Fly Dragon: Episode 6
Our leads win a big case, but contrary to their expectations, this success doesn’t magically solve all their problems. Though it should be a time for celebrations, it’s a bittersweet moment for our attorney as he realizes how broken the system and the world are. However, our leads don’t get the luxury to sulk since there are still plenty of cases to tackle and foes to bring down.
EPISODE 6 RECAP
During the final retrial of the Samjung case, Chul-kyu confesses to the murder and points out the spilled water at the crime scene. Judge Heo asks how he remembers such a minor detail, so Chul-kyu recounts the events of that night. He and Won-bok realized the grandmother stopped breathing, and in their desperation, they tried feeding her water, which caused the spill.
The prosecution asks Chul-kyu how he could be so sure, and he tells him that it’s hard to forget a murder. When Tae-yong’s turn arrives, he gives the witness a chance to share any final words. Bowing his head, Chul-kyu apologizes to the deceased grandmother, her family, and the framed men. He doesn’t ask for their forgiveness and is willing to accept his punishment.
Before questioning the defendants, Judge Heo calls for a break and meets with his direct superior. She isn’t pleased with the flow of the retrial and reminds him that the presiding judge holds sole authority to determine what is “truth” in the courtroom. After dismissing the judge, the superior notifies Justice Jo about the retrial, promising him good news.
When the retrial resumes, the prosecution questions each of the defendants one by one, giving them no space to refute nor explain their previous actions. When Sang-hyun is on the stand, Judge Heo asks him why he didn’t deny the charges from the beginning, but Tae-yong points out that the judge should know the answer better than anyone. His veiled accusation reminds Judge Heo of his past defense for the three men, and he doesn’t press the matter further.
In his closing arguments, Tae-yong mentions how all court proceedings begin with “your honorable judge,” but today, he finds it difficult to utter those words. He describes each of the defendants’ stories, and poses a question to the court: Was their arrest an unavoidable mistake or a result of everyone’s prejudice?
Tae-yong says that all it takes to open up a heart is a sincere apology, yet during this trial, only one person took responsibility and said sorry. Turning to the judge, Tae-yong asks him to finally console the defendants by proclaiming their innocence.
Before rendering the verdict, Judge Heo looks over at his fellow judges and thinks back to their final conversation. He found Chul-kyu’s confession to be unreliable, but the younger judges disagreed, arguing that the three men were innocent. As Judge Heo weighs their opinion against his superior’s, he announces his decision: not guilty.
The crowd erupts into cheers with Sam-soo acting as Tae-yong’s biggest fanboy, but Tae-yong only looks at Chul-kyu who smiles and bows his head. As for the bad guys, Prosecutor Jang leaves the courtroom in a huff, but Attorney Hwang won’t let him off that easily, demanding an apology. He sneers at them in response and runs away without ever admitting his fault.
Tae-yong and his team break away from the mob of reporters, and at Tae-yong’s request, Yoo-kyung is allowed to tag along with them to their next destination: the grandmother’s grave. Since Yoo-kyung has yet to publish an article on the retrial, Chief Shin yells at her through the phone to hurry up.
In the other car, Tae-yong thanks Chul-kyu again and tells him not to put himself too down since he was the only one who had the courage to step up. Unlike his previous win, it’s a somber drive without much fanfare since the clients’ freedom came at the cost of someone’s sacrifice.
Ms. Choi waits for the group at the gravesite, and as soon as Chul-kyu arrives, he gets on his knees and apologizes. He then bows to the grandmother and promises to repent for the rest of his life. While Ms. Choi weeps, Attorney Hwang comforts her and comments on how their “better day” has finally arrived.
Ruining the mood, the terrible detectives who botched the original case crash the event to arrest Chul-kyu. They act as if all is well that ends well and leave with their heads held high. Tae-yong follows after them and grabs Chul-kyu’s hands reassuringly once last time before he’s taken away. Elsewhere, the detectives also arrest Deok-jong who kicks and screams the entire way.
Sam-soo asks Tae-yong if they can’t arrest the police or prosecutors, but Attorney Hwang answers for him, explaining how no one gets punished after faulty investigations or rulings. Since the mood has been soured, she invites everyone out to drinks as thanks for healing her as well.
Prosecutor Jang hangs his head in front of Mayor Kang who berates his son-in-law for being so incompetent. He calls him shameless for failing to accomplish such a simple task and warns him to do better next time or else.
Having also failed, Justice Jo bows in apology to Legislator Kim, but the latter tells the justice to lift his head. With his voice rising, Legislator Kim says that they can’t compensate everyone who’s been unfairly imprisoned since he firmly believes that people like them are the ones who raised and protected this country.
At the restaurant, Attorney Hwang asks for a round of applause for Ms. Choi who played a major role in this case and gives her the floor to speak. Ms. Choi tells the group that she’ll finally be able to walk at night and wishes for the three men to walk a flowery path from now on.
In the corner, Yoo-kyung works on her article, and Tae-yong pushes Sam-soo to comfort his junior. Sam-soo half-reluctantly goes to her side and asks if CEO Moon gave her the tip about the prosecutor’s recording. When she confirms it, Sam-soo smiles and urges her to hurry up and join them for food.
As he gets up, he apologizes to Yoo-kyung for being mean to her and tells her that he trusts her. When asked why, he says that there’s no reason, and then marvels at his own words. Yoo-kyung smiles up at him, both grateful of and annoyed by his antics.
While Tae-yong gets some fresh air, Attorney Hwang stands next to him and asks if she can join them during her free time. Sam-soo jumps in, saying that he’s the interviewer, and brags about the money he made with his articles. Acting like a clingy lover, Sam-soo asks his “honey” about the contingent fee, but Tae-yong isn’t in the mood to talk about money.
After the party, Tae-yong drives Yoo-kyung home and asks if he looked awesome today. She tells him that he was cool, and the two of them laugh as they exchange praises. Sleeping in the back, Sam-soo wakes up for a moment to roll his eyes at them. Heh.
Yoo-kyung’s article about Chul-kyu gets published, but CEO Moon scolds her for writing literature instead of news. She doesn’t back down, though, and asks CEO Moon if their newspaper is about chasing the truth or lining their own pockets with money. CEO Moon claims that they’re different from the other money-grubbing papers, and she hopes his words are true.
While Sam-soo daydreams about all the things he’ll do now that he’s rich, Jin-shil advises him to concentrate on writing good articles rather than making a profit. She mentions the upcoming meeting with her father, and Sam-soo talks big to hide his own doubts about his future.
Tae-yong scrambles around the house to help his niece and nephew get ready for school, but contrary to Sam-soo’s morning, the attorney isn’t as enthusiastic about making money with his recent win. When the two meet up at the office, Sam-soo presents their reward fee contract, but Tae-yong wants to drop the topic since Chul-kyu still weighs heavily on his heart.
In exchange, Tae-yong feeds Sam-soo extra dumplings as thanks, but their appetite gets ruined when they read articles about Justice Jo claiming to not remember the Samjung case. A knock at the door interrupts their conversation, and Tae-yong gets up to greet their guests despite Sam-soo’s objections.
While Yoo-kyung flies to Jeju island to interview an elderly man, Tae-yong and Sam-soo sit across from their intimidating guests. They’re here about their hyung-nim (aka, big brother/boss) who was wrongfully charged for murdering a truck driver when he was only seventeen, and though they were gangsters back in their younger days, they claim to have turned a new leaf.
However, a murder conviction isn’t an easy roadblock to overcome, so they need Tae-yong’s help to clear their hyung-nim’s name. Hearing about their time in jail, Tae-yong is wary about the case, but Sam-soo has the opposite reaction, his eyes lighting up at the thought of money.
Yoo-kyung meets with her informant, Mr. Oh Jae-duk, who was wrongfully sentenced to a lifetime in prison by Justice Jo. Though the old man is hard of hearing because of the torture he endured in his past, he clearly remembers the justice’s name.
Taking the reporter to the beach, Mr. Oh shows her the place he first arrived on Jeju Island while fleeing from Japan. When he returned to his hometown in the 1980s, the police suddenly captured and tortured him, accusing him of espionage. The trauma of that time still haunts him, and Yoo-kyung tears up as she watches him reenact how the police beat him.
Back in the office, Tae-yong refuses to look at the case files since he has an image to maintain, and Sam-soo accuses him of judging people based on their looks again. Sam-soo urges Tae-yong to consider the contingent fee that would come from a ten-year imprisonment—going all out with song and dance—and the lawyer hesitates for a second but doesn’t answer.
During Justice Jo’s confirmation hearing, he claims to have always followed the law, and Mr. Oh shakes in fury when he hears the lies. Sitting by the beach, Mr. Oh continues his story, explaining to Yoo-kyung that Justice Jo was like a god to him and the others.
Even if the police beat them and the prosecutors didn’t believe them, they held onto the hope that the judge would at least hear their pleas. Thus, they prayed day after day to the judge to release them, and we see Mr. Oh standing before Justice Jo, begging him to listen to his words.
Yoo-kyung asks if Justice Jo ever followed-up on any of Mr. Oh’s claims, but the old man sighs since he wouldn’t be as bitter if the justice at least asked about his injuries even once. To this day, he resents the judges more than anyone else because their betrayal hurt more than any physical pain. He blames himself for being powerless, and Yoo-kyung cries, telling him that Justice Jo is the one at fault.
Tae-yong gets a text from Yoo-kyung about her trip to Jeju Island, and Sam-soo wonders if she’s dating another reporter. While Tae-yong frets about the possibility of a boyfriend, Yoo-kyung returns to Seoul and informs Chief Shin about her investigation over the phone. As the newly promoted editor-in-chief, Chief Shin reminds the passionate reporter that articles need approval before publication.
Alone in his office, Tae-yong hurriedly answers a call from Yoo-kyung who wonders what’s wrong since he called over five times during her thirty-minute flight (heh). He says that he was just worried, and she smiles at his obvious show of affection. When she tells him that she flew down for work, Tae-yong relaxes and laughs at the happy news.
Legislator Kim invites Mayor Kang for a drive around the city, and Prosecutor Jang doesn’t get the hint that it’s a private chat. Hitting his head on the door, the prosecutor excuses himself and watches the two men leave without him.
During the ride, Legislator Kim informs the mayor that their plans for Justice Jo and Prosecutor Jang’s promotions will go forward as promised. However, if Prosecutor Jang wants to join the general election next year, he’ll have to do better. The legislator tells the mayor that it’s important to know when to cut ties even if it’s family and advises the mayor to finish up with Techno Town.
Sam-soo meets with Kwi-hyun to discuss their next steps, and they giggle over their success. On his way home, Sam-soo receives a call from Prosecutor Jang, and though he calls it crazy, Sam-soo still shows up for free drinks.
Prosecutor Jang is already wasted by the time Sam-soo joins him and rambles on about his father-in-law loving the pesky duo. He asks how Sam-soo’s head is from the time he smacked him and whines about the troubles of a farmer’s son living among the elites.
To Sam-soo’s disbelief, the prosecutor falls asleep at the bar, so he carries the prosecutor to his house where his wife comes outside to meet him. She only frowns at her husband’s embarrassing display and walks right back inside without a word. Prosecutor Jang calls her an ice princess and thanks Sam-soo for bringing him home before stumbling inside.
CEO Moon reads Yoo-kyung’s latest article about Justice Jo and orders Chief Shin to bury it. Though the chief pushes back at first, she ends up complying with his wishes. However, she doesn’t trash Yoo-kyung’s idea outright and tells the junior reporter that she needs more evidence. With a new goal in sight, Yoo-kyung grabs her bag to continue her investigation.
Tae-yong visits Chul-kyu at jail, and the latter explains how things haven’t changed—the cells are still filled with those without families. When Tae-yong expresses guilt towards him, Chul-kyu assures him that he’s fine since he’ll serve his time and repent for the rest of his life. When it’s time for Tae-yong to leave, Chul-kyu asks why he came, and Tae-yong simply says that he wanted to keep him company, promising to drop by from time to time.
Finishing the last articles on the Samjung case, Sam-soo sends over the final products to Kwi-hyun and happily watches as the money piles up. He calls Jin-shil to brag about his success and suggests buying her father an expensive gift for their upcoming meeting.
Mayor Kang thanks CEO Moon for the tip about Justice Jo and guarantees him a plot in Techno Town. He then calls the justice to warn him about Yoo-kyung and feigns concern while actually relishing in the other’s misfortune.
Thanks to her boss, Yoo-kyung is a step too late in her investigation since the bad guys have gotten rid of the online records concerning Justice Jo’s court rulings. Luckily for her, Mr. Oh kept copies of everything, and she tells him that she’ll be right over.
Accomplishing the third stage of his article funding, Sam-soo sits down with Tae-yong to discuss their split. After giving Kwi-hyun his fees, they still have a hefty sum, and Sam-soo offers Tae-yong a bit more. However, Tae-yong mentions the clients, who also deserve some money, and then remembers Ms. Choi and Chul-kyu’s family, as well. As the number of people increase, Sam-soo’s frown gets deeper until he shoves his face into the couch and sulks.
At News and New, Yoo-kyung presents her article about Justice Jo to CEO Moon, but he rips it up. She tells him that the evidence won’t disappear, but CEO Moon begs her to think about the company. Quoting Mr. Oh, Yoo-kyung tells her seniors that betrayal hurts the most and storms out of the office with her things.
Tae-yong apologizes to Sam-soo and reminds him that they can still find a philanthropist to help with their money problems. Sam-soo yells at the lawyer for repeating the same thing over again and asks if Tae-yong will take care of him if Jin-shil kicks him out.
As they mope, Yoo-kyung barges in and slams her bundle of documents on the table. She asks the two of them to join her fight in bringing down Justice Jo. Though baffled by the sudden request, Tae-yong agrees to accompany her to Jeju Island, but Sam-soo isn’t as agreeable.
With a sigh, Sam-soo says that it’s all pointless, but his cynical response only fuels her anger. Slamming her hiking shoe on the table, Yoo-kyung points out that he was the one who made her this way and accuses him of betraying her, too.
The Samjung case comes to a close, but unlike his previous win, it’s a bittersweet moment for Tae-yong. On one hand, the three men finally received justice, but it also means another person lost his freedom and family. The show doesn’t pardon Chul-kyu for his crimes, but it does portray him as a broken human being who repents and takes responsibility for his actions. While he should be punished, the show makes it clear that he isn’t the root cause of this mess: the police and legal system are. Unfortunately, winning a retrial doesn’t mean punishing the detectives, prosecutors, or judges who made faulty rulings, so despite the win, there’s a feeling of bitterness at the end of day. The people who should have been punished alongside the criminals get to enjoy their promotions and benefits without any of the consequences, and to make matters worse, they don’t show an inkling of repentance. As a result, the Samjung men may have reclaimed their innocence, but there’s no guarantee that more victims like them won’t appear in the future.
The overall episode was mostly a breather before jumping into the next big cases, and it served as a reminder that this show was never about one major retrial. In fact, though there are clear villains, those characters feel more like stand-ins for the bigger problem our protagonists face. While taking down Justice Jo, Mayor Kang, and Legislator Kim are our team’s immediate goals, this upcoming fight isn’t simply about these two groups of people but a battle against the institutional problems of the legal and judicial system. Thus, the den of evil is just as much a “face” to a larger problem in order to make an intangible opponent tangible. Since the show is based on real-life Attorney Park Joon-young and Reporter Park Sang-kyu (who’s also the writer of this show), there’s still a lot of story to tell and cases to cover. Especially in light of recent events with Attorney Park’s latest win on the retrial of the 8th Hwaseong murder, the fight for justice still isn’t over.
For the South Korean audience, some of the cases depicted in this show may sound familiar. Though names, situations, cases, and so forth have been changed and fictionalized to a degree, there’s a scary accurateness to the show because of writer Park and his firsthand account that other retellings haven’t captured. That isn’t to say the show is a perfect depiction or even “truthful” to the actual events, but the emotional nuances and reactions of the characters have a certain degree of realism that elevates the show. Tae-yong isn’t a morally upstanding lawyer with no faults because real-life Attorney Park doesn’t portray himself in that manner. A recent interview of the attorney shows that despite the visual differences, writer Park really did capture the essence of the attorney in this fictionalized version. (For those who are interested, here’s the link to the interview where Attorney Park discusses the real case the Samjung retrial was based on and says that he still visits the culprit who confessed.)
On the other hand, the show isn’t a documentary of the attorney and reporter’s partnership, so naturally, there are elements of dramatizations in the show. I can’t say for certain if Yoo-kyung is “fake,” but regardless of her origins, I like her as the third leg of the team. Contrasting against the others, Yoo-kyung is a bit greener and a tiny bit more innocent than our leads which results in an interesting dynamic. At times, she learns from her seniors, and their influence affects her trajectory immensely. However, she hasn’t become as jaded as either of them, and because of her wealthy background, Yoo-kyung doesn’t have to worry about money as much as Tae-yong or Sam-soo. Hence, she is able to keep the duo rooted and force them to fight for the greater good rather than their own greed, and neither of them (though it’s mostly Sam-soo) can complain about it since they have to set an example for their junior who looks up to them.
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