Defendant: Episode 9
There are some difficult goodbyes to endure, but one of Jung-woo’s greatest worries has to do with his disappearing memories. Jung-woo focuses on finding his daughter, but his new cellmate threatens his resolve, complicating his already difficult situation, while Min-ho is about to discover just how resolute Jung-woo remains even after everything that he’s been through.
EPISODE 9 RECAP
At 1:20 a.m. on the day of the Wolha-dong murder, Joon-hyuk exits Jung-woo’s apartment building just as Sung-kyu carries Ha-yeon to his apartment. Ji-soo exits the bathroom, smiling at Ha-yeon’s empty bed, thinking that she went to sleep with Jung-woo.
Ji-soo pauses at seeing the open curtains in the living room just as a stranger approaches her. She calls out for Jung-woo as Seok emerges from their bedroom. He tells the stranger, “He won’t wake up for a while,” before grabbing Ji-soo’s arms from behind.
Min-ho is that stranger, and he’s insulted that Ji-soo doesn’t recognize the person Jung-woo was so determined to catch. As Ji-soo’s eyes widen with realization, Min-ho admits that Sun-ho died in his place and that Jung-woo figured it out. She frantically asks about Ha-yeon and is assured that the girl is fine.
Ji-soo begs, “Save me. Please save me.” Min-ho simply states that the press conference scheduled for the next morning won’t be held. Ji-soo promises that she will convince Jung-woo if Min-ho will spare him.
Min-ho laughs, admitting that Jung-woo won’t die. At Ji-soo’s confused look, Min-ho explains, “Because he will become the criminal that killed you.” Seok covers Ji-soo’s mouth to muffle her screams as Min-ho grabs a knife from the kitchen.
Min-ho advances upon Ji-soo with the knife drawn, but stops at the last second. Laughing, he remembers that Jung-woo is left-handed and moves the knife to his left hand before plunging it into Ji-soo. Min-ho stabs Ji-soo again as Seok drops her to the floor.
Seok tosses the living room to make it look like a fight occurred, and the video camera lands in front of Ji-soo. Weakly, she reaches for the camera and points it towards her. Jung-woo is awakened by a man’s voice ordering him to get up. He finds Ji-soo on the living room floor, where she manages to tell Jung-woo that Ha-yeon is missing before falling silent.
As Jung-woo cries in shock and desperation, Min-ho appears before him, tossing the bloody knife to the floor as he explains, “You did it. You killed her.” He actually blames Jung-woo for Ji-soo’s death, telling him that she died because of his determination to catch him. Sobbing, Jung-woo gently lays his wife’s body down before turning on Min-ho, who informs him that if he dies, Ha-yeon dies too.
Thoroughly enjoying himself, Min-ho explains, “If you want to save Ha-yeon, then you just need to become the criminal,” adding that he remembered to stab Ji-soo with his left hand. Min-ho waves his gloved left hand for effect, allowing Jung-woo to see that it’s bloody. A glance at the knife reveals blood on the handle.
Sitting in his cell, Jung-woo finally remembers the face of the man who killed Ji-soo just when Min-ho is brought in as a prisoner. The shock sends Jung-woo to the bathroom to vomit. While there, his memories of Min-ho’s investigation finally return.
Looking into the mirror, Jung-woo forces himself to stifle his feelings by thinking of Ha-yeon, resolving that he won’t betray himself. Upon exiting the bathroom, Jung-woo pretends that something he ate made him sick, the perfect cover for his shakiness. Mong-chi and Rockfish fail to intimidate the new inmate before Gangster Hyung orders everyone to sleep.
Jung-woo is forced to sleep next to Min-ho that night. It appears as if he’s losing his fight to keep his emotions in check when he sits up and moves his hands towards Min-ho’s throat. Min-ho’s eyes fly open, and we learn that he was dreaming. Sitting up to study the sleeping Jung-woo, Min-ho is unconvinced of his memory loss.
Min-ho finally settles back down to sleep, and only then does Jung-woo open his eyes. He remembers placing the real murder weapon into a plastic bag the night of Ji-soo’s murder, silently promising, “Your blood is on the knife you used to stab Ji-soo. I hid it. Just wait, Cha Min-ho.”
The next morning, Jung-woo silently wonders why Min-ho involved Sung-kyu in his plan. Later, Mong-chi comes flying out of the bathroom, irate that Min-ho used all of the bottled hot water to wash up.
Gangster Hyung tells Mong-chi, “Take care of him,” and he and Rockfish are just about to oblige when Mil-yang stops them with a front page story about the arrest of “Cha Sun-ho,” accompanied by a photo. Later, they shower Min-ho with compliments as they try on the new shoes that he’s provided.
Mong-chi and Rockfish vote to make Min-ho their new leader, only to incur the wrath of Gangster Hyung. Mil-yang quietly asks, “So how did Mr. Richie Rich end up in here, instead of in the rich people cells?” Min-ho turns to Jung-woo and answers, “Because I had someone to meet.”
Rockfish chastises Jung-woo for not thanking Min-ho for the new shoes, underwear, and sleeping bags. Jung-woo turns to Min-ho and manages to offers his meek thanks. Gangster Hyung suggests introductions over cocoa, and the men comment sadly that it was Sung-kyu’s specialty.
The men speculate about his sister’s surgery, and they ask Jung-woo about his visit with Sung-kyu. Under Min-ho’s watchful gaze, Jung-woo lies that the surgery went well and that Sung-kyu returned to say thank you, promising to come again.
Mong-chi begins the introductions by explaining that he only has fifteen days remaining of his one year sentence. Gangster Hyung remembers how happy he was when he first came to the prison, introducing himself as “Bundle” (short for “bundles of money”). Unfortunately, he’s noticed that Mong-chi is becoming more distraught as his release approaches.
Mong-chi rubs the spot where he places the heat pads, telling the cellmates that they don’t know how he feels. He tries to explain, but stops, remembering his arrest for illegal debt collecting. Mong-chi was locked up at the police station, a television tuned in to the lottery. He pulled out his ticket, which ended up being the winner.
Mong-chi wishes his sentence had only been a few days shorter, but no one understands his distress. Gangster Hyung then calls on Jung-woo for his introduction. When he hesitates, Min-ho asks why his inmate tag is red, feigning sympathy when he learns that it indicates a death penalty.
Chairman Cha expresses his frustration that Min-ho is in prison. The Chairman’s secretary whispers something, causing him to demand a visit from Yeon-hee. She’s in her studio, trying to paint and forget Jennifer’s call and her screams, but she can’t think of anything else. Overwrought, Yeon-hee slashes her canvas just as she is contacted by the Chairman’s secretary.
Yeon-hee enters Chairman Cha’s office, only to be greeted by a thrown glass and an order, “Turn yourself in immediately.” Reminding Yeon-hee that he saved her family, the Chairman voices his unhappiness over how she has repaid him. Yeon-hee snaps, reminding Chairman Cha that he ruined her family in the first place.
Unable to contain herself, Yeon-hee insists that her family was fine before the chairman interfered. She tells hims that if he hadn’t forced her and Min-ho apart, he would never have killed his brother or Jennifer Lee.
Chairman Cha calmly asks Yeon-hee to sit down. Confused, she looks at the floor, but there is no broken glass anywhere. The chairman gently assures Yeon-hee that Min-ho should be out of prison soon, adding, “Eun-soo must never know.” Just then, a secretary brings news that Madam Cha has disappeared.
In the prison yard, Min-ho sits with Jung-woo, sharing that he suffered from memory loss after his brother’s death. Min-ho asks Jung-woo if he really can’t remember him, or if he’s pretending not to know him. Jung-woo asks, “Is there a reason for me to do that?”
Min-ho walks away just when a bruised Chul-shik approaches Jung-woo, asking, “If you transfer to another prison, what about me?” Jung-woo signals him to say nothing more, but Min-ho now knows that Jung-woo is changing prisons. That’s when Chul-shik realizes that Min-ho is the man that Jung-woo was trying to catch.
Seok visits Min-ho to report that he still hasn’t located Sung-kyu. He wants to know what to do about Jung-woo, but Min-ho insists that it’s no fun to kill him, promising, “I will make him remember me, no matter what.”
Chairman Cha finds his wife crying in front of “Min-ho’s” memorial, shocked to learn that she knows Sun-ho was the one who really died. He insists that she pretend that Min-ho is the dead one, or risk losing both sons.
Madam Cha confronts her husband, “You killed both of our sons.” But Chairman Cha harshly reveals, “Cha Min-ho, whom you cherished so much, he killed his older brother.” Chairman Cha orders his wife to remain quiet regarding the true identity of their remaining son.
Jung-woo meets with the doctor, who tries to confirm that his memories have returned. After reminding him that there are other conversations protected by confidentiality besides one between an attorney and client, he admits to the truth. She informs him that if his memories have returned, he may soon forget them again. After the doctor explains that his memory loss protects him from mental trauma, Jung-woo asks if there is any other way.
The doctor inquires about the dream that precedes Jung-woo’s memory loss and learns that he dreams that Ji-soo and Ha-yeon are waking him up. The doctor identifies it as the moment that he wants to return to the most, suggesting that his solution could be in that dream.
The men are enjoying a snack just as Jung-woo returns to the cell, assuring his cellmates that he’s fine. Gangster Hyung observes that someone sentenced to death can’t be fine before reminding Min-ho that he never introduced himself. He asks, “Is there anything you’re good at?” Mong-chi suggests a song, but Min-ho offers to act out a scene from his theater days.
Min-ho kneels, his hands together, as he re-enacts Ji-soo’s plea to spare Jung-woo, along with his explanation that her husband would be blamed for her death. It turns out to be too much for Jung-woo, who launches himself at Min-ho, vowing, “I’m going to kill you.” He squeezes Min-ho’s throat, forcing the cellmates to pull him away.
Jung-woo screams that he will kill Min-ho, who laughs to himself, thinking, “That’s right, you remember me.” Mil-yang points out, “You ate his bread,” and Jung-woo shifts his outrage to his half-eaten bread, crying as he shoves the rest of it into his mouth.
Eun-hye’s aunt brings her some food, taking the opportunity to look at the stack of her new cases. Eun-hye grabs them back and notices that one of her clients is at Woljung Prison.
As the cellmates sleep, Jung-woo kneels in front of the toilet as if sick, the only place where he can be alone to cry over Ji-soo’s final moments. Later, as he sleeps, he has the dream of Ji-soo and Ha-yeon waking him up. Jung-woo sits up, worried about the doctor’s warning that the dream could signal that he will lose his memory again.
The deputy chief informs Joon-hyuk that he has been chosen for an award. Joon-hyuk asks about the Cha Sun-ho case, but the deputy chief only asks that Joon-hyuk remember to go easy on the Chamyung heir.
Eun-hye meets with Jung-woo at the prison after seeing another client. He confesses that his memories returned, identifying Min-ho as the real culprit and his newest cellmate. Jung-woo even explains how Min-ho assumed Sun-ho’s identity.
Eun-hye reacts in disbelief, explaining that Min-ho is her new client. Jung-woo points out that her selection has to do with him. He encourages Eun-hye to pretend that she knows nothing about his connection to Min-ho or that his memories have returned.
Eun-hye expresses concern over Jung-woo’s planned escape, but he explains, “Once I find Ha-yeon, I’m going to turn myself in. Then I’ll go for a retrial. Once I become innocent from the retrial, I should get away with escaping from prison.”
Eun-hye shows Jung-woo a crime scene photo, pointing out that two knives are missing from the knife block. He admits that he hid the real knife that killed Ji-soo, admitting to Eun-hye that it has Min-ho’s blood on it.
Jung-woo also hid the documents proving Min-ho’s true identity, but he admits that he’s not ready to share that information yet, and asks Eun-hye to focus on finding Ha-yeon. Jung-woo cautions her, “Watch out for Cha Min-ho.”
The attorney general presents Joon-hyuk with a prestigious award for being an outstanding prosecutor during a highly publicized event. At a celebration dinner, the deputy chief invites Joon-hyuk to accept a drink from the attorney general, who promises to see him when he returns from the U.N.
Joon-hyuk returns to his office to call his mother, telling her about his award and inviting his parents to visit him in America. He starts to tell her something else, but she ends the call, much to his sadness. His phone rings and, expecting to hear his father’s congratulations, Joon-hyuk is stunned by Ha-yeon’s greeting, calling him, “Uncle.”
Ha-yeon stands in a phone booth as she continues, “Uncle Joon-hyuk. It’s me, Ha-yeon.” Sung-kyu hangs up the phone, taking a small notebook from Ha-yeon that lists the phone numbers of her close contacts.
Sung-kyu asks who she called, but Ha-yeon wants to know if it’s true that Jung-woo is really catching bad guys, asking, “My daddy didn’t to something bad to my mommy, right?” Sung-kyu pretends that he doesn’t understand her question, but the girl admits that she saw a news report on the church’s television.
Ha-yeon starts to cry, asking, “You were telling the truth, right, Uncle? You said that my daddy and mommy will pick me up if I behave like a good girl.” Sung-kyu promises that the television lied, comforting Ha-yeon with a hug.
Joon-hyuk struggles with the reality that Ha-yeon has been alive all along. He looks down at his award, telling himself, “One day… If it had been just one day sooner!” Meanwhile, Tae-soo checks his phone at the prison and notices a missed call from an unfamiliar number.
Sung-kyu starts to call the police, but pauses when he remembers confronting Seok about his sister’s surgery. Seok told him, “The surgery went well. Your younger sister was the one that couldn’t endure.”
Seok had cautioned Sung-kyu to stick with their plan rather than turn himself in, promising that he would only get blamed for everything, defeating the objective to set up Jung-woo as the culprit. Seok exited the morgue, leaving Sung-kyu alone to mourn his sister.
Sung-kyu puts down his phone just as Ha-yeon coughs next to him in her sleep. He tucks her in, promising, “Ha-yeon. Dad will come soon.”
Jumg-woo gazes out of the cell window as Mil-yang asks about Teacher Richie, his nickname for Min-ho. Gangster Hyung takes exception to calling Min-ho “teacher,” but Rockfish declares that money makes a person a teacher, god, and Buddha.
Guards come to escort Jung-woo to meet another visitor. When asked, one of the guards shares that he heard that his visitor is a little kid. Jung-woo senses that something is wrong and turns on the guards, insisting that Ha-yeon is dead as he dramatically accuses them of toying with him. The cellmates wonder if he’s lost his memory again as Jung-woo begs the guards to leave him alone.
Min-ho watches Jung-woo’s reaction from a distance as the guards take him to a solitary cell, noting, “He’s not giving in.” Jung-woo pounds on the cell door as he always does, calling out for the warden. Once the guards are gone, he sits, vowing, “Cha Min-ho, things will not go your way.”
Two days later, Min-ho reads a book titled Who Am I? as the others discuss when Jung-woo will be returning to the cell. Rockfish thinks he should stay in solitary until his transfer, but Gangster Hyung wants to see his face again, citing the bond that forms over time. Min-ho asks about the transfer and learns that Jung-woo is being moved because the prison has no execution facility.
After Jung-woo’s food is delivered, someone speaks to him, “Eat well. You will be transferred soon.” Tae-soo stands before the cell door to tell Jung-woo that he is going to a hellish place that even the guards don’t like. Jung-woo doesn’t understand Tae-soo’s words, and is told that his transfer was changed to a different prison.
Jung-woo asks Tae-soo why he’s being sent to a prison without an execution facility after giving up on his appeal, but Tae-soo just walks away. Jung-woo tries to understand the transfer change, realizing it must have something to do with Min-ho.
The warden explains to Min-ho that Jung-woo will be transferred to the new prison, as he requested. Min-ho offers him a card from Lee and Park Law Firm, keeping his promise to send the warden to Seoul. Min-ho explains that the law firm is no ordinary place, since they provide for their imprisoned clients from the outside, a perfect fit for the warden.
Jung-woo tries to think of how to avoid ending up at Jinpung Prison. The guards come for him, and one of them calls him by his name instead of his inmate number, telling him to live well. Mil-yang meets Jung-woo to give him a box that he packed with his things, and waits to see Jung-woo’s bus drive away as Min-ho witnesses the departure from the warden’s office, wearing a satisfied look.
The warden shows Min-ho to a more comfortable private room. But just then, the head of security informs the warden of a problem in the penalty room, and the warden tells Min-ho that he needs to see something.
Min-ho enters the solitary cell that Jung-woo just vacated, and after looking about, shouts out, “Park Jung-woo!” Jung-woo sits in the bus, telling himself, “You’re going to have to call me back again, Cha Min-ho.” Min-ho orders the warden to have the bus returned immediately.
Min-ho laughs as he stands before the cell walls that bear his name, written in blood. On the bus, Jung-woo examines his bloody fingertips.
There were some tough scenes to get through in this episode as we finally discovered who was responsible for Ji-soo’s murder. It was a relief to learn that Sung-kyu wasn’t to blame for her death, yet at the same time, it was disturbing to witness Min-ho’s sadistic nature unleashed on such a gentle, kind, loyal, and loving woman. Ji-soo was protective of her husband and daughter until her last breath, hanging on long enough to tell Jung-woo that Ha-yeon was missing. As usual, Min-ho doesn’t take responsibility for her death, instead blaming Jung-woo’s investigation for his heinous actions, Ji-soo was nothing more than collateral damage as far as Min-ho is concerned. That doesn’t explain how much he has grown to enjoy toying with his victims before he kills them.
Min-ho is one sick and twisted man, intent on avoiding responsibility for his actions no matter the cost to others while still having some fun along the way. He is locked in a war of wills with Jung-woo, not satisfied to have him merely sidelined, but intent on making him suffer as much as possible. The scene where he re-enacted Ji-soo’s final moments, making sure that Jung-woo knew that she begged for his life before learning that she would die, was almost more difficult to watch than her actual death. Min-ho can’t resist toying with Jung-woo, which will most likely lead to his ultimate downfall. It’s certainly what led Jung-woo to realize that Min-ho cut himself with the knife when he murdered Ji-soo, when he showed off that he stabbed her with his left hand.
While Min-ho’s focus is self-preservation, Jung-woo is concerned with finding and saving Ha-yeon. Min-ho will do anything to save himself, but Jung-woo is equally committed to saving his daughter. Both men are smart, desperate, and determined to be the last one standing. Every twist in the plot hinges on their fight to the death. That fight entered a new dimension with Min-ho’s move into Jung-woo’s cell. I felt claustrophobic watching Min-ho studying Jung-woo’s every move. Min-ho’s presence did have one benefit, since it enabled Jung-woo to completely recover his memories regarding his investigation on Min-ho. Learning that Jung-woo hid evidence that will prove his innocence and Min-ho’s guilt was an encouraging development.
Jung-woo’s touching goodbye with Mil-yang illustrated that the inmates are really the only friends that he has left in the world, besides Eun-hye. Mil-yang is certainly the heart of Jung-woo’s cell, managing to be both kind and wise, and I find myself thinking that he is somehow quietly helping Jung-woo’s cause. But of all the inmates, Sung-kyu is proving to be the most pivotal character, even after his release.
Sung-kyu’s involvement in Min-ho’s plot places him in a unique position. He knows better than anyone what Min-ho is capable of and how far he will go to neutralize Jung-woo. His time in prison allowed him to observe how much Tae-soo hates Jung-woo and how thoroughly his colleagues abandoned him. Sung-kyu’s kidnapping of Ha-yeon, while serious, is ultimately what keeps her alive, since another accomplice would likely have killed her as ordered. He also managed to keep Jung-woo alive by confessing that he played a part in Ji-soo’s death and Ha-yeon’s disappearance. Ultimately, Sung-kyu has taken responsibility for protecting Ha-yeon, because really, who can he trust? He faces an impossible situation because he can’t turn his back on Ha-yeon. I can only hope that Sung-kyu’s efforts will be appreciated in the end.