Diary of a Prosecutor: Episode 13
How do you know when a proposition is too good to be true? When you want something badly enough, it’s easy to overlook the warning signs, giving scammers an opportunity to take advantage. We get an array of cases involving different scams this hour, eliciting varying responses from our prosecutors. It’s a shame being trusting can have such dire consequences.
Seon-woong narrates that society is a jungle in which the weak are preyed upon. Scammers lure you in with flashy advertisements and promises. Those who are desperate with nothing to lose are especially vulnerable.
A woman scrubs dishes late into the night working at a restaurant while her family sleeps. She overhears customers discussing the building worth millions one of them is going to buy. As she leaves, the rich elderly woman slips the woman a $50 tip for staying so late.
A man sits in Myung-joo’s office, accusing the woman next to him of fraud. He’d purchased her bakery based on her claims of pulling in over $1,000 in sales per day. She blames his incompetence for failing to make a profit, but he accuses her of exaggerating her sales.
Meanwhile, Jong-hak frustratedly explains to the man in his office that the person he was in business with is most certainly not with the NIS. The man stubbornly maintains he wasn’t conned, and Jong-hak ruined everything with his interference.
Yoon-jin interviews a young woman who was scammed by a modeling agency. They convinced her to take out a loan they would then hold as collateral to ensure she didn’t run off after getting the plastic surgery they recommended. When she couldn’t pay the loan off through photoshoots, they forced her to work as a prostitute for two years.
Over lunch, Yoon-jin discusses the case and asserts it’s too cruel of a life lesson for a girl who’s only 23. Jong-hak notes that with age doesn’t always come wisdom. He’s dealing with a pastor who made a down payment of $400,000 for a loan to start a church because the people he thought were with the Blue House and NIS told him they had access to political dark money. That’s…wow.
Jong-hak puts blame entirely on the con artists, but Seon-woong thinks the victims should take some responsibility. Looking at his watch, Seon-woong jumps up to head to court. It’s a bail hearing for Jung Bok-rye, the scamming granny Seon-woong caught faking the medical episode. Defense claims her heart condition has worsened.
In Chief Choi’s office, Min-ho overhears a call from someone ranting over him and Seon-woong. When he asks if Min-ho is still working there after what he did, Chief Choi locks eyes with Min-ho and says yes. After he hangs up, Chief Choi silently stamps the arrest request and barely looks at Min-ho.
At work, Mi-ran is uncharacteristically frazzled and even forgot to submit something to the court. Jung-woo concernedly watches her as she rushes out to submit the document. Jung-hwan wonders what’s wrong with her today, earning him a glare from Jung-woo.
Her uncharacteristic behavior extends to the game where she’s on a rampage. The gamers are scared to run into Camulos with one betting she either got fired or dumped. Jung-woo sighs in worry. The following day at work, even Myung-joo notices how awkward things are between them.
Prosecutor Nam stops by to see Min-ho who is less than thrilled. After some bickering, he informs Min-ho that Chief Choi’s father-in-law and Min-ho’s ex-father-in-law were roommates in law school; their families are still close. Therefore, Chief Choi’s father-in-law still has a lot of pull.
He advises Min-ho to stop uselessly fighting against Chief Choi. The best way to help his subordinates is to “crawl” when he’s told. Min-ho kicks him out for spewing nonsense. Prosecutor Nam grumbles he was trying to help. They insult each other until he’s out the door.
Jong-hak interviews one of the men involved in the scam. He claims he met the pastor at a friend’s real estate agency. The man argues he only acted at the behest of the “NIS agent” and knew nothing of the scam.
Yoon-jin meets with the accused scammer in the young woman’s case. He takes issue with her claim that he “baited” Soo-min with plastic surgery. He only suggested it as a realistic route to achieving her dreams.
Myung-joo and Jung-hwan meet with the marketing consultant who worked with the previous owner of the bakery. He puts her daily sales at $900 but plays it off like he misremembered the figure when it contradicts her estimate of $1,200. They accuse him of conspiring with her to use exaggerated sales to sell off the bakery.
He denies it and suggests the new owner was blinded by his desire to succeed. The man Yoon-jin interviews makes the same argument, calling Soo-min’s dream unrealistic. She made the decision to go for plastic surgery. He didn’t like suggesting the loan either, but he needed insurance. And it’s not like he was the lender.
The consultant continues that people ignore risks they don’t want to acknowledge. It’s not his fault if clients ignore his warnings. Jung-hwan reveals that the previous bakery owner admitted that she acted on his advice to inflate her earnings and sell.
The rich elderly woman visits the restaurant again as Yeong-hee, the employee she tipped, spends another night scrubbing. Even though they’re closed, Yeong-hee lets her order. The woman invites Yeong-hee to drink with her, and they quickly become friendly. The elderly woman (Hyun-sook) gets serious and commiserates with Yeong-hee’s hard work and struggles.
Myung-joo turns in her report on the fraud case to Min-ho who then makes Myung-joo take it to Chief Choi herself. Chief Choi suspects Min-ho is avoiding him, but Myung-joo argues she’s handling it because it’s a minor case. He notes the higher ups are particularly interested in business fraud cases, so they’re not “minor.”
He brings up Jung-woo, asking for her impression of him. Myung-joo states he’s hard-working. Chief Choi thinks Jung-woo has “poor judgment” and tells her to keep an eye on him. What a petty man.
Seon-woong enters his office as Shin-yeong runs out in tears yet again. It’s become a regular occurrence, leaving Man-ok and Seon-woong baffled and frustrated. Man-ok hands him the doctor’s contradictory statement regarding Jung Bok-rye’s condition. It’s something to the tune of her condition isn’t bad enough to warrant immediate release, but it’s bad enough he can’t recommend denying bail. Helpful.
Jung-hwan informs Myung-joo a warrant has been issued for the “consultant” in the bakery fraud case. He already talked to the bakery owner who was relieved to hear the news. Jung-woo finds it strange the victim would feel relieved when he can’t get his money back without a separate civil case. Myung-joo argues this case will have a bearing on the future civil case, and Jung-hwan notes that people like the idea of justice being served.
Myung-joo asks Jung-woo if he’s familiar with the upcoming coffee franchise fraud case. If so, he should take it. He’s stunned but excited … until he sees Mi-ran studiously ignoring him.
Jong-hak has another frustrating meeting with the gullible pastor who doesn’t believe he was scammed. Yet again, Jong-hak fruitlessly tries to explain the tactics they used.
We see Yeong-hee withdrawing money as she thinks about Hyun-sook’s proposition. She can make 5% commission off the trading of gift certificates worth $20 million on the black market. (Who goes on the black market for gift cards?) Of course, there’s a $10,000 fee to get started. Yeong-hee meets Hyun-sook and her accomplices (or victims?). She only has $6,000, but Hyun-sook graciously offers to cover the rest.
Mi-ran is still being super weird in the game and even gives her fancy sword and armor away to her attackers. There’s a rumor going around Camulos is going to quit the game soon; the Supreme Ring is up for sale. Jung-woo sighs and buries his face in his hands.
The next day, Mi-ran keeps her head buried at work while Jung-hwan lists the items they’ve run out of that she’s supposed to order. Jung-woo snaps at Jung-hwan that Mi-ran isn’t the only one who can make phone calls. Mi-ran, who’s clearly been crying, apologizes meekly and walks out. Jung-hwan is shocked by the emotional display and confused as Jung-woo takes out his anger on him.
Min-ho is quiet during dinner, which makes everyone tense. Jong-hak suggests he try to talk things out with Chief Choi (maybe over his favorite whiskey). It’s hard for all of them when their bosses are on the outs. Everyone goes silent when Min-ho gets a call from Chief Choi.
Once he hangs up, Min-ho brags that he knew Chief Choi would cave. He makes a big deal of how much of a hassle it is to go meet Chief Choi for drinks. But the second he’s down the hallway, he breaks into a run. The mood significantly lighter, the rest of the team finishes their meal.
Min-ho joins Chief Choi and Prosecutor Nam at their table. They seem pleasant enough, but when Min-ho requests another soju glass, Chief Choi is all, “You’re drinking? Who will drive if you drink?” He then orders him to fill Prosecutor Nam’s glass. Wow. Even Prosecutor Nam seems a bit awkward with this treatment.
Later, Min-ho drives the drunk, singing pair back to the office. Chief Choi and Prosecutor Nam order hangover soup, which Chief Choi points out Min-ho doesn’t need since he didn’t drink. They walk off, leaving him there.
Min-ho turns and sees Seon-woong who witnessed the whole scene. He asks Seon-woong to keep quiet about what he saw. They head to the Fog for some drinks and venting. Min-ho decides he wants to take revenge which can’t be a good idea.
Jung-woo searches for Mi-ran in the game and finds her sitting dejectedly on a rock. He’s horrified to see her character is hurt. She tries to run off, but he yells that he’s no one. She shouldn’t let his words get to her so much. He returns her armor, saying she looks most beautiful wearing it. She finally turns to face him with tears in her eyes as the music swells.
He admits he needed time to work up the courage, seeing as she’s royalty while he’s a coachman. So he does like her! He goes in for a kiss, but a buzzer sounds and a forcefield appears between them. They keep trying to kiss, but they can’t get past the forcefield. Ha! Back in reality, Jung-woo throws a mini-tantrum on his bed.
Min-ho psyches himself up before going in Chief Choi’s office. He brings a hangover drink for him, but Chief Choi coldly refuses it. Min-ho tries to talk to him, but Chief Choi gets a phone call and waves him out.
Jong-hak interviews the conmen in the pastor’s case while the pastor watches from behind the glass. They each admit to their role in the scam but pass the blame around as to whose idea it was. Naturally, none of them know what happened to the money. Confronted with their confessions, the pastor is forced to face reality and rage cries.
Yoon-jin informs Soo-min that her scammers have been charged and are being arrested. Soo-min asks about settling and hesitantly tells Yoon-jin there are videos of her online, but the defense attorney said they’d be deleted if she settles. Angry, Yoon-jin pleads with her not to settle, promising to get the videos deleted herself.
Soo-min cries as Yoon-jin gently tells her to prepare herself. She won’t be able to get out of paying any legal loans she took out. As she leaves, Soo-min seeks reassurance that things will get better in time, but Yoon-jin can’t provide it.
In the hallway, Mi-ran and Jung-woo awkwardly pass by each other. Jung-woo turns back to tell her his feelings are real. Just like in the game, she turns toward him with tears in her eyes. The overly dramatic score ramps up, adding to the amazing extra-ness of it all. Right as she runs toward his outstretched arms, employees flood the hallway, so she walks right on by. Ha.
Despite Seon-woong’s arguments at court, Jung Bok-rye is granted bail. Everyone in the gallery, likely her victims, is up in arms over the decision. One man causes a scene, screaming and threatening her.
In Myung-joo’s office, Jung-woo and Mi-ran exchange little smiles and flirt over their computer monitors. When the victim from the bakery fraud case walks in, Jung-hwan assumes he’s there to thank Myung-joo. They’re stunned to realize he’s the accused in the coffee franchise fraud case. Seriously?!
Jung-woo conducts the interview where we learn the man is being accused of the exact same thing the bakery owner did: exaggerating his sales to make more off selling his shop. He admits to the charges and hangs his head in shame. Jung-hwan is infuriated that he played the victim after committing fraud himself.
At the Fog, everyone congratulates Baby Jung-woo for taking on his first solo case. He comments that he used to think spotting frauds was easy. Now, the victim of fraud in one case is the perpetrator in another. It doesn’t take a special kind of person to commit fraud, just the right circumstances.
Jong-hak asks how things are going for Seon-woong with the trials. Myung-joo cuts in that she heard Jung Bok-rye was granted bail. After Seon-woong was penalized and reassigned, “the suspect was released on bail.” Ooh. Everyone goes quiet and shifts uncomfortably. Seon-woong tells her to get to the point.
She raises her glass and smiles. “Arrest her after the next trial.” Yoon-jin’s mouth drops open. Seon-woong laughs, and they clink glasses. Everyone smiles to see them getting along. Jong-hak asks after Seon-woong’s son, and Jung-woo even tells him to invite his kid for the weekend. He’ll let him play games in his room.
Seon-woong gives a presentation at a school. He states that there were 270,029 fraud cases last year which equates to one victim every two minutes. The students are shocked that only 11% of victims get their money back. One girl asks how to prevent being scammed. He says it’s hard to avoid if you’re targeted, but he cautions them to stay wary and always ask experts for advice.
Another girl stands up to ask if they should suspect him too, then. “Of course.” They can doubt him if he tries to sell them tonics and such after his lecture. They laugh until he quiets them to reiterate: “One person every two minutes.”
Yeong-hee gets a text from Hyun-sook exclaiming the bid went well. Yeong-hee’s ecstatic to find over $9,000 in her account. As she bustles around the restaurant, we hear our prosecutors’ earlier conversation about the pastor’s case and pan out to see them having lunch. Ah, so her storyline has been in flashback.
Did Myung-joo offer an olive branch? Like her colleagues, I assumed she’d deride Seon-woong for not being effective. It was a pleasant surprise when she supported him instead. She’s had this idea that Seon-woong is all talk, so maybe seeing him put his job on the line for his values earned her respect. While I don’t know that this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship, maybe they can at least move past their long-term prejudices against each other and act like true teammates. With the precarious position of their team, solidarity is more important than ever.
Because the horrible boss is still being horrible. Although, honestly, I thought he’d try to mess with them more. Right now, he’s being petty in that “you can’t sit with us!” way. I guess he’s waiting on the results of the investigation he requested into Min-ho and Seon-woong’s behavior. I’m assuming that’s an involved process that’ll take some time, but I was surprised we didn’t get any updates on that. Perhaps they wanted to give us a small reprieve before diving back into office politics.
That scam involving political dark money and fake NIS and Blue House personnel was crazy! I can’t imagine being brazen enough to pull that kind of scam. Although I don’t think you should blame the victim, how in the world do you not get suspicious with that kind of sensational story? The modeling scam was more subtle, so I can understand how someone could get roped in. It’s horrible to think that one bad decision can lead to such horrifying consequences. That poor young woman didn’t just lose her money—she was sex trafficked. What a terrifying situation to find yourself in.
In the cases of the pastor, Soo-min, and even the store frauds, the victims were blinded by their aspirations. But I found Yeong-hee’s situation more unsettling. What made her vulnerable wasn’t ambition but pain. Her desire to escape poverty and have life be a little bit less exhausting was cruelly used against her. It’s frightening how people like Hyun-sook slip in and find that weak spot. She was so sympathetic and kind, knowing exactly what Yeong-hee needed to hear. We haven’t seen the conclusion of her story yet, but I can’t imagine it will end well.
Aw, Jung-woo did change his mind! I love how extra they both are. You’d think they were Romeo and Juliet with the dramatics. I hope their ridiculousness never stops because it’s endearing. Over the course of the show, Jung-woo has gradually been maturing. In the beginning he was in it for himself, but he’s seemed more conscientious of late. Based on earlier episodes, I might’ve worried a bit that he’s not mature enough for Mi-ran, but I think he’s grown up enough to be a decent match for her.
One of the things I like about this show is the subtle way character growth is portrayed. More often than not, people change in slight ways over periods of time rather than having some aha! moment that leads to drastic change. Maturing and becoming our best selves is a lifelong process, which is something I think this drama showcases well.
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