Story of a Man: Episode 12
Sorry, I know I’m running a bit behind with Story of a Man recaps. I’m hoping to catch up asap, once the workload eases up.
As for this episode, we get more of the same, which in this case is a good thing: more cute, more fun, and more creepy Do-woo.
SONG OF THE DAY
Casker – “만약에, 혹시” (Perhaps, Maybe) [ Download ]
EPISODE 12 RECAP
The mayor is thrilled over Do-woo’s promise to provide the evicted tenants with compensation, but Shin finds it very suspicious. Not only because it isn’t like Do-woo to give money away, but because the residents heard about it before the mayor even met with Do-woo. Most suspicious of all is the deputy mayor’s sudden resignation.
In order to understand his enemy better, Shin admits that these days he wonders, “What would I do if I were Chae Do-woo?” Mun-ho: “Why would you think that? You’re giving me the chills, don’t do that.”
Jae-myung will play a bigger role in this next plan; Shin now takes an active interest in making use of Jae-myung’s international law degree. Together with the mayor’s aide, Mr. Kim, they look over the city plans and try to predict Do-woo’s next move.
They estimate that Do-woo needs several tens of billions of dollars to complete his project, and given that enormous number, massive investments will need to be acquired. Shin guesses — correctly — that Do-woo’s almost out of funds, because all his money is stuck in limbo until he gets his needed city building permits.
Perhaps Do-woo had once been confident that getting the permits would be easy, but he no longer has that assurance because the mayor has proved unexpectedly resistant. Do-woo could get his permits if he acquiesced with the mayor’s demands for a people’s school, apartment, and health center — but the whole point is that his luxury city will be made his way, so he’s not going to cave.
Furthermore, Jae-myung hears that most of the deals for the international hospital and school are not yet finalized. Do-woo has a memorandum of understanding that those facilities will be part of his New Myungodshi, but those documents are not legally binding.
Do-woo is therefore keen on getting legal documents finalized with those overseas entities, which would also help secure more money, as having legally binding documents would buoy confidence among investors.
They are rather pressed for time, because they need the construction permit for the international school within the month. (If they fail to secure those permits, current investors will lose faith in the stalled project and withdraw their money, which could start a whole chain reaction.)
Do-woo entrusts Director (now Deputy Mayor) Oh with taking care of the permit issue, and Director Oh hedges nervously. As deputy mayor, his power is limited.
Do-woo answers, “Think as though you’re the mayor and handle it.”
Thanks to Kyung-tae, he and Eun-soo are able to locate her father and bring him back to Muse Café.
It’s pretty cute that the ex-Chairman Chae acts grumpy, but we can see that he doesn’t really mean it (at least not completely). For instance, he takes exception to the little girls calling him “Grandpa” and Eun-soo offers to take him home instead. But he’d rather complain and stay at Dream Team headquarters than go home. The little girls aren’t fazed at his cantankerous mood, and the younger one even climbs right onto the couch next to him.
Next, the mayor meets with Do-woo, accompanied by his aide Mr. Kim and Jae-myung (who is introduced as an international lawyer). Once inside the meeting room, Jae-myung switches on a hidden digital device, enabling Shin to listen in on the proceedings.
There’s a moment of tension when Kyung-ah walks in to handle the transaction; Shin recognizes her voice over the wire. Even more startling is that Do-woo introduces her as his fiancée. (What in the WHAT?)
Kyung-ah acts as Do-woo’s representative and reiterates their promise to give 1 billion won (a little shy of $1 million) to the displaced tenants. They have prepared 100 million won right now, and will have the remaining 900 million won ready later. The mayor accepts the check and says that they will send over an official receipt soon.
We know that Team Shin is on guard, expecting Do-woo to pull some bit of trickery, but outwardly they betray no distrust. They follow the other side’s lead to give Do-woo the illusion that he’s in control. Still, there’s a bit of tension when Jae-myung asks pointedly when they’ll receive the rest of the promised money. Do-woo’s response is to ask to hurry the matter of the international school permits — it’s a veiled threat, as though saying he will withhold the money until he get the permits.
At this subtle assertion of power, the mayor hesitates — if he hands over the permits now, he may find himself without the money OR the apartments. But he responds shrewdly that he can give permits for both the international school and the people’s apartment building at the same time. Do-woo doesn’t like this answer, but he lets the issue drop for now.
The Dream Team has the benefit of Chairman Chae’s inside knowledge of Do-woo’s character to anticipate his next move. The chairman explains that even if they’re on opposite sides now, Do-woo did learn under him for ten years; there’s a particular tactic he taught him for manipulating a politician. He’s fairly confident Do-woo will use this technique to get what he wants out of the mayor.
First, K calls Mr. Kim and tells him to deposit the check tomorrow, due to a slight error. This ensures that the check will not be immediately deposited — allowing for Team Do-woo to swipe it.
This they accomplish by getting Director Oh to pressure Mr. Kim into a friendly dinner, which Mr. Kim cannot refuse. When Mr. Kim steps aside for a moment, Director Oh sneaks the check — and their signed contract — out of the aide’s bag and slips away to hand them over to K.
All the while, Shin keeps an eye on the exchange — things are progressing just as the chairman predicted.
Team Shin needs one more thing for their scheme, which Jae-myung gains using an old-school technique — carbon paper! (The black sheet you place under a sheet of paper to make instant duplicates.) He had slipped in the carbon sheet before Do-woo signed the contract.
It’s important to let Do-woo think that he’s completely in charge, so the next step of the plan requires Team Shin to appear to suffer a large setback. In order for this to work, they’re going to let Do-woo carry out his plan, not letting on that they are aware of it. Still, Jae-myung watches with Shin as the police detain the mayor for questioning and says, “Shin, do a good job this time, because I like that mayor.”
Shin replies: “Me, too. I like that mayor a lot, so I don’t intend to make him suffer long.”
The suffering in question refers to a tip that the police received that the mayor was embezzling public funds. This is news to him (the mayor asks incredulously, “I stole?”) and even the police find this surprising; the officer chides the mayor for bungling the attempt, since stealing is obviously not his forte. Namely, the check Do-woo wrote him has somehow ended up in the mayor’s personal bank account.
Mr. Kim is also brought in for questioning, and he desperately fumbles through his briefcase looking for the contract and check, to no avail. Therefore there is no proof backing the mayor’s claims of innocence.
Kyung-ah can’t believe the news either, because her first impression told her the mayor wasn’t that kind of person.
Do-woo: “What was your first impression of me?”
Kyung-ah: “I thought you were smart, frightening, and very lonely.”
Do-woo: “What about now?”
Kyung-ah: “You’re smart, frightening, and lonely. And like a young child.”
Do-woo’s never been called child-like before, but Kyung-ah says that it’s his child-like quality that allowed him to dream of a Neo-Monaco, and cling to his sister as a mother figure. However, she tells him, “I’m sorry, I can’t be your sister.”
Do-woo: “Then why did you agree when I asked if you wanted to get engaged?”
Kyung-ah: “Can I give you a straight answer?”
Do-woo: “That’s why I like you, because you’re straightforward.”
Kyung-ah: “I needed you. I’ve earned a lot of money, but now I need social rank in order to rip off the label of commoner and earn the label of the upper-class. But I don’t want to cling to a chaebol and live unhappily. At least with you, I wouldn’t live a boring life.”
Do-woo: “Is that all?”
Kyung-ah: “I want to ask you the same thing. Why me? You could have any number of upper-class women.”
Do-woo: “At first, I thought to steal you away, because you were the girlfriend of that guy I disliked, Kim Shin.”
Do-woo: “I’m wondering if I could let this woman inside. Maybe this woman could see inside me and still stay with me. Can you do that?”
Shin and Jae-myung watch the couple leaving the building, and Jae-myung takes this opportunity to dispense some advice: Men tend to harbor the illusion that their exes aren’t able to forget them. But Jae-myung tells Shin he’s wrong, because he doesn’t know women: “Women don’t even like to think about the man they’ve broken up with. Especially if they’ve found a new man, they don’t even remember the old one. That’s what women are like.”
I love how annoyed Shin gets, grumbling at Jae-myung to shut up as they get out of the car to focus on their task at hand.
This next scene is worth it just for Philip Lee’s adorable little-boy smile. Jae-myung and Shin gain entrance to the meeting hall, where a press conference will be held tomorrow regarding the mayor’s alleged embezzling. They pass themselves off as employees of the broadcast station (they have the station equipment to prove it) who need to set up ahead of time.
When the employee wonders that it’s strange that none of the other stations are doing this, Jae-myung takes this as his cue to turn on the charm and distract her, allowing Shin to get on with his work.
Shin also enlists the help of Mr. Kim, who is confused and panicked about the mayor’s predicament. Shin calms him down, assuring him that they will help the mayor, but need the aide to lie a little. Can he do this?
Timing is Team Shin’s key tool as they await the right moment to interrupt the press conference. Do-woo acts every bit the confused, innocent businessman who is shocked that his money was so wrongly abused by the mayor. He’d trusted him! However, when Do-woo states that they’d paid the mayor 1 billion won (ten times the actual check), Kyung-ah looks surprised to hear the lie.
Shin walks in with Jae-myung to interject at this dramatic moment, correcting his statement: the check was for 100 million, not 1 billion. Mr. Kim faces the reporters and takes full responsibility for this debacle, apologizing profusely for his foolish error. See, he’d been so uneasy about carrying around a large check, knowing he would not be able to get it to the office right away, so he deposited it into the mayor’s account, thinking it would be safe there. However, it was most certainly only 100 million, not 1 billion won.
Caught in his lie, Do-woo has to protest and starts to insinuate that the mayor hid the other 900 million elsewhere. Contradicting him, Shin passes around copies of the contract to back up the aide’s story (Do-woo’s signature had been preserved on the carbon paper).
Do-woo’s growing angrier, but manages to rebut that the paper is forged. However, this doesn’t bother Shin, because Kyung-tae switches on a recording over the loudspeaker (which Shin had set up the night before). This conversation replays the meeting when Kyung-ah offered 100 million up front, with 900 million to come later.
Fishy, fishy! The reporters smell a story and wonder why Do-woo said he’d already given the full amount when it’s clear that he didn’t. No matter how smoothly he talks, this definitely puts Do-woo on the defensive.
But Kyung-ah ruins Shin’s triumph be stepping forward. Just as the aide took the rap for the mayor, she takes the blame here. She lies off the cuff, explaining that she manages the investments; she was in charge of the donation check and hadn’t informed Do-woo of the details. Since Do-woo’s voice wasn’t on the recording, this seems plausible enough to save face.
This dulls the victory somewhat, but Shin still has the important thing: Do-woo has publicly pledged the full 1 billion donation. He was obviously not intending to hand it over, but now he must.
Even though he was spared the full impact of Shin’s scheme, Do-woo is furious, and fumes in an empty conference room. (Btw, I doubt this was the intent of the scene, but the geometry of the room’s configuration — round table, dark wall — serendipitously captures the essence of “rock and a hard place,” doesn’t it?)
K blocks Kyung-ah from entering the room, but she moves past him and goes inside anyway. Do-woo ignores her and stalks out of the room without acknowledging her.
Kyung-ah stops him as he’s about to enter his car, and Do-woo bursts out, “What do you want? Thanks?”
It’s clear that although things worked out in the end, Do-woo’s mad to have been put into this situation in the first place — it shows that he could have been ruined. Without her help, he would have faced potentially disastrous consequences, and he really, really hates the idea of needing someone’s help.
Do-woo needs control to feel like a man, as we can sense from his outburst: “Now that you’ve seen inside, what do you think? You don’t want a man like me, do you? Do I seem so insignificant to you?”
Kyung-ah holds his face in her hands, and slowly, gently kisses him. She tells him, “That’s not good enough, if you’re trying make me run away. I’ve left a man and run once before. I don’t want to do that again.”
She hugs him and assures him — like he’s a child? — “These things are okay. It’s okay.”
Slowly, Do-woo wraps his arms around her and hugs her back — while K watches from a distance, concerned.
Again, we have cuteness between Chairman Chae and the Muse Café family. He breaks in on Mun-ho’s excited conversation with Myung-sun (telling her of Shin’s victory) and scolds them to keep quiet. At first it sounds like typical grumpy old man complaints, until he indicates downward at the little girl sleeping in his lap. Myung-sun rushes to remove the girl, apologizing for the inconvenience, but Chae shoos her away — what’s the use in waking the girl?
Meanwhile, her younger sister is sleeping upstairs, held by Kyung-tae as he watches Eun-soo playing (and losing) a computer game. Eun-soo’s character dies, and this makes her think of the defeat her brother must be feeling right now.
Eun-soo: “My brother isn’t a good loser. When he was younger, he said once that he doesn’t like things like baseball or soccer, because no matter how hard you try, you could lose because you’re playing on a team. So he always only did things alone.”
Furthermore, Do-woo lost in front of a crowd of people: “He probably couldn’t handle it well on his own.” Seeing her worry, Kyung-tae pushes the phone at her silently. But Eun-soo can’t call, because she has nothing to say. She wishes her brother could have played games, where you can always start over when you lose.
Still, it’s a small comfort to be able to talk to Kyung-tae, and she tells him, “I like it here. There was nobody to talk to about this at my house. I was alone.”
The Myungdoshi residents are thrilled at the promise of more money on the way, and welcome the mayor back enthusiastically.
The mayor introduces Shin as the man behind this success, despite Shin’s embarrassed protests at being made the center of attention. He doesn’t want the glory, and can only endure in exasperation when everyone bursts into applause. The mayor appoints Shin their leader and proclaims, “He’ll accomplish great things! We must not let him get away from us!”
However, the chairman has a feeling that the mayor is not safe. He knows what his son is capable of, and instructs Eun-soo to call the Dream Team to warn them: “Tell them to take care of that mayor. Night or day, keep one of them stuck by him to protect him. Tell them that.” (Honestly, this conversation gave me goosebumps, and put me on edge the entire episode.)
Now that the compensation has been won, the mayor turns to his next task, which is planning for the apartment complex. He decides upon his ideal location (in the center where the agricultural venture office will stand), while Director Oh tries to press for the mayor to issue the permits. But the mayor’s no dummy, since he knows that if he issues the permits now, he won’t get what was promised him. He’ll grant one thing at a time, to protect his people’s interests.
The mayor reminds Shin that democracy was originally made to allow the weak and powerless the ability to live amongst the rest — after all, the rich and powerful don’t need that help. Shin protests that he has no head for politics, but the mayor replies, “Democracy isn’t a political issue, it’s a matter of people living.”
Now that he’s decided where he wants the apartment, the mayor invites Shin along while he nags Do-woo about it. As they head over, Shin predicts to Jae-myung that Do-woo won’t allow it:
Shin: “First of all, he doesn’t want anything like commoners in his dream city. Second, if he agrees, he loses. Third, if he doesn’t allow it, it becomes fun for me to steal it away.”
Do-woo meets with a friend-investor, who has found himself in a business predicament and needs his funds withdrawn. The man isn’t a shrewd investor — he’s one of the guys who went along with Do-woo’s suggestions because he trusted Do-woo’s instincts — and is in a panicked state.
However, if he pulls his funds out of the venture now, this is very bad for Do-woo, who has already borrowed to the hilt. While they’re still waiting on those permits, Do-woo is stuck — he can’t afford to give money back, and he can’t bring in new investors, either. Do-woo tells his friend to wait until the permits are issued, which should be very soon.
When Do-woo walks out on his way to another meeting, he is NOT pleased to see the mayor heading toward him. He attempts to blow him off, but the mayor says — in his maddeningly chipper way — that he knows Do-woo’s a busy man, and will only take a second. Ignoring Do-woo’s increasing temper, he makes his suggestion for the apartment complex’s location, resulting in Do-woo losing his patience. He grabs the mayor’s hand in a threatening gesture.
Jae-myung steps forward in warning, and Do-woo remembers himself and releases his hold. His tone is controlled but angry as he tells the mayor: “I would like not to meet with you again. If you have anything to say, you can tell the deputy mayor. Or you can meet with someone else in the planning group.”
Do-woo excuses himself coldly and leaves.
Kyung-ah once again finds her path blocked by K on her way to see Do-woo. She shoots him a “bish, plz” look and challenges K’s gesture.
K: “He doesn’t need help from other people. Especially from a woman.”
Kyung-ah: “Do you know that what you’ve just said is very strange? You’re strange. Before I start thinking even stranger thoughts, will you step aside?”
This time, he steps aside.
Meanwhile, Shin and Joong-ho are called to welcome Bum-hwan back upon his release from prison. It’s for this reason that Shin hadn’t gone with the mayor and Jae-myung, who are now leaving the city hall building. As they get in their car and drive off, K follows them out of the parking lot.
Ever since Chairman Chae’s warning, I’ve been on pins and needles half-expecting the mayor to be bombed at every opportunity, so this definitely bodes ill for our guys. It’s not entirely clear, however, whether this is the reason for Shin’s grim reaction when he receives a phone call just as police cars drive by, sirens blaring.
Aside from the cute factor, I like seeing Chairman Chae and Eun-soo integrated into the Team Shin family for a couple reasons. Per the mayor’s wise words about Shin needing his teammates to succeed, we’re seeing how each person contributes to the team dynamics, such as the chairman’s invaluable insight into Do-woo’s strategy. Even though Myung-sun and her two daughters are peripheral to the actual revenge, they’re a valuable part of the human bonds that hold the group together. Plus, each person is bound to the group in more ways than one, making the relationships weblike rather than linear (and thus harder to break). For instance, Myung-sun’s inclusion in the group also strengthens Joong-ho’s ties with Shin; Yuri and Nuri grab hold of Chairman Chae and tie him more firmly to the group; and Kyung-tae continues to bond with Eun-soo.
Plus, is this a sign that Eun-soo finally gets her real family? She’s said several times that she wants the three Chaes to be a “real family,” but with Do-woo and her father sworn enemies, it doesn’t look likely. She has been gradually working her way into the team, but it was in this episode that the group started feeling like a surrogate family more than a group of co-workers.
A few very interesting things about Do-woo: He is starting to lose his cool. I find that exciting. For the first time, he’s had the rug pulled out from underneath him when Shin confronts him in front of the reporters, and even though Kyung-ah saved his reputation, he has still lost the battle: (1) Shin still one-upped him, and (2) He was forced to make the 1 billion won donation.
Do-woo may not like losing as part of a team, but I wonder if that makes losing on his own even harder — he can’t blame anyone but himself. His self-hatred comes through in his treatment of Kyung-ah, because he feels so angry with himself that he misdirects that frustration onto her. Much like a child, as she noted. When he hugs Kyung-ah back, his hands grip her back so tightly that it’s a little unnerving — there’s a lot of fury there, even as he’s in the middle of an affectionate moment.
Do-woo’s second case of losing his cool is when he grabs the mayor’s hand threateningly, as though to retaliate with physical violence. The only other time Do-woo got physically worked up was when he beat up his drunk friend in the stairwell in an early episode, but in that scene he was completely in control — he delivered his blows in precise maneuvers and seemed to enjoy himself, rather than fighting in anger. Here, however, he seems to forget himself for a moment, so much so that it doesn’t even seem like HE knows what he was about to do next. He lost himself in the moment, in his rage; does this signal the beginning of his demise?
I wonder at K challenging Kyung-ah’s place in Do-woo’s life, and whether it is what it seems on the surface — that K is guarding his employer for selfish reasons as much as for Do-woo’s safety. Perhaps he’s feeling uncomfortable with Kyung-ah’s influence over Do-woo, perhaps he’s even feeling jealous of being pushed aside as Kyung-ah usurps his place as Most Trusted Number 2. The question on my mind is whether that’s where it ends, or if K is dealing with some deeper issues — like being in love with his boss, for instance? (Oh please, let K be in love with Do-woo!)
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