Falsify: Episodes 3-4
Some heroes find their line in the sand through tragic incidents while others work their whole lives to do the right thing. This story deals with the latter kind of everyday heroes, the sort that have become extremely familiar with the taste of defeat. I’m impressed with what I’ve seen so far, and the stakes are high enough for our three leads to make for an edge-of-your-seat viewing experience. Let’s hope they can keep this pace going.
EPISODE 3 RECAP
Moo-young’s brother, Chul-ho, is run over by a truck before Moo-young’s eyes. In the days following, a young man confesses to driving under the influence and killing Chul-ho. Only, Moo-young keeps thinking back to the night of the incident and can’t reconcile his memory of the man with the lighter in his hand with the young truck driver now admitting to manslaughter.
Moo-young tries to convince his brother’s good friend, Seok-min, that the wrong man was convicted, but finds him unsympathetic. Seok-min suggests that Moo-young’s memory might be distorted from shock, which makes Moo-young assume that Seok-min believes the doping charges that have been lobbied against him.
Trying to convince Seok-min, Moo-young says that Chul-ho may have been murdered because of the story he was working on. But instead of looking surprised, Seok-min tells Moo-young to let things be, because he might not like what he finds out about his brother. This just gets Moo-young angry, but Seok-min just tells him to end it here.
When Moo-young gets home in the pouring rain, he finds that the lights of his apartment don’t work. Sensing a presence, he walks towards the study in the dark. Suddenly, a lighter flickers on before his eyes and blinds him long enough for the attacker to throw him against a bookcase. Moo-young’s too stunned to move, which gives the intruder time to leave the apartment with a backpack.
Moo-young stumbles up and runs out into the rain, searching for his assailant. When he sees a man in a suit with a lighter in his hand in the distance, he gives chase. As the rain falls harder, he finally runs into an empty alley where the man waits, his back turned to Moo-young.
Moo-young charges wildly at the man, but the man flicks away his cigarette and deftly avoids the hit. The man moves with such preternatural quickness that the young athlete never even manages to land a punch. Fighting almost blindly in the rain, Moo-young soon finds himself injured and held against a wall, his head turned away from the man by force.
Keeping his face hidden from Moo-young, the man stabs him in the gut and delivers a warning: “Why do you think your brother died? It’s because he followed me around too much… just like you.”
Moo-young catches only catches a glimpse of a globe-like tattoo on the man’s wrist before he slumps to the ground, while the man walks away into the night.
Later, when Moo-young is being wheeled into the emergency room, he begins to cry as he remembers his brother asking him for reassurance and courage to see something through to the end.
The fallout from the Chairman Min dementia/suicide debacle changes the lives of our other heroes too. Prosecutor Kwon So-ra is reassigned to an area outside Seoul. As she packs up her things and takes a final look at the court house that has been her office, Prosecutor Cha Yeon-soo comes out to see her off, though she can barely look her junior in the eye.
Meanwhile, Daehan Daily’s Splash Team is disbanded, and Seok-min is moved to a clerical backroom job. While he clears up his desk, Seok-min takes a last look at a framed picture on his desk. It’s the same one gracing the corrupt Chief Gu’s table.
His colleague Yoo-kyung walks in and puts her hand out, expecting Seok-min’s resignation letter. But Seok-min sighs and tears up the letter that he’d been carrying in his pocket. He tells a surprised Yoo-kyung that even if he’s at the bottom of the pyramid, he’ll try to do right by his team and stick it out.
When Yoo-kyung rues the disbandment of the team, saying she can see where Daehan Daily will head now, Seok-min promises to find another chance for them to start over. Yoo-kyung wonders how a proud man like Seok-min will survive the humiliation of his new designation and Seok-min smiles, but he can’t say that he has much confidence.
Chief Yang from Patriot News visits Moo-young in the hospital, since Moo-young had called him in the absence of any family or friends in his life. Chief Yang is sympathetic, saying that they should all help each other, and on that note, Moo-young turns to him with a keen expression and asks for his help on a project.
“If you help me, then I’ll become the best trash reporter in the world for your Patriot News,” Moo-young says. As Chief Yang reels back in shock, Moo-young looks into the future with hard, cold eyes.
Moo-young moves apartments and brings along boxes of Chul-ho’s old articles. He puts up a sketch of the killer’s tattoo on a bare wall, and over time, that image becomes the center of a massive web of articles compiled by Moo-young, which he’s has been using to track down the man who killed his brother.
Five years have passed (so we’re back to the events of the first episode), and Moo-young stands before that wall, studying the tattoo. “Where are you?” he asks his nemesis. “You can’t run from me forever. I will find you in the end.” One of the pictures on the wall is of the mobster Boss Park shaking hands with Lawyer Jo.
In his own office, Lawyer Jo speaks to someone on the phone about the trouble at Boss Park’s warehouse the night before (the dead trafficked women being found in the walls). Meanwhile, So-ra speaks to her superior about taking over the prosecution of Boss Park for illegal human trafficking.
News vans gather before the police station, and while waiting for Boss Park to be escorted out by the cops, Yoo-kyung notices her erstwhile team leader, Seok-min, hovering in the background. She’s distracted as the crime boss emerges beside the corrupt Lieutenant Jeon, readying her camera to take pictures. But as Boss Park walks past the reporters, Seok-min steps in front of him and asks point-blank if he admits to killing four women.
The photographers and cameramen immediately focus on Boss Park’s expression, which tells its own guilty tale. Lieutenant Jeon swears and pushes Boss Park along, but the damage is done. Back in his apartment, Moo-young studies that expression and says that scumbags like him shouldn’t get off easily. “Isn’t that right, Hyung?” he asks a framed picture of his dead brother.
At Daehan Daily, a big mobile phone company who advertises with the newspaper is throwing a hissy fit about the launch of a new product being eclipsed by real news on the front page. As he demands that a new spread be made available the next day to recoup losses, Chief Gu shuts him down by pointing out that so long as the phone company’s CEO has scandals to hide, they shouldn’t try making demands from Daehan Daily.
This impresses his staff immensely, and a few pointedly remark within Seok-min’s hearing that Daehan Daily’s future lies in their chief’s capable hands despite some journalists trying to bring him down.
We see that Seok-min has kept a cheerful face on for the past five years, making occasional, sneak forays into the field with his junior journalists, then coming back to the office to be roasted over by his team leader who seems to take great joy in reminding Seok-min of his “real” position in life now.
Seok-min refuses to let any number of snide comments pierce his shield and walks away from his frustrated boss with a coffee in his hand and a chipper tune on his tongue. But when he finds himself alone in an elevator with Chief Gu, his smile dies and a deep anger glints in his eyes.
Seok-min keeps his face turned away to hide his expression, but he asks the senior he was once close to if he remembers Boss Park. Chief Gu had once stopped Seok-min from pursuing an article about him, and Seok-min can’t stop thinking that if they had gone ahead and exposed the man, they could have prevented the death of those four women.
Chief Gu mocks Seok-min’s savior complex and tells him that if he persists in being stubborn, then he’ll spend his entire life as a backroom clerk. Seok-min turns to face the man just as the elevator doors open, and Chief Gu sees his rage and scoffs before walking out.
As Moo-young reaches the office of Patriot News, he’s stopped by YANG CHU-SUNG, their landlord and a local crime boss, who asks him about the ruckus at Boss Park’s warehouse. It appears that Moo-young owes him money, and Boss Yang is interested in knowing how the news agency is doing. It also looks like Boss Yang is something of a patron to Patriot News.
When Moo-young finally walks into the office, Chief Yang is in the middle of a rant about how even takeout restaurants treat trash reporters badly by not giving enough side dishes with every order. Moo-young takes him out and tries to make a case for releasing the footage they recorded of Boss Park, but Chief Yang refuses him—his instincts tell him that the matter is too big for them.
As the rest of the team eavesdrops, Moo-young tries to move his chief’s heart by making an impassioned speech about the integrity of trash reporters, but Chief Yang just says that the prosecution will deal with the case.
Speaking of, So-ra interrogates Boss Park, who says he’s been falsely accused. When she brings up his daughter, he tells her to be careful about what she says, since they all have short lives. At this threat, So-ra leaves her seat and gets close to Boss Park.
Her team member sighs and turns off the CCTV camera in the room as So-ra starts egging the human trafficker to try and hit her. The moment he tries to lunge for her, she kicks the leg of his chair and drops him to the ground.
Later, her boss tells her to do a good job on this case since a personnel appointment is on the horizon, and So-ra finally has a chance to be assigned to Seoul again. Back in her office, her subordinate brings her two lists of news agencies who were at the crime site: one from the police station and one from the press site. So-ra notices immediately that Patriot News’ name is missing from the list. The subordinate says that Patriot’s official address is fake, and nobody knows much about them in the field.
This confirms So-ra’s hunch that Lieutenant Jeon is trying to hide the agency, and she puts her man to work finding this suspicious news agency.
EPISODE 4 RECAP
While Chief Yang is out, Moo-young walks into Patriot News’s office and riles up the team to revolt against the chief’s unprofitable dictatorship and release Boss Park’s video. Once he promises to take the full blame if they’re found out, everyone agrees.
The newest member, YANG SANG-HO, scoffs at Moo-young’s talks of values and integrity when they’re just trash reporters, and his seniors decide to give him a lesson on how Moo-young operates.
In the meantime, So-ra talks to a Daehan Daily reporter, NA SUNG-SIK (Seok-min’s hoobae), who tells them that Patriot News will do anything to get the news they want. He further divulges that they have a reputation of getting reports faster than the police, which is made possible by the support of their patron, the Youngbum Gang.
So-ra asks if the news agency is partners with this gang, but Reporter Na says that they’re not connected. The story is that the reporters from Patriot were somehow instrumental in getting the current gang leader, Boss Yang, elected to his position. So, the gang tips them off about crimes in their area and lets them freely move in areas other journalists can’t traverse.
We cut back to Patriot News’s office, where colleagues Yong-shik and Na-rae narrate the story of what happened when Moo-young was crossed over an exclusive he wrote:
A chief prosecutor in charge of investigating slush fund charges against a conglomerate had dog meat soup with the company’s financial manager and later cleared them of all charges. Patriot News got a picture of that meeting and printed an article asking if dog meat soup costs three hundred million dollars.
The article was unusually earnest for Patriot News’s usual readership, so their site got very little attention when it went up. However, instead of burying the article, the chief prosecutor held a press conference decrying the media’s criticism of a man enjoying some dog meat soup.
While all this was happening, Moo-young was on a truck full of cute dogs in cages, instructing them not to have too much fun today.
We see what he was up to when the chief prosecutor steps outside his office and finds a crowd around a woman with a stewing pot and several dogs sitting around her. She cheerily explains to one reporter that she plans on cooking the prosecutor the dog meat he loves so that he would wave away the petty criminal charges against her family, just as he did with the conglomerate. Ha.
Then Moo-young arrives with two large butcher knives, loudly asking the crowd which dog he should kill for the prosecutor first as he waves his knives around. (He’d secretly whispered to his dog compatriots to play along and look scared, haha.)
He creates such a spectacle that the people there start sharing videos of the incident, and dog lovers all over the city become outraged by the prosecutor’s tastes. Public opinion of him plummets, and his career is ruined.
Back in the present, So-ra’s subordinate is quite impressed by Reporter Na’s account of this story, but So-ra just wants to know where she can find these Patriot News people. Reporter Na takes out his phone to check a message from “Incredible Trash Reporter” and tells So-ra that he doesn’t know anything more about them.
Then, he bids them goodbye and walks away to meet Moo-young in a park. They’re quite obviously friendly and have some trust between them. Moo-young shows Reporter Na a clip from Boss Park’s confession footage and asks him for a large sum for the entire video.
Reporter Na warns Moo-young about the prosecutor sniffing after him, and Moo-young looks almost pleased to hear her name. In his mind, So-ra is a corrupt prosecutor responsible for ruining his career as an athlete (she’d been the prosecutor on his case), so he welcomes the chance to face-off with an old foe.
Reporter Na takes the clip back to Chief Gu, who tells him to secure the rest of the video by the next day. Once Daehan Daily runs the video, it quickly becomes breaking news. Seok-min registers this with interest and eavesdrops on Reporter Na when he talks to Moo-young on the phone about the rest of the footage.
In the meantime, So-ra’s team has found DNA evidence of Boss Park’s involvement in the murders of the four women. So-ra is near tears as she realizes that the evidence has lined up perfectly for them to arrest Boss Kim now.
Seok-min takes Reporter Na to task for not being more wary of a career criminal like Boss Kim. He tries to explain to the younger reporter that Boss Kim must have someone powerful backing him up, and he should have been more careful about setting a trap for the sake of his own reputation. But Reporter Na is high on his own success and can’t be bothered to take advice from a journalist who hasn’t printed a word in the past five years.
Unexpectedly, they hear the sound of a fart and double over at the smell that hits them. The source of the gas, an unapologetic Yoo-kyung, waves more of the scented air towards them and tells Reporter Na that a reporter who can’t respect his seniors won’t be get any cameramen to work with him from now on.
But after chasing him off, she tells Seok-min that Reporter Na had simply said what she’d been wanting to say to him for a while now.
Seok-min accuses her of being mean, but then asks for her know-how of the area where Boss Park ran his business. They drive over to Lieutenant Jeon’s police station, and Seok-min explains that his investigation into Boss Park years ago must have tipped off Jeon back then.
Yoo-kyung sighs that Seok-min is extremely stubborn. Apparently, Daehan Daily has been assigning articles to Seok-min that he’s simply been refusing to work on.
Yoo-kyung has some pull in this province and meets up with the local cooperation officer, who ensures that Lieutenant Jeon is forced to at least talk to Seok-min. They have a frank conversation about Jeon’s corruption, which the cop justifies by saying that there is little use in working to catch bad guys when they have such powerful backers.
Seok-min asks who is protecting Boss Park besides Lieutenant Jeon, but Jeon just tells him to watch out for something big that will crumple the laws and ethics Seok-min believes in.
Meanwhile, Lawyer Jo has an interview with Boss Park, where the crime boss threatens to expose the “seniors” involved unless matters are resolved quickly. When Lawyer Jo discusses this with Chief Gu, they quickly conclude that it’s best to end Boss Park’s life and terminate all association with his business. They even figure out that murdering him outside the prison would be a lot easier.
However, the murder charges on Boss Kim would inevitably lead to deeper investigations, so Chief Gu comes up with the idea to change the date of the trafficked women murders and put the case outside the statute of limitation.
So, while the victims’ bereaved families visit the dead bodies in the forensic lab, Lawyer Jo has a conversation with the specialist in charge. As this is going on, Chief Gu meets So-ra’s boss at a restaurant, wining and dining the man’s morals away.
Matters move quickly, as Reporter Na suddenly finds himself faced with a transfer and a possible end to his journalistic career. In order to escape his fate, he’s forced to give up Patriot News as the source for the video, and soon, Daehan Daily releases a retraction claiming that the video of Boss Park’s confession was tampered with.
Unsurprisingly, Moo-young can’t get ahold of Reporter Na anymore, but before he can go out to confront the man, Chief Yang comes in and sarcastically congratulates him on shutting down Patriot News.
Moo-young tries say that he’ll fix this, but Chief Yang has seen more of the world than him and tells him that this case is too big for them. And just as he predicts, after Daehan’s retraction, the prosecution’s investigation suddenly grinds to a halt when a Chinese-Korean man comes in and admits to running Boss Park’s human trafficking business.
So-ra can clearly see that the man is a front for the crime boss, but her own superior overrides her instincts and tells her to bury the case.
Soon after, the Chinese-Korean gang member breaks out of jail with Lieutenant Jeon and a few other cops after him. Jeon loses the other policemen and meets up with the gangster long enough to hand him money and a ticket out of South Korea.
Moo-young reads about the “real” crime boss’s escape to China in the newspapers the next morning as he waits for Reporter Na in Daehan Daily’s lobby. He confronts the reporter and accuses him of being in collusion with Boss Park, and the argument devolves into a fight as both men lose their temper.
So-ra is slammed with another shocker as her subordinate informs her that Boss Park’s victims may have died before August of 2000, which would mean that they can no longer prosecute him for the crime, as they’d be outside the statute of limitations. She can’t believe what she’s hearing, but there’s nothing she can do about it.
As Boss Park is escorted back from the scene of the crime after an interrogation with the police, he yawns as he’s questioned by reporters about the murders.
Moo-young watches him from the crowd, and as Boss Park gets into the van, their eyes meet, and the gang leader grins.
What I like about Falsify is that they’ve dropped us in the middle of an ongoing battle between good and evil, where the nicer side has been losing for a while. This establishes strong antagonistic forces at work and proves that our heroes were already working hard to correct the system. It’s not like they were sitting passively by while the evil people did their evil deeds—they were already active participants in this war against darkness. This ensures that I don’t just admire our heroes’ badassery, but sympathize with them as individuals buffeted by forces larger than themselves, despite their best intentions.
Moo-young had to have had a lot of moral strength and courage (with a heavy dash of naïveté) to report corruption in his sport when he saw it. While he may have been too young to anticipate the fallout, Seok-min thought he understood the world quite well: He didn’t trust people easily. He worked out a deal with Prosecutor Cha that had checks and balances to ensure honesty on both sides. The mistake he made was in trusting Chief Gu, someone who had mentored him and made him the journalist he was, someone who should have had his back no matter what. So-ra, on the other hand, was a victim of circumstances. She had a supportive senior, but when her sense of right superseded her survival instincts, the system took her down.
These are characters who are embattled because they cannot stand by as wrong happens before their eyes. They are heroes not because they win against evil, but because they struggle against the current that constantly pushes them to give in to an easier way of life.
Right now, these heroes are disparate and isolated from each other. They have good people around them, but they stand as the sole moral centers in those groups. Moo-young, Seok-min, and So-ra need to come together, yet the misunderstandings between them are a real roadblock.
Moo-young is especially distrustful of both So-ra and Seok-min. To him, the world is a lot more black and white than to the more experienced journalist and prosecutor. To Moo-young, Seok-min was the one to turn his back on his family when he needed the man’s support the most, and So-ra is a corrupt lawyer who failed him when he tried to do the right thing.
Of all three, Moo-young is possibly the least jaded, but that’s not necessarily a good thing in a world where clear sight is crucial when facing the enemy. Even though his angry looks give me goosebumps, he’s essentially a hothead who risked Patriot News’s reputation because he wanted to go after Boss Park so badly. While Chief Yang runs his agency as a professional, to Moo-young, it is a weapon in his grand revenge plan against his brother’s tattooed killer.
So, while Moo-young’s righteousness is fueled by his rage, Seok-min and So-ra have their own reasons to come at Chief Gu and his shadowy “seniors.” So-ra is straightforward in her need to do the right thing, while Seok-min has an unbending, principled soul underneath that chirpy exterior. He detests the powerful puppeteers interfering with the law and has a long game in mind. He’s in possession of more of the puzzle pieces than any of the others, and I can’t wait to watch him wipe that smug smile off Chief Gu’s face in the end.
- Falsify: Episodes 1-2
- The news and the law come together for Falsify
- Righteous prosecutor and journalists challenge the corrupt in Falsify’s first teaser
- SBS’s Falsify finds its female lead in Eom Ji-won
- Two more actresses decline SBS’s Falsify, show still without leading lady
- Search for Falsify’s female lead narrows in on Kim Ok-bin
- Namgoong Min offered spot on Jeon Hye-bin’s Falsify team
- Jeon Hye-bin up to join SBS’s Falsify as photojournalist
- Chun Woo-hee, Yoo Joon-sang consider new SBS legal thriller Falsify