We wrap up the Sodeok-dong case and see what lies ahead for the residents of the village. Young-woo also has some things to think about as she navigates a complicated situation with a protective father and an absent mother. Her two worlds collide.
Extraordinary Attorney Woo Episode 8: Case 8 – A Tale about Sodeok-dong Part 2
It’s morning time and our lovely Dong Geu-ra-mi wraps up some gimbap at her apartment kitchen. After running away from home for the night, Young-woo sleeps over at Dong Geu-ra-mi’s place. The two besties munch on the gimbap and though it’s not the usual that Young-woo is accustomed to eating, she does find it strangely delicious. She shares with her best friend about her plans to move out. She’s an adult now who can take care of herself. But wait, does she have the financial means to do so? Can Young-woo afford it?
The anonymous bulletin board post written by Min-woo on the Hanbada website spreads throughout the company. In the post, he accuses a rookie attorney of using her connections to get into the law firm and criticizes Hanbada’s unfair and corrupt hiring practices. Though the post is anonymous, it’s quite clear to Soo-yeon who the author of the post was and she confronts Min-woo about it in Attorney Jung’s office. Young-woo joins the group a few seconds later so the conversation comes to an abrupt stop and they proceed to talking about the Sodeok-dong case. But that’s not the only person joining their meeting; they receive a surprise visit from CEO Han.
She’s interested in the highway construction case that the group is taking on since Attorney Tae is involved in it. Attorney Jung gives CEO Han a breakdown of the case as well as a status update on how it’s going so far. Things don’t look so great, but they’re hoping that the on-site verification of Sodeok-dong might bring them some luck and sway things towards their side. But CEO Han finds the method to be a bit too “romantic”; emotional appeal isn’t always the most effective. She recommends that the team close the case more politically and less romantically. Get one of the media outlets in favor of Hanbada involved and have them assist in stirring up public opinion. She wraps up the meeting by reminding that the team must win against Attorney Tae and Taesan.
After the meeting, Soo-yeon pulls Young-woo aside to show her the bulletin board post written by Min-woo and the rumors that Young-woo was hired into Hanbada based on her connections. Young-woo remains honest and she admits that she did get in due to nepotism. Dad is acquainted with CEO Han after all. But Soo-yeon is Young-woo’s supporter and friend and she scolds Young-woo for beating herself down. Discrimination against those with disabilities is prohibited. With the good grades that Young-woo got, she should have been hired anywhere and it’s only fair that she joined the firm regardless of how she got in. Soo-yeon makes sure to shout these comments extra loud so that everyone in the office could hear, especially Min-woo who walks by (GO SOO-YEON!! YOU TELL ‘EM!). Before walking away, she reveals that it was Min-woo who was behind the bulletin board post so Young-woo shouldn’t let anyone walk over her and also seek revenge on Min-woo. Just like CEO Han said, be less romantic and more political. Play the game.
It’s the day of the on-site verification, but the weather isn’t looking that great. It’s pouring rain and everyone has their umbrellas with them. Our Hanbada team is the first to arrive, but it’s the Taesan team who arrives fashionably late. They have their own customized umbrellas with the name of the law firm on it so Hanbada also pull out their customized umbrellas with the Hanbada name on it. Hahaha. Always trying to be on the same level. I love it. Eventually, the two law firms are joined by a media outlet who Hanbada invited as well as the judges. Young-woo takes special notice of the judges’ umbrellas as it has a logo of a dolphin on there. The dolphin lover is impressed.
They resume by going on the same tour that Head Choi and the Chairman gave the Hanbada team during their first visit. They first visit the Son Heung-min of Sodeok-dong, but he’s not as friendly this time. He wishes to not be referred to as that nickname anymore and we learn from Attorney Tae that the resident, Mr. Kim, has signed a consent form where he agreed to the compensation amount that Gyeonghae-do will offer him. It’s twice as much so he opted in. But he’s also not the only resident who has agreed to the compensation and this throws the Hanbada and Sodeok-dong team off. They were not expecting this at all.
Attorney Tae and Attorney Jung go back and forth on the validity of the consent forms and the compensation that is being offered by Gyeonghae-do. Attorney Tae also points out how over 70% of the households have already signed the consent forms within just a span of two weeks. They were too afraid to speak up due to the power that Head Choi had over them so these consent forms show their true intentions and thoughts. The head judge decides that they’ll resume with the on-site verification and discuss the consent forms at a later time. Since Team Hanbada and Sodeok-dong are uncertain as to how many residents Taesan have already met with, Attorney Jung suggests to Head Choi that they forego the residents part of the tour and head straight to the hackberry tree site.
On the trail up the tree site, the head judge slips so Young-woo notes how she learned her lesson from last time and came better prepared by wearing some sneakers. The head judge isn’t in the greatest mood and assumes Young-woo must be bragging. Attorney Jung has to remind Young-woo to stop speaking before everyone arrives at the tree (LOL, Attorney Jung is so funny. I’m like 90% sure this was an ad-lib by Kang Ki-young. He’s a master at ad-libbing). (Mother) Teresa and the violin musician wait at the tree for the group and prepare to do their part in the tour: Teresa greets the group with some sikhye and the violin musician – the Eugene Park of Sodeok-dong – begin to play a song on the violin.
But the weather is bad and the tour isn’t as impactful. A sudden gust of wind interrupts the group as they overlook the town and the head judge isn’t so sure if the on-site verification was effective. He assigns both sides to get the consent forms of the residents by the next court hearing date. If the majority of residents do not oppose the highway construction, they’ll have no choice but to dismiss the plaintiffs in the case (Team Sodeok-dong). There’s some work to do.
The Hanbada and Sodeok-dong team reconvene to discuss their next steps. They analyze a map of the households located in Sodeok-dong and determine the amount of residents who would side with them. But as they witnessed during the on-site verification, they’re concerned that more and more residents will be persuaded by the compensation amount and sign the consent forms by Taesan. And that’s exactly what happens when a group of part-timers hired by Taesan storm the village and approach the residents with their consent forms. Hanbada is in disbelief upon seeing the chaos unfold right in front of their own eyes, but there’s no waiting. They also have to get involved and do something.
So while Jun-ho calls for part-timers of their own, the rest of the group scurry off to get their consent forms signed. It’s a lot more challenging than they thought as the part-timers are fast, straight to the point, and compensation money sounds appealing to the residents. Min-woo is defeated himself when a resident chooses the consent form with compensation right in front of his face. Since Sodeok-dong is located an hour away, it’ll take a while for their part-timers to get there. With that, the Teresa of Sodeok-dong seeks the support of the women’s association to get the consent forms signed. They just need signatures, right? Although Attorney Jung is hesitant in labeling it as simple as that, he doesn’t say much further. Yes, they just need the signatures (for now).
And so a group of elderly residents all gather in one of the rooms in the village. A few are hesitant in signing the consent forms, but Teresa suggests that they just sign it for now. They can trust Attorney Jung, right? Just as Attorney Jung is about to give them information about the consent form, he stops himself and confirms that the group can trust him. In return, they want Attorney Jung to sing for them so Attorney Jung puts on a performance. While everyone has fun clapping and singing along in the room, Soo-yeon steps outside to call Jun-ho for an update status on their part-timers and Young-woo heads to the hackberry tree to find her bag.
Thankfully, Young-woo’s bag is returned to her by Attorney Tae who she encounters by the hackberry tree. Attorney Tae creates small talk with Young-woo and they chat much longer this time than their last interaction. Attorney Tae now remembers where she first heard Young-woo’s name and she even tries to recruit Young-woo to work at her law firm. Hanbada is great, but Taesan seems like a much better fit for Young-woo. With that, Attorney Tae exchanges her business card with Young-woo and the two appreciate the beautiful view of the hackberry tree. Unbeknownst to the two attorneys, there’s another attorney watching the two from down below. It’s none other than Min-woo, and as usual, he grows suspicious at the sight of Young-woo with Attorney Tae.
Min-woo catches up with Young-woo about her interaction with Attorney Tae. He’s curious as to what they talked about. But Young-woo isn’t having it with Min-woo and she threatens to beat him up if he dares to talk bad about her again (THERE YOU GO YOUNG-WOO!! YOU TELL HIM!). Min-woo still doesn’t think he did anything wrong or said anything inaccurate. It’s true that she got in due to Dad’s connections with CEO Han. Ugh, Min-woo.
Young-woo returns home that night with her suitcase to grab some new clothes. Dad attempts to stop her to have a talk, but Young-woo isn’t in the mood. She hurries out of the house and shares that she plans on moving out. She’s also considering leaving Hanbada to work at Taesan instead. That triggers Dad to reveal the truth to Young-woo about her mother. Attorney Tae is her mom (WOOOOOAH just like that?? I’m surprised he just dropped it on Young-woo like that!).
Young-woo stops in her tracks at the sudden bombshell so Dad reiterates the information. Attorney Tae is the woman who gave birth to her. She’s her mom. Young-woo turns around to take a step forward and accidentally loses her footing so she tumbles down the stairs. When she awakens, she finds herself at a hospital with Dad waiting right by her side. Thankfully, Young-woo is okay and Dad elaborates on the backstory between him and Attorney Tae. He lied about Young-woo’s mother passing away which Young-woo herself was already aware about. She found out through Grandma a while back. So Dad then explains his relationship with Attorney Tae and how it all started.
They met back in college and they were new to dating. They weren’t ready to be parents yet and he assumes Attorney Tae didn’t want to be a mother. We’re taken back to the rainy night when young Dad pleaded for young Attorney Tae to have the baby. He vowed to take care of the baby and never have anything to do with Attorney Tae again. Attorney Tae was conflicted herself, but she eventually agreed and she gave birth to baby Young-woo. Right after baby Young-woo was born, Dad was handed his little baby daughter by Attorney Tae’s family and never saw or heard of her again.
Dad kept his word and he gave up everything law related, be it law school or jobs. He took care of Young-woo and raised her as a single parent. He’s had his fair shares of regrets and struggles over the year and wishes that he had become an attorney. He would have then opened up his own law firm and hired Young-woo to teach her and help her in her career. There are so many things that Dad wishes he could have done and he’s learned over the years that everything in life is political. It’s all a political game and CEO Han as well as Attorney Tae are some of the players in this game.
As Dad shares his life experiences and true thoughts with his daughter about their situation and the politics of it all, Young-woo suddenly reaches a mini-eureka moment and the vision of dolphins pops up on the screen again. The hackberry tree! There must be a reason as to why it didn’t quality to be a natural monument. She calls Attorney Jung while he’s asleep and shares the exciting details with him. There must be a political reason as to why the hackberry tree couldn’t become a natural monument. Sodeok-dong residents inquired about it to the provincial office in 2016, but by that time, there was already news about the highway in the village. Attorney Jung doesn’t respond much to Young-woo’s ideas. It must be because it’s 3:10am in the morning and he’s sleepy. Hahaha. He decides that they’ll talk about this further in the morning before ending the call. Oh my Young-woo, you are too cute.
Young-woo and Jun-ho dig further into the investigation behind the hackberry tree. They meet up with Head Choi and the Chairman to discuss the process behind the request of the hackberry tree as a natural monument. It turns out Yu-jin (the violin guy) works at the provincial office and they relied on him to work on the case. So with that, Young-woo and Jun-ho visit Yu-jin to discuss with him about the details. Why wasn’t the hackberry tree marked as a natural monument? Are there any meeting minutes or reports documenting when experts visited the tree? Yu-jin seems a bit nervous during the meeting, but he returns to his office to search for the material.
In the meantime, Young-woo and Jun-ho wait at the table silently. It’s a little awkward between the two especially after what happened the other night in Attorney Jung’s office. Just when Jun-ho was leaning in to kiss Young-woo, she pushed him away and ran out of the room. That interaction confirmed what Young-woo had already suspected which is that she does indeed like Jun-ho. She confesses to Jun-ho at the table and admits that even though she didn’t touch him during that moment, her heart was about to explode. She likes him (EEEEEEEEK!!). Jun-ho is speechless upon hearing Young-woo’s confession and he comes close to saying something himself, but there’s a slight problem. Young-woo catches Yu-jin running away (NOOOOO!! NOOOO. What were you gonna say Jun-ho?? Now this will forever haunt me and I won’t be able to sleep).
So Jun-ho and Young-woo chase after Yu-jin who escapes out of the building. They run and run even in the pouring rain and only manage to catch up to the him when a stranger nearby stops him. So with Yu-jin caught, Young-woo and Jun-ho talk to him again and this time, he doesn’t escape. He instead confesses the truth to them. Because of the news about the highway construction, he actually never proceeded with the request to evaluate the hackberry tree as a natural monument. And those experts who supposedly visited the hackberry tree? It was just a group of friends from his workplace who he recruited to play pretend. Young-woo glances at Yu-jin’s umbrella lying on the floor and notices the same dolphin logo that was seen on the umbrella that the head judge carried during the on-site verification. She learns that it’s an umbrella that a construction company called Kyungpyo Construction handed out to people who were visiting their model houses.
So during the next court hearing, Attorney Tae presents her results to the judges on the consent forms. More than half of the households in Sodeok-dong signed their consent forms and agreed to the compensation. As a result, the head judge dismisses the plaintiff’s complaint. Just as the head judge is about to wrap up the trial, Attorney Jung steps in and requests to file a motion to challenge the court. He brings up the umbrella created by Kyungpyo Construction and notes how the construction company handed it out to visitors who were checking out their model houses that will be built in the planned city of Hamun. This results in an unfair trial which is why the Hanbada team is filing the motion. Young-woo gets the last word by repeating the same phrase that Attorney Tae spoke to her back at the hackberry tree:
There is nothing weaker than the human mind in the face of money.
This complicates things, but Young-woo is satisfied. Even Attorney Tae can’t help but be impressed with Young-woo’s wit and intelligence.
So impressed with our rookie Young-woo, Attorney Tae calls for an informal meeting between the head of Taesan’s HR Team and Young-woo. But there’s something more pressing that Young-woo wishes to speak to Attorney Tae about so the HR team leader is excused. Young-woo seats herself across from Attorney Tae and she gets straight to the point. Does Attorney Tae recognize her? Does she know who she is? Attorney Tae doesn’t quite catch on so Young-woo reveals the truth to Attorney Tae the same way Dad did to her. Young-woo reveals that she’s Woo Gwang-ho’s daughter.
Attorney Tae’s face flips upside down upon hearing the news and she’s in complete shock. She tears up as she listens to Young-woo explain her story. She originally had plans to leave Hanbada to work at Taesan in an effort to be independent from her father. But it wouldn’t be right to leave her father to join her mother’s law firm so instead, she’ll stay at Hanbada and also stay at her father’s side. Young-woo is hurt not only because her mother abandoned her but also because her own mother didn’t recognize her. Young-woo also receives a text notification updating her on the results of the hackberry tree and it turns out the tree will now be marked as a natural monument. The original route for the highway construction will no longer be in effect with this decision so the Sodeok-dong residents won.
With the grand bombshell, Attorney Tae grows curious and she wonders whether Young-woo has any resentment for what she’s done. Young-woo ponders over her answer for a few seconds and then simply responds that she enjoyed their moment back at the hackberry tree. It was nice when they were taking a look at the tree together. She had always wanted to meet her mother and now she got that chance. She bids farewell with Attorney Tae by stating that it was nice to meet her and she walks away. Tears continue to roll down Attorney Tae’s face even after Young-woo is gone.
The same media outlet who accompanied Team Hanbada at the on-site verification trip now has something to report on. The news reporter delivers the confirmation that the hackberry tree is now a natural monument. Sodeok-dong residents are seen celebrating and rejoicing by the hackberry tree with the news. It’s now up to Gyeonghae-do and the court as to whether they’ll listen to the voices of the residents now that the tree has been designated as a natural monument.
Just like Young-woo would say, all I can think is: “wow.” Wow, wow, wow. Just wow. So many things happened in this episode. Most of it good with some parts a little underwhelming. All in all, I’m glad we got the whole birth reveal thing out of the way and I’m pleasantly surprised at how quick the drama revealed it.
It’s nice that the drama put a bow tie on the birth reveal story in this episode because it was already sort of starting to drag. The next thing for the drama to do is show us the aftermath of this reveal and how it in particular affects Attorney Tae. We’ve already seen Young-woo and Dad’s side of things and their reactions so I’m curious as to what Attorney Tae will do with the information. There’s also a part of me that wonders whether the drama will shape her to be another antagonist in this story considering that she’s an attorney at Taesan and Young-woo’s mother who abandoned her daughter.
With the way that Attorney Tae reacted to the news, I don’t think she’s evil by any means. A part of me feels like she even feels guilty for what she did. It wasn’t just in the way that she cried after hearing Young-woo talk about her plans to leave Hanbada to work at Taesan and then eventually just work at Hanbada, but it was also in the way that she asked Young-woo about resentment. Did Young-woo ever hold any resentment towards her for not being in her life? Does Young-woo resent her for abandoning her? I think there’s more to this than what we’ve seen so far or have been lead to believe. Attorney Tae’s reaction tells me that there’s more from her side of the story that we just don’t know yet.
If Attorney Tae didn’t feel guilty or if she was evil, she wouldn’t have cried and she would have just sat there. But her reaction triggered something inside of her and it says something about how she felt about all of this. I want to believe that there’s a part of her that feels sorry for abandoning Young-woo and for not being present in her daughter’s life. Does Attorney Tae regret that decision? Does she wish she could take it back? Does she wish she could turn back time and stay with Dad to take care of Young-woo? Now that she knows Young-woo is her daughter, will she try to make it up to her by bonding with her? What will Attorney Tae eventually do now that she knows Young-woo is her daughter?
While I was relieved that the drama confirmed the relationship between Attorney Tae and Young-woo, a part of me also wishes we could have gotten just a tiny teeny bit more of Young-woo’s reaction to the news. She’s gone her entire life without a mother figure in her life and Dad just dropped this huge bombshell on her. And it wasn’t just that her mother was still alive, but also that it was Attorney Tae out of all people who’s her mother. That’s gotta be extremely shocking and heartbreaking at the same time. I wished we could have gotten more scenes of Young-woo processing her emotions to this news and how she felt about it. The episode sped up a little too fast in wrapping up the birth reveal (which again I’m relieved about), but in the process of doing so, stripped us of additional content that I think would have been helpful in giving us more insight about Young-woo.
The pacing of the birth reveal felt a little iffy to me because I felt like we got everything all at once. We saw Dad tell Young-woo that Attorney Tae is her mother, then explain the history behind his relationship with Attorney Tae to Young-woo, then we saw Young-woo tell Attorney Tae the truth all within the last 30 minutes of this episode. You could do a whole lot with all that information. You don’t have to rush 3 major important parts to the whole birth reveal all within the second half of the same episode. And so that’s why I say that I wished the drama could have gave us more of Young-woo’s reaction to the bombshell news. Let us into her mind a little more where maybe she talks it out with bestie Dong Geu-rae-mi or she goes on a walk and just reflects on the situation. A part of me feels conflicted because there’s a part of me that wishes the drama slowed down a bit with the whole birth reveal. All of this information was even a lot for me to process and comprehend.
As I reflect on the episode with this second re-watch, I’m actually okay with how Dad dropped the bombshell news to Young-woo. With the way that the drama had been teasing and hinting and hyping up Attorney Tae’s potential role as Young-woo’s mom, you would think that it’d be this grand, dramatic reveal that involves some slow motion scene and lots of crying. But instead, we got a simple confrontation where Dad just told Young-woo and Young-woo relayed the news to Attorney Tae. As simple as it was, it also didn’t feel anti-climatic which was satisfying to see. I actually sort of like how simple the reveal was. It was straightforward and to the point. They all reacted in their own interesting way. It wasn’t dramatic and over the top. ‘Extraordinary Attorney Woo’ stayed true to itself and didn’t do something that it’s not. In that aspect, I like how the truth was revealed and unveiled in this episode.
Another thing I really liked was Young-woo’s response to Attorney Tae’s question about resentment and whether Young-woo held any resentment over her. Perhaps what I liked the most about it was how non-direct but impactful it was. Young-woo didn’t straight up answer the question with a “yes” or “no”, but she still answered the question. Her first memorable moment with her birth mother was at the hackberry tree and it was a peaceful, relaxing moment between the two. While the two were technically working on a case where they were enemies and on opposite sides, they forgot about the politics for a split second and instead enjoyed each other’s presence even if it was just for a moment. That hackberry tree moment meant a lot to Young-woo and now that she knows Attorney Tae is her mother, a part of her wishes she could had gotten more of those kind of moments with her. A part of Young-woo probably wonders what other types of moments similar to the hackberry tree one she could have gotten with her mother.
It’s not going to be easy for Young-woo to interact with Attorney Tae and something tells me those moments like at the hackberry tree are not going to occur anytime soon (or even at all). Young-woo is going to need time to heal. She’s not going to open up to Attorney Tae right away just because they’re mother and daughter. While Young-woo didn’t explicitly mention that she resented Attorney Tae, there’s a part of her that feels like she’ll be okay without a mother figure in her life. She’s gone her entire life without her mom and she’ll still be okay without her even after knowing the truth. Does that mean she doesn’t miss having a mom in her life? Of course not. We saw just how much she’s always wanted to meet her mom. But it’s the history and context in which she found out who her mom was that complicates things. It’s a combination of Dad’s complicated history with Attorney Tae as well as Young-woo being abandoned that drives Young-woo to this decision that she’ll be okay without her mom in her life.
As hurt as Young-woo is in all of this, it’s also helped her make an important decision which is the decision to stay by her dad’s side. She still wishes to be treated as an adult, she still wishes to be independent from Dad, she still wishes for Dad to stop overprotecting her, but she’s also not going to betray Dad. She’s gonna stay by Dad’s side and protect him this time. They’ll protect each other because it’s been the two of them this entire time. It’s always been the two of them. Dad and Young-woo only had each other when they had no one else. For Young-woo right now, she and Dad are family. Whether there’s room for an additional person to join that family is yet to be seen.