Forest of Secrets 2: Episode 11
Things start moving fast once a witness enters the picture and purports to be able to identify the culprit. Everyone is desperate for a break in the case, but his accusations put one organization in particular in a bind. And while the welcome testimony of the eyewitness may help catch the culprit, that’s only the first step in finding our missing prosecutor.
While Gun tracks down the witness, the ex-chief waits in an empty conference room at the National Police Agency. He’s soon joined by the Segok cops, including his nephew Soo-hang. They wait for Soon-chang to bring in Joong-gi.
Soon-chang manages to find him, but when he sees him walking down the street with a crowbar, he decides to follow rather than approach. As if the crowbar wasn’t suspicious enough, Joong-gi then buys a huge canister of bleach. Soon-chang follows him through winding back streets and alleys to an old motel. Joong-gi only stays in the room a couple of minutes before leaving again.
Once he’s gone, Soon-chang uses a fire extinguisher to knock off the door handle and cautiously enters, taser drawn. He sees what looks like a person underneath a blanket on the floor and pulls back the covers with trepidation. It’s an elderly woman.
Soon-chang senses someone behind him and turns as Joong-gi grabs him. They begin fighting, and right when Soon-chang has the upper hand, the elderly woman grabs him. He’s knocked off balance, and his taser drops to the ground. The elderly woman picks it up and hands it to Joong-gi who raises it and advances on Soon-chang.
At the National Police Agency, an angry Director Shin enters the conference room with Chief Choi and Yeo-jin in tow. Director Shin begins interrogating the suspects, questioning their alibis. It’s at this point that Shi-mok walks in and quietly sits at the table.
Team Leader Choi awkwardly notes that their alibis have been verified as Director Shin continues aggressively questioning them. Director Shin asks after the cop who immigrated, and Team Leader Choi responds that he hasn’t been back in the country. Director Shin is clearly on the warpath and doesn’t much appreciate Team Leader Choi’s rationality.
He moves on to the ex-chief, asking where he hid Dong-jae. He’s the only one without an alibi, and his temper is well-known. The ex-chief quietly answers that he was at Gold Sauna. Shi-mok cuts in to ask when they found out about the faked overtime and the shop. Yeo-jin explains that they discovered both at the same time and already checked the shop.
Shi-mok remarks that they had enough time to contact the prosecution had they wanted to and guesses there’s more that they’re not telling him. Yeo-jin looks down uncomfortably. Abruptly, the ex-chief bangs the table and frustration. (I thought he seemed way too calm.)
He starts shouting about how he didn’t do anything wrong and deserved that extra overtime pay. Soo-hang tries to calm him down, but the ex-chief yells at him to shut up. Director Shin loses it and screams that he should be ashamed of himself.
Amid the shouting, Soon-chang bursts into the room with Joong-gi, and we flash back to their altercation. After pointing the taser at Soon-chang, Joong-gi had flipped it around and returned it to him. It turns out the elderly woman is the mother of Dae-sung, the Segok cop in prison.
Back then, Dae-sung had been desperate for money for his mother’s meds. He’d promised insurance would cover it once the new law was passed. Joong-gi explains that he’d encouraged his team to hold out until then; they’d only take bribes until insurance covers the medication. Ah, so that’s how the whole team got involved.
Director Shin observes they didn’t stop, though. They insist Joong-gi followed through and stopped, even though the rest of them continued taking the bribes. One of the cops claims Joong-gi didn’t even know they were still doing it.
Yeo-jin thinks he must’ve known his team was leaking information to the bar owners, and he admits he did. Joong-gi dejectedly notes that he couldn’t stop them, but Soo-hang comfortingly says that he tried. Regardless, Joong-gi feels guilty for getting them involved in the first place. Yeo-jin asks for his alibi the night of Dong-jae’s disappearance, and he insists he was home like his wife testified.
Soo-hang reaches into his pocket, sending the cops panicking as one rushes to grab him. But he only pulls out a piece of paper that looks like a long, handwritten statement. Chief Choi glances over it and angrily exclaims he must think they’re stupid. Does he think producing Ki-hyun’s suicide note now would make them believe him? Oooh.
He claims to have found it on Ki-hyun’s desk, but Chief Choi finds it hard to believe he’d keep it all this time when it says they all took bribes and bullied him. Soo-hang says he was scared that Ki-hyun would haunt him if he got rid of it.
His uncle yells at him for hiding this piece of evidence and getting him into trouble. (Could this dude be any more self-centered? Ugh.) Shi-mok walks over to read the note as Soo-hang continues that if they didn’t kill Ki-hyun, that means they didn’t have a reason to harm Dong-jae. The police allow Shi-mok to take the note to be verified by the prosecution.
Everyone freezes when Team Leader Choi announces that the witness has arrived. Shi-mok doesn’t miss how Joong-gi seems to already know about the witness while the rest of the Segok cops were unaware. The cop suspects are lined up, and Ki-hyuk is asked from the other side of the glass if the culprit is present. Everyone turns wide eyes to him as he proclaims, “Yes.”
We can’t see clearly who he’s pointing to, but soon after, they release everyone but Joong-gi who is arrested on the spot. He struggles and denies it as they read him his rights. On the other side of the glass, Shi-mok asks Ki-hyuk for more details of what he saw, but he says everything is already in the comment he posted.
Shi-mok asks how far it was from where he stood on the staircase to the vehicle, but Ki-hyuk is unsure. Yeo-jin questions how good his eyesight is, and Chief Choi wonders if he could really see the culprit’s face clearly in the dark. Ki-hyuk responds that he has good eyesight, and the man wasn’t that far away.
They worry that the news about a cop being the suspect influenced Ki-hyuk to pick the uniformed Joong-gi out of the lineup. Ki-hyuk insists that’s not the case. When Shi-mok requests his friend’s address, the one Ki-hyuk claims he was visiting that night, Ki-hyuk gets frustrated. He feels he’s being treated unfairly as a witness who has done nothing wrong.
They’re not getting anywhere with Joong-gi who seems exasperated and baffled. If he’s acting, he’s doing a pretty convincing job of playing the wrongfully accused. As Director Shin asks where Dong-jae is, Soon-chang thinks back to when Joong-gi returned his taser.
Soon-chang shares that the flooring in the motel room didn’t match the flooring in the photo. The room was also too small to hide Dong-jae in. Team Leader Choi frustratedly observes that he only searched that one room, so how can he know if Dong-jae is being held in the motel?
Joong-gi insists he had no motive to hurt Dong-jae and looks at each of the cops in turn. At the sight of their unsympathetic faces, he bows his head and blinks back tears.
On the other side of the glass, Yeo-jin guesses that Ki-hyuk was at an illegal gambling house that night. That explains his reluctance to give his “friend’s” address. Yeo-jin warns that this is worse than his scamming charges, and he accuses them of using this to try to get out of having to pay him the reward money.
Chief Choi asks in disbelief if he’s there for the money. He unashamedly admits it and says he deserves the money after all the nightmares he’s had since that night. Shi-mok interjects that if he wants the money, he needs to give up the address.
Director Shin sends officers to the motel and Joong-gi’s house. Joong-gi begs for them to let him call his wife, but Director Shin refuses. In the hall, the Yongsan team muses that Yeo-jin is the one who will suffer the most for this turn of events. It was her face on TV during that briefing, not Director Shin’s.
Once they’re alone, Yeo-jin shows Shi-mok the analyzed picture with the watch clearly visible and claims there’s nothing else they’re hiding. Shi-mok calls to update Tae-ha who then immediately calls a reporter to break the news.
While the police search room to room at the motel, Yeo-jin investigates the house from which Ki-hyuk witnessed the culprit. She hops over a wall and about has a heart attack to see Shi-mok already there, crouched down and clutching a broken base as a weapon. Ha.
Yeo-jin watches from the staircase while Shi-mok goes across the street to stand in the same spot the culprit did. She can see him clearly, but it’s too far away to make out the license plate of his car which is parked next to him. That fits with what Ki-hyuk told him.
Shi-mok had caught up with him as he was leaving and asked if he remembered the culprit’s shoes. Ki-hyuk claimed they were dress shoes. He remembered the car being a dark color, but he said he couldn’t make out the license plate in the dark, especially since the culprit was standing in front of it.
Yeo-jin informs Shi-mok that the photo wasn’t taken at Joong-gi’s house – the floors were different. The officers didn’t find anything at the motel either. She says they’ll need another warrant for Ki-hyuk’s phone history, but Shi-mok is one step ahead and already requested it. Before she heads back to talk to Joong-gi again, she assures Shi-mok she isn’t hiding anything.
Shi-mok joins the police at Joong-gi’s house and takes a brief look around. After checking behind a family photo on the wall, he leaves. Chief Prosecutor Kang calls as he’s glancing through the recycling. He asks if they’ve found Dong-jae yet and shares that there’s already news articles about the arrest. Once he hangs up, Shi-mok intently watches officers take photos of Joong-gi’s black car.
By the next day, it’s all over the news. Tae-ha informs the team that the minister of justice and the minister of security called the prosecutor general in for a meeting. There’s a small chance the police could get investigative authority even in this situation. He tells Sa-hyun and Shi-mok to prepare resignation letters.
Sa-hyun agrees – Shi-mok stays silent – but thinks it’s an unlikely outcome. On the off chance, Tae-ha says all the prosecution offices will go on strike and shut down. That should curb any talk of investigative authority for a long time.
Tae-ha announces that the case is being handed over to the central office and tells Shi-mok to send the files over. It’s time for Tae-ha’s radio interview, so they leave his office and listen to the broadcast. He confirms on air that the witness did pick out a police officer as the culprit, but they have yet to verify his guilt.
The interviewer brings up the seriousness of an active police officer being the culprit. As he listens, Shi-mok pulls up an article, featuring a picture of Yeo-jin, on the police’s insistence that it wasn’t one of their own. Tae-ha states that the police shouldn’t be blamed for the actions of a single cop.
They move on to investigative authority, and Tae-ha diplomatically implies that were the police able to close cases on their own, perhaps corruption in cases such as this would not be revealed. We see Team Leader Choi and Yeo-jin sitting in an interrogation room with Joong-gi, all three looking exhausted.
Tae-ha looks mighty pleased with himself as he hangs up the phone. Despite the fact that Dong-jae still hasn’t been found, Tae-ha heads out for a celebratory lunch with the deputy prosecutor general. Guess we know where their priorities lie.
Meanwhile, Joong-gi gets an unexpected visitor in jail: Dong-jae’s wife. In a quiet, halting voice, she asks where her husband is. He can’t meet her eyes as she says their children are still so young. He finally glances up to tell her that it wasn’t him.
She begs for him to return her husband, even if that means his body. He sighs as she continues pleading and crying. Desperation in his eyes, Joong-gi argues that he truly didn’t do it. He has a kid too. She doesn’t believe him and promises not to tell the police if he tells her where Dong-jae is. Joong-gi just keeps repeating that it wasn’t him.
Yeo-jin is waiting outside the room and sits with Dong-jae’s wife for a minute. Thinking of Joong-gi’s denials, Dong-jae’s wife asks if they’re sure he’s the culprit. Yeo-jin dodges the question and tells her they’ll call with any news. Dong-jae’s wife recalls her husband telling her culprits always lie and deny the accusations.
Yeo-jin assures her they’ll keep investigating and questioning him, even if Joong-gi continues to deny the charges. Later, as Yeo-jin watches the video footage of Dong-jae’s wife meeting with Joong-gi, she gets a call about Ki-hyuk’s phone history. His GPS shows he was on the scene on March 26, the day of the kidnapping.
Yeo-jin gets a call from Shi-mok and stares at her phone as it rings. Next thing we know, she’s with Ki-hyuk at the gambling house. Shi-mok parks the car where Ki-hyuk indicates from the stairway, and Yeo-jin asks if that’s the car he saw. He says it is.
She asks about the license plate, but he maintains he couldn’t make it out. He could only see black letters on white. Yeo-jin reasons that, if he saw the car pulling out, the taillights would illuminate the plate. Ki-hyuk wouldn’t have seen since he accidently kicked something and got scared. He shows her how he crouched down to hide.
She repeats that she’ll put down that he only saw black letters on a white background. Oooh, wait, wasn’t Joong-gi’s license plate background green? Yeo-jin indicates to Shi-mok, and he rips the white license plate sticker off to reveal the green license plate underneath. Ah-ha.
Ki-hyuk nervously backs down the stairs as he tries to make excuses for how he missed that easy-to-notice color. He scoffs that this was a setup and is surrounded by officers once he exits the yard. They ask for his phone, telling him they have a warrant.
The officers hold him when he tries to run, and Yeo-jin swipes his phone. She points out the app he has that lets you change your GPS location. He wasn’t really there on the 26th, was he? Ki-hyuk claims he’s always used that app.
When Shi-mok asks why he went this far, Ki-hyuk stills. “What do you mean why?” he asks derisively, staring defiantly at Shi-mok.
It’s one step forward, two steps back with this case. Ki-hyuk was shady from the start, but I really hoped he actually saw something. So now the question is if he lied for money or if he’s involved in some other way. He seems angry, but I can’t tell if that’s just his general disposition or if he’s got a grudge or something. Just what we needed, another suspicious name to add to the list in case we hadn’t met our duplicitous character quota.
All this back-and-forth over the culprit is going to blow up big time. They accuse a cop, publicly exonerate him, accuse that same cop again, and now have to release him again. What a mess. It’s going to make everyone look incompetent to the public, and neither the police nor prosecution is going to be happy about that. I’m worried for Shi-mok and Yeo-jin who are probably going to take the fall. Tae-ha already told Shi-mok and Sa-hyun to prepare resignation letters, so I’m guessing this means they’re going to be using them. Since Yeo-jin served as the face of the police in this investigation, I can’t imagine she’ll come away unscathed.
If Yeo-jin and Shi-mok are both booted off the case, they’d better team up to run their own covert operation. I don’t trust anyone else at this point. The prosecution was already celebrating when they hadn’t even gotten a confession or hard evidence, much less found Dong-jae. I don’t think anyone really believes he’s still alive after all this time, and the organizations are more worried about their power struggles and optics than Dong-jae anyway.
We haven’t heard a peep from Hanjo lately, which makes me concerned. There’s no way they’re not being sketchy behind the scenes. I wouldn’t be surprised if they planted Ki-hyuk to divert attention from the Kwang-soo case to the police. The Segok cops are all good targets, but now things appear less straightforward with them. Joong-gi’s denial and bewilderment seems real, and from what we saw in his earlier interrogations by Dong-jae and Shi-mok, his acting wasn’t that great. Then, we have Soo-hang who has either turned over a new leaf or puts on a mean repentant act. Unlike his uncle, he hasn’t lost his temper once or been anything but cooperative. If that suicide note he produced truly is Ki-hyun’s, that certainly swings things in the Segok cops’ favor. It’d be pretty risky to hand over a fake handwritten note since they can probably analyze the handwriting at the very least.
Also, I found it odd that the ex-chief is only now giving his (probably) real alibi. You’d think it’d be worth outing yourself for swindling overtime pay rather than having people think you kidnapped and possibly murdered someone. Then again, he doesn’t exactly strike me as a thinker … he seems more of a punch-things-until-they-work kind of guy. But despite his general douchiness, it didn’t sound like he was pulling this alibi out of thin air, so he might be in the clear. I hadn’t realized that the police had actively kept the prosecution out of the loop on the ex-chief, but Yeo-jin clearly felt bad about hiding the info from Shi-mok. Even though he didn’t say anything to her about it, she kept telling him unprompted that she’s not keeping things from him. Hopefully, that means she won’t hide anything from him in the future. We need both of them informed if we’re going to get anywhere. It’s frustrating to watch the organizations that are supposed to be working together to solve this case scheming and hiding things instead. They’d obviously get further if they would just do their jobs and trust each other, but I don’t imagine that’s likely to happen any time soon.
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