Punch: Episode 17
This is Ha-kyung’s episode through and through, giving her a chance to really shine when she finds herself left to her own devices—and boy, does she ever. It’s ladies’ night all around in the land of Punch, but along with the paragons of womanly virtue on display come the dregs of humanity that just so happen to be female-bodied. Yes, I’m talking about you, Minister Yoon. You’re the worst.
Ratings-wise, Punch seems poised to keep its first place position through the end of its run, netting 11.9% this episode. Shine or Go Crazy came in close second with 11.0%, while Healer bowed out at 9.0%.
SONG OF THE DAY
Kang Kyun-sung of Noel – “그대 없는 날들 (Days Without You)” from the OST
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EPISODE 17 RECAP
Yeon-jin, unaware that she’s been found out by Tae-joon, calls Jung-hwan after the meeting to alert him to Tae-joon’s plans. He’s unconcerned since the footage proving Lee Tae-sub murdered the researcher will be recovered by tomorrow, which will be the end of their fight.
As usual, he has a sixth sense for unwanted emotionality, so he quickly hangs up the second Yeon-jin displays any sort of feeling when it comes to his impending death.
Instead of resting like Ha-kyung would prefer, Jung-hwan instead writes up a statement and questionnaire for a formal investigation into his dealings with Tae-joon beginning from seven years ago.
Since Ha-kyung is the only person qualified enough to investigate him, he wants her to take down all the information and keep it. In the event that they recover the footage and take Tae-joon and Minister Yoon down only for them to rise like a phoenix from the ashes after he’s gone, he wants her to use this statement against them.
Tae-joon has Ho-sung dig up Yeon-jin’s phone records, which prove that she called Jung-hwan multiple times each day and stayed on the line for prolonged periods of time (aka during their meetings). The office he’s currently operating out of also belongs to her.
Now that they know they’ve been betrayed, Ho-sung is all for fabricating charges to get Yeon-jin into the interrogation room where he can force her to talk, while Tae-joon knows that it won’t be so easy.
He believes that she’ll only come over to their side once Jung-hwan is out of the picture, and tasks Ho-sung to work with him to make that happen. Wait, how out of the picture are we talking?
After taking down Jung-hwan’s lengthy statement detailing all his wrongs over the past seven years, Ha-kyung laments that he would’ve lived so much differently if he hadn’t taken Tae-joon’s hand back then.
Jung-hwan defends that there aren’t right answers but only choices, and that taking responsibility for the decisions he made now is his way of paying back the debt he owes to society.
Ha-kyung sees it differently, lightly reaffirming that the choices Ye-rin makes now will shape the future to come. So she’ll raise Ye-rin to make the right choices, and lead by example herself.
Tae-joon knows that Minister Yoon is only asking for an investigation extension on Kang-jae’s case because she’s afraid of framing him as the murderer in the event that the footage proving Tae-sub committed the crime gets released.
She doesn’t deny it, and says she’ll happily frame Kang-jae if and only if Tae-joon gets the file in his hands or makes sure it’ll never see the light of day—that way no harm can come to her.
But even her eyes widen when Tae-joon’s plan to ensure Jung-hwan can’t release the footage is to drive him into an early grave. He’s already written up Jung-hwan’s obituary notice and set a funeral place and time. What in the what?
The same notice gets sent to everyone in the prosecutor’s office, making it seem as though Jung-hwan has just died. Yeon-jin can’t or won’t believe it at first and tries dialing Jung-hwan, only for Ho-sung to stop her before she can.
If he knows the notice is fake, he’s doing a very good job of acting like it’s real, just like Tae-joon. Ohhhhhhh. So THIS is what Tae-joon meant by taking Jung-hwan out of the picture. They’re fooling Yeon-jin into thinking Jung-hwan’s dead so she’ll switch sides.
Since Tae-joon claims he’ll go under should the file still be released, which would mean Yeon-jin’s hopes of entering the National Assembly would go down with him, she gives the location of the file. It’s being recovered right under his feet, literally one floor down.
Tae-joon starts laughing hysterically, and even Ho-sung cracks a wicked smile. He makes fun of Yeon-jin for already being decked out in a funeral suit… wait, does she realize they’re laughing at her?
Ha-kyung calls Jung-hwan to tell him about the group text that everyone but her received, and he instantly knows it’s one of Tae-joon’s plans. At first he can’t figure it out, then he asks Ha-kyung if Yeon-jin is at her desk. Ruh roh.
Tae-joon reveals to Yeon-jin that he knew all about her being a double agent, and she instantly realizes she made a big mistake. Ho-sung couldn’t look any more pleased with himself as Tae-joon tells him to find a way to add Yeon-jin’s name to the ‘Park Jung-hwan Gate’ scandal. Wow.
She’s ordered to answer the phone when Jung-hwan calls, and Jung-hwan knows Tae-joon is watching her. When he asks if she told him where the file was, she answers, “It’s over, sunbae.”
But she gives him a chance to make it to the seventh floor first right under Tae-joon’s nose when she asks if she should reveal who helped them with the recovery.
It’s like a lightbulb goes off over Jung-hwan’s head as he hangs up to call Prosecutor Jung, while Yeon-jin buys him some time by acting like she’s still on the line with him. She stalls until Tae-joon asks for the phone, totally ready to gloat over his victory to his rival…
…But when the line is dead, he realizes he’s been tricked. He sends Ho-sung sprinting to get to the file before Prosecutor Jung can get to it first, and as they both simultaneously run for the Digital Forensic Center, Yeon-jin silently takes her phone back from Tae-joon. Hah.
Ho-sung arrives one second too late, since he sees Prosecutor Jung leaving the forensic center. He calls Tae-joon to tell him it’s too late—Prosecutor Jung already has the recovered footage.
Tae-joon’s next move is to stop Prosecutor Jung at all costs, planning to find him by having his cronies secretly follow Jung-hwan to his location. He calls Minister Yoon in a rage to demand that she use her powers as an independent prosecutor to bring Jung in, otherwise he’ll release the chip.
Prosecutor Jung makes it to his rendezvous point with Jung-hwan and gets this close to giving him the file, only to pause when Minister Yoon calls to tell him he’s being arrested for his involvement in ‘Park Jung-hwan Gate.’
She’s using his son’s trumped up drug case in the States to give her justification for the arrest, since he’s meeting with the man who made the charges disappear to exchange the file for his services. Prosecutor Jung is left in shock, while Minister Yoon just wearily rubs her temple.
The independent counsel thugs grab Prosecutor Jung to arrest him, and physically block Jung-hwan from getting close enough to grab the file. When he tries to pursue, he’s stopped by a sudden leg cramp and a massive headache.
Tae-joon calls him just then to gloat that he’s fallen into the trap he initially set for Prosecutor Jung in order to ensure Tae-joon would become Prosecutor General. If Jung-hwan has anyone to thank for Prosecutor Jung’s arrest, it’s himself.
Jung-hwan is rendered unable to answer as his headache overcomes him, sending him to the ground. His vision begins to blur as he slips into unconsciousness, his last thought being what he said to Ha-kyung about how he’s taking responsibility for the choices he made.
Now that the recovered footage is in his hands, Tae-joon watches the exchange between his brother and Researcher Yang right before he was thrown off the roof. His brother called Yang a servant, and Tae-joon can’t stop rewinding to hear Yang claim his brother was no better—he was a servant, too.
He refuses to bend to Minister Yoon’s will even when it comes to where they’ll meet for dinner, and announces that he’ll be visiting her at her office instead. Then he moves the only copy of the footage to a USB and burns it.
Minister Yoon is scandalized when Tae-joon asks—nay, orders—her to convince Kang-jae to confess to crimes he didn’t commit. She doesn’t see why they have to rush the case when he’s in the clear now, but Tae-joon growls that he has his reasons while reminding her that she has plenty of reasons to do exactly as he says.
In the interrogation room, she tells Kang-jae that it’s game over for him now that Tae-joon has the footage and Jung-hwan is in the hospital. She looks as though she’s walking over her own grave as she reluctantly warns him about the kind of man Tae-joon is, in essence telling him to give into his demands.
The only promise she can make to him is to get him out on illness or have him pardoned if he takes one for the team and spends the next few years in prison. (Don’t do it, Kang-jae! Don’t do it!)
But he does, and confesses to the media mob outside that Jung-hwan laundered the twenty-seven billion won, and he was the one to use it. Tae-joon, of course, had nothing to do with any of it.
The only victor in this game grins from ear to ear after watching the broadcast, and chummily calls Minister Yoon to invite her out for dinner now that she’s cleared him of any and all suspicion. But his tone immediately turns grave when she tries to get out of their meeting—she doesn’t have the option of saying no to him. He owns her.
At the hospital, Ha-kyung and Hyun-sun are told by the doctor that Jung-hwan’s tumor, compounded with his recent shock, has temporarily rendered him paralyzed. He’s unable to speak or move, but his eyes are open and staring ahead at the news coverage on the television.
With tears in her eyes, Ha-kyung tries to find the bright spot in all this darkness: Jung-hwan has never taken a break in the ten years she’s known him, and now he can finally rest. But it won’t be in peace now that Kang-jae’s made his confession implicating Jung-hwan in the money laundering.
While Ha-kyung tries to rush the processing of a marriage license for her and Jung-hwan, Minister Yoon is in for an unwelcome surprise when she walks into her dinner meeting only to find Tae-joon isn’t alone—he’s invited three of the most influential figures in politics (her former legal team) to join them.
He backs Minister Yoon into a corner when he plays coy, acting like she’s been pushing for him to become Minister of Justice while he’s been saying no.
She’s unable to directly contradict him, and her attempt to give her backing while still stalling for time (since it’s unprecedented for a prosecutor general to leave his appointment mid-term for a promotion) fails in the face of Tae-joon’s manipulation.
Jung-hwan is still paralyzed, but something tells me he’s seeing and understanding all the news stories about Tae-joon flashing before him—especially now that he’s being named as a strong candidate to become Minister of Justice.
It’s a constant stream of good news when it comes to Tae-joon, so Ha-kyung finally turns the TV off. She tells him that while she proposed to him first and divorced him first, she’s proposing to him again. “Where else can you find a woman like me?” she asks.
She shows him their new marriage license, which legally makes them a family again. “Leave as my husband,” she says with tears in her eyes. “I’ll fight as your wife.” Awwww.
Jung-hwan can’t move his lips, but struggles to utter her name in guttural throat sounds. She knows the only way to bring down Tae-joon and Minister Yoon now is to get her hands on that chip Tae-joon has been hiding, and promises to do it before he dies.
He tries, he tries, to shake his head to tell her no. She won’t change her mind: “I’m going to do it. Me, you, Ye-rin… we’re family.”
Watching him try to say something, anything, to stop her is unbelievably hard to watch. He musters all his will to move his arm ever so slightly in his attempt to touch the marriage license she left with him, but he can’t even do that much and ends up panting from exertion.
Tae-joon wears his newest offensive-to-all-senses tie as he receives notice from the Blue House to attend a meeting with the president. He knows it’s about him taking the Minister of Justice appointment, and muses that he’ll become Prime Minister before Minister Yoon at this rate.
Ha-kyung meets with Minister Yoon to confront her over how she always said that you have to pay the price to make a better world—a price she never paid.
Minister Yoon claims that she’d have nothing to be ashamed of had her son’s enlistment fraud case never happened, but Ha-kyung won’t let her lie to herself or anyone else anymore. It’s time for her to pay the price.
While Jung-hwan finally regains control of his body and voice, Ha-kyung asks Minister Yoon to tell the world the truth about Tae-joon being behind ‘Park Jung-hwan Gate’ before he dies. She knows the only reason Minister Yoon is reluctant is because Tae-joon has the chip, so she reveals her plan to get it.
Minister Yoon thinks it’s impossible until Ha-kyung reminds her how they were able to get her copy of the chip in the first place—through a surprise search and seizure. They’ll have the perfect opportunity to do the same to Tae-joon when he’s meeting with the president.
When Minister Yoon still expresses her reluctance at coming up with a reason for the search and seizure, Ha-kyung reminds her that she once had Jung-hwan arrested before coming up with a reason. Isn’t her specialty to act first and justify later?
Time will tell if she made a mistake in revealing her plans to Ho-sung, who immediately gets misty-eyed as he asks Minister Yoon not to make him regret the eternal loyalty he pledged to her.
But she’s firm on this, because if they can make Tae-joon powerless by destroying that chip, they won’t need to keep sinning anymore. (Uh huh.)
Yeon-jin is disappointed when Ha-kyung tells her that she and Jung-hwan are married again, but still listens to Ha-kyung’s request that she take Jung-hwan’s side one more time and place a call to Tae-joon.
Minister Yoon addresses her men in the independent counsel like a general rallying his troops: They’re to perform the first ever search and seizure on an acting prosecutor general. Their phones are confiscated to ensure total secrecy.
As per Ha-kyung’s request, Yeon-jin regains Tae-joon’s trust when she calls to warn him about the search and seizure. Her next order of business is to keep Ho-sung distracted.
Apparently Minister Yoon wasn’t told about this part of the plan, since Tae-joon’s angry call comes as a surprise to her. Still, she claims she’s going to reveal the truth that he was behind ‘Park Jung-hwan Gate’ to the world.
Tae-joon is stuck between a rock and a hard place since he can’t bail on his meeting with the president, so he can only call a contact to divert the counsel thugs long enough to move the chip out of their reach.
The prosecutor’s office is mobilized to stop the search and seizure and to move all the prosecutor general’s files to basement storage. This was what Ha-kyung counted on as Detective Oh reveals a crowbar—ohh, this is how they’ll make sure only they get the chip.
Yeon-jin makes sure Ho-sung doesn’t hear the office-wide announcement by luring him into the one room not connected to the speaker system, even going so far as to close the blinds so he doesn’t see the prosecutors mobilizing like ants.
She stalls him long enough for him to be behind the curve again by the time Minister Yoon calls to say they’ve been exposed. I love Yeon-jin’s cute “See you later” when she knows she’s done her job. Ho-sung can run all he wants, but he only makes it to the office after Detective Oh has pried the drawer open so that Ha-kyung can retrieve the chip.
Ho-sung yells her name in the hallway to stop her, even going so far as to grab her by the arm when she attempts to pass him. That’s when Detective Oh punches him straight in the jaw. AWESOME. I literally just cheered out loud.
Ha-kyung is able to just walk past the fight going down between the prosecutors and the independent counsel team en route to the hospital, where Jung-hwan is slowly recovering. Now he’s able to read his marriage license and smile.
Minister Yoon is thrown into a panic when Ho-sung tells her that Ha-kyung is on her way to deliver the chip to Jung-hwan, and orders Ho-sung to head there immediately while she does the same.
Ha-kyung is unwilling to listen to Minister Yoon give more of her trademark excuses over the phone, but Yoon pleads for her to have mercy on her son—she knows how hard it was as a mother when Ye-rin was unfairly thrown into the spotlight, and cries as she claims her son was blameless.
It’s the biggest emotional breakdown we’ve yet seen from Minister Yoon, who says she’ll take the punishment for her actions. She just begs Ha-kyung to wait until she can give her evidence proving her son didn’t know his mother-in-law committed enlistment fraud on his behalf.
After a long moment of silence, Ha-kyung says she’ll wait for Minister Yoon before going to the hospital. Yoon can’t thank her enough, but was her request even sincere? (Why, Ha-kyung, why?)
Ha-kyung is happy when Jung-hwan calls her, since it means he’s regained his ability to talk. After he thanks her for allowing his name to join hers and Ye-rin’s on the license, she thanks him for taking responsibility for his decisions.
She’ll be happy to tell Ye-rin about what he did in the future, and that she was never ashamed of the time she spent with him. As she steps out of the car to wait for Minister Yoon, she adds, “I miss you, Jung-hwan.”
That’s when Minister Yoon rounds the corner going full speed, tears still streaking her face. She looks at Ha-kyung standing alone as she thinks of her promise to stop Tae-joon from assuming total control of the prosecutor’s office as well as Prosecutor Jung’s accusation that she became a monster while chasing a monster.
She makes a decision in that moment—a terrible, unthinkable decision—as she steps on the gas, going straight for Ha-kyung…
Oh no you don’t. You will not do what you’re about to do to someone who once idolized you, who modeled their life after you, and who gave you the benefit of the doubt when you didn’t deserve it. You will not hurt the person who showed you mercy and understanding when she shouldn’t have even given you the time of day. And if you do, if you really stoop to such an irredeemable low, then you better find a panic room small enough for you to slither into, because Jung-hwan will find you and end you. Do you hear me, Minister Yoon? THIS IS WAR.
Gut reaction aside, I’d really thought Minister Yoon was on the verge of turning over a new leaf this episode, so while I shouldn’t be surprised that she’d be this heartless, I have to admit that I was hoping for better. Ever since she crossed over to the dark side we haven’t seen much of her conscience peeking through, but then this week went and changed everything. We saw her weary of the constant back-and-forth, her reluctance at following some of Tae-joon’s more outrageous orders, and a certain twinkle in her eye that said that maybe, just maybe, she’d be willing to make things right again.
Clearly that read was inaccurate, and if Minister Yoon was having moments of independent thought, those disappeared when she was faced with annihilation. I guess it goes to prove that she was in this for herself all along, and was only game when she thought she’d gain an unfair advantage over Tae-joon. But certainly not when she was left without any cards and only the steering wheel of a car against a squishy, defenseless human being. (War, I say!)
Ha-kyung has undergone a lot of growth over the course of this series, and has proven herself to be a strong woman, mother, partner, and formidable opponent. Her remarriage to Jung-hwan came as an unexpected but incredibly touching declaration of love even if that word wasn’t even used once. The word that was repeated often was family. She did it so they could become a true family again, officially throwing her lot in with his, come what may. And the fact that they’ve gone through a marriage and divorce before made it that much more meaningful, because like she said, she was crazy enough to propose to him twice.
Her plan to get the chip was Jung-hwan levels of good, coming from a character who couldn’t even think outside the legal box a few weeks ago. I love that this show knows how to keep secrets from us, so that we were held in suspense watching her plan-within-a-plan unfold so perfectly. Using Minister Yoon to get the chip that would hurt her the most? Brilliant. And you just know Minister Yoon fell for it because she didn’t think Ha-kyung would be capable of doing what she did.
I love the fact that Ha-kyung and Yeon-jin were able to work together even without Jung-hwan, and especially after Ha-kyung revealed that they were married again. Finally, a second female lead with a crush on the hero that does not define who she is. She took that loss gracefully, and still chose to do her part to help. Of course she only did what was advantageous to her, but we know that soft spot for Jung-hwan counts for something—even if it only counts as long as he’s still breathing. Can’t blame a girl for having priorities.