Cafe Minamdang season 1, episode 17 recap – a breezy penultimate installment

By Nathan Sartain
Published: August 23, 2022
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A breezy penultimate installment that comes with plenty of revelations ahead of tomorrow’s finale.

This recap of the Netflix K-Drama series Cafe Minamdang season 1, episode 17 contains spoilers.

Read the recap of the previous episode

We begin with Tae-su’s escape from a pre-planned car collision, which comes after his admission that it has been his job is to protect since he was rescued. The serial killer instructs a hurt Du-jin not to feel bad, though, as he  only would have lived a “worthless” life if he was found by the police as a child.

Cafe Minamdang season 1, episode 17 recap

Next, we see Seung-won had witnessed his brother transporting the unconscious body of Han-joon, leading to the heir carrying out instructions to have Do-won’s vehicle discreetly tailed. Meanwhile, Su-cheol enters the temple to find a shaken Jae-hui, who is panicking over the disappearance of her ally. Believing that Auntie Im must have been behind the capture, the group quickly get ready to head out, worried also by the news of Tae-su’s escape.

While checking the nearby CCTV footage, the Minamdang crew notice an accomplice standing alongside Auntie Im. Then, they spot the appearance of Seung-won’s car, realising that the GPS tracker they put on the rich heir’s vehicle could lead them to where they need to go. With that in mind, the trio head back to the cafe.

At Minamdang, Seung-won is shocked by the sight of what his brother is doing, but appears to remain seated. Following that, we watch Do-won carry out the cynical framing of Han-joon in the murder of Auntie Im, which includes lying about Tae-su’s role as an anonymous tipster.

Naturally, everyone is stunned by Han-joon’s arrest, even if the former profiler is adamant that he was caught in Gopuri’s trap. It’s because Do-won has a plan for this too, claiming that Tae-su’s tip mentioned that the shaman was attempting to kill Auntie Im, then pin the crime on someone else. What unfolds is a desperate attempt for Han-joon to swiftly clear his name, with the shaman stating that the knife was planted on him by the killer, and the crime scene was tampered with to purposefully frame him. Unfortunately, these words fall on deaf ears, with the former profiler arrested, and the area preserved for forensic inspection.

When Jae-hui mentions that something is amiss, a cold Do-won replies that prosecutors must inspect based on evidence, not personal feelings. Harshly, Gopuri also warns the detective that she should stop investigating the case given her relationship with the suspect. This request, however, is rejected. Outside, Su-cheol explains to Han-joon that the CCTV didn’t record anything, while Hye-jun swears that they won’t allow their figurehead to suffer for a crime he didn’t commit. With that being said, we do notice that Do-won managed to watch the suspicious footage of him and Auntie Im back at the temple.

After Han-joon instructs his colleagues to look into how three cases are related, we cut to the police station. There, the former profiler reflects alone, intensely attempting to deduce who Gopuri could be based on profiling his “signature characteristics.” Somewhat angered, the shaman curses the killer, yet appears to be no closer to discovering his identity.

Once Jae-hui reassures Han-joon that there is mutual trust between the two, in addition to the fact that she will make sure to prove his innocence, we move forward to the next day. There, Do-won has arrived at the station to collect the current suspect, but has been duped by the former profiler’s facade of needing the toilet. As a result, Han-joon and Su-cheol manage to exit the building with their police uniform disguises, setting off an investigation into the shaman’s whereabouts.

That night, in a tracked phone conversation with Jae-hui, Han-joon expresses his suspicions that Gopuri has a spy amongst the group. Detailing his rationale, the former profiler has escaped to find concrete evidence which points towards who the criminal mastermind is. Naturally, the police are frustrated that they can’t track their suspect, but they do soon turn their attention to the genuine plausibility that there could be a traitor within the investigating team.

Watching the recording of the night’s events on his laptop, Seung-won teases his brother over the fact that he knows what happened, until he gets tipped over the edge. Then, he threatens Do-won, annoyed at the false guilt he’s had to live with all this time, though the prosecutor remains calm, cutting a deal instead. In exchange for the Choekang chairman position, Seung-won must delete the footage, and hand over a person who has been bothering his sibling.

The following day, Jae-hui heads over to meet with a curiously cooperative Seung-won, but gets pulled into a black van that had tailed her. Fortunately, the Minamdang group were already in the area, so follow the vehicle themselves in an attempt to stop Do-won having the detective delivered to him.

Unfortunately, Han-joon’s trust appears to be misplaced, as he phones Do-won to inform him of Jae-hui’s capture, and ask for help. Or at least it initially seems that way, until it’s revealed that the former profiler was well aware of the prosecutor’s suspicious behaviour, meaning that the phone call act was all done purposefully. A flashback then shows that the whole investigating team were made aware of three people having claim to the identity of Gopuri while Han-joon was in custody.

The reason for Gopuri potentially having three identities is split into the differing motives for the crimes. These, which are listed as “desire, execution, hindrance” point to one mastermind, who is then revealed to the group to be the man who “worked in the regional office that let the murdered criminals go,” Cha Do-won. While the police are ticked off when given the proof to go along with these claims, Jae-hui is particularly distraught, recalling all the times the prosecutor pretended to care either for, or about, her.

After finding out that Seung-won was used as bait, and Han-joon’s escape was a pre-planned moment to mess with Gopuri’s head (Do-won’s phone was also stolen to be tracked), we watch as the intricate plan to catch the prosecutor in the act is laid out, then executed.

Returning to the present, where the detectives are comfortably tailing Jae-hui, we see that Seung-won has plans to go after Do-won once his shares are transferred. Of course, that is unlikely to happen, given some fake signage causes the rich heir to take an unexpected detour that limits his arrival at Jakdu Land.

As Han-joon makes inroads towards trapping Do-won and Tae-su, Hye-jun informs the group that Seung-won will make his entrance in five minutes alongside Secretary Nam. Of course, this turns out to be Su-cheol and Du-jin pretending to be the duo, but it all ultimately helps Han-joon move forward in his plan to get Gopuri riled up enough to make his move.

Concurrently, we watch as Gopuri exposes his strategy, which is to use Seung-won (Do-won is still oblivious that he is talking to Su-cheol) to kill the arriving “nuisance” Han-joon in exchange for the rest of the desired shares. Yet this all plays right into the former profiler’s hands.

With that being said, Han-joon’s plan does not run smoothly. For one, a returning Gwang-tae almost blows the group’s discreet cover, while Sang-hyub’s failed attempt at rescuing Jae-hui only succeeds in creating more drama. Add to that the fact that Du-jin appears to be far too engaged in his role when accidentally struck with a pipe to the point of bleeding, and it seems as though Do-won has a high chance of catching on to what’s happening.

The ending

Luckily, when the prosecutor does head down to confront Han-joon, he does so to tease him, disappointed that the former profiler took this long to figure out his real identity. With the two staring at each other, we cut to the epilogue, which shows Secretary Nam admit to Seung-won’s involvement with Auntie Im in the Jakdu-dong scheme.

What did you think of the Netflix K-Drama series Cafe Minamdang season 1, episode 17? Comment below.

You can stream Cafe Minamdang exclusively on Netflix.

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