38사기동대 ep 2
Down and out Sung Il drinks with his detective friend, Park Deok Bae, who chides him for getting scammed and losing $5000. But he offers to help catch the scammer and asks Sung Il if he still has the phone number. Deok Bae wonders if the office scams are related somehow.
Jung Do visits his father in prison. He won’t look at his son and barely answers. “Father, your son Jung Do is here.” His father quietly gets up and the guard escorts him back to his cell. As he leaves, Jung Do gets a call and replies, “Yes, sir.” So he can be polite.
It’s Sa Ja Sung, his father’s friend. He asks Jung Do if he has a job and gets stern with him when he finds out that he “works” for his prison buds. He tells him those aren’t acquaintances he should keep. Just then, the police take down someone who, Ja Sung tells him, stole money for his sick wife’s operation. Excuses for breaking the law. He’s heard them all and if he fell for them, there wouldn’t be any bad guys in the world. Ja Sung tells Jung Do to keep his nose clean so he can walk him down the aisle at his wedding for his father’s sake. If he messes up, Ja Sung, a supervisor with the police department, tells Jung Do that he won’t look the other way, he’ll nail him.
Jung Do bows respectfully to his father’s friend as they part ways. Moments later, he’s on the phone with Mi Joo and asks if she can get him a few used cars.
Jo Sang Jin, a senior who has moved on from public service and has his own CPA office stops by to call on Sung Il. He loudly tells Sung Il that he heard he beat up someone recently and should have called him. Anyway, there’s a way to fix it, he assures Sung Il. He tells him to follow him and he’ll fix his problems. Senior Jo is a sleazy accountant who wants to drag Sung Il in on an under-the-table deal. One of those “I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine” exchanges. They go to a private dining room to meet none other than Ma Jin Seok who greets Sung Il with a sly grin and says he didn’t realize his accountant is Sung Il’s upperclassman. Sung Il immediately wants to leave but Senior Jo grabs him and sits him down to some nice tempura. “You know we can always work things out,” he tells Sung Il. Ma Jin Seok pushes Sung Il’s buttons – getting suspended, his daughter’s college expenses – and slides a fat envelope towards him with the implication that those issues will go away if he accepts this “negotiation.” But the memory of this rotten jerk is fresh in Sung Il’s mind and he walks out. Senior Jo runs after him and pleads for him to consider the benefits of letting President Ma’s taxes slide. He reminds Sung Il that he doesn’t even have a car, further tempting him to set aside his principles and disregard the law for personal gain. The last straw is when Senior Jo tells him to just collect taxes from the poor and let the rich, who make Korea great, go. In exchange for favors, that is. Sung Il walks away in disgust.
Sung Il gets a call from Deok Bae. They meet up and before Sung Il knows what’s going on they walk into a shabby gangster-like office hangout full of under-the-radar guys. They’ve tracked down the phone number source of the person who scammed Sung Il and give him a contact address. Now Sung Il is on his own to follow-up. But there’s something else going on here: Deok Bae sends Sung Il on his own to spark that fighting spirit his friend once had but has lost at his public servant desk job. Deok Bae tells the others that back then, if anyone got Sung Il riled up there was not stopping him. Deok Bae wants to see that bark and bite in his friend once again.
Jung Do meets Mi Joo in a lot. She has arranged for some cars for him. He strategically places them around town, just in case. It’s a sort of insurance, he tells her; you never know what the future holds. Jung Do and Mi Joo knew each other before he went to prison but we don’t know much else about their relationship, yet.
The address given to Sung Il is a butcher shop. He mentions that a Mr. Kim sent him and is taken back through the warehouse where it’s business as usual: large knives being sharpened, animal carcasses being quartered, crates stacked and hauled on forklifts. It’s all rather unnerving. He is seated at a table across from the head honcho of this operation. “Why do you need our customer’s information?” he asks. Sung Il politely explains that he is investigating voice phishing and scams. When Sung Il tells them he lost $5000, everybody in the room laughs. Not only is it beans, they can’t believe this investigator has come inquiring about illegal burner phones and expects cooperation. Sung Il acts like a complete pushover, but when these petty thugs take it too far, Sung Il can’t hold back. He raises a chair over his shoulder and creates a ruckus that puts some healthy fear into them. “Do you want me to show how scary I am?” he threatens. It’s enough to make them hand over some information.
Sung Il brags to Deok Bae with a touch of exaggeration, that he took on about 30 of them to get the information. Deok Bae smiles, glad to see a little grit in his friend again. But there’s bigger fish to catch. Deok Bae has information through contacts on a far-reaching scam network. In fact, enough undercover work over time has revealed corruption inside the government and out. A list of names was provided by a government worker who was caught selling it for a hefty sum to someone in prison. That worker has handed over a copy of the list to authorities. Now Deok Bae hands the list to Sung Il who flips through the pages. Sure enough, Deok Bae’s hunch was correct: Sung Il’s name along with others in the office are on that list. Seems like whoever is scamming them is acting as a Robin Hood – he takes from the rich and gives to the poor. Sung Il sees the name Ma Jin Seok on the list, too. “Why is he on the list?” he asks.
Meanwhile, Jung Do is busy working through the names in the book. There’s a sweet scene where Jung Do watches a couple of young kids having snacks. It is obvious that the boy wishes to buy more for the girl he is with, but he only has a few coins. Moments later, he table is loaded with goodies, Jung Do pops a chip in his mouth; he’s made sure they don’t go without. Jung Do’s soft spot got to him. Next up is the former financial director at City Hall, Jo Sang Jin. Senior Jo, Sung Il’s upperclassman. In a flashback scene we learn that he is on the list because he takes and never gives. Jung Do is told in the jail yard to teach him a lesson for the chairman.
Looking mighty fine in a suit, Jung Do is ready to tackle this assignment.
He shows up at Jo Sang Jin’s office posing as Cha Jae Won from the National Tax Service Investigation Intelligence Division. Senior Jo is quick-witted enough to text an inquiry as to whether there really is a Cha Jae Won at the Intelligence Division. Jung Do wastes no time rattling off a list of Senior Jo’s clients whose income he has altered to shelter them from taxes and taken a cut for himself all the while. One such client is Ma Jin Seok. Senior Jo is rattled when he receives a reply to his text indicating that there is, indeed, a Cha Jae Won in that division. He trips over himself offering inside excuses that everyone does this. You know, taking a little for yourself, like one big family. Jung Do is humorless and for a moment, has Senior Jo scared that he’ll be busted. But Jung Do plays into his greed and lack of conscious, and insinuates that perhaps Senior Jo can make it worth his while to join the “family.” Senior Jo giddily promises to give his “junior” some allowance and asks for his bank account. Looks like a deal has been made that makes everyone happy. Jung Do isn’t done yet, however. and has Senior Jo sending money to seven other people, “friends” of a top client, Mr. Choi, knowing that Senior Jo can’t refuse and will do whatever it takes to cover and pay off. Jung Do rakes it in big time.
Deok Bae has a tracker on Jung Do’s burner phone and gets a call that it’s on and can be traced. Deok Bae gives Sung Il a call – they’re onto the scammer. Sung Il rushes out of the office and heads to the location where the phone has been traced. Sung Hee wonders what’s up. In his rush, he bumps into Jung Do, they recognize each other in a split second from the car scam: Sung Il realizes Jung Do is the scammer and Jung Do realizes that he’s been caught. Jung Do throws his bag at Sung Il and runs. Sung I is on his trail, but Jung Do has one of his “insurance” cars nearby and takes off. Deok Bae pulls up and tells Sung Il to get in. Sung Il got the license number and Deok Bae calls it in.
The chase is on. Jung Do is no amateur and has planned well: he abandons the car he is in and jumps into another one to throw them off. Sung Il spots him driving past and they are in hot pursuit again.
Other police cars zero in and form a barricade. Jung Do is fearless, though, and plays chicken with Deok Bae and Sung Il. They both swerve and Jung Do’s car hits a pole. The police handcuff him.
At the station, Deok Bae and Sung Il have plenty on Jung Do. When asked why he scammed all the people on the list Jung Do answers, “Because they’re jerks.” One thing becomes clear in all this: There are two Baek Sung Ils in the taxation department: Baek Sung Il in division 1 and our Baek Sung Il in division 3. Looks like Jung Do scammed the wrong Baek Sung Il. This may become meaningful.
Sung Il asks Jung Do why Ma Jin Seok is on the list; after all, he isn’t a public official (like the others on the list). “Why?” Jung Do asks. “Are you trying to collect money from him, too?” Sung Il corrects him, “Watch what you’re saying. It’s not collecting money, it’s collecting taxes.” Jung Do asks Deok Bae if he is going back to jail. “You know the answer,” Deok Bae replies. Jung Do says that if he goes back, it will be for a long time since he’s only been out a week. He turns to Sung Il and asks how much Ma Jin Seok owes in taxes. Sung Il is annoyed at this punk, why is he asking? But six million won is a pretty big number and Jung Do wonders if Sung Il plans to collect such a sum using laws. Because if he is, he should know that he isn’t good enough to take on Ma Jin Seok. “You should watch your mouth,” and Sung Il tells Deok Bae to throw him in jail. As he is taken out, Jung Do tosses a bone and tells them he knows how to get that six million from Mr. Ma. Do they want to hear his idea?
Later, Sung Il and Deok Bae soak in a public bath. Deok Bae asks if he is thinking about what Jung Do told them. Sung Il denies that he’s thinking about it and Deok Bae says he will turn Jung Do over to the prosecutors tomorrow. Once that happens, Deok Bae tells him, he can’t get Jung Do out. So think about it. Sung Il says there’s nothing to think about.
The next day Sung Il saunters into the office. The atmosphere is wrong. He asks, “What’s up?” Rumor has it that an informant called and squealed that he took bribe money. Commissioner Ahn calls for Sung Il to meet him at the golf course. As Sung Il tells him that he didn’t take money and someone is trying to frame him, his golf partner strolls over. It’s Ma Jin Seok. That insider who called Ma Jin Seok and told him the tax collectors were on their way was Commissioner Ahn. They’re in close cahoots. We find out something else: Min Jik, the man in the opening scene who died from fumes, was disposed of. Now, Commissioner Ahn threatens that Sung Il may meet the same fate. The corruption of government officials rears its ugly head.
Backstory: Min Sik was dismissed for being accused of taking a bribe. When he asked Sung Il to help him, Sung Il remained neutral. On a sad day, a team comprised of Min Sik, Sung Il, and Sung Hee repossessed the meager belongings of a poor family for unpaid taxes. It’s their job, after all. The man pleaded, the grandmother washed the face of the young granddaughter in the courtyard as the possessions were tagged.
Sung Il comments to Sung Hee: The law is like a bully: it’s weak for the strong and strong for the weak. We are like bullies, too.” Apparently, Min Sik took the poor man’s name off the list out of compassion and was accused of taking a bribe to do so. Sung Il realizes that Min Sik was framed as a scapegoat, and now he finds himself in that same position.
It’s been a bad day. Or maybe a necessary eye-opening day. Sung Il thinks about what Jung Do told them about Ma Jin Seok. Jung Do knows plenty of dirty little details about President’s Ma’s tax evasion corruption, more than Sung Il could ever know on his own. Maybe taking Jin Seok down Jung Do’s way is the only way to get past the inside corruption as well. Just as Deok Bae puts a handcuffed Jung Do in the van headed for prison, Sung Il opens the door and asks, “Can you really collect the taxes from Ma Jin Seok?”
- There sure is a lot crammed into this episode. Clearly, the writer didn’t have a recapper in mind when adding twists and reveals. It’s a bear to recap and hopefully I’ve captured the gist of what’s going on, even though it’s lengthy. The drama intricate but it is thrilling to see Jung Do escape prison by the skin of his teeth after carelessly using the burner phone and not calculating that it may be traced by the police. I’m surprised at his flub up, but it showed him that Sung Il can hold his own and, in that regard, may make a formidable partner-in-scam. For the greater good, of course, and in keeping him from going back to jail.
- However, it’s the intricate scam plot that makes this drama interesting, not to mention Seo In Guk’s involvement. In a suit no less.
- I am also interested in Mi Joo and Jung Do’s past because there certainly was one that was more than just business.
- I feel bad for Baek Sung Il. First, because his was mistaken for the person with the same name (Hello, Another Miss Oh) in a different department that caused all his scam woes, and second, because he now knows his friend, Min Sik, was set up and when he resisted, met an early demise. It is regrettable and Sung Il is completely deflated at the inside corruption that has been revealed. However, having the wind knocked out of his sails may prove to be the motivation for him to dig in and uncover the corruption on a double count, both inside the government and outside where the tax evaders dwell under corrupt government protection. Jung Do asked if he thought he could get Ma Jin Seok by using the law; I think Sung Il knows the answer to that now.
- I’m looking forward to their partnership!
- Are you enjoying Seo In Guk on the screen? 🙂