The Whirlwind – K-drama Episode 1 Recap & Review

The Attempted Assassination

The Whirlwind episode 1 starts with a flashback to seven and a half hours before the arrest of the current Prime Minister, Park Dong-ho. Dong-ho is accused of accepting hundreds of bribes worth millions of Won from a certain Mr Choi. The prosecutor is expected to arrest Dong-ho. According to the media, the prosecutor has enough evidence to prove their case, and many are calling for the acceleration of the hearing.

Simultaneously, we see Don-ho driving to the Blue House to secretly meet with President Jang II Jun. At the back of our minds, we assumed that Dong-jo would beg for mercy, but we were in for quite a shock. It turns out that  President Jang II Jun framed Dong-ho to take the fall and save his son. Even though Dong-ho has been nothing but loyal during their long-time friendship, President Jang II Jun is determined to make him the scapegoat. He feels Dong-jo should have turned a blind eye to his crimes and those of his sons. As such, he is hoping that Dong-ho will take the blame quietly and not fight back.  

On the other hand, Dong-ho has a plan and knows that there is no point in trying to get sentimental with President Jang II Jun or plead for mercy. He once saved President Jang II Jun’s life when he had a cardiac attack and knows of his underlying health issues.

While talking with the President, Dong-ho switches the President’s vape and gives him one with substances that will lead to cardiac arrest. He then walks out and meets the Chief of Staff, Yeon-suk and pleads his innocence to her. Afterwards, Yeon-suk talks with the President and informs him that the prosecution is already looking into Dang-ho as per his request. However, Yeon-suk doubts they will find him guilty. As they talk, President Jang II Jun falls to the ground and is rushed to the Armed Forces Capital Hospital.

Meanwhile, Dong-ho returns to his office and is met by his concerned secretary, Jeong-yeon. Dong-ho assures her that they did what must be done to save the country and now have to focus on the next plan. Dong-ho starts working on his speech, awaiting the call from the Blue House. Unfortunately, the Blue House calls to inform them that President Jang II Jun is still alive but in critical condition. Suddenly, they are forced to pivot their plans since Dong-ho can’t immediately become the Acting President. 

Elsewhere, Su-jin, the Deputy Prime Minister, rushes to the hospital to stay by the First Lady’s side. At the same time, she plots with Kang Sang Woon [Daejin Group Vice Chairman] to keep the President alive and arrest Dong-ho for their personal benefit. If President Jang II Jun dies, she and Sang-woon will end up in prison for corruption. As soon as everyone arrives at the hospital, the doctors notify them that President Jang II Jun needs surgery, but his survival rate is low.

After the doctor’s announcement, Su-jin calls Dong-ho aside and warns him to turn a blind eye and save himself. However, Dong-ho remains unrelenting, saying he will expose Sujin and Daejin group along with the President and ruin his legacy. Su-jin is also prepared to fight and will stop at nothing. Point in case, she asks the First Lady to order the doctors to prolong  President Jang II Jun’s surgery until 9 am. This gives her time to mobilise the prosecution to arrest Dong-ho the following morning so he won’t take over. 

Aware of this, Dong-ho reaches out to Chairman Kang, a strong politician with many ties. Chairman Kang has always had his eye on the presidential seat but is always losing the race. Dong-ho promises to give him a better chance at winning the next election if he helps him. As morning dawns, the First Lady, Sujin and the Chief of Staff are surprised when Chairman Kang brings highly reputed doctors to observe the surgery. The operating doctors get cold feet and end the surgery early.

Meanwhile, Dong-ho heads to the hospital chapel to pray for a miracle. He is not surprised when Han-cheol, the Seoul District Prosecutor, arrives with a warrant for arrest. If anything, he confronts Su-jin and announces that as long as the President is unable to fulfil his duties, he is taking over as the acting President. In other words, Han-cheol can’t arrest him since a President can’t be charged during his tenure, and that law applies to him as an Acting President.

On the other side of the hospital, the doctors hold a conference and announce the surgery went well, but  President Jang II Jun is in a coma. Outside, Dong-ho speaks to reporters, assuring the nation he will take over the reins until  President Jang II Jun recovers. Dong-ho is perfectly aware that he doesn’t have enough time. He faces great opposition, and the fraud accusation is doing him no favours. He has a month or so before the opposition requests for another election if  President Jang II Jun. If  President Jang II Jun wakes up, he has even less time to prove his innocence and arrest Sang-woon and Su-jin.

With time not on his side, Dong-ho meets with an old friend, Sang-seok, a former prosecutor. He and Gi-tae, another prosecutor, had tried to take down the Daejin group, but it didn’t end well. Sang-seok has long given up his spirit to fight, but Dong-ho inspires him to find it again. They agree that Gi-tae’s sacrifice shouldn’t be in vain.

Also plotting, Sujin meets with Sang-woon and convinces him to rethink his strategy of going after Dong-ho using a fake witness and the media. She advises him to contact the opposition leaders and force Dong-ho to resign as the acting President. They also ask Han-cheol to plant some evidence in Jeong-hyeon’s belongings, framing Dong-ho further. The media reports that Dong=ho ordered his secretary to hide the funds for him. However, since the evidence is fake, Dong-ho and his team have a hard time proving their innocence.  

Upon hearing the news, the National Assembly votes to kick Dong-ho out of the Blue House. His only hope is convincing the Cabinet members but Su-jin is one step ahead of him. She invites the Cabinet to a lunch date so they don’t meet with Dong-ho. Later, she sets a meeting with Dong-ho and explains that she will take their fight all the way. She believes no one will side with Don-ho as it will be political suicide.

At the Blue House, Yeon-suk grows suspicious as to what led to  President Jang II Jun’s sudden cardiac arrest. She takes his vape and asks for an analysis of it. The doctor discovers that the vape contains new drugs that are dangerous to someone with heart issues like the President. It becomes apparent that someone tried to assassinate the President.

Yeon-suk quickly puts the pieces together and realises only Dong-ho could have pulled this off. She calls for a meeting with Dong-ho at the Blue House, and the latter comes clean. He gives her a recording of his admission of guilt and asks for a month to deal with the corruption before turning himself in. Yeon-suk agrees to the deal and changes her loyalty from  President Jang II Jun to Dong-ho. To help him, she asks the First Lady to call a dinner meeting with the Cabinet members and announc that the President briefly woke up.

According to Yeon-suk, the President requested Dong-ho to take over. As such, she orders the Cabinet to support Dong-ho and challenges anyone to deny  President Jang II Jun his request. As expected, Su-jin asks to verify the statement, but Yeon-suk quickly puts her in her place. With everyone in agreement, Dong-jo takes over the meeting and dismisses Su-jin as a cabinet member. 

The Episode Review

The Whirlwind immediately lures us in with so much intrigue, drama and twists from back to back. Su-jin and Dong-ho are worthwhile competitors and it will be fun to see how they will battle out their differences in the following chapters. They are both smart and know how to perfectly disarm each other. This game of cat and mouse will be thrilling, and we are here for it. 

The state of the country is at a precarious balance as President Jang II Jun lies in the hospital. If he dies or lives, Dong-ho still has a lot to lose. He is caught between a rock and a hard place but he is somehow finding his way. On the other hand, Su-jin is ready to offer Dong-ho as a sacrificial lamb to save herself and the Daejin Group. Why is she so invested in being the bad guy? There has to be more to the story. We are also curious if Gi-tae was killed and if that was the trigger that led to Dong-ho’s revenge era. 

On the other hand, we have Yeon-suk. She jumped ship rather quickly, so we are not sure if we can trust her. Is she hoping to gain something, or is he really fed up with the corruption, too? I think it was a mistake for Dong-ho to arm her with evidence against him, but he is well-versed in the law, so he knows better. 


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