Insider – K-Drama Episode 1 Recap & Review

Going Undercover

Episode 1 of Insider starts with a man leaving a casino, heading along the twinkling streets of Seoul in a black car. There are several others here too, and this caravan crawls up the street. Our protagonist, Kim Yo-Han, asks the driver to stop… and bolts up the street.

Several men chase him and a big brawl ensues, one that ends with Yo-Han charges through the streets, rushing to safety.

We then cut back 1 year earlier. Kim Yo-Han happens to be in a gambling den, sussing out the other competitors he’s playing with. They all raise, constantly, eventually leading to Yo-Han calling all their bluffs and going all in. Unfortunately, Yo-Han loses but it would appear that the game is rigged.

After losing the game, Yo-Han hands over an ownership deed for his house. It’s reckless and sees the whole ordeal descend into nail-biting chaos when Yo-Han gets his phone out and records everything, showing that the game was definitely rigged from the start.

“Add fraud to the gambling.” Yo-Han says confidently, as police suddenly storm the area. However they don’t manage to capture Chairman Yang, who appears to have been given a tip about what was going to happen.

Yang is a formidable guy, and as we see from later flashes to Yo-Han’s briefing, he’s in charge of Skin-Nation. However, rumours are abound that he’s actually the leader of the Bukyeongpa gangs nationwide. Yo-Han was tasked with going into this illegal operation, but the risks are incredibly high. If he fails, everything could go awry.

Yo-Han is arrested along with all the other men and women inside this gambling den. Speaking to the police officer at the station, we learn Yo-Han is actually a judicial trainee. Scribbling down a number, he encourages the officer to ring the head of the Judicial Research and Training Institute. Off the back of this, he’s let go and heads home.

Yo-Han lives with his grandmother, and he meets Mok Jin-Hyung and Young-Guk in private; the two men who assigned Yo-Han to this risky mission in the first place. With the gambling den a bust, Yo-Han is encouraged to go after Lee Tae-Gwang, a man close to Chairman Yang. He’s currently in Seongju Prison and he has a video of Chairman Yang gambling that could be used to incriminate and take him down. This plan would mean Yo-Han needs to go inside prison for a while.

That night, Jin-Hyung is attacked in the parking lot by an unknown assailant. As for Yo-Han, he’s snatched up by the side of the road and held captive in an unknown safehouse. His mouth is pried open, his feet and hands are cable-tied and he gets a look at the man who has captured him. His name is Jo Hae-Do, the owner of the gambling house he disrupted.

He tortures Yo-Han, demanding he pay up for the damages. Unfortunately, Hae-Do knows where he lives – and about his grandmother too. Not only that, but Hae-Do knows that Yo-Han’s illegal operation are grounds for him being disqualified as a trainee too.

After being tortured, with some of his teeth removed, Yo-Han heads over to see Young-Guk, explaining that he expected something like this. The thing is, Young-Guk knew Yo-Yhan’s father before he passed away and marvels at how alike the pair are.

Hae-Do knows too much about Yo-Han and the threat to his grandmother’s life – not to mention him showing up at the house – which is enough for our protagonist to get cold feet and decide against following through with this.

That night, Young-Guk is attacked in the parking lot – just like Jin-Hyung was. Unfortunately he doesn’t survive the attempt on his life and he passes away.

This was an orchestrated attack by Yoon Byung-Wook. This man works in the Financial and Tax Crimes Investigations Unit. Now, rumours have it that Hong Sang-Wook actually became the chief of the CID because of him.

Everyone’s lives are now at stake and the only solution to get out of this is Tae Gwang’s video, There’s no other choice but for Yo-Han to go undercover. “Our conviction leads us to the right path.”

With Yo-Han en-route to prison, Jin-Hyung races to the police station, intending to destroy evidence from the database about the undercover operation they’re building, partly off of threats from Byung-Wook, who seems to know what’s going on.

Jin-Hyung eventually deletes everything, as Yo-Han makes it into prison.

The Episode Review

Tense, action-packed and with just enough exposition to get us invested in this world and characters, Insider gets off to a really solid start. Yo-Han is easy to empathize with and I’m always a fan of shows like this that don’t explicitly spell out what’s happened in the past.

The teasing flash before cutting back in time is another nice addition, while the story is relatively straightforward, playing out the hero’s “call to action” in an intriguing and well written way.

This whole operation is a nail-biting affair and it adds to the pressure building in this show. Although we’re only one episode in, we know Yo-Han is the kind of guy who has conviction and will go all-in if it means protecting his family.

So far so good; Insider is shaping up to be a very intriguing thriller.

Next Episode

Expect A Full Season Write-Up When This Season Concludes!


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