Dae-young is still upset by his seriously bad boo-boo last week, and is haunted by Soo-hyun’s remark that he has let someone who should live, die; and someone who should die, live. So our sniffer hound detective decides to go on a hiatus from M’s cases. Unfortunately, the homicide case he picks up on a whim will collide with the missing person case M is currently handling.

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Synopsis (Innocent Mind, Part I):

Soo-hyun sits alone in the dark, and the TV blares with a judge (?) asking someone (a police officer?) the reason for opening fire on a suspect. Turns out the TV is juz showing white noise, and the monologue is in Soo-hyun’s head. Disturbed by the memory of the inquisitor questioning his vigilante brand of justice, he pops more amphetamines into his mouth and questions aloud whether he’d have done anything different then.

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We flashback 15 days ago: a young lady in a white dress (and no shoes) flees from a bunch of gangsters. She hides behind a wall, but her skirt is caught on a nail protruding from the wall. Luckily she manages to tug the ensnared piece of fabric free, before one of the gangsters come near her hiding place. Unable to find her, they leave. The girl steps out from her hiding place, and trods home bruised, scratched and barefeet, earning stares from people. She enters a dinghy looking one-room apartment and looks at a box next to her. Picking up a pair of blue ribboned shoes (which are toddler-sized), she starts sobbing. The box also contains some used crayons and a toddler’s flowery dress. The girl reaches for a knife and places it on her wrist…

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…thankfully, a neighbour (?) happens to walk past. The ahjumma neighbour rushes in to stop the suicide. A man knocks on the girl’s door while she is sobbing onto the ahjumma’s shoulders, and asks if a “Jung Shan-mi” stays here.

We abruptly change scene again to a halmoni’s home. Shan-mi (the girl in the previous scene who nearly committed suicide), is lying on the halmoni’s lap and addressing her as “mum”. Shan-mi piles on the aegyo and pleads with her mum not to go to Seongbulsa (Bulsa Temple) to deliver food today, and to stay home to nap with her. Her mum gently refuses. Shan-mi pouts and kicks up a fuss…

…only to have Shan-mi fade away…the scene is one remembered by the halmoni.

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Next scene jump (this is getting a wee bit annoying): it’s a TV station, and the programme is one which helps viewers look for their missing family members. The halmoni is there with Shan-mi too. The host of the programme introduces the halmoni as a Mdm Woo Jung-yin, and the screen behind shows a Missing Person notice of toddler Shan-mi, dressed in the flowery dress and blue shoes which we have seen earlier in the box. The TV programme has managed to locate the adult Shan-mi and reunited her with her mum, Mdm Woo. As a “surprise”, the host reveals the DNA test results — which proves to be conclusive. Shan-mi is indeed Mdm Woo’s daughter. (but why does Mdm Woo look so perturbed in the programme?)

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The programme (a recorded version) is currently viewed by Police Comm Park, Soo-hyun and Seo-joon. According to Police Comm Park, Mdm Woo reported Shan-mi missing yesterday. Soo-hyun comments that maybe Shan-mi left on her own accord, but Police Comm Park says Mdm Woo is very sure Shan-mi has been kidnapped. Cos Mdm Woo received a strange call yesterday. The person (a man) on the other line had kept silent for most part of the call, and ended it by swearing under his breath. Police traced the call to Seongbulsa, where Mdm Woo (who operates a gukbap (soup rice) restaurant) usually frequents to deliver free food to the temple’s disciples.

Police Comm Park then notices Dae-young’s conspicious absence and asks where he is…(while the remaining M members shift uncomfortably in their seats)

…and Dae-young is sleeping at home. Or at least, he appears to be sleeping. Dae-young’s wife comes in to wake him up, gently scolding that for someone who has always been punctual for work, he has overslept for too long today. She makes cute frowny faces at him, asking if anything’s wrong. Dae-young strokes her frown lines and gives her a bear hug, assuring her that everything’s fine. (these 2 are so lovey doveily cute) However, when Dae-young leaves, his wife gazes after him with worry.

Dae-young drives to M’s base, but doesn’t enter. Gazing at the house, he remembers Soo-hyun’s parting words in the last ep, and chooses to drive away.

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Soo-hyun starts to investigate Shan-mi’s disappearance, with his first stop is Seongbulsa. Due to Seongbulsa’s remote location, his mobile phone registers no signal. A monk in the admin office confirms that the telephone on his desk is the only way to communicate with the outside world. Soo-hyun then asks if anyone had used the phone yesterday. The monk replies that a man with a foul mouth had made a number of calls to the same number yesterday afternoon. Using the recall button, he jots down the tel number for Seo-joon to trace (which she later reports as belonging to a disposable phone, which is now switched off), and asks the monk if they have CCTVs installed at the temple. The monk replies no, but is willing to help Soo-hyun with an ID sketch of the man who made the phone calls yesterday.

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Dae-young ends up at his previous workplace — the Homicide Department. And continues his broody sulking, ignoring the curious looks from his colleagues. The station receives a call — someone has found a severed hand in a garbage bag in the park. Nobody wants to volunteer for a post-breakfast grisly job, so Dae-young leaps up to take it. His partner quickly follows behind, only to be snapped at when he innocently asks about Dae-young’s responsibilities at M team. At the park, the police have cordoned off the area where the severed hand is found. Stepping into the cordoned area to check out the body part, Dae-young wonders aloud at the perp’s reason for leaving a hand in such a conspicuous spot in a crowded park. To his knowledge (and ours), murderers who chop up their victims’ bodies will tend to hide the head and/or hands, in order to prevent identification. In this case, not only has the perp left the hand but s/he has not made any efforts to remove the fingerprints. Dae-young immediately tells forensics to print and iden the owner of the hand.

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After visiting Seongbulsa, Soo-hyun’s next stop is at Mdm Woo’s gukbap restaurant. He shows Mdm Woo the sketch of the man who supposedly made the call, but Mdm Woo doesn’t recognise him. His gentle suggestion that Shan-mi may have left home on her own accord is rebuffed by Mdm Woo. She insists that Shan-mi has been kidnapped and reveals that sometime back, she has stopped a bunch of loansharks from harrassing her daughter. To ensure that the loansharks do not return, she has also been paying off Shan-mi’s loan in instalments. On the day of the disappearance, Shan-mi had also appeared agitated, pleading with her not to visit the temple and live her alone.

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Soo-hyun walks around Mdm Woo’s neighbourhood later, and notes that although the house/restaurant faces the busy main street, there is a lack of CCTVs in the area.

We check back with Dae-young and the severed hand: the victim has been identified as one Kang Woo-shik halbae, who had a long standing record of being a smalltime con artist. At Woo-shik’s house, the neighbour claims not to have heard any commotion recently. However, Woo-shik’s bathroom lights up in response to luminol (a chemical that detects blood stains), prompting Dae-young to guess that this muz be the location where Woo-shik’s body was first severed. They also found strands of hair belonging to 2-3 different people in the bathroom — which is odd, given that Woo-shik reportedly lived alone. Dae-young enters the bedroom, and clocks the twin pillows on the bed. He searches around some more and finds a lighter from Motel California, and an expired passport belonging to a N. Korean lady, Chang Mi-young.

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Our sniffer hound does what he does best — profiling the victim by checking out his neighbours. A quick walk around Woo-shik’s neighbourhood reveals much about Mi-young and Woo-shik’s relationship. A restaurant ahjumma says that Woo-shik had introduced Mi-young as his “daughter” one day, though they shared different surnames and nationalities. She adds that Mi-young is mute but a hardworking girl; she financially supports Woo-shik by working as a dishwasher at the restaurant. The provision store ahjumma has a different story to tell. According to her, Woo-shik appeared to be nice to Mi-young in public, but he frequently beat her. She commonly sees Mi-young with very bad bruises on her face. The ahjusshi pharmacist has something even juicier to add. Mi-young constantly buys contraceptives from him — and he slyly tells Dae-young that although Woo-shik went around telling everyone Mi-young was his daughter, everyone speculates that his form of “fatherly love” for her may be expressed in nightly rapes/ sexual assaults. Interestingly, the last anyone has seen of Woo-shik and Mi-young is about 2/3 months back. And after Woo-shik’s disappearance/death, Mi-young has also disappeared.

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We check in with Seo-joon, who is entering the one br apartment Shan-mi used to stay before she is reunited with Mdm Woo. We have seen it before too — in the opening of this ep. Shan-mi seems to live a double life — there are traces of a nice, chaste girl, with all the lace curtains, the pristine, white wallpaper…juxtaposed with hints of a whore, with sexy, revealing clothings and pornographic DVDs scattered around the room.

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The neighbour ahjumma who has stopped Shan-mi’s suicide turns out to be her landlady — interestingly, she is also the one who reported Shan-mi to the TV station after noticing that Shan-mi (known to her as Kim Jung-hee) has the exact items which Mdm Woo’s long lost daughter possess. The man who dropped in to look for Shan-mi earlier in this ep is a rep from the TV station. According to Shan-mi’s landlady, Shan-mi is generally a nice girl (and she has strangley continued to pay rent for her one br apartment even though she has moved in with Mdm Woo). However, since she is an orphan (Jung-hee is the name given by the orphanage), Shan-mi doesn’t have much of an education. So she works as a KTV hostess and prostitutes herself to earn an income. She later lands herself in debts due to the nature of her job (gambling possibly?).

On his way back to M base, Soo-hyun picks up a call from Seo-joon who updates him on the financial statuses of Mdm Woo and Shan-mi. Those money that Mdm Woo paid to the loanshark are deposited to an anonymous bank account and cannot be traced. But Seo-joon has discovered even more interesting along the way — Mdm Woo is a billionairess, despite her frugal lifestyle. This changes the game plan then — it’s no longer a small-time restaurant owner’s daughter who has gone missing, but an heiress to a billion-dollar fortune.

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Dr Kang provides Dae-young with the pathological report on the severed hand: the wrinkled condition of the skin is likely due to the body part being deep frozen for at least 2-3 months before it is thrown away at the park less than 24h ago. Since Woo-shik’s house doesn’t have a refrigerator big enough to hold a dismembered body, his body could have been stored elsewhere. Dae-young remarks that it’s strange that the perp should keep the body for 3 months, only to throw away an incriminating piece of evidence in a crowded park. As the hand is severed using an electric saw (where each brand/make has its unique tread), Dr Kang and Dae-young proceed to saw up loads of pig trotters to figure out the type of saw used on Woo-shik. (poor pigs)

After obtaining the new piece of knowledge that Mdm Woo is a billionairess, Soo-hyun revisits her to ask for the so-called evidence (aka the box) which proves Shan-mi to be Mdm Woo’s daughter. He picks up a badly chewed crayon, prompting Mdm Woo to wistfully add that she used to scold little Shan-mi for her bad habit of biting on her pens/ crayons cos she is bored and her mum is always busy. A habit that Mdm Woo claims only Shan-mi and herself are privy to. Mdm Woo gets called to answer a call, and Soo-hyun picks up the flowery toddler dress. He notes the initial “JJ” and a “made in Korea” tag on the dress.

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Turns out that the “JJ” initials found on the dress is the embroidered initials of JJ Factory, set up 5 years ago in Seoul. The factory owner confirms with Soo-hyun that the dress is a made-to-order design commissioned by someone from the TV station in January this year, overturning the claim that Shan-mi has held on to the dress for more than 30 years. The factory owner passes the contact number of the TV station rep to Soo-hyun — but the number turns out to be a dead line.

Dae-young and Dr Kang successfully trace the brand of the electric saw used on Woo-shik’s body after sawing through a pile of trotters. He relays the information to his partner, who grumbles that finding the customer who purchased the saw in the countless numbers of hardware stores in Seoul is akin to looking for a needle in the haystack. Dae-yuong mutters that it will probably take Seo-joon only half an hour to trace the perp. (aww, you miss your team mates already!) Before he hangs up, his partner provides him a new piece of info: seems like Chan Mi-young has been reported previously as a con artist, and she frequently targets elderly men who stay alone. Although some of the elderly men supposedly scammed by Mi-young reported her as missing, and are evidently worried over her well-being.

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Following up on his hunch that Shan-mi may not be who she claimed to be, Soo-hyun decides to check out the TV station which host the Missing Persons programme. During the conversation, the PD lets slip that one of their tapes which contains valuable footage of an emotional Mdm Woo recounting Shan-mi’s living habits is missing. Alerted, Soo-hyun checks out the security office and zooms in on one suspicious guy sneaking into the store and stealing the tape. The guy is identified by the writer as a part timer, Chan-yong, who has been absent for work recently and remains uncontactable.

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Back at M’s base, the team’s blackboard is now filled with pics and links of Shan-mi’s case. The analysis of the case runs like this: the loansharks, Shan-mi’s pretend suicide, her constant display of the box’s contents are all a set up to lure the landlady to call in to the programme. The syndicate probably already targetted Mdm Woo beforehand, and got Chan-yong to go undercover in the TV station. Using the information which Mdm Woo provided herself in the interviews, Shan-mi is able to convince everyone that she is Mdm Woo’s biological daughter. However, it is strange that Shan-mi chooses to disappear now, when all she needs to do is wait out a few more months to obtain Mdm Woo’s fortune through her constant payments to the supposed “loansharks”.

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Dae-young speaks with all halbaes and ahjusshis who have reported Mi-young “missing” — all of them have given their life savings to Mi-young in one way or another. However, they all firmly believe that Mi-young is innocent and sincere, and her financial problems are brought about by her “father”. Upon returning to the Homicide Department, Dae-young’s partner gives him another piece of news: he has managed to trace the customer who purchased the electric saw. And it’s Mi-young. The hardware store owner particularly remembered Mi-young, since it is rare that women will purchase men’s tools, especially something as unwieldy to use as a saw. Dae-young’s partner is all ready to blame Mi-young for the murder. Strangely, Dae-young has doubts. He points out that if Mi-young is really a murderess, there is no point for her to dump Woo-shik’s hand out in a crowded park — knowing that it is inevitable that the evidence will lead to her. Dae-young’s sharp instincts tell him that it is likely another person is involved in Woo-shik’s murder.

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Determined to bust the syndicate, Soo-hyun returns to Mdm Woo’s gukbap restaurant — this time to chat with the waitresses. One of them tells Soo-hyun that Shan-mi regularly takes an afternoon walk in the neighbouring park for about half an hour. A check at the local police post for the CCTV footages proves that Shan-mi does take regular strolls to and fro from the park, and she is always alone. However, when Soo-hyun retraces her steps, he clocks the tour to be under 15mins. Which means, Shan-mi has an extra 15 mins unaccounted for. Soo-hyun’s eyes are drawn to two telephone booths located at a camera’s blind spot in the park. He calls in forensics to dust for prints. Sure enough, one of the telephone booths has Shan-mi’s prints on it. Seo-joon is tasked to trace the calls made in that particular booth between 4 to 4.30pm daily.

The strands of hair found in Woo-shik’s bathroom belong to Woo-shik, Mi-young…and an unnamed male in his 30s/40s. Juz as Dae-young receives this information from Dr Kang, his partner calls him again to update him on the call records in Woo-shik and Mi-young’s phone. Since she is mute, Mi-young’s mode of contact with Woo-shik is in the form of SMSes. However, Woo-shik’s phone records show that he has been making verbal calls to Mi-young. Dae-young frowns in puzzlement. His partner also adds that in Woo-shik’s phone, there is another N. Korean lady listed.

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And we cut to said N. Korean lady, who is obviously scamming an ahjushhi by pretending she needs money for her sick mum. Dae-young intervenes and reveals the lady’s intent; the ahjushhi looks at the lady in anger and storms off. A little pissed off, the N. Korean lady whines that Dae-young is ruining her job. But since Dae-young is a police officer, she has no choice but to provide information about Woo-shik. Huffily, the N. Korean lady tells Dae-young that Woo-shik was her teacher (in the art of conman-ship) and lover at one time. One evening, he had told her that he had teamed up with the big players to haul in a big catch. If she wants to get rich with him, she must first pass the selection test. However, the interviewer took one look at her and failed her. Woo-shik dumped her not long after. The N. Korean con artist adds that she didn’t get to see the interviewer, since his back was to her, but she comments that he gives off a rather scary vibe.

We get a scene interjection here of a profile of mobster in a business suit and a humongous ring smoking in a dim room.

Seo-joon informs Soo-hyun that the public phone booth’s call record is pretty straightforward (who uses public phones nowadays?!) — only one call has been made, which leads to a seedy cafe in a shabby neighbourhood. Soo-hyun checks out the place, hiliariously hiding (?) behind a newspapers, and nearly gets molested by the over-friendly waitress. The waitress apologises, saying she has mistook him for the ahjusshi who usually sits in the same spot, with sunglasses on. She adds that he frequents the cafe daily, juz to pick up a call from the cafe’s telephone. After that, he will leave. Soo-hyun thanks her for the information, and after extricating himself from her pawing hands, takes a walk around the cafe’s vicinity. He guesses that the cafe’s customer must live around the cafe in order to drop in daily juz to pick up a phone call. And it doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out that the phone calls are very likely from Shan-mi, who calls in to report on the scam operation. Since there are some CCTVs along the sidewalk, Soo-hyun picks a route which the cafe customer will likely take in order to avoid the cameras.

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And who should appear in the neighbourhood at the same time but Dae-young? His partner has recieved the report on the recent locations of Woo-shik’s mobile phone before his death, and one of the places he went to is a motel — which triggered Dae-young’s memory of the lighter from Motel California.

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And so, both men end up meeting right in front of Motel California…cue awkward moment.

Soo-hyun breaks the ice first and asks what is Dae-young doing here when he is supposedly on leave from work. (oh, is he?) Dae-young updates him on the case he has taken during his “break”, and how the severed hand leads to a possible ring of professional conmen. Soo-hyun looks up in surprise, and says he is also investigating a scam syndicate. Both men look towards the motel’s entrance and walk towards the recept — who hilariously says that their motel doesn’t allow male-male hanky panky. (pffft) Soo-hyun flashes his ID, and shows the recept pictures of Chan-yong and the mystery caller’s ID sketch. The recept remembers the man in the sketch as the recent occupant of Room 304. He adds that he finds it strange that the guest had refused entry to anyone, even the housekeeper. However, the guest has checked out 2-3 days ago.

Soo-hyun requests to check out Room 304, but not before the recept gives them another side-eye look, prompting Dae-young to add that “No, they are NOT into THAT”. Other than looking a little dishevelled, Room 304 appears nondescript. As Dae-young is about to leave, Soo-hyun stops him. He points to a projector screen on the wall, and pulls it up…

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…behind the projector screen are several corkboards filled with details of Mdm Woo, as well as pictures of the main players in this ep: Shan-mi, Chan-young, and Woo-shik.

Review:

I’m not going to speculate any more about M‘s plots, since the show has been consistently good in throwing red herrings in our way. But it’s probably safe to say that the so-called syndicate is probably removing the small players in order to swallow the billion dollars on their own.

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Besides the plot though, ep8 also proves that individually, Soo-hyun and Dae-young’s sleuthing skills are on par with each other and that is despite M‘s constant harping on Soo-hyun’s FBI credentials. While having strong analytical skills will help link puzzles together to solve a difficult case, Dae-young’s soft skills in getting people to open up to him is also very critical in policework. Yes, I do miss having Dae-young in the team…and I think Soo-hyun does too.

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While I do not like to speculate on M‘s case-of-the-day’s plot, I foresee that M team will face their first challenge pretty soon — and that will come from the mainstream police force. Already, there are suggestions that some do not like Police Comm Park’s idea of forming a specialised team. What’s more, the team’s results have been over rocking the boat. And now that Dae-young is getting round to the idea of disobeying his boss’ wishes to spy on Soo-hyun, it won’t be long before a higher up pushes for M’s disbandment.

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