Tunnel Episode 15 Recap

This episode sets up the finale…

Tunnel Episode 15 Recap

Serial killer Coroner Mok Jin Wook (Kim Min Sang) tells a co-worker that he’s going on an impromptu vacation, place and length are unknown.  At home, Coroner Mok prepares his car for abduction.  We hear Coroner Mok’s thoughts…

I am a Serial killer. It's been a long time since I visited the tunnel. 30 years of peace. I thought no one knew. Living with this secret was exciting.

1988-born Kwang Ho watches Coroner Mok. Unfortunately for 1988-born Kwang Ho, Coroner Mok spots him.  At an eatery 1988-born Kwang Ho asks about the local tunnel. He’s told a woman was killed there 30 years ago. Coroner Mok is listening to their conversation. He’s surprised a murder from 30 years ago is remembered.

Coroner Mok kills 1988-born Kwang Ho. Coroner Mok stares at the body of 1988-born Kwang Ho. He murmurs he was warned to walk away.

I thought my peace was only interrupted. But today I realized, this is destiny and meant to be. It has led three people (flashbacks of Kwang Ho, Seon Jae and Professor Shin) to me.

Coroner Mok laughs. Professor Shin Jae Yi (Lee Yoo Young) is bound and gagged in the trunk.

Detective Park Kwang Ho (Choi Jin Hyuk) yells for his daughter (Professor Shin) knowing something is dreadfully wrong.

Lt. Kim Seon Jae (Yoon Hyun Min) finds Kwang Ho grappling with the situation. Kwang Ho says his daughter told him she was on her way to the police station. He mutters her phone was dropped next to her car. Kwang Ho holds his phone and her phone. He tells Seon Jae that his daughter isn’t the kind of person that drops things. Seon Jae says they have to check the CCTV first.

The CCTV reveals Coroner Mok approached Professor Shin. But the follow-up footage shows only Coroner Mok in the car. Seon Jae and Kwang Ho grapple with the possibility that Professor Shin may be dead. Kwang Ho strides out upset and ready for vengeance.

Professor Shin wakes in the back of the trunk.

Team Leader Chun (Jo Hee Bong) orders a Coroner Mok’s phone traced and a search warrant. Forensics finds a syringe and assume Professor Shin was drugged. Team Leader Chun worries about Kwang Ho’s reaction.  Officer Kwak lays out the timeline. Professor Shin left her house, she called Kwang Ho, Coroner Mok kidnapped Professor Shin. Team Leader Chun says time is of the essence.  Officer Kwak says Seon Jae and Kwang Ho are tracking Coroner Mok’s car.

Seon Jae and Kwang Ho learn that Coroner Mok passed through a toll gate 40 minutes ago.

Coroner Mok gets a flat tire and is forced to pull over.

  At the police station…
The team agrees that Coroner Mok has a location he plans to take Professor Shin. Seon Jae believes Coroner Mok is on the highway to become anonymous. Team Leader Chun orders everyone to search there. Officer Song asks if the media could help. Team Leader Chun doesn’t want to tip their hand to Coroner Mok. Officer Song wonders where the fountain pen that Coroner Mok used to mark his victims is. Seon Jae states only Professor Shin knows this. Finally, Kwang Ho speaks. He says that Coroner Mok may return to his hometown. Seon Jae thinks Coroner Mok may hide at one of the islands he treated poor patients at. Team Leader Chun assigns Kwang Ho and Seon Jae to find Coroner Mok. He assigns Officer Kwak and Officer Song to comb Coroner Mok’s call history, credit cards, browser history, etc.  Team Leader Chun assigns himself viewing the highway security cameras.

A service man repairs Coroner Mok’s tire. He hears Coroner Mok making noise in the trunk. The service man asks why a noise is coming from the trunk. Just as he reaches the trunk and Coroner Mok prepares to inject him, the man gets a call and leaves. Coroner Mok opens the trunk and injects Professor Shin. She succumbs to the drug. Coroner Mok closes the trunk.

While Officer Kwak and Officer Song can’t find anything in Coroner Mok’s records, Team Leader Chun finds the service man that repaired Coroner Mok’s flat tire. Over speaker phone the service man says the man was on Highway 43 near a city. Seon Jae recognizes the city as a location Coroner Mok volunteered his medical services at. Kwang Ho asks the man if there was anyone else. That jogs the man’s memory. He describes a noise coming from the trunk. That gets everyone’s attention.

They arrive at the location and search.

Professor Shin wakes tied to a chair. Coroner Mok removes the duct tape across her mouth. He hears the police sirens.

Kwang Ho, Seon Jae, and the police search the neighborhood. Coroner Mok looks through the window and sees the police. Kwang Ho and Seon Jae can’t find Coroner Mok. Kwang Ho is frustrated. Coroner Mok watches the police leave.

I’ve said nothing so far because I feel like a detached observer watching this happen. In all other episodes, I felt immersed. Writer Lee, draw me in!

Coroner Mok tells Professor Shin she’ll have 3 chances to tell him where the fountain pen is. If she doesn’t tell him, he’ll kill her.

Coroner Mok asks Professor Shin where the fountain pen is. She says nothing. He tells her she has 2 more chances.

Coroner Mok grabs Professor Shin’s throat and tells her this is her second chance. She doesn’t answer. He strangles her demanding to know where the pen is. She tries to speak. He releases his grip around her neck. Professor Shin gasps for breath. She tells him the pen is in England. Coroner Mok doesn’t believe her. Professor Shin says her childhood items are in England. Coroner Mok asks if the pen is really in England. Professor Shin confirms this. Coroner Mok dials the number. Professor Shin’s friend answers. Professor Shin asks her to send her the pen next to the Bible in her desk drawer. Professor Shin tells her friend to send the pen to her office at the university. Coroner Mok ends the phone call. Coroner Mok asks how long for the pen to arrives. Professor Shin estimates 3 days. Coroner Mok asks her what she wants to do for three days.

Coroner Mok is a brutal guy who is fixated on the pen. This just bought our police team 3 days to find her.

Seon Jae gets a call from his friend that tracked down Professor Shin from England to Korea. He tells Seon Jae that Professor Shin called her friend in England. Kwang Ho overhears. The police officer tells Seon Jae that Professor Shin did not call from her cell phone and her friend said something was wrong. He reports Professor Shin asked her friend to send her a fountain pen.

At the police station… Professor Shin’s friend tells the team that Professor Shin sounded weird. She says Professor Shin has no items at her place. She’s worried about Professor Shin. Seon Jae assures her that everything will be fine. Seon Jae asks the friend to send a bible with a pen anyhow. The friend agrees stating it will arrive in 3 days. She agrees to call once she puts the it in the mail.

Seon Jae tells the team that Professor Shin just gave them 3 days to find her. Kwang Ho declares they must find Coroner Mok before he realizes she lied. Team Leader Chun tells Kwang Ho they’ll catch Coroner Mok. Seon Jae reminds Kwang Ho that Professor Shin told them that pen was vital to Coroner Mok. They decide to stake out the university to catch Coroner Mok when he retrieves the pen. Officer Kwak tells Kwang Ho they’ll catch Coroner Mok in three days. Kwang Ho says those three days will feel like 30 years.

At the hideout..
. Eyeing the drawing on the wall, Professor Shin asks Coroner Mok if he made the drawing when he lived her with his mother years ago. Coroner Mok asks if she’s profiling him. Professor Shin says a conversation will help pass the time. She asked Jung Ho Young if he was obsessed with skirts because his mother wore skirts. Professor Shin says that question belonged to Coroner Mok not Ho Young. Professor Shin says the victims didn’t matter to Ho Young but mattered to Coroner Mok. She says every victim reminded him of his mother in some way. What kind of person was you mother, she inquires.

Flashback… a young Coroner Mok plays with a bridal mask. He finishes reading the bridal mask comic (I googled the Korean graphic novel by Huh Young Man). Coroner Mok calls to his mother from the loft room. He hears an argument with a man who leaves the house.  Coroner Mok’s mother asks why he called to him. She has heavy makeup (we know she was a prostitute). Coroner Mok replies she told him call when he was done with comic book. Considering she’s done with her customer, Coroner Mok’s mother relents and tells him to come with her to eat.

Professor Shin asks if Coroner Mok would watch his mother dress in skirts and stocking before going to work. Professor Shin guesses that Coroner Mok waited for his mother alone in the house. She asks if Coroner Mok had a love-hate relationship with his mother. Coroner Mok looks at the drawing of a woman in a skirt whose back is turned to a little boy with one eye.

a young Coroner Mok finishes the drawing and calls to his mother to look. He sees her put on her stockings. His smile fades. She tells him to read comics and play. When his mother returns with the man she argued with, they find her clothes shredded on the floor. The man assumes his mother destroyed what he gave her and leaves. Coroner Mok’s mother is furious.

Professor Shin says the man that killed his mother repeatedly was not Ho Young but Coroner Mok. Upset Coroner Mok yells that Professor Shin knows nothing. Then he admits each victim died for a reason.

Professor Shin asks what reason was there. She asks how Coroner Mok was different from Ho Young who killed for sport. She declares Coroner Mok is not different from Ho Young. Coroner Mok yells he is different. Coroner Mok says all those women did bad things. Professor Shin names two victims and asks what they did wrong. Coroner Mok says they shouldn’t have been wandering around a night (like his mother did when she walked the streets). Professor Shin asks why Coroner Mok killed Seon Jae’s mother who was returning home to her family. Coroner Mok says he saw her smile at a man on the bus (like his mother smiled at other men). He yells the world is better without mothers like her.  Professor Shin says that Coroner Mok’s standards are ludicrous and he actually killed for the sport just like Ho Young. Coroner Mok angrily stands. Professor Shin asks if he’ll strangle her again. She declares he wants to. She urges him to strangle her. Professor Shin yells that he is a murderer. Coroner Mok tries to maintain control. He flees. Professor Shin sags in relief.

Coroner Mok takes glups of air. He remembers…

Coroner Mok is now a young man. Coroner Mok’s mother gives him the fountain pen with NOEL engraved on it as a present for graduating. His mother tells him to go live with his grandmother. A taxi arrives, his mother ushers him in. The driver says  he shouldn’t hang out in the seedy part of town. Coroner Mok stares at the pen. The driver calls his mother filthy. Coroner Mok grabs the man and starts hitting him. The driver stops the car. Coroner Mok hits him with his fists and then pen. Coroner Mok yells “that’s not who my mother is”!

Coroner Mok says the same words “that’s not who my mother was. She was not that kind of woman.”

Seon Jae receives a phone call from Professor Shin’s friend in England saying the package will arrive tomorrow.

The police team divdes the entrace and exits of the building where Professor Shin’s office is. Kwang Ho declares they’ll need to catch Coroner Mok inside the buidling or they’ll lose him forever. Officer Kwak believes Coroner Mok will come alone and not risk bringing Professor Shin. Everyone gets ready for the stakeout to catch Coroner Mok.

University… the teams watch the entrances to the building with Professor Shin’s office.

Coroner Mok duct tapes Professor Shin’s mouth and says he’ll be back. He takes a taxi.

The delivery truck with the package arrives at the building with Professor Shin’s office. Seon Jae and Kwang Ho watch the man deliver the package to another office. They stop him and ask about the package for Professor Shin. The man states that package was redirected to an alternative location.

We see the man give the package to Coroner Mok.

Seon Jae and Kwang Ho stare at the man in disbelief. Seon Jae reports the operation is a bust.

We see Coroner Mok listening to the planning of the team through the hidden microphone in the King’s chess piece he gave Seon Jae.

Drats, I’d forgotten about the hidden microphone that Coroner Mok wisely planted in the chess piece.

Coroner Mok opens the package in the taxi. He removes the bible. He opens the bible. It’s a pink ballpoint pen. Love the color selection.

Police station… the team can’t believe that Coroner Mok knew about the stakeout. Kwang Ho can’t believe that Coroner Mok knew about Professor Shin knowing the location of the pen. He only told Seon Jae when they were alone. Seon Jae eyes the chess piece. YES!!!!! He remembers Coroner Mok tossing it to him and saying “just because you made a mistake, don’t give up.” Seon Jae grabs the chess piece. He motions everyone to be quiet. He removes the bottom of the chess piece. The listening device falls out. Everyone realizes what this means. They shake their heads. Kwang Ho drops and crushes the listening device on the floor. He declares Coroner Mok heard everything. He declares Coroner Mok better not hurt his daughter. He vows to kill Coroner Mok. He strides out of the room not heeding Seon Jae’s calls.

Coroner Mok returns to his childhood home. He asks Professor Shin if she lied to him. In anger he throws the package to the ground. He asks if she thought lying would allow the police the time to catch him. He pulls the duct tape off Professor Shin’s mouth. Coroner Mok says the pen isn’t in England. He asks where the pen is. He flips into animal mode, grabs her head, and screams “Where is my pen!”

Kwang Ho goes into Professor Shin’s room at her house.  He holds the whistle. He apologizes to his wife. He vows to protect their daughter, to save her. He sees Professor Shin’s recording device. He remembers that she was going to research Coroner Mok. Kwang Ho listens to a portion of Professor Shin’s interview with the neighbor that knew Coroner Mok, his mother, and grandmother. Kwang Ho realizes Coroner Mok might be in a location related to his mother.

This is the 45-minute mark in the episode where Kwang Ho’s brain cells start to function.

Kwang Ho and Seon Jae speak to the doctor about Coroner Mok’s mother. They ask for the address she lived at before she died. The doctor hands them the file with the address. Seon Jae calls Team Leader Chun and says they know where Coroner Mok is hiding.

Coroner Mok realizes Professor Shin won’t tell him where the pen is. He switches tactics. He asks Professor Shin what it is like to meet a father younger than her. Coroner Mok says she knows his secret from 30 years ago. He knows her secret. Her father killed 1988-born Kwang Ho and assumed his identity. Coroner Mok asks who he should tell this story to. That gets her attention. She looks at Coroner Mok concerned for her father. Coroner Mok asks where the pen is.

Professor Shin flashes back to her mother hiding the pend in her red bear.

Professor Shin won’t say. Coroner Mok laughs then says he should have killed her from the beginning.

The police are enroute to the house.

Coroner Mok approaches Professor Shin. She’s afraid she will soon die. They hear the police sirens.

Kwang Ho, Seon Jae, et all arrive at the house. They find evidence that Professor Shin was there. They realize Coroner Mok has escaped out the back door. Kwang Ho sees Coroner Mok carrying Professor Shin.  Kwang Ho and Seon Jae give chase. Coroner Mok gets in his car and starts to drive away. Kwang Ho and Seon Jae run harder. Kwang Ho yells. Professor Shin wakes, opens the door, and falls out on to the ground. Coroner Mok decides to leave her and flees.

Kwang Ho cradles his daughter. Seon Jae asks if she’s okay. Tears in her eyes, Professor Shin indicates she’s okay. She sobs. Kwang Ho hugs his daughter.

Professor Shin exits the examination room limping. She tells Kwang Ho and Professor Shin that she has a sprained ankle. She asks if they lost track of Coroner Mok. Seon Jae has to confirm this. Professor Shin tells them to come with her to retrieve the evidence. She walks away. Kwang Ho and Seon Jae can only follow.

Professor Shin’s house… Professor Shin looks for the red bear in boxes. She finds it. She holds it up. Kwang Ho recognizes the bear as the one he bought Professor Shin when she was invitro in her mother’s womb. They both smile. Professor Shin opens the bear. She retrieves the pen wrapped in plastic. Kwang Ho is impressed. He thanks his daughter. Kwang Ho thanks his wife. Professor Shin wonders why Coroner Mok is desperate to get the pen. Professor Shin wonders why Coroner Mok didn’t kill her right away. She says the location of the pen would have died with her. She speculates the pen is more important than she first thought.

The forensics team test the pen for DNA. The result is faxed to the team. The DNA matches two most recent victims. The pen also has Coroner Mok’s fingerprints and DNA. Kwang Ho is stoked. But there isn’t a match for any of his past victims. Seon Jae reminds everyone the statue of limitation on his mother’s murder has expired. He muses before they had a killer but no evidence and now they have evidence but no killer. Kwang Ho wonders where Coroner Mok is hiding.

At the hideout... Professor Shin returns to where Coroner Mok held her hostage. She goes to the loft ladder. She goes into the loft. She finds Coroner Mok’s toys and other belongings. She finds the comic books he once read. She finds his journal!!! She begins to read.

Coroner Mok returns to the catholic church (where we saw him confess to the priest at the end of episode 4). Coroner Mok looks the garden and remembers himself as a young man.

Flashback… The Vietnam vet shows him that tattoos for each person he killed in the war. The man tells Coroner Mok that he needs to kill all the filthy people.

A young Coroner Mok goes to the hospital where his mother lays dying. He takes her hand and asks if she’s dying because she’s filthy.

We see a young Coroner Mok morph into present day Coroner Mok as he walks through the church doors. Coroner Mok says “You guys didn’t catch the Bridal Mask yet.” He quotes “You raiders! You savages! You destroyed the country!”

Professor Shin holds Coroner Mok’s journal as she rides in a taxi.

At the police station…
Seon Jae remembers Coroner Mok telling him that one must determine what happened before a murder not after to reveal the killer’s identity. Seon Jae believes Coroner Mok will be driven to kill again. Seon Jae doesn’t think killing old people again on the down low will satisfy Coroner Mok. Kwang Ho notes that Coroner Mok’s last victim was a direct message to the police after he was released from police custody. Kwang Ho says that Coroner Mok kills women that look like his mother. Seon Jae notes there are many potential victims walking the streets each day. Officer Song wonders if Coroner Mok will kill in a different city. Kwang Ho believes Coroner Mok will kill again in the town where he has killed. Officer Kwak wonders where Coroner Mok is hiding. Seon Jae wonders where Coroner Mok sees and selects the victims. Kwang Ho believes there is a place that relates all the victims. Seon Jae realizes Coroner Mok spots his victims near where his mother used to work which is now near the University.

The team spreads out looking for Coroner Mok. Team Leader Chun watches the area’s CCTV.  Team Leader Chun realizes a man is trailing a woman. He tells the team Coroner Mok is in the area. Team Leader Chun directs them to the park. The woman walks into the park. The man follows her. Seon Jae and Kwang Ho enter the park.  They see the man. The man reaches for the woman. They fling the man to the ground. It isn’t Coroner Mok!

Kwang Ho recalls Professor Shin asking why Coroner Mok wanted the pen so desperately. Kwang Ho recalls wondering why Coroner Mok didn’t kill her immediately.

Professor Shin’s house… 
Professor Shin enters her house. She freezes. Coroner Mok is waiting for her. She spins to leave but he grabs her. He flings her to the ground and starts to strangle her. Coroner Mok declares he will take away what is important to Kwang Ho just like Kwang Ho took what was important to him.

My Thoughts

This has been a superior series. This episode was not superior. It was good. Writer Lee set the bar high and I’m measuring this episode against it. The vibe of this episode was different. I didn’t cry, not once. That’s odd for a series that has me tearing up every episode. In the first part of the episode, I  felt like an observer watching this episode, not a invested viewer.  The characters seemed paralyzed by Professor Shin’s abduction. But we learned what we had to know about Coroner Mok. This episode was really all about him. So here we are. This episode sets us up for the finale. We can imagine how it will all end.

Brace yourself, I’m going to disagree with some choices Writer Lee made.

* One “error” that Writer Lee made in this series is keeping serial killer Coroner Mok shrouded in mystery while focusing on the compelling serial killer Ho Young. That had to be rectified. This was the episode that finally gave us Coroner Mok’s backstory. The backstory was satisfactory. I did feel a modicum of empathy for the young Mok Jin Wook. His mother wasn’t as horrible as Ho Young’s. Coroner Mok’s mother was an alcoholic prostitute. That’s sad. I’m sure it was damaging to a young man’s psyche to love his mother but hate what she did and who she became when she did it. Then to hear the taxi driver call her filthy, that triggered the need to defend but also the realization that’s how a perfect stranger viewed his mother. It explains Coroner Mok’s statement about “bad” women and why he used the word filthy in a derisive way.

* Seon Jae and Kwang Ho NOT knowing the address that Coroner Mok’s mother used to live in the neighborhood they searched was less than satisfactory. Their search also seemed short and cursory, not through and complete.

* Professor Shin was able to get Coroner Mok to remember his past to fill in his back story. Initially Coroner Mok was all business and ready to kill Professor Shin for the pen, but her lie did indeed buy her time and the opportunity to probe Coroner Mok’s psyche.

* I hate stakeouts to catch a killer. They never work.

* Where was Kwang Ho’s intuition? Where was his never give up until I catch him attitude? He was flat and overwhelmed by the realization that his daughter could die by the dot murderer that he come to the future to catch and bring to justice.

* Why didn’t they thoroughly search Professor Shin’s house for the pen during the 3-day interval?

* Why didn’t they protect Professor Shin with Coroner Mok on the loose?

* Why didn’t their collective brain power produce results?

It’s all water on the bridge. Here’s my thoughts for the finale. 

* This is not a wishlist but my guess. Professor Shin can’t survive this strangulation by Coroner Mok. She must die. This will force Kwang Ho to resolve the crime in the past to save Yeon Ho. Present day Kwang Ho will track down Coroner Mok needing vengeance for Professor Shin’s death. They will fight in the tunnel of destiny. Kwang Ho will return to the past. Past Coroner Mok knows that Kwang Ho has his pen. This will create a situation that puts Yeon Sook and invitro Professor Shin at risk. Everything goes down in the tunnel of destiny. This time Kwang Ho will catch a young Coroner Mok. This saves Kwang Ho’s wife and future Yeon Ho from dying by Mok’s hands.

That’s my scenario. I might be right. I might be wrong. I don’t know. I’ll watch and blog it tomorrow. Stay tuned.

* The next day...I slept on my scenario for the finale and I don’t like it. I want Kwang Ho to catch present day Coroner Mok NOT young Coroner Mok. I don’t want Professor Shin to be strangled and die either. I do think the final showdown must happen in the tunnel of destiny. I’ll find out tonight where Writer Lee leads us in the final episode of Tunnel.

Asian drama fan. I watch and blog dramas on https://kjtamusings.wordpress.com/.

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Posted in Recaps, Tunnel
2 comments on “Tunnel Episode 15 Recap
  1. Jane Tilly says:

    I completely agree with KJT about Writer Lee’s poor choices in this episode which took away from the excellent continuity we have seen in the series.

    I really hope 🙏 they don’t kill Professor Shin. However I felt that if that happened, Kwang Ho would be able to resolve things when he returns to the past.

    I hope 🙏 the finale lives up to the majority of this series‼👌


    • JT, glad I’m not alone in wishing this episode had been structured differently. It was more of in the “in the mind of a killer” versus “catch the killer” of all other episodes. Writer Lee was backed into a corner – there was no more time to explain the mysterious Coroner Mok. But by focusing on Mok’s perspective and disabling our primary characters the flow was broken. That was noticeable and disturbing. A rare misstep for this superb novice writer of kdramas.


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May 2017

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