Whisper: Episode 6
Fathers on this show are universally terrible. Unless, of course, you’re Chang-ho, but then again if you’re Chang-ho, you’re merely a pawn to be used in the greater game of corruption. The decision as to whether Young-joo’s father lives or dies rests in the hands of those who are desperate to make sure their own needs are met. It all comes down to who will sacrifice the most in order to get what they want.
EPISODE 6 RECAP
Young-joo silences Dong-joon with a kiss as Sang-gu’s men get closer and closer to their hiding spot. But the sound of police sirens cause the men to flee. Yay, Hyun-soo decided to return!
Sang-gu calls Jung-il, letting him know that things didn’t exactly go as planned. Meanwhile, Hyun-soo calls Young-joo, asking if she’s okay. She’s more concerned about Dong-joon’s stab wound, knowing that he has to get the hospital ASAP. But when Hyun-soo angrily asks her again if she’s okay, she admits she is. That’s all he needs to know and he drives off. Boo, Hyun-soo!
Young-joo manages to get Dong-joon into a taxi and to the hospital. Aw, it’s the real Yeon-hwa who’s there to meet rush him to the ER. Dong-joon’s father is also there, thanks to a phone call on the way to the hospital, and he enters the operating room, ready to take over the surgery on his son.
Lawyer Choi is ready to do everything to destroy Jung-il and take action against the attack on Dong-joon, but Soo-yeon threatens to take the blame for everything instead — including the night Sung-shik was killed. She tells her father that she’s in possession of the documents Sung-shik had that night, and if she’s arrested, those documents will go straight into the hands of the prosecutors.
She zeroes in on Secretary Song, knowing that he’ll be the first one to crack when it’s found out that he was the original informant. He nervously turns his attention to Lawyer Choi, but Soo-yeon sarcastically reassures him that even if her father can abandon his daughter, he can’t abandoned Taebaek. She knows that Dong-joon’s father will save his son. After all, even with all his prestigious roles and achievements, he still needs Dong-joon.
Ten days later, Young-joo enters Soo-yeon’s office to return a book and a plant. Apparently, Young-joo is now officially employed by Taebaek under her own name — no more “Yeon-hwa.”
Soo-yeon orders Young-joo to write her a speech in English, due this afternoon. But Young-joo has other plans. She’s going to the hospital to see Dong-joon, and informs Soo-yeon that he’s finally starting to walk around on his own and eat solid food. Oooh, so Soo-yeon hasn’t even bothered to keep up the pretense of being his wife?
Soo-yeon wonders where Young-joo’s pride has gone. She first slept with Dong-joon that night when he ruled against her father in order to blackmail him, but now she’s teaming up with him. She asks Young-joo what it was like to sleep with her husband. Young-joo tells her that he was very impressive, and if Soo-yeon is so curious, she should try it out herself. Ha!
Then she excuses herself, promising to work on the speech and making sure to only use simple words since she knows Soo-yeon’s English isn’t very good. Oh, the shade!
Cutie Ki-yong has now been promoted to Dong-joon’s driver, but he promises that he’ll do anything Dong-joon needs. At least someone’s on his side.
Young-joo’s mother is visiting Dad in the hospital, and he scoffs as she tucks shamanistic talismans into his bedclothes. He thinks it’s just ridiculous superstition, but Mom points out her belief in the talismans is really no different than Chang-ho’s belief that if he keeps his conscience clear and lives an honest life, then everything will turn out right. He spent his life believing that and look where that got him.
The book that Young-joo returned to Soo-yeon’s office actually holds a secret camera pointed directly at Soo-yeon’s computer. Young-joo’s glued to her own computer as she watches the live feed. She wants to figure out where Soo-yeon hid Sung-shik’s documents, and keeps an eye out for any hint of a safe or security deposit box. But so far, Soo-yeon hasn’t made a move.
She monitors Soo-yeon from Dong-joon’s hospital room as she fills him in on the recent happenings. But he doesn’t seem all that interested in finding out what his wife has been up to. Instead, he reminds her that they’ll need those documents before they can force Lawyer Choi to move, which will then lead the way to capturing Jung-il. Only then will they be able to free her father.
She hesitantly points out that even after her father is set free, Dong-joon will remain at Taebaek and eventually inherit Lawyer Choi’s power. But he reassures her that everything will be better, since he’ll be stuck forever remembering how he ended up at Taebaek in the first place. Even though he can’t be like her father, sticking to his convictions come hell or high water, neither can he live like Lawyer Choi.
He reassures her that her father has the best surgeon available, adding that while the surgeon may not necessarily be a good person, he’s an excellent doctor.
Jung-il meets with Sang-gu down at the docks, angry that Sang-gu didn’t follow his original orders to send Dong-joon away. But Sang-gu knows he holds the power in this relationship and that the moment he confesses, Jung-il and Soo-yeon will be destroyed.
Back at the office, Jung-il wonders what will happen if Lawyer Choi gets his hands on the body armor documents. But Soo-yeon reassures him that it’s impossible for someone to find what she doesn’t have. The documents will soon be returning to her, though.
Young-joo, watching from the camera feed, notices the package tracking screen that Soo-yeon has been obsessively studying all day. The package that she had mailed is now returning to her, having been sent to a nonexistent address.
It’s Jung-il’s mother’s memorial day, and as Soo-yeon goes to spend it with Jung-il and his father, she calls her assistant and informs her that she has an important package that will be delivered today. When Young-joo overhears where it’s coming from, she knows it’s the package Soo-yeon’s been tracking.
Young-joo hurries to follow the delivery truck, finding it a stop away. As the driver carries his load of packages into the building, Young-joo casually uses a pair of sunglasses to block the hinges and prevent the truck’s loading door from completely closing.
When no one is looking, she slips into the truck and looks through the packages until she finds the one for Soo-yeon. Just then the driver returns, surprised to see the truck’s door open, and, with Young-joo trapped inside, shuts it before he drives to his next destination: Taebaek.
He’s thrilled to realize that the person waiting for his next delivery is none other than Soo-yeon’s assistant, who also is a frequent guest on a talk show. It’s a close call for Young-joo when he glances back in the truck, as though sensing someone is hiding behind the wall of packages, but he’s more focused on getting an autograph and selfie from his celebrity crush. Having switched the envelopes’ contents, Young-joo easily slips away and returns to her office.
Dong-joon informs Lawyer Choi that they’re now in possession of the documents revealing the corruption of the faulty body armor. That means the next plan can be put in motion, and Lawyer Choi calls on an assemblyman for a favor.
As Chairman Kang sits in front of his wife’s grave, he brags to Jung-il about all the flowers he plans to plant. Jung-il sardonically points out that in death she’ll get all the flowers she was never given in life, meaning Chairman Kang wasn’t exactly the most loving husband.
He tells his son that he married a professor in order to make up for the education he lacked. But he never understood why she could love Dostoevsky, who gambled until he died, but look down on her own husband. He warns Jung-il to marry someone who’s on his own level. Jung-il: “That why I chose Soo-yeon.”
But Chairman Kang finds it difficult to accept that his son will marry a servant’s daughter. He reminds Soo-yeon that he doesn’t like her, a fact she well knows, but she appreciates that he’s finally approving their relationship. He retorts that he hasn’t approved anything — he’s just given up on Jung-il.
The memorial is abandoned when Chairman Kang gets word that the assemblyman is revealing the corruption between the chairman’s company and the Defense department in front of the entire assembly. Jung-il realizes that Lawyer Choi is making his move, but Soo-yeon is confident she can stop him.
They return to the office, and Soo-yeon shows him the package she’s been waiting for and which contains the leverage needed to control her father. She opens it up to reveal… magazines? And the speech she requested.
Young-joo calls her just then, telling her that she’s delivered the speech. She reassures Soo-yeon that these documents Sung-shik was planning to give her father will finally be passed along to him. Oh, and for Soo-yeon’s speech, she made sure to put in the Korean pronunciation on the more difficult English words. Ha, I love her pettiness!
Chairman Kang goes to visit Lawyer Choi, and in a nifty transition, it’s thirty years prior. Lawyer Choi is a poor, struggling attorney in a cheap, cluttered office and Chairman Kang looks a slick gangster business man. He mocks young Lawyer Choi’s failure to make it as a prosecutor or a judge, and he can’t keep clients because he keeps losing trials.
Young Chairman Kang tells him to work for him. Together, they can take over the world. As the news station reports on what would eventually be known as the Gwangju Uprising, the modern-day Lawyer Choi reveals to Dong-joon that the men who drove the tanks there, tanks that would kill the protesters fighting for democracy, were his hometown sunbaes — and Chairman Kang’s friends. Yikes.
That was how Chairman Kang began his life as an arms dealer, and thirty years ago Lawyer Choi drafted a contract that included a separation clause that, should either party desire it, the two companies will go their own way by mutual consent. Young Chairman Kang is offended that friends need a contract, but young Lawyer Choi reminds him that his father’s land was taken from him due to Chairman Kang’s family desire to repurpose it (perhaps because there was no contract?).
But young Chairman Kang reassures young Lawyer Choi that if Lawyer Choi provides the brains, Chairman Kang will provide the money. And just as his baby daughter is his own, so will Taebaek be Lawyer Choi’s.
In the present day, Chairman Kang visits Lawyer Choi in Dong-joon’s hospital room, revealing that the National Assembly is preparing a hearing about the Defense contract. If Chairman Kang is investigated, they’ll also dig up dirt on Lawyer Choi. But Lawyer Choi distracts him by pointing out that Chairman Kang will be too busy with a new contract for missile defense weapons against North Korea.
Chairman Kang knows that Lawyer Choi is telling him that he and Jung-il should remove themselves from Taebaek and accept this generous “parting gift.” Lawyer Choi then reveals the contract from thirty years ago that permitted the men to separate by mutual consent. As Lawyer Choi presses his inked thumb against his name on the contract, he tells Chairman Kang he’s also planning to buy back the land that the chairman’s family took from his family who had tended it all those years.
But Chairman Kang only agrees to sign the document if Chang-ho, who is taking the blame for the murder that Jung-il committed, dies on the operating table. And thus the blame for Sung-shik’s murder would die, too. Lawyer Choi considers it, and then agrees, much to Dong-joon’s astonishment.
Young-joo gives her father Sung-shik’s documents, gently reassuring him that they’ll be able to finish the job he started. Her father just needs to get better soon.
Meanwhile, Chairman Kang seeks Soo-yeon’s opinion on potential wives for Jung-il, but she dismisses them all. She’d rather focus on business issues, such as the upcoming National Assembly hearing. But Chairman Kang is unimpressed that she plans to gamble with his family and his money, reminding her that even if she doesn’t like it, she’s still married to Dong-joon.
Secretary Song sets out the details of Jung-il’s removal from Taebaek, and it seems like it’s a pretty generous settlement. But Jung-il begs to stay with Taebaek, insisting he’s nothing like his father. Lawyer Choi says he’s actually like his grandfather, who stole back Lawyer Choi’s father’s land with no warning, and angrily orders Jung-il out of his office.
At the hospital, Young-joo delivers a gift of an expensive side dish, a “thank you” present from her mother to her father’s surgeon, with a hope that everything will go well during the surgery. But Dong-joon knows that his father is being threatened with the destruction of Dong-joon’s future if he doesn’t make sure there’s an “accident” during the surgery.
Even so, it’s a sweet moment between Dong-joon and Young-joo as she tells him that “her mother” is grateful to have one of the best surgeons for her father. Yeah. Just her mother is thankful.
Dong-joon delivers the gift to his father, adding that he reassured the family it’s a routine surgery and nothing will go wrong. But Dad confesses that he expects to make a “mistake,” reminding Dong-joon that he’s doing it all for him. Dong-joon retorts that he’s really just doing it for his own sake, and demands to know what Lawyer Choi promised him. But Dad says that he’ll make sure Chang-ho lives if Dong-joon does him a favor.
Soo-yeon and Jung-il regroup, reflecting on the fact that even though their fathers fight all the time, they still act like they’re on the same side. Jung-il points out a contract is stronger than friendship, because it’s the contract that determines the winner. He then realizes that if the preconditions of the contract aren’t met, then it can be canceled. So if they let Chang-ho live…
Dad also knows that if Chang-ho lives, then he’ll use those documents to destroy Taebaek — and, thus, Dong-joon. But Dong-joon repeats his favorite phrase, informing Dad that Chang-ho needs to live — and he does, too.
Jung-il tells Young-joo that she should enjoy her time with her father today, since tomorrow when he goes for surgery, he won’t be coming out alive. She runs to Dong-joon’s room, but he’s not there. That’s because he’s quietly sneaking into Chang-ho’s room to figure out where the documents are hidden.
He finds them tucked under the bed, and just as he attempts to slowly pull them out, Young-joo arrives and catches him red-handed. She asks him if her father is supposed to actually die on the operating table, and Dong-joon silently confirms it.
When she says that it doesn’t make sense, Dong-joon points out that the world doesn’t make sense, since honorable people like her and her father are punished but unscrupulos people like Lawyer Choi have all the power. When Young-joo spits out that they must actually in hell, Dong-joon points out it’s worse than that, since at least in hell the sinners are the ones who are punished.
He warns her that everything is prepared for her father’s death — the funeral arrangements, the excuse as to why the surgery was a failure, everything. He can’t stop it from happening because if Lawyer Choi is ruined, then so is he. She pleads with him to help her reveal the body armor corruption, but he protests that he’s not like her father — he can’t live that way.
But as he walks to his father’s office, he dials Young-joo and sets the phone in his pocket. Oooh, did she teach him this little trick?
As she quietly listens in, Dong-joon confronts his father, confirming that he was going to make a mistake during the surgery for Dong-joon’s sake. But he asks if he’s able to destroy Sung-shik’s documents, then would his father do everything he could to save Chang-ho’s life. His father quietly agrees.
Leaving the office, Dong-joon pulls out his phone to tell Young-joo that Chang-ho’s life was ruined because of his mistake. He pleads with her to not let his father make a mistake as well. His voice breaking with emotion, he begs her to not let him become like Lawyer Choi.
Dad flips through Sung-shik’s journal, telling Young-joo that he needs to make sure the mission is completed. Young-joo is faced with a difficult choice, but her first instinct is to see if she can change her father’s surgeon.
The real Yeon-hwa tells her that no one will want to perform surgery on Chang-ho if they found out the patient didn’t trust the skills of one of the most talented surgeons in the nation. Young-joo then tries to postpone the surgery and move her father to a different hospital. But the prison doctor, as terrible as he is, points out that her father’s suspension would then be cancelled and he’ll immediately return to prison.
She’s faced with a difficult choice, and watching her parents happily plan for the future seems to solidify her decision. She reassures her father that the surgery will go well.
On the rooftop, she gathers up all of Sung-shik’s documents and pours lighter fluid over them. Hesitating only slightly, she sets them on fire, her face crumpling in grief as she watches the last true proof of her father’s innocence go up in flames.
As his father is headed to the operation room, Dong-joon shows him the video of the documents being destroyed. That means he can now focus on saving Chang-ho’s life.
But in the middle of the surgery, Dad is swayed by Chairman Kang’s threat that if Chang-ho lives, then Taebaek will be destroyed and Dong-joon’s life ruined. He hesitates as he lingers close to the main artery, but then moves the organ aside to reveal the tumor. From the glances he exchanges with his fellow surgeon, it can’t be good.
After the surgery, he tells Dong-joon that the cancer has spread from Chang-ho’s lungs to his other organs. Chang-ho has at most six months to live. It’s convenient, though, considering that it means when he dies, so too dies Sung-shik’s murder case. Dad then reminds Dong-joon to focus on getting his plastic surgery clinic up and running. Ugh.
Dong-joon finds Young-joo on the roof, standing by the pile of ashes. Wearily, she wonders what she’ll do now — maybe find someone else to frame for Sung-shik’s death? She desperately asks Dong-joon what will happen if she agrees to help Lawyer Choi and cooperate with the body armor scandal. Will it help free her father?
As she begins to cry, Dong-joon gently wipes away her tears. She tells him that she would be strong enough to handle all of this. She spits out the word “prostitute,” adding that she used her body because that’s all she had. She feels as miserable now as she did that night she went to his room.
Trying to rein in her emotions, she tells him that he was right — you can keep on living without a conscience. After all, you only live once. She tells him that once her father recovers, she and her family will move to the countryside where they can finally live in peace and leave everything behind.
Dong-joon pulls her into a hug as he whispers that that day won’t come. Her face hardens as he pulls her closer, telling her that he’s sorry.
I thought we were finally headed to a place where Young-joo and Dong-joon were going to start working together and be on the same side because they both chose to be, and not merely because they were blackmailed. It really felt like Dong-joon’s healing process wasn’t just useful for his body, but also for helping slowly lower the barriers between him and Young-joo. But seeing that flash of anger and distrust on Young-joo’s face at the very last second now has me convinced that Young-joo is not going to take this new betrayal lightly (not that she’s exactly taken any sort of betrayal lightly in the first place). Sure, it could just be Dong-joon wanting to comfort her because her father is truly dying, and saying he’s sorry for how painful it must be to watch her father die of cancer. But I get the feeling that despite his intentions (be they truly noble), she’s not going to see it that way.
Admittedly it isn’t completely Dong-joon’s fault, even though she will undoubtedly blame him. He’s also a puppet caught between the men who pull his strings, and he did what he thought he could to make sure her father could be saved — while making sure his own neck wouldn’t be on the line. I can’t help but wonder if Chang-ho’s cancer is really that far gone or if Dong-joon’s father knows that by not fully operating on it, he can kill two birds with one stone. I’m not a medical expert so I’m not sure what I was supposed to notice during the surgery, but as much as I’d like to take Dad’s statement at face value, this show has taught me that no one is to be trusted.
Even though I enjoyed the flashback this episode (with excellent cameos from Lee Shi-un and Lee Ji-hoon, who I hope we’ll have a chance to see again), I firmly refuse to be persuaded that I should actually feel sorry for Lawyer Choi. Make all the parallels you want of Dong-joon to the young Lawyer Choi who got swept up in the Chairman Kang’s corruption, just so he could make a living. But his redemption arc is gonna need a lot more than just an idealistic young lawyer who wants to avenge his father, whose property that was taken from him by evil landlords.
It also makes me a little angry to realize that this is really just a petty feud between two men who now happen to have the lives of a lot of people in their hands. I’m reminded of the analogy to a game of Go (or Chess), where the men move their pieces around the board, sacrificing some in order to gain control of others and dominate the playing area — each with the ultimate goal of destroying each other. Well, maybe it’s not Chairman Kang’s goal, since he just wants to keep making money and exercising power, and if that means getting rid of anyone that gets in his way, so be it.
I do wonder about Young-joo’s next step. As she’s admitted herself, she doesn’t have anything left to offer. The only piece of leverage that was left is now a pile of ashes. How will she be able to fight against the corruption without any semblance of a weapon? As impressive as her round-house kicks are, I’m not sure they’ll get very far when it comes to smashing against the granite tower that is Taebaek. But this conflict is also what keeps me watching, because I’m dying to know how she’ll figure out a way to escape and save her family — even when it means bringing down the entire structure around her.
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