Punch: Episode 6
An enormous manhunt takes place when our villain’s beloved brother eludes our heroine’s grasp, prompting a showdown between those prosecutors who consider themselves law-abiding and those who’ve made the law their bitch. But as it turns out, even the most powerful of men can’t do everything alone—meaning that someone must be really missing his partner in crime right about now. Life must be tough when you can’t threaten people into doing your bidding as easily as you used to, huh? We all know that feeling.
Ratings-wise, it’s actually getting pretty close: Punch continued its steady rise, bringing in first place with 9.6% while narrowly edging out former champion Pride and Prejudice at 9.4% and Healer with 8.6%.
SONG OF THE DAY
Taemin – “Experience” [ Download ]
EPISODE 6 RECAP
A mixture of emotions pass over Ha-kyung’s face when her daughter rushes out to greet her—relief, happiness, and also regret for what’s been sacrificed for their reunion. It’s such a small but well-played scene. Bravo.
In his room at Mom’s house, Jung-hwan shows Ha-kyung the acceptance letter Ye-rin received from the international school he’s been wanting to send her to.
But in an act of defiance, Ha-kyung folds the letter into a paper airplane. Hah. As long as he won’t let her have Chairman Kim’s statement, she claims, he won’t get her seal of approval on Ye-rin’s acceptance letter.
She promises that she’ll investigate the Brothers Grimm and Chairman Kim, to which Jung-hwan fires back, “You think that’s possible to do on your own?”
Ha-kyung does, and warns Jung-hwan that he better prepare—he’s bound to go down with them. When Jung-hwan tells her that the matter would sort itself out on its own with Tae-sub going abroad and Tae-joon resigning, she taps a copy of the constitution on his desk: “The law exists.”
She has to remind him that Tae-sub killed someone and has to pay for it, which has Jung-hwan flashing back to his grim prognosis. “Everyone dies, Ha-kyung,” he finally says.
Jung-hwan flashes back to when he brokenly asked Doctor Jang if he’d live long enough to see his daughter start elementary school, only for the doctor to admit he wasn’t sure.
That’s all Jung-hwan wants now, but he can’t tell Ha-kyung why—though at least she tells him he’ll get to see Ye-rin’s first day after she finishes her investigation. She likely doesn’t understand the gravity in Jung-hwan telling her to please, please make that happen.
It’s an emotional moment for Ha-kyung too, who admits she could never shake hands with him after the divorce was finalized because it would really be over then. But now, she extends her hand out to him, only for Jung-hwan to give her a bank statement.
He explains that he’s already paid in full for Ye-rin’s tuition, but Ha-kyung immediately asks if he got that money by trashing Chairman Kim’s statement—or did Tae-joon promise him the Prosecutor General seat in return?
Jung-hwan gets hit with a stabbing headache, and orders Ha-kyung out so she won’t have to see him in pain. Ha-kyung thinks he’s just weaseling out of explaining himself and continues her barrage of accusatory questions, only stopped when Mom comes in to break it up.
Once he’s alone, Jung-hwan locks the door and all but crawls to his stash of painkillers.
Mom is furious at Ha-kyung for pestering her son when he went through hell to get her out of jail, and orders her and Ye-rin out of the house. Ye-rin is confused to find her father’s door locked, and she quickly begins to cry for Jung-hwan to open the door to at least say goodbye to her.
Her voice sounds muffled and far away to Jung-hwan, as he shakily prepares his medicine and injects himself with the syringe. He crawls for the handle but stops just as Ye-rin says she’s leaving… but he better come to her kindergarten graduation.
Jung-hwan breaks down in tears at her request, knowing he may not be able to fulfill it. Ha-kyung, meanwhile, flies the paper airplane of Ye-rin’s acceptance letter far, far away.
After receiving a one-way airplane ticket to Somewhereistan from Chairman Kim, Tae-sub makes a narrow escape from the building when prosecutors arrive to nab the two of them—and makes it a point not to call and warn the chairman, considering his earlier insults.
While mulling over his retirement speech in his office, Tae-joon comments on on how it took him thirty years to climb to his position, and how it’ll only take hours to fall from it.
He’s interrupted by Kang-jae with news of Chairman Kim’s arrest at the behest of Ha-kyung, who’s now working as an aide to Prosecutor Jung. But all Tae-joon cares about is his brother.
Ha-kyung updates Minister Yoon on the investigation, noting that they haven’t been able to locate Tae-sub yet. Once they get him they’ll be able to find out what connects Chairman Kim and Tae-joon, even if it means Jung-hwan will go down with them.
Minister Yoon asks if Ha-kyung is still okay about going forward, considering that Jung-hwan is the father of her child. “The researcher and the bus driver were fathers too, Minister,” Ha-kyung answers.
Tae-joon crashes the party with his request that they just drop the investigation on his brother, prompting Minister Yoon to have Ha-kyung reiterate that Tae-sub is being charged with homicide, and Chairman Kim is in for all sorts of embezzlement charges.
Tae-joon has a witty retort/underhanded threat for every word that comes out of Minister Yoon’s mouth, because he’s hell bent on getting her to make a deal with him while she’s equally bent on following the law.
Even if it means sacrificing her position, Minister Yoon is unyielding when it comes to Tae-joon’s threats and says that her seat would be a small price to pay while creating a better society. She’ll clean out the Prosecutor’s Office so that people she trusts—like Ha-kyung—can fill her spot if Tae-joon’s antics cause her to vacate it.
When Ha-kyung informs Tae-joon that his brother has been placed on the nation’s most wanted list, he retorts that being on the list is no guarantee someone will be caught. His threat is laid out as such: If Minister Yoon and her trusted allies can’t find his brother within a reasonable time period and solve the case, then Ha-kyung and Prosecutor Jung will suffer greatly.
He compares it to a game of hide-and-seek, where the seeker changes once the time limit is up. Basically, he’s warning Minister Yoon that her time as the hunter will soon end, and he’ll be the one tracking her down soon enough.
Prosecutor Jung reassures Ha-kyung that he’s ready to take one for the team and resign should something go wrong, but she’s the one who ends up reassuring him—she won’t rest until the Brothers Grimm, Chairman Kim, and her ex-husband are all standing trial.
Doctor Jang has got it made with Jung-hwan, because the latter needs the painkillers only he can provide, and he needs Jung-hwan to fix his legal record for him.
He doesn’t even feel sorry if Jung-hwan goes wanting for the drug, since he explains that he only cried for a patient’s death when he was an intern—now he’s so used to attending funerals for his patients that he only thinks about what’ll be on the menu at the service.
Jung-hwan acts as the third wheel on his sister’s date, considering that he hand-picked the gentleman (cameo by Kang Haneul) for her. Curiously though, he witnesses his sister being held back by a man before the date, making me wonder if Hyun-sun already has someone.
Hyun-sun politely rejects Ha-neul on the basis of religion, since he believes in a godlike figure and she doesn’t. Jung-hwan gives him a consolation prize in the form of a promotion, which Ha-neul takes from his sunbae with thanks.
Jung-hwan tells her that tomorrow’s date doesn’t have any religious leanings, but Hyun-sun disagrees with this dating thing on a fundamental level, causing her brother to ask her outright, “Do you have someone?”
The question catches her by surprise, and it takes her a while for her to shake her head “no.” But the answer seems clear.
Knowing that Team Ha-kyung wants to grill Chairman Kim in order to find his brother’s location, Tae-joon calls the chairman to remind him to stay silent and stick it out for a few more days. It’s his right, anyhow.
Chairman Kim takes that advice for as long as it takes Ha-kyung to show him video evidence of Tae-sub running away when he got arrested, proving that there’s no loyalty amongst thieves.
He spills the beans that Tae-sub is staying at a temple in Paju, which the two brothers helped add on to and where they keep their parents’ memorial tablets. Ha-kyung immediately orders Detective Oh and a team to travel there and arrest him.
Tae-joon is already there to tell his brother that everything’s arranged for him and his family to sneak out of the country by sea for a few years. Tae-sub isn’t as enthused about the prospect, but chastises his brother when he says he’ll step down from his position due to the public’s inevitable reaction to his murder case.
It’s clear that Tae-sub doesn’t want his brother to suffer losing his Prosecutor General seat, even though Tae-joon has made peace with it. He shows his brother the money he’s sending him with as he reminisces on how poor they used to be—now, he can afford to give Tae-sub money and seasickness medicine for the journey.
Their brotherly bond shows, but Tae-joon doesn’t seem to be picking up on Tae-sub’s sadness as his hyung tells him he’ll go outside and pick some fresh kudzu for him, a helpful herb he always made sure his brother had even if he didn’t when they were kids. Aww.
Kang-jae bursts in to warn Tae-joon that the police have arrived to arrest his brother, urging him to escape before he can be seen with a wanted man. Tae-joon calls his hyung regardless, but worries when the phone rings from the same room. Tae-sub didn’t take it with him.
We find his hyung digging for the kudzu root like he said he would, only to be drawn to the sight of his little bro and Kang-jae running out the back of the temple, tailed by Detective Oh and his men.
Tae-sub draws the officers’ attention to him so they don’t see his brother, and gives Tae-joon a reassuring look and nod, all, “Go on.” That’s love.
While the police give chase to Tae-sub, Ha-kyung gives updates to Minister Yoon—they haven’t been able to find him yet, but since he’s traveling on foot, they know he couldn’t have gotten far. Minister Yoon promises to lend all the support she can to the chase.
Knowing this, Tae-joon orders Kang-jae to work something out with the chief of police to help derail the chase… which really isn’t a chase as much as it is Tae-sub hiding in the woods behind the temple.
Jung-hwan is pretty much living in his own world at this point, unaware of all the goings-on because he’s working out the purchase of a family plot in a columbarium for his future cremains to be laid to rest, along with his father’s.
He declines a call from Yeon-jin, who’s in a position in the prosecution office to hear everything going on—from Kang-jae trying to arrange a dinner with the police chief, to Detective Oh and Ho-sung talking about the sheer amount of police manpower going into the search for Tae-sub.
She pours her coffee on herself in order to have an excuse to go to Mom’s dry cleaning business so she can catch Jung-hwan when he comes home. Mom serves her and Jung-hwan food, which Yeon-jin seems to snub her nose at as she murmurs under her breath that her maid can’t cook this good. Her maid?
Mom is excited at the prospect of Jung-hwan having a date, even though Jung-hwan makes it clear that he wants nothing to do with Yeon-jin’s self-invitation to his house. But he’s overruled when Mom starts asking Yeon-jin all the questions mothers ask to prospective daughters-in-law while Yeon-jin is all too happy to feed into her fantasy.
Once they’re alone, Yeon-jin tells Jung-hwan that she wants to follow him—not because it’s a calculated move, but because the desire comes from her heart—and that it’s hard when he ignores her calls and doesn’t come to the office for days at a time.
He switches subjects to how he’ll help her climb the political ladder, but she brings it right back by asking him if he still has feelings for Ha-kyung. “No,” he claims. “Ye-rin… she’s grown up missing a father figure. I feel badly enough for that. I decided that there would be no other woman or children in my life on the day of my divorce.”
Yeon-jin has her answer there. Jung-hwan writes down a vehicle’s license plate he wants her to track before adding that she’s never to come to his house again.
Jung-hwan is called to a meeting with Tae-joon, who asks him to put a stop to his wife before he does, insinuating that Ha-kyung will get hurt if Jung-hwan doesn’t handle her.
To his surprise, Jung-hwan relaxes in his seat and says flippantly that he doesn’t mind if his ex-wife gets hurt when he’s more concerned ab out Tae-joon—Ha-kyung is the type to fight back when attacked.
“Don’t touch her,” Jung-hwan warns. “Thanks to you, she went to prison without having to commit a crime.” Tae-joon all but blows up at him as he says that his brother doesn’t even have the protection of prison walls on a cold winter night like this, and orders Jung-hwan to bring him back.
Jung-hwan points out that Tae-joon should use Kang-jae instead of him, which bristles his rival and incenses Tae-joon even more as he threatens to confess everything if something happens to his brother, since doing so would implicate Jung-hwan just the same.
He paints a picture for Jung-hwan, of how abysmal his future would be after he’d get arrested by his wife and scorned by the public. “I know you don’t want to see me. I don’t like you either. Would you like to spend the rest of your life as my cellmate in prison? Or will you bring my brother back?”
As if to punctuate his point of defiance, Tae-joon has Kang-jae order them jjajangmyun… from the restaurant Jung-hwan doesn’t like. Ooooo, I’m sure Jung-hwan will be feeling that burn for weeks. How do you sleep at night, Tae-joon?
Ha-kyung’s face falls when Ho-sung tells her that Jung-hwan and Kang-jae have joined the search for Tae-sub, since it means Jung-hwan is making a move.
And he is, though he and Kang-jae don’t seem to be in harmony. He dismisses Kang-jae’s ideas for one of his own, and pays the town elder to call Tae-sub with the village loudspeaker, using his son’s name as coded bait to draw him in.
Tae-sub, thinking he has friends in the town center, manages to sneak to their location even though almost five hundred police officers are out looking for him. So… no one wants to go missing in that town, because they’d never ever ever be found.
Ha-kyung knows something’s up and orders the police officers on the scene to check every single outgoing car regardless of the driver’s position. Jung-hwan’s vehicle is checked on his departure, but nothing is found.
Kang-jae gets his vehicle past inspection by pulling rank, and successfully smuggles Tae-sub away from the village. If this episode is about police incompetence, they really are getting their point across.
Little Ye-rin calls her father to make sure he’ll be attending her kindergarten graduation next week, which he confirms with a smile as he follows his GPS to the manmade lake where Tae-joon’s parents are buried.
Ye-rin calls her mother to tell her the good news, and thankfully doesn’t pick up on Ha-kyung’s interest in where exactly Jung-hwan is. She happily tells her mother what she overheard from her father’s GPS. Busted.
Ha-kyung knows that Jung-hwan must’ve gotten Tae-sub out of their search radius, and volunteers to go to the reservoir location (Tae-joon’s hometown) to nab all of them at once.
Minister Yoon allows it, knowing that Ha-kyung doesn’t want her ex-husband to be arrested by someone else. How romantic.
After ferreting Tae-sub to a secure location, Kang-jae finds himself needing Jung-hwan’s continued help in getting Tae-sub smuggled out of the country now that his wife has her eye on every outgoing ship.
But Jung-hwan doesn’t care to help, and makes it clear that he’s washing his hands of the situation—if Kang-jae wanted to be Tae-joon’s right hand so badly, now’s his chance to actually shoulder the work.
Turns out the car Jung-hwan had Yeon-jin track belongs to the man Jung-hwan saw his sister with, and he is not happy to find out that its owner is a mechanic. Hyun-sun knows him because he was once a resident doctor, now discharged.
And for once, Jung-hwan doesn’t want Yeon-jin to get out of his sight, since he asks her to stay: “I need someone to stop me.” Wait, is that Hyun-sun playing house with Dr. Mechanic? Oh shit. Run!
Tae-joon is like a kid when he sees his hyung again, eagerly gifting him with warm clothes to help him battle the winter chill. Tae-sub hands him the kudzu root he collected, giving Tae-joon the bigger piece like he always does.
This time, Tae-joon switches pieces with him, so that his hyung has the bigger share. Aw.
Hyun-sun’s face goes pale when Jung-hwan unexpectedly enters the mechanic shop and demands some of the ramyun she’s made for her not-so-secret boyfriend. She knows he is pissed.
Perched on the cliff overlooking the manmade lake that used to be their hometown, Tae-sub and Tae-joon reminisce about how they banded together in the wake of their parents’ death and made do, even when they had no money.
It’s much different now, but the bond between them is the same—though Tae-joon insists he has a ship ready to ferry his brother to safety, Tae-sub doesn’t want his brother’s image to suffer because of him.
No matter how Tae-joon claims he’s fine with enduring a little hardship on his brother’s account, there’s something suspicious in the way Tae-sub sends him back to the car alone.
He sheds the scarf Tae-joon gifted him and uses his new cell phone to call his brother, who turns back toward him when he answers. Tae-sub claims he read up on law when his little bro was taking the bar, and asks, “If the suspect dies, the investigation and prosecution process are put to a stop, right?”
Tae-joon knows what he’s hinting at, and immediately tells his hyung, “Don’t.” Tears spring to both their eyes as Tae-sub cries that he’s going to stop being a burden to his little bro now, “Let go of all the burdens I’ve made you carry and fly high.”
He hangs up the phone, then calls to his little brother from the short distance, “The kudzu was tasty, right? I told you it was the best when it comes from the frozen ground. I was right, huh?” He raises his hand by way of goodbye as his face contorts into a sob…
…Leaving Tae-joon to watch as his beloved hyungnim jumps off the cliff and into the freezing water below.
Tae-joon lets out a horrible scream of grief as he runs to the edge of the cliff, inconsolable as his men hold him back from diving in after his hyung.
And as he sinks to the bottom of the lake, Tae-sub sees (or imagines he sees) the handmade grave markers they made for their parents, and thinks with a smile, “Tae-joon-ah, our parents’ tombstones are still just fine. I was right, wasn’t I?”
With that last thought, Tae-sub dies. Tae-joon can only cry out pitifully for his hyung from above the surface.
Wow. It’s rare for a show to hinge such an important emotional story beat on a character that’s not the H-word like this—but then again, other shows aren’t Punch, are they?
To add another point in its favor, it’s not even like Tae-joon was being painted unsympathetically as the villain, or humanized with only the broadest of strokes. There was a chance for Tae-sub to become no more than an empty vessel existing only to showcase Tae-joon’s hidden humanity, but the show went way further than that by making him his own character with relatable goals and desires. Who knew that was a thing?
What became clear in this episode was that there was no manipulation going on between the two brothers, something I kept expecting despite all evidence to the contrary. Maybe dramas have manipulated familial love among ambitious people in such a way that it’s hard to believe in it anymore, or maybe I just expected less from Tae-joon when he had more to offer. But once I realized that Tae-joon’s love for his brother was as true as it gets, their backstory was given much more weight, which in turn gave those final moments a surprising amount of emotional heft that I wouldn’t have even dreamed of getting from Tae-joon (much less his bespectacled brother) even a week ago.
The fact that they grew up poor is nothing new, but what I liked about their shared past was the fact that they became closer in the wake of their parents’ death, having to fend for themselves and rely on each other for love and support. It explains why Tae-joon would be willing to sacrifice so much for his brother’s sake, even to go so far as to write up a retirement speech. And when he eventually broke down and asked Jung-hwan to stop Ha-kyung, it wasn’t out of desperation to save his own hide—he just really couldn’t stomach the thought of his brother spending a night out in the elements, or the rest of his life in a prison cell.
It makes Tae-joon all the more dangerous when his moral scale is skewed only toward his favorite people, making it so he either couldn’t see the irony in his struggle to keep his hyung out of prison when he’d condemned Jung-hwan’s ex-wife to the same fate, or that he did recognize it and still didn’t care. How easy was it for him to ask Jung-hwan to keep Ha-kyung imprisoned for just a few more years, yet when he was presented with the same option for Tae-sub, he threw a temper tantrum? And it’s not even like Tae-sub was innocent and wrongly accused. Talk about double standards.
Speaking of, Hyun-sun is in troooouble. In Jung-hwan’s defense, I’d be pretty mad if I went through the trouble of setting a date to make Kang Haneul a member of the family only for him to get rejected. Granted, I’d be setting myself up on that date, but I can see where someone like Jung-hwan would take his sister’s illicit affair as an affront to all his efforts. To her I say: Good luck. You’re gonna need it.