Story of a Man: Episode 18
I don’t think the above image is meant to be unsettling, and it wasn’t necessarily so in the context of the scene… but when sorting through all the screencaps for this episode, it jumped out at me as being eerie and meaningful: Do-woo and Eun-soo about to join hands in front of their as-yet-unbuilt future city.
(Btw, I’ve read lots of snippets of comments about the drama’s ending, but I’d rather go into the finale blind. It keeps things interesting. I don’t even like knowing if it’s a “good” or “disappointing” ending — “good” suggests a happy resolution, while “disappointing” points to a less-than-sunny wrap-up. I’ve already accidentally been spoiled as to a huuuge plot point in the immediate future and I am NOT HAPPY about it. It killed my excitement in the series just when it should be hitting its crescendo, and that sucks.)
On the other hand, things are getting really intense. Woo~! I love this drama.
SONG OF THE DAY
Toy featuring Younha – “오늘 서울은 하루종일 맑음” (Seoul is Clear All Day Today)
[ Download ]
EPISODE 18 RECAP
Per Do-woo’s request, Eun-soo agrees to move out of her father’s home and into his. Myung-sun doesn’t understand and feels it’s wrong and strange, and urges Eun-soo not to do it. Her father asks how far Do-woo’s mind has deteriorated — there’s no way he can be completely normal after everything Shin has put him through.
Eun-soo’s answer that Do-woo looked tired seems to confirm the chairman’s speculation, and he seems more satisfied that he was right than worried for either of his children. He tells Eun-soo to watch her brother carefully so see if he worsens; since Team Shin has done their job so well, the only thing left is to get the timing right.
Although Do-woo is pretty much evil, it’s odd to hear a father anticipate his son’s downfall with such eagerness. (Eun-soo knows it’s inevitable, but at least she has the grace to be conflicted about it.)
At the planning office, Do-woo paces, not at ease until he knows Eun-soo has moved in. He’s tense and back to finger-tapping.
Do-woo’s so preoccupied that he ignores his aides, fixated on his sister. The men hesitantly approach, needing his input on business matters. They ask whether Do-woo would be willing to give up the farming land, as they are all out of reserve funds and cannot keep operating.
Do-woo levels a sharp glare at them and says, “We’re buying it. Why? Because I decided to buy it at the start. So I will buy it. Do you understand?”
Shin is still up against a brick wall with Mun-ho and Kyung-tae in jail, and he and Jae-myung go over their options in grim frustration. Unfortunately, there’s not much they can do. They know that their guys were arrested for false reasons, but have no way to prove it. Furthermore, Jae-myung’s sharp legal training didn’t prepare him for all the nonsensical, illogical Korean laws, and that’s driving him crazy.
They don’t notice that they’re being followed by K in a taxi, who stays on Shin’s tail when the two guys separate. Shin meets up with Detective Kim, who is still investigating the neighborhood for witnesses. K must have bought the soju somewhere in the vicinity.
Det. Kim’s sharp eyes spot the taxi that Shin hasn’t noticed, which is parked at a distance and turns away a prospective customer. Working on a hunch, she approaches the parked car, and Shin follows.
As they near, K turns on the engine — and without an exit path, he charges the two. They dive out of the way to avoid being hit. Shin races to his car to follow but has to give up, while Det. Kim calls in the license plate number.
K ditches the car, which they find abandoned a while later. Since the car is stolen, it probably won’t yield much information. Det. Kim figures Shin had better stay close to her, 24 hours a day — it wasn’t HER being followed, so K must be watching Shin. If he went so far as to steal a car to do so, that’s mighty suspicious.
Eun-soo moves in, apologetic to Kyung-ah for intruding on their newlywed home. Kyung-ah is welcoming, and assures Eun-soo that it’s no problem, although Eun-soo is still uneasy about the setup.
Do-woo is all smiles now that his sister has moved in, and is eager to show her his plans for the future. He describes the city as a place where “dirty, debased things won’t be able to live. This will be a world where nothing can cause your heart pain.” He suggests she drop by the next day so he can show her around.
In contrast to Do-woo’s excitement, Eun-soo can’t hide her sadness, as though this is proof of how far gone his obsession is.
The lawyer explains the supposed libel that got Kyung-tae imprisoned, which neither Kyung-tae nor Jae-myung understand. Kyung-tae is charged with spreading false information about the Myungdoshi casino and hotel deals.
Jae-myung says in America, they could use the media to their advantage, to get public opinion working for them. The lawyer says that this tactic won’t work for someone who isn’t a famous celebrity, but Kyung-tae perks up at that. Adorably, he points to himself and says, “I’m pretty famous. I’m Mazinger Hunter. Don’t you know who I am?” The lawyer shakes his head, so Kyung-tae says the lawyer is obviously not up on the stock world.
With those three working on Kyung-tae’s case, Shin works on Mun-ho’s. Since Mun-ho is innocent, somebody must have set him up, which brings them to the home of one of Mun-ho’s acquaintances (and the probable rat).
Because the man is not home, Shin and Det. Kim wait outside and kill time. (All the while, watching from around the corner is K.) Det. Kim asks what he’s thinking, and prods him to spill his thoughts even though he says he probably shouldn’t confide them in a cop. Shin says, “Maybe I should just kill him. I’d told him if he messed with my people again, I’d kill him.” He wonders if this would all be over then.
The detective looks at him a little incredulously and scoffs, “You sure had a nice upbringing, if you’ve only met one guy in your life like him.”
After a fruitless night of waiting, Shin gets back to the café and returns a call from Eun-soo. Eun-soo asks how Kyung-tae and Mun-ho are doing, and Shin responds that the only thing he can do is keep running around trying to help: “But it’s getting harder to keep running around.” It’s suffocating, and he’s having trouble breathing.
She (mis)interprets that to mean that he’s not feeling well, and launches into a barrage of questions — is he sick? does he need to go to the hospital? should she make him an appointment? — which makes Shin smile. A bit hesitantly, he asks whether it would be possible for her to make porridge for him again, like she did when he was sick. And this is the closest thing we’ll get to a confession from Shin, as he tells her, “It’s not strictly because I want to eat the porridge…”
It’s with disappointment that Eun-soo tells him that she can’t make it for him right now. She doesn’t explain that she’s living with Do-woo, but cooking for Shin is a scenario best left unexplored at the moment.
Chairman Chae calls Kyung-ah to let her in on his next step to bring down Do-woo, which takes them to a secret meeting held in a darkened room. The faces of the members are left in shadow, but there’s no doubt these are rich, powerful men, and Chae is one of them.
Kyung-ah is introduced as Chae’s daughter-in-law, and the financial planner in Myungdoshi’s planning committee. However, because she’s Do-woo’s wife, the men tell Chae it was a mistake to bring her alone. They’re wary and don’t see any compelling reason to help Chae recover his company.
Chae gets to the point bluntly, saying they all know Do-woo’s dream city is absurd, and reminds them of how much he’s worked and gained to build up his business over the past thirty years. Now he wants their money (as investments).
Kyung-ah drops by Do-woo’s office, but Do-woo dismisses her concerns at leaving Eun-soo home alone all day. Now that he got his way, he’s back to being leisurely and unhurried, and says coolly, “You don’t need to worry. Eun-soo is fine alone. She’s always been that way.”
Kyung-ah frowns: “Always? Is she just someone you leave alone next to you? To be on her own?”
I’m going to read Kyung-ah’s next questions as giving Do-woo one last chance to change her mind before she goes ahead with her plans to cross him, because she asks if he’s really unwilling to give up on the farming venture land. She reminds him that she holds 17% in Chae Dong stock, and her entire worth is sunk into the company. Therefore, if the company falls, so does she: “To protect that, I can even oppose you.”
That doesn’t greatly shock him, and Kyung-ah adds, “Hold onto me before it’s too late.” But Do-woo finds this kind of talk tedious:
Do-woo: “‘Hold me, help me.’ Why do people say things like that? Is it because you need someone to blame later if things don’t turn out well? So you can say, ‘This happened to me because you didn’t hold onto me’?”
Kyung-ah: “Do-woo, I’m not just anybody. I’m your wife.”
Do-woo tells her that she’s flirting with danger, and wonders if her intention is to betray him. Far from being angry, Do-woo instructs her like a patronizing teacher, “Calculate wisely. Look at the costs and risks of both sides and see which is better.”
Then he shows her to the door, literally. That’s cold.
Shin and Detective Kim once again wait outside their target’s home, bored but committed to sticking this out. Shin is impatient and offers to barge in — if her morals as a police officer won’t allow her to let him do that, she can just look aside for a moment while he peeks in.
But that’s not necessary, since their guy finally returns home. They corner him and grab him before he can flee, and explain that they’re here about Mun-ho. The man is startled to hear how much Shin knows — that he was approached by someone at Chae Dong and bribed into setting Mun-ho up.
Kyung-ah calls Shin out to talk business, which starts out friendly enough as she comments how much he’s grown up. She asks how much it will take for him to give up the farming group and offers to give him enough money to retire in luxury. Shin immediately rises, unwilling to cut a deal with Do-woo. He turns to leave until she stops him short.
Kyung-ah says that she had been acting as Do-woo’s representative up until this point. What she will say next is her own deal, independent of Do-woo: She’ll offer 49 billion won for the land. Shin sits back down.
He’s not interested in negotiation; all he wants is to fulfill the promise he made to himself to rid the world of Do-woo. He takes her up on the offer, however, and brings the farming group president to sign the contracts selling the land for an amount that would enable the people to build their apartments, schools, and health center.
Meanwhile, things are also looking up for Kyung-tae, who meets with the prosecutor. The court has received thousands of messages criticizing them for imprisoning “the guiltless Mazinger Hunter,” and the internet is full of pro-Kyung-tae support, who believe he is being wrongly held.
The prosecutor says he will seek a prison term of 1 year and 6 months. That won’t work for Team Shin, and their lawyer answers that they’ll deal with this lawfully, then, in the courts.
Jae-myung intercedes to point out that if they go to trial, people will keep talking, saying Myungdoshi’s developers lied and that the former mayor’s death was suspicious. The prosecutor asks if he’s trying to threaten him, to which Jae-myung feigns ignorance and merely says that dragging this out will be bad for everyone involved.
The planning committee is facing difficulty now that they’re out of money, so Kyung-ah proposes one last tactic — to issue new stocks. It’s a drastic maneuver and they would still need to find someone willing to take them, but Kyung-ah answers that she can get 250 billion won from a source she can’t reveal yet.
Do-woo tells her to do it, and issue a 40% increase in stocks. Combined with Kyung-ah, Do-woo has more than 50% of shares, so they can make this decision without a stockholders’ vote.
Mayor Oh bursts into the meeting with news — the farming group sold their land. Some group called MOK bought the entire thing for 40 billion won.
Do-woo slowly turns to look at Kyung-ah, and guesses that she knows who that is. She does, and returns his chilly look a little nervously. She replies, “Master of Korea.” They were the group she was going to get the funds from for the stock increase, and she asks if he still wants her to proceed. Do-woo tells her to take care of it, and his response (or perhaps lack of one?) frustrates Kyung-ah, who seems to have been bracing herself for more.
Do-woo leaves to meet with Eun-soo, who has arrived per his promise to show her the land. Eun-soo looks at him hesitantly, then brings up Mun-ho and Kyung-tae, describing them as her friends. She asks him to let them go.
Do-woo either pretends not to know who she’s talking about or really can’t be bothered remembering their names, because he says he doesn’t know who they are, and chides Eun-soo, “Don’t make friends. They’re just using you. See, even now you’re asking me this because of them.” Eun-soo reminds Do-woo that he is the one who had them arrested, but he brushes her worries aside and takes her out on his motorcycle.
Shin arrives at Chae’s home and looks around for Eun-soo, and is told by Myung-sun that she moved out to live with Do-woo. This shocks Shin, and when he enters Chae’s study to talk with him, he can’t get past his uneasiness, ignoring Chae’s good mood.
Chae offers Shin a job: “You said you wanted to destroy him.” He offers Shin the CEO position of the MOK fund, and lists the numerous benefits of such an arrangement. The group could use an American lawyer and a guy like Kyung-tae — heck, he could even hire Mun-ho. They bought the farm land and will buy up the newly created Chae Dong stocks. And last but not least, this would drive Do-woo crazy.
Shin regards Chae a little suspiciously. Chae tells him, “There are only two names he remembers properly. First is his sister. The second is you.” Therefore, he’s in prime position to deal the deathblow: “You’d tell him, ‘I, Kim Shin, bought the land you wanted to buy. Thirty percent of your Chae Dong is mine. Your wife brought me in, so her stocks will combine with mine.'”
Chae cackles, and Shin says, “If I do that, you’re saying it’ll drive him completely insane.”
Chae: “If he holds out, you say one last thing.”
Shin: “What is that?”
Chae: “Kim Shin, you have feelings for my daughter. Take her away. Take her from right in front of him.”
The old man takes Shin’s hand: “Then, that’s the end of him.”
But Shin yanks his hand back and jumps up, in both shock and disgust. Chae presses his point, that if Shin does this, he can take everything and all he has to do is give Chae Dong back to the chairman.
Shin sums up the situation succinctly:
Shin: “You’re saying, ‘Kill my son and give me back my company. Then I’ll give you my daughter. I’ll throw in some money too. Now say thank you.’ That’s it, right?”
Repulsed, Shin grabs a mirror and holds it up so Chae sees his own reflection:
Shin: “Your completely crazed son is in here. Can’t you see him? You should be able to see him clearly. It’s an expensive mirror.”
Seeing Shin’s reaction, Chae calms down and attempts a more persuasive tone. But Shin is so infuriated, he flings the mirror at the wall and storms out.
He tells his sister-in-law to pack her bags immediately and get the kids out before they’re infected by this corruption. As he says this, Chae comes out, genuinely not seeing Shin’s perspective, and wonders, “What’s the problem? I told you I’d give you money and the girl!”
Once Myung-sun and her girls are outside, Shin turns his fury full-blast onto Chae — and onto himself:
Shin: “Do you know why I’m so angry? For the briefest few seconds, your words sounded sweet, and I fought with myself, my heart! That’s why I’m angry.”
Chae: “This is the chance for us to both get our revenge on him. You’re the only person who can ruin his mind!”
Shin: “And I’m angry for thinking a person like you could change.”
Shin stalks out, leaving Chae shouting after him pathetically, “Leave the kids behind! Ajumma!”
Do-woo takes Eun-soo for a tour of his undeveloped land, explaining his dream city for his top 10% of society.
Eun-soo wonders, “After you make your dream city, what are you going to do?” Do-woo answers that it will take a long time for him to build it, but Eun-soo points out, “But it’ll end someday. What next?”
One gets the sense he hasn’t really thought that far ahead, which is unusual given how minutely he details his life and business plans. Do-woo cuts her short. “When that time comes, tell me what you’d like next. Then I can do that.”
The mood is light and pleasant, and he holds out his hand to Eun-soo, but his phone rings and interrupts their conversation. Eun-soo urges him to answer the phone, and his mood immediately darkens to hear his father’s blunt message.
Chae wants Do-woo to send Eun-soo home. He lies about the reason, determined to carry out his plan even without Shin: “Didn’t she tell you? The wedding is next month and there are many things to prepare. Will you do all that?”
Do-woo isn’t terribly surprised — his father is always trying to sell Eun-soo off for political gain — and asks who the guy is this time. But the answer has a different effect today, because Chae insinuates that it’s Shin, and that he can’t help it since the two kids are in love.
Shaken at this, Do-woo then asks Eun-soo in a roundabout way, “Do you like Kim Shin?” Even if the marriage bit was a lie, Chae is right about the Shin and Eun-soo liking each other, and Eun-soo can’t lie. So instead, she answers in a roundabout way as well.
Eun-soo: “He’s a good person.”
Do-woo: “There’s no such thing as a good person. Eun-soo, do you like him?”
Eun-soo: “He always reads my feelings first. He takes care of me, and I’m thankful to him. Oppa, he’s a good person. I wish you could know that.”
Do-woo forces himself to smile tightly, but he looks sick to his stomach. On the way home, he reverts to his former habit of closing his eyes as he speeds along. It’s freaky and intense and I half-expect him to fling the two of them over a cliff at any moment.
Thankfully, he doesn’t. They head back to the planning office, and he sends Eun-soo home with a chauffeur. She tries to protest, getting very unsettling vibes from her brother.
Next, Do-woo calls Shin, who’s having a lunch break with Jae-myung and Detective Kim.
Do-woo: “I hear you’re marrying Eun-soo. You may know this already, but I’m a little crazy. I don’t know which side of sanity I’ll shoot off into, or whether I should force Eun-soo back, or kill you. Which should I do?”
Shin gets off the phone and feigns stomach pain, pretending to head to the bathroom outside. He does this to evade suspicion and leave alone, because Do-woo had challenged him to meet one-on-one, saying, “Haven’t you considered it too? You and me, meeting without interference.”
Eun-soo, feeling increasingly uneasy, calls Shin but gets no response. She then calls Jae-myung, and the detective sees that the bathroom key is still hanging on the wall and realizes something’s wrong. She checks her phone — she’d put GPS tracking on Shin’s and Jae-myung’s phones when they’d been jailed — and tracks his movements, heading toward Myungdoshi. Neither she nor Jae-myung knows the roads very well, but Eun-soo can hear the location and asks her driver to take her there.
All the while, Do-woo is in his offices alone, tapping away on the tabletop in the dark.
When Shin pulls up, he calls Do-woo, who instructs, “Come inside. One of us has to die for this to end. Let’s do this in a comfy place.”
However, Do-woo makes no move to meet Shin downstairs. Over the phone, Do-woo guides Shin into a large, empty warehouse, while he takes a stroll in the office hallway and asks his employee for the time — it’s creepy-brilliant because I’m sure this is to establish his alibi. Outside, Eun-soo pulls up and sees Shin’s car.
Shin can’t find his adversary, but Do-woo prods, “Come a bit further. Can’t you see me? I’m waiting.”
Meanwhile, K waits, in the dark, with his gun.
When he has a clear shot, he fires but misses. Shin ducks, realizing this is a trap, and scuttles for a hiding place, leading to a game of cat and mouse.
This leads to a fistfight, where Shin sees with some surprise that this is not Do-woo, and he struggles to disarm K.
I haven’t commented on the directing in a while, but take a look at this shot. It’s the exact same hallway, about five seconds apart as the lights come on (as Chae joins the shadowy MOK investors). It’s not only the juxtaposition that is nice, but the transition from one to the other, taking the moment from dark and spooky to mundane.
I think we’re also seeing an acceleration in Do-woo’s downward spiral, because he is still refusing to give up the farming venture when everyone is suggesting he do it. Strictly speaking, not acquiring that land wouldn’t kill them — they could work around it — but Do-woo tells his planning team that he will stick with his plan because he chose it from the outset. I had felt Do-woo was so successful because he knew when to back down (see: taking the drinks and calling his associate “father” in an early episode). Chae crumbled because he let his pride get the better of him, whereas Do-woo knew when to gracefully (on the outside) concede. (See: the calm way he reacted to being fired from Chae Dong.) But his stubbornness about the farmland has turned into an obsession, linked together with Shin, and this suggests Do-woo’s not so different from his father.
Shin and Eun-soo: Cute. It’s also a relationship handled pretty subtly, since we are 18 episodes in and we haven’t been hit over the head with heavy-handed tactics. It makes sense that both have handled their attraction to each other with reluctance, and even now it’s still in its budding stages. I really like how this drama has developed Eun-soo, because she’s the stealth character who wasn’t hyped but who is hugely important to the plot, and she carries off this part extremely well. For once, we have an innocent, sweet kdrama woman who isn’t also a damsel in distress or Too Stupid To Live.
And when you think about it, it’s natural that they’d develop feelings for each other, because they share a certain similarity in that they’re both intrinsically nice, good people. Shin has taken on this revenge mission, but it’s a recurring theme that he’s too nice to pull it off, and while we’ve seen him toughen up over the years, he’s still a really decent person. Which is why I have hope that he’ll still have his soul when all is said and done, which can’t be said of some others.
The bike scene had an intriguing vibe to it, particularly after the missed handclasp between Eun-soo and Do-woo. The simple interpretation is that this signals the upcoming turbulence once Chae drops the (fake) bomb about Eun-soo’s wedding, but does it also signal a more significant, official break in their relationship?
I suspect some viewers will be gratified to see Chairman Chae brought down again. Some comments said he’d been redeemed too easily, and now we see that that was only a misconception Shin had harbored, which he realizes was a mistake when he is confronted with the old man’s malevolence. He’d been lulled into a false sense of familiarity and perhaps even affection, thinking the old man had reformed after being stripped of his money and business. But he sees that Chae is just as deranged as Do-woo, gleefully anticipating his son’s destruction.
I had wondered at the outset of this drama whether Shin’s revenge would be compromised by his sense of humanity — he may have to give one up to save the other — and while I still have two episodes to go, I can see that scenario working. He is horrified not only with Chae, but with himself for falling so easily into the trap, and I think it’s apt that he feels more angry with himself. That shattered mirror is as much Shin’s illusion as it is Chae’s sanity.
And his sanity IS going, as we see Chae cackling to himself after calling Do-woo and lying about Eun-soo’s marriage. After he hangs up, he calls for Yuri, then looks around as though realizing she’s not there. Perhaps he just forgot, but it could also be a sign that his own mind is waffling in and out. It’s fitting that the man who arranges for his son to lose his mind would also lose his own.
- Story of a Man: Episode 17
- Story of a Man: Episode 16
- Story of a Man: Episode 15
- Story of a Man: Episode 14
- Story of a Man: Episode 13
- Story of a Man: Episode 12
- Story of a Man: Episode 11
- Story of a Man: Episode 10
- Story of a Man: Episode 9
- 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