Chief Kim: Episode 3
Always quick on his feet, Sung-ryong continues to live life as he sees fit, but sometimes things don’t go as planned. A coincidental slip on ice may be the catalyst for Sung-ryong to befriend his coworkers, or perhaps it’ll be his first slip onto a downward spiral toward his demise. Either way, Sung-ryong will forge on ahead, making sure to take money in the process.
EPISODE 3 RECAP
As Sung-ryong leaves the office, he slips on a piece of ice, and slides, flailing, into Chief Lee’s wife, who’s protesting on the streets. Coincidentally, he pushes her out of the way of a barreling car, and gets hit instead. Nearby, Ha-kyung witnesses the accident, and Sung-ryong says he’s fine until blood starts to squirt from his head. He collapses to the floor, and random people from the crowd start pointing at Sung-ryong and chanting that he’s a righteous person in a dreamlike way.
Jumping from his chair, Sung-ryong wakes at his desk, and can’t believe how real his dream felt. Suddenly, the two police officers from his old neighborhood march into his office. They’re here to arrest him, but when Sung-ryong asks if they have evidence, the officer merely pulls out his gun and shoots.
Sung-ryong wakes up (again) screaming, and starts babbling about the officers and getting shot. However, after assessing his surroundings, he quickly realizes that he was, in fact, hit by a car, and Ha-kyung explains that he wasn’t badly injured—just a concussion and twelve stitches. Chief Lee’s wife thanks Sung-ryong for saving her life, and her adorable son thanks him, too. Though the accident seems to be a result of a drunk driver, Chief Lee’s wife still warns Sung-ryong to be careful.
The media hears about Sung-ryong’s recent incident and spins it as an act of bravery. The reporters call Sung-ryong a hero, but Yul grimaces as the news plays in the background.
At the hospital, Sung-ryong munches on snacks and tells a reporter that he won’t do interviews. Ha-kyung comes by to check on him and notes that he must be feeling fine since he had the energy to go buy snacks. On cue, Sung-ryong complains about his aches and pains, though he continues to eat.
Ha-kyung wonders if Sung-ryong might have accidentally saved Chief Lee’s wife by slipping on ice, and he yells at her for spewing nonsense. She apologizes and turns to leave, but Sung-ryong stops her because he wants her to bring him rice porridge for breakfast. When Ha-kyung asks for money, he simply tells her to bring him the receipt.
Back home, Ha-kyung recalls her meeting with Madam Jang, who told her about the accounting fraud occurring at the company. Conflicted, Ha-kyung messages Madam Jang, asking for more time to consider her proposal, so Madam Jang tells her to think it through and get back to her.
Sung-ryong calls former secretary Kwang-sook to complain about his new righteous image, but she thinks this could be an opportunity for him to make a profit. He doesn’t see how being righteous will make him money, so Kwang-sook enlightens him of the fact that people will trust him more because of his new image.
Yul asks the person behind yesterday’s incident, Chairman Park, about what happened. After some furtive glances, Director Go takes the blame. After Yul hears that Executive Director Jo also knew about the plans, he tells the chairman that he’ll take care of everything related to Chief Lee’s case, making sure the message isn’t lost on the executive director.
After their meeting, Yul pins Director Go to the wall and menacingly asks if he orchestrated Chief Lee’s suicide. Executive Director Jo intervenes, firmly stating that Chief Lee committed suicide of his own volition, so Yul relents on his interrogation.
Sung-ryong comes in for work and is greeted with applause in the lobby. People gather around him, and some even ask for photos, to which he happily obliges. Sung-ryong seems to enjoy the praise, but once he’s away from the crowd, he scratches his head in confusion, clearly not understanding why everyone is excited over his “righteous” image.
Executive Director Jo reprimands Yul in her office for acting disrespectfully towards his superiors, but Yul doesn’t even pretend to humor her. He begins to list off her crimes, and warns her to choose her opponents wisely.
The employees in the accounting department gather snacks for a little break while Manager Lee gossips about Sung-ryong and how he might be an attention-seeking pervert. Maknae Sang-tae stands up for Sung-ryong, and Ha-kyung tells Manager Lee to stop talking behind someone’s back.
Sung-ryong enters the office, and an awkward silence falls on the room as they all turn to face him. After Sang-tae gives a quick applause for Sung-ryong, everyone quietly disperses back to their desks, and Ha-kyung presents Sung-ryong with the receipt for the rice porridge. After paying her (plus a delivery fee, which she insists upon), Sung-ryong receives a text message from Yul, and asks Ha-kyung to place his suitcase on his desk for him, much to her exasperation.
Yul holds up his tablet showing an article about Sung-ryong’s heroic act, and starts to laugh at the idea. Sung-ryong laughs along until Yul turns serious, and then stands silently as Yul repeatedly jabs his finger into his chest. Yul orders Sung-ryong to stay in his corner and stop sticking out.
Once alone, Sung-ryong lets out his frustration, since he didn’t purposefully try and save someone. He merely slipped, turned, tumbled, and then smacked his head. He grumbles about Yul’s informal speech and goes back to work.
Also frustrated by her circumstances is Ga-eun, who works during her lunch hour making copies for her superior. She thinks back to when she first entered the prosecutor’s office where Prosecutor Han (the junior prosecutor) proposed that she work undercover at TQ Group in order to gather information. Back in the present, Ga-eun tries to rally her spirits, but bumps into a deliveryman and ends up photocopying her face.
At his desk, Sung-ryong thinks to himself that he’ll make the employees part of his team one by one. His first attempt is a wave at Ha-kyung, but she finds his actions smarmy. However, a truly unscrupulous employee barges into the office, and Sung-ryong makes the connection that this must be one of the troublesome directors.
Director Chu confronts the angry director, but receives a kick to the shin for his efforts. Before things escalate, Ha-kyung yells into her phone and manages to indirectly reprimand the director and scare him at the same time, ha. The director eventually leaves, and Director Chu scolds Sang-tae for speaking up, since this was his mess.
Sung-ryong interrupts and offers to take all the difficult cases. However, Ha-kyung doesn’t like the idea, and Director Chu adds that there needs to be trust established first. Taking things in stride, Sung-ryong yields for now, noting that they don’t trust him yet.
During the Finance Department’s meeting, the director flings the report across the table in fright. Fuming, one of the employees marches up to Ga-eun and holds up a picture of her squished, photocopied face. Clueless, Ga-eun laughs at the silly photo, but she soon realizes that she’s in trouble.
The Director of Finance reports to Yul and informs him that the monthly statement will be ready soon. He then voices his concerns about Sung-ryong’s capabilities, but Yul is confident that he’ll know how to handle the numbers. Rather than that, Yul tells the director to allow Sung-ryong to steal some money and make sure to record everything so they can use it later as evidence against him.
The employees from the Accounting Department are out for lunch, and they talk about Sung-ryong. As usual, Sang-tae is the only one who speaks well of him, and the others think he sold out for a blind date. Meanwhile, Ha-kyung is still at the office looking at an online petition asking for a reinvestigation of Chief Lee’s suicide.
Sung-ryong is also at the office, and tells Ha-kyung that he just got a call from the police station about the drunk driver. Apparently he won’t settle, and immediately, Ha-kyung surmises that the perpetrator will be difficult. Thus, Ha-kyung offers to meet the driver instead of Chief Lee’s wife, and Sung-ryong follows after her.
Chairman Park turns off the television in disgust, since Chief Lee’s wife is still on the news. Yul reassures him that this will be old news soon, and reports that they’ll get started on the project next week. Chairman Park advises him to make things perfect, and Yul confidently tells him not to worry.
At the police station, Ha-kyung yells at the driver, who acts placid and without remorse while Sung-ryong snaps photos with a police officer in the background. The driver won’t budge on his stance to go to jail, so Sung-ryong intervenes.
Having a private chat with the driver, Sung-ryong cuts to the chase and asks if TQ Group hired him. Sung-ryong guesses that driving under the influence might get the driver a year in jail, but a contract murder will get him at least six to eight years.
However, Sung-ryong is willing to let this slide if the driver compensates Chief Lee’s wife. The driver falls for Sung-ryong’s tricks and basically confesses that he got money from TQ Group. Sung-ryong warns the driver that he’ll expose him if he doesn’t comply, and the driver asks who Sung-ryong is, to which he replies, “Chief Kim.”
Sung-ryong and Ha-kyung leave the station, and to congratulate him on a job well done, Ha-kyung offers going out for a meal. To her surprise, he postpones their plans and leaves her baffled. Sung-ryong instead stops by an open market and buys various foods and fruits.
Yul tells someone over the phone to watch over Prosecutor Han and the DUI case. He then pulls over to buy a drink, but just as he takes his first sip, he spills on himself after being frightened by a loud smash. He looks up in annoyance, but his face softens when he realizes it’s a woman in the batting cage.
That woman turns out to be Ha-kyung, and Yul continues to stare at her. Suddenly, he starts seeing her in slow motion as she tosses her hair to the side, but snaps out of his trance when Ha-kyung turns around. She asks if he wants to use the batting cage, and Yul awkwardly tells her to continue.
The groceries Sung-ryong bought turn out to be for a memorial ceremony, and Sung-ryong says that this is for his mother, not his father. Tinged with bitterness, Sung-ryong tells his father that he won’t live like him, and that he will become heartless, even if it’s only out of spite.
Prosecutor Han waits at a gazebo, and Ga-eun arrives wearing a hat, sunglasses, and a mask. She didn’t want to get caught, but Prosecutor Han points out that she looks more suspicious this way. He hands her an envelope containing information about Sung-ryong, and she remembers him from the mop accident. He tells her to get close to Sung-ryong, since he speculates that Sung-ryong was chosen for ulterior motives.
At home, Ha-kyung contemplates the driver’s criminal record, though it doesn’t seem like she’s made the connection yet.
The next day, Sung-ryong washes his hair, but the water stops running before he can get the shampoo out. He goes to work scratching his disheveled hair and stops in his tracks when he sees the sign announcing him the employee of the month.
The Director of Ethical Management congratulates him for winning the title by a landslide and presents him with gifts and flowers. Looking uncomfortable, Sung-ryong forces himself to smile through all the pictures.
Ha-kyung stands frozen outside the office before noticing a security camera across the street. Inside, Sung-ryong washes his hair in the restroom sink, and a mysterious figure exits one of the stalls while holding a pole. Looking up mid-wash, Sung-ryong screams as a hand smacks him on the back.
The mysterious person is actually the head of Cleaning Team One, Ms. Uhm, and she scolds Sung-ryong for washing in the restroom. As she exits, she runs into Director Chu, and he squabbles with Ms. Uhm. He tells her that people are talking about how she purposefully came in when their German buyer was visiting, and Ms. Uhm cheekily replies that she was just curious. Director Chu: “About what? They’re all the same.” Ms. Uhm asks if he really thinks so before giving him a knowing wink. Ha.
Director Chu asks what Sung-ryong is doing, and he explains that the water at his place won’t come out. Sung-ryong complains that living in Seoul is expensive, and Director Chu repeats his usual mantra: “Then you should quit.”
Ha-kyung goes to check on the security camera footage, but everything was deleted because of a virus that coincidentally happened the day of the accident. The worker tells her that it’s impossible to recover the files.
In the office, Manager Lee looks at cars while Ki-ok panders to him. Sung-ryong sneaks up behind them and tries to act friendly. Just then, Ha-kyung enters looking grim, and asks Sung-ryong if he can speak with her for a moment.
Director Go reports to Yul about the driver, and promises to hire better quality people next time. Yul scoffs, so Director Go asks if he should take care of the driver. Yul asks if they’re filming a mob movie, and orders him to get out.
Ha-kyung asks Sung-ryong if he doesn’t think the driver is suspicious, but Sung-ryong doesn’t want to dig deeper, since his rule is to stop once he gets the money. Hence, Ha-kyung will have to investigate on her own. Before she can stop him from leaving, Ha-kyung gets called to Director Go’s office, and he warns her to stop meeting Chief Lee’s wife unless she wants to switch jobs.
At his desk, Manager Lee takes out an envelope and transfers some of its contents (money?) into a different envelope. Sung-ryong catches his sneaky behavior and smiles to himself before pretending not to have seen anything.
Continuing his plan to garner favors, Sung-ryong offers to deliver a paper for Ki-ok. When he hears it’s for the female employee in the Finance Department, he calls her mean-looking, which makes Hee-jin smile (they’re rivals), effectively winning points from them both. He then turns to Sang-tae, offering to take his files too, and Manager Lee asks for a coffee on his way back.
Ha-kyung leaves Director Go’s office, but stops in the middle of the hallway. She thinks back to his threats and can barely contain her tears before returning back to work.
Sung-ryong marches into the Finance Department and thinks to himself that it would be nice to befriend someone in here, too. He delivers the file to the “mean-looking” female employee and says she looks like a Russian actress, though she flatly calls his behavior sexual harassment.
On the other hand, Ga-eun waits anxiously in her seat as Sung-ryong approaches before greeting him cheerfully. Sung-ryong recognizes her and hides his private parts with his hands. Heh. She tries to befriend him because of her mission, and Sung-ryong also thinks it wouldn’t be bad to befriend her for now. They both laugh forcibly, unaware of the other’s ulterior motives.
Starting the next step of his plan, Sung-ryong hands everyone in his office an envelope containing money, since he’s splitting the bonus he received as employee of the month. Needless to say, the employees are excited, but Ha-kyung refuses to take it.
Out of nowhere, Director Chu pops up from the floor, and Sung-ryong tells him that he’s only handing out the money to his juniors. Director Chu looks dejected, so Sung-ryong says that he was only joking before handing him an envelope. It seems Sung-ryong’s plan has worked, but then he gets a text from Yul which ruins his mood.
Ha-kyung sits alone at a convenience store until Sung-ryong spots her and joins. Since he’s here, she asks him a question: Is what’s right right, or is what you think is right, right? He says what you think is right, is right, and Ha-kyung muses that what’s right must be right.
He tells her that’s not what he said, so she gives him a metaphor about disarming bombs in movies. When the protagonist asks the villain which wire to cut, the villain always tells the opposite. Like that, the opposite of what Sung-ryong says is the truth. With new determination, Ha-kyung calls Madam Jang, and they agree to meet.
Sung-ryong meets Yul at a restaurant, and Yul asks if he doesn’t have something he wants to tell him. Sung-ryong pretends that he just remembered, and explains that he took care of the drunk driver. Then not so innocently, Sung-ryong asks if they really were trying to kill Chief Lee’s wife.
Ha-kyung meets with Madam Jang and expresses her suspicions concerning the accident. She asks if all of this was planned by those trying to ruin the company, and Madam Jang confirms her suspicions. Unfortunately, they don’t have evidence, which means Chief Lee will end up guilty. That’s why Madam Jang needs Ha-kyung.
As Yul eats, he asks Sung-ryong what it means to know more than you’re supposed to. Sung-ryong guesses that it means you become an important person, but Yul thinks it means you become the first to reach the Jordan River. Sung-ryong deduces that he’ll be the first to reach it, and Yul wonders if he’s happy thinking that he’s gotten a leverage over him.
Sung-ryong isn’t that happy, and would rather know what would happen to him if he accomplished his tasks well, since he only wants compensation for his labor. Yul calls Sung-ryong crazy, and he admits that he needs to be crazy first to win.
Madam Jang admits that she’s afraid, but she’s more afraid of the truth being hidden. Ha-kyung understands that more causalities like Chief Lee will arise, so she agrees to side with Madam Jang.
As Yul walks by himself, he thinks back to Sung-ryong’s comments, but then gets distracted by a nearby batting cage. He looks around, but they’re only filled with men. Yul decides to try it out, but he’s absolutely terrible at it.
Everyone at the Accounting Department is busy, and youngest member Sang-tae is swamped with work. He eventually asks Sung-ryong if he can take over the executives’ reimbursements, and Sung-ryong happily agrees, until Ha-kyung interjects. She’s against Sang-tae handing off his work, but Sung-ryong argues that he’s only helping him.
Ha-kyung tells him to follow the rules, but Sung-ryong pulls rank since he’s the chief. With that, he leaves the office to head to the bank, but Ha-kyung follows after him. They continue their argument outside, where she tells him that he’s nothing like their last chief.
However, their fight is interrupted when Sung-ryong gets a call from Kwang-sook, who tells him that the police are investigating them again. Just then, the police show up and charge Sung-ryong for tax evasion conspiracy and forging private papers. Sung-ryong protests, but he’s powerless as they cuff and throw him into their car.
It’s interesting how the future battle seems to be between Madam Jang and Chairman Park. I’m actually curious about their backstory, and how the current situation came to be. Currently, Madam Jang is portrayed as the good one who wants truth to prevail since we’re seeing her through Ha-kyung’s interactions, but I wonder if that’s truly all there is to her. She also owns a portion of TQ Group, and it would be fascinating if it turns out that neither side is truly good, which would leave Ha-kyung to either compromise her principles or go the lone-wolf route (or team up with Sung-ryong). On the other hand, there might not be more hidden themes, and it might just end up being good versus evil. Granted, with a morally ambiguous hero, things are already shaken up.
It was nice to see more of Sung-ryong’s past this episode. It appears that the reason behind his current way of life is his father, who failed to support the family in what Sung-ryong believes as his pursuit of being “good.” Thus, it doesn’t seem like Sung-ryong is necessarily motivated by only greed or envy. Though our hero isn’t quite a morally upright person, he shows flashes of kindness and thoughtfulness that makes me believe that he’s not as cold-hearted as he thinks he is. When confronting the drunk driver, he asked for money for Chief Lee’s wife, and when the little boy thanked him for saving his mom, that smile seemed genuine. Also, Sung-ryong doesn’t belittle anyone or use his rank to boss people around. Part of that might be because he needs to befriend people in the department, but from the way he treats Kwang-sook, I think Sung-ryong just naturally treats those who work for him with a certain level of respect, which is completely the opposite of Yul.
Surprisingly, I actually like Yul, though I think his character is really helped by the performance. He’s rude and mean, and to be honest, I think he’s a total jerk whenever he interacts with any of the directors or Sung-ryong. However, I can’t help but feel like there’s more to his character than a greedy prosecutor looking for more power. It may be because I thought he was kind of adorable when he saw Ha-kyung and was completely entranced by her. He even thanked her after telling her to continue, and something about Yul feels like a clever boy trying to be cunning and prove himself rather than a truly ruthless businessman willing to cut down others out of greed. On the other hand, there’s really nothing to support these feelings other than the fact that I think Junho comes across as slightly playful with his constant smirks and boyish looks.
On the other hand, I absolutely love Ga-eun. She’s probably as wacky as Sung-ryong, and I kind of love how clueless she is. If she were a real human being, she would give me grief and headaches, but as a character, I find her completely lovable. She’s eager to accomplish her mission, and in her earnestness, she tends to act ridiculously. She has this bubbly cheerfulness to her, and out of all the characters portrayed, she seems the most innocent and oblivious to the darker underbelly of TQ Group. In some ways, she’s a one-dimensional character and all her scenes are for laughs. However, I appreciate her one-track mind and the humor that ensues from her. She feels like a ray of sunshine, especially when other characters are experiencing less than happy moments, and I always enjoy what the show delivers through her.
I feel like the show really contrasts its heavy and light moments. We’re slowly seeing some in-betweens as we see different sides to the various characters (mostly from Sung-ryong and bit from Yul), but for the most part, I think this is what the show will be like. It’ll be funny when it needs to be, and serious when it wants to be. There won’t be much overlap, and certain characters will mostly revolve under one of the two tones (e.g., Executive Director Jo probably won’t have any wacky, laugh-out-loud moments). While I would personally appreciate more nuanced transitions between serious and funny moments (like when Director Go asked if he should take care of the driver and Yul responded by asking if they’re filming a gangster movie), I acknowledge that this is also a specific type of wacky humor. Overall, the show makes me laugh, so as a comedy drama, I’d like to think that it has met its goal.
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