Tunnel Episode 1 Recap
Detective Park Kwang Ho (Choi Jin Hyuk) chases a criminal through a dark tunnel. Kwang Ho thinks a criminal always returns to the scene of a crime. The criminal turns and knocks him to the ground. Kwang Ho hits his head. He thinks “The killer I’ve been searching for all this time…is right in front of me. I’m Detective Park Kwang Ho with 10 years’ experience with the violent crimes unit. I’m going to keep coming after you until I catch you, until this is done. I will catch you.” Kwang Ho passes out watching the criminal escape into the light at the end of the tunnel.
Kwang Ho and two cohorts chase a criminal through a field. The criminal stumbles and stares in horror. Kwang Ho stares in horror at the sight of a dead woman. The body is bound at the hands and feet.
Kwang Ho calls and chews out a journalist who printed a picture of the dead woman in the local paper for insensitivity to the victim’s family. After the call his co-workers groom him for a blind date. Kwang Ho tries to avoid it, citing work, but the Unit Chief won’t let him dodge the date.
Kwang Ho is nervous and embarrassed when the cafe’s owner and daughter fuss over him. Kwang Ho’s blind date, Shin Yeon Sook (Lee Shi A) is amused.
They are shy with each other as they walk down the street. Kwang Ho spins her away from a truck that gets too close. He drops her hand like a hot potato then shyly asks if he can hold her hand.
Later Kwang Ho ducks under his desk with the phone and calls Yeon Sook. She chides him for not calling sooner. He cites a heavy work load and starts to ask if she’s available tonight but Unit Chief startles him and he drops the phone. Yeon Sook hangs up. Unit Chief is pleased Kwang Ho is calling Yeon Sook. But when Kwang Ho picks up the phone, Yeon Sook has hang up.
Another murdered woman is found just weeks after the first. Kwang Ho, Unit Chief, and other co-workers view the body, bound just like the other victim.
Journalist Oh shows up at the police station just as the 5 police officer start slurping noodles. Journalist Oh hypothesizes that they are dealing with a serial killer who hates women. Kwang Ho makes light of the assertion. Journalist Oh tells Kwang Ho that a woman named Yeon Sook is waiting for him outside the station. Kwang Ho drops his noodles and runs out of the room.
Kwang Ho is pleased that Yeon Sook is waiting for him. Trying to be casual, he asks why she stopped by. She says the “flickering light” let her know that he missed her. Kwang Ho recalls turning a flashlight on and off in front of Yeon Sook’s place of work muttering she thinks of me, she doesn’t think of me. Ha! Yeon Sook tells him that he seems like a nice guy. She knows he’s working hard and can’t call. She asks if he would like to go on a date once he catches the criminal. He’s pleased. She’s pleased.
Kwang Ho is so good looking isn’t hard to believe that women don’t fall over themselves left and right for this guy. Kwang Ho and Yeon Sook have a sweet vibe. I like them already.
All the cops work to find the criminal but to no avail. They go to the eatery Kwang Ho went to for his blind date. The owner recognizes their efforts as she chats with them. Unit Chief asks where her daughter is. Making deliveries is the answer. A customer comes in and she steps away. Unit Chief, Kwang Ho, and young Officer Chun aren’t happy with the limited progress they are making.
Kwang Ho goes to see the coroner. He tells Kwang Ho the victim has no fingerprints and she wasn’t raped. Kwang Ho is frustrated. Will he ever be able to go on a date with Yeon Sook?
The eatery’s owner comes into the police station later that evening worried that her daughter hasn’t returned. Officer Chun tells her to have faith her daughter will come home soon. She leaves but is worried something is wrong.
Another body is found. You guessed it, the victim is the eatery’s owner’s daughter. Kwang Ho is sad to see who the victim is. Her mother screams her anguish to Unit Chief. Officer Chun feels terrible that he didn’t search for the girl when her mother came to the station.
The coroner tells Unit Chief and Kwang Ho that the victim was killed near 9pm the previous evening. Kwang Ho notices a variation in the body.
Kwang Ho goes to get the victim’s delivery journal from her mother.
The police go through another round of questions suspects but to no avail.
Kwang Ho studies the delivery journal and recalls her mother saying that when her daughter delivered at the print shop, she’d come home late. Kwang Ho sees multiple delivery entries to the print shop. He finds Officer Chun outside the police station bereft that he turned the mother away. Kwang Ho is firm. The killer committed the murder, not Officer Chun. The mother came to the police station after her daughter was already dead. Kwang Ho says this job is hard but they must stay focused and catch the killer so there aren’t more victims. Kwang Ho tells him to come with him and stop crying or go home.
At the print shop, the owner points to a young worker and tells Kwang Ho and Officer Chun that the girl had a crush on him. The owner gives the young worker an alibi saying they worked until midnight that evening. Kwang Ho is frustrated. Another lead that didn’t yield results.
Kwang Ho and Officer Chun sit in the field at the murder site. Kwang Ho guesses the killer is a local man. They search the field. Unbeknownst to them, the killer watches from afar.
Unit Chief gets chewed out by his commander.
Later the Unit Chief grouses they are all working hard to catch the killer. Getting chewed out doesn’t change anything. Kwang Ho decides visiting the field is fruitless.
Kwang Ho and Yeon Sook marry! They walk down a street sweetly enjoying themselves. From their conversation, Yeon Sook may be pregnant.
The show is not good about giving timeframes between scenes, so I don’t have a sense of the month or year.
A woman walks down a deserted road. Someone is watching and starts to follow. She stops. He stops. She starts walking. He starts walking. She knows someone is behind her. She stops and turns but no one is there. She runs. He comes out and tackles her. She screams.
Officer Chun knocks on Kwang Ho’s door. He tells him there’s been another murder. Kwang Ho looks at Yeon Sook.
At the crime scene, the body is posed the same, the heads and feet are found, the victim was strangled with her stocking, just like the other victims (though the eatery’s daughter wasn’t strangled with her stocking, it was her scarf). Kwang Ho leaves to inform the victim’s family.
The husband and child wait for the woman to return. Kwang Ho sees them waiting outside and knows they are the victim’s family. The husband rushes to the scene with his toddler son in his arms. Kwang Ho tries to dissuade him but the man must see his wife with his own two eyes. He pulls back the white sheet and cries calling his anguish to the sky. The small child cries too.
At the coroner’s office, the coroner points out this victim fought hard to live. He tells Kwang Ho and Unit Chief to catch this killer. Isn’t it amazing that the present-day police officer would have so many forensic markers to guide the investigation? These police officers are almost blind trying to catch this killer with so little to go on.
Journalist Oh arrives at the police station and finds it empty save the victim’s husband and child.
Kwang Ho and Officer Chun find the shop where the woman bought a necktie for her husband. The shop owner confirms she bought the necktie and go on a bus just outside his bus.
Kwang Ho and Officer Chun talk to the bus driver who tells them the woman got off and a solider got off at the same stop she did. The bus driver believes the solider and the woman knew each other. At the base, Kwang Ho and Officer Chun talk to a soldier that has scratches on his chin. The soldier is able to provide an alibi for himself.
Now the police station is filled with soldiers being interviewed by the police officers. But to no avail.
The husband sprinkles his wife’s ashes in the local lake. Kwang Ho watches and remembers the husband not understanding his wife’s killer hasn’t been caught. He angrily says that Kwang Ho isn’t keeping his promise to catch the killer. Kwang Ho hangs his head. He watches the victim’s son, knowing he’ll grow up without his mother.
Kwang Ho walks alone in the rain. His wife finds him sitting outside their house drenched. Kwang Ho feels powerless. His wife offers her support.
September, 1986 (6 months later)…
The husband and his screaming child sit in the police station waiting for the killer to be caught. Unit Chief is frustrated that there are no leads. Kwang Ho and Officer Chun return to the police station. Kwang Ho has Officer Chun take care of the child while he talks to the husband. The husband asks if new evidence has been found. The husband asks if his wife was killed by a serial killer. Kwang Ho says that’s not true. What? I’m assuming there is a single killer though I wonder about the variance in the eatery owner’s daughter. Kwang Ho tells the husband he has to let this go. The husband apologizes for making Kwang Ho uncomfortable by coming to the station but it’s the only thing he can think to do. Journalist Oh arrives. Kwang Ho tries to hustle him away but Journalist Oh recognizes the man from an earlier visit to the police station. Journalist Oh tries to slip the man his business card which incenses Kwang Ho. He locks the door in Journalist Oh’s face. Kwang Ho watches the man and his young child walk away. He vows to catch the killer.
Another body is found. This time the crime scene is the tunnel. Kwang Ho stares at the woman’s feet. He is struck by a realization. He rushes away not answering the calls from Unit Chief and Officer Chun.
Kwang Ho pounds on the door of the coroner. He tells the just woken man that two of the victims had black dots on their heels. The coroner reflects and agrees. Kwang Ho is livid the coroner never mentioned this detail. Now Kwang Ho knows that the same man killed these women. He realizes the killer marks the murdered victims. Kwang Ho tells the coroner a new victim will be coming in soon and this one has 6 dots. OMG! The killer is numbering his kills by the dots! The coroner points out that means that one victim is missing as they’ve only had 5 victims. The corner ticks of the victims’ names. Now we see the heels of each victim as the corner recites their names. The first had 1 dot, the second had 2 dots, the third had three dots, the fourth had 4 dots, and this latest victim has 6 dots.
Kwang Ho and his Unit Chief review the cases. Kwang Ho says they have to find the fifth victim.
The police beat the bushes to find the 5th victim. But the search is fruitless.
Before leaving for work, Kwang Ho’s wife gives him food to share with his co-workers. As he steps into the street, she puts a whistle around his neck. She tells him if he’s ever in danger, he must blow the whistle and she’ll come to save him. They both chuckle. He tells her he’ll catch the killer. He promises a cruise on the river after he does. She loves it. Yeon Sook gets him to promise to guy her roses for her birthday. They hug. He starts walking, turns, and tells her to go inside. She waves and smiles.
Kwang Ho and Officer Chun map out all the murder scenes.
Kwang Ho wonders why the murderer kills the victims in these locations. He wonders if the first two locations that are close together were familiar to the murderer. Kwang Ho guesses after that the murderer felt free to venture further away to commit the crimes. Kwang Ho guesses the killer lives near the first location.
Kwang Ho and Officer Chun go door to door near the first murder location. They don’t have much luck. Kwang Ho overhears a young girl crying that the neighborhood dogs are missing to an older girl. Kwang Ho questions the girls. The older girl states all the dogs in the town have gone missing. The older girl says on the day her dog went missing she saw a young man near her house. She points to the house on the hill and says the young man lives there. She’s positive was the culprit even though he denied it when she confronted him.
Kwang Ho and Officer Chun go to the house on the hill. They find it locked. They walk around the house and find the windows covered in newspaper. Kwang Ho spots small mounds. He finds dogs buried. He holds up bloody hands. The young man arrives and calmly asks who they are. Yikes, that guy has a creepy vibe.
At the police station Kwang Ho asks if the young man not only killed the dogs but the women too. The young man looks confused.
At the house the police find many dead dogs. Kwang Ho is convinced the dogs were only the starting point for this young man. Kwang Ho asserts that after all the dogs were killed, the young man switched to killing the women. Unit Chief thinks that’s a stretch. Kwang Ho vows to get a confession from the young man.
At the police station Kwang Ho asks the young man if he killed the women. He admits to killing the dogs but denies killing the women. Kwang Ho grabs him and calls him a liar. The young man asks if he will beat him until he confesses. Kwang Ho tells him to admit to killing the women. He won’t. The young man gets a look on his face then asks Kwang Ho if you need a reason to murder people. Wow, he’s creepy with those dead eyes. Kwang Ho asks him to repeat that. Impassively, the young man tells Kwang Ho to beat him. Incensed, Kwang Ho does beat him. Unit Chief finds him and pulls him off. Kwang Ho tells Unit Chief that the young man questioned if one needed a reason to kill people. Kwang Ho declares he knows the killer. Unit Chief tells Kwang Ho the young man’s alibi checks out. Kwang Ho can’t believe it. I can’t believe they are having this conversation with the young man in the room! Unit Chief helps the young man to his feet. Kwang Ho yells if not this guy, then who is it? We see the young man smirk as he walks away. Kwang Ho and Unit Chief don’t see the smirk as his back is to them. Alone in the room, Kwang Ho yells his frustration.
The young man’s parents pick him up. It looks like they might be wealthy and powerful after watching the deep bow Unit Chief gives them. Kwang Ho decides to go search for the killer. He tells Unit Chief. He doesn’t take Officer Chun because he’s asleep at his desk. Unit Chief mutters they need to find the killer before Kwang Ho goes crazy.
Kwang Ho walks the river and vows never to give up. He knows all the victims were killed between 9 and 11 at night. He decides to revisit the crime scenes. He goes to the tunnel wondering where the 5th body is. His flashlight dies. He smells a cigarette burning. He spots someone lying in the spot where the 6th victim was found. The man has a black hoodie on. The man reenacts strangling the last victim. Yikes, that’s creepy. We see the woman get strangled.
We’ve come full circle…Kwang Ho runs into the tunnel. The man takes off. Kwang Ho chases him but loses him. He stops and looks for him. The man hits Kwang Ho on the back of his head with a rock.
At that moment Yeon Sook pricks her finger.
The whistle she gave him goes flying into the air. Kwang Ho falls to the ground.
Yeon Sook stares at the calendar and smiles. Her birthday is coming up soon.
Kwang Ho groggily sees the man crouch next to him with the bloody rock in his hand. The man stands, drops the rock, and strolls away. He walks to the light at the end of the tunnel.
Kwang Ho’s flashlight turns on illuminating the whistle on the ground.
We see Yeon Sook give Kwang Ho the whistle.
Lying on the ground, Kwang Ho stretches his hand toward the whistle. He passes out.
First episodes can be difficult to forge a connection to the series. They can be like an awkward first date. The biggest minus of Tunnel was no emotional connection…yet. Nope, I didn’t feel an instant chemistry with Tunnel. The pluses: believable leading man, likable supportive wife, they have a good relationship, police officers that aren’t buffoons, a serial killer that doesn’t think he can be caught, and a full circle episode. The minuses: the serial killer’s identity was identified in episode 1, the timeline of the episode wasn’t clearly laid out, no emotional connect to the victims, and the quickie relationship between the leading man and his wife (a blind date, to a phone call, to a visit, then marriage) was a bit jarring. I enjoyed the consistent use of flashlight throughout the episode, good use of a prop.
Detective Park Kwang Ho (Choi Jin Hyuk) is passionate about catching the killer. I’m watching this series for the time travel premise and Choi Jin Hyuk. I wanted to see him take on a meatier role where his good looks were not the character’s leading attribute. Kwang Ho fits the bill. I had to chuckle when his wife gave him the whistle. I love the symbology of a whistle; blow and I’ll come running to you. Angel Eyes effectively used the whistle between the leading man and woman. I wonder if the whistle will be the key to allow Kwang Ho to time travel or maybe return to his wife after he’s caught the killer. Once Kwang Ho time travels, we’ll have the next group of characters to meet.
Did Writer Lee Eun Mi reveal too much in this episode? We know who the killer is, where is the mystery?