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24

Nobody Knows: Episode 9

As our protagonists creep ever closer to discovering what happened to Eun-ho, the secrets they uncover grow more sinister. Sang-ho’s cockiness might be his detriment as he’s landed himself squarely on Young-jin’s radar and it’s only a matter of time before he realizes she’s not someone he should underestimate.

  
EPISODE 9

Min-sung enters Dae-hoon’s apartment to find Young-jin waiting for him. Undaunted by the teenager’s surly attitude, Young-jin says she wanted to talk to him and sympathizes it must be hard thinking a friend died because of him. Min-sung bristles and barks, “Why is it because of me? It’s not like I told him to die.” Young-jin is relieved he thinks so and confirms that she’s Eun-ho’s friend, the same as Min-sung was with Dae-hoon.

Not meeting her eyes, Min-sung mumbles that Dae-hoon had only promised to scare Eun-ho a bit, relaxing when Young-jin says she believes him. She doubts, however, that Eun-ho extorted money and Min-sung gripes that’s because she’s on Eun-ho’s side. Young-jin clarifies she has learned that Eun-ho is capable of lies and bad things… but he’s never done so selfishly. Seeing Min-sung pick at his scabs, she asks if it hurts and he retorts that of course it does.

“But does it lessen your sadness?” Young-jin asks and Min-sung nods. She assures him that as his condition improves, he’ll self-harm less. “How can I get better?” Min-sung throws back, arguing Eun-ho and Dae-hoon’s conditions are his fault. Joining him on the floor, Young-jin confesses she ignored her friend’s phone calls on the day she was murdered and blamed herself for a long time. Eventually, Young-jin realized regardless of answering the phone, the fault lies with the murderer.

Young-jin firmly states Min-sung’s only fault is neglecting the violence Dae-hoon was going to inflict on Eun-ho, not Dae-hoon’s death or Eun-ho’s fall. She takes Min-sung’s hand and he dissolves into sobs. Meanwhile, Ki-ho is listening to the tape recorder he’d found under Eun-ho’s bed when he hears a noise. Sang-ho opens the door to Ki-ho’s shack, calling out tauntingly… but his flashlight reveals an empty room.

Ki-ho is instead discovered by a security guard who shoos him out of the shipping container he’s squatting in. Nosy Ajusshi frantically explains to a furious Sang-ho he was waiting until Ki-ho retrieved his item from Eun-ho before tattling. After delivering a thinly veiled threat, Sang-ho is puzzled when Nosy Ajusshi cackles loudly. The man gathers Sang-ho is after whatever Eun-ho has – but only Ki-ho knows what it is – and offers to find out.

After guzzling down the cup of water Young-jin brings him, Min-sung agrees to look at some photos but doesn’t recognize Ki-ho, Kevin Jung, or Young-sik. He asks if Dae-hoon did something bad and admits he knew Dae-hoon wasn’t a good person, but he was the only person Min-sung didn’t have to fake being okay with. Young-jin guesses they knew each other’s conditions and sighs that she’d thought she’d known everything about Eun-ho too.

Dong-myeong says good-bye to Eun-ho, promising to return soon. Tae-hyung sees him out, urging him to come often and not ignore his calls. In the hall, Dong-myeong hesitates to answer a call from Sun-woo, still stinging from his accusation upon finding Min-sung bleeding. Ignoring the call, Dong-myeong rounds a corner to see Sun-woo waiting for him, explaining he’d heard from Eun-ho’s mother.

When asked about his bleeding lip, Sun-woo laughs that he tripped and asks why Dong-myeong didn’t answer his phone. Dong-myeong’s curt reply that he didn’t want to throws Sun-woo into a flashback with Tae-hyung. Sitting across from a desk, Tae-hyung had spat Sun-woo was a hypocrite. He’d angrily pointed out that he’d told Sun-woo to stay out of it and when he’d persisted and the other boy had lied, he’d immediately asked Tae-hyung “Why did you do it” instead of what happened.

In the present, Sun-woo apologizes to Dong-myeong. Tae-hyung checks for the recorder under Eun-ho’s bed and panics to find it missing. Assuming Dong-myeong took it, he runs out but hides when he sees Sun-woo. Calling Dong-myeong, Tae-hyung tells him to go straight home but when they hang up, Sun-wo offers Dong-myeong a ride to his brother’s hospital. Dong-myeong refuses, but Sun-woo says Min-sung confessed to hurting himself and offers to explain on the way.

Tae-hyung thinks of reporting the missing recorder but hesitates. Dong-myeong asks if Min-sung explained why he wanted to hurt Eun-ho, growling Dae-hoon is responsible. Sun-woo reveals Dae-hoon is dead and though Dong-myeong now understands Min-sung’s violent reaction, he stands by his assessment Dae-hoon was a bad person… as well as Min-sung. Sun-woo doesn’t argue but points out Min-sung is going through a hard time, nonetheless.

Driving back to the hospital, Min-sung tells Young-jin he met Eun-ho in second grade, triggering a memory. While eating out, Eun-ho had lamented people who couldn’t eat shrimp and told Young-jin about a classmate in second grade who’d asked why he was fatherless. Knowing the boy had a shrimp allergy, Eun-ho had fibbed Dad ate too many shrimps. The boy had cried so Eun-ho said Dad was too full from eating shrimp.

They’d become friends, but then the boy’s mother ordered him to stay away from poor kids. Young-jin asks if he still ignores Eun-ho and praises Eun-ho for ignoring the boy now. In the present, Min-sung is surprised Young-jin knows about his shrimp allergy and she says Eun-ho mentioned him before. Min-sung finally confesses he’d texted Eun-ho the answers to the midterm because he’d wanted to be friends again.

Min-sung’s grades went up, but Eun-ho couldn’t fill out his test knowing the answers. He confirms Eun-ho wanted him to confess and Young-jin realizes this is what Eun-ho meant by giving Min-sung a hard time. Min-sung asks if his mother will go to jail and Young-jin reiterates that his only fault is his own wrongdoing. She asks if Dae-hoon ever went for Eun-ho’s bag – presumably to destroy evidence of the leaked midterm – but Min-sung knows nothing of it.

Instead, he recalls seeing a man in the school halls during Sang-ho’s speech and afterwards Eun-ho asked if Min-sung had been in his locker. When asked, Min-sung confirms he could identify the man if they found him. She hands Min-sung her card to call her anytime, for anything. Sun-woo drops Dong-myeong off and calls Min-sung to check in. When they hang up Young-jin asks what it was about and Min-sung confusedly repeats Sun-woo just wanted to hear his voice… but smiles. Aww.

Before dropping Min-sung off, Young-jin announces she’ll worry about him from now on – whether he’s sleeping, eating, or feeling better. Min-sung argues Eun-ho won’t like it and although Young-jin disagrees, she insists on caring for him regardless. Grumbling she can do whatever – but secretly pleased – Min-sung heads inside while in the woods, Nosy Ajusshi quotes Ki-ho’s promise to reward him and insists he’s the only one Ki-ho can rely on right now.

Sang-ho seems unconvinced but Nosy Ajusshi’s phone rings and he answers it to hear Ki-ho on the other line. He hands it back to Nosy Ajusshi who plays along and announces he’ll fetch Ki-ho. Hanging up, Sang-ho agrees to work together and Nosy Ajusshi coyly says Sang-ho would think his help suspicious with nothing in return. He suggests Sang-ho buy the land Ki-ho’s shack is on for 20 times the market value and after a pause, Sang-ho agrees.

Returning to the office, Young-jin mulls over what Min-sung said about someone searching Eun-ho’s locker and realizes that Eun-ho received something from Ki-ho at the hospital. Visiting Eun-ho, Sang-ho asks Tae-hyung’s opinion on Dong-myeong. Tae-hyung says he’s cute and Sang-ho laughs that a three-year gap is a big deal for teenagers, ominously adding he’s changed a lot in that time as well.

Tae-hyung blanches when Sang-ho asks for the recorder and shakily feigns surprise when it’s not there. Sang-ho shoves him aside to check, furious to confirm it’s gone. He rounds on Tae-hyung, demanding if Dong-myeong was in there alone but Tae-hyung fibs that he wasn’t. Before Sang-ho can press further, Nosy Ajusshi calls to report Ki-ho is home and that he’d visited Eun-ho today. Mystery solved, Sang-ho pulls a 180 and laughs, insisting Tae-hyung not worry about the recorder.

When asked about the job, Tae-hyung says he’s grown fond of Eun-ho and smiles when Sang-ho praises him. He asks if Eun-ho and Dong-myeong are in the same class, waving it off when Sang-ho doesn’t know. Young-jin finds Doo-seok guarding the room. He confirms that he’s always with Sang-ho, including the day he gave his speech at the school. She notes he doesn’t ask why she’s curious and Doo-seok breezily replies she won’t tell him, anyway.

Sang-ho is surprised to see Young-jin and sends Doo-seok ahead to talk with her. She addresses his query as to which of the drug dealers she’d rather find, asking which he’d identified as salvation vs justice. Sang-ho guffaws that choosing itself was salvation, explaining that justice punishes both, while salvation would give them a chance. He plays it off as useless prattle and Young-jin asks about his connection to New Life Church.

When asked about Ki-ho and Hee-jung, Sang-ho replies they devoted their lives to the church. He questions her curiosity and Young-jin replies, “It’s our job to ask and listen, even without any reason.” Sang-ho pointedly suggests Sun-woo would know better since he’s heir to Shinsung Foundation, relishing in Young-jin’s strained reaction.

PART 2

Sun-woo limps home and nearly jumps out of his skin when he finds his sister sitting in his room… in the dark. She freaks out when she sees Sun-woo’s face and he fibs that he was assaulted by a drunkard. She balks that studying taekwondo and kendo was pointless if he won’t defend himself. Sun-woo cheekily says someone could get hurt and Sun-kyung snaps that he doesn’t have to hit them, just avoid getting hit himself. Hee.

He playfully kicks her out, but Sun-kyung sighs deeply and Sun-woo assumes she fought with Hee-seob. Sun-kyung denies it, but admits Hee-seob’s been on edge, wonderings if something is up at school. Sun-woo vaguely replies something is always going on at school but thinks Hee-seob shouldn’t bring it home. Sun-kyung sighs blood is thicker than water and Sun-woo asks who she’d save if he and Hee-seob fell in the water.

Sun-kyung accuses him of being childish but apologizes that she’d save her husband. Unbothered, Sun-woo teases her for abandoning her brother dismissing her argument Hee-seob is Ji-won’s father by pointing out he’s her uncle. Sun-kyung says it’s not about siblings, but relationships and tries to turn it on him, asking to pick between Hee-seob and his students. It’s Sun-woo’s turn to apologize (for choosing his students).

Tae-hyung reads the final passage of Young-jin’s book to Eun-ho: ”A person can’t live without love. But I can’t promise you anything. I have to wait and see. I loved Madam Rosa. And I’ll continue to miss her.” He excuses himself when Young-jin enters the room and she tells Eun-ho she found his backpack. Referring to the book, Young-jin says she’d always loved the last verse and that even though Soo-jung had struggled with the book, she’d also come to like it for that verse.

For Young-jin, though, the last verse has changed. She quotes Eun-ho’s inscription: “I can’t tell you anything. But please help me.” Wracked with emotion, she asks if he was referring to Dong-myeong, Min-sung, or if there’s still more she doesn’t know. Meanwhile, Ki-ho listens to the recording and hears Sang-ho’s creepy speech to Eun-ho about how he’d chosen the side of not getting hurt in this cruel world. Sang-ho had wondered whether Eun-ho would get that choice and urged him to wake up… and Ki-ho pulls the earbuds out, distressed.

Hee-dong finds Sang-ho sleeping on the couch and nudges him awake. Sang-ho leaps up and hugs Hee-dong, thanking him for interrupting a nightmare of his childhood. When the officer in charge of guarding Young-sik’s room takes a bathroom break, Sun-ah slips inside. Young-sik is terrified as she gleefully offers to kill him to end his suffering. Afterwards, she stalks outside and unties her hair. Tossing her shoes in the trash, she walks barefoot across the parking lot to meet Doo-seok.

The detectives hold a meeting and Jae-hong reports Young-sik’s story to the rest of the team. Superintendent Han agrees it sounds off and Byung-hee is sure Young-sik is lying. Young-jin thinks Young-sik’s claim of seeing the devil wasn’t a hallucination, rather an allusion to the mastermind behind everything. She tasks Jae-hong and Ja-young to find out why Young-sik was willing to lie about helping kill Dae-hoon.

Jin-su doesn’t have the warrant yet to investigate Hee-jung’s funds and Superintendent Han says he’ll request more manpower to help once they do. Byung-hee politely (read out-of-character) interjects he’d discovered Shinsung Foundation had purchased land to build a university and Hee-jung had invested 15 million into the construction. Finally, Young-jin reveals Min-sung’s story that someone went through Eun-ho’s locker.

Sang-ho’s cohorts gather and Hee-dong chides Doo-seok for sleeping, but Sun-ah tells him Doo-seok has been running himself ragged. Doo-seok sits up and grumbles that he has to work twice as hard because Hee-dong’s appearance draws too much attention. Hee-dong cheekily offers Doo-seok his organs, but scampers when Doo-seok shows particular interest in his kidney. Sun-ah asks if he’s really okay and Doo-seok blankly replies Sang-ho got him the best (kidney).

Referencing the hospital footage, Young-jin points out Ki-ho gave Eun-ho something. Afterwards his backpack went missing, suggesting that someone is after whatever Ki-ho gave him. Meanwhile, the entire school gives Dong-myeong a wide berth and Sun-woo learns that rumors of Dong-myeong and Min-sung have already spread to the parents, who are calling for Dong-myeong’s expulsion. Sun-woo suggests they tell the truth, but the teachers point out that doing so would reveal Min-sung self-harms.

He argues that Dong-myeong is being blamed while Min-sung is being shielded and is appalled at the other teachers’ dismissive attitudes. Furthermore, they’ve already informed Dong-myeong and he’s left school. Sun-woo bursts into Hee-seob’s office, fuming that they should close the school if this is how they intend to operate it, his father’s will be damned. Hee-seob tries to calm him, finally pointing across the room where Sun-woo finally notices Young-jin sitting.

Sun-woo is confused to hear she’s come asking about Ki-ho and Hee-jung since Byung-hee and Jin-su were already there. He asks to stay and Young-jin permits it, pointedly adding because he’s family. Sun-woo blanches and turns to Hee-seob, but Young-jin declares Sang-ho let the cat out of the bag. Breezing past, she asks where Hee-jung got 15 million won (roughly 12 thousand dollars) and Hee-seob answers Sang-ho, wondering how this is relevant to her murder.

Sun-woo is shocked that she’s in charge of Seo Sang-won’s case, offended she didn’t mention it after all their sleuthing together. Adding insult to injury, Hee-seob reveals she was present when Seo Sang-won died. Continuing on, Young-jin asks about Ki-ho, coldly dismissing Sun-woo as he didn’t remember Ki-ho’s name. She requests security footage the day of Eun-ho’s award ceremony and Sun-woo eagerly offers to help.

Hee-seob apologizes for not being more useful, adding Sang-ho knows Ki-ho best. Unenthused by the runaround, Young-jin muses finding anyone that knows Ki-ho is proving difficult, let alone finding the man himself. She excuses herself and uttering a quick apology to Hee-seob, Sung-woo runs after her.

Ja-young and Jae-hong struggle with Young-sik, who refuses to talk. Jae-hong find it’s weird how Young-sik was so forthcoming and resigned last night, but now seems determined. We now see that Sun-ah had threatened to harm Young-sik’s family if he confessed the truth to the detectives. Alternatively, if he keeps his mouth shut, good fortune will find his family and he’ll be released.

Sun-woo brings the security footage to Young-jin and she turns to leave. He reminds her he’s the victim of assault and Young-jin apologizes stiffly, promising to call when they have more information. Noting this is the first time she’s come to school without calling him, Sun-woo surmises she assumes he hid his identity on purpose. Young-jin denies it but thinks they should behave more carefully.

She pauses to ask if he found Min-sung’s weakness only Eun-ho knew and Sun-woo responds by asking if she discovered Min-sung’s secret. She’s amused he’s answering with a question and Sun-woo sadly replies, “I think… I’ve missed the chance.” He excuses himself and Young-jin watches him thoughtfully.

Dong-myeong panics when he arrives at the hospital and Han-sol is missing. He frantically searches the building until his phone rings. Dong-myeong starts to explain the situation to Superintendent Hwang, but Han-sol cheerily asks when he’s joining them. Han-sol hands the phone to Hwang as he’s told and Dong-myeong soon flings open the door to find Han-sol sitting in Min-sung’s bed. He barks at Han-sol to come and Hwang chides him for yelling at a sick kid.

Dong-myeong argues he’s hurt too, glaring accusingly at Min-sung and spitting that he’s being forced to transfer. It’s news to Min-sung but Dong-myeong demands why he, and not Min-sung, is being punished. He asks why Hwang brought Han-sol here, but Han-sol says he met Min-sung at the convenience store and asked to come after Min-sung bought him ice cream. Dong-myeong growls at him to do as he pleases, and Han-sol starts crying.

Min-sung stops Dong-myeong from leaving and asks what Dong-myeong meant. Dong-myeong spits Min-sung should know and Min-sung confesses he’d cheated on the midterms with answers his mother provided. He adds that he’s turning himself in and this was the secret Eun-ho knew. He asks Dong-myeong to stay and glancing at his sniffling brother, Dong-myeong sits down while Hwang smiles knowingly.

Sun-woo returns to the teachers’ office and demands Dong-myeong be transferred to his class. They argue they’re discussing Dong-myeong transferring schools not classrooms and Sun-woo yells that Dong-myeong did nothing wrong. The awkward silence is broken when another teacher announces a photo has been posted. Dong-myeong and Min-sung smile cheerfully above Min-sung’s caption that Dong-myeong saved him from hurting himself. Aww!

Leaving to answer a call from Superintendent Hwang, Sun-woo grins and asks if it was his doing. Glancing fondly at the boys playing with Han-sol, Hwang reveals it was Min-sung’s idea and he merely helped convince Dong-myeong. Sun-woo laughs that kids are better than adults. He asks him to tell Dong-myeong he’s in his class now (and can’t cut class anymore) so Hwang holds the phone for the boys to hear.

Having found Doo-seok in the school’s CCTV footage, Young-jin sets up a meeting and then stops by Min-sung’s room to see if he can ID Doo-seok as the man he saw. Min-sung agrees he looks similar but is unable to definitively say Doo-seok is the guy. When she turns to leave, Min-sung excitedly shares Dong-myeong is in his and Eun-ho’s class now, thanks to Sun-woo. Thinking of Young-jin’s request for the footage and list of visitors the day of Eun-ho’s award ceremony, Sun-woo checks the academic calendar and sees they’d also had a seminar.

Flashing back, he recalls Eun-ho looked distracted during the video detailing usage of a rappelling apparatus for escaping buildings during a fire. His eyes widen as he remembers seeing the box for that same device on the Millennium Hotel roof. Young-jin shows the footage to Doo-seok and he explains he needed to use the restroom. She asks why he didn’t use a closer facility and Sang-ho appears, answering that Doo-seok must be mindful of his urine following a kidney transplant.

Accepting the answer, Young-jin apologizes for the intrusion and Sang-ho laughs that’s her job. She eyes them thoughtfully and leaves while Sun-woo finds the rappelling apparatus on the roof and hooks it up, unfurling the rope to see how far it goes. Young-jin notices it on her way out and finds Sun-woo on the roof. He shakily tells her Eun-ho wasn’t pushed – he wanted to live, so he jumped.

  
COMMENTS

Wow! What a great callback to Sun-woo’s insistence that Eun-ho surviving a fall of the Millennium Hotel roof was scientifically impossible. I had questioned it, myself, and I’m so glad we’re not relying on the classic “because the drama gods say so” logic to fill in gaping plot holes. Eun-ho had certainly looked sweaty and scared when we last saw him conscious and something I think Nobody Knows does well is implementing the unreliable narrator. When Eun-ho fell, we’d seen him drop from the roof and I’d always been suspicious because we didn’t see the moment he went over. I had assumed it was either because someone else was there, or the drama just wanted to maintain ambiguity that there could have been. This revelation shows that there certainly was someone there, but also Eun-ho hadn’t attempted suicide or been forced over… he’d jumped, using the safest method available to him.

While I’d initially entertained the thought Sang-ho could simply be another red herring – because obviously it was his hotel, but he was in his room and had immediately leapt into action to save Eun-ho – that entire chain of events takes on a darker tone now. Knowing that Sang-ho was aware Ki-ho passed something to Eun-ho, it makes sense he’d confront Eun-ho directly. Unlike the kids Sang-ho typically targets and manipulates, however, Eun-ho has grown up under Young-jin’s care, so there’s little doubt he’d notice Sang-ho is… off. As we’ve seen, Sang-ho leaves the dirty work to his minions, so it was Doo-seok chasing Eun-ho down while Sang-ho relaxed in his room. When the announcement went up, it would look suspicious if he didn’t act as he did. Oooh chilling.

On a much lighter note, Young-jin continues to grow her flock of ducklings! I’m still mad Min-sung instigated the brutal attack on Eun-ho, but he’s not only deeply remorseful, but incredibly sympathetic. I love this theme of Young-jin finding those that have lost their way and bringing them together. Her bonding with Min-sung was adorable, but I was crying when Min-sung and Dong-myeong worked through their problems and became the cutest little buddies. I demand seeing them form an inseparable trio when Eun-ho wakes up! And Sun-woo pulling out of his own nosedive and rallying on Dong-myeong’s behalf was the best recompence for accusing him last episode. And I’m glad he noticed the direct parallel to Tae-hyung and how he’d made the same mistake… and apologized for it. I was worried when Sang-ho weaseled his way into Dong-myeong’s head and his bonding with Tae-hyung spells nothing but trouble. But what Sang-ho doesn’t know is Dong-myeong does have people in his corner. Superintendent Hwang, Young-jin, Sun-woo, and now Min-sung… he’s not alone.

I love Hwang’s gentle guidance and trust that the kids will do the right thing. Because as Sun-woo pointed out: they’re capable of better things than adults who get bogged down with bureaucracy. I hadn’t expected the show to focus so heavily on the kids, but I’m equally surprised and thrilled. Many a drama has tried and failed miserably to juggle multiple interweaving plotlines, but Nobody Knows has done exceedingly well. They’re fleshed out characters that serve their own purpose, separate of their impact on the leads. This story has proven to be far more than just a murder mystery and I am here for it one thousand percent!

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Thank you so much for your recap, @sunny. I really appreciate your detailed play-by-play. I'm reassured that I've been understanding all the revelations and twists in this intricately-woven plot.

I had been waiting to see just what happened on the roof of the Millennium Hotel the night of Eun-ho's fall, and never for a moment suspected the truth. In retrospect, it makes perfect sense, and accounts for the boy's "miraculous" survival of a 10-story drop. I recall seeing the escape equipment, but didn't know what it was.

Like you, I'm tickled to bits to see that the current crop of kids is mending fences while the two cops and teacher go to bat for them. Which leads me to wonder about Sang-ho's nightmare, and his little band of ruthless -- and ultra-loyal -- minions. What the heck happened to them as kids? I shudder to think, but see how it could tie in with the stigmata murders (remember those?). I'm reminded of Ryu Deok-hwan's excellent GOD'S QUIZ: REBOOT, which was simply terrific, with Kim Jae-won in a role analogous to Park Hoon's.

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I shudder to think, but see how it could tie in with the stigmata murders (remember those?)

I'm still not convinced that Seo Sang-wo was the real culprit behind the stigmata murders.

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Oh I think Seo Sang-wo is one of the culprits, I just think he had his own disciple he was grooming. He was simply too old to be the kid on the phone that she spoke to, but he was also completely convinced of his own righteousness. And he knew too much. It's the 19 year break that makes no sense.

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@yuyuu,
I have a feeling that there is at least one more perpetrator. I used to think that it was Sang-ho, but now I'm not so sure. I don't think it's Hee-dong or Du-seok, either. There's something very creepy about Sun-a that scares me even more than the guys. That was a male voice on the phone with Young-jin after her friend Choi Soo-jung was killed, so it couldn't have been Sun-a in drag (unless she were working in cahoots with someone else?). I think she has a thing for Sang-ho, and can easily imagine her attacking a perceived rival in a fit of jealousy when she was younger and perhaps less self-controlled -- and blaming it on an at-large serial killer. She is much more mindful and cunning than Du-seok and Hee-dong, who have both screwed up repeatedly. It's just that, until lately, we haven't seen what she's capable of. Perhaps teen Sang-ho let slip that he was interested in a girl at another school... Rather than confront him, who may have been some kind of savior, she could have taken it out on "the other woman" -- and made it seem that Young-jin was the intended target when in fact she was not. -- Just thinking out loud here.

Meanwhile, I cannot figure out who's left as a potential serial killer. Yikes. Could it have been Yoon Hee-seob, hiding in plain sight all this time? I get the feeling that he was forced into some kind of arranged dynastic marriage with Sun-woo's sister by the late founding pastor of New Life Church, Kwon Jae-chun.

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I have been thinking it could be Yoon Hee-seob too! That would be a great twist to the tale, the perfect calm and calculating criminal that we'd al want. It's just that he hasn't had enough airtime to make him out to the bad guy. Otherwise, the show should have been putting him on then screen much more.

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@pickleddragon,
As I recall, there was something menacing about Hee-seob when he was young that caught my eye.

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Loved that Sun-woo shed the light about Eun-ho's fall, not only because he was privy to the necessary information but also because he was persistent.
The stigmata case is still such a knot, and I agree that the main culprit is still a question mark. I even put Sun-kyung (Sun-woo's sister) under suspicion, just because. Theories: what if Sun-kyung is the culprit, and the church cronies (Sang-ho, Im Hee-jung, Seo Sang-wo, etc.) knew this and instead of reporting, blackmailed the father and do copycat murders to muddle the trail? Because somewhere in the middle of this, the money trail matters.
But doesn't explain the 19 years break, unless the culprit got amnesia or something...
Quite far-fetched, and I really don't want it to be anyone from Sun-woo's family, hehe, but drama got me excited enough to do theories!

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Somebody - sorry I don't remember who and don't remember if it was here - floated the theory that it was in fact Sun-woo who was being groomed by Sang-wo. While I initially didn't like this theory, his deep need for Young-jin's approval gave me pause. Also he's one of the few who's the right age. The person Young-jin spoke to was definitely a man/boy so I don't see it being a woman (also women don't usually commit these kinds of crimes).

So I wasn't a fan of the Sun-woo theory because I quite like the buddy-cop partnership of him and Young-jin and he's also a bit of a duck herder too, but it is nonetheless niggling at me now.

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The thing niggling me is I feel like Soo-jung's murderer was unlike a serial murderer, because he is very confident that this was the "last stigmata murder". Feels like, instead of a serial killer suddenly decided to go cold turkey on his MO, this was somebody wrapping up a mess.
I actually did mention about the possibility of Sun-woo as the culprit some episode back (not about the grooming tho) but considered him as too young/younger by a bit than Young-jin. But it's true that he is kinda needy about Young-jin's approval, huhu, let's just put it as, uhm, because he has feelings for her..? ><

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@leetennant,
Considering the whole nepotistic scene at New Life Church, I don't think it's too far-fetched to consider the possibility that Seo Sang-won could have groomed Lee Sun-woo to be his murderous protege. (Could that be a factor in his brother-in-law's running the Shinsung Middle School Foundation instead of him, as per their father's will? Maybe it's an open secret among the elders.)

The main thing that dissuades me from that scenario is Sun-woo's stature, which seems to me to be too short for the killer in the woods. On the other hand, his profession as a teacher would be a dynamite cover, and would give him unlimited access to victims / proteges of his own.

You may well be onto something with Sun-woo's need for approval from Young-jin. Dang. Wouldn't that be a kick in the head -- especially because of how closely he and Young-jin have been collaborating.

I've been getting OUR TOWN vibes, which have now been amplified by your theories.

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Sun-woo as culprit is not impossible, but the age gap doesn't fit. Also, the show has depicted the good and the bad guys as clear binaries, so Hwang, Young-jin and Sun-woo are to be understood as the "good" adults. There's nothing to suggest otherwise. I also like the partnership!, and wouldn't want that trust to be broken.

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"But it's true that he is kinda needy about Young-jin's approval, huhu, let's just put it as, uhm, because he has feelings for her..? ><"

Is Sun-woo crushing on Young-jin? I thought it was just admiration and awe for this cool, badass detective who swoops in and saves his life.

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I am crushing on her myself, so I could be kinda projecting? ^^ But I do think he is sweet on her because not only he thinks very highly of her, he also cares about her wellbeing, e.g. making her eat dinner.

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Oh yah, I forgot about the dinner dialogue. Yes, that makes some sense then. Sorry to the OP above - the absence of a reply button after a certain level means you get all the notifications for this side conversation!

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@meowingme,

Yes! I got such a kick out of seeing Sun-woo put 2+2 together regarding the fire escape training at school and the presence of the equipment on the roof of the Millennium Hotel.

Re: Sun-kyung

The main thing that caught my eye about her was her reaction to finding that angel doll in a drawer at home. She looked surprised and discomfited. If it isn't hers or her daughter's, whose is it? Her husband's? Her brother's? I was puzzled by her reaction to seeing it in her house.

I can think of another possible candidate for murderer: Elephant's Memory Grandpa. We've learned that the apparent old churchman is actually quite a greedy Pharisee with a ruthless streak. I wouldn’t underestimate him. He may be a lot more evil than we imagine.

Maybe the Stigmata Murderer will turn out to be like the Dread Pirate Roberts in THE PRINCESS BRIDE. There’s more than one of him, and they all copycat another murderer. For all we know, the “real” Stigmata Murderer may actually have killed only one person, while being blamed for all the other killings.

As for the 19-year break, the killer could have been in jail or overseas, or even dead, before a copy cat – or protege – initiated a new round of murders.

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Omg, the dolls, I almost forgot they are strewn everywhere. Wonder what does having one signify, a family member of the "chosen" victim..?
The theory of more than one stigmata murderer is intriguing. Drama has a pointed moment when it showed that Seo Sang-won, Hee-jung, and Ki-ho all have deceased mothers, maybe the first murders go even further back..?
It'll be weird if after all these wild theories, the true culprit is Sang-ho anyway ><

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Seeing Young-jin rallying up so many ducklings is so heartening! I love her dynamic with each of them, and the focus on inter-generational friendships (which there is nearly not enough of in dramaland or elsewhere tbh)! 💖

Also, really happy that all our detectives are coming together as a proper unit, because they sure have a lot of work cut-out for them, as the people they're after are always one step ahead of them.

Plotwise, things are coming together nicely and I can't wait for the recap of ep.10 because that significantly brought us forward narratively.

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Every time she calls Eunho "chingu" my heart breaks a little. For a woman her age to call a boy her age "chingu" is so unusual and so beautiful. And all her lonely little ducklings now bonding with each other too. Sang-ho in comparison has a bunch of psycho ducklings. The contrast is really well done.

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It's interesting that she never really made efforts to ensure that Eun-ho had a peer support group that he could rely on. That is something that Superintendent Hwang is doing: he's the one bringing together the kids. to help each other out.

Actually, I feel that all three - Hwang, YJ, SW, are a triad of sorts, playing a different role in nurturing the children:

Young-jin is like an intellectual, rational support, calming them down (e.g., explaining to Min-sung how he's not to blame for Dae-hoon's death, or believing Dong-myung unhesitatingly, backing it with proof rather than intuition), and helping them understand the world around them;

Sun-woo is the emotional pillar, checking in to hear their voice, wanting to know that they are alright (Young-jin wants to check in too, but her emotional intelligence seems lower than Sun-woo's on this count);

and Superintendent Hwang - like the har-aboeji in the household - watching over everyone quietly, not judging anyone, but gently nudging them in the right direction, and recognizing that they need each other more than anything else.

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This is so true and beautifully said 😭💖

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WAKE UP EUNHO AND JOIN YOUR DUCKLING BROTHERS

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Ahhh, no, our buddies are estranged T_T
Sun-woo looked devastated when he told Young-jin he missed his chance. I think he set her as a standard and felt he failed to achieve. Makes me feel he's even more like one of the lost duckling...
Still unclear about Sun-woo's connection to Shinsung Foundation/New Life Church, is his father the founder of Shinsung foundation? Please just come clean to Young-jin about everything! Also, not important, but his turtle-necks, I think he has the same model in at least 3 different colours? ^^
Am sad about the distance between our buddies, but the bridges built in this episode warmed my heart. Young-jin firmly taking Min-sung under her wings, Sun-woo apologizing to Dong-myeong, and of course, Min-sung doing his best to put things right for Dong-myeong, and respectively for Eun-ho too. And their all gonna be classmates, yaaay!
Loved how these lost ducklings are finding their ways under the right guidance. Min-sung was almost suicidal yet found his courage. Dong-myeong seemed bitter, but accept the peace offering albeit grudgingly (that forced smile on the photo! ><). And Eun-ho, the surprise reveal of his escape route, wow! Being a diligent student sure has its perks!
The church ahjussi bowled me over. I was sure he'd ended up buried but instead, he made a deal with the devil. New Life Church sure got its share of weird peeps...
And the first question after the kidney transplant reveal is like, okay, who did Sang-ho steal the kidney from..?
Agree with @sunny with the well-done plotlines, it's past halfway mark and still tight as ever. Excited for next ep!

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Thank you for a detailed recap, @sunny!

I loved that there are three pied pipers in play here - Superintendent Hwang, Young-jin and Sun-woo - each of them collecting their own little flocks of ducklings. All these children need all the love, care and guidance of the right kind to grow into positive-minded and kind adults, and I'm so happy these three are giving them that opportunity.

What made me happiest about this episode was that Sun-woo cracked the mystery of Eun-ho's fall/ escape's attempt, and not the more obvious character - Young-jin. For all our theorization about Sun-woo potentially being the bad guy, I think this act by Sun-woo grants him a sort of pre-empted redemption (if you can understand what I am trying to say!).

Speaking of redemption, this show makes me think about what age children are most prone to influence at. Tae-Hyung is only three years older to Eun-ho, but he seems to have crossed over to the "bad" side already? (or does he have the opportunity for joining one of the flocks of ducklings?) Does age matter at all? Or does it have to do with the child's personality, something that is intrinsic, which an influencer merely exploits?

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Thanks for the recap.

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