Nobody Knows: Episode 13
We get a new perspective on the event that changed our protagonist’s life forever and it poses more questions about those responsible for the stigmata serial murders and their motives. If that wasn’t enough, her young friend’s memory has returned, placing him in more danger than ever.
1998 – The First Victim
Standing over a bound girl, Seo Sang-won pulls the gag from her mouth and she begs for her life. He assures her he’s here to save her as her sister asked – she’ll be reborn thanks to him. He calls for Sang-ho and a teenage boy steps out from behind a tree. Seo Sang-won takes his hand, sighing he’d wished the sacred scar would’ve appeared there. Sang-ho stares at his hand and vows to do as Seo Sang-won says.
Sang-ho finds the girl’s bag and the card inside from her little sister, thanking her for playing together. He replaces the card and disappears into the woods. The next day, teenage Young-jin’s phone rings but all she hears is static. She answers it again outside and Soo-jung tsks at having to call so many times. Young-jin grumbles the signal is bad inside and Soo-jung is the only one who calls.
The line drops so Young-jin calls back and Soo-jung giggles this is the only way Young-jin will call her. She offers to have lunch together but Young-jin is visiting Grandpa. Before hanging up, Soo-jung asks to visit the orphanage another day so she can see a movie. Young-jin rejects her invitation to join and Soo-jung wonders how she’d live without her. Young-jin teases it would be quieter.
When she reaches the lone cabin in the woods, nobody is home so takes a jug to fill in the river. Grandpa finds her there and excitedly waves her over. He shows her the Ghost Flower (soojungcho) and tells her it feeds off decay. Young-jin nods that it’s a saprophyte rather than a parasite, like mistletoe. Grandpa argues books won’t tell her some people are like mistletoe while others are like the ghost flower and says people should live helping each other.
Later, Young-jin shows the plant to Soo-jung. Soo-jung is thrilled it shares her name but eyes it suspiciously. She wonders if a body is buried beneath… and the girls burst into giggles. Night falls and Seo Sang-won administers his “blessing” on another victim while Sang-ho watches. On their way to school, Soo-jung catches up with Young-jin to gossip the 7th victim has been found. She worries for Young-jin and orders her not to go to the woods alone and answer her calls.
Meanwhile, Sang-ho is driving Ki-ho and Hee-jung when she coyly mentions Pastor Kwon put her in charge of the land he’d acquired. She’s disappointed by Ki-ho’s simple acknowledgement and he apologizes, having thought a congratulations awkward when they already knew she would be. Arriving at the orphanage, Hee-jung passes a donation from New Life Church to the president as well as an invitation for their revival service.
She waves for Ki-ho to hand her a bag, but frowns at the black-bound Gospel books inside. Slapping on a smile, she apologizes for bringing the wrong editions and then glares at Ki-ho. Outside, she shoves him against the wall and spits at him for making a mistake, ordering him to fix it. Sang-ho waits in the car, watching the children and looks up when Ki-ho opens the door. Holding out the book, Ki-ho growls that Sang-ho watched him grab these books.
Sang-ho denies it, innocently asking what’s wrong. Tossing the bag inside, Ki-ho orders him to get the correct books. Driving out, Sang-ho is forced to stop when he sees Young-jin squatting on the side of the road. She’s cradling something in her hands and doesn’t notice until Soo-jung calls out to her. Young-jin shows her the dead bird in her hands as Sang-ho drives off. When he returns, Soo-jung is hanging laundry and another volunteer hands him a coffee.
While he accepts with a smile, Sang-ho pours it out behind the building. Young-jin walks up after him and digs a hole to bury the bird. He quickly walks past her but looks back, thinking she’s worthy of revival with a grin. He goes back around front and offers to help Yoo-jung hang laundry. They exchange names but when asked for Young-jin’s, Soo-jung catches herself and says Young-jin won’t respond to a stranger. Sang-ho smiles that he’d already heard Soo-jung call her out front, promising to pretend he doesn’t know.
He sneaks into Young-jin’s house and checks her room. Pulling a book from the shelf, he finds a picture of the two girls tucked inside. He sighs when he realizes he gave Soo-jung his real name and folds the picture in half. Afterwards, he calls someone on the payphone, assuring them he’ll do “it” tomorrow. The next day, Soo-jung leaves the house and calls Young-jin but Young-jin ignores her phone.
By nightfall, Soo-jung calls again and when Young-jin doesn’t answer, she decides to just visit. She starts walking to Young-jin’s but stiffens when she hears footsteps behind her. She turns at her name and relaxes when Sang-ho steps out of the shadows. Soo-jung says she’s going to see Young-jin, asking why he’s in the neighborhood. “I’m here for you,” Sang-ho answers and grabs her. He drags her out to the woods and pulls out her phone. Seeing Young-jin’s name pop up, he calls her again, but as we know, Young-jin doesn’t answer.
Sang-ho assures Soo-jung her pain will end soon, while Young-jin’s is just beginning. “I’m going to tell her you died for her,” Sang-ho says, “I won’t tell her why. That drives people crazy.” Soo-jung cries as Sang-ho raises the awl and Young-jin, blissfully unaware, sleeps. Cellphone in hand, Sang-ho leaves the forest grinning. Young-jin is informed the following morning and after giving her statement to Hwang, she leaves.
Her phone rings in the hallway and now we see Sang-ho smiling at the seaside as he tells Young-jin he’d targeted her but killed Soo-jung in her place. Young-jin vows to find him and Sang-ho says he can’t wait. Hanging up the phone, he pulls the picture out of his pocket, smirking at Young-jin’s image. Years pass and we see Millennium Hotel built leading up to the night Eun-ho visited Sang-ho’s office. While Sang-ho fetched a book, Eun-ho caught a glimpse of Soo-jung’s phone and the creased photo in the desk.
In the present, Eun-ho tells Young-jin he feared Sang-ho would kill him for seeing it and when Sang-ho slipped up about Eun-ho replacing Young-jin’s book already, he knew he’d stolen his bag. Young-jin knows this also confirms Sang-ho is responsible for terrifying Young-sik and killing Kevin Jung. Eun-ho continues that he’d said he was tired, so Sang-ho let him go. He’d opted for the stairs rather than the elevator and tried to use his phone, but it was dead.
Eun-ho met Du-seok on the way down and had to run away – upstairs instead of down. The other rooftop door was locked so to survive, his only option was to jump. He hooked up the rappelling line and jumped just before Hee-dong and Du-seok reached him. Barely containing her emotions, Young-jin asks why he unhooked halfway down. Eun-ho confirms her theory that Hee-dong started pulling him up.
Afraid no one would know what happened to him, Eun-ho slipped out of the harness and plummeted to the ground below. Trembling with rage, Young-jin vows to kill Sang-ho but Eun-ho grabs her arm, stopping her from storming off. He pleads with her to say, crying that he’s scared she’ll get hurt and scared for himself. Eun-ho quivers that Sang-ho visited him in the hospital, whispering he’d come for Eun-ho if he woke up. Regaining composure, Young-jin looks down at the terrified boy clinging to her for dear life.
Sang-ho wonders aloud if he should visit Eun-ho – not to verify his memory, but because he misses him. Sun-ah tells him not to be interested in anyone but herself, Hee-dong, and Du-seok. The other two say nothing, but Sun-ah continues, asking if Sang-ho will be able to kill Eun-ho should the time come. Sang-ho chuckles that he could even kill them if need be before his expression darkens and he warns her never to order him around again.
At the hospital, Young-jin worries what Sang-ho might do if he discovers Eun-ho regained his memories. Eun-ho says the book disappeared from his locker and Young-jin says she’s found it but thinks they should keep the book and Eun-ho’s regained memory between them. They’re interrupted by the arrival of Sun-woo and Young-jin shoots Eun-ho a warning look.
Sun-woo senses something is strange and though Young-jin tries to usher him out, Eun-ho asks: “Is it safer for me if I don’t know anything? Or does it hurt less? If I had told you everything earlier, this wouldn’t have happened.” To a confused Sun-woo, Eun-ho reveals his memory is back. Swallowing her frustration, Young-jin asks about the book and Sun-woo admits he couldn’t decipher it. She asks for it, confirming her intention to bring it to Ki-ho.
When Young-jin asks Sun-woo to stay with Eun-ho while she attends her disciplinary hearing, Sun-woo worries whether they’re qualified to protect him. Eun-ho asks if he can trust Sun-woo and Sun-woo says he wants to protect him, adding he knows Eun-ho’s identity. He doesn’t wish to hide it and asks what Eun-ho wants to do. Eun-ho cries that he doesn’t know so Sun-woo asks if Ji-won is Eun-ho’s little sister.
Eun-ho says yes, and we see that after being awarded for an essay contest, he’d swiped a toothbrush from Hee-seob’s office and sent it to a DNA lab. The test results confirmed Hee-seob as his father and that’s why Eun-ho went to their house the day he met Ji-won. Later, he’d gone to see her at school and she cheerfully wondered when he’d visit again. Eun-ho asked how she’d feel about an older brother, looking crestfallen when Ji-won chirped she wanted a younger sibling.
“I wish I had a little sister, too,” Eun-ho smiled sadly. Ji-won ran off and he tossed the paternity report in the trash. After confirming Mom knows and learning Hee-seob has also guessed, Eun-ho apologizes. Sun-woo assures him he’s not at fault, but crying, Eun-ho wishes Ji-won never finds out. Taking Eun-ho’s hand, Sun-woo says they’re connected through Ji-won and promises to protect Eun-ho, asking the boy to trust him.
Recalling the message Eun-ho left in her book – “I can’t tell you anything, but please help me?” – Young-jin asks if he was referring to this. Eun-ho nods and Young-jin sighs that one more person knows their secret, urging Sun-woo to act like nothing’s changed. “I’m going to catch that madman,” Young-jin says, “And let’s go back home together.” Leaving them, Young-jin says she made good on her promise to find Sang-ho and now she’ll catch him. Answering the phone, Young-jin assures Hwang she’s on her way – she has something to tell him.
Min-sung’s mom sashays into Hee-seob’s office and laughs when Hee-seob encourages her to turn herself in for the cheating scandal. She wonders why now when he’d said nothing after Min-sung confessed, offering to increase her investment in the school to keep it hush-hush. Hee-seob is firm, however, saying Min-sung is no different from the other students. “How is he not different,” Min-sung’s mother sneers, “when the amount of money is different?”
She questions why Eun-ho – with a working single mother and no father – could dare to threaten Min-sung after he tried to be nice. Hee-seob points out Eun-ho was injured and Dae-hoon killed. While as a child Min-sung’s faults can be remedied with reflection and an apology, his mother needs repentance, an apology, and reasonable punishment. Min-sung’s mother spits he only gained his position through his wife and declares she’s taking her money and son elsewhere.
Storming into the classroom, Min-sung’s mother orders him to pack his bag. He doesn’t move as she shovels everything into his bag and Dong-myeong sits up, sleepily asking what saprophyte means. Min-sung explains it means living on dead bodies or excrement of organisms because it lacks chlorophyll. His mother yanks him up by the arm, but Dong-myeong calls out again, asking what parasitism means. Smiling, Min-sung says it’s when an organism absorbs nutrients from another organism.
Dong-myeong nods, “It makes me want to study when you explain it. So, you can help others with what you study.” Min-sung’s proud grin falls when his mother scoffs that he shouldn’t associate with kids like Dong-myeong. Ripping his arm free, Min-sung says if he transfers, he’ll live like Dong-myeong. “But if you let me stay here, I’ll at least study hard as usual.” Defeated, she silently hands him his bag and Dong-myeong goes back to sleep.
Returning to his desk, Min-sung nudges him and smiles. Dong-myeong turns away to hide a big grin on his face. Aww. Back in his office, Hee-seob recalls Nosy Ajusshi saying Sang-ho was also looking for Ki-ho. He tries calling, but Nosy Ajusshi doesn’t answer so he calls Sang-ho and asks to meet.
This time, Young-jin looks around the restaurant carefully before leaning in to tell Hwang Eun-ho regained his memory, confirming Sang-ho as the culprit. She says they’ll need to investigate Kevin Jung, Lee Young-sik, and Dae-hoon with Sang-ho as the suspect… as well as the stigmata murders. Young-jin repeats what Eun-ho saw in Sang-ho’s office and Hwang tuts that she has her work cut out for her.
Young-jin admits that she’d been planning on telling the truth about the killer’s phone call because she couldn’t let Hwang’s career be tainted. He gently replies that her guilt could never compare to her sense of duty over the past 20 years. Young-jin argues her guilt is considerable, but apologizes: “I’m really sorry, but I want to catch Soo-jung’s murderer, with my own hands, at any cost. Hwang chuckles that’s the answer he wanted to hear.
The following day, Young-jin reports to her disciplinary hearing. Jae-hong is called to testify and he answers the questions but is cut off from explaining further. Hwang is called next and he pats Young-jin’s hand under the table. Jae-hong returns to the office and the other detectives are hopeful Young-jin will be okay. Meanwhile, Mom unwittingly styles Sun-ah’s hair and rejects an appointment for the next day, saying she’ll be closing the shop for a bit.
Sun-ah leaves and calls Du-seok, ordering him to check on Eun-ho since Mom is acting strange. She points out the shop stayed open after Eun-ho’s accident, thinking Eun-ho has regained his memory and concerned what Sang-ho will do if he finds out. Sun-woo leaves as soon as Mom arrives. The pair head to physical therapy, unaware Du-seok is watching.
Young-jin answers a call from Sun-woo, reporting he left Eun-ho. He tells her to call when she knows the results of her hearing and he’ll bring the book. At the same time, Hee-seob tells Sang-ho the school will take over care of Eun-ho and return the money he already spent on surgery and hospital fees. Sang-ho is confused, but more concerned with the money Hee-jung borrowed.
Hee-seob plans to clear it up by finding Ki-ho and tuts that he can’t explain further if Sang-ho doesn’t already know – for privacy reasons. He questions instead why Sang-ho is looking for him and Sang-ho’s smile drops. The man in question is still holed up where Young-jin hid him in Grandpa’s cabin. Young-jin and Hwang are given the chance to make final statements and Hwang insists on speaking first.
Repeating the lie he’d told 20 years prior about having been the one to answer the killer’s call following Soo-jung’s death, Hwang says he was consumed by ambition so when Young-jin became an officer, he’d shared the case records and forced her to join the team, advising her to keep quiet about her connection. “I thought her rage and sorrow would fill what was lacking in our investigation,” Hwang says, “And her desire to catch the culprit would keep the investigation going.”
He argues that he should be responsible as his blind ambition caused him to lie and use Young-jin. The panel deems Young-jin will receive a pay-cut for a month and Hwang has to force Young-jin to sit down when they declare he’ll be dismissed. Hwang pats her arm reassuringly as Young-jin holds back tears. Afterwards, she calls Sun-woo and says she’ll meet him after seeing her colleagues.
Sun-woo runs to his office and slips the book into an envelope and then into his bag. Young-jin arrives at the office immediately following Han’s announcement she’s been suspended. Han suggests she take a break while Byung-hee and Officer Hong urge her to appeal. Ja-young chimes in she joined the team for Young-jin and Jae-hong declares he’ll keep investigating the case, even without Young-jin or if the team is disbanded and the case closed.
A smile tugging at her lips, Young-jin thanks them… and corrects that she’s not suspended. The team rejoices but Young-jin grinds the merriment to a halt by announcing she found what Ki-ho and the book everyone is searching for. Du-seok sneaks up behind Eun-ho while he waits for Mom and whispers his name. Eun-ho freezes and Du-seok disappears before Mom returns.
He reports to Sun-ah that Eun-ho didn’t turn around even after calling him twice, suggesting he remembers who Du-seok is. She thinks it’s too dangerous to leave Eun-ho be: “We better find our way out… before Sang-ho finds out.” Sang-ho stumbles out of Hee-seob’s office, deep in thought, pausing to stare into Eun-ho’s classroom. Young-jin confesses she’d considered working alone, but didn’t want to make the same mistake: “I’ve found the prime suspect of the 8th stigmata murder case’s accomplice or copycat – Millennium Hotel owner, Baek Sang-ho.”
Yes!!! I am so glad Young-jin decided to clue in her team, and not a moment too soon as Sun-ah and Du-seok have discovered Eun-ho’s memory is back. I understand Young-jin’s desire to keep things a secret – the fewer people that know, the easier it will be to avoid slip-ups – but Sun-woo and the detectives are invaluable allies who have been busting their butts to solve this case and they can’t help effectively when they’re kept in the dark. Not to mention, it was only a matter of time before Sang-ho and his cronies discovered Eun-ho has remembered that night and if anything happened to him or Young-jin, their friends only had fragments to work with.
I absolutely love how Young-jin has been growing and healing throughout the show. Her trajectory is much more subtle than Sun-woo, but damn if it isn’t powerful to see her not only accepting, but seeking help. The entire Disciplinary Meeting arc was so touching with her entire team caring for her and Hwang just breaks my heart. The conversation they’d had the night before when Young-jin confessed she’d had every intention of coming clean until Eun-ho’s recovered memories – and the revelation that Sang-ho not only nearly took her most important person from her… but he’d already done it once before – made her more determined than ever to catch Sang-ho with her own hands. Hwang was so proud of her, the police officer and person she’s become and was happy to sacrifice himself once more to protect someone that I’m sure he sees as a daughter. If you had dry eyes when Hwang took the fall and then had to physically restrain Young-jin from confessing she’s the liar, I’m not sure we’re watching the same show.
Plot-wise, not much progressed. Mostly we spent this hour catching everyone up to speed and clearing up past messes in order to prepare for the final showdown. I’m glad we went back and saw Soo-jung’s death from Sang-ho’s perspective. Every time we go into the past, the story becomes more twisted and heartbreaking. From what I can tell, Sang-ho’s taunt that Soo-jung died for Young-jin was less about “qualifications” and more about Sang-ho’s slip of the tongue in revealing his name. If that’s the only reason Soo-jung died, it makes her death that much more tragic. Young-jin had been his initial target, but that mistake is what sealed Soo-jung’s fate. I’m curious, though, why if Seo Sang-won wanted Sang-ho to take over his mantle, he didn’t consider Soo-jung’s death worthy… and why the murders stopped. Was it because Pastor Kwon found out?
Amidst all the horrors, the bonds between the characters continue to shine. Young-jing and Eun-ho continue to obliterate heartstrings with a bond that defies social expectation but is so filled with love. Sun-woo asking Eun-ho about the secret he’s been holding for so long was such a nice moment and despite sharing no blood between them, I desperately want them to be a family. While I stand by my belief Hee-seob is a weasel, it was nice to see him tell Min-sung’s mom off and take over care of Eun-ho from Sang-ho. It’s disappointing he only acted after discovering Eun-ho is his son, but at least the end result is the same. Best of all, though, was Min-sung and Dong-myeong. Min-sung has always been under his mother’s thumb and it was so satisfying seeing him stand up to her with Dong-myeong’s gentle encouragement. Their friendship is absolutely precious and Sang-ho peeking into their classroom has me deeply concerned for the future. He certainly has a soft spot for kids, but he’s a loose cannon and it would be dangerous to think him incapable of anything.