Cafe Minamdang: Episodes 13-14
Working together has proven just how fast our shaman crew and police team can get things done. Well, it also helps that our new couples are extra motivated to wrap up the case to enjoy their budding romances.
EPISODES 13-14 WEECAP
Han-jun wastes no time to save Jae-hui from the burning RV, but it comes at the cost of letting Assistant Gu run free again and Han-jun injured and fainting from inhaling too much smoke.
At the hospital, Jae-hui sits by Han-jun’s bedside, while Hye-jun and Su-cheol hack into the laptop Jae-hui found in Assistant Gu’s RV. Hye-jun reflects that despite being usually coolheaded, Han-jun looked so rattled worrying about Jae-hui. Then she informs her new boyfriend that she’s probably like that too, so he shouldn’t die before her or else. Su-cheol only smiles, hugging her in assurance.
Inside the room, Han-jun wakes up and immediately goes to hug Jae-hui in relief. He admits that despite being a scaredy cat who often runs away (even from his own budding feelings), he thinks he’d probably come back to Jae-hui in the end. “Can you wait for me a little? After I catch Gopuri and get Jae-jeong’s permission, then I’ll give you my entire heart.” Jae-hui agrees, tearing up in happiness.
The next day, the police team checks in with Jae-hui and consolidate their findings. Jae-hui shares the childhood photo from the RV, while Detective Jang brings out a burnt yet matching photo, confirming Assistant Gu’s identity as Im Yeong-joo. Apparently, he was the suspect of Detective Jang’s first murder case, back when Assistant Gu was only a kid who burnt down his house with his abusive father still inside.
Back at the cafe, the Minamdang crew finds a photo of the name-filled gopuri knot in Assistant Gu’s laptop files and a whole folder of sex videos featuring politicians and chaebols (WTF). Do-won arrives, bearing a new lead: N.Joy Club, a popular dance club where Auntie Im’s cartel members (as Do-won refers to them) and other chaebols engage in drug deals, but they need solid proof before they can close the club down. So they prepare to go undercover.
Outside the cafe, after wrapping up the meeting, Han-jun and Do-won play tug of war, insisting they’ll take home their lady love while Jae-hui looks so damn done with their rivalry. (Not me. I want more! This dynamic is funny!) But Jae-hui points out she lives so near anyway, so she’s just gonna walk herself home. Han-jun joins her anyway, while a flabbergasted Do-won scoffs as Hye-jun and Su-cheol try to cheer him up.
On their walk, Jae-hui finally asks why Han-jun never let her see him in prison. Han-jun simply says he hoped she would live a better life and forget the bad memories. But now that she’s here in the center of the storm, he hopes to quickly catch the culprits, pinky-promising they can date after.
Putting their plan into action, the Minamdang crew and co. put on fancy outfits and infiltrate the club. The girls get in with no problem, but the boys… Oh the boys.
Stopped at the entrance, Han-jun blames Su-cheol and his frilly lace white polo and blond wig. So Su-cheol pushes his way in with physical force, lol. Just behind them, Min-gyeong and Director Park, who want to see the shaman, get kicked out despite being the actual chaebols. Oof.
Inside the club, Do-won is forced to play waiter along with Na-dan, who plays mentor to the undercover rookie Do-won. They find a drug user in a private room, and Do-won barges in to warn the girl inside about her drugged drink, angering the male customers, who then call the club manager. Unfortunately for them, Han-jun and Su-cheol have already apprehended said manager after Jae-hui and Hye-jun marked a suspicious person trading a red drug. It’s the same one Auntie Im and Seung-won have!
Apparently, the club is a front for supplying the red drug Ruby, and Assistant Gu manages the club. So now, the crew just needs to find Assistant Gu’s ledger full of incriminating information.
Except the ledger is in an ultra secure safe at the top floor of the hotel where the club is located and the crew has no way to get in. Until Han-jun moves his little chess pieces around. He has already called Detective Jang to bring in the police using Jae-hui’s authority.
As the police distract the guards, the still-waiting Min-gyeong and Director Park spot Han-jun and Su-cheol sneaking in and excitedly call out to him. Despite getting caught, Han-jun puts on his shaman hat to fish out info from Director Park regarding the top floor. And just like that, they’re able to get the password to the safe. I love how Director Park has gone from an evil-looking character to the goofball half of a comedic pair with Min-gyeong, both so desperate for our shaman’s attention. Their scenes are always hilarious!
Despite some hiccups, our dynamic duo gets into the top floor, and Su-cheol fights off the guards even while holding in his bladder. Han-jun goes ahead to open the safe and grab the files. But oh no! Assistant Gu is already here, and once again, our shaman and Gopuri come to blows. But Assistant Gu manages to get away again. (How many times has it been? Damn.)
No matter, Han-jun managed to keep one file with him. Even if it earned him too many bruises and wounds on his money-making face.
The next day, Han-jun connects the dots, painting the bigger picture surrounding Auntie Im’s cartel, including how the members are prepared to turn against each other, holding blackmail material in case things go south. Case in point: Choekang Insurance Chairman PARK DONG-GI (Kim Byung-soon) has an inspection file on the others, even their quasi-leader and his nephew Seung-won. Han-jun figures this file is now in the hands of Assistant Gu’s boss.
Do-won brings up the paper company KM Leaders, which is where Chairman Park’s assets have been siphoned into. Han-jun thinks that through this paper company, Auntie Im wants to steal the money from her Cartel. And if Seung-won and Auntie Im are working together, then they’ll get rid of Chairman Park. Which is exactly what Seung-won instructs Auntie Im and Assistant Gu to do.
In his office repeatedly clicking his ballpoint pen, Seung-won is contemplating his next move when Chairman Park calls Assistant Gu. Furious at his uncle’s betrayal, Seung-won rips a new one into Auntie Im and Assistant Gu. He decides to rush his shady business plans for the land development project.
Seung-won also issues a kill order on his uncle, and when Auntie Im attempts to protest, he nearly stabs her arm with his pen. Damn, you got some anger issues, dude.
Han-jun, Jae-hui, Su-cheol, and Hye-jun head out to find Chairman Park. As Hye-jun takes the wheel, scaredy-cats Han-jun and Su-cheol push Jae-hui into the passenger seat, because they know just how much of a speeding maniac Hye-jun is.
While holding on for dear life, Han-jun figures that since Auntie Im pulls the strings behind Assistant Gu, she would choose to do this final kill at a location meaningful to him: his old burnt-down house. This way, even if he gets the blame, he will never talk. And indeed, Assistant Gu is about to murder Chairman Park there.
The crew arrives just in time to save Chairman Park from being burnt alive. But Assistant Gu is ready to blow them all up, including Han-jun, Jae-hui, and himself. I’m not sure if I understand his motives here, and that’s exactly what Han-jun asks him: what does he gain by doing this? Assistant Gu answers: “If it’s for him, sacrificing my life is nothing.” Oh my. Is “him” Seung-won?
But when Han-jun brings up Kang Eun-hye, Assistant Gu becomes rattled because he really cared for the young girl who looks like his mother. Ringing his brass bell, Han-jun implies that Eun-hye’s spirit is still lingering around (i.e. Hye-jun turning on the smoke machine). But Han-jun does tap into Assistant Gu’s memories with Eun-hye, repeating her words asking for help, leading to the arsonist’s surrender. But things go sideways when Su-cheol punches Assistant Gu. Oof! Well, after a brief scuffle, they still end up apprehending him.
An enraged Seung-won berates Auntie Im over the phone. He tells her to take care of this problem herself, threatening her if she fails again.
So a disguised Auntie Im visits Chairman Park at the station. As they exchange threats, the chairman starts choking, before he realizes that he was poisoned using the water he just drank. Auntie Im dangles the antidote in front of him, instructing him to keep in line — or else.
At home, Han-jun is staring intently at his phone, and when Su-cheol takes a peek, he’s flabbergasted to see a photo of Hye-jun arm in arm with a guy cropped out. Unfortunately for Su-cheol, Han-jun knows exactly whose arm it belongs to. The overprotective brother blows up at his best friend, but Hye-jun butts in, kicking her boyfriend in the face just as he’s about to confess. She strongly denies dating “this idiot,” even promising to clean up and wash her hair every day if she ever does. So Han-jun is quickly convinced.
A curious Na-dan asks why Han-jun doesn’t want his sister and best friend to date each other, especially when Su-cheol is such a great catch. But Han-jun is worried about being forced to choose a side in case they break up. Na-dan sighs in relief that his boss doesn’t have a sister complex, getting him two light hits on his arm. LOL.
At the station, Jae-hui and Detective Jang interrogate Assistant Gu, who has easily confessed about his murders. But he takes all the blame, even as the detectives try to poke holes in his story. Really, just how did Seung-won and Auntie Im make Assistant Gu so loyal?!
The arsonist rattles Jae-hui and her team when he warns her that she’s going to end up just like her brother. So Do-won offers to take over the interrogation. Still, Jae-hui insists on staying on but agrees to a break.
As she leaves to find Han-jun, Do-won asks her not to go, finally confessing that he likes her. A regretful Jae-hui couldn’t do anything else but reject him. So our prosecutor simply says he’ll treat her as a friend and colleague moving forward. Aww, poor Do-won.
At Minamdang, only Na-dan is working the floor. Because Su-cheol and Hye-jun are having a date — in the shaman lair of all places! LOL. Hands on waist, Na-dan scolds them, threatening to tell Han-jun if they don’t go back to work.
Jae-hui drops by to ask where the shaman is, and with Hye-jun’s help, finally tracks him down at a camping ground in Gangwon. Apparently, despite hating the outdoors, Han-jun camps there every year because Jae-jeong used to go there a lot.
Jae-hui gives Han-jun updates on the investigation, even saying that maybe they can date now because they’ve at least captured Assistant Gu. (This girl is so forward!) Hiding a smile, Han-jun jokes that Jae-jeong probably won’t let him date her, especially when he’s been having freaky accidents since visiting Jae-jeong’s resting place.
That doesn’t stop them from going around town, shopping, eating street food, and taking photos. Basically everything normal people do on a [K-drama] date. And at the end of the night, they finally share a kiss! Took them quite a while, but they got there.
But bursting their happy bubble are several phone calls from Min-gyeong and Director Park, who have information on Seung-won. So Han-jun and Jae-hui return early to Cafe Minamdang.
Unfortunately for Su-cheol and Hye-jun, who have been out all night on their own date, they now have to sneak back inside behind Han-jun’s back. Spotting the wayward couple, a panicked Na-dan enlists Jae-hui’s help to distract Han-jun. Su-cheol and Hye-jun do make it back inside, but their stories aren’t lining up, so Han-jun just becomes more suspicious.
His attention is diverted, however, with the arrival of Min-gyeong and Director Park, who report that infamous real estate fraudsters Land Hunter Team has joined Seung-won’s land development project. After relaying the information, Min-gyeong and Director Park quickly leave, and Na-dan muses that something seems to be going on between the two of them. Aww, are we saying goodbye to fiancee Min-gyeong? Nooooo.
The team figures that the media play is meant to increase the cartel’s profit even if the project fails, but even with this knowledge, the rushed timeline means it’s unlikely they would find any evidence about the cartel’s evil plans.
But of course, our shaman has a plan up his sleeve: he wants to use information from Tae-su’s laptop at the groundbreaking ceremony. With the help of their “anonymous tip” and Chief Kim’s go signal, the police team mobilizes their forces to raid the ceremony in the middle of Auntie Im’s prayer ritual.
Wearing their own bright, poofy shaman garb, Han-jun and Su-cheol make a dramatic entrance. Facing off against the lady shaman, Han-jun openly accuses Auntie Im, Seung-won, and the cartel of their crimes. Damn, in front of all those reporters? Hope it works out!
In this week’s epilogues, we finally get a glimpse of the ties that bind Assistant Gu to Seung-won and Auntie Im. After escaping from his burning home, a young Assistant Gu faints by the road and gets rescued by Auntie Im and a young Seung-won, who has apparently been diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, with his behavior being moderated with the sound of a pen. They really all go waaay back.
Flashforward to the night of Jae-jeong’s murder, we see two men in black in the room, with the other fidgeting with a ballpen. WTH, Seung-won is the other guy in black that night?! But if Seung-won has known Auntie Im for so long, how does Do-won not know who Auntie Im is? Or is it because the brothers are basically estranged?
Sadly, as we continue to unravel the truth behind Auntie Im and her cartel, there’s less comedic Minamdang shenanigans. Instead, those scenes seem to have been replaced with exploration of the love lines. Still not sold on the main couple, but our second couple are cute, if a bit cringey at times.
And while I like uncovering mysteries, putting chaebols and politicians as the big baddies is a little too cliche at this point. Things have been spiced up with the additional element of shamanism in both the good and bad guys, but even that is undercut with expert skills and careful planning (though I enjoy how that works for our Minamdang crew). Now, we’re just seeing more cliches of chaebol baddies and less shaman shenanigans when it’s the latter that makes this show entertaining and unique. Show, please bring back more wacky Minamdang schemes!