A Con Within A Con
Episode 2 of Private Lives establishes that there really is no one you can trust in this Korean drama. All of this leads to a shocking revelation at the end and lots of questions hanging over this one.
Mi-Sook’s greed comes back to bite her as she and Han Son are unable to withdraw the funds. As they scramble to find a solution, we cut back to Bok-Ki and Joo-Eun together in the office.
It turns out Bok-Ki has rallied the troops and all of them are going to file a lawsuit against Joo-Eun. As she’s heading off to China shortly, she taunts the woman and bids her farewell.
This subsequently sees Joo-Eun taken away in handcuffs. All Han Son can do is watch wide-eyed and wonder what to do next. Sitting in the jail cell, Joo-Eun’s approached by a detective Yang In-Sook who removes her handcuffs and encourages the girl to sit down. She tries to con the woman but she’s wise to her ways.
Joo-Eun drip-feeds information to the detective, admitting that she was trying to get revenge. Joo-Eun goes through the details of what happened with conning Mr Park. It turns out he’s actually one of the complainants but thanks to Jae-Wook’s interference, Park has been forced to commit suicide.
Joo-Eun pleads not guilty at the court but the judge is having none of it, sentencing her to 18 months. Despite In-Sook’s insistence, she gets on the bus and prepares for prison as Han Son watches her leave.
This returns us to the present as we now know why Joo-Eun was in prison. On the back of this, she walks through the city and enjoys the sunshine on her face… until Han Son suddenly arrives and tells her they need to eat.
Handing over a credit card, he tasks the girl with buying an apartment. She does just that but skimps out and instead spends more on clothes and accessories. This is obviously to hide her real pain as she sits at home alone and contemplates what’s happened to her life, sobbing.
Even after all these years, In-Sook is still around but she’s retired. She meets Joo-Eun out for food later that day but admits she has no news about the con-woman Bok-Ki.
Meeting at the welfare center, Joo-Eun greets her friend Min-Jung and goes for drinks later that evening. As a man approaches them, Joo-Eun immediately shuts him down as she encourages her to head home. As she does, Han Son happens to be sitting at home waiting for her. Min-Jung inevitably gets the wrong idea and leaves them in peace.
After changing her door code to avoid this happening again, Han Son reminds her that he’s not a lowlife and promises to see her in several days. Despite that, Joo-Eun continues to learn how to be a beautician during the day.
Only, Han Son sees through this façade and tasks Joo-Eun with playing an UI Telecom employee. Only, the man she has to meet happens to be the same one she rejected in the pub. What are the odds! After retrieving the goods from Jung-Hwan, she returns to Han Son with an ID card and instructions for the mission ahead.
The next day she heads off and gets settled into her role, relegated to the store-room surrounded by boxes. Bored, she heads out to get a feel for the company employees, who all seem to be working hard. Unfortunately she gets stuck in the middle of the lunch rush and ends up eating with Jung-Hwan – the man from the restaurant earlier on.
After eating her rice, she allows him to buy her a coffee as they walk and talk together. Wondering whether Jung-Hwan is a con artist as well, she takes his card after he asks to go out for dinner. Back home she phones the number and realizes it’s legitimate.
That evening she heads out with Jung-Hwan who admits that he’s never dated before. Instead of sitting and eating dinner, she encourages him to head out and they enjoy the lively, bubbly town atmosphere. Jung-Hwan even plucks up the courage to kiss her in the street.
After driving her back home, Joo-Eun lies and tells him she’s an orphan. As she walks away, she bemoans herself for the tacky line but saves face before meeting Han Son. He encourages her not to scam the same employee multiple times as it won’t end up well.
6 Months Later we cut to In-Sook in the restaurant serving patrons. Joo-Eun is working with her but also leading a double life and meeting Jung-Hwan. She gets changed in the taxi and pretends to be working hard at the company.
Only, she smells of burnt meat and Jung-Hwan picks up on this as she enters the car. Thankfully, she spins this as her boss eating too much.
Inside the restaurant, Joo-Eun is introduced to Jung-Hwan’s parents for the first time. It’s a big moment for her and one that sees Jung-Hwan putting a lot of faith in her. Eventually she plucks up the courage to sit with his parents and embrace this life.
Afterwards, Jung-Hwan and Joo-Eun walk together where the latter admits that she’s not ready for a proposal. Joo-Eun feels awful though but eventually caves and says yes.
Joo-Eun immediately heads into prison to inform her Father about the prosomal. She doesn’t stay long before heading up to see her Mum. She breaks the news about the marriage but reveals she doesn’t need to attend. After all, Joo-Eun has already declared herself to be an orphan. Mi-Sook however, implores her daughter to break it off.
Back home, Han Som pounds on Joo-Eun’s door and demands she open up. Pouring herself a drink, Han Son hears the news about her marriage and isn’t happy. He admits that “filming a marriage documentary won’t be easy” and leaves her to contemplate her actions.
This catches us up to the beginning of the first episode as we see Joo-Eun preparing for her wedding. Only, Jung-Hwan fails to show up leading the parents to call it “another flop”.
It turns out Jung-Hwan is another con-artist and even though she was trying to con him, he was doing the exact same thing to her. He played the long game and this entire marriage was with hired actors. What a twist!
The Episode Review
Having recently watched Chicago Typewriter for the first time, it’s great to see Ko Gyung-Pyo in another drama. He was excellent in that show and here he channels that same blend of humour and quirky geekiness that makes him such a good character.
The ending was absolutely electrifying too and I definitely didn’t see that coming. I thought the show would slow down into a more melodramatic affair but this con-within-a-con gig is a nice twist.
This drama has definitely stepped it up a gear and shown that there really is no one you can trust. It’s ironic really given that’s actually the message portrayed to us last episode but here it’s showcased beautifully.
The pacing is admittedly quite slow in this episode but I think it’s designed this way intentionally to really lean into the fact Joo-Eun can’t escape her “documentary” fate.
The word “documentary” is obvious a code-word for con and I think it’s been done like that incase anyone nearby is wearing a wire. That’s my interpretation on this anyway.
For now though, the show continues to deliver some decent drama, even if it is a bit of a slow burn thriller that definitely won’t be for everyone.