korean dramas, recaps and reviews
Leave a Comment

Tunnel Episode 12 Recap

60 minutes of Choi Jin Hyuk-goodness, what’s there not to like? Okay I kid, read on to see why I’m currently hooked on this!

Yes guys, this is my first recap after a month of hiatus! I’m still not feeling completely back to myself, but I thought I needed to talk about this show! (As for a post on just my thoughts in the true thoughtsramble fashion, that will come later maybe this week).

Tunnel reminded me a lot of Signal in the first episode and I think that’s normal. Other than the superficial, stupid reason that they both had one-word title (yes sorry that was one of my reasons HAHA), they also featured time-travelling. In fact, both titles relate to the core essence of how the time travelling came about. Yet, within 2 episodes, I was hooked with the show in its own right and the two shows became rather different for me. Indeed, I was a bit surprised that they would produce another drama based on the infamous Hwayang murders just a year later from the quite-successful Signal, but I realise – Signal was not a true, typical time travelling story; Tunnel is. Signal was about changing the past through a common medium and relies on parallel timelines. In contrast, Tunnel is about a man who really travelled through time and could not change the past unless he goes back again – it seems at the moment that it is a single stream of events. I like both, but for now I really appreciate Tunnel’s simplicity, just because I watched Signal again and it boggled my mind. Haha.

Enough rambling, let’s get started on this episode!

Jin Woo visits Ho Young in jail and subtly reveals his identity as the true killer. Ho Young starts laughing in amusement and fascination, “Who will recognise whom first? And who will catch whom first? Wow…I’m really curious.” Jin Woo shakes off his words and calmly reminds Ho Young that he will be trapped in that small cell again with nowhere to go till his death.

That night, Ho Young commits suicide, much to the shock of the team. The warden passes a note (which we saw Ho Young writing right before he died) that was addressed to Park Kwang Ho. Noel, that was all it said.

Sun Jae visits his dearest Prof again and catches him beaming into the sun. I haven’t quite decided whether Sun Jae is just plain stupid or that we should give him the benefit of the doubt for being the third-party observer, but this guy reveals everything to Jin Woo – including how Kwang Ho was the one who figured out that Ho Young was a witness, not the killer, because the real killer smoked. UGH!

Jin Woo suddenly recalls Ho Young’s cryptic words and it starts to dawn on him, just as Kwang Ho enters the room. Jin Woo remembers the last moment in the tunnel and asked himself, Are you the detective from 30 years ago? In a flashback, we finally get to see the face of Jin Woo when he was young, and I don’t think it’s anyone we have seen before. I just hope they manage to tie him in nicely because that would be much neater and more impressive!

Jin Woo starts laughing as he realises that’s why Sun Jae doesn’t tell him anything about Park Kwang Ho, “Has it been 30 years?”

While talking to Dean Hong, Jae Yi voices her doubt as to why Ho Young would commit suicide after being investigated and leave a note on top of that. Frustrating moment #2 as Jae Yi plays chess with our killer, who enlightens her that Ho Young could have committed suicide because memories of his past 8 years in the mental hospital caught up with him in jail. During this conversation, Jae Yi reveals precious information that she doesn’t remember anything about her childhood and that someone has been looking for her. Jin Woo smiles and plays a piece, “You don’t have to try so hard, because they will come to you when the time is right.”

Kwang Ho briefs the team on the past murders 30 years ago, and Tae Hee astutely asks all the right questions like – why is it you, not the Chief who is briefing us, Did you say you went to the scene yourself?? – but gets shut up by the kiddo, Min Ha for not listening carefully. Hahaha, for all their innocence, I really like this pair of officers.

Kwang Ho sighs that all the victims were on their way home 😦 Min Ha breaks the moment by asking why the murderer started killing 30 years later. The Chief quickly sends everyone on their way to do their respective tasks before Kwang Ho slips up, because he thinks that the dead Kwang Ho was the trigger.


Sung Shik wants to call in Prof Shin again, much to Kwang Ho’s annoyance. Sun Jae fills Sung Shik in that Jae Yi is actually Yeon Ho, and Sung Shik hilariously collapses on the desk. Nonetheless, despite his protest, the information gets sent to Jae Yi, who starts her profiling immediately. I wonder what happened to her previous insistence that she’s not a profiler but a psychologist.

Min Ha and Tae Hee visit the friends of the two deceased victims. Other than information like Yoon Da Young liked to visit the River whenever she felt frustrated by rude customers and that Ju Hee didn’t want to go home that night, they didn’t get anything else. It seemed like a dead end to them – but thanks to Jin Woo’s side comment, don’t you realise that he seems to be punishing those ‘bad’ kids?

Kwang Ho and Sun Jae stare at the board and I could feel their mental block through my computer screen, but Kwang Ho suddenly has an epiphany – Noel is a baptismal name! Based on the records in the cathedrals present in 1986, they visit all persons who were baptised as Noel. It seems like they have reached a dead end with their last try, but the person who overhears that they are looking for someone with a name of Noel reveals that there was someone else at his cathedral with the name Noel.

This Noel tells them that there used to be a Mr Cheon who would assemble the kids and brag about how many people he had to kill. He would talk about how he cut off their heads and slit the necks of those filthy people. What’s even worse is that he had a tattoo on his leg as remembrance for how many people he had killed. The thing is, only the other kid called Noel listened to these stories. Wow wowww we are starting to get our back story! Exciting!


Since we are only mid-way of Episode 12, we couldn’t have them find that Noel so quickly. Indeed, this Noel can’t remember the name of the other Noel and Mr Cheon had since passed away.


The camera cuts to Jin Woo who is sure that Kwang Ho was the detective from 30 years ago – that’s why he had no records and no fingerprints. “I’ve never imagined that there would be a game set up for me to play…but I will gladly play the game.” Call me weird, but I really want this guy to have a very psychotic back story, otherwise, all this build-up is going to fall apart in an anti-climatic fashion!

The team congregates at night to fill each other up on the developments, but the Chief (above Sung Shik) tells them off for not supporting the other teams in a gambling bust (and blames them for letting Ho Young die). Sung Shik hilariously complains that the Chief didn’t knock, but the Chief is like, Is there a door here?? And I found that so funny hahahaha. Faced with no choice, Sung Shik takes the other two to the bust, leaving Kwang Ho and Sun Jae to look at the information he received from ShinJae Chemicals.

Our comic relief arrives in the form of Kwang Ho attempting to go home and Sun Jae attempting to follow him (to Jae Yi) hahahaha. Jin Woo pops by and ONCE AGAIN, our dear Sun Jae updates him that they are trying to find the murderer from 30 years ago.


Jin Woo tries to take a look at the whiteboard with all the details, but Kwang Ho instinctively blocks him. Oh I love that stare hahaha. Kwang Ho’s sharp eyes however pick out the fountain pen in Jin Woo’s pocket, although he isn’t sure of the significance  yet. Ironically, Sun Jae tells Kwang Ho off for not sharing the information with Jin Woo.

Kwang Ho returns home and bashes on Jae Yi’s door, in slight fear that she is in trouble again. Jae Yi opens the door with “Are you going to break the window again?” Hahahah, I can really imagine them as father and daughter. Kwang Ho checks on all her windows to make sure that they are secure and his eyes fastens on the whistle necklace. Jae Yi suddenly recalls that he was asking about her necklace right before she passed out, and asks if he recognises the necklace.


Kwang Ho quickly denies the allegation and runs away, “I’m sorry, Yeon Ho.” Honestly though, do you think you can lie successfully to Shin Jae Yi?

The police find out from the prison wardens that Jin Woo visited Ho Young the day he died. Kwang Ho immediately gets his guards up and questions Jin Woo relentlessly. I find it fascinating how Jin Woo always manages to tell the truth that hides his involvement just nicely. This time round, he claims that he was only there to ask Ho Young how he killed Lee Seo Yoo – and he was right, Ho Young killed by strangling repeatedly which was different from the other two murders. Kwang Ho is still very wary that Ho Young died after meeting Jin Woo, thus putting Sun Jae in an awkward position.


During class, Jae Yi talks about the murderer who started killing after 30 years. She reminds her class that there’s no such thing as a murder without a reason – they all have their reasons for killing. Why did he suddenly start killing after 30 years? Why now? 

She looks at all the information and suddenly realises that Yoon Da Young was killed 2 weeks after Kim Young Ja’s leg was found – that was the trigger, he didn’t know that Kim Young Ja was alive. However, if the person knew that Kim Young Ja was alive, then that person “is very near us.”

Due to this tip, Sun Jae gets the team to look at all the police officers who were involved in Kim Young Ja’s case, because the fact that Kim Young Ja was alive was never revealed to the press. While the team bickers and works on looking into these police officers, Kwang Ho thinks to himself that Prof Mok did the autopsy on the leg.


I find this shot of him so coughhotcough.

After many rounds of elimination, the team only has 2 police suspects remaining. They question them for their alibis but are faced with difficulties, such as Sun Jae discovering that one of the suspect is a Buddhist/Taoist and not Catholic/Christian.


Kwang Ho continues to think hard in the station and realises that one of the products commonly produced with the ink was ‘fountain pen’. And who has a fountain pen? Insert our flashback which had no significance to Kwang Ho then.


Kwang Ho quickly asks his fellow officer to do a check on Mok Jin Woo and finds out that he was living in Hwayang in 1986. He remembers all the hints that Jin Woo has been giving them and he knows, without a doubt, that he has found his killer.

In the mean time, Jae Yi wonders why Kwang Ho apologised to her while she was in the hospital but gets distracted by a call from Kate (with a very strange British accent…is it just me?).

Kwang Ho runs to Jin Woo’s office and ransacks it, before finding the fountain pen. He turns the pen and in that moment of truth, we see the word Noel engraved on it. I don’t know if it’s intentional, but I thought the scene was nicely done with the play on light and darkness, where the name Noel was revealed under the table light.  Jin Woo watches Kwang Ho from outside his office building and challenges him to fight it out in the tunnel. Come alone though, or he will hurt Sun Jae and Jae Yi.

Kwang Ho runs there immediately but it feels quite natural in this show that our lead is running around instead of calling a cab because that’s how he did things in the past. Probably. Much more understandable than all other Kdramas where suddenly cabs and phones don’t exist in emergencies and all our modern day leads do is run.

Anyway, our hero and villain finally face each other. Jin Woo affirms that Kwang Ho is from the past and thinks that this is good because he can kill this Kwang Ho without anyone knowing since he has no record. Well yeah that’s pretty convenient.


Through flashbacks, we see that the young Kwang Ho was investigating Jin Woo for killing an old man through the pretext of a vitamin injection. We see the whole process, including how Jin Woo threatened to kill Kwang Ho’s grandmother and stabbed Kwang Ho with an injection during the fight. Kwang Ho escaped but couldn’t control his car due to his drowsiness, and soon ended up dead like how we saw him.

Okay that’s all good but something just doesn’t sit right with the previous episodes where the show was obviously hinting that the young Kwang Ho was investigating the crimes 30 years ago. This better gets solved or it will leave a loophole! There would have been no need to come up with this extra filler story of Jin Woo having killed an old man, unless this old man story is the trigger for Kwang Ho’s interest in Jin Woo and in digging out his old murders…but the link is still pretty weak.

Based on the call from Kate, Jae Yi finds the officer who tells her that it was Sun Jae who was trying to find her. She calls Sun Jae and asks him straight out why he was looking into her. At the same time, Kwang Ho and Jin Woo start brawling and throwing each other. Due to Jae Yi’s relentless questioning, Sun Jae says, “Kwang Ho is your father.” LOL I cannot imagine how Jae Yi feels. “Kwang Ho comes from the past.” “What?”


In the final brawl, Jin Woo presses an syringe close to Kwang Ho, who turns at the last moment and flips Jin Woo. With a thud and a shake, the two guys find themselves alone in the tunnel. Kwang Ho hears an old radio and it hits him – he’s back. He’s back to the past!!!


-the end-

I love that final twist. While everyone was guessing that he would return to the past, nobody really could predict when and how. I like how the return was executed – it was exciting, it was during a climax and it had real consequences. Two things can happen from here. Park Kwang Ho would obviously try and seek out the young Jin Woo and arrest him, but that’s a path fraught with difficulties. He doesn’t know how Jin Woo looks like when he was young and he’s not going to get anyone on his side on arresting a teen for no good reason. That’s going to be frustrating to watch, and definitely why we get to see Jin Woo’s younger self earlier than our leads! Alternatively, I’ve been thinking for a while now if Kwang Ho is really going to alter the past and hence the future/present. It seems especially unlikely that he will be doing this at Episode 13 because that effectively means rendering Yoon Hyun Min (Sun Jae) and Lee Yoo Young (Jae Yi) obsolete for the rest of the drama. If this happens in Episode 15, maybe, but given that we have four more episodes to go, I’m thinking if Kwang Ho would have to shuffle back to the present again. By leaving the present like this, it also leaves our present leads hanging – but will they know? Or will Kwang Ho change the past such that nobody even remembers his absence? I’m out of theories (that would spell a happy ending for all), but I can’t wait to see how the drama works this out.

It also seems to me that if there is any sense to make out for the story behind Jin Woo’s murder of young Kwang Ho, it is to show the extent of how much he likes to play god. That ties in with the confession scene, and the whole baptism and religion backdrop. It would explain why he thinks he is in a position to punish the women who weren’t “good” as he calls them, or why he perhaps killed the old man (maybe he’s too old? supposedly useless?). Nonetheless, I very much preferred the old story that young Kwang Ho was killed because he was onto the killer for his murders 30 years ago. Even if the old man murder was just a set-up for Kwang Ho’s later digging, the link between the two wasn’t articulated in the flashback at all so that needs work.

They have also yet to explain satisfactorily why Kwang Ho gets pulled to the present and why he so conveniently gets to stand in place of the young Kwang Ho. Is it just convenience and lazy writing? Or is there something more behind this web of relationship? For a drama that so nicely throw twists such as Sun Jae’s and Jae Yi’s identity, I think it will be a letdown if it can’t answer the key question which many viewers have.

Choi Jin Hyuk has been a delight to watch thus far and I’m very excited for what’s more to come. I thought that he had a little too much aegyo in the first episode but nah not complaining. I couldn’t finish Pride and Prejudice for some reason, but really liked him in Emergency Couple so I’m glad that Tunnel is working out nicely!

I’m pretty sure there are loopholes which I’ve not noticed or not mentioned, drop a comment to let me know! In the meanwhile, let us cry in misery that the next episode is only screening on 6th of May. Yep, bolded that for emphasis.


Leave me a comment!(:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s