Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho: Episode 13
Deul-ho is arrested on charges of murder, and has forty-eight hours to prove his innocence. It’s a tall order for anyone, much less for a hero stuck in an interrogation room. But it turns out that being isolated and alone with your thoughts for that long helps with figuring out life’s conundrums. Actually, just being Jo Deul-ho and brilliant is the best get-out-of-jail-free card there is.
EPISODE 13 RECAP
Per his father’s orders, Ji-wook arrests Deul-ho for the murder of Lee Myung-joon and proceeds to question him. He cuts straight to the chase, and asks Deul-ho why he had killed Lee Myung-joon, and Deul-ho plainly utters that he wanted to, since that’s the sort of confession Ji-wook expects. He grimly inquires if Ji-wook actually believes that he killed the man. In answer, Ji-wook throws down surveillance photos of Deul-ho at the scene of the crime.
Ji-wook asserts that the victim was killed at the time of Deul-ho’s visit because there were no other visitors after him. Also, his prints were found all over the room. Ji-wook adds that Lee Myung-joon’s cell phone records indicated that Deul-ho was the last person he spoke to before his murder. He declares that all this evidence points to Deul-ho as the prime suspect.
Deul-ho challenges his confidence by mentioning that all this evidence could’ve easily been tampered with. Besides, as someone who was a prosecutor for ten years, Deul-ho states that he could’ve destroyed the evidence if he wanted to. So why would he of all people go around advertising the fact that he killed someone?
Ji-wook remains unconvinced, and maintains that Deul-ho killed Lee Myung-joon after he refused to testify as witness in the Dae Hwa Housing lawsuit. And because Lee Myung-joon was in charge of the Dae Hwa Housing slush fund, Deul-ho’s animosity toward Chairman Jung also drove him to murder.
Deul-ho dismisses Ji-wook’s reasoning and wonders if his father put him up to framing him with pre-fabricated evidence. Ji-wook angrily defends his father by proclaiming that both he and his father are prosecutors, and that he’s the one who makes the calls, therefore Deul-ho should watch his mouth. He gives Deul-ho forty-eight hours (now down to forty-four due to the interrogation) to come up with evidence that will absolve him. Deul-ho, however, is unfazed: “Don’t you think you’re helping the real murderer destroy evidence and escape?”
Deul-ho wagers that he’ll find the evidence that overturns this charge within forty-four hours and Ji-wook scoffs. The countdown begins.
Chief Prosecutor Shin sits himself down across from Deul-ho, but not before shutting off all recording devices. He asks if Deul-ho has the slush fund ledger, and Deul-ho taunts him with a maybe-yes/maybe-no answer. Shin warns that if he does have it, he will die. Deul-ho is unperturbed by the threat, and wonders how someone he respected so highly became so corrupt.
On the other side of the window, Ji-wook watches his father and Deul-ho, but is unable to hear their conversation. His finger hovers over the button that would allow him to listen in, though he doesn’t press it.
Deul-ho tells Ji-wook’s father that he’s aware of his many shares in Dae Hwa, all under fake names, which is why he finally understands Chief Prosecutor Shin’s deep involvement in Chairman Jung’s affairs.
Chief Prosecutor Shin concludes that Deul-ho doesn’t have the ledger, because if he did, he would’ve exposed it in court to cause the utmost damage. He advises Deul-ho not to delude himself into thinking that a ledger would bring about the world he envisions. Deul-ho agrees by saying that while a ledger can be ripped up, greed cannot. Shin calls his people to confiscate every document in Deul-ho’s office.
Forty-three hours remain. Deul-ho sits alone in the room and racks his brain for what could’ve transpired. He remembers seeing a vent in the ceiling of Lee Myung-joon’s room and determines that the murderer entered through it, which is how he bypassed the door and video surveillance. He pictures an intruder stabbing Myung-joon, laying his corpse on the floor, and knocking over furniture to simulate a struggle. After tampering with the scene, the intruder exits the way he entered—through the vent—and is able to leave without a trace. Deul-ho deduces, however, that there must be evidence left inside the vent.
Back in the law office, Team Deul-ho frets about their boss’s arrest. Suddenly, law enforcement officials led by Investigator Park (Chief Prosecutor Shin’s go-to henchman) barge in with a search and seizure warrant and grab every book and document despite the team’s desperate pleas to stop. Amidst the chaos, Investigator Park plants a glass bottle and a packet in the evidence box.
Attorney Kim informs his supervisor of Deul-ho’s arrest for murder, and Hae-kyung storms in, refusing to believe the news. She’s certain something’s amiss and insists that Deul-ho would never do such a thing; she suspects Chairman Jung is involved. Her father instructs Hae-kyung to stay out of this matter, but she refuses. She’s had enough, and no one can stop her.
As his team pores over all the confiscated papers from Deul-ho’s office, Ji-wook checks in for an update. Shady Investigator Park hands Ji-wook the bottle and case file and tells him they were found in Deul-ho’s desk. Ji-wook commends him for his good work, unaware of the tampering.
Deul-ho attempts to figure out where the ledger is and recalls seeing Lee Myung-joon’s sister Lee So-jung leave her brother’s home carrying a packet of sorts. He knows Chairman Jung and Chief Prosecutor Shin are bent on locating the ledger because they have no idea where it is. He needs to get out and do something, but he’s trapped.
Thirty-nine hours remain. Ji-wook resumes his interrogation of Deul-ho, only this time Eun-jo is also present, after she insisted on serving as Deul-ho’s attorney. He shows them the glass bottle and asks if it looks familiar; it’s a bottle of potassium cyanide. Obviously, Deul-ho is unfamiliar with it, but Ji-wook is certain he used the poison to kill Lee Myung-joon since it was found in his desk drawer, along with an old case file of a 2010 potassium cyanide murder case he handled. Ji-wook notes that Deul-ho became an expert on the poison after that trial.
Deul-ho remarks that Ji-wook is trying hard, but should really focus his efforts on finding the real culprit. This infuriates Ji-wook, because to him, the evidence and the killer are right before him and clear as day.
Chief Prosecutor Shin receives word that the slush fund ledger was not found in Deul-ho’s office, so he orders Investigator Park to search the homes of Deul-ho’s employees.
Ji-wook steps out of the room momentarily, giving Deul-ho the chance to quickly whisper in Eun-jo’s ear. We don’t hear what he says, but it’s most likely directions on how to get him out.
Outside the room, Hae-kyung begs Ji-wook for a minute with her ex-husband. She asks him to grant her this favor as a friend, but he puts his foot down since Eun-jo is already in the room representing Deul-ho; there’s no need for an extra attorney. But when Eun-jo exits the room, Hae-kyung sees a chance to step in as Deul-ho’s new attorney.
She poses one question to Deul-ho: “Did you kill Lee Myung-joon?” Deul-ho answers that he didn’t. She expresses concern for his safety, mentioning Chairman Jung’s ruthlessness. She’s tired of him risking his life again and wants him to stop for once. Deul-ho appreciates her concern, but asks that she just trust him to take care of this mess on his own.
Hae-kyung makes it clear that she no longer trusts him, which is why she’s getting involved this time to help him out. Deul-ho is against her decision, reminding her that she works for Geum San. If she sides with him, Chairman Jung will go nuts. Hae-kyung, however, doesn’t care anymore.
Hae-kyung: “Is that important? A person is dead, and you’re the murder suspect. You’re being wrongly accused of murder and you expect me to do nothing about it?”
Hae-kyung has the final word, and says she’ll do as she pleases and free him in due time. She stops by Chief Prosecutor Shin’s office and notifies him that she will reveal the truth about Chairman Jung and Lee Myung-joon’s death, so he better be ready to take responsibility once all hell breaks loose. Shin does his best to play dumb, but is visibly unsettled by her words.
Twenty-eight hours remain. Per Deul-ho’s request, Dae-soo and Ae-ra head to the apartment of Lee So-jung so they can take her to a safe place, but she never emerges. Meanwhile, Eun-jo stealthily enters the scene of Lee Myung-joon’s death to examine the vent in the ceiling.
Deul-ho understands that he must find proof to show that someone else is the murderer, but knows that the powers that be can manipulate evidence, which means the incorruptible Ji-wook must personally check the evidence himself.
The next day, law enforcement officials raid the homes of Ae-ra and Eun-jo. Back at the office, they discuss their incredulity at the search and seizure warrants. Even Dae-soo and the stout loan shark were subjected to the authorities.
Just as they’re about to discuss their next steps, Hae-kyung arrives and asks if she can join. Everyone’s surprised by her appearance, and Eun-jo doubts her intent, but Hae-kyung shows them the piece of paper Deul-ho had slipped her in the interrogation room with the words, “Ventilation duct/Lee So-jung” scribbled on it. This confirms that she’s on Team Deul-ho now.
Hae-kyung wastes no time and orders Ae-ra and Dae-soo to locate Lee So-jung, Eun-jo to figure out how the murderer accessed the vent, and the portly loan shark to keep an eye on the people in Lee So-jung’s vicinity. The prosecution is looking for evidence that will indict Deul-ho within forty-eight hours, so the team needs to secure evidence that will free him. For her part, Hae-kyung says she’ll condemn the prosecution’s harsh and groundless investigation.
Chairman Jung is surprised to hear that Lee So-jung is missing and may be in hiding after her brother’s death. He recalls her gently pleading with him to forgive her brother in the past, which prompts him to bark at his advisor to locate her ASAP. It’s a race between Chairman Jung and Team Deul-ho to locate Lee So-jung before it’s too late.
We find Lee So-jung walking alone on a quiet beach. A flashback reveals that Lee Myung-joon had called her to say that he would be taking a huge risk, and had instructed her to take the ledger and run if she didn’t hear from him by lunchtime. He also warned that Chairman Jung would come after her, and that she’d need to go into hiding for safety. He also left her with Deul-ho’s number in case of emergency. So-jung heeded her brother’s warning, so she’s safe for now.
Fourteen hours remain.
Chief Prosecutor Shin tells Chairman Jung that he couldn’t find the ledger in Deul-ho’s possession, but Jung divulges that he’s not so sure Deul-ho has it anymore, because Lee So-jung’s suspiciously gone missing. He reminds Shin that Deul-ho needs to be locked up first, because if he gets out and finds her before they do, it will not bode well for them.
Hae-kyung meets with Prosecutor Ko for a favor and lets him know that she’s not there to represent Geum San. Instead, she’s there as a mother on behalf of her child and her child’s father. She needs him on her side, explaining that her husband was looking for Chairman Jung’s ledger, and the murder victim was suspected to have it. She knows Deul-ho is innocent and had no motive to kill.
Ji-wook walks in on his officials looking through mountains of documents, and is puzzled by their efforts when the murder weapon has already been found. Investigator Park explains that these papers were collected from the homes of Deul-ho’s employees; they’re searching for a murder motive. Ji-wook doesn’t buy this, and the investigator reluctantly admits that Chief Prosecutor Shin had ordered them to do it.
Fuming, Ji-wook marches into his father’s office and demands to know what more he’s looking for. His father lies and says he wanted his officials to uncover a murder motive, but Ji-wook asks if he’s actually looking for Chairman Jung’s slush fund ledger. The look on his father’s face is all he needs to confirm his suspicion.
Chief Prosecutor Shin tries to avoid his son’s gaze and turns the conversation back to Deul-ho’s arrest. He reprimands Ji-wook for taking so long to book Deul-ho when he practically served the whole case to his son on a silver platter.
Oops. He blurted out too much, and Ji-wook painfully asks his father if he really did set it all up. Prosecutor Shin calls him pathetic before looking away. So… that’s a yes.
Dae-soo and Eun-jo locate the door in So-jung’s parking garage that leads to the vent in Lee Myung-joon’s room. Eun-jo successfully jimmies it and finds the vent. Much to their surprise, the vent is large enough for someone to pass through. Then, they spot the nearest CCTV and rejoice.
Ji-wook is back in the interrogation room, still reeling from his father’s duplicity, which Deul-ho picks up on:
Deul-ho: “You want to put me away right? With your own hands, you want to put me behind bars? Have you shaken out everything there is about me? Did you find what the higher-ups wanted?”
Ji-wook yells at him to stop, but Deul-ho keeps going, reminding him that he’s different from his father, so he should stop being used. Ji-wook stands up and bellows that Deul-ho has no idea what he’s thinking. Deul-ho agrees, but is certain Ji-wook will make the right choice in the end.
Meanwhile, Eun-jo and Dae-soo scan through the footage, but the CCTV doesn’t reveal what they need. They head back to the garage and spot a car directly facing the door to the vent with a blackbox blinking inside, which means they’ve finally found the footage that can set Deul-ho free.
Four hours remain. Eun-jo plays the blackbox footage for Ji-wook, and he watches as a man in black enters and leaves through the same door after having murdered Lee Myung-joon. Deul-ho was correct; the killer used the vent to enter the room. Moreover, the video’s timestamp coincides with the time of death.
Ji-wook clenches his fist in fury because he was wrong yet again. Deul-ho has Eun-jo accompany Ji-wook to the crime scene, since he knows Ji-wook would never conceal evidence. Eun-jo shows Ji-wook the vent, and he decides to climb through it himself. Flashlight in hand, he crawls through the space and spots a used syringe, perfect for injecting someone with cyanide.
Ji-wook declares to his father that he will release Deul-ho on account of the new evidence, because he refuses to lock up an innocent person. None of these new findings seem to matter to Chief Prosecutor Shin, who responds by slapping Ji-wook in the face. He tries to paint Deul-ho as a villain who brainwashed Ji-wook, but to no avail. Ji-wook cries for his father to stop being used by Chairman Jung, and to stop tarnishing the reputation of the prosecutor’s office. Chief Prosecutor Shin merely clarifies that Chairman Jung never manipulated him—he’s the one manipulating Jung for his own sake. He curtly tells Ji-wook not to call him “Father” anymore, and leaves.
With twenty-eight minutes to spare, Deul-ho is released. Eun-jo updates him on Lee So-jung’s whereabouts as they walk out. Deul-ho is surprised to see Hae-kyung waiting outside for him, and asks why she’s here. She tells him to rest after what he went through, but he says a break is out of question, since he has to locate Lee So-jung. Hae-kyung understands, and encourages him to take care of himself.
As expected, Chairman Jung is outraged to hear that Deul-ho was released. There’s another outraged higher-up, and it’s Attorney Jang, who’s less than thrilled that his daughter sought out Prosecutor Ko to help her ex-husband. Hae-kyung brings up Soo-bin and explains that she didn’t want her to remember her father as a murderer. Attorney Jang suspects Hae-kyung of wanting to get back together with Deul-ho, and warns her that he’ll never allow it. Hae-kyung maintains that she has no intention of doing so, and apologizes for not thinking of her father. However, she discloses that she doesn’t regret her actions and will take responsibility for any problems that arise.
Deul-ho returns to the office and finds a missed call from an unknown number in his call history. He dials it and Lee So-jung picks up. He lets her know that he’ll be there soon, unaware that Chief Prosecutor Shin has traced his call and that Chairman Jung has ordered his men to follow him.
Deul-ho’s behind the wheel, en route to meet Lee So-jung when he notices two cars tailing close behind. Dae-soo and the rest of the gang freak out while Deul-ho takes them on a joyride, switching lanes and swerving erratically to stave off Chairman Jung’s men.
He pulls into a home in a remote location and calls Lee So-jung’s name. Upon hearing his voice, Lee So-jung tentatively opens the door and shows herself.
Deul-ho apologizes to a tearful Lee So-jung for asking her brother to testify, and for failing to protect him. He informs her that Chairman Jung is looking for her, and that she’s in grave danger. Lee So-jung answers that she’s aware and expected as much. She wants to get rid of the ledger, but Deul-ho cautions against destroying it because nothing will get resolved. He needs the ledger to incriminate Chairman Jung, but Lee So-jung would rather return it to the chairman and beg him to spare her life.
Moments after Deul-ho leaves the scene, a black-clad man enters Lee So-jung’s room. It’s empty save for a bag and a woman sleeping with her back turned. The man rifles through the bag in search of the ledger, while Eun-jo lies on the floor nearby, feigning sleep and pretending to be Lee So-jung.
Dae-soo, armed with a bat, and Ae-ra, clutching a taser, burst into the room to catch the intruder. The intruder grabs Eun-jo as a hostage, pointing a knife at her throat. Eun-jo’s terrified as the man drags her out of the room, but luckily, Deul-ho’s right there to stop him.
Well isn’t this a case of déjà vu! We all know how this is going to end. Years ago, Hae-kyung was in the same predicament, but Deul-ho valiantly saved her. Barring any surprises, Eun-jo’s in good hands because Deul-ho sure knows how to rescue damsels in distress and beat villains to a pulp.
This episode felt immensely different and far too long for several reasons. Ironically, the forty-eight hour countdown did little to inject suspense and heighten the drama in what might be one of the least exciting episodes to date. Because Deul-ho was out of commission and stuck in a room for most of the hour, the pace of this episode slowed down tremendously. We really missed out on Deul-ho’s frenetic energy, and his absence was felt.
Moreover, I never feared that forty-eight hours was going to be insufficient to free him. In fact, forty-eight hours almost seemed like too much time, and it certainly felt that way. For an episode that tried very hard to depict that it was crunch time, I never felt a sense of urgency as a viewer and didn’t really see it in Team Deul-ho, except maybe in honorary team member Hae-kyung, who really showed a different side of herself by springing into action, defying her father and Geum San, and doing whatever she possibly could to free Deul-ho. Hae-kyung was calm, cool, and smart throughout the whole ordeal and it was great to see her take a stand and ruffle some feathers.
I expected Eun-jo, Dae-soo, and Ae-ra to step up and investigate the crime on their own, but was disappointed to see that they really didn’t do much until they received Deul-ho’s instructions, so once again, Deul-ho called the shots and they followed. It would’ve been so great to see Eun-jo take charge, lead the team, and take a page out of Deul-ho’s book to think outside of the box, so that she could challenge herself to figure things out without Deul-ho’s help. And while she gets points for representing him in the interrogation room, I just want to see Eun-jo do more than shriek at the sight of a mouse and serve as a somewhat helpful sidekick. Maybe that’s wishful thinking at this point, but I’ll hold onto that hope until the end.
I’m relieved Ji-wook finally learned that his father isn’t the upstanding chief prosecutor he believed him to be. Ji-wook’s fervent desire to one-up Deul-ho clouded his judgment and gave him major tunnel vision, pinning Deul-ho as the one and only possible culprit despite knowing Deul-ho’s character. I felt rather bored watching Ji-wook try and force a confession out of him, but I also pitied him for not knowing any better.
If Ji-wook does have a redeeming quality, it’s his strong sense of justice. You can’t fault him for not trying, because he certainly takes his job seriously and puts in the effort. It’s just his bad case of jealousy and overly idealistic perception of the justice system that gets in the way. I appreciate that even when it hurts to be proven wrong, Ji-wook errs on the side of truth, rather than belief.
But now that the ledger’s been located, and is presumably in the right hands, here’s hoping the show picks up the pace. Full steam ahead for Team Deul-ho!
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