Moon’s redemption works because he never becomes a good person. He remains an ambitious, cranky schemer like Choi, Lee, Oh and all the others. But he uses his underhanded moves for good in this episode, for instance discrediting Director Lee with an incriminating recording unconnected to the case at hand. He doesn’t play by the procedural rules, which is why he wins.
The Chief doesn’t claim to be a hero, but he does talk to Jung Chang-Gi about “giving it everything,” because the “kids” will pay the price if they lose. Only by winning the case can he protect the young lawyers from Hwa Young. But when Jung asks, “Isn’t Moon’s life worth something?”, Moon shrugs. He doesn’t want to think that far ahead, he says. He doesn’t want to die, but his expression suggests he sees what’s coming.
Moon gets a “Sopranos”-style send-off, in which we know the Mysterious Inspector is going to kill him but we don’t see the violence. The director gives Moon a great final scene. His face, registering surprise and resignation. Answering his cell-phone’s goofy ring one last time. The gentle, unremarkable way he says he’ll be getting home late tonight.
When he says into the phone, “get some sleep,” it sounds oddly profound. He’s speaking in slightly formal language, not the most intimate register of Korean. He rests his head back and closes his eyes, as if he intends to take a nap. One small muscle in his face twitches, and it may be the ghost of a wry smile—or a grimace.
Dynamite ending. I’m impressed at how “Pride and Prejudice” convinced me Moon was a horrible person, then managed to pull him back to decency. And he had to make a big effort to be good, whereas it comes naturally to Dong-Chi.
5. Fake Amnesia!
I had to watch the scenes with Jung Chang-Gi two or three times, but I’m sure now: he’s faking amnesia.
Fake amnesia is a great way to avoid getting bumped off by Hwa Young. He must have gotten the idea from watching K-dramas. Everyone’s convinced he lost his memories in the car accident, except Moon. When the two men talk during a break in the trial, Moon asks, “Is this our first time meeting or are you paying me a visit?” as if to ask whether Jung will recognize him or pretend ignorance. Jung refers to Moon and himself as “a man who knows everything and a man who pretends he doesn’t.”
Because Kang Soo was crying over Jung Chang-Gi in the hospital after the accident, I’m confident the young man will accept Jung again. With Jung Chang-Gi acting amnesiac, the sweet Kang Soo will want to help him and they can become friends again. I hope Jung won’t have to keep up the amnesia act with him forever. I want him to get back to importing iguanas. He’s paid his debt every bit as much as Chief Moon has.
Here’s the biggest one: it was the right ending because Dong-Chi indicted himself.
Yowzers! What a great scene! Ku Dong-Chi is up there with Gregory Peck’s Atticus Finch in the League of Extraordinary Screen Lawyers. Talk about having the courage of your convictions.
But online comments show a lot of viewers angry or sad that the show doesn’t have a happy ending. I’m sad, too—sadness is one of the main moods in “Pride and Prejudice”—but I find the ending “happy” in the sense that Dong-Chi stayed true to his principles. He doesn’t believe in making exceptions for anyone, and that means himself especially.
The mumbo-jumbo about the statute of limitations is an irritating distraction from the real issue at hand, Dong-Chi’s conscience. He killed someone. He felt bad simply about having failed to save Han Byul, so he’s going to feel worse about having killed someone. Kidnapper Baek’s elderly mother is in the audience at the trial, reminding us that every killing, even an accidental one, has more than one victim.
Dong-Chi tells Yeol-Moo he’s glad he could give his respects to Kidnapper Baek’s family. That bow he makes to them in court is a formal gesture of contrition and regret. I think part of him wanted to be able to do that.
Justice serves two purposes in a society, or so anthropologists say. One is to punish offenders. The other is to repair the rift that a killing tears in society. In the United States, it’s hard to imagine what this repair looks like, because our formal justice system focuses on punishment. But in some traditional societies, justice had ways to help people cope with guilt after an accidental death like the one Dong-Chi caused. And justice provided mechanisms for two families to reconcile with each other after a killing, instead of starting a blood feud for instance. The Catholic notion of confession and penance developed out of this image of justice. Justice is how you correct the wrongs that you’ve committed in the world.
Dong-Chi doesn’t want to stand trial—that’s why he didn’t indict himself earlier—but he does believe in taking responsibility. His confession isn’t just a strategic move to establish the truth of his father’s testimony. It’s also his chance to make things right with Baek’s family and with his own conscience. You can’t turn your conscience off with the statute of limitations.
Do we believe the tacked-on epilogue, which implies that he may have spent three years in prison?
I don’t know the Korean legal system, but I do know that Prosecutor Koo isn’t popular with the other prosecutors. In episode 20, it sounded like Director Oh lost her position because of Dong-Chi’s rebellion. I can imagine her enthusiastically prosecuting him for voluntary manslaughter. The best he can hope for is involuntary manslaughter. He was underage, and maybe that would protect him. But in my country an angry prosecutor would just try him as an adult anyway. Perhaps the laws in Korea are more flexible.
If this played out in California, his minimum sentence would be three years. (Similarly, I found Kang Soo’s arrest at the end of episode 5 plausible. Police officers do get indicted for accidental killing in the line of duty.)
Is the ending fair?