Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho: Episode 12
The cat and mouse game continues as Deul-ho defies his enemies with a smirk, and Chairman Jung throws one fit after another. It’s amazing how daring Deul-ho acts despite knowing what his opponents are capable of, and sometimes I wonder if he actually does it just for the thrills. Luckily for Deul-ho, he has some reliable allies who’ll cry their eyes out for him if he ever gets hurt.
EPISODE 12 RECAP
Deul-ho walks around a construction site and looks for the suspect, Lee Myung-joon. He hears some rattling noises near the staircase and goes to investigate, only for steel pillars and planks of wood to suddenly tumble down the stairs and pin him to the ground.
Ae-ra and Dae-soo rush to the hospital, frantically searching for Deul-ho. They notice a bandaged man on a nearby cot and start crying for their poor lawyer. When nurses wheel the patient away for surgery, Ae-ra and Dae-soo fall to the floor, hugging each other and weeping uncontrollably as they call after Deul-ho.
Deul-ho is actually standing right behind them, watching the spectacle with bemusement as he asks them what they’re doing. Dae-soo and Ae-ra turn around, unable to believe their eyes, and Deul-ho can only shake his head at their absurdity as they start blubbering about him dying.
Deul-ho explains in the car that he got a call from Lee Myung-joon to meet at the construction site, but his instincts sensed something off. Thus, he brought Yoo-shin along with him, which turned out to be a stroke of genius since Yoo-shin ended up saving his life. Dae-soo thinks its Lee Myung-joon’s fault, but Deul-ho remembers seeing a blurry figure before losing consciousness, and thinks it could have been someone else.
Chairman Jung hears about the failed mission from his secretary and orders him to find Lee Myung-joon before Deul-ho can. He also tells him to hire a better person to tail Deul-ho. Meanwhile, Deul-ho sits alone in his dark office and replays the events in his head. He wonders why Lee Myung-joon didn’t answer his call or meet him at the site. He then wonders if the person atop the stairs could’ve been Lee Myung-joon or Chairman Jung.
Eun-jo visits construction workers with her stepdad, and tries to convince them to testify against Dae Hwa Group. None of them think it’s possible to win and turn her down. Eun-jo and Stepdad return to the office with heavy hearts, but Deul-ho tells them he isn’t surprised.
It’s the third day of the trial, and Attorney Kim is on Dae Hwa Housing’s defense team. The plaintiff (Stepdad) has filed a complaint for construction payments while Dae Hwa Housing claims no liability to pay and thus, they’ve filed for compensation for what they see as the plaintiff’s interference with their business.
Deul-ho asks Stepdad why there isn’t a contract for the additional construction fees of $1.5 million. Stepdad explains that the representative, Director Lee Myung-joon, kept pushing back the contract until he suddenly disappeared. When Stepdad tried to meet with someone else at Dae Hwa Housing, he was turned away.
Attorney Kim presents a list of paid employees for the past five years and states that no one by the name of Lee Myung-joon ever worked at Dae Hwa Group. Thus, the defendant has no liability to pay the plaintiff. Deul-ho objects by showing Lee Myung-joon’s business card as proof of his existence, but the judge asks for additional evidence or witnesses to support his claim.
When it’s Deul-ho’s turn again, he states that an employee was hurt on the job, but was unable to file for worker’s compensation because Dae Hwa Housing did not want to get penalized. As a result, Stepdad paid the worker’s hospital bills himself. Attorney Kim objects that this is irrelevant to the case, so Deul-ho reveals some pertinent evidence: pictures of Lee Myung-joon at the construction site.
Deul-ho asks Attorney Kim to identify the man, and he admits the man is Lee Myung-joon. However, Attorney Kim objects that merely being at the site doesn’t prove he’s an employee. Thus, Deul-ho zooms in on Lee Myung-joon’s identification card, revealing his employment at Dae Hwa Housing. Quiet cheers can be heard from the audience, and oddly, even Hae-kyung seems pleased.
When it’s Attorney Kim’s turn, he shows a video of Stepdad attacking a security guard at Dae Hwa Housing, though Stepdad argues that it was just a drunken accident. Attorney Kim then presents a second video of Stepdad pushing a man at the construction site in the middle of the day, when he should’ve been sober. Attorney Kim explains that the man being pushed was a professional analyst sent by Dae Hwa Housing to inspect the construction site, and argues that the video proves Stepdad kept interfering with Dae Hwa Housing’s business.
With the trial over for the day, Deul-ho meets Attorney Kim in the bathroom and asks if he’s having fun. Attorney Kim scoffs and tells Deul-ho to stick to neighborhood cases instead of bothering Chairman Jung. Deul-ho replies that he can’t do that because he has a good memory, and doesn’t forget those who bothered him first.
Deul-ho leaves but then sends a punch through the swinging doors. Attorney Kim flinches, and Deul-ho tells him that this is all he technically needs to deal with him. Deul-ho then tries to make a smooth exit, but his arm gets momentarily stuck between the doors.
Stepdad is burdened by guilt since he feels responsible for the trouble the videos caused. Eun-jo tells him not to worry, and Ae-ra and Dae-soo reassure him that Deul-ho will win. Deul-ho arrives and orders Eun-jo to take her parents back home since it’s a part of a lawyer’s duty to take care of the clients. Deul-ho secretly hands her money and tells her to buy her parents a meal. Eun-jo is touched by the gesture and is at a loss for words by the group’s support. Unbeknownst to Deul-ho and his gang, a man dressed in black trails behind them.
At a restaurant, Eun-jo and her family eat in silence until mom bangs her chopsticks, makes a lettuce wrap, and shoves it into her husband’s face. She tells him to cheer up, and Eun-jo takes this interlude to confess her feelings. She admits that, at first, she wanted to run away, but now she thinks that it’ll be harder if he weren’t by their side. Stepdad says he’s sorry and grateful, and Eun-jo calls him “Father” and makes a lettuce wrap for him.
Attorney Jang warns Attorney Kim not to lose this case since their relationship with Dae Hwa Group is on the line. Attorney Kim assures him that he’s coming up with countermeasures, and if necessary, he’s willing to use extreme measures to win. Standing out of sight, Hae-kyung overhears their conversation and hurries out of the firm.
She arrives at Deul-ho’s office and asks that he take care of himself. She thinks Chairman Jung is up to something suspicious, and Deul-ho admits that something already happened. He reassures her that he was prepared for this from the start, and reminds her of his promise that he’ll stay alive until Soo-bin gets married. He thanks her for the concern and advises her to take care of herself, as well. Hae-kyung is frustrated at his nonchalance, noting that he hasn’t changed at all.
Deul-ho meets with High Chief Prosecutor Choi, who tells him that the files from his case three years ago were illegally deleted. He asks if Deul-ho is getting involved again, and Deul-ho admits that he’s looking for the person who handled Chairman Jung’s slush funds. Chief Prosecutor Choi warns him that getting the ledger won’t be enough, but Deul-ho counters that he needs the ledger as a starting point. Deul-ho asks the high chief prosecutor for one request: that he become prosecutor general and stop the prosecutor’s office from becoming more corrupt.
Deul-ho runs into Chief Prosecutor Shin who’s standing outside, and the two share some barbed pleasantries. Chief Prosecutor Shin warns Deul-ho against grabbing just anyone’s hand, and Deul-ho replies that he won’t make the same mistake twice.
The innuendo isn’t lost on Chief Prosecutor Shin as he mulls over Deul-ho’s words in his office. Ji-wook enters, and Chief Prosecutor Shin asks him if he thinks Deul-ho taking on the case against Dae Hwa Housing is a coincidence. He informs Ji-wook that Chief Prosecutor Choi plans on using Deul-ho to attack him, and he wants Ji-wook to prevent that from happening. He also orders Ji-wook to privately investigate Lee Myung-joon, because he’s the one who handled Chairman Jung’s slush funds. When Ji-wook asks why, his father explains that Chairman Jung is a doubled-edge sword, so he needs some insurance against him.
A man wearing a mask and shades bikes around and notices two cars with suited men parked outside Lee Myung-joon’s house. He hides behind some containers before taking off his mask: It’s Lee Myung-joon. He calls Chairman Jung to taunt him over how much he’s spending in order to catch him. Chairman Jung offers to spare Lee Myung-joon’s life if he returns the ledger, but Lee Myung-joon laughs wryly instead—he can’t trust him. Chairman Jung replies that he was the one who first broke the trust between them.
In flashback, we see that Chairman Jung smacked Lee Myung-joon for stealing his money before ordering his men to strip him. With Lee Myung-joon half-naked and kneeling before him, the chairman hissed that he’d be nothing without him—and besides, he was only helping him because of his sister.
Back in the present, Lee Myung-joon states that his sister dedicated her life to Chairman Jung, and asks if that wasn’t enough. He wishes the chairman ill health and hangs up as an angry tear streaks down his face.
Yoo-shin runs into the office and informs Deul-ho that a bar hostess Lee Myung-joon frequently met hasn’t shown up for work. Having found a lead, the three go to investigate the hostess’s apartment, and Deul-ho tells Yoo-shin to pretend to be from the dry cleaners. He also orders Dae-soo to tag along, and watching all of this from behind is the man from the courthouse.
Yoo-shin and Dae-soo successfully infiltrate the apartment and find their man. However, Lee Myung-joon escapes by jumping out of a window, but Deul-ho guesses this and waits downstairs. He chases after him, but Lee Myung-joon doesn’t get very far with his sprained ankle and gets cornered by Deul-ho and Yoo-shin. All the while, the mysterious man in black hides behind a pillar and reports that Lee Myung-joon has been found.
Dae-soo locks up the office, and Lee Myung-joon sits on the couch, peeved at his captors. Deul-ho asks if he called him before, and he says he never did. Deul-ho explains that someone pretended to be Lee Myung-joon and tried to kill him. He asks if Lee Myung-joon might know who this person might be, causing him to look down worriedly.
Eun-jo interrupts that her father is Hong Yoon-gi and urges him to tell the truth. Deul-ho cuts in to ask if he was in charge of the slush funds or if he has the ledger. He then requests that Lee Myung-joon take the witness stand, but he just laughs in response.
Deul-ho says that Lee Myung-joon must be well aware that the people after him don’t think twice about murdering someone. Therefore, they will watch over him for the time being. He tells Dae-soo to make their guest some ramyun, and the two exchange dorky winks.
Chairman Jung hears that Deul-ho has Lee Myung-joon and throws a fit. He yells at his secretary to take care of it and orders him to make it look natural. At the office, Deul-ho tells Lee Myung-joon to trust him if he wants to live and promises to protect his sister, too. On the other hand, Lee Myung-joon’s sister looks like she’s living quite the pampered life. She reveals the ledger she’s kept hidden away, smirking as she flips through it.
Lee Myung-joon attempts to run away, but Dae-soo and his employees pop up around every corner, so he admits defeat by going to sleep. Unlike our captive, Eun-jo and her family celebrate at home, happy that they found a key witness. Despite the good news, Stepdad wonders if Lee Myung-joon will really testify in court on their behalf.
Bearing soju and snacks, Deul-ho talks to Lee Myung-joon about his prosecutor days. He explains that he hid the truth once, and it ruined everything. He lost a loved one and learned that the truth can’t be hidden without repercussions. Deul-ho says that he’s still going to list Lee Myung-joon as a witness even if he doesn’t show up, because that’s the only way this situation can change.
Attorney Kim reports that Deul-ho called Lee Myung-joon as a witness, and Hae-kyung recommends informing Chairman Jung. Just then, the chairman arrives unannounced and barks at them to come up with a plan. Hae-kyung suggests a settlement, and Chairman Jung wonders aloud if she’s on her ex-husband’s side. She continues that settling out of court will stop Lee Myung-joon from testifying, and Chairman Jung appears to consider the proposal.
Stepdad sits across from Lee Myung-joon, and Deul-ho explains that he’s agreed to be their witness. Eun-jo thanks him for his change of heart, but Lee Myung-joon gets on his knees and begs for forgiveness from Stepdad.
Deul-ho gets a call from Attorney Kim who tells him to come to Geum San to discuss a settlement. Deul-ho acts tough and says the one asking favors should move. Attorney Kim agrees to go to him, and Deul-ho is caught off-guard by his compliance. Since the meeting is now at his office, Deul-ho moves Lee Myung-joon to a storage room and asks he stay here for the time being.
Attorney Kim waltzes into the office and makes faces at the humble state of things. He asks for Deul-ho, and Ae-ra and Dae-soo move aside to reveal him lying on the couch. Attorney Kim offers the full $1.5 million, but Deul-ho refuses. Kim then says they had a tough time convincing Chairman Jung to think about the company’s image, but Deul-ho just laughs at the blatant lies. He tells Attorney Kim to bring Chairman Jung, and to get lost.
Humiliated and furious, Attorney Kim has no other option and decides to call Chairman Jung directly. He politely informs him that Deul-ho wants to talk in person, but all we see is Attorney Kim moving his phone away from his ear as he quickly apologizes.
Deul-ho asks Stepdad what he wants to do, and he says that he wants to accept the offer. The rest of the group agrees that Stepdad should take the money and absolve his debt, and Deul-ho fails to hide his disappointment.
Chairman Jung invites Deul-ho to his home office and asks why he wanted to meet. Deul-ho says that he got tired of talking to a puppet and came here to talk about the content of the settlement, stating that the total construction fee is $2.5 million.
At first, Chairman Jung chuckles, but Deul-ho isn’t done tacking on more fees. The final negotiation price ends up at $4 million, and Chairman Jung challenges him to just try asking for more. Deul-ho is happy to oblige, and continues increasing the amount until Chairman Jung asks if $4 million will be enough to settle things.
Deul-ho stares at the chairman and tells him that this was all for his client—his debt with the chairman still remains, but he’ll listen if the chairman wants to settle. Chairman Jung tells Deul-ho to stop being cheeky, and offers Deul-ho some allowance if he’ll emigrate. Deul-ho tells him that he can’t move out of the country and reminds the chairman to keep his promise. He makes one final comment about the pretentious interior design before he leaves, and Chairman Jung grits his teeth and tells his secretary to start the next phase of the plan.
Everyone at the office is in a merry mood (save for Deul-ho), and they toast over their victory. Dae-soo marvels at the amount of money, and Ae-ra tells Stepdad to talk to her later about the legal fees. Deul-ho says he didn’t do it for the money, causing the others to shout raucously at him.
Ji-wook tells Chief Prosecutor Shin that Deul-ho has Lee Myung-joon and it appears that the Dae Hwa Housing case is going to be settled out of court. Chief Prosecutor Shin tells Ji-wook to take Lee under his custody, and when Ji-wook argues that there isn’t a plausible cause, Chief Prosecutor Shin yells at him to just do it. Ji-wook addresses Chief Prosecutor Shin as “Father,” and tells him not to worry—everyone believes he’s the best candidate for the prosecutor general position.
Lee Myung-joon calls Deul-ho to meet, so Deul-ho arrives at the hideout in the middle of the night. A nervous Lee asks if he can handle it, by which he means the slush funds. He confesses his anxiety over going up against Chairman Jung, but Deul-ho promises to handle everything himself. He asks for the ledger, and Lee tells him that he’ll have it by tomorrow.
The next day, Deul-ho calls Lee Myung-joon as scheduled, but gets no reply. We see that he’s lying unresponsive on the floor, and Deul-ho asks Dae-soo to go check up on him. Meanwhile, Ji-wook rushes into a parking lot where a dead person is being wheeled away by the police, stopping them to uncover a dead Lee Myung-joon. Ji-wook examines the CCTV footage from last night and witnesses Deul-ho entering Lee Myung-joon’s hideout.
Ji-wook informs Chief Prosecutor Shin that Lee Myung-joon was found dead early this morning, and the circumstances hint at foul play. Ji-wook adds that Deul-ho was caught on camera leaving the scene of the crime last night, and Chief Prosecutor Shin orders him to arrest Deul-ho as a suspect.
Deul-ho and Eun-jo sit in court to finalize the settlement, but Deul-ho’s mind is elsewhere, since he doesn’t even hear the judge call for him. They leave the courtroom, but before they can catch their breath, a mob of suited men led by Ji-wook run toward them. Ji-wook announces that Deul-ho’s under arrest on suspicion for the murder of Lee Myung-joon, and cuffs him.
It’s becoming more and more obvious that the consistent weak link of Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho is the writing. Everything feels anticlimactic and the show fails at building up suspense. When characters tell us their next move, watching the scene unfold right after isn’t super exciting. The show does better as a slice-of-life comedy rather than as a taut legal drama, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This episode had great comedic beats, and I hope the show capitalizes on what works.
Though the writing leaves me wanting more, I cannot sing enough praises about Park Shin-yang, Hwang Seok-jung, and Park Won-sang. Park Shin-yang continues to deliver a fantastic performance as Jo Deul-ho, and captures both the jester and rebel within the character. Ae-ra and Dae-soo may be comic relief, but Hwang Suk-jung and Park Won-sang elevate their sidekick roles by the sheer strength of their acting chops. However, the three shine the most when they’re bouncing off one another, and we get brilliant scenes like the hospital fiasco. They’re so natural at what they do that I’m left wondering if half their scenes are actually written in the script or ad-libbed on the spot.
With each passing episode, we see more of Hae-kyung, and at first, I was open to the idea of Deul-ho reuniting with her. However, after this episode, it seems as though she doesn’t want to get back together with him. Hae-kyung wants a relationship with the charming knight in shining armor she fell in love with, and not the real human being underneath. Once the rose-colored glasses came off, Hae-kyung rejected Deul-ho and couldn’t accept him for who he was. Hae-kyung grew up privileged but doesn’t seem to realize what that entails. As a result, she expects Deul-ho to act one way, and when he diverges from what she considers a normative response, she doesn’t even attempt to understand his perspective. Unless the show addresses this fundamental issue with their relationship, I don’t see how they could work as a couple without splitting up again. On the other hand, I am glad the show has developed the character, and prefer this version much better than the materialistic, evil ex-wife she came across as in the beginning.
I appreciate the show for not forcing a romantic relationship between Deul-ho and Eun-jo as I feared it might do (should I knock on wood?). Rather, I’m enjoying Eun-jo’s incorporation into the makeshift firm. She’s learning the formal and informal practices of law from Deul-ho, but she’s also adapting into Ae-ra and Dae-soo’s circle of awesomeness. I loved how she swatted away Attorney Kim, and chuckled at the sight of the trio sighing over Deul-ho’s bullheadedness. She’s slowly becoming one of the crew both in body and soul, and the only complaint is that it should have happened sooner.
- Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho: Episode 11
- Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho: Episode 10
- Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho: Episode 9
- Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho: Episode 8
- Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho: Episode 7
- Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho: Episode 6
- Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho: Episode 5
- Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho: Episode 4
- Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho: Episode 3
- Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho: Episode 2
- Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho: Episode 1