Story of a Man: Episode 9
There are a lot of business machinations in this episode, and I personally have no insight into the stock market or corporate money matters so I can’t say whether it’s an accurate representation, but it’s to the series’ credit that despite all the money stuff, it still brings the excitement.
Also, I think I might love Shin. Or at least have a drama-crush on him. I don’t know what it is, but his character is so appealing, even though he’s not twisted and dark (Do-woo), quirky and adorable (Kyung-tae), sex on legs (Jae-myung), or even perfectly “good.” He’s like Jae-myung alludes to later this episode: He may be doing illegal things but his heart isn’t in it, because he’s at the core a decent guy. Not perfect, not totally righteous, but decent. I guess that’s why this drama may involve revenge and business wars and money struggles, but it’s really at heart about Shin carving out his place in that world — that one man’s story, if you will.
SONG OF THE DAY
Story of a Man OST – “사랑을 할때쯤” (When you love) by Park Gun-hyung. I don’t recall hearing this song playing in the series yet, but I do like it a lot. [ Download ]
EPISODE 9 RECAP
Shin arrives at the Chae mansion to talk to Chairman Chae. After ushering him into the study, Eun-soo finds her brother looking intently at her, which makes her uncomfortable as they have not yet addressed the fact that her loyalties have shifted from him.
Do-woo asks in a hurt tone what she’s doing (again, it’s hard to tell whether this is real hurt or the fake, guilt-inducing kind). Eun-soo replies that their father asked her to help, so she’s helping. I like that Eun-soo feels bad but doesn’t feel the need to sneak around or explain herself to Do-woo — she’s sorry to hurt him, but not sorry for her actions. That’s respectable.
Do-woo adds, “Are you siding against me?” Eun-soo replies simply, “If you need help, ask me. Then I’ll help you.”
Shin is here because he’s only half-convinced of Chae’s proposal to work together, and wants the chairman to persuade him. The chairman explains that Chae Dong will be holding a stockbrokers’ meeting soon, which is when Do-woo will make his takeover official: “Block him.”
Shin asks what he’ll get out of it. The chairman currently holds 32% of Chae Dong’s stocks, which means Shin needs to gather more than 18% in two weeks to block Do-woo from gaining a voting majority of 51%. He offers his condition: If he prevents Do-woo, Shin wants the right of management over Chae Dong.
Naturally, this is a rather exorbitant demand, because Shin would be saving the company only to take it from the chairman. But Shin understands that Chae wants the company out of Do-woo’s hands at all costs. He lays out his options: (1) Shin’s team has a talented lawyer on board (Jae-myung) who is the son of Chae’s trusted friend, Mr. Do, who would administrate competently, or (2) Chae can let his noxious son Do-woo take over.
Speaking of whom, Do-woo confronts Shin on his way out. The two men are refreshingly open about their motives, as Do-woo demonstrates that he knows what Shin is up to, and Shin makes no attempt to hide it. Do-woo asks how Shin will accomplish his goal.
Shin: “I’ll start by stealing away everything you have, one by one. Your father, your sister. What else do you have? Is money the only thing left?”
Do-woo: “You’re going to take away my money? I don’t think you’ll succeed.”
Shin: “I’ll have to give it a shot and see.”
Do-woo: “Someone like you can’t do it. Money isn’t something that just anybody can make. If anyone could, why would there be commoners in this world?”
In this situation, Do-woo definitely has the upper hand, but I like how unintimidated Shin is — if he’s uneasy, he doesn’t show it. He half-smirks that he’s got to try:
Shin: “I’ve got nothing else to do, other than taking you on.”
Now, Shin has to convince his team to join him. Mun-ho and Jae-myung had previously expressed their resistance, and Mun-ho is skeptical that Chae would actually hand over the company — even if he did sign a pledge saying he would.
Shin surprises him by saying, “It’s okay if it’s only for one day, I want to try having it — that company that killed my brother and ruined his company, and made all those workers unemployed. I want to have it even just for a day.” He then prods Jae-myung to use his remaining money to take over the company his father served his whole life.
Jae-myung: “Others fight with fists or guns. You’re saying you want to fight with money?”
Shin: “Yes. That’s the way to win for sure.”
Jae-myung: “If you lose?”
Shin: “When I fight, I only think to win.”
Jae-myung: “If you lose anyway?”
Shin: “You can do whatever you want at that point.”
Mun-ho’s apprehensive about putting all their money on the line, but Shin turns to Kyung-tae (Shin’s nickname for him — “Teacher” — is too cute), as though to try to convince him next. But I love Kyung-tae’s response:
Shin: “Teacher, to be honest, this won’t work without y—”
Kyung-tae: “I’m in. We’ll work together. Okay.”
Kyung-tae provides a summary of their plan:
Kyung-tae: “Shin has declared war. Therefore Chae Do-woo must think he knows we are entering a stock battle. We have limited funds, so if we attack from the front, we lose. If we want to win, how must we act? We must keep him from knowing how much we have, or when and how many stocks we buy. Thus we will buy some under borrowed names. We will make bank accounts with as many bonds and using as many names as possible. We will keep buying. However, we cannot just buy. We have to buy and sell, buy and sell. The stock value will rise. If the price that had hit rock-bottom rises by more than 10 billion, the ants will throw them back out. We will clean it out. When and how much we buy and sell will be decided by Mazinger.”
The other three go around the city finding people to borrow names and seals from, such as homeless people, to use in these business transactions, according to Kyung-tae’s instructions of how much to buy. They make the transactions in the other people’s names to keep their actions off Do-woo’s radar.
As their two weeks wind down, Kyung-tae calculates the different ways they can get to 51% stock ownership from their starting point of 32%.
Their plan is working, because Do-woo is puzzled to hear that there’s been no unusual movement. He’d been sure that Shin would start buying immediately, so he tells his men to stay alert.
Meanwhile, the value of the company is rising — from its lowest point of 30 billion won, it’s now up to 40 billion. Nervous, Director Oh wants to sell and make a nice profit, worrying that they have no liquid funds if they keep buying. Do-woo tells him to hold on.
Do-woo sees his father and sister outside in the yard, and approaches despite his father’s obvious distrust and hostility. In a move that is both gutsy and admirable (in my opinion), when Eun-soo sees him, she moves in front of her father, as though to block him from her brother’s reach. She then turns around, her back facing Do-woo. All this she does without malice but with resolve.
Do-woo is perturbed at his sister’s reaction, but addresses his father anyway, advising the chairman to stop “using those guys” — meaning Shin’s Dream Team, whom he describes as “pitiable.” He speaks to his father as though he’s in on his plan, saying that his father should either just let the poor guys take his money or call the cops. But what he’s doing now is toying with them: “There’s no need to be so cruel.”
I have to admit my heart dropped a little, because I’m not sure whether to take Do-woo’s words as truth, or a bluff. He’s implying that Chae is cooperating with Team Shin with the intention of backstabbing them later — and I suppose that really IS a possibility. I don’t think that’s Chae’s plan (am I just naive?), but this is another example of why this drama is so great — it could go either way, and I have no idea which is the truth.
Chae agrees, “You’re right, I’m cruel.” (Again, he could just be saying this dryly because he doesn’t care to get into a discussion — or he could be conceding truth. I’m hoping it’s the former.)
This exchange doesn’t escape Eun-soo’s notice; she frowns at the implication, which Do-woo notices.
Do-woo: “Don’t you know Father? I don’t know what kind of bait he threw their way, but if you leave things alone, they’ll just suffer, lose everything, and probably fall into debt and be ruined. Why don’t you go and stop them?”
Eun-soo: “If that’s true, that means you’re going to do that to them. Do you have to go that far? You have so much right now.”
Do-woo: “Let’s stop this. It’s because I don’t like talking to you in this way. You didn’t act this way with me before.”
You know that scene in the previous episode where Do-woo gets drunk and bonds with Kyung-ah? Yeah, he totally faked it. (We aren’t given proof that he did, but his actions in this episode definitely point to the “gaining her trust to use her” scheme of things.) For what it’s worth, it worked, because Kyung-ah is now acting like a fussing girlfriend. Furthermore, when he asks her for help, she agrees right away without even waiting for his request.
Do-woo currently holds 45.4% of Chae Dong’s stocks, and predicts that his opponents have nearly 40%. He needs her in order to free his father’s company from the scam artists.
Therefore, Kyung-ah goes around to various businessmen who have money in Chae Dong. Apparently (and this is where it gets into the financial lingo, so bear with me if this is off), they are issuing convertible bonds to exchange shares for money. (This is another way that Do-woo acquires more stocks.) The argument Kyung-ah uses to persuade them is that since Chae Dong stock has dropped so much, they can’t recover its full worth, so they’ll get more money out of these convertible bonds.
Maybe Do-woo’s plan is working too well, because Kyung-tae anxiously announces his latest calculations, that Jae-myung’s account is nearly down to 0, and Shin is already in the red. That means they are out of cash and cannot buy any more stocks. He had thought they could work their way up to at least 41%, but they’re stuck now at 39%. Overall, he estimates they are short 5 billion won.
Shin rushes to the only person he knows who might be able to help: Bum-hwan, who’s a month shy of release from prison. But Bum-hwan has seen this kind of desperation before, and wonders why Shin came to this. He reminds Shin that he had never once asked for anyone’s help in prison — he’d even charged at him directly. The taste of money often changes people.
Shin pleads that he’s just trying to fulfill his revenge. The problem is, his opponent was born with a head start, and he just needs a little push. Bum-hwan says he only trusts those who can back up their words, and tells him to prove it. No money this time around.
With four days left, Shin decides to go for a risky maneuver — something Mun-ho warns him not to do, since it’s “confusing revenge and gambling” — which is to use the stocks to take out a secured loan.
With more cash, Team Shin starts buying up stocks again, which Do-woo detects. He guesses that they must have found some funds, probably a large loan of several billion won (Do-woo is scary-smart to be so accurate in his guesses).
With two days left, the Dream Team has 47%. There’s a nervous moment (for me, the viewer) when Mun-ho suggests to Kyung-tae that they sell off their stocks — he wants to cash out and walk away. No need to get involved in such complicated matters. Thankfully, Kyung-tae doesn’t listen to him, and Mun-ho backs down — but it makes me think that since we’re only halfway through the series, there is still time for a betrayal. I fear that it will come from Mun-ho, who has the least motivation to stick with Shin through the end.
And then, a day before, they finally arrive at their destination: 51%. Success!
Only, Kyung-tae has to check something — and what he sees makes him jump in alarm. Somehow, the value of the stock has dramatically changed. This means that the amount needed to secure 51% of stock ownership is no longer sufficient.
To show us just how creepy this is, Do-woo is back at his desk, drawing dark and macabre pictures to add to his collection. (Does anyone want to venture a guess as to the meaning of his Dragonball and Batman figurine collection? It’s an odd sight to see in the room of a refined, elegant man like Do-woo, isn’t it? Does it perhaps signify a case of arrested development, or is it just a really random interest in toys?)
Worse yet, Do-woo has located someone he’s been looking for — Shin’s sister-in-law.
At least she is being watched over by Joong-ho, who drops by without warning or even (it seems) much of a purpose. He helps her carry Nuri (who is too adorable) and insists on driving her home. Myung-sun tries to protest, but he isn’t having it. He takes her to her home, which is in a rundown neighborhood on the outskirts of the city.
From a distance, K watches their interaction from the shadows.
When Eun-soo drops by the café (which sends a skittish Kyung-tae running hilariously away from her), Shin fills her in on their new plan. Basically, they should have been at 51% ownership, but instead they’re back down to 43%. He explains about the convertible bonds — debts that were changed into stocks, thanks to Do-woo — which messed with Kyung-tae’s calculations. Now it’s too late to buy more, because the cutoff date for counting stock ownership is two weeks before the stockholders’ meeting. In other words, today.
So now, since they can no longer buy up new stocks, they have to move on to Plan B. That involves convincing current stockholders to authorize Team Shin to be their legal reps. In essence, they’d be signing over their authority to Shin. The team is looking through the Chae Dong roster to find as many viable stockholders as possible.
Eun-soo perks up, volunteering to help. This is something she can do: “I’m good at that — finding people, bowing my head, and asking for a favor.”
Her activities with the Dream Team bring her home late that night, and she arrives to see Do-woo waiting up for her, making candy like the good old days. Only, now this gesture feels forced and uncomfortable, and Eun-soo is a little unnerved at Do-woo’s reminiscences. He brings up an old incident in a pleasant tone that belies its sinister undercurrent, recalling when she was in middle school and a high school boy used to pick on her. At first, Do-woo had asked the boy nicely to stop:
Do-woo: “But a few days later, I was going to exercise, and he had brought along his friends and was waiting. I knew then, that people don’t listen to other people’s warnings very well. If you want to teach them, you have to do it decisively, so that they won’t presume to try it again. You have to stomp on them thoroughly from the start for them to understand that ‘Ah, I shouldn’t do this.'”
The longer he talks, the more frightened Eun-soo appears, and by the time he’s done with the story, she’s got tears in her eyes. He says with his calmly soothing voice:
Do-woo: “Don’t do that, Eun-soo. Don’t look at me with that expression. If you have something you want to say, tell me everything. If you want to be angry, be angry. You can do that. You know that.”
What is excellent about this moment is that Do-woo has been speaking in a cajoling way, like one would approach an injured animal — gentle, cautious. But when the tears actually fall from her eyes, that hopeful expression on Do-woo’s face darkens (scary!), and he turns away, angered now.
Now it’s her turn to ask, cautious and pleading:
Eun-soo: “I don’t know what you want. You don’t need money. Is it because Father made you sad for a lot of reasons? Or is it that you just like winning? Is that why you’re making it so nobody’s on your side? You think of everyone as an enemy. I think the you who plays piano and laughs is the real you. Can’t you stay that person? Let people who really need it have the money and the company. Can’t you do that?”
When he faces her again, Do-woo is controlled again, and smiles in a chilling way.
Do-woo: “I’m always me, Eun-soo. It’s other people who just live on without knowing who they really are. I’m always real. Eun-soo, I thought you knew that.”
With ten days left to the stockholders’ meeting, the Dream Team are hard at work tracking down as many stockholders as they can. Naturally, they meet with some resistance from people who don’t know why they should sign forms authorizing Team Shin to act for them, but they do get a number of people to agree.
Three days before the meeting, they’ve managed to acquire an additional 4% in authorizations. They don’t have a lot of time left, but Shin is determined to keep chugging along, cold-calling and visiting as many people as he can. It’s too bad they don’t have more time. So Mun-ho proposes one last-ditch method to defer the meeting.
The day before the meeting, Do-woo has possession of 45.7%, and in the past 2 weeks, the value of the company has risen to 50 billion (up from 30 billion at the start).
Finally, it’s the day of the meeting. Before heading inside the building, Jae-myung turns to Shin, and repeats his own words back to him: “Shin, you’re a really nice guy.” Jae-myung elaborates that Shin’s parents wouldn’t have been able to break the law, and Shin was also raised that away: “That’s why you can’t kidnap, or shoot a gun. Even if you run a scam, it’s not fun.”
Shin tries to play it off (“Did you study psychology too?”), but Jae-myung continues:
Jae-myung: “That’s why you’re weak. Nice guys are weak. And weak guys lose. That’s the rule in this world.”
Jae-myung: “That’s it.”
The guys head inside, and we get a hint at what their last tactic is, because Joong-ho pulls up, offering his services as a “loud voice,” toting a group of his roughnecks. (They’re allowed into the meeting because they have stocks in their names, naturally.)
There’s also a nice beat when the two rival parties spot each other across the lobby — Shin versus Do-woo — and Do-woo smiles his evil smile, feeling sure of himself. Then he frowns to see Eun-soo at the door, stopped by security guards, trying to get in. Do-woo starts to head toward her, but Shin is faster, and overtakes him to get to Eun-soo, steering her inside. Do-woo is NOT happy.
The meeting begins. Or, tries to begin.
As Director Oh steps up to the podium, men stream into the room and stand guard at the front, which perplexes the room of stockholders. They’re not stockholders, therefore they shouldn’t have access to this meeting. What is this?
The Dream Team feigns outrage, although they’ve clearly anticipated this, and shout out in fake umbrage that this shows a lack of respect for the rest of them. By posting sentries in front of the room, it gives off an air of belligerence. Shin stands up, rabble-rousing, and addresses the other stockholders, saying that these “guards” were hired with their own money: “How can they use our money to block us? Are we stockholders gangsters?!”
Do-woo greets Kyung-ah, who brings some necessary papers. He has some bad news to tell her, acting sorry to convey that his father’s scammers are in the building — and they include her ex-boyfriend.
Hearing this, Kyung-ah heads for the meeting and finds the room in chaos. Outraged stockholders shout and a flustered Director Oh tries to keep order. Kyung-ah finds Shin in the thick of things, encouraging the melee, and they lock eyes.
They step outside for a talk. Kyung-ah acts like she understands why Shin is acting out, thinking it’s a result of her cruel treatment of him. She concedes that she was harsh, and understands if she pissed him off: “This might sound ridiculous, but I really thought treating you so heartlessly was for your benefit. I was wrong. So don’t do this.”
When she says, “You’re doing this because you don’t know who you’re up against,” Shin corrects her. He says, “I think you have the wrong idea. What I’m doing here has nothing to do with you.” She doesn’t believe that, which exasperates him.
Shin: “Are my words too difficult? Kyung-ah, you and I are nothing to each other now. Also, I don’t think of you as my woman anymore. So I don’t think you can tell me, as some other person who isn’t my girlfriend, not to do this. Isn’t that how things are with us?”
Kyung-ah: “Do you know who you’re fighting with?”
Shin: “I know.”
Kyung-ah: “No, you still don’t know. There are things in this world that don’t work, no matter how hard you try.”
Kyung-ah: “Do you remember that I told you this once that we live in different worlds? No matter how hard the people in that world work and fight, they aren’t a match for the people in this world. So please don’t fight, Shin. You’ll only get hurt.”
It’s around here that Kyung-ah really starts pissing me off (as I’ll get into more later), but I was moved at Shin’s reaction, which he says with urgency and emotion:
Shin: “That’s why I can’t quit. Because you say everything is useless no matter how I try, because you dare tell me not to strike, because you tell us commoners to just live like that and die — there’s nothing I can do but try. Because nobody tries, I have to! I have to try in order to know.”
Do-woo breaks in, and takes pleasure in asking her if she brought “it” — the debts that were converted into stocks. Kyung-ah hesitates for a moment while Shin shoots her a look, possibly not having realizing she was so involved in Do-woo’s scheme. She, like the Dream Team, has been getting people to sign over their authority to her — under her name. Do-woo announces that when combining those in her name with those in his, he has 51.3% stock ownership.
Do-woo asks, “You’ll give them to me, won’t you?”
For a moment, it’s uncertain whether she will, and she takes a step closer to Shin.
But it’s merely to say, “I’d like for you to stay over there and live happily, unaware of this world, comfortably.”
With that, she lets Do-woo usher her into the meeting, where stocks are tabulated, and Do-woo is named acting chief of the company. Shin has lost.
So it’s with a little surprise that Kyung-tae and Mun-ho find Do-woo entering their café that night. He’s come to see Shin, who hasn’t come back yet from the meeting.
Jae-myung walks into the room, sizes up Do-woo, and clenches his fist tightly. So does Do-woo, and it looks like they’re both preparing for a brawl — but Shin steps in front of Jae-myung before either man throws a punch.
Do-woo is here to tell them that he will buy their stocks, and takes some satisfaction in flaunting, “My woman asked me to do it, to keep you from being hurt.” However, Do-woo has the stipulation that when Shin comes to find him to make the deal, he must come alone. Also:
Do-woo: “When you come to ask me to buy your stocks, kneel before me.”
At this, Kyung-tae points at Do-woo and bursts out, “Tomorrow morning, he will dump them all. If he lets go of them all, everything we have will turn into scrap paper. If that happens, we’re—”
Do-woo points out that if they don’t do this, all their money will be tied up in stocks and they won’t be able to repay their loans. He warns Shin to think it over carefully, then turns to leave.
Ah, but he has a trump card, which he tosses out just before he exits: “Oh, does your sister-in-law live in Myungdoshi? I have a lot of land there.”
Small things first: There’s a very short scene with Kyung-tae and a flower outside the café, and although it’s doesn’t play into anything, I have to think it holds some meaning, because why else would they have shown it? This drama doesn’t waste scenes, so this has to mean something, right? In the scene, Kyung-tae looks curiously at a flower whose stem is too weak to hold up the bloom and has folded over. He prods the flower back to an upright position, but it falls back down again. He stands it back up, but this time he leans the bloom against another stem, and with the added support, it stays upright.
Meaningful symbolism for this drama, perhaps?
Yeah, Kyung-ah’s starting to piss me off, but I’m of two minds about this: (1) If she’s going to get back together with Shin in the end, then she needs to undergo some massive remorse and/or character rehabilitation, not just because she’s picked Do-woo over Shin (one can argue that she doesn’t know Do-woo’s true character so this isn’t such a stupid move for her), but because she was so sniffingly elitist in that last scene, and I actually find that more unforgivable. Oh, so she can come up into a different world as a glorified liquor dispenser, but Shin can’t do it using his brains and wit? Way to be condescending, lady — and misguidedly so! When she tells him to “stay over there,” it’s so… demeaning. She doesn’t mean it in a demeaning way, but it has that air of condescension, that she knows better than him, that she still claims some sort of ownership when she has cut off ties. As Shin rightly points out, she has no right to tell him what to do now.
(2) On the other hand, I’m not as annoyed as I could be, because a large part of me is thinking (hoping) that she and Shin won’t end up together. If that’s the case, then she can be as annoying as she wants, because then I’m free to dislike her. Unfortunately, she’s sorta set up as the official love interest for Shin, so there’s a good chance she WILL end up with him.
(On the other hand, I remember that writer Song Ji-nah did an excellent job in Sandglass (as far as I can recall) setting up a compelling love triangle, pitting the three against each other — prosecutor, gangster, casino owner’s daughter — in a way that didn’t result in a perfect romantic ending for the main couple. I think.)
At this point, I’m really rooting for Shin and would rather he ended up alone than with Kyung-ah. Barring, as I said, some major character rehab, of course.
I’m going to speculate that there are two sides on the Eun-soo issue. Some might be happy she stood up to her brother, while others find it a betrayal of Do-woo.
I’m going to have to side with being glad she broke away from his influence, for several reasons but most importantly because Eun-soo is Do-woo’s only weakness. (I don’t know if she means enough to him to be an Achilles heel, but thus far she’s the only person who arouses an emotion stronger than indifference or mild amusement, and that has to count for something.) Also, it must be taken into account that she was fine with Do-woo until she saw him taunting their father while he had a heart episode — not only would he have let him die, but he would have kicked him on the way down, too.
I find it hopeful (for her sake) that she opened her eyes to his nature, because I’m guessing there’s a strong possibility that Do-woo goes down, and distancing herself allows Eun-soo to take ownership of her life and be saved from sharing his demise. (Er, hypothetical demise.)
Have you noticed how, when Do-woo stares at Shin, it’s almost like he’s looking through him? (Example: The scene in the beginning of the episode.) His eyes are looking AT him, sure, but they’re almost unfocused, like they’re looking at something beyond him. Or something that isn’t there.
However, when Eun-soo is concerned, his gaze sharpens almost visibly, and goes from lazy and languid into fierce and focused.
I should probably clarify that I love Do-woo as a character, and am fascinated by Kim Kang-woo as the actor — but I am NOT rooting for Do-woo in this story. I like that he’s a strong opponent to Shin — because, like Shin said, he would have been disappointed if his foe were as easily defeated as Chairman Chae. Do-woo’s strength makes this all the more exciting to watch, because he’s formidable enough to make me nervous that he will bring Shin lots of pain along the road… but while I will enjoy watching his evilness and psychotic tendencies come out, bit by bit, I will also enjoy watching him (hopefully) get his comeuppance in the end. His insanely creepy brilliance just makes the path more interesting — ultimately I’m looking forward to his demise. May he earn every last bit of it.
- Story of a Man: Episode 8
- Story of a Man: Episode 7
- Story of a Man: Episode 6
- Story of a Man: Episode 5
- Park Ki-woong moved to tears at acting praise
- Kim Kang-woo: Birth of a Devil
- Story of a Man: Episodes 3 & 4
- Story of a Man: Episodes 1 & 2
- Currently airing dramas: A roundup
- First teaser for Story of a Man
- Park Ki-woong added to Story of a Man
- Philip Lee in Story of a Man
- Story of a Man to follow the Boys on KBS