Liar Game (tvN): Episode 5 Recap


The Layoff Game begins! As we watch Da Jung struggle to survive by herself in this round, we also get to see Woo Jin try to understand Liar Game: how it works, who is behind it, and how it’s tied to his mother’s death.

Dal Goo runs off with Da Jung’s case of money, and any hopes that we have of him returning it are dashed. As he quickly walks down the street he gets a call from Woo Jin, who’s wondering where he is. Woo Jin had not yet repaid his own debt to Dal Goo, but Dal Goo isn’t too worried about that right now since he thought that Woo Jin was calling to ask about Da Jung. Dal Goo advises him not to call her at home right now since she’s asleep, and his repeated warnings to not call perk Woo Jin’s senses. He asks if Dal Goo’s loan company is asking Da Jung to pay her debt back, but Dal Goo brushes the question off and makes it seem like he’s taking care of the situation without hassling Da Jung.

They hang up, and Dal Goo hurries to his office. But someone is behind him: Woo Jin, who’s been waiting there all along. Dal Goo immediately denies stealing the money, which only confirms that he did to Woo Jin. Dal Goo tries to justify it by saying that being sued by the show and through legal channels is better than owing money to thugs, but Woo Jin reveals that the creditors who attacked Teacher Hyun was all Do Young’s doing. Owing money to Liar Game could be infinitely more dangerous than owing money to creditors and Dal Goo. That puts Dal Goo in quite a dilemma; he clearly cares for Da Jung and doesn’t want her to get hurt, but at the same time he just wants her to pay off her debt so that he too would not get hassled so much by his boss. He hopes Woo Jin will save Da Jung, but Woo Jin can’t even guarantee that as they’re to survive independently of each other.

Dal Goo falls on the floor and wishes aloud that Da Jung’s father had not invested in the scam of a company called L Company. That names rings a bell with Woo Jin, but he doesn’t tell Dal Goo how he knows of the company. He leaves without telling Dal Goo what to do with her money, which ends up being enough of a guilt trip for Dal Goo. When Da Jung awakes the following morning she finds her case not locked up where she left up, but covered in chains and linked to her pipe. Aw… that gesture has definitely restored my faith in people.

Da Jung then receives a call from Do Young personally, who wants to meet with her. She doesn’t have time to see him, especially if there’s no shoot, as she has a part time job. Well in that case, Do Young goes to her house and picks her up directly! Turns out, an actress could not appear at a cover shoot for a magazine suddenly, so they’ve turned to Da Jung. Thanks to the show she has become quite the celebrity, and according to her contract she will have to do as the station says since they invested a lot of money in her.

And so the photo shoot begins, with Do Young even having a say in the outfit she wears (which ends up being a conservative dark green dress). She awkwardly poses for the camera, and as soon as that’s done is whisked off to her next appointment. She even gets to keep the dress as Do Young already informed the magazine about it. It ends up being a full day of activities on behalf of the station and she doesn’t even get to show up for work. They end up in front of Do Young’s apartment building, where he invites her up for dinner.

Da Jung doesn’t want to go up, not believing that this could be part of the contract either. She also doesn’t want to use this dinner as a way to kiss up to him to get a hint, since Woo Jin won’t be there to help her in the reinstatement round. Do Young is clearly amused, but he sets her at ease by telling her he’s invited Woo Jin too. After all, the show is so far a success because of the both of them.

Woo Jin is late however, as he meets Ja Young on the rooftop. It turns out Da Jung’s father invested in L Company when he was told that the company’s stocks would soar in prices. However because of Woo Jin’s revenge, he ended up ruining the company and Mr. Nam ended up in debt. Now Woo Jin wonders if his and Da Jung’s participation in Liar Game is not a coincidence. Ja Young wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a whole conspiracy, and Woo Jin believes that Do Young knows more than he lets on about the company’s schemes.

He then gets a call from Da Jung about the dinner, and she realizes that he might not know about it at all. Do Young confesses that he never really invited Da Jung, but had tricked her into getting him to come. After all, Woo Jin would listen to Da Jung better than he would to Do Young. If Da Jung feels annoyed, she doesn’t show it.

Do Young then asks if she knows why Woo Jin helped her. He tells her about Woo Jin’s mother, who was so empathetic to others’ plight that Da Jung most definitely reminded Woo Jin of her. Sadly, when she went into debt helping others, she ended up committing suicide. Woo Jin then went off to take revenge on the company that scammed her and tried to kill the CEO, which then led to his jail sentence. Perhaps seeing how similar Da Jung was to his mother prompted him to want to save her in Liar Game.

Da Jung is misty-eyed after hearing the story, and Do Young apologizes, “I didn’t mean to burden you with that.” You did, you asshole. You totally did.

Just then Woo Jin arrives late to the dinner party. He can tell right away that they’ve been talking about him, and looks around the apartment. A small framed painting catches his eye: you can see the feet of a girl and boy with their backs turned to another pair of shoes facing the viewer. The shoes are empty, leaving you to wonder what happened to that third person.

Do Young distracts him by thanking them for helping make the show a success. Of course, he’ll also go and meet the other contestants individually so as to not show favoritism. Woo Jin is curious as to how Liar Game picked the contestants, and Do Young gives him a carefully constructed answer of finding “interesting” people who also fit the age, gender, and income status that they’re looking for. Woo Jin: “There’s no connection at all among the contestants?” Do Young brushes the connection between Teacher Hyun and Da Jung as mere coincidence; the only thing everyone has in common is their desperate need for money.

As Da Jung and Woo Jin walk home, he asks her what she would do if she met the person who ruined her father and put him in debt? Da Jung honestly answers that she would hate him so much she would seek revenge, because what he did was unforgivable. That’s not going to sit well with Woo Jin.

The following day a long line snakes around the studio as people line up to watch the recording of the reinstatement round, which is really a Layoff Game. Dal Goo cuts in front of a huge fan of Da Jung’s, and they nearly get into a fight when the fan recognizes Dal Goo as the collector from round 1. Suddenly all is well as the fan basks in the semi-celebrity-glow of being next to Dal Goo.

Inside the studio Do Young introduces the nine participants of the Layoff Game, of which only one will be eliminated. Jamie, predictably, gets the boos while Da Jung gets the cheers. Meanwhile Woo Jin goes off to track down the eliminated players in the second round as he wants to see if there’s a connection between all of them, just as there is one between him and Da Jung. Ja Young accompanies him, and informs him that 5 returned the prize money without touching it, another 5 returned what they spent by taking out more loans, and 3 have not repaid and have thus gone missing. She adds that Lee Min Jin, who made it to the final round, was initially willing to talk to Ja Young but then suddenly disappeared. So Woo Jin wants to start talking to her first.

Do Young moves the show to the game field for round three, which happens to be a shopping mall. Every contestant is told that they can bring anything they want with them for this round. As he watches through a live stream at the studio, Dal Goo reports all of these details to Woo Jin, keeping him informed.

Here are the rules of the game: as this is a layoff game, each participant must evaluate each other’s performance and determine who will be eliminated in order to save the rest. Using an app on their phone, they will give away three of their stars to anyone other than themselves as votes for who they want to keep in the game. These stars are then counted, and the person with the least amount of stars after ten rounds will be eliminated. There will be a 1 hour break in between each voting period. They are all given $300,000 right away to spend on whatever they’d like during this game. They can use the money to make contracts with people or purchase items in the shopping mall.

The original Woo Jin team, including Sung Joon, gather together to eat a meal. Da Jung proposes that they all promise to split the $10 million prize money if any of them win at the very end. That guarantees everyone at least over $1 million each, and allows them to help each other more easily through each round. They all agree, as they believe that Da Jung can’t be fooling them anyways, and want to start in the next round.

But Da Jung meant this round. No one sees the point in that though, since it’s pretty much decided who they’ll vote off: Jamie.

Woo Jin and Ja Young arrive at Min Jin’s place and find her building in a state of disrepair. No one answers her door, so Woo Jin picks her lock. The house is empty with some valuables missing, though she left her dog behind. They ask the security guard about her whereabouts and he says she packed up and left hurriedly late last Saturday night. Woo Jin wants to see the security cameras to see if it captured her leaving, but the guard says all the cameras are fake. His fidgeting and inability to make eye contact tells Woo Jin immediately that the guard is lying. He requests to see the log of cars entering and exiting, as he thinks Min Jin was kidnapped instead. One car that entered at 2pm was never logged as leaving. The guard was clearly paid off to let Min Jin leave with the men, which makes him an accomplice to a crime.

Woo Jin asks Ja Young to go to the Gangnam station and get information on that car from Detective Cha, who owes Woo Jin big time. He then receives Dal Goo’s long text on what’s going on, and asks for the shopping mall’s location. He’ll be heading over as soon as he’s done with Ja Young, because Jamie will be harder to get rid of than it seems.

And too right she is: As everyone assembles in the foyer of a building, Jamie suggests they all talk a little about themselves to learn more about each other. After all, while they are a team now, many of them will become enemies in the next round. She throws her card out on the floor: paparazzi photos of Da Jung going to Do Young’s place and of her going to the photoshoot. Is she, Do Young, and Woo Jin all planning together to win the game and split the prize three ways. It’s enough to cast doubt among the rest of the team, who aren’t sure whether or not they can trust her anymore.

Meanwhile Woo Jin goes up a building to check out an office unit that’s been linked to the car that kidnapped Min Jin. The office is mostly devoid of furniture, with some papers scattered about on the floor. Woo Jin notices some papers stuck in a shredder and sees the familiar logo of L Company at the top of the paper. But before he can look further, someone strikes a board against his head, and he’s knocked out.

Da Jung tries to beg everyone to give her stars in return for hers, but no one is biting. She’s become an outcast, and Jamie has no remorse for her actions. She suggests another solution though: the two of them can join forces. In each round they’ll give three stars to each other, thus ensuring that either will not get eliminated. Why Da Jung believes her is beyond me, but I’ll attribute it to desperation and her pure naïveté. She apologizes for suspecting Jamie before and eagerly accepts the plan.

Back at the studio, Yoon Joo thinks that the photos aren’t normal paparazzi photos based on their camera angles. Do Young chuckles and reveals that he gave Jamie those photos. It helps keep the game interesting if he backs Da Jung into the corner like this. Yoon Joo begins to feel uneasy with just how Director Jang and Do Young are treating the show as their own personal playground.

The voting begins and Da Jung sends her three votes to Jamie. The results show up almost immediately on screen. Jamie leads the pack with 6 votes, and everyone else gets three. Da Jung gets zero. Da Jung turns immediately to Jamie: did she not give her the three stars? Jamie laughs at her boldly in front of everyone for her stupidity. It’s a Liar Game, so why should Da Jung believe anything she says.

Ja Young asks Detective Cha what happened regarding Woo Jin’s involvement with the CEO’s murder. When the CEO tried to escape after his company went to shambles, Woo Jin was actually in the driver’s seat of his car. He drugged the CEO, and when the man came to he found himself sitting bound on a chair that was hanging over the edge of the cliff. The chair was held up by a single rope. It sounds crazy for someone like Woo Jin to do, but Detective Cha believes it’s because he wanted that man to feel as desperate as his mother had felt.

And when Woo Jin comes too, he finds himself in the exact same situation as that CEO, except hanging over the edge of the building. He struggles against the bindings, but it only makes the rope that’s holding up his chair to break a little more, and he slips a little further over the edge.

The rounds progress, and Da Jung continuously votes for the others in the hopes that they’ll give her a vote in return, but no one does. She remains stuck in last place with 0 votes as everyone gets up to 21 votes, with Jamie leading the pack. Da Jung sits down in despair, all alone, and finally Jung approaches her. He apologizes for everything that’s happening to her, especially the fact that he can’t help her at all. He looks around to make sure they’re alone in the hallway, and then tells her that seven of them had agreed to give stars to each other and hopefully eliminate Jamie and Da Jung somehow. However Jamie caught them planning and revealed that she has a similar plan with Da Jung to exchange stars, so no one will get eliminated really. Unless… someone misplaced a vote. And do they really all trust each other so much as to be convinced that none of them could be swayed by a little money?

So Jamie offered them a deal: she’ll betray Da Jung and give her stars to them instead, and in return they all need to pay her $50,000. They all have a contract with her that was approved by Liar Game so they all can’t break it without a heavy penalty. Just then Jamie catches Jung talking to Da Jung; though she told him not to talk to her, it doesn’t matter because she’s now won based on the current voting system.

The audience back at the studio are watching this all unfold live, and Dal Goo quickly gets away to send an urgent message to Woo Jin. Unfortunately Woo Jin’s a little tied up at the moment…

Woo Jin manages to gain some leverage against the edge of the roof and begins swinging his chair back and forth. He manages to swing back onto the roof far enough just as the rope snaps, landing hard on his back as the chair snaps in half – one half on the roof and the other onto the ground below. He made it! He finally picks up the phone and hears the worry in Dal Goo’s voice. He hangs up with a “See you there,” and hurries to the mall where Da Jung is.

He calls up Ja Young next, and they both realize that he was just given a warning to not overstep the boundaries of the game and stop looking for Min Jin.

Jamie finds Da Jung moping on her own after spending the hour shopping. Da Jung has totally given up on the game, knowing that she’ll lose. So Jamie decides to play a simple game of cards with her. If Da Jung wins she can get all of Jamie’s votes. If Da Jung loses, she has to give half of her money to Jamie. There are two cards in the bag, one that’s a Joker and one that is a misprint with two backs printed on both sides. Da Jung is to remove one card and then flip it over. If it’s the Joker card, Da Jung wins. If it’s the card with two backs, Jamie wins. If she picks a card already face up, it’s a redo. First to win ten rounds wins the game.

They write up the contract and both accept the terms. The first round of their game begins and Da Jung draws a card from the bag. She flips it over, and it’s the joker card. Da Jung 1 – Jamie 0. Second round: Da Jung draws the one with the two backs printed. Da Jung 1 – Jamie 1. The games continue and eventually it’s 6-9, with Jamie needing only one more card to win the game. Da Jung, increasingly nervous, draws another card. And it’s the card with two backs.

Jamie just won half of her money.

And at that moment Woo Jin drives up to the shopping mall and meets Dal Goo up front. They need to get past all the security guards to get in to Da Jung.


If you’re not already annoyed by Da Jung’s idiocy, now is definitely the time to. After knowing how duplicitous Jamie is, it’s frustrating to watch her trust Jamie over and over again and strike deals with her. They didn’t even have the exchanging of votes in contract form, so of course Jamie was going to break her promise!

I don’t like the layoff game whatsoever because it showed how reliant Da Jung is on Woo Jin. She can’t do anything by herself without his help. Then again Woo Jin does everything he can to help her all the time so she’s never had a reason to think for herself.

I’m actually really surprised by the developments surrounding Woo Jin. It’s interesting to watch him actively try to understand how Liar Game works behind the scenes so that he can get to the truth about his mother’s death without waiting on Do Young or winning all the rounds. It’s something new that breaks the predictability of how the games will go, which haven’t really changed from the Japanese version. I like how Ja Young and Dal Goo are helping him outside of the game, and it really restores my faith in people considering how untrustworthy everyone in the Liar Game is.



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