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Chief Detective 1958: Episodes 7-8

Our heroes watch as the nation enters a time of development with shiny signs and taller buildings lining the streets of the city, yet beneath the glamour lies the forgotten and powerless. The corrupt remain in charge, simply donning a new name to run their schemes, but even if our heroes can’t change the world, it won’t stop them from trying.

 
EPISODES 7-8

The show picks up from last week as two cornered superiors, a completely awake chief, and a confident detective sit down to negotiate a deal. As it turns out, Chief Yoo regained consciousness a while ago and set out to trap his assailants with Young-han’s help. Their surprise attack worked, but as our heroes reach the finish line, their goals diverge. The chief rips up the evidence that proves the deputy director’s loyalty to Japan in exchange for the safety of his unit. While his actions are understandable, his team wishes he didn’t surrender to the enemy for their sake, but Chief Yoo laughs since he has another card up his sleeve.

Some months pass, and true to their word, the higher-ups leave unit one alone… until a particular case literally lands at their feet. While on a stroll with his wife, Young-han witnesses a man fall out a window from a securities firm. At first, the appearance of a will and a few co-workers’ testimonies suggest suicide, but the team uncovers a forged letter, contradicting facts, and a larger conspiracy hidden within this simple murder. With the help of civilian witnesses — particularly from the overlooked of society — they narrow down their suspects to three people: the middleman, the money, and the muscle.

Young-han and his team realize that their culprits are involved in a bigger stock manipulation scheme with rumored ties to the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA), and at this rate, thousands of people will face bankruptcy if no one intervenes. However, they still can’t make sense of the victim’s connection until Officer Bong hands them the missing piece: a prosecutor handling stock-related crimes died a mere ten minutes before their current case. In other words, the two victims were planning to reveal everything and died for their heroic actions. With the puzzle solved, it’s time to make some arrests.

The team waltzes into a gambling den run by the money and causes a scene. Kyung-hwan beats the muscle in a game of arm wrestling, Ho-jung guides the gamblers out of the warehouse, Sang-soon throws the middleman over his shoulder, and Young-han cuffs the money after a few punches. They bring the trio in for interrogation, and the lower-rung members rat each other out to lessen their sentence. However, before they can lock them behind bars, Superintendent Baek walks in with the KCIA and intercepts their suspects. Though, Young-han can’t catch the middleman, he does have enough evidence to incriminate the other two for murder, allowing him to close the case for the victim at the very least.

The episode then ends on a somber note as our heroes muse about their powerlessness and comment on how big the shadows get the higher the buildings grow. For this fictional case, the middleman fled the country, the money disappeared, and the muscle committed “suicide” in jail. As for the real-life incident that inspired the story, the stock market crashed in a couple of months due to the manipulation, and in the following year, the responsible parties were acquitted on all counts. It seems reality truly is scarier than fiction.

Before our heroes can even catch their breaths, two new cases pop up for unit one, and we get our first split investigation. Team Young-han and Ho-jung deal with a gruesome murder of a mother while team Sang-soon and Kyung-hwan tackle a gang of thieves targeting rich drunkards in the streets. For both pairs, their search leads them to primary suspects rather quickly, but their initial guesses turn into duds.

In the instance of the murdered mother, Young-han and Ho-jung find evidence in the boyfriend’s room, but these were planted since the bloodied shirt doesn’t fit and their suspect has a solid alibi. They comb through the clues once again, but this time, Young-han adds a new candidate to the mix: the victim’s young son. Appearance-wise, the son seems innocent — frail, sick, and polite, he’s the picture-perfect model student — but strip away these biases and the truth reveals something sinister.

Once arrested, the son drops his facade and snickers at the silly detectives. He gloats about killing his father who refused to pass down his land and then his mother for dating so soon after his death. Of course, the son only confesses because the law will protect him; after all, he’s only fourteen. The worst that will happen is a slap on the wrist, and Young-han has no choice other than to let the murderer return home for the night.

However, as they walk the boy to his house, Young-han pulls out his gun and threatens to spin a tale of his own. The son bargains for his life, promising them a cut of his land, and it’s clear to our heroes that the young man shows no remorse for his actions. Though Young-han never planned to kill the son, he doesn’t let him leave, either. They cuff the boy and reveal a miscalculation in his plans: his mother lied to him about his age, making him old enough to rot in a detention center for years to come.

Meanwhile, team Sang-soon and Kyung-hwan prowl the streets for the thieves and run into members of the Pioneer Corp (a government backed project that promises people work and land). They mistakenly arrest these rowdy punks for carrying similar weapons to the ones the victims’ described, but their leader bails them out and informs them that three of their batons were recently stolen.

With no other leads, Sang-soon dresses up to bait the thieves, and like moths to a flame, their culprits pounce on their easy prey. The thieves, though, are no match for two prepared officers, and they easily apprehend the suspects who turn out to be nothing more than orphaned teens. When brought in for questioning, the teenagers reveal that they ran away from the Pioneer Corp and inform the detectives about the abuse they suffered at their hands. They wonder who will compensate them when the perpetrator is their own country, and neither Sang-soon nor Kyung-hwan has an answer.

Even if they can’t fix every problem, our heroes can at least confront the injustices they see, so they break into the Pioneer Corp’s headquarters to rough them up. Young-han and his team free the young folks held against their will there and make it clear to the nasty men that they won’t tolerate their barbaric practices any longer. As for the thieves, unit one submits a petition on their behalf in hopes of reducing their sentence and giving them a second chance.

The parallels between the two cases aren’t lost on the team as they contemplate the different sides of the Juvenile Act. While it can be abused by individuals like the murderous son, it also has its place for cases like the misguided thieves. The show offers no easy solution to this ongoing problem, and in some ways, the issues that plagued our heroes back in 1962 continue to exist in the present day.

While the show has always rooted itself in history, these two episodes, in particular, relied heavily on context to enrich its story and explain some of the bigger societal issues at play. As a result, even though our heroes still win, the conclusions aren’t as clean-cut as previous cases because there’s only so much individuals can fix by themselves. In the end, our heroes act as beacons, shedding light on the dark history of Korea and the lasting consequences of corruption.

In that vein, the episodic nature of the show really shines as the weeks go by, and the lack of an overarching plot allows the story to focus on new themes with each case rather than get bogged down by unnecessary convolutions. The connecting piece between the episodes is history, itself, and our main characters are merely a small part of a larger canvas. Thus, each episode covers a topic or period in Korea — trafficking after the war, political gangsters ruling the streets, or government officials manipulating the stock market — and despite the varied stories, they feel cohesive because history connects them all. Though the show is still silly at times, there’s a surprising depth to its storytelling that makes the drama not only entertaining but also insightful.

 
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Thank you for the recap.

I really like how the actual historical events form such an integral part of the drama and its world. Sadly most of these issues are as current today.

I can't believe we have only two episodes left. Will we have a sequel / continuation with the grandson!?

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I really hope they continue the series- it's so worth it!! I'm not sure how this has been received in SK, but going by the abysmally low recap:comment ratio on here, I don't hold out much hope :(

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I think a multi season arc was planned. Let's see.

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Thanks for the recap @lovepark. I liked the historical placing of these episodes too. It's a bit heavy-handed but I don't mind because it's a period of history not often covered by k-dramas esp. in all its brutal reality. I think the writer is doing a good job in not focusing so much on the 'whodunnit' of cases (which are always pretty obvious) but more on how those crimes come about.

I am looking forward to the finale but cautiously. I don't have a great opinion of how investigative k-dramas often depict crimes against women. Since we were introduced to the brat pack of rich young men a few episodes back, I knew we'd end up there and Officer Bong's friend seems to be headed for the same fate.

I think I saw some news about the show having multiple seasons so I'm curious how they'll end it.

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What a well-written review
What I like about is this drama is the ability to include actual historical events. I guess this must be one of the many wonderful ideas of Park Jae Bum, the creator and main writer behind this drama. I know sooner or later, the drama will get heavier and darker, but I don't mind as this period drama is one of the best Friday-Saturday cracks for me.

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Juvenile criminals are always interesting.

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These two episodes were good; it got some of the earlier team mojo back. I like that they got back to solving episodic cases.
I do hope they extend the show for another season- at least put the great set design to good use!

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My issue with this show is they're trying to tackle too many things about this era but without really going deeper in these subjects.

It's the same thing for the characters. We don't really know more about them since the beginning. Except Young-han, we don't know if their situation changed.

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