A fun episode which adds some noteworthy wrinkles to the briskly progressing story.
This recap of Cafe Minamdang season 1, episode 8 contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Avoiding being stabbed with a needle due to the emergence of a frustrated Jae-hui, Han-joon silences the detective when she tries to explain her undercover operation, well aware of Tae-su’s lingering presence. So the two hide in a cubicle until Jin-sang’s right-hand man exits, a point in which the shaman discusses the suspicions he has over the man who almost killed him.
Agreeing to share information, Jae-hui and Han-joon cooperate in their respective investigations. The shaman agrees to find the friend of Eun-hye’s that the police are looking for in exchange for help, which turns out to be the detective auditioning as an “action star.” It’s here that Jae-hui was meant to spill coffee over the potential burn mark Jin-sang has, but the plan ultimately fails when the drink is spilt over the director’s suit instead.
Cafe Minamdang season 1, episode 8 recap
However, when Jin-sang ends up electrocuted, there’s a quick chance for the pairing to look for the scar. Though it’s a fruitless task, as we see that although there is a noticeable mark, it’s not something a burn would have caused. A little later on, Do-won tells Jae-hui that the Joyce Entertainment director has an alibi, finding himself slightly jealous when his friend hangs up on him to focus on her current task which involves Han-joon. As such, he leaves his office before looking at the company’s cash flow data, while the two differing investigators regret the fact they couldn’t find Eun-hye’s friend.
As Han-joon and Jae-hui bicker again, vowing to not work together, they are greeted by their respective friends, who have the person they’re looking for with them. Thus, they hear Lee Ji-eun’s story together, discovering that the 18-year-old filmed Eun-hye dancing alone in front of people, noticing it was suspicious when one particular woman caused the trainee to cry. Then, Ji-eun fled the area when seeing her friend being made to strip, scared that the same fate may become hers, yet evidently distraught over her actions now that she knows Eun-hye has died.
With the video deleted, the phone sold, and Ji-eun unaware of who the people who made Eun-hye strip are, the only option is for those investigating is to track the buyer of the mobile device. Hye-jun has no trouble completing this task as we find out, with the current owner found to be residing on an island. Meanwhile, Du-jin informs Jae-hui that Sang-hyeop and Gwang-tae have been sent to the illegal election activities division, leaving them as a duo only aided by the enlisted backup of Prosecutor Cha.
Now that both groups are vying to find the phone first, they find themselves in a bidding war for the device when confronting the owner, one filled with petty tactics that only ends when Han-joon forks over a hefty sum of cash. Well, it seems that way at first, but when the shaman starts gloating over his purchase, Jae-hui snatches the phone out of his hand, signalling the start of a full-bodied tussle between the two parties to obtain the potential evidence.
In the end, nobody really comes out on top, as both the police and the shaman’s ensemble miss the final ship of the day. Therefore, a compromise has to be made, which sees Hye-jun run forensics on the phone in agreement that the information found will be shared with the police.
That night, the groups gather around to watch the recovered video after a sort of team dinner, spotting someone deemed to be Tae-su, in addition to a seemingly higher ranking woman unable to be found on the Joyce Entertainment employee list. There’s also a curly-haired man present, someone Han-joon recognises the need to discover the identity of.
Following on from the tensions between the two sides cut, and inroads into a proper alliance being made, we cut to Han-joon’s heart-to-heart with Jae-hui on the beach. There, the two discuss their individual determination to solve the case, understanding each other’s perspectives in greater detail, as well as the importance of real culprit’s use of mobile phones. “I’m truly sorry about not believing you, doubting you, and accusing you,” Jae-hui says, admitting she misjudged the character of the former profiler, who embraces the fact that the conclusions the detective drew were natural. “We just saw different things and believed what we each saw,” Han-joon adds, easing the pairing’s animosity because of their compassion to the other’s regrets.
In time, the moment of intimacy between the former foes is interrupted by Do-won, who wishes for the detective to be comfortable around him. “Just don’t forget that I’m always on your side,” he states, flustering Jae-hui enough for her to wish to head inside the house before she repeats the same words back to the prosecutor. Afterwards though, some tension enters proceedings, as Han-joon sternly informs Do-won that had he took his advice on board three years ago, he may not be the same person he is now. “Finding the truth isn’t something you give up on,” he continues when asked if giving up could have seen an end to conflicts of this ilk, confronting the prosecutor that there is clearly an issue with.
The next day, Han-joon humorously allows the police to reclaim the evidence-filled phone, claiming that the cooperation between both groups has now ended. Yet he is teased by both Jae-hui and Do-won, who share the same outlook that if he does not wish to have paths cross, the shaman should step away from the case. Afterwards, Han-joon explains to his partners that working with “Grumpy” would only make Gopuri notice them, before he orders a look into the people around Eun-hye in the hopes of finding the curly-haired anomaly seen in the video.
Elsewhere, Jae-hui is informed by Ji-eun that Eun-hye always got off at Hankuk University Station, a nugget that allows the police to gain an advantage over their frenemies. Meanwhile, Hye-jun talks with her brother about a man who left the country whenever the deceased trainee did, the live-streamer Jeon Gyeong-cheol, described as a “21st-century pimp.” Surmising that this is expedition gambling, Han-joon is soon interrupted by Su-cheol, who offers information that the curly-haired target is the acting chief for the Jjokmun Gang.
Realising that the video they have seen was to check the “tastes of the people they bribe with sex,” Han-joon wonders who could’ve known about Gyeong-cheol’s trips. Su-cheol replies that the person clued into ongoings would’ve been “The Queen Bee” Madam Wang, a woman who “devours” men her type, and has a liking for flashy things.
Next, we see the police struggle with their tactic of questioning people near Hankuk University Station, though they eventually find a breakthrough at a cafe. It allows them to track down the victim’s apartment building, where we find out Eun-hye had allegedly came with her uncle, who we then see is no relative, but rather Gyeong-cheol. Meanwhile, Madam Wang takes a liking to Su-cheol, with the barrister’s participation in flirtation key to receiving intel from “The Queen Bee.”
Information wise, it becomes clear that the scandal involving Eun-hye runs deep, with politicians and businessmen all involved. So, once Hye-jun is helped with accosting her cheating partner, work can begin on getting to the bottom of it.
When Do-won finds out that Joyce Entertainment’s funds had been used in Southeast Asia by Gyeong-cheol, he admits to having reasonable suspicion that the company were involved in Eun-hye’s death. So he tasks his team with finding out how Park Jin-sang knows the loan shark, heading out to Daeun Station in the meantime.
Elsewhere, the police watch a video of Eun-hye crying in the lift, intrigued by the fact she had came out of the underground car park despite being known to use the subway. We then see Gyeong-cheol’s appearance, before Do-won appears to quiz the detectives on whether the gang chief had leased the victim’s studio apartment. Concurrently, Han-joon’s group are staking out an old-looking building, finding that the well-protected place is a location for illegal acts used as a vehicle for debts to be settled with Gyeong-cheol.
Here, we also find out that sometimes these debt-riddled adult entertainers are dragged away during livestreams, unheard of afterwards. Realising the gravity of the situation, Na-dan is tasked with pretending to be one of the victims, while Han-joon enters the building under his usual shaman disguise. There, he scares the thugs by using Jung Eun-ha’s name, the overall performance then forcing the shaken men into begging for help.
Afterwards, Han-joon uses the vulnerable criminals to be able to freely approach Gyeong-cheol. As we see, he is busy confronting one of his pawns, wishing for her debts to be settled through videos and clients now that she is unable to stream. What follows when the former cops arrive is a confrontation which allows for a harsh interrogation of the loan shark, where they discover the password needed to unlock the locker which hides the shady dealings of Jjokmun and Joyce Entertainment.
Finding out that Gyeong-cheol is aware of Joyce Entertainment’s involvement in the crimes, but no finer details, Han-joon shakes the loan shark when describing a man with a burn scar as the potential higher-up with the orders. Though no answers can be given, as the pursuing Jae-hui soon bursts through the door, putting an end to their investigation when the shaman is tasered instead of the criminal.
In the epilogue, we see a more detailed version of the mobile phone video involving Eun-hye, and then a present day look at a mysterious looking woman, who was present at the time, bothered by the reemergence of Han-joon.