One of our favorite classic dramas has a sequel! If it’s been a while since you saw it and need a refresher before you watch the new one, look no further! We’ll catch you up on what went on and who is who.
This show is also called Forest of Secrets, or Secret Forest, which is the translation of the Korean title. Our favorite prosecutor and cop have to sift through a forest of secrets to find the truth. Without spoiling the ending, I can say that one case leads to another as they uncover corruption in not only high places, but among people they know.
Hwang Shi Mok, played by Cho Seung Woo, is an ideal prosecutor. You can’t bribe him and you can’t scare him. He is extremely clever and doesn’t react to much besides logic. He is like this because of brain surgery he had when he was a child. He had been reacting violently when overwhelmed by his surroundings and the doctors didn’t know what else to do, but the side effect is that he can’t readily access emotions. If you think you have seen an actor doing well at playing stoic and emotionless, this guy is way better. He has tiny changes in his eyes and micro-expressions that only we and Lieutenant Han seem to pick up on.
Lieutenant Han Yeo Jin is played by Bae Doo Na and she is the only female detective in her precinct; smart, observant, and cheerful. She is starting to find out that some cops will sweep things under the rug, and they are finding out that she won’t. We love her because she is feisty, chasing down and cuffing her share of suspects, and yet she can be gentle and talk to victims in a way the male officers can’t. But if Shi Mok is incorruptible because of his surgery, she is incorruptible because of her big heart and her feelings of fairness to the victims.
The First Case
Park Moo Sung is murdered, and it’s the crime scene at his house where Shi Mok and Yeo Jin first meet. In flashbacks, we learn that Mr. Park bribed government officials and wealthy businessmen for favors, and furnished escort women. He once threatened Deputy Chief Prosecutor Lee, who wouldn’t give him what he wanted.
The Mother of Mr. Park comes across Shi Mok in the street in front of her house at the start of the drama. Yeo Jin meets her later, at the trial of the first suspect and takes her under her wing.
Kang Jin Sub is the first suspect, who had come to Mr. Park’s house to repair the TV. Shi Mok and Yeo Jin chase him down together and do some of the initial investigating. He is arrested, but Shi Mok soon notices some inconsistencies and wonders if he was set up.
At the Prosecutor’s Office
Young Eun Soo (yes, it’s Shin Hye Sun) is a junior prosecutor who tries the case of the TV repairman. She takes the advice of her senior, Prosecutor Seo, to pull some tricks during the trial in order to look good. She is also trying to uncover whoever framed her father for bribery three years ago and forced him to resign.
Seo Dong Jae (Lee Joon Hyuk) is a prosecutor who is outgoing and likes to make deals, wanting to help whatever faction he sees as in power at the time. He’s not entirely ethical, often plots with Deputy Chief Lee, and amuses himself by manipulating Eun Soo. He will be back in Season 2.
Lee Chang Joon starts out as the Deputy Chief Prosecutor, and gets promoted several times during the show. He has mentored many of the younger prosecutors, and Shi Mok admires him a lot. It’s hard to know what he really thinks, whether he is crooked or just testing people. Eun Soo thinks he is behind her dad’s bribery scandal.
Kang Won Chul is Shi Mok’s supervisor, who is irritable and pleads with him not to rock the boat. He tries to get the prosecutors to hold the line and gets promoted to Chief Prosecutor. He also returns in Season 2.
Kim Ho Sub and Choi Young are Shi Mok’s law clerks. They are loyal and always support him. When Deputy Chief Lee authorizes a special team to investigate corruption among the prosecutors and puts Shi Mok in charge of it, these two are the first ones he appoints.
Yoon Se Won is a young prosecutor who does special research for Deputy Chief Lee, such as doing a background check on Shi Mok. He is also put on Shi Mok’s special investigative team.
The Second Case
Kim Ga Young is one of the escort women in Mr. Park’s employ. She is attacked and left in Mr. Park’s house, which was supposed to be empty. Shi Mok remembers seeing her once in a hotel where a prosecutor’s convention was being held.
Park Kyung Wan is Mr. Park’s son, who comes home from the army for the funeral. He becomes the second suspect when the police wonder if he killed his own father. Then they discover that he was from the same high school as Ga Young. He is arrested and beaten up by the cops when the police chief demands that they get a confession.
Kim Jung Bon is a human rights lawyer who was a middle school friend of Shi Mok. He is in court at the trial of the TV repairman, and then he defends Kyung Wan. After these two cases create a scandal, Shi Mok is put in charge of a special investigative team, and Jung Bon is on it.
Lee Yeon Jae is Deputy Chief Lee’s wife. She is afraid he is having an affair with Ga Young, and sneaks in to see her in the hospital. When someone disconnects Ga Young’s life support equipment, Yeon Jae is under suspicion. At this point, Shi Mok and Yeo Jin put on an elaborate show to take Ga Young away to a different hospital, just to see who will try to stop them. Yeon Jae will come back in the second season.
At the Police Station
Kim Woo Gyun is the Chief of Police and a long-time pal of Deputy Chief Lee. He seems a little sketchy, especially when he gets angry and demands a confession from the Park kid, but he has the loyalty of his officers.
Choi Yoon Soo is Yeo Jin’s squad leader; he doesn’t really think a woman should be a detective, but she slowly wins him over. Even when everyone else is getting suspicious, he is slow to suspect anyone in his precinct. He will be back for Season 2.
Jang Gun is a young detective in Yeo Jin’s squad who usually looks after her. She trusts him, and when Shi Mok forms his special team, this guy is on it. He is in Season 2.
Park Soon Chang is a rookie cop who helps Yeo Jin take down a child molester they were all chasing. She later puts him in charge of guarding Ga Young in the hospital. He will also be in Season 2.
Kim Soo Chan is a detective who doesn’t like Yeo Jin and gives her a hard time. When she wants to look over Mr. Park’s laptop, he hides it in his desk.
The Third Case
Young Il Jae is the father of junior prosecutor Eun Soo. We meet him first as a patient in the hospital. He had been a government minister who was accused of accepting bribery three years ago and forced to resign. Eun Soo thinks that Chief Deputy Lee was behind it and becomes frantic, trying to prove it. Her dad knows that it was really CEO Lee, and had promised to keep quiet about Lee’s corrupt activities if he left his family alone. He claims not to have any evidence, but actually he has enough hidden in his house to send CEO Lee to jail.
Lee Yeon Boem is the CEO of Hanjo group and Yeon Jae’s father. That makes him Deputy Chief Lee’s father-in-law. He has done a lot of devious and illegal things, including forcing Minister Young out of office and brokering an illegal weapons sale. Eun Soo has actually seen two of his henchmen, the one who brought her dad the bribe money and the other who broke into Shi Mok’s apartment once.
Oh, did you want me to tell you the end? If you watched it before, you already know, and if you haven’t watched it, you’d better get on it—I don’t want to ruin it for you!
Woo Tak Ha, played by Choi Moo Sung (forever known as Taek’s dad from Reply 1988), will be the Chief Prosecutor. In Season 2, there will be a tug-of-war between the police and the prosecutors about who has jurisdiction over what. Has anyone ever wondered why prosecutors in Korea go out and investigate the crimes? Isn’t that what the police do? Well, here they are worrying about it.
Choi Bit will be the head of intelligence for the Korean National Police Agency. If you saw Search: WWW, then you saw Jeon Hye Jin as Director Song Ka Kyung of a big web portal company. In this show, she’s going to stand up for the police to have independence from the prosecutors, in the face of a new law that is being debated.
So there you go, with pretty much a character list. This show lives not only on its tight and clever writing but on the characters of the two leads. With the writer and the leads all returning, the new season should be great! In the USA, it’s going to stream on Netflix.
Join us as we watch and let us know how you like it!
Dramas With a Side of Kimchi