Diary of a Prosecutor: Episode 16 (Final)
We’ve reached the end of the road, folks. And I’m happy to say it’s a satisfying end to a satisfying drama. But before things can be wrapped up in the Jinyeong office, there’s a reinvestigation to get through. The prosecution tries to do some damage control with their high-profile special investigation, led by a familiar face, but all may not be as it seems. Two of our prosecutors are faced with dilemmas that could have repercussions for their careers and what kind of prosecutors they want to be. Although things don’t always work out as planned, our Jinyeong prosecutors have shown that they are more than capable of figuring things out.
At the office, everyone watches a news report on the reinvestigation that Chief Kim—who’s no longer a chief, but I’ll stick with this moniker to keep things simple—is heading. Although they get on with the meeting, everyone covertly sends congratulatory texts to Chief Kim.
Seon-woong breaks the fourth wall to ask if we recall the high heel ghost case. We get a flashback to the shaman channeling the little ghost girl. A girl of the same age was recently rescued on Jimil Island who they suspect may be high heel girl.
Myung-joo disappoints them all by revealing that the DNA of the two girls didn’t match. However, the rescued girl Oh Ji-hyeon did claim there was another girl held with her who died. Myung-joo will continue investigating.
At the Fog, Jong-hak worries about the inspection results. He and Yoon-jin sympathy stare at Seon-woong. Yoon-jin has heard tell of firings at other branches. Jong-hak asks if anyone has called yet, but Yoon-jin thinks they’ll let Seon-woong know through Min-ho or Chief Choi. That’s cold.
Chief Choi starts to panic when he can’t reach his people. He gets ahold of Tae-joong and wonders what’s going on. He’s heard the chief and deputy chief prosecutors are being investigated. Tae-joong blows him off and basically tells him to stop calling since people will talk. Ooh.
Min-ho is tickled pink when Chief Kim calls. After some pleasantries, Chief Kim admits he’s worried about revealing the dirty dealings of the prosecution. On that note, he has a favor to ask …
Min-ho summons Seon-woong and Myung-joo and announces they have a decision to make. Thinking he’s being let go, Seon-woong panics and starts making his case to stay. Min-ho cuts him off when he starts talking about opening a law office. Chief Kim wants Seon-woong or Myung-joo for his special investigation team. Myung-joo immediately volunteers, and Seon-woong’s hand shoots up like an overeager school kid as he says he wants to go.
The rest of the team is jealous when they hear the news. Jung-woo wonders if this means they don’t need to worry about the inspection results. Seon-woong claims that, with this special reinvestigation, those results probably won’t matter.
It hits Jung-woo that he gets the apartment to himself if Seon-woong leaves. Ha. Seon-woong reminds them it’s still undecided. In fact, Min-ho is making Seon-woong and Myung-joo decide on their own which one of them is going to Seoul. Yoon-jin worries they’re both too stubborn to give in. Jung-woo ventures Myung-joo’s prestigious experience makes her more suited while Jong-hak thinks Seon-woong should use this opportunity to wipe his record clean.
Min-ho goes to see Chief Choi and rubs it in that Chief Kim called him to request Myung-joo or Seon-woong for his team. Min-ho refers to them as “knives” that can “slay the corrupt forces” in the prosecution. Chief Choi is miffed that Min-ho isn’t seeking his approval, but Min-ho informs him he’s acting on behest of “Special Investigations Team Leader Kim In-joo.” He gets in a jibe about Chief Choi’s friends being investigated before he leaves.
Over drinks, Myung-joo lists the logical reasons she’s the better choice for the team, but Seon-woong claims if Chief Kim selected them, it means they’re both worthy. Myung-joo suggests asking Chief Kim’s preference, which Seon-woong shuts down after remembering Chief Kim’s gratefulness to Myung-joo before he left.
Myung-joo argues Seon-woong should feel indebted to her after he stole her case because of his fraudulent carpenter’s ruler. He denies stealing the case and tells her the real owner of the ruler would find her pathetic for obsessing over it when she obviously left it behind on purpose. He offers to trade her the ruler for the spot on the team. Ha.
Myung-joo proposes a bet. If the previous owner lost the ruler, she wins the spot on the team. If the owner lost it, Seon-woong gets the spot. Seon-woong agrees and smugly informs Myung-joo the woman is no longer a prosecutor.
Myung-joo interviews Oh Ji-hyeon and shows her a picture of high heel girl. Ji-hyeon comments that she’s pretty but won’t say anything else. High heel girl’s parents watch the interview in tears. Afterward, they beg Myung-joo to search the island again, convinced their daughter could be alive.
Jung-hwan wants to oblige them, but Myung-joo argues there’s no grounds for conducting another search. They’ll just focus on Ji-hyeon’s abduction and forced labor.
The guys chill at Seon-woong’s and discuss the special investigation team. Seon-woong thinks he has it in the bag now, but Jong-hak would rather Seon-woong stay. Jung-hwan says he’ll miss Myung-joo if she goes, but he’d be happy for her too.
On the ferry ride to meet the ruler’s owner, Seon-woong finally asks Myung-joo why she pretended not to know him when she first arrived. Also, why did she hate him in college? She just smiles. He speculates she had a crush and was trying to hide her feelings. Pfft.
“I just didn’t like you.” She hated how relaxed and carefree he was, volunteering in Africa, while she struggled every day. After all his laziness, she’d wanted to see how lousy of a prosecutor he’d become. He laughs in disbelief and asks if she’s happy now that she’s seen him. She’s not so sure anymore.
They find Jeon Ha-yeong at her house, and Myung-joo seems to recognize her. We get a flashback to when Myung-joo was in law school. Ha-yeong had given a talk and stopped Myung-joo on her way out. She’d confidently asserted she’d be the first female general prosecutor and urged Myung-joo to follow in her footsteps.
Ha-yeong recognizes Myung-joo and comments she hasn’t changed. Seon-woong brings out the ruler and returns it. “Where did you find this?” When she confirms she lost it, Myung-joo leans back in victory while Seon-woong sighs in defeat.
Myung-joo asks why she quit the prosecution. Ha-yeong claims everything was good at first. She was the first female prosecutor with the carpenter’s ruler, and everyone was good to her. After 12 years, she was sent to Jinyeong.
She worked like crazy to return to Seoul. Myung-joo smiles in understanding while Seon-woong rolls his eyes. Six months later, she got her wish. A few days prior to her move, she sensed something off about a case, but she was in a hurry to leave and hand it off. Then, a family was murdered. Everyone said it wasn’t her fault and she shouldn’t let this one case ruin her career. But she knew where the fault lay.
Her first case upon her return to Seoul was a conglomerate embezzlement case. It ended with a non-indictment due to lack of evidence. She used to be proud of her determination and drive, but it made her sloppy and resulted in a family’s death.
She couldn’t watch the corruption anymore. When you can’t handle one case properly, shouldn’t you quit? Ha-yeong looks at the carpenter’s ruler and wonders what she’d have been using it for if she hadn’t lost it. “A bottle opener?” Seon-woong and Myung-joo look at each other in surprise and chuckle.
At home, Myung-joo stares at a picture of herself and other students with Ha-yeong. She also holds the carpenter’s ruler which Ha-yeong asked her to hold onto. Supposedly, the ruler symbolizes the ideal of everyone being treated equally by the law. Ha-yeong wanted Myung-joo to take it to heart.
Seon-woong and Myung-joo meet with Min-ho again. Seon-woong thinks Min-ho called him there to rub Myung-joo’s victory in his face, so he’s stunned when Min-ho tells him to join the special investigation team. Myung-joo has something she wants to do and has decided to stay in Jinyeong.
Seon-woong is miffed he’s being told what to do without having a say, but Myung-joo thinks that’s her right as the winner. Min-ho snaps at him to just be happy. He instructs him to reassign his cases and thank Myung-joo.
“I don’t want to.” Min-ho exasperatedly wonders why he’s against going now. Oh, he’s going, but he doesn’t want to thank Myung-joo. “I won’t!” he exclaims as he leaves in a huff. Pfft. Min-ho and Myung-joo are highly amused.
In her office, Myung-joo asks Jung-hwan to bring her the case files for Oh Ji-hyeon and the high heel girl. She’d like to go over them again. Myung-joo smiles contentedly as Jung-hwan rushes to bring the files.
Min-ho brings Seon-woong to Chief Choi’s office to say goodbye. Chief Choi is suddenly all friendly and supportive. He’ll do what he can about those disciplinary actions on Seon-woong’s record and hopes they can put bad feelings behind them. Heh, I bet. Min-ho and Seon-woong snicker in the hallway.
It looks like Jung-hwan is accompanying Seon-woong to Seoul on Myung-joo’s recommendation. It’s a bittersweet goodbye as everyone sees them off. Seon-woong and Myung-joo shake hands, and he promises to call her if he has questions. A woman standing at the back of the group surreptitiously sends a heart to Jung-hwan as he gets in the car. Ah, so that’s his secret lady friend.
In Seoul, Chief Kim welcomes Seon-woong warmly and introduces him to the team. Back in Jinyeong, Myung-joo tells the missing girl’s parents that she’ll be investigating their daughter’s case alongside Ji-hyeon’s. Myung-joo smiles at Man-ok as the parents cry in gratitude.
Seon-woong feels a little out of place in his new team, especially with everyone constantly reminding him he’s from the countryside. In a meeting, he slips up by printing a report with sensitive material. Chief Kim reminds him that they’re in a situation where a single misstep could have huge ramifications for the prosecution.
In Jinyeong, Team 2 watches excitedly as the special investigation team gives a briefing. They act like proud parents seeing their baby on TV for the first time when they spot Seon-woong. They notice that he looks off and assume he’s nervous. Myung-joo looks thoughtful.
Chief Kim takes the team out for dinner. A couple of the team members fawn over Chief Kim’s successful briefing while Seon-woong watches in silence. Chief Kim asks Seon-woong to ride back with him, and the others watch jealously as they drive away.
On the ride, Chief Kim asks Seon-woong how things are going. Seon-woong admits he doesn’t understand why they only requested a warrant for Hwang Hak-min when they had sufficient evidence against Chief Prosecutor Jung and Deputy Chief Prosecutor Park.
Chief Kim gently tells him his investigation was thorough, but Seon-woong tends to be emotional. Keeping a cool head can lead to opportunities. Seon-woong argues delaying provides a chance to destroy evidence. Chief Kim cuts in that he’s not the only concerned member of the team. He tells Seon-woong to report to him through one of the senior prosecutors from now on.
At work, Seon-woong slips away to call Jong-hak who puts him on speaker. The team jokes that Jinyeong has been crime free since Seon-woong left. Seon-woong smiles as he listens to their boisterous chatter. They yell out that they love and miss him, leaving Seon-woong looking lonely when he hangs up.
In the Jinyeong office’s parking lot, a flashy sports car pulls in. The woman driving points at them, and Min-ho looks startled as he heads toward the car. Everyone hurriedly follows. Myung-joo shakes her head and starts to go inside. She stops and with a “damn it, I’ve become one of them” look, she turns back and joins the group.
They hide behind a nearby car and eavesdrop on Min-ho and what turns out to be his ballerina ex-wife. She thrusts a form at Min-ho claiming she’s immigrating to Canada and their son needs parental consent for his passport. Min-ho can’t believe she didn’t talk to him about this first.
Chief Choi happens by and Min-ho’s ex-wife calls out, “Oppa?” She explains to Min-ho that he was the other prosecutor marriage candidate for her. When Min-ho tattles that Chief Choi has been bullying him, she marches up and threatens to tell her (influential) dad if Chief Choi messes with her ex again. Ha!
That night, Seon-woong formally requests Chief Kim to sign off on warrants for the chief and deputy chief prosecutors. Chief Kim interrupts as Seon-woong claims he’s still investigating Assemblyman Kang Joon-mo. “Didn’t I tell you to report to me through Prosecutor Choi?” He dismisses him.
Seon-woong pushes. “A prosecutor received sexual favors through a CEO of a transportation company suspected of embezzlement. If our team can’t request warrants for a case like this, who will trust us?” Chief Kim responds that firing the four prosecutors involved, including the chief and deputy chief prosecutors, is enough punishment.
Seon-woong asks if he’s planning to wrap things up like this. Chief Kim reassures him they’ll be indicted just without being arrested. Seon-woong argues that they can’t indict Chief Prosecutor Jung if they don’t expose his relationship with Assemblyman Kang.
He accuses Chief Kim of knowing this special investigation was only meant to appease the public but pretending otherwise. Seon-woong reminds him of how he risked his career and wanted to become a better prosecutor. Why is he ignoring the evidence this time?
“We have to save the organization!” They can’t let the mistakes of a few prosecutors destroy the institution. The disappointment clear on his face, Seon-woong asks, “Were you always like this?” He wonders why Chief Kim even brought him here.
Chief Kim says he cares about Seon-woong. He’s a warm, righteous prosecutor. But he wanted to teach him there’s other things that matter. Seon-woong strongly disagrees. “I’ll just keep living as a prosecutor who doesn’t know that.”
Besides seeking justice, didn’t Seon-woong come to Seoul to make a name for himself? Chief Kim argues they both have a goal for their careers, but the prosecution must be protected first. He pleads with Seon-woong to put aside his personal inclinations this time, but Seon-woong can’t do that. He won’t give up, so Chief Kim should fire him if he won’t approve the warrants.
At the next press briefing, Seon-woong is notably absent. Chief Kim announces that the chief and deputy chief prosecutors did receive sexual favors through the CEO of Jangwon Transport, but there was no business connection found. He announces they’re being indicted without detention. As for the issue of Hwang Hak-min’s previous acquittal, they found nothing suspicious with the original proceedings. They also couldn’t confirm any connections between him and Assemblyman Kang Joon-mo.
Team 2 is in shock as they watch the briefing. A reporter asks about Seon-woong’s replacement on the team. Are the rumors about disagreement over convictions true? Chief Kim denies the allegations and claims it was due to health issues. Right as everyone in Team 2 is wondering what’s going on, Seon-woong pops his head into the room.
Everyone stares at him in stunned silence. He laughs and tells them to lighten up, claiming Seoul didn’t suit him. He’s quite chipper as he wonders if they’re getting more cases now that he’s back. He playfully asks Myung-joo if she was bored without him. She scoffs and is too awkward to answer. Ha.
Everyone but Jung-woo, who’s dreams of independence are dashed, is happy to see him. Seon-woong scolds Jung-woo for looking sullen and puts him in a headlock. Then, Jong-hak puts Seon-woong in a headlock. Min-ho smiles at the familiar chaos.
Seon-woong joins Myung-joo on the roof. He admits to quitting and being angry at the unfairness. He guesses that’s how Myung-joo felt when she was transferred. Maybe that does make her his sunbae, he quips. She smiles and jokes she’s glad he’s finally acknowledging it. They let out deep sighs but look contented.
Seon-woong narrates that it takes more than a few people to make the world fair. Chief Kim’s briefing plays wherein he professes he believes the prosecution will continue to right its wrongs. Seon-woong ponders whether it makes sense to right one’s own wrongs, anyway.
The Jinyeong office is back to its regularly scheduled programming as Min-ho berates his team for the mass of unsolved cases. Min-ho even takes Myung-joo to task for her numbers and becoming more like Seon-woong. Ha. Everyone goes about their duties, and Seon-woong narrates that whatever the case, he doesn’t want to give up on his work. There’s always hope.
Jung-hwan reports from Jimil Island that they found the bones of a teenage girl buried where Ji-hyeon described. Myung-joo heads to the island. Seon-woong continues that, so long as there are people who work hard and refuse to ignore the plight of others, he’ll continue doing his job in hope that tomorrow will be a little better.
While Jung-woo and Mi-ran are on a flight, Jung-woo notices their flight attendant looks familiar. Ha, yep, it’s Hot Flight Attendant. She hands them their drinks and doesn’t seem to recognize Jung-woo. He laughs to Mi-ran’s confusion.
Myung-joo stands by the water’s edge. She pulls out the carpenter’s ruler and contemplates before tossing it in the sea. She breathes a sigh of relief. And then turns to see an angry group of people staring at her underneath a coastal cleanup day sign. Ha! Police officers call her over, but she runs away.
At the office, Jong-hak bursts into Seon-woong’s office to announce he’s becoming a department head. He notices Seon-woong’s dazed look and tells him not to worry about getting placed somewhere so small. But Seon-woong is more worried about his new chief—Prosecutor Nam. Seon-woong lets out a distressed cry.
Although I’m sad to say goodbye to our little office, I’m happy with where we left things. This is very much a life goes on type of show, so it was fitting that things were left open ended. Some people moved on, some stayed, but everyone seemed in a better place personally than where they started. That said, it wasn’t a happily ever after—Chief Choi stuck around, although he calmed down considerably. Seon-woong now has to endure serving under a promoted Prosecutor Nam. But such is life.
I think the biggest disappointment was Chief Kim. After his brave move back in Jinyeong, it was so frustrating to watch him toe the line now. I loved the charged scene between him and Seon-woong. You could just see Seon-woong’s trust and admiration shatter in that moment. Although I’m with Seon-woong on that issue, I can understand how Chief Kim would believe preserving the prosecution was the right move. Seon-woong has shown again and again that he’s an idealist whereas Chief Kim is more pragmatic. For Seon-woong, nothing is more important than people and correcting injustices, but Chief Kim prioritizes the bigger picture and the institution. It’s a matter of priorities and worldview.
Myung-joo and Seon-woong finally cleared the air. I love how simple the explanation of Myung-joo’s behavior was—she just didn’t like his attitude and felt it unfair everything was so easy for him. It’s such a human thing to want to see how your nemesis is doing years down the road, hoping things didn’t go too well for them. I appreciated the realistic, slow realization that they’d misjudged each other. It took being thrown together and forced to act as a team for them to come to an understanding, but they were better for it. By the end, they helped each other become less judgy and self-righteous. That rooftop conversation between Seon-woong and Myung-joo showed that they’ve even developed a tentative friendship. Seon-woong was most honest with Myung-joo about how things went in Seoul, knowing she could understand. Still, I’m glad their bickering dynamic didn’t change. Just because they’re friends, it doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy annoying each other.
This was by no means a flashy or dramatic show—its charm was in its simplicity. Not only did we get an amusing, slice-of-life look at the lives of prosecutors, but we tackled lots of interesting issues along the way. I was impressed by how they handled sensitive issues like abuse and misogyny (two of the best episodes, in my opinion). The thematic approach to the episodes allowed the cases to be woven into the narrative and drive the character development naturally. It would’ve been easy to have the cases be one and done, dropping them after they’d served their purpose, but the cases weren’t forgotten. We got callbacks to various cases throughout the show whether that was through follow-up on the trial or having it relate to a later case. Even the ghost story was brought back in the end, which I wasn’t expecting.
We don’t get a lot of shows that break from the main leads and second leads format, so it’s refreshing to see a drama that’s truly ensemble. As the narrator, Seon-woong was our point of contact, but other than that, it felt like most everyone had equal screen time. This was a such character-driven show, and I loved how we got to know everyone on their own and as part of the team. I enjoyed watching everyone grow and learn from each other. I even grew attached to the Jinyeong office itself, which felt like its own character.
Despite dealing with a lot of heavy issues, I’m so glad the show never lost its sense of humor. I immensely enjoyed the meta references and office ridiculousness. And I have to give a shout out to the many faces of Lee Seon-kyun. He somehow manages to be super expressive without it coming off as overexaggerated. His reactions never failed to amuse me.
Throughout its run, the main takeaway seemed to be the importance of seeking to understand those around you and trying to see things from their perspective. And that’s exactly what the show did with its cases. Each issue was presented from multiple sides with an emphasis on empathy and understanding. Overall, it was a warm, hopeful yet grounded show. As our prosecutors discovered, the world may not always be fair, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying to improve it bit by bit. Even a small impact is an impact, and if we work together, we may be able to achieve more than we think.
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