History of the Salaryman: Episode 11
This episode definitely ups the drama, and sacrifices nothing to do so. All of the conflict we’re seeing has been set up perfectly and believably throughout the first act of the series – so now that we’re getting some upped stakes, the requisite angst is inevitable. I didn’t expect to feel so much when History of the Salaryman had such a quirky and hilarious opening, but now that I do, I can’t help but be in love.
EPISODE 11 RECAP
Bang effectively puts a stop to the egging and escorts Yeo-chi outside, where Hang-woo and Bum-jeung are waiting on the other side of the gate.
He tries to explain the behavior of the men inside, but a hand motion from Yeo-chi stops him. “I’m fine,” she says. “No, saying I’m fine is a lie. I’m very mad. But I don’t know on whose account I’m mad. It’s not because of them… Anyway, it’s complicated.” She says all this with tears in her eyes, as though she’s realizing a truth about life and herself. She warns Bang to say no more to her as she leaves.
After wrapping his coat around Yeo-chi’s shoulders, Hang-woo turns to address Bang and his group. He tells them that they’ll never win, especially not once the police get involved. Chief Oh angrily replies that they’re not trying to win anything, they’re working to protect themselves and their colleagues.
Chairman Jin has been having some health problems as of late, having to constantly inject himself for an unknown illness. All the signs have been pointing to diabetes, but as he’s in the car with Gabi he suffers from heart trouble. She’s prepared for this, and shoves a pull underneath his tongue. Illness aside, he’s not keen on Hang-woo’s negotiation method (having the protesters beaten senselessly is considered negotiation?) and has his own ideas for solving the factory problem.
This takes him straight to the factory, where Hang-woo and Bum-jeung are currently trying to talk Chief Oh and his men out of the protest.
Hang-woo has tried to keep some civility by offering Chief Oh and his men plates of hot food, but they’re soon interrupted by Bang and Bun-kwae. Though they’ve both been officially fired from Chun Ha, they insist on being present at the meeting. (Bun-kwae explains their role between Chun Ha and the factory as one of a matchmaker. Ha.)
Chief Oh starts to name his requests, but he’s soon cut off by Hang-woo, who claims that he’s not there to grant any requests. He’s only offering them positions in the newly-relocated Vietnam factory if they leave now, which doesn’t seem like a bad proposition to some of the men. Chief Oh, however, is enraged at the prospect.
Outside, Paeng-wol’s minions break through the walls and set to beating a path through the factory. They even go inside the makeshift infirmary and start to beat the protesters who are sick and suffering from influenza.
Hearing the ruckus outside, Bang turns a disbelieving eye to Hang-woo. “You tricked us?” he asks, and to Hang-woo’s credit he seems genuinely unaware. That’s because this particular beating spree wasn’t ordered by him, but by Chairman Jin, who enters the room with police officers. They have a warrant to arrest Chief Oh and the other protesters, and they’re all dragged away.
It’s kind of admirable that Chairman Jin was able to do what Hang-woo has been wanting to do – get Chief Oh and all the other protesters out – with barely a wave of his hand. It makes Hang-woo the good cop by comparison, because at least he was trying to come to some sort of deal. It’s this ‘negotiating’ mentality that Chairman Jin chides him for, saying that trying to enter into a dialogue with these people was a useless endeavor.
Chairman Jin’s forces are taking over the factory, and as Bang is being dragged away his only concern is for the medical product that Chief Oh has been working on. It’s Woo-hee’s job to protect it, and she’s able to sneak the data out by flashing her Chun Ha badge.
Once she’s home, she places a call to Yeo-chi. Bang’s been arrested, and she knows Yeo-chi is the only one with the power to get him out. Yeo-chi: “So?” Slightly taken aback, Woo-hee asks plainly, but Yeo-chi puts up an unaffected front and tells Woo-hee that if she’s so concerned, she can help Bang herself.
It’s clear that Yeo-chi’s actions are only out of indigence – not because she’s mad about the egging, but because she’s mad that Bang got himself into this whole mess in the first place. She thinks that maybe a little prison time will do him some good.
All the protesters are cooling their heels in jail, with Shin included. It’s not long before Bang recognizes him, and he threatens to expose Shin as the Chun Ha mole if he doesn’t tell him where the blueprint is. Bang knows he stole it, but Shin does what he always does at the plight of his fellow man – he ignores it. Uuurrgghh. I don’t know why, but Shin is the only character in this show that really just makes my blood boil. They can give him all the sick children in the world, it still doesn’t make him any more sympathetic. He could at least try to care about all the harm he causes to other people.
And of course, Shin is the first one to get released, which puts him right out of Bang’s grasp. Next we see him, he’s in Hang-woo’s apartment, with Hang-woo reading in the paper that all protesters have been released from jail with the exception of Chief Oh. Shin asks about that permanent company position Hang-woo has been promising him, but it doesn’t seem like he’ll be getting it any time soon. Well, good, I say.
Bang has outfitted both him and Bun-kwae with sandwich boards and signs so that they can protest outside of Chun Ha, but Bun-kwae has had enough. He gives up, leaving Bang alone to face Chairman Jin.
He does so without fear, making it past the security in the lobby to drop to his knees in front of the Chairman and his entourage. He pleads with him, explaining that the factory people worked only for the sake of the company, and that to fire them like this is unfair. If Chairman Jin could give them one more chance… Except that Chairman Jin firmly answers that a chance is not given, it’s made. If Bang feels so wronged, then he should create his own chance and succeed.
Bang is dragged away, and Chairman Jin wonders who released him from prison. Raising her hand, Yeo-chi says, “I did.” Ha.
Yeo-chi takes Bang out for some jjajangmyun in an effort to try and talk some sense into him. She wants him to give up this whole protest thing, claiming that she’ll find him a job elsewhere. Bang flatly refuses, prompting her to wonder why it is that he cares so much. He admits that he doesn’t know why, but it might be because all of this is just too unfair. If she hates it so much, she doesn’t have to concern herself with his business any longer.
Indignantly, she says fine – she won’t bother anymore. But before leaving, she shoves his face into his bowl. Funnily enough, he keeps eating.
We go from a montage of Bang standing alone in a crowd with all his protest gear on to a party where Hang-woo is being congratulated… because he’s now vice president of Chun Ha. Whoa. I guess Chairman Jin was pretty serious about that contest.
Yeo-chi is singing a sad ballad that describes a farewell, and it seems to be in response to her last encounter with Bang. Woo-hee is present, and keeps her eyes on Hang-woo… who only has eyes for Yeo-chi. Iiiinteresting.
In response, Woo-hee just starts downing all the drinks put in front of her. When one of her colleagues asks if she has a boyfriend, she loudly replies that she doesn’t have one specifically for Hang-woo to overhear. She doesn’t get the response she intended – quite the opposite, actually – and has to sit through more of Hang-woo’s intent staring.
Once outside, Yeo-chi undergoes her favorite drunk past time – calling Bang. He isn’t answering, and Hang-woo swiftly appears to forcibly take her phone from her. It’s with dismay that he sees that all her recent calls have been to Bang, and he orders her to be taken home immediately.
With a horror movie-like quickness (and horror movie-like music), a drunk Woo-hee appears in Hang-woo’s personal space so that she can call him out for being a bad guy. Why did he summon her to the main office anyway? And why is his cologne so strong? Is he trying to seduce someone?
He’s well aware that she’s interested in him, and she’s aware that he’s aware, and because of all those complications she asks to be reinstated back to her old job. “I don’t even want to see you for a minute, a second, so reinstate me,” she slurs. He simply replies that she can do as she wants… but then she faints, and he’s the only one there to catch her. Haha. Again?
Even Hang-woo can’t believe that this is all happening again, as he’s having to piggyback her drunk bottom back to her home. Hang-woo: “Someone please explain this to me! Why in the world am I doing this right now? Why? WHY?!” Ahaha. And his face, when he sees the amount of stairs that he has to climb with her on his back, is just priceless.
What he doesn’t know when he takes Woo-hee into her apartment is that she has a house guest – and it’s Bang. He’s there temporarily since she’d offered him her place when he was ousted from his goshiwon. He stays hidden out of sight while Hang-woo tends to Woo-hee.
Hang-woo almost discovers Bang via his luggage, but ends up distracted when Woo-hee asks for water. It sobers her up a bit, and she’s genuinely surprised to see Hang-woo in front of her when she comes to.
“What you said earlier, did you mean it?” Hang-woo asks. She explains that she just isn’t sure what her duty is at her new job. That seems to be a legitimate problem, so he offers her a legitimate solution: how would she like to be chief secretary to the vice president of Chun Ha, with an official rank as section chief?
She doesn’t even blink before agreeing, and he pokes fun at her for not even thinking about it. Why would she think twice about a promotion, she replies? So she’s happy, he’s happy, and he tells her that from now on, if she ignores a call from him, he’ll consider it a dereliction of her duty.
Woo-hee is overjoyed, and then surprised to know that Bang has been in her apartment the whole time. He admits that he just wanted to wash up before he goes, although she insists that he stay with her. He doesn’t have anywhere else to go, but he objects to imposing upon a single woman. They go back and forth, though Woo-hee eventually wins him over.
Giving her a sad look, we hear Bang in voiceover asking her not to take the new job as Hang-woo’s secretary. Instead he just says, “You’re an angel.” She smiles cutely, and they go to sleep. Aww.
The next day he’s back to protesting, although he overhears employees on their way to work talking about Hang-woo’s inauguration ceremony that day. He flashes back to Hang-woo’s words that he’ll never win the fight, and makes a decision – by taking off all his protest gear, and heading into Chun Ha.
At the ceremony, Chairman Jin has some troubles presenting Hang-woo with his certificate because he can’t even tell which side has paper on it. Oh dear. When he’s eventually able to hand it over, the round of applause gets interrupted by a voice from the back: “Congratulations!”
It’s Bang, and he strides forward with purpose before slamming Hang-woo with a pilfered bouquet. He can’t chase out someone there to congratulate him, right? Oh wow. Go Bang!
He turns to address the crowd, admonishing them for just going along with everything so blindly. Chief Oh is in jail, and the person who sent him there gets an award. What sort of injustice is that? Turning back to Hang-woo, he tells his nemesis not to get too comfortable. He’s just getting started. (Win!)
Bang even goes so far as to tell Chairman Jin that he’s disappointed in him. Among the crowd of people gathered there, who would lay down their lives to work for him? No one, because Chairman Jin fires everyone who would. Yeo-chi looks on with pride as Bang tells the executives present that it’s their job to tell the Chairman when he’s done something wrong, yet no one does.
As he’s being dragged away, he calls out, “My name is Yoo Bang. Yoo Bang! Make sure you remember today!” And Chairman Jin suddenly looks very sick as the world blurs around him. Everyone is a witness as he stumbles, though he tries desperately to keep himself up. He fails.
We find him in a doctor’s office next, and things aren’t looking good for Chairman Jin, as he’s in danger of losing his sight completely if he doesn’t take a break. His heart is in bad shape too, but this is all something that Chairman Jin has long been aware of. “Dying is not the issue. Before I die, I have so many things I need to resolve.”
Despite nothing being wrong with his leg, Chairman Jin wants a cast put on it – probably so he can lie to everyone about what caused him to topple over at the ceremony. Despite his efforts, however, Gabi overhears. When he later asks her about who’s most qualified to train Yeo-chi as a successor (he’s got to start thinking of the future now), she suggests Hang-woo. Even though he declined that same offer before.
Because she’s now aligned herself with Bum-jeung (and thus Hang-woo), Gabi goes straight to them to report the secret Chairman Jin wants to hide – that he’s lost his vision. She knows that he’ll be asking Hang-woo to aid in training Yeo-chi as a successor, even though Hang-woo again scoffs at the idea. She urges Hang-woo to think again, because he can’t refuse Chairman Jin a second time.
She lays it out flatly, by explaining that Chairman Jin will never leave Chun Ha to anyone who isn’t family. So if Hang-woo wants Chun Ha, he’ll have to hold onto Yeo-chi, because the company will come with her. Hang-woo still seems reluctant, to which Gabi asks, “By chance, are you afraid you’ll fall in love with Yeo-chi?” If that’s not what he’s afraid of, then she doesn’t see the issue. She’ll handle convincing Yeo-chi.
When she leaves, Hang-woo wonders aloud whether Gabi is really on their side. Bum-jeung, clearly under Gabi’s spell, claims that he has the situation totally under control. Methinks he’s severely underestimating Gabi’s ambitions.
With the product sample that Woo-hee managed to save from the factory takeover, Bang plans to start a business. Even without Chief Oh or the blueprint, he’s going to find a way to get investors interested. Woo-hee wonders if such a thing could happen, to which Bang replies with the same line that Chairman Jin told him – that chances aren’t given, they’re made. He’s going to make his chance.
Woo-hee pledges to help him however she can. They set to their first job – marketing – and set up an amateur photo studio for the medical product. It’s not going so well, and to make the product more marketable Woo-hee gets the bright idea that she should model with it.
They end up having an adorably impromptu photo shoot, wherein Woo-hee even gets dressed up in her modeling finest. These two really do have a fun, comfortable chemistry with each other. Eventually Bang just starts taking all sorts of pictures, some with him in the same frame as her, except when she looks at the viewfinder she sees that he’s (mostly) taken pictures of her chest and legs. HA!
Both of them end up getting really cozy, and they dial it back a bit once they realize what’s going on. Still, aww.
When they’re working on the project together later, he even smiles at her in that I’m-smitten way. Oh dear.
As fate would have it, Bang ends up in a cab Bun-kwae is driving. (It’s his post-Chun Ha job.) Bang looks and acts like a big shot, and he orders that Bun-kwae drive him to the bank so he can meet investors. They bicker a little bit back and forth as Bun-kwae waffles on whether he should be envious or not.
Bang is turned down flat by the bank because he doesn’t have a completed project to show them. He ends up back in Bun-kwae’s cab, and goes to his next destination: Jang Ryang, who’s started his own investment consulting company. How lucky!
Despite growing closer as companions during the competition, Jang Ryang isn’t too keen on helping Bang out. Not because he doesn’t want to, but because the idea isn’t very good (without a completed product and all). Who would invest in him?
The moment Bang leaves, Jang Ryang bows to a man who’s been sitting in the office the whole time…
…And it’s Chairman Jin! Dun dun dun! Turns out that they were discussing Yeo-chi as a successor before Bang came, and now Chairman Jin asks Jang Ryang how well he knows Bang. Seeing as how Bang was the first person to ever lecture the Chairman to his face, he can’t be a normal fellow. Jang Ryang is at a loss for words on how to describe Bang, as he’s not average, but not quite extraordinary either.
Chairman Jin wants Jang Ryang to keep a close eye on Bang in order to put his skills to the test. Also, if he’s rested sufficiently, it’s time for him to return to the company. Jang Ryang seems pleasantly surprised, and whether he does or does not notice that Chairman Jin seems blind as a bat is unknown.
Yeo-chi misses Bang, and is dismayed when she doesn’t find him protesting outside Chun Ha’s doors. She ends up overhearing a conversation between custodians about a rumor going around… that her grandfather might have gone blind.
This takes us to his office, where Gabi attempts to get him to sign a form. He really can’t see a thing, and it’s pretty evident when he knocks over a glass. Gabi is lightning quick to ‘realize’ it (as this is something she already knew), and she grasps his face in her hands while desperately asking him to look at her. He can’t. He turns the tables as he grabs Gabi, telling her that no one can ever know about his sight, not until the day he dies.
Yeo-chi has been watching this conversation from the doorway, and Gabi sees her right before she runs away.
She finds Yeo-chi outside Chairman Jin’s office, and tells her that she has to harden her heart. The only people that can protect the Chairman are her and Yeo-chi. With tears in her eyes, and very much like a lost child, Yeo-chi asks Gabi what she can do to help.
Gabi explains that this secret can’t get out – not with bloodthirsty executives who’ll go crazy about succession if they find a weakness in the Chairman. Pulling Yeo-chi into an embrace, Gabi assures her, “Until you take over the company, I’ll help. Let’s be strong.” Yeo-chi cries in her arms, and Gabi’s look is unreadable.
Yeo-chi goes to her grandfather in his dimly-lit office, and he asks her for a dance. It reminds her of when she was young, and how he taught her to dance – which cues us into a flashback of the event, which cues me into a mess of tears. Something about it is just so sad, which is only made worse when we flash forward. “I also taught your mom how to dance,” Grandpa Jin says. “Today, I miss my daughter very much. Yeo-chi, do you still blame your grandfather?” He doesn’t even give her a chance to respond. “That’s right. You should continue to blame me. To you, even if I had ten mouths, I have nothing to say. I’m sorry, Yeo-chi.”
She grabs onto him, sobbing. “I’m sorry, I did wrong,” she cries. “I don’t need anything. I only need you.” Awww. She’s just a little girl clinging to the only family she has. He lets her cry this time, but tells her that she can’t cry in front of others. She can’t be seen as weak.
And Gabi watches from the doorway, with tears in her eyes.
On Chairman Jin’s orders, Jang Ryang decides to offer Bang some advice. Since Bang needs an investor, Jang Ryang suggests the gangster, Paeng-wol. As it turns out, Hang-woo stiffed him over the factory incident and now they’ve become enemies, which means that Bang and Paeng-wol would share a common enemy. That’s the first reason Jang Ryang suggests, with the second being that Paeng-wol wants to rise in status and has the money to spare, and the third being that Paeng-wol has such strong ties to Chinese corporations that selling overseas would be a breeze.
Bang decides that he’ll do it. He’s going to go by a war stratagem and just see Paeng-wol as a chicken who lays golden eggs. And by god, Bang is intent on making him lay those eggs.
At a private dinner with the Chairman, Hang-woo is asked again about training Yeo-chi and is even given a contract that she’s written (wherein she promises to obey all orders from Vice President Choi Hang-woo). Hang-woo is still unconvinced, and claims that no one would believe that Yeo-chi could change from only one piece of paper.
Chairman Jin has a nearby door opened, revealing a primly-sitting Yeo-chi. She formally asks Hang-woo for the favor of teaching her, and even bows her head. He’s shocked, we’re shocked. This is getting good.
Gabi seems intent on their marriage, as she later uses her flirting powers on Bum-jeung in order to get him to follow her line of thinking. While she works on convincing Yeo-chi, his job will be to focus on convincing Hang-woo. In voiceover, we hear her think that as long as she knows Hang-woo’s secret, it’s Bum-jeung and Hang-woo who are in danger.
With the help of Bun-kwae and his cab, Bang devises a scheme to get Paeng-wol to invest in his company. Following Paeng-wol’s car closely, Bang waits for the perfect opportunity – and finds it when Paeng-wol’s driver leaves him asleep in the back. Bang hijacks the car with the gangster/businessman in it, while Bun-kwae hijacks the driver.
When Paeng-wol wakes up, he’s surprised to find himself near the ocean. He’s slack-jawed when he sees Bang, “Did you… kidnap me?”
Bang simply replies that he has something he needs to tell him, and smiles.
I love that each character seems so thought out and purposeful, with no one being extraneous to the story or there just for eye candy’s sake. Everyone has layers, which I know I knew about this show… but I’m still somehow surprised every time I get surprised.
Like I mentioned earlier, aside from Shin, there’s really no one to hate in this show. And even then, my dislike of him is probably well and above the average. Hang-woo is clearly our hero’s foil, but he’s so much more than a villain. A lot of shows seem to forget that villains are people too, and don’t allow them to have Normal People Moments like smiling, laughing, or doing good deeds (like piggybacking Woo-hee home after a drunken bender). The fact that Hang-woo is ultimately out for nefarious ends sort of gets put on the back burner when we realize he’s not all bad. The moment that really cemented that thought for me was when Chairman Jin barreled into the factory – because, suddenly, Hang-woo seemed like the lesser of two evils. That view will probably change in the next few episodes, as Hang-woo is sure to do some evil deeds, but at least he’s been established as a human, rather than just being a villain.
Gabi has been a lot of fun since the beginning of the show because her ultimate goal seems to be clear… only that it isn’t. Just when I think I have her figured out, she surprises me by showing genuine emotion. When she watched Yeo-chi and Chairman Jin dancing with tears in her eyes, I was so frustrated that my perception of her was (once again) rattled. It’s certainly not a bad thing – on the contrary, it’s a great thing. I’m both upset that I can’t quite get a grasp on her, and glad that this show is doing such a good job in not allowing me to get a proper, clear-cut read on her character.
The same goes for pretty much every character, to differing degrees. It’s why I love this show so much, but it’s also why I wish they could get a grip on… well, more gripping cliffhangers. In the scheme of all the awesome we have going on, though, that’s a pretty minor gripe.
- History of the Salaryman: Episode 10
- History of the Salaryman: Episode 9
- History of the Salaryman: Episode 8
- History of the Salaryman: Episode 7
- History of the Salaryman: Episode 6
- History of the Salaryman: Episode 5
- History of the Salaryman: Episode 4
- History of the Salaryman: Episode 3
- History of the Salaryman: Episode 2
- History of the Salaryman: Episode 1