I knew it! Turning in Jung Do was all part of the plan after all. Yay, bromance! When you plan to take down a corrupt system you are in for the long haul or not at all. In this case, it means Jung Do has to endure some jail time and Sung Il, well, he has to play like a whipped puppy and return to being a mundane, uninvolved government worker who’s in it for the pension.
Two years later: A visit from Sung Hee is somewhat surprising to Jung Do. He asks what brings her there. Basically, she wants to fill him in on Sung Il and offer assistance in a roundabout way. She knows from Sung Il that Jung Do is in jail and Sung Il is laying low as part of their plan to find out the real source of Choi Chul Woo’s money. Jung Do asks if she’s okay with her father, Mayor Chun, being in the line of fire when they go after Choi Chul Woo. Sung Hee has seen her father in action as the mayor and realizes that he isn’t protecting the people that he should. So, yeah, she’s okay with it and asks Jung Do to make her not regret her decision to help.
Woo Sang Chul, the owner of the modest diner where Sung Il and Jung Do and the gang used to frequent, stops by the tax office and asks Sung Il to help him. This is one of many times he has come by Sung Il’s desk for help to have a voice. The city has a redevelopment plan underway that is going to level an old section of Seowon City where his diner is and where he and his granddaughter live. Many poor people will be homeless. Sung Il’s co-workers are shocked, dismayed, even a bit disgusted that Sung Il turns Mr. Woo away saying there is nothing he can do. Mr. Kim even gives him a hard time saying, “Do you have to be so cold? He came a long way just to see you.” Sung Il plays cold-hearted. It must kill him to act this way, but he can’t break his demeanor and blow his cover, not until he hears from Jung Do – and with a ten year sentence, that may take a long time. Even his supervisor can’t stand to see Sung Il comply with the system and disregard someone. Supervisor asks Sung Il if he remembers Park Sang Ho. Sung Il doesn’t answer but thinks back on the funeral of Mr. Park and the injustice of it all. “People come to us because they don’t’ have anyone else to talk to,” his supervisor continues and asks if Sung Il could live with himself if Mr. Woo ends up like Mr. Park. Sung Il keeps up the act and replies, “I don’t care. Why should I care what happens to him, we aren’t related.” The entire office turns and looks at Sung Il in disbelief at the words coming out of his mouth. Even I am shocked and I know why he is acting that way. When his supervisor calls him “sir’ Sung Il reminds him that he is no longer the Chief; with department shifts in positions he is on the management support team, now. None of this is his concern any longer. Everyone hates to see a beat and compliant Baek Sung Il.
Mayor Chun and CEO Choi Chul Woo meet to discuss the redevelopment property. The Mayor is under pressure both from the tenants of Maseok-dong, the poorest area of Seowon City that is being leveled for redevelopment and CEO Choi who owns the property. The tenants are protesting because they are being displaced and will become homeless. For the first time we see the Mayor shook up and wavering enough to speak up about it. CEO Choi only sees dollar signs and progress and can’t be worried about the riffraff who pay the least taxes and dress so poorly. He has given plenty of notice; the next step is to physically remove those who continue to squat on the land. CEO Choi is aware that the Mayor opposes him on this and holds the upcoming second term elections over his head. It’s a threat and the Mayor knows it. If the Mayor is showing a hint of conscience, it may be too late for everyone involved, including him.
CEO Choi makes a call and tells his goons it’s time to evict the tenants who aren’t leaving. Mr. Woo remains in his diner with his granddaughter. He is told by CEO Choi’s thug that what he is doing is illegal, the deadline to get out has passed. Mr. Woo begs and says they will lose their livelihood and die. The boys enter with bats and break up shop.
Sung Hee meets up with Mi Joo and tells her that Jung Do will be paroled next week. She has a favor to ask of Mi Joo: can she find out if the others will work with Jung Do when he gets out? Mi Joo reminds Sung Hee that Jung Do burned them all last time and they don’t take kindly to that. There has to be something in it – $$ talks – but she offers to run it by them all the same. She tells Sung Hee not to get her hopes up, though.
Back at work, Sung Il is hilarious as the model brown-noser ad nauseam. “It’s a pick-me-up, here have one,” he says as he passes out vitamin drinks to everyone in the office. He goes overboard when he offers to massage Supervisor Shim’s shoulders and makes everyone uncomfortable. Sung Il passes Woo Sang Chul in the hall. Mr. Woo stands there in silent protest wearing a sandwich board sign that reads: Do not develop Maseok-dong. It is not Sung Il who stops and hears him out however; the Mayor stops on his way past and grasps Mr. Woo’s hands and assures him that he will do something. “A citizen should not lose his livelihood due to an entrepreneur’s greed,” the Mayor tells Mr. Woo. Hmm, doesn’t that put the Mayor at odds with CEO Choi? Sung Il watches from a distance, biding his time.
The Mayor calls CEO Choi and tells him that he plans to meet with the residents of Maseok-dong. CEO Choi isn’t going to let that go. He is impatient with the likes of the Mayor who always lets others do the dirty work and take the rap. This time, the CEO will show the Mayor that if he is going to balk against him, he will have to pay the consequences.
Like she promised, Mi Joo asks the con artist team if they are willing to help Jung Do when he’s out. No one is remotely interested. “Please leave. I’m not interested,” Wallet tells her. Neither is Burner or Keyboard. Not surprisingly, Mi Joo can’t convince anyone. She calls Sung Hee who figured as much and replies, “Well, it can’t be helped.”
The Mayor heads over to meet the Maseok-dong residents. There is plenty of media coverage. Reporters interview the residents who say it’s not fair, no one has listened to their side, and they have things they want to say. Woo Sang Chul and his granddaughter are there, too. Mr. Woo is pleased that the Mayor has kept his promise and is meeting with them. But CEO Choi has infiltrated the crowd with his men to incite discord and start a riot. CEO Choi is unhappy with the Mayor’s show of pity for the residents; it is getting in his way and “reasoning” with the Mayor isn’t working this time. He’ll have to flex his mu$cle$. The reporters rush the Mayor as he gets out of his car and walks over to the crowd. He intends to address the residents and have a discussion when he is hit by eggs and chaos erupts. Live coverage airs and it appears that the crowd turned on the Mayor. Mr. Woo is trampled in the ruckus and arrested. CEO Choi has made his point. He calls the Mayor who realizes that he is caught in a trap: sure, kickbacks in exchange for being the CEO’s puppet have been fine up until now. Is that a tinge of remorse the Mayor is feeling for the poor residents? But CEO Choi won’t let the Mayor fool himself that he is taking the high road. They are birds of a feather who are equally corrupt even if Choi Chul Woo does the up-front dirty work and the Mayor hides behind it.
Wallet happens to be watching the news report of the incident and recognizes Mr. Woo. “Isn’t that the owner of the diner the boys went to?” She tells her assistant to find out what’s going on. Jung Do reads the newspaper headlines about the Maseok-dong residents’ incident and gets to thinking. He asks the guard if he can make a call. One by one, he convinces the con team to join him in retaliating on behalf of the residents. It’s too much to see the wealthy, corrupt, and ruthless Choi Chul Woo once again win, this time against the poor residents of Maseok-dong.
“Ms. Noh, a world where evil prevails, that’s bad,” Jung Do appeals to her heart. “Let’s do it one more time.” It’s a tender moment as each one visits the abandoned diner site with shattered windows and bashed tables. Jung Do is convincing with his sentiments, “Good people wining and bad people losing that should only be natural. Let’s show them.” Jung Do, where do I show up to help out?
Mi Joo waits for Jung Do when he is released. He harasses her for not bring tofu.* She’s even quit smoking – a lot changes in two years. Burner and Keyboard show up and warmly welcome Jung Do back into society. Then Wallet arrives – hail, hail the gang’s all here! It feels good.
We find out that when Sung Hee visited Jung Do in prison she filled him in on what Sung Il (and she) has been working on all the while – Choi Chul Woo’s real money source. Through illegal, high interest loans for real estate, cars, and even labor he has laundered money from Japan investors after the IFC. Woohyung Group, which was busted as an illegal pyramid scheme a few years back, stayed afloat and thrived under different names and reorganizations. It is now Kukjin Construction, the company that is involved in redeveloping Maseok-dong. Cha Myung Soo is top man at Kukjin Construction. For some reason, CEO Choi has looked the other way at Myung Soo’s personal embezzlement – he helps himself to “bonus” money – perhaps to keep him indebted to him and loyal. And, we meet Cho Sang Jin again – he’s the sleazebag who used to work for the tax department before he opened his own accounting business. Jung Do conned him once before but he is still busy shuffling numbers for Choi Chul Woo, his business, and, as a matter of fact. Cha Myung Soo.
Oh, and there’s one more familiar face: Commissioner Ahn is now the director at Kukjin Construction. Sung Hee tells Jung Do to watch his tail around him. That about wraps up what Sung Hee has brought to Jung Do. Jung Do has to be impressed with the information – and with her.
Jung Do has relayed all this to team con. Now that they’ve heard what has been going on and that Jung Do won’t let the Woonhyung/CEO Choi corruption go, especially the way it’s hurting the little guy, Wallet, Keyboard, Burner, and Mi Joo are in. But where is Sung Il they wonder? He has spent the last two years in hiatus accumulating information on Choi Chul Woo. He has been living a watered-down life to fool City Hall, biding his time until Jung Do gets out of jail. And it worked. Sung Il has put the time to good use researching, tracking down, and compiling information on CEO Choi.
That day in the police station when Jung Do acted like Sung Il ratted him out, he whispered to Sung Il, “Find where Choi Chul woo has his money hidden. Sell me out and stay alive, got it?” While Jung Do sacrificed and went to jail, Sung Il kept his promise to him.
None of this has been easy on Sung Il. When he stops by the diner he found it in ruins and the granddaughter there alone. She runs to him, crying, telling him that her grandfather is in jail. Sung Il visits her grandfather in jail. It’s the first time we’ve seen Sung Il cry over the injustice and the hurt. He apologizes to Mr. Woo and promises to get the people who hurt him. “I will tear those jerks apart,” he says to a frail Mr. Woo and wipes away his own tears.
Who should be waiting for him when he leaves the jail but Jung Do. They meet again after two years. “I told you I’d be out early “It’s good to see you,” a weary Sung Il tells his buddy. We get the feeling that Sung Il is just about at his emotional limit after seeing what has happened to Mr. Woo and his granddaughter.
Jung Do and Sung Il drink and talk. Jung Do can see the worry and concern on Sung Il’s face and tells him not to worry about the diner and Maseok-dong; they will go after Kukjin Construction. What about the Mayor? Jung Do thinks they should bypass him because he knows them too well. It’s time to bring in the big guns: Chairman Wang is out and ready to pick up where he left off.
Wallet meets Chairman Wang at the prison gates with little fanfare. Somehow they go way back although we don’t know any details. Dressed like the boss, Chairman Wang is an imposing figure and is barely ruffled by having been in prison. When Wallet asks if he’d like to go home he answers, “Where is Jung Do?”
- It was hard to watch Sung Il acting like a disinterested government worker especially with Mr. Woo who was counting on him to help with the Maseok-dong redevelopment. He really did pull the wool over the office workers’ eyes, though. They were so disgusted with his behavior – a pitiful, compliant worker who pushes paper from 9 to 5 and clocks out. That’s the real Sung Il? I don’t think so.
- Kudos to Sung Hee as well. She clearly isn’t close to her father, the Mayor, but seeing him in cahoots with the corrupt money makers must have disappointed her greatly as a daughter. And her draw to Jung Do, is there a touch of remaining feelings there? Their relationship development is subtle which is a nice change. I’m even okay if something between them is left open-ended. Along with many fans, I just want our bromance couple to remain on good terms – that will be enough for me.
- I am growing disinterested in the complicated and corrupt Woohyung name-changing switcheroos and keeping track of all the underhanded activity in the name of personal kickbacks. I’m not sure the plot is as coherent as we are made to believe but I can believe that Sung Il and Jung Do will succeed in their version of justice in an unjust and unethical system. I love the change of heart in the entire con team: for once, the job isn’t just about the almighty dollar. And I love that they are doing it for Sung Il. I hope he is okay in the end. Which brings me to this: will he stay in that job? Will he join Jung Do in another caper? Will he set up shop with his wife and sell trotters? One thing that this drama has done well is make us care a whole lot about Sung Il and the lives that he touches.
- Chairman Wang is out. How did Jung Do save his life? Twice. I have to wonder about Choi Chul Woo and the Chairman’s relationship and how CEO Choi will react to the news that he is out of jail. The twists in this drama are unpredictable and exciting. I am on the edge of my seat rooting for the con good guys.
- Any thoughts – what are you liking and what leaves unanswered questions in your mind?