Sign Episodes 1-2 Recap
Romanized title: Ssain
English title: Sign
Broadcast station: SBS
Broadcast dates: 5 January – 10 March 2011
Cast: Park Shin Yang, Kim Ah Joong, Uhm Ji Won, Jung Gyu Woon, Jun Kwang Ryul, Jang Hyun Sung
Streaming with English subtitles on DramaFever
Synopsis: After an unfortunate case, CSI investigator Go Da Kyung joins the national forensics team in a poor branch led by the abrasive Yoon Ji Hoon. Can these two resolve their differences and work to bring justice to the killer of a young man who got away when they first met?
Omo. This drama is too complicated almost from the very beginning – no from the very beginning. I have to say that I am surprised that such a huge conspiracy is already present in only 2 episodes! Jdrama Untouchable had a conspiracy that was always present, but maybe not quite as pervasive right off the bat…then again, they were always dealing with a mysterious cult and organization…oh well. I have to say, though, despite how complex this drama is in the beginning – it definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat and wondering just what is going to happen next. But be forewarned that it will probably be hard to understand who is who and just how deep this conspiracy goes and just what relationships everyone has.
The story begins at the end (not the end of the series, just technically at the end of the plot for the episode). We have NFS Medical Examiner Yoon Ji Hoon (Park Shin Yang) wheeling a body down a dark corridor, Prosecutor Jung Woo Jin (Uhm Ji Won) coming in with a warrant and demanding all the evidence in regard to the death of superstar Seo Yoon Hyung (one of Supernova’s members – no I don’t know which one because I am not all that familiar with the band), forensic expert Lee Myung Han (Jun Kwang Ryul) goes to do the autopsy only to find that Yoon Hyung’s body has been switched with an old lady’s thus initiating the search for Ji Hoon. In his haste to escape with the body, Ji Hoon slams into newbie Go Da Kyung (Kim Ah Joong) and inadvertently takes her along for the ride. All members close in on Ji Hoon and he is told to stand down, but he locks himself and Da Kyung in the autopsy room and starts the autopsy against their wishes.
We then rewind to 52 hours earlier at the concert of popular group Voice (again, played by the Supernova members). Yoon Hyung is by far the most popular during a break and set change, he goes missing only to be discovered dead when a search to find him is conducted. Woo Jin arrives on scene and is horrified to see the chaos there as fans are going crazy and trying to get to the body after hearing about Yoon Hyung’s untimely demise. Amidst the chaos is Da Kyung who is desperately trying to fight her way through crazy fangirls to do her job. It is her first case and already she is criticized for not showing up in full gear. Her mentor shows up for his final case and goes through tutoring Da Kyung. Though, oddly enough, he is immediately negative about being able to find any good evidence in such a chaotic place where people are constantly coming and going. Da Kyung decided to forgo becoming a doctor and ultimately chose to become a forensics investigator to help catch the criminals using not super powers, but science (like Batman and Ironman).
While Da Kyung and her mentor to their best to document the scene and collect evidence, Woo Jin and detective Choi Yi Han investigate those closest to the deceased from his manager, to his group member, to his stylist. Yi Han remains silent, but while Woo Jin questions the witnesses and listens to their stories, Yi Han is watching evidence that shows just how much they are all lying about their relationship. Yi Han and Woo Jin butt heads immediately. Yi Han is full of theories based on the lies and relationships and this annoys Woo Jin who, as a prosecutor, needs proof and not theories to obtain a warrant. Woo Jin is also not pleased with how Yi Han dresses – she calls him an idol versus a cop. I wouldn’t call his dressing style idol-like. He just dresses down versus wearing a suit or a uniform. Nothing wrong with that. After the interviews, it is discovered that a tape is missing and thus leads people to suspect that their must be crucial evidence on it. The questions is, with the place swarming with cops, how did it get stolen?
The next day, Ji Hoon and Myung Han are at a hearing where Ji Hoon questions Myung Han’s autopsy results. Ji Hoon believes that Myung Han has coated the truth to fit the powers that be. Myung Han assures the committee that so-and-so’s death is from natural causes while Ji Hoon insists that it was accidental. One committee member asks if Ji Hoon is doing this solely because he does not like Myung Han and Ji Hoon says that of course he doesn’t like his colleague as he is willing to doctor evidence if need be to get the desired outcome. Forensic science is supposed to show the pure unadulterated truth and they owe it to the deceased to tell the true story. Ji Hoon is quite the personality. He is quick to start yelling loudly to get his point across, which definitely does not win him any favors. Part of the whole dislike stems from the fact that Myung Han is after the position of leader of the NFS and he disparages the current leader (whose tenure is almost up). And, of course, that he doctors evidence. Myung Han believes the NFS needs his power and connections to become the best while Ji Hoon believes that science and objectivity should not go with power. Totally agree with that.
Ji Hoon returns home where the leader of NFS chides him for going against Myung Han. He then assigns Ji Hoon the Yoon Hyung case. Meanwhile, Da Kyung is excited to hear that she will get to see Ji Hoon (known for his skills) in action with her very first case. Her mentor warns her that it won’t be what she thinks and boy is he right! From the get go, Ji Hoon ignores Da Kyung and complains about the quality of the crime scene photos and what little actual evidence they’ve managed to gather. Da Kyung erupts, but Ji Hoon still ignores her and says he is disappointed that her mentor did such a shoddy job just because it’s his last case. Da Kyung again asserts herself and is finally cut down by Ji Hoon before he leaves. After he does, Da Kyung says he is dead when she sees him again, and of course he pops in again at that moment asking for everything they’ve managed to gather.
At this point, Prosecutor Jang Min Suk (Jang Hyun Sung) comes to visit leader Jung of the NFS (Song Jae Ho). He wishes to discuss the Seo case, but Jung stubbornly refuses to listen to what he has to say, probably because he has an idea of just what Jang really wants. After that, Jung visits Ji Hoon and suggests taking him off the case. Ji Hoon refuses saying that he is objective and will get the job done properly. He asks why Jung would want to pull him and Jung says he has a feeling that this case will only bring problems, and he is right. Why? After striking out with Jung, Jang goes to pay Myung Han a visit and makes some insinuations about Myung Han, NFS, and some higher powers interested in the case. Meanwhile, Yi Han does everything he can to discover the truth and the culprit and finds a photo of Yoon Hyung with some girl whom his fan club believes is his real girlfriend.
The day of the autopsy arrives and Woo Jin comes with Myung Han saying that he will be the examiner since he has a higher profile than Ji Hoon. Ji Hoon then accuses his ex of being a pawn for someone higher up. Woo Jin adamantly denies this and says that he should listen to her for once as this case is bad news. Unable to accept the mandate to stand down and knowing that Myung Han is probably in someone’s pocket to change the autopsy results, Ji Hoon switches out Yoon Hyung’s corpse and we are back where the episode started.
We finally end up in the autopsy room where Da Kyung initially refuses to help. She has only worked in a pathology lab before and has never assisted in an actual autopsy. Ji Hoon begs her to help Yoon Hyung get his message out (mainly who killed him). She and Ji Hoon are his last chance for honest justice. Da Kyung agrees and the two begin. Meanwhile, Myung Han’s lackey and Woo Jin desperately seek the master key to open the autopsy room. Jung refuses to answer his phone to deal with the problem, wanting to give Ji Hoon the time he needs to find out the truth for the victim. Ji Hoon and Da Kyung are initially at a loss as Yoon Hyung’s body is in excellent condition – no lung, heart, or liver problems, no physical wounds, so how did he die? Just as time runs out and Woo Jin returns with the master key, Ji Hoon notices a cut on the inside of Yoon Hyung’s mouth. Da Kyung, anxious, tries to get Ji Hoon’s attention as the door is finally being opened, but he ignores her and intently cuts into the boy’s throat. Myung Han yells at Ji Hoon to put down his scalpel as it is over, but Ji Hoon continues until he pulls fibers out of Yoon Hyung’s throat and declares that he was murdered.
End episode. Thus why Episode two follows below.
Ji Hoon announces that Yoon Hyung’s death was murder and the cause was oral asphyxiation (meaning he was smothered to death). Meanwhile, at the police station, Yoon Hyung’s stylist confesses to his murder. Myung Han asks how Ji Hoon can possibly know as that is one of the hardest things to prove, plus it is uncommon in young, strong people to not put up a fight. Ji Hoon says the fiber in the throat proves it and that the rest of the lab work will show why he did not resist. At this point, Woo Jin gets the call from Yi Han about the stylist turning herself in. Ji Hoon demands to know the cause of death and Woo Jin says it ways potassium cyanide (a pretty potent poison for those who don’t know – it actually doesn’t take a whole lot to kill a healthy person). Ji Hoon says that isn’t true as there was no bleeding in the throat or stomach and the apricot seed smell was not there, and then Myung Han condescendingly mentions that only 50% of the population in Korea can actually detect the bitter apricot seed smell and thus, Ji Hoon is not one of them. Ji Hoon then asserts he was not the only one in the room and Myung Han turns to Da Kyung and asks after her experience. He is about to write her off when he learns she is just a crime scene investigator, but Da Kyung asserts that she is one of the people who can actually smell potassium cyanide and she has come across it several times while working in the pathology lab. When they opened up the corpse, there was no such smell.
Woo Jin asserts that Myung Han is taking over the case and will properly redo the autopsy and gather all the samples Da Kyung and Ji Hoon gathered for themselves. Ji Hoon won’t let them go without a fight, but in comes Jung who scolds them all for behaving so in front of the dead. He tells Woo Jin that Ji Hoon and the NFS lab will finish the autopsy as it is their reputation on the line. Woo Jin is upset that Jung refuses to listen to the prosecutor’s wishes and storms out with Myung Han. The other NFS employees then quickly gather all the samples up and take them for processing. None of them can believe the gall of Ji Hoon to carry on when he had orders to stand down. But what can they do now? They have to prove the oral asphyxiation to uphold the NFS reputation. Ji Hoon awaits the results while Da Kyung takes up the responsibility of suturing Yoon Hyung’s autopsy cuts.
Woo Jin gets a judge to issue a warrant for Yoon Hyung’s corpse and all of his samples and then calls in the cavalry (the police who were investigate as well) to enforce it. Yi Han asks what is going on and is startled to learn that they are going to the NFS to collect the body. The police and Woo Jin hit like a title wave. Jung and Ji Hoon cannot believe that Woo Jin would go so far as to get a warrant. The police go through willy nilly breaking things, messing up files, and other samples, destroying offices and blatantly ignore the NFS workers who tell them that some of the stuff they are taking is not related to the case at all. I must say for them all working for justice, did they need to make a big mess which could affect not on the Seo case, but all other cases the NFS is investigating. Woo Jin tells Ji Hoon that she had no choice as the NFS has stood against the public prosecutor’s office and that she is making sure she roots out any corruption. Whatever. NFS is not corrupted, but the prosecutor’s office and Myung Han definitely are. Poor Da Kyung is horrified that Seo’s body was taken without being properly stitched up.
Myung Han gets his staff on the case right away and says that they must do their best to find evidence of potassium cyanide. News of this spreads like wildfire. The media are all over the fact that the stylist has turned herself in and is claiming poisoning while the NFS has said it was smothering and is now being called into question for corruption. The only thing to wait on is the results of the second autopsy. Jung tells Ji Hoon to stop and Ji Hoon insists that he cannot stop. If Jung had listened to others years ago and stopped, then he would never have discovered the true reason behind Ji Hoon’s father’s death. Jung says things are different now, but Ji Hoon says they are not. It is a forensic scientist’s job to uncover the truth and to set things right and that is just what Ji Hoon plans to do. Even if he doesn’t have the samples, he can find the murder weapon to prove his theory.
Woo Jin is getting ready for trial against the stylist when Yi Han comes up. She tells him not to bother her, but he mentions that the stylist has changed her confession. First she said she put the poison in orange juice, then in an energy drink. Woo Jin says it is up to him to sort it out. He then asks after the initial autopsy results and Woo Jin says that NFS went against procedure invalidating their results. You can tell despite the stylist confessing that Yi Han doesn’t believe they have the whole story yet. He goes to the manager to ask about the girl, but the manger says he doesn’t know her and that the fans were spouting unvalidated rumors as Seo never had a girlfriend. If he never had a girlfriend, then why would his stylist admit to killing him for two-timing her? After Yi Han leaves, the manager calls someone up and says that a cop was sniffing around asking about the girl, meaning he might have found out her connection to Seo. He agrees to meet with someone.
While that is going on, Da Kyung goes back to the crime scene to find the much needed evidence. She is surprised to learn that there is another person there also. Ji Hoon is in the security room going through footage. Da Kyung offers to help but Ji Joon screams at her to leave. When she refuses, he blows up and accuses her of being a rich girl who fell in love with forensics thanks to American TV like CSI. Ji Hoon hates people like that. Not backing down, Da Kyung admits she is rich and that CSI is part of the reason she became a crime scene investigator. She then says that doesn’t make him any better than her and she says that this is her first case and that she cannot just sit around and do nothing. She was in the autopsy room, too and she believes that Ji Hoon is right in his belief it was oral asphyxiation. Ji Hoon shuts up at this and the two go through tape after tape. After awhile Da Kyung asks what exactly they are looking for and Ji Hoon says someone who stands out. Smothering usually means the killer knew the victim, so they would be agitated after killing them. They must find the person who stands out by not behaving normally.
While they go through tape after tape, Yi Han tails the manager who meets up with Prosecutor Jang. Conspiracy thickens even more. After they separate, Yi Han follows Jang only to be surrounded and beaten by thugs. Yi Han demands to know who the girl is as he is certain that she is behind everything. Jang tells Yi Han to stop looking into things as he should no better to not stir things up after a rocky beginning to his career as a detective. The girl is someone that Yi Han wasn’t even worthy to look at.
Da Kyung and Ji Hoon finally spot a girl who doesn’t belong. There was only supposed to be staff, but she was there without the staff uniform. They then go through tape, after tape to trace her route. Da Kyung goes to retrace her steps while Ji Hoon stays behind to monitor and guide. Da Kyung finally ends her retracing at the stadium. The two then go through seat after seat in hopes to find the cushion the girl used to smother Seo. Da Kyung thinks its hopeless and wants to give up, but Ji Hoon refuses. Da Kyung then asks what kind of car the girl drove. Ji Hoon yells that it was expensive and Da Kyung says her clothes were expensive, too. Thus, the girl wouldn’t be in normal seating. The two rush to the VIP area only to be thwarted by locked doors. Da Kyung then notices the trashcan and says that the security footage showed the girl leaving with a bag, but when she reached the parking lot, she no longer had it. The only place that wasn’t searched during the initial investigation was the trashcan. The two rush out to search the garbage dump, but it had been collected just the day before. As they begin to head off to the dump, Da Kyung feels a rain drop. Ji Hoon screams at her to move and she says it is useless as the rain pours down. Any evidence would be washed away by now. They had realized too late.
Myung Han announces at the press conference that potassium cyanide was found. The amount would not usually cause a person to die, but Seo had a history of lung problems in which such a dose would be lethal. The reporters ask after Ji Hoon’s and the NFS’s finding and Myung Han says that since proper protocol was not followed, the NFS’s results could not be used. Looks like the bad guys won, or did they? Yi Han waits, battered outside of Woo Jin’s office. She is shocked to see him in such a state. He then gives her evidence he found. What evidence? Financial records show that the stylist’s mother was paid a huge sum of money the day before her daughter confessed. Woo Jin seems shocked when she notices the account it came from. She asks if Yi Han obtained the documents legally and of course he didn’t. He is showing them to her in hopes he will continue the investigation despite the current autopsy findings.
Jung tells Ji Hoon that he is suspended pending investigation. The day of the investigation arrives and a smug Myung Han believes that he has won. He doesn’t outright admit to Ji Hoon that he tampered with evidence, but you can tell by his gloating that he got what he wanted. Ji Hoon tells him not to be so certain of victory yet as the game has just started. Oh, indeed it has. Ji Hoon refuses to accept the committees decision to suspend him from NFS and asserts that even if he did not follow proper protocol, Seo Yoon Hyung’s lungs were healthy and he would gladly re-examine them before the committee. Myung Han says that’s impossible since the body was cremated, but Jung brings out Seo’s body, saying his family gave them permission to re-examine it. Myung Han is horrified to see the body was not ashes like it was supposed to be. He says it is a violation of the corpse’s rights to cut it open again, but the committee decides that it is in the NFS’s best interests to redo the autopsy to try to unmar their now tarnished reputation.
Meanwhile, Da Kyung is sent to deliver her sunbae’s stuff that he left behind when he retired. She goes to his house, but no one answers. She sets down the box and takes out a bag of oranges and goes behind his house to find him. Woo Jin goes to her boss with the evidence and asks to re-investigate as she has found a commonality with the account number as it was used in another case. It all stems down to a congressman who is preparing to run for the presidency. Her boss tells her to go ahead, but then lets her know that the girl who is being protected is none other than that congressman’s daughter! Back to Da Kyung. In her sunbae’s backyard she notices a burning barrel. In the barrel is the missing surveillance tape. Her sunbae was the one who stole it! Talk about corruption! Da Kyung sinks to her knees crying while we cut back to Ji Hoon who is telling Myung Han again that the game is just beginning.
Beginning indeed and what a doozy of a game it is. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.