Jirisan: Episode 5
Though our protagonist is certain of the culprit’s identity, he’ll need tangible evidence to get the police involved. Our heroes spend this episode uncovering more about their suspect, and with each new information, they come to realize how dire the situation is. If they don’t act quickly, the killer may be able to claim another victim.
EPISODE 5 RECAP
During the information session, Dae-jin describes safety precautions for hikers to follow–potato bombs should be reported to the national park for safer removal and wild mushrooms should be treated with caution due to poisonous variations.
However, the storeowner’s wife is angry at the focus of the presentation. She believes the rangers aren’t proactively taking measures themselves, with most of the responsibility falling onto hikers. Feeling that their concerns aren’t being addressed, the villagers get ready to leave in the middle of the session.
While this is happening, Yi-kang eyes one of the audience members, who smiles eerily amidst the outrage. The man has 5 scratches on his hand, matching Hyun-jo’s description of the culprit. When Yi-kang receives a call from Hyun-jo, she steps outside.
Hyun-jo tells Yi-kang that he suspects the potato bomb that killed the storeowner belongs to Yang-sun’s family, since they’ve lost some. Yi-kang tells Hyun-jo that she’ll talk to him in person to discuss her own findings. Just when she ends her call, the man with the scars calls out to her. He addresses her as “noona,” to which she responds with his name, LEE SE-WOOK (Yoon Ji-on).
Yi-kang asks Se-wook where he got those scratches from. He tells her it was from a raccoon on the mountain (though I have the morbid feeling that they’re from one of his previous victims). Having finished greeting her, Se-wook leaves.
When Hyun-jo finally arrives, Yi-kang tells him about Se-wook, whom she suspects is the person Hyun-jo is looking for. He’s lived here since he was born, and he’s incredibly knowledgeable about the mountain. Yang-sun is his cousin, and when he lost his father, he lived with her family for a period of time. He currently lives alone, working as a beekeeper at Jirisan. As Yi-kang provides these details about Se-wook, we see him open a fridge at his place. There are several yakult bottles inside.
Hyun-jo is sure that Se-wook is the culprit, since his family ties give him access to and knowledge of the potato bombs. However Yi-kang warns him that there’s no concrete evidence, so the police won’t take them seriously. She suggests they talk to Yang-sun for clues — but Hyun-jo has been unable to reach her.
At the station, Il-hae complains that many of their rangers have been absent lately. Gu-young defends Yang-sun when she’s brought up, explaining that she’d been feeling unwell. Il-hae believes it’s just an excuse and wonders if it’s some kind of trend. Just then, Hyun-jo and Yi-kang arrive, and they ask about Yang-sun’s whereabouts. It’s only when another ranger enters the room that they learn she’s taken a patrol car.
Thanks to a tracking device on the patrol car, Yi-kang finds out that Yang-sun’s at Saemagol, where the potato bomb had exploded. Hyun-jo and Yi-kang leave immediately and Gu-young tags along. Il-hae is left at the station, confused and annoyed they’ve all gone.
Outside, Gu-young is worried by the thought of Yang-sun trying to hike at Saemagol, a restricted trail, all alone.
As they narrow down their search to frequently traveled paths, night falls. Gu-young finds a scarf that belongs to Yang-sun, which leads them to her. However, when they see her, she’s sitting on the ground, petrified. She points her flashlight to a potato bomb within a snake trap.
When Yi-kang approaches the bomb, Gu-young and Hyun-jo try to stop her. Yi-kang snaps at them, telling them this is her job as a ranger, and she needs to focus. She eventually succeeds in recovering the bomb from the trap without detonating it and hands it to Gu-young.
Yi-kang then asks Yang-sun about the missing potato bombs. The latter confirms the bombs are her family’s. She also confesses that she found this bomb after Se-wook told her he’d seen her grandpa here the day of the incident. Yang-sun apologizes for not telling them but she had wanted to trust her grandpa.
She hadn’t thought much about her grandpa’s potatoes until the discussion about homemade bombs. Once she realized the possibility, she left in the middle of running errands with Gu-young. It was then that she learned from her grandpa that some of his bombs had gone missing.
That day, she questioned him if he was at Saemagol when the bomb went off, since he’d often illegally hunt for snakes there. Her grandpa angrily asked if she thought he killed the man. Then, he told her not to let anyone know about any of this, fearing people would suspect him.
Yang-sun explains that she wanted to believe her grandpa was innocent, so she kept it a secret. Since she knew he lost 3 bombs, she’d gone to Saemagol to check if there’d be any more.
Yi-kang tells Yang-sun that she needs to report this to the police. After she helps Yang-sun up, Gu-young and Yang-sun hike down first. When they’re out of earshot, Hyun-jo insists to Yi-kang that the culprit is Se-wook. However, Yi-kang tells him to leave this to the police to uncover. There’s currently no evidence to prove Hyun-jo’s claims. They eventually hike down, with Hyun-jo unable to persuade Yi-kang.
When they all reach the patrol cars, the group splits up. Everyone except for Hyun-jo are in the same car, ready to drive to the police station. Yi-kang gives Hyun-jo the key for the other car, so he can drop it off and head home.
Instead of following Yi-kang’s instructions, Hyun-jo drives to Se-wook’s place. When Se-wook answers, Hyun-jo recognizes the scars. He confronts Se-wook about the bomb that exploded at Saemagol. Hyun-jo also notices that the black shirt Se-wook is wearing has a white stains. He even shares the same description of the man who gave Private Ahn the yakult bottle. When Hyun-jo interrogates Se-wook on this too, Se-wook closes the door on him, panic-stricken.
The next day, outside Yang-sun’s home, Woong-soon tells her grandpa to come with him to the police station to answer some questions. Yang-sun’s grandpa immediately realizes that his granddaughter had reported him and is angry.
Meanwhile, Hyun-jo shows Private Ahn a photo of Se-wook, and gets confirmation that Se-wook’s the man who gave him the yakult bottle. Hyun-jo is certain that Se-wook has been involved in multiple incidents. But for now, he needs to find evidence that Se-wook was at Jirisan when the potato bomb went off.
He asks around for security footage capturing the mountain entrance, since there’s no CCTV within the mountains. In the process, he remembers Yi-kang had mentioned how restricted areas are home to many animals as people aren’t allowed there.
At the station, Dae-jin holds a meeting with Gu-young and Yi-kang. Dae-jin decides everyone will be going back to their regular duties. He also lets them know that Il-hae will substitute for both Yang-sun and Hyun-jo today as they’re on sick leave. Once Dae-jin leaves, Gu-young complains to Yi-kang about Hyun-jo being absent despite looking perfectly fine yesterday.
Il-hae enters the room, annoyed that so many of his colleagues are absent again. Yi-kang and Gu-young avoid a conversation with him by getting to work, not wanting to explain what happened yesterday.
Later, Hyun-jo returns to the station with various memory cards he’s collected. Once he realized there could be automated cameras set up in Saemagol to protect wildlife, he gathered all the footage around the area. As there’s too many for that day, he asks Yi-kang for help in finding evidence on Se-wook. Yi-kang can’t believe he’d still hung up on the case, but when he tells her the final missing bomb could harm someone, she agrees to help.
Il-hae and Gu-young enter the room, surprised to see Hyun-jo considering he took a sick day. Before they can ask more questions, Yi-kang successfully enlists their help in looking through footage by telling Gu-young that the task is related to Yang-sun and by bribing Il-hae with scallion pancakes and a promise to do him a favor LOL.
Meanwhile, it’s chaos at the police station. Outside, a policeman blocks the storeowner’s family members, who want to confront Yang-sun’s grandpa. Inside, Woong-soon questions Yang-sun’s grandpa, with the latter protesting his innocence. Yang-sun’s grandpa explains that he didn’t report his missing bombs, because he knew he’d be suspected. Woong-soon tells him that a potato bomb was found in his snake trap last night, so there’s now evidence that incriminates him.
At home, Se-wook frantically calls someone but it goes straight to voicemail so he switches to texting. It turns out, Se-wook isn’t working alone as he tells the recipient about the ranger who found out about their plans. As he waits for a response, he goes through a notebook, mumbling the names of past victims, along with the methods and locations they were killed. The last two names are Lee Geum-rye, who died by drinking yakult, and Choi Il-man, who died from the bomb. Se-wook finally receives a text from his accomplice, who tells him not to worry. They’ll find out the identity of the ranger he met, and Se-wook should continue with the plan.
At the station, Gu-young finds footage of someone walking around Saemagol the day of the incident. Unfortunately, they’re unable to see the person’s face. Hyun-jo suggests looking through footage of Geombawi Forest, as that’s where Yang-sun found the second bomb. Gu-young and Il-hae are confused about how that’s related to their task, but Yi-kang tells them to just do it. At the same time, Se-wook leaves his place, with his notebook open on his desk.
Suddenly, Il-hae finds footage of Se-wook holding the potato bomb, evidence that he’s the real culprit. Gu-young calls the police, who immediately set out after being notified. When Gu-young speculates that Se-wook wanted to make Yang-sun’s grandpa the scapegoat for his crime, Hyun-jo tells them he believes Se-wook actually planned to kill him. Gu-young is incredulous that Se-wook could be so sinister, while Yi-kang shares similar thoughts as Hyun-jo. However, she believes Se-wook’s next victim is someone else.
Se-wook had lured Yang-sun to the bomb by telling her he saw her grandpa at Saemagol that day. Though none of them are aware, Se-wook’s notebook, which someone else has now taken, proves her theory–Se-wook’s target was Yang-sun all along. Next to her name, “bomb” has been crossed out and yakult written in.
At her home, Yang-sun thanks Se-wook for coming to comfort her. He’s brought some food, including a yakult bottle. After he opens it and hands it to her, Yang-sun takes a few sips.
Around the same time the police realize that Se-wook isn’t home, Yang-sun asks her cousin if her grandpa was really at the scene of the incident. He smiles eerily now that she’s had the drink. He finally tells her it was all a lie so he could kill her.
With no news of Se-wook having been arrested, our rangers take a patrol car to Yang-sun’s place, with Yi-kang calling Yang-sun during the ride.
Se-wook washes the yakult bottle while the poison keeps Yang-sun from moving properly. When she musters the strength to crawl toward her phone, Se-wook takes it away. He sees Yi-kang’s name, and throws the phone in the trash.
When the rangers finally arrive at Yang-sun’s residence, they find Yang-sun unconscious with a weak pulse. Gu-young calls for help while Yi-kang attends to Yang-sun. Hyun-jo notices Se-wook’s still here and chases after him. Seeing them take off, Yi-kang follows them, while Gu-young looks after Yang-sun.
Yi-kang follows Hyun-jo to Jirisan, and just before he’s about to step on the last potato bomb, she jumps in front of him. Hyun-jo tells her to take the bomb with her, and he’ll continue the search. However, Yi-kang tells him they’ve done enough, and they should wait for the police from here.
Later at the hospital, Woong-soon tells Yang-sun’s grandpa that the police are still looking for Se-wook. A doctor comes out and declares that Yang-sun’s operation was successful, but they’ll monitor her for a few more days. Gu-young and Yang-sun’s grandpa head over to check in, while Woong-soon, Hyun-jo, and Yi-kang stay in the waiting room.
Woong-soon thanks Yi-kang for her help in the incident, but she tells him Hyun-jo deserves the credit, much to Hyun-jo’s surprise. Before he leaves, Hyun-jo asks if they’ve found any poisoned yakult at Se-wook’s place. Hyun-jo tells him that Se-wook is responsible for multiple killings, from his co-worker’s murder a year ago to all of the recent cases. Yi-kang can tell Woong-soon’s puzzled by the sudden proclamation, so she takes Hyun-jo away to talk.
They end up at her family’s restaurant, where she sets the table with food. He tells her that though he knows the police won’t believe him, he won’t stop. Yi-kang tells him the reason she took him here is to actually apologize for not believing him earlier. If she had, she wonders how many lives could have been saved. Hyun-jo assures her she’s done so much already, and she can make it up to him with some scallion pancakes and sweet potato makgeolli. As they sit, they wonder what Se-wook’s motivations are.
Sometime later, in the restricted Guryong Falls, a hiker follows a trail of yellow ribbons. He hides himself when he spots a ranger–Dae-jin–with a fistful of yellow ribbons. (Is he removing them or setting them up?) Once Dae-jin is gone, the hiker continues trekking. Unbeknownst to him, there’s a dead man nearby. It’s Se-wook. Somewhere, a gloved hand crosses out Yang-sun’s name from Se-wook’s notebook and replaces it with Hyun-jo’s name.
Outside, Hyun-jo is trekking the mountain alone. He suddenly notices there’s someone else here, and to his relief, it’s only the lottery girl. She’s still looking for her ticket even with all the fines she’s racked up from trespassing into restricted areas. Hyun-jo is looking for something too, and the girl asks what it is. She could come across it while finding her ticket. He simply tells her, “This is something I need to find by myself.” Snow begins to fall, indicating that it’s winter.
In 2020, Da-won is holding a red flag somewhere in Jirisan. Gu-young is with her, securing a red flag in place. They’re setting this up for winter, as the snow in Jirian can get so heavy that only the flags are visible, Da-won comments how scary that is.
Da-won enters Yi-kang’s room and finds plates of food waiting for her. Yi-kang asks her if she’s heard about the potato bomb incident, where someone died. Da-won doesn’t know the details, so Yi-kang gives her the rundown. Se-wook, the culprit, was found dead, but the killings continued. Someone else is the true mastermind, and the accident that cost her legs was during her investigation.
Yi-kang believes that once she meets the individual who’s been communicating with her through the markings, she’ll find out the identity of the killer. She asks Da-won for help, as she’s the only one she can trust. Da-won agrees to the offer, and asks what she should do.
Yi-kang asks her to set up cameras in areas she’ll be signaling from. As Da-won leaves for the task, Yi-kang flies up a drone, thinking about someone. “If I ever see you again. There’s something I must tell you,” she narrates. She looks at a screen connected to the drone’s camera. Within Jirisan, Hyun-jo’s ghost is wandering around. The screen glitches as the drone gets deeper into the mountains, and Yi-kang eventually notices a figure. It’s the person she’s been waiting for–it’s Hyun-jo.
I’ve been waiting for Yi-kang to realize that Hyun-jo’s the one sending her signals ever since the show confirmed the ghost’s identity. I’m not sure if Hyun-jo can communicate verbally, so they may still need to rely on their current method.
This episode also heavily focused on the limitations of Hyun-jo’s powers. Even if he finds out who the culprit is, there needs to be proof for the authorities to take action. I’m curious what form their irrefutable evidence will take, but thankfully they’ve officially gotten another ally now. Da-won’s the only one who can physically go to both the mountain and the ranger station, so I imagine she’ll be a major player in securing concrete proof.
Speaking of Da-won, I find her budding relationship with Yi-kang not only adorable, but also strategic. It’s best to get help from a newbie as opposed to any of Yi-kang’s long-time colleagues. There’s a high chance the killer is in the latter category, with Dae-jin as the most obvious suspect. However, I’m still wary that he’s a red herring, and that the traitor could be someone else amongst the rangers.
Following that line of thought, the person I’m simultaneously suspicious of and worried about is Il-hae. He’s had pretty minimal screen time so far, and I hope we get to know more about him on a personal level before the infamous accident happens. Why did he decide to become a ranger? Is there a deeper reason for why he’s working at Jirisan specifically? And, where is he in 2020? I’m sure my last question will be addressed, but I hope the show is just withholding the other two for a better time. I think it’d be beneficial for the drama to allow us opportunities to get more invested in the other characters. If any of them are connected to the culprit (or even end up a victim), it’d leave a larger impact.
Regarding the murder mystery, it took an unexpected turn. I had an inkling that there were two killers running around, but I didn’t initially connect them as partners given how the motives remain unclear. Episode 4 focused on illegally hunting animals, so I assumed Se-wook was motivated by a desire to protect the wildlife (albeit with extreme methods). However, his next target was Yang-sun rather than her grandpa, so that line of thinking doesn’t add up. Considering people also described the cousins as having a great relationship, I’m even more puzzled by Se-wook’s actions. Until more information is provided, I’m chalking it up to psychopathic tendencies, with his creepy grins and all. Ultimately, I hope the mastermind has deeper reasons for the killings than what we’ve seen so far.
Since it’s now winter in the present timeline, I’m wondering if the day of the accident is quickly approaching. Hyun-jo’s hospitalized at the end of 2019, so there’s still a possibility that the scene toward the end of episode 5 is actually a year before then–the winter of 2018. As we’re still just uncovering the tip of the iceberg, I’m intrigued for what’s to come.