Witch’s Court: Episode 7
Secret alliances and hidden truths are uncovered today, as our heroes get ever closer to the dangerous man at the center of the web. But it might be our heroine that will break your heart, as she learns that no one can be a badass all the time. Sometimes you just need to lean on someone and have a good cry. But nothing can keep Yi-deum down for long, and when she gets back up, she gets up fighting.
EPISODE 7 RECAP
After Yi-deum’s revelation that the woman Jin-wook met ten years ago was her mother, Jin-wook explains that he met her at his mother’s hospital, but the woman’s name was Kim Mi-jung, not Kwak Young-shil. Yi-deum insists the name could be a mistake.
But when they drive to Dr. Ko’s office and show her a picture of Yi-deum’s mom, Dr. Ko gently says that she can’t be 100 percent sure, but this woman is not Kim Mi-jung. Furthermore, she adds, the hospital doesn’t record photos of patients and doesn’t keep records past ten years, so there’s no way for Yi-deum to verify what Kim Mi-jung looks like.
Disappointed, Yi-deum reassures Dr. Ko this isn’t her fault, but perks up when Jin-wook remembers there is a way to find her mother—by talking to the detective he spoke to all those years ago.
At the police station however, Yi-deum’s hopes are dashed as a policeman there confirms that Detective Baek Sang-ho only worked here for two months, and has emigrated now. Yi-deum trudges away, and assures Jin-wook she’ll be okay since this isn’t the first time this has happened.
Yi-deum describes how she has toured all the hospitals and even the morgue when unidentified bodies showed up, as well as using work resources to search for Mom. But, Yi-deum tearfully asks, “What if she’s crying because she misses me? That’s why I should have searched more.”
Yi-deums dissolves into tears, and can’t stop crying even as she whispers that it’s so humiliating. Jin-wook wordlessly takes Yi-deum’s arm and turns her body into his for a hug, and gently pats her on the back as she sobs into his shoulder.
Meanwhile, Sang-ho assures the panicked Dr. Ko that his friend on the police force has covered for him.
We flashback to 2003, and a teenage Jin-wook asks Detective Sang-ho to help him find the “Kim Mi-jung” who keeps asking for her daughter. Jin-wook shows Sang-ho a picture of Mom, severely beaten and her face unrecognizable. Thinking quickly, Sang-ho says that he already knows her well, and spins a tale of a mentally ill woman driven to a breakdown because of the death of her daughter. Even though Jin-wook is persistent and asks to meet Mom’s relatives, he believes the story and leaves.
In the present, Sang-ho cautions Jo Gap-soo that suspicions have been raised, and it would be wisest to move Mom. Instead, Jo Gap-soo wonders what Sang-ho would do if he found a pebble in his shoe at the start of a race—stop and take it or run with the pain? Jo Gap-soo ends with a smile as he says to Sang-ho, “I trust you.”
It turns out that Jo Gap-soo is hosting a private dinner with another man of power and influence in his bid to be mayor. Although the man sneers at Jo Gap-soo’s offer of the gold frog, Jo calls in the real “gift”—a young actress, who needs “help to grow.” The man’s eyes widen in interest.
In a surprise twist, sexual assault victim Jin Yun-hee has been working with Prosecutor Min all along, and she informs the prosecutor that Hyungjae Hotel has a hidden lobby, but she couldn’t find anything about Jo Gap-soo.
Prosecutor Min cautions that they need to be careful now, but Yun-hee fiercely declares that she didn’t get involved in this scheme to give up so early. Yun-hee demands to know whether Prosecutor Min has forgotten Yun-hee’s sister already, but Prosecutor Min looks conflicted as she replies that she’s afraid of losing Yun-hee as well.
The next day is a weekend, and Yi-deum hesitantly calls Se-na’s father. She leaves a message to apologize for calling, but she says she really needs to know if there has been any news on Mom. Meanwhile, Jin-wook heads out for the day, but is stopped by the sight of Mom’s “Missing” flier, which reminds him of Yi-deum clutching it tightly as she was sleeping.
Conscience pricked, Jin-wook heads back to pick up a slobby Yi-deum for a trip—to an outside climbing wall. Although Yi-deum whines about how much she hates climbing, she grins widely when Jin-wook thoughtfully ties plasters on her fingers to protect her from the rough wall. Jin-wook sweetly encourages her, “Fighting!”
Predictably, Jin-wook is excellent at climbing, while Yi-deum lags behind and bitterly complains the entire time. Back on firm ground, Jin-wook cutely fusses over a grumpy Yi-deum. Adorable.
Jin-wook asks Yi-deum if today was difficult, and smiles at her vehement agreement. He points out that Yi-deum worked so hard that she didn’t think too much, or feel hurt all day, and adds, “Don’t blame yourself for not finding your Mom. You’ve been through enough. It’s time to let it go.”
The two share a long glance, but Jin-wook isn’t done yet—reaching into the back, he hands Yi-deum a framed picture of her mother. It’s aged to look how she would look now, which he’d requested of an acquaintance who researches 3-D composite images. Jin-wook tells Yi-deum to look at the picture whenever she feels lonely. Rapt, Yi-deum strokes the thoughtful gift.
That night, Yi-deum texts Jin-wook a thanks for the gift. Before he can reply, she follows this with a blunt, “Let’s call today our Day 1 [of dating]. Just say yes or no so it’s clear.” Yi-deum harasses Jin-wook for not texting back fast enough, and is beyond dissatisfied with his reply when it comes: “I’ll say no for today. Good night.”
Jin-wook grins and ignores the barrage of texts that follow, while Yi-deum is left impotently text-yelling her exasperation.
In a chat room, a 17-year-old girl arranges to meet up with a 32-year-old man in exchange for money. Except, the 17-year-old girl turns out to be a man, and the 32-year-old is actually a cyber-crime detective looking to catch him. The culprit is too smart, and ends the conversation before he can be trapped.
Jin-wook explains to the team that the chat room is used for the sex trade, and the “Eel” is a pimp to ten to fifteen girls, which includes middle schoolers. Prosecutor Min adds that their unit has been asked to step in because the Eel already knows all the faces of the officers, which has made investigation impossible.
Mi-young chuckles that Investigator Gu looks too much like a detective, so Jin-wook will need to be the one to go undercover. Protective Yi-deum crossly points out how dangerous this could be, and to Jin-wook’s disbelief—as well as Prosecutor Min’s disgust—wheedles her way into accompanying him on the mission.
At the police station, Jin-wook assures the detectives that will be able to infiltrate the chat room, though Yi-deum remains unconvinced. She stops him from entering his own name, and yells that he needs to use a nickname—and hilariously suggests “Charming Guy” or “Mr. Good-looking.”
Jin-wook is accepted to the chat room, but stiffly introduces himself in grammatically correct full sentences, and when asked where he is, cheesily replies, “I don’t know… in your heart?”
Mr. Charming immediately gets kicked out. He tries again, but struggles to decipher what his chat partner is saying in her teenage slang, and he gets kicked out again.
Yi-deum takes over at this point, and her shortened internet-savvy speech, full of acronyms and slang, yields a better response. They snap a shot of Jin-wook’s face to prove his identity, then a meeting is arranged with a 17-year-old for ten minutes from now. The detectives look impressed at Yi-deum’s prowess.
At the meeting point, a teenager finds Jin-wook and orders him to follow her to a nearby hotel. Outside, the police plot to cut off all exits and Yi-deum stakes out the area she would leave by.
Inside the room, the teen, Gong Soo-ah, demands the money from Jin-wook first, but is horribly surprised when all he flashes is his prosecutor badge. Immediately, Soo-ah protests she hasn’t done anything wrong, and Jin-wook reassures her that he’s only after her pimp, Eel. All they want from Soo-ah is her cooperation.
Soo-ah reluctantly acquiesces, but when she asks to go to the bathroom, Jin-wook lets her, giving her the chance to texts a warning to the Eel to run. She then clambers out of the window… and gets caught by a smug Yi-deum waiting below. Yi-deum recommends—from her own personal experience years ago—that Soo-ah should climb back up if she doesn’t want to break a bone jumping down.
Back at the station, smart-mouthed Soo-ah feigns ignorance of Eel, but Yi-deum doesn’t buy the act. She warns Soo-ah that she won’t fall for another show when Soo-ah doubles over in pain—but it turns out Soo-ah isn’t faking it this time. Clutching her stomach, she keels over onto the floor.
Yi-deum and Jin-wook rush to her side and look on in horror at the blood streaked on the girl’s thighs and pooled on her seat.
At the office, the rest of the tea sits down for lunch, and discuss the sad state of affairs that drives young people to sell their bodies. Talk turns to Mi-young, who has a big smile on her face, and the blind date she went on with an upstanding, law-abiding “dream man.”
Outside the lunchroom, however, stands that same man, Lee Dong-shin, waiting at the prosecutor’s office after being caught by the police as one of the prostitution ring’s johns. Mi-young runs away, too upset to confront him.
At the hospital, an irate doctor explains to Yi-deum and Jin-wook that Soo-ah has suffered a miscarriage brought on by her untreated STD. The pair leaves to look for the young girl’s guardian.
They find Soo-ah’s grandmother living in a squalid apartment, filled with bags of trash. The granny explains that to pay for her hospital bills, her granddaughter has been working hard since she was fifteen. Granny sighs that she is still ashamed, but is happier now that Soo-ah is being paid so well by her new boss.
Before Yi-deum can break the horrible news, Soo-ah rings her Granny and asks to speak to Yi-deum. Soo-ah promises to give them information about the Eel, but only if the prosecutors don’t tell Granny what’s going on with her.
Processing the numerous men at the prosecutor’s office, Prosecutor Seo and Prosecutor Jang have to deal with a litany of weaselly excuses. Meanwhile, poor Mi-young examines her date Dong-shin’s extensive criminal record, mostly related to prostitution, while he sits across from her with a supercilious smile.
Mi-young leaves the office in a daze, and the prosecutors don’t pay any attention as Dong-shin goes after her. Dong-shin tries to persuade her to reduce his sentence, and twists her hand roughly to stop her from leaving when she refuses. He murmurs, “I’m only trying to save an old hag who can’t get married.”
Investigator Gu, the only one who knows what Dong-shin looked like, follows and warns Dong-shin to leave Mi-young alone. Dong-shin, not taking kindly to the threat, head-butts Investigator Gu, who drops like a rock. Enraged, Mi-young yells a string of inventive and colorful curses, and ends, “Do you need to peel chestnuts in Siberia and poop blood in prison to learn your lesson?”
Dong-shin, a little scared, hurries away. Investigator Gu looks up at Mi-young with new eyes, and the two fret over each other to make sure they’re okay. Mi-young admits she memorized those swear words when she was younger and this is the first time she’s gotten to use them, and Gu laughs.
Jo Gap-soo watches the news in satisfaction, as it is announced that barring an extreme turnaround, he will become the next mayor of Yeongpa. Jo comments to Sang-ho that it has been a long time since they have been to “that place” and maybe they should go there today.
They stop at a lookout, with a perfect vantage of the whole city. Jo Gap-soo reminisces that the first time he came here was when the prosecutor’s office rejected him because of his father’s record, and he came here to cry. The other time, Jo continues, was after Sang-ho went to prison for him.
Jo is heartfelt as he confesses that he wouldn’t be where he is now without Sang-ho, and asks Sang-ho to promise that he will follow Jo all the way to the Blue House. Touched, Sang-ho agrees, although Jo’s mood changes like quicksilver as he asks when Min-ho is arriving.
At that moment, Baek Min-ho, Sang-ho’s little brother, introduces himself to Lawyer Heo at her law firm office. She’s less than pleased at her new subordinate.
Still oblivious to Soo-ah’s occupation, Soo-ah’s Granny happily rings to let her know that Yi-deum and Jin-wook kindly cleaned up the apartment and even left money for her to buy her granddaughter something good to eat. Soo-ah mutters about the two prosecutors being busybodies and quickly hangs up when Yi-deum enters her room.
Soo-ah sarcastically says she’ll have to keep quiet about the Eel, to take advantage of Yi-deum doing her favors to get her to talk. Yi-deum warns that she can just go to Soo-ah’s grandmother and reveal everything. Angered, Soo-ah asks if Yi-deum knows what it’s like not to have a parent, and to have no one to rely on—to Soo-ah, her grandmother is her mother. Soo-ah states, “Without my Granny, I would die.”
Yi-deum is clearly affected, but her words are firm as she states, “That’s your problem.” Yi-deum won’t let the Eel go just because she feels sorry for Soo-ah. The threat works, and Soo-ah hands over her phone with the Eel’s information. About to leave, Yi-deum pauses at the sight of Soo-ah’s bruised bare feet.
The two police officers are afraid that using their only lead—Eel’s number—won’t be enough, and want to use Soo-ah as bait to catch him, but Jin-wook firmly replies that the teenager needs time to recover. Seeing the officer’s flip phone sparks Jin-wook’s memory of his old phone, which he showed to Detective Sang-ho regarding Kim Mi-jung.
Yi-deum brusquely throws a pair of new socks on the bed in front of Soo-ah, and pretends these are just spares (although she bought them specifically for Soo-ah). Touched, there isn’t much bite to Soo-ah’s answer that these socks are out of fashion, and she looks on thoughtfully as Yi-deum types her number into Soo-ah’s phone.
Jin-wook’s spark of memory has given him an idea, and he hurries to tell Yi-deum something. But she has to run away in response to a call, not giving Jin-wook the chance to tell her about his old phone. Instead, he rummages through his old school boxes to find it, and rings Investigator Gu to ask him run an identity check on an ID number.
Meanwhile, Jo Gap-soo decides that since today is such a happy day, they should celebrate at “Kingdom” with all those old men from before. At Hyungjae Hotel’s secret lobby, Jo Gap-soo and Sang-ho crowd into the elevator with Jo’s nephew Tae-gyu, and Jo sharply tells Sang-ho that Tae-gyu needs to be kept on his leash.
Overly confident, Tae-gyu reminds his uncle that this hotel will be his one day, so he should be treated with more respect. Jo Gap-soo’s response is immediate and violent, as he beats Tae-gyu to the ground and kicks him. Jo growls at Tae-gyu, “If I ever see you here again, I don’t care that you’re my nephew. You will die that very day.”
Once safely out of Jo’s earshot, Tae-gyu resentfully mutters, “He’s nothing but a leech living off my aunt.” Tae-gyu rings his buddy Min-ho, who cheerfully warns Tae-gyu that his uncle will kill him if he goes to “Kingdom,” but it sounds like Tae-gyu is determined to go anyway.
Lawyer Heo’s ears perk up at the mention of Kingdom, but she huffs when Min-ho blows off work to meet with Tae-gyu.
Soo-ah stares fondly at her new socks, but her peace is shattered by a phone call from the Eel, who asks with faux concern whether Soo-ah is feeling okay after her surgery today. She apologizes for giving up his number, saying she tried not to but had no choice.
In exchange for that, the Eel wants her to do another job—and he won’t take no for an answer. He looms over Soo-ah’s scared Granny as a threat, and Soo-ah hears her grandmother asking in confusion what’s going on.
So Soo-ah shows up at a hotel, dressed to kill, but nerves are getting the best of her. The Eel leans over to “encourage” her as he says, “Do well tonight. Show some loyalty.” Soo-ah girds herself, and enters the hotel.
Jin-wook’s request for video footage uncovers some disturbing information—it shows his mother on the day she visited Yi-deum at the hospital, and her elevator conversation with Sang-ho. Although Jin-wook can’t hear any audio, it is clear the two know each other well.
The urgent call Yi-deum answered was to a meeting with Se-na’s father, who hands over an envelope with Prosecutor Min Ji-sook’s business card in it. He explains that Prosecutor Min believed that Mom was an important informant in an ongoing case—and adds regretfully, “I hope I’m not too late in telling you.”
Jin-wook is shaken at his newfound knowledge, and sees things in a new light, such as his mom’s strange relief over his denial that he and Yi-deum were dating. There is no time to process, however, as Investigator Gu informs Jin-wook that Kim Mi-jung’s ID showed something odd—it actually belongs to a Jung Gap-soon in Busan.
Jin-wook drives to his mother’s practice to confront her, and hides the damning business card he finds which shows that Baek Sang-ho was there. His mom’s expression tightens as Jin-wook reveals that he found Kim Mi-jung’s medical information.
Meanwhile, Yi-deum races back to Prosecutor’s Min’s office, and walks straight in on her display detailing her comprehensive investigation into Jo Gap-soo. Shocked, Yi-deum stares at Jo’s web of influence and deceit. Her blood runs cold at the sight of her mother on the board, the words “Missing since 1996” under Mom’s smiling picture.
Jin-wook explains the discrepancies he found in the medical records, which used a different person’s name and ID number. He earnestly beseeches his mother, “Don’t you have something to tell me?”
At the same time, Prosecutor Min walks into her office to find an unsettled Yi-deum in her office, staring at the wall of investigation materials.
Well, that’s more like it! After a few lackluster, if still enjoyable, weeks, this episode had me invested again. The plot was advanced, the villain was much better characterized than the previous ones have been, and there were delightful moments of romance thrown in.
Don’t get me wrong though, the Eel was remarkably repugnant. But in the context of him being a pimp, who are often overtly criminal and violent, the characterization was on point. This is a man who preys on underage and vulnerable girls for his own profit, so it makes sense that he uses a cocktail of violence and bribery to foster dependency in his victims. This episode was excellent at highlighting how girls can be exploited from even a young age, used as tokens for men to barter and manipulate. To the Eel, these girls are his products and he is a businessman. It feels almost impersonal in fact—the Eel is a man just doing his job, even if that does involve threatening sweet old grannies and keeping a wall of police pictures to avoid entrapment.
Which makes it heartbreaking to see that he has evaded capture repeatedly, because he is not a man who care about the well-being of his girls. He knows there will always be a ready supply of girls desperate enough to make a deal with the devil. Just like Soo-ah did. Soo-ah, the complicit victim, is such a relatable blend of defensive and hopeful. For a girl who was so hardened that she asked Jin-wook for the money up front, it was tragic to see that a gift of humble socks could so thoroughly undo her. The yearning on Soo-ah’s face was palpable, and it really emphasized that underneath her cheeky shell is just a young girl that was forced to grow up too fast.
It was also wonderful to see that Yi-deum made a connection with someone other than Jin-wook—and trust her to make that connection with a bratty teen criminal. Yi-deum evidently saw more than a little of herself in Soo-ah, from the assured personality to the fact they are both orphans. Even though I don’t think that Yi-deum was necessarily wrong when she declared that empathy is unnecessary to win cases—she was certainly successful without it—I do think that her philosophy had more to do with a resistance to letting anyone in, rather than a professional policy.
Yi-deum isn’t a lonely person, and she has friends (of a sort) in Mi-young and Yoo-mi, but she is also undeniably a lone wolf. Her self-sufficiency and single-minded determination to find her mother doesn’t leave a lot of room for mundane life to intrude, and I’m glad to see her start to reach out to other people. And because she has constructed her whole life around searching for Mom, she hasn’t had a lot of time to actually grieve her loss—and those wounds are still raw, so she feels the loss keenly when she lets herself think about it. Jin-wook’s gift earlier in the episode nicely mirrored Yi-deum’s gift of socks, possibly even inspired them, and I believe that as she starts to heal she will naturally open herself up to other people. That isn’t to say that Yi-deum will, or should, fundamentally change, though—I was pleased to see that Yi-deum offered help to Soo-ah after she ensured Soo-ah’s compliance in the case.
I expect things will get explosive as Prosecutor Min gets folded into Yi-deum’s hunt for Mom. Prosecutor Min has some crucial information and years of experience, which, along with Yi-deum’s intense focus and sharp wit will surely yield results. Interestingly, Prosecutor Min is a bit of a maverick herself, using tactics that I wouldn’t past Yi-deum. Sexual assault survivor Yun-hee was actually a mole, and what I thought was another instance of a victim allowing her abuser to go free is actually a story of deceit and manipulation. Prosecutor Min has gotten very little screen time so far (while her nemesis Jo Gap-soo has gotten what I would argue is too much) but what I’ve seen of her, I like. I’d like to see more, and I’m excited to see what the next few episodes will hold for us.
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