Café Minamdang – K-Drama Episode 10 Recap & Review

Pulling Strings

Episode 10 of Café Minamdang begins with Tae-su reporting Han-jun for assault. Han-jun asks Tae-su to uncover his burn scar. When Tae-su does, the wound is new, and Tae-su claims it was sustained during their fight.

After a tense moment of silence, Han-jun punches Tae-su in the face and is dragged to a holding cell by Jae-hui and Detective Jang. His uncharacteristic outburst of violence is explained when he wipes Tae-su’s blood off his knuckles with a hanky and asks the detectives to pass it onto Su-cheol. He suspects that any DNA tests run by the police will be compromised.

Jae-hui and Detective Jang question Tae-su, who maintains that he was at the Jjokmun headquarters to help Gyeong-cheol start a legitimate business. He even brazenly agrees to a DNA test.

Elsewhere, Aunty Im sits at the head of a table. Myeong-jun and Jeong-hyeon occupy two of the chairs beside her. Two new faces include Nam Pil-gu, the anti-corruption chief of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office, and Park Dong-gi, the chairman of Choekang Construction. They jovially discuss controlling the situation before a selection of prostitutes prepared by Aunty Im join them. The shaman also produces a small bottle of red powder.

In Do-won’s office, his assistants outline a complicated relationship chart that shows that Pil-gu and Dong-gi are regular golfing buddies. Tae-su’s lawyer, Lee Tae-sik, worked with Pil-gu and is Jeong-hyeon’s cousin. Jeong-hyeon is also related to the current police commissioner through marriage.

Uniting this complicated mess of characters more than their nepotism is the fact that they all invested in Joyce Entertainment and have since received sizeable dividends.

In the holding cells, Han-jun plays up his theatrics to solve a gang’s infighting, drawing the attention of the police chief. This allows him to observe as the chief answers a call with deference.

Jae-hui and Detective Jang are in their office when the chief storms in to scold them. Detective Kim returns with DNA results that don’t match Tae-su’s blood to the blood found under Han-jun’s fingernails at the hospital. This adds fuel to the chief’s fire, and he suspends Jae-hui. He also orders the team to release both Tae-su and Han-jun.

Jae-hui relays all of this to Han-jun when she unlocks his cell. It surprises him less than Jae-hui’s request to work together, which he flat-out refuses because he doesn’t think she can handle his illegal methodology.

Su-cheol picks Han-jun up from the station with the results from their illicit DNA test, which do confirm that Tae-su is in fact Gopuri.

Connecting the dots between the call the chief answered and Jae-hui’s suspension, the Minamdang crew starts working under the theory that Tae-su is an accessory. They send a fraudulent text message to the chief, impersonating his bank with a notification of a large withdrawal. The chief actually clicks the link in the message, giving Hye-jun access to his phone.

Their plotting is cut short by Senior Deacon Kim, who arrives with a priest in tow to exorcise Han-jun. Han-jun manages to get the priest alone to explain the truth behind his shamanism, gaining an ally against his mother.

Detective Jang and Do-won show up at Jae-hui’s place with new discoveries. Detective Jang has found that Jong-man, the forensic specialist whose testimony condemned Han-jun three years ago, recently confessed that the testimony is question was false.

Jong-man’s confession, which clarified that Cheong-gi was the real culprit behind the evidence tampering, was rejected by the prosecutors’ office. This sheds new light on the Minamdang crew’s involvement with Gyeong-ho and Cheong-gi for the detectives. Do-won has also facilitated an independent DNA test after spending the evening deceiving Tae-su, and the results show a match between Tae-su and Gopuri.

The next day, Hye-jun has dug up some dirt on the chief that explains why he fell for their text scam – he’s being blackmailed over his son’s gambling debt. Han-jun and Su-cheol listen in on a phone call between the chief and the gambling den’s leader, who has taken the chief’s son hostage.

Luckily for the chief, Han-jun makes an appearance and pretends to hear the voice of the chief’s mother asking him to help. The chief falls for it easily and agrees to any condition in exchange.

The Minamdang crew makes quick work of finessing the gambling den’s ringleader, getting the chief’s son back in one piece. Han-jun lays more bad news on the chief, saying that he’s in for three major disasters. Han-jun advises that a human offering is needed to prevent the disasters, and in this case, giving Jae-hui her case back will do.

Jae-hui and Do-won meet Jong-man in person to verify his confession. They then visit Cheong-gi in prison, but he refuses to tell them anything because he’ll supposedly forfeit his life. Jae-hui begs him to contact her if he changes his mind, promising that she’ll provide protection.

Jae-hui is called back to the station, where the chief gives her back Tae-su’s case but wants her to investigate in total secrecy. When the chief mutters about the shaman, she guesses that Han-jun has had a hand in the chief’s change of heart.

Talking with Do-won outside the station, Jae-hui has an epiphany, realising she wants to be by Han-jun’s side and doesn’t want him to keep struggling alone. Do-won tries to stop her from rushing to Han-jun, not wanting his romantic rival to get the upper hand, but it’s no use.

At Café Minamdang, the crew discusses plans to use Jin-sang to get to his father. Jae-hui intrudes and tries to persuade Han-jun to work with her again, even threatening to arrest him if he doesn’t.

Han-jun keeps refusing, not taking Jae-hui seriously until she says that she knows he’s playing at being a shaman to catch Jae-jeong’s killer. When Han-jun takes offence at her mention of his friend, she reveals that she’s Jae-jeong’s sister.

The epilogue puts us on the other end of the call the chief answered in front of Han-jun. Jeong-hyeon is with Aunty Im, Myeong-jun and Pil-gu as he berates the chief over the phone. A little apart from the group, staring out the window, is someone who appears to be their leader.

The Episode Review

We didn’t get a clear view of the villain’s face, but I’m fairly sure it was Cha Seung-won, whom we got a single glimpse of way back in episode 4. This is curious because it seems like he outranks the actual chairman of Choekang Construction within this group of corrupt officials. What kind of power is he leveraging?

Powerful or not, I’m not yet sold on Cha Seung-won as our final villain. The writers are going to have to do something impressive to make him more interesting than Jin-sang or Gyeong-ho were. It’s also worrying that this development could steamroll over Aunty Im’s potential before she’s even had the chance to come to the fore.

We got one romantic epiphany and one revelation this episode. The former was mostly dry. Like I said before, there’s no chemistry brewing here. It was also undercut by Jae-hui immediately going to pester and threaten to arrest Han-jun if he didn’t bring her on board. Her constant harassment gives the whole drama a sour undercurrent.

As for the revelation, it’s unclear why Han-jun doesn’t already know that Jae-hui is Jae-jeong’s sister. There was clearly a picture of her as a young girl in Jae-jeong’s apartment three years ago and next to his urn in the present. It’s not plausible that Han-jun, a genius profiler, didn’t recognize the young girl in the picture as the young girl who looked up to him. And, if he did make that connection, then it follows that he should have known Jae-hui was Jae-jeong’s sister after he realised that she was the aspiring police officer from his past.

But hey, we got to see Cha Tae-hyun make a cameo as a fervent but reasonable priest.

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