Incarnation of Money: Episode 9
Our resident prosecutor tries his best to keep his head afloat in a sea of prosecutor sharks that swim around him. He’ll quickly learn that there’s a nugget of truth in the saying that anyone can become a prosecutor, but it’s another thing to become a righteous prosecutor. Connections are made this episode as we finally propel our story from out of the past and into the present.
EPISODE 9 RECAP
It takes Cha-don a good minute to swallow the double whammy of an enormous debt and the return of his pseudo family. Though he has no legal obligation to repay the money, he vows to pay Boss Bok back for her gratitude.
But it isn’t money that Boss Bok wants; she’d like for him to do some chores for her instead. So indentured servitude it is. She puts him under Jae-in’s charge and tells them to play nice since they’ll be seeing a lot of each other. Then she sends Cha-don a wink.
The four members of the Traitagon celebrate over drinks but it isn’t long until they’re fighting over who gets to be the new bank president. Se-kwang puts an abrupt stop to this – Mom has just been released from prison and they’ll need to lie low until the statute of limitations runs out.
As for Mom, she seems right at home at the orphanage as Se-kwang watches her work at a distance. But a picture of Kang-seok hanging in the director’s office sends her for a loop and a moment later, Se-kwang bursts in proclaiming that they’ve found Kang-seok.
Looks like Prosecutor Kwon has finally gotten an edge over his rival as he makes a triumphant entrance as the new prosecutor general (to avoid confusion, we’ll keep calling him Prosecutor Kwon).
He wastes no time in asserting his new authority in his inaugural speech, citing that a new era doesn’t come on its own. His prosecutors should aim to be one of three characteristics: intelligent, capable, or righteous.
He puts Cha-don on the spot, who answers that he’d like to be righteous. Then Prosecutor Kwon’s response sets off another slight ping of recognition in Cha-don’s brain: “Anyone can become a prosecutor, but it’s difficult to remain righteous.”
Cha-don mulls over his answer after the meeting and flips the coin into the air just as an annoyed Jae-in steps into view. The coin falls on his head before rolling away, and Cha-don thinks to himself, “Can I become a righteous prosecutor?”
Five years later. Present day. A waitress returns Cha-don’s fallen coin to him at the table along with a tip-off. Then… he eats it? Ha. And is that a floral shirt you’re wearing? Mind does not compute.
The intel leads Cha-don upstairs where he marches into the middle of a high-stakes game. He pretends to be on friendly terms with the boss, who hasn’t the faintest idea who Cha-don is. He further annoys the boss by asking for money and gets pummeled on the table in return.
At that moment, Chief Yang comes to Cha-don’s rescue and the mere mention of “prosecutor” is enough for the boss to shrink away like a dog with its tail between its legs. The boss falls to his knees, spilling out his sob story about how he’s only in the gambling business to find his kids.
Once they’re alone, Cha-don need only hint at the large pot of cash before the boss frantically starts piling the loot into a bag as Cha-don pockets a wad of cash. Righteous, eh?
Just then, a prosecution team led by Ji-hoo busts the illegal gambling den and we see that an unkempt Lawyer Hwang is among those caught in the raid.
Meanwhile, Cha-don finishes up his deal to exchange jail time for money with the boss upstairs. His warning call comes too late and he barely has time to register the news before the prosecution walks in.
So Cha-don thinks fast and punches the boss square in the jaw. He attributes the bag full of money to a bribery attempt and acts like he just did the prosecution a favor by catching the criminal for them.
The boss is promptly dragged away (cursing Cha-don’s name on his way out) and Ji-hoo blinks in confusion before finally asking what he’s doing here. Uh, so this isn’t your case? Cha-don coolly evades her question and assures her that he isn’t injured. Then he hero-walks out of the room.
Cha-don barks orders to round up the offenders when his gold coin drops to the ground. It rolls right in front of Lawyer Hwang, who recognizes the heirloom. He looks up at Cha-don in surprise – could he possibly be Kang-seok?
Elsewhere, Angelina is back to being the girlfriend who complains that her workaholic prosecutor boyfriend is too busy to spend time with her. I suppose it doesn’t help that Se-kwang isn’t all that excited to see her. He receives a call about a drug deal and he asks Angelina for a lift.
Angelina huffs in the car when Se-kwang tells her to wait at home while he works. How long does he expect her to keep waiting for him? Does he even plan on proposing to her?
He ignores her, sticking his headphones into his ears.
Next thing we know, we’re at an Italian restaurant run by none other than Jae-in, who’s practically grinning from ear to ear about how business is booming lately. She daydreams about her mother praising her for her efforts and Cha-don chasing after her to marry him.
Meanwhile, Se-kwang waits with Hyuk for the drug lords at the same restaurant and promptly gets up when they arrive. The baddies throw the case open in retaliation and a puff of white powder blasts in Jae-in’s face as the men engage in a fight.
But we see a different picture in Jae-in’s eyes: The men throw flowers instead of punches, and frolic instead of flinging each other. Her shrill laughter stops the brawl and Hyuk comments that she’s been drugged.
The drug debacle ends up on the news and Boss Bok is not pleased to see her daughter caught in the middle of the scandal. By the time we cut back to Jae-in, she cries in the middle of her now ruined restaurant.
She’s positively offended when the prosecutors are about to leave her with just a simple apology and she demands that they take responsibility for the mess.
Then she sticks a mop and broom in their hands and tells them to start cleaning. And they do. HA.
It’s a bit strange that Boss Bok suddenly calls for Jae-in and Cha-don to come see her after a visit to the doctor. She puts a stop to their childish bickering with the bomb: “I want you two to marry each other.”
Both Jae-in and Cha-don balk but Boss Bok won’t hear of it – it’s an order. And to seal the deal, she unearths a marriage contract and orders the both of them to sign it. It’s with frightened reluctance on both parts that they press their fingerprints on the contract.
Once they do, Boss Bok welcomes her new son-in-law into the family.
Cha-don plays with a pig rabbit doll in Jae-in’s room, flipping the cape with a pig snout back and forth and murmurs, “Pre-surgery, post surgery.” Jae-in snatches it away from him and asks what they’ll do now.
He answers in a matter-of-fact tone that he has no intention of marrying her and Jae-in echoes those thoughts. He offers that they at least pretend to be dating for the time being and gives a curious look when she protests to this suggestion a little too emphatically.
He asks, “Do you like me?” When Jae-in snaps back, he narrows his eyes, “I was your first love, wasn’t I?” Naturally, she denies it: “You were my toy!”
Cha-don doesn’t believe her and then pulls her into the bed, wrapping his arm around her. The close proximity jolts Jae-in and he stares at her for a few moments before slowly drawing nearer. Her heart races and Jae-in closes her eyes waiting for the inevitable…
And Cha-don stops short to ask, “Why did you close your eyes? And why is your heart beating so fast?”
She tries to push him off of her when the door opens. It’s Boss Bok who comes in to check in on them but then she averts her eyes. She apologizes for intruding and then walks out. Oy, that’s awkward. Then Jae-in kicks Cha-don off the bed.
Assistant Kim asks if Boss Bok really intends to have Cha-don as her son-in-law and she laughs that there’s a reason behind what seems like an absurd setup between the two kids: Together, they’ll become a power couple in Korea.
When Cha-don gets to the office, he’s met with an unpleasant surprise in the form of Chief Prosecutor Jo. His superior gives him an earful that Cha-don’s name is being dragged in the mud and a formal complaint has been made against him.
Cha-don is convinced that he won’t get caught but Chief Prosecutor Jo warns him to be careful – there’s only so much he can do without the higher ups finding out. But Cha-don barely gets the time to dwell on the situation before he’s called to see Ji-hoo.
In their office, Ji-hoo asks if it’s true that he lives in a poor neighborhood in the outskirts of Seoul. Cha-don bitterly admits to this. In response to his background check, he sarcastically remarks that all of his “corruption” has amounted to a net worth of just a few thousand dollars.
She gets up and declares that they’ll be going to his place. Cha-don warns her, “Bring toilet paper because we’re out of it.”
The adventure starts with Cha-don’s dingy car door that won’t open and they soon arrive at a shabby house on an unpaved road far from the city. He invites her inside where the house looks like it’s barely held together with a few humble belongings.
Ji-hoo takes all of this in, more surprised that Cha-don’s story actually checks out. Though given his somewhat obvious cough from the cold, this has to be an act, right?
Cha-don makes ramyun for the both of them and as they eat, she asks why he lives like this on a prosecutor’s salary. He reminds her that he’s an orphan and after all of his expenses and donating the rest to the orphanage, he doesn’t have much left over.
So it’s no wonder it irks him when people call him corrupt when in reality, he can barely afford a thing.
You can see that Ji-hoo starts to see him in a different light and she apologizes that she didn’t fully know of his harsh circumstances. Cha-don tells her, “I don’t care what other people think, but I can’t stand to think that you suspect me. Because you’re my ideal woman.”
She laughs that he has a laundry list of female prosecutors whom he considers as his “ideal woman” and slams her chopsticks on the table, annoyed.
He sees her off and as he waves goodbye, Cha-don says aloud: “I was almost caught.” He steps back inside and presses a remote that pulls the shelves back to reveal a hidden door. Inside lies a pile of neatly stacked money on a table with small stacks of bills on the wall.
The arrangement looks eerily similar to Chairman Lee’s vault (though naturally, Cha-don doesn’t know that he’s the late chairman’s son) and Cha-don wonders aloud: “When will I fill all of this?”
But that’s not all – Cha-don uncovers his sleek car from its hiding place and drives back to the city to his high-rise apartment. Relaxing in his bathrobe with a glass of wine in one hand and a cigar in the other, he sighs that he just needs 10 billion won to get rid of Boss Bok off of his back.
Then he thinks aloud, smiling: “Why do I love money so much? Did my parents like it too?”
We’re finally caught up to the very beginning of the series as Lawyer Hwang watches the news about what we now know to be the discovery of the late chairman’s vault. He recalls discussing the matter with Se-kwang and they noticed that the vault was under Kang-seok’s ownership. Since they could only acquire the late chairman’s assets and Kang-seok was missing, they dismissed the vault’s existence.
Looking into Cha-don’s past leads Lawyer Hwang to the orphanage. He asks to see a picture of young Cha-don and immediately recognizes him as Kang-seok. He gives an evil laugh.
Things make more sense in the present and Lawyer Hwang calls Cha-don, luring him with the chance to find out his real name.
The mysterious call and the prospect to know his real name and family preoccupy Cha-don’s thoughts in the car ride back. He says aloud that the name “Lee Kang-seok” rings a bell and recalls the connection to Mom, whom he granted parole years ago.
Chief Yang mentions that Mom disappeared from the orphanage shortly after Cha-don set her up to work at the orphanage. Oh no. Se-kwang, what did you do?
Both Jae-in and Cha-don are called over to dinner and they both make it clear to the other that they’d rather be elsewhere. Cha-don reels from the pungent skatefish smell as Jae-in happily digs in.
But Jae-in gets her revenge when her mother walks in and lies that Cha-don loves skatefish and stuffs several pieces into his mouth. Boss Bok is delighted to hear it of course and then offers to feed him too.
So he has no choice but to accept and ends up with a mouthful of skatefish. He sends death rays to Jae-in. He isn’t about to give her the satisfaction and plays along. Then he calls her loving gesture and asks Boss Bok if he can stay overnight. Hahaha.
Later, Cha-don snuggles into Jae-in’s bed much to her horror. She grabs her pillow and storms out and he gives a satisfied smirk.
But two can play this game and soon, Jae-in returns and slips into bed next at him. She inches closer and he freaks out, jumping out of the bed. Jae-in laughs in victory.
Cha-don shakes the uncomfortable feeling off when he recalls the mysterious caller’s arrangement to meet at midnight.
He heads to the hotel and walks down the hallway in caution. He knocks on the designated door and when there’s no answer, Cha-don carefully opens the unlocked door.
He walks into an empty suite and waits with 10 minutes to midnight. The minutes tick by… two minutes, one minute now. At midnight, Cha-don turns around…
Elsewhere, a body falls from a construction site to the ground below. It’s Lawyer Hwang and we see him covered by counterfeit money.
At 1 o’clock, Cha-don gets up annoyed at the no-show but perhaps more annoyed at himself for waiting for so long.
We’re transported to a fashion show where Boss Bok and the members of the Traitagon are in attendance. Turns out that it’s Angelina’s fashion line and Boss Bok asks about the ex-actress’s business experience.
The reason Boss Bok asks is because she’s bought the Yellow Seas Savings Bank stock in Jae-in’s name but it appears that Angelina still remains as the majority shareholder. Boss Bok resolves that she’ll have to train Jae-in properly if they plan to acquire the savings bank.
Two members of the Traitagon congratulate Angelina after her show and relay that Lawyer Hwang committed suicide. Angelina is shocked to hear the news.
Boss Bok catches her daughter sneaking back into the house and catches her in the lie that she went to go see Cha-don.
They relocate to the study where Boss Bok hands her daughter a 100 million won bank note and instructs her to crumple it. Jae-in carefully folds it in half to which Boss Bok snatches it out of her hand, crumples it, and throws it to the ground.
Jae-in’s eyes grow wide as her mother blows her nose into the note and asks if her mother’s gone mad. Doesn’t she know how much this is worth?
But this is all part of Boss Bok’s lesson. She teaches her daughter: “No matter how much you crumple it, blow your nose into it, or get it dirty, it never loses its worth. That’s money.”
Whether one is born rich or poor, someone can be worth 100 million won or 10 won. She asks her daughter: “How much are you worth?”
Jae-in stumbles over her answer, trying to calculate how much her plastic surgery cost her. Boss Bok lets out an exasperated sigh: “If you want to know how much you’re worth, then work.”
Prosecutor Kwon sits down with Cha-don and informs him that he’ll be transferred to a different department starting tomorrow.
Cha-don still has a few loose ends to tie and he meets a President Choi at a church. The president asks him to shake up a certain apparel brand (Angelina’s), and Cha-don pointedly asks, “You give your offerings to God, but why are you asking me for help?”
All it takes it one large, fat envelope of cash for the men to come to an understanding.
On his way out, Cha-don runs into Ji-hoo and invites her to lunch. She’s on her way to handle Lawyer Hwang’s death because she has a hunch that it may be murder instead of suicide.
Chief Yang notices Cha-don’s pining eyes as Ji-hoo leaves. He tells Cha-don that he’s got no chance because Ji-hoo likes her sunbae, Se-kwang. Oho.
But a sudden call about the arrival of the new Chief Inspector has Cha-don rush back to the office… to see Se-kwang as his new boss.
Se-kwang declares to his team that like a surgeon in an operating room, he’ll conduct an internal investigation to make sure his team isn’t contaminated. He puts Cha-don on the spot and asks if he’s heard of “Shudal.”
Cha-don tenses but answer that he hasn’t and Se-kwang explains that the alleged man is known to be an expert (dal-in) at collecting money (derived from Japanese “shuu-kin”) and hence called Shudal.
He asks Cha-don point-blank: “Do you know who Shudal is?”
I realize after every episode, this show keeps me engaged with nuggets of intriguing character interactions but also makes me scratch my head and ask, Is this necessary? But strangely enough, these seemingly throwaway lines hint towards something greater, like how Boss Bok’s sudden urgency to groom her successor may indicate that her time may come to a close in the near future. That usually means a sickness in dramaland and I wouldn’t be surprised if her recent doctor’s visit had something to do to set up the kids together at this point in time.
There are times in this drama where I’m not exactly sure how to accept this show’s brand of humor. Exaggerated, ridiculous, and even sometimes offensive, often times I cocked my head in confusion, wondering if the show intended for me to laugh at or laugh with it. Granted, there are some instances where the ridiculous circled around to just being funny again (like when Cha-don ate the paper note, keh) but I felt like Jae-in in her drug-induced reverie: Does this show want me to watch the show with a glazed expression? Maybe then I’ll be laughing out loud but there will be someone planted in reality wondering what I’m laughing at. I have found that it helps to buy that this world is just a bit off-kilter and not meant to be taken completely seriously. Then with that mindset, it becomes a much more enjoyable experience as a viewer.
Now that we’re brought up to speed (finally), we’re both given answers to the past and leaves us questions regarding the present. We now know what compelled Lawyer Hwang to approach Cha-don but wonder who is behind his murder. Then, it looked like Mom was doing just fine at the orphanage but disappeared shortly thereafter. Was she killed too?
I actually enjoy that our hero isn’t the caricature walking ethics manual in the prosecutor’s office. Rather, he’s garnered an infamous reputation of corruption, much like how Se-kwang started off his prosecutor career. He initially hoped to become a righteous prosecutor, but we see that he ain’t so righteous at present. We know that a major part of the reason is that he feels indebted to Boss Bok for his upbringing and trying to get out of indentured servitude as fast as possible. But what else scarred him during those years? Or is his father’s lesson about money subconsciously seeping through? Whatever it may be, it makes for rich character development and I’m excited to see how Cha-don will continue to hone his lessons about money. Who will tell him how much he is worth?