Forest of Secrets 2: Episode 9
As we’ve come to expect with this drama, the deeper we dive, the more tangled it all gets. Things aren’t looking so hot for some of our more ambiguous players as the kidnapping case threatens to unearth secrets long buried. One past case in particular has caught our determined prosecutor’s attention, and his interest is already putting some people on high alert.
We back up to Sa-hyun and Shi-mok’s conversation where Sa-hyun commented that they’ve won the investigative authority fight if Dong-jae is found dead and the police had something to do with it. The government wouldn’t risk starting that kind of war with the prosecution. Not that he’s saying he thinks Dong-jae is dead.
He tells Shi-mok that Tae-ha was cagey when he asked him if he had been looking into Chief Choi. Shi-mok is surprised that Sa-hyun asked Tae-ha directly, but Sa-hyun knew that’s what Shi-mok hoped he’d do after their conversation. He’s offended when Shi-mok indirectly indicates he didn’t think Sa-hyun was sharp enough to realize that was his intent. Ha.
Sa-hyun attributes Tae-ha’s being on edge about it to worry. Dong-jae went missing after following Tae-ha’s orders, after all. Sa-hyun asks Shi-mok’s take on it and is hilariously baffled when Shi-mok earnestly asks how you can tell if someone is worried.
Shortly afterward, Shi-mok gets the call from Yeo-jin about the kidnapper’s message – Soon-chang received it as a text – and runs out. At Yongsan, the officers gather to brainstorm. Judging from the color of the blood on the tie, they guess that Dong-jae is still alive. Yeo-jin brings up the possibility that the photo was taken earlier and sent only now because Soon-chang’s phone number was given in the video calling for information.
Yeo-jin orders Gun to cross check the locations of the Segok cops when the text was sent with the GPS data on the phone. Of course, being cops, they’d likely take precautions against being traced, but it’s worth checking anyway.
They wonder why the photo was sent. It’s unusual to show off like this. Team Leader Choi thinks the culprit must really hate Dong-jae to refer to their actions against him as “dishwashing.”
There are audible groans when Shi-mok arrives and joins silently. Yeo-jin continues on, speculating that the culprit must have seen the video since he knew Soon-chang’s number. He probably saw all the comments cursing him out, too.
If he’s doing this as revenge for something Dong-jae did, maybe he was angered by the online vitriol against him. That would mean the photo was taken recently, and Dong-jae could still be alive. Shi-mok wonders to himself what the kidnapper’s intent behind the note is.
Everything fades away, and Shi-mok imagines the kidnapper preparing the note. Are they trying to say they’re a victim too, and Dong-jae got what he deserved? Why the message if they already got their revenge? Is it because people are publicly supporting Dong-jae and assuming he’s a good person?
He’s pulled out of his speculation by Yeo-jin calling his name. She wants to know where to get records on which offices Dong-jae has worked in, but her colleagues don’t see how they can look into every person Dong-jae ever indicted in his career. And what if it’s related to something like bribery that wouldn’t be found in his case history?
Yeo-jin knows that the prosecution won’t hand over Dong-jae’s records easily, so she says they’ll leave that investigation to the prosecution. The police will keep looking into Dong-jae’s acquaintances and investigating the scene.
She gets angry as the officers all smirk and chatter happily about the prosecution having to do that extra work. The culprit sent the photo because they think the police are a joke. Aren’t they angry? Yeo-jin closes her eyes in frustration when they grumble that the prosecution probably wouldn’t look for one of them.
Soon-chang sends Shi-mok the photo before he leaves, and Yeo-jin compliments him for getting them this big clue. They couldn’t have received this without his video idea. At the Supreme Office, Tae-ha and Sa-hyun look at the photo the culprit sent, and Tae-ha orders the assistant to get a list of all the offices Dong-jae has worked in.
Finding it suspicious that this photo appeared right after they interrogated Dong-jae’s wife, Shi-mok asks Gun to procure her call history. Gun and Soon-chang decide to double check Dong-jae’s children’s statements saying their mom was home that night. Another cop throws out that if she had an accomplice, she could’ve stayed home as an alibi.
In the car, Gun and Soon-chang comment on how Yeo-jin sounds like a higher up now rather than one of them. Yeo-jin, meanwhile, ponders the meaning of the culprit’s message. What does the ambiguous “too late” refer to?
Director Shin and Chief Choi review the photo Yeo-jin sent them, and he observes that the kidnapper must’ve held a grudge against Dong-jae for a while. That could clear the Segok officers.
Chief Choi wants to give a public briefing about it, but Director Shin orders her to hold off. What if one of the Segok officers tried to make it seem like a long-held grudge to throw off suspicion? Chief Choi looks oddly upset. Elsewhere, Chief Prosecutor Kang gets a notification that makes him remark there will be a lot of “stone throwing.”
Shi-mok calls his prosecutor acquaintance at Dong-jae’s office to request any handwritten statements on file from the Segok officers. He asks if there are any rumors about sponsors or problematic orders Dong-jae gave, but she denies hearing any. However, she freezes when he asks if there any rumors about Dong-jae and women. Hmm…
Shi-mok and Chief Prosecutor Kang wonder if she’s protecting her mentor by denying there’s any negative rumors about Dong-jae. Chief Prosecutor Kang is surprised to hear that Shi-mok requested all Dong-jae’s cases where he had issues with the defendants be reinvestigated.
Chief Prosecutor Kang comments that no prosecutor is perfect, but in Dong-jae’s case, they’re sure to find problems in his past cases. If he returns, he won’t be able to work in the prosecution anymore. But none of that matters unless they can find him before it’s too late.
Chief Prosecutor Kang stands with his back facing Shi-mok as he regretfully admits he told Dong-jae not to bother coming to see him. Shi-mok thinks of Yeon-jae’s assistant claiming that Dong-jae needed more time to get the intel since he hadn’t met with Chief Prosecutor Kang yet.
But he doesn’t mention any of that and instead asks if Dong-jae caused any problems after Shi-mok moved to Tongyeong. Chief Prosecutor Kang says Dong-jae actually did well when he transferred him to juvenile investigations. As Shi-mok leaves, Chief Prosecutor Kang notes that Tae-ha must be happy they interviewed a cop as a suspect.
Meanwhile, Joo-seon reports to Yeon-jae that he’s still working on Chief Choi and is about to meet with Chief Prosecutor Kang regarding Hanjo’s lawsuit. Her assistant (a.k.a. Director Park) updates her on the lawsuit and informs her that Hanjo Engineering will soon be audited thanks to the prosecution’s investigation. Director Park says he’ll prepare their accounting team to prevent further audits and smiles happily when she compliments his foresight.
Elsewhere, Gun shows Dong-jae’s wife the photo and asks if it’s Dong-jae’s tie. She can barely look at it and manages a nod. She lets out a sob and suddenly grabs Gun’s arm, begging him to find Dong-jae. Gun eyes her suspiciously as she cries and gets her to write a handwritten statement.
Right after he leaves, he hears her talking to someone on the phone and asks for the call info to be checked. Later, Soon-chang shows him CCTV footage that shows her arriving home the night of the incident, but her kids are seen leaving that evening. Although that leaves a three-hour window where no one can prove her alibi, the footage doesn’t show her ever leaving the apartment. Gun clearly finds her suspicious and notes that her nails were immaculately painted, like they’d just been done.
Shi-mok joins Yeo-jin as she updates the investigation board with info on the Segok cops who are now scattered in different jobs and locations. They theorize about why the culprit sent the photo. If they’d wanted to show off, they could’ve sent the tie itself.
Team Leader Choi comes in and speculates that they probably didn’t want to leave any evidence, which is why they sent the photo instead of the tie. Even so, he’s never seen a criminal do anything like this is his 30 years as a cop.
Yeo-jin reiterates that the culprit may have gotten upset after seeing the video and all the people sympathizing with Dong-jae. This ups the chances of Dong-jae being alive, but where could they be keeping him?
Shi-mok listens quietly as Team Leader Choi and Yeo-jin bounce ideas back and forth. They’d likely have to live alone in a house and have a car no one else uses. Shi-mok brings up the possibility of an entire family being in on it if it’s a case of revenge.
Team Leader Choi observes that the wood floor in the photo isn’t common, and it jogs Yeo-jin’s memory. When she went to visit the Tongyeong drowning victim’s father, his place had hardwood floors. He was upset about Dong-jae talking “nonsense,” and she recalls a closed room off to the side.
Yeo-jin keeps that to herself for now and mentions the possibility that the culprit killed Dong-jae at the scene and put him in the trunk. If they haven’t disposed of the body, it’d be decomposing by now, and they’d have to keep others from noticing the smell. They’d need a controllable environment. Yeo-jin doubts the crime scene will tell them much since the culprit is likely hiding far away.
Shi-mok imagines the culprit approaching a terrified and bound Dong-jae. They could’ve cut off a body part, but instead, they cut a piece of his tie. Were they afraid? What if this isn’t revenge?
Gun pulls him out of his reverie by announcing they’re ordering food. There’s this awkward moment where, after Team Leader Choi jokingly chides Yeo-jin for caring more about the food than her colleagues, Gun casually says it’s not like she sees them as her colleagues anymore.
They start comparing the handwritten statements from Dong-jae’s wife and the Segok officers to the culprit’s note. Team Leader Choi points out the oddity of writing instead of typing the note.
Shi-mok notices a ceiling light in the photo and words that they can’t make out. Yeo-jin orders Gun to have forensics analyze the photo. She hopes to have the results before the briefing the next day. They’re all surprised to hear there’s a public briefing when they don’t have anything definite, but Yeo-jin says they all know why it has to happen. Everyone shifts uncomfortably.
The following day, Yeo-jin holds the press briefing – Chief Choi instructed her to gather reporters who had accused a cop of being the culprit and prove them wrong to their faces. Dong-jae’s wife and son, as well as his prosecutor colleague, watch as Yeo-jin details the investigation so far. She states that Dong-jae’s colleagues said he was set to be awarded “prosecutor of the month” for his good work. That’s news to Shi-mok and the Supreme Office.
The drowning victim’s father and the Segok cops also watch, and we hear Yeo-jin in voiceover laying out her plan. If the photo was a Segok cop trying to cover their tracks, announcing it publicly will make them think it’s working, and that could make them more prone to mistakes.
Joong-gi gets up as she announces the photo and shows the message, and he hops in his car. He notices someone tailing him and angrily gets out, but his partner holds him back. He doesn’t see Soon-chang pull up behind and start following him as he drives off. At the care center, Soo-hang takes the remote from an elderly woman and switches the channel, earning a suspicious glance from his boss.
Shi-mok’s colleagues are not happy about the briefing, but Director Shin and Chief Choi are glad to hear the public are no longer criticizing them. Yeo-jin reports that people are now focusing their ire on the culprit and Dong-jae. (It’s been revealed that he was investigated two years ago.)
Chief Choi worries that they’ll be criticized if they don’t find him, even though the likelihood that he’s alive is slim. Yeo-jin gets a text from Gun. He discovered that Soo-hang worked at a store owned by his uncle after his release, and it’s right by the crime scene.
Soo-hang’s alibi was verified, but they realize that the ex-chief’s supposed overtime log could be forged. Chief Choi promises to find out if it’s legit and tells Yeo-jin to bring the organizational chart from her desk. She can use it to find whoever doesn’t work overtime and get them to snitch on their colleagues.
After Yeo-jin leaves, Chief Choi suddenly gets a panicked look and goes running to her office without a word. She arrives just as Yeo-jin pulls some files out of her desk. She insists she’ll handle it and sends Yeo-jin off to the ex-chief’s store. Once Yeo-jin is gone, she shoves the file with the call log she secretly copied in her bag.
Shi-mok goes through Dong-jae’s browser history the week of his disappearance and finds links to several articles about Park Kwang-soo’s death. Tae-ha comes out of his office with Sa-hyun as Shi-mok calls Dong-jae’s assistant to ask why he was so interested in Kwang-soo’s death.
Sa-hyun notes how Tae-ha freezes and gets flustered. He hesitates on his way out to eat with the office, but he can’t question Shi-mok or get him off the call without arousing suspicion, so he leaves with his colleagues. But once they’re outside, Tae-ha abruptly says he has somewhere to go and takes off.
Shi-mok realizes that Dong-jae visited the spot where Kwang-soo died the day he went missing and heads out to get the case file. Meanwhile, Tae-ha goes to see a woman. While Shi-mok read through the case file, we flashback to when a truck driver found Kwang-soo dead in his car and called the police.
Everything is now pointing to the Kwang-soo case, which throws a lot more suspicion on Hanjo, Tae-ha, and Chief Choi. I’m glad Shi-mok is clued into this case now because I’m really curious about what went down. Judging from the way everyone involved is working so hard to keep things quiet, whatever happened must be career ending or worse. All we know so far is that he was working under the table with Hanjo, and Chief Choi was involved somehow in the coverup after his death. So where does Tae-ha fit in? He seems the most worked up about all this, and he’s the least adept at a poker face, so I think he could be the weak link.
Even with the kidnapping and possible murder of a prosecutor, both the police and prosecution are still so politicized. It’s all about the investigative authority fight and power. Yeo-jin and Shi-mok seem to be the only ones genuinely concerned about Dong-jae, except Chief Prosecutor Kang, maybe. And surprisingly, Sa-hyun. He’s a lot more palatable now that we’ve gotten to see some sincerity. He’s more observant than he seems at first glance. I thought his loyalty was to Tae-ha, but he’s been throwing him some suspicious glances of late. I’m surprised by how much he’s helping Shi-mok, reporting back about Tae-ha’s dodginess surrounding Chief Choi. He may turn out to be a valuable asset going forward.
Dong-jae’s reputation is taking a hit in all this, and I just hope it doesn’t get in the way of the investigation. The police already have a negative view of Dong-jae, and now that seems to be spreading to the public. I guess his weasel-y ways had to come back to bite him at some point. But now it’s extending to his personal life since there’s a strong possibility he was having an affair with that prosecutor in his office. If so, that could make things even messier.
I still can’t get a read on Dong-jae’s wife. It’s hard to tell if her odd reactions are just due to the trauma of the situation, or if they’re due to fear of getting caught. She hasn’t expressed much fear for Dong-jae’s safety up until now, so her emotional outburst with Gun rang a little hollow. Of course, everyone reacts to these sorts terrifying situations differently, so it’s entirely plausible her nervous tics and stoicism are nothing to be concerned about. But Gun obviously finds her behavior suspect.
Speaking of Gun, he’s been getting on my nerves lately. He has such an us-versus-them mentality. He’s been the most hostile about Dong-jae since he came after Chief Choi, and he’s made multiple comments about Yeo-jin not being one of them anymore. Even in season one, his blind loyalty to his superiors caused problems and made him act stupid (when he stole that info from their team for his sketchy boss). I’d hoped he’d gotten over that but apparently not. I feel bad for Yeo-jin getting stuck in the middle of her field officer colleagues and the higher-ups. She clearly doesn’t feel like she’s one of the higher-ups, but now that she has more clout, the field officers are starting to isolate her. She’s handling it well, but it’s got to be stressful.
I wonder why Yeo-jin didn’t mention the hardwood floors in the drowning victim’s father’s apartment when she was talking to Team Leader Choi and Shi-mok. It does seem like a bit of a stretch that the grieving father could be responsible for the kidnapping given that Dong-jae wasn’t a prosecutor on his son’s case, but nothing can be dismissed yet. There’s still so much we don’t know. Granted, that apartment doesn’t look like where Dong-jae was being held, but that’s not enough to rule him out. *Sigh* So many possibilities.
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