Diary of a Prosecutor: Episode 10
Doing the right thing is easier said than done when your career may be on the line. A case tied to an influential local figure causes friction in the prosecution office as those in charge are pressured to sweep things under the rug. Everyone has to decide for themselves where their priorities lie and if they’re willing to risk their superiors’ ire to follow their conscience.
Seon-woong narrates that every prosecutor’s dream, the star of the prosecution, is the role of chief prosecutor. Out of 300 prosecutors, maybe 200 would make it to department head. About 30 of those go on to be branch chiefs or deputy chiefs. Of those 30, only 3 will become chief prosecutors. It’s an honor reserved for the top 1% (that Chief Kim is hoping to join).
Jung-woo interviews a former apprentice at 2K Motors who is accused of breaking in and stealing from his former employer. He claims they fired him for asking why they received receipts from a dealer for parts that weren’t sent. Jung-woo skips over it, but Myung-joo’s interest is piqued.
She brings it up to Min-ho at the team meeting. According to the apprentice, this practice was a frequent occurrence. Additionally, customers would complain about part malfunctions.
Myung-joo hands over a file containing two years’ worth of fraud cases against 2K Motors. Jung-woo approaches Seon-woong after the meeting for an explanation of a term Myung-joo used. Seon-woong explains it’s a type of insurance fraud where a repair shop fixes a car using cheap parts but claims they used expensive ones for a bigger payout.
As they walk, Jung-woo wonders why Min-ho seemed so stressed about it. The sunbaes explain that the CEO of 2K Motors is an influential assemblyman’s son. Once they’re done explaining, Yoon-jin and Seon-woong do a U-turn down the hallway. Jung-woo asks, “Why are you turning around?” Seon-woong: “Because our lines were long!” HA.
Myung-joo and Jung-hwan interview victims of the 2K Motors scams. Since it’s a well-known and respected company, the customers trusted their advice and paid for expensive parts. However, days later, the maintenance light would activate. When they’d take it to a different repair shop, they’d find out everything needed replacing.
2K Motors wouldn’t take responsibility until the customer threatened a lawsuit. Even when it was brought to prosecutors before, nothing happened. Myung-joo decides to look into everyone associated with 2K Motors. They prepare the search and seizure warrants.
They hit all the companies one after the other. When they get to 2K Motors, the CEO calls his assemblyman dad, of course. Soon after, Chief Kim receives a call.
Myung-joo’s office works through the night. In the morning, Jung-hwan finds a ledger documenting the fake claims, but it’s for Jinyeong Motor Parts. And it’s from 2017.
Jung-woo and Jung-hwan meet with the employee who wrote the ledger. After some questioning, he frustratedly exclaims, “2K Motors took all the money!” Everyone conspired with them. At that, Myung-joo barges in to hear the details.
Min-ho calls Myung-joo to his office to talk about the case. She says she’s preparing to issue a search and seizure warrant for CEO Kang of 2K Motors. Seon-woong arrives and Min-ho surprises them both when he haltingly states that the case is being reassigned to Seon-woong.
People are complaining Myung-joo investigated too aggressively, and she didn’t even find that much evidence. He tells Seon-woong to proceed more cautiously. They leave in silence.
In Chief Kim’s office, Min-ho clearly has questions, but Prosecutor Nam drags him out. He informs Min-ho that Chief Kim got a call from the district’s office—that’s why he ordered Min-ho to replace Myung-joo with Seon-woong who was specifically requested by Deputy Chief Prosecutor Park.
They don’t get the connection between the deputy chief and Seon-woong until Min-ho recalls the carpenter’s ruler. Oh no. Seon-woong gets a surprise call from said deputy chief who playfully admonishes Seon-woong for not mentioning “it” to him. He’ll buy his fellow Ruler Club member a meal when he’s in town.
When he runs into Myung-joo, Prosecutor Nam casually brings up her being taken off the case. He informs her that the deputy chief is backing Seon-woong since they’re in the “carpenter’s ruler club” together. Myung-joo looks stunned and scoffs at the news.
At the Fog, Min-ho coaches Seon-woong on his ruler cover story. Min-ho further stresses him out by reminding him that their branch’s honor (and Chief Kim’s fate) depends on his performance. And since Professor Park (initiator of the Ruler Club) passed away, he doesn’t have to worry about being discovered.
Elsewhere, Chief Kim has dinner with the chief prosecutor and his gang. On the ride home, he spots a 2K Motors ad on a bus and looks bothered. He recalls the chief prosecutor telling him to “wrap things up well.”
At the elevator the next morning, Mi-ran comes running in at the last second carrying a box. Jung-woo pushes to the front and respectfully offers to carry it for her. Ha. He looks so upset when she refuses and hovers nervously as his liege totes the box to the office.
Everyone looks confused, and Min-ho wonders if Jung-woo’s fallen for Mi-ran. Seon-woong responds, “It’s loyalty,” which possibly leaves them more confused.
During a tense meeting, Myung-joo begrudgingly gives Seon-woong a case summary. She and Min-ho butt heads when he instructs Seon-woong to take his time (i.e. stall) and claims the current evidence isn’t good enough. Myung-joo: “If the lead prosecutor finds evidence, but their boss says it’s not valid, what’s the use in investigating?”
In Seon-woong’s office, Man-ok is busy going through files for the 2K Motors case. She suggests they go through them together, but he sighs for her to put them aside. Hmm.
The team goes for dinner and talk turns to the 2K Motors case. Jong-hak doesn’t get why Myung-joo was so bent out of shape over playing it safe. Jung-woo reminds him that Myung-joo lives by her principles.
Seon-woong asks, “Then am I not living by my principles?” Yoon-jin jumps in to smooth things over but makes it worse. Jong-hak tries to change the topic, but Seon-woong slams down his chopsticks and yells that he knows it’s embarrassing to stall. He’ll start working on it soon.
But not yet. Seon-woong investigates a case where a man drove into a guard rail and died. At the morgue, the cop informs Seon-woong the man didn’t brake to avoid it. The cop gets a call informing him they found a receipt from 2K Motors for the day prior to the accident.
Conflicted, Seon-woong stares at the case files in his office that night. As he leaves, he sees Chief Kim walking out and remembers Min-ho saying it’s the chief’s last chance for promotion.
Seon-woong gets a call from his father who is currently at the repair shop after getting into a small accident. Seon-woong’s head snaps up when he thinks he means 2K Motors. He breathes a sigh of relief to hear it’s a different shop.
The next day, Seon-woong goes to see Chief Kim. He tentatively brings up the connection between the car accident death and 2K Motors and how he couldn’t help telling his father to avoid 2K Motors. Chief Kim interrupts him and orders Seon-woong to carry out the search and seizure of CEO Kang.
Min-ho hesitates but stamps the warrant. He warns Seon-woong that he better find something, although he’s scared of what he’ll find.
Seon-woong is positive the ledgers are in CEO Kang’s house, so they turn the house inside out looking for them. In the meeting before the search, they decided on the “found it” method. During the search, Man-ok signals Jung-hwan when it’s time, and he yells out “What?! You found them?!”
Man-ok clocks CEO Kang’s reaction as he looks down at the glass-covered underground fish pond (seriously?) in his living room. Jung-hwan goes diving and emerges victorious with the ledgers.
Seon-woong cross-checks the ledgers and finds the car accident victim did receive faulty parts. In the middle of presenting his findings at the department meeting, Seon-woong gets a call from the deputy chief, which he puts on speaker.
“Are you crazy?” The deputy chief goes on a tirade about how he trusted Seon-woong as a fellow Ruler Club member. He orders Seon-woong to stop the investigation; he’ll arrange a meeting with the assemblyman and his son so he can apologize.
The deputy chief keeps harping on the ruler thing, and Seon-woong can’t take it anymore. He ignores Min-ho’s threatening look to announce, “I just found it somewhere.” Myung-joo’s mouth drops open. Yoon-jin stifles a laugh.
Seon-woong continues that he didn’t even know about this Ruler Club. He may not be a member, but he’s still a prosecutor. He’ll handle the case with common sense. “Oh, and you’re on speaker right now.” The line goes dead. Heh.
Seon-woong picks back up where he left off, but everyone’s so distracted he suggests a break. Outside, Myung-joo confronts him about the ruler. “You must’ve had fun.” He assures her he didn’t know what it was when she first brought it up.
She has a hard time believing he could’ve gone through university not knowing about the infamous ruler. “Maybe I didn’t know because I was crazy about volunteering,” he muses. Pfft. Myung-joo responds mockingly, “In Africa?”
He wants to put this behind them, and Myung-joo agrees. “We know that you’re not someone who deserves to receive the carpenter’s ruler.” She stomps off.
When Seon-woong returns to his office, a smiling Man-ok is waiting. Word has already spread about his confrontation with the deputy chief. She names the historic moment the “Revolt of Lee Seon-woong.” He laughs and suggests instead they name it “Carpenter’s Ruler Declaration Day.”
Seon-woong issues an arrest warrant for CEO Kang, but he’s already at the airport preparing to flee the country.
The chief prosecutor and his gang (including sleazy lawyer Choi Tae-joong) invite Myung-joo for a dinner meeting. They suggest she take over the 2K Motors case again to “sort it out.” She should return to Seoul, right? She smiles and says nothing. Assemblyman Kang arrives to join the group.
As Chief Kim prepares to leave work, he gets a call. Judging from his face, it’s bad news.
The next morning, Myung-joo stops by her regular coffee shop. The employee remarks on how often she’s there and brings up the membership card again. Myung-joo repeats she won’t be here long, wearing an odd expression.
Seong-woong and Min-ho meet with Chief Kim and Prosecutor Nam, who’s incredulous Seon-woong lost CEO Kang. Myung-joo arrives and Chief Kim announces the case is going back to her. He and the chief prosecutor received an anonymous letter that claims Seon-woong’s father has a personal grudge against Assemblyman Kang, making it a conflict of interest for Seon-woong.
Seon-woong denies the charge, but Min-ho points out his father did run against the assemblyman. Why didn’t he tell them? Seon-woong argues it was over 10 years ago. Chief Kim is sympathetic, but he can’t risk public opinion.
Man-ok has all the witnesses assembled, but Seon-woong tells her to send them to Myung-joo’s office. Just then, Myung-joo passes by and informs the witnesses the interviews are permanently canceled. Seon-woong follows her to her office and angrily demands to know what she’s doing.
Myung-joo claims it’s not his business anymore. Seon-woong wonders what she was offered to throw the case. Backing? Getting sent to Seoul? A ruler? Ha. She doesn’t say anything in her own defense.
“Didn’t you say I didn’t deserve the ruler? Before saying that to someone else, why don’t you take a look at yourself?… Do you have no shame?” He slams the door on his way out.
Myung-joo orders Jung-hwan to cancel the APB on CEO Kang. Outside, one of the witnesses reports the happenings at the prosecution office to Choi Tae-joong. He, in turn, reports back to Assemblyman Kang.
Man-ok and Seon-woong unhappily watch Mi-ran pack up the files. Seon-woong walks out without a word and heads to the cafeteria. Jong-hak and Min-ho try to join him for lunch, but he silently gets up and leaves. He continues to blatantly ignore everyone. Man-ok notes, “It’s the Revolt of Lee Seon-woong.”
Seon-woong narrates that just like how a single faulty part in a car can lead to an accident, a single prosecutor who doesn’t work properly can wound society.
A confident CEO Kang returns to the country… and immediately gets arrested. Jung-hwan reads him his rights and Myung-joo pops out from behind a paper to inform him they can make an emergency arrest even if the APB is lifted.
The commotion in the hall draws everyone out of their offices. CEO Kang, who is not taking it well, is being marched down the hallway. A shocked Seon-woong locks eyes with Min-ho, the only one who doesn’t look surprised.
Chief Kim tries to appease the chief prosecutor, assuring him he didn’t know what his underlings were planning. He’ll take responsibility. We flash back to the phone call he received; it was from Myung-joo. She’d reported the dinner meeting and met with him and Min-ho about it.
They’d decided to double-cross the higher-ups. Chief Kim would reassign her the case, and she’d pretend to drop it. They’d let CEO Kang get comfortable and catch him unawares.
Min-ho had asked if they should tell Seon-woong. Chief Kim: “Do you think he could play the role?” Min-ho and Myung-joo both shook their heads. Ha. They’d agreed to keep it amongst themselves so as not to risk the plan.
In the present, Chief Kim smiles at their handiwork. He laughs as he dumps his book on Jeonju into the recycling bin and heads out.
Seon-woong narrates that chief prosecutors are the centerpieces and stars of the prosecution. However, the countless prosecutors who do the grunt work day after day are integral.
Myung-joo walks up to see Seon-woong outside her office. He hopes she doesn’t take what he said to heart; he wouldn’t have said that if he’d known. He tries to get away with his drive-by apology, but Myung-joo isn’t having it. She accuses him of continually giving excuses. He truly believed she’d worked with the assemblyman to hide a suspect. She tells him not to make excuses in the future and just behave honestly.
In the cafeteria, Seon-woong joins the team for lunch. They all get up and leave him there just to mess with him. But they immediately circle back and laugh.
Chief Kim sits on the beach, fishing. Seon-woong hesitantly sets up next to him, but Chief Kim pettily moves his chair further away. Seon-woong offers him a snack, which finally earns him a smile. Abruptly, sirens blare. Chief Kim bolts up, ready to run, but it’s only an ambulance. They laugh over their previous fishing incident and sit side by side.
We hadn’t spent much time with Chief Kim, so I didn’t know what to expect from him. He had the most to lose in this fight, but in the end, he chose to do the right thing knowing it would likely tank his career. I’m not sure what will happen to him now, but he’s most definitely not getting that promotion. From last episode, it sounded like if he didn’t get the promotion, he’d essentially be done for. I don’t quite get how that works, but I guess we’ll see next episode.
Seon-woong also struggled to do the right thing when he was the lead on the case, but he seemed mostly concerned about how it would affect Chief Kim. One benefit to being the underling is you fly under the radar more and might not be held as accountable when something goes wrong. Chief Kim, on the other hand, has to take the brunt of it. Although Seon-woong didn’t want to jeopardize his boss’s career, he couldn’t stomach letting 2K Motors get away with their nefarious deeds. But then the case got thrown back to Myung-joo. And of course, Myung-joo isn’t the type to compromise her ideals for anyone.
I figured from the start that Myung-joo was playing the long game. It’d be way out of character for her to cut a deal with dirty prosecutors and politicians. And this show doesn’t have its characters make decisions just for shock value or to move the plot along. Even though I was sure Myung-joo had a plan, I wasn’t sure who was in on it. I was glad to see both Chief Kim and Min-ho willing to go against orders and do what needed to be done. If only Seon-woong were a better liar, then he could’ve been part of the inner circle and not kept in the dark.
I had hoped Seon-woong and Myung-joo would’ve started to understand each other better by now, but there’s no end in sight to the friction between them. Unfortunately, despite having such different personalities and approaches, the one thing they have in common is their stubbornness. They’re civil now, but that’s about it. With the ruler story out in the open and those misunderstandings cleared up, I’m ready for an explanation as to why finding out that Seon-woong was in Jinyeong convinced Myung-joo to relocate. I’m still really curious about that, but I have faith that the show will reveal it in time. And hopefully that time is soon.
This episode brought up the point that those in the spotlight may get the recognition, but it’s often those in the shadows doing the hard work. Not having a prestigious title like “chief prosecutor” doesn’t mean you’re any less valuable or that your work has less impact. It just means you have less power. The chief prosecutor had a few backdoor meetings and made some veiled comments and expected everyone to fall in line. He’s obviously used to getting his way and didn’t hesitate to order a coverup. Of course, he’s not actually the one having to do the dirty work. Hopefully, our Jinyeong office won’t suffer too greatly for doing their jobs properly in spite of their superiors.
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