Busted S1E4 Recap: Messages From the Dead

In this episode: Variety show meets K-drama as the team investigates the death of a high school student and must determine which of the five boys in her life is responsible for her murder.

Episode 4 Guest Stars

(I apologize for the not-necessarily-flattering quality of these photos – I mostly work with GIFs, so it’s a little harder to screenshot good images than I thought. But the aim is really just to give names to faces here.)

The main guest stars for this episode are the actors from 5urprise. Back in 2017 when Busted! was filmed, 5urprise was a group of rising male actors formed by Fantagio Entertainment (though I believe they have all left the agency by now). If you watch dramas more than I do, you’ll probably recognize some of them. Kangnam also makes a recurring appearance as Kangbuk.

Kang Jaejoon and Lee Eunhyung

Seo Kangjoon
(actor, 5urprise member)

Kang Taeoh
(actor, 5urprise member)

Yoo Il
(actor, 5urprise member)

Gong Myung
(actor, 5urprise member NCT Doyoung’s brother)

Lee Taehwan

An Important Note

I’ve tried my best to summarize everything in these recaps, but sometimes there are parts of an episode or the overall story that aren’t clear to me. I’m in Korea, so I have Korean Netflix – they have English subtitles for all the dialogue, but not necessarily all of the captions and titles they put in the show. I’m sure that sometimes I miss things, and sometimes I may arrive at the wrong conclusion. But I’ll make sure to highlight the parts where I’m confused or not certain about certain details.

***WARNING!*** THERE ARE SPOILERS FOR THE ENTIRE EPISODE/SERIES AHEAD. These recaps are written summary style – I’m writing as if I’ve watched these episodes for the first time, but this is primarily aimed towards people who have seen the series before and want to refresh their memory or find answers to certain questions. IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE SERIES AND ARE PLANNING TO, READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!

Episode Recap

This episode’s introduction focuses on Jongmin, who does other work besides detective stuff for this episode only. His official job title is “courier,” but he’s also apparently a debt collector – his current assignment is to check on the owners of a mom and pop style tteokbokki shop (Kang Jaejoon and Lee Eunyoung)… though he backs down almost immediately when the husband brandishes a knife. He notices the restaurant has a display called the “Sweetness Storage,” which is a place where students from a nearby high school leave snacks for each other in a show of support. The restaurant owners mention that a lot of the snacks have been going missing lately.

The “Sweetness Storage.”

The culprit is a kid who takes a bunch of candy from the bottom shelf because he’s too short to reach the higher ones. He comes in frequently asking about a girl named Ji Yoonha, a high school student who often came to this restaurant and played with him. She left her diary there, and he keeps coming to try and return it to her. (Though of course, he ends up giving the diary to Jongmin instead because plot reasons he’s a detective.) The restaurant owners say that Yoonha actually died a couple days ago… cue a highly coincidental call from K asking Jongmin to gather the team and investigate her death.

The team arrives at SangSang Arts High School in Incheon, where Jongmin summarizes the story so far. (SangSang is the name of the company that produces Busted! with Netflix.) The introduction also included a scene of Yoonha being fatally stabbed by a fellow (male) student in the park, so we know it’s a murder. The team goes through Yoonha’s diary and looks at notes she wrote about her habits and some things at school. I’m not going to write them here because I don’t fully understand some of them, but they’ll all help the detectives solve certain puzzles for the rest of this episode. One of the notes also mentions her scientist father, which seems like a throwaway comment but will be very important way down the road.

Another note leads them to the school fitness center, where they encounter five male students – four of whom can be seen in a photo in Yoonha’s diary! The boys tell the team that they have been receiving texts from Yoonha’s cell phone: vaguely threatening messages saying things like she’ll get revenge on them for killing her.

  • Yoo Il was in the dance club with Yoonha.
  • Lee Taehwan was in the same class as Yoonha (meaning homeroom class).
  • Seo Kangjoon was Yoonha’s best friend… but he admits that they were estranged before her death.
  • Kang Taeoh was Yoonha’s ex-boyfriend… but he says they ended things on good terms. OR DID THEY? (Ignore me, I’m just trying to add some drama.)
  • Gong Myung is a transfer student who arrived just after Yoonha’s murder, which is why he is not in the photo the team found.

The team splits up in groups to explore the school and talk to the students. Jaesuk and Minyoung happen upon Kangjoon again playing piano in the practice room – apparently he and Yoonha were practicing for a contest together. Kangjoon seems rather on edge and dodges their questions, though he does mention that Yoonha played piano more for fun and she was less serious about the competition. After he leaves, they check his practice log and realize he didn’t come to rehearse on October 22nd – the day of Yoonha’s murder.

Minyoung also finds a note from Taeoh. It talks about the codes they use to write each other in English class, and there’s a secret message at the that they have to decipher. Basically, the musical notes correspond to a cell phone keyboard. A smartphone keyboard has three rows, which is what 1, 2, and 3 refer to. Then the notes correspond to how many letters you have to count from the left. For example, the first note is “DO,” (high C), so they have to count eight letters on the top keyboard row – which is the letter I. Then the second note is “FA,” (F) so they have to count four letters in the middle keyboard row – which is the letter F. The message ultimately spells out, “If you leave me, I will kill you.” GASP!

Taeoh’s coded message.

Sehun and Sejeong find out that Yoo Il could have a grudge against Yoonha because she inadvertently contributed to him failing a dance audition – she rearranged the formations in one of the dance club’s routines and made it overly complicated, which resulted in him getting injured. Kwangsoo goes to the “Sweetness Storage” because several students say that it’s the place to get the best gossip, including a rumor about Kangjoon. He finds out that when Yoonha and Kangjoon ate there once, she made a comment about how he couldn’t get a piano because his family is poor – provoking a burst of anger from Kangjoon. (It’s a little unclear why he got so angry, though – I couldn’t tell if it was because she insulted him by calling him poor, or because she said it in front of so many people.)

Jaewook and Jongmin try to investigate Yoonha’s classroom, but they have to solve a riddle to get inside. (Since this is supposed to be during fall, that would mean high school students would be preparing for the college entrance exam… what a mean homeroom teacher.) I didn’t really understand it, so unfortunately I can’t explain it. Somewhat hilariously, they go through all the trouble of solving it – only to discover they did it wrong one of them fumbles and unlocks the padlock with a combination one digit off from their solution. They search Yoonha’s locker and discover a letter of early acceptance to a college. When they look at Taehwan’s locker, they find a crumpled up rejection letter from the same school. So Taehwan could have a grudge against Yoonha for taking his place at this college.

Some students also point Jaewook and Jongmin to the computer lab, where Yoonha apparently spent a lot of her time. (The password to her computer is a mix of EXO and Gugudan, a not so subtle promotion of Sehun and Sejeong’s idol groups.) They discover a series of Facebook messages between Yoonha and Gong Myung… but he said he had never met her! Gong Myung himself chooses to appear right at that moment, and they have to chase him through the school a bit. He confesses that he and Yoonha were actually childhood friends, and he and his family had been living abroad until recently – which is maybe why all of the messages were in English. He had been looking forward to going to the same school as her, but she died before he could they could meet up.

That’s all Gong Myung is willing to reveal right now, so Jaewook and Jongmin tail him to a table tennis club where the other boys just happen to be. They gather the team so they can all confront the suspects together. The boys say they’re all at the club because they received another text from Yoonha’s phone telling them to go there. The team takes the opportunity to check each boy’s alibi for October 22nd, since all of the places they said they were at are near the murder spot (Songdo Park).

  • Gong Myung says he was in a kayaking competition, so Jaewook and Sejeong go with him to verify. It turns out that he can kayak well – much better than they can, actually. And he won a prize, so his name is on the leaderboard and confirms he was there.
  • Kangjoon and Taehwan apparently went to Jumping Fitness Center together, so they take Kwangsoo and Jongmin there. Of course, they have to participate in a trampoline aerobics class before anyone will talk to them. One woman remembers two handsome boys were in class that day… which is not helpful because both Kangjoon and Taehwan are obviously quite handsome. She also mentions there was a blackout during the class; in the confusion, she was somehow able to tell one of the boys left and came back.
  • Yoo Il claims he went to a noraebang (a karaoke room). Taeoh went there too, but they didn’t cross paths. (In South Korea, noraebangs are extremely popular and it’s not uncommon to go by yourself.) Jaesuk, Minyoung, and Sehun go back to the noraebang with them. They are surprised to see Kangbuk from Episode 1 working there – apparently he has many jobs.
    • Kangbuk remembers seeing Taeoh, but not Yoo Il. Yoo Il proves to them that he was there because he wrote something on the wall – they check the room he was in (interrupting some tough looking men trying to sing), and find his signature that was dated October 22nd.
    • Kangbuk also said that Taeoh left for about ten minutes and came back – which is strange because you pay for singing time at noraebangs. Sehun makes Taeoh run back and forth from the park with him – proving that Taeoh could have gone to the park, killed Yoonha, and come back within ten minutes.

When the team reconvenes, they decide that Gong Myung and Yoo Il’s alibis check out, and decide to focus on the remaining three boys. I’m not quite sure why Yoo Il is cleared of suspicion because he could have written that note at any time and just lied about the date, but whatever. Anyway, Yoo Il actually approaches the team again and notifies them that he just received another text. It’s a photo of the last selfie Yoonha took – it shows a boy approaching holding a GIANT pair of scissors, aka the murder weapon. The text was sent to all the boys, and it says that the murderer has to come get the scissors at the school. It’s also important to note that the scissors are left-handed.

Yoonha’s last selfie, which shows the murderer approaching.

The team returns to an empty school in the middle of the night, knowing that whichever boy shows up could be the murderer. After chasing several shadowy figures, they’re surprised to find Gong Myung in the bathroom. His alibi checked out, so why is he here? He reveals that he was talking on the phone with Yoonha right before she died, and he became alarmed when they got disconnected – the last thing he heard her say was, “Why do you have scissors?” He ran to the park right after his kayak competition and discovered her body, then pocketed her phone. He’s been sending the text messages to the group (including himself so as not to give everything away), and he came to the school to find out who the murderer was. Meanwhile, Jaesuk and Jongmin run into Kangjoon, who tells them that he came here because he wants to find the killer too.

Next, the team intercepts Taehwan. He admits that he tried to use the scissors once, and he came to the school because he recognized them and worried he could be connected to the murder (presumably because they have his fingerprints on them). But he says that he couldn’t use them because they were left handed and he’s right handed. Is it really that difficult for right handed people to use left handed scissors??? I’m left handed, and I had to deal with using right handed scissors all the time when I was at school because that’s all that was available. Though I guess you wouldn’t necessarily have enough force in your non-dominant hand to stab someone with them. Anyway, Taehwan says that Yoo Il is left handed and Kangjoon is ambidextruous. So Kangjoon must be the killer!

Side note: Where is Taeoh in all of this? I think he might have also been at the school – it’s hard to tell because all of the shots are shadowy, but I thought I spotted someone with his longer hairstyle running around. He should have known about the scissors too, since his story will turn out to be similar to Taehwan’s. Maybe he was at the school and the team never found him? Once they found Gong Myung and Taehwan, that was probably enough evidence to figure out the killer. I just find it kind of weird because Taeoh was plenty suspicious and the show just never followed up with him, but I guess he got automatically ruled out as a suspect because he’s not left handed.

Anyway, Kangjoon overhears the team talking about him and resolves to find the scissors before they can. He tries to appear nonchalant when Sehun asks him about it, but takes off running when Sejeong tries to look at his bag. Sehun chases him through the school and manages to catch him. When all the team surrounds him, Jongmin reveals he found the scissors in a random corner of the dance club room. Kangjoon tried to get rid of the scissors by hiding them in Taeoh’s backpack. (But I’m not sure if Kangjoon purposely tried to implicate Taeoh because all five guys have the same blue backpack.) Taeoh took them out, didn’t recognize them, and left them in the gym. Taehwan tried to use them and discovered they were left handed, and left them in the same spot. Yoo Il, the other left handed student, found them and moved them to the dance club room.

Remember how I said that I wasn’t sure if Kangjoon was angry because she looked down on him or because she said he was poor in a public place? Turns out it was the latter. Everyone overheard what she said, and the rumor took over the school. And even though they were best friends, he decided to kill her for that slight. The engraving on the scissors shows they were actually a gift to Kangjoon from Yoonha, which just makes the whole thing extra sad. But the team has enough evidence to arrest Kangjoon, and they receive a call from K notifiying them of their next case.

Next episode: The show moves into the supernatural when the detectives are sent to a mysterious island with rumors of a vampire.

NOTE: All photos and GIFs are screenshots or screen captures from Busted! Episode 4 on Netflix. Nothing belongs to me, and all images are used here for illustrative purposes only.

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