Café Minamdang – K-Drama Episode 4 Recap & Review

Two Birds, One Stone

Episode 4 of Café Minamdang begins with Gyeong-ho tripping alone in his villa. When he starts seeing visions of the woman he choked to death, he bolts to his car.

Seeing Gyeong-ho emerge, Na-dan tries to contact Han-jun, but his earpiece is broken. Needing to stop Gyeong-ho from leaving, he shields his face with a shamanic hat and grabs onto Gyeong-ho. Gyeong-ho’s terror increases, and he faints after turning around to see the ghost of his victim up close. The ghost who, for everyone with their feet on the ground, is just Hye-jun in a white hanbok and mask.

Hye-jun and Na-dan duck to the ground when they hear Jae-hui and Do-won outside the front of the villa. They try calling both Han-jun and Su-cheol but get no response. Hye-jun sends Na-dan into the forest to warn them while she keeps an eye on Gyeong-ho.

In the forest, Han-jun and Su-cheol are running around disguised as evil spirits, clanging gongs and spinning sound tubes. Secretary Choi and Gyeong-ho’s men go in to investigate and, one by one, they fall prey to Han-jun and Su-cheol.

Left alone, Cheong-gi struggles out of the grave. He barely has a moment to catch his breath when Han-jun and Su-cheol descend upon him, masks on. After giving Cheong-gi a good fright, they reveal themselves.

We go back three years to an interrogation room where Cheong-gi is painting Han-jun as a corrupt cop to protect the force’s reputation after the murder of Jae-jeong. The evidence he’s pinning on Han-jun includes a wire transfer of 10 million won from Han-jun to Sergeant Gu Jong-man of the KCSI, who is being investigated for receiving a bribe.

According to Cheong-gi’s convenient story, Han-jun made a mistake that cost Jae-jeong his life and then bribed Jong-man to tamper with the evidence and cover up his mistake. Along with the registration card and lighter planted in Han-jun’s drawer is the fact that he was the first person to arrive at the crime scene and is close with Su-cheol, the lieutenant who witnessed the culprit fleeing. All this ties neatly into Cheong-gi’s allegation that Han-jun and Su-cheol devised a plan to help the culprit escape.

Coming back to the present, Cheong-gi still won’t reveal who put him up to it. Han-jun threatens to leave him for Gyeong-ho to find if he continues to keep his lips sealed. Before Cheong-gi can make a decision, Na-dan comes crashing into the clearing to warn Han-jun about the approaching police officers.

When they arrive, Han-jun is already in full costume, performing an exorcism with Su-cheol praying beside him. While Do-won is shocked by Han-jun’s turn to shamanism, Jae-hui pushes past to find Secretary Choi and Gyeong-ho’s men in the grave, fearing evil spirits. The act gets an extra sprinkle of drama when Cheong-gi shrieks from somewhere in the forest as Na-dan and Hye-jun struggle to keep him quiet.

Outside the villa, the rest of the detective team chases the disturbed Gyeong-ho around in circles until Detective Na crashes into him. All their shouting draws Jae-hui and Do-won away from the Minamdang crew.

As the police round up Gyeong-ho and his men, Detective Jang finds the DNA report hidden in Gyeong-ho’s jacket and is sure that Cheong-gi must have buried it to close the case. Do-won advises that they put Cheong-gi on their wanted list.

In the bushes nearby, Han-jun and Su-cheol tell Cheong-gi to start speaking unless he wants them to hand him over to the police then and there. Cheong-gi relents and names Superintendent Lim Min-jun as the person that gave him the instruction to tamper with the evidence. Su-cheol recognises him as being infamous for entertaining corrupt deals before defecting to Choekang Construction.

Cheong-gi sets up a meeting with Superintendent Lim and they head to his house. They arrive to the sight of Superintendent Lim being loaded into an ambulance after having gone into shock.

Su-cheol follows the ambulance while Han-jun inspects the house. Cheong-gi finds out from the maid that Superintendent Lim had been expecting an unnamed guest.

Han-jun finds meticulously labelled tea containers, each specifying the open date and lack of caffeine, and medicine for a caffeine allergy. At odds with this is the opened container of tea, which has no label and contains caffeine. Beside it is a cup holding tea but showing no signs of use.

When Su-cheol calls to let Han-jun know that Superintendent Lim died on the way to the hospital, Han-jun instructs him to check for needle marks on the body. Han-jun’s theory is that someone murdered Superintendent Lim and made it look like he died from shock after a caffeine overdose. Su-cheol finds a needle mark to support this and drops a hint to the police.

Meanwhile, Jae-hui and Detective Jang discover that Yu-seon gave them her statement at Han-jun’s behest. Yu-seon also knew that Gyeong-ho would be at his villa because of Han-jun. It turns out that she was following Han-jun’s timing to avoid becoming Gyeong-ho’s next target.

The detective team only locates Cheong-gi the next day. He’s tied to a pirate ship ride where the Minamdang crew left him for them to find.

Han-jun and Su-cheol visit the funeral parlour where Superintendent Lim’s family is grieving. Han-jun is sure that Gopuri is close given how fast Superintendent Lim was disposed of after they got his name. Su-cheol also finds it suspicious that they’re saying his death was an accident even though the CCTV at his house has been deleted. Not to mention, the body is being cremated right away without an autopsy.

They see no one suspicious until they’re leaving and the heir to Cheokang Group, Cha Seung-won, strolls past. Han-jun comments on his Baccarat cologne.

Min-gyeong invites Han-jun to see the new office she’s acquired after successfully ousting Gyeong-ho. Han-jun asks her to find out who at Choekang Construction scouted Superintendent Lim. Things take a turn after Min-gyeong’s payment comes with a proposal that Han-jun vehemently rejects.

Han-jun’s next stop is the hospital where the motorcyclist Gyeong-ho hit is in a coma. Jae-hui is also there and spies on Han-jun as he offers the victim’s wife a hefty compensation fee – originally the payment he received from Min-gyeong – so that she won’t be forced to settle.

Han-jun, no longer being tailed by Jae-hui, then visits Jae-jeong’s ashes. He says that Jang-mi kept trying to visit him while he was in prison, but he never met her. A flashback reveals that her mother told Han-jun that the remnants of their family would be starting afresh in the US and asked him not to see Jang-mi if she came looking for him.

That night, Jae-hui loiters outside Café Minamdang, complaining about Han-jun’s inconsistent actions. Han-jun spots her on his way home and notices the plushie keychain dangling from her backpack – it matches the plushie he pulled off her when she was in his closet.

When Han-jun tries to grab Jae-hui she starts and punches him square in the face. The two then start arguing back and forth. Hye-jun and Su-cheol, eavesdropping, misunderstand and begin to think that Jae-hui really does have a crush on Han-jun.

This annoys Jae-hui to no end, and she kicks about in her bed that night with indignation, knocking the alarm clock off her nightstand. Thinking about Han-jun’s generous compensation gift, Jae-hui starts to wonder if he’s not so terrible. She makes a call and gets the files from his internal investigation, staying up all night to go through them.

The next day, Han-jun gets a call from VVIP, Ms Kim, who believes there is a ghost in her house. Running low on funds to feed his expensive taste, Han-jun takes the case. He walks through Ms Kim’s house with his rattle while Su-cheol searches outside. Hye-jun monitors everything through the CCTV and the camera hidden in Han-jun’s glasses.

In the kitchen, Han-jun finds a misplaced pot of rice in front of the fridge where Ms Kim saw the ghost. He also takes note of the dog door built into the kitchen door that leads to the backyard where there is no CCTV. Venturing outside, he finds reeking footprints heading toward a sewer cap.

Han-jun puts Su-cheol on alert for the same signs. Su-cheol follows them to a young, dirty boy and apprehends him. Unfortunately, the boy convinces a passer-by that Su-cheol is kidnapping him and the police are called.

Jae-hui and Detective Jang arrive on the scene and cuff Su-cheol. Han-jun intervenes, pointing to the boy as the thief that has been breaking into Ms Kim’s house. He also suspects that there is another thief in the sewer pipe leading to Ms Kim’s backyard.

Jae-hui forces Han-jun to accompany her into the sewer by pointing out the camera in his glasses and threatening to expose him. They head down and locate a second boy even younger than the first.

That’s not all they find either. Han-jun spots a white cloth covered in red characters and follows it to a wrapped-up body. Jae-hui immediately thinks of Choi Yeong-seop while Han-jun thinks of Gopuri.

The epilogue shows us that Jae-hui and Han-jun have spent the last couple of years going to every crime scene where a burnt corpse was found, and each time they came out empty-handed.

The Episode Review

As Gyeong-ho is finally taken into police custody, the re-emergence of Gopuri is likely to start streamlining the show’s focus onto the mystery that ignited everything. This is a welcome turn now that we’re four episodes deep, though the show will have to go round the bend with care to avoid misplacing its humorous flavour. Next week’s preview does bode well in this regard.

The fact that they found Gopuri’s victim in the sewer under Ms Kim’s house is too big of a coincidence for me. Either we’re missing some of the puzzle pieces (always a possibility when it comes to the scene cutting and chopping at the end of an episode) or it’s just bad writing. It’s too early to pass judgement for now.

There’s still no sign of development where Jae-hui is concerned, and it was pretty hilarious to hear Do-won describe her speciality as ‘listening to people and sympathising with them’ when her character has been all bluster and fists so far. I’m not sure if I can be convinced of a romance between her and Han-jun at this point. Something big is going to have to change.

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  • Episode Rating 4

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