Pied Piper 피리부는 사나이 - Episode 5 (Recap)

kakashi: "Get ready for action", the Pied Piper said, and action we get. Big Bad has new bad things in store for Sung-chan and his crew and I'm not getting the feeling they are even one step closer to finding out who he is. They are busy battling their own demons as some light is shed on the corruption that seems to be at the heart of the problem here.
Jaehyus: One exciting crisis negotiation at a time, they'll get there.
JoAnne: Kakashi, is Jaehyus being facetious? Why am I the only person with an actual name?

Episode 5

There is nothing on the pen, only static, and to make matters worse, Joo Sung-chan's allegations that an insider is involved in this whole thing is considered an affront by the committee. When he turns to Myung-ha for help, she publicly slaughters him. He is unfit to be a negotiator, she says, just following his own egoistical agenda, caring nothing for human life. It all ends with the committee dismissing Joo Sung-chan from his advisory position as per this very moment and the Negotiating Team being suspended until further notice.
I found her irrational. He's really good at negotiating, so he's totally fit to be one. She's just upset at him personally.
Well, we know that her view of negotiation encompasses more than the ability to broker a deal. She has a more holistic view, I guess we can say. Again in this instance, the problem is her definition of the job.
Sung-chan does NOT understand what just happened, so he confronts Myung-ha about it once they're outside. Why is she so angry with him? She claims not to be, but he is not that easily fooled, of course, and tells her that her emotions are the reason she fell into a trap just now. He guesses correctly that it must have been Chief Yang who set her against him. He walks away, grumbling about her damn feelings getting in the way again. 
He will understand soon enough.
In the meantime, trouble is brewing at TNN, where Hee-sung has a brawl with an ex-employee and (ex-)Union member who protests against unfair treatment by the company (he was fired due to some very dodgy reasons). Well, it seem that the ex-employee was really after someone's ID card (he takes Hee-sung's during their fight) ... and not long after, Press Director Yoo receives a phone call. Someone whistles. And a disguised voice says: "Be prepared. There will be a terror attack at your station".
Breaking news at the news station. 
Wouldn't it have been much more entertaining to give the scoop to ANOTHER news station?
The Negotiation Team is in existential crisis themselves when SWAT-leader Han - who has come to tell Myung-ha to join his team once hers is disbanded - gets news of the threat against the TV station. Sung-chan is just about to give back his police ID when he gets wind of it too (through his buddy Choi Sung-Bum, awww, who calls him). He takes back his badge, busts into the Chief's office and waits for what he thinks is inevitable: a phone call, summoning him to take care of things. 
I loved that little tug of war. Thank you so much for giffing it, Oh Great Gifster.
The SWAT-team searches the building ... nothing to be found. Myung-ha, who is tagging along, overcomes her negative emotions and calls Sung-chan - this is about the Piper after all. He tells her that she needs to find something threatening if she wants to revive the Negotiation Team ... it's his deal with the chief. She goes and finds Hee-sung as per Sung-chan's suggestion and they tour the station together. In the main news studio, she discovers a suitcase. The bomb-squad moves in since it looks very suspicious, but just when they're about to evacuate, the young female reporter from the Bank-Robbery episode runs in and claims it's hers.
Why was Myung-Ha able to just tag along? Aren't police teams pretty territorial?
I think Myung-Ha gets a pass on things a lot of times because she's sort of the station mascot all grown up and joined the force. They've all known her since she was a kid, and they all clearly like her.
Oh, and she is quasi a SWAT-gurl. They trained her, they want her back
Everybody is relieved (inside are her clothes and some clothes hangers) when all of a sudden, the channel content is hijacked by pictures of collapsing buildings and finally a clock, reading 72:00:00:00... and then, the countdown is started. I think this guy has seen 24! Underneath the time, a message appears: "Only the one without the power to punish can forgive."
What a pretentious line.
Is it even true? If you do something to me, and I have a choice of punishing you or forgiving you, and I choose to forgive you, how is that any less a true forgiving than that of the person who can either hate you powerlessly or forgive you? I mean... maybe it's more of a statement if I, who can do nothing but accept your misdeed against me, choose not to hate you for it. But I'm not sure I think that. Unless what he's saying is the one who has the power to punish (but isn't the person who was hurt) does not have the RIGHT to forgive you. That must be it. I would agree with that.
This is proof enough for the Chief that there is a Really Bad Guy out there like our Genius Negotiator claims, and thus, Sung-chan is back in business. He quickly forms an "anti-terrorist task force team" and gets them to investigate. It seems clear: someone with close ties to TNN must be behind this. 
I suppose that makes sense since the person would have to know how to set up their warning and where to hide.
I guess someone could hack in, though.
Chairman Seo and the Police Chief seem to suspect what this "terror attack" is about ... there is something at the TV station that cannot see the light of day, and if it does, it's going to be Very Bad for them. The former activates the Press Director Lee to solve the problem. The sneaky Brother-in-Law on the other hand activates Hee-sung, to watch the Press Director. Is this our axis of evil right there?
Is that 3 or 4 people in the Axis of Evil?
Oh, I don't think they suspect. I am quite certain they know exactly what it is and where it is. And I think the teams shift a little depending on the situation. Seo-Chief seem to be the center, with Lee as a minion, brother-in-law trying to weasel in and sow discord in various relationships, thereby seizing power. And then there's Sung-chan, who knows both Seo and BIL very well.

Our Task Force starts investigating people, but there really is just one name that comes up again and again: it's Noh Gyung-sok, the ex-colleague we met in the lobby at the beginning of the episode. And while we see Noh preparing Molotov cocktails with soju bottles, Hee-sung suddenly realizes where his ID card must have gone (that took you a LONG time). And indeed: Noh enters the building unnoticed, carrying a duffle bag full of flammable stuff, and swiftly goes and takes Press Director Lee hostage.
The way Hee-sung held his head in his hands in despair: I didn't totally buy that. 
The name comes up again and again, but I think if we went back to look, people were funneled into that direction by someone.
Hee-sung tells Sung-chan that he suspects the Pied Piper might be after some rumored “secret files”, which contain sensitive info about all the employees as well as many additional people in the public and private sector. A “weapon” for survival for the station, so to say - get dirt on everybody and they will have to continue funding you. But where could that be? (well … maybe somebody is modern and uses computers to store info?). No, they go search for it in all kinds of offices.
I can understand looking for a physical hard drive. Secret files couldn't go on the office intranet.
Hold that thought for later. Also: I suppose it could, but then they have to explain how to find it, access it, etc.

Already much closer to the source: Noh with his hostage, sorting through files in some storage room more and more desperately. He finally locates a hidden safe behind a picture on the wall. Lee claims not to know the password, which causes Noh to get violent. He lights one of his “cocktails”. Not much later, SWAT-Team leader Han bursts through the door, Myung-ha close behind. But Noh spills flammable liquid all over the floor and Mr. SWAT and Myung-ha quickly retreat to the door.
I feel bad for this guy. He's been pushed to this extreme simply because he tried to unionize or something like that, and then the Piper comes along and fans his resentment into this.
Things seem to be getting out of hand, so she calls Sung-chan. He immediately gets the situation and pretends to call Chairman Seo (he calls Choi instead, who is a bit slow…) and then says that the Chairman doesn’t care what happens to Press Director Lee, he won’t share the password. Ha! he also has a solution ready. Lee will open the safe for Noh (assuming correctly that he knows the password very well) and then, Sung-chan will swap places with the Press Director. Don't be crazy!!!! That guy really isn't worth it! 
Sung-chan wants to get close to Noh so he can find out more about the Pied Piper and talk more easily to him.
Plus it's dramatic.
Ah, but Sung-chan has already discussed matters with the SWAT-team before. His plan is to have the SWAT team “jump” Noh as soon as they walk out. Well, that goes south really quickly…The Press Director opens the safe and puts everything (files labeled Employee Surveillance Report and other stuff) into Noh’s bag. Sung-chan takes the opportunity to engage in a conversation with Noh about “that guy” who is making him do it and how he is just using him. Only... Noh is completely unimpressed. He tells him he knows all about his negotiation style because he has seen Sung-chan's confession clip that Hee-sung took. He knows he did not call the chairman just now and he knows that Sung-chan plans to trick him.
That was a good twist.
I did like that. I like every time we see Sung-chan blocked, and then have to come up with something new on the spot.
And ... he douses him with kerosene. I gasp. The danger just got real; “jumping” Noh is kinda out of the question now, the risk for Sung-chan is too big. While everybody is as shocked as I am, Press Director Lee gets a chance to empty the rest of the kerosene into the duffel bag. Leading Sung-chan in front of him, Noh makes it down to the garage.
Press Director Lee thought faster than I expected for him.
He's so annoying.
Myung-ha starts talking to Noh again, about how he needs to stay alive if he wants the information to get out, that he shouldn't do anything foolish. He just lifts his torch higher and she remembers… riot police on the roof, a man with a similar “weapon” in his hand (her father!), begging for his life. An officer jumps him and he smashes the bottle on the floor… effectively starting the fire that killed both her parents. She tells Noh that him and her are the same… she also stands for “the people” and against injustice. He doesn’t believe until she says that her parents passed away during the Newtown Redevelopment. Sung-chan’s face when he finally gets to put two and two together…
I've decided I don't like this actress.  When she talks, I just want her to shut up.
I like her just fine - I know she annoys some people but I'm not one of them. I do wish she would brush her hair though. And yes, Sung-chan's face.
Noh is still on the crazy train though, so that Sung-chan has but one option left: grab the bag really close and bring some distance between him and Noh. Now, if he will catch fire, the bag will burn too, he says. Yeeeees, but Sung-chan :(((( somebody really wants this bag to burn!!! That would be Chairman Seo and his crony, Press Director Lee.
I don't think Chairman Seo wants Sung-chan to burn, though. He wants Sung-chan alive and well and working for him.
Yes, but Lee might not be thinking about that.
Chairman Seo said: do whatever it takes
There is no burning of anything just yet though, as Sung-chan starts beating Noh with the bag and Noh being shot by faithful SWAT Teamleader Han when he rushes towards Sung-chan. That's not the end of it though! No, Noh grabs the still burning bottle and would most likely have thrown it towards the highly flammable Sung-chan, had not Myung-ha intervened and subdued the crazy ex-reporter. In the ensuing confusion, Press Director Lee takes the opportunity to set fire to the duffel bag. Chairman Seo will be happy. Less happy: The Brother-in-Law, who had very much hoped to get his hands on that stuff. Also not very happy: Sung-chan.
With all the kerosene around (was it kerosene or alcohol? I'm losing track), I'm surprised there wasn't an explosion, or, at least, a bigger fire.
It was stuff that burns, I guess that's all that matters. Is kerosene clear? It was clear.
TNN reports that the Pied Piper has been caught, the case is closed.... well, not for Sung-chan. He is now pretty convinced that the Chief of Police is the one who erased the voice recording on Oh's electronic pen and seriously just waltzes in there and confronts him with it. Can't you be more careful??! Well, the Team is back in action, at least.
Sung-chan is getting really angry and desperate now.
I never really understand why he came to that conclusion.
I think he wasn't sure, but I've noticed it's part of his strategy to confront people with what could be true and then to observe how they react
What he found out about Myung-ha's parents has deeply shaken Sung-chan. He must feel so much remorse... not only for what happened 13 years ago, but also what he said to her on the rooftop. He sees her walking home ... deep in thought and very sad. He attempts to re-connect with her, to lighten the mood, but she is still pissed at him and not ready to make peace. Once again, she calls him heartless and without an ability to empathize. It is then that he tells her that negotiation is not mediation. It is their job to make people powerless with words, which is a very difficult task, requiring difficult choices and with shit bound to happen.  
He said to her to stop trying to understand him and that understanding wasn't the point. Or something like that. Anyway, I thought he gave some much-needed advice to her.
Yes. He wasn't wrong. I think he is much closer to the ideal for negotiation than she is, truthfully.
She claims she got it, but he won't let her off the hook. Her damn need to "understand" everyone is the problem! She should not try to understand the criminals! Or him, who caused her parents death! Great, now you made her cry, Sung-chan. He did want her to get mad at him though, like really mad, and I guess he can file this as partial success.
Yes, here it is, the "understanding" advice. Understanding really isn't the point, capturing the criminals like the bank robber was the point. But Myung-ha is so annoyingly caught up in being understanding. She should just go become a therapist.
I do understand why she thinks her spot is with the police, though, because for her, that crisis point is a real chance to prevent tragedy. The therapist before that doesn't work, and the therapist after that might be too late.
After this, he meets Hee-sung in a bar (he's sighing heavily before Hee-sung gets there, late). What do they have? Nothing. And no clue what's going on. Somewhere else, a shady figure starts a new countdown on Underground. 24 hours. And a message: "The terror is not over". At the police station, Reporter Noh claims to be the Pied Piper. And Hee-sung thinks that what was destroyed in the fire today was just a copy. And that means ... "The terror isn't over yet?" Sung-chan asks.
Why was what was destroyed just a copy? This reporter is seriously suspicious.  For one thing, it's hard to remember his face, like he tries to disappear in front of your eyes. 
I really think it's only you that has a problem remembering his face, though. (haha, yes) There is some logic to thinking that this was either a copy, or that a copy exists elsewhere. Why would you have something SO important not backed up somehow?

Additional Bits and Pieces

* in the summary at the beginning, the person who whispers to the Robber through the bars has no moustache. In episode 4, he had one. To confuse us? Or a continuity issue?
Many, many minions.
* the question that is posed by the protagonists several times in this episode is this: what is the connection between all the different Pied Piper instigated incidents?
To be continued. But perhaps the Pied Piper just likes being a wild card.
Some trauma related to his childhood. This is a K-drama.

* In Noh's case, the reason why he goes bonkers is not that he has been sacked by the company, at least not only. He reveals that he feels crippling guilt due to the fact that he dropped a story about corruption at Seo Geun Construction (K-Group) because Director Lee told him to - and then, 30 people died. He feels that he killed them.
Killing more people isn't going to stop that first guilt, though.
Ah, but the Pied Piper feels that exposing the big problem is worth having to take a few more innocents/non-innocents along the way, and I'm guessing he has convinced the minions of the same.

* I had to laugh at those files in physical form. Who does that today? Hee-sung is equally baffled by this, when he talks to Press Director Lee about it (to find out whether there might in fact be a copy).
Normally, it would be a thumb drive somewhere.
It could have been old and not transferred? But yeah, silly.

* Hee-sung continues to be SUPER shady. So he's doing deals with Press Director Lee one minute, and with the Brother-In-Law the next? What for?! I still can't figure him out. He has that drive to unearth good stories that all investigative journalists have, but that cannot be all.
Still can't pick him out of a line-up - and that I find particularly shady.
Let's just all agree he's shady. Shady AF.

* In the garage, when she talks to Noh, Myung-ha reveals the reason for why she wants to be a negotiator: She doesn’t want other people to suffer like she and the people around her did back then. She wants to be someone who listens to people’s grievances. She wants to be a listener. But ... is that really enough to help? Sung-chan would disagree. 
No, because the people involved are still criminals. In the case of protesters, though, a mediator would be helpful, and perhaps Myung-ha could leave and do that job instead.
I think in her apple-pie world, if people are heard, they feel some satisfaction and then back down from whatever their next step is. Yes, they're still criminals... but maybe now they aren't murderers, or dead themselves.

* When he confronts Myung-ha in the street, Sung-chan tells her her facial expression reminds him of a squid. That was an attempt at humor. It's totally lost on her though.
I thought he was serious.
Why would anyone tell someone that they are apologizing to and trying to make feel better that they actually look like a squid? He's just bad at jokes.

* When they shout at each other over too much or too little empathy, he tells her the reason he won't open his heart to people he needs to negotiate with is that because if he does, he will not be able to negotiate for them. 
Good point, Sung-chan!
Excellent point!


The topic of too little // too many emotions continues as an underlying theme in this drama, but what we get in this episode is an explanation for why Myung-ha approaches conflict situation the way she does. She seems to believe that the simple fact of listening to somebody who thinks they are being treated badly is sufficient. That if people were made to listen to each other, the world would be a better place. But rather than being a neutral person in the middle, she can only listen if she fully understands the people she negotiates with - understand them emotionally. And that is where she and Sung-chan differ fundamentally.
And where she is wrong. Totally.
He also understands people, in fact, he has an uncanny ability to very quickly grasp what the people in these crisis situations want - and then does something to trick them, based on that desire. Not once would he make the "mistake" of empathizing with them, because it would mean he could not do what he considers a necessity: render them powerless.
The thing is, sometimes you help people best in the long run by hurting them a little right now. He would get that idea, she would not.

That he is very much capable of empathy becomes immediately clear when he realizes why Myung-ha has been angry with him. His worry and his attempts to make amends with her also reveal a very strong emotional need on his part to ... make her happy? Protect her? I do think he is showing a lot of protective instinct when it comes to this woman and I think it's because she brings something alive in him that wasn't much alive before. His mind is on the Piper, but his heart wants something else. Love? Peace? Her?
Peace. Plus, they seem to have a teacher-student relationship now, and so I can understand him being protective.
Yes. I think he feels guilt and some shame over at least some of his past negotiations; he admires her strength and her goodness, but he recognizes that she needs to have more of a shell in order to do this job well. He wants to help her - partially because he feels some responsibility for who she is, but even before he knew that, because he sees that her caring nature gives her bravery and determination.

This episode revealed a few more things about Chairman Seo and the people in his pocket. And we got the Brother-in-Law saying out loud that he wants to get his hands on the company. That can only happen if he blackmails the Chairman. And how better to blackmail him than with something he so desperately wants destroyed? 
Did we ever not think for a minute that the brother painted so early as useless would be full of resentment and evil plans, though? There's only ever one reason for a brother-in-law in a business:  to be a traitor.

Leads on Pied Piper:

This episode gave us nothing (Addendum: that's not quite true! Go read the comments, we found out some stuff). Well, the disguised voice, again, so we know that's his MO. We also saw a shady figure at the end, setting a new countdown. And Reporter Noh claiming that he is the Pied Piper. Maybe I am the Pied Piper? 
Here's the Pied Piper: 
I'd follow him.