Pied Piper 피리부는 사나이 - Episode 3 (Recap)

Hmmmm, heating up quickly, this little gem. This is an extremely interesting episode on many levels, in which we get to know more about our main character and the people connected to him. His relationship with the young padawan Myung-ha is particularly interesting - and I don't mean in a romance kind of way, though I'm not saying there is no room for any. No, what intrigues me the most is the way he almost naturally becomes her teacher and how she actively seeks his advise but at the same time becomes his voice of conscience. The more this intrigues me, the more difficult it is to keep this short, but oh well ... being obsessed is lovely, I'll embrace it.
No way I can ship our anti-hero and Myung-Ha. As Joanne said before, she's got that "just cried" face, and it doesn't suit someone as interesting as Sung-chan.
It's not that there isn't room for any, but their history is complicated. I don't think you know why yet. I will say that even by episode 10, I can't make up my mind if he simply admires and is fond of her, or if he has romantic feelings toward her.

Episode 3

Myung-ha is super pissed at Sung-chan for moving in the SWAT team behind her back and nags him for being "just the same as before" (i.e. a heartless bastard who plays with human lives) and that statement makes him angry enough to stop in his tracks and talk to her about her silly notion of "befriending a robber". Lesson one (of many) from a pro to our rookie: she shouldn't care about the perpetrator but about the lives of innocent civilians. Also: "What is important in our jobs is not the intent but the result". Alas, she is not ready to buy any of this, not from him - and neither would I. And yet, it seems that her words resonate... it seems to me that some part of him does not WANT to be a scumbag.
I found her childish. Yes, everyone should play nice, but that was a robber with a gun holding hostages, not a playground spat between 5 year olds.
I think that they have significant impact on each other. He's not the scumbag he can look like, and her desire to work things out is pathology rooted in trauma.
He walks away after this, but oups, here come the K-Group black suits again, there to apprehend him. Suddenly, he finds it convenient to be arrested by Myung-ha (yes, another chance for her to manhandle him, ahahaha, I'm getting a feeling he is kinda liking it?), because she really hates his guts and wants him off the street. K-Group Chairman is not pleased when he hears about it, but Sung-chan gets a chance to see the bunker offices AND be a cute-cheeky-dick with Myung-ha. Look. Look at that face!
Hee, I love that face! So cheeky!
His face is so... dimensional. If you draw, that's a face you want to draw.
He skillfully takes advantage of his current "predicament" to a) tell her more about "Pied Piper", the criminal mastermind behind the bomb incident and the bank-robbery and b) get her to lead him to the interrogation rooms, where Mr. Bank-Robber is not saying a word (as he predicted). Well, Mr. Sloth (the Negotiator Team Leader named Kong Ji-Man, who gave our Reporter Yoon Hee-Sung a terrible, terrible interview not long ago, awww) throws a fit when he sees Sung-chan near the interrogation room (another person who hates his guts) and orders Myung-ha to lock him up.
Don't lock up the cool guy who can show you how to do your job! Oh, wait, I guess that could be annoying.
This guy, though - Sloth - they make him more likable than he should be for someone who it appears they wish to position as an obstacle for the team...
I am not sure that they really saw him as an obstacle when they put him there. To me, it looks more like sidelining. Kong is inconvenient, the team is inconvenient, hence, they're a perfect match.
Mr. Negotiator is in a cell, quite unfazed, when a new crisis starts developing. This time, it's right at the Casino: The protests outside continue (and actually have continued to plague this particular site for years, we learn.) A man who is psychologically unstable and mentally challenged rams his car into the hotel/casino's lobby. He has his car loaded with flammable material and in addition, pokes holes into an aerosol cans, which starts to leak fumes, which seem to make him even more unstable. GREAT.
He planned a lot considering how mentally unstable he is.
I think he maybe did the planning during a more lucid moment and the stress of the activity has flipped him over into this mode, not to mention he's inhaling the gasses, etc. That's how I explained it to myself, anyway, as I marveled that this guy was allowed anywhere near a car.
Or .... someone else did the planning for him (hint hint) 
The crisis negotiating team is activated (the SWAT is there as well, booooo, to "handle" the protesters (I was amused at SWAT leader admiring his baby's photos and explaining how each one was different - cute... it's good to see this actor playing a nice dude for a change)) and Myung-ha goes in to talk to the poor man. I must say, she has guts, this woman. But her approach also makes me cringe, because it's just so unprofessional. She immediately "befriends" him again. It is interesting that she attempts to get permission to use Sung-chan as a "consultant" - not successfully. First, Sung-chan laughs at her for thinking he wants to work with someone as incompetent (and constricting) as the police and second, her Team Leader would rather suck on a rotten tomato than have this guy anywhere near him.
Jealous Team Leader who proves Sung-chan's point about incompetence. Good thing this isn't real life.
Ah, but there's so much incompetence in real life........
Let's just cut her a bit of slack, though, since all of her 'training' to date is limited to notes she reads in her dead uncle's journal. She has remarkable empathy and they've highlighted that her skills of observation are pretty good - at this point rather than saying she's a negotiator we should probably acknowledge that she has the requisite skill set and is 'negotiator adjacent.'
But Sung-chan soon turns up at the site anyway (even despite the fact that nobody whistled so far): Chairman Seo gets him out of his cell and into his office, where we learn a ton of interesting things. First, Chairman Seo is (very) ill / coughing blood. Second, he does not trust his brother-in-law (neither do I), Kang Hong-Suk (BiL Kang in the future), he is greedy and over-ambitious. Chairman Seo wants his only son Seo Joon to inherit the company/conglomerate. The kid seems nice enough (though weird) ... What he probably does not know is that his granddad's empire is built on blood-money accumulated through loan-sharking and massive tax evasion, money he wants to money launder through the casino. And because the protesters are keeping Chairman Seo from opening the casino and because his time is running short, he wants to get rid of the protesters A.S.A.P.
I don't know any teenage boys who serve tea, nor have I ever known any that do, unless they were working in a cafe. I feel this kid might be a jeynneeous barista psychopath in the future.
That kid gave me some worrisome vibes, actually. Guaranteed he knows more than we think. Re Sung Chan showing up on site, I think it's equal parts Chairman Seo requesting it and a desire to keep Myung-Ha alive. Re the brother in law? No trust. None. Zilch. Zero. Warning bells pinging like crazy.
The thing is ... the Chairman wants Sung-chan to plant a leaflet on the Mad Driver, to establish a (fake) connection between him and the protesters. That, the Chairman believes, will turn the tide and sway public opinion in his favor, so that he can continue with his money-laundering through the casino. Sung-chan seems genuinely outraged about this suggestion. But then, the Chairman offers to help him find the Pied Piper (he's like: who do you think will get to him faster? The police - or me, with my means?) and that seems to be an offer Sung-chan can't refuse. Also, the dynamic between him and the Chairman is really weird... Sung-chan doesn't seem to have much of a choice when this man calls and comes running (sometimes with a delay of 1 year, but still).
Blood debt? Or maybe the Chairman is half-zombie general who can summon the Troops of the Dead?
For me, at this point Sung-Chan hasn't completely worked out his thoughts on what he does. He's still very much in the 'I'm not doing anything wrong' camp. But! He's beginning to wonder if that's really true. Anyway, not so much that he needs to cut himself off from Seo, who can provide serious help in Sung-Chan's vendetta against the Pied Piper. If everything is a negotiation to him... then he's still willing to pay the price for that access.
Sung-chan goes to the crisis site and immediately dominates the scene with his awesomeness. Yes, I readily admit that I have a crush. Myung-ha is also visibly relieved when he turns up next to her and helps her cope with the Mad Driver. Well, help he does, but Sung-chan mainly goes in there to plant the leaflet inside the poor man's car. Shame on you, fie. The Mad Driver is rambling about how "these people" (=K Group) have kidnapped his mother and experimented on her (she used to work for them but has recently died of pneumonia), but can be soothed by the promise that he can talk to a reporter about his grievances.
Sung-chan is not out to help people generally, but to meet his own goals. That's fair considering he's out for revenge and justice and all. 
He's not against helping people, but his budget for it is pretty low. 
Enter Hee-sung (who was actually made aware of the situation by evil brother-in-law Kang... and especially of the fact that Sung-chan will get involved). Sung-chan, who seems to have been expecting Hee-sung, quickly strikes a deal with him: pretend to film the Mad Driver for broadcast, get him to lower the car window, to "reduce the risk factor" (of him setting the fumes on fire and thus triggering his explosives? not sure) and solve the issue - in return for exclusive rights to this story.
I'm telling you, keep your eyes on that brother-in-law. He is a bad apple.
Hee-sung bites, the plan works well, the Mad Driver does open the car window a bit - and after much talking and emoting and bonding, Myung-ha gains his trust and the man can be dragged out of the car without any SWAT-involvement and rushed off to a hospital. While Hee-sung films, he of course becomes aware of the leaflet in the car.
My, my. Imagine that.
And now, the most interesting (and puzzling) thing in this episode happens: Hee-sung isn't dumb, so when Sung-chan attempts to stop him from broadcasting anything about the link between the protesters and this man who crashed his car into the lobby, he immediately accuses the Negotiator of planting the leaflet as false evidence. Sung-chan shows that he is shocked.... mock-shocked? to be "found out". He squirms and looks super uncomfortable and finally, he strikes a deal with the eager reporter. If Hee-sung drops the story about the "link" between the Mad Driver and the protesters, Sung-chan promises to give him a much bigger story... the Pied Piper. He is convinced that if they work together, they can catch him.
This was so cool! I loved how Sung-chan played this!
Yeah, this was pretty skillful.
And thus, Hee-Sung organizes an interview with the two negotiators on the Mad Driver case through the chief of police, whose arm he skillfully twist. To make this work without embarrassment for the police, Sung-chan is quickly made an official consultant. Huh. 
Yes, this was coming from a mile away. At least the crisis negotiation team will have some work now.
I'm telling you, making him the consultant was actually the key piece of this all along. You watch. This is Mei Chang Su level plotting.

Additional Tidbits 

* Something happened 13 years ago, related to a K-Group "remodeling" project: A"tragedy", it seems, one that Myung-ha thinks could have been handled by a negotiator like Sung-chan. However, we learn in this episode that the tragedy is actually (in part) his fault: A younger him, a new recruit at Chairman Seo's company, suggests at the crucial meeting to start construction "forcefully", aka driving out the residents. Even if there is loss of life. That's horrible TT______________TT
I've seen this several times in dramas. Okay, once before.
I would love to get more Korean input on this drama, particularly in Seoul and particularly in people older than 35-40.  There were really incidents like this back in the 80s during redevelopment, and I'm guessing that it's still a very difficult topic.
Part of why I love this drama so much. It cares

* It seems pretty clear at this point in time that people DID lose their lives, and I bet this is also about that little girl, the girl we saw reading the Pied Piper story right at the beginning of episode 1. Pied Piper must be someone related to her. Or her?
It would be cool if the Pied Piper was her, but my money is still on the journalist. However, maybe that girl is Myung-ha?
Maybe Seung Chan is that little girl. He was terribly burned in the fire and reconstruction made him look more like a guy, so he went with that as a cover for his revenge.
* Myung-ha wants to ride in the ambulance that brings the Mad Driver to the hospital, but Sung-chan pulls her back. Haha, she has learnt nothing about not "befriending the bad guys".
I don't know how she got through police training.
Their whole system is very different, though. There's a lot more 'peacekeeper' than you normally think of when you think about police here in the states, I think, and she's also not really thinking like a cop here. At all. Plus, she doesn't yet understand the difference between negotiation and mediation.
Yes, he even brings the distinction up at one point in the drama (not sure which episode) 

* After vowing he will do "anything" to catch the Pied Piper, Sung-chan stares at the ring on the gold chain in his car again. Still grieving. Poor man.
Sung-chan's focus is our gain. 
It's only been a year, and he must feel a lot of responsibility and regret.

* Myung-ha noticed that he picked up something at the scene after they rescue the Mad Driver (it's the flyer that he wants to hide) and gets really close to him to take it out of his coat pocket. He seems totally flustered. The funny thing is that there is in fact romantic music, which misleads us into thinking she is indeed into him. Or maybe she is into him? I am very much into him, so it's possible.
No, I don't think she is, just that she's more brawn than brains, but all that touching must be disconcerting for him.
I think she doesn't even realize he's a man, haha. But he's a man who would be shy around women in personal situations. He has a hard time with emotion of any type.
*I like how they highlight the different styles in negotiating. Sung-chan’s methods are very effective, but morally corrupt. He is all about cost-benefit calculations, which "allows" him to weigh the loss of human lives against the gains of the optimal outcome. He places the result over the method. Myung-ha uses a deeply human style (empathize with and listen to everyone), which isn't overly cost-effective (it took her 4 hours to get that man off the bridge in episode 2) and not always effective. They will have to find a middle-way, between the corrupt-effective and the humane style.
Sung-chan is good at getting the other person listening to him, so to me the issue is more what the end goal is of the negotiation. Sung-chan wants what he wants, and sees the negotiation as a tool, whereas Myung-ha sees the negotiation as the end goal.
How can negotiation be the end goal? I don't understand what you mean. My take: Sung Chan sees negotiation as a tool for getting a result that will benefit him directly or indirectly. Myung Ha sees negotiation as a way of protecting people.
I get what she means. Myung-ha does not have a clear (strategic) result in mind when she goes in to negotiate, she just wants to world to be okay again, and everybody to like everybody else. Which means that talking and listening to these sad people is her "goal".

Comments and Thoughts

Clever, clever Sung-cheng. Of course, he would never drop the leaflet like that (it was clearly visible), THEN suggest they bring in Hee-sung to mock-film anything, then so obviously trying to stop him from airing the story about the link between the Driver and the protesters, to then become the prime suspect for planting false evidence .... unless he wanted everything to happen exactly the way it did. Which means him on the police team as consultant and Hee-sung helping him. Which means he very skillfully played this guy by giving him the feeling he had discovered his guilt and has power over him, which he totally does not have. Hmmmm... 
Smooth. Even Shmoove. 
I will tell you I am Batman so that you think I can't possibly be Batman except I really AM Batman, but you'll guess that I would guess you'd think that so it must mean I'm not really Batman...or am I?
On the Reporter and the Negotiator: Hee-sung was the one who came at Sung-chan during the press conference in episode 1, trying to find out more about the hostage's death, so he clearly does not like him and/or knows something about his shady deals. They both completely distrust each other. In one of their confrontations, Sung-chan mentions how Hee-sung did not release the truth a year ago in favor for his new job, but Hee-sung has a different perspective: he did not release the info or go after the truth because he had no power back then. He is now in the process of getting the necessary power. Is that the only thing driving him, I wonder?
He seems motivated by his power. 
He's got a long game going, I can feel that much.

I do not fully understand the relationship between Chairman Seo and Sung-chan. Sung-chan seems to care for the man in some way, but he also seems fearful. In the end, he decides "against" him by not following orders to create a link between the Mad Driver and the protestors. That seems quite dangerous, even though Chairman Seo is not a thug. Also dangerous: Kang Hong-Suk, the brother-in-law. He wants the company, that much is clear, but why does he hate Sung-chan so much? Not sure what his plan is.
When working with people, it's easy to develop a certain attachment to them even if you don't like them much. I put it down to this, and nothing more. And Sung-chan never left K Group, he was still very aware of it and factoring it into his calculations (like stay out of their way). So, he wasn't really cutting ties.
Yeah... they've worked pretty closely together in that 13 year period, so I'd say it's been a close and trusting relationship. Even symbiotic. Seo developed Sung Chan into the man that he is by encouraging his talent. Plus it's weird because, like you say - Seo isn't a thug, even though it feels like he is one.
Another really interesting relationship is developing between Sung-chan and Myung-ha. Part of her detests him for seemingly disregarding human life, part of her clearly looks up to him and admires him. He almost naturally starts coaching her, which is sweet, and I think she has a lot of talent to see through people's masks. And her biggest talent clearly is "listening". When she says "You came here. You feign indifference, but you too want to save them", she gets to him and I think part of that is true. She also says: "I would like to be an outstanding negotiator like you", which rattles him even more. He carries a LOT of guilt, this man. This will be interesting. I might already ship them a little bit.
Eh, not me. I think I find Myung Ha a bit tedious when she's not manhandling Sungchan.  
She seems... young to me. Very young. There's a reason, we can be sure.

Leads on the Pied Piper:

* When Mr. Bank-Robber is led into an interrogation room at the beginning of the episode, he hears the Pied Piper's signature whistling from one of the men seated in front of a TV, on which Yoon Hee-Sung is just this moment reporting about the incident! We do not get to see the man's face (of course), but we get to see part of his nose and his lips! That's something! IF this is the Pied Piper and not just an individual paid to whistle like him.
My feeling is that this is a decoy.  
Wouldn't it be interesting, though, if he's always near by.
* At the end of the episode, we're back in an interrogation cell. The Bank Robber is getting more and more nervous and there seems the possibility that he will crack... but then it's lunch time, and our Robber finds something in his soup... a message. It reads: "Keep your promise".
Luckily, he didn't swallow that paper!
Poor Bank Robber guy.