Forest of Secrets 2: Episode 5
Our reluctant prosecutor duo spends some quality time together as they continue investigating the “suicide” case. But they’re not the only ones looking into it, and their cop friend is making just as much headway. Because matters weren’t complicated enough as it is, we find out about another case that intersects with higher ups on both sides of our Police-Prosecution Council and may have serious implications for both organizations.
In a flashback, Yeo-jin demands to know how homicide wasn’t brought up when Ki-hyun died. The scared witness insists no one questioned the ruling of suicide because his depression was public knowledge.
They didn’t find out about the bribery case until months later, so there was no way to make that connection. Plus, the circumstances of his transfer (him reporting his superior) were well known and stressful for Ki-hyun.
Chief Choi tells Yeo-jin to focus on the where, not the why. Ki-hyun getting transferred to Segok wasn’t a coincidence. Oooh, sketchy officer Soo-hang is the nephew of the chief that Ki-hyun reported.
Ki-hyun’s death was never officially reported, so not even the Intelligence Bureau was aware of it. The chief Ki-hyun reported was demoted and transferred to another precinct. If he intentionally got Ki-hyun transferred to his nephew’s precinct as retribution, then that complicates things.
Chief Choi gives Yeo-jin permission to visit one of the other team members still in prison while she works on tracking down Soo-hang. Yeo-jin looks uncomfortable as Chief Choi observes that, if it’s indeed a suicide, they can spin it to their advantage by saying the prosecution wasted time and resources in trying to accuse them of murder just to win the investigatory power fight.
Later, Yeo-jin recalls the witness telling her that the driver the former chief abused was actually from a powerful family. That’s the reason the ex-chief got in trouble. Yeo-jin says she gets why Ki-hyun was depressed, but the witness asserts that Ki-hyun’s depression stemmed more from the discovery of injustice within the police than what happened to him specifically.
Meanwhile, Shi-mok visits Chief Prosecutor Kang for help with the withheld warrant, but Chief Prosecutor Kang chides him for wanting him to get involved. It’s not right for him to use his influence to tell his former office what to do, even though that prosecutor is pettily withholding the warrant.
Shi-mok observes he’s right and has the upsetting revelation that he too uses his connections. Chief Prosecutor Kang thinks he’s being too hard on himself; he was doing it to help others. But Shi-mok remarks that’s probably what everyone thinks, like when someone hires a judge-turned-lawyer to win their case. It doesn’t seem wrong at the time.
Shi-mok seems genuinely flustered and admits he’d never considered there’d be a time when he’d try to pull strings. Chief Prosecutor Kang thinks the real problem comes in the give and take.
If he did as Shi-mok asked but then later pressured Shi-mok to help him in turn, what would he do? Shi-mok responds he wouldn’t give in, and Chief Prosecutor Kang laughs it’s fine then. From the outside, this kind of thing looks horrible, “but in reality, it’s natural.”
Shi-mok remembers his comments during the council meeting on preventing abuse of power with warrants juxtaposed with the inappropriate request he just made. As they head out, Chief Prosecutor Kang asks if Shi-mok wants him to include anything in his future rebuttal articles against Sungmoon Daily. Wouldn’t he like to see Sungmoon Daily, Hanjo, and Sung-jae go down?
Shi-mok drily remarks Yeon-jae would like to see that. Pfft. Chief Prosecutor Kang glares and tells him to post a comment on the article that’ll be out the next day. After Shi-mok leaves, Chief Prosecutor ends up calling the current chief prosecutor of his old office.
Elsewhere, Yeon-jae meets with a doctor who informs her the medication Dong-jae discovered isn’t on the market yet and was likely smuggled from the States. It’s used to treat PTSD which the doctor postulates Yoon-beom could have due to his prison stay.
Yeon-jae is angry that her brother is using their father while he’s suffering. She gets worked up as she worries that Sung-jae is preventing their father from going to a hospital. Her assistant suggests they prioritize finding out how serious his condition is and whether it’s affecting his mental capabilities. That’ll determine how they proceed with the shareholders.
Yeon-jae instructs him to post about Sung-jae’s proposed change to the bylaws on Hanjo’s intranet to drum up support by framing it as an attack from the outside. Keep it unemotional and create a place for employees to vote on the proposal.
The notification goes out and states that Hanjo Motors, one of the company’s subsidiaries, is trying to subsume the company. The shareholder meeting will be during work hours, so it encourages shareholding employees to vote online about whether Yeon-jae should remain in her position.
To win, Yeon-jae needs 67% of the shareholder votes. The outcome likely depends on the CEO of Sungmoon Daily. Yeon-jae orders her assistant to announce that she’s recruiting former employees of government tax agencies.
In the car, Shi-mok listens to a radio interview with Tae-ha about the council meeting. He states they’re “off to a good start,” although there are conflicts. Of course, the prosecution just tried to listen to the police’s concerns.
Dong-jae is also listening and looks surprised to hear Tae-ha name Shi-mok as a member of the council. Shi-mok’s work on previous special investigations is well-known (including one on the prime minister, which I believe was mentioned at the end of season one), and Tae-ha says his objectivity and impartiality are second to none.
Shi-mok, meanwhile, arrives at his new place that I’m guessing is the investigators dorm. He’s welcomed by a heap of beer bottles at the door and a flickering light in his small room.
The following morning, Yeo-jin visits the prison and obtains a record of the ex-cop’s visitors. She’s told no one from the prosecution has paid a special visit. Yeo-jin catches sight of something on the CCTV monitor that makes her eyes widen.
At the front desk, Shi-mok and Dong-jae are barred from visiting since the inmate is allowed only one visitor per day. Dong-jae flashes his badge and asks for an exception, so the officer goes to talk to a superior. Dong-jae sighs that they should’ve booked early. Shi-mok: “We were booked for a visit yesterday.”
Yeo-jin runs up to a group of inmates in the hallway and flashes her badge to the corrections officer while staring at an inmate. It’s Yoon Se-won (aka Section Chief Yoon)! He hears her voice and turns around. He smiles and nods in acknowledgment as he’s led away, but Yeo-jin stops him to talk.
Under the watchful eye of the correction officer, she gives Se-won this covert little wave and professionally asks if he knows the ex-cop inmate Lee Dae-sung. Does he bully anyone? Se-won isn’t sure.
Yeo-jin asks the officer if she can speak with Se-won privately. Se-won says it’s been a while since he’s seen anyone from outside, and they awkwardly exchange pleasantries. He congratulates her on her promotion after seeing her badge, but her face falls given how she got the promotion, and she apologizes.
Se-won asks if she sent him the package of essentials earlier this year, but it wasn’t her. She suggests it could be from his ex-wife, but he’s positive it’s not. Yeo-jin encourages him to stay strong before heading to her appointment.
As Dae-sung waits for Yeo-jin, we flash back to that scene where one teammate poured boiling water on Ki-hyun. It was Dae-sung who instigated it, nodding the guy over to where Ki-hyun was getting a drink.
When Yeo-jin meets him, he unabashedly claims they never tried to hide the bullying and did it openly. Although, he talks like it was some hazing ritual done for his own good to make him “stronger.”
She directly asks if they tried to bring Ki-hyun in on the bribes and got angry when he refused. Dae-sung wants to know why she’s so curious about someone who died and claims he’s not the only one who didn’t participate in the bribery – there’s Joong-gi. Yeo-jin wonders if he’s protecting his old team leader or else implying he’s an idiot for failing to notice a years’ long scheme under his nose.
Yeo-jin pokes at him by saying that his sentence was three times longer than Soo-hang’s, even though they had identical charges. Isn’t he upset that Soo-hang got off lighter because his uncle was the chief of the station that led the investigation? Dae-sung isn’t riled and laughs off her suggestion that Joong-gi threatened him into protecting him.
Did he order the bullying? What else did he order? Dae-sung annoyingly says he pities Yeo-jin since she must’ve seen horrible things if she thinks his colleagues are that terrible. Yeo-jin finally blows up after he spews some nonsense about cops and the “temptations” on the job, redirecting blame.
He goads her by saying he’ll be released in two months, but she promises to put him away for longer if she discovers any other crimes he’s committed.
Outside, Shi-mok and Dong-jae eat convenience store food while they wait. Dong-jae is reminded of the old days. Shi-mok: “But we’ve never done this.” Ha.
Dong-jae asks what’ll happen once the council is finished. Shi-mok assumes he’ll go back to his original post. Dong-jae heard the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office is hiring researchers and scoots in close (to Shi-mok’s annoyance) as he tries to ferret info out of Shi-mok. Of course, it doesn’t really work.
Dong-jae knows Shi-mok didn’t get his position by kissing up to people, so how’d he end up there? Shi-mok tells him to ask Tae-ha. That leads Dong-jae to ask about Tae-ha and what he likes. All Shi-mok can offer is that he seems to like beef intestines. Pfft.
Dong-jae sighs at the useless info. Shi-mok shares a bit more about the positions the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office is hiring for but notes Dong-jae can’t keep working in Seoul. When he asks why Dong-jae wants to work at the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office, Dong-jae looks at him like he just asked the stupidest question ever.
Shi-mok states that the prosecution won’t let them work in Seoul for too long – prosecutors relocate frequently – so Dong-jae will likely be sent to a rural area too. Dong-jae laments that he can’t take his wife and kids with him every time he’s relocated, and he rarely gets to see them as it is.
Shi-mok interrupts his rant to logically point out that they’re moved to prevent collusion in the area, but Dong-jae doesn’t think relocation helps. He rants (while Shi-mok looks around and checks his watch, ha) that it just makes prosecutors want to climb the ladder that much more to gain stability.
Right as Dong-jae worries about who might be visiting Dae-sung, he gets a text that Dae-sung refused their visit. He thinks Joong-gi got to him first, but then Yeo-jin comes out. They’re all surprised to see each other.
Yeo-jin tries to walk away after greeting them, but Dong-jae confronts her about the visitation and accuses her of getting Dae-sung to refuse them. She asserts she knew Dong-jae was involved, but she didn’t realize the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office was too.
Dong-jae is all, oh, you mean this guy? He leans on Shi-mok’s shoulder and says he’s just his assistant. Shi-mok drops his shoulder, making Dong-jae’s arm slide off. Ha.
Yeo-jin knows they must not have solid evidence yet since they haven’t just summoned Dae-sung. Dong-jae suggests they share their info – they both want the truth, no matter what their other goals. He starts by sharing that one of the business owners admitted that Joong-gi also took bribes.
Yeo-jin shares that Dae-sung didn’t give her anything new. She gets a phone call and suddenly hops in her car and speeds off. Dong-jae freaks out and orders, “Catch her!” Shi-mok questioningly points at himself. Pfft.
The call came from Chief Choi who sends Yeo-jin to pick up a file and deliver it unopened. Director Shin is with Chief Choi and thinks “it” should be saved for emergencies. Then, he disparages someone for suing him. Hmm.
Dong-jae is surprised to hear Yeo-jin is (sort of) with the Intelligence Bureau now and thinks Shi-mok will be in trouble for getting caught. Shi-mok is unconcerned, stating Tae-ha can’t have expected it to stay secret forever. Yeo-jin calls Shi-mok, clarifying that she didn’t run away, which he passes along to Dong-jae.
As he’s leaving, Shi-mok gets a call and meets Tae-ha at the National Assembly building. After being cleared of nepotism charges, Assemblyman Nam is suing Director Shin – the one who investigated and sent the case to the prosecution – for slander.
He claims the police are targeting him since he’s a former prosecutor and is the chair of the Legislation and Judiciary Committee which has the power to reject a bill giving police more investigative authority.
Tae-ha called Shi-mok in as backup; they’re going to try to talk him out of suing. They’re surprised to see Yeo-jin waiting outside his office with an envelope. Assemblyman Nam only lets her in. Tae-ha recalls Shi-mok and Yeo-jin know each other, so he tasks him with finding out what’s in the envelope.
Meanwhile, Chief Prosecutor Kang is briefed on the situation. Bank employees were indicted for accepting bribes in exchange for hiring unqualified people. Since Assemblyman Nam’s son was one of the new hires, the assemblyman was accused of spearheading the scheme.
Nambu Police Station was accused of leaving out of the original investigation that Assemblyman Nam’s son was involved, so the Investigation Bureau took over. The police found him guilty, but the prosecutor in charge thought their investigation lacking.
Chief Prosecutor Kang remarks on the fact that Assemblyman Nam was on the Budget and Account Committee at the time, which makes it more suspicious. Apparently, even the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office got involved and ordered the prosecutor in charge to keep quiet. He was then transferred to Chief Prosecutor Kang’s office, and another prosecutor took over and cleared Assemblyman Nam.
That transferred prosecutor has again been instructed to keep quiet about the situation. Chief Prosecutor Kang wonders what this will teach the junior prosecutors. He says Tae-ha must’ve been involved, arguing it would’ve helped Assemblyman Nam get elected, and that makes him more useful to the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office.
Elsewhere, Yeon-jae gets made up and arrives ready for some fancy event. The shareholders’ meeting, perhaps?
At the National Assembly, Tae-ha comments that all intel the police gather throughout the country goes through Chief Choi, and he bets she’s the one who sent Yeo-jin here with leverage. But they can’t let the police get to the Legislation and Judiciary Committee. They need them to stop the bill in case they have to give in at the council.
There are tons of former prosecutors and barely any police in the Assembly, so they would win the vote. Shi-mok confronts him. “How much did you cover up?” Whoa. Tae-ha should be happy Director Shin is being sued since it’d put the brakes on the council and swing the fight in their favor.
Shi-mok realizes a lawsuit could result in another investigation and bluntly accuses Tae-ha of covering up Assemblyman Nam’s crime. That’s why he came running to stop this lawsuit that could expose him. Tae-ha’s eyes widen in fear, but he scoffs and denies the accusation.
They see Yeo-jin, now empty-handed, exit with Chief Choi. Shi-mok and Tae-ha meet them in the hall and have a little faceoff.
I guess Tae-ha is dirty. I kind of figured, but this is pretty bad. Maybe there’s more to the story, but he was clearly involved in the coverup to some degree. On a side note, I wonder if that prosecutor who said on air that her superiors made her remove evidence because of an assemblyman was talking about this nepotism case. Anyway, now that Shi-mok knows, I can’t imagine he’ll play along and be the good little subordinate, but I’m not sure what his options are right now. Tae-ha is a leader in the highest prosecution office, so it’d be difficult to report him or anything, even if Shi-mok had concrete evidence. More to the point, what will Tae-ha do now that Shi-mok has confronted him? Will he try to keep him near or try to boot him? Maybe he’ll just ignore it since Shi-mok doesn’t have hard evidence to back up his claims yet.
Then we have Director Shin and Chief Choi possibly blackmailing Assemblyman Nam. And Chief Choi has involved Yeo-jin too, although she’s trying to keep her in the dark. Yeo-jin said she didn’t look at the contents of that envelope, but she seemed unsettled by the situation. I wonder why she’s doing as told without questioning anything; does she trust Chief Choi that much or is there something else at play? Yeo-jin didn’t seem to like how Chief Choi wants to use Ki-hyun’s case either, so I don’t think she blindly trusts Chief Choi – she knows she’s willing to cross ethical lines.
I need Yeo-jin and Shi-mok to team up now and sort out this mess their superiors have made both on the investigative power issue and otherwise. They’re both effective on their own, but we know they get it done when they work together. Yeo-jin has already caught up to his and Dong-jae’s investigation, and since she’s a cop, she has easier access to the people and resources for Ki-hyun’s case. And thanks to Dong-jae, we now know for sure that Joong-gi did also take bribes. He must have a powerful backer or dirt on someone. How else did he manage to evade any charges and keep his team from talking? Because that team is not what I’d call trustworthy. Everyone seems terrible and out for themselves. Dae-sung was so slimy during his interview with Yeo-jin. But I was so surprised and happy to see Yoon Se-won at the prison! Maybe he’ll be able to be their inside man and get some info about Dae-sung now that he knows Yeo-jin needs it.
The amusing Dong-jae and Shi-mok partnership is almost making up for the lack of Yeo-jin and Shi-mok screen time. Almost. But I’m still hoping they’ll team up as we go. How great would it be for the three of them to investigate together, her and Shi-mok being all sensible while Dong-jae acts ridiculous? Like parents with an errant child. And is it just me or is it super weird to think of Dong-jae as a husband and father? I have such a hard time reconciling the Dong-jae we know with those roles. It does shed a different light on his shameless efforts to reach the top, though, if he’s doing it to gain stability for his family.
On a different note, I loved Shi-mok’s ethical dilemma this hour. He’s usually so sure of himself, but he threw himself for a loop by asking Chief Prosecutor Kang to pull some strings and get the warrant. It’s rare to see him flustered, but it was an interesting angle on the special treatment and exerting influence issue. People don’t typically set out to be corrupt – it’s the little decisions that avalanche, as Chief Prosecutor Kang illustrated. I like their relationship, by the way. He meets Shi-mok on his level and matches his bluntness without getting angry. I think he’s the only person aside from Yeo-jin we’ve seen Shi-mok respect enough to really listen to and take advice from. After his little talk with Shi-mok, I was kind of surprised he made that call to the chief prosecutor after all. We didn’t hear the call, though, so maybe it wasn’t about that. Either way, I’m glad Chief Prosecutor Kang still seems decent, and I hope he doesn’t get too caught up in the politics and Hanjo stuff. We need at least one higher up who isn’t dirty and actually cares about ethics.
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