possibility of the Interest Rate regulation act being repealed in the future. Yes that legislation is necessary and it's wrong to repeal it. But for somebody trying to "sell" legality to criminals, the profit potential of unrestrained interest seems like a logical first step.

I really love the underlying message here about power – who has it, who should have it, and how we should approach our desire for it. Jung-gook can't be the assemblyman who wants to be if he keeps lying about who he is. Hoo-ja can't build the company she wants if she fights for her own survival at the expense of everything else.

Both put the greater good over their own interests in different ways and honestly it kind of blew me away.

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And I can't forget that great scene where Criminal Unni #4 is sitting next to Legal Unni #3 in the car and is on the phone pressuring politicians to leave the assembly. And then Legal Unni #3 gets on the phone and does the exact same thing. The subtle point being that often criminal activity and legitimate business is done in precisely the same way. This is the kind of subtlety this show does so well - especially when it's pretending not to be subtle at all.

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My issues with this episode are all this people telling Jung Gook to lie to Mi Young, even those close to her, ugh, and for few last episodes now dumbing down JG character, they made it look like assemblymen are some sly brainiacs, and JG as someone who can't handle multi-syllable words. Otherwise I like it, I think the writer decision to left out Mi Young finding out was deliberate after fall out would be hard to present into light-hearted manner.

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We still haven't seen sister #2, have we?
Maybe in a sequel?

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We saw sister #2 in an early episode. But it was only one scene.

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Yep! She appeared for a short while. And...if I'm not mistaken Unni #2 was also in Fiery Priest like Unni #1.

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If I recall correctly, sister #2 appeared briefly, early on, to inform Hoo-ja that #1 would be released from prison soon.

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A total laugh outloud moment during the scene with Wang-go playing DJ and Jung-gook doing his little dance in the hotel room with the assemblymen. It was just too funny.

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