Liar Game (tvN): Episode 9 Recap


It’s ‘The Smuggling Game’ this time around, and I am reminded why I don’t like this game. It’s probably why I dragged my feet to watch these episodes. I didn’t really enjoy the smuggling in the Japanese drama because it always felt too complicated and was too drawn out for my liking. However, the tension has to be high now since we’re nearing the end and the truth has to come out at some point.

Episode 9

We start off with Yoon Joo trying to convince Da Jung’s father to meet with his daughter, no cameras involved. She thinks that Da Jung knowing about her father’s whereabouts would be a huge boost in morale. Why Yoon Joo is so sympathetic to Da Jung’s plight is still a bit unclear for me, mainly because I’m a bit suspicious towards her motives based on how her J-drama counterpart was.

Da Jung’s father explains that he had risked everything on L Company since it had the highest stock price back in the day. When it all crashed and he went bankrupt, he was ready to hang himself. However Da Jung had returned home just before he managed to tie his necktie around a pipe on the ceiling. He quickly perished the thought of suicide for the sake of his daughter, but now he has run away from her life.

Meanwhile, Woo Jin asks for Ja Young’s help in researching Do Young’s relatives, immigration status, and his past before he went to the States. She barely has any success, so he turns to someone else to get the information: Sung Joon, the skilled hacker. Sung Joon is a bit surprised at Woo Jin’s request to dig into Do Young’s true past, but at this point in the game he has decided to completely trust Woo Jin’s actions.

Director Jang is surprised to hear from the investors that they enjoyed Do Young’s participation in the President Game, even though it was a bit of a risky move. He confirms with Yoon Joo that Do Young’s current financial situation isn’t that great (thanks to the failure of L Company), and wonders if perhaps Do Young created the entire game in the first place to maneuver himself into the competition and win the $10 million prize himself.

Director Jang must also now interview Do Young and Dal Goo after their relative success in the President Game. Dal Goo comes off as a blubbering idiot next to the smooth Do Young, who mentions that in the next game he is most fearful of Da Jung because her good heart will lead to more unexpected actions than Woo Jin’s calculated moves. When asked how he will spend the $10 million if he wins it, Do Young says he’d fly in a helicopter over Seoul and make it rain with money.

Everyone is shocked at his statement, which doesn’t come off as a joke even if he says it is. It’s clear that Do Young lives to create chaos.

It’s finally time for the Smuggling Game to begin, and Director Jang grabs Jamie for a moment to remind her to do anything she can to win. Since it’s clear that Do Young may ditch her, she should build trust with Woo Jin and make the two fight, and then backstab them both in the end. Jamie is more relaxed in the matter because she knows that even if she loses, she can “win” by blackmailing Jang in the future.

As the winner of the last round Do Young gets to pick his teammates. He chooses In Gi and Bulldog, naturally, and then surprisingly steals Sung Joon away from Da Jung and Woo Jin. This now forces Woo Jin, Da Jung, and Dal Goo to have an additional handicap of an incompatible teammate. Woo Jin is slightly concerned at the outcome of the teams, but thankfully he is assuaged when Sung Joon palms him a USB of all the information he hacked about Do Young just before they part ways for good.

So now for the rules of the game. The two teams represent two countries – East and West – who are at the brink of war. The catch is that either country has their money stored in the other’s bank. The goal is to smuggle all of the money (5 million won) to their side without the inspector catching on. Each side gets three turns to be the smuggler or the inspector before it switches, and it goes on for 30 turns. Whichever side ends up with the most money wins.

The inspector’s job is to determine whether the smuggler can ‘pass’ or ‘stop’. If the inspector says ‘stop’ because he suspects that the smuggler actually has money in a brief case, then he must name the amount in the case. If the amount is equal to the amount smuggled, then the inspector successfully stops the smuggling and gets all the money. If the inspector guesses an amount and the case is empty, he must then pay the smuggler half of the amount he called out. If the inspector guesses an amount that’s lower than really in the bag, the smuggler succeeds and gets an additional half of what the inspector guessed incorrectly.

It’s a complicated process of numbers to figure out who really wins, but the goal is to always stop the smuggling.

Da Jung’s team, which is the West Nation, is full of rife from the get-go as Dal Goo does not trust Jamie one bit. As for the East Nation, everyone believes that if they just do as Do Young says, they’ll win. They’ve seen Do Young easily defeat Woo Jin so they have no worries. West Nation is up first to smuggle, and Da Jung’s bright idea is to not take any money out. The other team will eventually think that they have money in the case and say ‘stop,’ which would then lead to the West Nation getting some compensation for the incorrect guess.

Bolstered by her plan, she volunteers to go first after hearing that In Gi will be the first inspector. Da Jung pretends to carry a really heavy case full of money, but In Gi can see right through her hopeless act. He gives her a pass, which means she brings home nothing. Jamie goes next, pulling off a cross-legged act from Basic Instinct to distract her inspector, Bulldog. It doesn’t work – he gives her a pass and she brings home nothing. Dal Goo goes next and pulls off a cool act, and Sung Joon passes him. So in the first round, West Nation has brought home nothing.

Now the tables have turned and Dal Goo goes first as an inspector since they think that Do Young will smuggle next. It would be better to send Do Young someone unexpected rather than Woo Jin. However, Do Young’s thinking the same thing and he sends Sung Joon in. Dal Goo gives Sung Joon a pass, thinking that he wouldn’t dare bring in any money, but Sung Joon actually took 1 million won! The maximum allowed to bring in per try in a turn!

Annoyed with Dal Goo’s failure, Jamie goes off to be the inspector. Just then Do Young comes in and decides to waste time by talking to her. Since everyone can see what’s happening in the rooms, but can’t hear anything except for the inspector’s judgment, her teammates begin to doubt her loyalties. And when Jamie decides to give Do Young a pass because she has no idea what he has planned, she unwittingly lets him leave with another 1 million won. That cements Dal Goo’s distrust in her.

Despite West Nation’s squabbles, they need to stop the flow of money going out, so Woo Jin finally goes as inspector. At that moment, Do Young has gone to the bathroom, so his hapless teammates are forced to pick someone amongst them to face Woo Jin. In Gi, feeling oh so confident, decides to go and challenge Woo Jin. However, he’s not so quick up on Woo Jin’s tricks. As he sits down across the table, Woo Jin points at the stack of bills on the floor and says, “You dropped one.” In Gi momentarily panics and checks the security of his case, but that’s enough for Woo Jin to know that In Gi definitely has money in his case. After all, if he didn’t have any In Gi would not have reacted to the stack of bills.

Woo Jin stops In Gi’s attempt to smuggle successfully, and finally stops the flow of the game.

Do Young is immensely disappointed at the outcome of this turn, but it’s very much possible that he set this situation up to begin with. Let his teammates get cocky and then make a mistake themselves without his guidance so that they’d have no choice but to listen to every word he says. He demands that they hand over all of their credit cards, and he will decide where the money goes and gets taken out from which account. He will do all of the rounds henceforth, and if any of them decide to signal to the West Nation about his plans then the one who tattles will get the betrayer’s credit card at the end of the game.

Talk about keeping his team on a strict leash.

This time around, Do Young is the inspector and Dal Goo goes in first. Do Young intimidates Dal Goo by saying that he can read how much money people have through their faces. He then stops Dal Goo’s smuggling of 1 million won, accurately predicting the amount. It scares Dal Goo and the rest of West Nation, and they’re not sure what to make of Do Young’s bravado.

So Da Jung decides to go next and see if Do Young is serious about reading “faces” to figure out the amount of money in their case. This cracks me up, since currently I’m watching him read faces in The King’s Face. Jamie tells her to get 550,000 won, as it might be more unexpected than saying 500,000 or 1 million.

It doesn’t work – Do Young accurately guesses 550,000 won.

So finally Woo Jin goes in, and as soon as he sits down for small talk, Do Young immediately passes him. And Woo Jin has no money in the case.

It goes on for a few more rounds like this, where Do Young manages to successfully thwart West Nation from getting any of their funds while being able to smuggle away money. Director Jang begins to suspect Yoon Joo of secretly assisting Do Young, but she denies it. Instead, she rewinds to some earlier footage and has Director Jang listen to it himself. What he hears is the surprising bit that’s allowed Do Young to win so far…

West Nation needs a new strategy, and Dal Goo wouldn’t be helpful in planning it out so they send him out to be the inspector this time. Do Young also gives his teammates a chance to be smugglers as well, since Dal Goo is the inspector. Strangely, when Dal Goo goes up against Bulldog he manages to accurately guess how much money is in his case!

West Nation cheers like crazy. Dal Goo wants to try again to make sure it’s not a fluke, as he claims to have a special feeling as to how much money East Nation is taking out. He stops three smuggling attempts in a row, and the team is bolstered by the small wins. Unfortunately, when it’s East Nation’s turn to inspect, Do Young still manages to thwart their every move.

After a few rounds, no one dares to smuggle anything on both sides, which is terrible. West Nation, already at a disadvantage, can’t continue in this standstill. It’s Da Jung’s turn to smuggle money, so Woo Jin decides to give her a few tips on how to possibly trick Do Young written on a post-it note. The team decides on her taking out 500,000 won, and she then reads Woo Jin’s note in the bank.

Da Jung steels herself as she enters the inspector’s room, and Do Young tries to plant seeds of doubt in her mind. He even tells her that the reason her father went into severe debt was because of Ha Woo Jin. It’s enough to make her unsettled, but she balls her fist and calls him out as a dirty liar. Does Do Young want to win that badly that he would try to arouse her suspicions?

Seeing that she isn’t willing to take the bait, Do Young laughs and confidently says she has 500,000 won in her case. Da Jung doesn’t exclaim in anger, and instead confidently opens the case. I love how Do Young’s face just slowly crumbles when he sees that his words are taking no effect on her, and then sees that she actually has 1 million won in her case!

Woo Jin’s note was to tell her to take out 1 million won, against what the team had decided!

Da Jung quickly grabs the mic, which is currently on, and yells towards the East Nation: “Kang Do Young’s claim to see through the cases is just a trick! If you give up your credit cards and let him do what he wants, do you think he’d take care of you? He wouldn’t do that! Fight! We’ll help you!”

The fact that Da Jung – of all people! – successfully outsmarted Do Young and finally broke the standstill is enough to make Bulldog, In Gi, and Sung Joon rethink their roles in East Nation. Do Young can’t do anything but sit back and smile. He was outsmarted this time.

As for Woo Jin, he turns towards Jamie and asks, “Why did you do it?” She gives him a look of, “What?” He then turns, “Why did you do it, Dal Goo?”

And the guilty look on Dal Goo’s face says it all.


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