Chief Kim: Episode 10
It’s another hope-filled hour as Business Operations stays strong against setback after setback. With such a dependable, motivated team at your back, it seems like anything can be accomplished – until Yul strolls in with that manic, unrelenting grin on his face, of course. Hopefully, their teamwork can withstand the darkness that is Yul before his corrupt side leads them all over the edge.
EPISODE 10 RECAP
At Sung-ryong’s outburst, Yul retorts that he should have been honest with his employees about the consequences of failure. Before Sung-ryong can argue, however, Director Chu tells him to return to his seat. Bowing his head to Yul in apology, Director Chu promises that Business Operations will do their best. Yul: “I don’t need you to do your best. Just stop messing up.”
Sung-ryong starts after him, but Director Chu stops him, unable to lift his head. Even Myung-suk shakes his head, muttering about how young people shouldn’t be so disrespectful.
Outside, an annoyed Yul is informed that Go and Gu Law Firm has taken on the TQ Delivery labor union case.
In the tense atmosphere, Sung-ryong asks Myung-suk to excuse them so that the department can talk in private. Sung-ryong, Director Chu, and Ha-kyung apologize to the others for deceiving them, but understandably, the team isn’t happy – it’s bad enough that their chief lied to them, but the cost of failure is suddenly so high. Director Chu simply urges Ha-kyung and Sung-ryong to hurry ahead and do what they’ve been asked to do: find the person who’s been pocketing money from the company.
In her office, Ga-eun checks her surroundings before unloading a pile of shredded paper onto her desk. She’s on a mission to tape together the shredded document and faces her daunting task with energy and passion.
Clad in matching black suits and smart-looking glasses, Sung-ryong and Ha-kyung stroll out of TQ disguised as the Inspection Division. Ha-kyung complains about the costume, but Sung-ryong assures her this is the best way to look like insufferable jerks. Ha-kyung sighs that she’s not good at being insufferable because she looks too kind. Sung-ryong: “Great! That was perfectly insufferable.” LOL.
They sit outside of a convenience store drinking yogurt as they wait for Sung-ryong’s colleague from Gunsan. Sung-ryong informs Ha-kyung that he doesn’t know much about cars, but his colleague is a mechanic who worked at a repair shop. When the colleague arrives, he gushes about how great they look together and how beautiful Ha-kyung is, completely deaf to Ha-kyung’s insistence that they’re not together.
Ha-kyung splits ways with Sung-ryong and his colleague, who go to meet with someone in the delivery car upgrades division at TQ. Under the guise of the Inspection Division, they claim that they’re here to investigate rumors that they are pocketing money. The man insists that it’s untrue, but Sung-ryong’s colleague pulls out the evidence of the unreasonably high upgrade prices.
The man just scoffs, saying it’s their choice to set their profit margins wherever they want, but Sung-ryong tells him that headquarters is becoming concerned about how much they’re pocketing. Annoyed, the man notes that that’s strange, since they’d agreed to split the profits with headquarters. Sung-ryong grins – he’s heard all he needed.
Ha-kyung, meanwhile, meets with a repairman on her own. She tells him she’s been sent to investigate the unreasonably high parking fees set for TQ Delivery employees. This man, too, lets slip about splitting the profits, and Ha-kyung tells him (insufferably, hee) that there’s no taking it back now.
Chairman Park meets with Yul over lunch to thank him for his work. He reminds Yul of when they first met, when he’d promised he wouldn’t compensate him with just money. Now, he wants to follow through – once Seoahn Jangryong officially invests, says the chairman, Yul will become the head of TQ Retail.
Yul is surprised, but Chairman Park tells him they need someone like Yul to lead the front in retail. The chairman tells him he plans to recommend him to the board too, so he shouldn’t do anything controversial in the meantime. Yul promises.
Having finished their investigation as the Inspection Division, Sung-ryong and Ha-kyung treat themselves to kimbap. He asks Ha-kyung how they can make the two profit-pocketing groups fight against each other, and she answers: “Make the ones that were paid look like they weren’t, and then make it seem like those that were paid are complaining.” Sung-ryong praises her for learning so fast.
Manager Lee gathers Hee-jin, Ki-ok, and Sang-tae to complain about their superiors’ deception, while the other three sullenly try to keep their faith in their team leaders. Manager Lee isn’t so forgiving, however, and tells them he’ll speak up – the others just have to follow his lead.
So Manager Lee confronts Director Chu in the office, demanding that Business Operations request Madam Jang to pull out of the revival project. Manager Lee argues that everyone in Business Operations has personal circumstances and needs to earn money; they can’t afford to take a gamble on this project. Ga-eun listens in while working on piecing together the shredded strips of the document, and curses Manager Lee for his yapping.
Fed up, Director Chu argues back: “Of course I’m terrified too. Of course I could tell Madam Jang that we’re not doing this project. Then I wouldn’t have to listen to Seo Yul yell at me all day.” But the real reason he’s chosen to accept it? “Because… I finally feel like I’m doing something worthwhile.”
He asks Sang-tae what he’ll lose if this project fails: his job, his insurance, his paycheck. But what will he gain if they succeed? Sang-tae: “Myself.” Sang-tae explains that he put his pride and self-esteem aside to gain his insurance, but he’d like to find it again.
Director Chu agrees – but for him, his pride and self-esteem are so crumpled and forgotten that he can’t even find them anymore. By the time his kid had gone off to college, he realized his self had disappeared. “But then I met Chief Kim, and I started to gain myself back.” They all agree (even a sobbing and emotional Manager Lee), and gather for a team moment.
As Manager Lee goes home that night, he notices a dark figure following him. He quickens his steps, but when he turns around, the figure has disappeared – only to suddenly appear before him and hit him in the forehead with a spoon. Manager Lee falls to the ground while the figure (Ga-eun, obviously) scurries away. LOL.
The next day, Kwang-sook is working in the TQ café when her superior asks her to deliver some coffee to the Accounting Department. Kwang-sook skips away with the coffees, marveling at the nice interior and greeting every employee she passes. When she arrives at Accounting, Ga-eun points her toward the conference room for the delivery, where Director Go is meeting with the three heads of the Accounting Department.
Just as Kwang-sook distributes their beverages, however, the employees discuss whether Business Operations really will be demolished. Manager Go confirms, saying Yul has set a lot of traps. Shocked by the news, Kwang-sook leaves, cursing.
In his office, Yul is informed that Go and Gu have managed to get one of the labor union leaders released from detainment due to his injuries. Yul is annoyed, but in Business Operations, the news is met with joy – the released labor union member is Ki-ok’s father.
Manager Lee arrives late, a fresh bandage over his nose from where Ga-eun hit him. Manager Lee just says he bumped into something, and they tease him good-naturedly before returning to divvying up tasks for the revival plan. Hee-jin will calculate the rebates, and Ha-kyung and Sung-ryong will seek out another person to testify against TQ Delivery along with Ki-ok’s father.
That other person is TQ Delivery’s General Manager Lim, who Sung-ryong and Ha-kyung meet with at a café. General Manager Lim attempts to claim innocence, but Sung-ryong reminds him that they’re already estimating the rebates, and the truth will come out anyway. Ha-kyung adds that this isn’t about accusing him, it’s about protecting the 3,400 people who were laid off.
They ask him to testify that the rebates are the cause of the deficit, and to testify against the board members who got the rebates. General Manager Lim leaves before they can persuade him any further.
The next day, Manager Go asks Sung-ryong for an update on the revival plan. Sung-ryong warns him that they don’t have much of a plan yet, and when he gives Manager Go their progress, it’s just a single sheet of paper that says: “Find who’s pocketing the money.” Lol. Manager Go accuses Sung-ryong of playing around, but Sung-ryong just says that they have to look for a leak in management.
Manager Go reports this to Yul, saying that there’s a chance that Sung-ryong is on to something. Yul suggests that they take care of him, just to be safe, and then orders Manager Go to bring him materials on TQ Retail. Manager Go then reports Yul’s orders to Executive Director Jo, who is concerned at Yul’s sudden interest in TQ Retail – especially because she was supposed to be appointed head of TQ Retail next year. Uh-oh.
Yul meets with Director Chu and Sung-ryong, demanding an interim report on their progress in three days. Yul promises that if the interim report looks successful, he’ll defy the board, disassemble the Restructuring Team, and support their revival plan. At that, Sung-ryong wants to add one more item: move Business Operations to the 17th floor, and Yul must personally apologize to Business Operations for his rudeness. Yul agrees – but if they fail, he can do whatever he wants to Business Operations.
As they leave, Director Chu throws a fit at Sung-ryong for continuing to gamble with their jobs. When they inform Business Operations, they just stare at him in misery. Sung-ryong encourages them to do their best, at which the team holds him down for some corporal punishment.
Ga-eun finally finishes piecing together the document, and is surprised to find that the paper is from Taipans Bank. Confused as to why this document is at Accounting, she starts to call her prosecutor friend, but she suddenly hangs up.
That evening, Business Operations is gathered in the office for a review of their plan. They only have two days now, and in those days, they absolutely must do two things: secure testimonies and estimate the rebates. They have their work cut out for them, but they work hard late into the night.
Sung-ryong receives a text message from Ga-eun, who wants to show him the document she put together. He realizes that it’s a transaction record from a Taiwanese bank, and then wonders why she took the time to tape it together. She tells him it was because she was curious, but he looks at her suspiciously. Ga-eun sweats in nervousness at the prospect of being found out, but Sung-ryong just says: “By any chance, are you… a total nerd?” Lol.
Ga-eun explains that the two names at the bottom of the document are not TQ employees, which Sung-ryong agrees is awfully strange. He tells her to keep it safe for now, since it’ll come in handy later.
Sung-ryong visits Ki-ok’s father while he’s still in prison, asking for a favor. He needs him to testify against TQ Delivery for their interim report. Ki-ok’s father gladly agrees, happy to lay everything out in the open.
Sung-ryong passes by Yul in the hallway of TQ. Yul notes that it feels like just yesterday when Sung-ryong knelt down to him, but Sung-ryong just replies that it was for momentum: “If you just bend down a little, you can jump really high.” LOL. Yul attempts to provoke him by using his money laundering past, but Sung-ryong says he’s paying for it now by doing the right thing. Yul tells him that sometimes people make wrong decisions to do the right thing. Sung-ryong mumbles the words to himself, marveling at how cool they sound.
Trying to get General Manager Lim’s testimony, Sung-ryong “coincidentally” runs into General Manager Lim at a restaurant, at a golf course, and outside TQ Delivery. He’s relentless.
In the office, Ha-kyung goes over their progress on estimating rebates with Sung-ryong. The estimates are already huge: over the last three years, it was at least twelve million dollars.
Meanwhile, Yul checks employee records at TQ Retail as he makes sure his underling is still keeping watch over Business Operations.
The next morning, Sung-ryong “runs into” General Manager Lim in the elevator. General Manager Lim tells him to leave him alone, but Sung-ryong just wants to talk. They finally sit down at a café, where Sung-ryong asks him for any detail he can.
General Manager Lim is unwilling to dig his own grave, but he seems to waver when Sung-ryong explains that he knows General Manager Lim won’t be affected by the moral argument for the poor TQ Delivery employees, so he instead offers to share his know-how on stabbing people in the back and getting out of this cleanly. This piques Lim’s interest, who wants to leave TQ as soon as possible to avoid getting caught, but Sung-ryong refuses to explain further until Lim agrees to help.
In the office, Ha-kyung and Director Chu note that they really need General Manager Lim’s testimony for the interim report to hold any weight at all, so they have to bank on Sung-ryong’s persuasion skills.
After their meeting, Sung-ryong finally receives General Manager Lim’s promise to help via text message. When Sung-ryong walks into Business Operations, he pretends to be depressed before sharing the good news: They have a revival plan and two testimonies! The Business Operations team heads out for a round of beers, all smiles and cheers.
The next morning, Business Operations shares a cheer before their presentation. Ha-kyung notes Sung-ryong’s exaggerated trembling before they all head to the auditorium, where Madam Jang and the TQ executives have gathered.
Sung-ryong begins his presentation, titled “Shit Group, Shit Delivery’s Revival.” A panicked Director Chu yells at Sang-tae for forgetting to change the letters to English (the Korean keys that correspond with “TQ” spell out “shit,” LOL).
Brushing over the mistake, Sung-ryong continues on with the presentation. He explains that TQ Delivery executives used their employees to gain rebates from their subcontractors, forcing employees to pay for expensive services. The profits gained from these services were then split amongst the board, driving a deficit and hurting employees. Sung-ryong says that TQ’s corruption must be erased to solve this problem.
Yul calls out that he’d better have the evidence to back up his claim, and Sung-ryong introduces his two witnesses: Ki-ok’s father, who was laid off, and General Manager Lim, a whistleblower who will reveal the inside workings of TQ Delivery. Executive Director Jo mutters that she wasn’t expecting this.
Ki-ok’s father stands to share his story and the reality of TQ. To Business Operations’ horror, however, Ki-ok’s father begins by saying that his firing from TQ delivery was just and proper. Old employees like him, he says, cannot work well. Furthermore, there are no problems with their subcontractors, and he has never felt abused or taken advantage of. Ki-ok’s father concludes by thanking TQ for hiring him for sixteen years.
Executive Director Jo and Yul look on smugly as Sung-ryong glares at them. As Ki-ok’s father leaves, a devastated Ki-ok demands to know what happened in there, but Ki-ok’s father just brushes him away and leaves.
At that moment, however, General Manager Lim arrives for his testimony. This time, Executive Director Jo and Director Go look shocked at the fact that Business Operations managed to persuade him to testify, but Yul still looks calm. Sung-ryong ushers him to the podium, begging him to say exactly what they’d agreed to.
But General Manager Lim speaks up to say the accusations of illegal slush funds and rebates are all false. He says Sung-ryong threatened and blackmailed him to do as he said, and he had no choice but to come here today. He leaves.
As the audience files out, the Business Operations team falls into solemn despair, looking like they’ve given up. Yul scans the scene before heading out too.
Yul catches up with Madam Jang, asking whether she thinks there’s still value in pushing for TQ Delivery’s revival. Madam Jang agrees that there’s no value, especially when it could threaten the employees of Business Operations. She adds one more thing: She’s also lost all hope she had in Yul. “I thought you at least knew where to draw the line,” she says. Yul’s smirk disappears as she turns away.
Chairman Park, meanwhile, receives news of what happened and laughs gleefully to himself.
Alone in his office, Yul sits pensively with his employee records, which are open to Ki-ok’s father’s resume as well as Ki-ok’s. We flash back to Yul meeting with Ki-ok’s father in prison, when he’d told Ki-ok’s father what to say at the testimony. Ki-ok’s father had flatly refused, but Yul had simply threatened Ki-ok’s livelihood. Similarly, Yul’s prosecutor underling had gotten to General Manager Lim. Yul walks away with a manic grin on his face.
In the auditorium, Business Operations grieves their failure, knowing exactly who was behind this. At that moment, Yul himself strolls in, spreading his arms smugly to gloat. An infuriated Sung-ryong launches himself at him, but is held back while Ha-kyung growls that he didn’t have to go this far.
Yul just claims his innocence, however, before getting down to business: According to their deal, Business Operations is officially dissolved.
Was Yul’s manic smile creepy or what? It feels like as he falls deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole of evil and corruption, Yul seems to be losing what he used to stand for. We don’t know much about Yul’s past or his motivations, but it did seem like he hated corruption, only yielding to it because it was the force that seemed to always win. Corruption, after all, forced him to abandon faith in the Prosecutor’s Office and turn to the private sector, and he’s also expressed frustration with the way TQ used threats and thugs to take care of its business. Now that he’s doing the same, however, it’s funny and strange to me that I still can’t bring myself to hate him, despite how much worse and worse he’s getting to be as a person. It may be my naïve hope and love for his character, but it still doesn’t feel like he’s beyond the point of redemption. Chairman Park’s offer to let him head TQ Retail does seem to have deeply blinded him with greed for power and status, but I don’t think that he’s so far gone. At least not yet.
In that vein, I so, so wish that Ha-kyung will have a bigger impact on Yul. The Yul/Ha-kyung scenes were really great moments to cherish and squeal over, but as they’ve practically disappeared from recent episodes, it almost seems like it was never there at all. If a romantic subplot between these two doesn’t become a bigger point, however, I’m not entirely sure what the point of it was before. I think there would have been a lot of interesting potential for Ha-kyung’s trust and affection to drive a change in Yul’s transformation toward corruption, or at least provide some inner conflict as he struggles with his identity on the good-evil spectrum, the same way she managed to affect Sung-ryong. I won’t lose hope that Ha-kyung will disappear from Yul’s motivations, however, and I hope the show hasn’t abandoned the subplot – I’m really looking forward to Ha-kyung becoming a part of the drive to change Yul, for better or for worse.
Meanwhile, the team dynamic became a renewed source of emotional depth in this episode. Director Chu’s speech to Hee-jin, Ki-ok, Sang-tae, and Manager Lee was really well-done, both in the writing and in his character development. None of the minor characters in Chief Kim develop in ways that are surprising, but heck, does it feel warm and genuine. As Business Operations worked on their revival plan late into the night in their cramped, dimly lit office, it was clear that they drew strength from each other, both as coworkers and as people. Sung-ryong was, beautifully, the driving force behind that “revival” in their teamwork by making them come together and drive forward, and he connected them through himself as a single point for everyone to look at and draw hope from.
Finally, I really enjoyed the antics in this episode, as I have been more and more lately. Namgoong Min’s acting is always hilariously off the wall as it was in Beautiful Gong-shim, and it’s probably half the reason for the enjoyment factor of this show. But what makes it increasingly fun is the way it seems to be rubbing off on Ha-kyung, too. Rather than the responsible and consequence-based employee she was before, she seems to be embracing her goofy side. I’m not sure whether Namgoong Min rubbed off on Nam Sang-mi subconsciously as an actor, but it’s so fun and sweet to watch these two characters work together.