Punch: Episode 8
Our heroine finally takes a page from her ex-husband’s playbook this hour, giving her a new avenue to make use of her ruthless mercenary tactics when it comes to enforcing the law—now she gets to enforce more of the thing she loves most by adhering just a little less strictly to it herself. You can literally see the moment where Ha-kyung seems to say to herself, “I could get used to this.” And so could we, I say. So could we.
SONG OF THE DAY
Kim Feel – “멀어진다 (Ghost In Your Mind)” from the OST [ Download ]
EPISODE 8 RECAP
After Prosecutor Jung stands up for Ha-kyung against Minister Yoon, Hyun-sun calls Ha-kyung to tell her that prosecutors are currently raiding Jung-hwan’s room… on Minister Yoon’s orders. In the process, they come across his (technically illegal) stash of Demerol.
The disgust on Ha-kyung’s face is apparent, especially when Minister Yoon informs them that Kang-jae will be taking over Jung-hwan’s prosecution, despite them all knowing what a snake he is.
When Minister Yoon receives the speech she’s to give to the new prosecutors about to be sworn in, Ha-kyung tells her bitingly that she should change its contents: instead of pursuing the truth, they should only follow orders from the Blue House, just like Minister Yoon.
Prosecutor Jung attempts to help Minister Yoon work through whatever problem she’s facing just like they would in the past, but Yoon counters that she’d consult him if she thought he’d be of any help. Okay. Message received.
Minister Yoon then turns to Ha-kyung to ask who she is, and Ha-kyung affirms that she’s the woman who stepped down from her position as Chief Prosecutor in protest once. Yoon calls upon that faith Ha-kyung has in her to trust her just this once, to trust that she has a reason…
But Ha-kyung says she trusts the oath she took when she became a prosecutor—the oath to end injustice and follow the path of righteousness and truth. “I am a prosecutor,” Ha-kyung reminds her, “and I swore that oath.”
Outside, Ha-kyung confers with Prosecutor Jung on how they can stop Kang-jae from taking Jung-hwan’s case. Jung seems to breathe a sigh of relief as he tells Ha-kyung that he’ll stand by her side as long as she sticks to the prosecutors’ oath.
Since Minister Yoon handed the case over to the anti-corruption division, Kang-jae gets to gleefully gloat that he’s been officially named as Jung-hwan’s prosecutor when the two meet in the interrogation room.
He’s only too happy to tell Jung-hwan that he won’t be getting any help from Minister Yoon this time either, since she’s now firmly under Tae-joon’s control. With no resources left to him, Kang-jae slides a confession form across the table, promising sardonically that Jung-hwan will have time to write his will if he hurries up and writes the confession first.
After hearing from Detective Oh that Demerol was found in Jung-hwan’s room, Ha-kyung is quick to dismiss it as leftover medicine from before his surgery—but Oh notes that the ampoules had been used recently. Not to mention that Doctor Jang’s charges have disappeared now that Kang-jae’s taken the case.
Ha-kyung is quick to want to dismiss what all these pieces could add up to, but she can’t help but think back to all the cryptically morbid things Jung-hwan’s been saying since he was supposedly cured. The realization seems to dawn on her that Jung-hwan may have been lying.
But in order to make sure, she pays a visit to Kang-jae and feigns like she already knows the truth due to Doctor Jang’s loose lips. Kang-jae falls for it, toying with one of the ampoules as he asks if she’s come to fetch it to ease her dying ex-husband’s agony.
She tries appealing to Kang-jae’s humanity, which is a big mistake when he has none, so she switches tactics to outrage when Kang-jae threatens to break the ampoule in his hand and threatens to take legal action against him for tampering with evidence.
At least the sight of Kang-jae’s sneering face is enough to remind her of Jung-hwan saying in the interrogation room, “That’s how I lived my life. I should be punished. But, Ha-kyung… why do I have to be punished alone?” Methinks she’s going to make sure he isn’t now.
Ha-kyung and Detective Oh work together to buy some time in the interrogation room while they remove their stuff, with Ha-kyung using the time afforded by an “accidental” paper spill to talk to Jung-hwan.
She mentions the expensive Gangnam apartment he sold, as well as the retirement fund he secured for Mom. But her real gambit comes when she mentions (for Kang-jae to overhear) that Chairman Kim’s link to the prosecutor’s office, and thus Tae-joon, will be included in Jung-hwan’s report.
If she’s lying, Jung-hwan catches on fast and plays along, much to Kang-jae’s dissatisfaction. Ha-kyung vows to get Jung-hwan out of there before she asks him to teach her how things are done in his world, using his methods.
Kang-jae’s had enough, and barks at Ha-kyung in banmal as he tries to pull her to stand. Jung-hwan issues a stern warning from across the table for Kang-jae to let her go, and to speak to her more formally.
To add insult to Kang-jae’s well-deserved injury, Jung-hwan tells his ex-wife to prepare a press conference for the evening news. She’ll find the copy of Chairman Kim’s confession in his safety deposit box. As for the code, Jung-hwan says, “It’s the day I saw our Ye-rin for the first time.”
Minister Yoon has to endure a dinner date with Tae-joon, along with all his requests for her to put the people he wants in positions of power. When she claims that she’ll resign next year, Tae-joon tells her that she’ll be able to keep her status and respect in retirement if, and only if, she helps him take control of Ocean Capital.
It’s a personal vendetta for him, since his late brother slaved away for Chairman Kim and Ocean Capital his whole life after the Sejin Auto collapse. He wants to be able to get enough to give to Tae-sub’s family, but Minister Yoon cuts in to meekly say that she can’t commit any more crimes.
But Tae-joon’s got a safeguard to keep her in check, and that’s by blackmailing her with her son—he evaded his mandatory military service and is studying to be a judge on top of an impending wedding. Would she like to hear her son’s wedding speech or hear a judge hand out his sentence?
Their phones ring at the same time with the same news: Kang-jae tells Tae-joon that Jung-hwan kept a copy of Chairman Kim’s confession, while Ho-sung informs Minister Yoon of the same, and that Ha-kyung’s on her way to get it. (Side note: Huzzah! Ho-sung shaved!)
Now that Minister Yoon no longer has to stomach the symbolic skate fish Tae-joon has been making her eat, she removes it from her plate with a victory smirk.
While Tae-joon and Kang-jae go into crisis mode over how to stop the release of the confession (since it’ll land the both of them in jail), Ha-kyung successfully enters the code for the safety deposit box.
Kang-jae already attempted to use Ye-rin’s birthday, but the first day Jung-hwan saw Ye-rin was the day Ha-kyung showed him the sonogram picture. Aww.
Inside, she doesn’t find Chairman Kim’s confession, but instead reads something that causes her to sob instantly. Is it Jung-hwan’s will? Why am I crying when I don’t even know what she’s looking at?
Now that they’re alone, Kang-jae puts Jung-hwan on the line with Tae-joon, who’s all but shaking with rage that Jung-hwan dared to make a copy of the confession. Jung-hwan, as cool a cucumber as ever, defends his actions by claiming he did it for the same reason people get insurance—better to be safe than sorry.
Tae-joon growls at him to cancel the press conference, though he knows he’d have to make a deal to get Jung-hwan out for that to happen. Jung-hwan mentions how impressed he was by the sound of Tae-joon breaking all his Demerol ampoules that he’s prepared a response…
…And sets his watch right by the phone so that Tae-joon can hear the sound of his own time running out. YES. These are the kinds of burns only Punch can deliver. *slow clap*
Ha-kyung now knows that Minister Yoon is trying to stop Tae-joon from using a long-ago enlistment case for his own personal gain, though she doesn’t know the extra personal stake Yoon has in it with her son.
But Minister Yoon is desperate as she claims she just wants to stop Tae-joon from seizing control of the prosecutor’s office, and grabs for the folder she thinks contains Chairman Kim’s statement… only to look at the same documents Ha-kyung found.
It’s not the confession, Ha-kyung tells her. Jung-hwan made no copies. Instead, she muses on how he’s been using what little time he has left to buy a lasting family plot in Paju, likely because he lived most of his life paying monthly rent and wanted to make sure he’d have a secure final resting place.
“Jung-hwan doesn’t have much time left,” she admits to Minister Yoon. “But Lee Tae-joon is trying to unload his baggage onto Jung-hwan. He’s been weighed down all his life. I want to help ease his burden before he goes.”
In a surprise twist, Ha-kyung proves she doesn’t know the truth about Minister Yoon’s involvement in the enlistment case by telling her idol/mentor to follow the “order” she received from the Blue House. She’ll continue to investigate Tae-joon and take the fall for disobeying Yoon.
Two minutes left. “Do you remember what I said before?” Jung-hwan tells Tae-joon over the line. “I may be going to hell first, but before that, we’ll go to court together.”
Minister Yoon has impeccable timing, and calls Tae-joon just then to tell him that there is no statement. Tae-joon’s first instinct is not to believe her, since he’d rather play it safe by letting Jung-hwan out so that statement doesn’t get released.
He becomes more convinced of Minister Yoon’s authenticity when she says that it’d be bad for both of them (ruh roh) if Jung-hwan were to get out and start investigating alongside Ha-kyung. She swears on her position as Minister of Justice that no copy of the confession exists.
Tae-joon gets back on the line and asks Kang-jae if he saw any records of Jung-hwan buying insurance, coolly throwing Jung-hwan’s earlier bluff back at him now that he knows it’s a bluff.
And with that, Tae-joon orders Kang-jae to arrest Jung-hwan. You know what he could’ve used right now? Insurance.
Prosecutor Jung pulls Ha-kyung aside with some sobering news: There was no order from the Blue House. Though he argues that Tae-joon likely has some dirt on Minister Yoon that’s causing her to behave out of sorts, Ha-kyung stubbornly clings to the notion that Yoon would never stoop so low.
Though doing so goes against Yeon-jin’s personal desires when it comes to Jung-hwan, she dutifully fetches Ha-kyung for him when he asks her. There’s a way for her to see her ex-husband, even though the interrogation room is limited strictly to prosecutors from the anti-corruption division…
Hence the loophole Yeon-jin’s found, as Ha-kyung goes to visit Jung-hwan at night, when he’s put into a temporary holding cell.
She slides over the last ampoule of Demerol he had (the one Kang-jae was playing with), and the moment of realization between them is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it affair.
They both know that she knows, but Jung-hwan won’t let either of them dwell on his impending death for more than a second as he tells her that he’ll give her some tips now, since it’ll be hard for her to raise Ye-rin without him. Aw.
But sentimentality is for the weak, and at the moment they’ve got bigger fish to fry. Most notably, how did Minister Yoon find out about Chairman Kim’s confession?
He dissects every scene from the investigation room until only the obvious remains: Ho-sung was the only one who could have told Minister Yoon about the confession, and Minister Yoon was the one who told Tae-joon. Which means they’re all in cahoots, confirming Prosecutor Jung’s assumption and Ha-kyung’s worst nightmare.
Ho-sung is dodgy when Ha-kyung pays him a visit later that night, but gives himself away the second she says she’s no longer investigating Tae-joon… because she’s going after Minister Yoon now.
He flips, telling her that Minister Yoon has so much good left to do that requires her to stay in her position, but Ha-kyung is unmoved. She doesn’t look at the person behind the crimes, only the crimes themselves—and if Ho-sung wants to atone, he can start by helping her investigation.
With Yeon-jin, Detective Oh, and Jung-hwan now on her team, Ha-kyung manages to get past Tae-joon’s secretary to wait for him in his office. Per Jung-hwan’s plan, she turns on Tae-joon’s hidden video camera feed playing just in time for Minister Yoon and Ho-sung to hold a not-so-private meeting.
Ha-kyung is able to overhear Minister Yoon telling Ho-sung that she wants to strip Ha-kyung’s right to investigate away by any means possible, prompting him to start shakily listing reasons why she can’t—like how she’d have to get past Prosecutor Jung, Ha-kyung’s loyal watchdog, first.
Minister Yoon isn’t cowed, unafraid to say aloud that she can’t have Ha-kyung digging around when Tae-joon still has the enlistment broker in his armory.
Ho-sung just can’t take it anymore, and says he regrets the day he ever covered up her son’s enlistment fraud. She’d made so many promises then she couldn’t keep, like how she’d oust Tae-joon and Kang-jae from the prosecutor’s office, how she wouldn’t let Jung-hwan get hurt…
…But seven years ago, she was the one who used the information Ho-sung gave her to have Jung-hwan arrested in order to save her own behind. (Remember, this is all being spelled out so that Ha-kyung can hear and put the pieces together.)
Minister Yoon futilely claims that Jung-hwan’s ambition is what forced her hand all those years ago, and that now she wants Ho-sung to help Ha-kyung out so he can report everything back to her. Sacrifices must be made if they want to create a just society, and Yoon vows to make Ha-kyung and Jung-hwan’s sacrifices mean something.
Tears spring to Ho-sung’s eyes when Minister Yoon presents him with the same choice as always: the lesser of two evils. Ha-kyung isn’t dry-eyed herself as she calls Minister Yoon herself to ask why she told Tae-joon that there was no statement from Chairman Kim. They both know the jig is up.
It’s more than difficult for Ha-kyung to wrench out the words she says next, that she knows Minister Yoon used Jung-hwan to cover up her own son’s enlistment fraud. “Please get Jung-hwan out,” she breathes, before adding, “Yes, Minister, this is a threat.” (I love you, Punch.)
No sooner does she hang up that she calls Minister Yoon back, because Tae-joon’s approaching his office, unaware she’s inside. For being new to this whole dark side business, Ha-kyung effectively threatens Yoon into calling Tae-joon right now, or else her son will pay the price.
It’s Ha-kyung’s way of getting Tae-joon out of the office so she can make her escape, having just barely evaded notice by hiding beneath his desk.
At their usual restaurant, Minister Yoon offers Tae-joon her proposal: if he lets Jung-hwan go, she’ll make sure the late Tae-sub gets ownership of the trillion-dollar Ocean Capital rather than Chairman Kim.
Even Tae-joon is shocked at how rapidly and easily Minister Yoon changed, though he can’t help but laugh at how things have turned out between them.
Looks like Tae-joon caved to the deal, since Jung-hwan is released from prison. Ha-kyung urges him to go home and rest while she takes care of things, but Jung-hwan can’t get to the phone fast enough to call their daughter.
The graduation hall has long emptied, but that’s where Jung-hwan takes Ye-rin and Ha-kyung so that way they can hold a private graduation ceremony for their little one. Awwwwwwwww.
After enough encouragement from her parents, Ye-rin takes to the stage to do her song and dance routine all by herself. Jung-hwan is overwhelmed with a father’s pride, flashing back an infant Ye-rin in their happy little home saying her first word: “Dad.”
Jung-hwan’s tearful expression is heartbreaking, because he knows that this is the last major milestone of his daughter’s that he’ll be alive for. (Gah, now I actually want him to live. Thanks for crushing my soul in advance, Punch.)
In order to pursue the case, Ha-kyung knows that Prosecutor Jung will be put in a tough spot by both Minister Yoon and Tae-joon. But he’s the epitome of a good sport, and thanks Ha-kyung for giving him a place to go down fighting, like a soldier thanking his general before battle.
While Ha-kyung discovers that Tae-joon has been hiding the broker in his vacation home on Anmyeon Island, Jung-hwan rushes to Doctor Jang’s office after he’s called…
Only to find Kang-jae there waiting for him. It was the only way he could reach the perpetually unavailable dying man, though the small stash of Demerol they have doesn’t come free—Jung-hwan has to silence his wife if he wants to ease his pain.
Thankfully, Jung-hwan’s back to his old self as he forwards the damning video evidence of Doctor Jang’s gambling (that’s it?) to Yeon-jin, despite the doctor’s warnings that his pain will grow infinitely worse without the much-needed drug.
“What I find painful is that people like you will be alive even after I die,” Jung-hwan grits out, leaving the two men dumbfounded in his wake.
Memories of Minister Yoon’s past hypocrisies feed Jung-hwan’s seething rage as he bursts into her office seeking answers. Why did she choose to throw him to the wolves when she should’ve stepped down from office seven years ago?
He doesn’t need her to remind him that partnering with Tae-joon was his choice, as he quickly fires back, “I’ll take responsibility for my choices. It’s time you take responsibility for yours.”
Meanwhile, Ha-kyung and Detective Oh’s team of officers arrive at the gate to Tae-joon’s vacation home. As to how they’ll get inside, Ha-kyung makes a bogus 911 call to get an ambulance to open the gate for them. Man, she’s getting pretty good at this devious stuff.
As for Jung-hwan, he’s just there to notify Minister Yoon that her days of breathing free air are numbered—he’ll make sure she’s in prison by the time he’s in a coffin.
“The law is equal, to me… and to you,” he says, parroting the sanctimonious lecture she gave him seven years ago right back at her.
Oh, it is ON now. I mean, it was on before, but now? Now it’s really on. And if it’s somehow more on tomorrow than it is today, well, that’d make Punch just that more awesome of a show.
If you’d told me two weeks ago that I’d be crying over Jung-hwan’s fate today, I wouldn’t have believed you, and yet here we are. What can’t be praised enough when it comes to his character specifically is how the show played his shift gradually rather than giving him one grand epiphany that opened his eyes to the error of his ways. Jung-hwan always knew the error of his ways. He just didn’t give a damn.
Now that this was his second time getting thrown under the proverbial bus by people who are no better than him, it’s understandable that he got angry. Very, very angry. They—those who are decidedly not on Jung-hwan’s team—literally only had one job to do if they wanted to keep Jung-hwan happy and far away from them: they just had to leave him alone. That’s it. All he wanted was some time to arrange things for his family before his passing. It would’ve been so easy had they only let him be.
But they didn’t, and this is what happens when you give a dying giant a reason to hunt you down and skin you alive. What’s most exciting about this latest plot development is Ha-kyung’s involvement as Jung-hwan’s partner rather than his rival, united at last by a common enemy. And the best part? Ha-kyung was born for this, emerging as an avenging angel from the cocoon of self-righteousness she’d been hiding away in all these years. She finally realized that the world isn’t always black and white, and that sometimes you have to play a little dirty to get things clean.
Which, admittedly, is probably the same reasoning Minister Yoon gave herself when she started down the path she’s ended up on now. We heard it from her own lips before, though now we know that her seismic shift toward the dark side didn’t come from her waking up on the wrong side of the bed one day—this has been a slow burn, and a long time coming. But when someone like Tae-joon expresses surprise at the swiftness and ease with which you’ve sold your soul, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate some of your life choices and/or start hoping that they serve skate fish in hell.