Chief Kim: Episode 8
Presented with a long-awaited opportunity to finally leave all this behind and make his way to his beloved Denmark, Chief Kim seems to think he has everything figured out and prepares to make his getaway. With a little help from his friends, our unlikely do-gooder fights TQ’s totalitarian rule with a little chaos. But who knew rebelling against authority could be so fun?
EPISODE 8 RECAP
Sang-tae barges into the Business Operations Department with big news – Sung-ryong has just returned to his little Waiting Room cubicle armed with neck pillows, toys, and a plush rocking chair. Clearly, he’s here to stay! By the time they arrive, a crowd of employees has already gathered to watch the audacious spectacle he’s making. The Business Operations team giggles in proud amusement.
When the Director of Ethical Management tries to protest, ordering him to pack up his ridiculous items, he simply counters by pulling out her list of Waiting Room Rules, pointing out that he hasn’t broken any of them. As Sung-ryong ignores her to escape into a virtual reality roller coaster, the poor director looks as if she’ll explode in frustration.
Chairman Park meets with his three evil henchmen about the protests. The resistance has only worsened after rumors of the layoff of the labor union, but Yul assures everyone that it was to be expected. Chairman Park suggests that they take care of it before the issue gets any bigger.
After the meeting, Yul meets with a prosecutor friend over lunch to update his plan. Yul tells him that he’s already spoken with the district attorney and simply needs the prosecutor friend’s help to execute the plan: to destroy TQ Delivery “just like they did in the past.”
The Business Operations employees have another office ramyun break while Ki-ok worriedly calls his dad. They note that the list of laid-off TQ Delivery workers was revealed that morning, but Manager Lee is wholly unsympathetic, suggesting that they worry about themselves before others. Fed up with Manager Lee’s coldness, Director Chu informs him that Ki-ok’s father is one of the TQ Delivery employees who got laid off.
Ki-ok walks in then, all smiles, as he ignores the ramyun and returns to work. Everyone watches him sadly… except for Manager Lee, who continues to slurp his noodles. Jerk.
Yul and Manager Go pass through the Waiting Room only to see Sung-ryong relaxing in virtual reality. As they walk past in disgust, Yul orders Manager Go to get rid of him immediately.
Ha-kyung comes to visit for lunch, and they complain about the unfairness of the layoff and the Restructuring Team’s cruel handling of the protests. When Ha-kyung asks if Sung-ryong is doing okay, he agrees, but then mentions that he plans to resign after this mess is sorted out.
At her surprise, he explains casually that he only wants revenge for being framed. Ha-kyung asks how he plans to take that revenge, and he tells her he’ll leave TQ with a message: “I’ll show them how smart I am, and then I’ll leave. No one in this company tries to be smart – they don’t treat their employees as if they matter.” Ha-kyung sighs that he’d promised not to leave before, but he sweetly assures her that their relationship won’t end just because he leaves.
Back at the office, Manager Lee awkwardly apologizes to Ki-ok about his harsh words while Sang-tae and Hee-jin comfort him in tears. Ki-ok promises them that he’s fine, and they all pull in for a warm embrace.
Sung-ryong decides to upgrade his Waiting Room cubicle with a foot massage and drags an extension cord all the way to the Accounting Department to borrow their power outlet. Ga-eun cheerfully offers hers, but the Director of Ethical Management isn’t nearly as supportive. She orders him to stop or she’ll force him to stop – to which Sung-ryong counters that he’ll report her to the news. At her rage, Sung-ryong innocently notes that he knows reading is forbidden, but asks permission to read Chairman Park’s autobiography. Lol.
Taking his threat seriously, the Director of Ethical Management reports to Director Go that it might be best not to do anything, since fighting Sung-ryong would attract even worse publicity for TQ.
Yul sits in his office, brooding over his conversation with Ha-kyung about playing catch. Making a final decision, he throws his baseball mitt into the trash.
As he leaves, Yul runs into Ha-kyung in the elevator, but he pointedly ignores her. Slightly miffed, she notes that he’s the one who said they should start greeting each other at work. To her further puzzlement, however, he just turns and leaves. Nooo, come back, cute Yul/Ha-kyung moments!
The General Affairs Department is interrupted when loud foreign music broadcasts over their floor, singing at them to come out. They follow the sound to find Sung-ryong blasting music over speakers. The Director of Ethical Management receives a complaint asking her to get rid of the loud man in the Waiting Room ASAP, but she’s powerless to do anything.
Ha-kyung takes a walk with Madam Jang, who laughs at the news of Sung-ryong’s latest antics. More importantly, however, she’s horrified at the existence of the horrible Waiting Room, which must have been established after she left TQ. Madam Jang starts to say something else about Chief Kim, but curiously changes her mind at the last moment.
At home, Sung-ryong watches a music show at Director Chu’s house, commenting on the MC’s excellent skills (a meta joke, since Namgoong Min is the host of the show in real life, lol). Director Chu barges in, yelling at him not to use his expensive shampoos.
Meanwhile, on the girls’ side, Kwang-sook regales Ha-kyung with dramatizations of Sung-ryong’s bravery in Gunsan before suggesting that Ha-kyung get together with Sung-ryong. Kwang-sook goes on to swear how popular he was with the ladies, but was always a perfect gentleman…
Cut to: Sung-ryong and Director Chu watching pay-per-view porn together on TV. Lol.
The next day at the Accounting Department, Manager Go instructs the office on the end-of-the-month reports when he’s cut off by loud crunching noises. It’s Sung-ryong, of course, stuffing himself with chips and being distracting. Just as Manager Go starts to ignore him, Sung-ryong flips off the lights and scurries away like a kid playing ding-dong-ditch. Ga-eun giggles to herself in delight.
The Director of Ethical Management returns to the Waiting Room to screech at him to stop his nonsense – she’s already received ten complaints about his behavior. Sung-ryong cheerily suggests that she could just shut down the Waiting Room and kick him out then, but of course that’s out of the question. Before she can continue, a horrific sight distracts her – Sung-ryong has doodled all over Chairman Park’s face on the cover of his autobiography. She wails in agony at the disrespect.
Meanwhile, in a meeting with Executive Director Jo, Chairman Park notes that his face feels oddly itchy (lol) before continuing their conversation. It turns out that news of TQ’s bad publicity has reached two of their investors, who are now demanding that TQ pay back their loan by the end of the month. Chairman Park mutters that he’s being seen as a pushover, but it’s no problem: “We have the Grim Reaper on our side.”
Ga-eun drops by Business Operations to pick up some paperwork from Ha-kyung, who asks about Sung-ryong. Ga-eun assures her that he’s doing great, but Manager Lee scoffs nastily at that. As he makes fun of Sung-ryong, Ga-eun pinpoints his voice to the one she always overheard giving Chief Kim a hard time. She scowls at him. Cute.
Chairman Park informs his “grim reaper” – Yul – about the loan payment problem. But, says Chairman Park, it shouldn’t be a problem, since Yul is personally acquainted with the presidents of the two companies in question. Yul looks strangely unhappy about that.
Meanwhile, Sung-ryong disrupts yet another meeting at TQ by suddenly wiping their office windows with the world’s squeakiest window wiper.
Ga-eun is working late that night when Sung-ryong comes by to give her a coffee. Sung-ryong asks Ga-eun if they’re on the same side, and when she confirms, he suggests that they do something fun together. Looking adorably excited, Ga-eun agrees.
The presidents of the two companies wait for Chairman Park at a restaurant for their meeting, determined to put an end to their relationship and escape TQ’s increasingly bad reputation. When it’s Yul that strolls in, however, they suddenly look surprised and uneasy.
As they eat, Yul pointedly notes rumors that the two presidents are trying to take down TQ. When they try to explain that they’re only trying to follow the rules, Yul snaps that such avid rule-followers wouldn’t have granted them an illegal loan in the first place. Threatening them with evidence of tax evasion and fraud, he orders them extend their contract for another three years.
Ga-eun has another secret meeting with Prosecutor Lee, who complains that Ga-eun hasn’t been reporting very often lately. She notes that Accounting hasn’t been doing anything out of the ordinary, but when Prosecutor Lee brings up Chief Kim, Ga-eun erupts in an ode to his righteousness, praising the way he saved the labor union despite being on the edge of layoff. Prosecutor Lee is confused, having thought Sung-ryong was on the bad side, but every moment Prosecutor Lee doubts Sung-ryong, Ga-eun vehemently defends him. So cute.
Meanwhile, at Director Chu’s home, Sung-ryong seems to have gotten totally sick of TQ’s corrupt antics. He packs up his Danish flag and prepares to leave. As Director Chu talks in his sleep, Sung-ryong smiles gratefully and thanks him for taking in “scum” like him for a while.
In the morning, Sung-ryong and Ga-eun wink at each other in the Accounting Department, ready to execute their plan. Ga-eun innocently gets up to ask Manager Go about where to file one of their documents, titled “Business Operations Daily Fund Report.” At the name, Sung-ryong leaps out, scandalized, as he demands to know why Accounting has Business Operations’ confidential files. “Have you been stealing other departments’ files, too?” he howls. “Are you selling them to outside companies?!”
Manager Go is dumbfounded by the ridiculous accusation, but then Ga-eun begins wailing about losing her job. As Sung-ryong storms out in righteousness and Ga-eun stumbles out in tears, they share a secret high five. Lol.
In his Waiting Room cubicle, Sung-ryong is visited by Myung-suk, who snickers at the sight of him. When Sung-ryong confronts him, Myung-suk swears he wasn’t laughing, but it’s not long before Myung-suk scrambles out of the Waiting Room out of fear of getting hit.
Ki-ok receives a sudden call and learns that all of the labor union protesters have been arrested, including his father. Director Chu tells him to hurry to see him, but Ki-ok explains that even if he left, he wouldn’t be allowed to see him. He falls into his chair in dismay.
In his office, Yul thanks his prosecutor friend over the phone for his help taking down TQ Delivery, but he doesn’t look at all happy. Later in a meeting with Chairman Park and Executive Director Jo, the chairman praises his good work and notes that the two investor companies just called to promise to extend their loan contract. Executive Director Jo notes pointedly that Yul is officially no longer a prosecutor, but a full-fledged TQ executive. Yul looks downright furious at her words, and when he returns to his office, he begins throwing things around the room.
Sung-ryong notices the Accounting team undergoing a safety inspection and strolls by, offering to test the fire extinguisher. The inspectors assure him it’s safe, but he ignores them to try it out… right in the direction of the heads of Accounting, of course. They stare at him, drenched in white chemicals.
Director Go screams at the Director of Ethical Management about the countless complaints he’s received about Chief Kim, and decides that it’s time to take him out of the Waiting Room. The Director of Ethical Management meekly insists that she needs Yul’s permission, but Director Go is adamant that Sung-ryong be kicked out immediately.
When she goes to release him, however, Sung-ryong refuses to leave. “It’s so much more comfortable here,” he says, before settling back into another virtual reality session. Lol.
Ki-ok receives another phone call with worse news: His father was badly injured when he fell down the stairs in a scuffle with the police. Director Chu demands that he go see him, even giving him money for a taxi. Ha-kyung accompanies him to the hospital, where Ki-ok’s father angrily wonders why hard workers like them have to be so horribly treated.
Madam Jang calls Ha-kyung to tell her that Yul’s subordinate was the one in charge of the latest labor union arrest. Ha-kyung is horrified that Yul was behind all of this, and Madam Jang notes that more people will get hurt if they don’t stop him soon.
Director Go meets with Sung-ryong, demanding he return to Business Operations. Sung-ryong refuses… unless they comply with a few of his demands. (1) Don’t change the Employee of the Month, (2) clear his name of stealing documents from Accounting, and (3) shut down the Waiting Room. With no choice, Director Go agrees, and the TQ employees gather around the posted announcement in approval.
Finally free, Sung-ryong returns to the office, but notes the solemn mood. Ha-kyung brings him outside the office to explain the situation of Ki-ok’s father. She notes that TQ will officialize the layoff tomorrow, which will only cause a bigger uproar. Ha-kyung asks suspiciously if Sung-ryong is actually preparing to resign from TQ, and he confirms.
Executive Director Jo grimly informs Chairman Park that Madam Jang has called a sudden emergency meeting tomorrow morning, almost certainly regarding TQ Delivery.
As the Business Operations team leaves, Ha-kyung asks to speak with Sung-ryong in private while the other workers successfully beg Director Chu to buy them gopchang. In a restaurant on their own, Ha-kyung watches Sung-ryong carefully before declaring: “I’m going to tell you something important, because I trust you.”
Ha-kyung decides to start with the lawyers from Go & Gu law firm, and Sung-ryong notes that he was curious about who actually hired them. Ha-kyung is surprised that Sung-ryong knew it wasn’t really her, but Sung-ryong notes that he only knows it must be someone powerful.
Meanwhile, at home, Chairman Park confronts Madam Jang about tomorrow’s meeting. Chairman Park attempts to reason that investments are important for the future of the company, but Madam Jang coolly argues that the company’s employees are even more important. She explains that her father wanted an upright company, and that he made the rare decision to hire full-time deliverymen in order to preserve that. She tells Myung-suk to attend the meeting as well and leaves before the chairman can say anything further.
Back at the restaurant, Ha-kyung finishes explaining everything to Sung-ryong. Unfortunately, her words have the opposite of the intended effect – he notes dryly that she and Madam Jang have been secretly spying on him all this time because they knew he was a criminal. He decides that’s all the proof he needs to leave officially; he was never meant to be a righteous man, and all he wants is to live somewhere secluded and do whatever he wants.
Ha-kyung admits that she thought he was bad in the beginning, but he’s different now, and she needs his help. Sung-ryong demands to know why it’s their responsibility to help, and Ha-kyung returns: “If we don’t do it, no one will help people like us. This isn’t to punish TQ – it’s to ensure that people like us don’t continue to suffer.”
But Sung-ryong isn’t interested in helping people anymore if it means he has to suffer for it. He goes home and begins writing a resignation letter.
The next morning, Sung-ryong hands in his letter of resignation to Director Chu. At that moment, however, Madam Jang’s secretary comes in to summon Director Chu, Sung-ryong, and Ha-kyung to the meeting before delivering a personal letter from Madam Jang to Sung-ryong. Sung-ryong tells them he’ll be packing up his desk and sends Ha-kyung and Director Chu off without him.
Ha-kyung and Director Chu arrive at the meeting just after Madam Jang, who notes Sung-ryong’s absence. Madam Jang asks if he’ll be joining, and Ha-kyung can only explain that he resigned.
Sung-ryong gives a personal goodbye to each of the Business Operations members before heading out. He notes how much lighter his footsteps are now, just when he receives a text from Madam Jang, asking him to open the letter. He stops in the hallway and begins reading her message.
Madam Jang begins the meeting by petitioning to revoke the restructuring of TQ Delivery. Chairman Park insists that the restructuring is already underway, but Madam Jang rejects closing the issue. To everyone’s shock, she proposes a plan to revive TQ Delivery instead.
Chairman Park notes that Madam Jang proposition would go directly against Seoahn Jangryong’s investment conditions. Yul adds that the restructuring team already has too much work to handle. But Madam Jang isn’t worried, because the people in charge of TQ Delivery’s revival won’t be the restructuring team, but Ha-kyung and Director Chu; Business Operations will be the center of the revival.
Ha-kyung and Director Chu stand in surprise at her announcement, and Executive Director Jo demands in exasperation how those two could possibly accomplish such an important task.
At that moment, Sung-ryong strolls in. Manager Go yells that he can’t just barge in, but Madam Jang warmly explains that she invited him. At everyone’s disbelief, Sung-ryong declares: “I will create a plan to revive TQ Delivery that doesn’t require restructuring!”
Hooray! Not that any of the events this hour were in the least surprising, but I really enjoyed this episode. Chief Kim is beginning to feel like a really safe sort of comfort food, and now I realize that it’s a show where it’s best to just accept what’s going on and go with the flow, particularly with its humor. This episode was rife with fun Sung-ryong moments that are just crazy enough to be endearing, but not so ridiculous to be unbearably unrealistic. In that sense, it’s much easier to simply enjoy the delightful acting and offbeat humor than to recap it, because you don’t have to analyze everything – there isn’t much to analyze, anyway. It’s clear that the fun of the show comes from Namgoong Min’s charming expression of Sung-ryong’s unique character, the winningly sweet character interactions, its strange and wholly visual humor, and not so much its social commentary. There’s a lot about this show that works well purely because the show runners know how to milk their greatest assets, and I’m thankful for the pleasant effect it creates.
While the lack of cute Yul/Ha-kyung moments in this episode was sorely felt, it helped to show Yul’s impending character development. His scenes in this episode were jarringly heavy compared to all the fun Sung-ryong was having, but that’s the point – Yul is beginning to face his black moment of no return, and he’ll either have to break completely to defeat Chief Kim, or give up the evil side. He seemed in this episode to be annoyed that he had to resort to TQ’s cheap, corrupt, thug-like ways of handling issues, all because of Sung-ryong’s unwillingness to bend to authority. In a way, Sung-ryong has forced Yul to alter his entire modus operandi. I imagine that Yul will soon retaliate against Chief Kim with all his strength, and I’m happy about how excited I am to see it.
Another very strong point of Chief Kim is the way female characters are treated. I love the way Ha-kyung and Kwang-sook get to interact in their moments, as well as the uniquely strong and interesting characters in the Director of Ethical Management, Executive Director Jo, Kwang-sook, and Madam Jang. Even Ga-eun, the technical second female lead, is never put in any negative light, but is allowed to interact with the other women in respectful and human ways; Kwang-sook, similarly, is never reduced to the annoying Jealous Other Woman trope, but has unexpectedly become a dependable friend to Ha-kyung instead. It’s not often that we get such down-to-earth female character relationships in dramaland. I keep making parallels of Chief Kim to Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho, a similar show with a wacky humor approach to social justice but which treated its female characters with noticeably less care (cough Kang Sora cough), and am so relieved to be able to enjoy the female characters the show presents.
We’re only halfway through the show, which might have worried me before in terms of pacing, but now I’m content to just let the humor take me where it goes. I laughed out loud on multiple occasions this episode, like at Sung-ryong’s doodles on Chairman Park’s face and Ga-eun’s interaction with Manager Lee. I’m happy to look forward to more humor, and the way our supporting characters will evolve in the future.