Falsify: Episodes 27-28
With their reputations in shreds and their jobs slipping out of their hands, our team of reporters and prosecutors decides to stop giving a damn about consequences. Their backs may be against the wall, but they’re coming out fighting! And while the good guys get sneakier about their battle tactics, the truly evil raise the stakes by triggering a plan twenty years in the making. Will our heroes uncover the real danger in time to make a difference?
EPISODE 27 RECAP
While Moo-young promises that a miracle with let them clear out all of Nam Kang-myung’s vaults in time (there are quite a lot of them), Seok-min wants to make a few adjustments to their plan.
He suggests dividing their tasks amongst the three groups: Patriot News cleans out the vaults, Splash Team looks into Nam Kang-myung’s orphanage, and the prosecutors keep a watch on Lawyer Jo. Then, he adds that he thinks it’s time they revealed Dahean Daily and Prosecutor Im’s involvement in Nam Kang-myung’s escape.
Prosecutor Cha and Yoo-kyung both protest that public trust in the prosecutor’s office and the nation’s newspapers would be tarnished if such truths came to light. Moo-young points out that the involvement of these two pillars of respectability caused the death of a man, and it is their duty to find out who was behind it, whether they be prosecutors, journalists, or trash reporters.
Seok-min adds that defeating Nam Kang-myung will not be enough, they have to find out and stop the people behind the master plan. Prosecutor Cha isn’t convinced and reminds them once more that her office is primarily involved to capture Nam Kang-myung.
Riding the elevator alone, Chief Gu thinks back to his discussion with Lawyer Jo, where he revealed the elders’ plans for the city. Twenty years ago they had started a project at Faith Center, the orphanage run by Nam Kang-myung. Lawyer Jo explained that the man had hidden a large quantity of something that he had smuggled in from North Korea there. After his surgery, Nam will hand it over to them and it will throw the city into chaos.
Chief Gu tried to reason with Lawyer Jo about acting against the people of their own country, but Lawyer Jo simply pointed out that it was no different from Daehan Daily manipulating the gullible to keep their hold on the nation.
In the present, Chief Gu walks out of the elevator and enters a hospital room. In his own office, Lawyer Jo assures someone on the phone that there is no way Nam Kang-myung can betray them since artificial hearts can be remotely controlled. He adds with grim satisfaction that this is why he’s getting Chief Gu’s wife an artificial heart as well. To his mind, the hearts are “trump cards to control two vipers.”
Chief Gu stands in Nam Kang-myung’s hospital room and studies the controller by the bedside, and the doctor tells him about its remote capabilities. Chief Gu puts it down and tells the doctor to forget he was here. He also hands him a phone and instructs him to give it to Nam Kang-myung once he’s awake.
Looking down at Nam Kang-myung, Chief Gu flashes back to an older memory. It was in 2001, when he had met the con man after a fire at Faith Center. A newspaper on the table between them had declared that there were no casualties, but Chief Gu seemed to believe that there were and he was determined to expose the truth about the incident.
In the face of Chief Gu’s righteousness, Nam Kang-myung made some impressive threats, then added that his position at Daehan Daily wouldn’t shield him in this instance. He warned that someone had witnessed Chief Gu’s actions during that fire, so he should remain quiet for his own good. He had given Chief Gu a choice: “You can either end your life here or become a monster just like us.” In the present, Chief Gu looks like he can still remember the ring of Nam Kang-myung’s evil laughter.
Our three heroes sit at a roadside stall, and Moo-young rakes So-ra and Seok-min over for admitting to guilt at their workplaces instead of working out a deal. He asks Seok-min if he withstood five years of humiliation to quit like this.
Seok-min says that it wasn’t easy but it had to be done, so their enemies believe that they had properly ground all three of them down. Moo-young isn’t mollified and points out to So-ra that she can’t even work as a lawyer if she gets fired like this.
So-ra says that she had considered falling back in line and begging to keep her position, but then she saw how Moo-young brought Nam Kang-myung back to life even though everyone believed him to be dead again. This gave her the urge to fight. She teases him about the “miracle” he promised and asks if he’s lost his confidence.
When So-ra reaches her office the next day, she watches all her case files taken out of the room to be redistributed amongst other prosecutors. As she sighs and settles behind her desk, her eyes fall on a package. It was something Moo-young had handed to her the night before.
He had explained that Lieutenant Jeon had once been accused of killing a murder suspect who’d been acquitted, and that Prosecutor Im had helped Jeon out back then. The package contained the case file and a few other things. Moo-young had said that she could probably find solid evidence establishing Prosecutor Im’s relationship with the corrupt cop. So-ra looks up at Paralegal Park with a smile now, saying that they’ll be looking into an old case before they get thrown out.
Seok-min arrives at the Splash Team office and looks around the quiet room. He pulls out his drawer and looks at the framed photo of Chief Gu, Chul-ho, and him hugging and laughing. So-ra had asked him the night before why he wasn’t telling Moo-young that the person who made Chul-ho write the fake articles was Chief Gu.
Seok-min had explained that before he told Moo-young, he needed solid evidence, not just his suspicions. So-ra had told him about her own investigation into Chief Gu, once she’d realized his relationship with Prosecutor Im. While his own records were clean, Chief Gu hadn’t been able to completely erase the records of the person next to him—his wife, who had a congenital heart disease, yet managed to survive six years without any official surgery.
In the present, Seok-min looks at a mysterious text: “Get out of the trap. If you prove your innocence, I’ll keep the promise Chairman Min failed to keep five years ago.” Seok-min wonders if it was his wife’s illness that got Chief Gu involved in the plot to discredit Chairman Min. “What in the world happened to you?” he asks.
Chief Gu paces in his office before taking out some old pictures of the teacher at the Faith Center whose corpse was later found in Boss Park’s warehouse. She had been a witness of the fire, and Chief Gu had promised to expose the truth with her help. But in 2001, when he visited her at the hospital after his meeting with Nam Kang-myung, he’d told her that everything would be covered up and suggested that she run away.
On his way out, he had felt a hand catching his sleeve and looked around to see a young boy staring implacably at him. The boy told him that he’d seen Chief Gu during the fire and heard that he’s promised to help them. “But you’re just like them,” said the boy, his tone void of emotions. Lawyer Jo had walked up to them then and laid an arm across the boy’s shoulder. He’d promised Chief Gu that his secret was safe because the boy was their “best test case yet.” Thoroughly creeped out, Chief Gu had stumbled away.
The boy kept staring after Chief Gu, and we see that his wrist carried a very familiar tattoo. The boy’s eyes shift to look straight at us all of a sudden, until the blank stare morphs into the adult eyes of Killer in the present.
Killer sits beside Lawyer Jo in a car as they watch Doctor Kim from across the street. The lawyer hands the killer a box containing an ampoule and a small spray bottle. Lawyer Jo says that this is the sample Nam Kang-myung brought back from China, and they are going to find out how well it tests.
So, as the doctor walks into an alley, Killer sprays something at his face as he passes by. Doctor Kim flounders but seems all right. A few seconds later, the killer walks by again, and this time, he presses a handkerchief against the man’s mouth before quickly disappearing. The doctor flails a little, then falls down and lies still. Lawyer Jo passes by the alley while telling someone on the phone that they should import more of this highly effective, murderous drug.
Moo-young examines his wall of articles and wonders if Chul-ho had reached this same point and seen the same things that he did. He remembers Seok-min saying that his brother looked into this case to find redemption, but met his end. To himself, Moo-young promises that he will find out what his brother was searching for and why he had to die in such a way.
“I still believe that the world will give me another opportunity to right an injustice,” he remembers his brother telling him. In the present, Moo-young thinks that it’s still not too late to find out the truth.
The Patriot News team meets Boss Yang to figure out a way to find Nam Kang-myung’s vaults. They had been guarded by the gang Moo-young recently deposed, but the team doesn’t yet know where their VIP vaults are located. So, Boss Yang suggests a straightforward solution—beat up the other gang’s subordinates till they talk.
So, with Boss Yang and his gang as backup, the Patriot News team goes on a rampage across town finding out the locations and passcodes to all the vaults. Moo-young calls to report their progress to So-ra and Seok-min, telling them to start their plan in earnest now.
Seok-min walks into the Splash Team office to find his team fighting to keep a desk from being taken away under Editor Jung’s orders. The man himself saunters in to lecture them about how they’ve embarrassed the newspaper, making Ji-won confess tearfully that she was the one to hide the recording. Editor Jung clearly doesn’t care, and after he leaves, Seok-min sits everyone down and tells them to focus on their task.
He explains that the thing he’s most proud of in his career is bringing the Splash Team together again. And before he leaves, he really wants to get to the root of the mystery around them.
After the pep talk, he divides their tasks to focus on two targets—Faith Center and Chief Gu. Seok-min has a hunch that finding out when Chief Gu began working for the dark side will give them a big clue into what is going on. He hands Reporter Na and Ji-won a picture of the Faith Center teacher and tells them to find out if anyone remembers her.
The two teams of prosecutors discuss their plan to indict Prosecutor Im for his hand in Lieutenant Jeon’s murder case. Prosecutor Cha trusts that his weasly nature will get him to quickly make a deal with them to lower his jail term and give them testimonies against the people involved in Nam Kang-myung’s disappearance.
Meanwhile, Prosecutor Im meets with Chief Gu, who asks him to look into the death of the Faith Center teacher. The prosecutor gets nervous when he learns that Chief Gu is looking to ultimately take down Lawyer Jo and asks him to reconsider. Chief Gu tells Prosecutor Im that they’re already in the eye of the storm and the people behind Lawyer Jo are planning something extremely dangerous, so if he doesn’t want to end up in jail, he’ll help him stop them.
EPISODE 28 RECAP
When So-ra and Paralegal Park get to Lieutenant Jeon’s precinct, they find that his desk has been thoroughly cleared out. So-ra asks the officer in charge if there was anyone Lieutenant Jeon was close to, and he mentions the detective with the globe tattoo as someone who got along with Jeon.
Moo-young and the Patriot Team conduct workshops with Boss Yang’s gang, explaining to them that not a single stray note should go missing during their operations. No one is happy about this, especially when they see the humongous heaps of money stored in each of the vaults.
Every time the caretakers of the vaults protest, Boss Yang terrifies them into giving them access, then Moo-young leaves his card with them, instructing them to tell the owner of the vaults to come find him if he wants his money back. Each time, the team leaves a flip phone in the vaults after clearing out all of the money.
Yoo-kyung speaks to an office colleague who’d recommended a cardiologist to Chief Gu years ago. She tells Yoo-kyung that the chief’s wife had stopped treatment a short while later, but then someone had spotted her in another hospital, admitted under a different name. Yoo-kyung finds out the name of the hospital to follow up.
During his investigation into articles printed by Daehan Daily about Faith Center, Seok-min starts looking into what other newspapers wrote about the orphanage in the past. It turns out that all reports were quite bland, although one article by Seoul Post stands out more because of its blandness. It’s about a boy’s car accident a month before the fire.
Seok-min goes to visit the newspaper’s editor, who welcomes him after teasing him a little. He asks the editor about writing an article about a mere car accident, when it wasn’t even in the area he covered. The editor frankly admits that the original article had been about the bruises on the body of the boy found in the accident. He had dug into the case because he didn’t think the death happened because of the accident, but his newspaper had refused to print that story.
Interpreting Seok-min’s judgmental look correctly, he points out that he wasn’t the only one who compromised back then. Chief Gu had learned of the incident a day before he had, yet he dropped the case wholesale when he learned that the boy was from Faith Center. The Seoul Post editor guesses that the chief had been bribed by the organization behind Faith Center—the Sahae Foundation.
At his wife’s hospital room, Chief Gu looks at her sleeping face, then signs some papers with Sahae Foundation’s name at the bottom. It seems the hospital is owned by them.
Seok-min gets back to Daehan Daily and looks up the hard copies of old articles and finds Chief Gu’s pieces on the Faith Center. He realizes that this is the point where things began to change for the chief.
At Faith Center, Reporter Na discovers that people from Daehan Daily had come a few times before. He shows one of the staff Chul-ho’s picture, and she recognizes his face. She even shows him Chul-ho’s business card where she’d written down the date of his visit. Reporter Na calls Seok-min and reports that Chul-ho had visited the center five days before his death.
Seok-min thinks back to his interview with the Seoul Post editor, where the man had asked if Chul-ho hadn’t briefed him about this case, since he’d also been looking into the same article. In the present, Seok-min tells Reporter Na that they’re following the same path as Chul-ho. “I’m sure he saw something at the end of this road,” he says. “That’s why he was killed.”
After Chief Gu leaves his wife’s bedside, Yoo-kyung sneaks into the room and stares with surprise at the woman on the bed.
Moo-young finds So-ra asleep on a bench while she waits for the tattooed detective to get back to his precinct. He tells her that there’s been a robbery that’s taken all the policemen out of the station and she shouldn’t wait any longer. She asks Moo-young why he’s there, and he looks at her without answering.
Nam Kang-myung wakes up after his surgery and is unnerved to find that his artificial heart can be remotely controlled by his doctor from South Korea, even when he’s abroad. Lawyer Jo smooths his ruffled feathers and tells him that he can trust the doctor. Later, Nam Kang-myung uses Chief Gu’s phone to give his minion a call.
He starts out in his usual, cheerfully scary way, but then quickly devolves into rage as he learns that all his vaults have been cleared out by a certain “Moo-young from Patriot News.”
So-ra gasps at a picture of the giant pile of money Moo-young moved out of one of the vaults. She tells him that seventeen people died because of the New Harvest fraud, and that’s just the number recorded before the investigation was brought to a halt. Moo-young says that if only his brother hadn’t written the article proving Nam Kang-myung’s death, someone could have chased the con man down and delivered retribution.
So-ra tries to comfort him by saying that Chul-ho wasn’t to blame alone, that there were a lot of accomplices, but Moo-young is mostly torn up about the fact that he still wants to believe in his brother.
Moo-young asks about Lieutenant Jeon, and So-ra admits that most of his peers only knew him as a meticulous and secretive person. They remember the flash drive he’d hidden away in case the coast guard case went sour, and So-ra wonders what ammunition the cop might have secreted away in case Prosecutor Im turned against him. They wonder if Lieutenant Jeon’s desk might have more secrets to reveal and run off to check.
Nam Kang-myung sits with the men he’d entrusted to guard his vaults and watches the CCTV footage of Moo-young sending him finger hearts with a cheerful smile. One of the guards begs him to understand that they couldn’t stand against the might of the bigger gang and asks him to wait while they recover the money.
Nam Kang-myung pats his arm and the man smiles in relief, until he then leans in and bites the gangster’s ear off in a rage. With blood smeared on his mouth, Nam Kang-myung rants about spending thirty-five years defending Korea from communists.
He grabs the bleeding and terrified gangster and yells that that money was a reward for his devotion to his country. He orders Moo-young brought to him right now, and starts counting down. All the men run out.
But sometime later, Nam Kang-myung thinks to himself that more than the money, the contents of his private vault are the most important thing. Just then, the earless gangster ducks back in and tells him that Moo-young had left something behind in the vaults.
As Seok-min prepares to leave the office for the night, he watches Lawyer Jo drive into the parking lot. He quietly follows the lawyer up to Chief Gu’s office. Inside, the lawyer tells the chief to slam the government’s national security policies for the next three days. Chief Gu guesses that this is to lay the groundwork for the elders’ plans.
Just then, Seok-min barges in with a large stack of paperwork in his arm. He complains that Editor Jung has already begun clearing out their office, when the chief had promised the Splash Team time to write one last article. As he turns to leave in a huff, Seok-min drops the papers on the ground and bends to pick them up.
Under the cover of the rustling papers, he slides out a recording device and attaches it to the bottom of one of the chairs beside him. Then, with a last contemptuous look towards Chief Gu, he walks out.
Moments later, Lawyer Jo gets a call that he leaves the room to take. It’s from Nam Kang-myung’s nurse who is calling to tell him about the man’s disappearance. At the same time, the doctor in charge of Nam Kang-myung texts Chief Gu about his escape.
Lawyer Jo calls someone to tell them to find Nam Kang-myung before the elders find out. Eavesdropping from around the corner, Seok-min wonders what he means by “elders.” Disconnecting the call, Lawyer Jo looks towards Seok-min’s hiding place, but when he checks around the corner, there’s no one there.
So-ra and Moo-young wheedle their way into the evidence storeroom where Lieutenant Jeon’s desk is being kept and take apart the drawers looking for something that they might’ve missed. As So-ra feels under the desk, her hand gets tantalizingly close to an SD card taped to the bottom. But just then, two policemen come in and ask her to leave, since her office called to tell them that she’s been dismissed from her position.
As So-ra and Moo-young leave the police station, Moo-young asks her to fight the dismissal, but So-ra says that it’s not the end yet. She shows him the card that she nabbed just before the cops entered the room.
As they smile at each other over finding Lieutenant Jeon’s secret, Moo-young gets a call from Nam Kang-myung from a number that has been saved with the address of a specific vault. Nam Kang-myung must be using the mobile they left for him there. Moo-young sends So-ra off to find out what the card holds, while he leaves to catch Nam Kang-myung.
Moo-young drives with determination as he exchanges insults with Nam Kam-myung, who tells him that he shouldn’t have messed with someone at his level. Moo-young retorts that he should only make such threats after they’ve met face-to-face. “Nam Kang-myung,” he challenges, “are you ready to open your casket and come out now?”
This show really likes its flashbacks. It’s definitely a cool way to reveal sleights of hand and keep up the suspense of the moment, but there is a fine line between judicious use and overindulgence. Falsify has been tipping towards the latter with regularity.
One more week to go, and the drama continues to stress the moral dilemma behind our heroes’ struggles. As Prosecutor Cha and Yoo-kyung pointed out, institutions like the news media and the prosecution rest on public trust and support. Should the transgressions of a few be exposed when that could tarnish the image of these pillars of society? And if they are not, if the lies are covered up repeatedly, would there be anything trustworthy left of these institutions?
On the side of the good, our heroes have suffered a staggering defeat but they’re bouncing back nicely. None of them expects to shake off the dust and walk away unscathed from this, but with their backs against the wall, Moo-young, So-ra, and Seok-min are clearer about their path than ever before. Our larger conflicts have nicely lined up to be tied off in neat bows next week.
On the side of evil, Chief Gu holds strong as a wily, complex villain. I enjoy his conflicting morals because it makes him very real to me. The chief was once an upright newspaperman, but through a series of bad choices, he’s landed on the side he once despised. Now, he turns off his conscience to make decisions that destroy lives in the service of powerful people. Still, there are lines that he hasn’t crossed yet and doesn’t know if he can. With his beloved wife’s life in the balance, this is the worst time for him to rediscover his conscience, but if anyone can find a way to outmaneuver his masters, it’s probably Chief Gu.
It occurs to me that one of the reasons I’m finding Chief Gu so much more compelling than the protagonists is because I’m getting a fuller picture of his motivations. If I were to go by what the drama tells me, then Moo-young, Seok-min, and So-ra have no family or friends outside of work. At least, I know why this is true for Moo-young, but it’s less clear why So-ra and Seok-min are so isolated. How did their demotions five years ago affect their personal lives? Whom do they put at risk, when they go up against murderous bad guys? It’s a bit too convenient to have no families to make you hesitate, no obligations to tie you down. For our three leads, the world is black and white because the stakes are theoretical and not personal. As immersed as I am in the well-plotted cat and mouse game the show has created, I’m a lot less invested in the fates of the heroes challenging and upsetting the powers that be. As Falsify enters its final stretch, I’m watching it for Chief Gu and Killer—the real anti-heroes of the show.
- 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