Chief Kim: Episode 5
Sung-ryong is a dastardly snake who only looks for ways to make money, or is he? That’s the question our hero continues to struggle with this episode, as he vehemently denies his new “Mr. Righteous” title. But despite what he says, his actions seem to speak differently, and those around him are forced to re-evaluate their first impressions of him.
EPISODE 5 RECAP
Outside the office building, security suddenly arrives and pushes Ha-kyung to the ground while dragging Chief Lee’s wife away. Sung-ryong erupts after watching the scene, and launches himself at them, managing to land a solid punch on one of them.
Yul and Executive Director Jo meet with the Chinese delegates who bluntly state that TQ Group has lost its value because of the recent allegations. They were planning to withdraw, but have recently changed their minds. However, it comes with a few stipulations: the first being a review of a random subsidiary of their choosing. Though, the condition is steep, Yul tells the translator to inform the delegates that they’ll comply despite Executive Director Jo’s protests.
In a security room, Sung-ryong and Ha-kyung take turns yelling at the men who attacked them—though the guards look more beat up in comparison—until one of the guards gets a phone call. They’ve received orders to bring Sung-ryong, so they drag him out, kicking and screaming.
Sung-ryong is brought forward to the Chinese delegates, and Ha-kyung forces herself into the room, too, which surprises Yul. The Chinese delegates want Sung-ryong to be part of the diligence preparation team as their second term. They saw his “righteous” deed on social media, and believe Sung-ryong is an honest and dedicated man whom they can trust. To everyone’s surprise, Sung-ryong declines the offer and leaves the room. Ha-kyung chases after him, thinking he’s acting too hastily, but Sung-ryong tells her to wait because he has a plan.
Yul points out that Sung-ryong isn’t suited for this task, maintaining his rude form of speech, when the female delegate suddenly speaks in Korean. They still want Sung-ryong, and the female delegate orders Yul to speak more politely next time since he’s been speaking rather unpleasantly throughout the entire meeting. Busted!
Ha-kyung reports everything to Madam Jang and wonders if the preparation team will reveal the company’s fraudulence. Madam Jang doubts that this will happen, so she wants Ha-kyung to be part of the preparation team.
Chairman Park is outraged at the stipulations especially since the subsidiary their Chinese partners chose is TQ Delivery. To make matters worse, there’s a union strike occurring there, but Yul promises to resolve the situation quickly. The other problem is Sung-ryong, and Chairman Park orders Yul to control his employee better.
The aforementioned troublemaker leisurely waits while sipping banana milk, and as Sung-ryong counts down, his phone rings right as he reaches “one.” In a serious tone, he answers his phone, and ends up in the chairman’s office with Yul.
Chairman Park asks what Sung-ryong wants, and reassures him that he won’t get angry at his request. Hesitantly, Sung-ryong admits that he does have a request, and Chairman Park shouts that he should have said so already to which Sung-ryong meekly points out that he promised not to get mad.
Sung-ryong’s favor is for the chairman to drop the lawsuit against Chief Lee’s wife, but Chairman Park doesn’t believe that’s his only request. Sung-ryong admits that he does have one, small, personal favor to ask of Yul, and Chairman Park orders Yul to agree if possible since the preparation team and investigation are all his responsibility.
In the privacy of his office, Yul reprimands Sung-ryong for acting fearless, and Sung-ryong pretends that he just felt too bad for Chief Lee’s wife. Yul doesn’t fall for his crocodile tears, and asks what his real request is. Dropping the act, Sung-ryong immediately asks for his books to be destroyed.
Realizing that he’s been outdone, Yul resorts to violence and grabs Sung-ryong by his lapels. Yul growls at him, but Sung-ryong simply cries that he’s hurting his armpits. In the end, Yul agrees to destroy the books, and Sung-ryong tries to suppress his victorious smile.
Everyone in the Accounting Department (besides Ki-ok) gossips over snacks, and they agree that it’s amazing that Sung-ryong got scouted and managed to get the lawsuit dropped. Ga-eun eavesdrops on their conversation through her hidden listening device, and is also impressed.
Sung-ryong saunters in the hallway, and walks up to Chief Lee’s wife who’s sitting with Ha-kyung. He rips up the lawsuit, and Chief Lee’s wife thanks him, calling him her savior. Meanwhile, Yul orders someone over the phone to bring Sung-ryong’s books to him.
As they walk back to their office, Ha-kyung thanks Sung-ryong, and concedes that Sung-ryong might actually be a righteous man since he did help Chief Lee’s wife. That triggers a chorus and ethereal chanting of “righteous man” in Sung-ryong’s head, and he snaps at Ha-kyung for using that nickname. That only makes her want to tease him more as she calls him “Mr. Righteous” before running off ahead.
Executive Director Jo vents her frustration and expresses her bafflement with their Chinese partners to Director Go. Even so, Director Go reminds her that TQ Group needs their investment, but that won’t stop Executive Director Jo from interfering in Yul’s plans.
Outside TQ Delivery, the workers continue to strike, and one of the members turns out to be Ki-ok’s father. Ki-ok calls him, telling him to avoid trouble, and Director Chu accidentally overhears his phone call.
Just then, Sung-ryong returns to the office, and everyone gathers at his desk to congratulate him. Ki-ok cautiously asks him if TQ Delivery will be alright, citing that a friend works there, and Ha-kyung assures him that this investigation is only a test to see the company’s integrity.
A member from the General Affairs department enters the office looking for Sung-ryong, since the higher-ups just sent down an order. He needs to double-check some information concerning TQ Delivery, and when Sung-ryong complains about the amount of work, Ha-kyung hastily volunteers to help.
Executive Director Jo reports to Chairman Park about Madam Jang’s phone record and recent movements. She notes that nothing unusual happened, but Chairman Park tells her that his wife is a thorough and clever person. He’s certain she planted a spy, and orders Executive Director Jo to dig deeper.
The Director of Finance informs Yul about the new preparation team, and mentions that Ha-kyung has also joined after volunteering to help Sung-ryong. Yul allows Ha-kyung to stay for now, and gets a phone call about Sung-ryong’s books.
Under a bridge by the river, Sung-ryong meets with Yul to get back his books, but Yul only returns half of them since he’ll give back the other half after everything is done. Sung-ryong agrees to the arrangement, and burns the books right then and there.
He then asks Yul if he made a copy, and quickly retracts his questions since only nasty, shameless, deceitful, dirty, cheap trash break promises and make copies. Clearing his throat, Yul throws a flash drive into the fire and says that he merely forgot to bring it out in the beginning.
Elated, Sung-ryong dances on the street with a mascot, and once he’s home, he jumps into bed smiling. He mocks Yul’s little blunder at the end of their meeting, and calls him cute for trying to lie. However, his giddiness gets tainted when he remembers Ha-kyung’s comment about him helping Chief Lee’s wife.
Seriously confused about his identity, Sung-ryong calls Kwang-sook for advice, and she asks him which of his requests were more important. He replies that getting the lawsuit dropped was his first priority, and Kwang-sook wonders if he’s actually becoming a righteous man. She asks if he gets sudden urges to don a mask, cape, and tights, but Sung-ryong is in no mood for jokes. After hanging up, he tries to go to bed but is bothered by loud noises from his roof.
Ga-eun meets secretively with Prosecutor Han, and hands over the recordings. She expresses her doubts concerning Sung-ryong, and when Prosecutor Han suggests that it’s all an act, she subconsciously shushes him with a finger. Embarrassed by what she just did, Ga-eun attempts to quickly leave, but falls flat on her back instead. Ouch.
In another secret meeting, Ha-kyung also reports her misgivings about Sung-ryong being bad to Madam Jang, and Madam Jang wonders if she might have been mistaken about him. From a nearby bush, a shadowy figure takes photos of their meeting.
Sung-ryong tries to sleep, but the continuous ruckus from above keeps him awake. Getting up, he tells himself to not be shaken, but dust suddenly falls on him. Then the lights start to flicker, plaster falls, and in the end, Sung-ryong ends up covered in dust. He looks up to discover a newly made hole in his ceiling, and then screams after noticing large chunks of the roof a foot away from his bed.
In another danger-zone apartment filled with garbage and dirty laundry, Director Chu talks on the phone with his wife who’s asking him to send more money. It seems that he’s a “goose father” (a man who has his wife and children living abroad for the children’s education), and his family hasn’t come back in a while. After hanging up, Director Chu goes back to sleep on the couch.
The next morning, Sung-ryong looks at new apartments while heading to work, and Myung-suk bumps into him. Once Myung-suk realizes he ran into Sung-ryong, he instantly turns meek, and Sung-ryong jokes around with him, asking why he didn’t get him fired. Myung-suk flinches whenever Sung-ryong raises his arm, and finally manages to run away.
The apartment hunting continues in the office, and Director Chu attempts his best innocent-look at Sung-ryong after hearing that he’s moving. He offers an empty room in his apartment, but Sung-ryong declines. Director Chu keeps insisting until Sung-ryong proposes 45 thousand won as rent, and mumbles that Sung-ryong is too cheap.
Ha-kyung and Sung-ryong join the new preparation team led by Yul, and they all head over to TQ Delivery. The strike continues, and coincidentally, Sung-ryong seems to recognize the leader of the strike. Curious, Sung-ryong asks a barrage of questions about the union strike much to Yul’s ire and Ha-kyung’s embarrassment.
The new team immediately starts to work, and as everyone is busy pounding away on their keyboards, Sung-ryong suddenly gets the blue screen of death. The computer won’t even shut down, so Sung-ryong decides to pull the plug. Unfortunately, he accidentally shuts down everyone’s computer, and gets kicked out by Yul.
Once outside, Sung-ryong walks over to the union leader, and he instantly recognizes Sung-ryong and greets him warmly. The union leader used to be a waiter working for Boss Bae, and Sung-ryong notes that he’s moved up in life. The union leader explains that he’s actually quite powerless, but Sung-ryong still thinks union leaders look really cool. In fact, he’s always wanted to wear that vest, so the union leader happily offers his to Sung-ryong.
Back in the Accounting Department, Ki-ok sits in the break room, and Director Chu decides to ask him what’s wrong. When Ki-ok hesitates, Director Chu acknowledges that he can’t solve his problems anyway, but Ki-ok finally speaks up, telling him that his father works for TQ Delivery.
Yul asks why the delivery company has been in the red for the last couple of years, and the director of finance blames the increase in fees as the source. Ha-kyung interjects, since the cut in costs are larger than the fee increases, but her input is quickly shut down.
The workers are talking about the same thing with Sung-ryong, and the union leader explains how the company blames them instead of their business strategies. Ki-ok’s father adds that they work between fourteen to eighteen hours, and a lot of the employees get health complications due to the working conditions.
The workers feel like animals and claim that machines get treated better than they do, and they can’t believe they’re penniless even after working all day. When Ki-ok’s father asks if the higher-ups even care about their employees, Sung-ryong muses that they don’t care about humans.
The preparation team gets a break from work, and Ha-kyung goes outside to look for Sung-ryong. She finds him chatting with the workers, and joins them in their tent. Ki-ok’s father is also there, and mentions his son who works at TQ headquarters, though he doesn’t remember the exact department. Before Ha-kyung returns to work, Sung-ryong asks that she call him once they’re finished.
After receiving a phone call, Yul goes outside and meets with the prosecutor who kidnapped Sung-ryong before. The prosecutor informs Yul of a mole most likely planted by Prosecutor Han, and possibly another spy working for Madam Jung. Either way, the spies are most likely in the accounting or finance departments, and Yul orders his henchman to screen all the employees.
A mob of black-clothed men arrive at TQ Delivery, and Sung-ryong’s intuition warns him that they’re private security. He tries to convince the union leader to back down, but the leader won’t budge. Thus, a full-out fight ensues as the people from the private security firm attack the unarmed workers.
Inside, work is nearly done, so Ha-kyung calls Sung-ryong. However, he can’t answer his phone at the moment because he’s busy running for his life. Sung-ryong jumps across tables and in-between tents as he asks the security thugs why they keep following him.
The preparation team is officially finished with work, and after sneaking a glance at Ha-kyung, Yul musters out a “good job.” Just as they’re about to leave, a staff member comes in and announces that there’s a problem outside.
The fighting is getting worse, but Sung-ryong manages to dodge his pursuers while still cracking jokes (“Do you like me?”), since they seem intent on catching him. In the end, however, he gets carried away despite his protests that he’s “Mr. Righteous.”
The preparation team witnesses the chaos, and Yul immediately guesses that this is Executive Director Jo’s handiwork. Ha-kyung is appalled by the violence against the workers, but the members of the finance department are aloof to the worker’s plight. Since they caused this mess, they’ll fix it, too.
Unlike the detached finance department, Ha-kyung can’t stand by and watch, and not only that, Sung-ryong might also still be in there. She charges into the mob, and Yul holds her back in order to stop her. However, Ha-kyung won’t be deterred; thus, Yul follows her and joins the foray.
Ha-kyung looks for Sung-ryong, but instead, she notices Ki-ok’s father from earlier being pinned to the ground. She tries to intervene but gets pushed aside. Her meddling enrages one of the security thugs, who suddenly advances on her. But Yul steps in-between and raises his fist to strike. Right then, the leader of the security group yells out, “Freeze!” and soon after, all the thugs leave.
Sung-ryong is in trouble as he’s dragged to a remote location with a bag over his head. He screams and complains the entire time, until he’s pushed into a chair and has the bag removed. A frightening man sits across from him, his face hidden in shadows, and he greets Sung-ryong, assuming he’s the union leader.
The mini-story arc introduced this episode concerning the delivery people is a familiar plot and theme. It’s an easy way to establish bad guys and also serves as a catalyst for characters to grow by standing up for the marginalized and exploited. For the most part, the show hasn’t delivered anything new or special in terms of this plot line, though granted, it’s only the beginning. Even if the union workers going on strike is a bit clichéd, the message is still powerful and easy to sympathize with if done well. However, I think this is one of my complaints with the show. While I find certain characters funny and others adorable (at times), I don’t quite feel emotionally invested in anyone yet. The show is clearly introducing emotional storylines as shown with Director Chu and Ki-ok, but I don’t think the execution has been as impactful as I would have liked.
To elaborate, Ki-ok was part of the comedic duo with Manager Lee, and he’s mostly there for the show to make food jokes. Thus, while I understood that he would be worried about his father, I just don’t know enough about him as a character, nor his relationship with his family, in order to make me feel his emotions alongside him. With shows like these that have a lot of side characters, it can be either an asset or a hindrance. It’s difficult to balance screen time and character development when you have multiple pieces vying for your attention, but when done well, I think good side characters add depth and nuance to a show. Unfortunately, none of characters have quite burrowed into my heart yet, which is also probably why I’m not as moved during the more emotional bits.
Nonetheless, the show continues to be wacky, and Namgoong Min continues to put in a strong performance. I love the internal struggle Sung-ryong is going through concerning his new nickname because it’s so unconventional. He’s honestly having an identity crisis because people perceive him as “righteous,” and it’s funny how he’s taking this so seriously when most people only say it mockingly towards him. I feel like I’m watching a villain suddenly realize that he’s the hero in the story, and one who’s experiencing a meltdown because of this new discovery. The show reveals glimpses of Sung-ryong’s good side, but the humor is in the fact that our protagonist is also recognizing these layered aspects to him at the same time as the viewer. Hence, I think it’s natural that we, as viewers, can’t quite pinpoint Sung-ryong as a character because he, himself, is just discovering that he might actually be “good.”
For the most part, I like Ha-kyung, but I would appreciate a bit more character development for her, since I feel like the show is treating her more like an afterthought rather than a crucial foil or balance to Sung-ryong. She has spunk and there’s a sparkle to her that I’m hoping means there’s more to Ha-kyung than just Nam Sang-mi trying to breathe life into a flat character. Maybe once she interacts with Yul more, we’ll see different sides to her.