In this episode: A friend of K tests the team by having them solve cases from 20 years ago, and they slowly start to realize those cases are interconnected.
Episode 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.)
(Singer, K-pop Star 6 contestant)
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 unsure 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!!!
Sejeong is the last member to have an individual episode introduction. She goes to a columbarium at K‘s request to leave a flower with M‘s funeral urn. She notes that it looks like someone has been there recently, as there is a doll of Cookie Monster. Just in case some of you are reading these recaps instead of watching the show, I’m not going to spoil who left it there. BUT we’ve seen someone with that Cookie Monster doll before – and I mentioned them in Episode 1.
Afterwards, the detectives are separately summoned to a house in Mapo-gu. Initially, they’re all pleased because they all think they’ve been hired to do a solo job… so they’re pretty disgruntled to find everyone else there is there too. Once they’ve gathered, they are greeted by Jang Gwang, an elderly wheelchair-bound gentleman assisted by his secretary Kriesha. He introduces himself as a friend of K’s, and says he was also friends with the rich man from Episode 2 (the one who posthumously held a treasure hunt on Jeju Island for that mysterious safe). He wants to observe their skills in a three-part test – the ones who pass can become part of a secret government project that he is working on. Those who solve a part of the test can also earn a pretty hefty cash reward, which pretty much turns Kwangsoo‘s character from bumbling klutz to money-hungry betrayer.
The first part of the competition involves solving a locked room (or rather, locked house) murder case from 20 years ago. Since Season 1 of Busted! was filmed in fall 2017, this means that the crime happened in 1997. The victims were Kim Taeseong, an unknown composer, and Jang Mira, a singer. They were in a common law marriage, and they had a daughter. The team is tasked with examining an exact recreation of the murder scene and figuring out how the murderer escaped the house after killing the couple. They are being observed by Jang Gwang through CCTV, so they can contact him by pressing a button and stating their proposed solution to the camera. If they are correct, they will get 1 million won (which is currently around 900 USD). The detectives explore the house and note the following things:
- The man was tied up, but the woman was not. Marks around the woman’s neck reveal that she was strangled to death. The man died because he was hit in the head with his cell phone – apparently early cell phones from the 90s were heavy enough to kill a person with a large amount of force. That is… not terrifying at all.
- There’s a cassette tape in the living room of a song that Mira (the female victim) recorded – it was called “You’re the Only One For Me,” and it was the only song she released. According to the tape’s label, the song was composed by someone named Crazy Piano. But the team also finds some sheet music that indicates that Taeseong (the male victim) was the real composer.
- A VHS tape in the bedroom labeled “Lip Synching Practice” reveals that Mira was actually a bad singer and didn’t sing her own track. Someone off-camera harshly criticizes Mira, but praises a girl standing in the shadows behind her. So, the unknown girl is the real singer of “You’re the Only One For Me.”
- There is a note in the living room with a reminder to revisit Mira’s contract with her agency. When they find it, it shows that she is not allowed to get married or have children… but she obviously did both. There is also a pager number on the note – the show mostly uses this to highlight the generation gap between the older and younger detectives, but the number is actually an important detail for later.
- There is a news article about a recent string of diamond thefts in the area. There’s a box that’s meant to hold a diamond in the bedroom, but the jewel itself is missing.
Part of the recreated crime scene.
The team notices that the front lock is damaged. They surmise that the culprit came in through the front door, then locked it and broke it after the murder and escaped through the window. They have to figure out how the killer was able to lock the window after leaving. Sehun looks through a pile of CDs on the floor and finds one with a chip in it. He discovers that he can use it to unlock the window lock – plus it’s thin enough to slide back through the window afterwards. Of course, Kwangsoo the betrayer ends up stealing Sehun’s. answer while he’s busy testing the lock, and he wins the money instead. Sehun doesn’t actually say anything about it, but you can just tell he’s a little salty.
The chipped CD.
Testing the window lock.
Kriesha appears and gives Kwangsoo the reward money, and notifies the. team of the second test location: performance hall Mapo Arts Center. This time, they have to re-enact a real life case – also from the 90’s -where a culprit evaded the police and escaped from this place. (Note that they do not specify what this person’s crime was, just that this person was a man.) Jaewook is chosen to play the culprit; he is given details on the real culprit’s escape and has to follow them exactly. The other six are split into teams and will role-play as police officers. Jaesuk is one team leader with Sehun and Sejeong; Minyoung is the other with Jongmin and Kwangsoo.
The two police teams must compete to find and catch Jaewook within 30 minutes – the time it took the real culprit to escape. In order to win, they must also state the exact method he used. And if they win, they will earn 2 million won to share (currently about 1,800 USD). If Jaewook manages to escape without being caught, he will win the 2 million won instead. But he has his work cut out for him: Sehun is in ultra-competitive mode. He even takes a moment to properly lace his shoes in anticipation of any running, much to Jaewook’s chagrin.
The only evidence that the two groups have is a Polaroid photo of the culprit. The mission notes also indicate that the culprit left something important behind at the building, and they should find it. When the competition starts, both groups note that there is a ridiculous amount of restaurant flyers around the performance hall – meaning the escape method most likely had something to do with phone delivery. Since this is supposed to be the 90’s, Minyoung’s team searches the performance hall for a landline and finds it at the box office. It’s a match with the Polaroid photo, and they they see a ripped up restaurant flyer for a Chinese restaurant on the desk. Minyoung redials the number to get the restaurant, and the woman on the other end says that an order was called in 10 minutes ago and the delivery hasn’t been completed yet. The team deduces that the culprit must have disguised himself as a delivery man to escape.
.The Polaroid photo of the culprit.
Jaesuk’s team finds the location where the culprit ate his Chinese food – the 4th floor library club, where they see both the bucket hat he was wearing in the Polaroid and a pager string he dropped on the floor. (This is the important item the real culprit left behind.) They peek behind a stack of books, and are startled to find the delivery man bound and gagged. Minyoung’s team isn’t far behind, so they spirit him away and Sehun blocks Kwangsoo from following them. *REVENGE!* The delivery man confirms that Jaewook took his jacket and helmet and tied him up. Now that both teams know the escape method, the search for Jaewook is on. Unfortunately for him, he basically crosses paths with Jaesuk’s team as they come out of an elevator… and a gleeful Sehun captures him after a high-spirited chase. At least he put up a good fight for like two minutes.
Jaewook can’t catch a break.
Kriesha returns to deliver the 2 million won to Jaesuk’s team. She also gives the whole group information for the final test, which links back to the first one. Apparently there were four people who were suspected of killing Taeseong and Mira, but the police didn’t have enough evidence to convict any of them. Each detective must choose one of the four suspects and bring him or her to a boat at the end of the night. (Why are so many of these episodes ending on a boat?) The detectives who choose correctly will win the competition and work on the secret project. They are reassured that the “suspects” are just actors and are aware that this is a test. Hmmmmm.
Sehun and Sejeong go to investigate Ppak-gu, the diamond thief whom the newspaper articles mentioned. He’s an eccentric man who lives in a container near the Han River, and he’s locked himself behind three sets of prison bars to avoid the temptation of going out and stealing again. Sehun and Sejeong pretend to be criminals who want him to pull off a heist with them – but since this show basically treats them like the cute kids of the team, they’re obviously not that convincing. Though Sehun is like, “I use my handsome face to swindle people” (but apparently not women) and I find that hilarious. Ppak-gu says he will go with them if they can unlock the three doors and get to him within ten minutes.
(The inside of Ppak-gu’s container.)
They find the combination to the first lock by counting the number of bobby pins (both used and unused) and paper clips scattered across the floor. The second lock has silver marks on it that indicate the number they should put in. Then, Sehun just uses a bobby pin to go all Nancy Drew and pick the lock. Sejeong notes that Ppak-gu is good with knots, as he tied his own restraints – remember that Taeseong was tied up before he was murdered.
Kwangsoo and Minyoung choose Seo Inah, the woman who actually sang Mira’s song. She’s supposed to be working at a club, but they find four women singing there. They pretend to be her fans in order to talk to her, but the owner says that they must be able to recognize her voice. So they have to watch the four women lip synch one of Seo Inah’s songs and guess which one is really her. When they succeed, they convince her to leave with them by saying they’re actually an agency who wants to scout her.
Jaesuk and Jongmin decide to go after Ahn Ilgwon, the CEO of Mira’s agency. (I’m not sure he still runs the same agency from 20 years ago or if he has a new company, but it’s not necessary to the plot.) He’s hot tempered and doesn’t want to talk to them – it’s his birthday and he’s not even going to his own party because he’s so busy. They convince him to go his party – though they plan to lead him to the boat instead – and he makes them do menial labor by moving a bunch of boxes around. Of course, they abandon this immediately and just snoop around in his office. They discover that he likes climbing, which he confirms. Being an avid mountain climber means that he would know how to tie knots really well too.
Left on his own again, Jaewook goes to what appears to be a senior center to find the composer Crazy Piano. He notices that all of the men are playing baduk (the Korean word for Go), and they’re all humming different tunes. He finds a display of a game board outside the center that was donated by a musician. I know nothing about baduk/Go, so I didn’t really get it; but basically, the way the pieces are arranged reveals translates to musical notes. So Jaewook has to figure out the tune through the piano app on his phone and find the guy humming it. Crazy Piano looks significantly younger than all of the very elderly men there, so I feel like Jaewook could have just gone by that – but whatever.
The puzzle in question.
Everyone reconvenes at the boat, and the team is startled when the suspects recognize each other. Turns out that they’re not actors; they’re actually the real people who were involved. Jang Gwang and Kriesha appear, and Jang Gwang basically admits to using the detectives to gather the suspects. We go through the reasons why each suspect could be the murderer: Inah was jealous of Mira and wanted recognition for her singing. Ppak-gu could have killed the couple in a diamond robbery gone wrong. Taeseong actually wrote most of Crazy Piano’s songs, and angered him when he decided to put his own name on his pieces. And much like the other male suspects, he is proficient in knots because he’s an avid fisher. Finally, Mira broke her agency contract and potentially cost Ilgwon a lot of money by getting married and having a kid.
All of the suspects start complaining, saying that the case is past the statute of limitations and none of them can be arrested anymore. But Jang Gwang reveals that he has new evidence, and Kriesha hands Jaesuk a tape player. Jang Gwang proclaims that the killer’s voice is on the tape, but Ilgwon steps forward and admits he murdered the couple before Jaesuk can do anything. He confirms what the detectives deduced before, and adds that Mira wanted to quit being a singer. He was angry because he had invested so much in her career. When he visited the couple’s home, he got into an argument and tied him up. Mira discovered them and he argued with her too, then snapped and killed her in a rage. Taesong was trying to reach his cell phone to call for help, so Ilgwon took that and bludgeoned him to death with it. Then he made it look like it was a random break-in and escaped.
One cool detail: after the team found a pager string during the second test, they arrived at the conclusion that was how Mira was strangled. Remember the pager number from the contract? Jaesuk noticed that the last four digits were the same numbers as Ilgwon’s birthday. Jaewook had previously tried to call the number, so they were able to confirm it by looking at his call history. If you have a Korean phone number, you can choose the last four digits – I guess it was the same for pagers back in the day. So while all three men knew their way around knots, Ilgwon was the only one who is connected to a pager.
The one thing I’m confused about is how much the second test is connected to all this. Jang Gwang originally told the team that evidence pointing to the real killer could be found in both cases – so for the second case, that would be the pager string. And Sejeong seems to assume that both cases had the same culprit, which she says in her explanation. But I feel like it’s never explicitly confirmed? Here’s what I think what the show is trying to say: Ilgwon killed Taeseong and Mira and fled, and the police managed to tail him to the performance hall. He was able to shake them using the method the team discovered, but he dropped the pager string that was used to strangle Mira. However, there are a few issues with that explanation.
First of all, the flashback of the murder shows that Ilgwon was wearing different clothes than the man in the Polaroid photo. There could be several reasons for that (like he disguised himself several times including as the delivery man), but that’s all glossed over. More importantly, the show seems to emphasize that the culprit for the second case was a man. If I remember correctly, the team operated on that assumption – although maybe that’s because Jaewook was role-playing the criminal. So if it had been made clear to them that the culprit was the same for both cases, then that would automatically have ruled out Inah as the murderer for the third test… though it seemed like the writers were placing much more suspicion on the men anyway.
It’s also possible that the whole second test was engineered just so that the team would realize that the pager string was the murder weapon… but the pager string they found wasn’t the one used to murder Mira. But since both cases happened in the same area in the 90’s, I’m inclined to think that we’re supposed to believe Ilgwon was the culprit in both. None of this is *really* that important because the rest of the details track, but I’m just curious. It wouldn’t have been to make it really clear we were just looking for one culprit the whole time.
Anyway, it turns out that Jang Gwang is so invested in this murder because he’s the deceased Mira’s father. In the introduction, you might have noticed a man at the columbarium when Sejeong was there – that was him. When I first saw this episode several years ago, I was surprised by the reveal. But as I was writing this recap, I realized that it’s easy to figure this out super early on if you’re paying attention to last names. HOW WILD. Also, Jang Gwang can actually walk. Also, he’s using his lap blanket to hide a gun and he shoots Ilgwon!!! He asks Jaesuk to play the tape, and it’s not Ilgwon’s voice but a message from Mira. Then he apologizes to Kriesha for having to see her grandfather like this… meaning she’s Mira and Taeseong’s child. I know it’s just a fake show, but I can’t help but feel bad for Kriesha’s character. Both of her parents died when she was a kid, and now she’ll lose her grandfather as he goes to prison. I get that Jang Gwang wanted revenge, but now he’s leaving his grandchild all alone.
Jang Gwang lets himself be arrested, but he tells the team the combination to the safe they found in Episode 2. Back at their headquarters, they open it and find a daily log of Project D, as well as a picture of a scientist with Ji Yoonha – the high school girl who was murdered in Episode 4. They recall that Yoonha had mentioned her dad was a scientist in her diary, and apparently he worked on Project D. This is an incredibly important detail that we have to remember for the next four episodes – the last two of Season 1 and the first two of Season 2. There’s also a USB – they try to play it, but the connection is hacked… by Yoo Yeonseok! He says they’ll meet again soon, which is a nice segue to the team’s next case.
Next episode: Yoo Yeonseok returns and promises the team answers about Project D in exchange for their help, but things quickly go awry.
NOTE: All photos and GIFs are screenshots or screen captures from Busted! Episode 8 on Netflix. Nothing belongs to me, and all images are used here for illustrative purposes only.