Another fun installment that continues the excellent balance between silly humor and genuine drama.
This recap of the Netflix K-Drama series Cafe Minamdang season 1, episode 2 contains spoilers.
Read the recap of the previous episode.
As Han-joon begins to execute the plan to frustrate Gyeong-ho enough for Cheong-gi to become vulnerable for a deal, we return to Jae-hui’s stunted investigation of the fraudster’s house. There, she manages to escape when head-butting the blinded shaman, with the rest of the group failing to even detect her presence. Though part of the detective’s keyring has been left in Han-joon’s hand.
Cafe Minamdang season 1, episode 3 recap
At her house, a relieved Jae-hui talks to Do-won about the Gyeong-ho case, and how she wishes to make him pay “until he begs for mercy.” The prosecutor is happy to offer his unwavering support due to this determination – although he does ask for a meal to be bought for him here and there – but when the call ends, the detective’s mind goes back to the relationship chart she discovered in Han-joon’s house, which seems to suggest her brother had something to do with the criminal VP.
The next day, Detective Na heads to Cafe Minamdang for a pre-booked appointment, ready to meet the shaman. Curious, Jae-hui asks to tag along, coming clean about her desire to ask him a question that she couldn’t due to his sudden disappearance. “I never forgot him, not even for a moment,” she says, drawing a question from the rookie cop over whether she had a crush on him, and an agreement that she is allowed to head into the appointment with him.
Inside the cafe, an awkward dropping of Jae-hui when startled causes Han-joon to remember their past. Afterwards, the appointment with Detective Na shows that he needs to “fix” his sensitive, obsessive personality, and that the rookie may not be the best fit for the Major Crime division of the police force. Musing that the gates of hell will soon open for the cop, Han-joon explains that while Na may think he has tried his best, he will still be criticised and hated, because even though it won’t be his fault a crime occurred, it will be his fault that the criminal wasn’t caught.
Upon hearing this, Jae-hui wonders if what Han-joon is saying is in fact the reason why he walked away from his career as a profiler, in addition to whether he is just using his skills in that department to pretend he is a shaman. And, although the accusations are initially laughed off, a serious mood appears when the detective adds that he had once served time for tampering with evidence. A flashback to two years ago follows, where we see Han-joon leaving prison dejected, only to be further embarrassed by his sister’s collection of him in the fancy car she used her NIS severance pay to purchase. Later on, we see the beginnings of the business that is now Cafe Minamdang, with Han-joon tricking a woman who he had overheard talking about her missing son into believing that he is a legitimate shaman.
When the first case is completed, albeit in a rather ham-fisted, improvisational way, we see not just the money-making potential spotted by Han-joon’s crew, but also the introduction of their assistant, Na-dan. There is an important other goal shared by the group though, which is to find the person who killed Prosecutor Han, had both Han-joon and Su-cheol framed to get rid of them from the police, and held a Gopuri knot (meant for comforting the dead) when Jae-jeong had passed away. “The culprit is either a shaman, or someone fascinated with shamanism,” Han-joon says, before acknowledging that the culprit must also have a burn scar.
Knowing that the best way to catch the man they’re looking for was to properly give shamanism a go, we see the group buy into the idea of Cafe Minamdang before we return to the present. Here, Han-joon dismisses the idea that he helped Choi Yeong-seop get away, wishing for the detective to read the ruling instead. Though Jae-hui stands firm, and gives the shaman one chance to explain the situation properly, to “repent.” Han-Joon questions the blindness of his foe’s investigation however, claiming that she isn’t qualified for the job, and will ruin people’s lives.
When Prosecutor Han’s death is brought up, Han-Joon admits that he feels guilty every night for what happened, though insists he did not make a mistake. However, he would apologise to his family if given the chance, something that irritates Jae-hui, who wanted the matter explained. “I swear I will catch you,” the detective says, adamant that her enemy must be at least somewhat in the wrong for what happened. As a result, Han-joon vocalises his desire to no longer get involved with the woman he is so closely linked to.
As Jae-hui vows to capture Yeong-seop herself, then reveal her identity as Jae-jeong’s sister, Han-joon affords himself time to reflect prior to returning to the relationship chart forming part of his own investigation. We see clearly here that both want to catch the same person, but their intentions of how to do so are currently incompatible.
Later on, Jae-hui informs Do-won that she has found Han-joon, something which piques the interest of the prosecutor, who wishes to meet in person. So they sit outside his cafe shop together, while the detective informs her friend about the context involving the former profiler’s recent acts. Meanwhile, Gyeong-ho becomes enraged towards his former friend, who he believes has seduced his wife, leaving Cheong-gi firmly on the back foot.
As a result, Han-joon’s group pounce on the situation, heading out to find Cheong-gi while Jae-hui discreetly tails them alongside Do-won. When at the villa, the situation doesn’t go overly well for the shaman at first, with the wrong equipment brought for the task, and the emergence of security a concern. Though, despite the fact that Cheong-gi is being beaten, the fraudsters have enough in them to get past the minor blockade of men preventing them from completing their task.
While Jae-hui curiously wonders what Han-joon is scheming, a call from the police station interrupts the stakeout. It’s for good reason though, as Ms. Min has decided to give a witness statement, in addition to some more information about his current activities, which allows for the detective to realise where she actually is. Meanwhile, Han-joon and Su-cheol follow Cheong-gi to the place of his burial.
When the warrant is approved, Jae-hui gets set to enter Gyeong-ho’s villa, but is alarmed by the sound of the ongoing shaman service. So she follows the noise, finding Han-joon and questioning him over his appearance in a place of supposed criminal activity. As the two pairings then stare at each other, we cut to the epilogue, which shows the framing of the former profiler three years ago, and the investigation led by inspector Cheong-gi which would ultimately lead to his imprisonment.
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