High School King of Savvy: Episode 15
Hey guys, I’m just filling in for an episode and dramallama and purplecow will be back to finish off the show. Luck tends to be on my side when I’m the ringer, and today’s episode is no exception—it’s probably the best hour of High School King of Savvy yet, full of emotional payoffs, climactic showdowns, amazing performances, and so much heart that it spills over.
SONG OF THE DAY
Seo In-gook – “돌아오는 길” (The Road Back) for the High School King of Savvy OST
[ Download ]
EPISODE 15 RECAP
Min-seok walks into the hotel suite alone to meet with Pavo’s CEO about the joint venture between their companies, and staring back at him is his absentee hyung Hyung-seok. He just sits there calmly like an older, cooler doppelganger, and Min-seok stammers, “H-hyung?”
The first thing he does is run and hug Hyung twice, only to follow it up with an exasperated rant (he notably skips calling him hyung when he’s mad), “Do you even… I mean… because of you… the things I… do you know?!”
Hyung-seok says he knows and that he’s sorry, but Min-seok’s still in shock and he just freaks out and utters incoherent syllables on repeat until his brain catches up. He finally wonders what the hell Hyung is doing here, and why he didn’t tell Min-seok that he’s Pavo’s CEO.
Hyung just orders Min-seok to keep this a secret from even Team Leader Kin, and return to the office like normal to report that the meeting went well and they should proceed with investments. Min-seok has no idea what’s going on and keeps asking for some kind of explanation, but Hyung is as cryptic and one-sided as ever. The only answer he gives is: “I’m your hyung. Trust me.”
He promises to explain the long version of the story at his officetel tonight, and cuts the conversation off there because he’s said what he has to say. How can you have the same face but be so different?
Min-seok swear-mutters at Hyung, but literally in the same breath he’s already walking over to hug him again. Oh, brother hate-love. It’s so cute.
Min-seok leaves feeling totally spun around, and though he says everything that Hyung told him to at the Comfo meeting, it doesn’t sit right with him. He doesn’t know what’s going on, but President Yoo’s insistence on barreling through the particulars to secure the deal makes everyone nervous.
President Yoo declares that on top of investing his personal stocks, he’s going to clean out the company’s reserve fund to raise the remaining capital. He’s rushing a stockholder vote early next week, to the worry of all the managers in the room.
Jin-woo confronts his father about his suspicions that Pavo isn’t on the up-and-up, but President Yoo is too far gone on his power trip to be the next big thing on the Asian market, and misses all the red flags. Jin-woo decides he has to do something to make sure his suspicions aren’t true, and rushes to the airport to fly to Germany and back before the board meeting takes place.
Min-seok tells Soo-young about Hyung’s return, and she asks all the obvious questions, for which he has no answers. He gets angry all over again at Hyung for just appearing like a goblin after torturous radio silence, and Soo-young advises him to try and listen to his brother instead of getting angry.
He calls her an adult, so she instantly brags that she’s very mature, only to have him clarify that he meant she’s super old ’cause she says the same stuff as Dad. Ha.
Min-seok does relent that if it weren’t for Hyung he never would’ve met her, and she argues cutely that they would’ve met somehow. He says goodbye by blowing her kisses as she walks away, trading off between calling her “elder” and “hey you.”
By the time he gets to Hyung’s officetel, Min-seok is back in his school uniform. He demands an explanation, and this time Hyung sits down to give him the whole story. He says all of this is because of their father, who was once business partners with President Yoo. President Yoo betrayed their father for money, which drove him to suicide (and Mom died from shock immediately after).
Min-seok can’t believe it, and then it dawns on him that Hyung might be thinking of revenge: “You’re not… could you… you aren’t…?” Hyung says that when their parents died that way, he studied abroad because that was the best way he could think of to become successful and secure enough to take responsibility for his little brother. But while he was studying, he realized he wanted power… for revenge.
Min-seok tries to process this crazy notion that his brother is masterminding some revenge plot, and then asks why on earth he sent Little Bro to Comfo instead of going there himself. Hyung says he came to Korea to work there as planned, but things went awry when he got shipped back to Germany as a murder suspect.
A colleague he’d been working with was murdered just before Hyung-seok left the country, making him the prime suspect in the investigation; he made the call to Min-seok about the switcheroo plan from the police car after he’d been sent back to Germany.
He was eventually released but the police continued to watch him closely, and he couldn’t contact anyone for fear of risking the paper company he set up for the revenge plan. Thankfully the real murderer was caught, and that’s when Hyung baited them with the Pavo deal, which President Yoo ate right up.
Min-seok’s mind is blown for the second time today, and he asks if Hyung is absolutely sure that he’s right about Dad’s death. Hyung just says that he needs his help: “Right now what I need is you.”
Soo-young finds Gramps waiting at the convenience store for Hyung-seok to arrive and take him to the aquarium, so she walks him home. Hyung-seok arrives as she’s leaving, and she naturally assumes it’s Min-seok… and pinches his cheeks. Omg, I’m so embarrassed for you.
She calls him her high-schooler and coos that she missed him already, not registering the stone-faced reaction from Hyung-seok. He pries her hands away from his face and says tersely that he’s the hyung, but she just mock-repeats him. I’m dying of laughter, but my insides are curling up from the mortification.
She digs her hole even deeper by accusing him of playing the hyung to get around their skinship rule, and it’s not until she grabs his cheeks a second time that she finally sees it in his eyes—this is not her boyfriend.
She gasps and steps away, but she doesn’t even have time to say anything before Tae-seok and Duk-hwan come running up to violate his personal space some more.
Soo-young tries to tell them they have the wrong brother but Hyung just pushes them away, and that’s when Duk-hwan notices that Min-seok’s mole is missing: “Did you get it removed?” Heh.
Min-seok walks up and asks what they’re doing, and the boys can’t compute it: “Why are there two of them?” I love how long it takes for them to get it together. Hyung just judges silently and tells Min-seok that he’s surrounded by a lot of weirdos. Soo-young is so out of sorts that Min-seok asks his buddies to escort her all the way home, and they carry her away like a spaced-out ragdoll.
Dad is stunned speechless when Hyung-seok walks through the door calling him ajusshi, and immediately starts to cry. Dad yells at Hyung-seok for being so terrible and not calling all this time, but just like Min-seok, he hugs him fiercely. Awww.
Hyung-seok hugs him back and tenderly calls him ajusshi, and Dad has to remind him that he’s still not calling him dad after all these years. Hyung-seok squeezes Grandpa’s hand while he sleeps and says that he’s finally here.
Dad is disappointed when he gets up to go right away (Urg, you withholding bastard—would it kill you to eat your father’s food to make him happy?) and Hyung-seok promises that it’ll all be over and he’ll be back soon.
Just as he’s about to leave, Gramps comes running out calling Hyung-seok’s name and runs over to hug him tearfully. In this one moment he seems like any other grandpa, as he cries, “My child! Why did you come now? Do you know how long I’ve waited?”
But then the moment breaks, and Gramps asks excitedly when Hyung-seok is going to take him to the aquarium to see the big fishes. Hyung-seok promises he’ll take him in two days, and they pinky-swear on it.
Gramps then takes out the chocolate bar he’s been saving, “For our Hyung-seokie, the world’s nicest boy! You have to be good, okay?” Thankfully it niggles at his conscience to make that promise to Gramps, and he can barely manage to nod in response. Min-seok watches the happy reunion with a smile and sneaks back out before they notice him.
The boys have brought Soo-young to Tae-seok’s restaurant, where they gasp after hearing about her Hyung-/Min-seok mix-up, and then rub salt in her wound by gloating that theirs wasn’t the most embarrassing mistake.
She finally breaks from her daze to shove some food in her mouth, and then complains that it tastes like trash to match her mood. They tell her belatedly that this is Tae-seok’s family restaurant, and she dies of mortification all over again.
The brothers meet and Hyung asks Min-seok to keep playing the part at work a few more days, just until the investment funds have cleared. Min-seok asks, “Then what about Comfo? Will it be ruined? Is this the revenge you talked about?”
Min-seok says that he’s angry at President Yoo too, but no matter which way he tries to think about it, he comes to the same conclusion—that this isn’t right—and begs for Hyung to stop.
But Hyung-seok snaps at him not to get weak, and reminds him that it’s President Yoo’s fault that it’s just the two of them in this world. Hyuuung, but what about Dad and Gramps? Min-seok goes home and digs out an old family photo and mulls over Hyung’s request.
At work the next morning, Min-seok can’t shake his guilt as he overhears the retail team members planning for their new jobs overseas. He tells Soo-young that he’s doing as Hyung told him, but it’s starting to weigh on him.
That night he runs into Gramps on his way out, dressed up in the spiffy new outfit he’s going to wear when he goes to the aquarium. Min-seok says he’s more stylin’ than G-Dragon, and Gramps proudly runs off to show Hyung, no matter how much Min-seok protests.
They sit in Hyung’s officetel waiting but he never shows, so Min-seok leaves a note reminding him about tomorrow’s aquarium date and takes a disappointed Gramps back home.
In the morning, Gramps is all dressed up and stuffing his backpack with snacks and Dad is even making kimbap for the big day. It kills me how excited Gramps is, because you just know Hyung’s going to be a flake. Because that’s what he does.
Gramps refuses to give him a chocolate bar and Min-seok whines that he always plays favorites, which feels doubly unfair today when I’m almost certain Min-seok’s about to clean up Hyung’s mess. (I love how quickly Dad cheers him up by shoving an entire roll of kimbap in his mouth, heh.)
Sure enough, hours later, Hyung is nowhere to be found and Gramps is lying on the couch in tears. Min-seok sits by his side and (once he’s done bad-mouthing Hyung for not keeping promises) offers to take Gramps himself. Gramps won’t have it—he’s not Hyung.
But Min-seok has an ace in his pocket, and offers to bring Pretty Unni along. Suddenly Gramps is up and smiling, ready to go. That’s adorable. I totally thought he was going to have to put on glasses and mousse his hair.
At the aquarium, Soo-young asks why Gramps is so fond of Hyung when he never spent much time living with them before going abroad. Min-seok explains that Dad was their parents’ chauffer and he and Gramps lived with them from the start.
He says that no matter how assy Hyung is to just about everyone else on the planet, he was always good to Gramps even as a child. Min-seok decides it’s perhaps a sliver of evidence that he’s not totally a bad person.
Then he spends the day jealously trailing along while Gramps gets to hold Soo-young’s hand, and they have fun looking at all the fishes and making him feel left out. Gramps even shows her where Min-seok is ticklish, and he cries that she can touch him anywhere but there. Her mind goes straight to a naughty place, and he teases her for having her mind in the gutter.
On their way home, Gramps says he had a great time and gives Min-seok a kiss on the cheek. What’s even cuter is how proud Min-seok is to get some love over Hyung. But then Gramps follows it up with an announcement that he’s going to marry Pretty Unni, and when Min-seok argues, Gramps calls him stingy unlike Hyung-seok.
Min-seok cries foul at the comparison, realizing now that the kiss had ulterior motives, heh. He insists that Gramps is his, and Soo-young is his, so they can’t marry each other. It’s the cutest fight ever.
Hyung finally calls later that night and says that the stockholder vote is D-day. Min-seok yells at him for skipping out on Gramps, but Hyung just keeps talking about the deal and tells him to stay the course. Min-seok asks what happens to all of Comfo’s employees then—will they be out of a job come Tuesday?
He begs Hyung to think of another way, and says outright that his way is just plain wrong. Min-seok argues that even if he were to forget everything and just do as he says, this is fraud and Hyung is putting himself in danger: “You expect a younger brother to watch his hyung ruin his life?!” Min-seok refuses to do it.
Hyung reminds him of their father’s unfair death, but Min-seok tells him to stop using that excuse and asks if this is what their father really would’ve wanted, and if getting revenge brings him back from the dead. He pleads with Hyung to stop now and just come live with them and make Gramps happy, but there’s no getting through to him.
Min-seok finally decides to play fire with fire, and tells him to do whatever he wants because he’s going to do the same: “If you don’t stop, I’m going to make you stop.” Oh, it’s ON.
Min-seok sits up that night watching Gramps sleep hugging the Nemo fish he bought for Hyung, and lets out a heavy sigh. Gramps doesn’t wake up when they call him to breakfast in the morning, and Dad and Min-seok have a moment of panic when his arm goes limp. But a moment later he wakes up like normal and they gasp in relief. Don’t scare me like that!
On Monday morning, it’s Hyung-seok who walks into Comfo; strange that he’s the real thing but it feels like he’s going undercover as his undercover brother. Soo-young runs up teasing, “Answer Me, high-schooler,” and tickles him, thinking it odd when he just stares back at her blankly. It isn’t until he leaves on the elevator that she realizes it’s Hyung.
The retail team gets the same cold reaction when they greet Hyung-seok, and wonder why it feels like he’s suddenly a different person. Soo-young calls Min-seok to be sure, and he confirms that he’s just leaving school now.
It turns out that Hyung really is the smarter brother, because he got the board meeting moved to Monday, and the vote is happening right now. Dammit, why is the evil one the smart one?
Jin-woo hears the same news as he drives back from the airport, and he frantically calls his father to leave futile voicemails about Pavo being a paper company. Min-seok and Jin-woo both race to work as the meeting gets underway.
Hyung-seok is tense throughout the meeting but the vote passes in his favor in the end. He gives President Yoo a congratulatory handshake, and then gets the word that the funds have been transferred—Comfo is now cleaned out, and Hyung-seok owns it all.
Min-seok arrives in the lobby just as Hyung is walking out, and President Yoo looks back and forth between them, confused. Min-seok screams, ” You didn’t… Did you really do it?!”
Jin-woo runs in just behind him and asks Hyung-seok if this was his plan from the start. President Yoo asks what the hell is going on, and Hyung-seok savors the moment as he says simply, “Yoo Jae-gook, you’re finished.”
He says that he came to Comfo because President Yoo stole his father’s life, and doesn’t think he needs much more explanation than that. Min-seok cries, “Hyung!” in disbelief, and Jin-woo runs to his father’s side when he staggers in shock.
The company’s rumor mill churns overtime, and the retail team members can’t believe that they’ve been working for a high-schooler director all this time, or that Jin-woo is President Yoo’s son, or that they’re now about to be out of jobs. And poor Team Leader Kim finally has a nervous breakdown when the secret identity comes out.
President Yoo ends up in the hospital, and Jin-woo pleads with Min-seok to talk to his brother and change his mind. Min-seok says that’s not something he has the power to do, but Jin-woo then gets on his knees.
He apologizes in his father’s stead, and begs him to convince his hyung to reconsider. Jin-woo doesn’t think his father will recover if the company he spent his life to build crumbles like this.
Min-seok calls Hyung and screams into the phone, asking if he really had to go this far and if he really thinks their father would be happy to see him ruin his life. Hyung says he doesn’t care what happens to him, and that it’s all over now. Min-seok demands to see him but Hyung just hangs up, and he isn’t at his officetel.
Gramps sleeps on the couch wearing his aquarium outfit complete with the angel wings that Soo-young bought him, and when Dad steps out, he wakes up and goes running out into the street calling out for Hyung-seok as if he’s a lost child.
Dad, Min-seok, and Soo-young all go running through the neighborhood to find him, but he’s not in any of the usual places. Min-seok suddenly has a thought and calls them to meet at Hyung’s officetel, and sure enough that’s where Gramps has been, stopping every person who enters the building to ask if they’ve seen Hyung-seokie.
By the time they get there, Gramps is asleep on the couch in the lobby, clutching the Nemo fish he bought for Hyung. They all sigh in relief and Min-seok says he must’ve come all the way here to give Hyung the fish. He goes to wake him, but when he does, Grandpa’s arm goes limp and the fish falls from his grasp. Ohgodohgod.
It stuns Min-seok for a second but then he gently tries to wake him again, and shakes him a little harder… “Halbae, halbae… halbae…”
Grandpa’s head tilts back and there’s no response. He’s gone.
Min-seok’s knees give out, but he persists, telling Gramps that he has to wake up so they can go home. Augh, the look in Min-seok’s eyes—it guts me. He shakes him over and over again, each time his voice growing more hesitant: “Halbae, wake up. You have to sleep at home.”
He tries to find a perfectly logical explanation for why Gramps is sleeping and won’t wake up—maybe he ate too many candy bars? Dad just rushes to Min-seok’s side and hugs him, and finally he’s out of reasons and the denial breaks.
He collapses in great, heaving sobs, and Soo-young goes running out to cry on her own. Dad struggles to contain his grief for Min-seok and tries to pry him away, but Min-seok just clings to Grandpa, wailing inconsolably and refusing to leave his side.
Ugh, you had to do it. You had to twist my heart and put it in a vice and pulverize it. I should have known that Gramps was getting too much screen time to walk away unscathed. But I was blinded by the cuteness, and just happy that I got an entire episode filled with Min-seok’s family interactions. Why, why did they have to take Gramps away from us? Hyung didn’t even have a chance to right his wrongs and come home! What about turning his life around and becoming a good person so that he deserves all the good-boy candy bars that Gramps bought for him? WaaaAAAAaaaah. Why are you so cruel?
I know that it’ll probably take something this severe to bring Hyung-seok back from the brink, because if he were going to be easily convinced by Little Bro to do the right thing, then he wouldn’t have enacted a revenge plot in the first place. But now it makes me madder at Hyung because Gramps had to die for him to regret his actions, as if it wasn’t bad enough that he was absent all those years. It struck me that Dad and Min-seok go chasing after Gramps like he’s a lost child, while Gramps goes running out to look for Hyung-seok as if he’s the lost one.
The family reunions actually highlighted how much Dad and Min-seok are alike, and that it’s because of Dad’s upbringing that Min-seok is warm in every way that Hyung-seok is cold. I’ve never loved Min-seok more than when he shows up for his family in Hyung’s place, and it made me realize he’s been playing that role his whole life—doing everything he could to love them because he knows that Hyung leaves a hole in their hearts. It’s so palpable how much the three men miss Hyung-seok and how much they all want his love. It makes me so angry that he’s been absent all this time, but they love him so much that I can’t help but love him too. I hate-love him, like an angry bitter begrudging love.
I can’t say it enough, but I truly, madly, deeply love Seo In-gook in this drama. The show itself falters and storylines haven’t developed exactly as I would’ve liked, but he’s so freaking good in this role that it feels like we get to just watch him play. It’s never more apparent than in this episode where he finally gets to be both Min-seok and Hyung-seok, and he embodies such totally different characters so well, as if Hyung has been a separate person living his life offscreen all this time.
It cracks me up that in the drama where Hyung-seok is the hero, it’s Bad Guy-meets-Shark, while Min-seok is over here making a secret identity rom-com. It’s naturally contentious when their worlds collide, but we love Min-seok precisely because he’s the one to ask what happens to the people at Comfo, and point out that Hyung ruining his life to ruin someone else’s life is senseless. And because he’s the one who spends his life loving Dad and Gramps who are alive, not wasting time trying to avenge their father who died.
But there’s hope for Hyung yet—there has to be, for the family’s sake. I really adore the dynamic between the brothers and wish we’d gotten to their reunion much sooner. I know part of it is the gimmick of having Seo In-gook play against himself in the same frame, but Hyung-seok is actually an interesting character and I care much more about his redemption than I do about Jin-woo’s, for instance. Sad, but true.
He’s just inextricably linked to our characters in a different way—Min-seok’s happiness could never be complete without resolving things with Hyung, and now that he’s made a mess of things, it’s even clearer that Min-seok has to save him. I find myself engaged with the story in a new way, and can’t help but wonder how great it would’ve been to have the brothers take center stage early on. I never expected Hyung’s homecoming to be so emotional, but it ended up being a heartbreaking mini-drama about unconditional paternal love for a prodigal son. It only makes me appreciate all the more that the hero of our story is the stalwart kid brother who shows up when it counts.
- High School King of Savvy: Episode 14
- High School King of Savvy: Episode 13
- High School King of Savvy: Episode 12
- High School King of Savvy: Episode 11
- High School King of Savvy: Episode 10
- High School King of Savvy: Episode 9
- High School King of Savvy: Episode 8
- High School King of Savvy: Episode 7
- High School King of Savvy: Episode 6
- High School King of Savvy: Episode 5
- High School King of Savvy: Episode 4
- High School King of Savvy: Episode 3
- High School King of Savvy: Episode 2
- High School King of Savvy: Episode 1