Forest of Secrets 2: Episode 6
Our favorite cop finds herself in a dilemma this hour as she learns more about her boss than she wanted to and becomes embroiled in political maneuverings. Everyone has a justification for their questionable ethics, but where do you draw the line? That’s what our heroine has to decide as she faces the choice to sit by or speak up.
We flashback to when Yeo-jin retrieved the envelope from a police station. She does the shake test like a kid trying to figure out their Christmas present, and it doesn’t seem like a document. She stares at it in the car, but we don’t see her open it.
And now we’re back to the standoff in the National Assembly, which turns out to be very anticlimactic. Tae-ha gives a “hmmph!” and walks off, and Chief Choi walks in the other direction. Shi-mok and Yeo-jin stare at each other for a second before leaving.
Shi-mok recalls Tae-ha’s order to find out what was in the envelope as he follows Yeo-jin out. She notices him behind her while she’s driving, but he soon goes his own way.
Assemblyman Nam anxiously rips open the envelope to find a USB. The envelope is addressed from Nambu Police Station (the one that was originally on the nepotism investigation). That night, Shi-mok stands outside that very station after having glimpsed the name on the envelope.
Shi-mok stares at the directory, assessing which department Yeo-jin might’ve gotten the envelope from. He leaves, unable to ascertain anything. He researches the station, and an article about how they turned a Kyungsan Group exec over to the prosecution catches his eye, as does an article on a doctor caught using drugs.
He’s interrupted by a call from Dong-jae who asks what Yeo-jin might’ve meant by her question earlier about why Dong-jae chose to visit the prison. Dong-jae, who clearly wanted to show off, is annoyed by Shi-mok’s deductive skills that led him to reason Soo-hang must be key to the case. Dong-jae does get to share that Soo-hang is the nephew of the ex-chief Ki-hyun reported, though.
Feeling competitive, Dong-jae is determined to find Soo-hang before Yeo-jin does. Right after Dong-jae hangs up, he gets a call from his superior asking him to be the designated driver since everyone else is drunk at the work outing. He hides his frustration and agrees.
Elsewhere, Yeon-jae meets with CEO Kim Byung-hyun of Sungmoon Daily. The conversation is polite yet barbed. She accuses him of lacking journalistic integrity and having ulterior motives, but he claims he merely invested in Hanjo. He, in turn, accuses her of faking her financial woes.
Yeon-jae wonders what she needs to do to get him to stop siding with Sung-jae. Byung-hyun says he’s siding with him because they’re close and Sung-jae will soon be the chairman. Yeon-jae details how she brought Hanjo back from the brink after her father’s arrest and has even surpassed his success.
Yeon-jae recites all the misogynistic comments about her that appear under Byung-hyun’s articles. If he’s looking for an investment, he shouldn’t discount her. She encourages him to weigh his options wisely as a businessman. Instead, he says her lipstick is too much (ugh) and looks rattled when she wipes off her makeup right there at the table. Yeon-jae then demands to know about her father’s condition.
Her assistant waits anxiously in the lobby and clocks her smeared makeup when she exits. He shields her from view in the elevator and personally drives her home. In the car, Yeon-jae thinks back to Byung-hyun asking if she wants to go back to when she was supporting her husband. He has a time he’d like to go back to.
Byung-hyun had clenched his fist nervously as she approached. Yeon-jae hugged him, rubbing his back comfortingly. He relaxed into her embrace. (Guess he does still have feelings for her.)
Looks like it worked, and Yeon-jae got her info. Her father has anger issues stemming from depression combined with his natural disposition. She wonders how to use that – should she provoke him? She feels bad about it, but it doesn’t stop her from ordering her assistant to get photos of her father in a rage and find out everything about his doctors and medications.
Tae-ha and Sa-hyun watch an interview with Director Shin in which he claims Assemblyman Nam’s acquittal signifies the prosecution agrees the police investigation was biased. Sa-hyun wonders what Chief Choi threatened the assemblyman with and questions whether Shi-mok will be able to get anything out of the police.
Based on the scolding he got earlier, Tae-ha thinks Shi-mok will do fine. Heh. Sa-hyun remarks getting Yeo-jin to help would mean betraying her boss. How will Shi-mok get her to agree?
Shi-mok is currently at the Suwon Prosecution Office to view some records, but the deputy chief is suspicious since someone from the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office came without warning. He goes to call the prosecutor in charge, but stops when Shi-mok lists the 19 cases he’s interested in. Pfft. Instead, he calls Tae-ha who instructs him to let Shi-mok see the records.
After he goes through the archives, Shi-mok calls Yeo-jin and asks to meet. She’s hesitant but texts him her address. We see in flashback that Yeo-jin did look in the envelope and found the USB. Oooh, and she even copied the files to her computer on her way to deliver it. (I was hoping she snooped.)
Shi-mok doesn’t waste time and lists several cases handled by Nambu Station, asking if one of them is what the police are using to threaten Assemblyman Nam. He reasons it must be a case that was kept quiet and probably never made it to trial. He speculates on whether it could’ve been the assemblyman’s son or Assemblyman Nam himself who got in trouble.
He’s leaning toward the son. Since he was already involved in this hiring scandal, another scandal could be problematic for the assemblyman. Perhaps he was one of the ones caught in the drug case Shi-mok found out about. Yeo-jin claims she’s unfamiliar with the cases he’s mentioned, so he says he’ll do another search.
She asks how far back he’s going to go in his research. Shouldn’t he be questioning Tae-ha about why the prosecution acquitted Assemblyman Nam rather than talking to her? Shi-mok notes he already did.
“I didn’t,” she admits. And she doesn’t plan to ask Chief Choi in the future. Changing topics, Shi-mok asks, “You don’t draw these days?” Aw. Yeo-jin looks over at him in surprise.
He shares that he saw the rope barrier was down in Tongyeong and thought there could be an accident, but he kept driving and didn’t do anything. It was dark and foggy, so he thought only people who had a death wish would cross it. He knew something was wrong but chose not to act, and people got hurt.
Yeo-jin gets his meaning but tiredly notes that you can’t catch all the criminals. Is that why she left violent crimes? Yeo-jin insists her desk is still there.
She stops him as he leaves, observing that he already found the answer before coming to her. Alone, Yeo-jin sighs and looks stressed.
The following day, Yeo-jin goes to talk to Chief Choi. She confirms that Chief Choi wasn’t in her current position a year and a half ago when Assemblyman Nam’s son was illegally hired. Yeo-jin states that she was, however, at the Intelligence Bureau in February.
Chief Choi realizes she’s asking if she knew about the drug dealer case, which means Yeo-jin opened the envelope. Yeo-jin didn’t lie when she said she hadn’t seen anything – she just hadn’t looked yet. Chief Choi guesses she made a copy.
Yeo-jin suspects Chief Choi wanted her to look. If it had been a confidential document, telling her not to open the envelope makes sense. But it was a USB, so why did it matter if she saw the physical object? Chief Choi wanted to pique her curiosity so she’d read the files.
Why’d it have to be her? Chief Choi observes that, once the Reformation Unit disbands, Yeo-jin will go back to fieldwork. She finds it a waste when capable people aren’t ambitious.
Yeo-jin angrily asks if this is her solution. “Is committing crimes being ambitious?” Chief Choi argues it was the only way to ensure they get out from under the prosecution. Even if they get a bill, it could be struck down since the chair of the committee is a former prosecutor.
By putting Assemblyman Nam in that seat, the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office protected the assemblyman and made a point to the police that investigating was useless. Public sentiment meant the police had to bring charges, though. That’s when they got a call from Nambu about Assemblyman Nam’s son being named by a drug dealer.
What would Yeo-jin have done? Yeo-jin unhesitatingly responds she would’ve arrested him. Chief Choi says that wouldn’t have ensured he’d be charged; they’d just have made him an enemy. Then, they’d never get investigative authority.
Yeo-jin worked in a district with the highest drug crime rate in the nation, so she knows how this goes. Dealers never name their VIP customers. They give police some inconsequential names, and the VIPs in turn pay the dealers for their silence.
Did that dealer really give up Assemblyman Nam’s son, a VIP, voluntarily? The Intelligence Bureau already knew he’d been doing drugs, yet his dealer was only arrested right after his father was made chairman.
Chief Choi admits the police kept quiet about the situation. So what? Is Yeo-jin going to be a whistleblower? Yeo-jin asks if she’s just going to let him go, but Chief Choi says they can catch him after Assemblyman Nam steps down in six months.
If Yeo-jin can’t wait and wants to ruin their chances in gaining investigative authority, she can’t stop her from acting on her conscience. Go ahead and report. Yeo-jin stays silent. Chief Choi comments that intel reports are confidential, and she’s acting director until a replacement comes.
Chief Choi thought Yeo-jin could be the one to move up the ladder. She wasn’t trying to drag her into something but guide her. When Yeo-jin scoffs that Chief Choi could read reports at her own desk instead of sitting in the director’s chair, Chief Choi somewhat threateningly says that Yeo-jin has no idea what it’s really like to be dragged into something.
Shi-mok reports on Assemblyman Nam’s son and the drug case. Tae-ha is confused when Shi-mok says he figured it out without Yeo-jin’s help. Nambu Station was on the envelope, so he investigated from there. Tae-ha clears his throat, embarrassed at not catching it himself.
He informs Shi-mok the next Police- Prosecution Council meeting is set, so he should prepare accordingly. Shi-mok seems to be waiting for something – probably expecting consequences for his accusations – but Tae-ha doesn’t say anything.
On his way out, Shi-mok gets a text from Dong-jae thanking him for putting in a good word for him. Shi-mok is jolted out of his confusion by Sa-hyun. He asks if Shi-mok has any connections, like that person he saw picking him up in the fancy car that day.
He gets upset when Shi-mok says he doesn’t need to tell him who that was. “Don’t you know why we picked you? It was for your image.” Shi-mok finds the “we” strange considering Sa-hyun was selected after he was. Ha. Sa-hyun swallows nervously but can’t deny Shi-mok’s assertion that he was preselected since he and Tae-ha were classmates.
Sa-hyun bursts into Tae-ha’s office in a huff but doesn’t mention Shi-mok. He reports that Chief Prosecutor Kang agreed to their plan to slow down the investigation on Hanjo and put their ability to handle politicized cases on display. It’d help demonstrate that the prosecution should retain investigative rights.
Sa-hyun gets why Tae-ha isn’t a fan of Chief Prosecutor Kang and finds him too stiff. We flash back to when Chief Prosecutor Kang asked about Shi-mok and warned Sa-hyun that using Shi-mok for his image will backfire on them. Sa-hyun thought it ridiculous that a “mere prosecutor” could cause them issues. Chief Prosecutor Kang smiled and basically said, “Okay, then.” Heh.
Tae-ha laughs when Sa-hyun speculates that Shi-mok has connections and admits he even asked him about it. Sa-hyun complains that Shi-mok’s nerve is on another level, even compared to younger prosecutors these days.
Tae-ha got that from Shi-mok’s TV interviews, but he thought Shi-mok just liked the attention. Sa-hyun clearly doesn’t like when his juniors don’t fall at his feet, although he claims otherwise. After he leaves, Tae-ha calls Assemblyman Nam.
Meanwhile, it looks like Yeon-jae’s operation to get pictures of her father has commenced. There’s even a drone involved, in addition to the typical sneaky cameramen. Her assistant reports that the doctor won’t cooperate, but he hacked into hospital files and discovered Yoon-beom was diagnosed with intermittent explosive disorder.
She orders him to announce that she’ll attend the shareholders’ meeting in person if her father and brother do. She also wants rowdy protestors stationed outside the building to greet her father for the meeting.
When the news about Yoon-beom’s anger issues is made public, Byung-hyun realizes he was played. The day of the meeting, protestors against the “criminal” Yoon-beom’s return to Hanjo line the front of the building. But Yoon-beom and Sung-jae send representatives in their stead, so it’s not much use. Byung-hyun also sent a representative.
The meeting starts, and it’s immediate chaos when the issue of changing the bylaws is brought up. If a new chairperson is elected, it will be effective immediately. To avoid potential embarrassment, Yoon-beom will likely only show if the bylaw change is approved.
Byung-hyun’s vote is crucial, but he remains undecided right up to the last moment when his representative calls to ask how he wants her to vote. Yeon-jae awaits her fate in her office where she receives a supportive text from Dong-jae.
Tae-ha meets with Assemblyman Nam to let him know what he knows. In a flashback, Chief Choi shares that they have evidence against his son. Back in the present, Tae-ha says he knows he can trust Assemblyman Nam not to sell them out to the police but …
Assemblyman Nam comments that isn’t it the same for Tae-ha and his wife? He continues that there was a time when the prosecution had inside information about the Ministry of Justice’s plan to close cryptocurrency exchanges.
What would happen if it got out that Tae-ha, a chief at the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office, used his wife to withdraw after learning this insider info, while some people lost everything? Assemblyman Nam thinks it’s only fair for him to let the police know this info since Tae-ha has dirt on them. Tae-ha smiles and backs off.
Chief Prosecutor Kang is informed that Prosecutor Ryu (formerly on the nepotism case) got a call from Shi-mok who wants to visit in person. A slightly panicky Chief Prosecutor Kang vigorously opposes that idea, but since they weren’t able to stop Shi-mok, he has to handle it himself. He calls Shi-mok out to meet, getting him to agree after promising he won’t ask him to drink.
Elsewhere, the Yongsan team investigates a crime scene. There’s a spot of blood next to a car with its dashcam removed. Inside the vehicle, Team Leader Choi finds Dong-jae’s badge. Nooo.
Nooo, did Dong-jae get murdered? He better not have gotten himself murdered. Maybe he was only kidnapped? He obviously poked his nose somewhere he wasn’t supposed to, and I just hope he can use his weasel skills to survive whatever it is he got himself into. Knowing this drama, though, I’m not too optimistic about his chances. Still, until we see a body, I’m not calling it. He’s been sneaking around both Ki-hyun’s case and Hanjo, so those sides are most suspicious at the moment. Then again, who knows what else he’s been up to? I don’t want to underestimate his ability to piss people off.
Speaking of Hanjo, although I know it’s connected, all the company stuff still feels too separate from our main plot. I hope it blends better into our story soon because right now I’m finding it hard to get invested in the business shenanigans. I’m sure it’ll play into our police versus prosecution fight more in the future, and I’m hoping once this shareholder meeting is over, we’ll diver further into that connection.
We finally got a substantial conversation between Shi-mok and Yeo-jin! I really liked that rooftop scene. Yeo-jin has seemed kind of dispirited and just exhausted this season, which I get. But it’s sad to see her like that. I loved that Shi-mok asked about her drawings because it’s something I’ve missed from her lately. She was always doodling happily and giving “presents,” but now she seems burdened all the time and less herself. Last season, it was Shi-mok in need of some support and perspective, and Yeo-jin helped provide him with that. Now, he’s in a more stable place, and she’s the one in need of support. You know it’s a good friend when they’ll show up just to persuade you to do the right thing. He didn’t need any info from her, but he clearly knew she needed a little push to do what her conscience was already telling her to. This is what makes them such a good team. Their priorities are the same, but they bring different things to the table. She encourages him to be empathetic while he helps her stay the course.
Honestly, I’m surprised that Chief Choi thought Yeo-jin would be okay with all this backdoor stuff. It seems pretty obvious that Yeo-jin isn’t someone who’d put her career before ethics, and she’s been visibly uncomfortable with multiple of Chief Choi’s decisions. Maybe Chief Choi thought she’d get used to it or come around to her way of thinking eventually. Between her and Tae-ha’s dirty dealings, I don’t envy Yeo-jin or Shi-mok their positions. And now we know Tae-ha is even dirtier than we thought. This dude has got a lot of secrets. I wonder what his wife does that she directly played a role in the their shady cryptocurrency dealings.
Although corruption was a theme in the first season too, it’s being explored through a wider lens this time. It’s permeated every level of both the police and prosecution who are both too busy worrying about power and keeping themselves out of trouble to actually do their jobs. It’s easy to become dejected and think there’s no way to root out such a massive problem, and that’s what Yeo-jin seems to be grappling with of late. You’ll never eradicate corruption entirely, but you can at least try to hold people in power accountable. We know there’s at least one prosecutor who’s particularly good at that.
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