History of the Salaryman: Episode 13
To quote Yeo-chi, Jesus Christmas! This episode was a blast to watch – a completely fulfilling hour where love lines get crossed, recrossed, strung together, and pulled apart with extra doses of laughter and heart to spare. It seems like the biggest sin one can commit in the business world is to underestimate your enemy, though this know-how (or lack thereof) is working out pretty well for our good guys. Their stroke of good luck looks like it’s already coming to an end, so now it’s a matter of how our heroes surmount all the forces working against them. And with enemies like Gabi and Hang-woo, Bang has got one heck of an uphill battle.
EPISODE 13 RECAP
Both Bang and Yeo-chi are understandably surprised to see each other, since neither of them caught onto Chairman Jin’s plan beforehand. In amazement, Yeo-chi asks her grandfather if Bang is the person he wanted to invest in (since he talked about investing in people, rather than companies). She scoffs to find that Bang has been using all this time he’s been building a company to not talk to her, and admonishes him for treating her like a pariah.
While Chairman Jin gets a tour of his factory, a disgruntled Bang gives Jang Ryang a call, but Jang Ryang plays innocent about the whole setup. Because Bang insists that he can’t trust Chairman Jin, he produces a crudely-written piece of paper for Chairman Jin to write an oath proclaiming that he will not try to steal Bang’s company.
Chairman Jin informs Bang that he counted his eggs before he even gave him a chicken, and that he won’t invest so easily. What will help to convince him, he claims, is if Bang gives Yeo-chi management training. Never mind the fact that she’s already under Hang-woo’s tutelage.
Needless to say, hope for Chairman Jin’s investment now rises or falls on Yeo-chi’s training. Both of them object at first, though Yeo-chi must certainly be excited to spend more time with her crush. It’s not something that’s lost on Bang, since he quickly takes notice that she’s deliberately delaying her work just to be near him. She flatly denies such a claim, yet she can’t help but ask why he didn’t contact her all this time.
She admits that she worried about whether he was freezing, starving, or dying – and he admits (in a much more businesslike voice) that he was concerned about her too. Still, Bang maintains distance between them, and forces her out when he sets up a cot in his new Office Home and goes to sleep.
Hang-woo is working on getting a patent for the same blood sugar monitor as Bang – and in case we have questions about how he can make a copycat product, he explains it with a ballpoint pen. If Bang were to have invented that pen, then Chun Ha would just make a flat pen and get a patent for that. If that wouldn’t work, then they’d just change the ink color. That’s his story and he’s sticking to it.
We start madly intercutting through training scenes with Hang-woo and Bang that demonstrate how differently the two of them approach managing a business – and Yeo-chi is left to try and make sense of it all. Bang is all about heart, while Hang-woo is all about skills. Where Bang is all about virtue, Hang-woo thinks that virtue is only for leaders lacking charisma. Charisma, to Hang-woo, equals power. To Bang, charisma means poop.
It gets complicated when Yeo-chi starts telling each mentor what the other said, which gets both Bang and Hang-woo riled up. Bang tells her to forget everything Hang-woo taught, and Hang-woo tells her to forget everything Bang taught. It’s no wonder that Yeo-chi starts cursing up a storm once she’s alone and ends up with a nosebleed. Yeo-chi: “Jesus Christmas!”
Gabi’s phone call at the end of the last episode wasn’t about Bang, but Jang Ryang. Because of Chairman Jin’s chauffeur she knows that the two of them have been meeting, but the supposed purpose is just for company. We know that’s not the case as Chairman Jin and Jang Ryang meet over coffee and marriage talk, although Chairman Jin’s personal preference between Hang-woo and Bang remains up in the air.
Jang Ryang catches onto the fact that Chairman Jin can see, which he admits. But there’s a caveat: he is losing his sight. So he just preempted it a bit in order to see what would happen if he was blind. Chairman Jin knows that betrayal is his worst enemy, and that Gabi’s betrayal would be fatal.
It’s precisely because he wants to trust Gabi that he assigns Jang Ryang the job of acting as his proxy and so he can double-check the documents he has to sign.
As part of her training, Hang-woo assigns Yeo-chi the task of making a report on the selling points of Chun Ha’s upcoming merchandise. To make it even harder on her, he puts the rest of the employees in a team while she has to fly solo. Bum-jeung is the first to note that Hang-woo is putting his all into training Yeo-chi – but he needs to think of the bigger picture… like marriage.
This is an idea that Hang-woo is averse to, but when he sees Yeo-chi leaving he attempts to ask her out after work (maybe). She cuts him off before he can finish, assuring him that she’s up for his challenge and that she won’t be giving up so easily.
Yeo-chi’s big plan is to conduct a survey outside of Chun Ha, which is going miserably. She doesn’t have the right attitude to attract people, which is where Woo-hee comes in. Out of the goodness of her heart, Woo-hee turns on her feminine charm in order to woo men over to the survey stand, promising them free samples if they just fill out one tiny form.
This is what I love about Yeo-chi – she’s never petty when she’s jealous, and she’s mostly just impressed. It’s clear she wants to be like Woo-hee but perhaps aegyo is an acquired skill. When Woo-hee is called away to work she gives Yeo-chi a friendly “Fighting!” before she’s on her way, but Yeo-chi still scares away all the survey takers.
Bang is ecstatic to meet an unnamed son of a big corporation who’s developing a total medical system for cell phones, and wants to include Bang’s blood sugar monitor in the package. He receives a call during the meeting – from Hang-woo – which takes him over to that side of the fence for another meeting.
Hang-woo and that rich heir know each other from their Stanford days, as they both talk about attending the alumni party later that evening. Hang-woo wants his colleague’s business, but he’s not as close to a completed product as Bang is, so it’s up in the air. When Woo-hee comes in to deliver coffee his colleague’s eyes follow her all the way in and out of the room, and he asks Hang-woo if that’s the girl he’s bringing to the party tonight. Hang-woo protects his pride by saying she’s nothing much, which Woo-hee overhears from outside the door. Miffed at the fact that Hang-woo doesn’t think her neither pretty or sexy, she decides to exact some revenge.
This takes her to an expensive dress shop, with prices way out of her means. Through a conversation with the saleswoman we can catch onto Woo-hee’s plan – to buy the dress now, and return it before closing time.
Of course, that means that she’s dressed to kill when she enters the party – and Hang-woo, who has been waiting for her arrival, goes slack-jawed at the sight. So does every other man in the bar, for that matter.
Woo-hee knows how to use her beauty as a weapon, and is fully aware of exactly how good she looks (in case her slo-mo walk was any indication). All his colleagues swarm around her, and the moment Hang-woo attempts to introduce her she does it herself – explaining that she’s his chief secretary, and stressing the fact that they have no relation whatsoever.
The dress is strapless, so when she attempts to take off her coat her bare shoulders are exposed to every male eye in the place. Hang-woo attempts to keep her under wraps, literally, to no avail.
Hang-woo finally can’t take it anymore – but when he attempts to get her to leave with him, Woo-hee coolly informs him that she has an urgent appointment to attend to.
As it turns out, her appointment was to return her dress before closing time. The wary saleswoman seems to know what’s going on, and notes that there’s a stain on the dress so it can’t be returned. Hang-woo has followed Woo-hee to the store, and is quick on the uptake. He makes a call to the saleswoman to tell her that he’ll buy the dress, and ten more outfits. The woman need only make an excuse to Woo-hee, so she doesn’t know what’s going on. Aww.
He only has to flash his credit card in order for the saleswoman to agree to the ruse, and she calmly informs Woo-hee that she’s their ten-thousandth customer, and that she can go pick out ten more outfits. I love that Woo-hee doesn’t even hesitate because she’s too excited, and doesn’t bother looking a gift horse in the mouth.
In the true Salaryman style of physical comedy, we get a great moment where Hang-woo goes to pay for her items while she’s in the dressing room, but because Woo-hee suddenly turns around he’s forced to dive behind the desk. Woo-hee goes on the happiest shopping spree of her life, and Hang-woo looks as though he can hardly contain his own delight.
Here’s what elevates this moment above a simple Cinderella makeover: Hang-woo is acting like a selfless second lead. He’s not taking credit, he just wants to see her happy. That’s something that a good person does. (Which is not to assume that Hang-woo is, at his core, a good person. Jury is still out on that one.)
Outside, Woo-hee happens upon Hang-woo in his car. It’s adorable that she’s skipping down the street like a school girl with all her nice things. He asks her why she bought so much, and with the brightest expression on her face, she simply replies that she got it all for free.
Woo-hee happily explains that receiving such luck is a first in her life, since she’s normally a bit hapless. He offers to drive her home since she can’t walk with her arms full, which is a scene that Gabi and Bum-jeung happen upon.
They’ve been walking arm in arm, but Gabi pulls hers away violently the moment she spies Hang-woo and Woo-hee. She wonders if Hang-woo is evading a marriage with Yeo-chi because of Woo-hee, but Bum-jeung denies that it has any involvement. Gabi is unconvinced – her woman’s instincts tell her that Hang-woo and Woo-hee are dating. This does not fit in with her plan.
Bang is having a shopping spree of his own, though it’s at a street vendor. He’s picking up women’s hats and gloves, and when Bun-kwae asks if he’s buying them for Yeo-chi, Bang replies that they’re a gift to thank Woo-hee for helping them start their company.
He ends up waiting outside Woo-hee’s apartment when she arrives with Hang-woo, and he quickly ducks behind the stairs so he won’t be seen. Anyone can tell that she’s happy, which she admits freely – clothes like the ones she received would cost her a few months’ salary.
Hang-woo calls her materialistic, though he doesn’t mean it in a bad way. He thinks it’s refreshingly honest for her to express that she likes her gifts. She can only offer him cold water, which takes the two of them up to her apartment, leaving Bang alone outside. Luckily, Bun-kwae calls that he’s had a Yeo-chi sighting.
Outside, Bang and Yeo-chi share a drink together. He asks her how many surveys she’s had completed, and the answer is none. He wonders aloud why everyone flees when they see her, to which she gripes that he shouldn’t be speaking so meanly to a person who’s been out in the cold all day.
He uses the gifts of warm clothing he’d originally bought for Woo-hee on Yeo-chi, and wraps her up in a scarf, hat, and gloves. This is enough to please our heroine, who looks happy as a clam even though the clothes are cheap as dirt. He takes the surveys from her and offers to take her home. So cute.
They go straight to the factory, where Bang hands over the box of samples to Bun-kwae with the instructions to distribute them among the workers. All they have to do in return is fill out a survey – and poof! Yeo-chi’s problems are solved. She exchanges a cute smile with Bang. Can everyone stop being so adorable? No? Good.
With a bright smile on her face and snacks in her hand, Yeo-chi barges into Hang-woo’s apartment for another late night reviewing session. He’s clearly cranky, but just as obstinate as she is. As he reads the report he keeps glancing at her, to which she finally asks: “Are you a flatfish? Why do you keep looking sideways?” Haha.
Though he refused the snacks she brought him earlier, he ends up taking a bite. Moments after, though, we suddenly see his hands shaking – and soon its his whole body goes with them. Oh no! He’s able to eke out the word ‘allergy’, right before he starts seizing. Yeo-chi doesn’t know what to do, so she calls 119 (the 911 equivalent).
The operator on the other end of the line tells her that he should have syringes around in case of an allergic reaction, and she manages to find them in a first aid kit. Without hesitating she gives him the injection, but he remains unresponsive. Slapping him on the face does him no good, so Yeo-chi attempts CPR. When he doesn’t respond, she keeps trying, and the moment gets strangely intimate.
Hang-woo becomes aware during the CPR-kiss, his expression somber. Yeo-chi is more relieved than anything, having worried that he was dead. The look in his eyes is determined and focused as he reaches out to touch her face…
The moment is charged and electric, as it seems like Hang-woo is going in for a kiss. He realizes what he’s doing at the last minute and pulls away, telling her not to touch him ever again.
Yeo-chi is understandably upset, since she can’t understand what she did to make him so angry. She saved his life, after all. Regardless, Hang-woo literally tosses her out and throws her things at her before slamming the door in her face. “I should have just spread that peanut butter all over you!” she yells.
Revelation time. Gabi expresses her concern that Hang-woo won’t marry Yeo-chi to Bum-jeung, on the basis that Yeo-chi is the granddaughter of the man who killed his father. If Chairman Jin doesn’t change the will, then all her plans go to waste. In flashback we see Gabi receiving what a doctor calls a “stronger dose” of the insulin syringes Chairman Jin uses, and that she secretly replaced Chairman Jin’s usual syringes with her own. Goodness gracious, she’s playing hardball.
She only has to wait for Chairman Jin to inject himself with insulin (or her specific brand of it, anyhow) before he falls into convulsions – and of course she’s there to administer the medicine. Fearing that he may die soon, Chairman Jin says that he can no longer wait for Yeo-chi to get married to change his will. This is now all going according to Gabi’s plan.
In an effort to ruin Bang’s business, Hang-woo attempts to get his colleague to jump ship and go to Chun Ha. His colleague is only interested in results, which Bang currently has over Hang-woo at the moment. Together with Bum-jeung, they decide on an alternate strategy to bring Bang down by destroying his business from the source – and right now, that source is Paeng-wol.
The tactic works, as Paeng-wol and Bang’s celebratory toast is cut short by men swarming in from the national tax service. Paeng-wol is under suspicion for tax evasion, which gives the official men the license to take everything in the office. This is all according to Hang-woo’s plan, because the villains have really upped the ante of planning this go-round. Paeng-wol later apologizes to Bang, because he has to pull out as an investor. He can’t let his own business collapse for the sake of Bang’s.
This propels Bang and Bun-kwae straight to Chairman Jin. He’s now their only source for funding, so they pay extra attention to him, even going so far as to hand feed him. Chairman Jin knows immediately that Bang is under financial strain, and coolly offers four billion won.
He has the contract already prepared, except that the paper he hands over has a mistake in the numbers – instead of four billion, it’s forty billion. Bun-kwae physically keeps Bang from blurting out the mistake in an attempt to make easy money, and it soon becomes clear that this is a method Chairman Jin is using to test whether Bang is just like everyone else at Chun Ha, ready to cheat him because he’s blind.
Bun-kwae takes Bang outside to try and convince him to go along with the lie because of all the money they’ll gain in the process. In the meantime, Chairman Jin looks disappointed and has to inject himself with an insulin shot again. Oh dear.
Bang has a moral center and a lack of greed that Bun-kwae doesn’t possess, so when he goes back inside he rips up the contract on the grounds that it’s incorrect. He admonishes Chairman Jin, wondering if he has anyone to check his documents for him. Jin replies that he doesn’t, because he has no one to trust. “These days, I think I’ve lived a worthless life,” Chairman Jin says.
But the Switched Syringe starts to take effect, and Chairman Jin suddenly seizes, gripping his heart. Bang and Bun-kwae get him to a hospital.
Bum-jeung warns Gabi against going to the hospital unless Chairman Jin is dead – their chauffeur informant has told them that Chairman Jin knows about the corruption going on among the executives. That doesn’t stop her from going, since she wants to stop Jang Ryang from meeting with the Chairman first – but by the time she arrives, Jang Ryang is already inside.
He tells Chairman Jin that he’s been getting tricked. It’s with grim resignation that Chairman Jin realizes Gabi was no different from the rest, and gives her a call – he wants to see her. Bum-jeung doesn’t want her to go, but she approaches Chairman Jin’s hospital room on shaky feet all the same, hesitating only once before knocking.
Bang and Bun-kwae, meanwhile, are waiting for Yeo-chi to arrive in order to sign the investment contract with Chun Ha. However, an out-of-breath Shin arrives first, telling Bang that he can’t sign the agreement for the investment… because the one who blocked Paeng-wol, and the one who applied for a patent on a similar project, was none other than Chun Ha Group.
What they don’t know is that everything involving the subversion of their business was all Hang-woo’s doing, acting from within Chun Ha but independently from Chairman Jin. Naturally their first thought is that they’ve all been deceived by Chairman Jin and Yeo-chi, because all the evidence is making it seem as though Chairman Jin wanted to swipe the rug out from under Bang by stealing his business.
Yeo-chi arrives knowing none of this, but catches on quickly that Bang is unhappy the moment she sits at the table. She innocently asks if she did anything wrong, and he responds only by looking her straight in the eye.
I know Hang-woo is (one of) the villains of the show, but I just can’t hate him. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, since the show isn’t setting him up to be a hateful character. So far, the only character they’ve clearly been setting up as “bad” is Gabi – and that only happened in the last episode, when she suddenly broke out into spontaneous maniacal laughter. It’s one of the only low points in the show for me, since it was a bit on the nose to have what was once a layered and ambitious woman take a turn for the outrageous.
I’ve been cautious with Hang-woo so far because sometimes shows can be manipulative when it comes to giving “evil” characters crushes. American screenwriter Jane Espenson once said that the best way to instantly make a character endearing is to give them unrequited love or another foiled desire, and that’s something I saw put into perfect practice in recent sageuk hit Tree With Deep Roots, where the lukewarm-but-beautiful assassin suddenly became much more interesting when it was revealed he had a crush on the female lead. That crush didn’t go anywhere or really impact the proceedings, and the move by the writers was a bit transparent. But here’s the caveat: It worked. We’re sort of hardwired to root for the underdog that way.
…Which then throws me for a loop, because Hang-woo is clearly not the underdog of this story. But that pesky thing that the writers do in making him a real human being is working out well, in that I always have mixed feelings where he’s concerned. Of course I want Bang to succeed, but now it’s coming to the point where I wish Hang-woo’s success and Bang’s success didn’t have to cancel each other out. You know, peace on earth and all that. It’s sort of impossible when Hang-woo is such a menace when it comes to business, and I’m glad it’s impossible. (Or maybe it isn’t. Prove me wrong, Salaryman.) If everyone got along well, we’d have a pretty terrible drama. But unlike many a drama before it, this show isn’t building its conflicts strictly on antagonism as much as it is on real world strife. The only really unreal aspect of the show was the Eternal Youth drug, and I’m kind of wondering where that ran off to. Chairman Jin seems like he could use some.
- History of the Salaryman: Episode 12
- 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