Penultimate Pressure for President Park
Now on its penultimate episode, Designated Survivor: 60 Days returns for a dramatic slice of politically charged tension. As we near the end of this epic, 16 episode series, 60 Days has done a pretty good job spinning the American series into a Korean adaptation, with enough deviation in the plot line to nestle this nicely into Asian politics. It may not be the best series out there, especially given how rigidly the plot follows its America cousin, there’s enough here to make for an enjoyable watch nonetheless.
We return to Designated Survivor: 60 Days to find out the ending was a red herring – a deliberate ploy to make us think General Lee has joined up with Eun when actually he’s on Park’s side. As it happens, we didn’t see all of Park’s meeting with him and it turns out he managed to convince Lee to his way of thinking.
True to his word, he shows up at the Blue House, determined to make good on his promise. He tells them the military coup with Eun Hee-Jung is over. The Commander Chief of the Military salutes him; a true sign of respect as Park reciprocates before shaking his hand, clasping his grip with two hands. It’s a surprisingly touching moment and one that sees both men find a newfound respect for one another.
Na gets her chance to interview Eun personally soon after this, where he tells them he did everything according to the VIP. Who this is remains a mystery but it’s apparent that he’s the one who’s pulling the strings here.
In the interest of transparency, Park shares the conspiracy and military coup with both Mayor Kang and Chan-Kyung. He tells them the reason he didn’t go to the media is because he knows they’re involved in the bombing but the true culprits remain elusive and unknown despite their best efforts in trying to find them.
Unfortunately, they don’t have to wait too long as it turns out Chan-Kyung knows who Mr Kim is. Incriminating pictures are sent that depict her meeting in secret which we deduce is her in collusion with the bombers. Thanks to Park spilling the details of the military coup, this is leaked to the media who begin reporting on the incident. Like sharks that smell blood, various reporters take to the firing line as poor Kim takes the brunt of their outrage. As the Blue House defend their actions, the media simply spin it into further scandal.
The polls are not favourable either in the aftermath of this assault. Assemblywoman Yun is now clearly in the lead and, sensing tension in the air, Park decides to call her in to hear her side of the story. It turns out the men she met with were campaign advisors, or so she thought. Park tells her that the NIS are doing an internal investigation on her thanks to the pictures being released. Confidently, she tells him to make it public as she has nothing to hide. He decides to stay true to her word and opens the investigation up while Assemblywoman Yun phones Mr Kim in secret, a bid to make him leave the country before it’s too late.
Having found a match, it turns out Mr Kim was a former spy for the North. While the authorities look into his credentials, Yun asks her assistant to meet with Kim in the tranquil darkness of the ferry port. Surprisingly, he’s ambushed as the police arrive and a tense chase ensues, resulting in a showdown as Na shoots Kim in the leg after deliberating over shooting him in the head.
Thanks to Park’s quick thinking and Yun’s influential contacts, we learn it was actually them who set the trap and caused Kim to be arrested. The media are delighted, ending their press questions with rapturous applause as they learn that Kim has been arrested; one of the masterminds behind the attack.
Deliberating over what to do next, Secretary Han thinks over his options regarding Park’s potential presidential campaign. Having seen this a number of times before with previous administrations, a series of flashbacks show his struggle before Park tells him how instrumental the Secretary has been to his success thus far. He asks Han to help him in becoming a better candidate and after some deliberation, he agrees to help him.
Kim promises to tell them who the VIP is during his interview in the aftermath of being captured but with one stipulation – President Park is to be present when he delivers the news. Park does show up, coming face to face with Kim where he asks who the VIP is. The antagonist smirks before revealing he’s the VIP and that Park was allegedly instrumental in helping him complete the bombing attacks. But is he telling the truth? Or is this another red herring to hide who’s really behind this?
Designated Survivor: 60 Days delivers a really well written, character driven dive into politics here with its penultimate episode. What’s particularly interesting, especially in this tumultuous political time, is how raw and honest Park’s politics are. He personifies the perfect candidate – fair, selfless and driven. It’s such a rarity to find these traits in politics and especially given the traits adopted by everyone around him, it’s amazing to see how far he’s come since the first few episodes.
I’ve said it before but this politically charged Korean drama has done a fantastic job growing and evolving Park as a character over the weeks to become the measured man he is now. While the other characters do well as they gravitate around his presence, it’s ultimately Ji Jin-Hee’s performance that’s helped this show stand out.
With tomorrow’s finale leaving things wide open, who knows what’s to come next for President Park. Whether he’ll be named President or not remains to be seen but with only one day left until his resignation, there’s all to play for in the race for Presidency.