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Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho: Episode 11

Things are getting personal this week as we explore how far Dae Hwa’s corruption really spreads and the people it’s hurt along the way. Our favorite lawyer has jumped right back into his fight against Chairman Jung, but this time he has a client who needs more from his lawyer than just legal expertise. Deul-ho will have to show him that even when we feel like giving up, there’s always at least one person who reminds us we are not alone.

 
EPISODE 11 RECAP

Deul-ho is precariously perched on the rooftop of the Dae Hwa building and trying to talk down Eun-jo’s stepfather, Mr. Hong, when he spies Chairman Jung’s car pulling up right in front of the building.

With a gleam in his eye, he tells Mr. Hong that he knows the fastest way for him to talk to the chairman, then marches forward and yanks him off the edge of the building.

As the two plummet, a series of flashbacks over the past month show that Mr. Hong had tried to speak to Chairman Jung on numerous occasions, getting rebuffed harder and harder each time. Mr. Hong finally ambushed the chairman in the bathroom while he was standing at the urinal.

As he is yet again dragged away, Chairman Jung calls him back. He shoves his foot towards the poor man and pulls a disgustingly twisted version of Gu Jun-pyo’s famous move, telling him to lick off the urine that splattered onto his shoe. Shaking and desperate, Mr. Hong kneels down to comply.

Returning to the present, Deul-ho and Mr. Hong finish their limb-flailing dive to land smack dab in the center of the police crash pad. The crowd (Chairman Jung included) is gasping with shock, waiting to see if they are hurt, when Deul-ho cheerfully pops his head up.

With a big grin on his face he yells out, “Aigoo! You were worried, right?” Laughing, he confirms they’re fine and asks everyone to welcome President Hong. He pulls Eun-jo’s dazed stepfather up to greet everyone, but all Mr. Hong can manage is a lurching stumble off the inflatable pad. I guess leaping from tall buildings is really best left to Superman.

Deul-ho relinquishes Mr. Hong to the police, then beelines straight for Chairman Jung, parting the crowd of reporters like a Moses of media. The reporters all follow Deul-ho as he promises them that the chairman of Dae Hwa, who cares so much about his employees, will now say a few words.

Faced with a gaggle of reporters shouting questions at him, Chairman Jung mutters to Deul-ho to meet privately with him instead, ushering him into his car.

They relocate to the Han River and Deul-ho demands an explanation for Dae Hwa’s maltreatment of their subcontractors. Chairman Jung gives a PC answer that with such a large company to manage, he knew nothing about a single person’s problems. Sure, and your shoes got that spit-shine all on their own.

He waxes poetic about the Miracle of the Han River and the conglomerate construction companies who made it possible, but Deul-ho isn’t buying it. He leaves with a parting query, asking Chairman Jung when his SOB son is returning to Korea. He tells him to bring Michael back soon so he can arrest him, then slams the door on the fuming chairman.

Eun-jo’s with her mother and stepfather at the police station, where the detective yells at Mr. Hong for causing such a fuss when he should have just filed a complaint for not receiving payment.

Mr. Hong shouts back that he tried that, but the courts said they couldn’t do anything without a civil lawsuit. He asks the detective how he can win a lawsuit against a company like Dae Hwa with their teams of lawyers.

In a softer voice, Detective Kim asks how much he’s owed. Mr. Hong admits he’s 2 billion won in debt (just under 2 million dollars). Eun-jo gasps at the amount while her equally shocked mother stutters that this must be why he’d started drinking and had asked her for a divorce.

Just as the detective concludes that Mr. Hong must have meant to force Dae Hwa into paying him by threatening to jump, Deul-ho comes striding in, challenging, “Who said anything about a threat?” He chastises Mr. Hong for leaving without his legal counsel. Aw, did he just take the case without even being asked?

Deul-ho dives right in, declaring that his client never had any thought of jumping from the building: Mr. Hong was merely greeting Deul-ho on the roof, but then the wind blew and they slipped.

Deul-ho is full-on miming his story as he asks, “What were we supposed to do? We can’t hang on [to the building], that’s impossible!”

Attorney Jang arrives at the chairman’s for a damage control meeting, bringing Attorney Kim along. He suggests a settlement, worried about a backlash in public opinion towards the company. Chairman Jung sneers at this, asking if Attorney Jang expects him to do whatever Deul-ho says simply out of fear of the public.

Sensing opportunity, Attorney Kim jumps into the conversation, agreeing that the chairman is right and they can’t just obey blindly. Looks like the chairman has just found a new lawyer protégé to foster.

Deul-ho and his “legal team” gather back at the office and listen as Mr. Hong describes the common practice that large construction companies have of leeching off subcontractors.

He recounts how Dae Hwa had cut their contract fees, drawn out work by citing bogus code violations, and changed construction materials midway through the project. One of their workers was even injured on site, but they couldn’t afford worker’s compensation.

The banks denied Mr. Hong any more loans so he was forced to turn to loan sharks, but he couldn’t pay them back so they stormed the shop where Eun-jo’s mom works.

That isn’t even the worst part, because there’s a rebate he has to pay: For every job, he returns roughly 20 to 30 percent of what he’s given, under threat of not getting further work with the company. On top of that is the wining and dining he must do for his clients, plus the gifts and donations he gives them. It reached the point where taking more work would just cause more debt.

Mr. Hong hangs his head in defeat and the group looks expectantly at their lawyer leader. Deul-ho asks who received the rebate. Mr. Hong gives the name Lee Myung-joon, Dae Hwa’s coordination director.

Looks like Chairman Jung is also looking for his wayward director as his secretary comes back to say that they still haven’t found Lee Myung-joon yet.

The group’s meeting is interrupted when three men come barging into the office, demanding the money that Mr. Hong owes them. They saw him on the news and yell that if he was going to kill himself, then he should have bought life insurance first so they can get paid. Harsh.

They decide if they can’t get money from the father then they’ll collect from the daughter, and run around the office grabbing anything that isn’t tied down.

Dae-soo and his loyal minions nearly tackle the men, trying to hold onto their stuff. As everyone engages in mini tug-of-war battles, Deul-ho climbs up onto a chair and shouts at the top of his lungs for everyone to stop, yelling so loud he nearly topples off his makeshift podium.

Deul-ho states that he will get all the money that Mr. Hong is owed and pay them back. They ask suspiciously if he can take responsibility for what he just said. Deul-ho fires back that he is the Neighborhood Lawyer and he will get them their money, agreeing to take responsibility for Mr. Hong’s debt.

The men leave and things start calming down, until Mr. Hong receives a phone call and yells, “What?!?” before running off.

The bank has sent men to their house to repossess their belongings, and they’re currently labeling everything with the dreaded red stickers. Mr. Hong and Eun-jo arrive home to find Eun-jo’s mom desperately holding on to the family treasures that were passed down from her mother.

All three hold onto each other, crying out while the men roughly sort through their belongings. Deul-ho can only watch from outside as the family suffers.

Eun-jo goes for a walk, remembering the many money-related hardships she’s faced over the years. She ends up at the Han River where Deul-ho joins her, bringing soju. Eun-jo can only cry as she wonders if this is her life, always getting kicked out of somewhere due to money troubles.

Deul-ho quietly states this is just what life is: There are always waves to overcome. He tells her that at times like this, it’s best to sing a song at the top of your lungs. Then he proceeds to show her how, belting out a nonsense song and bringing a smile to Eun-jo’s face.

Deul-ho and Dae-soo discuss how to bring in the coordination director, Lee Myung-joon, when Ae-ra comes back with the news that the man has gone to ground and no one can find him. The boys suggest that he probably ran off to an island somewhere, but Deul-ho wants to try staking out his house.

Hae-kyung arrives to speak with Deul-ho, prompting Dae-soo to usher everyone out to give the two some privacy. She asks Deul-ho if he’s so addicted to being on the news or becoming Soo-bin’s Superman that he’s now doing these crazy stunts. Deul-ho argues that he didn’t mean to, but Mr. Hong is Eun-jo’s father and their opponent is Dae Hwa group. How could he not fight back?

Hae-kyung sighs that she knows she can’t ask him to stop, but tells him to think about what’s best for Soo-bin.

Chairman Jung and Chief Prosecutor Shin have dinner together while discussing the upcoming election for attorney general. The chairman reassures the prosecutor that he’s doing his part to secure the position for him, and muses that if only they could take care of the pesky Deul-ho, he would feel at ease. Prosecutor Shin reassures him that Deul-ho won’t be able to escape them.

Ji-wook is packing up for the night when his father pays a visit, updating him on Deul-ho’s most recent antics. Ji-wook asks if he’s planning to go after him, but his father muses that even if Deul-ho doesn’t stop his crusade against Dae Hwa, his efforts are like attacking a rock with an egg. Ji-wook points out that even if an egg can’t break the rock, it can still stain it.

As Chief Prosecutor Shin turns to leave, Ji-wook asks his father, “Do I have to become the rock or the egg?” He admits to being increasingly confused.

His father poses a question: “Why do racehorses wear blinders?” Ji-wook thinks it’s so they can focus on running forward, but his father corrects him: “It’s to keep them from getting scared by the horses running next to them.”

Neighborhood Lawyer and Co. stake out Lee Myung-joon’s house when a beautiful woman pulls up in front of it, enters the house and then exits, taking a package with her.

Deul-ho instructs Dae-soo to follow her and Dae-soo complies eagerly, stating that he never loses sight of a pretty woman. Heh.

They follow her to an apartment complex, where they’re stopped at an automated security gate. Deul-ho and rookie loan shark Yoo-shin hop out to follow her on foot, while Dae-so and Ae-ra distract the security system.

Deul-ho and Yoo-shin track the woman to a parking garage and then use some pretty impressive teamwork to trick their way into the building. They follow her into the elevator and listen as she takes a call from her “Oppa,” telling him she’ll be there soon.

The woman exits the elevator and the boys peer around the corner to glimpse who she’s meeting. Both stare in shock as they see that it’s none other than Chairman Jung. Well, guess who’s got himself a mistress!

Hae-kyung and Attorney Kim meet with Attorney Jang, who informs them that Deul-ho filed a complaint against Dae Hwa this morning. Hae-kyung jumps in to say that she will take the case, but her father reveals that Attorney Kim has already started working on it.

After Attorney Kim leaves, Hae-kyung asks her father if he doesn’t trust her. He admits that he trusts his daughter in everything, except when Deul-ho is involved.

In her office, Hae-kyung instructs Attorney Kim to report the progress of the case to her, and while he assures her that he will, something about the extra smarm in his smile makes her ask if there’s something she doesn’t know. Attorney Kim just asks right back, “What could there possibly be that Attorney Jang Hae-kyung doesn’t already know about?”

Deul-ho and his cohorts gather to discuss the interesting twist they’ve uncovered: The woman they followed is Lee Myung-joon’s sister. Breaking it down, Deul-ho deduces that Lee Myung-joon collected all the rebates from Dae Hwa’s subcontractors and funneled it into a slush fund for his sister’s lover: Chairman Jung.

Dae-soo guesses that that means they’ll have to track the sister to find the brother, immediately offering his services for following the pretty lady around. But Deul-ho puts Yoo-shin on tailing duty and brings Dae-soo with him to meet with the other subcontractors.

Unfortunately, Attorney Kim reports to Chairman Jung that he’s already gone around to warn the subcontractors not to help Deul-ho in any way or they’ll never receive work from Dae Hwa again.

The office is invaded yet again when Mr. Hong’s employees come to inform Deul-ho that they plan to sue Mr. Hong for not paying their wages. Deul-ho asks them not to go this route, but they argue they have no other option as they have nothing to live on.

When Dae-soo arrives, Deul-ho introduces him as a personal loan expert with lots of money, promising that if he loses Mr. Hong’s case against Dae Hwa, Dae-soo will pay them all back (Dae-soo’s “Say what?” look is priceless).

Sadly it’s not enough. The workers can’t wait that long and tell Deul-ho to get Mr. Hong ready to face an investigation.

Speaking of Mr. Hong, Eun-jo leaves him alone to go to her Subway job, thinking that he’s asleep. Turns out he was faking and soon heads out himself, not seeing Dae-soo’s giant minion whom Deul-ho had put on watch.

Ji-wook visits his father with the news that the investigation has been dropped regarding his connections to Dae Hwa. Chief Prosecutor Shin just smiles and asks if he was still worried about that. Ji-wook notes that everything is going the way that his father thought it would.

As he walks home that night, Ji-wook just happens to glance right into the window of the Subway where Eun-jo works, and stops in to order. She sits down with him and they talk about her new job with the Neighborhood Lawyer and Eun-jo’s face lights up as she recounts all she’s learned. Ji-wook listens while she describes the whirlwind of energy that is Deul-ho. He cautions her not to get too attached, but her honest admiration seems to strike a chord with him.

Just then, a group of men come into the Subway, asking whether Eun-jo is the daughter of Hong Mr. Hong. These are the loan sharks that her stepfather borrowed from and they’ve come to collect their money from her.

Eun-jo stands there at a loss, but Ji-wook dons his own white knight armor and warns the men to leave quietly. The leader scoffs, but Ji-wook produces his prosecutor’s badge and cites the laws they’re in danger of breaking, and suddenly they can’t get out of there quick enough.

Mr. Hong’s late-night walk brings him to the hospital, where he visits the injured man from his crew. We find out that when the worker’s compensation was denied, Mr. Hong paid for the man’s hospital bills out of his own pocket.

Deul-ho, having been alerted by Dae-soo’s minion, arrives at the hospital and overhears Mr. Hong tell his employee to be strong and live a good life. It sounds suspiciously like goodbye.

Later, Deul-ho silently trails after Mr. Hong as he wanders down a bridge. He receives a call from Eun-jo who’s at home with her frantic mother, both trying to find her dad. Deul-ho reassures her that Mr. Hong is with him and they’ll be home soon.

Up ahead, Mr. Hong pauses on the bridge and looks out over the water. He slowly removes his shoes, climbing onto the railing… but then Deul-ho comes running up, shouting that there’s no air mattress at the bottom of this jump.

Mr. Hong collapses, sobbing his heart out while Deul-ho hovers nearby.

The two men find a spot to sit and Mr. Hong admits that living day to day was just too hard for him. Deul-ho shares that Eun-jo called earlier, looking for Mr. Hong. He says she just kept asking where her “Appa” was, calling him Dad for the first time.

Mr. Hong laments that he never did anything for her as a father, but Deul-ho points out you don’t have to do something to be family, you get strength just from being together. He tells him about his own daughter and how she calls him superman. During the times that he wanted to give up, he found strength thinking of his daughter’s face.

Deul-ho: “Though it seems like today won’t end forever, it will end soon. And tomorrow will come. I saw you secretly pay your injured employee’s hospital bills. You’re also Superman, are you not? Superman isn’t Superman if he’s weak. Your problem will end and today will end, too.”

Afterwards, Deul-ho is walking home by himself when he gets a phone call. A man’s voice introduces himself as Lee Myung-joon, making Deul-ho stop in his tracks. He asks him to come to construction site to meet face-to-face, and Deul-ho agrees.

After they hang up, Deul-ho redials the number, but the call goes straight to voicemail.

Deul-ho arrives at the creepily empty construction site and tries calling the number again, but no luck. Something makes a noise and a moving shadow leads Deul-ho to the staircase. He calls out for Lee Myung-joon, but gets no response.

Deul-ho slowly starts climbing the stairs, when suddenly a large pile of construction supplies comes crashing down right on top of his head, knocking him down the stairs and pinning him to the ground. He can just make out the blurry figure of a man descending the stairs towards him… and falls unconscious.

 
COMMENTS

Ok, let’s remember to breathe. It’s not like it was a two-ton anvil that fell down on him. Granted, there were a few bricks in that pile, but I’m guessing he’ll just have some bumps and bruises — hopefully nothing too life-challenging.

One of my favorite aspects of this show is the depth that it gives to its characters. Even the side characters are now getting their own stories as Dae-soo’s minions become more active in team Deul-ho. I had never really paid attention to them before, but after that super sneaky parking garage scene I’m totally rooting for Deul-ho to take Yoo-shin on as his protégé or something.

Ji-wook’s character is also getting more complicated after that background story we got from last week. Ji-wook has become rather lost by now, watching Deul-ho fight for what he believes in, while his own father continues with his shady dealings. He’s trying so hard to believe that he’s fighting for the right side, but as more and more of the truth is revealed, he’s starting to have doubts about if he should be the rock or the egg. The scene between Ji-wook and Eun-jo at the Subway was rather poignant since you could almost feel his nostalgia. Eun-jo’s excited account of Deul-ho brought back memories for him of what he was like when he first started working with him.

I have to say though, I was really disappointed with Eun-jo this week. I’ve lowered my expectations of her considerably since the onset of the show, but they’ve now hit rock bottom. I had hoped that because her own family was now directly involved with the chairman’s corruption, she would finally step it up to help protect her father. Instead, she continues to shrink back even more, allowing Deul-ho or even Ji-wook to defend her. I can give a little leeway for reoccurring trauma since this all harkens back to when she was younger and her mother was thrown out of their family restaurant, but really, after that nice river cry she had with Deul-ho, I expected her to get it together and start actively fighting back. At this point, I agree with hanshimi that her main purpose in the story is to highlight the awesomeness of Deul-ho.

Another small problem I have with the show is the black-and-white way in which it’s portraying the different social classes. I know that the story itself is supposed to be about a lawyer who rises up to protect the poor from the rich, but it seems a little heavy handed in terms of ALL the rich abusing their power, and ALL the poor being in constant suffering because of it. The show has put too much of an emphasis on the good characters being helpless, and the evil ones being powerful. Even Deul-ho was corrupt back before the show started, burying evidence to save his friend and Chairman Jung’s son. He had to lose everything in order to become a decent human being again.

That being said, I can easily overlook every flaw the show may have, if only it will bring Soo-bin back! I feel like I’m going through a cuteness withdrawal after watching an entire episode without seeing a single father-daughter moment!

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Awesome. Just awesome!

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I'm really enjoying the hell out of this show even though, and you're right about this Candid Cloud, it really oversimplifies the class issue. But the characters are so much fun and Dae-Soo and Ae-Ra are a blast.

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I also agree that they've written Eun-Jo as an idiot.

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LOL Candid I love your sense of humor. Great recap, and I totally agree on the writers' disappointing characterization of Eun-jo -____-;;

Hopefully dramaland will get over its misogyny in media soon, and give us the great female leads we actually want (like Chun Song-yi and Oh Hae-young)!!

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Thanks, hanshimi!

Don't forget Chae Young-Shin! If only they'd given Eun-jo even half her pluck....

I've found that in the face of leading lady drama fails, chocolate helps. Lots and lots of chocolate ;-)

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