Whisper: Episode 9
In the world of Taebaek, it’s all fun and Machiavellian games until someone gets hurt. Every side is desperate to persuade Sang-gu to be loyal to them, but it will cost them more than just money — in order to save one’s future, one must destroy the past. Unless, of course, that past is the reason someone has a future at all.
EPISODE 9 RECAP
Both Lawyer Choi and Chairman Kang spring into action as they call in all their powerful legal and political connections to make sure Soo-yeon’s video confession will either be used as evidence against Jung-il (per Lawyer Choi) or be thrown out (per Chairman Kang).
Meanwhile, Attorney Jo freaks out because they need Sang-gu in order to have any leverage against Soo-yeon’s testimony. Jung-il studies an old photo of him and Soo-yeon from happier days, then throws it into the trash as he tells Attorney Jo to contact Sang-gu.
Knowing that Jung-il will be wanted to meet with Sang-gu, Soo-yeon’s assistant points out that they’ll need to get to him first. As they round the corner of the hallway, they come face-to-face with Jung-il and Attorney Jo.
Staring straight into Jung-il’s eyes, she tells her assistant to contact Sang-gu and ask him how her husband was hurt that night on the docks. She’s sure that whomever paid Sang-gu to hurt Dong-joon is also the one who killed Sung-shik.
When Young-joo returns to Taebaek to meet with Dong-joon, he tells her in frustration that everything was taken care of. Her father will be proven innocent and she’ll be reinstated as a detective. But it’s a small victory when Lawyer Choi, Chairman Kang, and Jung-il still have all the power. She wonders if Dong-joon’s refusal to begin a war that he can’t win is rooted in fear or wisdom.
In return, he wonders if her determination to fight is due to naïveté or recklessness. She retorts that he probably only wanted to make sure her father was declared innocent so he could clear his conscience due to compromising his principles.
Ki-yong arrives with a couple of detectives who are there to arrest Young-joo for forging documents. But Dong-joon holds out a hand and stops them from putting the handcuffs on her, insisting that he’ll first need to investigate if they have the authority to arrest her without a warrant.
He immediately goes to Lawyer Choi’s office, who says that it will be beneficial for Young-joo to spend a few years in jail. It will get her out of the way while they deal with the situation at hand. Lawyer Choi orders Secretary Song to look into weaknesses of the judge and prosecutor overseeing Chang-ho’s case, so they can exploit and bribe the men to get control over the case.
Dong-joon stubbornly insists that he’ll keep Young-joo by his side, and if Lawyer Choi tries to remove her, he’ll release the truth about who originally wrote the verdict in Chang-ho’s case. He vows that he’ll capture the true criminal and prosecute anyone who helped falsify evidence. He’ll stay at Taebaek; after all, he is Taebaek’s son-in-law — and Young-joo is his secretary.
Lawyer Choi warns him that if Dong-joon goes against his wishes, then his father’s hospital will also be in jeopardy. Dong-joon simply tells him that what should fall, will fall, and then they can start anew.
By the time Dong-joon returns to his office, the detectives are on their way out — without Young-joo. With a determined expression, he tells Ki-yong he sent Chang-ho to jail to save himself. This time, he won’t make the same mistake. Looking directly at Young-joo, he adds that he will capture Lawyer Choi, Chairman Kang, and Jung-il. Seems like he’s made his decision to fight alongside her. Yay!
He offers Ki-yong the chance to walk away while he still can, but cutie Ki-yong is as loyal as ever as he grins and asks what he can do. The trio know that Jung-il and Soo-yeon will be trying to get Sang-gu on their respective sides. Young-joo says that they should attempt to get him on their side, instead. But unlike Jung-il and Soo-yeon who will be offering “carrots” (bribes), they’ll have to rely on “sticks” (threats).
Sang-gu is already reveling in the attention (and money) Attorney Jo and Jung-il offer him as they ask him to testify that Soo-yeon killed Sung-shik. He smugly takes a call from Soo-yeon, playing both sides off each other as he makes a point that his testimony will be purchased by whomever can pay the most.
Soo-yeon’s assistant is worried that it’s too dangerous to send Sang-gu large amounts of money right now since the funds will be traceable. But Soo-yeon is bitter about the fact that Jung-il has turned against her. It was only a few days ago she was in his arms — this kind of betrayal is more dangerous than being caught moving money around. She tells her assistant to cash out an account that’s under a fake name.
She returns home that evening to find Dong-joon flipping through stacks of paper. He casually tells her that he’s checking on her whereabouts the night of the murder, adding that even though Jung-il will be arrested for the murder, she’ll also be arrested for soliciting the assault in the first place.
Soo-yeon asks him why everything must be so complicated, and he muses that she’s led a simple life. Which is probably why she thought she and Jung-il would be together forever. He warns her not to trust Sang-gu, and when she tells him she’s already paid him off, he says that Sang-gu will just ask for more tomorrow.
In the morning, Sang-gu goes out for a jog, but is surprised to see a familiar face when Young-joo cheerily greets him. Haha! She tells him that she wants to make him another offer, but she knows his hands are already full with Jung-il and Soo-yeon’s offers. Sang-gu is pleased that he’s got another bidder for his testimony, and asks what she’ll give him. She promises to give him more than whatever the other two are promising — after all, “Taebaek’s son-in-law” has access to plenty of cash.
That spurns Sang-gu to double his asking price, and Soo-yeon realizes that she’s just being used as a way to raise the stakes, like a pawn in a bidding war. Time for an alternative plan, and from her description of an interrogation room, it’s a plan that sounds like it will involve a lot more “sticks” than “carrots.”
Young-joo limps into Dong-joon’s office, her body aching from the morning jog. Aw, Dong-joon gives her his health tonic to make her feel better, but Ki-yong probably helps improve the mood too when he reveals that there’s a warrant out for Sang-gu’s arrest.
The prosecutors barge into Sang-gu’s office to arrest him, but he jumps out of the window (into the convenient pile of styrofoam trash below), which sprains his ankle but he still manages to limp into a taxi and flee. Ki-yong and Young-joo follow after him. They know this means Sang-gu’s figured out Soo-yeon has refused his requested amount, so he’ll need to ask Jung-il for help. It’s up to Dong-joon to make the next move.
When Jung-il gets word of Sang-gu and his evasion from the prosecution, he deduces that Dong-joon is somehow involved. He asks Dong-joon if last night he advised Soo-yeon to tip-off the prosecution, but Dong-joon keeps reading his newspaper as he muses that Jung-il seems awfully interested in what happens in the newlywed’s bedroom. Ha!
Jung-il grits his teeth as he tells Dong-joon that Soo-yeon was sloppy and Sang-gu got away. As a result, Sang-gu will be supporting Jung-il instead. Dong-joon tells him to go ahead and meet with Sang-gu — after all, the court will probably be very curious why Jung-il is harboring a fugitive. Then again, if Jung-il doesn’t meet with Sang-gu, then he won’t have a control over the testimony.
Dong-joon pretends to look concerned as he points out that Jung-il is caught between a rock and a hard place. He looks over at Jung-il’s office, adding that he’s heard it has a balcony. Well, the view from Dong-joon’s office is pretty good, too, since he gets to watch a dangerous beast locked helpless in its cage.
As he meets with Attorney Jo to figure out their next step, Jung-il continues to watch Dong-joon from his office. He’s decided to send Sang-gu to the Philippines, just like he once tried to do with Dong-joon. As for the money they were going to give him, he tells Attorney Jo to give it to Dong-joon. He raises his coffee cup in a toast, and Dong-joon, from his own office across the way, toasts back.
Young-joo and Ki-yong are still keeping an eye on Sang-gu, who sits in the taxi, waiting for any sign of Jung-il to arrive at the meeting point. Instead, he’s surprised by his own men suddenly appearing — and based on the baseball bats in their hands, this isn’t a friendly reunion. He fights them off and runs away, but can only go so fast on his bad ankle.
Ki-yong suddenly pulls up, and once again Young-joo cheerfully greets him: “Hi, Sang-gu!” Ha! He doesn’t have much choice as he scrambles into the car to save himself from the thugs chasing him.
He brings up the fact that she told him she would offer him more than Jung-il, but instead she orders Ki-yong to stop the car. Her offer is now simply the assurance of safe room and board, and if he doesn’t like it, he can get out. Considering that it’s his only choice if he doesn’t want to beaten up by his own men, he agrees.
Jung-il finds his father waiting for him at Lawyer Choi’s old office, back from when he was a poor attorney. Chairman Kang has kept the old office just as it used to be. Even though it doesn’t look good for them that they’ve lost Sang-gu, he reassures his son that everything will be over in a few days. He’s got a hidden card — Secretary Song.
The secretary politely enters the office and gives Chairman Kang back his envelope. Seems like there was a pretty massive amount of money in it, but Secretary Song is loyal to Lawyer Choi who was the only one who gave him a second chance after he was disbarred and sent to prison as a corrupt prosecutor.
But Chairman Kang insists that Lawyer Choi specifically wanted him as his secretary, and was the behind the people who bribed him in the first place, when he was still a prosecutor. He then made sure that Secretary Song wouldn’t be able to get his license back to practice law, just so that Lawyer Choi could keep him by his side.
This is news to Secretary Song, and it hits him like a blow. He has to take a moment to hide his anger before he returns to Lawyer Choi’s office, where he finds his boss comforting Soo-yeon. Lawyer Choi reassures his daughter that they’ll track down Sang-gu no matter what. He then apologizes that he couldn’t lose Taebaek because of her — but he’ll at least consider giving up half if it’ll save her. Well, that’s just… fatherly.
When Secretary Song tells him that the judge of Chang-ho’s trial wouldn’t be persuaded, he hands over a document that will prove the judge’s wife plagiarized her dissertation. Secretary Song forces a smile as he says he’ll persuade the judge.
Sang-gu, safe at the real Yeon-hwa’s apartment, is reluctant to write a statement about what happened the night Sung-shik died. Even if he confesses, he’ll still be sent to jail. Young-joo and Dong-joon tell him that if he works with them, he’ll be able to reduce his sentence with a plea bargain. Or, y’know, he could just leave now and be caught by his thugs.
He reveals what happened that night: Soo-yeon called him because she wanted him to take some documents from Sung-shik. He heard that Sung-shik was going to meet with the reporter Chang-ho, so he went to where they were going to meet at the fishing site. One of his guys attacked Sung-shik, but he was still alive when Jung-il arrived.
Then Sung-shik saw Jung-il’s face, and it was he who gave the final blow. They knew Chang-ho would be arriving soon, so they called the police and left. Everything that happened after Sang-gu left the scene was between Soo-yeon and Jung-il — Sang-gu had nothing to do with it.
So now, with Sang-gu’s statement and Soo-yeon’s confession, they’ll be able to argue that Soo-yeon instigated it and Jung-il was the murderer — they were working together. The trick, though, is to prove that Soo-yeon and Jung-il were in a relationship.
Soo-yeon and Jung-il meet at Subway, and at least this PPL seems reasonable since she reminds him that when they lived in America, there was a Subway next to their place and Jung-il would often bring her a sandwich. So the location of their “final supper” actually has some meaning.
But Jung-il is still obsessed with the case, knowing that Dong-joon has Sang-gu on his side, and if Dong-joon proves that Jung-il and Soo-yeon were in a long-term romantic relationship, then they’ll both go to prison. He tells her that they should erase any evidence of their last four years together.
They actually end up being one step ahead of Dong-joon’s team, getting rid of any proof of them visiting their regular hotel, or the hotel in Japan they’d normally visit on Soo-yeon’s birthday. They also delete all the emails they sent each other, as well as the email account from the server. Unable to find any evidence, Dong-joon wonders if they’ve underestimated Jung-il. But Young-joo, with her years of detective knowledge, knows there’s one place many of her suspects would forget to erase because it doesn’t seem important — their phone.
At home, Dong-joon rifles through Soo-yeon’s belongings, looking for her old phones. He finds them in one of her drawers and slips out of the room just before she enters. She’s on the phone with Jung-il, telling him that she should be thankful for Dong-joon for helping her get rid of the memories she and Jung-il shared. But she’ll still be visiting him in prison, apparently. Uhh, okay.
She notices the drawers left open, realizing that Dong-joon found her old phones. It’s too late to do anything, and the next day, he and Young-joo show off the photos of the happy couple they’ve retrieved from the phones. Jung-il demands to know why Dong-joon is doing all this in front of Attorney Jo and Soo-yeon’s assistant, who look like two kids caught between their parents fighting over a divorce.
Dong-joon points out that during scandals in large corporations, the whistleblowers are the ones who are saved. He tells them that Taebaek will collapse and Chairman Kang’s company will sink. Dong-joo offers to be their lifeboat.
Angry, Jung-il points out that Attorney Jo is his friend (and therefore wouldn’t betray him), but Dong-joon simply reminds him that Soo-yeon was his lover (which is a relationship closer than friend, and yet he betrayed her). He points out that Soo-yeon also abandoned him, which makes her assistant look nervous.
Soo-yeon and her assistant go to Lawyer Choi, and he orders Secretary Song to remind them that he got the secretary out after only spending one year in jail, and then gave him the exalted position of chief secretary. Basking in the glory of Taebaek, he reassures Soo-yeon’s assistant that she’ll be rewarded for her suffering.
As soon as the assistant leaves, he confirms whether or not Soo-yeon really needs her. Soo-yeon insists that she does, so he orders Secretary Song to dig up the dirt on all of the assistant’s friends and family. Shocked, Soo-yeon intervenes, but her father tells her that they’ll gain her assistant’s loyalty only after they’ve taken everything from her. That way Soo-yeon will be the one that “saved” her.
Gritting his teeth, since he can see precisely how this situation played out with Lawyer Choi gaining his loyalty years ago, Secretary Song promises to look into it. As soon as he leaves the office, he calls Chairman Kang.
Dong-joon goes to his mother’s nursing home, and she’s delighted to set up a room for him. She tells him that if he gave her advance notice, she’d be able to prepare everything properly, and he smiles as he tells her that he’ll be staying there permanently in a week — ten days at the most.
He runs into Young-joo in the laundry room where she’s cleaning her father’s linens. There’s nothing strange about mixing their laundry when they already work and eat together, right? Ah, the domesticity!
As they wait for the washer to finish its cycle, Young-joo tells him that her father won’t be able to make his trial tomorrow (because of his health). Instead, she’ll bring in Sang-gu. When she sees Dong-joon looking in concern at a bandage on her hand, she tells him it was a cut from moving a filing cabinet. They have some cute banter, but the important thing is they’re both very aware of each other, standing side-by-side in such close proximity.
Jung-il and Dong-joon once again meet on the rooftop. Dong-joon points out that if Sang-gu confesses at the trial, this will be the last time Jung-il will be able to see the landscape. Except Jung-il gets the call then that his men have apprehended Sang-gu. Dong-joon also gets a call from a worried Young-joo, who’s found her friend’s apartment a wreck and Sang-gu gone.
Jung-il smugly tells Dong-joon that he’ll be going up higher, but Dong-joon will return from whence he came, so he better enjoy his last view from Taebaek while he can.
There’s only four hours left until the trial, and if they can’t find Sang-gu to testify, then they’re back to square one. They know that Sang-gu must be near one of Jung-il’s team. Dong-joon will keep an eye on Jung-il, Ki-yong will follow Attorney Jo, and she’ll track Chairman Kang.
Meanwhile, Lawyer Choi reassures Soo-yeon that this is all just a war between him and Chairman Kang, and that he’ll soon call to tell Lawyer Choi to put down his sword. As if he’s psychic, the phone rings, and it’s Chairman Kang, requesting they meet.
Dong-joon keeps a careful eye on Jung-il, but nothing seems particularly suspicious as he goes about his daily office duties. The same with Ki-yong who watches Attorney Jo.
But Young-joo follows Chairman Kang to a nondescript office building, and when she reports back to Dong-joon, she’s surprised to see Chairman Kang and Secretary Song enter the building, too. Dong-joon realizes that the men are meeting at Lawyer Choi’s original office where Taebaek was founded.
It’s been years since Lawyer Choi’s returned to the old office, and he’s surprised that Chairman Kang still owns it, but kept it exactly as it used to be. When Lawyer Choi reluctantly admits that Jung-il has Sang-gu, Chairman Kang just laughs and confesses was planning to take back Taebaek, forcing Lawyer Choi return to this office.
Soo-yeon calls her father just then, warning him that a new witness has been added to Chang-ho’s trial — and that witness is none other than Secretary Song. Lawyer Choi seems genuinely shocked by this sudden betrayal. As Secretary Song excuses himself to attend the trial, Lawyer Choi offers to give him whatever he wants.
Secretary Song angrily asks for his wife back — he wants Lawyer Choi to turn back time to seven years ago, to the reason why he became a corrupt prosecutor in the first place. He’s going to testify in court that Soo-yeon was the murderer — which is the only lie he’ll tell. Everything else will be the truth about Lawyer Choi’s corruption.
With a grin, Chairman Kang says that Lawyer Choi and his daughter will go to prison, and then he reassures Secretary Song that he’ll take good care of him. When Lawyer Choi gets out of prison, he can use this office again. Since he came into the world nothing, he should leave with nothing.
Chairman Kang shows off a large vase, declaring it to be antique Goryeo celadon. Then he laughs and says it’s actually fake, just like Lawyer Choi. Secretary Song starts to leave, but Chairman Kang asks for one last glass of water. Chairman Kang turns to look through some documents on the desk, reminding Lawyer Choi that he should be grateful, as the son of a slave, to have led such an easy life until now thanks to his friend.
Grabbing the large vase, Lawyer Choi smashes it over Chairman Kang’s head. The other man drops to the ground, blood seeping from the wound. In a scene eerily reminiscent of the way the dying Sung-shik begged for Jung-il to save him, Chairman Kang gasps for Lawyer Choi to help him. But Lawyer Choi refuses, and the chairman dies from the fatal blow.
Stunned, Secretary Song tremblingly hands over the glass of water, and Lawyer Choi tells him that if he testifies, Taebaek will be destroyed. But now, with Chairman Kang gone, Secretary Song has no one else to rely on. Will he testify, or not?
Young-joo watches Lawyer Choi leave the building and drive away. She carefully enters the building and makes her way to the old Taebaek office. Everything is quiet, so she cautiously opens the door and enters. The broken pieces of pottery crunch beneath her heel, and she’s shocked to see Chairman Kang dead on the floor. Behind her, Secretary Song appears in the doorway.
I have to say, that of all the things I could have expected from this show, I did not anticipate Lawyer Choi killing Chairman Kang with his own hands. I think I’m still in shock. Sure, I wanted Chairman Kang’s smug face out of the picture — but like this? I thought for sure he would be taken down via legal means. Then again, I suppose it’s time to up the ante and have a new dead body to worry about. This does mean that Jung-il will undoubtedly fill his father’s shoes as the main villain, since there’s no way he’s going to take kindly to his father being murdered. Even if he doesn’t know who did it right away, he’ll know it had something to do with Dong-joon and it’ll give him more motivation to want to destroy Taebaek.
Alas, this also means there’s little-to-no hope of reconciliation for our lovers. Their relationship has been dysfunctional at best, but I still enjoyed watching them try to take down the world together. But there’s no way Jung-il, whenever he finds out the truth, will be able to forget that Soo-yeon’s father killed his father. Now, I’m not saying he’s worthy of a Hamlet soliloquy, but I could definitely see Soo-yeon going all Ophelia when she realizes her father killed the father of the man she loves (or at least loved once). Considering how stunned she was to find Jung-il with Sung-shik’s murder weapon in his hands, and how desperate she was to protect him before she thought he betrayed her, watching her go through the same thing with her father should hopefully be just as fascinating. At least this time she already knows that her father was willing to have her take the fall in order to protect his beloved Taebaek.
As for Dong-joon, I’m thrilled (but not at all surprised) that he’s chosen to fight alongside Young-joo. I get excited whenever they manage to one-up Jung-il et al., although it doesn’t seem to last very long, does it? I’m pretty sure we’re not likely to see Sang-gu again (or maybe he’ll actually make it to the Philippines and his goons won’t won’t turn into fish food). Which doesn’t really make sense, though, now that I think about it. Because if Sang-gu isn’t there to testify either way, and they’re left with just Soo-yeon’s video confession, that means Jung-il no longer has the leverage to protect himself from a murder charge. Unless he was blindly trusting in his father’s “hidden card.” Although considering Secretary Song’s risks losing everything if he turns on Lawyer Choi now, that card may remain hidden away for at least a couple more episodes. Probably. Who knows anymore.
I will probably forever roll my eyes at all the convenient plot devices in this show, but there’s still enough genuine surprise and intrigue that keeps me glued to the TV, fretting over whether our heroes will ever win in the end. I want Dong-joon to be able to live a happy, comfortable life with his mother, eating Subway sandwiches while he and Young-joo share health tonics and marvel at the efficiency of fancy washing machines. Yes, as much as I believe that their alliance could have started off on better a foundation (are we just gonna forget that she was going to blackmail him for attempted rape that she initiated?), I ultimately hope that, in the end, they’ll be able to avenge the wrongs done against them and live happy, peaceful, PPL-filled lives.
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