An all-new start for our new Ten team – with Do Shik conspicuously missing. His absence isn’t really addressed yet, since the team is dealing with a more pressing matter at hand – the death of Ji Hoon’s teacher.
Here is episode 3, Counterattack of the Lonely.
In his Introduction to Criminology class, Professor Kang Yoon Gu reminds his students that a dead body is proof of a person’s former existence, and that one must show respect to it, even if it’s hard. So his only warning is: “Make sure you always wear clean underwear, because you never know when you’re going to die.”
Class is dismissed, and Professor Kang rides his bike to his usual noodle shop haunt, get a trim (and doze a bit) at the barber shop, and have his shoes shined. A meticulous and celebrated detective from the police force, he sips his tea while awaiting an appointment at 3pm.
As students make their way to their next classes, the clock in the hall strikes three. And a gunshot is heard throughout the halls.
One self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, and a uniquely designed gun lies on the floor near his hand.
Chapter 1: Counterattack of the Lonely
Ji Hoon receives a text regarding Kang’s case. He doesn’t wake up the naked woman next to him.
He attends his funeral, where many officers – both his current and former students – are present to listen to Professor Kang’s last words. It’s an apparent suicide, as he had planned to die on the first Wednesday of March. A woman with dark sunglasses and a single white rose arrives. Some of his students presume and joke that she’s a lover, but Ji Hoon corrects their filthy minds: white roses symbolize respect, so she must just be someone who admired him.
Ji Hoon visits Professor Kang’s office, which has been cordoned off as a crime scene. He has no regard for the tape, but gets caught by a student, Shim Yi Ho (played by Oh Seung Yoon) who recognizes him for the F-case. Yi Ho does not believe that Professor Kang’s death was a suicide, but rather murder, because it was out of character for the good professor. Also, Yi Ho believes the professor would have chosen a “cleaner” method for death. Ji Hoon reaches to check the computer, but Yi Ho interrupts – the computer has been infected by a virus already so it can’t be salvaged.
Yi Ho is quite pesky, so thankfully he takes his leave.
Ji Hoon goes through the professor’s desk drawers and finds one lone receipt for a hotel room. Hmm…
He heads to autopsy and Yoo Rim confirms that it was a suicide. She asks if he’s still seeing the same girl from before, but Ji Hoon never sees the same girl twice. That’s why he’ll most likely never go back to her.
The nagging thought of foul play still stuck in his mind, Ji Hoon goes to visit the hotel room Professor Kang rented out. He didn’t have much belongings there, but there is a book that has a part ripped out and some blood stains on the top. Whose could it be? Ji Hoon tries to get information from the front desk on who’s been in this room, but they don’t have any recorded footage for private rooms.
He then gets a call from Yi Ho – he’s at another murder scene. Ji Hoon navigates through the seedy alleys where prostitutes abound and makes his way to a rooftop apartment. A long trail of blood leads into the apartment, but there’s no sign of a body. Ji Hoon kicks the kid in the shins – how did he find this place?
Yi Ho hands over an envelope that he found in Professor Kang’s hotel room. Inside was a bloody book. Just then, a courier arrives with a package for ‘Yang Sang Man’. Ji Hoon signs for it, and inside the envelope is the first half of the bloody book – the part torn off from Kang’s copy. Yi Ho notices that the handwriting on the envelopes is the same; it seems the killer was taunting them before Yang and Kang died.
Ji Hoon believes there will be a third murder, as there are three chapters to the book.
Chapter 2: 1992-011131
Ye Ri and Min Ho hurry to assist Ji Hoon, and she tells him off for complaining too much. That makes Min Ho wonder – does Ye Ri like him? Hah! Stop with the daydreams mister!
Min Ho heads to the post office to track down who delivered those packages, but all he finds is an older, portly man with a long trench coat and a hat covering his face. He’s identified as Yang Sang Man and Kang Yoon Gu in two different post offices, which makes it harder to track him down.
Ji Hoon and Yi Ho speak with the landlord, who has no idea who rented the apartment. He just collected the money, and since it was timely, he never saw the renter’s face. There are also no security cameras in the area, so finding the body and the killer will be a difficult task.
Ye Ri arrives at the scene and Ji Hoon has her take charge. While they have many questions and no answers, they do know that the killer is leaving them clues. Ji Hoon and Yi Ho head back to Professor Kang’s office one more time, and comb over every aspect of the room for some more clues.
Ji Hoon notices a photo of the professor at his desk, and compares the bookshelf in the picture to that of the current bookshelf. One book is missing – and it’s the one that has been torn up into three parts. After the blood splattered from Kang’s head, he presumes the killer took the book away before the blood even dried. He then checks Kang’s call history on his office phone and finds the number of his last call: 011-992-1131. Redialing the number doesn’t work, as it doesn’t exist.
As Ji Hoon tries to figure out the riddle with the numbers, he finds a crumpled lotto ticket in the trash. He asks what the winning numbers were for the past two weeks, but they don’t match the circled numbers on the lotto ticket.
Meanwhile, Ye Ri looks through the apartment. She doesn’t find anything too out of the ordinary, and takes a seat at the rocking chair. She finds it quaint that there’s a poster for Basic Instinct, and only then notices that there’s blood splatter hidden underneath the poster. She starts checking the TV, and the radio, but none of the electronics really work. In fact, everything in the apartment is old, and yet it doesn’t feel completely lived in. She realizes that she’s actually on a set; someone is reenacting a murder.
She notifies Ji Hoon right away, and he asks her what year the set is trying to recreate. Just as Ye Ri finds the answer in an old magazine lying about, Ji Hoon sees the year in the jumble of numbers he’s trying to solve – it’s 1992. Add the year with the remaining 6 digits, and they get a number to a case file.
Everyone reconvenes at the Ten office, and Ji Hoon introduces Yi Ho as a self-proclaimed ‘Ace’ from the university. Min Ho begins back in 1992, where two rival pimps, Yang Sang Man and Jung Nam Soo argued over their shares in the prostitute business. The argument led to murder, and Jung Nam Soo was jailed. Kang – back then a rising detective – got exclusive evidence and was able to disprove Jung’s “I went fishing” alibi. The luggage with Yang’s body was found in the river, and Jung was convicted of his crimes.
Photos of all the evidence play through the slideshow and Ji Hoon finds the fishing gear Jung supposedly used suspect.
Chapter 3: Detective Kang Yoon Gu
The team heads back to Yang’s staged apartment and look at the evidence before them compared to the evidence from 20 years ago. Instead of a men’s slipper, they find a woman’s sandal. Even if the killer was trying to just recreate some footprints, he didn’t even use the proper size, as the sandal is 240 mm and the men’s slipper is 280 mm. They then find fishing gear that wasn’t in the past crime scene.
Ji Hoon believes the killer is trying to say that 20 years ago, someone manipulated the crime scene; the fishing rod and the woman’s sandal are clues to the person who really killed Yang Sang Man. Ji Hoon was able to figure this out because Jung Nam Soo’s fishing gear is meant for the sea, not the reservoir as he so “claimed.” He would have no reason to go fishing in the freshwater reservoir with the wrong equipment.
Yi Ho can’t believe what he’s seeing – the Ten team is starting to doubt Professor Kang’s character. He thinks they’re idiots falling into the killer’s trap, but Ji Hoon notes that they’re not doubting Professor Kang, but Detective Kang, the ‘person’ they never knew or met. Yi Ho takes his leave, not wanting to partake in this investigation anymore.
Ye Ri surmises that Jung Nam Soo, who was framed and should have gotten out of jail by now, might have decorated this murder scene and killed Professor Kang out of revenge. The blood trail on the floor might belong to Jung’s third target, Yang’s real killer, and that victim’s body is likely to be found in a luggage in the reservoir. Based on the woman’s sandal, Ji Hoon thinks Yang’s real killer might have been a woman.
That evening, Chief Jung finds Ji Hoon spending the evening in Professor Kang’s funeral room. He advises Ji Hoon to just close the case as quickly as possible; though cops may have been corrupt back in the day, either way Professor Kang is dead.
Ji Hoon and Min Ho wait by the reservoir shore as a diving team from the police retrieves the luggage dumped inside. Min Ho unzips the bag gingerly, mindful of the long hair sticking out that indicates the victim is a woman. However, they find a mix of things: a wig, a dress, some bricks, shoes, and a knife – presumably the murder weapon in Yang’s death. The dress has a button #4 on it too, and Ji Hoon recognizes it as something brothels use to label their women. The shoes are also size 240 mm, which match that of the sandal in the apartment.
Another officer approaches Ji Hoon with lab results from the blood trail. The blood is pig’s blood. While they didn’t get a body, Ji Hoon does have important evidence on who the real killer in 1992 is now.
Meanwhile, Ye Ri attempts to track down Jung Nam Soo, only to discover that he hasn’t been let out of prison yet. His sentence was extended due to a lawsuit that was filed against him just days before his release. It makes it near impossible for him to be orchestrating all of this, unless he has someone else doing it for him.
Ye Ri and Ji Hoon head to the prison to visit Jung, and he gets a call from Yi Ho; the ‘Ace’ has also found out that Jung is still in prison, and is insistent upon Professor Kang’s innocence. That just annoys Ji Hoon more; the kid could not be any more pesky.
Chapter 4: Revenge is Mine
Min Ho visits the brothel Yang used to own, and his awkwardness and shyness amuses one of the veteran ladies there. She tries to seduce him, but he insists on staying on track – he’s here to find out which woman wore the #4 button years ago. He knows that #4 girls were selected only by the pimps and couldn’t be touched by anyone else.
The veteran squeals over how Min Ho knows so much (and really, it’s kinda cute considering Min Ho is presented as this baby-faced know-it-all on all things seedy). She remembers that the last girl Yang Sang Man ever favored was Kim Soon Ae. But Soon Ae went to the States, and hasn’t been back since.
When Ji Hoon hears of this, he thinks she might be the woman with the white rose. He has Min Ho check records of any American her age who came into Korea recently.
Ji Hoon meets with Nam Soo, who has become a quiet and patient man of little words. As for Ye Ri, she visits his cell with another officer and finds a box of letters, all nearly 10 years old and sent by one person. She goes through a bunch of the letters Nam Soo received, all from a ‘Kim Sam Gil’ who happens to be suffering from Alzheimer’s. A police officer hands her the latest package. It’s got the same handwriting as the other envelopes, and from Kim Sam Gil. The book inside is the third chapter. Hmm…
Under questioning, Nam Soo admits that he once thought of taking revenge against those who framed him, but he let it all go. After a while, he just got tired of thinking about what happened in the past. He did try to commit suicide, but 10 years later he received letters from one person who believed he was framed. He then started taking interest in metal-working. Every time he felt lonely or depressed, he’d shave off some more metal. He was also supposed to go fishing with his pen pal once he was freed.
Ji Hoon smirks at the touching story, as he doesn’t buy the idea of someone forgetting revenge easily; after all, he has first-hand experience with it. He tells Nam Soo that Professor Kang is dead, which comes as a complete surprise for the prisoner. Nam Soo then reveals that twenty years ago, Professor Kang had asked him to be a decent human being and save the life of an innocent person. That’s why he ended up confessing to a murder he didn’t commit.
Ji Hoon looks at all the metal objects Nam Soo designed. He’s quite crafty with it, and has a whole bookshelf devoted to his creations. It’s even possible that he created a gun…
Ye Ri shows Ji Hoon the package, but they’re confused over why Nam Soo would get the last book. Did he send it to himself and just have other people do his dirty work? Ji Hoon realizes that the killer might have misled them; while they were preoccupied with Nam Soo, the killer was planning another target. Min Ho calls them at that moment with news – he’s found Soon Ae, now known as Sarah Kim.
Ji Hoon thinks she’s the next target, so they all convene at her hotel room. She’s still alive – whew – and submits to their questioning. She had come to visit Korea on Professor Kang’s invitation, only to learn that he had died. Ji Hoon tells her that the criminal most likely posed as Kang, and invited her to Korea so that he could target her out of revenge. He wants to know what happened 20 years ago, and Soon Ae looks uncomfortable over this long forgotten memory.
Somehow, Yi Ho joins them at the hotel room. How the hell does he know things before the Ten team, or manage to find them?
So Soon Ae begins her story: 20 years ago, she wanted out from her life in the brothel, and wanted to save the kid that was in her. The only way to get out was to kill one of them – Yang Sang Man or Jung Nam Soo. She killed Yang, and even surrendered to the police. But Detective Kang had arrived, and like a savior he made sure that she wouldn’t pay for the crime, and framed the murder on someone else.
Well now – that just puts a spin to things. Yi Ho catches up with Ji Hoon outside the hotel room and affirms that Professor Kang was acting quite suspicious a month before Nam Soo was to be released. He also looked at Professor Kang’s will again, and analyzed the following lines:
“The blade of the living death stabbed me three times, causing me to die. When you touch the sorrow in dried blood, the torn skin is recovering, and in the fractured bones, that is where you will find me.”
Yi Ho believes that the guilt from the crime 20 years ago tortured Professor Kang, and yet the good professor is not seeking punishment for what he did.
Chapter 5: Finding Kim Sam Gil
With a drawing of what Kim Sam Gil (the man in the post office) might look like, Min Ho and another officer go through numerous records trying to find a person who matches the name and description – with no luck. He wonders what Do Shik would have done in this instance, where none of the leads are getting anywhere.
Min Ho and Ye Ri track down Nam Soo’s friend in prison, who got out a month ago. Perhaps he’s ‘Kim Sam Gil’? Min Ho decides to show off some “skills” he learned from Do Shik, which means acting like he knows Nam Soo and is a fellow criminal. With one look, the friend deduces that Min Ho is a cop. HAH!
It ends up being Ye Ri who gets the details out of this friend. She finds out that he used to beat up Nam Soo, until Nam Soo cried out that he had a reason to live. That was unsettling, but they formed a close bond after that. The friend does recognize the name ‘Kim Sam Gil’ though, and says he delivered a package to that penpal after he got out of jail.
Ye Ri and Min Ho head to the post office to see if they can track down what got sent. When Ji Hoon hears this news, he thinks it’s the homemade gun. But it ends up being a metal feather balanced on a stand.
That metal feather was last seen in Professor Kang’s office, and Ji Hoon realizes that Nam Soo had created a feather when he first started metal-working, turning his heavy heart into something lighter. He lifts the feather’s stand and finds a note underneath it. It’s from Jung Nam Soo, thanking Kim Sam Gil for the hope to live and hoping to meet him one day soon.
If the package was meant for Kim Sam Gil, but was in Professor Kang’s office, that means Kang and Kim Sam Gil are one and the same.
There were three lies that Kang had made in his life – one was framing an innocent man for murder, another was for pretending to be Kim Sam Gil, and the third was to make his suicide seem like murder. The anger and feeling of betrayal Ji Hoon feels overwhelms him, and I wish he could better distance himself from the case.
Chapter 6: The Final Class
Ji Hoon is bequeathed Kang’s old bicycle, who purposely left it for him. In his former professor’s honor, he decides to follow Kang’s last journey. He rides the bike to the professor’s favorite noodle shop, visits the barber shop (and falls asleep at the chair), and then heads to the shoe shining place.
A hat and trench coat hangs near the door – ones that look startlingly like the ‘Kim Sam Gil’ in the post office CCTV footage. The owner arrives at the store and Ji Hoon recognizes him instantly – it’s the man who sent the books. Ji Hoon casually asks the shoe shiner if he knows ‘Kim Sam Gil’, and he does – ‘Sam Gil’ was Kang’s former childhood nickname because he always got lost, and the nickname meant ‘Third Road’.
Thinking that Ji Hoon must be the man Professor Kang was expecting, the shoe shiner hands over something that the professor had left behind. It’s a USB.
Ji Hoon heads back to Kang’s lecture hall and watches the video on the USB with Yi Ho. Professor Kang had recorded his one last message on it, and guessed (correctly) that Ji Hoon would be watching.
In the video, Kang preps a spray bottle with his own blood to spray all over his bookshelf. He’ll then rip the book into three, send it to all involved parties, and then kill himself. He asserts that this isn’t a suicide, but more like an execution, a punishment for messing with someone’s life. Since he’s suffering from Alzheimer’s, Kang doesn’t want to forget his sins just yet. He regrets not teaching his students how to be a human being, but emphasized rather on catching the criminal at all costs. Had he taught them to live a good, honest life, hopefully they won’t make the same cowardly mistake as he did, and mess with an innocent person’s life.
Kang has a moment of fear on his face, but he continues his last words: “I’ll miss you guys. Don’t forgive me.”
Some time passes, and Jung Nam Soo is released from jail. Ji Hoon meets him at the bus stop, and offers to help him sue the state for wrongful imprisonment. But Nam Soo wants none of that – he just wants to meet his penpal friend. Well, since that friend is no longer around, Ji Hoon takes him to meet with Soon Ae, who asks for forgiveness.
Ji Hoon and Ye Ri decide together that they won’t tell Nam Soo the truth about Kang Yoon Gu/Kim Sam Gil. After all, Yoon Gu contacted Nam Soo under an alias as a way to alleviate his guilt. But Ji Hoon also feels guilty – towards Ye Ri. He can tell she’s been avoiding him. Hm…
Soon Ae receives a call from her child back in the States, and we overhear her describe her meeting with Nam Soo as one with ‘an old friend (the child) must meet one day.’ Though it’s farfetched, a side of me thinks that Nam Soo is quite possibly the father of her child.
Back in the office, Ji Hoon takes Kang’s metal feather for his own, and mulls over Nam Soo’s letter: “Thanks to you (Kim Sam Gil) I was able to forgive… No, I was able to forget.” Those are the exact words of advice that he needs, as Ye Ri hopes too that Ji Hoon can forget about his fiancee and his past.
This was quite the long episode, clocking in at nearly an hour and a half. It was a bit uneventful and unsatisfying for me though. Despite the twists and turns, it was still predictable, and not as taut as I would have liked it to be. I didn’t believe that there was another killer in the drama, and knew that Professor Kang was Kim Sam Gil, and committed suicide. It was kind of disappointing too that there was nothing deeper about this case other than a man trying to ease his guilt and setting up an elaborate plan to get the truth revealed. For a man who wanted to receive punishment for his crimes, he chose to kill himself rather than face judgment at the court. The professor was a coward in the past and in the present.
I also found Yi Ho a particularly annoying and off character. The fact that he just showed up out of nowhere in several scenes, and was either always a step ahead or a step behind nagged me to the core. I didn’t understand his usefulness. I had thought he was actually Soon Ae’s son, but no evidence of that showed up. I then began having thoughts that he might become a bigger character with a sick mind; constantly following Ji Hoon around was just another way to taunt him. How or why – I don’t know, but he could be a villain.
(Unfortunately I think this won’t happen.)
I never felt that Ji Hoon and his professor were quite close, despite numerous lines suggesting the contrary. So it threw me off when Ji Hoon cried after discovering his professor’s lies. I guess it’s heartbreaking to see one’s hero’s reputation shattered before your very eyes, but I really thought Ji Hoon would be stronger than that. Perhaps we’re going to see a different Ji Hoon this time around – one who’s more human and less monster, and going to have more emotions than before. After all, the only purpose I see in this episode is a lesson on how to forget, to forgive, and to move on. Because Professor Kang didn’t, he ended up torturing himself for years, while Nam Soo ended up in peace – even though he had to unjustly serve such a long sentence.