Jae-Jeong’s Last Moments
Episode 6 of Café Minamdang takes us back three years to Jae-hui chasing down a strawberry thief. She comes across a bloodstained truck during her pursuit and follows a trail of blood from the truck to a smoky warehouse. Inside lies Do Jun-ha’s burnt corpse, an empty bottle of benzene, a needle and Yeong-seop, coming back around after an unconscious spell.
Sometime later, Jae-jeong presents pictures from that very crime scene to Han-jun. Jae-jeong wants Han-jun’s opinion on why Yeong-seop, who doesn’t remember what happened but admits to killing Do Jun-ha, stayed behind but didn’t take a killing dose of ketamine.
Han-jun says that this is the wrong question to be asking. The important issue is why Yeong-seop admitted to a crime he doesn’t remember committing.
The two of them venture out to the crime scene. Using the evidence already collected, Han-jun mentions that the killer would have dragged the victim, unconscious from an earlier blow, from the truck to the warehouse and then choked him to death. Yet there were gaps between the drops of blood staining the ground, no drag marks and no footprints.
They step inside the warehouse, unaware that they’re being watched by Gopuri. Jae-jeong recounts that the first officers on the scene reported smoke and Yeong-seop’s semi-unconscious state. Han-jun says that the ketamine level in Yeong-seop’s blood at the time of arrest would have had him unconscious for at least an hour, but it takes about 30 minutes to burn a body with benzene.
This puts the timeline at odds with the fact that arsonists usually enjoy observing their work, especially when murder is in the mix. And since Yeong-seop would have been enacting revenge, he should have wanted to watch.
Han-jun is sure that Yeong-seop is being framed and, with the amount of skill required to use benzene to scorch the exterior of a corpse without burning its internal organs, by someone with experience in this area. He points out the missing link between Do Jun-ha, Yeong-seop and the killer.
Their speculation is interrupted by Gopuri bolting from the warehouse. They aren’t able to catch him, but they do find an old man with a story to tell. On the day of the murder, the old man saw smoke billowing from the warehouse, and later, Gopuri swept up his tracks and walked away instead of taking the truck.
Jae-jeong later cross-references the old man’s story with Jae-hui and tells her that they’re letting Yeong-seop off. Jae-hui is insulted that Jae-jeong preferences the words of a profiler over her own, but she quickly perks up when she hears that profiler is Han-jun, asking Jae-jeong to set them up.
When Jae-jeong turns down her request, Jae-hui decides to make an opportunity arise by getting more involved in the case. She watches from her car as Yeong-seop is released from detention. He answers a call that has him rushing to hail a cab.
Meanwhile, Jae-jeong calls Han-jun to tell him he’s found the missing link between Do Jun-ha, Yeong-seop and the killer. He tells Han-jun to come to his place later and prepares a file to give him.
Jae-hui trails Yeong-seop all the way to the warehouse and confronts him. He drops a phone with a video of the murder playing on the screen. Yeong-seop is distressed at his own release and tells Jae-hui not to resent him because Jae-jeong is going to die and it will be her fault.
Yeong-seop makes a break for it, grabbing the phone and knocking Jae-hui out with a blow to her head. Jae-hui only comes to that night. When she does, she calls Jae-jeong to inform him about the video and Yeong-seop’s ominous words.
Their call is cut short when Gopuri tackles Jae-jeong in his own apartment, forcing a needle into his neck. Subdued, Jae-jeong is unable to resist when Gopuri pulls him across the room and chokes him with a gopuri knot.
Han-jun is making his way into Jae-jeong’s apartment complex as Gopuri finds the file Jae-jeong prepared and tosses it onto Jae-jeong’s prone form. Outside, Han-jun notices a man dressed in black with a mask and cap walking away from the complex.
As Han-jun knocks on the door, Gopuri douses Jae-jeong in benzene. Jae-jeong stirs at the sound of the knocking, his eyes fluttering open. Su-cheol walks up to Han-jun, taking his attention away from the lack of a response. He explains that his team leader told him to come right away.
They start to smell smoke leaking out from the apartment. Inside, Gopuri chants and unravels the gopuri knot while Jae-jeong burns. Su-cheol calls the police and manages to force the door open.
Han-jun goes straight for Gopuri, and as they struggle, he sees the old burn scar on Gopuri’s forearm. Gopuri manages to escape through the balcony, and Han-jun uses a fire extinguisher to put out the flames.
Jae-hui arrives on the scene in time to see her brother’s burnt body being taken away. Do-won approaches her, introducing himself as the prosecutor in charge and telling her that they found Yeong-seop’s ID at the scene. Yeong-seop watches them speak from afar and walks away, his expression grim.
Han-jun is still in the apartment. Not believing that this was Yeong-seop’s doing, he theorizes that Gopuri came because Jae-jeong discovered the missing link.
We jump forward three years to the rooftop. Jae-hui still isn’t swayed by Han-jun’s story. They argue again before Han-jun cautions her against taking the victim’s shoes in Yeong-seop’s room as damning evidence. He then says that, if she’s truly a police officer, she’ll check Yeong-seop’s alibi.
Back at Café Minamdang, Min-gyeong has information on Superintendent Lim. Apparently, Choekang Construction hired him as director three years ago on the condition that he would solve some problems they ran into. The whole thing was arranged by someone higher up.
With Han-jun’s words getting under her skin, Jae-hui and Do-won go to an employment agency that has Yeong-seop on their roster. According to the manager there, Yeong-seop was in the provinces during the week. Detective Jang goes out and confirms that Yeong-seop was working the night shift at the time of the murder. It’s enough to persuade Jae-hui that Yeong-seop wasn’t the culprit this time.
The Minamdang crew cooks up a new scheme outside the hospital to have Su-cheol switch places with Yeong-seop and catch Gopuri when he inevitably comes to tie up his loose end. It goes terribly and ends with Su-cheol mistakenly getting a colonoscopy while Han-jun is sedated in Yeong-seop’s room. Fortunately, they do succeed in moving Yeong-seop to a new room.
Jae-hui gets wind of the switch and finds Su-cheol and Hye-jun in a private room with the sedated Yeong-seop. She leaves Detective Na behind to guard him while she goes to chew out Han-jun.
Han-jun is completely zonked and falls on top of Jae-hui as she marches up to him, their lips pressing together. Jae-hui, flustered, slaps him and pushes him off. Han-jun is nonplussed, swinging his legs about and revealing his scheme with a singsong voice. He has a single moment of sincerity that convinces Jae-hui to let the Minamdang crew continue their efforts while she gets a confession from Yeong-seop.
Jae-hui greets Do-won in the hospital waiting room the next day. She tells him about the switch, unaware that Gopuri is disguised as a nurse and listening to their every word.
The Minamdang crew listens through a bug they left in Yeong-seop’s new room as Jae-hui and Do-won question him. Yeong-seop confesses to the murders of Do Jun-ha and Jae-jeong but claims to have lost the phone with the murder video.
Jae-hui asks Yeong-seop why he murdered Jae-jeong, prompting a flashback. In it, Jae-jeong apologises to Yeong-seop for the prosecution’s failure to convict Do Jun-ha. Yeong-seop is then released from detention and receives a call from Gopuri, who tells him to find the phone in the warehouse if he wants to save Jae-jeong. As per their deal, the blame must fall on Yeong-seop or more people will die.
The flashback ends and Yeong-seop has no reason for Jae-hui. Listening intently, Han-jun thinks that Yeong-seop must not know why Gopuri killed Jae-jeong.
The interrogation is interrupted by Gopuri himself, who comes in to administer an antibiotic shot. Yeong-seop’s eyes widen with recognition but he doesn’t say a word or alert the others. Jae-hui, however, notices the small moment of panic.
Han-jun reviews the CCTV footage from outside Yeong-seop’s new room and notices the burn scar on Gopuri’s wrist.
When Yeong-seop’s monitor starts beeping, Jae-hui tells Do-won to remove Yeong-seop’s compromised IV drip and tries to stop Gopuri. He rams past her using his hospital cart and flees. Jae-hui follows and is joined by Han-jun and Su-cheol.
When they lose sight of Gopuri, they split up to cover more ground. Han-jun finds Gopuri in a stairwell and they get locked into a fight. We end on Han-jun trapped in a chokehold.
The epilogue begins outside Jae-jeong’s funeral parlour where Han-jun is harassed by two prosecutors until Do-won intervenes. Gopuri observes the interaction.
The Episode Review
This episode had one foot in the present and the other planted firmly in the past, and I’m not sure if the tonal disparity between the two worked all that well.
The past – complete with a sepia filter – resembles your average mystery/thriller K-Drama while the present very much relies on comedy even during its dark moments. While I appreciate the clarity that we got from seeing the events of three years ago plainly, it did start to feel like an easy way for the writers to info-dump on their audience.
So Do-won isn’t Gopuri, who was brazen enough to make an attempt on Yeong-seop’s life in front of a police officer and a prosecutor, after all. However, considering the unexplored territory regarding Choekang Construction, there is the looming possibility that Gopuri is just an instrument in someone else’s game.
Jae-hui remains obstinate and makes a lot of decisions that seem to be at odds with her reputation as a very competent detective. She’s been openly ignoring the signs that pop up along her path suggesting some truth to Han-jun’s story, which starts to get irritating quickly. As does her constant physical abuse. That being said, next week’s preview brings some hope for a turnaround and perhaps her (helpful) involvement with the Minamdang crew.
|Expect A Full Season Write-Up When This Season Concludes!