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Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho: Episode 19

Deul-ho prepares to face Chief Prosecutor Shin, and it’s a difficult fight for our hero who, for once, seems to show the vulnerable man underneath all the bravado. It’s an enlightening episode as we see a more human side to the seemingly invincible neighborhood lawyer, but unlike his prosecutor days, Deul-ho now has a strong support system willing to stick with him through thick and thin. It might be an uphill battle, but Deul-ho is fighting with a team on his side. Can Chief Prosecutor Shin say the same?

 
EPISODE 19 RECAP

A group of men all clad in black suits make their way towards Deul-ho’s office while Chief Prosecutor Shin remembers how Deul-ho unceremoniously interrupted his party last night. The group of men barge into the office and reveal an arrest warrant for Ae-ra and Dae-soo. Eun-jo protests to no avail, and as Ae-ra is whisked away, she tells Eun-jo to call Deul-ho.

Deul-ho hears the news and tells Eun-jo that he’ll be there right away. Before he leaves, he tells Attorney Jang that Chief Prosecutor Shin arrested his employees, and Attorney Jang says that the chief prosecutor has become childish. Attorney Jang warns him that there will be more hurdles to face, and tells Deul-ho to take care of himself for Soo-bin and Hae-kyung’s sake.

In the interrogation room, a prosecutor yells at Dae-soo to fess up, and then a higher-up prosecutor comes in to trade places. The prosecutor calls Dae-soo vile scum and says that he’s obviously a gangster. Dae-soo says that people usually think he’s a hair stylist, but the prosecutor just yells at Dae-soo to admit his connections to underground syndicates.

Elsewhere, another prosecutor asks Ae-ra if she stole private information from the police department. She says that she was just looking for someone, but when the prosecutor asks for more information, Ae-ra tells him that she can’t say. He accuses her of selling the information to voice phishing organizations, and she shouts that she’s the one who gets scammed.

Eun-jo tells the prosecutor that their investigation is a bit nonsensical, but the prosecutor ignores her and asks Ae-ra why she’s still working with Deul-ho. Ae-ra stares the prosecutor in the eye, and asks if that’s why they’ve arrested her.

Deul-ho bumps into Chief Prosecutor Shin in the hallway, and asks him if he’s getting revenge for last night. The chief prosecutor ignores him, so Deul-ho blocks his path and asks if preparations for the confirmation hearing are going well. Chief Prosecutor Shin tells him to be quiet and not meddle. Deul-ho cheekily says that it’s already too late since he helped the chief prosecutor use $30 million so he doesn’t look too rich during the confirmation hearing.

Chief Prosecutor Shin warns Deul-ho to stop now, but Deul-ho isn’t going to hold back. The Chief prosecutor asks if he wants to see this to the bitter end, and Deul-ho says that they should, since that’s why he started in the first place.

Dae-soo is kneeling on the floor, and the prosecutor offers to let him go if he promises to evict Deul-ho and cut all ties to him. Dae-soo says that he only sublet his office to Deul-ho, but dissatisfied with his answer, the prosecutor threatens to throw him in jail.

Deul-ho kicks open the door and saunters into the room. He tells Dae-soo to take a seat, and asks the prosecutor to tell him, in detail, how his client violated the law. Deul-ho yells that they should arrest him if it’s about ruining the cake last night, and at least apologize to his client. The prosecutor calls Deul-ho crazy and storms out of the room.

Dae-soo laughs at the indignant Deul-ho, and Deul-ho asks if he’s alright. Dae-soo says that he’s fine since this isn’t his first time here. Deul-ho jokes that Dae-soo should sing a song, and Dae-soo breaks into a hum for old times’ sake.

Ji-wook asks his father if he ordered the arrest of Deul-ho’s employees, and Chief Prosecutor Shin asks if he looks like he has that much free-time. Ji-wook tells him that they can’t keep them detained, and Chief Prosecutor Shin tells him that he already ordered them to be released.

Ji-wook asks the chief prosecutor if he’s done anything that Deul-ho could use against him. The chief prosecutor says that there isn’t, but Ji-wook mentions their old housekeeper. He asks for the truth, and Chief Prosecutor Shin asks his son if he’s taking Deul-ho’s words over his. Ji-wook says that he trusts their old housekeeper’s words, and begs his father to convince him otherwise. Chief Prosecutor Shin just scoffs in disbelief.

In a short interlude, we see a mysterious figure creep around Deul-ho’s office and place a listening device under a side table.

Chief Prosecutor Shin ponders over Ji-wook’s question and thinks back to his encounter with Deul-ho from earlier. He calls someone and asks to meet. In a secluded spot by the river, a man in glasses greets the chief prosecutor, and Chief Prosecutor Shin tells him that he has another job for him.

We flashback to the fateful night of Il-gu’s death, but this time, we hear Chief Prosecutor Shin order someone to carry out the “accident.” At Il-gu’s funeral, the driver visited and shed crocodile tears, his mission accomplished. The same man now stands in front of Chief Prosecutor Shin, and receives a new order.

The gang is released from the prosecutor’s office, and Deul-ho tells everyone to go home. Better yet, he’ll leave the office. Eun-jo blocks his path and asks if he’s firing all of them. He tells them that this is dangerous work, but Dae-soo says that it’s always been dangerous. One by one, they each declare that they won’t leave Deul-ho, and march away.

Attorney Jang thinks back to when Attorney Kim told him to resign, and gets up from his hospital bed. Hae-kyung arrives and stops her father from leaving. She tells him that she’s meeting the attorneys individually to convince them, and Attorney Jang apologizes to his daughter.

In the office, Deul-ho tells the group that they have to catch Chief Prosecutor Shin before he becomes prosecutor general. He orders Dae-soo and Eun-jo to relocate the housekeeper, and tells Ae-ra to find the ex-chauffeur: another employee who let the chief prosecutor borrow his bank account.

While Dae-soo and Eun-jo take the housekeeper to a safer location, the housekeeper starts to doubt her actions. Eun-jo reassures her that she just has to tell the truth, but the housekeeper asks what will happen to the chief prosecutor if she testifies. Eun-jo says that the public will decide.

Just then, the housekeeper gets a call from Chief Prosecutor Shin, but when Eun-jo asks about the caller, she lies that it isn’t him. Eun-jo tells her that she has to keep her phone off, and offers to hold onto it. The housekeeper says that she’ll turn it off, but keeps the phone with her.

A group of reporters ask Chief Prosecutor Shin for a statement about becoming the next prosecutor general, and he feigns humility. They ask him about his reformation plans, and Chief Prosecutor Shin says that the prosecutor’s office will no longer tolerate attorneys who champion for the rich and play favorites.

Deul-ho meets again with Assemblyman Kim who is also the chair of the confirmation hearing committee. He hands over Chairman Jung’s slush fund list, but Assemblyman Kim says that this isn’t enough to prove the connection between the two. Deul-ho asks the assemblyman to call him as a witness, and promises to obtain decisive evidence by the confirmation hearing in a week.

The housekeeper receives a text message from Chief Prosecutor Shin telling her to come outside, and she slips past Eun-jo on guard duty. Eun-jo goes inside to look for the housekeeper, and notices a note left on the table. In it, the housekeeper wrote that Chief Prosecutor Shin is her savior, and she can’t testify against him. Eun-jo rushes outside, but she’s too late.

Back in the office, Deul-ho can’t believe that they lost the housekeeper, and asks if they were followed. Eun-jo and Dae-soo swear that no one followed them, and they don’t understand how Chief Prosecutor Shin could have found the location.

Suddenly, Deul-ho gets up from his chair and mouths to the group that they’ve been bugged. Everyone starts searching the office while having a fake conversation to throw off the enemy, and Deul-ho finds the device.

Chief Prosecutor Shin meets with the housekeeper, and she apologizes to him for falling for Deul-ho’s words. He tells her to leave the country until things settle down, promising that her son will get a promotion in return, and she thanks him profusely.

Deul-ho paces around his office and thinks to himself that Chief Prosecutor Shin is a difficult opponent. The slush fund ledger isn’t enough evidence, his only witness disappeared, and Chairman Jung is still unconscious. It’s unlikely that new evidence will arise, and the confirmation hearing is coming up soon.

The day of Attorney Jang’s sentencing arrives, and Chief Prosecutor Shin continues to enjoy his power while Chairman Jung remains in a vegetative state. In court, the judge sentences Attorney Jang to jail for one year and two months. Attorney Jang remains calm and tells his daughter not to worry about him.

In the car, Deul-ho apologizes to Hae-kyung for not helping enough, but she tells him that this is what her father wanted. She asks how his preparations are going for the confirmation hearing. He says that he’s working on it, and she reminds him to be careful.

Deul-ho goes to visit Chairman Jung, but is blocked by guards. The secretary asks what he wants, and Deul-ho says that he only came to keep the chairman company. He’s allowed in, and Deul-ho sighs at the sight of his former enemy. He tells the chairman that he’s bored without him, and asks if the chairman is not angry at Chief Prosecutor Shin.

Deul-ho yells at Chairman Jung to get up and be angry, but the chairman remains unresponsive. Deul-ho asks Chairman Jung one last question: Does he want him to bring down the chief prosecutor? The chairman appears to give no response, but Deul-ho furrows his brow and tilts his head at the chairman.

Back in his office, Deul-ho thinks to himself that he’s running out of time. Without conclusive evidence, Chief Prosecutor Shin can merely claim ignorance. Deul-ho gets up to open a secret compartment and takes out a key. We see in flashback that Il-gu gave Deul-ho the key before he died, but Deul-ho has no idea what it opens.

His phone suddenly rings, and Deul-ho answers a call from Soo-bin. He apologizes for not visiting her lately, but she understands that her parents are busy. She tells him that she was busy today, too, because she had three after-school academies to attend, and her words trigger a memory for Deul-ho.

In another flashback, Il-gu reprimanded Deul-ho for always working, and bragged that he’s going to attend a GED academy serendipitously named “Il-gu Academy.” Back in the present, Deul-ho tells Soo-bin that he’ll call her later.

Deul-ho finds the academy, but there are rows of lockers inside. Fortunately, he notices one labeled “Kang Il-gu” with a small lock on it. The key fits, and inside, among Il-gu’s ordinary school supplies, is a flash drive.

Immediately returning to his office, Deul-ho opens the flash drive and plays a video. It’s a recording Il-gu secretly took of Chief Prosecutor Shin with Chairman Jung at a restaurant. We don’t get to see or hear the rest of the content, but Deul-ho chucks a file of papers after watching.

Deul-ho receives another phone call, but this time it’s from Chief Prosecutor Shin. The chief prosecutor tells Deul-ho to cancel his attendance, and in exchange, he’ll make sure Attorney Jang gets a lighter sentence. Deul-ho scoffs at the proposal, and tells Chief Prosecutor Shin that he will lose everything and come to regret his actions. Chief Prosecutor Shin says that Deul-ho has no evidence and will instead be charged with defamation.

After a pause, Deul-ho asks the chief prosecutor if he remembers Il-gu. Deul-ho says that he suddenly remembered him, and asks if Chief Prosecutor Shin has anything he might want to say to him about Il-gu. With his hand trembling ever so slightly, Chief Prosecutor Shin tells Deul-ho that they should meet, and Deul-ho agrees as tears stream down his face.

Chief Prosecutor Shin makes a mysterious call, and tells the person on the other line that today is the day. Meanwhile, Deul-ho sits in his office and thinks to himself that he if doesn’t trip the chief prosecutor, then he will be tripped. Despite that, Deul-ho wants to ask the chief prosecutor face-to-face and know why he did it.

Deul-ho gets another call, and this time it’s Dae-soo. He tells Deul-ho to come out and join them for drinks, but Deul-ho says that he’s busy. Out of the blue, Deul-ho thanks Dae-soo for all his help, and Dae-soo laughs at his uncharacteristic behavior. He tells Dae-soo to give everyone his thanks, and Dae-soo tells him to come join them if he changes his mind.

Deul-ho stares out a window and remembers Chief Prosecutor Shin’s veiled threats. For once, Deul-ho seems frightened at what the chief prosecutor might do, and decides to call to Hae-kyung. She asks if everything is going well, and he says that he’s getting things done. He tells her to never become weak, and she tells him to do a good job.

Soo-bin takes the phone and asks him if they can go to the amusement park. He says they will, so Soo-bin needs to be a good girl in the meantime and listen to her mom. Soo-bin tells him to keep his promise, and Deul-ho gives his word.

Deul-ho arrives at the Han River, and waits for the chief prosecutor. A waiter comes by to clean tables, but we see that he’s actually the man in glasses. He grabs a knife and stabs Deul-ho while he’s distracted, and Deul-ho seems to recognize him as the driver who killed Il-gu. The man in glasses pushes Deul-ho over the edge, and Deul-ho plummets into the river.

When Deul-ho fails to resurface, the man in glasses drops the weapon into the river and walks away. Chief Prosecutor Shin receives a call, and tells the man in glasses to stay out of the country for a while. The chief prosecutor smiles to himself—the fact that he killed his former protégé doesn’t seem to bother his conscious at all.

The next morning, Ae-ra and Eun-jo eat out together, and they can’t believe it’s the day of the confirmation hearing already. They both comment about how Deul-ho didn’t answer their calls this morning, but Ae-ra assumes that he was probably too busy concentrating to answer.

Chief Prosecutor Shin walks with his entourage of prosecutors to the hearing, and inside, the witness seat is empty. The hearing starts without Deul-ho, and Chief Prosecutor Shin gives his opening statement.

The committee questions Chief Prosecutor Shin about his connections with Dae Hwa Group and the alleged bribes he received. Chief Prosecutor Shin lies that he never once in his career did something he was ashamed of, and denies any claims of illegal activities. Ji-wook hangs his head in shame, and our law firm group gapes at the chief prosecutor’s audacity.

Deul-ho continues to be absent, so the committee decides to end the hearing without the witness. Just then, a familiar voice yells that the witness has arrived, and Deul-ho enters the room, much to Chief Prosecutor Shin’s surprise.

We go back to the accident scene and see that the man in glasses walked away assuming Deul-ho to be dead, but in reality, Deul-ho was treading water in the shadows. Once he saw that the coast was clear, he swam onto a rock—hurt but very much alive.

A committee member asks if Deul-ho can expose the scandal between the chief prosecutor and Dae Hwa Group. Deul-ho says that he can, and reveals Chairman Jung’s slush fund list. He points out three repeated names on the list and says that they all let Chief Prosecutor Shin borrow their bank accounts.

However, Chief Prosecutor Shin says that he doesn’t know those people, and tells the committee that Deul-ho is making these slanderous claims because he was the one who punished Deul-ho for receiving bribes from Chairman Jung. Assemblyman Kim asks Deul-ho if he can back up his allegations, and he says that he can.

Deul-ho asks for permission to call another witness, and goes outside to escort him. Everyone turns towards the door, and jaws drop: It’s Chairman Jung. In flashback, we see that Deul-ho told Assemblyman Kim that he can bring Chairman Jung as a witness but only under the condition that he conducts the testimony as the chairman’s attorney.

Chief Prosecutor Shin objects that Chairman Jung is both physically and mentally incapacitated, but Deul-ho brings out a written opinion from the Korean Medical Association which states that Chairman Jung has a speech impediment but is sound of mind.

The committee agrees to let the chairman be a witness, and allows Deul-ho to assist him as his attorney. Deul-ho tells the chairman to nod or shake his head, and in addition, he can blink once for “yes” and blink multiple times for “no.”

We see in flashback why Deul-ho furrowed his brow before: Chairman Jung blinked after Deul-ho asked him about bringing down Chief Prosecutor Shin. Deul-ho then asked a string of random questions to test his hypothesis, and Chairman Jung answered all of Deul-ho’s questions correctly through blinks.

A committee member asks if Chairman Jung ever asked for favors from Chief Prosecutor Shin, and he blinks once. Deul-ho asks the chairman if he transferred money to the chief prosecutor using borrowed-name bank accounts, and Chairman Jung nods.

Assemblyman Kim asks if Chief Prosecutor Shin wishes to repudiate the allegations, and Chief Prosecutor Shin argues that Chairman Jung is hostile towards him because he indicted him, and therefore, the chairman is committing perjury. Chairman Jung begins to blink rapidly.

Deul-ho says that, three years ago, the chairman’s son Michael killed a homeless man and burned the body. He asks Chairman Jung if he paid the chief prosecutor $1 million to cover up this incident, and Chairman Jung blinks once. Deul-ho then admits the fact that Chief Prosecutor Shin ordered him to cover up the case, and Deul-ho buried the case by withdrawing the charges.

Chief Prosecutor Shin accuses Deul-ho of making false accusations, but Deul-ho tells the committee that he’ll now prove everything and submits video evidence. We see in flashback that Attorney Jang asked Deul-ho to hold his hand in the hospital, and then returned the flash drive he stole containing CCTV footage of Michael.

The video reveals Michael’s horrendous actions and verifies Chairman Jung’s testimony. Deul-ho tells the committee that Chief Prosecutor Shin deserves an arrest warrant rather than a certificate of appointment. Unfazed, Chief Prosecutor Shin tells Assemblyman Kim that this is all a conspiracy, and he will seek legal action against Chairman Jung and Deul-ho.

Deul-ho tells the chief prosecutor that he has a bonus video to show, and it’s the one from Il-gu. In the video, Chairman Jung complained that Il-gu kept pestering him to give the orphanage money, but since he didn’t go to jail in lieu of Michael, the chairman didn’t see why he should pay. He said that it would be a problem for both of them if Il-gu went public, and Chief Prosecutor Shin said that they would need to solve the problem once and for all. The chairman asked if he had a plan, and Chief Prosecutor Shin said that they could disguise it as a car accident.

The room begins to fill with disgruntled murmurs, and Chief Prosecutor Shin looks shell-shocked. Deul-ho starts to clap and gives a sardonic thumbs-up to the chief prosecutor. But then his face falls, and he turns his thumb upside down.

 
COMMENTS

Chief Prosecutor Shin’s shocked face was satisfying, but it was even more rewarding because it came about from the people he thought he defeated. First it was Deul-ho, then Chairman Jung and Attorney Jang, and finally, Il-gu. While I never doubted that the chief prosecutor would face justice, I still inadvertently cheered when Deul-ho burst through the doors. Sometimes you just want your good guys to win without any caveats. Sure, I may have arched an eyebrow or two after seeing Deul-ho swim safely to a rock after being stabbed and falling several feet into the water, and I may have thought that it was overly convenient that he marched into the hearing right when it ended looking completely normal. Is it realistic? Not really. But does it make for some fun entertainment? I give a big resounding yes.

All in all, it was a satisfactory penultimate episode. It also reminded me that I’m super happy that the show wasn’t extended because it would have dragged needlessly, since I already felt that this episode was a bit slow despite all the events. I thought there were a lot of static scenes, and the director used one too many flashbacks for narrative purposes. I think the flashbacks worked when the director wanted to reveal a secret, but a couple of the ones where characters simply thought about past events could have been handled better.

I’m glad that the show didn’t try to redeem the other antagonists after revealing the chief prosecutor as the “big bad,” and I loved the way that Deul-ho killed two birds with one stone by bringing up Michael Jung’s case. It was an unexpected bonus to see Chairman Jung get trapped by his own actions, and I’m hoping that this means Michael will also receive punishment for his misdeeds. As for Chief Prosecutor Shin, I knew he was corrupt, but he was really shameless during the hearing. I feel like after they revealed him as the final boss Duel-ho had to defeat, he became a more and more cartoonish villain. Not as much as Chairman Jung, but pretty brazen and overtly evil. I found him a bit more interesting when he was mysterious, and we didn’t know his thoughts. However, it does make sense that Chief Prosecutor Shin is becoming more imprudent as he gains more power and allows his greed to control him.

Since this is my last comment section for Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho, I’d like to say that this is one of those drama where my recaps fail to capture the best part of the show. For me, the strength of this drama was always in the cast and their amazing performances. They really elevated the script and their ad-libs were some of the most entertaining parts of the show. For example, the scene where everyone looks for the listening device in the office was hilarious because of their random conversation about jjajangmyun (black bean noodles) and how they effortlessly tease each other. Its moments like these that are hard to capture with words, and simply need to be watched in order to appreciate the acting prowess of the cast.

I also really loved the phone call scenes this episode, but only because of Park Shin-yang. Each call was teeming with emotions, but depending on the recipient, the slight quiver in his voice or the glistening of his eyes differed. While I thought it was silly to have so many phone calls back to back with little (somewhat redundant) narrations in between, I loved watching Park Shin-yang’s stellar performance. It was heartbreaking to see our hero feel fear, and though I knew Deul-ho would be alright, I was still convinced in that moment that he might actually never get to thank his employees in person or keep his promise with precious Soo-bin. I wholeheartedly believe that Park Shin-yang deserves all the praise, and this show reconfirms his talent. He might be a bit over-the-top for some, but I think he brims with energy and fills his characters with charisma. This show was really Park Shin-yang’s vehicle start to finish, and he did a fantastic job.

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On the case: Lame, of the lamest of lame. Everything is solved by suddenly procured recordings...

Otherwise, like you said, it's the cast that makes the drama.

Thank you for the recaps, lovepark!

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Thanks for the recap!
"unrealistic" indeed- I went WTH when Deul-ho showed up in the court after being stabbed and fall - he is really superman.heh.
I love cute Su-bin always give her dad ideas to solve his problems.
This show is amazingly consistent -from start to finish - bad thing about it is too predictable, boring. But we have GODSinYang~

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Agree that the writing was the weakest link of this show and the actors, especially PSY, saved it.

That said, this drama is a social parody and legal slapstick rather than a serious legal thriller with a plausible, well-thought-out plot. So I think this appealed more to Korean viewers than international viewers. They know the current incidents and issues of Korean society so even the clumsy writing of this drama enabled them to quickly pick up on the little hints and jabs here and there and laugh out loud. On the other hand, to international viewers who are not familiar with the events, they would have largely gotten lost and only be seen as ridiculous.

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Thanks so much for the recap Lovepark! Your efforts are truly appreciated
Although parts of this episode, like you said, were rather unrealistic, it was overall very enjoyable. That last scene with the thumbs up and thumbs down was especially great :D

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