Diary of a Prosecutor: Episode 11
The new assignments are posted, and things are about to change for our Jinyeong branch. One of our prosecutors looks back over his career and is forced to ask some tough questions with regards to his past. When it comes to putting away a dangerous criminal, do the ends justify the means? What exactly makes a good prosecutor?
Everyone gathers around the posting of the new assignments at the prosecution. As expected, Chief Kim didn’t get the promotion. Seon-woong narrates there are three reasons prosecutors resign: scandal, health, and getting passed over for promotion in favor of a junior prosecutor.
At the meeting, they’re all worried about Chief Kim. Jong-hak speculates he’ll be transferred as branch chief somewhere else. Min-ho takes a more pessimistic view—Chief Kim was replaced by a younger colleague, after all. Yoon-jin worries he could be demoted to department head, but Min-ho thinks he’ll retire instead.
Jong-hak notes that the employees must really like Chief Kim, seeing as they’re being so cold to Myung-joo these days. When Seon-woong wonders why no one is cold to him, Yoon-jin and Jong-hak hem and haw before cryptically saying he’s not someone they’ll blame. Seon-woong is uncomfortable with Myung-joo taking all their ire.
We see a recorded interview of an employee gushing over how thoughtful Chief Kim is. He bought the investigators gifts and even remembered all their names. She wonders how this could’ve happened.
Choi Tae-joong catches Chief Kim in the middle of packing, and they sit to chat. Chief Kim says his wife wants to go to Seoul, which Tae-joong thinks is a good idea. He advises him to avoid competition and go where not many (former) prosecutors have set up office.
In Tae-joong’s recorded interview, he states that he was a deputy chief prosecutor in 2015. The night he resigned, he got smashed. He recalls Chief Kim was the type to duck out early from work-related events, but he stayed to the end that night.
Chief Kim, Min-ho, Myung-joo and Seon-woong drink at the Fog and reminisce about some of Chief Kim’s infamous moments. They coax details about a case where he took down a drug trafficker, and then Seon-woong brings up the “poem incident”—Chief Kim goes quiet—where Chief Kim supposedly made a hardened criminal cry tears of remorse.
But, as with many legends, the details change with each person’s retelling. During her recorded interview, Yoon-jin recites the supposed poem, but Jong-hak corrects her. They argue about their versions of the story.
As Chief Kim leaves the Fog, the other three stare after him. Min-ho sighs that even though he’s having a hard time, Chief Kim wanted to look after the three of them and invited them out. Seon-woong assures him they did the right thing.
Min-ho supposes Seon-woong must be sad since he and Chief Kim were close enough to fish together. Seon-woong launches into a heartfelt speech but is cut off as Min-ho basically goes, “welp, time to go home.” Ha.
Chief Kim takes a trip back to the office to look up “Kwon Doo-pil.” Ah, “tears of remorse” guy, maybe? His file lists him as deceased.
The next day, Min-ho calls Chief Kim’s office and is surprised to hear he’s taking time off. In his recorded message for Chief Kim, Min-ho reminisces about their first meeting. Chief Kim had brewed him lotus leaf tea, which he hadn’t liked. But now, he’s starting to develop a taste for it. He promises to visit and tells him to stay healthy.
Jong-hak interviews a man who turned himself in after destroying a statue of a lobster because it looked too much like him. Pfft. He startles the room when he excitedly tries to demonstrate how he kicked it.
Over a meal, Jong-hak laments to the table how hard it is to handle those youngsters these days. Jung-woo realizes they’re talking about the influencer Baek Ki-bok. He pulls up a video of Ki-bok maniacally destroying the statue.
They’re shocked he posted incriminating evidence against himself. Min-ho thinks he must be an attention seeker (confusing poor Seon-woong with the newfangled slang). A notification bell dings—Ki-bok posted again, and this time it’s a video of Jong-hak.
In Min-ho’s office, an abashed Jong-hak insists he didn’t know he was being filmed. Min-ho orders him to get the video taken down, but Jong-hak worries they don’t have the legal grounds. Min-ho isn’t concerned about that and tells Jong-hak to threaten him with a civil suit then.
Jong-hak has a few false starts but eventually manages to call Ki-bok. When Jong-hak brings up the video, Ki-bok assures him tomorrow’s video will be even better since he’s recording their call. Jong-hak gets flustered and threatens that if he uploads it… “that’s bad!” Well, that’ll teach him.
In his office, Seon-woong asks Man-ok who she thinks is responsible for Chief Kim’s predicament. Without missing a beat, she names Myung-joo. He reminds her that he and Min-ho played a part too. She responds that Myung-joo’s role was bigger; his role was too small to even warrant glares. Heh.
Man-ok calls Chief Kim a modern day scholar in her recorded message. His pen name is Haedal which means “master of the sea” as he’s been at so many branches along the coast. Although, some joke it’s because he swims like an otter (haedal=otter).
Min-ho and Seon-woong hang out at the Fog. Seon-woong thinks they should plan some grand gesture for Chief Kim before he leaves. And that’s how the video interviews and messages are born. At the team meeting, Min-ho brings up the idea and suggests playing it at Chief Kim’s retirement ceremony to wring out a few tears.
The team’s hesitant but can’t say no. Min-ho assigns the project to the baby of the team since he’s young and has the most free time. Jung-woo’s not thrilled about this turn of events, so Seon-woong offers to help. Min-ho then announces the idea was Seon-woong’s and everyone glares at him as Min-ho makes them clap.
Jung-woo asks Jung-hwan if he knows how to edit videos and stresses when he doesn’t. I love that rather than voice it, Mi-ran messages him to say she knows how. She makes it hilariously covert by telling him to meet her on the roof in five minutes.
She stoically awaits him, hair blowing in the breeze, and asks, “What kind of mission have you undertaken?” This is amazing. He starts to laugh but turns serious at the look on her face. A dramatic score plays as Jung-woo tells her his assignment. She graciously offers her assistance.
When Jung-woo asks why they’re meeting on the roof, she cagily answers she doesn’t like doing “things like this” in front of others. She tells him to come back 10 minutes later and leaves him there confused.
Someone from Jong-hak’s office calls Ki-bok to threaten a civil suit if the video isn’t taken down. But Ki-bok isn’t daunted. He welcomes their suit and would be happy to broadcast it.
Jung-woo secretly films Man-ok and Jung-hwan planning a surprise for Chief Kim. Jung-hwan freaks out while Man-ok laughs. In his video message, Jung-hwan claims Chief Kim is the rare one who focuses solely on his duties and makes everyone proud of what they do.
Teams 1 and 2 share a meal and, like always, it doesn’t take long before Min-ho and Prosecutor Nam are at each other’s throats. Prosecutor Nam goads Team 2 by claiming it’s ridiculous that the ones who got their boss kicked out are now making touching video messages for him.
He loudly proclaims to his team that if anyone got in his way, he’d cut them off and get payback. Min-ho then tells Jung-woo to delete the interviews they have from Team 1. They should respect Prosecutor Nam’s opinion and keep this project within their team.
On their way back, Team 2 is all smiles at Min-ho’s “victory.” But Myung-joo thinks deleting the videos is going too far. Isn’t it embarrassing if the teams bicker even about Chief Kim’s retirement?
Min-ho and Prosecutor Nam meet at the Fog for an utterly unrelaxing round of drinks. After some insults, Min-ho reluctantly mumbles Team 1 should participate in the video. Like petulant children, neither makes eye contact as Prosecutor Nam mumbles back it’s not like it matters.
Seon-woong goes to interview Team 1. One of the prosecutors recalls Prosecutor Nam was sick the first time the teams went to the Fog to drink. That left Chief Kim and Min-ho to drink together and bond. Thereafter, Chief Kim favored Team 2, which led to Prosecutor Nam’s and Min-ho’s ongoing feud.
Staring at the prosecution building, Chief Kim thinks back to a case from 20 years ago. He told Eun-hee’s mom that the suspect was denying the charges and, since he had washed Eun-hee afterward, there was no evidence left on her body. She broke down talking about what her daughter had been through and wailed, “Please kill that jerk.”
Chief Kim had aggressively interrogated Kwon Doo-pil, but he’d maintained his innocence. The disgusting man even claimed Eun-hee must’ve been dreaming and admonished her for having such a “naughty” dream. Chief Kim confronted him about his glove being on the scene, but Doo-pil shamelessly claimed he’d lost it earlier.
Everyone in the office had struggled to keep their tempers in check. They knew he’d done it, but Kwon Doo-pil knew they didn’t have the evidence. Afterward, a fellow prosecutor suggested using someone from the criminal team. This sounds shady.
In the present, Jong-hak sits across from Ki-bok and tries to intimidate him with legalese and claims he recorded Jong-hak illegally. Ki-bok’s attitude is suspiciously different as he respectfully apologizes and assures Jong-hak he deleted the videos. He hands over his phone to prove it.
He launches into a heartwarming tale about growing up poor, making Jong-hak tear up. Ki-bok cries that he was only trying to be a good son to his mom and make some money. Jong-hak suddenly recites the poem (of Chief Kim infamy) to encourage him not to disgrace his parents. They hold hands and cry. Jong-hak’s seriously buying this?
Over lunch, Jong-hak regales them with his touching story. He and Yoon-jin fight, again, over Chief Kim’s infamous poem. Then, Jung-woo pulls up Ki-bok’s latest video of the gullible “idiot” who bought his story. Yoon-jin and Jung-woo can’t hold back their laughter while watching. Jong-hak lets out this shriek of embarrassment and frustration.
Jong-hak records his message for Chief Kim, congratulating him on retirement. While Chief Kim is such a respectable prosecutor, Jong-hak doesn’t even know if he has what it takes. He looks vulnerable as he admits he doesn’t know if he has a shred of dignity.
Chief Kim meets with an old colleague for lunch. They laugh and talk about how different it is being at a law firm compared to the prosecution. Chief Kim asks him if he remembers Kwon Doo-pil, but he doesn’t seem to.
In a flashback, we see Chief Kim waiting outside an interrogation room. The same colleague comes out and tells him he “softened up” Kwon Doo-pil who’s dragged out of the room in bad condition. In Chief Kim’s office, Kwon Doo-pil sits silent and shaking. His colleague hands him the “confession” he wrote on Doo-pil’s behalf. It includes the infamous poem. (Jong-hak’s version was right.) Chief Kim stares at Doo-pil forlornly.
When Chief Kim heads back to the table in the present, his friend finally recalls Kwon Doo-pil. Back then, it was considered normal and everyone did things like that. Besides, they wouldn’t have gotten him otherwise. Chief Kim argues they’re not torturers, but his friend seems to think they get to decide what ethical means as society’s elites. That’s … concerning.
With the ceremony being the following day, Min-ho is upset to learn they haven’t finished the video. Jung-woo suggests they could use more help, so Min-ho puts Myung-joo on the job. He chastises her for not being more involved when she protests.
Seon-woong argues the two of them should be in charge since they’re responsible for Chief Kim’s resignation. Myung-joo takes issue with that. Although she feels bad about what happened, the ones at fault are the superiors who tried to facilitate a cover up and passed Chief Kim over for a promotion. The Jinyeong prosecutors merely did their jobs. How can they keep working if they feel bad about that?
Jung-woo brings coffee and snacks to Mi-ran as she edits late into the night. And aww, she gets this sweet little smile. He cutely records her and asks if she’s tired and if she likes the cookie he brought. He falls asleep at his desk while Mi-ran continues editing.
She gets to Myung-joo’s message. Myung-joo turns from the camera and blinks back tears before starting. She won’t forget that Chief Kim was on his fellow prosecutors’ side to the end. She says she won’t apologize and thanks him for everything. Myung-joo asks Jung-woo to edit out the beginning.
Jung-woo wakes, disoriented, at his desk in the morning. Moments later, Mi-ran completes her mission and holds the USB aloft as the dramatic score kicks in. She drops it into Jung-woo’s outstretched hands.
As the video plays in the auditorium, Chief Kim watches emotionally. We see Seon-woong’s clip in which he says he aspires to be like Chief Kim. He apologizes for any trouble he’s caused and thanks him. It ends with Myung-joo’s message.
Chief Kim gets up and thanks everyone for the nice ceremony, “But I’m not ready to retire yet.” He announces he’ll be working at the Suwon High Prosecutors’ Office. For the past 24 years, he’s put the authority of the office first. Now, he wants to be a proper prosecutor. He urges them to learn from his mistakes and constantly question themselves. Lastly, he thanks Myung-joo. Thanks to her, he got to finish his work at Jinyeong honorably.
He leaves the Jinyeong office to claps and cheers from his subordinates lining the street. Prosecutor Nam and his subordinate marvel at this strange move, seeing as Chief Kim will continue to be surpassed by his juniors. Yoon-jin and Myung-joo hold Seon-woong back as he makes to confront Prosecutor Nam.
Jung-hwan hands Chief Kim a poster with messages in the shape of a fish. Chief Kim is gifted flowers as he gets into his car, trying not to cry. Everyone waves him off as Seon-woong narrates there are three reasons a prosecutor can’t resign. First, it’d be a waste of studying. Second, it’d be a waste of the prestigious title. And third, you haven’t yet become a proper prosecutor.
A man named Choi Jong-hoon tells someone over the phone that he’ll be busy. He’s heard Jinyeong has the lowest indictment rate in the country, but he’ll change that. Seems like we’ve met our new branch chief.
Seon-woong joins Jong-hak to petition Ki-bok to delete the videos. Ki-bok finds it hilarious that another prosecutor took time out for this. Seon-woong is at a loss and excuses himself to the restroom. Min-ho and Myung-joo watch through the glass. Min-ho sends Myung-joo in and makes Seon-woong face the wall beside Yoon-jin and Jung-woo.
Chief Kim is certainly well loved, isn’t he? I knew our team regarded him highly, but it was a surprise to see how beloved he is by the entire office. He had little screen time in previous weeks, so I didn’t have a strong sense of who he was. I mainly associated him with the fishing incident from the first episode, which painted a different picture of him than what we saw today. He seems like a good boss who truly cares about his subordinates and takes care of them. I didn’t expect Myung-joo to be so affected by his leaving. She’s known him the shortest amount of time, but it’s obvious he’s made an impression. I’m glad he decided to stick with the prosecution, even if he wasn’t able to move up like he wanted.
But being taken out of the running for promotions gave him the freedom to focus on what kind of prosecutor he wants to be rather than what his title is. Although he’s a respected prosecutor, his conscience hasn’t been clear. That case from 20 years ago has plagued him. The file said Kwon Doo-pil died, so I’m guessing it had something to do with what they did. And unlike his friend, Chief Kim couldn’t excuse it as merely a product of the times. Even back then, he looked bothered, but everyone acted like that was just the way of things. Thankfully, times have changed, and it’s no longer acceptable to use whatever means necessary to get the bad guy. I found it disturbing how Chief Kim’s friend suggested that being the social elite gave them the power to decide what’s right and wrong. We’re in dangerous territory when any one person or group believes they have a monopoly on determining morality or ethics for society as a whole.
I understand why Seon-woong and Min-ho feel bad about their part in Chief Kim’s situation, but I have to say, I agree with Myung-joo about where the responsibility lies. While the situation is regrettable, they’re not the responsible parties. They all did their jobs exactly as they were supposed to. It’s not their fault the higher-ups are selfish and power-hungry. If our prosecutors had acted with Chief Kim in mind, they’d be no better than the dirty prosecutors. Like Myung-joo pointed out, as prosecutors, they can’t afford to make decisions out of sentimentality and feel bad for doing their jobs.
Okay, I’m pretty convinced now that Mi-ran likes Jung-woo. I saw hints of it before, but that was a shy little I-like-you smile she gave him when they stayed late. Plus, when does she ever offer unsolicited help? Of course, she had to offer it in the oddest way possible. I loved how such a basic request became, “Your mission, should you choose to accept it.” It was like the most mundane, unnecessary spy meeting ever. For how stoic she is, girl’s got dramatic flair.
It’ll be interesting to see how the arrival of the new chief affects things. Everyone loved Chief Kim, so it probably won’t be an easy transition for anyone. Although I’m sad to see Chief Kim go, I like that this will change things up and add new challenges.
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