All the clients in the cases so far have been adults, but this case is a little different in that it also focuses on children. This episode in particular sheds light on the harsh realities of young, growing kids and the disconnect between what they want and should do and what societal and parental expectations pressure them into doing. As the saying goes, let kids be kids.
Extraordinary Attorney Woo Episode 9: Case 9 – The Pied Piper
The episode begins with a bunch of little kids bidding farewell with their parents and scurrying to get onto buses. One bus in particular has a special guest and the young man introduces himself as the Commander-in-Chief of the Children’s Liberation Army, Bang Gu-ppong (Koo Gyo-hwan). Considering that his name means fart, the kids on the bus are quite entertained with Mr. Fart. As the Commander-in-Chief of the Children’s Liberation Army, Bang Gu-ppong presents an exciting idea to the kids: instead of going to their academy like they’re supposed to, maybe they can go out and play instead. That’s what the Children’s Liberation Army is all about: playing, playing, and playing. So with that, Bang Gu-ppong takes over the driver’s seat in the bus and off they go to play and have some fun.
But it’s all games and fun until Bang Gu-ppong is caught. On the way inside the Seoul Central District Court, Young-woo has a quick chat with Attorney Jung on the phone and voices her concern over her case with Bang Gu-ppong. She’s not as familiar with the case since she was just assigned to it, but Attorney Jung reassures her. Young-woo then meets up with Jun-ho who briefs her on the case as they walk inside the building.
The defendant, Bang Gu-ppong, is a 26-year old man who’s been arrested for the kidnapping of 12 minors who he drove to the mountains. Since he’s the youngest son of the director of the academy that these kids attended, his mom was the one who reached out to Hanbada to take on the case. Apparently, all he and the kids did on the mountain was play a bunch of recreational activities for 4 hours and he was only caught when a bus driver reported him. With that, the conversation comes to an abrupt stop and Jun-ho carefully and slowly removes an eyelash that’s laying on Young-woo’s face (EEEEEEEK!!). Heart rates beat like crazy, Young-woo and Jun-ho forget to breathe for those few seconds, and I’m squealing while watching it all unfold. Once the eyelash is removed, Young-woo panics and runs off to meet with Bang Gu-ppong. Jun-ho himself was also quite nervous.
And so Young-woo meets with Bang Gu-ppong before they head to their arraignment. Young-woo’s quite taken aback by Bang Gu-ppong’s name and Bang Gu-ppong himself is fascinated with Young-woo’s. He adds that Young-woo should add a little bit more spice to her name just like his name; kids like names that are funny and entertaining. With that, the two “shake hands” (more like fingers) and they go meet with a judge in the courtroom. But the arraignment does not go according to plan and Bang Gu-ppong is quite a witty person himself. He legally changed his name two years ago and he labels his occupation as the Commander-in-Chief of the Children’s Liberation Army despite Young-woo’s opposition.
So Bang Gu-ppong is eventually detained and our Hanbada team of Attorney Jung, Min-woo, and Young-woo communicate the news to Bang Gu-ppong’s Mom, Director Choi. Now that Bang Gu-ppong has been detained, there’ll be work that needs to be done on both sides to reduce his sentence. Our Hanbada team will work on the trial while Director Choi will prepare settlement money and also meet with the parents of the kids who were kidnapped to receive letters of non-punishment. Her academy, Mujin Academy, has suffered ever since the kidnapping incident. Bang Gu-ppong’s mom blames herself for her son’s mistake; she was too busy taking care of other kids at the academy that she forgot about her own. With that, she pleads for our Hanbada team’s support and assistance. Bang Gu-ppong cannot go to prison.
Later on that night, Young-woo visits Dong Geu-ra-mi and restaurant owner, Kim Min-sik, to chat about Jun-ho. Young-woo shares how she confessed to Jun-ho which Dong Geu-ra-mi compares to her confessing as if she was in a medical drama. But Min-sik feels differently and agrees with the way that Young-woo confessed. It’s straight-forward and her feelings were properly conveyed. Young-woo confessed to Jun-ho, but he didn’t respond to her since they were interrupted with work. Does that mean Jun-ho doesn’t like her? If he took an eyelash off of her face earlier that day, does that mean anything? Should she ask him again if he likes her? Haha. Dong Geu-ra-mi eventually pitches another idea to Young-woo: this time, Young-woo should be nice to Jun-ho to confuse him. Min-sik adds that she could do things like pulling out the chair for him or making sure he walks on the inside of the sidewalk. The wheels in Young-woo’s head starts to turn.
Young-woo and Min-woo take a trip to the detention center to visit Bang Gu-ppong. Turns out the young man can get a reduced sentence if he were to acknowledge his wrongdoings, but Bang Gu-ppong doesn’t align with the idea. He also isn’t a big fan of the word ‘minors’ or ‘victims’ like how Min-woo and Young-woo keep mentioning and prefers the phrase “Children’s Liberation Army.” Bang Gu-ppong goes on to share what he and the army of children did up in the mountains. They had an enlistment ceremony where Bang Gu-ppong talked about the three enemies of children: school, academies, and parents. They also chanted and recited the declaration of the Children’s Liberation Army before going off to play games. Bang Gu-ppong’s goal for the children was to make sure they had fun while playing. These games doesn’t always have to be novel and new and innovative. As long as the children are smiling and happy in that moment, that’s what is most important. It’s obvious that Bang Gu-ppong has his own philosophy about the concept of playing and to him, his goal isn’t necessarily a reduced sentence but rather the liberation of children.
Young-woo just can’t stop rambling about Bang Gu-ppong to Jun-ho. While in line to get food in the cafeteria, Jun-ho points this observation out to Young-woo. Maybe it’s because Bang Gu-ppong is just as strange or even stranger than her that she enjoys spending time with him. Regardless, Jun-ho is a bit jealous; it’s the first time he’s ever seen her smile while talking about someone (whales who?? It’s all about Bang Gu-ppong now!). So Jun-ho walks off to a table, but Young-woo’s legs are faster and she hurries over to a table to pull out his chair (Hahaha. I’m dying!!). Jun-ho’s a bit confused and thrown off, but that’s not all. Young-woo even volunteers to give him some of her pickled radish, but he politely declines. Hahaha. This is all a bit new for Jun-ho, but Young-woo is enjoying it. She munches on her gimbap cheerfully (I’m totally loving this).
It’s the first day of the court hearing for Bang Gu-ppong’s case. The bus driver who was also in the same bus as Bang Gu-ppong and the kids is on the witness stand and he recounts his experience on the day of the incident. He was given a drink by Bang Gu-ppong early that morning which caused him to knock out. When he woke up, he found himself on the bus in the mountains a few hours later. When the police arrived at the scene, they all watched as the kids trailed behind Bang Gu-ppong in a single file line as if he was some sort of pied piper. The bus driver admitted that he wasn’t suspicious of Bang Gu-ppong since he knew Bang Gu-ppong was the academy director’s son. But he assumes Bang Gu-ppong visited the academy a few times to check their bus schedule. He also speculates that Bang Gu-ppong must have spiked something in his drink that knocked him unconscious for hours.
Though initially objected by the Hanbada team, Bang Gu-ppong admits the speculations to be true. He put sleeping pills in the drink that he gave the bus driver and he visited the academy a few times to track down the bus schedule. Our Hanbada team is horrified, but Bang Gu-ppong doesn’t think too much about what he’s done. His response is recorded, word for word. And so later on that night, the team comes up with a brand new idea. Since it doesn’t seem like Bang Gu-ppong’s mom will be able to garner any letters of non-punishments from the 12 children’s parents, maybe they can talk to the children instead. They can see what the children’s perspective of the field trip was and how they felt about it. So with that, Young-woo and Jun-ho are assigned to the task of chatting with the children about their little playing adventure.
While walking on the sidewalk to meet with the kids, Young-woo suddenly recalls Min-sik’s other suggestion and she switches spots with Jun-ho who was originally walking on the outside of the sidewalk. In case a car drives onto the sidewalk, he’ll have a better chance of being safer. But Jun-ho argues that he can walk on the outside since he has a higher chance of avoiding the car if it were to come their way. So the two waltz down the sidewalk and get into a little tussle to be the one on the outside (AHHHH I AM NOT OKAY. I cannot stop smiling!! These 2 drive me crazy!! Also, I love that this was the other scene that we got in the preview prior to the drama’s release). Eventually, Jun-ho pauses while Young-woo treads on and she opens the door to their taxi for the young man. They both get inside the car and the night is still young.
Eventually, the two
lovebirds colleagues head inside a burger restaurant where one of the girls who was with Bang Gu-ppong on the field trip is studying. Her name is Kim Min-ji and it’s not until Young-woo mentions Bang Gu-ppong to her that her face lightens up and she opens up to them both. Now that she’s no longer enrolled at the academy, things have been a little bit less stressful. Her experience with the academy wasn’t the greatest as she was only able to eat after 10pm once classes at the academy ended. From the way she describes it, the academy was more of like a prison. She goes on to show Young-woo and Jun-ho the little rock that she took with her on the day of the field trip. It’s obvious that she cherishes it, but she can’t talk about her rock for long. Now that Min-ji is no longer attending Mujin Academy, she must not fall behind with studying and classes. So with that, Min-ji rushes out of the restaurant and to her study cafe.
Young-woo and Jun-ho head across the street to a convenience store afterwards. It’s where some of the other students who was also on the field trip visit once they finish with their academy classes. As the two will witness for themselves, the group of kids stuff themselves with snacks and food from the convenience store. It isn’t the most healthy, but the kids have no other choice. Young-woo in particular observes two kids standing outside the convenience store and notices that one of them has on an acorn necklace. She exits the store to meet with the two kids outside and learns more about the harsh realities for these young elementary kids.
The two kids were also on the field trip with Bang Gu-ppong and ended up taking home a pair of acorns which they treasure and cherish so very much. But once the field trip ended, they went back to their reality of endless classes and academies. One of the kids, Lee Se-won, cries in disappointment at how he didn’t finish one of the “missions” that he was assigned to at his new academy: to solve math problems for 7 whole hours. The two kids eventually leave as they’re picked up by their parents, but Se-won whispers something in Young-woo’s ears before leaving.
Young-woo reports her findings to Attorney Jung and Min-woo the next day in Attorney Jung’s office. Maybe they can say that Bang Gu-ppong was merely rescuing the kids from being abused from their brutal experiences at the academies. Or maybe they can say that Bang Gu-ppong got the consent of the kids to go on the field trip to the mountains. But these two arguments aren’t enough and the intentions or motives behind the field trip doesn’t matter since it’s a kidnapping case. It doesn’t change the fact that Bang Gu-ppong still kidnapped the kids at the end of the day. Attorney Jung understands where Young-woo is coming from, but he also wants Young-woo to not get so swept up in Bang Gu-ppong’s logic.
After meeting with Attorney Jung, Young-woo and Min-woo come across Soo-yeon in the office. She has her hair down, she’s looking fierce and great, and there’s charisma oozing out of her. So what’s up with the sudden change? Well, Soo-yeon plans on living more aggressively now. She’s moved on from Jun-ho and she’s going on a blind date. Soo-yeon is also welcomed to the idea of meeting anyone who Min-woo or Young-woo might know. A certain person pops up in Young-woo’s mind and she notes how she’ll introduce him to Soo-yeon next time. By Young-woo’s description of the man, I think it’s safe to say the person she’s thinking of is Min-sik. Min-woo himself has trouble seeing Soo-yeon in this new light. Did his heart rate possibly soar after seeing this new side of Soo-yeon? Hehe.
Team Hanbada and Director Choi meet with the parents whose children were kidnapped on the field trip. They still haven’t forgiven her or Bang Gu-ppong for what he’s done and they’re still petrified over what happened or what could have happened to their kids. They go on to bash Bang Gu-ppong so Director Choi gets out of her seat and onto her knees. She begs them for their lenience; she’ll do whatever the parents want. She’s afraid of the thought of her son going to prison as she’s unsure as to what will happen to him or what he might attempt to do while in there. And so after begging and pleading for their understanding, the parents eventually sign the letters of non-punishment for Bang Gu-ppong. Attorney Jung and Min-woo bid farewell with Director Choi first while Young-woo stays behind a bit to chat with her.
Bang Gu-ppong’s mom’s remarks about Bang Gu-ppong’s fragile mentality is incorrect. Although it hasn’t been that long since Young-woo has met and known Bang Gu-ppong, it’s obvious that there’s a disconnect between children who understand him and adults who don’t. As Bang Gu-ppong’s mom, she should learn more about him and listen to him with an open heart. Get to know him better and understand things from his perspective. Young-woo is reminded of the comment that little Se-won whispered into her ears on that night in front of the convenience store. When asked if they would like to play with Bang Gu-ppong again, Se-won answered that he’d like to play all day everyday. He wishes to be liberated.
So at the next court hearing, Team Hanbada has a psychiatrist take the witness stand to speak on his diagnosis of Bang Gu-ppong as someone suffering from a delusional disorder. Megalomania to be more specific. That could potentially explain the reason for why Bang Gu-ppong took the kids to the mountains. But Young-woo reaches another eureka moment and this time, she imagines a male orca entering the courtroom to join alongside her. It’s just her and the male orca in the courtroom together and they’re staring at each other, face to face (wow, this scene is breathtaking! Very very cool). Because of that, Young-woo has something she wishes to say in the courtroom after Min-woo’s interrogation ends.
She argues that Bang Gu-ppong isn’t suffering from a delusional disorder. Instead, he’s a political offender seeking reformation with a belief that’s against the existing social system. Bang Gu-ppong was aware of how stressful, demanding, tiring, and overwhelming it was for the children attending these academies. It was a prison-like atmosphere where the kids couldn’t leave until 10pm and couldn’t even use the restroom more than twice a day. He’s not a criminal. Sure, being diagnosed with a delusional disorder might help with getting his sentence reduced, but doing so would be an insult to Bang Gu-ppong’s ideology about the liberation of children. Since the trial is about Bang Gu-ppong’s crime and not his ideology, the judge turns his attention to Bang Gu-ppong. Does he feel remorseful for what he did?
Attorney Jung attempts to defend his client in the courtroom, but Bang Gu-ppong is honest and vocal. He admits that he doesn’t feel remorse for what he did. In fact, he would even commit similar crimes to this one again if he had the chance. The court hearing concludes and Min-woo brings up Young-woo’s behavior to Attorney Jung after exiting the courtroom. He feels as if she should get penalized for potentially changing the outcome of the court case, but Attorney Jung has had enough. He only plans on warning Young-woo. But she’s not the only he warns. Attorney Jung also warns Min-woo not to keep going after Young-woo. The bulletin board post was enough and he has to stop. Attorney Jung is not one to give rewards or punishments based on one’s actions. If Min-woo and Young-woo have conflicting opinions, they should talk it out and resolve things with each other (OOOOOOO ATTORNEY JUNG IS FED UP!).
Young-woo and Attorney Jung meet with Bang Gu-ppong one last time before his final court hearing. Probation seems like a long shot, but Bang Gu-ppong isn’t concerned. If he’s going to get punished for his actions, he’d rather he go with dignity. He requests that the kids who went with him on the field trip also be present in the courtroom on the final day of the trial. So our three attorneys meet with the parents of the kids and attempt to persuade them to let the kids attend the trial. There’s a lot the kids could learn from watching attorneys do their jobs in real-time. And they’ll even make sure to take care of the kids and chaperone them. Hahaha. I’m loving this approach. The parents seem to love the idea so they consent to a second field trip: a field trip to the courtroom.
Director Choi permits our Hanbada team to use one of the academy buses to transport the kids to the courtroom. Jun-ho shares the information with Young-woo in the office while passing by. Young-woo notices the box that Jun-ho is carrying and she volunteers to carry the box for him. Jun-ho can’t help but feel uncomfortable and he brings it up to Young-woo. She’s been treating him kindly lately. Why has she been doing all these things for him? Young-woo doesn’t have much else to say other than that she likes him. She makes clear to him her feelings again and then rushes out of the hallway in embarrassment. Jun-ho isn’t so sure what to make of the repeated confession.
And so the field trip to the courtroom is on its way. The bus is packed with the kids as well as our Hanbada team. Before setting off, our kids are curious about the names of our team members. Just when Jun-ho is about to answer, Young-woo chimes in that Jun-ho’s name is actually “Lee Butthole.” This, of course, gets all the kids laughing and giggling. But it doesn’t end there. Young-woo refers to herself as “Woodpecker’s Booger.” Meanwhile, Min-woo is “Kwon Poop” and Attorney Jung is “Jung Fart-fart.” The kids laugh at all the silly nicknames and the field trip is off to a great start. They’re all sooo cute.
Once inside the courtroom, Bang Gu-ppong gives a speech to the parents and comments about the importance of their children’s liberation. He shares,
Children have to play right now. Later is too late. It’s too late after getting into university, after getting a job, and after getting married..
In a life full of anxiety, it’ll be too late to find the only way to happiness.
Bang Gu-ppong then changes his focus to the group of kids sitting in the front row of the courtroom. He transitions to reciting the declaration of the Children’s Liberation Army once again which the children still remember and they recite it along with Bang Gu-ppong. Since the kids are technically the victims in the case, they’re allowed to speak in the courtroom and the energy and atmosphere in the room lightens up. Bang Gu-ppong shares a group hug with the kids and everyone smiles at the heartwarming sight. Young-woo herself catches sight of the same male orca who was there with her on the other day of the court hearing. She waves goodbye as it slowly exits out of the room. Aww.
Jun-ho has something heavy weighing on his mind and he shares bits of it with Min-woo while eating some food. He’s unsure as to what happens next after the person you like also likes you back. It feels like a big deal to him and he’s afraid as to what difficulties he might face with that person once they start things. He’s well aware that he shouldn’t start something with this person if he believes that it won’t last, but the thing is – he doesn’t feel that way with this person. So to that, Min-woo argues that Jun-ho already has his answer and that he should go. Go and listen to his heart. So after a few seconds pause, Jun-ho heads out. He literally goes out of the apartment and to their work building.
Young-woo herself is at the work building and she attempts to leave the building through the revolving door. Using the “one-two-three” technique that Jun-ho taught her, she spins in the revolving door a few times. And just like when they first met, Jun-ho stops the revolving door so that Young-woo can get out of it. She thanks him for helping her and then walks away only to stop once Jun-ho calls her name. He has something to tell her (AHHHH!!).
Jun-ho walks towards Young-woo and the gap between them closes. Young-woo has expressed her feelings to Jun-ho a few times, but how does he feel about her? So after gathering his thoughts and catching his breath, Jun-ho confesses that he also likes Young-woo. In fact, he likes Young-woo so much it makes him feel sick inside (I guess you can say he’s… lovesick. Hahaha. Also, YOU’RE THE ONE MAKING ME FEEL SICK LEE JUN-HO. Also, I love that Jun-ho confessed to Young-woo at the same place that they first met. That revolving door will forever hold a special spot in their relationship). Young-woo is speechless and utterly shocked at the surprise confession. She has nothing to say and all she can do is stare at Jun-ho. Although Young-woo doesn’t say a single word, I think it’s safe to say her heart is beating at an uncontrollably fast rate (and so is mines).
Dad receives a surprise visit from Attorney Tae at his gimbap restaurant (this drama keeps them coming with all the shocking moments. First Jun-ho’s confession and then this visit!). She invites herself into the restaurant and seats herself across from Dad. Unbeknownst to the both of them, the same Hanbada reporter who accompanied the team on the Sodeok-dong trip is outside of Dad’s restaurant snapping pictures of Attorney Tae. It doesn’t take long for him to connect the dots and he realizes that Young-woo is associated with Attorney Tae. So he resumes to taking a few more photos of Attorney Tae that clearly show her face. There’s no hiding or escaping now.
Aww, this episode was quite a touching one for me for several reasons. I really liked adding in the touch about the children in this episode and placing them as the primary focus. It’s funny because a part of me wished we had gotten to know more about Bang Gu-ppong’s life and had dived deeper into his story or upbringing. But in the end, I realized that I was actually okay with the fact that there wasn’t more about his character and background. Because at the end of the day, this episode wasn’t so much about him as it was about the children. The drama gave us just enough to cover the bases and to understand the reasoning as to why he took the kids on a field trip to the mountains. And then the rest of it was peeling the layers behind his motive and giving us the context behind what these children were experiencing. I think it was even more evident when the drama didn’t show us the final verdict for Bang Gu-ppong’s case like how it had done with the previous cases. What happened to Bang Gu-ppong? What was the sentencing that he received? The absence to his trial results reminded us that this episode was more about the children and the broken education system in Korea than it was about him. Although I do think the additional information about Bang Gu-ppong’s life would have been helpful, it wasn’t completely necessary and the drama still got its message across successfully.
We know that Bang Gu-ppong was quite smart himself having graduated from Seoul National University. Therefore, he probably also experienced the same grueling, tiring, and demanding feelings that these young kids at his mother’s academy felt. He probably knew himself what it felt like to study hours on end at a very young age to succeed and get into a good school. Because of that personal connection, he could relate to the kids and empathize with them. That was what caused him to take the kids on a getaway trip. To get them away from the brutal experience and harsh realities that they as little kids should not be experiencing at such a young age. Even if it was just for a short moment, the happiness and fun these kids felt in those few hours was well worth it. It’s a type of feeling that they rarely experience in their daily lives. It’s something that they may never experience again in a long time. That’s why the field trip meant so much to them. That’s why Bang Gu-ppong is so special to them. They were free in that short moment. The kids were not tied down by the torture and stress that is studying, school, high parental expectations, and academies. They were free to be themselves in a healthy and playful environment. Though Bang Gu-ppong can’t give them that freedom and liberation that they seek and yearn for forever, the kids experienced what it was like even for just a tad bit.
The previous ‘Extraordinary Attorney Woo’ episodes have done a brilliant job in shedding light on several societal issues and it once again does the same with this episode. The education system in South Korea isn’t a new topic as it’s been covered quite extensively in K-dramaland with shows like ‘SKY Castle’, but I think the topic still makes for such an interesting and fascinating watch every single time. It’s not necessarily a new topic per se, but you still feel as if you’re learning something new every time you see a drama cover Korea’s broken education system and the brutal competitiveness that comes along with it in its own special way. In this episode, we witnessed just how much stress and pain the kids at Mujin Academy went through at such a young age. It was as if they were not even kids anymore with the amount of studying they had to go through. And a part of it is so heartbreaking because it shouldn’t be that way. These kids should be outside playing and having fun and going on field trips, but instead, they’re subjected to endless hours of classes and academies and studying. No elementary kid should be going through this type of pain or suffering. No kid should be crying over a “mission” of having to solve math problems for 7-8 hours. No kid should be starving themselves until 10pm at night to eat some dinner that isn’t all that healthy or nutritious. Let kids be kids.
And I think Bang Gu-ppong’s speech on the last day of his trial was such a good wake-up call for parents who pressure their kids with not only the day to day life of studying but also the pressure to succeed and do well in school. As little kids, they should be enjoying their life. They should be having fun. They shouldn’t have to have so many worries at such a young age. By having the children be the center of the case, Bang Gu-ppong was essentially saying that children should be living their lives. Before you know it, the kids will get older and it’s not going to remain this way forever. As the kids grow and get older, they’ll have less and less amount of time to do what it is that they want to do. They’ll get caught up with jobs and life and marriage. So until they reach that point, kids should be able to enjoy their life while they can. And it’s not just that they should be playing and having fun, but also that they should be genuinely enjoying the games and fun that they’re having. Games and activities are fun, but sometimes, simplicity is the best. As Bang Gu-ppong mentioned, what matters the most is that the kids are laughing and smiling.
I think the drama went the more light-hearted route by using children instead of high school students as the victims in this case, but I think the impact would have still been felt and the message could have still been conveyed if the victims were older students. The circumstances for high school students who have studied extensively at a young age aren’t any better. Overtime, the pressure and weight of the expectations build and build and boil up. Sometimes, the pressure and weight of parental expectations to do it all can be too much and unfortunately lead to situations where lives are lost and families are broken. There are tragic events that unfortunately happen when students have nowhere to escape or when they feel as if they’re trapped. You never want your kids to reach that breaking point ever.
I think this episode hit me a little close to home as I’m reminded of the babies in my family and how busy they are as elementary students already. On top of school, they’re also involved in extracurricular activities and sports and while a part of me feels like they’re enjoying it, another part of me also feels a bit heartbroken at how busy they are at such a young age. It’s interesting in the way that it’s such a huge contrast to my days when I was out and about playing outside in the front yard of my family’s place with my siblings and friends. I didn’t have a worry in the world and I came home at a certain time, finished my homework, and then went outside to play. Times were much simpler back then and things have changed drastically over the years. This concern about kids losing their youth is one that I think extends beyond just South Korea. It’s universal.
With that being said, I also want to talk about another reason as to why I really enjoyed this episode which I think has been sort of hidden under the radar with most of the focus being on the case as well as Young-woo and Jun-ho’s relationship. The thing that I absolutely loved the most about this episode was Young-woo’s growth and development as an attorney and how it tied back to the lesson that she learned in episode 5. I voiced in my recap why episode 5 is my most favorite episode so far in the show and the case still stands 4 episodes later. In episode 5, Young-woo was faced with the harsh truth in regards to her occupation as an attorney: does she want to be honorable and reveal the truth or be a competent attorney who cares more about winning in court? And in this episode, I think we finally got our first hint and answer to that question with the way that she handled Bang Gu-ppong’s trial: she cares about being an honorable attorney who reveals the truth.
She could have just settled by having Bang Gu-ppong be diagnosed as someone with megalomania and call it a day. That would have reduced Bang Gu-ppong’s sentence and Hanbada would have considered the trial a win and they would have gone back to their daily schedules as if nothing ever happened. That would have been the more convenient route, approach, and strategy that she and Hanbada could have taken. But Young-woo chimed in at the last minute. She was honorable and she revealed the truth about Bang Gu-ppong in that courtroom. Even if the drama didn’t explicitly show it in the episode, Young-woo’s advocacy for Bang Gu-ppong and his ideology about the liberation of children was a testament to how much she’s grown since the lesson that she learned in episode 5. It might have cost her and the team an ending where things were easier for them and Bang Gu-ppong, but she still chose the “more difficult” alternate route that involved honesty and truth. Why? Because that’s the type of attorney that Young-woo strives to be and practice.
I just loved, loved, loved watching Young-woo stand up for Bang Gu-ppong and also shed light on the brutal experiences of the academies. She connected the dots between the academies to the field trip and how it links back to Bang Gu-ppong’s ideology about the liberation of children. Bang Gu-ppong was not someone with a delusional disorder; the reason as to why he took the kids on a field trip to the mountains was so they could experience what liberation felt like for just a few short sweet hours. That’s why he ultimately did what he did. Even if Min-woo wasn’t so happy with what Young-woo did, she was proud and content with her decision because she knew it was the right thing to do. She learned the hard way the first time around in episode 5 and she never wanted to experience those type of feelings again. I’m definitely interested to see how Young-woo tackles upcoming court cases and if she’ll continue to portray this type of development. But based off of what we saw with Bang Gu-ppong’s case, I’m really liking what we’ve seen from her so far and how much she’s grown after what she endured in episode 5.
We also have to talk about Jun-ho and Young-woo’s relationship and all the progress that we got in this one hour episode. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about their relationship and what Jun-ho’s response to Young-woo’s confession was. With the way that he reacted to her confession in episode 8, I was worried that he somehow didn’t like her anymore or had a change in heart or even had something more traumatizing to say (“I’m actually.. your brother.”). The first half of this episode wasn’t helping either with the way that Jun-ho wasn’t responding to Young-woo’s nice actions for him. He looked uncomfortable and confused and seemed like he felt conflicted about it all. The longer we got into the episode, the more I was getting paranoid and panicking internally. All these pessimistic thoughts entered my mind and I wondered for a second if Jun-ho had suddenly changed his feelings for Young-woo. Had I imagined things in the past 8 episodes?
But then we finally got the grand confession from Jun-ho himself towards the end of this episode which alleviated any concerns I had about their relationship. I even felt a bit foolish for a second at how I had doubted everything, but I couldn’t help it. I overreact at everything and I desperately wanted Young-woo and Jun-ho to work out so I was worried that he was going to push her away first before confessing to her. It’s a good thing he didn’t do that and instead went straight to the confession part.
I’m ultimately glad that Jun-ho confessed to Young-woo in this episode for several reasons. One being that I’m not completely sure how much longer I would have been sane keeping up with Jun-ho’s confusing reactions to Young-woo. It was driving me crazy at how I didn’t know how he felt about her even with all the kind things she was doing for him. Do you like them? Do you not like them? Are you gonna say anything? I had all these doubts prior to his confession.
The second reason as to why I’m glad that Jun-ho confessed in this episode is so that the drama can no longer drag out this phase in their relationship. Now that Jun-ho has confessed to Young-woo, she’s aware of where he stands and how he feels about her. They’re on the same page now and we can move forward to the next part of their relationship. And it was this next part that Jun-ho was worried about: what happens once they’ve confessed to each other and like each other? How will Young-woo respond? Who will initiate the next move? What is that next move? As seen in his conversation with Min-woo, Jun-ho is well aware that he shouldn’t start a relationship with Young-woo if he has no plans or confidence that it will last. But he doesn’t feel that way with Young-woo because he can see it lasting for a very long time. That’s why he confessed to her and acted on his feelings. Jun-ho knows that he has to be cautious and intentional with his next move. He wants their relationship to last and he doesn’t want to mess anything up. He doesn’t want to make any mistakes that might hurt Young-woo and their relationship. He knows that he has to be careful with the way that he approaches her and their relationship. She means a lot to him.
What’s next is how Young-woo and Jun-ho are going to officiate their relationship when they’re ready to as well as how they’re going to navigate this next phase in their relationship. As we have seen in this episode, Young-woo is quite new to love and nervous feelings and butterflies in your stomach and everything that comes along with that. I found it so endearing and telling the way that she was asking Dong Geu-ra-mi and Min-sik questions or seeked their advice when it came to Jun-ho. Jun-ho himself has feelings for Young-woo, but he’s unfamiliar with the pressure and uncertainty after confessions are made. He’s always been the popular one who women have chased after, but what is it like when he is the one doing the chasing? Now that he and Young-woo are aware of their feelings for each other, what happens then? Though there’s a level of uncertainty that is to play out in their relationship, something tells me there will be many more appointments at Dong Geu-ra-mi and Min-sik’s restaurant as well as Min-woo conversations over food. As for me? I’m ready for it all.