History of the Salaryman: Episode 12
Sometimes it takes just one great moment to turn the tables and change our perception of the drama reality we’ve been given, and this episode had one of those great moments. History of the Salaryman is loud when it wants to be, but it’s in the subtlety that this show really shines – even though the very unsubtle visual gags and jokes were enough to have me crying from laughter during the first half of the episode. I just can’t heap enough praise on this show – it’s fun without being fluffy, and entertaining without being too slick. In short, it’s a textbook perfect drama.
EPISODE 12 RECAP
Paeng-wol seems to be pretty easygoing for a gangster, and ends up hearing Bang out even after he’s been kidnapped. Bang has done some research on his potential investor, and knows that Paeng-wol suffers from diabetes, giving him the perfect impetus to reveal the prototype for the new medical product: a blood sugar monitor for diabetics which doesn’t require blood to be drawn.
This is a huge plus to Paeng-wol, who claims that he’s used to being stabbed by knives but that he hates needles (ha!). Bang makes a good case as to why his product will hit the jackpot, and Paeng-wol seems to be biting. One of the more compelling points Bang brings up is that Hang-woo will be the one to suffer if this product gets off the ground, since it will have been made from the factory he so forcibly shut down.
Meanwhile, Chairman Jin is getting live updates from Jang Ryang. He’s showing a lot of interest in Bang’s activities, but wonders how Bang is going to get capital for a prototype that’s not even complete…
…Which Paeng-wol finds out at the same time, and he swiftly throws Bang out of the office because of it. Bang insists that he only needs a factory to get the product made, and that Paeng-wol only has to provide it. It’s still a no-go, though Bang vows that he’ll get that funding no matter what.
On Chairman Jin’s side, he confides in Jang Ryang that he’ll invest in Bang’s product if he can manage to get a factory. Jang Ryang wonders if Chairman Jin is being kind to Bang because he knows Yeo-chi is fond of him, though Chairman Jin simply replies that whoever ends up with Yeo-chi must have a superior skillset. In terms of that, Hang-woo has a much better chance.
We get to see Yeo-chi working diligently(?) under Hang-woo’s tutelage(?), which is a big strain for both of them. She gives him a report that he throws on the ground, claiming that she needs to re-learn her own language. She can’t even get basic grammar right.
She struggles to reign in her temper, and manages to keep using extremely formal speech even through extremely grated teeth. She even agrees to re-do the whole project, and has to kneel down to gather the papers in the middle of the conference room. Good god. Who are you, and what did you do with Yeo-chi?
Of course, once she’s outside, she curses the day Hang-woo was ever born. “I’m going to see that you suck my toes!” she grates out, stopping only when she overhears a group of employees whispering about Chairman Jin’s possible blindness. They scatter as soon as they spot Gabi wheeling him down the hallway, and Yeo-chi’s heart looks like it’s breaking once she realizes that her grandfather can’t even see her standing in front of him. He’s become completely blind.
Both her and Gabi exchange knowing looks, with Gabi’s gaze turning from sympathetic to sneering once she’s out of Yeo-chi’s sight.
There’s going to be a board meeting soon, where Chairman Jin is going to have to prove himself to a mass of theorizing executives. Gabi suggests that he do the conference via video, but Chairman Jin knows the sort of sharks he’s dealing with. He’ll have to use the board meeting as a chance to disprove their suspicions, because how he fares will be the turning point as far as Yeo-chi’s future succession goes.
Bum-jeung watches from the doorway, in theoretical plain sight (if Chairman Jin could see, of course). There’s a creepy moment as Gabi wraps her arms around the Chairman and tells him that he’s her one and only, all while keeping her eyes locked with Bum-jeung’s. It’s just as weird as it sounds.
Dead-set on getting Paeng-wol to give him a factory, Bang devises a way to sneak into his office by acting as a deliveryman for a painting. He reveals himself with a heartfelt plea: “Build me a factory!” to Paeng-wol’s utter surprise and dismay. There’s a hilarious visual gag as Paeng-wol and his minions chase Bang around the desk, looking like something out of a The Three Stooges movie. I love it.
Paeng-wol manages to throw Bang out, but Bang is nothing if not determined. So he literally begins to terrorize Paeng-wol, by going everywhere he goes to ask for a factory.
At the hospital:
And the sauna:
And, according to Paeng-wol, Bang has even been showing up in his dreams. HA! These sequences are so well-done and so tightly edited, and I’m still laughing.
To contrast the funny, we cut back to Gabi and Bum-jeung discussing their Chun Ha Takeover Strategy. Her devious plan is to get Yeo-chi and Hang-woo to marry, as that would cause Chairman Jin to change the will that he has locked away in a safety deposit box. But if he can’t see the will, he’ll be depending on Gabi as his proxy… and then they can do whatever they wish with it.
Even Bum-jeung is startled at her ambition, but Gabi is able to win him over with an embrace and a change in tactic, using her feminine wiles perfectly.
Gabi’s been really preying on Yeo-chi’s emotionally weak state as of late, and turns on the warm motherly charm the second she’s around Yeo-chi. She uses reverse psychology to suggest to Yeo-chi that Hang-woo is exerting his authority over her in an effort to tame her, and the effect works. Yeo-chi is determined to be the one doing the taming.
This effectively propels Yeo-chi to pay a visit to Hang-woo in the wee hours of the morning, brandishing her newly-finished report and her cutest, most formal tone.
In an effort to get Yeo-chi out of his apartment, Hang-woo starts to undress – claiming that he’s always naked at home. When he reaches to take off his pants, Yeo-chi reacts by pulling out her camera phone and leveling him in the middle of the shot. She thinks he’ll make a great addition to the company homepage, as all the female employees are sure to faint. Haha.
Knowing that he’s lost this one, Hang-woo grimly puts his shirt back on. There’s no way he’s going to get out of reading her report now, so he sits down to review it in full. By the time he’s done and about to tell her how much it sucked (even though it was readable this time), she’s fallen asleep on his couch.
She won’t wake up, and Hang-woo is forced to grudgingly carry her to his bed. He seems like a neat freak, so when Yeo-chi starts drooling in her sleep he tries to wipe her mouth – only to have her snore/spit in his face in return. Poor guy can’t catch a break.
Things take a serious turn when she murmurs the word “Grandpa” in her sleep. It’s almost as if Hang-woo forgot just who he was out for revenge on, but the look on his face tells us that he’s just been reminded.
Yeo-chi is woken up the next morning by a call from Woo-hee, who was only doing the job Hang-woo told her to do (by calling him at six a.m. every day). Woo-hee is understandably surprised to find Yeo-chi on the other end of the line, but isn’t really in a position to say anything about it.
On her way out, Yeo-chi spots Hang-woo on the couch. She seems pleased with the fact that he sacrificed his bed for her, and takes the opportunity to get an up close and personal look at his face… only to find that he’s awake, and well aware of her proximity. “I’ll make this very clear,” he says. “Don’t expect anything from me.”
Yeo-chi’s response? She gives him a hard pinch in the side. Ha! These two are a lot of fun.
Woo-hee shows up to work in an outfit that isn’t exactly indecent, but it certainly shows a lot of leg. She understandably draws the attention of every male employee in the lobby, which sets Hang-woo’s temper on fire. He really is the king of funny facial expressions, though, because that face he makes when he realizes the men downstairs can see up her skirt? Priceless. Literally priceless.
He jumps all over her once they’re in his office, demanding that she no longer wear things the size of his hand. He also chides her about missing the call this morning, though he presumably knows she talked with Yeo-chi instead. From now on, unless she speaks directly with him, the call doesn’t count.
It’s time for the board meeting, and all eyes are fixated on Chairman Jin. Miraculously, he does exactly what he set out to do – to disprove everyone’s suspicions about his blindness. He blames his leg (with the cast still on) as the source of his trouble, and in front of all those present, he displays the coordination necessary to pour himself a glass of water. No one can really doubt that he has to be able to see in order to perform a task like that, and the meeting is effectively over.
Yeo-chi is full of pride for her grandfather, who later tells her that he practiced the routine carefully. He wants her to remember today – because what millions of dollars couldn’t resolve, he managed to solve with only a bottle of water. Gabi, however, is upset to hear about the fact that he practiced… because it was something in his schedule that he kept from her. Uh oh.
Hang-woo and Bum-jeung have effectively been taken by surprise at Chairman Jin’s stunt. “An illness doesn’t turn a tiger into a cat,” Bum-jeung says, and it seems like an incredibly wise assumption. He’s right – they’ve been underestimating Chairman Jin so far.
With that in mind, Bum-jeung broaches the topic of marriage with Yeo-chi to Hang-woo. He can accomplish everything he needs to by becoming Chairman Jin’s son-in-law, though Hang-woo scoffs at this claim. He’s firm in his belief that he can accomplish whatever he needs to on his own.
Once Bum-jeung leaves, Hang-woo receives an unexpected visitor in the form of Shin. And from his facial expression, he’s not happy about it.
Shin is there to collect on a promise Hang-woo made to him about permanent employment at Chun Ha, although Hang-woo has no intentions on keeping that promise. He reminds Shin that he is in no position to ask for anything, and throws money at him along with some terse words.
It’s a shame for Hang-woo, since he’s just missed out on getting the blueprint for the project he’s been working on. Woo-hee overhears Shin mention the word ‘blueprint’ and immediately takes action, grabbing him by the ear so he can’t use playing dumb as an excuse. She’s determined to get that blueprint.
Bang has been unable to pay Bun-kwae for all the driving he’s been doing, so while they’re parked he takes the time to flip through all of the IOUs Bang has given him – which amount to a whopping $2,000. They’re there to stalk Paeng-wol, but end up witnessing a scene where the gangster/businessman is suddenly surrounded by a rival band of gangsters. Bun-kwae is completely fine with ducking for cover, but Bang sees a golden opportunity. If he intervenes and saves Paeng-wol’s life here, he’s bound to be given a factory, right?
I don’t know if Bun-kwae agrees with him, but Bang enters into the fray either way. At least Bun-kwae calls in police backup for Bang, who doesn’t look like he’s getting beaten by the gang as much as just getting detained. However, he does create an avenue for Paeng-wol to make an escape.
Woo-hee sets herself to negotiating the blueprint out of Shin’s hands, by promising him a job under Bang. Shin seems uneasy at first, claiming that he’s been deceived a lot in life, but his other options are pretty slim. The two of them are interrupted by a call that Bang is back in the hospital.
Paeng-wol has the good sense to feel indebted to Bang, who’s lying with medical braces on in a hospital room. He grabs Paeng-wol by the ear in an effort to bring him closer, whispering: “Factory. You’ll give me a factory, right? My wish… before I die…” He sounds totally pitiful and miserable, and Paeng-wol caves. He’ll give Bang the factory.
…Except that Paeng-wol seems to believe that Bang is honestly going to die, and holds a prayer service with his minion so that Bang can go peacefully into heaven. He changes his tune when a nurse comes in to reveal that Bang is faking everything – he’s only got a couple of minor scrapes and bruises.
Paeng-wol is not to be swayed, and makes a run for it from the hospital room. Bang takes out his frustration on Bun-kwae, who was supposed to keep the nurse away. But Bun-kwae gets a reprieve the moment Bang spots Shin nearby, as he attacks the man who’s caused him so much grief. Where is his blueprint?!
Woo-hee finally speaks up, and swiftly hands over the mystical document that will solve all of their problems. Everyone cheers, which Paeng-wol hears with some interest from around the corner, as he wonders if they really have the blueprint in their hands.
It’s a great moment for Bang, as he’s now able to embark on the next stage of his plan – creating the business. Paeng-wol seems all set to invest now that they have the blueprint in their hands, and even though they’re missing Chief Oh, they still have Woo-hee’s sunbae. He’s able to make a working prototype of the product, and they successfully test it on Paeng-wol.
In an even greater moment, Bang gets to fulfill his dream of saving all the former factory protesters. He sends Shin out on an errand to track down every fired worker from the Incheon factory so that they can be handed an invitation for employment under his shiny new company.
We find everyone gathered in the factory, waiting to be told why they’ve been called. Shin announces that the president has arrived… and it’s none other than our hero.
In a triumphant scene, Bang gets to address the crowd of new employees he has gathered. He remembers everyone’s name and the names of their family members – perfectly personifying a personable president (try saying that seven times). He knows that they’ve been through suffering together and that they’ve been cast away by Chun Ha, which is why he’s named the company Paeng Seong Enterprise (which includes the words for ‘thrown out’ and ‘successful’ all in one).
He promises them that they’ll all share in profit if profit is to be made, and that no one will be unjustly fired. Here is a company where the people will be valued over profit, as they will now become the company’s greatest asset. Not technology, not products, but people. Aww.
This scene isn’t played with Extra Gravitas, and I almost feel like it should be – just because it’s such a cathartic moment for Bang and his struggles. He’s finally on the other side of the fence, in a position of power that allows him to help people on his own merit rather than always relying on others. The part where he’s hoisted up by a crowd of happy employees just makes me smile.
Chairman Jin, meanwhile, keeps his stream of information on Bang open via Jang Ryang. It seems like Jang Ryang working again for the Chairman is being kept a secret from the rest of the company, since no one else has made a peep about it. This is made clear when Chairman Jin confesses that he doesn’t know who to trust within the company. But in regards to Bang, he’s going to look into the matter personally to see if he has any plans on investing.
Yeo-chi finds herself on a blind date, except that she can’t even focus when she’s sure that she’s going crazy – she keeps hearing Bang’s voice laughing in her head. As it turns out, she’s hearing it because he’s actually sitting in that same restaurant laughing it up nearby… but by the time she turns around, he’s gone. I love her facial expressions throughout this whole scene.
Hang-woo, meanwhile, has had his eyes on the same prize as Bang – the Blood-Free Blood Monitor – only to find that the patent has already been set by someone else. Hang-woo is dismayed to hear this news, but claims that they’ll just buy it from whoever owns it. Woo-hee looks nervous.
In a scene that seems suspiciously orchestrated by both Chairman Jin and Jang Ryang, Bang ends up running into a helplessly blind Chairman Jin. Out of worry, he finds himself chasing the Chairman all over the place, even getting beaten, until they both settle in at a table. Chairman Jin makes it seem as though this all happened by chance, even though Bang is suspicious that he’d be out, alone, all while being blind as a bat.
Chairman Jin is being surprisingly cute, as he bickers with Bang over who really owns that product, if it was made in his factory and all. Even though Chairman Jin isn’t allowing anyone within the company to know about his blindness, he freely shares that information with Bang. I wonder what caused his change of heart.
Bang is reluctant to help the man who caused had his colleagues ruthlessly beaten and who had him sent to jail. He can’t help being a good person, though, when Chairman Jin pulls a “poor me” by stumbling around while blind. This takes them to a restaurant, where of course Chairman Jin has decided to eat ssambap – a meal which requires all sorts of hand-eye coordination that he doesn’t possess. Out of pity, Bang ends up hand-feeding him. This whole scene is adorable, especially with their bickering. It’s like they’re kids.
Against Bang’s wishes, Chairman Jin orders soju… and next thing we know, Bang is piggybacking a helplessly drunk Chairman Jin into the night. HA. Chairman Jin is having such a good time, and so am I.
Hang-woo gets some bad news when he hears that it’s Chief Oh’s wife that owns the patent for the Blood-Free Blood Monitor, and that the company behind it… is owned by Bang. Well, Hang-woo, you made your own bed. Now sleep in it.
Speaking of, Gabi’s wiles seem to be coming back to bite her in the form of an extra-friendly Bum-jeung. He’s taken all of her flirting seriously, though we know it’s all been a game for her. Well, Gabi, you’ve made your bed. Now you might have to sleep with someone in it.
She’s playing Chairman Jin in plain sight (hee), by using his blindness to sign off on things he probably wouldn’t have if he could, you know, read. She assures him that she’s been reading over everything carefully, but a conversation with So Ha reveals that she’s exploiting this situation for all it’s worth.
It seems like Chairman Jin is starting to suspect Gabi, at least, because he doesn’t let her in on his plans and has Yeo-chi drive him to an unspecified location instead.
…And in the car, Chairman Jin clearly sees a speck of something on Yeo-chi’s jacket, and takes it off. Ohh! I can’t say I knew it because I didn’t know it, I only suspected. Chairman Jin can actually see, and probably has been fooling everyone this whole time.
Left alone in his office, Gabi allows herself to sink into the Chairman’s seat and laugh maniacally. Oh dear. Her merry time is cut short by a call, presumably updating her on the Chairman’s whereabouts when he wouldn’t update her himself. Obviously, the news dismays her.
Chairman Jin, meanwhile, seems happy as a clam hat he’s arranging a special meeting. Yeo-chi has no idea what this whole thing is about, and we intercut from seeing their arrival to seeing Bang and Bun-kwae readying for a meeting with a potential big investor. One that has a power to solve all their problems with one fell swoop.
Yeo-chi opens the door first, revealing Bang waiting inside.
The tables are turned! I honestly should have expected this to be the case, since I’ve seen a tactic like this used before by wily chairmen in dramas – the most recent memory being Baker King Kim Tak Gu. Still, I remember knowing that the sickness was a fake-out in that drama – and while I wondered if that was on the table for Salaryman, I was still pleasantly shocked when the big reveal happened. Lee Deok-hwa was certainly balancing a good deal this episode, as an actor playing a character who’s fooling everyone into believing that he’s blind, all while secretly gathering intel on everyone closest to him.
In true Salaryman style, we now get a new piece of information that shapes the way we perceived everything before, and everything to come. Now everything with Chairman Jin’s sudden attitude change toward Bang makes sense – because although I had simply gone along with it the last episode, I was a little curious as to how he went from being unable to stand the sight of Bang to being so invested in his every move. Chairman Jin now has a better idea of who’s on his side and who isn’t, and it might be that now that he sees Bang as the only genuine person around (aside from Yeo-chi, of course). This effectively changes the whole power dynamic, and I am so unbelievably excited.
This was an interesting episode for our antagonists, and Gabi in particular, as she sort of left the realm of subtlety to go into full-on villainous assault mode. I was starting to believe that her plan was pretty foolproof, but that was back when I believed Chairman Jin was actually blind. I do love that Hang-woo has unknowingly helped his own enemy multiple times now, because all the people he’s wronged have now gone over to Bang’s side. It seems like Hang-woo isn’t yet aware that he’s not the only one who can harbor thoughts of vengeance, so it will be interesting to see that realization come back to bite him – because it’s not a matter of If, it’s a matter of When.
- History of the Salaryman: Episode 11
- 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