Ooh, another Seo In-gook‘s show. Finally…
The Goody-two-shoes Tax Collectors
- Ma Dong-seok (from Bad Guys) as Baek Sung-il. Your poor taxman. Like everybody else, he works a punishing 12h run-of-the-mill job, trying to collect taxes from errant defaulters. Being on the receiving end of hurled vulgarities, physical abuses are all in a day’s job for him and his team.
- Soo-young (from Dating Agency: Cyrano) as Chun Sung-hee. One of Sung-il’s team mates, and like him, is an honest civil servant who rigidly goes “by the book”.
- Ahn Nae-sang (from Entertainer) as Chun Gab-soo. Sung-il’s boss, and probably previously a good friend — before one of their team mates died (in a suicide?).
The Con Artist(s)
- Seo In-gook (from Remember Me) as Yang Jung-do. Ex-convict juz released from prison and is back in operation. He agrees to help a shadowy (and hippy looking) “Chairman” to punish those who imprisoned him after release. One of the targets is Sung-il.
- Lee Sun-bin as Jo Mee-joo. Jung-do’s team mate, and in charge of smishing (SMS phishing).
Based only on ep1.
We open 6 years ago, as Sung-il refuses to participate in an activity (likely corrupted) by his colleague. Later he finds his colleague dead in an apparent suicide…
6 years later, Sung-il is still in the same job — collecting owed taxes from tax evaders. He and his team (including Sung-hee) receive a daily dose of verbal garbage, and physical bullying from said evaders. (sigh) He finally loses it when one very rich (and by association, very corrupted) tax evader snobbily pushes Sung-hee on the floor. Sung-il returns the favour with a punch — only to be hauled in for questioning in front of his Big Boss, Gab-soo.
Dejected, he leaves work…and as Fate would have it, he meets annoying rich guy again at night. Sung-il (and his daughter) gets snubbed for being so poor that they can’t afford a car. Which prompts Sung-il to source for a second-hand vehicle at night…
…and that’s when he bites the bait Jung-do sets for him. Jung-do is released from prison not long ago, for being a con artist. And he is back in his job the moment he steps out from prison. He agrees to help a “Chairman” seek revenge while at it, and his targets are mainly people from the tax collection department. Of cos, his scams require running rings around other innocent parties too…
As it is, Sung-il falls hook, line and sinker for Jung-do’s 2nd hand car trap. Sung-il thinks he has gotten a cheap deal, only to realise something is wrong when he transferred the 500k won and Jung-do refuses to pick up the call. Jung-do does call him back — only to taunt a desperate and angry Sung-il about being too careless with his money. (ouch)
Yay, finally something in the line of OCN’s work — 38 is slick and very stylish. (not surprising, coming from Bad Guys‘ writer) At the moment, my heart goes out for poor Sung-il — he is totally the small little GOOD guy, who tries to make ends meet and yet not resorting to underhanded means to make an income. In other words, he is juz like any one of us. So to see him getting conned out of his daughter’s future tertiary school fees…owwwww.
On the other end of the spectrum is Jung-do. He is a natural fox, and uses his high EQ and sharp observation skills to probe into his victims’ weaknesses. We have always wondered why some people are so “gullible” as to fall into phone/ email scams. But 38 shows us juz how easy you can become a victim. Simply put, most of us are plain lazy to cross and double cross check claims. Especially if a good con artist manages to catch us unaware.
Like in the case of Sung-il. Jung-do notices he feels insecured and bad about not providing the best for his daughter, and immediately uses this as a pretext for the trap. You can’t blame Sung-il for being too eager and falling straight in, probably most of us would too.
That said, using Jung-do’s skills to ensnare those uppity, arrogant rich tax evaders — oh man, I can’t wait for 38 to turn itself into a Robin Hoodish narrative.