Forest of Secrets 2: Episode 15
Now that our missing prosecutor has been found, our lead turns his attention to the shady behavior of his colleagues and the mysterious Kwang-soo case. He and his partner in crime (solving) are determined to get to the bottom of it all, but what they find puts them in a predicament. Can they handle the cost of exposing the truth?
Tae-ha meets with Yeon-jae at her secret residence, and she informs him he’s now one of her people. What’s his price for helping with the lawsuit? Tae-ha isn’t looking for money and observes that they’ve already lost a lot of time. She’s confused by his talking like he was involved back then, so he clarifies: he organized the meeting for Kwang-soo, his childhood friend. And he was planning the next steps, too.
Yeon-jae laughs when he admits he didn’t do it for money – he wants to go into politics. Kwang-soo asked to meet with him right after Tae-ha had learned he’d be leading the investigative authority charge which he deemed a lost cause. He saw Hanjo as his way forward.
Yeon-jae isn’t opposed to sponsoring him and plans to acquire Sung-jae’s assets to pay the bills. But she needs ammunition. Tae-ha correctly guesses she wants to make sure Sung-jae doesn’t pay his fines. Yeon-jae needs the Eastern Office and the National Police Agency out of the way.
She tells him they’ll meet at this residence from now on and asks one last question. Why did they fight, and why did he die like that? Tae-ha admits he left early that day because he and Kwang-soo argued, but he had no idea he’d never see him again. He assures Yeon-jae it’s all over, and Shi-mok will be busy with the committee now. She doesn’t look particularly reassured.
On the drive back, Tae-ha gets a call from Sa-hyun telling him to turn on the radio. Director Shin is giving a press briefing about how the prosecution framed the police using Ki-hyuk. He’s barely concealing his glee as he accuses the Criminal Legislation Division of orchestrating it.
In voiceover, Yeo-jin wonders which prosecutor it is, and Chief Choi responds whether it’s Tae-ha or Sa-hyun, they’ve won the investigative authority fight. Director Shin publicly challenges that their warrant for Ki-hyuk should be granted if the prosecution is truly innocent.
The Criminal Legislation Division releases a rebuttal statement wherein Sa-hyun tries to redirect attention to the possibility that Ki-hyuk is acting from a personal grudge. Tae-ha expresses disappointment in Director Shin for peddling the lies, all but calling him unfit for his position.
The prosecution denies the warrant, sparking more debate in the news about the accusations. Director Shin angrily orders Chief Choi to get dirt on Tae-ha and Sa-hyun. She looks conflicted, thinking back to that night when Tae-ha had panicked about not reporting “it” right away.
Things are tense at the Supreme Office where Shi-mok stashes a warrant in his desk before their meeting. Shi-mok is distracted during the meeting as he recalls his interrogation of Ki-hyuk and the shady behaviors of Sa-hyun and Tae-ha.
Tae-ha is still adamant that cannot lose their investigative authority rights, but there won’t be a third council meeting. Shi-mok updates them that Yongsan let Ki-hyuk go and is hoping he’ll contact his backer. Sa-hyun scoffs he’d be an idiot to do that.
Shi-mok counters that it shouldn’t matter, seeing as he doesn’t have anyone to contact, right? Like Sa-hyun speculated, he could be holding a grudge against a cop. Then again, how would he have known that very cop was being accused of the crime when Joong-gi’s identity wasn’t made public?
As is his specialty, Shi-mok ratchets up the tension when he bluntly states that Ki-hyuk was charged by Sa-hyun’s division in 2017. Sa-hyun argues it’s not like he can remember every case he’s ever had. He admits he doesn’t believe Ki-hyuk was acting on a personal grudge and is angered by Tae-ha’s calm. They need to find out who sullied the prosecution like this!
Tae-ha replies that if someone dirtied their hands as a last-ditch effort for the prosecution, he’s thankful. Sa-hyun scoffs at his referring to that person as a “hero” and asks Shi-mok to give them the room. Shi-mok retrieves the warrant from his desk and leaves.
Inside the office, Sa-hyun says that Dong-jae would be dead if the Segok cop had been framed according to Tae-ha’s plan. Ooh. Dong-jae would be dead, and an innocent man would be charged. He impassionedly argues that Shi-mok is the one deserving of thanks, not that “hero” who disgraced the prosecution. Well, this has taken an interesting turn.
If Shi-mok hadn’t caught Ki-hyuk, Tae-ha could have become a murderer, and two families would have been destroyed. Tae-ha argues that “someone” probably was worried and selflessly seized a rare opportunity despite knowing it could backfire.
When Tae-ha says no one died, as if that means no harm done, Sa-hyun storms out. He notices Shi-mok is missing and scoffs when the assistant informs him he went to the bank.
At the bank, Shi-mok requests Kwang-soo’s bank records. Ah, so that’s what the warrant was for. Shi-mok thinks back to all the times Tae-ha tried to discourage him from looking into the Kwang-soo case.
In a flashback, Shi-mok visits Kwang-soo’s wife again. She nervously denies that someone warned her before Shi-mok visited last time. Shi-mok guesses she didn’t trust Tae-ha, which is why she sent him to Kwang-soo’s former secretary. He reveals he doesn’t trust Tae-ha either, so she asks what he wants to know.
Presently, Shi-mok sends a photo of Kwang-soo’s bank statement to Yeo-jin. Two days before his death, Kwang-soo transferred 2 million won apiece to three women. Yeo-jin notes this feels familiar.
Shi-mok and Yeo-jin surreptitiously text back and forth, deciding they should look up the women. But thanks to the mood in both of their offices, they’ll have to be careful. Ha, she signs off with this goofy sticker that leaves him confused.
Later, Yeo-jin visits the club where all three women worked and gets the manager to admit that she sent them to Namyangju at the request of Kwang-soo. Shi-mok talks to one of the women and shows her pictures of Kwang-soo and Tae-ha. She claims she hasn’t seen Tae-ha since that night.
He calls Yeo-jin who repeats aloud for the manager’s benefit that one woman admitted her manager sent them to Namyangju. The manager slips up and says that she heard about what happened to Kwang-soo from the girls.
The woman tells Shi-mok that Kwang-soo received them at some vacation villa, and Tae-ha arrived later. When she says a third person showed up after that, Shi-mok shows her a picture of Sa-hyun. She shakes her head.
She mentions they were only there briefly, but it wasn’t because their service wasn’t enjoyed; Tae-ha was particularly handsy. She hesitates to answer Shi-mok’s question about Kwang-soo’s condition that night but decides to answer since it isn’t specifically what they were told not to talk about.
We flash back to that night. Kwang-soo had suddenly dropped his glass and fallen unconscious. The girls were terrified as Tae-ha checked for a pulse. It happened quick – Kwang-soo died less than a minute after asking for an antacid. They were all surprised to see the false news about his death the next day.
That night, Tae-ha drove Kwang-soo’s car, careful to not leave fingerprints. He’d even used Kwang-soo’s finger to dial emergency services from Kwang-soo’s own phone and deleted the villa’s address from his GPS.
Yeo-jin relays to Shi-mok that one woman remembers Tae-ha ordering them to clean thoroughly. Seeing as he had them clean and then had someone drive them away, Tae-ha must not have originally intended to move the body. But who was the third person who drove the women?
Shi-mok asks Yeo-jin to send him someone who’s never seen Tae-ha before. In the office parking garage, he takes of photo of Tae-ha’s license plate. He then confronts Tae-ha in his office, asking if Kwang-soo had time to tell him the meeting was about Hanjo before he died.
He shares that he’s already got confirmation that Tae-ha was at the villa that night with “busy hands.” Tae-ha grits out that Shi-mok should be grateful he hasn’t fired him. When Shi-mok continues that he and his companions are facing prostitution charges, Tae-ha has a tantrum and starts throwing stuff.
Shi-mok also accuses him of abandoning a corpse, but Tae-ha insists it wasn’t him. In the face of Shi-mok’s calm, unrelenting accusations, Tae-ha says he gets why Chang-joon died. Did he push him to the edge by accusing him like this?
Tae-ha says he didn’t kill him – Kwang-soo just happened to die in front of him. Shi-mok doesn’t see how he can claim innocence since he shouldn’t have been in attendance in the first place. Tae-ha yells that anyone would have done what he did.
Shi-mok isn’t about to let him pull that. He’s a prosecutor, so he has a duty regardless of what “anyone” else would do. Did Kwang-soo’s body walk itself to that spot and dial 119?
Tae-ha keeps yelling that it wasn’t him, but his eyes widen when Shi-mok asks who the third person was. We flash back to Tae-ha talking to another man at the villa: Director Kim. Oooh. He’d told Tae-ha to wait there while he drove the girls away.
In the present, Tae-ha sighs in defeat and gives Director Kim’s name. Shi-mok says he’ll officially investigate and charge those responsible. From his office, Sa-hyun watches Shi-mok leave as Tae-ha yells after him. He seems to be putting things together, recalling Tae-ha getting weird about a vacation home and Hanjo.
While Shi-mok calls Yeo-jin to share the most recent developments, Tae-ha unlocks a folder on his computer and pulls up the personal info on the three women. After copying down one of their numbers, he goes to visit the deputy prosecutor general to report that someone in his division found out about Kwang-soo.
The deputy prosecutor general is remarkably unconcerned and casually tells him to transfer or fire Shi-mok. He chides Tae-ha for not handling things better and instructs him to ensure that everyone keeps quiet.
Meanwhile, Shi-mok and Yeo-jin visit Director Kim at the prison, and he claims he didn’t participate in or know about Tae-ha moving the body. Yes, he went there and regrets it, but he left with the girls. He couldn’t bring himself to go back to the villa and immediately returned to Seoul.
Then who drove Tae-ha’s car that night while Tae-ha drove Kwang-soo’s? It was too far to walk back to the villa, so there had to be a second driver. Director Kim maintains that he didn’t go back, but Shi-mok says Tae-ha is claiming Director Kim is the one who called 119.
Director Kim angrily denies it and claims he only found out about the body later. Shi-mok can’t imagine Tae-ha telling him and speculates there was yet another person involved. Director Kim reiterates that he did nothing wrong that day, but he did ask a subordinate to go and take care of things.
Clearly affected, Yeo-jin asks, “Was it my chief?” He confirms it. She asks if this why Chief Choi got promoted to her current position. He thinks it only natural that she was promoted in that situation.
Yeo-jin blinks back tears as she recalls Chief Choi telling her that she knows nothing about what it’s like to get dragged into something and then asking if Yeo-jin would stand by and watch her be taken away. Shi-mok looks over at Yeo-jin concernedly.
As they’re leaving, Shi-mok and Yeo-jin both get a text from Tae-ha ordering them to come to his office. The office is empty save for Tae-ha when they arrive. He takes their phones and shuts them in his desk before beginning.
Tae-ha gets straight to the point. He threatens to turn Yeo-jin into a corrupt cop and indict her for covering up for Assemblyman Nam’s son. Even if he loses his job, he can destroy her. “Are you happy now, Prosecutor Hwang?”
Tae-ha says he’s only trying to protect Chief Choi who was dragged into this because her boss ran away. Chief Choi is the one who suggested moving the body and using Kwang-soo’s phone to call emergency services.
Shi-mok asks if he’s trying to get revenge on Director Kim. Is that why he got him arrested? Tae-ha argues he’s guilty anyway. Addressing Yeo-jin, Tae-ha asks if she has to bring Chief Choi into this. Yeo-jin asks if Chief Choi agreed to what he’s doing now, but he doesn’t really answer. Doesn’t she want to protect her boss?
Shi-mok can protect Yeo-jin, Yeo-jin can protect Chief Choi, and he’ll protect himself. All they need to do is keep quiet. There’s no reason to ruin people’s lives over such a minor thing. He’ll be fine even if they get him fired. But he can ruin the two of them.
He returns their phones, and Shi-mok asks if he was worried he’d be recorded if had the conversation via phone call. Shi-mok pulls up a photo of Tae-ha and one of the women in his car. He and Yeo-jin had Soon-chang and another officer follow Tae-ha and snap the photos (and take video).
Tae-ha yells at Shi-mok for spying on his colleague, making Yeo-jin scoff at his blustering and wonder how he’s been running things. She and Shi-mok walk out like the badasses they are.
Shi-mok says Tae-ha wasn’t bluffing about indicting her, but Yeo-jin is prepared. She surmises the higher-ups must’ve agreed to transferring Shi-mok since Tae-ha can’t do that without permission.
That night, after having several drinks, Yeo-jin goes to see Chief Choi who’s already met with Tae-ha. Yeo-jin blames herself for keeping quiet about what happened with Assemblyman Nam’s son, giving Tae-ha leverage over her. At the time, she’d thought Chief Choi was right about bending the rules, but she won’t make that mistake again.
Chief Choi says it’s Yeo-jin’s turn now, just like it was her own back then. She can pull Yeo-jin up—”Why?! Why are you doing this, seriously?!” Yeo-jin argues that Chief Choi would’ve earned her position in time, but now she underestimates herself because of how she got there.
Yeo-jin cries as she says, “I never imagined I’d be ruining the career of the first person I sincerely respected after becoming a cop.” Chief Choi realizes Yeo-jin doesn’t know her well and doesn’t believe Yeo-jin will ruin her. Yeo-jin leaves before Chief Choi can disappoint her further.
We flash back to that night when Chief Choi and Tae-ha first realized Director Kim had run off. She’d been the calm one who’d come up with the plan. But she hadn’t been unaffected and had called 119 because she didn’t want to leave Kwang-soo’s body like that.
Now press swarm the villa to report on the sensational story in which a cop and a prosecutor actually cooperated. The coverup of Assemblyman Nam’s son’s drug crimes has also been outed. Director Shin brings Yeo-jin to task for acting without reporting to him. He says he’ll claim the report as false, and Yeo-jin retorts that’s exactly why she acted first.
Meanwhile, Tae-ha frantically prepares a rebuttal statement, and Shi-mok approaches Sa-hyun with a warrant for Tae-ha’s arrest. When Sa-hyun hesitates to sign off on it, Shi-mok marches out to find someone who will. Frustrated, Sa-hyun chases after him.
Elsewhere, Tae-ha enters the press briefing room to find it empty. But Chief Choi’s press briefing is in full attendance.
Tae-ha is a nasty piece of work, isn’t he? I never trusted him, but he’s turned out to be lower than I expected. I’d hoped there were some lines he wouldn’t cross, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. He’s willing to do whatever is necessary to achieve his goals and save his own skin, even if that means dumping his childhood friend’s body by the roadside and lying about his death. He does seem genuinely concerned about Chief Choi though, but I think when push comes to shove, he’ll always choose himself. And I doubt she’ll have any problem throwing him under the bus if need be. I don’t imagine she’s the type to let sentiment get in the way, and it looks like she already beat him to the punch with that press briefing. Although it doesn’t absolve her, it is messed up that Director Kim involved Chief Choi like that. He had her clean up his mess without even telling her what she was walking into. Her choices are still her own, but I can see how she’d feel trapped in that situation.
I was surprised at how high up the Kwang-soo case goes. What does the deputy prosecutor general have to do with it? With so many people involved, it’s kind of amazing nothing has leaked before now. The police, the prosecution, and Hanjo all have major players in this, and they’ll all likely try to tear each other to shreds. For the police and prosecution, investigative authority hangs in the balance, and we know how seriously they both take that. With this latest scandal, the police’s claim to investigative authority will have weakened. The corruption in both institutions doesn’t make either of them look better suited to having that power, so I guess it could swing either way now.
Another thing that surprised me was that it looks like Sa-hyun had no part in the framing. Everything was pointing to him, but he seemed truly horrified by the idea of it all. I’m glad to see he does have a conscience. His fondness for Shi-mok and flashes of empathy made me hope he wasn’t corrupt – just entitled and sometimes problematic. It’d be nice if he’d back Shi-mok up in all this since Shi-mok could use some support within the prosecution. It probably wouldn’t help much, seeing as this goes so high up, but it’d be better than having no one on his side. I can’t see how Shi-mok will get out of this unscathed unless everyone involved is brought down, and that’s a tall order.
Yeo-jin is the one I’m most concerned about. She had it rough this hour. I’m proud of her for unflinchingly doing what’s right even though it’s costing her. Throughout the season, it’s been obvious that Yeo-jin respects and admires Chief Choi, and that emotional conversation between her and Chief Choi made that even clearer. Yeo-jin has been beaten down by the corruptness within the system over the past few years, and now the one person she looked to has turned out to be no different than the rest. All that’s bad enough, but both she and Shi-mok have more to worry about than just the discomfort of their situations. Their jobs are endangered, and in Yeo-jin’s case, much more than that. Since Shi-mok is a part of the prosecution, Tae-ha (and his superiors) will probably want to handle him quietly to avoid any public disgrace, but with Yeo-jin, there’s no reason to hold back. If Tae-ha has his way, she could even be charged and possibly imprisoned.
This season has really shown the way a single bad decision can snowball. That one meeting about helping Hanjo under the table has had such incredible consequences for a host of people. And in order to protect themselves, the unethical decisions just pile up. Even though the decisions are individual, the system allows for this corruption to go unchecked. Rooting out the corruption isn’t only about ridding the institutions of those abusing their power but changing the system that breeds and nurtures that abuse of power. Unfortunately, there’s no easy fix for that – it takes lots of time and effort. But so long as there are people like Shi-mok and Yeo-jin who stand their ground, there’s hope.
While we did get a lot of answers this hour, there’s still a lot to cover. We were so busy with all the corruption that we didn’t even touch on Dong-jae this episode. He’s clearly still alive, but I’m guessing his condition hasn’t improved. Between dealing with the fallout from our interconnected cases, the investigatory authority debacle, Hanjo, and Dong-jae, it looks like we’ll have a packed finale.
- Premiere Watch: Forest of Secrets 2
- Jo Seung-woo, Bae Doo-na go head-to-head in new teaser for Forest of Secrets 2
- A new conspiracy unfolds in teaser for Forest of Secrets 2
- The cast of tvN’s Forest of Secrets 2 gather for first script reading
- Jo Seung-woo confirms second season of Forest of Secrets