The Devil Judge: Episode 8
The president’s tough-on-crime politics brings about divisiveness and a slew of changes that deeply impact the justice system. It’s a turning point for more than one of our characters who decide sitting on the sidelines is no longer an option. Amid the turmoil, our young judge struggles to accept what he saw at the prison and begins questioning his long-held ideals about justice and who the system benefits.
EPISODE 8 RECAP
Yo-han lets Ga-on cry and scream out his anguish over learning the man who destroyed his family escaped consequence. Once Ga-on has calmed a bit, Yo-han talks about the fire. Those people prioritizing survival over his family was just human nature. But then they visited him in the hospital.
They all went on about how incredible Yo-han was and that providence saved them all. Of course, it was a shame about his brother, but they’ll make sure his donation is put to good use.
Their hypocrisy makes Yo-han sick. They surely still believe they’re innocent and persecuted. “If the devil really exists, it’s the self-pity of the powerful.”
On the drive back, Yo-han tells Ga-on to just focus on himself right now. Ga-on thinks of how Yo-han seemed to have this planned and knows that he’d be willing to use someone else’s pain for his benefit. “If the devil really exists …” he muses. That night, Ga-on actually goes home and cries alone in his room.
The next day, Yo-han hears from his lackey. Someone from accounting at SRF said they’d provide information, but they haven’t gotten back to him yet. Yo-han hangs up when he sees the news about Chairman Seo’s death.
Sun-ah plays a video of Chairman Seo’s “last words,” an apology for the sin of trusting his subordinates too easily. In a flashback, we see that he’d filmed it in preparation for throwing Sun-ah under the bus. He’d ordered the President Heo and the chairmen (it’s like a bad band name) to take care of Sun-ah immediately.
After he left, Sun-ah popped out from behind the screen. She’d convinced them that a statement by Chairman Seo, a respected elder, would have even more weight if it were a suicide note. The men were impressed with her ruthlessness. With Chairman Seo’s body still on the ground and blood on her hands, Sun-ah had edited his final statement to remove the section that framed her for the embezzlement.
Now, she extols Chairman Seo’s goodness and reveals the names of the supposed embezzlers. Sun-ah accuses the 10 accounting department employees of destroying evidence and fleeing. She promises to bring this “subversive group” that infiltrated the SRF to justice.
When Ga-on barges into Yo-han’s office to find out what’s going on, Yo-han divulges that these employees being accused of the embezzlement had offered to be informants before being framed. Ga-on wants to reveal the truth, but Yo-han knows that questioning Chairman Seo’s final words will backfire. Yo-han tells him to watch carefully how the powerful turn crisis into an opportunity.
President Heo takes things even further by suggesting this is some foreign power’s plot to destroy their country. He links the accused to the “extremist organization” that led the Gwanghwamun Riot, which he claims is predominately composed of foreigners.
The members are being questioned, but it’s an extremely unstable time. President Heo blames that on the past administration going easy on crime. He vows to build a safe Korea by restoring law and order with the help of Sun-ah. The room erupts in cheers as they stand hand-in-hand.
Yo-han reiterates that the law isn’t effective with these people. There’s no justice, only the unfair game. He knows Ga-on is struggling, but he needs to prepare himself since the game has truly started.
At home, Ga-on calls Soo-hyun and startles her by blatantly saying he misses her. She meets up with him and pretends her injury is bothering her so Ga-on will put his arm around her. He smiles, seeing through her obvious ruse.
Over drinks, Soo-hyun coaxes Ga-on into telling her what’s wrong. She’s shocked and muses that only someone extremely high up could facilitate something like that. Soo-hyun finds it all a little too constructed, like a show Yo-han is putting on. What if he’s trying to rope Ga-on in?
Soo-hyun wants to help, but Ga-on doesn’t want an official investigation since he can’t trust her superiors. He asks for a little time to go along with Yo-han’s plan and see what he can find out. Soo-hyun reluctantly agrees.
Ga-on admits he was shocked by the audacity of it all; the man didn’t even look like Do Young-choon. He tears up when he says he feels bad toward his parents for not knowing. Soo-hyun moves to sit beside him and puts an earbud in his ear. They listen to music, and she holds him as he cries.
A glowing Sun-ah puts on the cross necklace she stole from Yo-han and does some morning affirmations. Jae-hee comes in and admits Sun-ah is amazing. She asks if Sun-ah is going somewhere. Sun-ah smiles and says she needs to go see Yo-han.
President Heo is making good on his promise of “law and order.” Police presence has increased in public spaces, and citizens are being aggressively searched. Jin-joo comments on it to Ga-on as they head to work, but then says he might not have noticed the strange atmosphere of late given the important work he’s been doing without her.
While Yo-han watches a report on the tightened laws requiring stricter sentences and an “operational support group” to work with The People’s Live Court, Sun-ah pops into his office. She introduces herself as the head of the new operational support group. He notices the necklace she’s wearing and doesn’t take her proffered hand.
In Chief Justice Ji’s office, Justice Min angrily protests the new standards that punish judges with lower sentencing rates or high warrant dismissal rates. Chief Justice Ji is unconcerned about things like judicial independence and says the courts should cooperate with the Blue House.
Yo-han is less than happy with Sun-ah’s new position and scoffs when she says she’s being sincere. It was his house that first showed her this beautiful world that she decided she would one day own. “Owner of the world you kicked me out of.”
He calls her the same “hungry petty thief” who doesn’t know her own brokenness. Sun-ah steps close and strokes his collar as she says his disparagement is exhilarating. It makes her want to give it right back.
Yo-han grabs her hands and forces her back. He doesn’t have the patience and won’t give her special consideration for being a woman. He places his hands around her neck. Sun-ah clearly gets off on this and says they’re alike which is why she likes him. “How much do you like me?” he asks and begins squeezing her neck.
Ga-on walks in, horrified at the scene. Yo-han manages to rip the necklace off Sun-ah (as well as her diamond pin) when Ga-on separates them. While Ga-on checks on Sun-ah, Yo-han holds the bloodied pin and grins at Sun-ah. She says she’ll catch Yo-han later and leaves with a wink.
Jin-joo sees her coming out of Yo-han’s office and marches inside. Isn’t she on the bench too? Yo-han is causing all this upheaval and keeping her in the dark. Ga-on tries to intervene, but she wants to say her piece. No matter what Yo-han thinks of her, she’s a member of this court.
Yo-han remarks that she’s becoming much more ambitious and wonders what’s behind the change. Jin-joo doesn’t respond and takes her leave. Ga-on scolds him for isolating the people nearest, but Yo-han says they’ll talk about it later. He tells Ga-on to check on Elijah who seems restless.
Minister Cha is also feeling left out recently. She can’t even get info from the NIS on the “extremist” who’s being questioned. Minister Cha decides to expand her opposition research on not just President Heo but Sun-ah.
That evening, Elijah smiles to see Ga-on come home with Yo-han. Over coffee, Yo-han says he doesn’t need Jin-joo since a majority of two suffices. Ga-on argues she’s a good person, but Yo-han isn’t interested in “fickle” things like that.
Ga-on wonders if Yo-han targeted Minister Cha so aggressively because of what she did to Elijah. Yo-han says it’s not that simple. Minister Cha was the easiest to isolate since she has the most enemies. Plus, she knows everyone’s weaknesses which could be useful down the road.
Yo-han gives Ga-on a USB drive with info on possible cases for The People’s Live Court. Their only weapon is the support of the people. Ga-on takes it and asks if Yo-han knows who was behind the Young-choon swap. Yo-han says he’s still looking into it.
Ga-on doesn’t get why Young-choon of all people. It’s not like he’s important or powerful. Yo-han supposes it’s money, a powerful motivator for all.
Over the phone, Yo-han’s lackey isn’t happy he’s involving Ga-on, but Yo-han argues he can’t leave a potential enemy be. He needs to get Ga-on on his side. If not, he’ll have to eliminate the risk.
Meanwhile, Ga-on goes to visit Elijah. She wonders what he and Yo-han were discussing but then sighs that two ajusshis wouldn’t have anything interesting to talk about. Ga-on takes offense – he’s an oppa, not an ajusshi.
Elijah asks why he hasn’t been coming around lately, so Ga-on tells her he’s been dealing with something. When she brings up his parents’ scammer, Ga-on says not to worry about it. Elijah passionately says she heard he even tried to kill himself because of that jerk, so of course she’s worried.
“Let’s kill him,” she suggests. Pfft. There really is a family resemblance. Elijah seriously reasons that the citizens’ taxes shouldn’t go toward keeping that man alive. If she were Ga-on, she wouldn’t be able to sleep at night for the rage.
Elijah offers to hack into the prison system and find out when he leaves the prison. Then, they can jump him. HA. Amused, Ga-on thanks her for putting so much thought into this but assures her he’s okay now.
Ga-on hesitantly asks what if someone switched the bad guy out? Elijah scoffs at the absurdity of that. What reason would there be? Ga-on agrees. It’d have to be a “strange person with a strange purpose.” Elijah looks at him with concern.
The next day, Elijah calls Soo-hyun out to go shopping with her. She takes the opportunity to ask if something’s going on with Ga-on but scoffs at the idea she’s worried about him. Soo-hyun takes her to her and Ga-on’s rooftop garden and fixes her a meal.
Elijah guesses Soo-hyun likes Ga-on, so Soo-hyun tells her about being rejected five times. She first confessed after his family went bankrupt for the first time and took him out of kindergarten. Soo-hyun hated seeing him cry and ended up confessing. That’s been her pattern ever since.
She tears up as she says that the misfortunes never cease for Ga-on. Elijah was already softening toward Soo-hyun, but now she seems completely won over.
On his way to meet a classmate, Ga-on asks someone to investigate the financial records of Joong-won FNB. He then asks the prosecutor classmate he’s meeting to help him access the records of a person serving time for financial crimes in his district. The prosecutor agrees but says he’ll need a lot of autographs from Ga-on, his celebrity classmate, in exchange.
Soo-hyun returns to the apartment complex and finds Ga-on outside watering his plants. He’s not here for good, though; he has people to look after at the mansion. Soo-hyun asks him to take care of himself instead.
Justice Min pays Ga-on a surprise visit, and the three of them eat together at Ga-on’s place. Justice Min wonders if the court they’re working at is even a real court of law. He likens Chief Justice Ji to a military commander and laments the state of their nation.
Soo-hyun feels the same, sharing that cops have been instructed to start carrying live ammunition. Justice Min complains about police brutality like using batons on drunk citizens, but Ga-on wonders if there aren’t times when they have the right.
Justice Min argues the People’s Live Court awakened a monster that will only grow more reckless. He’s determined to get rid of it by using citizens groups to appeal to media outlets. Then, the opposition party can launch a parliamentary investigation. For that, he needs Ga-on to be a whistleblower. He offers an empty apology.
The next day, Yo-han notices Ga-on is a little out of it and again drags him somewhere without explanation. He takes him to meet his lackey who is not enthused. Yo-han tells Ga-on that his strategy has been to set himself up to win before the game even started. He has people helping him.
More of Yo-han’s “helpers” show up, including Attorney Go who represented Chairman Ju in the first trial. A young woman who is an aspiring actress introduces herself as Ga-on’s fan, and he recognizes her from Young-min’s trial. She was the first caller who spoke out against Young-min.
Ga-on is bothered to discover it’s all truly been a show, but Yo-han thinks it’s insulting to call the trials fake. They got the ball rolling, but without the citizens’ courage, it wouldn’t have worked. The final member of their club arrives: Soo-hyun’s team leader Jo Min-sung.
Ga-on assumes they’re in it for the money, so everyone begins sharing their stories. Attorney Go’s daughter died due to the actions of a large company. After defending those companies for years, now he’s the victim. He plans to pay for his criminal actions once this is over.
The aspiring actress was sexually harassed, but the assailant got off because the judge thought the promising medical student should be given leniency. Min-sung’s older sister died in a building collapse, and the responsible parties weren’t punished. Ga-on solemnly takes in the faces of these victims of the system.
Elsewhere, Jin-joo meets with Sun-ah who vows to recenter the SRF on its original mission and cut ties with politicians and conglomerates. Jin-joo knows that’s a tall order and offers to help however she can.
Sun-ah comments that people need Jin-joo’s pretty smile now. Yo-han is charming in a mysterious way, but he’s almost otherworldly. She hopes to spotlight Jin-joo more from now on. Yo-han has engaged in problematic behaviors, making some question whether the show should be entrusted to someone else.
Sun-ah encourages her to keep an eye on things at court for her. As Jin-joo stands in front of a mirror, Sun-ah takes the pearl necklace off her own neck and puts it on Jin-joo. She calls it a costume and advises Jin-joo to be friendly but always command the stage. “Charm is power.”
Meanwhile, Ga-on goes over the report on Young-choon his classmate got him. He doesn’t look happy with what he finds. When Yo-han returns to his office, Ga-on is seated in his chair.
Ga-on says Yo-han must’ve known. Young-choon’s prison transfer, the investigative team on his case, and maintenance on the network all happened at the same time. That’s also when Minister Cha won the office and her husband’s company was filing for bankruptcy.
Yo-han argues Ga-on had to discover that info on his own to be sure Yo-han wasn’t involved. When Ga-on asks why Yo-han went to visit Young-choon in the first place, Yo-han says he already knows. Yo-han
wanted Ga-on on his side and would’ve done whatever it took to achieve that, even switching Young-choon out himself if need be. That’s his method.
While Ga-on calls Justice Min out for a drink, President Heo’s law and order politics and xenophobia spurs groups of nationalists to take to the streets. They harass and attack foreign residents protesting for their rights.
Justice Min again goes on about the rage of the people, but Ga-on asks who is truly responsible for that rage. Elsewhere, Soo-hyun is driving Elijah home after another shopping trip and sees the foreign residents being attacked. She instructs Elijah to stay in the car and approaches the men, firing a warning shot in the air.
Ga-on continues that the rage had to already exist for it to be stoked. The people are justly angry that the bad guys aren’t punished. If people in like Justice Min had done better, this wouldn’t be happening.
When Justice Min sadly notes Ga-on has made his decision, Ga-on retorts Justice Min is the one who forced his hand. If justice is merely a game, Ga-on intends to win. Yo-han arrives to pick Ga-on up, leaving Justice Min to watch them leave side-by-side.
The men film as Soo-hyun trains her gun on the leader who dares her to shoot. Full of manufactured emotion for the camera, he asks if she isn’t ashamed as a police officer.
As they stand outside, Yo-han promises Ga-on that Young-choon and those involved in the switch will pay heavily for their crimes. Ga-on clarifies his decision wasn’t all about revenge – he wants to fight against this world gone wrong.
All of Yo-han’s work getting Ga-on on his side has finally paid off. He knew just how to manipulate him using both Young-choon and his little avengers club. Ga-on even knew he was being manipulated and still couldn’t help but side with him in the end. Yo-han is smart to collect people who are all desperate and independently motivated. Money may motivate temporarily, but it doesn’t inspire loyalty or dedication. For that, you need to rally around a common cause. Everyone he’s recruited has experienced first-hand the failings of the system and is willing to get their hands dirty to bring it down. Sure, he’s paying some of them, but they still believe in the mission. While having Ga-on on the team is helpful, I doubt it’s necessary. From the conversation Yo-han had with his lackey, his chief concern was that he’d have to make Ga-on his enemy if he couldn’t convince him. It’s hard to get a read on Yo-han’s attitude toward Ga-on, but I do think he at least likes him enough to not want to destroy him.
Now that Ga-on has officially joined the effort, I’m curious to see what lines he draws if any. Yo-han has made his methods abundantly clear, so Ga-on knows what he’s getting into. Is he going all in and doing whatever’s necessary to win, or will he attempt to hold onto some aspects of his ideals? I was surprised Ga-on was so blunt with Justice Min on where he stands, but I can understand his frustration. Once again, Justice Min put him in a difficult position and just expected him to fall in line. Ga-on is clearly tired of doing what he’s told and trusting in others to fix things.
I wonder how Soo-hyun is going to take Ga-on’s decision. She is not a Yo-han fan and likely won’t approve, but she’s shown herself to be endlessly supportive of Ga-on. Even so, I imagine there could be some friction between them over this. I wonder if this altercation (and probably others to come) with the violent nationalist group will affect her opinion. Will she blame Yo-han like Justice Min or see it as a systemic failure of the government? I’m not well-versed in Korean politics, so I’m not sure what place law and order rhetoric has within the political history and landscape. As an American, President Heo’s strategy is all too familiar. He’s effectively stoking fear and division, repressing undesired voices and controlling the narrative under the guise of patriotism. And things are only just getting started.
We’ve yet to see how much power this new Operational Support Group has over The People’s Live Court, but I’m sure Sun-ah can do some damage with it regardless. Yo-han really should’ve listened to Ga-on about Jin-joo and not discounted her so quickly. She’s one of few women in her profession and is understandably tired of being left out of the boys’ club to sit on the sidelines. By isolating Jin-joo, Yo-han gave Sun-ah the perfect opportunity to swoop in and play mentor. You’d think Yo-han would’ve thought to guard against having his own strategies used against him. Sun-ah is playing divide and conquer now, winning over an ally and possible mole on the bench. If Sun-ah sets Jin-joo up to rival Yo-han and take control of the Court, things could get even more interesting.
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