Uncle Samsik – Season 1 Episode 12 Recap & Review

The Simmering Furnace

Uncle Samsik Episode 12 slides us to 1946 Busan for salt harvesting. Taemin takes a beating for a younger kid in the group. When the child dies, Taemin is forced to dispose of the body.

Cut to a sixteen-year-old Kang reading out the Sineui Alliance declaration. And then to an adult Taemin with a gun to Kang’s head as he reminds him of the code of conduct, naming Kang as the Alliance’s final target. Kang begs for his life saying he’ll do anything so Taemin gives him a final chance.

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In Masan March 15th, 1960, fraudulent voting is exposed and the police take action. The streets are filled with protestors, police and reporters. In other parts of Korea, while voters are blocked from voting, ballot boxes are removed and spirited away. Even in central Seoul, ballot boxes are left outside for Han-soo’s gang to quickly retrieve.

At the police station, an official statement is made that in several areas in Korea, including Masan, there was an attempt to invalidate the election. And the press are warned about publishing unconfirmed information. While Han-soo and crew pause at a tunnel behind a truck carrying ballot boxes, clandestinely swapping them over.

Taemin’s guys stop Han-soo at gunpoint, commandeering the ballot boxes. Han-soo suddenly recognizes Taemin and attacks but Taemin easily overpowers him, apologizing for killing his brother mistakenly. He warns Han-soo to stop taking orders from Samsik before leaving with the ballots.

Getting the news by phone, Samsik panics wanting to get Jiwook’s guys after Taemin and worried Taemin will take it to the press. But San is more concerned that Hanmin has started the coup on his own, using General Choi’s men.

In captivity, Hanmin denies he led the coup, blaming San instead. Flashback to a conversation with San where Hanmin claims General Jang is an opportunist. When the two meet with him, Hanmin suggests that Choi isn’t determined enough and that Jang would be a great next president. To Samsik in the bunker, Jang says he never believed those words.

Both in the bunker, San says he didn’t know Hanmin would say such things and Hanmin says San told him to do it. Flashing back to their meeting, it was Jang who told them to get Choi to the bunker.

After the ballot box revelation, Samsik meets with Jiwook’s men, sending them to find Taemin. Journalist Lee, who’s received their location from a contact, listens from a nearby table. But when his colleagues blow his cover, he gets out before anyone addresses him.

When Hanmin and Jang report to Choi, telling him its time to make a move, Choi insists they wait for the result of the election.

San and Rachel meet Ki-chul conveying that Choi changed his mind. San assures Ki-chul they’ll move even without Choi’s go-ahead. When Ki-chul asks about the Reconstruction Bureau he confirms they’ll still establish it, with Ki-chul’s help of course.

In the confessional, Hanmin pins everything on San, saying he’s the only one would could have set up Choi that way. But with Rachel and Ki-chul, San says that Korea can never be a democracy. Ki-chul suggests San could be prime minister within a week if Choi becomes president, placating that he’s better than Kang. Ki-chul knows Kang and Samsik killed his brother.

In the bunker interrogation, Hanmin insists that all the plans were led by San and that he used Rachel. But separately, Samsik claims San came to him terrified after meeting with Ki-chul. San’s story aligns, that he went to Samsik, feeling shaken and reporting that Ki-chul knows about them killing his brother. Ki-chul committed to killing Kang when its over so San seals it with information that Kang’s signature is on the Sineui Code of Conduct.

After contacting her earlier, Taemin meets Yeojin, handing over the ballot boxes and apologizing for her father’s accidental death. Then he takes off running before Jiwook’s guys can grab him. They shoot at him as he runs through alleys with Yeojin chasing behind. On foot, she nearly runs into Samsik himself then they hear another gunshot. Seeing San, she asks whether he stole the ballot boxes. While Taemin’s guys help him escape but as they take off, he notices Samik with the shooters.

A 97% voting rate is reported throughout the country while nominees await the result. To cheers in Minkyu and Kang’s offices, President Rhee takes the win. Students report it as the worst election in history and demand a new vote to replace the fraudulent results. San shares that protests broke out everywhere and Choi believes the fervour supports waiting. But Hanmin thinks they’re making the wrong move.

Jang and Samsik remark on Hanmin’s explosive reaction to Choi’s decision. Samsik allegedly warned him afterwards however Hanmin carried on, ready to start his own coup.

In the bunker, Sooil ties up a screaming Hanmin who’s begging for them to call Samsik. San overhears the screaming from the interrogation room next door as Hanmin is dragged away and executed, buried in an unmarked grave.


Episode Review

For the last several episodes we’ve caught glimpses of military men digging a hole. Now we know what that was for – poor, crazed Hanmin. And he certainly dug it with his aggressive moves and by alienating the seemingly inseparable San and Samsik when he should have been embracing the two.  

Meanwhile, as Choi was hoping the Democrats would win, it must be because he believed that San would make a difference as part of the party. And that seeing a change in Korea is more important than being the one in charge. This appetite for a better Korea must be exactly what Choi sees in San and what San sees in Choi. While for Samsik, it’s more about who’s in charge and how that can benefit. Despite this, San and Samsik remain aligned, still working as a team both day-to-day and throughout the flash forwards to the interrogation.


Who’s your favorite pawn in Uncle Samsik? At this point, it could be anyone. Let us know in the comments below. 

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