The Devil Judge: Episode 3
Our devilish judge turns this latest setback into an opportunity to further solidify the public’s devotion ahead of his next high-profile trial. He’s determined to see the defendant brought to justice, while the defendant’s mother is determined to stop the trial at all costs. Meanwhile, with some unexpected free time on his hands, our young judge digs into his suspicious colleague’s family history and makes some surprising discoveries.
EPISODE 3 RECAP
After the explosion, Yo-han brings the injured Ga-on to his house to recuperate. He’s still unconscious, his head and chest bandaged. A young girl blasély asks Yo-han if he’s dead. When Ga-on rouses, she declares this situation no fun and drives her motorized wheelchair out.
Meanwhile, the police investigate the bombing, and reporters clamor to get the scoop outside of the courthouse. Yo-han makes an appearance, calm as ever, and tells the public he’s well. He doesn’t rule out the possibility that the bombing was retaliation for the outcome of the televised trial. Regardless, they will not be cowed – the show will go on.
Yo-ha takes this opportunity to announce they will next publicly try Minister Cha’s son Lee Young-min who “continually abused the weak and unfortunate.” The reporters gasp in shock, as does Minister Cha in her office. She’s livid and rushes off to see her son.
After the press conference, Yo-han removes the bandage on his uninjured hand. Soo-hyun catches him on his way out and worriedly asks after Ga-on. Yo-han assures her he’s fine and says he didn’t know Ga-on had a cop friend.
When Yo-han refuses to tell her where Ga-on is recuperating (supposedly for his safety), Soo-hyun desperately grabs his arm and demands to see Ga-on. Yo-han tells her to focus on catching the culprit; he’ll take care of Ga-on. Coming from him, that’s less than reassuring for Soo-hyun.
Ga-on wakes to a loud crash and finds a woman looking stunned by his bed. She stares like she’s seen a ghost and apologizes for dropping the food tray. Ga-on asks why she was so startled. “Didn’t Master Yo-han say anything?” She refuses to say more and leaves to get more food.
Ga-on walks around the mansion which is situated on a beautiful seaside cliff, like something out of a fairy tale. As he peruses the bookshelves, he’s startled by the glowering young girl. She introduces herself rather hostilely as ELIJAH.
He’s baffled by her anger, especially when she says it’s on account of his face. She calls him a knockoff and grumbles that she doesn’t understand why Yo-han brought him here.
Elsewhere, Young-min whines to his father Chae-kyung about Yo-han’s audacity in wanting to try him. Chae-kyung agrees that Yo-han is a “psycho” and assures him his mother will protect him. Young-min confesses that Yo-han might be targeting him on purpose.
Minister Cha arrives home and greets Young-min with a hard slap to the face. How dare he disappoint her? Young-min stands frightened and docile as his mother shoves him back and demands he look at her. She grabs his face none too gently and says it’ll be fine before slapping him on the back a few times.
She then turns her anger on her husband for letting this happen. He meekly admits that one case fell through the cracks. No matter, Minister Cha declares that there’s no way that trial is happening.
Minister Cha barges into President Heo’s office and finds Yo-han already there. Yo-han takes his leave since it’d look bad for him to be fraternizing with the defendant’s family. He says it’s business, not personal. Minister Cha grits out that whatever she does next isn’t personal either.
On his way out, Yo-han runs into Sun-ah. He shares his interesting finding that the explosion was serious enough to cause a stir without being deadly. It’s almost like it was a warning. Sun-ah agrees that’s very interesting and muses that there are those who wisely heed warnings and those who regret not doing so.
Sun-ah relays the SRF’s concerns to President Heo and Minister Cha. They’re afraid of getting the public worked up since abuse of power is a hot topic these days. President Heo blames Minister Cha for stressing her son out and causing his misbehavior. He then lectures her on how her “intense gaze” isn’t becoming in a woman. Ugh.
President Heo points out that in a single day, a petition to find the bomber has garnered a million signatures. The public will riot if they go after Yo-han now. Minister Cha says she’ll handle this herself, then.
Ga-on wakes to the disconcerting sight of Yo-han dressing his wounds. Yo-han is surprised to see he has a tattoo on his back. Ga-on earns a slap on the back when he quips that Yo-han sounds like an old fogey.
Yo-han joins Elijah who’s watching the televised emotional statement by Jin-joo about the bombing. Her tears and praise of Yo-han’s character make Elijah wonder if they’re dating. Yo-han vehemently insists they’re not. That too bores Elijah.
Yo-han smiles indulgently as she criticizes him for bringing the stupid Ga-on home. She threatens to kill Ga-on if he doesn’t leave, but Yo-han reminds her she said she’d kill him first if she ever gets to walk again. “One at a time,” he cheekily suggests. Elijah glares (harder) and leaves the room.
Before work the next day, Yo-han instructs Ga-on to rest and not wander around. It’s safer for him to stay at Yo-han’s until they find the culprit. In the meantime, they’ll bring in a substitute judge for the next trial.
Yo-han introduces Justice Jung In-seok to Jin-joo and stifles a smile when she remarks that he looks so judge-like. She’s friendly but won’t let In-seok sit at Ga-on’s desk.
At the mansion, Ga-on naturally doesn’t listen to Yo-han and goes wandering through the house. He only makes it to a nearby locked door before the stoic housekeeper orders him back in his room.
Soo-hyun, meanwhile, reviews CCTV footage with her colleagues. No one from outside visited the office, so it’s looking like an inside job. Soo-hyun theorizes that maybe the bomb wasn’t snuck in but was behind the painting all along.
Yo-han hopes to discover the culprit before the police do, so his lackey tails Soo-hyun and her partner when they head out. They go into the desolate part of town to visit the workshop of the man who furnished the office. He isn’t thrilled to have visitors – which he makes clear by pushing Soo-hyun’s partner face-down right next to the table saw – and refuses to cooperate without a warrant.
That night, Yo-han wears his sneakin’ clothes and goes to see the man himself. He accuses him of making the bomb that almost killed him and rushes the large man. Yo-han may be smaller, but he’s scrappy and manages to get the better of his opponent.
Yo-han drags him in a chokehold perilously close to the woodstove. The man spills that it was the SRF who orders him to do it. Yo-han continues choking the man until his lackey gets him to stop. Yo-han orders the man to tell his bosses to come after Yo-han themselves.
Outside, the lackey stops Yo-han as he heads to his car. “Are you doing this because of Ga-on?” Yo-han doesn’t respond.
When he arrives home, Yo-han goes straight to see Ga-on and “gifts” him his phone for his good behavior. Ga-on asks if trial preparations are going well – he knows how Yo-han likes to prepare. Heh. Yo-han plays innocent.
If justice doesn’t exist, why did Yo-han involve himself in this rigged game? Is there a wrong he wants to right or something he regrets? Yo-han stares at him for a moment before quipping that Ga-on said being judgmental was an “old fogey” quality. He lightly punches him in the stomach as he tells him to just focus on healing.
Now that he has his phone, Ga-on calls Soo-hyun. She bombards him with questions about how he’s doing. “Is your face okay? Your personality is terrible, but you have a nice face.” Pfft. He knows she’s been worried and assures her he’s okay.
Soo-hyun flips out when he says he’s been staying at Yo-han’s. She tells him to leave immediately, but he doesn’t want to miss this opportunity to snoop around. He chides her for mothering him and promises he’ll be careful.
The SRF previews their commercial for “Dream Home Village,” a rehabilitation community that will provide free housing and health care for the underprivileged. Of course, it’s all for the sake of the people. It has nothing to do with how their businesses are taking a hit due to tourism decline in areas with many unhoused residents.
Everyone snipes at each other for being motivated by their own fortunes or approval ratings. President Heo starts throwing a tantrum and berating his wife in front of everyone for no good reason, so Sun-ah “accidentally” spills wine on him.
President Heo later follows his wife’s suggestion and gets a massage to relax. Midway through, Sun-ah takes over. She grew up poor and worked as a masseuse for some time before Chairman Seo hired her.
Sun-ah commends President Heo’s concern for the poor but wonders if 20% of the Dream Home Village profits would make him more amenable to the SRF’s cause (i.e. displacing people so they can gentrify low-income areas).
When President Heo compliments her efficiency, Sun-ah demurs that she’s merely an errand girl. Sun-ah, who has been walking on President Heo’s back, then begins to step on the back of his head to “massage his face.” Somehow, he doesn’t sense her intense aggression.
At the mansion, Ga-on hides around the corner while the housekeeper slips into the locked room. He peeks inside and sees a room covered in plastic. The housekeeper stares at a photo and cries about how this house doesn’t belong to “that kid” but to her “pitiable young master.” She feels someone watching her, but Ga-on sneaks out before she spots him.
Meanwhile, Jin-joo and In-seok go over Young-min’s case. A restaurant employee had politely asked Young-min to move his car. Young-min then ordered the employee to move his car for him and got violent when the employee said he wasn’t allowed to do so. Other customers and employees tried to intervene and got assaulted as well. The three victims are now a united force, refusing to settle.
Minister Cha places a call to the chief justice and suddenly, a prosecutor is calling one of the victims who happens to have an assault record. He orders the victim to come in for questioning after a “tip” about the prior investigation being insufficient. Elsewhere, a frightened young woman is followed down the street.
Ga-on asks Soo-hyun to access Yo-han’s family record. It won’t be easy, but she promises to try. In pain, Ga-on takes the pills on his bedside table. He wakes up having slept the whole night through.
Two of the three victims have now settled and requested Young-min not be punished in court. In-seok takes an optimistic view, assuming Young-min must’ve shown remorse. Annoyed, Jin-joo points out that remorse is something only the powerless feel.
The two who caved meet with the single holdout – the chef with the assault record. He can’t let the anger and unfairness go, so he’s going ahead with the trial.
Chief Justice Ji tries to talk Yo-han out of the trial, but Yo-han won’t be moved. He knows the idea of everyone being equal before the law is a fantasy, but it’s nice to believe in fantasies sometimes.
The day of the trial, Ga-on goes to see Yo-han who’s surprised to see Ga-on up early since he’s been sleeping in lately. Ga-on offers to provide witness testimony against Young-min if necessary; he saw him being aggressive on the road. When Yo-han asks if he witnessed anything else, Ga-on lies that he didn’t.
Yo-han tells him not to worry about the trial and just rest. He goes to guy-punch him in the stomach again and chuckles when Ga-on reflexively jumps back.
Ga-on watches the trial from the mansion and is startled when Yo-han dramatically opens with a grave request for prayers for Ga-on’s healthy return as Ga-on’s photo fills up the screen. Yo-han earns a standing ovation of support after saying only the public can protect the judges and the show from those who wish to see their downfall.
Now, it’s showtime. From the start, Young-min is aggressive non-compliant. The prosecutor speaks up, reminding the court that Young-min can only be charged if the victims wish it. He brings in the chef Kim Sung-hoon who bows his head and says he doesn’t want Young-min punished.
Yo-han asks what changed his mind after his adamant petitioning for Young-min to be brought to justice. We flash back to the elderly restaurant owner informing Sung-hoon that the building was bought out, and they’re being kicked out. He doesn’t share that with the court, though.
The prosecutor smugly announces that the charges are being withdrawn. Young-min stands and asks to speak. He then bows and apologizes to Sung-hoon who struggles to hold in his anger at the display.
Yo-han isn’t about to conclude the trial that easily and brings up Young-min’s 12 previous assaults that he settled out of court. He turns to the public and asks if anyone recognizes Young-min. If so, they can call in through the DIKE voting app.
First up is a young woman who fangirls over Yo-han before launching into her story. Young-min slapped her when she was working as a parking attendant. She was told by her bosses to let it go since he was a VVIP customer.
Calls come flooding in from people who have witnessed or been victims of Young-min’s abuse. Ga-on realizes now why Yo-han was so set on broadcasting this trial.
Yo-han asks the public whether Young-min deserves harsh punishment. The vote stands at over 90% for. Yo-han then orders the prosecution to amend the indictment from simple assault to habitual assault.
He informs a grateful Sung-hoon that in the case of habitual assault, charges can be brought even after settlement. No case will be buried in Yo-han’s courtroom: “You can’t buy justice with money.” The audience eats it up, as does the production team.
Ga-on thinks back to Yo-han’s non-response when he asked why he involved himself in this rigged game of justice. More determined than ever, Ga-on picks the lock on a door leading to a basement room that looks like it hasn’t been touched in decades.
Inside a book, Ga-on finds a picture that makes his eyes widen. When the housekeeper finds him, Ga-on demands to know who the man in the photo is. She replies it’s young master Isaac, Yo-han’s older brother. He’s the spitting image of Ga-on.
This basement room once belonged to Yo-han who was taken in by Chairman Kang after being abandoned as a baby. The housekeeper tells Ga-on to figure out the rest for himself. He can’t imagine Yo-han being named heir of a family like this unless he’s blood-related and angers her by wondering if Yo-han was more competent than Isaac.
She calms down after his apology and comments on Ga-on’s resemblance to Isaac. She explains that, while grieving the death of Isaac’s mother, the chairman had a drunken one-night stand and got a woman pregnant.
When he wouldn’t give her the money she demanded, she abandoned the baby. At little Isaac’s tearful insistence, Chairman Kang took the child in. Isaac adored his little brother and tried to protect him from their father’s abuse.
We flash back to a young Yo-han preparing to be beaten by his father for merely looking at a picture of the chairman’s late wife. Yo-han’s back was already covered in cuts and bruises. Isaac had intervened to protect his brother. Chairman Kang told the housekeeper he hated Yo-han because he resembled him too much. “Yo-han will kill his brother one day.”
Ga-on asks if she has evidence that makes her suspect Yo-han did something to his brother. She doesn’t. When Ga-on remarks that it sounds like Yo-han was just an abuse victim, the housekeeper says she knows what Yo-han was capable of because she raised him herself. She accuses Yo-han of making a servant girl with a crush on him jump from the second floor and feeding poison to his father’s favorite hunting dog.
Yo-han, meanwhile, finally finds the man he’s been searching for. “Do you remember me?” he asks. We see the man was a firefighter who attended to the church fire that day. The man’s eyes grow fearful and he runs. Yo-han chases him up to the roof of the warehouse.
Ga-on says it sounds like Isaac and Yo-han were close. The housekeeper tells him that there was a fire one month after the death of their father. Isaac died while Yo-han survived.
Yo-han backs the ex-firefighter to the edge of the roof and watches him fall off. He then goes down and slips a watch off the man’s wrist, surprised he didn’t sell it. He ignores the man’s pleas and walks away, leaving him to die.
We’re starting to unravel the mystery of Yo-han’s past, and while everyone seems to think Yo-han orchestrated the death of his brother, I have a hard time buying that. He may have been an unsettling child with empathy issues, but we’ve seen nothing to suggest he had any designs against his brother. From the looks of it, Isaac may have been the only one to truly love Yo-han and try to protect him. And I’ve yet to see Yo-han go after someone who didn’t deserve it. He tends to strike back, not first. Even the housekeeper admitted she didn’t have direct evidence to back up her suspicions. I’m leaning more towards the idea that Yo-han is avenging his brother and going after anyone linked to his death. If he is on a revenge mission, that suggests the fire was intentional or at least the result of some corruption by the elite. Isaac could’ve been targeted, or he could’ve been collateral damage. Whatever the case, it appears Yo-han is out for blood. Now that he’s dealt with the firefighter for whatever role he played in past events, I wonder what’s next.
It would seem that the housekeeper isn’t the only one to harbor suspicions against Yo-han about the fire, though. Elijah – who I’m assuming is Yo-han’s niece given that photo of Isaac and the little girl – clearly blames Yo-han for something. If she doesn’t think he set the fire, maybe she’s upset that he survived while her dad didn’t. Either way, that is one angry child. Yo-han doesn’t seem particularly phased by it. In fact, his interactions with her were the most unguarded we’ve seen from him. It was jarring to see him so casual and expressive without that scheming look in his eye. Although he’s still guarded with Ga-on, he does interact with him in a similar annoying-older-brother style. Of course, judging by the information we got this episode, it’s quite possible that Yo-han is Ga-on’s uncle too.
I’d had the passing thought that they might be related before, and at this point, it’s the most logical explanation. If true, that would suggest Ga-on was adopted. I guess it’s possible he’s just a doppelganger – this is dramaland after all – but that doesn’t fully add up. After they first met, Yo-han remarked that Ga-on resembled his brother more than he expected. That’d be a strange comment to make about someone who just happened to be your brother’s doppelganger. I suppose he could’ve meant he resembles him more in person than in a photo, but that seems like a stretch. Then, there’s Ga-on’s resemblance to Isaac through his altruistic nature, his inability to pass by someone in danger or in need. Having both the same face and personal characteristics by coincidence would be a bit much. What baffles me, though, is why Ga-on wasn’t more freaked out by that picture. If I saw a photo of a stranger who looked exactly like me, I’d be very disturbed. He looked surprised for a few seconds and then just moved on.
I almost think Yo-han wanted Ga-on to find out about the past. He certainly didn’t do much to hide it from him. Yo-han brought Ga-on into the family home full of secrets when he knows how suspicious Ga-on already is of him. Obviously, Ga-on is going to sneak around and try to get info. If it were just about Ga-on’s safety, Yo-han could’ve secretly admitted him to a hospital or set him up in a safe house somewhere. There was no need to bring him home. Either he wanted Ga-on to stumble across the Isaac stuff or he was so concerned about Ga-on’s wellbeing that he had to take care of him personally and was willing to risk him finding something. While I do think Yo-han cares about Ga-on’s safety – even his lackey wondered if he was going after the bomber(s) like that because of Ga-on – I feel like he was up to something by bringing Ga-on home. Then again, is Yo-han ever not up to something?
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