Ratings this week settled in at 12.8%, which isn’t too bad – though considering that its only big competition this week was MBC’s Light and Shadow, those ratings aren’t necessarily great, either. And with Dream High 2 airing next week, the chances for History of the Salaryman to become a ratings hit are slim. Ratings for this show have been uneven since the beginning – which is a bit strange, since most of the time we either see a steady (or massive) rise or decline. In this case, the ratings just sort of jump around week to week on a whim. The series high came during last week’s Episode 5 at 13.5%, though they dropped to 11.5% at Episode 6. And now we’re back at 12.8% – go figure.
I sincerely love this show for all its quirks and absurdities, which might be the very thing working against it as far as mainstream audiences go. I find myself wanting Salaryman to succeed all the more – precisely because it is such a breath of fresh air in the drama landscape. Either way, my fingers are crossed for next week. Let’s make some magic happen!
EPISODE 8 RECAP
Hiring Hang-woo as a general manager has got all of Chun Ha up in arms, and an emergency board meeting is called in order for Chairman Jin to explain his decision. The Chairman leaves the explaining to Hang-woo, who seems like he’s got a ready-made speech prepared about Chun Ha’s debt crisis. Does anyone know what it amounts to?
He clearly expects this question to be rhetorical, but right as he’s about to try and shock everyone with the amount, Bang beats him to the punch and announces it first. Hang-woo tries to go on with his presentation, but for all his ready-made rhetorical questions Bang has a real-world and quite correct answer – which is making me scratch my head. Since when was he so smart?
“After I ate the new drug,” Bang explains, “I seem to memorize everything after one glance.” So that’s how it is, and everyone – including Yeo-chi – is impressed. Hang-woo finally asks Bang if he knows how to solve the debt problem, to which Bang wittily replies that of course he doesn’t know if he’s never thought about the issue. The board room has a good chuckle.
Hang-woo’s plan, much to everyone’s chagrin, is to use Chun Ha’s insurance stocks to instantly pay off their debt. By making them public the prices will rise, effectively solving their problems and even making them a profit. No one can argue with his flawless math prowess, and the board members are more or less forced to reluctantly accept Hang-woo.
And just like that, Chun Ha’s stocks begin a meteoric rise. Hang-woo’s only complaint is that both he and Jang Ryang have the same position within the company, so it’s as though Chairman Jin has put two heads on the same dragon. He wants to cut one off. When Bum-jeung suggests that he bring Bang into his effort he scorns the idea, because he blames Bang for Hang-ryang’s death.
Hang-woo notifies the strategic resources department that they’ll be divided into two teams from here on out, and also uses the opportunity to assert his own authority. Things are already looking grim for Jang Ryang, who can’t seem to get a word in edgewise. Hang-woo even tries to chide Yeo-chi when she’s late, but she asserts her own authority by informing him that no general manager has ever given her orders, ever. If he tries to boss her around, it won’t fly.
Once she’s gone, Hang-woo uses the opportunity to get at both Bang and Bun-kwae – by ordering Bun-kwae to submit a written apology for Yeo-chi’s insubordinate behavior (because, as Hang-woo clearly stated, there’s nothing he hates worse than incompetence and insubordination). Bun-kwae is not happy about this, and levels a dark look at Bang…
…Which takes them straight to the training room, so that Bun-kwae can set to taking out his frustration on Bang via some judo throws. He clarifies that this is not about Bang being the only one invited to a private dinner with the Chairman. It’s not about Bang’s promotion or getting picked as employee of the month. It’s also not that he’s jealous… even though that’s exactly why he’s so upset.
Bang gets smart and decides to help himself, so the next time Bun-kwae tries to throw him Bang just latches onto his back like a monkey. Haha! It’s through an exchange in this awkward position that they both realize they’re from the same hometown, which also means that they went to the same (one and only) middle school.
Bun-kwae thought he was the bigger fish in this outfit, and he talks himself up like he was the toughest kid in class… only we find out that Bang wrote the book on tough at the same middle school before Bun-kwae even got there. In fact, the kid that Bun-kwae ‘served’ under, so to speak, used to be Bang’s errand-boy (this takes Bun-kwae down about ninety pegs). Theme music from The Godfather plays to let us know that Bang was nothing to be messed with back then.
This effectively means that, by middle school standards, Bang is way higher in rank than Bun-kwae is (by age as well). Bun-kwae tries to assert his authority as a sunbae due to their current office rankings, which Bang gleefully agrees to even though we know the rules have changed – and they know it too. Bang has now become Alpha Dog, and can hit a newly-submissive Bun-kwae at will. Ah, middle school nostalgia.
Now that he’s over his angst, Hang-woo tries to make amends with Woo-hee at the gym by teaching her how to properly punch a sandbag. (The fact that she has baby pink boxing gloves is adorable.) She’s intrigued by his mood change and goes with it, even when she holds the sandbag and ends up getting thrown to the floor with the reverberating shock from only one of his punches.
To make it up to her, he offers to hold the bag while she punches…
…And ends up with a bloody nose for his troubles. Ha! I like this version of Hang-woo, the one that pops up whenever he’s with Shin or Woo-hee. It makes him more fun and relatable and less – for lack of a better word – dull.
She’s not too broken up about causing him another injury, and coyly teases him before making her exit. She’s forgotten her bag, and Hang-woo gets a peek at the report inside – which is a “correlation of colorectal cancer proliferation and angiogenesis inhibitors”. I’m noting it because this episode made a point to note it, although the reason why is not yet revealed.
The tables have turned, and now it’s Hang-woo who gets invited to have a special VVIP dinner with Chairman Jin. No one is enthused about it – especially Yeo-chi and Gabi – but Chairman Jin seems to be firmly caught within Hang-woo’s web. He even offers Hang-woo Bang’s previous position of being responsible for Yeo-chi, which he flatly denies.
Though he tried to single out Bang for being the weak link in the Chun Ha chain earlier in the evening, now he turns his attention to Yeo-chi. He claims her to be the reason why the seat of the Vice President sits empty, and that Chun Ha’s future would be bleak if she were to take that position.
Chairman Jin seems unfazed at the underhanded insults to his granddaughter, and cheerfully announces that he’ll make an important announcement about the vice presidential issue tomorrow. Standing nearby, Gabi looks as concerned as everybody else.
The announcement from Chairman Jin comes via a projector to all of Chun Ha the next day, and it’s quite the bombshell. He declares that he’ll be holding a contest for who can submit the most distinctive innovative strategy for Chun Ha – and whoever wins, regardless of their rank within the company, will become Vice President.
Spit-takes and shocked faces abound from all the Chun Ha executives, but Bang’s eyes go distant and glassy with the future possibilities. You can see the hopeful wheels turning in his head, and the second Bun-kwae tries to dash his hopes Bang levels him a look that immediately shuts him up. Bun-kwae is effectively owned by Bang at this point.
Jang Ryang is completely taken aback by this news, but Hang-woo is there to fuel the fire by offering up a bet. Both men will give employees the choice to choose between them as team leaders, with the caveat that whichever team ends up losing must submit their resignations en masse. Game on.
Chairman Jin has been refusing Yeo-chi’s calls and visits since the announcement, which she doesn’t plan to take lying down. Gabi is having a time of her own (and though it’s not explicitly stated, it seems clear that she wanted the vice president seat for herself), and basically tells Yeo-chi to act just like she did before – by completely ignoring the company.
Yeo-chi acknowledges that she had no interest in Chun Ha matters before, however, “The me now isn’t that naive Baek Yeo-chi of then.” She decides against crying to Grandpa Jin, and declares that she’ll take the vice-presidential seat with her own strength. Gabi advises her to use Hang-woo for that purpose, because she can only snatch the seat from him if she can stay close by being on the same team.
The gang gets back together in order to decide which side they’ll be picking – Team Jang Ryang or Team Hang-woo. Bang has already set his mind to choosing Jang Ryang, although Bun-kwae makes it clear that he wants to go to Hang-woo’s team. Because Yeo-chi is there, Bang distracts her for the split-second it takes for him to hit Bun-kwae into submission – and it’s pretty funny that Bang has taken up the role of the parent in this situation. Bun-kwae is like the child saying that everyone else is going to Hang-woo’s side, but Bang isn’t having it.
Yeo-chi, however, ditches her old teammates and declares that she’s Team Hang-woo.
Everyone has gathered in the same restaurant, with Hang-woo and Jang Ryang in two different rooms as they await employees to join their respective teams. Bun-kwae does his best to try and sway Bang over to the dark side that is Hang-woo, saying that now is not a time for Bang to be so stubborn – and Bang replies by asking his dear friend to accompany him to the bathroom. Bun-kwae isn’t catching on, and Bang insists… and happily drags him off to get another beating.
Hang-woo proves to be the more trusted one amongst the employees, as no one shows up in support of Jang Ryang. Hang-woo is happy to toast to both himself and his full table, but does a spit-take when Yeo-chi shows up to announce that she’ll be joining this team.
With not even one person volunteering for his team, Jang Ryang attempts to drink away his sorrows. He doesn’t let his hopes get up too much at the sight of Bang and a black-eyed Bun-kwae, as he encountered a false alarm earlier with an employee who meant to go to Hang-woo’s room instead.
Bang has to keep the pressure on Bun-kwae in order for him not to bolt over to Hang-woo’s room as he declares that they’ll be joining Jang Ryang’s team. Jang Ryang is so grateful that he cries, because he was planning on submitting his resignation if no one showed up. Bang and Yeo-chi are now, officially, on two different sides of the war. Hang-woo isn’t quite ready to trust Yeo-chi yet, however, and because he thinks that she might act as an informant to Bang both he and Bum-jeung mutually decide to sequester their strategizing headquarters to his home.
Woo-hee is constantly harassed by her female colleagues at work, and Bang ends up witnessing their blatant attempts to get her fired. He saves her from one of the girls throwing coffee on her by ‘tripping’ into the woman and getting her to spill the coffee on herself instead – and then begins to act like one of the disgruntled callers that she handled rudely, claiming that he can identify her voice. This scares the women off, as they had previously all been in on the plan to peg Woo-hee as the one taking the calls.
She’s grateful for him saving her job, although he’s there for some data she has… along with a small favor. He needs to work on the innovation strategy, but the goshiwon he stays in frequently loses power and internet. He asks to impose on her by staying in her apartment, and she’s grateful enough to offer him her place until the whole project is complete. Aww.
It’s cohabitation all around, as Yeo-chi pushes past Shin to get into Hang-woo’s apartment early in the morning. She’s dressed to the nines and carrying a piece of luggage – all bad signs. Without a care she plants herself on Hang-woo’s bed while he sleeps and gets all close and personal… to which he wakes up from with a shock, and hastily tries to cover himself up for modesty’s sake. Ha!
She announces that she’ll be taking over his room until the proposal is complete, and begins unpacking her things on his bed. He asks her honestly if she’s some sort of gangster, to which she happily replies that she’s a not a gangster, she’s a team member. The funniest moment comes when Hang-woo leaps from the bed in only his boxers, and Yeo-chi hilariously reels in shock at the scandalizing sight.
Both teams end up working through the night, with Bang and Yeo-chi each falling asleep at the helm. With Bang, Woo-hee seems to take an interest in the project and takes over on writing when he falls asleep. He adorably made her another dinner earlier, so perhaps she feels like she’s repaying him.
On Yeo-chi’s end, both Hang-woo and Bum-jeung wait for the very moment she falls asleep to pull out their phones so that they can text each other mean remarks about Yeo-chi in secret. Ha! They’re like little kids, and are completely unaware when Yeo-chi wakes up to read some of their remarks – but they’re properly scared when the realization slowly dawns. Yeo-chi: “You guys are begging to die, huh?”
We cut to a clear dream sequence wherein Bang imagines himself as the winner of the contest, being awarded lavishly with praise and adoration. He happily accepts the position of Vice President amidst an outpouring of cheers, and kisses the award he’s been given over, and over, and over.
The real life scenario is much less pleasing – he’s kissing the bottom of Woo-hee’s foot instead. Ha! And ew. She’s completely unaware as she’s passed out on the floor, and Bang seems more occupied with what’s occupying his computer screen. He wakes her up to ask her if she made the report for him, which she did indeed. He wonders how she knew so much about the factory featured in the report, and she proves that she has the upper hand on the other team due to the fact that she worked for them once before.
Bang is overcome with happiness to see the completed proposal, and Woo-hee can’t help but smile too. Aww. Did she just do that for him out of the kindness of her heart?
Both Hang-woo and Bang have focused their innovation projects on a struggling Chun Ha factory in Incheon, but they’ve got two radically different ideas for it. Chairman Jin acknowledges that they’ve both emerged victorious from the initial round, and that they’ll be heading off against each other directly from now on.
Basically, Hang-woo wants to raze the factory to the ground and fire all the workers (bad) while Bang wants to save the factory and keep most of the workers (good). Chairman Jin doesn’t care one way or the other about the process, and cares only for the end result. There’s a knowingly competitive stare-go-round between Bang, Gabi, Hang-woo, Yeo-chi, and pretty much everyone else in the room.
The state of the factory is pretty rough, with labor strikes going on constantly outside. Bun-kwae notes that it’s like a war, which is an apt observation of their situation. With the gathering of their forces, it really does seem like war.
It seems like Shin has been planted among the disgruntled factory workers that Factory Chief OH GWANG tries to rally. Their cries are disparate and half-hearted, and Oh Gwang leaves them to meet with Bang, Bun-kwae, and Jang Ryang in an office. Their advice to save the factory is to cut fifty percent of the permanent working staff, and it’s advice that Oh Gwang does not want to follow.
Hang-woo seems to be trying to arrange a deal for the factory to get sold off into a distribution center’s hands, but in order to facilitate the deal he needs the cooperation of gangster/businessman PAENG-WOL, who keeps control of all the ports from Incheon to pretty much anywhere. (Is this the gangster we saw serving that overnight stint with Bang a while back?)
Shin explains that the only strange thing about Paeng-wol – besides his gambling and drinking habits – is the fact that he dislikes women. Hang-woo wonders if he’s gay, but Shin says it’s a superstition against them that has something to do with ships… either way, he gets his panties in a bunch if he sees a woman anywhere near his operation.
Cue Gabi giving Yeo-chi nothing but a picture of Paeng-wol, with nary a comforting word at the disgusted face Yeo-chi makes upon seeing his picture. It’s not said, but it seems that Yeo-chi is supposed to cause trouble with him, somehow. Regardless, she makes a grand entrance at the port in her fancy car, introducing herself to him and making sure to name-drop who her grandfather is.
Regardless of who she is, Paeng-wol is more upset that she’s a woman in his working space. She couldn’t care less, and hands him her business card with a suggestion that they move their conversation elsewhere. Bang, who ends up being nearby, sees her disappearing with the group of intimidating men.
We’ve known that Woo-hee’s boss is a complete dirtbag from the moment she returned to her job, but now we get to see him in action. She’s made complaints against him for sexual harassment before, which is oddly the reason why all the girls in the office hate her. He lays on the creepy as he tells her that any complaint she has won’t even be believed anymore, so she should just stay quiet and make it easy…
As it turns out, that oddly-named report that made its first appearance in Woo-hee’s had something to do with the story as Hang-woo ends up finding the same report on his desk days later. He knows who the real author is, and so he goes to Woo-hee’s place of work to talk to her about it. One of the terrible girls she works with redirects him to the data room, where he sees Woo-hee struggling against her boss’s forceful advances.
…But we don’t see whether he saves her or not. Ack! Is this show finally pulling a real cliffhanger on us?
Yeo-chi is getting some rough treatment at the hands of Paeng-wol’s minions, as he wants her gone and away with all her womany-ness and cooties. At least he appreciates and respects the storm of curses she cries out, telling his men that that’s the way to curse, if you’re ever going to do it.
But before we know it, Bang makes his grand entrance to save the damsel in distress. His weapon of choice? A broom. Against a good dozen gangsters. Oh, Bang.
This episode felt a little out of place for me, though that might be due to the split-up of the teams and the stronger focus on the corporate politicking. All of the corporate matters can be fun in small doses (that’s the way it’s been given to us so far) but this episode was a little lighter ont he character moments and much more focused on the corporate battle. I get it, because we are in a twenty-episode series and we do need some plot and conflict to help move us along. But I can still miss the carefree, fun times of episodes past.
It’s interesting how much Bang has changed since my first impression of him – he seemed so naive and bumbling, ready to jump when someone said jump and do whatever was needed of him. We saw him grow and change during his homeless stint, and we’ve also seen that he’s got a latent ability to kick some major ass. It’s a little strange to me, therefore, to see the switched power dynamics between him and Bun-kwae, and to hear a little more about his past. So Bang was the Big Fish in middle school, and that hierarchy has now impacted the way Bun-kwae answers to him. I love these scenes for the laughs, but part of me is left wondering what Bang was like as a kid and, even if he’s changed, why he’s almost maliciously mean now when it comes to Bun-kwae. With The Godfather music overlaying their judo-scene together, I get that Bang was sort of a gangster in middle school. So why are we only seeing this side of him now?
It’s such a small thing to gripe over, but it just rubbed me the wrong way. Especially since Bang knows what it’s like to be abused by those in power, so now that he has even a small amount of it he’s using it to literally abuse Bun-kwae. I might be reading into their scenes too much if the character turn was really just for the funny, but it just messes with my perception of what he’s capable of. A show that makes me wonder that much, at least, is still a winner in my book.