Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho: Episode 17
As more and more people fall into Chief Prosecutor Shin’s spider web of schemes and plots, they find that their deeds in the past have a price in the present. The enemy of my enemy may not necessarily be a friend, but with a Big Bad this smart, Deul-ho and his loyal band of followers are quickly shaping up to be a beacon of light and hope in everyone’s lives.
EPISODE 17 RECAP
Deul-ho storms into the Prosecutor’s Office to confront Chief Prosecutor Shin regarding Hae-kyung’s arrest. He demands to know what Chief Prosecutor Shin is gaining by arresting Hae-kyung, and why he is cornering Geum San. Chief Prosecutor Shin has a calm and practiced response to all of his questions: Deul-ho knows that Geum San helped Chairman Jung with his corrupt slush fund accounts, and Attorney Jang set up a paper company to help the chairman avoid taxes, putting Hae-kyung in charge.
But Deul-ho knows that Chief Prosecutor Shin is hiding the real reason behind all of this—to gather money to become promoted to the position of prosecutor general. Chief Prosecutor Shin, after all, is the one earning all of the benefits from Geum San helping Chairman Jung. Chief Prosecutor Shin seems to remain calm at being found out, but Deul-ho declares war on him before storming out of the office.
In the interrogation room, Ji-wook informs Hae-kyung that as “president” of the paper company DHK Global, she has been charged with helping Chairman Jung with his tax evasion and embezzlement. Hae-kyung is surprised to hear this, and Ji-wook doesn’t seem to want to incriminate her—he just wants to know the truth about her involvement in DHK Global and Dae Hwa’s slush fund.
But Hae-kyung refuses to tell Ji-wook anything. Frustrated, he demands to know if she is taking the fall for Geum San—this is enough hard evidence to prove Geum San’s direct involvement in corruption for the past four years.
Deul-ho storms in at that moment, citing himself as Hae-kyung’s legal counsel and demanding to see the evidence that justified arresting Hae-kyung without a warrant. Ji-wook shows him the information on DHK Global, saying that he’s the one who should be finding that out from Attorney Jang.
After Ji-wook leaves, Hae-kyung explains that there must be a paper company operating under her name without her knowledge. She then asks him to take care of Soo-bin if she can’t make it home, and Deul-ho assures her he will—and also to make sure this case won’t take too long.
Deul-ho catches up with Ji-wook, insisting that Hae-kyung is innocent. Ji-wook asks how he can be so sure, and Deul-ho explains that when he investigated Chairman Jung’s corruption three years ago, Hae-kyung’s name never showed up.
Deul-ho asks if Chief Prosecutor Shin was the one who pointed Ji-wook toward DHK Global. If so, didn’t Ji-wook wonder about the reason why Chief Prosecutor Shin gave him that evidence? Frustrated, Ji-wook growls at him to stop acting so smug—probably because he knows Deul-ho is right.
Eun-jo calls Deul-ho from Dae-soo’s office, informing him that the news reporters for the press conference all left. In turn, Deul-ho tells her to investigate DHK Global. When she hangs up, Dae-soo marvels at the fact that even an important person in a huge law firm could be taken in so mercilessly.
Ae-ra wonders how the prosecution discovered this evidence right before their press conference, which spurs Dae-soo into suspecting that their office is bugged. He prowls around the room, making everyone speaks in hushed tones as he searches for the bugs. Eun-jo excuses herself to visit the prosecutor’s office.
At Geum San, Attorney Jang sits in distress over Hae-kyung’s arrest. A flashback shows his conversation with Chief Prosecutor Shin about the borrowed-name accounts under Geum San’s management. Desperate, Attorney Jang calls the prosecutor for a meeting, and Chief Prosecutor Shin welcomes him, instructing Ji-wook to postpone the joint interrogation between Chairman Jung and Attorney Jang without explaining why.
As Attorney Jang leaves, he runs into Deul-ho, who asks if he’s going to meet Chief Prosecutor Shin. Attorney Jang snaps that this situation is his fault—if only he hadn’t taken Chairman Jung out of the hospital, this wouldn’t have happened.
Deul-ho asks whether Chief Prosecutor Shin is asking for the borrowed-name accounts in exchange for Hae-kyung’s release. Attorney Jang tells him to mind his own business, but Deul-ho tells Attorney Jang not to hide the truth—if he lets the chief prosecutor run the show, Geum San will crumble.
Attorney Jang ignores him, however, and meets Chief Prosecutor Shin at a restaurant. When Attorney Jang asks if he’ll release Hae-kyung if he liquidates the borrowed-name accounts, Chief Prosecutor Shin insists that of course a person will be released if they are found innocent, implying that her innocence is up to Attorney Jang.
The liquidated borrowed-name accounts yield a total of $30 million, but Attorney Jang will need Chairman Jung’s signature to liquidate them, which Chief Prosecutor Shin tells him to take care of by himself.
Eun-jo arrives at the prosecutor’s office to talk to Hae-kyung as her legal co-counsel, much to Ji-wook’s annoyance. Eun-jo informs Hae-kyung that she’s planning to get some documents from Geum San that will prove Hae-kyung’s innocence—but to do so, she’ll need to go as Hae-kyung’s attorney, so she needs Hae-kyung’s affirmation signature.
Hae-kyung says that Geum San will defend her, but Eun-jo knows that she’s only saying that so she can keep Deul-ho out of it. But to really help him, she needs to get out of here and give a press conference, and to get out of here, she needs to give Eun-jo permission to help her.
Deul-ho picks up Soo-bin, telling her that Mom will be home soon. They go back to Dae-soo’s office to eat jjajangmyun, where Dae-soo and Ae-ra coo over how smart and pretty Soo-bin is, and how she’ll either become an actress or a lawyer when she’s older. When they ask her what she wants to be, she says: “A lawyer first, and then an actress after!” (LOL.) Soo-bin asks if Dae-soo and Ae-ra have a kid of their own, which sends Ae-ra chasing after Dae-soo so they can make a baby together as soon as possible.
At home that night, Soo-bin assures Deul-ho that she can sleep alone even if Mom doesn’t come home, and that she’s not a baby anymore. Deul-ho looks at her with pride and love.
Armed with Hae-kyung’s signature, Eun-jo visits Geum San, barging into Attorney Kim’s office and being awesomely flippant about it. She asks to see the documents related to DHK Global, but Attorney Kim snaps at her that Geum San already has a hundred attorneys on the case, and they don’t need her—she can get lost. But Eun-jo retorts that Geum San is the one that stole Hae-kyung’s identity—can they really defend Hae-kyung reliably?
Attorney Kim notes that she sure has changed since hanging around Deul-ho, but Eun-jo reminds him that the fact remains: she is Hae-kyung’s co-counsel, Hae-kyung has approved, and she’s here to see the documents.
Attorney Jang, meanwhile, meets with Chairman Jung to negotiate for Chief Prosecutor Shin’s accounts. Chairman Jung is furious—but Attorney Jang reminds him that he has no choice at the moment.
Deul-ho gives Eun-jo a list of three names of people in the chairman’s slush fund ledger who aren’t politicians or civil servants, making it likely that they are people who lent their names for Chairman Jung’s corruption. If they look for people close to Prosecutor Shin, Deul-ho says, she’ll probably find them quicker.
Attorney Jang goes to meet Hae-kyung, who demands some answers. Attorney Jang explains that it’s true that DHK Global helped with the chairman’s slush fund and tax evasion, which shocks Hae-kyung. She realizes that Deul-ho must have known about this three years ago when he went against Chairman Jung: “Without knowing that, I thought he’d betrayed me and you!”
Hae-kyung tells him that he should have told her—if he had, then maybe she wouldn’t feel this sorry toward Deul-ho. Attorney Jang pleads for her understanding, but Hae-kyung tells him that she doesn’t want his or Geum San’s help—Deul-ho will be her attorney for this case.
Attorney Jang meets with Chief Prosecutor Shin to report on his meeting with the chairman. The chairman has agreed to admit guilt in the Power King case, and is willing pay a penalty fee of $10 million to be investigated without being detained. Chief Prosecutor Shin’s borrowed-name accounts overseas will, of course, be liquidated and deposited into his Swiss account as soon as the investigation is closed.
Chief Prosecutor Shin, however, wouldn’t be the sly dog we know and hate if he agreed so easily. He tells him that he’ll close the investigation and release Hae-kyung after everything is taken care of.
Deul-ho paces around his office in deep thought, realizing that since Chief Prosecutor Shin still hasn’t released Hae-kyung, it means he hasn’t gotten what he needs from Geum San yet; Deul-ho needs to hurry to gain leverage over Chief Prosecutor Shin before he does.
His first plan of action is to find out the three name lenders—they are Chief Prosecutor Shin’s weak points. According to Ae-ra, the first and second people are unavailable, and although the last person, someone named Lee Myung-soon, is in Korea, Ae-ra can’t figure out how to find her.
Deul-ho storms into Chief Prosecutor Shin’s office again to ask why Hae-kyung hasn’t been released yet—did Attorney Jang fail to negotiate with Chairman Jung? As expected, Chief Prosecutor Shin feigns ignorance, but Deul-ho doesn’t back down.
He brings up the three suspicious names in the ledger, rattling off their relationships with the Chief Prosecutor: his former housekeeper, his wife’s former driver, and his former security guard. He threatens to bring those people out if he doesn’t release Hae-kyung soon.
As soon as Deul-ho leaves, Chief Prosecutor Shin makes a phone call, telling them to move, just in case.
Deul-ho goes to see Hae-kyung, telling her that he took care of Soo-bin and tucked her in safe and sound. When Hae-kyung asks about Soo-bin’s homework, though, Deul-ho all, What homework? Hae-kyung teases him that he’s an irresponsible dad and that she shouldn’t leave Soo-bin to him anymore.
Hae-kyung reflects that they never really talked about these things when they were together—things they were sorry for, or thankful for. She tells him that it really depressed her, and he immediately says, “I’m sorry.” They laugh at the awkwardness, and he tells her that he’ll always be thankful and sorry even if he doesn’t say the words.
At the office, Soo-bin plays with Dae-soo and Ae-ra while Deul-ho and Eun-jo watch the news. An assemblyman known to be on Chairman Jung’s lobbying list was subpoenaed and is being investigated by the prosecutor’s office, and the vice minister of the Ministry of Health and Welfare is scheduled for interrogation tomorrow as well, all of them under suspicion of taking bribes from the chairman.
Ji-wook is busy with these very interrogations, and Chief Prosecutor Shin looks on from afar, fielding phone calls left and right from politicians asking to be let off. But when he gets a call from the prosecutor general, we flash back to a meeting between them a few days ago, when he told Chief Prosecutor Shin to put Chairman Jung cleanly away if he wanted to be promoted to prosecutor general.
Chief Prosecutor Shin answers the call from the prosecutor general and assures him that he will thoroughly investigate and indict everyone on the list.
Ji-wook interrogates Chairman Jung, who continues to deny his charges. Ji-wook tells him that there’s no use in resisting—all of the bribed officials are being interrogated already. The chairman, however, isn’t afraid of the prosecutors—he’s already paid off almost everyone in the legal field.
Ji-wook wants to know who those people are, and the chairman suggests he start with his father. Ji-wook is shocked, and Chairman Jung revels in the idea of a son arresting his own father.
At Dae-soo’s office, everyone is shocked at Soo-bin for not doing her homework, but she says matter-of-factly that she was too busy playing. They gasp at the pile of work she has to do, and Dae-soo even offers to go pay someone off to do it, haha. She channels her inner aegyo, and suddenly they all jump up to help.
They spend the rest of the night doing Soo-bin’s homework, with Dae-soo doing her math problems with a calculator and the others working on her art project while Soo-bin walks around like a natural-born supervisor. Hah.
Meanwhile, Chairman Jung asks Chief Prosecutor Shin when he’ll be released, but Chairman Jung informs him that the chairman’s bribed officials have begun admitting guilt and that the court will soon hear the chairman’s detention warrant. Realizing the direness of the situation, the chairman finally agrees to liquidate the borrowed-name accounts, but Chief Prosecutor Shin tells him that money was never his goal—if it were, he would have been a businessman. Chief Prosecutor Shin thanks the chairman for his help until now and severs their relationship.
Ji-wook watches the whole thing as Chief Prosecutor Shin leaves, and then quietly presses the recording button.
The next day, Chairman Jung finds himself in court to hear the validity of his detention warrant during his investigation. In light of the chairman’s past crimes, the judge confirms the detention warrant, and the chairman erupts in fury at the “injustice.” Later, Chief Prosecutor Shin walks straight past him, and the chairman is so infuriated that he faints in a stroke.
Attorney Kim hurries to inform Attorney Jang about the chairman’s collapse—and this time, it’s for real. Deul-ho goes to the hospital to check for himself, and sees that it’s true.
Attorney Jang and Chief Prosecutor Shin talk on the roof of the hospital about what to do—the chairman’s investigation must be put on hold, and even liquidating the borrowed-name accounts may be problematic.
When Attorney Jang brings up Hae-kyung, however, Chief Prosecutor Shin suddenly sighs that his next action should be to find the person responsible for DHK Global. That person is, of course, Attorney Jang, and he asks in alarm if Chief Prosecutor Shin is targeting him next. Chief Prosecutor Shin feigns ignorance: “Oh, you were responsible for that, then?” He asks Attorney Jang to suggest what he should do. Damn.
We flash back three years ago to see that Chief Prosecutor Shin was the one who suggested that Attorney Jang use Hae-kyung’s name to set up the Hong Kong paper company—meaning he had already been plotting against and using Attorney Jang since then.
Attorney Jang faces yet another problem: a tax audit is suddenly being scheduled for Geum San, no doubt due to Chief Prosecutor Shin’s tip-off. Attorney Kim suggests that they turn over Chief Prosecutor Shin’s borrowed-name accounts as soon as possible, but Attorney Jang tells him he’ll take care of that.
A flashback shows us why Attorney Kim suggested such a thing: he, too, is under Chief Prosecutor Shin’s thumb. Attorney Kim had promised to find Chief Prosecutor Shin’s borrowed-name accounts, but explained that it wouldn’t be easy. As such, they scheduled a tax audit, even though Geum San was supposed to be exempt from them for years for exemplary tax history.
Attorney Jang tells Deul-ho that he plans to give Chief Prosecutor Shin the borrowed-name accounts. The cash and shares total around $30 million, but he needs to do it in order to get Hae-kyung released. Deul-ho tells him that if he continues to give into Chief Prosecutor Shin, he’ll only enter a spiral of defeat, and promises to come up with a way to win.
Cut to Deul-ho’s gang in a team huddle, figuring out their next crazy plan and getting into their new ridiculous roles: Eun-jo at an old people’s home, Ae-ra washing dogs, and Dae-soo participating in an international photo shoot.
Meanwhile, Deul-ho visits Hae-kyung with coffee, and thanks her for doing such a great job in raising Soo-bin. He promises that she’ll be released tomorrow, but stays quiet about how—she’ll find out tomorrow. She nods with a smile, completely trusting him.
Ji-wook sits alone in his office, furious and confused over Chief Prosecutor Shin’s corrupt hand in all of this. He tracks down the recording of Chief Prosecutor Shin and Chairman Jung, and after a long moment of hesitation, deletes the file. Nooo!
Deul-ho’s gang watches a televised interview of Chief Prosecutor Shin, whom the interviewer calls a rising star for indicting huge political figures. Chief Prosecutor Shin is humble and diplomatic though the whole interview, insisting that he doesn’t care about money or status, only justice. The gang scoffs at his lies.
Attorney Kim provides Attorney Jang with the paperwork for the liquidation of the borrowed-name accounts, telling him that this is the best course of action. Attorney Jang hesitates to sign, however, asking what Attorney Kim would do if Chief Prosecutor Shin still doesn’t release Hae-kyung, but Attorney Kim only says that would never happen. Attorney Jang continues to hesitate, and finally set sets down the pen without signing.
Later, Attorney Kim walks around the office when he notes people walking around, setting up for some kind of event. He asks around to realize that Attorney Jang is organizing a press conference. When Attorney Kim asks what he’s doing, Attorney Jang says, “I’m thinking of doing a good thing for once.”
Hurriedly, Attorney Kim calls Chief Prosecutor Shin to tell him what’s up. Chief Prosecutor Shin questions Attorney Jang about his actions, and Attorney Jang explains that Geum San needs a serious image change—the public’s opinion has been too low lately. He invites Chief Prosecutor Shin to attend.
Attorney Jang stands at the podium, explaining that he wants to address the increasingly negative comments about Geum San, to propose a new vision for the company moving forward—and finally, to explain the situation involving the Hong Kong paper company. To do so, he invites none other than Jo Deul-ho to speak. Oh boy.
Deul-ho steps up as his old, casual self, introducing DHK Global as a global non-profit charity group set up in a joint effort by Chairman Jung and Attorney Jang. He asks everyone to welcome the key members of the group—Ae-ra, Eun-jo, and Dae-soo—as he flips through a slideshow of pictures of them working hard at nursery homes, animal shelters, and institutions for African refugees. And the budget for these humanitarian endeavors, donated selflessly by Geum San and Dae Hwa Group? $30 million.
Chief Prosecutor Shin sits forward in his seat at the number, and when Deul-ho introduces him as the selfless prosecutor in charge of this endeavor, he has no choice but to stand and meet the applause.
Now that we know Chief Prosecutor Shin is the Ultimate Bad, the stakes have gotten a lot higher. It probably wasn’t a surprise to most of us that Chief Prosecutor Shin was so corrupt, of course, since the show has been dropping hints since the first episode, but I’m thoroughly enjoying just how evil he is—especially the way he feigns ignorance and acts guiltless no matter what. He did it with Attorney Jang and with Deul-ho, completely refusing to admit his guilt. It’s a brilliant act, first of all, and more impressive as a character knowing that he’s a lawyer with decades of experience—of course he’ll know how to manipulate the law, and of course he’s going to be damn good at it.
Whereas his protégés, Ji-wook and Deul-ho, seek the truth in their own ways, Chief Prosecutor Shin is dead-set on hiding it at all costs in order to achieve his goal of being promoted—which really makes you wonder why he wants this position in the first place, if he’s not using it for justice and he’s not aiming for money. He seems instead to have this strange fixation on becoming an important person in name and public perception.
Speaking of Ji-wook, this was a difficult episode for him. I think I understand his struggle, or at least where he’s coming from—he has his personal ties to his father, of course, but also he wants to do what’s good. It does seem to us that those two things are mutually exclusive, and I wish that the show had done a better job of establishing this familial dynamic between Ji-wook and the chief prosecutor if they wanted to use that as such an important motive in Ji-wook’s ambivalence. As it stands, it’s pretty difficult to figure Ji-wook out—what are his values? What does he want? To me, he feels a little bit like a characterless plot device for the writers, who get to use him one way when they need him to oppose Deul-ho and another when they need him to help him. Still, he’s done quite a bit of growing since the start of the show and still seems to be headed toward doing the right thing in the future, so I’m not completely disappointed in his character.
In the same vein, I also appreciate how the show continues to flip the members of each moral side. Attorney Jang is corrupt, and he values money and Geum San’s success over fairness—the complete opposite of Deul-ho. And yet we indubitably find them on the same side this episode, working toward a singular goal of taking down Chief Attorney Jang and saving Hae-kyung. It’s an interesting dynamic, to know that they agree on almost nothing and, at one point, wanted to destroy each other. It took quite a sacrifice of pride for Attorney Jang to give in and submit to Deul-ho’s plan, but hopefully he’ll be able to see the values that really matter to him. It’s definitely a bit idealistic for real life, but Neighborhood Lawyer has never seemed to be too focused on representing reality anyway—and that’s totally fine with me, as long as the show itself is aware of that.
After all, it’s only because of that idealistically positive viewpoint that we get such happy and adorable scenes with Deul-ho and Soo-bin. I swear, I could watch 100 hours of that alone.
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