History of the Salaryman: Episode 10

It’s war, and it’s brutal. This was really a milestone episode, taking us into the next level of emotional involvement for our heroes as we delve deeper into the harsh realities and hardships they have to face. To say that Yeo-chi stood out especially is almost doing a disservice to the rest of the wonderful cast…

That being said, Yeo-chi really stood out this episode. She still manages to surprise me with her nuances, and just when I think I have her pegged down she proves me wrong. In short, she’s just awesome.


A knock-down battle breaks out between Bang’s forces and Paeng-wol’s, and it’s chaos and bedlam set to an orchestra tune. The same music plays as we cut to the much-quieter ballroom, where Hang-woo and Yeo-chi exchange not-so-veiled barbs during their dance.

She’s trying to get a rise out of him, and calls him out, believing that he’s never dated a woman before. Their dance mirrors their words as he retorts: “If I’m to line up all the women I’ve dated, it goes around the globe once and there’ll still be half of them left.” Ha! He knows it’s an exaggeration, but it was made to prove his point.

Yeo-chi doesn’t give up ribbing him, and eventually comes to the conclusion that he must like men. In order to prove his masculinity (and that he very much likes women), Hang-woo dips her during the dance. Talk about some sizzling chemistry.

Bang’s battle is a losing one, as the factory workers are swiftly overtaken by the gangsters with clubs. A hard hit to the back and he’s down for the count – and his eyes remain open as the camera stays on him, but by his body shaking we know he’s getting beaten and trampled. Ouch.

Back at the party, Woo-hee witnesses what looks like happy flirting between Yeo-chi and Hang-woo. When he takes notice she scurries away, and next we find her, she’s on kitchen duty doing dishes for the partygoers.

I love that she’s got this sort of anything-goes personality, as she displays no qualms about drinking leftover champagne from the glasses – and enjoying it. Hang-woo shows up to stop her, chiding her that drinking leftovers is filthy – but she defends herself by saying that it’s champagne that costs more than a thousand dollars a bottle. Where else would she ever be able to taste it?

Adorably, Hang-woo takes off his jacket and rolls up his sleeves to help her do the dishes. (Seriously. Awwww.) They take turns bickering at each other, and just as Hang-woo is about to offer her a ride her phone rings. She quickly leaves him alone with the dishes to answer – but instead of Bang, it’s Bun-kwae on the other end of the line. Bang’s been injured.

Yeo-chi is unhappy to find that she’s not the first one to visit Bang – that honor goes to Woo-hee. The hallways are filled with bloodied and bruised men from the fight, and Bun-kwae looks like he’s seen some better days, too.

The extent of Bang’s injuries isn’t really clear, as he takes off most of his braces while informing Woo-hee that he’s going to return to the factory. Yeo-chi overhears, wondering if Bang is so intent on saving the factory because he’s worried about his job. He shouldn’t be, since she can save him. Bang: “The factory workers. Can you save them all?” Yeo-chi’s face falls, because she can’t.

He’s intent on meeting with the chairman, and Yeo-chi at least offers to help with that. He can’t go in a hospital gown.

Chairman Jin is having a fancy party with most of the board members we’ve come to know, and the subject of the losing team inevitably arises. Jang Ryang tries to deflect, since it’s his job on the line, but Hang-woo and Bum-jeung aren’t about to let it go.

Bang crashes the party, immediately dropping to his knees in front of the Chairman. “Right now, the factory people are in the midst of developing a new product,” Bang explains. “Once that’s complete, the Incheon factory can turn into a surplus too.” He’s passionately arguing against the shut-down of the Incheon factory, but Chairman Jin won’t even hear it. He has Bang forcibly escorted out while everyone else looks on.

In a sour mood afterward, Chairman Jin orders Hang Ryang’s resignation and for the Incheon factory to be made into a warehouse, stat. Jang Ryang looks like he’s about to cry.

Jang Ryang is having to pack up his office after all his years of service to Chun Ha, and Bang can do nothing to help. Jang Ryang takes a positive outlook once he sees a picture of himself with his family – he lost what was most precious to him because he devoted himself to his work. Now, he can finally rest. When Bang gives an honestly sincere apology, it’s a nice moment that Jang Ryang offers him a reassuring pat on the shoulder. It reinforces the team mentality they’ve had going on.

Bun-kwae, meanwhile, drags Bang out to have a word. He told Bang that they should have stuck with Hang-woo, and now they’re in this mess. Bang pulls middle school rank when Bun-kwae attempts to hit him, but his manager is too mad to let that stop him. He hits Bang over the head for good measure and demands a solution.

Bang says there is only one. (Insert Highlander joke here.)

Cut to: Bang and Bun-kwae throwing themselves at Hang-woo’s mercy. Ha! They go from standing, to kneeling, to crawling, to hanging onto his pants as they beg him to spare their jobs. Bang’s only bargaining chip is to tell Hang-woo that he can disperse the factory blockade by convincing Chief Oh – and amidst the embarrassment of onlooking employees, Hang-woo finally relents. They can keep their jobs long enough to break the blockade.

However, we see Bang’s face immediately go serious once they’re away from Hang-woo. He’s got something up his sleeve.

The blockade at the factory entrance is like a border between two countries – there’s the side with Paeng-wol’s minions, and then the side with the protesting factory workers. Bang and Bun-kwae make it through under the pretense that they’ll get Chief Oh to come out and end the protest, but Bang’s got the opposite idea.

The reason he did all that begging to Hang-woo was to buy Chief Oh some time to develop that brilliant medical product Shin stole the blueprints for, since that’s now the only way they can save the factory. Bun-kwae wasn’t let in on this plan, and has to be roped back in by Bang when he threatens to defect. Now, instead of being at odds, Bang and Chief Oh are working together.

When Hang-woo calls for a progress report, Bang is all smiles as he says that Chief Oh has requested five days before he gives up the factory. Hang-woo believes Bang’s deception, but gives them three days.

Bum-jeung doesn’t trust Bang, and it becomes clear that Hang-woo is operating under the assumption that Bang is incapable of pulling a ruse. Boy, are you going to be in for a surprise.

Meanwhile, Jang Ryang hands in his resignation letter straight to the Chairman, who knows what Jang Ryang must be feeling inside – fury. If he isn’t feeling fury, then he isn’t human, though Chairman Jin claims that a lack of fury was what cost Jang Ryang the competition. The former employee gives his last bow to the Chairman with tears in his eyes.

And again, we see Chairman Jin give himself another injection once he’s alone.

The three negotiation days have passed, and Hang-woo decides to retaliate against Bang’s inaction by enforcing sanctions on the factory. Knowing in advance that water and electricity would be the first to go, Bang and Bun-kwae stay behind to shore up the fortress wall and use one of their last remaining opportunities to freely leave the factory in order to go on a grocery and gas trip. Chief Oh has a temporary generator that he can use in the meantime to try and develop his product.

I know this is all based on a series of battles from Chinese history, but it still surprises me how much everything really looks like a real war.

Bang and Woo-hee meet in order for her to hand over some data Chief Oh requested. She has faith in the medical product, and offers the help of one of her sunbaes who’s been chasing her around since college. This gets them on the topic of Woo-hee’s dating life. She laments that she was always the one to get dumped, and wonders if she’s just got one of those faces men get tired of. She gets all up in his face to ask the question, which gets Bang all flustered.

He suddenly claims that he can’t help himself, he’s suffering from the side effects of the medicine, as he leans in for a kiss…

…And Woo-hee, calmly and coolly, takes off her shoe. She’s preparing to slam Bang’s hand with it in order to see if he laughs as a side effect. Haha! Bang suddenly declares he’s fine, he’s totally fine, and him and Woo-hee share a laugh over it.

Yeo-chi is happy to sit between them when she finds the two of them having such a good time, though they’re interrupted when Bang gets a call. It’s from his landlord at the goshiwon, informing him that he’s days late on his rent and all his stuff has been thrown out onto the curb. Woo-hee is quick to offer her apartment to Bang – and when he accepts, it looks like Yeo-chi is using all her willpower not to just burst.

This leads all four leads into an awkward elevator ride with crossed love lines all over the place. Hang-woo is dismayed to learn that Woo-hee was planning on going to dinner with Bang, and Yeo-chi puts in an effort to at least keep their dinner from being too intimate by making it a group event.

Now that Yeo-chi is paying, Bang quickly asserts that Woo-hee had suggested meat for dinner (meat being, of course, the most expensive option). Woo-hee deflects her appetite to whatever Yeo-chi wants, while Hang-woo pipes up that he likes meat, too (he’s operating under the assumption that meat is what Woo-hee wanted). Bang: “That’s what I’m saying! My wish is to die laying in meat too.” Ahaha. Funniest elevator scene ever.

Once at the restaurant, Bang is happily grilling meat. He picks out what he describes as the most delicious looking piece, “I learned from my father that it should be given to the person who is more precious.” As he holds it up, both Woo-hee and Yeo-chi blush and smile, clearly expecting him to give it to one of them…

…Except he pops it right into Hang-woo’s mouth instead. Haha! My stomach hurts from laughing. Especially Hang-woo’s facial expression, which is just priceless. Bang makes a heart with his arms to signify his love for Hang-woo while the two girls comment on how handsome Bang looks while he grills. In an effort to be the handsome one at the table, Hang-woo drops a whole slab onto the grill. Yeo-chi calls him out – he’s never grilled meat before, has he? He quips back that he’s sure she’s never grilled either, and I love that she honestly affirms that she never has. But that’s why he should leave it to the pros. I feel bad for Hang-woo’s damaged pride.

Bang has been able to sneak in that sunbae of Woo-hee’s on the lie that he’s Cheif Oh’s younger cousin. Shin has been watching everything, though, and reports back to Hang-woo that he’s been tricked – Bang is only stalling for time. Hang-woo gets his confirmation in a phone call to Bang, and he says that the negotiation period has ended. Bang will be punished as the leader of the strike.

This is all just as Bum-jeung said, but Hang-woo is still in disbelief. With all his smarts, he couldn’t foresee Bang being able to out-smart him. He calls in the big guns in retaliation.

The big guns are, of course, the actual police force. They come ready to handle a riot, with shields and helmets and sheer numbers. Bang and his ragtag group of factory protesters look like they’ll be no match for them, but they stand their ground even as tear gas is fired into the fray. Bang links arms with Bun-kwae and his fellow man against the coming onslaught, and there’s just something about this moment that’s incredibly touching.

The battle between protesters and the police has brought the attention of the media, which isn’t the best publicity for Chairman Jin to have. He watches the news coverage with Yeo-chi and Gabi as the camera focuses on a man undergoing a three-day hunger strike – and it’s none other than Bang.

He holds up Chairman Jin’s autobiography, asking the Chairman to go by the words written inside.

Yoo Bang: “Chairman. Just because they didn’t earn money, you can’t just throw out your family. To these people, their salaries are their food lines. If the company lives, they live. If the company dies, they die along with it too. So we are all one family. I am no democracy fighter and I’m nothing. But I really don’t think it is right to cut off people who are working diligently. With that devotion and effort put into axing the people here, we can use that to find a way for everyone to live and eat well together, Chairman.”

It’s a nice monologue, but it doesn’t move Chairman Jin one bit. Mostly because all that crap about corporations being families wasn’t even written by him, it was a ghost writer.

Chairman Jin calls an emergency meeting of Chun Ha executives, and Yeo-chi once again proves her merit as she poses a question to all the men gathered there. She feigns ignorance (or maybe she’s just being really honest) when she asks: “The deficit is severe, then why do you people here keep getting raises on your salaries? How come the dividends to the stockholders keep rising?” She clarifies again that she’s asking only because she’s genuinely curious. (Or is she?)

She even goes so far to say that if it were up to her, she’d rather cut a little of her salary to save the factory. Aww, Yeo-chi, I’m so proud of you. But Chairman Jin is quick to cut her voice of dissent off, and has her escorted from the board room. After she’s gone Hang-woo suggests his foolproof strategy: wait until payday. That’s when the protesters will be at their weakest.

The factory is out of water, and Bun-kwae offers the last of the food to Bang, who’s still on his hunger strike. There’s something about the image of him sitting there with nothing but the Chairman’s autobiography and his misery/resolve that just gets me.

Because of the blockade, no more food or water is being let into the factory, so all the wives, mothers, sons, and daughters of the workers inside are rallying at the gates, trying to get food in to their loved ones. Woo-hee is among them, and her luck is no better.

Woo-hee makes a run for it when she sees Hang-woo and Bum-jeung nearby, finding herself outside Yeo-chi’s car. Once she’s inside, Yeo-chi asks Woo-hee if the food she’s brought is for Bang. She doesn’t deny it but tries to hide it, which Yeo-chi understandably laughs at.

But when the tables are turned, and Woo-hee asks Yeo-chi if she’s there for Bang, Yeo-chi denies everything and huddles herself under the blanket of being the company owner’s granddaughter just there to survey the scene. Like Woo-hee, she’s not fooling anyone.

To all the men who are sick, hungry, and tired, Hang-woo gives them a perfectly persuasive speech over the loudspeaker. Operating under the tactic that dividing the enemy is the best way to defeat them, he entreats the protesters to think of their families waiting right outside the gates. He even offers those who choose to leave pension with their resignation, along with three months worth of wages. In response, many of the protesters put down their signs to take the offer.

Bang goes to the front of the crowd, standing between them and the iron gate separating them from their families. He offers a passionate argument for them to stay and fight the cause, but it only serves to cause more unrest.

Finally, Chief Oh arrives. He offers a stance opposite to Bang – that the men who want to leave should leave. He, however, promises that he’s going to stay until the end.

His wife is right on the other side of the fence, and she calls out to him that his mother is gravely ill and could die. Is he going to ignore that? In a touching moment, Chief Oh sheds tears but doesn’t give in. He even turns his back on his family for what he believes in.

Of course, Hang-woo had a plan for this all along, and uses the opportunity of the opened gates to send in tear gas and riot police.

Bang is helpless in the whirlwind of chaos, and he’s both shocked and dumbfounded at the gravity of what’s happening around him. Woo-hee and Yeo-chi remain on the sidelines, watching all but unable to do anything as defenseless men are beaten by the police and Paeng-wol’s gangsters.

Standing at a vantage point away from his army like a general, Hang-woo is triumphant.

Gabi really is an opportunist of the worst kind, strictly because she’s so cunning. With Jang Ryang being the bigger fish before, the scorn with which she used to ignore Bum-jeung is all but gone as she caters to his ego in her own, carefully-structured Gabi way. I get the feeling that whatever Bum-jeung is saying, even when he thinks he’s being daring, is exactly what Gabi wanted him to say.

She shows her hand, in that she knows the truth about Hang-woo’s father. Bum-jeung shows his by asking her to join him.

Unfortunately for Jang Ryang, he’s drinking alone when Bum-jeung and Gabi happen into the same restaurant. The power dynamic has now switched between them, so Bum-jeung takes every opportunity to stab at poor Jang Ryang’s pride – even going so far as to insist on paying Jang Ryang’s incredibly low food bill, like him getting fired has instantly thrust him into the deepest echelons of poverty.

Jang Ryang catches a break when Yeo-chi calls him from the grocery store. She’s either telling the truth in that she’s unaware of him being fired, or feigning ignorance as an excuse to get him in action so he can help Bang, his starving subordinate. With that, she effectively pulls Jang Ryang into what I hope will become a new team. (I love teams!)

Time is ticking for everyone at the factory. Bang is still resolute in his hunger strike, and Chief Oh isn’t much closer to completing his project without the blueprint. The person who has the blueprint, of course, is Shin – and he’s outside of the makeshift lab looking in. Maybe someone is having a change of heart?

Jang Ryang is able to get the girls in past the barricade, and by the time Hang-woo finds out, vital food, water, and medicine are already being unloaded from their car and into the factory. Yeo-chi catches a stumbling Bang who only seems to see Woo-hee standing there. Bang, you are breaking my heart.

When Yeo-chi pushes him away, upset that he didn’t even see her, Bang adorably replies that he saw her first. Aww. Like a mother hen, Yeo-chi immediately calls for water, taking into account that Bang is still on his hunger strike. He looks at Yeo-chi with sincerity and gratitude in his eyes. “Thank you. You are the prettiest right now of all the times I’ve seen you, Yeo-chi.” She scoffs, but she’s happy. “Do you see clearly now that you’ve starved for a few days?” Yeo-chi, win.

Behind the front lines, it really is like a war zone as Woo-hee gives emergency care to the sick and injured. Yeo-chi is conspicuously silent as she takes in everything, her gaze suggesting that she’s moved by what she sees. The men there are holding out despite being starved, frozen, and some of them have even succumbed to influenza.

Yeo-chi’s been able to skirt by behind enemy lines by hiding her identity as the Chairman’s granddaughter. Somehow word has gotten around of her true identity, which causes several men to storm the cafeteria where she is and demand that she apologize for everyone’s suffering. She doesn’t have a chance to defend herself with her notorious reputation, so everyone automatically thinks the worst of her. Using the food she bought for them, they pelt her with eggs and curses. Oh my goodness.

What’s more amazing is that she just stands there, taking all of it and saying nothing. It’s hard to know what she’s thinking when she’s got such a poker face on, but there’s a hint of vulnerability in her eyes that tugs at my heartstrings.

Thankfully, Bang finally arrives to put a stop to it. Looking like he can barely stand, he takes her by the shoulders to lead her away.


It was hard to recap this episode because of just how much was going on at once, with all the various factions fighting against each other and all the emotional moments that were delivered. Because this episode was truly the stuff of legend, leaving anything out seemed like a disservice. This is really an episode that needs to be watched rather than read, words won’t do it justice.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again: I love Yeo-chi. All of her earlier brattiness made it seem like she was immature, but quite the opposite is true – she’s the most mature, and although her riches have kept her a little naive, she’s so incredibly adaptable that that naivety hardly makes a difference. It’s strange now to look back only a few episodes ago, where she asked Bang why poor people are poor, because at the time she simply couldn’t fathom the idea of poverty. Now that she’s seen it and lived it there’s no going back, and I can’t say enough how much I admire how this show has handled her character growth.

Even in moments that would have a normal girl absolutely spitting venom in jealousy, Yeo-chi displays a surprising amount of tact and never takes it out on anyone. Once in a while you almost wish she would just show her weak side, though. I love that it was shown to us that Bang depends on Yeo-chi for her strength (and maybe takes it for granted, too) when they find him on his hunger strike. He caters to Woo-hee first because she has that aura of feminine weakness Yeo-chi doesn’t display purposefully, but it’s only because he knows Yeo-chi doesn’t need the babying. That doesn’t necessarily mean she couldn’t use it, as she really does take on the mother/leader role when she’s paired with anyone and always ends up taking care of others. It’s what really started endearing her to me in earlier episodes and what has made me fall head over heels for her now. Also, how awesome was she in that egging scene?

The cliffhanger wasn’t the greatest for how great this episode was, but precisely because this episode was so great I don’t even care if the ending seemed a bit rushed. Being about navigating the corporate jungle, it was a given that Salaryman would deal with issues like the disenfranchised workforce versus Big Money, but it’s how much heart they managed to inject into those interactions that still has me wowed. Putting Bang among the protesters and giving him a real conviction beyond selfish desire to help them was a fantastic move, and brilliantly sets up the future conflict he’ll have with Hang-woo, and all of Chun Ha.


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