Diary of a Prosecutor: Episode 14
Our team is still struggling under the new leadership, and not everyone can handle the strain. One prosecutor’s decision to stop putting up a fight may alleviate some pressure on the team from above, but it sows discord within the group. It all comes down to priorities. For some, principles come first while for others, protecting those in their immediate circle takes precedence. Either way, it looks like things will be rough for a while yet.
Seon-woong narrates that, when we’re young, we see ourselves as protagonists. We think everything revolves around us, and we’ll be compensated for our hard work. That is, until life doesn’t work out the way we plan. We see Min-ho continuing to serve as the third wheel and designated driver for Chief Choi and Prosecutor Nam.
Yoon-jin reports on a case at the team meeting, and everyone sits in awkward silence for the over 20 seconds it takes Min-ho to respond. As the team files out, Yoon-jin wonders why Min-ho’s so out of it. Seon-woong responds vaguely that Chief Choi invited Min-ho out not to make up but to teach him a lesson.
In the office, Jung-hwan reads an article about a former chief prosecutor being acquitted. Jung-woo finds it ridiculous, but Myung-joo expected it. Jung-hwan worries about how it reflects on the prosecution.
Jung-woo surreptitiously messages Mi-ran to meet him on the rooftop and primps while he waits. They’re giddy at their alone time. Jung-woo suggests they date openly, but Mi-ran is against it despite Jung-woo’s copious amounts of aegyo.
Of course, right as they go to kiss, Man-ok and a colleague come out to the roof. Jung-woo pretend scolds Mi-ran until the intruders sneak back out. Jung-woo immediately apologizes and worries that Mi-ran’s upset, but she assures him he did well.
Myung-joo and Jung-hwan interview someone pressing assault charges against his boss. During the five-ish years he’s worked for him, Gu Jae-hwan endured physical and verbal abuse while making a meager salary. He decided to report his boss after getting hit for requesting a raise.
Outside the courthouse, Seon-woong runs into Tae-joong and DUI guy. Tae-joong gloats that their hearing went well. Later, Seon-woong barges into Min-ho’s office with the news that DUI guy was released. Min-ho warns him not to get involved—they can’t afford to further upset Chief Choi.
Seon-woong sees it as a sign DUI guy will be acquitted. After all, Chief Choi has consistently had his back. Min-ho tells him not to get worked up over this “petty case.” When Seon-woong keeps pushing, Min-ho loses his temper and reminds him it’s not their case.
Chief Choi takes Prosecutor Nam and Min-ho to meet with some judges at a club. One of the judges brags about how well-behaved his subordinates are; it must be hard for Chief Choi to manage those rebellious prosecutors. Chief Choi looks pointedly at Min-ho as he laughs.
While working late, Seon-woong gets a call from Min-ho ordering him to round up the team and meet him at the club. Prosecutor Nam is making a similar phone call to a member of his team. It’s some (pointless) competition between Chief Choi and the judges.
Seon-woong reluctantly agrees and makes the calls. No one’s happy about it, but they show. They’re forced to parade into the room for a dramatic headcount. The judges win with 10 to the prosecutors’ 9 … but Seon-woong would’ve tied it had he showed.
The next morning, Chief Choi calls a department-wide meeting. Seon-woong is waylaid by Min-ho who pulls him into an empty office. He traps him against the door in that all too familiar “romantic”—you know, if you find aggression cute—pose as sexy sax music plays. Heh.
Seon-woong works to avoid eye contact while Min-ho warns him to stay quiet as the dead in the meeting. Chief Choi is already livid that Seon-woong didn’t show last night. Min-ho even touches his face in a highly inappropriate invasion of personal space. Seon-woong apologizes and asks him to calm down.
Min-ho reminds him that he’s already Chief Choi’s designated driver, and Seon-woong was relegated to trials. What does he think will happen if Seon-woong lashes out this time? He poses this question in a creepy whisper. Seon-woong lightly pushes him away and assures him he gets the message. Min-ho makes him pinky swear.
In the meeting, Chief Choi talks like their little game last night actually mattered and accuses Seon-woong of besmirching the prosecution’s honor. As Chief Choi goes on about his crimes, Seon-woong narrates that he was going to hold back. But then Chief Choi harps on teamwork and compares himself to Admiral Yi Sun-shin.
Seon-woong stands and we’re informed via chyron that he’s a descendant of Admiral Yi. Min-ho looks on in horror as Seon-woong schools them in some history, correcting Chief Choi’s faulty version of the famous battle. Pfft. Then he goes in for the kill: “If teamwork means showing up whenever a drunk colleague beckons, will you come if I call you while I’m drinking?” Everyone stares in amazement, and Myung-joo suppresses a laugh.
The investigators discuss this turn of events and sympathize with Man-ok. They think it’s time to do “that” again. Man-ok lists the possible bets: Seon-woong holds out, quits, is fired, or experiences an unforeseen outcome. She lays out the rules and takes down the bets.
In Chief Choi’s office, Prosecutor Nam urges Chief Choi to hold a disciplinary hearing for Seon-woong. Chief Choi asks him to leave and calls Team 2 to his office. He announces all their cases have to be approved by him, which effectively strips Min-ho of authority.
Seon-woong tries to step in, but Min-ho asks everyone to leave so he can talk to Chief Choi privately. Chief Choi vetoes him and forces him to say his piece then and there. Min-ho meekly asks him to reconsider, but Chief Choi tells him he’s doing this to teach him. He can quit if he thinks otherwise.
When Chief Choi asks if everyone understands the situation, Myung-joo responds affirmatively. After they’re dismissed, Min-ho sits alone in his office while the rest of the team meets to discuss. They wonder what Chief Choi wants from Min-ho. Myung-joo thinks it’s obvious that Chief Choi wants an official apology and unwavering obedience. “Like yours?” Seon-woong asks snidely.
That makes the room tense. Myung-joo asks if he always takes out his anger on other people and walks out. The others hold Seon-woong back. “You’ve come so far!” No one wants him and Myung-joo fighting again.
Man-ok and the rest of the investigators exchange info on the situation. Apparently, all attention has turned to Min-ho; no one’s even thinking about Seon-woong anymore. They want to bet on Min-ho’s fate, but Man-ok thinks that’s going too far. Seon-woong chose his fate. The same can’t be said for Min-ho.
At his desk, Min-ho stares at his prepared letter of resignation. He stuffs it his pocket and goes to Chief Choi’s office. He stands silently before dropping to his knees. Min-ho apologizes and asks for another chance.
Chief Choi busts out laughing, praising Min-ho’s passion. He pulls him up and offers him a seat, now acting like they’re the bestest of friends. He treats him to drinks that night and says he was mistaken about him.
He brings Min-ho with him to golf with the chief prosecutor and Tae-joong. Min-ho listens as they openly discuss taking care of DUI guy’s case and what to do about the assemblyman’s son (the CEO of 2K Motors). Chief Choi promises to handle it, but the chief prosecutor tasks Min-ho with it.
Meanwhile, Jong-woo and Mi-ran go on a date by the sea. While they sit in a café taking selfies, they share a moment and Jung-woo goes in for a kiss. Something’s going to happen, isn’t it? Sure enough, Jong-hak walks in with his wife, making the lovebirds jump apart. By the time Jung-woo turns back around, Mi-ran is already out the door. Ha!
Prosecutor Nam catches Seon-woong and the gang in the office parking lot. He asks if Seon-woong has planned his next commotion and starts badmouthing Min-ho. But then, Chief Choi’s car pulls up which sends Prosecutor Nam running.
Everyone is shocked to see Min-ho get out of the car. Prosecutor Nam is blindsided when Chief Choi tells him to make dinner reservations for the three of them. This time, Chief Choi and Min-ho leave him behind.
They’re all dying of curiosity, so Jong-hak asks Min-ho if he and Chief Choi are closer now. When Min-ho admits he has approval power again, everyone’s relieved. Yoon-jin assumes Seon-woong can go back to his normal duties then, but Min-ho plans to make him stick to the original agreement—he’s on night duty until his arrest rate improves.
Yoon-jin presses that Seon-woong’s no longer getting cases that can improve his arrest rate, so how can he ever get off night duty? Min-ho sighs, making her go quiet. Jong-hak suggests Seon-woong can improve his relationship with Chief Choi now that Min-ho has an in. Min-ho doesn’t respond and moves on to case updates.
In Seon-woong’s office, Yoon-jin and Jong-hak suppose that Min-ho has decided to “bow down” to Chief Choi. Yoon-jin thinks he should’ve held out longer, but Jong-hak is sympathetic to his position. Seon-woong opines that they must not know Min-ho that well. He’s clearly putting on an act until he has enough power to fight back.
Min-ho calls Seon-woong into his office to talk about the 2K Motors trial. He instructs Seon-woong to keep Chief Choi apprised on the trial and follow all his directives. Still thinking Min-ho hasn’t decided to go to the dark side, Seon-woong waits for the double cross. He’s thrown when he realizes Min-ho intends to align himself with Chief Choi.
Seon-woong reminds him of what happened to Chief Kim because of this case. Min-ho cuts him off to say he’s doing this for the sake of the department. As Seon-woong leaves disappointed, he gets an alarming text.
Man-ok receives a bunch of bets on Seon-woong quitting and wonders what happened. Shin-young shows her an article titled “Prosecutor’s Personal Revenge” that seems to be about Seon-woong. Shin-young struggles not to cry.
Myung-joo interviews Gu Jae-hwan again after speaking to his boss who gave a very different story. He claims Gu Jae-hwan demanded his salary be doubled or he’d spill his secrets. Of course, the boss denies hitting him.
Gu Jae-hwan revises his story and admits he asked his boss to double his salary. When his boss started verbally abusing him again, he ended up yelling that he could get his boss in trouble with everything he knows. He’s incredulous that could count as blackmail.
Myung-joo informs him his boss is talking about pressing charges. Even though he said that impulsively out of anger, it doesn’t look good coupled with his demands for a raise. He panics when she mentions an investigation. Who’ll support his kid?
In the cafeteria, Seon-woong is having a peaceful meal when he’s accosted by a group of colleagues giving him snacks. Naturally, he’s confused but grateful. One investigator offers encouragement, saying they’ll support him even if he’s no longer in the prosecution. Another thinks he should take sick leave so he can rest.
Man-ok runs over and joins the table. She urges Seon-woong to stay strong no matter what Chief Choi does to him. His brave stand makes them proud. Seon-woong thanks them for the support and promises to never give in. Turns out Man-ok bet on him holding out.
Chief Choi summons Seon-woong and Myung-joo into his office. In the 2K Motors trial, Seon-woong is arguing for time served, which Chief Choi obviously is against. Chief Choi wants Myung-joo’s opinion.
Seon-woong cuts in that Myung-joo demanded seven years in prison after her investigation, and that’s exactly what he’s asking for now. Myung-joo tries to get out of sharing her current opinion by arguing the sentence is the trial prosecutor’s purview.
Chief Choi won’t take no for an answer, forcing her to make a move. She carefully notes that the importance of the case may have made her too emotional. Seon-woong is not happy. Chief Choi laughs and tells Seon-woong to learn from her.
Myung-joo steps in to say Seon-woong has a reason to view the case emotionally. Chief Choi references the recent article and muses that he must be requesting a harsh sentence because of his father’s enmity with the assemblyman. Seon-woong reiterates that it’s his job to decide the sentence and leaves. Myung-joo goes to leave too, but Chief Choi isn’t done.
When Seon-woong gets to the office the following day, all his files on 2K Motors are missing. He beelines for Myung-joo’s office where she announces Chief Choi put her on the trial too. It’s now her case, so she’ll take care of the sentence. He storms out without a word and makes for Chief Choi’s office.
Min-ho stops him from going in, and they get into it. Min-ho asks if he’ll no longer acknowledge him since he gave in to Chief Choi, which he puts on Seon-woong. He yells for Seon-woong to go ahead—he only thinks of himself anyway.
Seon-woong narrates that we don’t always get to be the protagonists in our lives. We see Gu Jae-hwan writing a petition for leniency dictated by his abusive boss. Myung-joo sits in the 2K Motors trial, looking bothered at the sentence of 2 years’ jail time with 3 years’ probation she has written down. Seon-woong continues that, sometimes, we even become villains and spectators instead.
Seon-woong shows up in time for Myung-joo’s closing statement. She stands and requests a 7-year sentence. Seon-woong leaps up in shock while Tae-joong can barely stutter out his closing statement. Myung-joo watches impassively as the defendant attacks Tae-joong. Seon-woong smirks.
Chief Choi gathers Team 2 in his office, lost for words. He admonishes Myung-joo for being a fool like the rest of them. He directs Min-ho to divert all cases from going to her office and reassign her current ones by the end of the day.
After a brief silence, Min-ho tenders his resignation. He puts his letter on the desk and states he can’t follow this latest order. Myung-joo is on the verge of tears as Min-ho orders them all out.
Min-ho tells Chief Choi he’d rather leave than be a hindrance to his juniors. Based on his newfound “affection” for Min-ho, Chief Choi gives him a chance to reconsider. Min-ho admits he’s already regretting it, but he’ll regret taking it back more. At least this way his juniors can respect him.
He walks out the door right into his team who’s been waiting for him. They’re all emotional, but Min-ho insists he’s okay. Yoon-jin cries and grabs him in a hug, and Jong-hak follows suit.
Later, Seon-woong goes to see Myung-joo. She gears up for a fight, thinking he’s there to chew her out for what happened to Min-ho or not telling him her intentions with the 2K Motors case. He surprises her by thanking her for demanding 7 years. He confesses he was burdened and doubted if he could handle things with Chief Choi. But when the verdict was announced, he felt relieved and like he could trust her. “You were amazing in court today.”
She claims she doesn’t need thanks for doing her job, but her small smile says otherwise. As he leaves, he gives her a thumbs up through the window. She shakes her head and laughs. Seon-woong narrates it’s okay not to always be the protagonist; you may even find something more important than yourself.
The team meets at the Fog, and Seon-woong narrates that protecting something precious to you can give life meaning even when you’re not the protagonist. At work, Seon-woong is reassigned back to investigations, and Team 1 is now in charge of trials.
Yoon-jin and Jong-hak feel apprehensive, but Seon-woong plays it cool and unbothered. He narrates that he had no idea of the storm that was coming. Two cars pull up. It looks like the internal investigation has started.
Chief Choi gets worse and worse. He’s just so shameless and petty and ugh. The way he did a 180 the second Min-ho gave in was gross. It’s disturbing that he doesn’t even pretend to be fair but makes it abundantly clear he’ll give you hell if you don’t do what he wants. But if you fall in line, he’ll pave the way for you like how he immediately took Min-ho to golf with the higher ups after he apologized. He beats you down before building you back up (as abusers do).
Although I do feel bad for anyone having to work under Chief Choi, I couldn’t feel nearly as sympathetic for Min-ho as I think the show wanted. I haven’t been able to connect with him as a character, and I’ve thought he was a bad boss from the start. Not Chief Choi level bad but still bad. Unlike Chief Kim who proved himself a strong leader by not only being willing to stand for what was right but also taking responsibility, Min-ho likes to shift blame and take the easy route. He told Seon-woong this was all his fault, yet he was the one who decided to implicate himself in Seon-woong’s behavior. And their team was on the outs with Chief Choi from day one, anyway. I think the issue is that Min-ho is a follower, which is not an optimal quality in a boss. He was fine working with Chief Kim and Myung-joo to do that double cross, but he was following orders from Chief Kim that time. When it was his call, he balked. I get why he ultimately decided to resign, but I wonder if that will help his team at all. Won’t Chief Choi just bring in someone he controls now?
It can be hard to navigate when principles or people should come first. What do you do if following principles hurts the people around you? I think this is where Myung-joo clashes with her peers. She’s been firmly on the side of fulfilling your duties and making the ethical decision regardless of what that means for her coworkers. If she were in an individualist culture, she’d probably be praised for sticking by her beliefs no matter what. But in a collectivist culture where the group takes priority, her behavior isolates her.
On a good note, it looks like Myung-joo and Seon-woong may finally be at an understanding. It only took 14 episodes. I think they both just needed some indication that they are respected as a colleague. They both can be prideful, so neither wanted to lose ground in their fight or admit their preconceptions could be wrong. But all the turmoil in the office has showed that Seon-woong is willing to put his money where his mouth is, and Myung-joo won’t compromise her values to get ahead. Now, if they manage to clear up their rocky past, they can finally move on.
I’m assuming the final week will focus on the investigation into Team 2 and maybe a showdown with the Big Bad. I imagine Chief Choi get chased out somehow—I’m still rooting for the little ghost girl—but I wonder where all this chaos will leave our Jinyeong branch. Team 2 will probably be fine overall, but Seon-woong did break protocol and disobey a direct order from a superior. It’d be surprising if there were no repercussions for that.
- Premiere Watch: Diary of a Prosecutor, Black Dog
- Different approaches to justice in Diary of a Prosecutor
- Jung Ryeo-won, Lee Seon-kyun take a stand in new teaser for Diary of a Prosecutor
- First script read for slice-of-life legal drama Diary of a Prosecutor
- Lee Seon-kyun, Jung Ryeo-won to co-star in new JTBC drama Prosecutor’s War