High School King of Savvy: Episode 16
Hyung-seok finally comes to his senses this episode, though we all wish it hadn’t taken quite such a heartbreaking tragedy to make it happen. Gramps’ death casts a shadow over the show as well as Min-seok’s family, and the challenge is to figure out how to carry on with life without everyone’s favorite cheerful guardian angel. It is no easy task, but Min-seok has all of his friends beside him — the ones he knew about, but also the ones he made without realizing. If true wealth is measured by the worth of your friends, the people who laugh with you, cry with you, and cheer you on, then Min-seok is rich indeed.
EPISODE 16 RECAP
Min-seok and his father carry out their duties at Gramps’ funeral, though Hyung-seok is nowhere to be found. They pay their respects and greet the people who have come to honor the memory of the sweetest grandfather ever.
Soo-young reminds Min-seok to take care of himself and make sure he eats. She offers to give him the hockey puck she received from Gramps, but Min-seok doesn’t want to take the gift that was originally meant for Pretty Unni. “Since I have him in my heart, it’s okay,” he says.
The Retail Team arrives to pay their respects. They fumble a bit, unsure how to act around their former director, but despite the initial awkwardness they’re firmly on his side. Team Leader Kim bursts into tears and pulls Min-seok into a bone-crushing hug, while Assistant Manager Yoon calls Min-seok “Director.” “What are you looking at?” he asks his colleagues. “Once a director, always a director.” Stop making me tear up, Retail Team!
Dad chases after Hyung-seok, whom he saw stop by during the ceremony. On a bench outside, Dad tells Hyung-seok not to feel guilty about Gramps. He waited to see Hyung-seok before he died, and being able to see him must have made him happy. Dad then shares that he heard about Hyung-seok’s plan for revenge and urges him to let it go.
Hyung-seok reaches his apartment after the funeral. Inside his jacket is the chocolate bar that Gramps gave him. He remembers how Gramps urged him to live well, and covers his face as he cries.
Min-seok’s house is now filled with painful memories, as everywhere he looks he sees Gramps playing, or eating, or wishing him a good day. Min-seok takes his frustration out on a punching bag before collapsing on the deck. There he discovers a stash of junk food that Gramps taped underneath. “So this was your treasure chest,” Min-seok gasps as the tears start to flow. “I’m going to eat all of it!” he promises.
The Comfo management, minus President Yoo, desperately try to figure out a way to recover after their losses. They do more bickering than strategizing, but it doesn’t matter because a messenger arrives to tell them that, miraculously, Pavo decided to return their funds. Aw, Hyung-seok — there’s hope for you yet!
The news spreads rapidly, first to the Retail Team and then to Min-seok and his concerned buddies. Min-seok tries to call his brother, only to receive an email saying that Hyung-seok is going back to Germany. The email lets Min-seok know that his hyung has given up on revenge, and that Hyung-seok regrets not staying with the family when he had the chance.
Min-seok races to the airport, but he’s too late to say anything to Hyung-seok. Hyung-seok leaves as abruptly as he arrived, merely waving his boarding pass at his little brother as he disappears. “He’s a rude jerk to the end,” Min-seok reflects, yet he still breaks out in a hesitant half-smile as he waves goodbye.
President Yoo is resting in the hospital when Jin-woo visits him. He’s glad to hear that Hyung-seok changed his mind, but he doesn’t intend to return to Comfo. Dad urges Jin-woo to continue protecting the company, but Jin-woo only worked at Comfo to see his father and hopefully repair his family. President Yoo apologizes, and even promises to go see his ex-wife with Jin-woo once he is discharged. In return, he only has one favor to ask Jin-woo.
Next we see Jin-woo arrive at Min-seok’s house, envelope in hand. He tries to give money to Min-seok, but Min-seok won’t accept it. He tells Jin-woo to use it for a good cause, then apologizes for speaking so rudely to Jin-woo when he was acting as Hyung-seok. “I’ll call you hyung from now on,” he says, humbling himself and holding out his hand. Jin-woo is glad to take his hand, even admitting that he wasn’t all that mature himself.
Jin-woo drives away, but calls Min-seok before he’s out of sight. “Can I borrow your girlfriend one last time?” he asks cheekily. Then he hangs up, reducing Min-seok once more to stuttering frustration: “That- damn- dog-!” Aw… never change, you two!
Jin-woo meets with Soo-young later that evening. He thanks her for everything, asking for one last hug to part on good terms. “I don’t smile often,” he says, “but since I met you, I smiled more and more.” He playfully asks her to keep this meeting secret from the easily jealous Min-seok, then bids her goodbye.
The next morning Min-seok gets a wake-up call from Soo-young, who says it’s time to exercise. They begin the day’s rehabilitation, with Min-seok alternating between shoulder exercises and testing Soo-young’s no-skinship rule. At one point Min-seok twirls with his resistance band, puts an arm around Soo-young, then spins back out and begins pumping out reps as though energized by the brief hug. Cuteness overload.
Min-seok’s rehabilitation continues at hockey practice and at the hospital as well. Soon enough, the doctor tells him that his efforts have paid off — he will be able to compete in the final game!
Min-seok eats breakfast with Dad, unable to contain his excitement over the game. He promises to give Dad the trophy if he wins, but his father only wants him to be careful.
As the teams prepare to start the match, Yoo-ah gives her “Lee Min-seok fighting” poster to Soo-young to hold. Then who should show up but the Retail Team! They’ve come to support their director. Team Leader Kim is dressed for the cold with a fur-lined jacket, but poor Director Han has a short-sleeve dress shirt that just isn’t cutting it.
After a pep talk from Coach with the reminder that there will always be more games but never another today, the game begins, and it’s neck-and-neck all the way through. With seconds left Min-seok breaks out for a final shot, though it requires a violent shift that looks like it takes a toll on his shoulder. He scores to beat the buzzer and win the game, then tears off his helmet and screams in triumph. As the euphoria wears off, however, his hand rises to his shoulder and his face screws up in pain.
That final blow completely tore Min-seok’s rotator cuff, which means that this really is the end of his athletic career. As he tells Soo-young, though, he thinks he can give it up without regrets now, since he fought to the very end. He lightens the mood with some wordplay, shortening a phrase like kids often do, in a way that Soo-young doesn’t understand. She counters with a made-up phrase of her own, a shortened form of: “Noona will feed and take care of you, so don’t worry.”
Min-seok kisses Soo-young’s cheek just as Duk-hwan and Tae-seok arrive. The boys cover their eyes and cower, although when Soo-young starts to leave they urge her to continue with the “chupa chupa.” They join Min-seok on the bench and tease him about all the skinship, to which Min-seok boasts like the high-schooler he is that he and his girlfriend are always kissing.
Min-seok pays a visit to the ice hockey rink, bidding goodbye to the place where he spent so many happy hours. He’s unsure where to go from here, but he’s not backing away from it. “Thank you,” he says out loud, “I’m freakin’ grateful. Goodbye.”
Back at Comfo, Soo-young gives the new girl some valuable tips, such as labeling the paper cups and nagging the rest of the team to use them. She demonstrates the correct toner refilling procedure, managing to douse herself and the conceited new girl in toner. Then she gets called into the new director’s office. The padded chair swivels, revealing… former Team Leader Kim! He’s been promoted, and has a swanky new nameplate and a ridiculous white glove to handle it.
Director Kim oh-so-casually asks after Min-seok, but he can’t contain his excitement when he hears that Min-seok has been studying hard for exams. “That fake?!” he exclaims. He wants to buy Min-seok a meal, but Soo-young informs him coyly that Min-seok will be busy.
Cut to Min-seok’s classroom, where the results of exams have finally come out. Min-seok proudly announces his score of 56, which is… exactly the same as his last exam. He explains to his perplexed friends that last time he got a 56 by choosing only Number 3 for every question, but this time his 56 came from his own hard work. You’re totally right, Min-seok — it’s not a failed exam, it’s a glass that’s 56% full!
Min-seok waits for Soo-young to get off work so they can eat together. Unfortunately, work is keeping Soo-young busy, so Min-seok has to amuse himself for a few hours. He treats the courtyard like his personal playground and traumatizes a few pigeons, but Soo-young still doesn’t show.
When she finally calls later that evening, Min-seok has gone to an internet café. He lies that he’s in the library, then hilariously tries to cover the phone when an employee arrives with his ramyun.
Thoughts of his upcoming date are derailed, however, when Min-seok gets a call from his hyung. Hyung-seok suggests that the rest of the family come live with him in Germany. Min-seok will have more opportunities for school, and Dad will be less lonely. Min-seok is still deep in thought when Soo-young finally meets him by the bus stop.
Their plans for a nice romantic dinner are spoiled when they run into Soo-young’s hometown friend and her boyfriend. Dinner becomes an impromptu reunion absolutely bursting with awkwardness. The boyfriend is a successful businessman, a team leader in fact, while Min-seok is introduced as a “student” and Soo-young’s friend assumes he is in college.
Min-seok’s pride won’t let him accept the other guy’s offer to treat them, so he offers to go halfsies… only to discover that he doesn’t actually have enough cash to cover it. Soo-young has to do a stealthy credit card handover to save Min-seok from being humiliated.
Soo-young and Min-seok walk home after the disastrous double date, and Soo-young tries to cheer up Min-seok by making fun of her friend’s boyfriend. Min-seok joins in on the mockery, but his laughter is just a little too loud, his smile too wide for it to be genuine.
Sure enough, Min-seok goes to his friends to share how he really feels. He tells them the story, adding that he thought he would die from the embarrassment.
They reflect that it’s hard to believe he was once a big-shot director with a company card. They’re not exactly making him feel better with their goofing around, so Min-seok leaves to find a more sympathetic ear.
That ear just happens to belong to Jin-woo, as Min-seok shows up outside his former rival’s apartment with chicken and cola. “Chicken and cola, chi-co. It’s the best,” he says, while Jin-woo snorts that everyone knows you’re supposed to drink beer with chicken.
Jin-woo can tell that Min-seok has something on his mind and tells him to spill it. He listens patiently to Min-seok’s woes, and although he can’t help but keep in a playful insult or two, he tells Min-seok that it’s tough to be that age and he should try his best. Min-seok gags at the cheesy advice, but he looks happier than he did before.
Min-seok grabs for the last drumstick when Jin-woo calls him out on it: “You already had a drumstick, didn’t you?” They have a chicken tug-of-war until Min-seok shamelessly calls Jin-woo “hyung” and the even more polite “hyungnim,” saying he needs to eat more because he’s still growing. His puppy-dog eyes are too much for Jin-woo, who gives up the drumstick to his incorrigible dongsaeng.
Min-seok picks at his food when eating breakfast with Dad. Dad’s birthday is coming up, but he doesn’t seem to think it’s anything special to celebrate. He tells Min-seok not to prepare anything, but I think we can all count on Min-seok to do what he can to cheer Dad up on his birthday.
That day at work, Soo-young receives a worrying call from her mother. She has to sell the bungee jump business because of some debts that have piled up. The total is too much for Soo-young to come up with on her own. She asks about the conditions for a company loan, only to learn that you have to have been an employee for at least five years to qualify.
Soo-young is still worried and distracted when she eats with Min-seok. She texts her mother while he’s talking, though she doesn’t tell him what’s on her mind. He invites her to his father’s birthday party the next day, though he cautions her not to go overboard with the gifts. He gives his “permission” to buy a cake, then stammers that anything else would make him feel burdened. “That steak!” he bursts out, “I’ll definitely pay you back for that steak!”
Dad prepares a lot of food for the birthday feast. He tells Min-seok to clean up a bit, even though most of the guests have been over many times before. He says it’s different because this is the first time Min-seok is bringing a girl over.
Soo-young frantically prepares for the birthday dinner, only to receive a call from her uncle. Her mother barged into his house and started demanding money. Soo-young rushes out of the house immediately, so upset that she leaves her phone at home.
Duk-hwan and Tae-seok arrive with a giant plushie toy for Dad, who greets the rascals with a big smile. Min-seok says they should have found Dad a pretty ajumma to hug instead, and then the boys exclaim over the feast that Dad prepared. All that’s left is for Soo-young to arrive before they can get the party started.
But that is, of course, the problem. The food grows cold while they wait for Soo-young, until Dad urges them to begin. Tae-seok says they should start with the cake… but Soo-young was going to bring the cake. Duk-hwan covers up the awkward moment by pretending that the hotplate is a cake, and the boys sing happy birthday to Dad.
Meanwhile Soo-young escorts her mother to her apartment. Mom keeps talking about how Soo-young’s uncle ought to give them the money she needs, and it’s all Soo-young can do to get her mother to calm down and go to sleep.
Soo-young finally remembers the birthday party and meets Min-seok in the park, where he confronts her, extremely upset. Soo-young seems like she’s about to tell him what happened when she says that her mother came to town, but then she cuts herself off and merely apologizes. That isn’t enough for Min-seok, who wants to know why she couldn’t even spare the time to call him. It isn’t just the fact that she didn’t show up to the party — that’s merely the spark that sets off all his insecurity that has been building up. Min-seok demands to know if she’s looking down on him because he’s a high-schooler. Soo-young stammers that he’s got it wrong, but Min-seok only walks away.
I admit that after Gramps died I was feeling bitter towards life in general and this show in particular. I understand that something had to happen to show Hyung-seok the error of his ways, but Gramps dying?! Not cool, Savvy. Seriously. But it happened, which means we all have to find some way to live on. And that was exactly what this episode was about — moving on in the wake of a tragedy that shook Min-seok to his core.
Even once Hyung-seok gives up his revenge, things can’t go back to the way they were. Min-seok is no longer a director, and none of his relationships are the way they once were. But many of them became stronger than ever, as we found out when the Retail Team turned up for Gramps’ funeral and Min-seok’s final hockey game.
And life did go on. New tragedies arose, such as Min-seok’s more serious injury after his final game. But even that passed, leaving Min-seok with the less exciting but equally important question of what comes next. He’s been a sports star and a director — at the same time, no less — and now he has to deal with not being either of those things anymore. I was glad that the show wrapped up Hyung-seok’s revenge plan so quickly, because the realistic challenges that Min-seok faces even after Comfo is saved were just as compelling as the rivalry between brothers. The episode was low-key and seemingly less high-stakes than previous ones, but it felt like a breath of fresh air, even though it had its share of heartache.
Speaking of a breath of fresh air, the friendship between Min-seok and Jin-woo is just perfect. Now, some might say that Min-seok has his other friends, so he doesn’t need Jin-woo as much as Jin-woo needs him. But as we all know, Duk-hwan and Tae-seok have the emotional maturity of a pair of beagles. Cute, loyal beagles who have your back, but who certainly aren’t able to give Min-seok advice about the obstacles involved in dating a much older, self-sufficient woman.
Jin-woo didn’t exactly give mind-blowing advice either (“Just do your best” — really Jin-woo, that’s all you’ve got?), but his willingness to listen and sympathize was exactly what Min-seok needed. There’s also the fact that Jin-woo has been through some pretty tough times during his own life, which means he can give Min-seok the perspective that the younger boy lacks. In fact, Jin-woo is actually turning into the perfect hyung at a time when Min-seok couldn’t need one more.
I cannot in good conscience finish this recap without talking about the Drumstick Tug-of-War. First off, it was a cute bromantic moment with some snappy one-liners. When Jin-woo shot down Min-seok’s argument with an incredulous “Who doesn’t like drumsticks?!” I had to pause the show to finish snorting soda out my nose (Nothing beats a recap and cola, by the way — a Re-Co!). But I would have been happier with this show overall if that moment with the drumstick didn’t perfectly encapsulate the way the love triangle played out.
In a way, Soo-young was that drumstick, wasn’t she? Jin-woo originally saw that she was important to Min-seok, so he made a grab for her. And the culmination of his character arc was that he learned to let her go. Now, I love the way Jin-woo ended up — I think he’s gone through a lot of suffering and ended up stronger for it. But I would have liked it a great deal more if Jin-woo had never treated Soo-young like a drumstick at all, even if everyone does like drumsticks. In Shakespeare’s Othello, Emilia says that “Men are all but stomachs, and we are all but food,” but I’d like to think men have come a long way in four centuries. Let’s just hope Jin-woo treats the next girl he meets a lot better than he treated Soo-young.
The final part of the episode was a little disappointing. After all, Min-seok had a point there at the end: Was it really that hard for Soo-young to remember her phone and send Min-seok a text? It seems unrealistic to me that Soo-young would have forgotten her phone since she was talking on it when her uncle called her! That moment struck me as sloppy writing, even though I’m a diehard fan of the writing team for this drama.
Of course, the phone incident was only the straw that broke the camel’s back. Min-seok accuses Soo-young of looking down on him because he’s a high-schooler, and in spite of Min-seok’s immaturity, I think he has a point. Soo-young has made a habit of lying to Min-seok “for his own good.” Sometimes she seemed to be trying to protect him, or keep him from blowing up, but something like the debt that her mother owes is not really a secret you should be keeping from your significant other. There are times when you don’t want to burden others, but there are also times when you should share the problems you’re facing, especially when they affect the people you love.
If Soo-young felt that telling Min-seok would only cause him to worry, then in some way maybe she doesn’t trust him in the way that lovers in an equal relationship ought to trust each other. She may have a point as well, since Min-seok is underage, unemployed, and probably unable to help her family get out of its current difficulty. But when two people in a relationship can’t communicate or share their problems, no matter how much they like each other, maybe they really do need some distance for a while.
But will it be the kind of distance that separates South Korea and Germany, as Hyung-seok’s offer seems to foreshadow? We’ll have to wait until the finale to find out!
- High School King of Savvy: Episode 15
- 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