Mysterious Il-seung: Episodes 17-18
We spend a lot of time with Jong-sam’s allies this hour as we start to uncover some secrets surrounding the night Jin-young’s father died. There’s certainly more than meets the eye and everyone seems to hold a different piece to the puzzle. Searching for the truth will require a dive down the rabbit hole, and we’ve barely scratched the surface.
EPISODE 17 RECAP
Jong-sam jots down a note inside Il-seung’s apartment and slips it into his pocket. He then takes out one his personal effects bags Ddakji had collected from the prison.
Outside, Jong-sam notices a car parked on the curb. He peeks inside and finds it empty but is startled when Jin-young appears beside him. He guesses she’s come to question him some more about the night her father died. Jin-young denies this but avoids Jong-sam’s eyes. He ignores her odd behavior and holds out a small pouch with the initials “C.K” stitched across it.
He tells Jin-young he’d picked it up at Jinsung Group that night and a flashback reveals that while he’d opened the door to her father’s office, a noise caused him to turn around without going in. Following the source into the stairwell, he’d just managed to catch sight of a man’s back scurrying away. Turning to go, he’d spotted the pouch on the steps.
A clue about the day her father died…
In the present, Jong-sam says he doesn’t think her father committed suicide. Jin-young reasons that since those stairs led to the rooftop, it was likely the man Jong-sam had seen was the killer. Jong-sam admits he wasn’t able to see the man’s face but Jin-young thanks him anyway. She says she’ll have forensics analyze the pouch but Jong-sam worries that it’s already been compromised by countless people touching it after he was arrested.
Jin-young brightly points out that it’s still something. She motions for him to get into the car so they can head to work but Jong-sa says he has something to do. He tells her to go ahead and rushes off to the park where he usually meets Detective Kang. He takes out the note which tells the detective to contact him at the police station, and tucks it into the slide.
Jin-young orders a coffee at the small café kiosk in the station, however Cha-kyung refuses to let her pay. She chides Jin-young that it’s her bribe to the team to keep husband, Detective Park, safe.
“Il-seung” is in the headlines thanks to the press conference and Chief Jang storms into the basement office, looking for Jong-sam. His fury is only exacerbated when he discovers Jong-sam has yet to arrive and launches into a tirade about how he’d created this unit to calm the public, but it only caused more problems. Jong-sam arrives in the middle and when Chief Jang turns around, the two men lock eyes.
Jong-sam immediately recognizes his arresting officer and Chief Jang leans in, curiously noting that Jong-sam looks very familiar. Jong-sam denies it and while Chief Jang hardly looks convinced, he simply warns the younger man to avoid further trouble. Before leaving, he adds the Prosecutor Kim is also in hot water.
Meanwhile, Lawyer Ahn is in Prosecutor Kim’s office with a document that claims the money he’d found was legally granted to Director Lee’s institute for research. Prosecutor Kim attempts to call his bluff by demanding the research results but Lawyer Ahn coolly replies that it’s a work in progress. However, he promises to bring them by when the research is completed.
Pointing out that Prosecutor Kim has made many mistakes as of late, Lawyer Ahn warns him to stop dogging Director Lee. He tells him to do the investigation properly, pointedly suggesting he enlist Il-seung’s help. After he’s gone, Prosecutor Kim’s assistant arrives to report that this is already all over the news. Elsewhere, the arrest date on Jong-sam’s criminal record finally jogs Chief Jang’s memory, but his expression is unreadable.
Chairwoman Gook reports to Director Lee and proudly announces that the media has turned on Prosecutor Kim. Preoccupied, Director Lee wonders how they’ll fund his election campaign now that the money he’d been expecting from Japan has been cut off. Although his accusations have been cleared, suspicion remains. Director Lee asks if Detective Kang handed over the money to Prosecutor Kim and Chairwoman Gook confirms it.
He orders her to get rid of “all of them.” Chairwoman Gook worries about the timing, but Director Lee assures her that it’s perfect since no one will expect it.
Meanwhile, Detective Kang watches ex-girlfriend, Cha-kyung’s son play with his friends after school.
Jin-young meets with her father’s former assistant- turned- conman, Mr. Choi. He promises to pay back the money he swindled from her mother, but Jin-young’s more curious about her father’s death. Mr. Choi recalls that night he’d gone out for a smoke and seen her father dangling from the roof. He hadn’t had time to react before his boss plummeted to the ground but he’d seen someone else standing on the roof. Unfortunately, it was too dark to see the alleged assailant’s face.
Jin-young holds up the pouch Jong-sam had found but Mr. Choi doesn’t recognize it. Jin-young questions why the surveillance was cut off and the entire building evacuated that particular night and Mr. Choi agrees he thought it was strange. However, he’d learned her father had order it himself. Additionally, he remembers overhearing her father on the phone, speaking with someone he referred to as “officer.”
Jong-sam returns to the park to find his note still tucked into the slide. Pulling out a pen, he adds that he’s bought a cell phone and for Detective Kang to call him. After replacing the note, Jong-sam remembers seeing Baek Kyung in the chairwoman’s car the night before. He quickly calls Prosecutor Kim to ask where Baek Kyung is hospitalized.
Baek Kyung is startled to see Jong-sam in his room and Jong-sam explains he’s looking for Detective Kang. Baek Kyung sneers he’s doing the same and Jong-sam points out it’s actually illegal for him to be leaving the hospital. Baek Kyung laughs that Jong-sam’s playing a cop, but Jong-sam thinks he might as well do his job.
Sighing that the hospital is unconcerned with broken CCTV cameras and the whereabouts of its patients, Jong-sam announces he’s hidden his own cameras all over. Baek Kyung’s face falls and Jong-sam warns him that if he sees Baek kyung leave again, he’ll use the footage as evidence to lock Baek Kyung back up.
Due to their recent track record, the Men in Black have been consigned to the storage room. Agent Ki whines that they’re bound to be fired soon and wonders if he should start job hunting. Agent Kwak just tells him to get to work and as they open their laptops, he starts rattling off advice on leaving internet comments. Ha! They’ve been delegated to internet trolling against Prosecutor Kim.
Agent Kwak answers a call that can only be from Baek Kyung, reporting that he can’t do their dirty work thanks to Jong-sam’s cameras.
In the back of a van, the ex-convict hacker duo show Jong-sam how to acces the feed from the cameras they set up, via smartphone. Jong-sam suspiciously asks if they left “anything inside”—alluding to the spyware apps they had chose not to remove from Il-seung’s phone when they repaired it. The men assure him they did it properly—pointedly adding honorifics—and Jong-sam is satisfied. His phone rings and he answers a call from Prosecutor Kim.
They meet in Prosecutor Kim’s office and he tells Jong-sam he’s been unable to locate the rest of the money. Jong-sam explains that it’s in cash which confuses Prosecutor Kim. He’s calculated that Director Lee has amassed 3 quadrillion won (roughly 3 billion dollars) but Jong-sam reveals that it’s all stored on a boat that only makes port once a year.
Offering to clear Jong-sam’s name from Il-seung’s murder case, Prosecutor Kim suggests they work together to bring Director Lee down. He calls it patriotism but the adds that if he confesses everything… Jong-sam knows that he’s being threatened and calls Prosecutor Kim out on it. Prosecutor Kim coolly replies he’s merely following the law but Jong-sam snaps that he’s using it however it suits him.
Jong-sam tells Prosecutor Kim to bring legal evidence if he wants to lock him up in prison and storms out.
The NIS agents easily find Jong-sam’s cameras with the help of modern technology and scoff that Jong-sam had been so naive. Baek Kyung threatens that if he gets thrown back in jail because of the cameras, he’ll come looking for them the second he’s released. The agents aren’t amused and they share a 3-way glare,
Jong-sam checks the feeds and sighs that the agents were quick to find the cameras. He snickers that they don’t know about the tracker, though, and thinks that the whole thing is very Mission Impossible.
Jin-young returns to the office and the other detectives tease her for playing hooky. Dae-woong suspects she’s concerned with performance ranking and snatches the case file from her hand. It’s actually her father’s case and Detective Park takes it away just as the forensic officer arrives. He pulls Jin-young aside to say that the phone she had him analyze came up clean. He wonders what case she’s working on but Jin-young says it’s nothing so he leaves.
Detective Park asks about the case and Jin-young admits she’s discovered evidence, testimony, and a witness. While he agrees that’s amazing, Detective Park reminds her she can’t have a relative’s case. Jong-sam returns just as Detective Park is asking for someone else to take the case. Jin-young immediately nominates Jong-sam.
Although Detective Park is fully aware she’s just using Jong-sam as an excuse to investigate secretly, he hands the file over. Jin-young ushers Jong-sam outside to talk and he points out that he’s not qualified to investigate… or use a computer. Aw.
Jin-young assures him that she’ll do all the work but he refuses, citing that he’s too busy. Jin-young proposes to help him investigate Director Lee in exchange, admitting that Eun-bi had called to ask about Ddakji’s death. Jin-young suspects Director Lee is responsible, but Jong-sam warns her not to get involved and walks away.
Detective Kang walks Cha-kyung’s son home, keeping a safe distance. When he sees a man snatch the boy up, he slams the man into a wall and demands to know who he is. The scared boy grips the man’s hand, calling him “hyung” and Detective Kang releases him with an apology. The boy takes off and Detective Kang calls out to him, drawing the attention of Baek Kyung, who was waiting nearby.
Baek Kyung and Detective Kang both take off running. The boy—whose name is Kang—darts through a series of back alleys and hides behind some junk. Baek Kyung passes him, but then doubles back. Closing in on the hiding place, Baek Kyung calls out that he’s not a bad guy. However, when he peeks behind the junk, Little Kang is already gone.
EPISODE 18 RECAP
A quick rewind reveals Detective Kang scooping up the boy just as Baek Kyung runs past. He calms Little Kang by assuring him he’s not a bad man and suggesting they call Kang’s father, Detective Park. He pulls out his phone to dial but freezes when Little Kang says that Detective Park is actually his stepfather.
Shaking it off, Detective Kang stands and makes the call but barely manages to tell Detective Park that the boy is with him before Kang tries to run again, screaming for help. Detective Kang drops the phone and scoops the boy up again, running away just as Baek Kyung returns. Snatching up the discarded phone, he chases after them
Alarmed, Detective Park rallies his team and tells Jin-young to trace the call. Jong-sam recognizes Detective Kang’s name and grabs his own phone before following the others. Chief Jang catches Min-pyo and learns that Detective Park’s kid is missing. Outside, the jump in the van and Jin-young says the phone is blocked so they can’t trace it. They start to peel away but Jong-sam jumps in front of the car to say he knows where Detective Kang is.
Detective Kang hides Little Kang in an abandoned building, and says he can trust him, since Detective Kang is friends with his mom. He links pinkies with Little Kang and copies Cha-kyung’s pinky-promise ritual. Little Kang’s face lights up and he asks if Detective Kang knows his father as well. With a pained smile, Detective Kang says he does but then he hears Baek Kyung arrive, and holds Little Kang close.
Baek Kyung starts to search but a voice behind him tells him to freeze. He turns to see Jong-sam and Jin-young, whose aiming a taser gun at him. He turns slowly, but then kicks an empty water jug at them and darts past. Jong-sam manages to grab him and they grapple. Baek Kyung is more skilled and escapes. The other detectives chase after him.
Little Kang runs out to Detective Park, who fusses over the boy with relief. Little Kang points out Detective Kang, saying he knows his mother. The two men stare at each other for a beat, and then Detective Kang thanks Detective Park. Detective Kang starts to walk away but Detective Park calls out that he needs to give his statement.
Detective Kang keeps walking, so Detective Park sends Jong-sam after him. Outside, Jong-sam asks why Detective Kang didn’t call him. When Detective Kang doesn’t respond, he holds out his phone to show the tracker on Baek Kyung.
Meanwhile, the other two detectives lose Baek Kyung when he vaults over a high wall. Detective Kang looks at the screen and says he’ll go but Jong-sam says it’s dangerous. Detective Kang explains it’s the only way to end things. He points out that it’s a good opportunity since Baek Kyung will go to the hideout where they’ll be able to find evidence.
Min-pyo brings Little Kang to his mother, Cha-kyung. Min-pyo tells her Detective Park will explain and runs off after receiving a call. Cha-kyung asks Little Kang what happened and he says he met a scary man that turned out to not be so scary. She asks why and he says that the man knew her, Detective Park, and his dad. When he adds that the man also know Cha-kyung’s pinky-promise ritual, her eyes widen.
Jong-sam shows his tracker app to the team, explaining that Baek Kyung is a thug-for-hire and that he was only after Little Kang in order to get Detective Kang. Luckily, Detective Kang was aware of this and was able to intervene. Detective Park asks why Baek Kyung was after Detective Kang in the first place, but Jong-sam just answers vaguely that there’s a reason.
Maknae Dae-woong is excited that they’ll be able to solve a lot of cases if they find the hideout but Detective Park remains suspicious. He questions if they’re really just catching a contract killer and Jong-sam nods. Detective Park asks what the plan is and Jong-sam just points at the tracker.
Detective Kang walks down a dark alley and stops. He yells for someone to come out and Baek Kyung steps out, dragging his friendly, metal pipe. Detective Kang warns him he’ll be in trouble if he damages the corpse so Baek Kyung drops the pipe and the men walk towards a car. Behind them, the detectives watch from the van as the men climb inside.
Detective Park chides Jong-sam for going along with Detective Kang’s plan and just informing them after. Jin-young says they just need to succeed and then they drive off after the car.
Chief Jang has Min-pyo in his office and starts pumping him for information on the team’s actions. He asks how they plan to infiltrate the contract killer’s base and while we don’t hear Min-pyo’s response, we can assume he told because Baek Kyung receives a text. He asks Detective Kang if he’d planned an operation to strike the hideout before tossing his tracker out the window and making a sharp u-turn.
Jin-young watches the signal disappear and announces they’ve been found out. Detective Park urges Dae-woong to drive faster.
Baek Kyung stops the car and cuts the ties on Detective Kang’s feet. He retrieves another phone from Detective Kang’s pocket to add to the one he’d picked up earlier and asks if there’s anything else. Detective Kang doesn’t answer so Baek Kyung shoves him back into the car and walks a few feet away to toss the phones.
While his back is turned, Detective Kang sneaks out the other side of the car and slips away. Baek Kyung comes back to find the car empty and starts searching the surrounding area. Detective Kang hides behind some jink in an alley and waits quietly as Baek Kyung runs around looking for him. Baek Kyung doesn’t have any luck but a door catches his eye and he walks over and opens it.
Hearing the door slam shut, Detective Kang runs back only to find that Baek Kyung had tricked him. Waiting for him in front of the car, Baek Kyung says they need to go a little further before Detective Kang dies.
The detectives arrive but Baek Kyung and Detective Kang are long gone. Detective Park finds the phones in the snow and everyone fans out to search. Jong-sam spots the two men walking in the woods nearby and calls after them. He takes off running and the detectives follow suit. Alerted by the shout, Baek Kyung pushes Detective Kang to move faster.
Everyone runs into the woods and Baek Kyung pulls his knife on Detective Kang. Jong-sam calls out again and the momentary distraction allows Detective Kang to elbow Baek Kyung in the gut. Jong-sam throws himself at Baek Kyung and the two tumble downhill. While Detective Kang cuts his bonds with the knife, Jong-sam gains the upper-hand against Baek Kyung.
A fight in the woods
Baek Kyung notes that he got there fast and it only spurs Jong-sam to wrap his fingers around the other man’s neck and squeeze. Flashes of Ddakji’s final moments bring tears to his eyes as his hands press harder. Detective Kang pushes Jong-sam off just in time to stop him from killing Baek Kyung. He holds Jong-sam as the younger man cries that it’s Baek Kyung’s fault Ddakji died.
The other detectives join them and Detective Park holds his handcuffs out to Jong-sam to do the honors. Jong-sam stands but he can only throw one disgusted glance in Baek Kyung’s direction before stumbling back down the hill. Jin-young arrests Baek Kyung instead.
Chief Jang makes a frantic phone call to Chairwoman Gook, criticizing her for mucking up their plans. He points out that the whole thing is easily traced back to him but she retorts that he’d volunteered in order to show his loyalty to Director Lee. She snaps that he should control his underlings better and hangs up.
The agents come in to report they’ve erased all ties to Baek Kyung. Chairwoman Gook isn’t impressed since they’ve said that before and been wrong. She asks Agent Ki to confirm but he’s worried Baek Kyung will turn on them. Chairwoman Gook sighs that if that happens, they’ll follow their usual protocol.
Jong-sam joins Baek Kyung in the interrogation room. He questions why Baek Kyung asked for him and the other man says he felt it would be easier to talk with him since they were both in prison together. He tells Jong-sam that he won’t say a word, saying, “People like us… get thrown away after being used. We must keep secrets to live.”
Baek Kyujng points out he kept Jong-sam’s secret too, but warns him not to feel too triumphant since there are many more people like him. He promises to wait for Jong-sam in prison.
Later on, as Baek Kyung sits in his cell, the guard steps outside. Another person enters, and although we don’t see their face, Baek Kyung looks up at them. When the guard returns, the visitor is gone.
Detective Kang and Detective Park sit across from each other in the interrogation room, a blank sheet of paper and a pen between them for Detective Kang’s statement. Detective Park breaks the silence by rattling off Little Kang’s shoe size. He tells Detective Kang the boy’s grade and class, and says that while his studies aren’t great, he’s good at soccer.
Detective Kang says he doesn’t have to tell him, and apologizes. Detective Park asks what for, and Detective Kang just says “everything.” Detective Park says the only thing he should be sorry for is leaving his partner. He says that after working together for over a decade and then leaving like that, no one could replace Detective Kang. Detective Park tells him to write down his statement and then go see Cha-kyung before he leaves.
Afterwards, Detective Kang does as he’s told and visits Cha-kyung. They stare at each other for a charged moment and then she goes back to wiping the tables of her little café. Detective Kang takes a few steps closer and calls her name. She stops but doesn’t look at him as she says that knowing he’s alive is enough. Finally turning towards him, she says that for the past 10 years, that’s all she wanted. Now that her wish has come true, she says he can leave and they never have to see each other again.
Detective Kang doesn’t say anything, but silently nods and walks away as tears fall from Cha-kyung’s eyes.
Jong-sam returns to the office and Jin-young hands him her father’s case file. She orders him to finish reading it tonight and when he balks, she explains that it’s necessary so they can start investigating tomorrow. She says they’ll look for the person who made the pouch he’d found as well. He wonders what happens then, and she says they’ll find the culprit.
Outside, Jin-young catches up with Cha-kyung and opens her car door so the older woman can load Little Kang into the backseat. When Cha-kyung accidentally drops her bag, Jin-young squats down to help her retrieve her things. She freezes when her eyes land on one item and she holds up an identical pouch to the one Jong-sam had found. Little Kang wakes up and says it’s his and she asks where he got it.
Back in the office, Jong-sam holds the case file and flashes back to the night he found the pouch as Little Kang tells Jin-young it belongs to his dad. We now see that Detective Kang was at Jinsung Group that night and saw a man running away from Jin-young’s father’s office and had followed.
Noooo! Stop making Detective Kang into such a bad guy, Show! I don’t think that Detective Kang killed Jin-young’s father, but you have to question what he was doing at Jinsung Group that night. Was he maybe following one of his leads on Director Lee? Whatever happened that night, it’s likely the reason he was so eager to skip town the next day. What is Jin-young’s father’s connection with Director Lee? Is there even a connection? Surely there must be or else Detective Kang wouldn’t have a reason to be there.
In some ways, Detective Kang’s story is even more tragic than Jong-sam’s. Where Jong-sam at least had his most precious person for company during his decade of imprisonment, Detective Kang was all alone while his loved ones were left behind to assume the worst. What’s more, he’s missed out on Kang’s life and will likely not be apart of his son’s future unless the current trajectory shifts. I can understand Cha-kyung’s desire to push him away since she’s built a new life in his absence and his reappearance muddles everything. I do hope they find a solution, although no matter what, someone is going to be hurt.
Speaking of Jin-young, I like her so much more when she’s not angry. It was always a bit off-putting when she’d start berating Jong-sam, because I couldn’t understand why. I know he’s an escaped convict, but her reaction to him was too volatile for that reason alone—especially when they had a budding attraction as teens. I’m not really happy with the reason the show gave her, since it seemed a bit silly to think he killed her father. Regardless of how sketchy his presence outside the office may be, he had zero motive for murder. Thankfully, that’s been cleared up and they can start to build a positive relationship—at least as partners, if nothing else.
I think Baek Kyung might be dead. He may not have been a nice guy, but I do think it’s a shame after that speech he made to Jong-sam. He did their dirty work and kept their secrets but, in the end, he was still dispensable. I’m not sure who they sent in to take care of business, but Chairwoman Gook is pretty trigger-happy when it comes to killing off people she doesn’t like. You know it’s bad when Director Lee has to tell her “no.” It makes me anxious for the Men in Black because they’ve been messing up left and right. Sure, they’re on the wrong side of the battle, but they have a certain quirky charm that I’d miss if they were to fall victim to Chairwoman Gook’s rath.
I’m not a fan of Prosecutor Kim anymore. I was really rooting for him until he started threatening Jong-sam. I understand his desire to take Director Lee down, but the whole thing felt so unnecessary. Jong-sam has spent his entire youth as a victim of the system, and it’s so disheartening when even the “good” guys use the law in order to manipulate him. After Ddakji’s death, Jong-sam has been out for Director Lee’s blood so he’s not a hard sell. The fact that Prosecutor Kim didn’t try to be supportive and instead chose to resort to the same tactics as his enemy just rubs me the wrong way. Especially after Detective Kang pointed out Prosecutor Kim knew Jong-sam was innocent in Il-seung’s murder, but still threatened to convict him for it. I had hoped that would open his eyes to his bullying but apparently he just doesn’t care.
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