The holiday season might not be the best time to watch Pinocchio because the drama is dialing up the intensity and nervousness when I’m not primed to handle it. Aside from me wanting everyone to get their happily ever after, which looks highly unlikely, the developments continue to flow at a brisk pace along with how quickly the secrets keep coming out. I should have expected it after young Dal Po quickly learned little In Ha was Cha Ok’s daughter and how he candidly fessed up to PD Hwang that he was Ki Ha Myung, this drama is about the inevitable conflict rather than using hidden truths to milk momentary tension.
The unresolved messes of past pain continue to creep up and now equally wreak havoc on Dal Po and In Ha. He’s already in a silent hell of worrying dread but she goes from giddy high to abject low as fast as one news video can play. I’ve always felt In Ha was Dal Po’s emotional rock even if she didn’t know it, she helped him find happiness in the years when he was pretending to be Grandpa’s son and soldiering on. She never understood the breadth and depth of what he does for her until this episode turns the stakes around so that their reporter dreams become the nightmare that has caught up to them and perhaps only love can power them to survive what’s to come.
Episode 9 recap:
After the confrontation with Jae Myung outside YGN, Dal Po goes to ask sunbae PD Hwang for advice. What would he do if a long lost family member turns out to be not who he imagined? What if he hurt others or did something bad? PD Hwang asks if there is proof and Dal Po has none other than his intuition. PD Hwang’s only answer is to investigate, to find definite proof rather than go by gut feeling to get to the truth. He urges Dal Po to save his emotional turmoil for after he finds out what the truth is.
In Ha and Bum Jo is out with the MSC field team filming for icy road condition accidents when they happen to be at the scene of a major police chase truck crash. Jae Myung also happens by and rams his truck into the runaway truck about to take out a middle school student stuck in the middle of the road. Jae Myung climbs out with blood dripping down his forehead and faints after learning the kids is okay.
The MSC team is thrilled with the exclusive their field team got of the runaway truck life saving footage. Reporter Kim wants Bum Jo to handle the on air report for this hot segment. In Ha grumbles about Bum Jo getting the screen time over her while he uses water to fix his air before delivering the report.
Cha Ok wants this news to be the headline lead off tonight despite the other bigwigs grumbling that it’s not big enough news since no one died. Cha Ok plans to package it into a hero story that people will love, plus MSC has the exclusive on it. The MSC news room goes into overdrive to prepare this story for the upcoming broadcast.
Dal Po goes back to the police station where Yoo Rae wonders where he went? She yawns right in front of him and uses that to remind him that she has no feelings for him which is why she can be so unladylike. They notice trucks being towed into the police yard and Dal Po immediately recognizes one truck as hyung Jae Myung’s water delivery truck. He hears from the tow driver that the trucks were in an accident earlier.
In Ha accompanies Jae Myung in the ambulance to the hospital and hears from the first responders that he’ll be fine but has a broken arm. Jae Myung regains consciousness briefly and asks for Ha Myung and In Ha wonders who Ha Myung is?
YGN is starting to hear about the truck accident when MSC broadcasts the accident footage as the headline news. Bum Jo’s doting mom hears that her son Seo Bum Jo is reporting from the field and celebrates as Bum Jo narrates the accident.
A lot of viewers are watching this news report and the MSC team is thrilled with how awesome their footage is. PD Hwang wonders how MSC got such close footage and hears that the field team happened to be at the location filming icy roads. The MSC report continues urging people to be extra careful driving on the icy road.
Dal Po rushes to the hospital looking for Jae Myung and walks through the patient waiting room right when the news report mentions how the driver who saved the little boy was named Ki Jae Myung.
In Ha is waiting for Jae Myung to finish treatment to try and get an interview with him. She tells the cameraman that the guy who saved the kid is named Ki Jae Myung and the cameraman thinks the name sounds familiar. They hear Jae Myung just checked himself out of the hospital and run to intercept him for an interview.
In Ha introduces herself to Jae Myung as MSC reporter Choi In Ha. The cameraman appears to recognize Jae Myung finally and the same likewise. Jae Myung confirms that In Ha is the reporter on the MSC billboards and remembers hearing she is Chief Song Cha Ok’s daughter. Jae Myung stares at In Ha’s card and repeats her name before smiling at her and agreeing to the interview right now.
Dal Po runs around the hospital looking for hyung and hears from the same nurse that hyung has finished treatment and is being interviewed by reporters right now. Dal Po is relieved that hyung has a broken arm and nothing more serious.
Jae Myung tells In Ha that he rushed in to save the child because he was reminded of his younger brother who died many years ago. In Ha wonders if Jae Myung blames the reporters for what happened to his family? Jae Myung knows that many of the reporters who contributed to the faulty reporter are still working today. He doesn’t remember them anymore except for one particularly vicious reporter. He remembers her name, face, her voice.
The cameraman recording this interview starts to twitch when he sees where Jae Myung is going, as does Dal Po who has arrived at the lobby in time to catch the tail end of this interview. Before Jae Myung can tell In Ha, Dal Po yells her name and rushes over to interrupt. In Ha thinks he’s here as a news rival and asks Jae Myung to not give any interviews to other news stations beside MSC and Jae Myung agrees.
Dal Po pulls In Ha behind him to drag her away from Jae Myung who watches curiously. The cameraman sighs as Dal Po safely extricates In Ha from the situation and pulls her away from Jae Myung.
Outside the hospital, In Ha accuses Dal Po of ruining her exclusive while he can only yell at her to stay away from “that person”. Dal Po brings up Jae Myung hating all reporters which In Ha knows already and understands his reason. In Ha knows that Jae Myung is the son of the dead firefighter whose remains were recently found. She doesn’t think Jae Myung is dangerous after he just risked his life to save a boy.
Dal Po can only beg In Ha to trust him, he knows Jae Myung is dangerous so will In Ha stay away from this story going forward? Hand the interview off to another reporter please! In Ha wants a reason and all Dal Po can ask is that he’s the reason. Dal Po worries about In Ha more than anyone, so can’t he be reason enough for her to do what he’s asking of her? Dal Po begs In Ha to stay away from Jae Myung and not ask Dal Po for more specifics.
In Ha knows Dal Po knows more than she does, and even if she asks he won’t tell her. But she also knows that he’s asking her to do this because he wants to keep her safe which is why she’s agreeing to his request. She won’t interview Jae Myung going forward because she trusts Dal Po more than she does Jae Myung. Dal Po confirms she’s telling the truth with this promise because she’s not hiccupping. He sinks to the ground and In Ha assures him that she won’t worry him over this.
Dal Po pulls her in to rest his head in her arms and thanks her for agreeing to do this.
The cameraman’s name is Reporter Lee and he goes to shake Jae Myung’s hand to thank him for the interview. Jae Myung says it’s been a long time and Reporter Lee tries to play it off as running into Jae Myung outside MSC last week when he asked about the billboard. Jae Myung knows they haven’t seen each other in 13 years since an interview situation much like this one. Reporter Lee tries to feign memory loss but Jae Myung remembers very clearly, Reporter Lee did the interview years ago with Reporter Song Cha Ok. Jae Myung picks up In Ha’s card and says with a scary smile that it’s such a strange fate that he runs into Reporter Song’s daughter now to do this interview.
In Ha teasingly asks if Dal Po wants to steal her exclusive by asking her to stay away from Jae Myung? Dal Po zips her lips and assures her that is not his intention. In Ha knows and was just teasing him, but changes the topic to the more serious problem of her dad finding out about them eventually. She worries he’ll make things difficult for Dal Po so he can’t give up on her. Dal Po shushes her lips again and promises never to give up on her. That makes In Ha smile as he strokes her face.
In Ha finds Bum Jo in the MSC lobby and teases him about stealing her on air chance but congratulating him with a high five nonetheless. They run to catch the elevator and neither notices Jae Myung standing in the network lobby eying In Ha ominously.
In Ha encounters Cha Ok by the elevator and gets her first “good job” congratulation from her. She stops the elevator to hear it one more time and Cha Ok notices In Ha is wearing the shoes she handed to In Ha’s dad. In Ha is even happier that it was really her mom that gave her the shoes. She so excited she wants to give Bum Jo another high five and the poor guy gets his hand slapped once more to share in In Ha’s happiness.
The MSC news team are thrilled with the feedback to the story and plan to continue the hero theme further now that their ratings have vaulted past YGN. The YGN team try to downplay the exclusive as getting lucky and wants to focus on other important upcoming stories, believing this story will die down in a day or two.
Dal Po narrates that his hyung’s lifesaving story didn’t die down with MSC doing follow ups and sharing Jae Myung’s backstory with the world. Jae Myung says in an interview that he saved the boy because he was reminded of his little brother. The YGN team want to get involved with this story and wonder if anyone on the team has any connection with Jae Myung. PD Hwang assigns Dal Po to find out more about Ki Jae Myung and report back to him directly.
Jae Myung’s interview continues to play as he discusses how his father was falsely accused of being a coward at a fire when in truth he perished in the fire as well. Dal Po thinks to himself that hyung is getting the truth of their father to the world after becoming a hero in their eyes and getting the apologies that was too late in coming. Cha Ok reports that MSC along with all the news stations all share the blame for what happened to Jae Myung’s father and she apologizes on air.
Jae Myung sits in his room watching Cha Ok deliver her news report as she ends with a vow for MSC to continue only reporting the truth. Dal Po thinks that the news which destroyed their family has now turns his hyung into a hero. MSC plans to keep milking the Jae Myung as hero story since it resurrected their ratings and even if they hear about Jae Myung’s past transgressions (like high school fights), it doesn’t report on it so as to maintain the image.
MSC reports on Jae Myung’s other good deeds, like buying kimbap for a homeless lady or using the money the police gave him for the accident to buy toys for the orphanage.
Bum Jo and In Ha encounter Cha Ok inside a crowded elevator and Bum Jo uses the crowd to push In Ha closer to her mom. The elevator won’t close because too many people are inside so Bum Jo gets out before pulling Cha OK out as well. Before Cha Ok can yell at Bum Jo, he hands over her old phone which she left at his house 13 years ago. Bum Jo actually kept using that phone all those years and read all the texts coming in during that time. He bows low and apologizes to her for doing it.
Cha Ok sits down alone to read through 13 years of In Ha texts to her. Bum Jo thought if he didn’t respond then she would stop, who knew she would keep texting for 13 years like a fool. He started to get interested in In Ha and that’s why he’s here today. He hopes Cha Ok will read those texts one day and fall in love for her and want to become a better person for her.
Reporter Kim is flying high when he joins all the reporters in the news lounge and tempts everyone with the offer to release the MSC footage for others to use. He then clarifies that he’ll only consider it if the MSC logo is placed on the footage. The other reporters wonder why Ki Jae Myung is so loyal and refuses interviews with any of the other networks? PD Hwang gets a call from Dal Po and darts outside quickly to answer it. Dal Po plans to go meet his hyung today and assures PD Hwang and he’ll be fine.
Reporter Lee notices Jae Myung in the MSC lobby reading a flyer with Cha Ok announcing a speaking engagement. He sits down with Cha Ok in the cafeteria to tell her about it but she doesn’t think worth mentioning. Reporter Lee thinks Jae Myung still hates Cha Ok for what happened so what if he’s planning to disrupt the event? Cha Ok wants him to bring a camera then and record it for good ratings. Reporter Lee sighs and worries that it’s not just a disruption, what if it’s a terror type incident! Cha Ok stands up and declares that she’s covered way scarier news events and nothing will scare her off.
Cha OK picks up her plate and walks over to join In Ha and Bum Jo to eat in peace. In Ha is so thrilled before handing her egg yolk to her mom who does the same and hands back the egg white to In Ha. Bum Jo just watches the two eating with a smile. Reporter Lee can’t get through to Cha Ok but appear to get another idea when he sees In Ha.
Dal Po gets a recording device from his team leader who wonders why an intern needs this equipment. Turns out Dal Po is headed to his parents memorial altar to pay his respects. He finds the altar now stuffed flowers and notes from people paying their respects and calling his dead father a hero. Dal Po cries as he looks at the picture of the family placed inside the altar.
Jae Myung arrives and asks why Dal Po is here? Dal Po composes himself and asks to speak with Jae Myung since he heard Jae Myung comes here every day. Jae Myung is only willing to talk to MSC news and Dal Po asks why since MSC led the charge 13 years ago in the false reporting against his dad? Jae Myung claims he trusts MSC to tell his real side of the story now.
Jae Myung tosses the flowers Dal Po brought in the trash before walking away but stops when Dal Po asks if he knows Moon Duk Soo, the missing factory team leader. Jae Myung stops in his tracks and quickly says he doesn’t know the man. Dal Po brings out how the factory team leader falsely gave testimony after the fire and is now missing and accused of killing two men. Jae Myung thinks it’s karma and he hopes the man, who was once a father and husband, will turn himself in and stop causing pain for his family.
Dal Po confronts Jae Myung on why he used past tense in talking about the missing man? Why “once” when referring to him as a husband and father? A missing man sounds like he doesn’t exist anymore the way Jae Myung talks about him. Like he’s already dead. Jae Myung explains that the man can’t be a father and husband right now. Dal Po then asks why Jae Myung mentioned karma because Dal Po never said the two dead guys were former coworkers who worked in the burned down factory with the missing team leader. Doesn’t that mean Jae Myung knows those two men also gave false testimony against his father?
Dal Po asks what Jae Myung wants now, an apology from the world or revenge? Jae Myung leans in and says if he’s forced to choose then he’ll pick revenge. He takes Dal Po’s cell phone which was recording the conversation and tosses it in a burning fire outside.
Dal Po sits at his desk freaking out and listening to the conversation he recorded with Jae Myung from his necktie device. PD Hwang calls and Dal Po wonders if it’s a miracle to conceal a broad truth and would it be the truth if a lie is widely believed? He lies to PD Hwang that the cell phone recording was lost and then lies further that he didn’t learn anything in his interview with Jae Myung.
Dal Po thinks that lies that are hidden behind a rock wall will collect like calm spring water but will gradually seep through cracks. Then the cracks will get bigger and bigger until one day the dam breaks. Yoo Rae reads the news about Jae Myung and thinks his name sounds familiar. She then connects Ki Jae Myung from the hero news to the name on the telephone number slip that PD Hwang wanted her to hand to Dal Po. She wonders what Dal Po’s connection to Jae Myung is? Chan Soo reads the same news and recognizes Jae Myung’s picture, placing him at the shopping mall that day with Dal Po. He also wonders what Jae Myung’s connection with Dal Po is?
Reporter Lee calls In Ha inside the video room to show her the recorded exclusive interview that Jae Myung gave to MSC 13 years ago to try and clear his father’s name. In Ha watches the video and hears her mom asking the questions to a crying Jae Myung who keeps insisting that his father died in the fire. Over trusting the Pinocchio eyewitness, he trusts his father more. He wishes his father was still alive but he knows that his father is dead because his father would not abandon his coworkers or his family to hide alone like a coward. As a son Jae Myung knows his father is dead.
In Ha asks why Reporter Lee is showing her this video? He admits more happened after the interview and a flashback shows that Cha Ok planned to air only portions of the interview where Jae Myung wishes his father was still alive. Reporter Lee thinks that’s wrong but Cha Ok calls Jae Myung as shameless as his father. Jae Myung overhears and confronts Cha Ok for being a monster and threatens her with the commendation trophy his father got as a firefighter. Jae Myung is then taken away by the cops while Reporter Lee asks Cha Ok to let this matter go since Jae Myung just smashed the wall with the trophy. Reporter Lee asks her to go to the cops and have Jae Myung released from holding but she wants him in jail for the night.
In Ha hears that the night Jae Myung spent in jail, his mother and younger brother committed suicide by jumping off a cliff. Reporter Lee knows Jae Myung hates Cha Ok the most for everything that happened afterwards, including the deaths of his mom and younger brother. In Ha asks if her mother knows all this and Reporter Lee confirms she does. He plays the video from the cliff where all the reporters are gathered to report on the suicides and Jae Myung confronts In Ha on causing this. If he was able to be with his mom that night then this wouldn’t have happened. Cha Ok is unapologetic and says Jae Myung would be dead now if he was with them that night.
Reporter Lee thinks Jae Myung is planning something bad but Cha Ok won’t take his warning seriously and thinks whatever will happen is good news. He wants In Ha to warn her mom who would listen to her. In Ha stares at the shoes on her feet and can’t believe her mom could be so cruel and vicious. She throws her shoes away in the trash which is when she notices the video is frozen on the lone sneaker on the cliff. She asks about the shoe and hears that it belongs to the younger brother Ki Ha Myung who died. In Ha remembers seeing the same matching sneaker in her house and grabs her things and runs out of the office. She remembers Grandpa explaining that he found Dal Po in the ocean one day clinging to a buoy.
In Ha surprises Grandpa when she runs home and immediately finds the one sneaker in the shoe rack. Grandpa is happily enjoying the new TV he bought so that he can watch Dal Po and In Ha on the news in the future. In Ha asks Grandpa about the sneaker that hears that it’s a good luck charm and can’t be thrown away. It was because of that sneaker hanging on top of the buoy that he found Dal Po in the ocean.
In Ha hears that Dal Po also came home early today and Grandpa noticed that something appears to be bothering him. He paced around the house before going up to the roof. She runs up to the roof to look for Dal Po and remembers all their interactions growing up: why Dal Po seemed to pick up her, why he is so antagonistic towards her mom, why he yelled at her for being a Pinocchio reporter, why he went back on his offer to become reporters together. In Ha starts crying in the elevator while pounding her chest in pain.
In Ha arrives on the roof and sees Dal Po staring out into the sunset. She remembers Dal Po begging her to stay away from Jae Myung for her own safety. In Ha walks up to Dal Po who is surprised to see her there. In Ha grabs Dal Po’s arms and takes a deep breath before asking “Are you Ki Ha Myung?”
Dal Po’s reaction is answer enough but she still needs to ask again if his real name is Ki Hae Myung? Dal Po asks In Ha how she found out but she just sinks to her knees sobbing. Dal Po thinks that the truth he most wanted to keep secret has been discovered by the person he most doesn’t want to know. Oof.
Thoughts of Mine:
What a fantastic episode, leaving me gasping for breath at the end and needing a moment much like In Ha on that rooftop. I’m happy she knows but also sad she knows, now she gets to operate under all the same weight of knowledge that Dal Po shields her from, but perhaps with it she takes some of the load off for him. He’s going to need help in figuring out what to do about hyung Jae Myung, and right now In Ha as perfect a partner as any to help him navigate the mess of the past converging with the present. I don’t think hyung is thinking homicidal thoughts with respect to In Ha and/or Cha Ok, both are too high profile and anything happening now so soon with offing the factory three will surely be too risky. If he is indeed crazy enough to go all out, then hyung has probably signed his own death warrant and wants a rocks fall down ending for all involved. That would be baaaaad, so very very bad, and I’m not just sad because Dal Po will lose a hyung before really getting him back. I’m also sad because Jae Myung is at heart a good person driven to extremes because of rage he can’t let go of.
It’s interesting how the drama shows us Dal Po, the brother who ended up in a better situation after the tragedy, and makes the more well-adjusted one the main character. That he’s younger yet is the first to find hyung and must now try and protect him turns the tables on the typical narrative of the older child being the one to protect and reunite. Hyung is turning into the real second male lead of this drama, no offense to Bum Jo who I like well enough, but the increased screen time for hyung also belies the importance of his character in being the center of the main conflict. The police are going to be zeroing in on him soon as he sets into motion whatever he has planned for Cha Ok. I’m not sure the rookie news reporters finding society page stories is going to generate any tense narrative fodder going forward, especially since Dal Po has more important fish to fry now beyond whether he will become a good reporter. Same goes for In Ha, what’s going to happen with her just getting starting on achieving her dreams only to learn that she is cut from the same cloth as ruthless Cha Ok.
Dal Po feels so alone all this time in this drama, even with the interactions he shares with family and friends. It likely stems from him living another person’s identity rather than being Ki Ha Myung, he’s living day to day but it’s colored by a borrowed narrative. He can continue to be Choi Dal Po and coalesce his adult memories with his real childhood identity of Ha Myung to produce the complete and real him, but doing so needs hyung who he can’t reunite with just yet. It hurts so badly to see hyung sneer and rail at Dal Po, and it hurts even more with each new bit of knowledge that confirms for Dal Po more and more than his hyung is in deep trouble and did something that cannot be undone. There isn’t enough OTP kissy sweet moments to gloss over the deep and serious elements of this story, which is why I love Pinocchio so because it’s about so much more than romance. Truth isn’t going to set anyone free anymore, now the question is how to mitigate the impending fallout for all involved.
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