Jirisan: Episode 6
We step away from the main mystery this hour, but there’s no shortage of thrills. Our no-nonsense protagonist’s past and present collide in a spectacular way on the mountain, and we learn how she came to work as a ranger. At the same time in the midst of a severe winter, a sweet romance begins to blossom.
EPISODE 6 RECAP
While marveling at the vastness of Jirisan, Hyun-jo muses about Lee Se-wook, who’s been missing without a trace for two months now. Yi-kang changes the subject and asks him about his visions and Hyun-jo tells her it’s been a while since the last one.
He brings up the approaching Christmas holiday and we see Yi-kang the Grinch effectively end the conversation. She tells him to get back to work and walks off. Someone texts Hyun-jo, reminding him of their Christmas date and tells him not to be late.
Winter is in full force, with snow covering the mountain. Gu-young takes pictures of the rangers and the station’s Christmas decorations but no one is feeling the holiday spirit as much as him. He takes selfies with Yang-sun and uses that moment to invite her to take part in a winter swimming festival with him. (Yi-kang: “Is he serious?”)
Christmas day arrives, Gu-young runs after Hyun-jo and pleads for a favor. He asks Hyun-jo to cover a shift for him because he’s finally scored a movie date with Yang-sun. Hyun-jo tries to decline, saying he already has plans. He volunteers Yi-kang, but Gu-young says she’s already been called in by Il-hae. Gu-young adds that she needs Hyun-jo by her side, and scampers away with a thank you.
Il-hae (plus his partner) happily clocks off and praises Yi-kang and Hyun-jo for handling the holiday shift at Bidam Shelter, calling them the needle and thread of Jirisan. Hyun-jo asks Yi-kang who is which and Yi-kang just responds with, “Does that even matter?” She gives him a rundown of what’s in the shelter and where important things are before they start…beating out dust from blankets and cleaning the place. Hilariously, Yi-kang criticizes everything Hyun-jo does (beat harder, fold neatly) and to be fair she is a lot better at the work.
A call comes in from Il-hae to let them know that someone is dropping by to pick up a lost item. Hyun-jo checks the logs and when Yi-kang hears the name “Im Chul-kyung,” she becomes lost in thought.
Gu-young looks dapper as he waits with a bouquet of flowers for Yang-sun outside the movie theater. Yang-sun arrives…but hesitates outside the building. (Oh no, I have a bad feeling about this.)
Back at Jirisan, a car pulls up and a man heads up the mountain. A taxi follows later and another man gets out, peering into the first car before also heading in the same direction as the first man. Somewhere else at Jirisan, a woman also arrives and she tries to call someone but the call doesn’t connect.
At his house, Dae-jin is watching the news about a police officer, Lieutenant Im Chul-kyung, who was arrested for taking bribes from a drug dealer.
Yi-kang’s grandmother is with a group of friends fussing about how Yi-kang was crazy about Im Chul-kyung. When she was 14, she had gone to the mountain for three days and had come back with a broken arm. Moon-ok decided to send Yi-kang to a training center for troubled youths.
It’s the first day of boot camp and their first activity is to hike to the top of the mountain and there are prizes for the top three finishers. Yi-kang (cameo by Kim Do-yeon) effortlessly overtakes the rest of the group. She’s surprised when another boy (cameo by Choi Hyun-wook) climbs up at her pace and when he offers a hand at one point, she rejects him. Even with a broken arm, Yi-kang reaches the top first and her gaze lingers on the same boy, who came last for helping another injured boy.
Afterwards, she waits with him at a bus stop. Moon-ok comes and scolds her for hanging out when their house is just nearby. A bus arrives and just as the boy is about to get on, Yi-kang runs back, hits him on the back and sprints away.
The flashback ends and at Bidam Shelter an SOS call comes in — someone has sprained an ankle on the way to the shelter. Yi-kang asks if the person who needs help is the same one who set to pick up a lost item. The other ranger isn’t sure but Yi-kang goes out to help, leaving Hyun-jo to man the shelter.
It’s snowing harder than ever when Woong-soon and another police officer arrive to investigate the car that arrived earlier. They run the plate number and discover the car is on the wanted list. Suddenly a gunshot rings out and a man falls to his knees in the snow.
Hyun-jo also hears the shot back at the shelter and radios out a message about the sound. Yi-kang heads in the direction Hyun-jo directs her to, while other rangers head out to see if it was the start of an avalanche.
Suddenly, someone knocks on the shelter door, followed by scuffling sounds. Hyun-jo peers out the window to see who it is and gets a fright when a flashlight suddenly turns on — illuminating Gu-young’s blank face staring back at him. LOL.
Gu-young laments that he got stood up and has nowhere else to be on Christmas. He goes to the office to grab a tissue for his runny nose and spots Im Chul-kyung’s name in the logbook.
Gu-young recognizes the name as Yi-gang’s first love and tells Hyun-jo the story of how Chul-kyung met Yi-kang for the second time in Seoul when Yi-kang ran away from home. He knows the story inside and out thanks to how often she tells it when she gets drunk lol.
Yi-kang is dressed up as a soccer ball mascot and hands out flyers. Im Chul-kyung (Sohn Seok-gu) is also there with his own stack of flyers he recognizes her right away. He leaves her one of the flyers he’s carrying, inviting her to eat with her grandmother at the restaurant he’s promoting. Yi-kang calls out to him, asking how much he’s earning.
While juggling her new restaurant job she studies to retake the college entrance exams. She heads back to her room in Seoul and finds Chul-kyung waiting for her. With the exam out of the way, he invites her to the beach on his motorcycle.
It’s the first time she’s seeing the ocean in her entire life. They sit together in silence for a bit before he asks her why she hit him all those years ago. While looking out over the ocean, she reveals that it was because she was jealous that he had somewhere to go while she was stuck at the mountain.
In Seoul, the restaurant owner angrily accuses Chul-kyung of stealing $100, which he denies. When Yi-kang sticks up for him, the owner accuses her of being an accomplice and fires them both. She demands the man pay them for hours worked, and he throws a bag full of coins onto the ground.
Yi-kang doesn’t hesitate to stoop down and start gathering up the coins. She carefully asks Chul-kyung if he stole the money and he stands in silence for a beat before walking away. She calls after him and he tearily responds that he doesn’t know what he’ll become in the future, but he won’t, “live this humiliating life.”
Gu-young finishes telling Yi-kang’s story and concludes that ever since then, it’s like Christmas is cursed for Yi-kang.
Woong-soon calls in just then about the suspicious car and a wanted man — Chul-kyung — being near their location. Suddenly, the lights go out and the call is cut. Gu-young checks the fuse box while Hyun-jo gears up to find Chul-kyung. Gu-young’s worried and tries to keep Hyun-jo from going out to search on his own but it’s not use; Hyun-jo is determined to find Chul-kyung.
At last, Yi-kang finds the hiker with a sprained ankle. The woman, Jung Soo-min, asks if Yi-kang is from the shelter, then asks if she’s seen Chul-kyung. Yi-kang says he hasn’t been by and Soo-min can’t believe it. She introduces herself as a detective who works with Chul-kyung and explains that he’d been wrongfully accused of bribery. She asks Yi-kang to take her to the shelter so she can look for an important piece of evidence that Chul-kyung had told her he’d left there.
Gu-young is still struggling with the fuse box and discovers that it’s not an outage — a wire has been deliberately cut. The door behind him suddenly creaks shut so he heads over to check it out.
Detectives from Gunsan arrive at Woong-soon’s police station and they’re already aware of the whole situation somehow. The head detectives wants to know if they can get in touch with Bidam Shelter, but because the weather’s bad all radios and phones are down. The detective asks Woong-soon to call again and stresses that they need to head up the mountain ASAP.
Unable to radio anyone, Yi-kang decides to take Soo-min to the shelter. She helps the injured woman walk and Soo-min asks what Chul-kyung had left at the shelter. A blue backpack. Elsewhere, Hyun-jo finds the man who had been show, lying in the snow. It’s Chul-kyung.
When Yi-kang discovers the cut wire, she asks Soo-min to wait outside. She enters the now-dark shelter and comes across Gu-young lying on the floor with blood on his face. She runs to the phone but a man suddenly appears behind her, pointing a gun at her head. She’s able to subdue him by spraying into his face, but she’s knocked out the man’s accomplice: Soo-min.
The two of them frantically start looking around the shelter for the evidence Chul-kyung had left behind. But when they find the blue backpack, the man comes to the conclusion that the evidence was all a lie. A noise draws the man out, and Hyun-jo tackles the man while Chul-kyung cuffs Soo-min. (It turns out Chul-kyung had been wearing a bulletproof vest, so he was well and alive when Hyun-jo found him earlier, just stunned.)
The Gunsan detectives arrive to take in the real criminals and the head detective tells Chul-kyung he was right. Chul-kyung had set up a trap to suss out the true culprits. Yi-kang regains consciousness. She and Chul-kyung lock eyes, and seeing him seems to bring back memories for her.
Inconsolable, Yi-kang sobs on the bus as she makes her way home. But when she arrives, she’s shocked to see her grandmother looking as spry as ever. Worried about how aimlessly Yi-kang was living, Moon-ok had fibbed about being critically ill to get her back home. Her master plan for Yi-kang? A job as a Jirisan ranger. Moon-ok literally drags Yi-kang to a job interview with Dae-jin, and despite her protests that she hates mountains, Yi-kang does reluctantly sit for the interview.
Dae-jin laughs to see her and asks what her reason for applying is. She claims she doesn’t have one. He asks Yi-kang if she’s still afraid of the mountain, and he follows that with another question for her: “Do you still think that I let your parents die?”
Her eyes well up with tears, and he challenges her to save people. He tells her that if she’s afraid that people will die in the mountain, she should save them before that can happen. And that she does. We next see her berating an old man for hiking and drinking — a dangerous combination.
In another time, she’s manning the shelter and meets Chul-kyung again as he comes to retrieve a lost item. They catch up a bit and she remarks on his job as a rookie cop, that he got what he wanted, not living a humiliating life. He tosses back that she fits in better with mountains than oceans.
He starts to tell her something but Gu-young zips by with an SOS alert and she runs off to help a hiker who had a cardiac arrest. She turns back to look at Chul-kyung and he asks if he can see her again if he comes back. He tells her he’ll visit often.
Tired from their successful rescue effort, Gu-young says he understands why she always says she wants to quit. He contemplates that maybe it’s time to quit. Yi-kang declares that she won’t quit; that she’ll stay with the mountain.
Back in the present, Gu-young is okay too, apart from a minor head injury. Chul-kyung awkwardly strikes up a conversation with Yi-kang outside the shelter. He apologizes for what happened and explains he never thought things would get so dangerous. Chul-kyung thought she had quit because he hadn’t seen her ever since their first Jirisan reunion and he admits he had visited often.
Yi-kang tells him he should have called her, but he looks at her intently and simply confesses that she was right. All those years ago, he stole the money. He’d wanted to buy that motorcycle he had used to take her to the beach. A few months later, he returned to the restaurant and apologized, paying back the owner then.
That was what he wanted to tell her the last time but he never got the chance. He apologizes for lying but says he was too embarrassed to own up back then. Chul-kyung promises to call next time he’s at Jirisan. And casually adds that his wife loves mountains too.
In the morning, Chul-kyung leaves with the culprits and police. Yang-sun rushes over Gu-young, distraught about the news of his injury. He’s completely confused and figures she couldn’t have come to the station because of him. Yang-sun nods that she ran there because she heard he’d been hurt.
It’s only then that they realize there had been a misunderstanding during their last date. They were both waiting outside the theater but at different locations. Hyun-jo asks why they didn’t just call each other and Gu-young says he didn’t want to pressure her.
They set up another date and this time, Gu-young gets to hand over a bigger bouquet of flowers and they enjoy the movie together. At a hospital, Il-hae beams at his newborn baby girl.
Hyun-jo and Yi-gang relax over drinks and Hyun-jo asks why Yi-kang keeps staying at the mountain while being so vocal about how she hates it. She drinks sweet potato makgeolli and Hyun-jo readies himself to listen to her story.
Afterwards, Hyun-jo piggbacks her home much to Moon-ok’s gratitude. She prepares a warm cup for tea for him and he checks out the photos of Yi-kang that are all over the house. Nearly every photo of her features the mountain too. He thinks to himseld that she couldn’t leave the mountain simply because she loves it. His appreciation for her dedication is interrupted by a sudden vision of wildfires on the mountain.
I knew it! Yi-kang may say she hates the mountain, but she really does love Jirisan. I’m glad that her first love didn’t actually influence her decision to become a ranger, despite how much I enjoyed Yi-kang silently mooning over Chul-kyung. It would have been out of character for her to have made decisions based on a man, so I was happy to see that while she still carried a flame for Chul-kyung, it was her love for Jirisan keeping her there as a ranger. In a way, Yi-kang’s relationship with Jirisan is the true first love story here. Just seeing how from a young age she had loved the mountain, it’s obvious that her parents’ death left her with feelings that she may not have fully dealt with yet. As of now, it seems like it was only after her parents’ death that Yi-kang started talking about hating the mountain.
Maybe it was the overall romantic vibe of this episode but it seemed like Hyun-jo may be started to feel something towards Yi-kang. I like their chemistry as work partners and I’m not sure if I can see them as romantic partners (not sure if I want them as romantic partners frankly) so I’m hoping those flickers are just a fluke. Il-hae described Hyun-jo and Yi-kang as the “needle and thread” of Jirisan and they really do work well together. This metaphor also felt like a nod to the current timeline, where the two of them are connected across dimensions and able to communicate even with Hyun-jo in a coma.
Dae-jin played a surprising role in this episode as I hadn’t expected he would be the person who had hired Yi-kang. To see him go from encouraging Yi-kang to save people, to subsequently encouraging her take a job away from Jirisan…it was a bit of whiplash and if he’s the killer…well, let’s just see where the show takes us becauseI don’t want the culprit to be Dae-jin. He was/is a huge figure in Yi-kang’s life and I don’t want her to have lost both her parents and a mentor figure.
On a lighter note, who else is as fascinated in the many weirdly unique festivals Gu-young is always finding? I remember him searching a mud festival before so I wonder what they’ll come up with next. I hope his successful movie date with Yang-sun doesn’t mean he’ll stop looking for interesting dates lol. I’m always entertained by these little wacky moments and I can’t help but wonder how many strange festivals could exist in Korea. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of Gu-young and Yang-sun’s budding romance. They’re so adorably cute and awkward and it’s a nice respite from all the murders, even if I am also impatient to learn what happened That Day.
Just as I was getting used to Jirisan’s time jumps, they throw in multiple flashbacks throughout the years. I did appreciate seeing what made Yi-kang decide to be a ranger and the insight into her motivations, but in this episode the travels across time was a bit much. It was great to see Sohn Seok-gu again, but I don’t see how the drug dealer storyline will connect to the main story. I’m ready to get back into the main storyline and see what happened to Hyun-jo and Yi-kang that winter in 2019 but if my guess is correct we’re still a year away from that event.