Signal episode 5 recap

Side dish: Here’s a recipe for Crispy Stuffed Lotus Root with Pork from the Woks of Life. I have nothing clever to say; it just looks tasty.

Episode Recap


Police detective Cha Soo Hyun (Kim Hye Soo) races to the coroner’s office to examine some newly found skeletal remains. The description of the deceased closely matches who she’s looking for, a man in his mid-30s who is 185cm tall, but is missing the vital component: a metal plate in the shoulder.


On her way out, Soo Hyun notices the night duty room and flashes back to her first day on the job at the Seoul District Task Force (September 1st, 1995), where, as an overeager rookie she caused a furor by asking for a night duty room for women. The captain assigned her the one that detective, Lee Jae Han (Jo Jin Woong) was sleeping in, and their first meeting consisted of him kicking her out so that he can go back to sleep.

Back in the office, profiler, Park Hae Young (Lee Je Hoon) is on the hunt for Lee Jae Han, the policeman from the past that he spoke to via radio. He flashes back to the aunt of murder victim, Won Kyung, telling him that she had lost touch with Jae Han at a certain point, possibly in 2001 when Jae Han was listed as having been discharged from the force. When Hae Young asks his supervisor, Ahn Chi Soo (Jung Hae Kyun) about it, he’s shocked to discover that Jae Han was discharged from the force because he was missing. Chi Soo tells him that Internal Affairs investigated Jae Han’s disappearance.


Hae Young is in for even more of a shock when he finds that Jae Han was a corrupt cop, according to the Internal Affairs investigation file. Meanwhile, Chi Soo tells his own supervisor, police superintendent, Kim Bum Joo (Jang Hyun Sung) not to worry, since the case file won’t reveal anything to Hae Young. His only nagging concern is the lack of a connection between Hae Young and Jae Han. Bum Joo only cares that no one finds out why Jae Han really disappeared, and tells Chi Soo to keep an eye on Hae Young.

Chi Soo goes to check on the evidence from Jae Han’s case, only to discover that it had been disposed of. After asking the date of the disposal, Chi Soo checks the CCTV footage of the parking lot that day. It turns out to be the day that Hae Young found the radio in the back of the disposal truck and started talking to Jae Han.

Hae Young, meanwhile, goes to the abandoned psychiatric hospital where he last heard from Jae Han, and comes to the conclusion that Jae Han was framed for the corruption and murdered there that night.


The next day, the cold case squad receives an award for solving the Gyeonggi Nambu murders, but as Soo Hyun receives her medal, detective Kim Gye Chul (Kim Won Hae) points out to forensics officer, Jung Hun Gi (Lee Yoo Joon) that the atmosphere is more conducive to a punishment than a reward. Hae Young, meanwhile, flashes back to the night before when he spoke to the main witness in Jae Han’s case, who confirmed that he was blackmailed. Hae Young comes to the conclusion that Jae Han must have been framed by someone within the police, since the evidence is too perfect.

At the office, as Gye Chul celebrates their victory in solving two major cases, the atmosphere turns suspicious as Soo Hyun points out that both cases were solved by Hae Young. Hae Young plays it off as his genius for profiling, but no one in the room is convinced as he beats a hasty retreat. Meanwhile, a perturbed Chi Soo gets a call from the witness in Jae Han’s case, who tells him that Hae Young visited.

That night, Hae Young looks over the information he has on the transmissions, and questions why they’re happening. As he thinks about it, he flashes back to his childhood when he met his older brother, Sun Woo at the bus stop on the way home from school. His brother not only carried the sleepy Hae Young home, but patiently answered all of his questions as he did so. His reverie is interrupted by an alarm; it’s 11:22, almost time for the transmissions.


It’s 1995, and a large number of police officers are on stakeout, looking for a serial robber. Finally, something happens, and they all go chasing through the streets after the guy, but when they catch him, it turns out to be Jae Han.

Back at the police station, the cops have no leads on the robber, so the captain hands out a list of criminals that have been previously caught for opening safes, and tells them to go over them. Jae Han goes over his own list, and goes to visit Kyung Tae, a robber he arrested previously, who is adamant that he didn’t do it. Kyung Tae is a friend of Jae Han’s, who even took care of his daughter, Eun Ji, while he was in jail, and Jae Han ends eating dinner at their house. While they’re eating, they come to the conclusion that the serial robber can’t be a pro, since they caused such a ruckus. They speculate that the serial robber must be someone the high-profile victims know, since they were able to get access to their homes so easily. On his way out, Eun Ji tells Jae Han that her father wasn’t the culprit, and gives him a mix tape to listen to.

At home that evening, Jae Han notices a new talisman in his room, put up by his father to ward away the transmissions. Jae Han fiddles with the radio again, but nothing happens.

Back in the present, Soo Hyun is at home being attacked by her rambunctious nephews while she tries to sleep. Her mother has set her up on a blind date the next day and picked out a pink dress for her to wear. Finally, the nephews knock over Soo Hyun’s bookshelf, putting an end to the game. As she puts the books away, Soo Hyun finds Jae Han’s old notebook and flips through it.


Hae Young walks into his apartment, when the radio suddenly goes off. Back in 1995, Jae Han’s radio goes off as well, and both men pick up to answer. Neither one can quite believe the situation, and an exasperated Jae Han asks Hae Young to give him the solution to the robbery case as proof, since the police have been in an uproar for a month. Hae Young can’t help him, though, since that case was never solved. Hae Young cautions Jae Han against messing with the past, since people have died who shouldn’t have, but Jae Han insists that catching one robber wouldn’t hurt anyone. Instead of a solution, Hae Young gives Jae Han some tips he gleaned from creating a profile on the case, as Jae Han jots them down in his notebook.


In the past, we see a montage of Jae Han arresting Kyung Tae, while Eun Ji insists that it’s not him. Eun Ji rides a bus ahead of Jae Han and Kyung Tae, but the bridge they’re on suddenly collapses and the bus goes over the edge. Jae Han manages to turn his car around, and both men watch as the bus carrying Eun Ji explodes. In the present, Hae Young sleeps, as his computer screen changes from the unsolved robbery case to the Hanyoung Bridge collapse. Hae Young wakes up to find that the case was solved and the robber caught. In the present, an older Kyung Tae gets out of prison.

Back at work the next day, Gye Chul and Hun Gi have made a list on the whiteboard of all the famous cold cases in the country, and as they’re talking, rookie, Hwang Ui Kyung (Kim Min Gyu) asks if they know about the Jack the Ripper case, but Gye Chul is stumped. Hae Young is only interested in the robbery case from 1995 when he gets in, and Ui Kyung mentions that the evidence was clear, though the culprit maintained his innocence. When Hun Gi adds that they found the culprit’s fingerprints on the mailbox, Hae Young realizes that this was one of the tips he gave to Jae Han. The rest of the team wonders why he’s so interested in a closed case, and Hae Young points out that they may have arrested the wrong guy.


Soo Hyun agrees to help him out, and leads him to a hostess bar. As a confused Hae Young sputters nervously, Soo Hyun walks into a private room and asks the owner for some drinks and some girls. Instead, the owner closes the door, and insists to Soo Hyun that he didn’t do it, that he didn’t know the girl was a minor. Soo Hyun has no interest in this and instead directs Hae Young to ask the owner his questions, since he was a robber himself. Hae Young asks the owner about Kyung Tae, and as the guy explains that Kyung Tae worked clean and never left fingerprints, we see Kyung Tae sneak into the house of a sick woman. As she faints at the sight of him, Kyung Tae deliberately leaves a thumbprint on the mirror.


As the two cops leave the hostess bar, Hae Young can’t square what they know of Kyung Tae with the details of the case. But again, Soo Hyun is not interested. Instead, she wants to know why he’s looking into a case he knows so little about. Before Hae Young can come up with an answer, Soo Hyun gets a call from Gye Chul, calling them back to the station, for a high-profile kidnapping case of an art professor with a politician father. In a meeting, Chi Soo gives them the details of the case, that Kyung Tae was caught on CCTV dragging a large bag out of the house into his waiting car, which he abandoned down the road.

Bum Joo declares that Kyung Tae has just gone back to his criminal ways after getting out of jail, and just as the meeting is about to end, Hae Young pipes up that something must be wrong, that Kyung Tae had never attacked a person, nor left such obvious clues as to his identity. Bum Joo ignores him completely, and Soo Hyun cuts him off by stomping on his foot. After the other detectives leave, Chi Soo punches Hae Young for his disrespect, but Soo Hyun steps in by kicking Hae Young out of the way, and telling Chi Soo that she’ll take care of him. When they’re left alone, Soo Hyun chews Hae Young out for fighting with his fellow cops, and wonders why he hates the police so much. She blames him for not being able to convince the other cops of what he knows to be true.

While Soo Hyun joins the team with the kidnap victim’s family, Hae Young goes to the prison where Kyung Tae was held, only to discover that after a few escape attempts, Kyung Tae was a model prisoner. His only problem was that he would occasionally have fits when he saw fire. The prison warden explains to Hae Young that Kyung Tae’s daughter died in a fire.


Meanwhile, the kidnap victim wakes up to find herself trapped. Before she can reach for her cell phone, she goes into a panic attack, imagining the same fire that Eun Ji died in. Back at the victim’s house, the victim’s father explains to Soo Hyun that his daughter had post-traumatic stress disorder, because she was also present at the Hanyoung Bridge collapse.

Hae Young looks up the Hanyoung Bridge collapse, but can’t figure out the connection. Lucky for him, it’s 11:22pm, and almost time for the radio to work.

Back in 1995, Kyung Tae is being led away to prison. When he catches sight of Jae Han, he tries to attack him, screaming that it’s his fault that Eun Ji had died. Afterwards, Jae Han sits in his car with the radio next to him, and puts on the mix tape that Eun Ji made for him.


The radio goes off, and Hae Young desperately asks Jae Han what happened in 1995, to turn Kyung Tae into a kidnapper in 2015. Tears streaming down his face, Jae Han tells Hae Young that he did everything wrong, and that the transmissions should never have happened.


As per usual, messing around with the past has disastrous results, so while I know that the transmissions are going to carry on (otherwise, we have no show), I’m with Jae Han: maybe it would be better if they had never happened. Jae Han is practically a wreck, and so far, the only result has been disaster, or one life traded for two others.

Hopefully this latest case has given the two of them some direct insight into the consequences of passing information to the past. We already know from the first episode that even a little information can be dangerous, as Jae Han walks into the trap that got him killed on the basis of very thin information from the present.

On from serious commentary to baseless speculation, I guessed earlier that Soo Hyun had some idea about the transmissions, but now I’d add something about Jae Han’s notebook, which seems to have landed in her possession. I don’t read Korean, unfortunately, so I can’t tell if Jae Han’s notes from Hae Young are in there, but I suspect they are, and I wonder if this hasn’t sent up a red flag for her already. Granted, it’s pretty unlikely that she would reach the conclusion that Hae Young and Jae Han are communicating across time using a radio, but she must know that something is up.

Anyway, I can carry on with my random thoughts, but I think I’ll go back to waiting impatiently for the next episode.

Signal (시그널)


 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 || series review


  1. Hey Noonasoverforks!! I am loving this show and was hoping you could help me out with this question — why did Hae Young say that people died because of the transmissions/you mentioned that one life was traded for two others? I can’t remember the specific occasion hahaha and it bothers me so much.

    Great job on the recap!


    1. The original guy that Jae Han caught for the serial murders and the blackmailer who died in the present. According to the show, both died earlier than they were supposed to in the original timeline as a consequence of Jae Han’s actions the night he saved one of the victims.


      1. Hi! Dingax is correct. The woman who was blackmailing the bus driver and the man who Jae Han mistakenly arrested both died in exchange for the woman Jae Han saved.

        Thanks for reading!


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