Just when you think each episode can’t get any better, it does. This drama has done a wonderful job in laying out the bare and honest and realistic truths of any workplace by using our two leads and their fight against the court system as an example. Though each episode remains increasingly difficult to watch, the reality of it all keeps you watching. This episode – just like the ones prior to it – maintains its beauty and magic.
Miss Hammurabi: Episode 5 Recap
Episode five resumes with the scene of Oh-reum and Ba-reun discussing about their next step in fighting against Presiding Judge Sung. Ba-reun informs Oh-reum that he’ll help her in the fight, but they have to do it the right and legal way. In order for the Chief Presiding Judge to convene all judges into a meeting, over one-fifth of the judges must be present at the meeting. Ba-reun will send out an email to everyone – including the Chief Presiding Judge – to inform them of this meeting.
Judge Jung reads the email that Ba-reun sent out and questions Ba-reun’s motives. He’s never dug himself into anyone else’s business, why is he sending out this email now? And more so, is Presiding Judge Sung the one to blame or did Judge Hong get herself into the unfortunate situation that she’s in currently?
Judge Jung approaches Ba-reun in his office to ask about the email. Ba-reun admits that he’s just trying to help improve the work culture and how the court should respond to concerns of sexual harassment. Judge Jung remains skeptic though and both men are soon joined by Oh-reum. She shares that over 70 employees have signed the petition – both men and women but no presiding judges. She checks in on Judge Jung while he’s in their office and asks for his participation, but he leaves in a hurry. Outside of their office, Do-yeon informs him that he has stolen $22.50 worth of snacks from Oh-reum and Ba-reun’s office. He hands some of the candy back to Do-yeon, but it’s only two dollars less. Jeez, what’s the point of being pretty if she isn’t kind Judge Jung asks. But Do-yeon fires back and adds that she has a nice body plus a good sense of hearing. OH HO HO. Got you good there Judge Jung.
Ba-reun has a meeting with Presiding Judge Han. Presiding Judge Han is disappointed in Ba-reun’s participation with the petition. He warns Ba-reun that it’s best to just stay quiet in situations like this and suggests that he stop what he’s doing. But Ba-reun won’t stay still. He’s going to keep fighting against Presiding Judge Sung even if he’s getting himself into a dangerous situation.
Presiding Judge Sung meets with the Chief Presiding Judge to discuss about the current situation. Presiding Judge Sung’s behaviors is shedding a bad light on the court which is the last thing the Chief Presiding Judge wants. Chief Presiding Judge also brings up Presiding Judge Sung’s plans of being promoted. Maybe that won’t happen any more because of the most recent incident with Judge Hong.
Presiding Judge Sung – along with his associate judge – goes to the hospital to visit Judge Hong. He sends his colleague on an errand to buy a gift for Judge Hong while he enters the room where Judge Hong is stationed. He first greets Judge Hong’s husband and then forces his way into her room. She wakes up from her sleep and finds herself getting blamed by Presiding Judge Sung for the incident. If she had just told Presiding Judge Sung about her condition, none of this would have happened. Judge Hong is quick to apologize and was afraid of Presiding Judge Sung’s reaction knowing fully well that he didn’t want Judge Hong to prioritize family over work. He then quickly changes his behavior once his associate judge enters the room and begs on his knees for Judge Hong’s forgiveness. He’s apologizing and asking for her forgiveness, how could she not understand him? Her husband asks him to leave after seeing Judge Hong bursts into tears.
The next day at work, talks about Presiding Judge Sung’s hospital visit spreads throughout the court district. The same two guys who had been gossiping about Department 44 (Oh-reum, Ba-reun, and Presiding Judge Han) in the last episode gossip again but this time about the hospital visit. Wow, Presiding Judge Sung tried to apologize to Judge Hong but got kicked out? She must be merciless. Reminds them of Oh-reum and how merciless she is as well, thinking she’s all good because she’s advocating in the workplace. At that moment, Presiding Judge Han exits out of his stall surprising the two guys. He leaves the restroom without saying much to them. LOL. Didn’t these guys learn enough the first time?
Judge Hong overhears other judges talking about the hospital visit and visits Oh-reum and Ba-reun to address his concerns. The way that people are talking about the incident has changed: now they’re blaming Judge Hong for not telling Presiding Judge Sung she was pregnant and are criticizing her for kicking him out of her hospital room. But that shouldn’t even matter. What he did with overworking her – regardless of whether she was pregnant or not – just so he could get a promotion is the real issue here. Judge Hong worries that there won’t be enough judges at the meeting with the Chief Presiding Judge to discuss about this. It doesn’t help that they set the meeting to be on a Friday in the afternoon — the busiest time of the week. Oh-reum isn’t going to go down without a fight though and suggest that they use their lunch break wisely to recruit people.
Whether it’s talking to people in yoga or floral class, Oh-reum utilizes every opportunity to address the issue with other employees within the workplace. Ba-reun is also with her, but he provides her some moral support by observing her quietly from afar.
Ba-reun enters his office to find Do-yeon watering the flowers that he arranged earlier in the floral class. She describes them as beautiful and then leaves him to do his work. Oh-reum shares with Ba-reun that many of the people she talked with seemed concerned about Judge Hong, but are hesitant in attending the meeting. Ba-reun notes that maybe they should use a different approach not so aggressive and straightforward so as to not intimidate the employees. Oh-reum is opened to his idea. His nagging for once is helpful. Haha. They also notice that Judge Jung isn’t in their office like he usually is. Where is he?
Oh-reum and Ba-reun’s attempts to recruit people to attend the meeting is challenging. Most of them already have too much work to do already or they don’t fully support some of the items on the agenda such as the belief that women working for the court should have better support and resources when pregnant. It’s a tough day at work for the two judges. While heading home, they reflect on the difference between the presiding judges vs. the younger associate judges. While the presiding judges primarily agree with one another and stand together as a team, the younger judges are more separated from one another because they have their own struggles to handle. But Ba-reun notes that even though each judge is struggling, they’re all struggling over the same reason — a reason which they’re just not aware of yet. The two encourage each other with these words. Not all hope is lost.
The next day at work, Ba-reun shares with Oh-reum that the appeal for a retrial for Protesting Mom has been approved. Judge Jung’s department is in charge of it. Oh-reum is excited and looks forward to attending the public trial. Ba-reun warns her at first to not get involved with the trial, remembering Chief Presiding Judge’s warnings about her involvement with the case. But he changes his mind afterwards and she moves forward with attending the trial.
It’s the day of the trial and Oh-reum is there in the courtroom. Presiding Judge Bae summarizes the reason for the retrial: Protesting Mom wishes to access her son’s medical records. However, her request is denied because all the hospitals she’s contacted are too busy. Protesting Mom’s lawyer claims that it’s because of the defendant — Sejin university hospital — who has been influencing these hospitals to say no. But as with everything, every claim needs to have evidence and Protesting Mom doesn’t have any evidence that the university hospital is doing this. Presiding Judge Bae ends the retrial, giving Protesting Mom one last chance to get things right.
So what is the reason why these hospitals aren’t giving Protesting Mom her son’s medical records? It seems like Sejin University Hospital — one of the best hospitals in Korea – has connections with all the hospitals Protesting Mom has contacted so far. Additionally, the small hospital that she also contacted hasn’t gotten back to her yet. It seems like Protesting Mom’s efforts aren’t going anywhere so Ba-reun and Oh-reum decide to do something about it.
Oh-reum and Ba-reun try to raise awareness about the court case by handing out flyers about the court case to different employees and presiding judges outside of the building. They even come across Judge Jung who ends up sticking around with them although he doesn’t feel entirely comfortable with what they’re doing. He panics even more when he catches his presiding judge – Presiding Judge Bae – walking in their direction. Presiding Judge Bae questions Judge Jung’s intentions and wonders if he should still give Judge Jung a promotion.
Presiding Judge Sung uses his connections to meet with reporters/journalists and get them to write an article about the recent incidents happening within the court district. The article comes out the next day, accusing young, radical female judges (aka Oh-reum) of starting a work union at the court. But wait, there’s more. Another article about Oh-reum and her involvement with Protesting Mom’s case is also released. Things aren’t looking so good for Oh-reum. She finally realizes why Ba-reun had tried stopping her from getting involved with things recently. Since her good intentions is causing her trouble, she should take responsibility for her actions, but she’s also going to make sure Presiding Judge Sung takes responsibility for what he did as well.
Judge Jung utilizes the opportunity to confess to Ba-reun about where he stands in between all of this controversy and commotion. He’s not going to help the two out anymore. He cherishes his friendship with Ba-reun, but at the same time he has good relationships with all the presiding judges who clearly don’t like what the two are doing. Ba-reun questions whether it’s because Judge Jung just wants to be liked by everybody to which Judge Jung becomes hurt. It’s just that he doesn’t want to fight with anyone, including Ba-reun (he’s a Libra damn it, leave him alone asdkfjd). He exits their office and encounters Do-yeon on the way out.
Oh-reum receives a warning from Chief Presiding Judge himself in a meeting they have together. He first brings up her involvement with Protesting Mom’s case and how she broke rules by giving Protesting Mom some legal advice. But wait, he and the Chief Justice also did something similar at another event so why is it that it’s okay for them to do it but not her? (OOOOH YAAAAS, YOU GO GURL. YOU TELL ‘EM!). Okay, fair enough. What about the petition she’s been pushing for? Oh-reum tries to explain her intentions about starting to the petition to bring justice to Judge Hong, but Chief Presiding Judge isn’t having it. He has no plans to negotiate with Oh-reum; it’s either she stops or else.
Meanwhile, Ba-reun meets once again with the presiding judge from the criminal department who he worked with the year before. He asks for another favor: please stop the presiding judges from disciplining Oh-reum. Just like the first time around, the presiding judge can’t go through with the request. Instead of focusing on this one issue with Judge Hong, they should be looking at things from a larger perspective: the court needs a structural reform. But wait, the incident with Judge Hong and the harsh working conditions she endured is something that all judges in the court also feel. It will add up eventually and lead to the structural reform that the presiding judge is talking about. Ba-reun leaves the meeting on that note.
Back in their office, Ba-reun suggests that they stop fighting for justice. Maybe it’s just not meant to be. But Oh-reum doesn’t want to back down yet. Ba-reun then adds that if she wants to really change the system, she should change her approach and method as well. The justice that she wants for Judge Hong is perceived as revenge by others. Has she ever thought of it this way?
The entire team from Department 44 (except for Do-yeon who decides to work instead) take a break and drink some coffee together. They try to cheer up Oh-reum and also update her on Judge Hong. Even while in the hospital, Judge Hong continues to work on cases. Oh-reum worries for Judge Hong, but Ba-reun worries for Oh-reum. He wished she would take care of herself too.
Back in the office, Oh-reum expresses her gratitude for the team’s support. Just like the coffee they drank together, her team’s support is so sweet and nice as well. Ba-reun especially has been helpful and supportive. The awkward moment is suddenly interjected with a phone call from Yong-jun.
Oh-reum meets with Yong-jun to discuss about Protesting Mom’s courtcase. As the executive director of Sejin University Hospital, he had his employees look into the case and the son’s medical records, but there was nothing suspicious. The hospital performed the surgery based on protocol. Now the hospital plans on countersuing the Protesting Mom for what happened. He attempts to stop Oh-reum from working on the case, but she doesn’t listen. The trial has started and the truth is going to be revealed.
It’s another day of the trial and Protesting Mom continues to lose. She claims that the surgeon who performed the son’s surgery had changed during the procedure and that there were two different surgeons. Plus, her son didn’t have any diseases or anything; he just had a minor injury that wasn’t life-threatening. How could he have died? Because she doesn’t have any evidence to support her claims, the case is closed. Oh-reum and Ba-reun who are both at the court trial watch in anger.
After the case, Oh-reum updates Ba-reun on what Yong-jun told her during their meeting. The hospital will give Protesting Mom $20,000 on the conditions that she doesn’t file another appeal or talk about the case anywhere else again. Oh-reum doesn’t feel like this is right though nor should Protesting Mom settle. She then changes the subject and suggest that they both go visit Judge Hong at the hospital who could use some support right now.
And so the two head off to the hospital to visit Judge Hong together. Judge Hong is grateful for their visit, but she’s also reminded of the workplace upon seeing them. She’s afraid to return to work knowing how everyone there feels about her after hearing all the rumors. She’s well aware of her reputation and image now and is afraid of experiencing that at work. Oh-reum apologizes and cries along with Judge Hong.
The hospital visit tires Oh-reum out. She squats down in exhaustion and uncertainty; Ba-reun joins her and sits down on the sidewalk next to her. Maybe it was all Oh-reum’s fault; maybe she shouldn’t have done anything. But Ba-reun reassures her that what she’s doing is great. No one but her dared to fight the system. She is a hero in that sense. He gets up and extends his hand, telling her to stand up. It’s hard, but they should keep going. But Oh-reum doesn’t stand up… because she physically can’t. Her legs have fallen asleep. AHHHH. Too funny. Oh-reum eventually manages to stand up with the assistance of Ba-reun. They are too cute together.
Oh-reum shares with Ba-reun the results of Protesting Mom’s case. Instead of encouraging Protesting Mom to fight, she encouraged Protesting Mom to accept the money that the hospital offered her. Although Protesting Mom will probably never know what happened to her son, she can at least use the money for the future to support herself and take care of herself from now on. Plus, after Yong-jun’s NJ Group had bought the hospital, they expanded the offer from $25,000 to $50,000. That’s more help they can give her than Oh-reum will ever be able to. Oh-reum feels apologetic for not being able to help Protesting Mom much, but Ba-reun cheers her up. She did the best that she could.
Oh-reum visits Presiding Judge Han to ask for some help. Although hesitant at first, he gives her a chance to talk to him. She asks him to talk to the other presiding judges about the meeting. They’re meeting not because it’s a fight between the associate judges and presiding judges, but because they want to raise awareness about the concerns of the associate judges. But Presiding Judge Han asks Oh-reum a question: before she started the petition against Presiding Judge Sung, did she ever talk to him first? Shouldn’t she have heard both sides of the story first before making her judgement?
This realization consumes Oh-reum’s thoughts and she heads to the farmers market to talk about it with her grandma and Aunts that night. Oh-reum realizes then just how powerless and biased she is. To remind Oh-reum of her strength and power, Grandma and Oh-reum head to a temple. All you need is a merciless heart that is big enough to embrace and help those who are suffering, Grandma states. Oh-reum listens to her grandma’s wise words carefully.
It’s the day of the grand meeting. Not enough judges are present while there are no presiding judges there at the meeting. Meanwhile, Judge Jung heads to Department 44 and pretends to check in on Ba-reun who obviously isn’t there because he’s at the meeting. Do-yeon informs him of Ba-reun’s whereabouts and reminds him of the meeting. She encourages him to attend and he does, only after being complimented on his butt by Do-yeon. ASDKFJD. JUDGE JUNG PLS.
Five minutes into the meeting and the meeting is about to be cancelled due to the low number of judges present. But just when Chief Presiding Judge is about to end the meeting before it could start, Presiding Judge Han enters the room (HOLY SMOKES. OMG. YES. YESSS. YESS!!! YES YES YES!!! YAAAAS! I KNEW IT. I KNEW HE WAS GOING TO COME THROUGH. HALLELUJAH!!). He sits down towards the front of the room designed for the presiding judges, but doesn’t forget to look back at his two associate judges. He gives them both a nod before turning back around (Y’ALL I’M IN TEARS RIGHT NOW. I’M ABOUT TO CRY).
The rest of the presiding judges follow Presiding Judge Han into the room and additional judges join as well (including Judge Jung). But the requirements are still not met as they still need 20 more people to join for the meeting to proceed. Just as Chief Presiding Judge is about to close the meeting, Oh-reum hurries to the front of the room. She pleads the Chief Justice to let her make a statement in which he approves.
So Oh-reum starts off by talking about Presiding Judge Han and lists all the things about him she likes, such as his dedication in his work to his popped belly from a lack of exercise (OMG OH-REUM PLS). She respects him for his amazing work and commitment to each of the cases he’s done the past twenty years. She uses this as a example to talk about how presiding judges and associate judges should work together as a team. Instead of perpetuating the severe working conditions and toxic work culture that they all endure, Oh-reum wishes to see everyone work together to help others. Treat each case as if it was a human being and worry more about quality than quantity. She ends her statement by quoting one of her favorite quotes from a female justice and then expressing her gratitude for everyone who attended the meeting. Together, they took a first step towards creating the kind of vision she has in improving the court system.
Her statement is received positively by the audience who all clap and cheer for her. Judge Jung goes up to Ba-reun and reveals that if Oh-reum was to ever run for presidency, he would definitely vote for her. Ba-reun just chuckles at Judge Jung’s comment while staring at Oh-reum. The Chief Justice gives the final approval to close the meeting after Oh-reum’s statement. He finally shows a sign of emotion for once and smiles after hearing her speech.
After the brief meeting, Chief Presiding Judge heads back to his office along with Presiding Judge Bae and a few others. Presiding Judge Sung waits anxiously for him and greets him upon seeing him, but Chief Presiding Judge doesn’t greet him back. No one from the group acknowledges his presence and they walk past him as if he’s not there. Presiding Judge Sung stares back at them in shock.
We then return to the night that Presiding Judge Sung met with the reporters. He’s been living alone for five years since his family is living abroad and he doesn’t have a good background. He’s never going to get anywhere in his career. But Presiding Judge Sung defends himself and argues that he’s worked so hard to get this far. He’s worked the hardest out of everyone. To make himself feel better, he reminds himself that he’s worked hard, but he drops his head down in tears. Working hard can only get him so far.
Wow, this drama really comes full circle doesn’t it? Everything about this episode progressed so well: from Oh-reum and Ba-reun pushing for support on the petition and meeting to almost giving up because they weren’t reaching any success to finally achieving a small but first great step in their fight for equality. I’m glad that the drama remained realistic and honest and didn’t magically have 20 more people show up out of no where just so the meeting could start. Because yes, the meeting didn’t resume because there weren’t enough people, but Oh-reum had the opportunity to voice her thoughts in front of everyone. And that was good enough in itself.
Oh-reum’s speech in particular exemplified her strengths and her leadership and the reason as to why she’s the pushing force behind all of this: she remains confident and strong and stubborn, but she also listens to what others have to say and she learns from her mistakes. She took the advice that Presiding Judge Han gave her about how Presiding Judges are also human and implemented that in her speech. Then, to prove her point that the meeting isn’t to place associate judges and presiding judges up against each other but rather to call for the harmony of both teams, she shared her vision and what she hopes the court system will look like in the future. She acknowledges that it’s going to take time and hard work, but that it’s definitely possible and meetings like the one they were in was essential to making that happen.
This episode was a bit repetitive with Oh-reum and Ba-reun’s unsuccessful attempts to recruit people to attend the meeting and to support them with the petition. But I also think that’s what made the payoff at the ending so emotional, impactful, and touching. We witnessed for two whole episodes our two leads fight until the very end (even until the very last minute when the meeting was about to get cut off) to get people to care about the same issues that they were passionate about. Even when they had thoughts of giving up and wanted to stop, they never did. They believed in themselves, but more importantly, they believed in the others working within those court hallways which is why they kept going. It’s not that these employees don’t agree or understand where Oh-reum and Ba-reun are coming from and I would like to believe that many would have also liked to fight alongside them. But the risks associated with doing so were just too high and these employees couldn’t afford to take that risk. Which is why seeing everyone at the end in the same room for the same meeting because they cared about the same concerns that Oh-reum and Ba-reun had was so satisfying. If they get reprimanded for attending the meeting and for caring and for fighting the system, might as well go down together as a team right?
Presiding Judge Sung is the ultimate example of the idea that working hard is merely not enough to survive and advance in the court. One needs to also be a decent human being with good ethics, morals, and values. Everyone in the workplace works hard; some (like Judge Hong) have to work even harder just to catch up and to stay afloat. What Presiding Judge Sung did to Judge Hong was horrible and I’m glad that he will most likely be dismissed from his job as a presiding judge. Though you understand his desperation to advance in his career because he’s faced some difficulties in his life, the approach he took to do that is inexcusable. There should truly be justice for Judge Hong and all the other Judge Hong’s out there working in the court.
I like that Oh-reum is stubborn and goes head-on regardless of who it is she’s up against, but I also like that she receives advice and comments from others that sometimes makes her re-think her decisions. Though she’s amazing and confident, her decisions or approaches aren’t always the best and she needs the support of others – like Ba-reun and Presiding Judge Han – to help her see things from a different set of lens. Such an example was when Presiding Judge Han questioned Oh-reum on whether she contacted Presiding Judge Sung before starting the petition. Her position as a judge requires her to listen to both sides of the story for every case, but yet she didn’t do that with the Judge Hong vs. Presiding Judge Sung incident. Though she clearly knew that what Presiding Judge Sung did was wrong, she should have listened to his side of the story as a judge. This was a good wake-up call for Oh-reum which I’m glad she learned from. Her stubbornness can sometimes lead her to make quick decisions that goes against what her position as a judge requires.
Ba-reun and Oh-reum made multiple remarks of an idiom/analogy in this episode: breaking a rock with eggs. They used the phrase to describe Protesting Mom’s case and her attempt to break the rock (in this case, the hospital) with the eggs that she threw at them. I would say that this phrase is also applicable to Ba-reun and Oh-reum and what they’re doing with the court system as well. They’re going up against a powerful system that no one has dared to change and fight for a very long time which is why it’s so difficult for Ba-reun and Oh-reum to break the system (the rock) with the eggs that they’re throwing at it.
But I think the same phrase can also be applied the other way around. Ba-reun and Oh-reum are also the rock with which the court system is throwing eggs at. No matter what the court system does, they can’t seem to get the two to give up and to stop fighting. The two are grounded and strong; they never break even when the court throws different types of eggs at them (the articles, presiding judges threatening them with disciplinary actions, other presiding judges not giving them their support, etc.). Oh-reum and Ba-reun aren’t easily shaken and they keep going even though there are times they clearly want to stop. I admire these two for their determination, their persistence, and most of all, their amazing teamwork. It really was just Oh-reum and Ba-reun against the rest of the world and they made it work. It was difficult and they only had each other to rely on, but that was more than enough and they pushed through together. Other than the two having a long history with each other dating back to high school, they also work together to fight for issues that they care about. All the more reasons to root for them and support them as a couple and as co-workers.
Sometimes, some things are left better untouched and unsolved as they started off as. We saw this with Protesting Mom’s case which had a bittersweet ending to it. Though she never got the answers about her son that she so desperately seeked (a part of me wished we could have gotten to know what really went behind those closed hospital doors), she received another answer in return that would help her cope after fighting for so long. It’s unfortunate and I wished we could have gotten to know what happened to her son. But the drama stays true and realistic and reminds us again of the things that it had been telling us all along which is that 1) evidence is always crucial in any court case 2) the most powerful people have the ability to access everything and anything and win in the end. In all honesty, I’m a little sad that the case has come to an end as it’s one that we saw from the very beginning. I would have loved to see mom be given the truth that she deserved, but that would be too much wishful thinking. With this case, Oh-reum experienced a loss for the first time which was a huge blow to her, but also one that was a huge learning lesson for her. Unfortunately, not all battles can be won. You lose just like how you also win.
(I’m sorry I just had to add this screenshot of L because he looks SOOOO good omg *heart eyes*)
Ultimately, I was so grateful that it was Presiding Judge Han who pushed through and supported his associate judges. With his influence and power, he was able to get other presiding judges to attend the meeting as well and to at least listen to what Oh-reum and Ba-reun had to say about their vision. Now that it seems like there’s a decent amount of support from a number of people within the court district, the next part is seeing where all this support goes and how it gets utilized. Just like this episode and all the ones prior to it, the momentum and intensity will hopefully continue.