Cafe Minamdang: Episodes 3-4
This week, we learn how our motley crew of shamanism frauds came together, and we also witness our usually serious detective getting all tangled up in her complicated feelings for a certain profiler-turned-shaman.
EPISODES 3-4 WEECAP
We continue right where we left off last week. While Jae-hui breaks into the cafe, the Minamdang crew sets up a trap for Inspector Jung Cheong-gi with the help of hotel CEO Lee Min-gyeong. In a secret meeting, Min-gyeong asks Inspector Jung to hand over his phone so Hye-jun can hack into the phone and track his communications.
Back at the cafe, Jae-hui barely gets away from being caught, head-butting Han-jun and wounding his forehead. Poor Han-jun woke up briefly only to once again be KO’d by his sister’s smelly feet.
The next day, rookie detective Na visits Cafe Minamdang for a consultation with the infamous shaman. Stalker Jae-hui insists on joining him, but she starts off her visit with a series of embarrassments after she thinks Han-jun is heading her way, only to realize he just wants to admire himself in the mirror.
Then she gets pushed onto Han-jun, caught in his arms (complete with romantic leg lifted up), but then subsequently dropped to fall on the floor. Ouch, the secondhand embarrassment is real.
Nevertheless, during the consultation, Jae-hui calls Han-jun out on the bullcrap he’s spewing, asking him how he even ended up being a “shaman.”
This reminds Han-jun of Minamdang’s beginnings after he got out of prison two years ago. After his sister picks him up, they head straight to Su-cheol’s private investigation agency — except it looks less like an office and more of a dumpster full of shaman artifacts.
They get into a tearful reunion just as a customer comes in before immediately turning around to leave because of all the statues and shamanism tools. Han-jun captures her attention after claiming she’s here to find her runaway son. To the customer, it seems he’s the real deal, but in truth, Han-jun simply overheard her talking about her problem on the phone.
Impressed with Han-jun’s so-called “abilities,” the customer promises to pay any amount they ask for. Blinded by the prospect of easy money, Han-jun immediately puts on his act.
Using the now familiar strategy with Han-jun as the mastermind, Hye-jun as the hacker, and Su-cheol as the brawn, they rescue their first customer’s son from school bullies and loan sharks. Here they also meet Na-dan, who insists on joining them.
Seeing the success of their first case, Han-jun suggests they pose as shamans in order to draw out Gopuri, a.k.a. the real murderer of Prosecutor Han Jae-jeong. One of the only clues they have about the culprit is how he was holding a gopuri knot (i.e. a knotted cloth used to comfort the dead) when Jae-jeong died, leading them to think the culprit is either into shamanism or a shaman himself.
Everyone is on board — even if Hye-jun enumerates a lot of demands that Han-jun grudgingly agrees to — but Hye-jun reminds her brother that their mother, a Catholic deaconess, would protest with his chosen occupation. So he proposes to hide their shaman business behind the facade of a cafe, the name of which is aptly thrown together via a misunderstanding — and some convenient wordplay around their good looks. Thus, the birth of Cafe Minamdang.
Back to the present, Jae-hui continues to ask Han-jun so many questions, it’s as if she’s interrogating him. Han-jun tells her she isn’t qualified to be a detective for being so blinded by her prejudices. Undeterred, she straight-up accuses him of being the reason why her brother was murdered, asking him if he’s sorry at all.
In a rare moment of honesty, Han-jun admits: “I always am. I’m wracked by guilt every night. But I never made a mistake… I would apologize and tell the family it was my fault.” Still, Jae-hui isn’t satisfied and promises him she’ll arrest him if he gets out of line.
The next day, the Minamdang crew follows Inspector Jung to his meeting with the vice chairman. When they arrive, Han-jun and Su-cheol prepare to confront the inspector, but they promptly realize they brought the wrong bag of equipment, thanks to Na-dan who thought they were actually going to be exorcizing — this kid is too naive, but adorably so. He can get away with anything with that charming smile.
Still, all they have now are shaman tools and robes when they need actual weapons. Caught by the vice chairman’s goons, what else can they do but Operation Beethoven? Also known as throwing Su-cheol to the wolves and cheering him on from the safety of the car! Sorry, Su-cheol, but you fought them off well.
Finally, Han-jun and Su-cheol follow the vice chairman’s goons to the pit where they’re planning to bury Inspector Jung alive — how crazy are these people?! Good thing the Minamdang duo, now dressed up as ghosts, arrive just in time to make weird haunting noises to confuse the goons and proceed to knock them out with gongs and bells. It’s truly bedlam!
Interrogating Inspector Jung (for the Nth time), they nearly get a heart attack after a masked Na-dan arrives to warn them that the police have arrived. It’s so funny how much of a scaredy cat Han-jun and Su-cheol are when they supposedly deal with ghosts and the supernatural world.
The aforementioned police are actually Jae-hui and Prosecutor Cha Do-won, who have been tailing them from the start. Jae-hui wants to go in, but Do-won tells her he’ll get a warrant first, so they can’t use it against her again. Smart thinking, but honestly every time I see Do-won, I just think he’s too nice, and I don’t really have a good feeling about these too-nice guys in these types of dramas. Please don’t be a bad guy, Do-won.
Upon receiving the warrant, Jae-hui and Do-won arrive to witness Han-jun and Su-cheol in full shaman garb conducting an “exorcism” (a.k.a. some random crazy-looking dance) of evil ghosts (a.k.a. Na-dan and Hye-jun trying to keep a tied up Inspector Jung quiet). Honestly, I can’t believe Seo In-gook somehow pulled off that bright and poofy outfit. Then again, he is Seo In-gook.
Jae-hui doesn’t believe them one bit. But the vice chairman’s goons corroborate the exorcism story — because for them, they did get “haunted” by “ghosts” who are funnily enough also the ones exorcizing said ghosts.
Elsewhere on the estate, Vice Chairman Shin is hallucinating and running away from his victim’s ghost (who was just really just Na-dan and Hye-jun in disguise). He ends up being arrested with the evidence found on his person. The Minamdang crew also encourages the goons to surrender to allegedly dispel the evil spirits lingering around them, which they readily do, lol.
From afar, Inspector Jung watches them get handcuffed, prompting him to help Han-jun. He calls his boss, a former superintendent turned director of a construction company, who allegedly ordered him to tamper with the evidence of the Choi Yeong-seop case.
Han-jun, Su-cheol, and Inspector Jung go to the superintendent’s house, but gasp! He just went into shock and died on arrival. After investigating, Han-jun concludes that the caffeine-allergic superintendent was murdered with caffeine overdose.
Fearing for his life, Inspector Jung asks Han-jun about his promise to help him get away on a ship. Han-jun does make good on his promise — except the ship he was talking about was the swinging pirate ship in an amusement park. The Minamdang crew ties him on the swinging ship and dances away, leaving him for the police to find. The gang is so hilariously petty! LOL.
When he figures out that Gopuri is probably close to the superintendent, Han-jun asks CEO Lee to look into Choekang Constructions. She promises to do so, but just before he leaves, CEO Lee insists he check the briefcase containing his payment fee. Inside, he finds a prenuptial agreement, while CEO Lee kneels in front of him to ask him to marry her. Haha, everyone’s just so in love with him.
Han-jun and Su-cheol bring the money-filled briefcase to the hospital and give it to the hit-and-run victim’s wife. They advise her to use it for the hospital fees and her children’s college tuition and not to accept settlement from the vice chairman. Aww, our crew really are good people at their core.
That night, Jae-hui is on another stake out at Minamdang, but gets caught by Han-jun, who she punches in surprise. How many times has she already assaulted him, poor guy. Also, I know he jokes about it, but what she’s doing is really stalking… and I don’t think I’m too comfortable with how it’s continuing. I hope it stops soon. Maybe just cooperate?
Well, Jae-hui does apologize for the punch (not so much the stalking), but she immediately brings up what she really wanted to discuss: why did Han-jun free then help arrest the vice chairman? Han-jun simply says it was all in service of his VVIP client.
They continue bickering like an old married couple — or maybe a pair of kindergartners who don’t know how to deal with crushes — until Han-jun warns her not to fall in love with him. To his (and the eavesdropping Su-cheol’s) surprise, Jae-hui says, “Stop making me do that then!”
At home, Jae-hui is so frustrated about how she was misunderstood – she’s not in love! But he’s nice! But he’s also a nutcase! We get it, girl, you’re just in denial. Jae-hui’s not depicted as too ghost-like this week, showing a more childish vibe especially around Han-jun, and I’m enjoying seeing a new side to her character.
Giving themselves a day off, the Minamdang crew enjoys some BBQ, even if the cafe’s sales are lower than usual. Just as Han-jun pouts about having it but still missing it (it being a new wristwatch, not the culprit), he gets a call from another VVIP client about ghosts in her kitchen. Han-jun decides to accept the case to get paid.
The Minamdang crew quickly figures out that the ghosts are just kids looting for food and traces them into the sewer. Su-cheol does catch one of the kids, but he unfortunately gets mistaken for a kidnapper, so Jae-hui gets called to arrest him.
Claiming there’s another kid in the sewers, Han-jun suggests the police should check. But Jae-hui insists he should come with her, even bringing out protective gear. Ever the clean freak, Han-jun tries to get out of it, complaining all the way. He’s only forced to go because Jae-hui threatens to arrest him for the hidden camera in his glasses, which is, you know, illegal.
They do find the other kid, but not just that. Han-jun discovers a trail of gopuri knots leading to… a dead body?! It’s the same M.O. as Jae-jeong’s murder, and as the episode closes, Han-jun and Jae-hui realize that the culprit they’ve been looking for is once again on the hunt for victims.
This week didn’t have as many comedic moments as the last, since it felt like all the setup we missed in the first episodes was pushed to this week. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the pacing got a little off-kilter. I’m hoping next week’s episodes will get us closer to the Gopuri case and the truth behind it all.
As always, Seo In-gook performs his role so brilliantly. He goes from comically animated to straight-faced and serious in half a second — so much that it’s sometimes jarring — but he’s really the one who keeps me hooked.