Recap: Pinocchio Episode 7
Dal Po has to face his own mistakes and fears.
Episode 7 “A Frog in a Well”
Dal Po and Yoo Rae are heading back to YGN and Yoo Rae is really happy because they have gotten the exclusive footage. Dal Po runs into In Ha who is also heading back to MSC. He lets her know that YGN has the CCTV footage from the fitness center, feeling worried and sorry for her. But In Ha is not fazed but his confession. She knows she has something better than YGN but before she can tell Dal Po, Beom Jo picks her up and carries her into the station. This scene doesn’t not please Dal Po.
It’s two hours before the 10 o’clock news broadcast and both YGN and MSC are making their final schedule decisions. YGN decides to make the diet death report one of their featured stories since they have the exclusive footage. They plan to air it earlier in the news program.
MSC plans to air their diet death story as soon as possible so they can have YGN scramble around to fix theirs before their segment airs, but Cha Ok has a better plan. MSC will air it later than YGN, which means YGN won’t even have the chance to scramble around.
In another room, Beom Jo stops In Ha from answering Dal Po’s call. In Ha wants to brag to Dal Po but Beom Jo doesn’t want to give YGN the chance to fix their story after the hint from In Ha.
MSC news department heads, including Cha Ok, come into the room. They compliment Beom Jo and In Ha and Beom Jo replies modestly that they are being overpraised. In Ha disagrees, which surprises everyone, but she explains it is because she is a Pinocchio and shr can’t lie- they deserve those compliments. Cha Ok smiles oh so very slightly in the back but she puts on a poker face when In Ha looks at her.
At YGN, Dal Po and Yoo Rae’s cohorts congratulate them on their achievement. Yoo Rae describes how they got the story while Dal Po can’t shake the feeling that something is off. He asks his cohort members why a woman who wants to become pretty would wear such raggedy clothing to the gym. This is the same question that In Ha asked herself before too.
Yoo Rae tells Dal Po not to worry, and when asked by the others if they talked to the dead woman’s family members, she tells them that they couldn’t get a hold of them. Dal Po decides to go back to the hospital where the dead woman’s wake is being held.
Dal Po arrives at the hospital and finally meets the dead woman’s daughter. She looks visibly ill and Dal Po finds out that the daughter needs a liver transplant and the mom was planning to donate. She was working out really hard to lose weight quickly for her daughter’s transplant after the doctor told her that her liver was too fatty. The daughter blames herself for her mother’s death and Dal Po is left speechless.
Right then, YGN starts broadcasting the story about the fitness center death. The TV is turned on in the hospital and Dal Po desperately tries to turn the TV off so the daughter doesn’t see. But he is too late. The daughter is devastated that her mom has been so falsely portrayed and Dal Po can only whisper his apology to her. He can’t believe what he has done to this family.
MSC starts reporting the fitness center death story, but unlike YGN which just reported it as a over-dieting death, MSC tells the full story of the daughter’s illness and the mother’s overwhelming love for her daughter and her struggle to keep the daughter alive. In Ha was able to interview the daughter and get the full story.
At MSC, everyone is pleased and smiling, while at YGN, Yoo Rae faces the wrath of Hyun Gyu, who faces the wrath of Gyo Dong, who faces the wrath of Jo Won Goo. Here is office hierarchy for you. The calls of complaints about the diet death story start flooding YGN’s phone lines.
Cha Ok wraps up the report on the diet death story- “News is like an onion. As you peel back one layer, another truth appears. The story we reported about the world’s saddest diet seemed at first only to be a story about overzealous dieting, but like peeling an onion’s layers, we learned the real truth.”
Ugh, Cha Ok, ugh… if you had only peeled some of that onion thirteen years ago.
In Ha watches the news, proud. YGN people watch the news, frustrated, and Jae Myung watches Cha Ok, agitated. Dal Po bows his head in defeat.
Dal Po comes back to the TV station when everyone is gone. He sits in the same room where they held the survival debate, the place where he went off on In Ha and revealed to everyone she was a Pinocchio after learning his father’s remains were found.
Dal Po sits across from where he sat during the debate. He recalls the word that he spit out in anger at In Ha- how reporters should know how scary their words can be and how careful they should be. Dal Po remembers the way he pointed his fingers at In Ha while yelling those words and he sees the finger pointed at himself now.
Dal Po remembers how he said to In Ha that she shouldn’t be a reporter because she doesn’t know the power and weight of her words. Dal Po asks the same thing that In Ha asked him that day at the debate- “Are you talking about me?” Dal Po from the past answers, “Yes.”
Hearing his own warnings and criticism coming back to him, Dal Po sheds a tear in shame. He says, “You’re lousy, Choi Dal Po.”
Next day at the police station. In Ha looks for Dal Po because she has a lot to say to him, but Yoo Rae tells her that nobody has been able to contact Dal Po. In Ha tries calling Dal Po but he isn’t answering.
The ratings for the news are on. YGN’s ratings dropped and MSC’s ratings went up, but YGN still beat MSC. As YGN, they see it as a loss because their ratings fells. Anchorman Lee Young Tak, also head of the news department, tells the others to not stop worrying about ratings and go back to focusing on getting the truth.
At the police headquarter’s, MSC’s Gong Joo congratulates YGN’s Gyo Dong on YGN’s ratings win. But Gyo Dong doesn’t look happy at all. Gong Joo’s congratulations are just a show since he knows that this is really a win for MSC. He waits for someone else to point out that MSC closed the ratings gap by a lot so it is really win for MSC. The other reporter suggest a new bet- that in 14 days, MSC will be number one, with the ratings numbers switched between YGN and MSC. Gong Joo participates in the bet, betting on his MSC again. He doesn’t think Gyo Dong will take part since he refused to do so last time, but to Gong Joo’s surprise, Gyo Dong places a bet on YGN. Oh it’s on!
Gyo Dong gets a call from Hyun Gyu- Dal Po hasn’t reported back to his line.
You see, Dal Po is at home, avoiding all phone calls and spending time with grandpa- bathing together, eating eel together. All day he talks about how terrible being a reporter is- you’re unable to wash, eat, or sleep properly, and you have to use your own money for all the travel expenses accrued during the mawari rounds. Grandpa is sympathetic, but he is really grossed out by the dirt coming off Dal Po into the bath water. Like, really grossed out about the gray, murky water created by Dal Po.
While Dal Po is telling grandpa about the drawbacks of being a reporter, Beom Jo is telling his mom about the wonders of it. He is amazed by the power of words- it saved someone’s life. After the news went out about the daughter needing a liver transplant, a donor appeared and monetary donations were made to pay her surgery!
Dal Po tells grandpa during dinner that he doesn’t want to be a reporter anymore since it stinks so much. He uses a common Korea saying to describe his reasoning- “You avoid shit because it is dirty, not because you are scared.” Grandpa says Dal Po has it wrong. He doesn’t, really; the saying is actually what Dal Po said, but Grandpa explains that it is wrong for Dal Po because Dal Po is the type to clean up the shit if it is dirty, not avoid it. He is avoiding the shit because he is scared of it.
Dal Po thinks about the daughter. He admits to Grandpa that he is scared and that is why he ran away. Dal Po mistakenly thought it was going to be easy, but being a reporter was scary, more than he expected it to be.
Grandpa reassures him that it is fine now then. “It’s better to know it is scary and challenge it, than to not know and challenge.” He feeds Dal Po the tail part of the eel just as Dal Pyung comes in. He’s indignant that grandpa only fed Dal Po the eel and he’s even more upset that there is no more eel tail
Back in his room after dinner, Dal Po looks at all his missed calls and remembers how he asked In Ha to become reporters together. He calls Hyun Gyu and tells him he is coming in.
Hyun Gyu waits nervously at YGN for Dal Po. He is worried that Dal Po will either cause a commotion or quit. In the past, newbies have done either one when they got in trouble, hid, and then came back to that station. We once again see office hierarchy and lineage at work here. Lee Young Tak had to deal with Jo Won Goo’s suicide attempt while Hyun Gyu had his father scare his superior, Gyo Dong, with snakes.
But Dal Po surprises Hyun Gyu by coming in calm and steady and immediately apologizing for his mistake. Hyun Gyu can only tell him that Captain Gyo Dong is waiting to talk to him.
In the conference room, Dal Po apologizes to Gyo Dong, but Gyo Dong simply tells him that it’s okay and to go back to his Han River line. Dal Po wonders why he is being let off so easy and Gyo Dong explains it is just this once because he himself had experienced something similar in the past.
Gyo Dong explains it was thirteen years ago when he mistakenly reported someone as a murderer and his family was ruined. It is Dal Po/Ha Myung’s story. Dal Po wants to know how Gyo Dong overcame mistake and shame. Gyo Dong explains he didn’t and he ran away just like Dal Po did yesterday. He became a producer instead and five years later met the son of the man he reported as a murderer at a quiz show.
Dal Po asks why Gyo Dong returned to being a reporter. Gyo Dong answers, “When I saw that son, I was ashamed because it seemed like he caught me hiding.” Dal Po asks, “What was it like when you returned?
In Ha and Beom Jo are at their usual place- the Han River police station. In Ha is shivering from her cold and Beom Jo wraps his scarf around her while slipping that he knows she hasn’t had a cold since high school. In Ha wonders how he knows this and Beom Jo tries to cover up his slip by exclaiming he told her before about this. Beom Jo wants In Ha to go to the hospital but In Ha won’t.
In Ha threatens Chan Soo to infect him with her cold if he doesn’t give her a story. She notices the papers in his hand and he tells her it’s the phone record of Moon Deok Soo- the suspect in the container fire murders. Beom Jo wants to take pictures of the record so Chan Soo tries to keep it out of his reach. Except Chan Soo is no match for Beom Jo’s towering height.
But neither are a match for Dal Po’s memorization skills. He comes into the station and catches a glimpse of the record while Beom Jo and Chan Soo struggle. In Ha sees him and when Dal Po asks to talk to her, she runs, avoiding him.
In Ha and Beom Jo try to get stories out of the other detectives, but In Ha is weak and she starts to fall over. Beom Jo and Dal Po both catch her, but In Ha brushes Dal Po off and walks away with Beom Jo to start making the rounds to other places on their mawari.
Beom Jo decides to call his mom to help them out, which In Ha at first refuses. Yesterday, In Ha and the other reporters had finally learned that Beom Jo was really a chaebol when his mom came to visit him at the police station. Per Beom Jo’s request, she had brought over a heater, heat pad, and snacks for In Ha to use and eat at the reporter’s dorm room in the station. Beom Jo had warned mom that In Ha might refuse these kinds of gifts, but In Ha is too sick to care. She gratefully accepted those gifts yesterday, and while today she doesn’t want to be driven around in Beom Jo’s mom’s car for their mawari, In Ha is just too sick.
Dal Po and Yoo Rae watch In Ha and Beom Jo being driven off to their mawari round. Yoo Rae is envious and Dal Po is…well, Dal Po is a hotchpotch of feelings- shame, jealousy, concern, the works! But it won’t do to keep stirring this mixture, so he gets back to work. He wants to know what Yoo Rae picked up from the police station so far.
Yoo Rae tells him about the container fire murder suspect- Moon Deok Soo is the same Mr. Moon they saw on the footage they viewed during the survival debate, the footage about the factory fire. She doesn’t think this is a story to report; it was just notable to her just something interesting.
Beom Jo’s mom, in her leopard print fur coat and her feathered hat, badgers the cops and detectives for Beom Jo and In Ha. It’s a site to behold,for both the viewers and the people in the police stations. She’s successful in getting stories out of them and In Ha is able to report back to Il Joo on schedule.
In Ha isn’t getting any better so Beom Jo takes her back to the Han River police station where she can rest in the reporter’s room while he and mom go on the mawari.
In Ha returns to the room, but she finds it full. Dal Po is already there sleeping, and Yoo Rae has her arms and legs on him while sleeping next to him. We don’t have to read much into this because Yoo Rae is like this with everyone she sleeps next to. Ha! I really like her.
In Ha finds a place to rest in the bathroom. She turns on the toilet seat warmer and sits there to rest and get some warmth.
Meanwhile, Dal Po wakes up and he searches around the room to see if In Ha has come back. She isn’t there and he leaves the room. Outside he hears something about a girl in the boy’s bathroom, so he runs in there and finds In Ha. She’s really weak and he tries to pick her up and take her to the hospital, but she tells him to go away. It’s not because she is avoiding him, Dal Po learns, but because she doesn’t want Dal Po to catch what she has. Angry that she is thinking only about his welfare in a situation like this, he calls her a dumb bear and carries her to the hospital.
Dal Po finds out that In Ha has the shingles and she worries it is contagious. Dal Po can’t believe she is still only worried about that. The doctor reassures her that is not usually contagious for adults and she will be fine soon after the medicine. In Ha starts to fall asleep but even in her delirious state, she grabs onto Dal Po’s coat before he can leave.
Dal Po sits by her as she sleeps, holding her hand. He caresses it, noticing the button he gave her on her necklace.
In Ha wakes up a bit, asking her “uncle” if he is there. Dal Po assures her that he is and she mutters again that she has a lot to say to him.
Again she wakes up, calling him “Dal Po” and saying she has a lot to say to him. Dal Po assures her that he will listen to it all later, just sleep now.
She does. She wakes up feeling better and rested. She notices they are holding hands and surprised, she pulls hers out. This doesn’t wake Dal Po up, however, so In Ha brings her pillow closer to him and watches him sleep. Mirroring Dal Po that night at the dorm room, we see In Ha watch him happily, savoring this stolen moment to feel all that she feels for him. She presses two fingers to her lips and brings them slowly to his forehead. She doesn’t touch him, only slightly floating his fingers over his hair.
Dal Po suddenly wakes up and this scares In Ha out of her bed. She falls to the ground and runs out the hospital with no shoes or coat. Dal Po chases after her, carrying her things, and finally gets to her to stop outside in front of the hospital.
It’s freezing cold, but In Ha finally gets to say what she kept on saying she want to tell Dal Po. She defends herself, explaining how her Pinocchio syndrome would not let her just report on the diet death story as it was so she had to find out more and got the right story. It’s her syndrome that got the better of YGN! Dal Po stares at her shoeless feet and agrees with her. Yes, she was right and he was wrong. He apologizes for what happened during the debate.
This quick and easy admission throws In Ha off a little but she continues on, finally getting to say what was pent up inside. He told her that day that she had no right to become a reporter since she doesn’t know the weight of her words. Well, he doesn’t either! Dal Po agrees again.
In Ha then exclaims she was happy to see him fail after he looked down on her like that but she hiccups. Ah, it’s a lie. In Ha has to confess, then, that she was worried about Dal Po and it annoyed her how much she was worried about him.
Dal Po bends down to put In Ha’s shoes on her. He tells her he is listening so In Ha continues. “I was worried because I couldn’t see you. I was worried you were hurt and blaming yourself.
In Ha’s shoes now on her feet, Dal Po puts her coat around her. In Ha keeps describing how annoyed she was with the fact that she was worried about him. In Ha walks away from Dal Po a bit, her back to him now. She stamps her feet in frustration, aggravated that she can’t get rid of her feelings for him.
Dal Po reaches out for her, but once again, he can’t touch her.
Her back still to him, In Ha asks Dal Po to forget what she said again. She knows he must be tired of her and thinks she is pathetic. She explains, “I’m not in my right mind right now because it is so cold.”
Dal Po suddenly walks up right behind her and embraces her tightly. He explains, “It’s cold. I’m not in my right mind either because it’s cold.”
Jae Myung has come by MSC and he approaches Il Joo and cameraman Lee Joo Ho who are going out to work. Jae Myung points to the poster of Cha Ok and In Ha in front of the station and asks if the woman next to Cha Ok is also a reporter. He gets an affirmative. He also learns that Cha Ok and In Ha are mother and daughter. This adds another layer of shock for Jae Myung.
Before Lee Joo Ho leaves, he looks at Jae Myung again, finding his face familiar. He can’t place from where though.
It’s a new day and In Ha is back at the Han River police all recovered. Yoo Rae is completely envious that In Ha got to wash her hair. In Ha notices Dal Po coming down the hall so she hides again (crawling away like a crab) and Dal Po sighs, which Beom Jo notices.
Later, Beom Jo asks Dal Po if he and In Ha are still fighting. He tells Dal Po that he is acting dangerously- one of the other reporters noted to Beom Jo that the way Dal Po looks at In Ha isn’t like how a uncle looks at his niece; it’s like how a man looks at a woman.
Dal Po doesn’t want to hear things like this from Beom Jo anymore so he comes straight out and admits it- “I like her as a woman. Is that wrong?” Beom Jo has no answer.
Dal Po tries to pull his own aegyo with Chan Soo to get more information about the container fire murders. Chan Soo lies that he is closing this case and he hasn’t found anything from the phone records. Dal Po doesn’t believe him so off by himself, he writes down the numbers he memorized before. He recognizes one as the bumper guy- the owner of the truck he left his number to be contacted for compensation for the dented bumper. Dal Po calls the number and Jae Myung picks up.
Some time later, Hyun Gyu gets a call from Dal Po, who is reporting back to him about what he is doing now. He is meeting up with one of the people on Moon Deok Soo’s phone records. This person could be an accomplice or know where Moon Deok Soo is right now. Hyun Gyu thinks Dal Po is overstepping his boundaries and doing something a detective should be doing. Plus, he is supposed be on his mawari, not investigating a case. But Dal Po has to hang up because the bumper guy is calling.
Angry, Hyun Gyu tells Gyo Dong about what Dal Po is doing. Gyo Dong sees nothing wrong with what Dal Po is doing.
At the Han River police station, Chan Soo gets a notification that Moon Deok Soo’s cellphone location has been picked up again. Chan Soo rushes over to that location.
At YGN, Gyo Dong is impressed with Dal Po after learning about what he is up to. He remembers his conversation with Dal Po from before- his answer to Dal Po’s question about returning to be a reporter. Gyo Dong knows Dal Po is asking if he will be able to handle being a reporter. Gyo Dong answers that it’s too early for Dal Po to ask.
“You will be coming across a lot of stories and cases, some which are more serious and harder to find the truth for than the diet death case.”
Dal Po is on the phone talking to the bumper guy, describing what he is wearing. We see Jae Myung walking toward Dal Po and they see each other. They start walking towards each other and as Dal gets closer, he starts to recognize this bumper guys as his brother.
Gyo Dong: “Cases in which you can’t make a choice or judgement, cases you can’t even imagine.”
Jae Myung has reached Dal Po. He introduces himself- “I am Ki Jae Myung.”
Gyo Dong: “Scary cases in which people can live or die based on whether you report or not. When you come across those types of cases, ask that question again.”
Dal Po asks for his name again. Jae Myung answers with a smile, unable to recognize his brother, Ha Myung- “I am Ki Jae Myung.” He holds out his hand for a handshake.
Gyo Dong: “Will I be able to handle it?”
Dal Po hesitates before he takes it. What does he say his name is?
Jae Myung asks for his name and Dal Po finally answers, holding the hand of his brother, “I’m Choi Dal Po.”
End of episode 7
This week’s episode is titled ” A Frog in a Well.” It’s the episode where Dal Po learns more about himself and journalism. He jumps out of his well and sees the bigger world. It’s an episode of personal revelations and growth. It’s also an episode for In Ha to finally get a win.
I can’t tell you how much I loved that scene where Dal Po has to face himself and his actions in the debate room, and the way the survival debate was worked into the scene. During the survival debate, I had found Dal Po harsh and unforgiving to In Ha but I could understand him and even side with him, knowing how a Pinocchio and a reporter destroyed his family. Yes, I agreed that In Ha didn’t know the weight of her words, and I never questioned whether Dal Po knew that weight too.
His outburst at In Ha during the debate was driven by anger, hatred, and first-hand experience. He thought he knew exactly how words can hurt and how much power a reporter can have after his first-hand experience with his family’s destruction. But Dal Po learned this episode that he was too confident and hasty, and that he is also subject to the perils of the politics and demands of journalism.
Dal Po’s pain inside that room as he faced himself and his own criticism was three times more than it could have been- enhanced one fold because he knows exactly how the daughter felt to hear such a false report about her mother, enhanced again because his outburst had been at In Ha, and enhanced one more time because he also now knows exactly how In Ha felt, hearing him yell at her like that.
While Dal Po learns what it is like on the other side of the delivery of words, Beom Jo learns about it’s power too- the good part of it. With the report, the daughter was able to get a liver transplant!
It is so refreshing to watch a drama where there is no obvious villain. Aside from the factory men who lied about Ha Myung’s dad, everyone is an approachable character, even Cha Ok. She is easy to hate, yes, but she is not a caricature. She is complicated and motivated by things we have yet to understand or see. Actually, Gyo Dong feels more flat to me because his character just seemed to be placed there to contrast to Cha Ok and he is but a vessel to store all of Dal Po’s secrets and insecurities. But due to the magnetic way Lee Pil Mo plays him, I am enjoy seeing him on screen. I really appreciate the way he and the actors play their characters so sincerely and earnestly, making me enjoy every second of the drama. That’s not too easy with so many side characters.
In Ha gets her own stolen moment this episode, mirroring Dal Po’s from the previous episode. I am so used to dramas being written haphazardly that watching a drama with a story planned out and with themes running throughout and plot lines following through, I’m almost moved to tears. I feared that so many k-drama writers had forgotten the art of cohesion as they struggled with live-shoots and other deteriorating standards. I’m glad to see in Pinocchio that this art is still alive and kicking.
I have a hard time understanding something and I hope other readers can enlighten me on this a bit more. Why do you think Dal Po keeps confessing things to people suddenly? He seemed to tell Gyo Dong that he was Ha Myung when it wasn’t necessary and he also told Beom Jo that he likes In Ha in this episode. I can reason it out, but I’m not convinced by my own reasons and I am starting to suspect Dal Po just confesses so we can have the drama move along.
Which is it doing nicely. I didn’t think Jae Myung and Dal Po would meet this quickly. I knew that Dal Po would have to make a choice once day whether he can investigate and report on his brother’s crimes or not, but I didn’t think he would have to lie to his brother, keeping his identity a secret.
I thought we would spend the entire remainder of the drama with Dal Po investigating the container fire murders and separately finding his brother. It wouldn’t be until the very end when Dal Po would find out his brother is a murder and Dal Po would have to make a decision about telling the truth. I had assumed that the drama was mostly going to be about finding the truth not what one does with the truth.
Now with Dal Po meeting his brother under the suspicion that he might be involved in the case, Dal Po has to face early on whether he even wants to find out the truth if it is going to lead him to a situation where his brother is a murder. As Gyo Dong asked, will Dal Po be able to handle the truth?
This episode and the lesson Dal Po learned through the diet story misstep and the situation he is in now with his brother shows us that journalism isn’t just about finding the truth or peeling back the layers of the onion. It about how you handle the process and the results. It’s not “Here, I peeled this layer so on to the next one.” You have to make choices and judgements along the way -do you keep peeling? How far do you peel? What do you do with this layer of the onion that once peeled will show that your brother is a murder?