A Beautiful World: Episode 12
The never-ending cycle of lies grows as characters try to hide their secrets with more deceits. However, our heroes get closer to the truth one step at a time, and though the progress is slow, they won’t stop until they reach the end. With every obstacle they face, they fight using the tools they know, and unlike their foes, they make allies along the way.
EPISODE 12 RECAP: Evil Feeds on Lies
In an unannounced visit, Detective Park asks for Eun-joo’s alibi again since they found a thirty-five-minute gap on her way home the night of the incident. Though offended by his questioning, she tells them that she stopped the car because of a fight with Joon-suk but doesn’t remember the exact location. Detective Park asks for permission to verify with Joon-suk, but Eun-joo denies it, expressing her deep discontent with their actions.
She immediately notifies Jin-pyo afterwards, but he’s not too worried since Detective Park has no evidence and is probably bluffing. He commands Eun-joo to stop panicking and hangs up on her. He receives a call on his other phone from his spy who informs him of the meeting between Moo-jin and Da-hee’s father. However, the spy doesn’t know the content of their conversation which only further infuriates Jin-pyo.
Moo-jin walks into Sun-ho’s hospital room and sees Sun-ho standing by the window, awake and healthy. He gently hugs his son and thanks him for waking up. Sun-ho asks if they can see the stars from his room and tells Moo-jin that he wants to go home. Moo-jin takes his hand to lead him out, but Sun-ho disappears from his grasp.
Jolting awake, Moo-jin realizes that it was all a dream and watches over Sun-ho who’s still in a coma. In-ha calls him to share the good news about Sun-ho’s alibi, and Moo-jin silently cries in relief. She thanks him for holding her steady through this ordeal, and mustering up her spirit, In-ha marches onward with a determined look.
Joon-suk ignores Eun-joo’s calls and turns off his phone when Sung-jae comes running up to him in the hall. Sung-jae asks if he really hit Ki-chan and advises Joon-suk to lay low for the time being. Fueled by Jin-pyo’s twisted lessons, Joon-suk disagrees with Sung-jae and thinks this is the opportune moment to teach Ki-chan his place since this whole issue will pass eventually.
During class, Teacher Lee recites a poem about a poet’s wish to live his days without shame and plays a video on school violence made by other students. Before he shows them the clip though, he asks his students to reflect on their lives and question whether they’re living shamefully right now. While Dong-hee watches, absorbed by the message told in the short video, Joon-suk takes out a book to study.
In the faculty office, the vice principal orders Teacher Shin to hang up their new anti-bullying banner as well as flyers for their “Love Your School, Love Your Friends” campaign. The flyer contains information perpetuating the victim-blaming culture that permeates the school, and includes ridiculous “advice” such as “reflect on your actions and seriously consider why you might be bullied.”
Teacher Lee and Teacher Ham argue with the vice principal over the terrible message, but he defends the campaign since it follows the standard procedure. Teacher Lee calls the standard wrong and suggests that they teach bystanders how to act. Unwilling to listen, the vice principal interprets his words as self-righteous rather than cooperative.
He asks why Sun-ho committed suicide if Teacher Lee knows so much, and Teacher Lee admits that he was incompetent which is why he’s trying to do better now. Stuck between all of them, Teacher Shin attempts to find a middle ground, but ends up offending everyone instead.
In-ha meets with Da-hee’s mother and tells her that Sun-ho never met with Da-hee on her birthday since he stayed at the library all day after his plans were cancelled. Da-hee’s mother refuses to believe the alibi and accuses In-ha of paying the librarian to lie just like the reporter. In-ha admits that she wanted to run away and protect Sun-ho at first, but not anymore. She simply wants to figure out the truth and understand why Da-hee gave Sun-ho’s name.
Alone in a park, Da-hee thinks back to her conversation with Joon-suk, who forgot about her birthday and already made other plans. On the other hand, Sun-ho remembered, and seeing Joon-suk in the corner of her eye, she invited Sun-ho out to the movies. However, the day of her birthday, she cancelled on Sun-ho and texted Joon-suk about seeing him there. In the present, Da-hee cries as Jin-pyo’s spy watches her from a distance.
In-ha and Joon-ha sigh over their odd predicament since the victim wants to hide the crime while the accused wish for an investigation. Their troubles would be gone if they only knew who Da-hee met that day, and In-ha suddenly remembers Dong-hee’s observations about Joon-suk and Da-hee.
Soo-ho brings Da-hee to her home where they run into Moo-jin who’s there to pick up the telescope and bring it to Sun-ho. Soo-ho offers to tag along and study at the hospital, but Moo-jin laughs at her adorable antics to miss cram school. He allows her to skip if she can convince In-ha, and Soo-ho pouts at his indirect rejection. Right then, In-ha calls Soo-ho and asks if she’s with Da-hee.
Eun-joo paces nervously as Joon-suk continues to ignore her calls, and as soon as he comes home, she tells him not to go to cram school because the police might look for him. She shares their new alibi and pleads with him to stay home, but Joon-suk sneers at her for not knowing what he truly needs. She chases him into his room, and Joon-suk throws his bag, screaming at her to get out.
He knows that she’s afraid of him, but Eun-joo denies it since he’s her entire world. To her dismay, he says that those feelings are exactly why he’s suffocating, and though Jin-pyo’s unattainable approval was hard, seeing Eun-joo have no life outside of him was worse. He admits to bullying Sun-ho because he was jealous of his warmth and comforting family unlike his own, but he justifies his actions as a warning because Sun-ho broke the hierarchy first.
In-ha asks Dong-hee if she knows who Da-hee met on her birthday, but Dong-hee doesn’t know. However, she doesn’t think it was Joon-suk since she overheard his friends teasing him for skipping out on Da-hee. Soo-ho isn’t fully convinced and is certain that he’s related to Da-hee somehow since she found him outside her house not long after Sun-ho’s incident.
Reporter Choi asks the school guard some questions concerning the broken security cameras, but the guard ignores him and eats his bread. Since the guard was once a detective, Reporter Choi points out that he should know better than anyone that all-too-convenient coincidences are usually forged. The guard asks if this is an interview or an interrogation, but Reporter Choi tells him that the truth can be revealed if just one person has the courage to speak out.
Reporter Choi leaves behind his business card, and as he steps out, the guard receives a call from the hospital that has him running out for a taxi. Reporter Choi watches him curiously and then spots the spy drive after the guard. The news quickly reaches Jin-pyo’s ears who then calls Moo-jin. Meanwhile, Eun-joo learns from the cram school that Joon-suk skipped class today, and we see him at an arcade playing a game.
Moo-jin meets with Jin-pyo in his office, and though Jin-pyo offers his condolences, Moo-jin doesn’t fall for his carefully tailored words. With his usual tactics failing, Jin-pyo stops beating around the bush and tells Moo-jin that Reporter Choi asked him for money. Moo-jin wonders if this is why he called him, but Jin-pyo explains that he actually wanted to discuss how to help Sun-ho’s family in order to stop this harmful dispute and heal each other.
While Jin-pyo smiles, Moo-jin remains stone-faced and informs him that he’s gotten the wrong idea. In-ha and he aren’t fighting for justice or some grandiose future. All they want is to learn what happened to their son and who is trying to hide the truth. Jin-pyo argues that no one is hiding anything, but returning the smile, Moo-jin tells Jin-pyo that if you look, it’s obvious that someone is.
He asks Jin-pyo if he’ll continue covering things up every time they make progress, and Jin-pyo warns Moo-jin that he’ll collapse if he continues down this path. Staring him down, Moo-jin says that In-ha will pick him up if he falls, he’ll pick up In-ha if she falls, and if they both fall, Soo-ho will pick them. Though Jin-pyo might not know it, Moo-jin tells him that there are a lot of people who’ll help them up.
Moo-jin sits in his car with a somber expression but perks up when In-ha calls. Her and the girls are waiting for him to come to the hospital so they can all eat dinner together, but he apologizes since he’s meeting someone. He promises to share the details at home, and calls her name one more time just because.
Reporter Choi hands Detective Park the license plate number of the car that followed the guard and tells him about his suspicions of the CEO of the CCTV company lying about deleting the original footage. Detective Park seems interested in the reporter’s hunch, and nonchalantly mentions how problematic some CCTV companies are. Reporter Choi gets the hint while Detective Park pretends that he didn’t mean anything by his comment.
Their conversation comes to a halt when Detective Park’s partner informs the detective of the guard’s wife passing while Reporter Choi gets a call from Moo-jin. At the funeral home, the guard asks Jin-pyo to get rid of the rat until the funeral is over, but Jin-pyo says that he doesn’t trust people, least of all the guard.
As Eun-joo looks for Joon-suk to no avail, Joon-suk pays a homeless man to buy him cigarettes. They happen to go to the convenience store where Dong-soo works, and he sees through Joon-suk’s trick. He returns the money to Joon-suk, but Joon-suk simply takes out another bill and yells at Dong-soo to just do it. Seeing Joon-suk’s tear-stained face, Dong-soo tells him to come inside and buy food instead, but Joon-suk runs away crying.
Reporter Choi apologizes to Moo-jin for not telling him sooner about the assault charges, but Moo-jin is here to confirm something he heard from Jin-pyo. He’s hesitant to ask Reporter Choi directly, so the reporter asks for him: Did Jin-pyo accuse him of asking for money? Moo-jin’s pause is enough of an answer for Reporter Choi, but to his surprise, his exasperated expression is also enough of an answer for Moo-jin.
Baffled by how easily Moo-jin believed in him, Reporter Choi opens up about his past with Jin-pyo and explains how their ill-fated relationship started back in high school. He admits to having ulterior motives when he approached Moo-jin, but Moo-jin says that Reporter Choi’s accurate and sincere article was enough for his family. His words seem to touch the reporter who watches Moo-jin leave with a tiny smile on his face.
While Jin-pyo orders his spy to continue watching over the guard, Eun-joo runs home and barges into Joon-suk’s empty room. Remembering her fight with Joon-suk, she leaves the house again, not registering Jin-pyo and his questions.
After closing the bakery, Joon-ha spots Joon-suk walking across the street absentmindedly and calls out to him. She wants to talk, but Joon-suk pulls away from her since he has nothing to say. He runs into the busy street to avoid her, and Joon-ha gasps when a car nearly crashes into him. Joon-suk, on the other hand, stares back at her with sad eyes, not even flinching at the car in front of him.
Joon-ha tells In-ha about her encounter with Joon-suk and confesses to feeling worried about him. Though In-ha told Joon-ha that Joon-suk should be having a difficult time, she also can’t help but feel concerned about him on her walk home. Outside the apartment complex, In-ha sees Eun-joo standing alone and out of place, and realizing that Joon-suk must not be home, she tells her about his last whereabouts.
She wonders why Eun-joo is looking for him here, but Eun-joo lies about being in the area to run some errands. In-ha reminds Eun-joo that Joon-suk is still a kid and begs her to take the burden off his shoulders. She’s worried that Joon-suk might decide to do something terrible, but Eun-joo twists her words, accusing In-ha of wanting Joon-suk to die. She vows that they won’t ever break like she wants, but In-ha says that they already have.
Moo-jin wakes to find In-ha’s side of the bed empty and joins her in the living room. Although she denies, In-ha is clearly worried about Joon-suk, so Moo-jin describes to her the dream he had about Sun-ho earlier that day. In-ha panics momentarily since dreams are supposed to show the opposite of reality, but he reassures her that it was good dream.
He suddenly gets a call from the guard who says he has something urgent to discuss. He’s currently on his way to their apartment because now might be the only time he has the courage to confess, and Moo-jin thanks him for speaking up. The guard stops in his tracks as he hears an engine sound growing louder and louder, and as he turns around, a truck slams into him. Moo-jin grimaces at the sound of the crash, and when he asks what’s wrong, there’s no answer.
Eun-joo is a troubled person who is a victim of her circumstances. She reminds me of a plant grown in a greenhouse, sheltered from the elements and carefully raised to serve a purpose. She was denied the opportunity to discover herself and was thrown from one role to the next. She could never be just “Eun-joo,” and her identity seems to have always been tied to someone else, whether that be her parents’ daughter, Jin-pyo’s wife, or Joon-suk’s mother. Due to this loss of self, Eun-joo latched onto to Joon-suk because he gave her a purpose in life, but this zealous devotion ultimately caused the rift between her and her son. Her undying love suffocated him because he wasn’t allowed to be just “Joon-suk” and had to carry the weight of her life as well. It’s a damaging relationship that seems all too common in South Korea since birth rates are low, education is expensive, and helicopter parenting is the norm. Eun-joo isn’t an anomaly in this regard, but really, there haven’t been too many outliers in this show that’s filled with all-too-real characters reflecting the ugly truth of society. Just as there are good people in the world, there are also bad, but most of the time, it seems like indifference and selfishness are the key traits portrayed through the masses. As Teacher Lee argued, it’s the silent bystanders that make up the majority of the crowd, and though they can make a difference, most of them safely distance themselves from the problem, unwilling to help or intervene. Consequently, when someone, no matter how inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, speaks up, it feels like a rare ray of hope. People like the flower shop owner or the librarian are tangentially related to the case, but it’s these bystanders who help our main protagonists make progress and uncover the truth little by little. Sometimes it’s not the major bouts of courage that makes the world a better place, but the small shows of concern and attention that can change the world bit by bit.
I commend In-ha and Moo-jin for still having compassion because at this point, I’m done empathizing with Eun-joo. I understand that her life is pitiful, but she needs to take responsibility for what she did to Sun-ho and his family (as well as Joon-suk to a degree). Her actions are inexcusable at this point because she’s had multiple chances to confess and ask for forgiveness yet chose to hide and create this mess. To be honest, I think if she confessed in the beginning, she might have avoided jailtime. I doubt In-ha and Moo-jin would have pressed charges if she genuinely repented, and the sad reality is that she has the money and power to get a favorable outcome in court. Going back even farther, if she called the ambulance right away, Joon-suk probably wouldn’t have gotten a harsh sentence or any major repercussions since he’s still a middle schooler and the law has some leniency regarding children. Also, if it really was an accident (or Joon-suk claims that it is in court), he wouldn’t have been charged for manslaughter or anything severe, and everything would have worked out much better for both parties because, in this scenario, Sun-ho would be alive and much more likely to wake up. She made a stupid and horrible mistake in the heat of the moment, but everything afterwards was her calculated choice. She’s actively hiding the truth, and at this point, I hope she pays for her crimes to the full extent. She created her own misery which means she can stop it any time she wants.
While Eun-joo breaks herself and Joon-suk by running away from the truth, the guard finally finds the courage to speak up. However, by showing Jin-pyo how much of a liability he is, he signed his own death certificate and may have met his untimely end. The truck of doom strikes again, and while it was expected, I couldn’t help but wonder why the guard was walking on a nearly abandoned road in the dead of the night. For being portrayed as a cautious and weary man who was observant of his surroundings even at his wife’s funeral, his cause of death seemed uncharacteristic. He knew that Jin-pyo was targeting him, and given their last encounter, I doubt the guard thought Jin-pyo was bluffing about killing him. Therefore, it seems odd to have him walk alone in such a vulnerable state. I doubt there’s any cameras around to prove his death was a premeditated murder, but even if there was a camera, the benefit of using the truck of doom for villains is that the murder can be covered up as an accident. In addition, did the guard really have to draw out his confession and be so secretive at the end? He could have saved the details for their in-person meeting, but I really wish he gave Moo-jin some hints to the truth. It would have been easy to name-drop Eun-joo or Jin-pyo in their conversation, but I guess that would have made the crash less impactful (pun intended). I don’t have much hope for the guard to survive, though I guess Detective Park could arrive to the scene quickly and get him medical attention. However, the guard served his purpose to the story, and because of that, I think the show just wanted to have him exit with a bang.
Out of all the characters, I find Moo-jin’s development the most interesting so far. The essence of his character is still there—a loving and trusting person who shows compassion so easily—but he’s grown and changed. He realized the harm of his unilateral outlook on life that assumed people understood their mistakes, and is now willing to make conflict if needed. The old Moo-jin would have played along with Jin-pyo in his office, agreeing with his speech on compassion and healing because that’s what he did with the principal and vice principal in the beginning. Even if he knows Jin-pyo’s words are empty, the old Moo-jin would have never called him out for it like he did this episode. I probably have a strange sense of humor, but I chuckled at their little exchange. Watching Jin-pyo’s façade crack makes me laugh because he always looks so smug even when being an ass, so when characters like Reporter Choi and Moo-jin deliberately get under his skin by not playing nice, I find the quick flash of annoyance on Jin-pyo’s face funny. While Moo-jin is firm with people like Jin-pyo, he continues to display a level of kindness and trust to others that moves them. Moo-jin judged Reporter Choi by his actions and quickly trusted him even before he fully explained himself. His almost naïve response convinced Reporter Choi to be honest with Moo-jin, and from the smile Reporter Choi showed at the end, it seems that Moo-jin has gained another ally. His ability to trust contrasts starkly with Jin-pyo who is his opposite, and Jin-pyo will probably never realize just how strong Moo-jin is… and maybe, just maybe, that might be one reason for his eventual downfall.