The theme of corruption in the police force is a common one in crime thrillers. After all, policemen (and women) are humans too…and humans are fallible. In literature, the idea of corruption and rot where they shouldn’t be makes for good drama. It bring’s to mind Goo-tak’s cynical observation in ep1: there’s a fine line between a policeman and a criminal. The gun in the policeman’s hand protects, but the gun in the criminal’s hand kills. What is left unsaid is: how can you be sure of the identity of the person holding the gun? And ep4 dramatises this question.
Goo-tak and team’s new mission for ep4 is to net the entire gang of human/ human organ traffickers in Seoul. Like any profitable business, the traffickers operate in a structured and organised hierarchy. Typical of a pyramid business model, we have the low-level thugs who are in charge of running the fields (think of your shop assistants, floor managers) who deal in the day-to-day actual buy-sell transactions. Then we have mid-level “executives” whose main duties are to oversee that the underlings do their work well, customers are happy and resources are well distributed. And of course, the pyramid’s peak; consisting of “higher level executives”, who reap in the most $$ but do not get their hands dirtied in the daily on-goings of the business. And tipping the sharp pointy end of the pyramid is The Boss. (who turns out to be a woman, btw…so much for gender inequality) Because I do not like Mdm Hwang (the head of the trafficking network), I shall nickname her “Botoxed Ahjumma”. (she does look overly botoxed, doesn’t she? and i’m not being mean, i’m making an observation)
Goo-tak’s plan is pretty simple — destroy enough of the pyramid’s base and mid-layers, and cause the structure to collapse upon itself. Much like how a competitor business will probably erode the target’s distribution chain, so that supply gets cut off and everything goes topsy turvy. Except that Goo-tak’s team doesn’t go about the destruction nicely — some baddies get whacked, others get knived/ hammered, and some even get their as*es frozen.
I suppose if you consider the “business” Botox Ahjumma is heading as disgustingly evil, then it fully justifies Goo-tak and team’s violent takeover. However, juz as the similarities between the workings of a “clean” business and a “dirty” one are chillingly indistinguishable, so are the real and fake thugs. And I am not referring to Goo-tak’s trio versus Botoxed Ahjumma’s army. There are “thugs” who are juz “normal people” working for Botoxed Ahjumma. Although calling them “normal” is already an over-compliment — they probably guessed what business their company deals in and choose to blind and deafen themselves to the going-ons. I suppose the salary muz be good enough to bury their conscience 6 feet under.
When Goo-tak chooses to confront Botoxed Ahjumma and her army directly, his plan resembles a triad’s war over territories. Their attempted staking of Botoxed Ahjumma’s building (or “turf”) is downright bloody (on both sides). Since Woong-cheol, Tae-soo and Jung-moon are a gangster, an assassin and a psychopath serial murderer respectively, they really are not much better than Botoxed Ahjumma’s mob minions. Literally, it’s a case of black against black.
What really blurred the lines though, are the corrupted police officers. Who should represent the “white” side, but are even darker than Goo-tak’s team that is made up of violent (ex?) offenders. Mi-young’s partner warns Botoxed Ahjumma of the police’s plan and springs the trap on Goo-tak and his team. Plus, he wants to bury Mi-young alive after hitting her. The SWAT team leader AND his team choose to point their scope rifles towards Goo-tak, and join in with Botoxed Ahjumma’s minions to murder them — when they should be bringing down Botoxed Ahjumma and rescuing Goo-tak’s team.
Police officers who act like thugs bring to mind Tae-soo’s rhetorical question to the gangster he is interviewing: “Do I look like a police officer to you?”