Chief Kim: Episode 11
Sung-ryong faces a new challenge that beats down his morale and renders him completely powerless, or so it seems. While our hero goes through his lowest point yet, the bonds he has formed help keep him afloat, and the realization that he’s no longer alone may be all that he needs to get back on his feet and return to the fight.
EPISODE 11 RECAP
After the presentation for the revival plan ends disastrously, Yul confronts the Business Operations Department and informs them that they will be reassigned as per the agreement. He ignores their protests and walks away, which angers Sung-ryong. He yells after Yul to come back and fight him fair and square, but Director Chu holds onto him and pats him on the back until he calms down.
Wanting to be alone, Sung-ryong sits by himself in a stairwell as the others trudge back to the office. However, by the time the team arrives, Yul has already ordered for their office to be turned into a storage room, and so, the place is stripped of everything besides their personal belongings.
Adding salt to the wound, Director Go arrives to announce their new assignments: Director Chu and Hee-jin are in General Affairs (with Director Chu demoted to Team Leader), Ha-kyung and Manager Lee are in the Accounting Department, Ki-ok is in Business Strategy (a good department, as noted by Director Go), and Sang-tae is in Ethical Management. As for Sung-ryong, he’s been marked as a troublemaker, and no department wants him.
Everyone carries his or her box of belongings and shuffles out of the old office. Director Chu is the last to leave, but chucks his box on the floor in frustration. Heaving a sigh, he bends down and picks up his items again, accepting his fate.
The members of the Business Operations Department find their way to their new desks, getting lukewarm to hostile responses from their new departments. Still sitting in the stairwell and unaware of these new events, Sung-ryong receives a text message from Director Chu informing him that things got worse.
Director Go reports to Executive Director Jo and describes Yul as heartless for dismantling such a tiny department as Business Operations. Executive Director Jo, on the other hand, thinks Yul’s real intention was to destroy Madam Jang’s faction, which ultimately is a favor done for the chairman. The real question for her, then, is who Yul’s next target will be.
Sung-ryong walks into the abandoned office, and the situation slowly dawns on him. Letting out his anger, he punches the wall, and continues punching until his knuckles bleed and the wall turns red from his fist.
Yul eats alone in his office, enjoying his breadsticks, until Sung-ryong barges in. He asks Yul to withdraw his order to dissolve the Business Operations Department, but when Yul scoffs at his request, Sung-ryong gets on his knees and begs. He offers to be anything Yul wants him to be in order to take full responsibility, but Yul is unmoved by his self-sacrificial plea.
The accounting director walks over to Ha-kyung and Manager Lee and berates them for working on stuff from their old department. He orders them to hand over all their previous assignments to the accounting department, and Ha-kyung yields to his authority. Soon after, Ga-eun pops up and offers to help Ha-kyung whenever she needs her. Her enthusiastic cheers make Ha-kyung smile, but when Manager Lee tries to join, Ga-eun just gives him a lackluster response.
In the Business Strategy Department, Ki-ok gathers his resolve and gets up from his new desk with a resignation letter in hand. Luckily, Director Chu receives a call informing him of Ki-ok’s resignation, but when he and Hee-jin try to contact Ki-ok, his phone is off. Also feeling guilty, Sung-ryong sits in the empty office, and Ga-eun stops by to watch silently from the door.
The Business Operations Team eats lunch together in the cafeteria, and despite the circumstances, everyone has rather positive outlooks. Hee-jin attributes their ability to handle their reassignment to Sung-ryong, since they’ve already experienced a roller coaster in the workplace because of him. Unfortunately, none of them have been able to contact Sung-ryong to see how he is adjusting.
Unlike the others, Sung-ryong remains gloomy and drinks by himself until Ga-eun unexpectedly shows up to join him. He jokingly wonders if she planted a device on him, but she brushes it off as a joke and asks for a drink. She notices his bloody hand, and Sung-ryong unconvincingly explains that he bumped into things.
She doesn’t press him further, and instead talks about how Sung-ryong was caught in a trap because he lost in the battle for information. Dejected, Sung-ryong interprets her words to mean he was incapable, but Ga-eun assures him that he did his best. Thus, she explains that she has a brother who’s a detective and can help if Sung-ryong needs to gather more information.
Yul walks to his car in the parking lot, only to stop before entering it. Feeling like he’s being watched, he quickly scans the area, but no one else seems to be there. Shrugging off his worries, Yul drives away without any incident.
Ki-ok arrives home, and his father is waiting for him in the living room. He begins to explain his actions, but Ki-ok already knows that Yul threatened his father by using him. His father tells him to work even harder since he knows what he sacrificed for his son, but Ki-ok asks him how he could say that to him.
Like a father, Director Chu also waits in the living room for Sung-ryong to come home, and Sung-ryong finally arrives, drunk and somber. He wonders why Director Chu is still up, and he affectionately tells Sung-ryong that he was waiting for his problem child. He gets up to make him some food, but notices his bloody fist. Sung-ryong explains that he played a punching game, and Director Chu suggests they bandage his hand first.
Knowing that Sung-ryong would come home drunk, Director Chu prepared soup, and he ladles him a bowl to eat before bed. As Sung-ryong eats, Director Chu asks if he’s going to act like this tomorrow too, and wonders why he’s torturing himself when no one blames him. Holding back his tears, Sung-ryong admits that he can’t forgive himself, and Director Chu guesses that Sung-ryong feels guilty for ruining everyone in the department.
Sung-ryong states that in the past, he only had to worry about himself, but in this situation, he’s the one responsible for scattering the team. Director Chu asks if Sung-ryong would feel better if they cursed him, but he adds that they can’t do that, because once they start blaming him, they’ll lose each other. Even though they might have lost their department, they can’t lose their relationships, because that would mean losing everything. Director Chu advises Sung-ryong to bide his time and tells him that the most important goal for them right now is to survive.
The Accounting Department is off to a rough start as employees from other departments yell at them for mishandling their tax returns. When the Accounting Department turns to Ha-kyung and Manager Lee for help, they state that they’re too busy with accounting work. In fact, they could actually use the Accounting Department’s help since they’re so much smarter than the Business Operations Department. Petty revenge is sweet.
In the General Affairs Department, another employee tries to hand off a pile of work to Hee-jin, but she confronts him and tells him to share the workload. The employee runs away with his tail between his legs, and Director Chu gives Hee-jin a thumbs up.
Meanwhile, Sang-tae is assigned to distribute “be quiet” stickers around the office, and like everyone else, he’s also starting to display some of Sung-ryong’s trademark quirkiness by cracking jokes and imitating the director. When Sang-tae leaves, the director wonders to herself why everyone in the Business Operations Department is a weirdo. It’s the Sung-ryong effect!
On the other hand, Sung-ryong remains downtrodden and broods alone in the empty office until Ms. Uhm visits him. She gives him some rice cake a coworker handed out and asks why “TP” isn’t working on a new plan. He doesn’t know what “TP” is, and she explains that it’s his nickname: TQ’s Psycho. Ha, it’s so apt.
She seems genuinely worried about his change in attitude, but their conversation is cut short when Sung-ryong receives a call about his new assignment. He’s been moved to PR Management, which is led by Myung-suk, and when Sung-ryong thanks him, Myung-suk explains that his mom made him take Sung-ryong in. Either way, Sung-ryong appreciates the fact that he accepted him, but Sung-ryong’s lack of energy scares Myung-suk even more.
The chairman praises Yul for dismantling the Business Operations Department, but Yul states that Madam Jang still has some power left. He offers to strip her of her powers once and for all, and the chairman tells him to proceed.
Myung-suk still can’t get over the change in Sung-ryong and repeatedly asks what’s wrong with him. He tells him to just get mad instead of suppressing his anger, and then accidentally spills water on Sung-ryong’s desk. When Sung-ryong responds placidly, Myung-suk starts to push the boundary and begins to bother Sung-ryong on purpose. Though Sung-ryong remains calm, Myung-suk still can’t help but flinch every time Sung-ryong shifts in his seat. Heh, he’s totally going to regret this later.
Ha-kyung visits Sung-ryong in the PR Department, and asks him why he’s been avoiding her. She reminds him that the outcome doesn’t determine everything, because she’s learned that if the process is good, people still remain. Sung-ryong cheers up a bit, and states that she feels like his big sister. They joke around, and Ha-kyung brings up Ki-ok’s resignation. This is news to Sung-ryong, and he can’t believe they didn’t just barge into his home and drag him back to the office.
Having no work, Ki-ok comes home early and tells his father that he quit yesterday. His father yells at him for leaving such a good company, but Ki-ok shouts that he’s embarrassed to work for TQ Group. Right then, Sung-ryong enters and interrupts their fight to ask if they’re filming a Donnie Yen action movie, offering a bag of seaweed as a gift.
He first scolds Ki-ok for yelling at his father, since parents are the craziest people on earth who’ll do anything for their children, and then reprimands Ki-ok’s father for not sharing his worries with him. He then tells both men to apologize to each other, but when they hesitate, he says that they can just send video apologies later, since Ki-ok has to go back to work. His resignation letter hasn’t been processed yet, and Ki-ok looks relieved to know that he can return.
Everyone is gathered in the old Business Operations Department, and after some silence, Sung-ryong solemnly bows his head and apologizes to the group. Director Chu asks Sung-ryong to step out for a moment so they can have a private word, and Sung-ryong looks lost and tense as he quietly waits outside.
Once Sung-ryong is gone, everyone laughs, and Director Chu collects money since he won the bet on how Sung-ryong would apologize. The secret is out, though, since Sung-ryong returns and catches them in the act. He laughs with them and tackles the male employees with hugs. The group huddles into a circle and cheers loudly for their department, since the Business Operations Team isn’t dead yet.
As Sung-ryong leaves the office, he smiles to himself, the mischievous twinkle back in his eyes. All hail the return of Sung-ryong!
Sung-ryong confronts Yul in the lobby and declares that he’s returning to his old “trash” self. From now on, he’s going to play fair according to Yul’s standards, which means that everything is fair as long as you win. Unfazed, Yul welcomes the challenge, stating that he was bored before, so Sung-ryong can do whatever he wants.
Back home, Sung-ryong finds his duffle bag and takes out his old checkered suit. Smiling to himself, he proudly dons his uniform and struts into the office (yellow sneakers and all). Everyone gapes at his outfit, and Director Chu abandons him in the lobby because he’s too embarrassed to be associated with him, heh.
When Myung-suk arrives to work, he immediately mocks Sung-ryong’s fashion choice, and points his finger to Sung-ryong’s nose in revenge for the hotdog incident. Unfortunately for Myung-suk, the old Sung-ryong has returned, and he twists Myung-suk’s finger in retaliation. Whimpering on the floor, Myung-suk bemoans his fate, since he knew this would happen.
After Executive Director Jo reports to the chairman about the restructuring process, she asks about TQ Retail, since he promised she would take charge of it in January. He vaguely tells her to wait, and in her office, Executive Director Jo expresses her worries to Director Go about Yul taking her position. He offers souring the restructuring plan to thwart Yul, but Jo knows it’s too late for that.
Sang-tae goes around putting stickers on people’s desks, and Kwang-sook arrives in the same department to deliver coffee. The drinks are for Director Go and the three heads of the Accounting Department, and they begin badmouthing the Business Operations Department, much to Kwang-sook’s ire. However, once Director Go mocks Sung-ryong, Kwang-sook “accidentally” spills coffee all over his nether regions. The director howls in pain, and Kwang-sook apologizes as she exits the room.
Once outside, she drops the act and giggles triumphantly. Right then, Kwang-sook locks eyes with Sang-tae in slow motion, and the OST from Descended From the Sun plays in the background. She calls him TQ’s hall monitor and asks if they met before. He calls her by her name, and explains that Sung-ryong showed her picture to him and he’s harbored her face in his heart ever since. In response, she offers him a lollipop, and everyone else blurs and loses color around them.
Myung-suk addresses a doll of a balding man as “father,” and tells the doll to hand over the company to him. He’s awed by his own declaration, calling himself cool. At least until Sung-ryong enters his office, and Myung-suk returns to his meek self. Sung-ryong wants permission to work outside the office for three days, and when Myung-suk tries to refuse, Sung-ryong bluntly asks if he wants to be hit. In the end, Myung-suk agrees to two days while complaining about Sung-ryong’s split personality.
Sung-ryong meets secretly with Ga-eun (in an open sitting area, albeit) and takes up her offer to gather information. Her condition is to be included in his plans, and Sung-ryong agrees as they touch fingers to seal the deal. Of course, Ga-eun has no detective brother, and instead calls her prosecutor boss to ask for help.
Ha-kyung meets Sung-ryong outside a food cart, but before she can grab a bite, he pushes her away because they’re late. They ride his scooter in the freezing cold air and meet up with Sung-ryong’s Gunsan colleague from before.
They spy on the man from the delivery car upgrades company who’s currently having an affair, and openly snap photos of him making out with his girlfriend in his car. They offer a deal, promising to keep his affair a secret in exchange for the documents about his transactions with TQ Group. The man acts tough at first, but once Sung-ryong and his team start listing off the man’s previous offenses (sexually harassing his female high school employees), he quickly changes his tune.
General Manager Lim walks to his car, and Ha-kyung suddenly appears, asking if he’s sleeping well at night. The general manager yells at her defensively and fails to notice Sung-ryong creep up from behind to knock him out. When he finally wakes up, a golf club swings down a few inches from his face, and General Manager Lim cries out that this is illegal.
Ignoring his complaints, Sung-ryong asks Ha-kyung to turn on some music, and she plays a recording of the Car Upgrade Man’s confession. Immediately, General Manager Lim professes his powerlessness and begs for mercy, but Sung-ryong knows the general manager isn’t innocent, having been caught for embezzlement before. He asks for the ledger and gives the man two options: die here or die later. In the back, Ha-kyung chimes, “We’ll chop you up!”
The next day, Sung-ryong receives the document detailing the remittance surrounding TQ Delivery, and recognizes the bank as the same one from Ga-eun’s document. He secretly meets with Ha-kyung and Ga-eun (in an actual closed room, so they mean business), and they deduce that this must be the secret fund. While debating on their next course of action, Ga-eun suggests going back to his original revival plan, and Sung-ryong turns to the camera and grins mischievously.
Yul and Executive Director Jo meet with the representatives from Seoahn Jangryong and inform them that the revival plan failed. As they wait for snacks, a familiar voice loudly declares, “Eat taffy!” (which can also mean, “Screw you!”).
Sung-ryong interrupts their meeting in order to tell them to cancel the report, as directed from the top. Yul bluntly states that Madam Jang is powerless, but Sung-ryong isn’t talking about her. He’s relaying orders from the chairman: “Park. Hyun. Do. D to the O!”
That ending! I love Sung-ryong’s mocking, triumphant swagger that shows that he really knows how to make his foes’ blood boil. The last scene really felt rewarding because we saw Sung-ryong’s fall and his subsequent, beautiful return. (And it was beautiful!) I didn’t realize how much I missed the old Sung-ryong until he came back on screen. It’s interesting to think that Sung-ryong has been slowly losing his sense of self after entering TQ Group, and at first, I thought the character transformation was between “bad” (more like conniving) to “good” Sung-ryong, which the show portrayed. However, after this episode, it seems like Sung-ryong has yet again transformed, realizing that the bad and good sides to him aren’t necessarily dichotomies. In fact, attributes from both good and bad Sung-ryong define who he is, and this episode revealed Sung-ryong reclaiming his old sense of self while also retaining his “Mr. Righteous” characteristics that he discovered not too long ago. It’s a brilliant setup that allows the show to find new steam as we reach the halfway mark and finally reach the real battle between Sung-ryong and Yul can commence.
Undoubtedly, Sung-ryong is the heart of the show for me, being the agent of change that spurs forward the plot movement and character development of those around him, and I cannot imagine anyone else in this role other than Namgoong Min. He’s amazing and is completely making Sung-ryong into his own character, infusing him with his flavor of crazy, charm, and slightly unhinged energy. Throughout the show, Namgoong Min has consistently delivered, but this episode in particular showcased a range of emotions from Sung-ryong that hasn’t been explored before. In each case, Namgoong Min excelled in conveying the roller coaster of emotions Sung-ryong experienced. Something that makes Sung-ryong so memorable is a certain energy Namgoong Min brings to his characters that sometimes comes across as crazy.
Contrary to my initial misgivings, the show has handled the members of the Business Operations Department well, and each character is slowly warming into my heart (even you, Manger Lee). I enjoyed how the show portrayed Sung-ryong’s effect on everyone in the department, such as Hee-jin’s refusal to be bossed around, and Sang-tae’s ability to now make jokes even in front of his superiors. Sung-ryong has instilled a positive attitude as well as a slightly risk-taker mentality into the team that makes the characters bolder and more confident in their actions and beliefs. Out of the group, Sung-ryong seems to have rubbed off most on Ha-kyung, and I am enjoying this new side to her. She’s gotten more brazen and has learned to loosen up, and more than before, she has been making a good duo with Sung-ryong. Hopefully, this means more buddy moments between the two, and with the whole team in general—because without my conscious knowing, I’ve come to see the Business Operations Department as a family and always find myself cheering for their triumph.
Out of the department, the one that has surprised me the most is Director Chu and his interactions with Sung-ryong. Their moments are my favorite parts of the show, and I’m happy (and a bit shocked) at how much their relationship has grown beyond a boss-employee relationship. I apologize for assuming that the show was only going to use Director Chu has comedic fodder (which wouldn’t have been bad, per se) because I absolutely adore the depth that has been explored in their relationship. Two lonely souls come together, end up under the same roof, and come to recognize each other’s admirable traits. These levels of bonding mostly happen to romantic pairs, so I love it when a show develops a parental/friendship bond between two unrelated people. My heart stirred during the dining table scene (though I admit that my heart is pretty mushy), and the conversation and little actions exchanged during that scene really moved me.
Director Chu is like a friend and a father, and the way he affectionately called Sung-ryong his “problem child” touched me, because this is what Sung-ryong has been missing for most of his life: an adult figure who’ll lovingly treat him like a child and embrace his shortcomings. Sung-ryong has probably been fighting to survive all by himself, which makes his recent failure and subsequent consequence that much more traumatizing to him. However, Director Chu displayed that love endures through hardships because bonds forged through shared experience and strong emotions aren’t easily broken. Likewise, Sung-ryong has rekindled a flame in Director Chu and has given him another purpose in life besides living day-to-day in order to support his family. He’s also added warmth to his empty home, and I’m sure Director Chu appreciates his presence, as displayed by his natural response to use the extra cash to make food for them. Seriously, if Sung-ryong somehow stays single at the end of the show, I want him to stay with Director Chu!