The Devil Judge: Episode 4
Our secretive judge introduces his innocent colleague to a whole new world, one for which he’s highly unprepared. Everyone is working toward their own agenda, willing to sacrifice most anything to get to the top. If he’s not careful, our naïve judge is going to unwittingly get himself swept up into their schemes. Meanwhile, the People’s Live Court concludes its next trial in a stunning fashion that might signal a big change in the way justice is served.
EPISODE 4 RECAP
Once again, the PD is thrilled with the ratings for the trial. His crew even follows the judges out with a camera, capturing a surefire hit moment when Jin-joo apologizes for not having faith in today’s trial. Yo-han tells her to raise her head because they’re a team.
When he returns to his office, Yo-han takes a call from Minister Cha. She argues Young-min just has trouble handling his anger sometimes, but he’s not a bad kid. She wants to talk in person, so they meet on a secluded rooftop.
Minister Cha is sure Yo-han is using her son to get to her, so what does he really want? She can offer up chaebols and company presidents if he’s looking to win the support of the public.
Yo-han brings up a case from 19 years ago where Minister Cha prosecuted a politician for taking bribes while knowing he was innocent. After the guilty verdict, the politician committed suicide, leaving a teenage son behind. Has she once thought about that as she climbed higher in her career?
If she publicly confesses the truth of that case, Yo-han promises to let her son go. Minister Cha gets in her car and leaves without responding.
Yo-han’s lackey comes up, having witnessed the exchange. “Thank you,” he says with tears rolling down his face. Yo-han grips his shoulder comfortingly.
Back at the mansion, Ga-on enters the locked room using a set of keys he must’ve gotten from the housekeeper. He wanders through the room covered in plastic and picks up the family photo of Isaac with little Elijah and her mom.
Suddenly, a glass flies past Ga-on’s head and shatters on the wall. He turns to see Elijah seething. She screams at him to get out and cries as she stares at the photo.
Yo-han arrives home and heats up a frozen dinner. Ga-on is surprised to see him eating alone in this big house, but Yo-han doesn’t see the issue with being alone. “The most dangerous and toxic thing in the world is a human being.”
The next morning, Elijah compliments the housekeeper on the toast she made and is dismayed to find out Ga-on made it. Elsewhere, Minster Cha is not happy to hear that both the SRF and the People’s Live Court are the only institutions rating over 90% on trustworthiness. The prosecution sits at 12%.
Minister Cha rants about how the people are all dogs and beggars before calling Sun-ah to beg for a meeting with Chairman Seo. Sun-ah oh-so-politely tells her he’s meditating and offers to take a message. She vows to help set things right. After hanging up, she writes Yo-han’s name on what looks like an invitation.
At the mansion, Elijah is surprised to see the standoffish cat letting Ga-on hold her. Ga-on boasts he’s popular with stray cats because they can sense good people. Elijah bristles when he says stupid ones can’t tell. He laughs that he means cats, of course.
Elijah says this cat is a stray that Yo-han brought home. “He keeps bringing home strays, which is unlike him.” When Ga-on asks why that’s unlike him, Elijah scoffs that he’s stupid if he buys that nonsense public persona of Yo-han’s.
She compares Yo-han to the well-fed cat that catches mice for fun. “How do you think Yo-han became the owner of this house?” She doesn’t elaborate but says it consumes her every waking thought.
Later, Ga-on starts to ask Soo-hyun to help him get in touch with the detective who investigated the fire 10 years ago, but abruptly hangs up when Yo-han walks in his room. Since it’s his house, Yo-han sees no need to knock.
Yo-han wonders how long Ga-on plans to stay and wander through his house. Is he looking for something? Ga-on denies it and argues he still needs a few days to fully heal. Yo-han drops it and tells Ga-on they need to find him an outfit; they have somewhere to go.
He lends Ga-on one of his many suits and even a nice watch. “Because from now on, you need be in time with me.” Ga-on is hesitant to change in front of him but has no choice. Yo-han smugly notes his wound has already healed.
Ga-on comes out looking snazzy in his tux and puts on the coat Yo-han offers. Yo-han comments it suits him surprisingly well. Ga-on quips that he’s young, unlike a certain someone.
Before he can retort Elijah comes in acting all friendly with Ga-on, even letting him push her wheelchair as she gives Yo-han a smug look. Yo-han harrumphs at being slighted by the kids.
Yo-han has Ga-on drive one of his several expensive cars to an SRF event. When Yo-han goes off to speak to someone, Sun-ah immediately approaches Ga-on to introduce herself. The wife of Chairman Park of Sarang Media (broadcaster of The People’s Live Court) and her friend flit over and start fawning over Ga-on.
Ga-on gets even more uncomfortable when a horde of women come flocking over to take a selfie with him. He’s helpless against the assertive women who completely invade his personal space, messing with his hair and trying to take off his coat.
After Yo-han swoops in to save Ga-on, the ladies wonder if the cute kid will survive under Yo-han. Sun-ah, though, gets a glint in her eye as she watches Yo-han lead Ga-on away. “So his guardian showed up, huh?”
Ga-on pulls Yo-han’s hand off his wrist and grumbles that he doesn’t need a guardian. Yo-han disagrees since he looked like a fawn caught by a pack of lionesses. Ha.
Yo-han plops down next to Chairman Park and Chairman Min, two of the elite always hanging around President Heo. Ga-on stands awkwardly and introduces himself. Chairman Min says he should attend their “study group” – a gathering of concerned elite who study society to “entertain” themselves.
When President Heo arrives, the main event begins. Sun-ah acknowledges the biggest donors for the Dream Village Project before introducing Chairman Seo. Ga-on watches Chairman Seo’s impassioned speech from the balcony. Behind him, President Heo and his group drink and laugh over Chairman Seo’s performance.
Ga-on sits by Yo-han as Chairman Seo and Sun-ah join the table. As always, President Heo sucks up to Chairman Seo, and the men around the table begin sniping at each other.
When the servers bring the food, a young woman comes over to pour Chairman Seo’s water. Suddenly, her eyes dart over to him, and she flinches away. Her hand shakes as she pours the water, and the creep continues touching her inappropriately. Sun-ah intervenes and whisks him out to take an urgent call.
She leads him to an office and then punches him in the face. WHAT. He frantically apologizes as she berates him. When she orders him to repent, he starts yelling “repent!” as he bangs his head on the floor.
“Who are you?” Sun-ah asks. Chairman Seo says he’s merely a dog who’s deceived the world. “I am someone who fouled powerless women while hiding behind my hollow name…” He stops, realizing his mistake.
Sun-ah crouches in front of him and slaps his face repeatedly as she corrects that a person isn’t dirtied by a mere dog’s bite. She pleasantly says it’s time to repent again. This time it’ll be for a month; they’ll say he’s fasting in prayer for the nation. Guess we know why he “meditates” so often.
At the table, everyone compliments Yo-han’s handling of The People’s Live Court. His smile only slips a little when they start talking about how their “hearts hurt” thinking of the tragedy from 10 years ago he overcame.
They chide Yo-han for making a fuss over a small matter and reminisce that Young-min was a cute kid when he was little. When Ga-on asks them to refrain from discussing an ongoing trial, they scoff but move on.
Chairman Min says the board of directors are concerned The People’s Live Court is deviating from its “original principles” and wonder if Yo-han will take responsibility for riling up the citizens. Yo-han just smiles, but Ga-on angrily asks what they’re on about.
Yo-han grabs Ga-on by the collar and yanks him up, giving him a hard shove away from the table. He shoots Ga-on a warning look and turns back to the table of elites who joke that Ga-on isn’t “potty trained” yet.
Everyone quiets when Yo-han asks if Minister Cha needs to be the one who protects their assets. President Heo laughs that Yo-han is an “inventive psycho” and agrees Minister Cha doesn’t have to be the next president. All they need is someone popular with a good backstory – it’s how he won the presidency.
Ga-on watches with shock and disgust as the most powerful people in the nation laugh and bask in their own power, entirely absorbed in self-interest. He takes a breather in the bathroom and finds Sun-ah waiting for him outside.
She notes how different Yo-han is from his public image, and Ga-on takes the bait. Does she know something? Sun-ah makes a show of hesitating before bringing up the fire. That day, a celebratory ceremony was being held because Isaac was pledging all his assets to the SRF.
Both Isaac and his wife died in that fire, but Yo-han miraculously survived. His first order of business was to withdraw his brother’s impending donation to the SRF by submitting documentation claiming Isaac wasn’t of sound mind at the time.
On the drive back, Ga-on is gloomy and reticent. To get Ga-on’s attention, Yo-han yanks the steering wheel. While Ga-on rightly panics, Yo-han laughs raucously when they veer dangerously into another lane.
Is Ga-on upset after seeing the “true face” of the world? Ga-on argues that’s the true face of rich people, not the world, but Yo-han thinks all are equal in the face of temptation.
The following day, Minister Cha goes to work amid protests for her resignation and for her son to face justice. Two demonstrators make it near enough to almost pelt Minister Cha with eggs but are tackled by security.
With the SRF refusing to help, Minister Cha considers Yo-han’s deal. She promised her distraught husband that she’d protect Young-min, even if she had to sacrifice herself.
She holds a press conference where she formally apologizes for not teaching her son well. And then she says the prosecution amended the indictment – no one is exempt from the law. Yo-han watches her speech, amused at her selfishness. While her husband comforts their distraught and panicking son, Minister Cha tells herself success always requires sacrifice.
The trial commences, and the defense argues for extenuating circumstances. The attorney actually argues that Young-min seeing his housekeepers steal made him naturally afraid of poor people. I can’t with this nonsense. He submits documentation for Young-min’s diagnosed OCD and anger issues.
Meanwhile, Ga-on and Soo-hyun visit the ex-detective in charge of the fire case 10 years ago. The man tenses when Soo-hyun asks if a donor event was happening in the cathedral that day. She hasn’t been able to find a list of attendees.
Ga-on pipes up that they’re looking into the story details to promote Yo-han publicly and prepare for interviews. The man says the cathedral was old and previously a school. They never determined the cause of the fire. Due to the trauma, Yo-han couldn’t recall much when the police interviewed him.
They turn on the live trial and watch Young-min’s father plead for leniency. He laments that they as parents didn’t provide the love or discipline Young-min needed. He turns on the waterworks, contending that it’s not right to isolate “twisted” kids from society either.
The prosecutor argues compensation for the victims is the best way forward. Sending Young-min to prison won’t help the victims and will only burden taxpayers. Everyone is baffled when Yo-han compliments the defense’s argument and says he sympathizes.
Yo-han smiles that he’s found an effective punishment befitting the crimes that won’t burden the taxpayers. “Flogging,” he announces to the nation’s shock. Terrified, Young-min offers a panicked apology and begs for mercy.
Now it’s time for the people to vote. When the votes come in at 70% for flogging, Young-min loses his cool. Why does everyone think they’re superior? Are they sinless? Who are they to judge him? The more he rants, the higher the vote climbs.
Young-min is then back to apologizing. He even drops to his knees before Yo-han and again begs for mercy. Yo-han ignores his pleas and says the court rules in accordance with the will of the people: 30 hits. Compared to his crimes, Yo-han thinks this is a humane punishment.
Because the people’s will partially decided this punishment, it will be carried out publicly. The Ministry of Justice is tasked with its execution. Yo-han smiles triumphantly down at the shaking Young-min.
Ga-on sighs when the ex-detective praises Yo-han and says he should be the next president. When Ga-on brings up how Yo-han canceled his late brother’s donation, the ex-detective rails at him for slandering the great Yo-han who gives hope to the people.
Before they leave, Soo-hyun remarks that the ex-detective resigned two months after the mysterious fire and suddenly had resolved his gambling debts and opened a new restaurant. His severance pay must’ve been incredible.
Minister Cha cries as she forces herself to sign the sentencing order. Young-min is taken to the flogging ground. A select crowd is in attendance, like Young-min’s father, while the rest of the nation watches the punishment through live broadcast.
Much of the public gasps and flinches to see the brutal reality of their ordered punishment, but a select group with Yo-han T-shirts cheer and wave Korean flags. Ga-on and Soo-hyun watch this display in discomfit. Yo-han, meanwhile, barely spares a glance for the proceedings on TV. When Young-min passes out, a doctor orders that they finish the flogging next week.
Ga-on confronts Yo-han at home that night, accusing him of being cruel. He calls him a monster who hunts for fun and removes any obstacle in his way. “Is that why you killed your brother?” Ga-on asks.
Yo-han’s face changes. He stalks over to Ga-on and grabs him by the throat. Yo-han tells him to say that again, and when Ga-on does, it only enrages Yo-han further. He throws Ga-on to the floor and screams, “Do you know what cruelty really is?!”
After their so-called father died, Isaac said he’d donate the entirety of his fortune to the SRF. The organization held a ceremony at the cathedral in his honor. Everyone, including Minister Cha, was full of praise and flattery for Isaac’s heroic decision.
Little Elijah ran to find her uncle Yo-han who was standing away from the crowd. He sent her to her dad, promising to come in soon. Inside the cathedral, they held a blessing and communion. One of the priests noticed smoke and opened a door to reveal a blazing fire that quickly spread.
Everyone was in a panic, trying to find a way out. Outside, Yo-han saw the church burning and ran inside. He fought through the crowd of people rushing out and saw Isaac and his wife searching for Elijah.
In the commotion, Minister Cha knocked over a pew that crushed little Elijah’s legs. She then pushed her down as she climbed over the pews, leaving the crying child trapped.
Yo-han was still fighting his way inside to his family – now the only ones left in the auditorium – when the roof began to collapse. He watched as a fiery beam fell atop his brother who was carrying Elijah.
Yo-han crawled over to his brother but couldn’t lift the beam. All he could do was extricate Elijah from underneath Isaac. Crying, Yo-han picked up his niece and promised his brother he’d be back for him. The roof collapsed on him before Yo-han could get out.
When he woke under rubble, Yo-han saw a firefighter stealing the watch off Isaac’s wrist. The man apologized and ran out, leaving him and Elijah trapped. Yo-han managed to get himself and his niece out where he found everyone huddled under blankets and being carefully attended to by the EMTs. Tears rolled down Yo-han’s face as he stood alone, holding his injured and unconscious niece.
Now, Yo-han takes off his shirt, letting Ga-on see the scarring in the shape of a cross on his back. Ga-on apologizes for his words and leaves the room. Once he’s gone, Yo-han smirks and says, “People really do put on a show by saying such things.”
So was Yo-han making up a sympathetic story to get Ga-on on his side, or was he using the real story of the fire as a tool to garner sympathy in the moment? I tend to believe his story was at least mostly true. It fits with the bits we know, including the part where the firefighter stole the watch. Whether or not the version we got is entirely true, I find it interesting how much of an effort Yo-han is making to win Ga-on over. It doesn’t seem like Yo-han has made much effort to dispel the rumors about him killing his brother out of greed; even Elijah believes her uncle killed her father to become the inheritor. Why start justifying himself with Ga-on who is barely more than an acquaintance? It’s not like Yo-han is the type to care what people think. If he’s bothering to explain himself, he must have a use for Ga-on. He may have some sentimental attachment to Ga-on because of Isaac, but there’s more to his interest. I’m curious to find out what he has up his sleeve and how it involves Ga-on.
And it looks like Yo-han is not the only one trying to manipulate Ga-on now. Sun-ah took quite the interest when she saw how much attention Yo-han was paying to Ga-on at that event. I’m not sure what she’s trying to do by sowing discord between them, but I’m willing to bet it’s not good. I knew she was badass and more powerful than she lets on, but I didn’t expect she was the power behind everything. (Who runs the world?) I have to admit, even though Sun-ah’s behavior is concerning, watching Chairman Seo cower like that after what he did to that woman was satisfying. Who is Sun-ah that she inspires such terror? I’m sure she has a reason for making Chairman Seo a puppet leader, but it’s impossible to ascertain her motives yet. I imagine whatever they are will put her at odds with Yo-han, and I’m looking forward to watching them go head-to-head.
Things really devolved quickly with the People’s Live Court, didn’t they? When you give downtrodden people out for blood the ability to decide the fate of those at the top who abuse power, there’s no way that isn’t going to get ugly. But flogging? I didn’t see that one coming. Making Minister Cha sign the order was a particularly cruel touch. I shudder to imagine what Yo-han will think up for the next trial. At this rate, society might entirely implode before they even reach the fifth trial. Of course, that could very well be what Yo-han is aiming for with all this. Only Ga-on seems poised to do anything about the looming destruction, and he’s in way over his head. He’s too naïve for this world full of subterfuge and corruption. If he doesn’t wise up soon, he’s going to get eaten alive. Maybe that’s the message Yo-han was trying to convey by taking him to that event and letting him witness firsthand how awful all those people are. Or maybe he just likes to see Ga-on squirm.
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