Busted S1E9 Recap: Operation: Criminal Transport

In this episode: A familiar face requests that the team act as his security escort, but things get derailed during their journey.

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.)

Yoo Yeonseok
(actor, Episode 1 guest star)

Kang Sungjin

Jeong Junha

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!!!

Episode Recap

We start this episode with Yoo Yeonseok, the man who infiltrated the detective team in Episode 1 and killed M and C. He goes to a police station to turn himself in for those murders and go to prison; however, he insists on being escorted to Seoul by the detective team. K acquiesces and sends them to Pyeongtaek to get him. While they wait, they discuss the contents of the safe they were finally able to open last episode. Like we saw in the cliffhanger, the safe contains a picture of a scientist who is the father of Ji Yoonha – the high school girl who was murdered in Episode 4. I know I said it in my previous recap, but I’ll say it again: don’t forget this detail for the next few episodes!

There is also a log of Project D that offers some important insights. According to it: “The purpose of Project D was to create the best detective who will root out all evil.” The team learns that they’re not the first subjects of Project D – in fact, it seems there were many before them. The log talks about numerous failures who experienced negative side effects that were more severe than the memory loss K told the team about. Although the show doesn’t explicitly state this, here’s what I’m guessing: K and C thought that they had solved the issues from their previous failed experiments, but they didn’t get it *quite* right. So while the team didn’t go the way of the other test subjects, they still started to lose their memories. Which is why K decided to stop the project, but ended up observing them and bringing them together when they showed some promise.

The project log also has two other important items of information. The first is that “the adversaries are openly protesting against K.” The second is that there was one viable test subject before the team, but he caused a lot of trouble and ran away. Whoever wrote the log (I believe Yoonha’s father but it’s never directly confirmed) says that the researchers will be in a lot of danger if this test subject joins the adversaries. The team believes that the original test subject could be Yeonseok. Keep in mind that everything in the project log is something that we will revisit throughout this episode and the next.

Going back to the present, Yeonseok makes his entrance escorted by two SWAT officers who emphasize that he has to be delivered to the policemen in Seoul by 1 p.m. (They start their mission at 10:30 a.m.) Yeonseok almost immediately starts irritating the team – especially the men – so things are off to a great start. They spend about half an hour sniping at each other on the private bus driving them to Seoul, where he dodges all their questions and says he’ll tell them everything once they’ve successfully transported him. Though they do spot that he has a Project D tattoo on the back on his neck like the rest of them. Around 11 a.m. the bust suddenly *mysteriously* breaks down. The driver says that the bus is inoperable, and buys them train tickets at 11:30. It takes about an hour to get to Seoul, so they *should* still have some time. As they leave, Yeonseok exchanges a *look* with the bus driver.

The team gets on the train as planned, but things go awry after the train stops at Suwon – Jaesuk gets a call from a stranger who demands that Yeonseok be brought to him… otherwise a bomb will explode. There was a passenger who just got off the train, and the unknown man planted the bomb on him before he left. And of course, the team has no idea who that passenger was because they had been squabbling with Yeonseok the entire time. By the way, Yeonseok himself doesn’t seem to have any idea what’s going on. So while I initially thought the look he gave the bus driver implied that they were in on something together, now I’m thinking that maybe it was more of a suspicious look. I’m sure Yeonsok had some contingency plan so he wouldn’t actually end up in prison, it appears this is not part of it.

The team questions the train attendant and a couple who was sitting next to the recently departed passenger. They learn that he’s a food blogger named Jeong Junha, and he travels all over Korea to eat at the country’s most famous restaurants. Conveniently, he forgot his map and his eating schedule when he got off the train – but he does has his briefcase, which contains the bomb. The detectives look at his schedule, and Jaewook notices that all of the meals Junha wrote on it relate to animals – but there are some interesting times that don’t match actual mealtime hours. They realize that these animals are part of the Chinese Zodiac, and the hours written on that schedule actually refer to the hours of that animal (since each one has two per day). So according to this system, the animal for today is ox… aka beef. The only beef restaurant on the map is Magic Beef Ribs in Gangnam. (If Junha is headed to Seoul anyway, why did he get off at Suwon instead of taking the train all the way in? They do show him driving around in a car, so maybe he had to pick it up and drive it in… but still.)

How Junha’s eating schedule corresponds to the Chinese zodiac.

When the train arrives in Seoul, the team decides to split into two groups: one to track down Junha and the bomb, and one to follow the instructions that the mysterious man left. (So the “hand Yeonseok over to the police by 1 p.m.” thing is null and void now, because of the bomb that could level a whole district.) Jaewook, Jongmin, and Sejeong head to Magic Beef Ribs, but they apparently just miss Junha. However, the couple they spoke to on the train mentioned that Junha boasted about how he always left some kind of trace at the restaurants. Junha ate his ribs and left the bones arranged in a pattern here. The detectives eventually figure that it’s symmetrical and spells out the same word on both sides – ramyeon. So, Junha’s next destination is a ramyeon restaurant.

The bones spell out mirrored versions of “ramyeon (라면).”

Jaesuk, Kwangsoo, Minyoung, and Sehun take Yeonseok and get on Bus 671 like the mysterious man ordered. They learn it’s a special bus just for them that will circle around the Yeouido area. They have to figure out what stop to get off at, but they only have one chance. If they guess right, the bomb will be delayed by an hour. If they get it wrong, the bomb will be set off an hour earlier. Poor Kwangsoo accidentally presses one of the Stop buttons by leaning on it, and gets chewed out by the rest of the team.

As they go around they notice that there are different announcements for each stop. Jaesuk eventually figures out that it’s a version of the Fibonacci Sequence. There are only announcements at four stops: the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th. 1 + 1 = 2 and then 2 + 3 = 5. So according to the Fibonacci Sequence, the next number would be 5+3, or 8 – meaning they have to get off at the 8th stop. (I’ve seen this episode like 4 times and I literally JUST understood this – I always thought it had to do with the actual number of announcement messages at each stop.)

The Fibonacci Sequence pattern on the bus ride.

When the group gets off the bus, they find a note on the bus stop sign. It reads, “Bring the microchip. The Pororo that drinks coffee knows.” (Pororo is a South Korean cartoon character that is SUPER popular here – he’s a cute little penguin with a helmet and goggles.) Kwangsoo inadvertently makes up for his bus blunder when he runs to a nearby cafe to use the bathroom. There’s a giant Pororo statue outside, and he discovers claw machine games with stuffed Pororos inside. The idea is to play the claw machines to get the four Pororo plushies, because each one has a piece of paper that will reveal an address of where they’re supposed to go.

Sehun goes into full-on competitive mode here, inspiring the hilarious and iconic montage of him endlessly playing the game, bumming at least 100,000 won (around 90 USD) off of Kwangsoo, and just overall hogging the machines. His teammates are rather bemused by all this, but he does eventually succeed in nabbing all four of them… and goes back to nonchalantly sipping on his iced coffee while the others actually put the address together. Classic Sehun. After all that, they go where the address indicates – a spot in a park, where they find a briefcase. However, the briefcase is locked and requires a special key.

Sehun’s gotta catch em all. (Clip on Netflix Asia YouTube channel)

Meanwhile, Jaewook’s team has finally caught up to Jungha at Noodles on Fire, which is also in Yeouido. He doesn’t believe their story that his bag contains a bomb, but they manage to persuade him to bring it in from the car. He quickly discovers that it isn’t actually his bag, meaning someone on the train swapped them while he was distracted. The bag is locked, but a helpful note tells them to enter the numbers of the train they took to Seoul and the bus the other half of the team got on with Yeonseok. They finally see the bomb with 39 seconds left on the timer, and Junha runs off screaming. Fortunately, it turns out the bomb was fake.

Everyone reunites at the cafe, where Yeonseok produces a cufflink that opens the briefcase and reveals a microchip. He finally tells his story – he was indeed the first detective created by Project D, and he confirms that K had good intentions in creating the project. But the “adversaries” wanted to create a crime syndicate, and sought to take control of Yeonseok and manipulate him because he had a lot of power. One of the researchers helped him escape and gave him the cufflink, telling him that it would open something important one day. This researcher was same the scientist in the photo they found, aka Yoonha’s father.

Yeonseok initially suspected the team because they had been brought together by M, and M was one of the “adversaries” along with C. However, Yeonseok secretly observed the team during all of their cases and determined they were trustworthy. So, he turned himself in so he could get in touch with them. (Side note: How exactly did he observe them? I’m just imagining him shadowing them on every single one of their cases and hiding in the background, and I find this mental image absolutely hilarious.)

The mysterious man orders the team to bring Yeonseok and the microchip somewhere in Paju in the dead of night. It appears that they’re at some kind of abandoned mall, and it’s super creepy. The man finally shows himself – Yeonseok doesn’t recognize him, but he says he knows Yeonseok well. He demands the microchip, and of course the team refuses. So he whips this massive orange flag out from under his coat toreador style, and a horde of zombie like people show up and start chasing the detectives around. It’s lowkey TERRIFYING. Everyone eventually gets captured except for Yeonseok, who takes the microchip and goes to meet the man while telling the team to wait for him.


The man tells Yeonseok that the microchip contains the last file that will fix the initial error of Project D. He calls the team “failures” and challenges Yeonseok to a game called the “Drink of Death” for possession of the microchip. Basically, it’s like a giant Battleship game but with drinking. Instead of battleships, they use rows of three shot glasses. If one man correctly guesses the location of his opponent’s glass, the opponent has to drink it. Each man has one glass that contains an instantly lethal poison, so the game will quite literally end in death.

The battleship drinking game.

Meanwhile, the team has been locked up in cages and surrounded by the zombie like people. It turns out their captors are the failed test subjects the Project D log mentioned, who have regressed to a zombie like state thanks to the side effects of the project’s error. The log said, “”The failed subjects show lack of cognitive functions and the tendency to repeat a particular action. They are losing focus and reacting to certain words.” The detectives realize that the failed subjects respond to certain stimuli, so they have to figure out how to use that to their advantage and escape.

Here is the solution: there is a wall far away from the cages that has seven keys on it. There is a test subject who will thrust his arm out when he hears the word “hyung.” (That’s the Korean honorific men use for older males/brothers they’re close with.) They have to time it so that he will hit the wall and make the keys fall down. Kwangsoo has a gong in his cell that he can ring, which will make the test subjects pick up whatever is nearest and bring it to him; he can use that to get the keys. But even if they get the keys, they won’t be able to just leave – Kwangsoo repeatedly breaks free for about 10 seconds before getting dragged back into his cell. They have to find something orange to distract the test subjects, like the flag that the mysterious man used to signal them. Once several members have unlocked their cells, they break free and rush around searching for something orange among all the random things on the ground. It’s utter chaos, but Sehun manages to grab hold of an orange ball and leads the entire horde away while everyone else is freed.

Now that the team has escaped, they go to find Yeonseok and the man in the middle of their game. The man finally introduces himself – his name is Kang Sungjin, and HE is the first Project D subject. Apparently Yoonha’s father experimented on both of them at the same time (although Yeonseok was apparently unaware of this), and he was killed for helping Yeonseok escape. Unfortunately, the information ends there because Sungjin drinks the poisoned glass and immediately dies. Yeonseok says that the adversaries must have gotten to Sungjin and were using him to try and gain the microchip, and he must have wanted to give it to him in order to gain his freedom. Remember how the Project D log said that it would be dangerous if the viable test subject joined the adversaries? Maybe that was referring to Sungjin and not Yeonseok.

Yeonseok entrusts the team with the microchip, but ghosts them once more. (I know it’s just a show, but Sehun calling “hyung” as Yeonseok was running away really got to me.) He hops on yet another motorcycle that was oh so conveniently waiting for him and speeds off into the night, just like in Episode 1. He promises them that they’ll meet again, but I’m going to break continuity and tell you that they don’t. Which makes me kind of sad, because I was really interested in his character and his plotline. It feels like there are some loose ends over there that I wish were eventually tied up.

But we can’t dwell on that now, because we’re headed into the season finale: the team receives a call from a familiar voice proclaiming that he’s kidnapped K!

NOTE: All photos and GIFs are screenshots or screen captures from Busted! Episode 9 on Netflix. Nothing belongs to me, and all images are used here for illustrative purposes only.

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