In a nutshell: 38 is a pretty well-written story on social engineering, with unexpected twists and turns. Or maybe not unexpected — more like calculated. Only thing is: the person who is in the know is Jung-do, and maybe Sung-il. The rest of us (including Team Jung-do) are kept well in the dark, which makes for some very attentive watching. Cos you will miss the clues if you watch 38 without paying attention.
Much of Jung-do’s plans hinge on knowing his targets well — in fact, better than themselves. His success comes from his exceptionally high EQ, and also an in depth study of his victims. Simply put, he knows what makes them tick, and what makes them afraid. Not only does he apply them to his targets, but he also uses his skills to source for very reliable allies.
I’d say Jung-do’s team is probably the dream team of any scammer group — he has a financial power backer (or maybe 2, if you add in Chairman Wang), a computer whiz, a sugar daddy bait and the ubiquitous hoodlum. Then he manages to draw in the strait laced civil servant, who imo, is the crème of the crop — like who would even suspect Sung-il to be a con artist? With his humble (and clean) background, and his down-to-earth meek demeanor? However, besides Sung-il (and maybe Mi-joo), we don’t really know how Jung-do got to know the other guys. We can only assume Jung-do sought them out while trying to seek revenge for his wrongfully acquitted parents. Heck, we aren’t even sure how Chairman Wang becomes his strongest backer, other than passing remarks that he has “helped” Chairman Wang in the past.
But ok, other than Jung-do’s slightly glossed over past, what 38 had also managed to achieve is to finger point the 2nd guilty party to any successful scam — the victim. Jung-do would have failed if President Bang, Chairman Choi or even Ma Jin-seok aren’t so greedy, or arrogant. The three of them are too used to wielding their authorities and wealth in other people’s faces, wrongly assuming that everyone and everything can be bought or if not, beaten (literally) into submission. Jung-do and team basically juz make use of their corrupted nature and played them against one another. Especially in the last scam on Chairman Choi. He doesn’t see it coming that his source of info (Inspector Sa) would turn out to be his undoing — cos he is so caught up at wanting to get back at Mayor Chun, who he deemed to have betrayed him.
Like most OCN’s shows, 38 closes rather open-endedly. (season 2? with Bad Guys?) The current baddies got their just desserts, but not all of them are down and out. We can bet that Chairman Choi will easily recoup his losses. Even without him, there’s plenty of tax evaders out there — as evident by Sung-il’s continued “businesses”.