Decoy – K-drama Episode 1 Recap & Review

The Dead

Episode 1 of Decoy starts in 2020. Noh Sang-cheon, the chairman of the highly reputable Bigs Network, gives an arousing speech during the customers’ appreciation day. He talks about having the ability to dream since he is wealthy enough to and excites the audience with his talk of having made them enough money to make him credible enough for them to trust in him. The crowd goes wild chanting his name exultantly at the end of the speech and giving him a standing ovation.

The customers’ joy is short-lived as it turns out that Sang-cheon runs the biggest Ponzi scheme defrauding the customers of all their investments. The news broadcaster reports that he had died in a car accident in China where he had fled to avoid arrest. His death led to the dismissal of the fraud case filed against him. The victims are dejected, there is no hope for them to get recompense for their losses, and are saddled in debt.

Fast forward to 2023, detective Gu Do-han is being questioned by the disciplinary officer for fabricating a case report involving detective Jang-Jun-hwi. He uses his expert knowledge of the law to defend his teammate ad he ends up getting a temporary suspension. It is revealed that he was hired through a special program and used to be an influential lawyer who defended high-ranking officials and business tycoons on criminal cases.

At night, a shabby man limps home and is brutally killed by a masked man. The man forces the man to make a call to the emergency number and says that No Sang-cheon is trying to kill him. A delivery man arrives in the morning with the food delivery and finds the dead body.

The homicide case forces the deputy head, Gang Jong-hun to call back Do-han to work before the end of his temporary suspension. When he arrives at the crime scene, Do-han notices that the man was tortured before he was killed since his fingernails were pulled off. He asks for the deliveryman to be called back so he can listen to his testimony.

Do-han is outside talking to the delivery man who reveals that someone called the restaurant and requested delivery. The caller also said that he was handicapped and would not be able to get the door so the delivery man should just walk in. Still outside, Do-han notices a strange man taking photos of the scene. The man then tries to walk away but since he looked suspicious, Do-han follows him and asks for his phone. The man’s phone has photos of the scene of the crime before the police appeared and of Do-han. He tries to run away but the detectives comprehend him and take him to the station.

Back at the station, the suspicious man is interrogated by Do-han. He acts aggrieved and also frustrated that Do-han dares to arrest him not knowing he was also a victim. His name is Lee Byeong-jun and the dead guy is Song Young-jin.

Byeong-jun claims that he had a meeting with Young-jin and was found dead. He reveals that Young-jin was an accomplice of Sang-cheon in the Ponzi scheme that left him and many others in debt. Although he was angry at him, Young-jin attended the victims’ self-help group and told them that Sang-cheon was still alive and he would help them get their money back.

Back to the present, a self-proclaimed attorney Jung Na-yeon adamantly wants to speak with the suspect. Do-han allows her to even though he knows she is not a lawyer. He tells his team that he allowed her in because he wanted to find out what she was up to.

As Do-han watched the two, he realizes something. Lee Byeong-jun might have gotten himself arrested on purpose. He has his camera flash on while taking pictures even though it was during the day and held the motorbikes brake. In the room, Na-Yeon advises Byeong-jun to be honest with the police since the people behind him had committed a murder. He refuses since whatever they had told him would happen was happening and told her that they had one last thing to hope for.

Do-hun is still trying to uncover the mystery and employs the help of one of the team members. He goes back to the crime scene with Byeong-jun as he tries an enactment what happened. Byeong-jun discloses something, the deputy’s head was the detective in charge of the Sang-cheon case and he also does not believe that he is dead.

Flashback to 2011, Sang-chun and his close team are preparing to leave the country, and among them is Young-jin. Someone calls him and he gets ready to leave. In the escape car, he changes destination suddenly prompting Young-jin to try and text someone the new location. Suddenly, Sang-cheon calls him and realizes that Young-jin sold him out. He beats him up ignoring his desperate pleas that it was a misunderstanding and asks his men to throw him off a pier. He breaks his leg but survives. At the port, the ship does not arrive.

On the way back, they get stopped by detective Gang Jong-hun and his team. They try to force him to open the car door but a mysterious car arrives and the detective gets a mysterious call. He tells his team that they were misled and it was not Sang-cheon in the car. They let them go but they still follow them. The same car is seen approaching the detectives’ car, they ram into it to force it to stop but inside it was not Sang-cheon. He had already switched cars and was led by the mysterious car to a new location.

Back to the present, Na-yeon reports to the victims that Byeong-jun will be detained as the suspect. Do-han approaches deputy head Gang Jong-hun after his talk with the suspect and informs him that he intends to look into the case of the death of Sang-cheon. The deputy’s head insists that he should not dig deep and just close the murder case. Do-han tells the deputy head that if he needs him to cover up something, he should let him know in advance.

Forensics find a 98.7 percent match for No Sang-cheon’s fingerprints and elsewhre, and another man calls the emergency call centre and reports that Sang-cheon is trying to kill him. As the deputy’s head drives off leaving a shocked Do-hun at the parking lot, the episode ends by showing another murder.

The Episode Review

This episode leaves so many questions unanswered. Who is Sang-cheon and why did he plan the scheme? Was he the mastermind or the person who shows up in the mysterious car? Why did Byeong-jun get himself arrested on purpose and does he know the killer? Why did Do-hun stop being a lawyer and now work as a detective? The reporter Jung Na-yeon, how does she play into the plot?

I noted the head deputy was acting suspiciously on the scene where he tries to explain why and how Byeong-jun must be the killer and tried to force Do-han to pin the murder on him. So, who called and told him to let Sang-cheon go? Is Sang-cheon dead?

All these questions make it a thrilling first episode leaving one eager to figure out what happens next. The series hints at a complex plot with a lot of scheming, hidden agendas, and craftiness and it is difficult to even guess what will happen next.

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You can read our full season review for Decoy season 1 here!

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