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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.

 
EPISODE 5

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.

 
COMMENTS

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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Shi-mok's conversation with Chief Kang is too sobering. To realize that most act of corruption started as something small, unremarkable, and probably even with good intention is hard to swallow. How easily everyone did that as part of their social interaction with one another. How easily it then snowballed into something uncontrollable and horrible. I felt like patting Shi-mok's shoulder for his disappointment in himself for falling into the exact same trap. Thank God Chief Kang is there to show him that what he did was totally different.

That cameo!! How many years has it been? And looking at Yoon still hurts so much. Judging from Yeo-jin's expression who stood frozen there like someone who didn't know what has hit her, it still hurts just as much for her. Maybe even more so. (Or am I the only one who imagined that particular stretch of strange tension between the 2 when they first looked at each other??)

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Oh no, I got it too.

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They did seem pretty tense but I attributed it to the fact that they didn't exactly part on good terms at the end of Season 1. (I cried buckets during their last scene together.) But looking on the not so dark side: just seeing Yeo-jin made Mr Yoon smile a little, even though the guy was standing in a queue of prisoners in a very grim corridor. It reminded me of Jang Gun getting his first phone call from her in ep1 and trying not to smile too widely. That's Yeo-jin for you.

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Well, that, too. Even Shi-mok positively light up back in eps 2 when he met Yeo-jin for that failed dinner.
I'm probably just reading too much into it. Yoon did say that it's been quite some time since he accepted a visit, so he must be overwhelmed to see her there.

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That Shi-mok never actually resorts to "I scratch your back, you scratch mine" move in all his time as a prosecutor is quite surprising, but I guess since he prefers to do everything by himself it makes sense. It's meaningful that when he actually did, it's for his old friends, aaw.
Totally didn't expect the cameo! Sad but also glad we know he is at least alive and surviving.

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It still hurts so much!

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Shi-mook has spent most of this season looking so unutterably sad behind his usual blank face but in this episode he looks like he was going to cry and it broke my heart. Despite everything there is a part of him that does think he's better than other people, especially other prosecutors. But then he unthinkingly tries to call in a favour in the same episode someone tells him that "his skill is his connections" and it was honestly a suckerpunch.

I love that Shi-mok has two people in his life who really understand him though and that Kang is one of them. Everyone else finds him inexplicable but Yeo-jin and Kang are there to talk him through these moments properly. He may not have much but at least he has that.

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I want Kang to be the prosecutor-mentor in Shimok's life. Not just to guide him through the chaos, but also to reassure him that there remain people in this world who are trustworthy - besides Yeo-jin. I'm only hoping that Show does not do an about turn on us and make Kang a bad guy - he's not immune to temptations himself, surely. And even through S1, he remained a grey character IMO.

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I always thought that that confrontation scene at the airport in S1 between Yoon and Yeo-jin was super tense, especially at the moment when he raises his hand and stalls mid-air. And tbh, I am not sure why he stopped - did his scruples suddenly take over? While I sympathized with the situation that had driven Yoon to his craziness in S1, and him allowing himself to be manipulated in the way he was, I can not sympathize with the commission of the crime itself. As a police officer, I would imagine Yeo-jin would also not be able to do so. So I was not quite sure what to make of this encounter - what was underlying the tension? I think this scene can be interpreted in a lot of ways - and this (omnipresent) ambiguity is central to the uber cool factor of this show!

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Yoon's action were about revenge and punishing the ones who (according to him), deserved it. So if we follow that reasoning, he could not punch YeoJin because he knew she wasn't corrupted in any way and was only doing her job, and I think he respected that. After all, he was not in the airpot to flee, but to stop a murderer.
That's also the reason (imo) that he was so utterly broken when he discovered EunSoo had been killed. He knew she could connect the dots and expose him as the culprit, but I don't think he ever had the thought of killing her.
In his mind he was just doing the right thing.
Yet, you can't do the right thing by committing a crime.

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Hm revenge and retribution but not against the undeserved, fits in well. By that logic, he would not have punched *anyone* who successfully pinned him down, I guess. However, I did not imagine him making this split second rationalization.

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I think he stopped because it was YeoJin someone with whom he had been working for the past few months and someone he respects. He says that to her when she visits him in prison “I felt like I can breathe.” She along with the rest of the investigative group were his only outlet.

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For Yeo-jin's reaction, I think when she saw the state of his room in S1 played a part. It was not just empty but no living person would live in that.

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What amazes me with that short reunion was that, Bae Doona actually cried and had to control her tears. Can't blame her since I couldn't believe myself that Yoon would make an appearance this early.

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I cried uncontrollably, I had such a physical reaction. I can understand Bae Doona reacction.

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I think the tension is understandable since the last time she saw him she was very angry with him and felt extremely betrayed. With time I guess her empathetic nature is seeing how he’s suffering too. In a way prosecutor Yoon is a nobler character than Lee ChangJoon because he’s facing his punishment. It did look like by the time she left they were more comfortable. It was sad and adorable how he kept asking her “Are you doing well?”

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At that time she told him that he wasn't the only one to lose a child, so did that mean that other people who had lost children had the right to kill in revenge too? It had to be said because although his situation was pitiful, people can't take the law into their own hands. And as I write this, I'm thinking, but what if they can't trust the law because it is weighed in favour of those who are privileged? And I still have to answer that even so, the law has to be respected because that's all we've got between us and the law of the jungle. It's so inadequate and flawed, but that's all we've got for protection.

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Dong Jae is married? With children? Whoa.....didn't see that coming at all! I wonder how he is in front of his family? Especially his children. He is manipulative but weirdly fun......I don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing for his family though.

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It was somehow mentioned in season 1 that he's married and has children... And it's also mentioned in season 1 that he named some of his assets as his nieces'/nephews' (I guess it's the money he got from the kickbacks he got. He was somewhat corrupt in season 1). I watched season 1 several times, LoL.

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Yeah I remember this too - he has mentioned this before. I like how S2 is cross-referencing S1 in subtle ways - besides familial connections like this, even through the clothes that the cast is wearing...

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I was shocked too. I said he has kids, lol.

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I find it shocking that he's married with kids, too. I know it was mentioned in S1, but it just doesn't seem to fit his character. I mean, I'd expect the Weasel to hold out and marry someone who brought a step up in social status and who he could use to his advantage. This wife seems to be nothing but baggage - it seems out of character.

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I wonder what the courtship was like. Did he talk his way into getting her to marry him? I guess I shouldn't be surprised. In this world, every kind of person manages to get married somehow and/or have kids somehow.

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This is all so interesting. As a season 2 series, I'm beginning to suspect that it is addressing the all pervasiveness of corruption, so that the efforts of people of integrity like Shi-mok and Yeo-jin will only ever be a drop in the ocean. They are up against individual and systemic corruption which is barely conscious of itself as it works in its own self-interest. As well, we see Shi-mok and Yeo-jin getting pulled in, in spite of their better judgement. Having said that I don't think for a moment that they will be compromised, but I think we will see them struggle against demands for loyalty to their respective superiors and colleagues. That's why Shi-mok's little moment of self awareness was so significant. He could see how easy it was and how natural to ask for a special favour, in a good cause. He immediately extrapolated that moment to what he sees happening around him - the system of mutual obligation and influence that someone like Kim Sa-hyun lives by. This is a cultural rot that is so all-pervasive, it is difficult to see how individuals of integrity could ever, by themselves, root it out. How dark is this drama going to be? It's a good thing we are getting those delightful moments: for example, between Shi-mok and Dong jae, and also the mutual regard and care and unexpressed pain in the meeting between Yeo-jin and Yoon Se-won. It's all so finely written.

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Somewhere right at the beginning of season 1, Shi-mok basically says that they can't uproot corruption because if they did they wouldn't have a justice system left. And it's true, the system grinds on. And now it's grinding down its best, brightest and most idealistic. And it's depressing as hell really. But then season 1 was as well. You don't win against corruption. You just stave it off for now and hope that somebody comes along after you to stave it off into the future.

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Which all goes back to the opening quotation about taking a step at a time towards the truth with needles in your feet.

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True. Whenever a protagonist fights against corruption, we can't help but think of the reality that that person is indeed, as you mentioned, just a drop in an ocean of systemic corruption. It makes you feel helpless and wonder if the fight would ever be worth it or would it just be better to be a dog than to complain that it's a dog's world [a line from Signal]?

But I recently came across this Stoic passage:
The goodness inside you is like a small flame, and you are its keeper. xx Every person has their own version of the flame and is responsible for it, just as you are. If they all fail, the world will be much darker—that is something you don’t control. But so long as your flame flickers, there will be some light in the world.

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I love that.

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Beautifully said! It’s similar to the opening message about handful of hopes is better than endless despair as long as we keep matching toward. Also the scene of the dim light shining in the fog in E1.

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However, we also can't ignore that some of those who bravely held their light end up like police officer Ki-Hyun... oh the wonders of this drama. Making all of us re-examine the fine line between black and white, and ponder deep on the gray.

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I really appreciate how this season is asking institutional design questions as a means to resolve problems, rather than pitting individuals against the system (which is what S1 focused on).

By placing legislative / procedural reformulation at the heart of the debate, the show is saying that we have to - as a collective - acknowledge our problems and see how to fix it. I feel that the show is telling us that we cannot possibly leave the mess for a few brave individuals to sort out, because it will never get cleaned up. And even if the collective effort doesn't succeed, what matters is the recognition of the problem and the effort that's put in. Corruption is an inter-generational legacy, and naturally, its solution will also be intergenerational (it's foolish to presume otherwise). We just need to dig our heels in and inaugurate it.

*yeah, I'm the optimistic kind...*

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That damn legal training. I hear you. I feel you.
I remember the good old days when I thought I wasn't a jurist, and now, here I am, analyzing everything from that damn point of view.

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HAHAHAHA - I know. I should go and hide, and leave my legal hat behind somewhere. This show is making me overthink like never before.

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"what matters is the recognition of the problem and the effort that's put in"

This I suspect is what Korea was left with after the attempt to redress the balance of power between the police and prosecution, even though the police ended up with more power.

We've seen so many dramas about the individual battling the system. It's such a cliche in drama land, although in real life, there are heroic instances of brave people who make a difference, but it's rare. The status quo reasserts itself.

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L'enfer est pavé de bonnes intentions (Hell is paved with good intentions) is a citation for Shi Mok and Chief Kang's conversation. I really liked this scene.

Police or Prosecution, they all are the same. They did bad things to have leverage to do good things. I'm happy that Shi Mok and Yeo Jin are a part of the commission.

Is it weird, if I want more murder and less politics?

Otherwise, I found pretty weird that prosecutors can be dispachted in all the country against their will. They have to live in dorm without their family like in the drama Diary of a Prosecutor. It's not fair.

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I agree with wanting a murder mystery rather than figuring out who is the dirtiest of them all. Still I love this show but I miss Shi-mok's bouncy hair in season 1. It's seems a bit flat in season 2 or issit just me?

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I was looking at stills from S1 and thinking the same thing. I think she had to have the long hair for Kingdom, but short hair suits her better.

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Not weird, am also eager for more murder mystery and less politics!

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I can continue to watch the drama without a crime, but maybe we need a crime for our favorite couple to work together, side by side like in S1.
And yes, I also found so hard what DongJae said about not being able to spend time with his family. It reminded me as well Diary of a Prosecutor.

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I'm good too! I don't need a murder here. I love the political thriller angle this is taking.

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I was thinking about checking to see if Shi Mok's dorm is the dorm from Diary of a Prosecutor.

The rotating of prosecutors and dispatching of them all of the place seems like the sort of thing that would allow the disreputable ones to build connections all over the country.

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We've actually informed that Seo Dongjae has a kid on Season 1. When confronted by Yong Eunsoo in front of Kim Gayeong's house, he pleaded that he has a kid and he mean the whole world to his mother. I've rewatched season 1 so many times now I have many things memorized lol

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yeah.. right.. I've watched season 1 like 10 times, LoL. It's my series when I feel so stressful along with "My Mister." LoL

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Those two are among my stress-relieving dramas too! Watching them for the first time was pretty stressful, but for some reason rewatching them is very comforting.

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It's strange, isn't it? I usually watched them in a random episodes... For "My Mister", I usually cried and bawled my eyes, and strangely all stress are gone....

While, "FoS" always gives me such a great motivation to do something new...

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hahahaha - this is exactly how I feel about these two dramas too!!! I have my favourite episodes and scenes which I go back to, but yeah, they have been rewatched times already.

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I love My Mister too! I've been thinking of rewatching it~

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Please do... I've watched "My Mister" like 10 times already, LoL... That series still works like a magic to me... The stories of Ji-an and Dong-hoon, the neighbourhood ahjusshi, etc..

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Will do! I'm stressed waiting for ep 7 anyway I need some distraction haha By the way talking about Donghoon, I just found out today that the actor is married to the actress who plays Choi Bit. Small dramaworld lol

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@withyakyu I love that Lee Sun Kyun and Jeon Hye Jin are married to each other. It seems like they just have this normal, stable marriage. It's not in the spotlight or on a reality TV show. I always think that they seem like the kind of people I'd actually want to hang out with.

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I couldn't believe it when the shady assemblyman popped up in this episode, causing the cops as well as the prosecutors to have yet another litter of kittens. Personally, I'm really enjoying this ever-expanding, corrosive web of back-scratching and influence-mongering in both organisations, and the ways in which it has trapped various characters. Shi-mok and Yeo-jin have managed to steer clear so far - unlike the poor dead cop, they have been amazingly lucky in whom they've had to work with. I know Woo Tae-ha and Choi Bit are deeply compromised (if not downright corrupt), but they (and probably Director Shin and maybe even Kang Won-chul) also seem sadder and more weary, as if they've sacrificed all their ideals for some final prize. In a way it's fitting that both sides are trying to stop Assemblyman Nam from suing Director Shin, cos shady Nam is just a pawn or card in the game.

I loved the conversation between Shi-mok and Chief Kang too. It was funny how Kang started by scolding SM but ended up consoling and reassuring him. Even Kang isn't immune to SM's crestfallen little face.

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Most of the cases we have so far were in the radio news in S2 Ep1. Have we covered all?

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Damn I gotta go rewatch that

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Well Observed. I'm going back to check.

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I don’t think the case with a prosecutor who drove off at the check points was covered 🤔

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Yeah who is this prosecutor called Jung who was driving under the influence?

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Wasn't he the prosecutor who was hired by Hanjo through back-whatever they called it?

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I'm thinking he's one of the cases Dong Jae gave Chief Woo

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I think this Jung guy was caught alive, while the Hanjo guy in the DUI case that Dong-jae dug up was found dead in his car. Sorry, that sounds a bit like some prosecutor hunting game.

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Jang, the DUI arrest, is the Deputy Chief Prosecutor of the High Prosecution Office. So that's a goal for the police.

The prosecutor who became a lawyer and boasted to his family about being recruited for Hanjo was Park Gwang-su, who did or did not have a drinking problem and who died. Choi Bit was Chief of Namyangju Police Station at the time.

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Really? Nice catch! Gotta look out for that when I rewatch the entire season

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I should re-watch it.... FoS is not a serial that I usually watch only once to understand.. I watched season 1 multiple of times till I really understood what it's all about.

Been thinking to do the same with season 2.

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yes! this needs a slow rewatch. I'm waiting for a chunk of time to re-process these.

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Yes! I've already decided to start immediately over with a rewatch as soon as it's done airing. Stranger 1 was like that, too. It needed to be rewatched and rewatched...

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Your observation about Kang's changing reaction is well made! It is so revelatory of how well Kang knows Shi-mok in how he first gently chastises and then sympathizes with him.

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Yes it's great how the writer uses all those "oh no not Hwang Shi-mok again" interludes to show that Kang understands SM much better that his flippant manner might indicate.

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I have wondered to as to how ShiMok and YeoJin have managed to survive. I think it’s because they are extremely competent and very intelligent. Essentially, it’s what Chief Kang said ShiMok is a sharp knife and he needs to be used wisely but he is useful. I think the analogy applies to YeoJin too. So since they have been useful to powerful people unintentionally they are not subjected to the same bullying as Song.

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The face-off at the closing scene made me think, if this is a gangster movie, the next move will be guns popping out from both sides. And then realized that in a way, they are like gangsters in a turf war, but instead of fist and guns, they are using influence and people. Doesn't really inspire confidence for the citizen...
Also, I don't think Tae-ha's eyes widen with fear, more with amazement that Shi-mok dared to confront him with the truth.

As a devout shipper, so delighted for all MokJae moments in this episode, teehee! The elbow slide got me in stitches no matter how many times I've seen it! Also, when Dong-jae got the bread, he mentioned Shi-mok likes red bean but Shi-mok said later that the bread he ate was salty. Since red bean bread is supposed to be sweet, does it mean Dong-jae stole the bread Shi-mok wanted? >< They fed him but still not what he wants.

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Good point about Woo Tae-ha. I think he already anticipated that Shi-mok would find out about his shady dealings, but he definitely didn't expect Shi-mok to blatantly confront him like that. I could almost see the whole "Who are you? Who is backing you up? How can you outright accused your superior without any fear like this? Don't you worry about the horrid consequences?" tirade behind Tae-ha's eyes. This is so going to not end well, I swear. It's worth it though, to see the small gleam of triumph in Shi-mok's eyes during that scene.

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Yeah the face-off did look like the start of a real fight, especially with the dramatic music. But what really happens next, at the start of ep6, is even more interesting!

I'm also of the opinion that Shi-mok's accusation didn't scare Woo Tae-ha. To me, he seemed shocked, then almost pleased that SM had reached and voiced that conclusion. In any case, if Kang's conversation with his subordinate is anything to go by, everyone who is anyone already knows how Woo got Assemblyman Nam into the Legislation and Judiciary Committee. Even the cops know, and no one seems to be able to do anything about it.

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The elbow slide scene was what I needed after I cried so hard during the previous scene with YeoJin and Yoo Se Won.

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I watched the bts and Jo Seungwoo said he low key asked props team to prepare soboro bread and strawberry milk for him but Lee Joonhyuk took them in the end. Hwang Shimok chose soboro bread too from Kim Jungbon last season. His face when Seo Dongjae took his bread and milk lol

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And Lee Joon-hyuk used that info for his adlib 'Do you like red bean bread?' & Cho Seung-woo couldn't stop laughing xD

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In the end they need to use the insert footage where Jo Seungwoo's face doesn't shown for that adlib lolll

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Yeaaa, I watched on @neener's fan wall, they're so cute! Poor Shi-mok and poor Jo Seung-woo are both deprived of food they want, LOL.

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Shi-mok: being nice by offering Dong-jae to choose, Dong-jae: you took the job I want, imma take the bread you want!
And there's the question of how is Dong-jae aware of Shi-mok's bread preference? Does he have a dossier titled Hwang Shi-mok somewhere in his files ><

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I love Stranger’s BTS since S1. They are my happy pills 😁

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" I don't think Tae-ha's eyes widen with fear, more with amazement that Shi-mok dared to confront him with the truth."

Yes, this. He's not scared that people will know - all his peers and superiors already know and likely sat in the room while they planned it with him. He's just stunned that Shi-mok had the audacity to speak to his superior like that.

Re MokJae -- I'm actually shipping this and I blame EVERYBODY HERE.

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I'm wondering if the MokJae ship is going to follow the traditional kdrama arc - realization, honeymoon, separation, angst, reunification... cracks me up thinking about it!

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Thanks for the recap.

It was really like a splash of cold water when CP Kang illustrated how a little give-and-take can snowball into corruption. In our country there is a concept of “utang na loob” which roughly translates to “a debt of one's inner self”. When someone has helped you when you are in dire need, but this is a debt that you cannot fully pay off no matter how many favors you have given that person back. Hence, whoever you are indebted to can exploit this to no end.

It’s telling the fear on Chief Woo’s when Shimok pointed out why he seemed so urgent to talk to Assemblyman Nam. I wonder why they kept underestimating Shimok. Haven’t they known how competent and unyielding he is?

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The sad thing is that give-and-take should be a good thing. We SHOULD be helping one another, from which it follows that we should expect others to help us when we are in trouble. I don't see why Shi-mok or Chief Kang shouldn't help Yongsan Station with the withheld warrant, since they're all trying to do the right thing. By the same token, Yongsan has every right to expect help from the prosecutors. But the moment we frame this as favours that must be paid for, or debts that need to be repaid, everything just goes to hell.

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To foster teamwork, there should be collaboration. You're right that if we frame this as favors, it will cause problems in the future. There should be limitations on what help can we give back.

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That is part of the problem though, it is the nature of the help, not the help itself. He shouldn't have to yell at the other prosecutor to do his job. The favors should be to help the public and not make the police look bad or in this case clean up after the prosecution.

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I think the show is also asking us to think about WHY we need to ask for favors in the first place. If there were rule of law, truly, and procedural certainty, and adequate transparency and accountability, these favours would never be called for. This goes back to my comment above on how the show is asking us fundamental institutional design questions - 'who judges the judges' kind of stuff. And it is doing it soooo clevah-ly, I only have awe to express.

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I don't trust WTH or Choi Bit. At all. Mainly, I guess, because they are using both ShiMok and YeoJin for their own interests disguised as a greater good for the organization. They are hiding something, and I bet they have enough dirt on each other to make a terrible mess.

This episode had two heartbreaking moments for me: I was totally shocked with Yoon Se Won, I wasn't expecting it and I broke into tears during his whole conversation with YeoJin. It still hurts. Too much. I also hope he can help our favourite couple with some intel from prison, and wonder who was the one sending him the parcel. I know many think it was ShiMok, and it really fits him, but I'm thinking about Chief Kang, because he always saw him as a protege.

The other heartbreaking moment was ShiMok realizing he was asking for a favour and what it meant. I also loved his conversation with Chief Kang. He never disappoints me (keep it that way, please). Although I was yelling to the TV screen "no, no, no" for him not to make that call. I just hope, as quirkycase said he just didn't mention it.

I also love DongJae and ShiMok dynamics. I wasn't expecting this much fun in this show! It's also a bit overwhelming hearing about DongJae struggles: not only to get his position not coming from an elite Law School, but also because he wants to settle to enjoy his family. This whole situation with prosecutors must be so common. It reminded me of Diary of a Prosecutor, where we were also shown how every two years they are transferred making it so complicated to live a normal life (even more with such a demanding job).

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It could have been Chief Kang!!

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You're right!! Could've been Chief Kang. I totally forgot that they belonged in the same team at the start.

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Assuming that the person who sent Mr Yoon the parcel is someone who is in the Season 2 cast... okay I'm going to bet on Jang Gun, whose angry outburst at the gang's final dinner in Season 1 might just be his way of hiding his big soft heart.

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Chief Kang was my pick! 😁

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The convo between Shi Mok and Chief Kang is one of my favorite all time kdrama convos, because it stated something so obvious and unassuming and showed how corruption starts.

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Adding Jung-bon to the list of possible people who sent the parcel.

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I'm with you in the Jung-bon camp!

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Yes, it could also be. They were really close during investigation in S1.
I'm also wondering if we are going to see Jung Bon this season.

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As @pickleddragon mentioned before, it could be LSY's way of making Jung-bon appear on S2.

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I thought that too but I doubt he'd do it anonymously.

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Good point!

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ShiMok and Dong Jae's scenes made the episode for me. I love that we got to see them interact more. The two together are really quite fun even if it was only ShiMok "babysitting" the weasel. ShiMok was blunt with him and Dong Jae can't do anything but to look or cajole at him. 😆

That conversation between him and Chief Kang was a powerful moment. Corruption does start with something as simple as a favor even if you had good intentions. The look on ShiMok's face was of shock and disbelief as he realized what he was doing.

Nobody is clean among the higher ups it seems. TaeHa and Choi Bit looks to have dirtied their hands quite a bit along the way. I didnt like that last scene as ShiMok and YeoJin looked at each other dejectedly on different ends of the hallway. Then eventually went their separate ways after their sunbaes.

I would like to see ShiMok and YeoJin team up soon.

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In spite of how heavy some scenes were we could always count on SM and DJ interaction to bring us some laughter, well...for now! 😜

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Right?? For all the times I was just done with SDJ in S1, and wished that he gets punished somehow for all the stupid things he was up to… I’m glad the universe didn’t listen. Because how else will we get some random giggles in season 2 if it were not for our beloved weasel extra-ordinaire.

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Episode 3 to me highlighted that as much as those who belong to their respective agencies are out to protect their agency from the other, they’re also not ignorant to the systemic flaws within their agencies that breeds corruption. With HSM and Chief Kang (although the thought on one was more general in application), that criminal police and Yeo Jin, and even SDJ asking if the system is forcing them to do whatever they can to climb up so as not to suffer.

We were bound to get these discussions given the premise of this season, but the way writer-nim situated the opportunities to bring about such discussions were so unforced that it was relatable instead of preachy. 👏🏻

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I meant episode 5, where am I? 😅

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The way writer-nim brings out all these discussions in her scripts without it seeming like she's using her characters as mouthpieces is AMAZING. All these issues are smoothly woven into our characters life and the world-building, so when they come up it only seems logical & natural. She's not only talented but dedicated to her vision

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Right? Ahh thank you for blessing us with your artistic genius writer-nim. One of the manifestations of how effective she is with piquing the viewers minds with the points she carefully laid down is how deep the discussions go here in the comments section of her show.

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I am amazed at how the show constantly invites discussion for various topic without coming across preachy, at the same time keeping it gripping and entertaining.

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After three years, a cameo from last season’s antagonist still makes us tear up. Just show how much we love its characters.
When I watched the scene between SM and Chief Kang, I had to stop, think and rewind their conversation. The idea of asking for a favour never crossed his mind because he had no one. I find SM is not only perceptive to other behaviour but well aware of his own action. Self reflection is so rare and refreshing to see from a ML in a kdrama ( may be i shouldn’t say this cos I don’t watch enough drama).
It’s the very first time I feel slightly impatient by the second half of E5. I feel like I am in the dense fog and really need our duo to shine some light, to uncover some truths soonest.

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Totally agree with you about the feeling of being lost in the fog. It’s an exhausting watch to me. I guess that’s how PD and writer want us to feel, giving how exhausted our couple looks all the time.

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When the case of the Assembly chairman came up I though to myself....More? But do we have enough corruption to last the lifetime? My brain was in full capacity....my poor tiny little brain cells 😭

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I think it's because Shi-mok emotionless and usually use his brain/logic, and he knew what he's doing to Kang was wrong from logic and ethic, that's why he admitted and reflected. Similar when he found something is wrong, he would said it firmly, like what he did to Tae-ha.

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Dong-jae and Shi-mok had snack together in front of the correction center together is EVERYTHING, LoL. I was laughing my ass when Dong-jae just grabbed the bag and took one and said: "Do you like red-bean bread, don't you?"

Glad to see Yoon Se-won at this episode, I'd never thought we'd be able to see him... This serial once again gave us "a surprise", like in season 1 when they filmed separately about the murder scene so that the other casts didn't know that the real murder was Yoon Se-won.

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I laughed so much when SM talked about beef intestines, just the thought of it makes him 🤢🤢🤢 And DJ’s confused look. He didn’t know what to do with that information 😂

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LoL... that got me LoLed too... :)) And also the fact Shi-mok didn't eat the beef intestine, and just tossed it back in the dolsot before he left the room...

Dong-jae & Shi-mok is such a pleasure to watch.

I'm suspecting that these two actually roommates, LoL.

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I'm beginning to think this roommates thing might actually be true! Just a few episodes ago, I had been hoping Yeo-jin would offer Shi-mok space in her own apartment, but I'll be fine with this arrangement too: any contrivance to keep the Mok-Jae Ship afloat.

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Can someone pls let me know if
1. The Ryu prosecutor covered up for the Assembly chairman is the same as the one handled the drowning case?
2. The young prosecutor who went on air to talk about the pressure from higher up to remove the evidence for an Assembly man ( must be the same chairman?) was she demoted after and currently working under Dong-jae? Is it right?

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1. Yes, same Prosecutor Ryu.
2. Probably a different assemblyman but the lawyer of this assemblyman is a previous chief prosecutor so probably the one who died? Iirc, it was not mentioned where she currently works.

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That's what I understood too.

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Shi-mok's "aha" moment of self-awareness left me thinking: What are "connections" for though? What's the line between a harmless favour and violating an ethics code? It's really not that much maybe. Like Chief Kang said, from a human perspective "it's only natural." Don't we all make connections in the hope that should we need it, they'll help us out of a mess or provide us with some sort of advantage? Connections grant us access to things we wouldn't easily get without them. If push came to shove, how many of us would resist using our connections for personal gains? Perhaps that paints a grim picture of humanity, but we're all capable of good things and bad things. So, I really like that this show isn't presenting us with a binary perspective of corruption. Even someone as morally upright as Shi-mok can go down that path if they don't check themselves. That moment when Shi-mok realized what he was actually doing was almost like breaking the fourth wall (I keep saying it, but omg this script!!!) And I like Chief Kang so much more this season, he's always there to remind Shi-mok that he's actually human & shows him a side of himself that he's not able to see on his own. I do hope he stays clean, idk if Shi-mok can handle another sunbae gone rogue.

Also, going forward I think it will be interesting to explore why Yeojin and Shi-mok choose to stay with their respective institutions (besides having a job). I think this is my main question in terms of characterization this season. We've seen that they're both exhausted, knowledge of how corrupt their organizations are has made them wearier, a little harder. They're more aware of how little power they have as individuals. I'm interested in exploring this question, because I think the writer is not simply critiquing the police and prosecution for their corrupt ways, but she's also questioning their legitimacy as institutions. Shi-mok and Yeojin having chosen their professions obviously believe their institutions are a force for chance, but their experiences from within continue to challenge that assumption. I'm curious how that has informed them in what THEIR role is.

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I'm enjoying the moral complexity too. As well, the drama must take into account the insidious nature of connections because in the real world, the people of Korea have been let down by altruistic politicians who have promised to bring the system of privilege to an end, only to be proven to have feet of clay themselves. IMO Shi-mok's reflection serves as a proxy for them; for example, "If our scrupulous hero can fall into that trap with the best of intentions, then idealistic politicians can also get quickly enmeshed in a web of mutual obligation."

I wonder if we will get to see an answer to your second question about motivation. Is the answer in the following episode in Shi-mok's analogy about the lines?

BTW I don't need a murder, although I think we already have at least one, if not three.

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Is the answer in the following episode in Shi-mok's analogy about the lines?

I think that's the beginning of it. It wasn't elaborate enough, but I expect we'll get the full explanation as we go forward.
I was really amazed actually that he said that in ep.6, because it WAS partly an answer to my question and it shows that the writer has thought every little thing through. Every question we ask ourselves, she's probably asked herself and has an answer for it. The more I watch this show, the more I'm amazed at the glimpse of her mind that this script lets us see!

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I'd love to see more discussion on the motivations of Shi-mok and Yeo-jin in joining their respective institutions and staying with them. It's a real-world question I've often asked many myself, and rarely found a clear answer. In the hands of a writer like LSY, the dilemmas such choices offer will surely be manifest in interesting ways.

What I would also like to see - at the end of S2 - is Shi-mok and Yeo-jin having some sense of clear direction of where they want to head. They each have quasi-mentors who seem to be dangling carrot-like opportunities before them, which a Dong-Jae (and ever self-serving professional) would quickly grab. But where will these two go? What path will they choose? or will they be so disillusioned as to exit the race completely?

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SM said he can’t be put in the drawer forever and may be this time he has an answer himself. I think SM has been asking himself the same question. Hopefully we/they find out by the end of this season?

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Interesting! When ShiMok said “and I will find the answer too” Chief Kang took it that he was talking about the drowning case but to me it felt like ShiMok was seeking answers to existential questions regarding his job.

The reason this season is slow and meditative is because our leads are slow and meditative. In season 1 both ShiMok and YeoJin had this sense of purpose and almost arrogance of youth. They knew what they wanted and went for it. In this season in a lot of situations they are just observing and watching instead of really taking the reins. ShiMok particularly seems quiet lost and it was obvious in the scene where he was listening to DongJae. He was genuinely considering the point that DongJae made instead of rolling his eyes. YeoJin has become a little cynical and lost her fire. She got a little of her fire when she yelled at the crooked cop but she walks out and thinks about how Chief Choi doesn’t want the suicide to be an homicide. All these things point to the characters themselves asking the question, “why do I stay?”

The show can go one of two ways in answering the question - ShiMok and YeoJin find their purpose again or they give it all up. It’ll be interesting to see how it all goes.

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They are being wedged by their superiors. They are in situations where they have to champion their side (police or prosecution), but they see the cover ups and lies which they would not ordinarily tolerate and most probably will not tolerate. I'm worried for Yeo jin in the next episode (6).

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I think it's quite clear why they stick to their organizations. Even if they are corrupted and they are disappointed by the direction they are taking, you have to go to the smaller vision. And it is that a single person can change the world. Of course, ShiMok cannot change SK Prosecution or YeoJin cannot change SK Police, but they can change the world for just one person, and it makes it worth.
When I go to the beach I always collect at least 10 pieces of plastic I find by the shore. Does it save the planet? I doubt it. But I am doing what I can to help. Maybe someone sees me doing this everyday and imitates me. Maybe that person tells another. Maybe we all care more about what we throw in the dustbin. Every journey begins with one step.

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Hmm I think that's part of it, but that it's also not that simple.
Shi-mok and Yeo-jin are no doubt staying because they are doing SOMETHING, and there's value in that for them. But we have seen how the system keeps grinding them down & they find issue with that. As individuals, how worth it is it to stay in a system that's slowly grinding you to dust? The fact that they're able to win on individual cases doesn't mean the problematic system doesn't exist anymore. They're doing the double work of working within and AGAINST the system. Which I think is an interesting position to inhabit.
The question for me is not, staying (while doing something at least) VS. leaving (and doing nothing)... BUT: Is there an alternative way to do things? How do we actually go about eradicating obsolete systems?
I think this show is gently asking those questions (or asking us to ask ourselves those questions).

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Yes! It's an existential question - should the institutions - in the forms we know - remain or not? -- that is something the show is definitely asking. Hence, thinking about redesigning from scratch, and asking questions like, why do we need the police, or why do we need the prosecution, and how can they best perform the roles we want them to, and so on and so forth.

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But really, neither of them want to be corruption warriors. Neither of them want to be on the forefront of institutional change. Both of them just want to solve crimes. Yeo-jin wants to be at crime scenes, Shi-mok lives to investigate. I think both just want to do their jobs in a system that works but keep being tapped to solve problems they'd rather didn't exist in the first place. so I don't think the question is why they chose the institutions they did. The question is at what point do they crack and leave because they're tired of spending all their time trying to fix they system instead of working within it.

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"How do we actually go about eradicating obsolete systems?" It would be so interesting if the show goes there. That's the big question for our time. Now that everything has been disrupted, have we the courage to dream and put into place a better, fairer way of doing things? Is it possible?

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"The question is at what point do they crack and leave" This might be where we end up. I hope not.

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i'm going to come back (if i remember) but hopefully i do.

all of us are learning about these things being obsolete because they were meant to harm the people they're put in place for but there's a reason we got to our stances, or people are questioning, or we come to abolition. but there was a point in time where we believed in this power of being "objective" and something that brings equity of us. police and prosecution are supposed to protect people and then bring justice to those who were harmed and punishment to the aggressor. that in itself, to me, means that they are technically anti-corruption but it's more about seeing the outside world as corrupt and being the ones to fix that (and clearly not so.)

they want to solve crimes (as @leetennant points out) for them this official avenue is logical (hsm) or noble and helpful (hyj)

however the system never worked. on top of that, outside the forces of capital literally getting PAID to do this work fucks everything up.

(aside: it's different than social work because their influence is so much smaller...lets put it in the same realm as teaching; it is imperative to have people that understand how cruel the system is and shape that through their intervention for education or care which is needed. tangentially and a digression: in a post-abolition world social work as we know it wouldn't be necessary. my friend is a black SW in CA and the bureaucracy is atrocious and sometimes she feels like a cop even though it's not the same still it hurts. the diff is their power as individuals and a group is almost nil without collusion or puppetry of law and order but they are not one and the same as those groups)

i think it has to be both. why they chose it, why they believe(d) in it (why WE did or do), and what it takes to leave. there is no question in abolitionist thought——no cops, no jails, no army. i dont think the show asks that bc i don't think it CAN really, nothing mainstream really will. the proposition is still there's this undercurrent of some sort of equilibrium that we are shifting away from.

if your house has mold the paint over it can only help so long. the walls have to be crumbled and built again entirely, the paint just staves it for a bit. but there's no bandaids for the state really because its' cyclical and every contribution means it grows elsewhere. every "win" is a loss because we sustain it.

they're doing something in the way we understand their something but it's even different than being a politician because these places are never meant to be fair, never going to be fair, and never serve the people they want to ever (as opposed to lets say an AOC, though sincerely not near as radical as what i believe she started off in her community but her work is not to police or prosecute and will never be even if she believes in them or reform)

you cannot fix what isn't broken and the system isn't broken it is doign its exact job. in the good...

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and on top of that america's influence and america's founding principles are buitl on the death of black people and people native to the US. so for us to have such influence is even more of an observation of how skewed it will be. it's the same thing everywhere tho. we have europe (pre the US) and their colonization so if we get really deep into it there is no fix and there is nothing they can do except leave. they're not helping but they are helping to mitigate 1. the harm they face 2. the harm they see 3. the hurt they feel

the notion that it can ever be good is what holds us all back and that's what makes the disappointment visible. and in many ways some people cannot see this because of the life they lived. being who i am and from the country i am i grew up with inherent distrust. theres history for everything and i still want answers for hatred but one thing about being told your people are common denominator of everything bad is then realizing that there is simply no solution you can bring to others. there is no reforming anti blackness. it cannot live in you and you have to fight it everyday. what can we do to solve a problem when the problem is our existence? that's what i'm told but really the problem is THEIR existence

i do not think the show is trying to say this, or even the sad conclusion the good detective came to (which is the REALEST one), but i think they believe in a more neoliberal outlook.

what i know is that hsm and hyj are not bad people and we like them bc of who they are. but that really doesn't matter. what i think we want is to find some way around liking them or cheering for them, too. i will never fully love hyj even as her character bc of who she is. i can't because it will never manifest. it's a fallacy.

same with the way lyj sees herself. you'll never be fully formed. respect as a woman ceo? you're a ceo, so no, and it will never be great jsut bc ur a woman. i think the show is just presenting and asking use to think about it then trying to find its own solution and still still still still still it relies on the existence of the state

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Form LSY writer interview (for FoS season 1 though), she has two main reasons to created Hwang Shimok as an emotionless character : 1. You can't control someone who doesn't have desire; 2. She wants to have a character who work hard to fulfill their job just because it's their responsibility. I'm not sure about Yeojin but I think for Shimok, he simply thinking of doing his job right, without really have desire for a successful career milestone, or consider the general situation of institution he is in.

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Oh, I just read other comments and @leetennant already said what I wanted to say in much better way lol Always you beanies so well spoken I is envy

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Who thinks that Shi-mok's housemate is actually Dong-jae?

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I wondered too.

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There should be more than one roommate, no? How many pairs of shoes were there when he opened the door? Need to go back and check. But generally, totally on-board this Dong-Jae camp.

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Ever since S2 started, I've been wondering how Lee Kyu-hyung will make an appearance. As heartbreaking as that scene was, LKH made a cameo and I hope this wouldn't be the last. He can gather some info on that slimy cop.

SM and Chief Kang's relationship is slowly going up in the charts. Their conversations have been thought provoking though I could not put it into words myself. I'm so glad beanies are here!

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I was happy to see him but it was weird, I was expecting him to turn as Looney.

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xD Which can also be sadder considering what happened to that character.

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I CRIED

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*hugs* a lot of us did!

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i love it. i could talk about it forever. i don't believe in the system, i don't respect it, i balk against. but this is probably the only show about these types of people i'll hold to my heart. it's imo way more emotional and dialogue heavy in a good way. and i love it. :)

the fact that i can cry over the convo w/ yoon is!!! and i am so happy w/ kang and hsm. i feel the impact of lcj's absence and just what that means everywhere. he propelled the world more towards a vision of a new world i like and i can't believe that someone who isn't around is so integral and impactful to where we are. soooooo good stuff

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I never knew that what I needed most in my life is the ShiMok, YeoJin and DongJae comic trio. That car park scene was hilarious and strangely heart warming!

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I feel almost sorry for Dong-jae having to deal with both Shi Mok and Yeo Jin. The funniest part was when she got that car and just got in her car and left and he was like "Is that even a real call? It's just her alarm, right?" because when interacting with someone like Dong Jae, it isn't weird to fake a call to get out of dealing with him.

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I’m really glad they’re humanizing our precious Weasel. I apparently forgot he was married with kids last time. And just in time too, with what happens next episode...

He’s just insecure and trying too hard. Poor Weasel!

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Thank you, @quirkycase, for the recap! It must be one of the most difficult series to recap. When I watch this, it takes me 1.5 times as long since I have to rewind and replay to catch all the details. And then I come here to your recap and everyone's comments and learn that I still missed some things.

This is one of those dramas where I look forward to rewatching as soon as it's done so I can see where all the pieces intricately fit.

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I've watched the whole series so far, and Season 2 is...dull. In Season 1 there was a big mystery, an unknown killer, secrets to be revealed. Season 2 is a lot of people sitting around in rooms and talking about who's more corrupt, the prosecution or the police.

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