Defendant: Episode 17
With Jung-woo back to doing what he does best, he’s close to finally catching up to his ultimate goal: Min-ho. But Min-ho always manages to be one step ahead of him, so it’s now or never if Jung-woo hopes to finally bring his wife’s murderer to justice. Will Min-ho manage to walk away from the law yet again by using his endless stream of connections, or has his moment of truth finally arrived?
EPISODE 17 RECAP
Chamyung security guards check on Min-ho, but he releases Jung-woo’s jacket and pretends that he’s a guest. Min-ho sits down and says that Jennifer Lee was a college friend of Yeon-hee’s, adding that they all planned to get together before his stint at Woljung prison prevented it.
Pretending that he doesn’t know what happened to her, Min-ho laughs to think that Jung-woo suspects him of her murder. Min-ho observes that Jung-woo hasn’t changed at all, and Jung-woo claims the same about Min-ho.
Jung-woo takes a call, learning that a body was recovered. He orders a DNA test, asking for added security measures to prevent Min-ho’s interference. Before walking out, Jung-woo promises Min-ho that they will meet at the prosecutor’s office.
Min-ho makes a call from home, informing the person on the other end that Seok was caught by Jung-woo. Joon-hyuk searches each cell in the jail before checking the interrogation room, but all are empty. Deputy General Jung joins him, frantic to locate Jung-woo, just as Jung-woo himself walks into the hallway.
The deputy general chastises Jung-woo for visiting Chamyung, reminding him that he promised not to bother them. Jung-woo answers that he was investigating Sung-kyu’s murder, but the deputy general argues that the case is closed, since his death was ruled a suicide.
Jung-woo has determined that the CCTV footage that night was fabricated, and he has testimony from the guard that he was ordered away from his post. He promises to reveal a cover-up that proves Sung-kyu was killed while in custody, and that it was made to look like a suicide.
The deputy general angrily advances on Jung-woo, who coolly observes that if Sung-kyu’s death was really a suicide, he has no reason to be concerned. Deputy General Jung then shares that he heard Min-ho’s employee was arrested without a warrant and demands to know where he is.
A small toy dump truck, nicknamed Optimus Prime, rams into Seok’s face. He’s in the ground buried up to his neck and thoroughly trapped while Chul-shik tells him that he’s sure to be sentenced to death. Chul-shik returns to using the RC truck to harass Seok, wondering when Jung-woo will return.
Jung-woo arrives at the Chamyung villa where Jennifer Lee was killed with an investigative team. He orders every surface checked, sure that some evidence survived the cleanup. Min-ho’s lawyer, LEE SUNG-SOO, calls him with news of the villa’s search.
Min-ho is starting to feel the pressure as he recalls killing Jennifer Lee. He walks out of his office to find a worried Yeon-hee waiting for him. When he tries to reassure her, Yeon-hee thinks of all that’s happened in the eight months since he became Sun-ho, asking if he can keep his promise to protect her and Eun-soo. Min-ho answers in the affirmative just as Eun-soo runs to him, asking about a promised visit to an amusement park.
As Min-ho rides in his car with Secretary Kim, he wonders if Seok told Jung-woo about the villa before eyeing his secretary with suspicion.
A forensics investigator discovers bloodstain evidence near the villa’s front door. Min-ho gets a call from the deputy general, updating him on the development. After hanging up, Min-ho tells himself that he must meet with Seok, wondering where Jung-woo hid him.
Chul-shik has abandoned the RC truck in favor of practicing his golf swing. He tees up right in front of Seok’s nose and makes his shot. Seok calls him a crazy bastard, but Chul-shik replies that Seok is the one who crashed into someone he knew with a truck.
Jung-woo joins Chul-shik, informing him that bloodstains were discovered at the villa. He bends down to ask Seok if he hit the NFS medical examiner and Chul-shik’s boss with his truck. Seok smirks when he hears that Jung-woo couldn’t find damage on his truck, but Jung-woo adds that he did find the damaged bumper, linking him to Investigator Go’s accident as well.
Jung-woo can charge Seok with two murders and one attempted murder, plus, there is camera footage that proves that he entered the prosecutor’s office to kill Sung-kyu. While Seok can expect a death sentence, Jung-woo makes it clear that Min-ho will be released due to a lack of evidence.
Jung-woo understands that the situation is unfair, but he hasn’t been able to successfully connect Seok’s crimes to Min-ho. Jung-woo warns Seok that he has two choices: He can take all the blame and end up on death row, or he can help capture Min-ho and avoid the death sentence. Jung-woo gets a call informing him that Min-ho is on his way to the prosecutor’s office and tells Chul-shik that they must take Seok with them.
Min-ho is met by a crowd of reporters when he arrives at the prosecutor’s office. He deflects all questions, declaring his full cooperation with the Jennifer Lee investigation. As Jung-woo drives to the prosecutor’s office, he explains to Seok that he will only survive if Min-ho is caught.
Min-ho and Attorney Lee wait for Jung-woo in an interrogation room. Before turning Seok over to Prosecutor Choi, Jung-woo warns Seok to think about what he told him.
Jung-woo sits with Min-ho and Attorney Lee, intrigued by Min-ho’s impatience regarding Jennifer Lee’s investigation. Min-ho insists that he just wants to hurry things along. Jung-woo admits that Seok is the only person that he can link to Jennifer after Min-ho went to prison. He presents a log of Seok’s calls, showing all the calls between him and Min-ho before Jennifer went missing.
In another room, Prosecutor Choi and Investigator Go question an uncooperative Seok. Prosecutor Choi reveals that they discovered that Seok paid off the detective that Jennifer hired to check on Sun-ho, stopping his investigation.
Min-ho enters the men’s restroom while Seok is washing his hands. He recognizes Seok’s hard work on his behalf for the past six years. Seok thanks Min-ho for taking him in back then, and Min-ho suggests that they continue to work together in the future.
Min-ho asks Seok if there’s anything that Seok can do for him now that blood was discovered at the villa, hinting very heavily for him to take all the blame. When Seok addresses him as CEO, Min-ho reminds Seok to call him Chairman from now on.
Back in the interrogation room, Jung-woo shares the blood test results, which are a match to Jennifer Lee. Min-ho wonders what Seok had to say, but Jung-woo insists that Min-ho should be explaining why her blood was found in his villa.
Min-ho argues that he can’t know what happens in each of his many properties. His response reminds Jung-woo that Min-ho used the same excuse during the original murder investigation, when his one night stand was beaten at a Chamyung vacation home.
Prosecutor Choi enters, informing Jung-woo that Seok confessed to killing Jennifer Lee. Jung-woo accuses Min-ho of being behind the confession before stomping out. He goes straight to Seok and, grabbing his collar, he demands to know, “Was it really you?”
As Attorney Lee peeks in, Jung-woo demands to know the location of the murder weapon. The lawyer returns to Min-ho, confirming that Seok confessed. Min-ho asks him to arrange a meeting with Seok before he leaves the prosecutor’s office.
Min-ho meets with Seok, promising to take care of him after he gets out of prison in a few years. Seok asks about the murder weapon, explaining that Jung-woo expects him to produce it.
Out in the hallway, Min-ho makes a call, asking, “Look into someone for me. We never know when he’ll change his mind.” He comes face to face with Jung-woo and accuses him of becoming dull after all of his hardships, suggesting that he try herbal tonics. Min-ho saunters off with a wave as Jung-woo calls after him.
In an eerie re-enactment from the night that Sung-kyu was killed, the jail guard at the prosecutor’s office is called away. Someone enters the section, unlocking the cell where Seok is sleeping. When someone enters his cell, Seok wakes up and turns to face… Jung-woo. He reaches out his hand to Seok, retrieving a recording pen that Seok pulls from a pocket.
During an earlier meeting, Seok agreed to help Jung-woo and was instructed to confess to everything. Explaining that he needed evidence that Min-ho killed Jennifer Lee, Jung-woo proposed creating a situation that would prove his guilt.
When Seok asked Min-ho about the location of the murder weapon, he had to think about where he hid it before sharing that it was buried in the villa’s garden. His admission was recorded on the hidden pen, and Jung-woo plays the recording in the jail cell before allowing Seok to be escorted away. Alone in the cell, Jung-woo remembers Sung-kyu, promising that those responsible for his death will pay for their crimes. (Seeing Sung-kyu just broke my heart all over again.)
Prosecutor Choi and Investigator Go meet with Jung-woo to ask about Seok’s investigation, anxious to confirm that Min-ho’s side hasn’t caught on yet. Prosecutor Choi argues that they can arrest Min-ho with the recording, but Jung-woo points out that he would appear in court as Cha Sun-ho in that case.
Investigator Go notes that Min-ho erased all traces that would prove his real identity, but Jung-woo insists that he stand trial for killing the real Sun-ho as Cha Min-ho. When Prosecutor Choi asks how he will do that, Jung-woo shares that there is one person who can testify that he’s Min-ho.
Eun-soo reminds Min-ho about a promised trip to the amusement park. Min-ho invites a distracted-looking Yeon-hee to join them, promising her that nothing more will happen to worry her. Later, as Min-ho walks into Chamyung with Secretary Kim, he hears his late father’s voice calling his name.
Now sporting a suit, Rockfish accompanies Mong-chi to a real estate office. Mong-chi wants to buy a business, reasoning that if he’s going to date the doctor, he needs to be a CEO to match her level. Rockfish explains to the realtor that Mong-chi is interested in a shop, and he details that it must make money and make him look good.
Min-ho meets with the doctor. He shares that since they last met, his father died. He explains that sometimes, he thinks that he’s Min-ho, and some people believe that he’s really his brother.
The doctor thinks that he may be suffering from dissociative identity disorder and suggests running some tests. Just then, Min-ho is shaken by the memory of his dying father grabbing his ankle. He starts to mention it to the doctor before changing his mind.
Outside the doctor’s office, Rockfish tells a nervous Mong-chi to have confidence. Min-ho walks by on his way out and tries to ignore them, but Mong-chi confronts him, asking if he’s interested in the doctor too. Min-ho answers with a serious eye roll before Secretary Kim reminds him that they need to leave, addressing him as “Chairman.”
Mong-chi frets that he can’t compete with a chairman, but Rockfish reminds him of his good physique. They pop in unannounced to see the doctor, and Mong-chi is suddenly weak-kneed. Rockfish helps him into the office where the two break into a song and dance routine, with Mong-chi confessing his love to the very confused prison doctor.
Rockfish whispers that Mong-chi’s rich before running off. Mong-chi admits that all he has is money – and strength – before sending a kiss in the doctor’s direction. The doctor looks away as she smiles bashfully.
During a call, Jung-woo learns that Min-ho visited a psychiatrist. Secretary Kim hangs up and turns to open a door, revealing a waiting Min-ho, who suddenly asks to borrow his phone. He calls the last number that was dialed, claiming a wrong number when a woman answers. As Secretary Kim walks away, he checks on the two phones in his pocket. Smart.
A very stressed Joon-hyuk answers a call in his office. Ha-yeon greets him as “Uncle Joon-hyuk” and wants to know why he hid from her when she saw him outside of her school.
Meanwhile, Eun-hye’s aunt asks her niece what she’s up to and learns that she’s working on another retrial as a favor to Jung-woo. Her aunt reminds Eun-hye that it’s her mother’s memorial day, wondering if working on retrials means that she still believes that her father didn’t make her mother that way.
Eun-hye tells her aunt that she remembers that her father was with her that day. Her aunt suggests that she start with a retrial for her late father, prompting Eun-hye to admit that she will file for her father’s retrial soon, promising, “I’m going to make sure to win.”
Eun-hye approaches a flower shop, recalling Jung-woo telling her, “Once a year, Elder gets a letter from this address.” The woman in the shop is surprised to hear of a possible retrial, admitting that her children don’t know what happened to her. She cries at the thought of them learning that she killed two people.
The woman tells Eun-hye, “He said he’d go in instead of me.” She went to the prosecutor, offering to accept the punishment, but was told that the investigation was already over. Insisting that she was too late, the prosecutor refused to listen to her.
After the woman shares that Mil-yang won’t accept her visits or answer her letters, Eun-hye asks the woman for one favor. Back at the prison, Gangster Hyung inquires about Mil-yang’s appeal, only to learn that he’s decided not to request a retrial. Mil-yang explains that it would make things difficult for someone who is living well.
Joon-hyuk watches Ha-yeon from a distance as she runs to her grandmother after school, turning away when the little girl sees him. Ha-yeon runs after him and takes Joon-hyuk’s hand before he can get into his car, explaining that she called him because she missed him. Crying, Joon-hyuk hugs her, telling her that he’s sorry. Mother Oh greets him kindly, understanding that he’s been suffering as well. She invites him to visit sometime.
Yeon-hee meets with Jung-woo, curious as to why he asked to see her. He’s aware that she gave the documents regarding Chamyung’s slush fund to Prosecutor Choi. She explains that her resentment was aimed at Chairman Cha and tells Jung-woo, “I think that everything has found its rightful place.”
Jung-woo disagrees, telling Yeon-hee, “You’ll have to make a decision soon.” He explains that she must decide if Min-ho stands in court as Cha Sun-ho or Cha Min-ho. Jung-woo is sure that she already knew that Min-ho killed Sun-ho and Jennifer Lee.
Jung-woo tells Yeon-hee that Min-ho also killed his wife, Ji-soo. Yeon-hee asks why Jung-woo is telling her these things, so he explains that he wants Min-ho to stand trial under his true identity. He must prove that Min-ho killed Sun-ho and took his identity.
Yeon-hee still doesn’t understand why Jung-woo insists on sharing this information with her. He explains that it’s important how a child remembers his father, telling her that she can determine if Sun-ho is declared a murderer. His words haunt her during dinner with Min-ho and Eun-soo later. Min-ho asks why she didn’t answer his call earlier, but she lies and tells him that she was with a friend.
It turns out that Min-ho witnessed Yeon-hee’s meeting with Jung-woo by listening in on their conversation from his car. A man sitting behind her walked away, leaving behind a briefcase with a microphone, allowing Min-ho to hear everything that was said. Jung-woo argued that Yeon-hee should want Min-ho to stand trial as himself, rather than his brother.
Later, Min-ho thinks over Jung-woo’s plan, but is interrupted when Yeon-hee enters his office to invite him to join her for a drink. Min-ho suggests to Yeon-hee that they should leave the country, just as they planned six years earlier. She asks about Chamyung, but he reminds her that it’s not important to him. Min-ho promises that things will get better once they leave. He takes her hand and presses for an answer, thankful when she finally nods in agreement.
At bedtime, while Jung-woo reads a story, Ha-yeon tells him that she saw Joon-hyuk after school and calls him a crybaby. She explains that he told her that he was sorry. Jung-woo wonders why he would say that, but he tells Ha-yeon that he must have missed her a lot.
Joon-hyuk walks into his office and looks around the room, his gaze pausing on the Prosecutor’s Oath hanging on the wall. He studies his nameplate, reading out, “Prosecutor Kang Joon-hyuk.”
Breakfast reminds Ha-yeon of Sung-kyu. The adults fall silent when she asks Jung-woo if he gave her drawing to Sung-kyu. When he says that he did, she wants to know Sung-kyu’s response, pleased to hear that he sent his thanks.
Just then, an apron-wearing Chul-shik serves a stew, visibly pleased when Mother Oh praises his cooking skills. Ha-yeon asks Chul-shik why he’s staying with them, and Jung-woo volunteers that it’s his fault that Chul-shik can’t go home, suggesting that they let him stay with them a few more days. Chul-shik makes a funny face, and Ha-yeon nods her agreement while everyone laughs happily.
As he leaves his apartment, Jung-woo gets a call and gives the order: “Let’s start moving.” Just then, Secretary Kim gets a call from Min-ho instructing him to leave without him. Min-ho loads luggage into his car, telling Eun-soo that he’s joining his parents on a trip.
As Min-ho drives to the airport, Yeon-hee asks him if he remembers the day that they met. Yeon-hee wonders how life would have turned out if they hadn’t met, believing that they would have been happy. Min-ho disagrees, telling her they will go where no one can find them.
Jung-woo arrives at the airport with a large team of policemen, ordering them to arrest Min-ho on sight. Inside the terminal, Min-ho leaves Yeon-hee to purchase their tickets. When he returns, she and Eun-soo are gone. He sees her walking with their son on a lower level and calls out to her, but she keeps on walking.
Min-ho runs after Yeon-hee, intercepted by the police just before he can reach her. She looks back as Jung-woo stands in front of a frantic Min-ho. Tears falling, Yeon-hee turns her back on Min-ho and walks away with Eun-soo.
While Min-ho insists that he’s Sun-ho, Jung-woo arrests him as Cha Min-ho for the murders of Sun-ho, Jennifer Lee, and for ordering Sung-kyu’s murder. As a tear falls, Jung-woo finally arrests Min-ho for the murder of Ji-soo.
As we begin the final week’s episodes, we finally see Min-ho showing signs of strain as he works to keep his many crimes from being connected back to him. He’s done a good job of covering up his misdeeds, but as Jung-woo circles, Min-ho must work even harder to keep the prosecutor at bay. Of course, those closest to him know just how dangerous Min-ho can be, and Jung-woo is able to instill enough fear to get some cooperation in building his case against the murderous chairman. It was really no surprise that Seok turned on Min-ho in order to protect himself, but getting Yeon-hee to consider revealing Min-ho’s true identity was unexpected. Jung-woo appealed to her concern for her young son, and argued that Eun-soo should be able to remember his father, Sun-ho, favorably, and for her not to allow his name to be ruined by Min-ho posing as Sun-ho. In the end, it looks as if he convinced her to stop keeping Min-ho’s secret.
While Yeon-hee may come across as self-serving, she has actually proven herself to be a realist and a survivor. Jung-woo allowed her to face the truth. At the very least, Min-ho is going to be arrested and tried for the murders of Jennifer Lee and Ji-soo, and for arranging the murder of Sung-kyu. Adding Sun-ho to that list serves to preserve her real husband’s reputation, rather than having his name ruined forever. Even so, accepting Min-ho’s fate isn’t easy for her. He was the only man that she ever loved, and he’s Eun-soo’s real father. Protecting her son means that she has to accept that he’s better off without Min-ho. I almost felt sympathy for Min-ho when Yeon-hee asked if he remembered when they first met. She realized that they were destined to never be together and that never meeting would have spared them both so much pain. Min-ho can’t see that, and is willing to leave the country to keep her by his side. Theirs was a tragic love, torn apart by their family’s expectations and Min-ho’s deadly resentments. In the end, the only thing that Yeon-hee can reasonably do is protect her son.
As Jung-woo gets closer to catching Min-ho, he becomes more like the man that he was before Ji-soo’s murder. He has regained his reputation and his confidence professionally, and he has the remaining members of his family by his side. He can be a father to Ha-yeon again while his mother-in-law and Tae-soo remain a part of their lives, laughing and loving just like they used to. Besides Ji-soo, the only one missing is Joon-hyuk, who has to deal with his betrayal toward Jung-woo. While he could perhaps justify his actions against Jung-woo, he can’t do so when faced with Ha-yeon. Her love and trust shines a harsh light on his actions, and he’s finally struggling with how far he strayed from his ideals. He longs to return to his old friends, but knows that he doesn’t deserve them after everything that he did. In the end, he’ll have to decide what he can and can’t live with.
As we prepare to say goodbye to this drama, I have to admit how much I’m going to miss Jung-woo’s cellmates. Mong-chi and Rockfish, while always bickering in prison, have become inseparable on the outside. It was so heartwarming the way that Mong-chi took responsibility for Rockfish once he left prison and how they continue to help one another. Who would have guessed that Rockfish would help Mong-chi romance the doctor? The cellmates have provided so much heart and comic relief, as well as deep sorrow for the loss of Sung-kyu. I’m not sure I’ll ever forgive the writer for killing off Sung-kyu, since that was just a bit more than I could accept, but that disappointment only proved how endearing the characters were. I’m hoping for more happy endings for the remaining cellmates before we say goodbye.
In the end, this drama really belongs to Jung-woo. He was a happy husband and father whose life was torn apart by a despicable man. His strength enabled him to survive unbearable suffering and to save his daughter from certain harm. Jung-woo’s world depends on justice, and in the end, he’ll settle for nothing less.
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- SBS’s Defendant gets 2-episode extension
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