Chief Kim: Episode 6
As Sung-ryong embraces his new identity as Mr. Righteous, he starts to see that it can be fun to be nice, and that there are rewards that feel almost as nice as money: gratefulness, fame, and maybe even a certain girl’s heart. When he acts this honest, it sure seems like nothing in the world can stop him… but as he’s quickly reminded, there are no rewards for overconfidence.
EPISODE 6 RECAP
Sung-ryong is dragged away into an abandoned church, accused of being the leader of the labor union. Realizing the identity mix-up, he tries to explain himself, but is ignored and cut off when the thug leader brings out… three boxes of vitamin drinks. Sung-ryong’s (literal) knack for sniffing out money tells him, however, that these boxes aren’t just filled with drinks, but three hundred million won in cash. Ooh-la-la.
Executive Director Jo orders all media outlets and search engines to block news coverage of the labor union protests. Yul barges into her office, furious that she’s using thugs to handle business again. She argues that she doesn’t care – there’s a seventy million dollar investment on the line. She stands condescendingly, insisting that she’ll handle it. The two glare at each other, both unwilling to give in.
Worried sick, Ha-kyung keeps calling Sung-ryong’s phone alone in the office, but gets no response.
Back at the church, the thug explains what the boxes of cash are for: two are personally for Sung-ryong (the “leader” of the unionists), and one is to share with the other leaders. “All you have to do,” says the thug, “is call off tomorrow’s strike.” Sung-ryong guesses that he’s being bribed for the Chinese investment, and the thug smugly confirms: “You can accomplish anything in Korea, as long as you have money.”
The thug pulls out a contract and receipt, telling him to sign it. “And if I don’t take the money?” asks Sung-ryong. The thug smirks: “Then we’ll give your face a nice makeover.” Sung-ryong excuses himself for a moment, conflicted; but when he looks at the cross at the front of the church, it transforms into the Danish flag before his very eyes.
The next thing we see, Sung-ryong leaves the church, the cash-filled boxes in his hands. Over the phone, the thug confirms that Sung-ryong signed the contract.
Back home, Sung-ryong finally answers Ha-kyung’s worried call, making up an explanation for where he’s been: The thugs chased him, but he managed to get away. Then, in his depression, he had a couple of drinks alone. Ha-kyung: “Then you should have called to say so! Do you know how worried I was?!”
Sung-ryong is touched by her concern, but Ha-kyung just stutters that coworkers should take care of each other. They hang up, a sweet atmosphere lingering in the air… and then he looks at the stacks of cash again. Agonized by internal conflict, Sung-ryong groans at the heavens that this is the hardest test he’s been put to yet.
Myung-suk awkwardly sits next to Madam Jang at home and asks if he could maybe, possibly use her credit card for a bit. Madam Jang immediately guesses that this is about getting chewed out by the Business Operations Department. (We’ve been fallaciously calling it the Accounting Department, so we’ll be calling it the Business Operations Department from now on!) Myung-suk starts to defend himself until Chairman Park walks in and tells him to give it a rest already.
This time, however, Madam Jang turns on her husband: “The problem isn’t just with Myung-suk, but the entire board of executives. Governing their expenses is the first step to disciplining a company.” She adds that when she was CEO, TQ Group never had this issue. In return, Chairman Park grits out that nothing has changed since then.
Sung-ryong’s internal conflict manifests itself as an Angel Kwang-sook on his left shoulder and a Devil Kwang-sook on his right. Angel Kwang-sook reminds him that he’s Mr. Righteous, while Devil Kwang-sook returns that pocketing the money and taking off to Denmark would be more like him, anyway. It’s not long before both versions of Kwang-sook are screaming at other, and Sung-ryong is forced to wave them off to shut them up. He pulls out the contract receipt, crumples it up, and throws it into the corner of the room.
The next morning, he walks out with a big duffle bag in hand. Has he chosen Devil Kwang-sook’s side?
Meanwhile, the TQ Delivery labor union carries on their strike, chanting for human rights and demanding an apology for their violent treatment last night. In the office, Ki-ok calls his father, begging him to rest and avoid danger. Dad promises he will, and Ki-ok smiles, telling him how proud he is.
The Chinese investors arrive at the scene of protest, looking grim, while Chairman Park is furious as he demands to know what happened. Director Go stutters that the thugs they hired definitely said they paid off the labor union leader, but he appears to have lied. Chairman Park orders Yul to break up the protest immediately.
Sung-ryong, meanwhile, is busy looking up flights to Denmark in the office. Ha-kyung walks by and asks if he’s going somewhere, noting the duffle bag at Sung-ryong’s desk. He explains that he plans to take off for the weekend to maybe see a beauty pageant somewhere.
Executive Director Jo storms into the office, furious that the thug she hired dared to betray them. Yul, meanwhile, demands to know who has the contract agreement. Director Go tells him that the private firm they hired has it, and Yul screams that this is why he told them to stop hiring thugs. Determined to straighten this out, he orders Director Go to gather the union and the hired men for a meeting.
In the Business Operations Department, the employees rejoice over a notification from the Financial Management Department ordering a more transparent handling of employee expenditures, as well as a new limit on corporate credit card spending. Guessing it must be because of the conflict between Sung-ryong and Myung-suk, the office begins to revise their opinion on their new chief. Manager Lee, however, tells them not to be so naïve: the corporate world won’t change so easily.
Director Go suddenly barges in at that moment, ordering Director Chu to go to Yul’s meeting with TQ Delivery in his place – he needs to accompany Chairman Park somewhere else right now. Meanwhile, Sung-ryong is apparently ready to take off to Denmark, duffle bag in hand. He waves over Ha-kyung for a final farewell, and she looks at him suspiciously.
Yul presides over the meeting between the labor union and the hired company, watching them scream at each other. The thug that bribed Sung-ryong finally arrives with the proof of the bribe, holding the contract agreement in his hands. When they look it over, however, they realize it was signed not by the union, but by “Kim Sung-ryong.”
At the familiar name, Yul jumps up and grabs the contract to check for himself. As everyone else wonders who Kim Sung-ryong is, the thug pulls out a confirmation picture, erasing all doubt of it not being the Chief Kim they know. Clenching his teeth, Yul calls Sung-ryong, but receives no answer. As the labor union insists that they have no affiliation with Sung-ryong, the thug guesses from experience that Sung-ryong must have run off with the money.
Ha-kyung suddenly enters the meeting room and whispers to a panicked and confused Director Chu that she has to take care of something here. Sung-ryong finally picks up Yul’s call, and Yul screams at him to come here immediately. Sung-ryong flippantly replies that he’s on his way somewhere, but just as Yul nearly pops a vein in fury, Sung-ryong strolls right into the meeting room.
Recognizing Sung-ryong, the thug grabs him by the collar, and they scream and wrestle each other in the middle of the room. Ha-kyung and Director Chu launch themselves into the fray to break it up.
Eventually, everyone settles down, and Sung-ryong explains what happened: He tried on the labor unionist’s vest, but the thug mistook him for the labor union leader instead and bribed him with money: “He said if I didn’t take it, he’d beat me up.” Ha-kyung raises her hand like a schoolgirl, asking innocently why the thug bribed him. Sung-ryong explains that he was ordered to share the money with the other leaders, break up the strike, and disassemble the labor union.
The union leader stands up, horrified, but Yul just asks what he did with the money. At that, Ha-kyung stands to answer: “The three hundred million won was re-deposited to the company,” she says smugly. In other words, the unauthorized expenditures were safely returned back to the Business Operations Department.
Unamused, Yul asks whose idea that was. Director Chu stiffens up in worry, but to his relief, Sung-ryong declares that he was responsible for the whole thing. A flashback shows us exactly how it all went down: Sung-ryong crumpled up the contract, deciding that, as the labor union leader said, “Humans should be treated as humans.” He bought the plane ticket to Denmark only in case things went awry before asking Director Chu how he return the money to TQ without any problems. Director Chu told him to simply ask a Business Operations employee to deposit it into the reserves account, as if it was money allocated but unused for an operation. That friend was Ha-kyung, who deposited it safe and sound.
Finishing his explanation, Sung-ryong strolls over to Ha-kyung for a high five. The labor union leader stands up, fervently declaring that he’ll be filing a formal complaint for this.
Everyone leaves, leaving only Yul and Sung-ryong in the room. Yul is furious but resigned to this round’s defeat, and he declines to even threaten Sung-ryong before he leaves. When Sung-ryong strolls out of the building, he’s met by Ha-kyung, Director Chu, and the labor union. They thank him profusely for helping them and throw him up into the air in celebration.
The resolution of the conflict is published in the newspapers, and when he arrives at work the next day, he’s met with another round of applause: Mr. Righteous has now become a defender of labor rights. Even better, a secretary even offers to escort him specially using the executive elevators he’s been wanting to use so badly.
Chairman Park, however, is furious at Yul and Executive Director Jo for handling the labor union issue this way. Executive Director Jo casually suggests that Chief Kim is the real problem here, so Chairman Park orders Yul to take care of him immediately, despite Yul’s protests.
As Yul and Executive Director Jo leave, she suggests that Yul simply fire him. She offers to help him since they’re walking the same path, but Yul just smirks at that: “Just because we’re walking the same path doesn’t mean we’re heading to the same destination.”
Sung-ryong stands on the rooftop of TQ, speaking to his father: “Dad, I think I’ve gone crazy. Even though I keep facing these difficulties, it doesn’t hurt.” When he returns to the Business Operations Department, the employees chant his name in celebration, and they all take turns pouring praise on their amazing new chief. Even Ha-kyung and Director Chu join in, ignoring Manager Lee’s protests regarding their childishness.
Meanwhile, Yul meets with his prosecutor friend over pizza. The prosecutor asks why he’s holding onto the problematic Sung-ryong despite his difficulties, and Yul grits out that it’s because Sung-ryong is a natural criminal; looking at his ledgers, even Yul can’t figure out how he pulls it off.
Walking home, Ha-kyung sees Yul back in the batting cage, swinging ineffectually as he misses every pitch. She starts to walk past but changes her mind, offering him some batting advice through the fence. Embarrassed that she saw him fail, he starts to shuffle off, but Ha-kyung unexpectedly stops him: “Can you buy me a drink?”
Thus, Yul and Ha-kyung find themselves sharing soju and meat at a restaurant. Yul asks (so sullenly, hee) why she pretended not to recognize him at the batting cage before, and she says it would have been weird since they didn’t know each other well. Yul insists it wouldn’t be weird, and then asks nervously if she’s close with Sung-ryong. Why is this so cute?
Sung-ryong works late into the night at the office when Ga-eun comes for a visit, a bear-shaped cake in hand to cheer him on. As he eats, she asks why Sung-ryong chose a career in accounting. Sung-ryong: “To make a living.” LOL.
Ga-eun presses for a real reason, and he thinks for a moment before answering: “I guess it’s because numbers don’t lie. It’s the people who lie, not the numbers. As long as I’m honest, there’s nothing as clean-cut as accounting. But it’s not so easy to live like that.” Ga-eun is touched, and smiles at his words.
By now, Yul is so drunk that he’s acting like a different person. Ha-kyung takes advantage of the situation by asking him all sorts of questions about the amount of his paycheck and his stocks, but he tells her it’s not important; instead, he asks her to stop ignoring him at work. He lifts up a leaf of lettuce, flapping it open and closed like a baseball mitt: “Next time, we can play ball!” He says this before dropping headfirst into the table in his drunkenness. Seriously, so cute.
The next morning, Madam Jang thanks Ha-kyung over the phone for her trouble, but agrees that Yul will be a good source of information since he’s practically Chairman Park’s strategist now. Yul, meanwhile, cheerfully goes through his mail — and in it is a baseball mitt that he’s ordered to play ball with Ha-kyung.
His next mail item, however, immediately kills his cheery mood. The photos he’s ordered of Madam Jang have arrived, and Ha-kyung herself is in several of them. Yul’s expression becomes grim as he realizes that she must be helping Madam Jang.
The Chinese delegates arrive at TQ for another investment meeting. They thank TQ for their objective report on the labor union affair, but note that they still can’t agree to invest. After seeing the protest, they can’t help but wonder why TQ is losing money despite their low wages. Their demand: that TQ Delivery undergo a thorough restructuring.
The chairman is furious that they would try to boss him around like this, and Executive Director Jo agrees that they shouldn’t agree to all their demands this way. Still, grits the chairman, they have no choice but to undergo the restructuring of TQ Delivery, despite the blow to his pride. He orders Yul to prepare a team to organize it, and then hisses at him to take care of that meddlesome Chief Kim before he messes up company affairs again.
Sung-ryong complains to Ha-kyung that Director Go has been yelling and blaming him for the upcoming restructuring of TQ Delivery, but insists that he’s not worried about being held responsible. Instead, he tells her not to worry about Chief Lee’s wife, since the lawsuit was dropped, and they can’t sue her for the same thing again. She’s amazed that he’s worried about Chief Lee’s wife more than himself, but he tells her it was because he thought she was worrying, too.
Touched, Ha-kyung tells him to stay strong and stubborn no matter what TQ tries to do, and Sung-ryong sweetly agrees that since she told him to, he’ll do his best. So sweet. Sung-ryong receives a text message from Yul at that moment, and prepares himself for his fate.
In his office, Yul breaks into his baseball mitt as he tells Sung-ryong that a glove becomes more and more pliable as it’s used: “But why do you become less compliant?” Sung-ryong simply says that it’s because he’s not a glove; rather than a glove or a circus elephant, he says, he wants to be the ninth batter who works under Yul as an employee.
Yul smirks, asking if he’s really become Mr. Righteous. Sung-ryong wonders if there will be any warning or punishment for him, but Yul just confirms and dismisses him. As soon as he leaves, however, Yul picks up his phone and calls someone. Uh oh.
Ha-kyung asks how it went, and Sung-ryong’s verdict is: “He’s a sociopath.” Ha-kyung admits that it’s good that there’s no punishment, but something still feels off. They’re cut off when Sung-ryong’s phone rings: it’s Kwang-sook, who’s here for an unexpected visit!
When Sung-ryong and Ha-kyung arrive at the lobby, Sung-ryong howls her name as Kwang-sook leaps into his arms. Noting Ha-kyung’s surprised gaze, he quickly nudges Kwang-sook to introduce her as his former assistant. Kwang-sook showers Ha-kyung in compliments before they head off for some coffee.
Meanwhile, the Gangnam Police Department appears at the Business Operations Department looking for Sung-ryong.
As Ha-kyung buys coffee at the company café, Kwang-sook wails about the hard time she’s had under the new chief, Boss Bae. She explains that she quit her job, but has nowhere to stay. Sung-ryong comforts her, trying to make sure Ha-kyung doesn’t misunderstand, when suddenly, the police appear before him.
Sung-ryong guesses that they’re here to accuse him of tax evasion and fraud again, and they confirm – but this time, it’s for real. They have definitive proof of his illegal operations at Deukpo Enterprises.
As Sung-ryong is dragged away, Kwang-sook collapses on the ground, sobbing. Ha-kyung comforts her, asking if she has anywhere to stay. Kwang-sook pointedly notes that she doesn’t, wailing in distress.
The Business Operations Department hears news of Sung-ryong’s arrest, and Manager Lee smugly notes that he knew Chief Kim was fishy. The other employees sigh that it doesn’t seem like him to do something illegal. They’re interrupted when the Director of Finance barges in, demanding all of Sung-ryong’s accounting records.
It’s not long before the Internet forums are ripe with comments and rumors about Sung-ryong’s crimes. Ga-eun listens sadly as the Accounting Department gossips and curses Sung-ryong’s betrayal, and even the Director of Ethical Management sobs as she looks at Sung-ryong’s picture under the “Employee of the Month” poster.
In jail, the detective escorts Sung-ryong out to meet his prosecutor. Suddenly, they’re interrupted by a trio of black-suited men who introduce themselves as Sung-ryong’s attorneys from Go and Gu Law Firm. Sung-ryong can only blink at them, confused at the turn of events.
Yay! Chief Kim has definitely been getting stronger as a show as it draws on its strengths as a feel-good, comedic sort of rally against injustice, and by partially transforming Sung-ryong into an underdog do-gooder fighting the system from his wishy-wishy, unidentifiable prior character. Up until now, I felt that the strongest moments of the show’s conflict came when Sung-ryong was prevented from being a good person by his background and circumstances, rather than trying to find himself in a weak identity crisis between “good vs. evil.” After all, Sung-ryong was never a criminal at heart, though sometimes he tries to pretend he is; it’s simply that he does his best work when he’s acting like one, because he lives in a system that doesn’t reward good, honest work. That’s where the conflict of Chief Kim gets the juiciest and most earnest, and as Sung-ryong officially begins to settle into his sarcastic-but-fitting title as Mr. Righteous, the show really seems to be getting a grasp on what it can be.
Part of my enjoyment, of course, comes from the well executed evolution of the character relationships. I’m really loving this teamwork between Sung-ryong and Ha-kyung and the little moments where it really shines through: when Ha-kyung supported “Chief Kim” among their coworkers, when they shared a secret high five against corruption, and when she worried over his punishment while he worried about her worrying about Chief Lee’s wife. Watching these two work together is so much more fun than watching them hating each other, as is seeing the Business Operations Department support and root him on (and hopefully, Manager Lee will get on board soon, too!). At this point, Sung-ryong seems to have committed to becoming a decent person, even if his history and his criminal record show the opposite; the question is whether or not Ha-kyung (and the rest of the Business Operations Department, whom I’m starting to see as his newfound family) can see his authentic self and not give into politics and gossip, because I think that will really determine how he grows from his experience as TQ’s Chief Kim.
But that’s not to ignore the other character relationships, which are budding in ways that I wholeheartedly support. The Yul and Ha-kyung moments make me embarrassingly happy, and I’m excited to watch how he’ll change for her (or if he will, though a girl can hope). Even more than that, the Ga-eun and Sung-ryong subplot is really starting to shine through. Hearing Sung-ryong talk about honesty in numbers to Ga-eun was very interesting; it’s as if Ga-eun was hearing an affirmation of her own hopes and ideals. Sung-ryong gave an almost bittersweet tilt to that conversation, as if even he wished that he could be more honest than he has been, but he’s given in to the conflict between what works and what doesn’t. Dishonesty works, though Ga-eun isn’t quite ready to give into that, even if the Accounting Department is doing its best to push her down the rabbit hole.
I’m guessing that Ga-eun is the one who’s undercover here at TQ, since we saw in Episode 2 that an unnamed, faceless entity is working in law. Maybe that’s totally wrong, but if it’s true, it’ll mean a whole new slew of character and power dynamic changes between our four main characters. And I’m happy to say that I’m a heck of a lot more excited for what’s coming than I was two episodes ago. Here’s to putting faith in the future.