Chief Kim: Episode 15
After experiencing a horrific event, Sung-ryong does what he does best: seek revenge! He finds himself facing a new opponent, and the battle before him may be his most difficult challenge yet. However, with the help of his trusty plaid armor and a reliable army of office workers, Sung-ryong is ready to march forward, armed with his manic laughter and dogged persistence.
EPISODE 15 RECAP
Sung-ryong lies unconscious inside the trunk of a car, and a masked man ominously approaches him with a rope in hand. Hitting the floor, Sung-ryong regains consciousness, but is unable to breathe as two masked men strangle him with rope. He desperately fights back, futilely kicking the ground.
Suddenly, a man in blue dashes over and smashes a rock against the skull of one of the captors. He dodges a punch from the other and deftly grabs him around the neck before kneeing him in the face. The blurry figure slowly comes into focus, and the savior turns out to be Yul.
Dragging Sung-ryong to his car, Yul drives him away safely. In flashback, we see that Yul returned to Chairman Park’s office and overheard the chairman order someone to get rid of Sung-ryong. Conflicted, Yul called his minion and told him to watch Sung-ryong after work.
Slowly returning to his senses, Sung-ryong explodes, wanting to know what is going on. Yul pulls the car over, and standing on the side of the street, he asks why Sung-ryong wants to know who the culprit is behind his kidnapping. Sung-ryong replies that it’s because he’s going to murder the wrongdoer.
It’s Yul’s turn to explode as he tells Sung-ryong to be thankful he’s even alive. When Sung-ryong complains that he did nothing wrong, Yul informs him that the killer is the one to make that decision, because that’s how the world works. Sung-ryong refuses to change his ways, so Yul yells at him to go ahead and protect himself then.
Angered, Sung-ryong asks why Yul saved him in the first place, and after a moment of hesitation, Yul says that he pitied Sung-ryong. With that, Yul leaves in his car, and Sung-ryong yells at him for abandoning him in the middle of nowhere: “There’s no taxi or bus here! How could you leave, you jerk? Take me with you!”
Alone in his car, Yul flashes back to when Director Go and Executive Director Jo lied to him about Chief Lee’s suicide, and seems frustrated for believing their obvious lies. Meanwhile, Sung-ryong hikes back home, mumbling to himself that Chairman Park woke the sleeping lion.
When Sung-ryong finally makes it back home, Director Chu groggily tells him to go to bed before returning to his covers. Sung-ryong sighs that he almost died today, and Director Chu assumes that he fought with Ha-kyung. Sung-ryong says that he’s serious since some people tried to strangle him tonight, and Director Chu bolts up from the couch.
After seeing the rope burns on Sung-ryong’s neck, Director Chu asks who did this to him, but they both know who the culprits have to be. He tells Sung-ryong that he warned him beforehand about the TQ higher-ups, but Sung-ryong yells that he didn’t know this would actually happen. Director Chu cries that everyone knows the higher-ups only care about money before warning Sung-ryong that being fearless is not courage, but an illness.
In tears, Sung-ryong asks, “Who said I wasn’t afraid?” He’s scared, and was terrified tonight, too. As they strangled him, he felt powerless and realized this is what death must be like. As he thought he was dying, Sung-ryong confesses that he thought of Director Chu, Ha-kyung, and all the members of the Business Operations Department. Director Chu hugs Sung-ryong as he cries into his shoulder.
In the morning, Sung-ryong wakes up to find Director Chu’s arm around him, and jumps up in fright. He complains that Director Chu cuddled with him at night, and Director Chu just smiles. Getting ready for work, Sung-ryong dresses in his plaid suit jacket much to Director Chu’s chagrin, but Sung-ryong needs his armor for war.
Walking into the lobby, Sung-ryong snaps his fingers, and two burly men dressed in black suits appear behind him. Addressing no one in particular, he announces that he almost died, and displays the rope burns on his neck. He says that most people have probably never seen wounds from strangulation before, and he adds, laughing maniacally, “I’ve never been strangled before, either!”
Chairman Park enters the lobby with his entourage and notices Sung-ryong laughing and hopping around like a lunatic. Before he can walk away, Sung-ryong spots him and marches up to the chairman. He needs to deliver a message to the chairman from the part-timers: They send their gratitude and want him to know that the crown of his head is beautiful (referring to when he had to bow in front of the cameras).
Annoyed, the chairman tries to leave, but Sung-ryong continues to follow him, explaining how he almost died yesterday because someone tried to kill him, which he says while giving a pointed look to the chairman. As a result, he hired two bodyguards and introduces them as Morpheus and Neo. Ha!
In his office, the chairman yells at Executive Director Jo for doing a sloppy job and warns her to be more careful unless she wants Sung-ryong to find out she was the one who ordered the hit on him. She notes that Sung-ryong seems to have guessed their involvement, and the chairman berates her again.
Yul walks out of the elevator and is greeted by Morpheus and Neo. He’s surprised by their presence and then scowls after seeing Sung-ryong appear behind them. He’s unhappy to see him still at the company, but Sung-ryong isn’t here to argue; he’s here to give his thanks.
Sung-ryong acknowledges Yul as his savior, and thus, he presents Yul with an invisible ticket for one “life extension.” Unamused, Yul swats Sung-ryong’s hand, and Sung-ryong drops the imaginary ticket—which Morpheus then picks up. Heh, miming for the win.
Yul warns Sung-ryong to keep his involvement a secret, but Sung-ryong confesses to have already told everyone through a group chat. When Yul gives him a death glare, Sung-ryong admits that he’s just joking, but he does have something else to tell Yul: “The taxi fare cost forty-seven thousand won.” Exasperated, Yul walks away while mumbling that he shouldn’t have saved Sung-ryong.
Executive Director Jo reports the recent incident concerning Sung-ryong to Yul, and when Jo mentions that they still don’t know who intervened, Yul sighs in relief. He then shouts at the executive director for using despicable methods and orders her to report immediately to him for everything.
All the members of the Business Operations Department stare at Sung-ryong as he casually explains his near-death experience. They’re all surprised by his normal attitude, and when Sang-tae asks how he escaped, Sung-ryong lies that he used his martial art skills and displays an unimpressive demonstration on Ki-ok.
In a private conversation, Ha-kyung expresses her worries, but Sung-ryong just finds her concern for him out of character. He smiles when he sees that she’s genuinely worried for him, so he tells her a secret. He explains that someone actually saved him last night: the gluttonous psychopath.
Some of the members of the Business Operations Department gather in the break room and gossip about recent events. They link Sung-ryong’s attack with Chief Lee’s “suicide” and wonder if the chairman is behind everything. Just then, Myung-suk walks in, and they quickly pretend to be talking about Sang-tae’s date. Myung-suk tells them to continue their conversation as he joins them at the table, but realizing that he’s unwanted, he leaves.
After signing letters at his desk, Sung-ryong hands out envelopes to everyone in the office and tells them to open them ten minutes after he leaves.
The chairman calls Yul to his office and apologizes for swearing at him last time. He says that Yul is his best ally, and as he explains Yul’s future tasks, a ruckus from outside interrupts their conversation. Sung-ryong marches in, and after taking a seat, he asks the chairman who might have ordered his attack last night.
The chairman feigns ignorance, so Sung-ryong holds up a sign with a clue: “DO.” He goes on to explain that the heavens saved him yesterday by sending a passerby, and Yul calls Sung-ryong a “crazy jerk” under his breath.
Sung-ryong then takes out a letter detailing how much he loves life and will not commit suicide. If, by chance, he dies in an accident, he wants a full investigation and even writes down a hint about the possible suspect (D to the O). Yul snatches the letter from Sung-ryong, but he simply takes out another copy from his back pocket and continues reading. Ha!
After finishing his letter, Sung-ryong leaves and thinks to himself about how to make the chairman feel hell’s fire. Right then, he spots the announcement about the company’s audit and vows to bring down the chairman with numbers. All the while, Morpheus and Neo copy all of Sung-ryong’s mannerisms like a well-tuned boy band.
The Accounting and Business Operations Department are swamped with work, and even Myung-suk fends off angry calls, though he merely yells back at the caller that he only knows how to glue receipts. Sung-ryong can’t believe the chaos, but Director Chu informs him that this is only the beginning, since the Accounting Department then organizes all their files again.
Prosecutor Han gathers information about Sung-ryong, but his assistant is unsuccessful in finding TQ Group’s accounting team since they’ve gone into hiding. The elusive accounting team in charge of the audit is holed up in a hotel as they busily prepare for the audit.
The director of accounting informs Yul about his recent orders to destroy all the accounts from Taipan’s Bank and explains that the accounts are moving. Elsewhere, Sung-ryong secretly meets with Ga-eun, though she doesn’t have the files Sung-ryong needs yet, since the team working on the audit has gone outside. Thus, she’s waiting for their return in order to get the documents.
Yul’s minion has investigated the thugs used by Executive Director Jo, but he hasn’t been able to get them to confess about Chief Lee. However, Yul tells him to lay low for a while before leaning back in his chair to think. His secretary comes in to tell him that Ha-kyung is here to talk with him, and flustered, Yul lets her in. He fidgets with the papers on his desk as Ha-kyung walks in, and she asks if his head is all right. He says he’s fine, and Ha-kyung offers to buy him dinner as compensation for hitting him with the stone. Smiling, Yul accepts her offer.
Sung-ryong meets with Kwang-sook to ask for a favor and explains that the company is going through an audit, but that they’re committing accounting fraud. Kwang-sook doesn’t know what any of that means, so Sung-ryong uses a metaphor, saying that the fraud is like makeup. Kwang-sook quickly understands the situation, but when Sung-ryong is about to finally explain her role, a phone call interrupts him.
Yul and Ha-kyung arrive at a restaurant, and happily, Yul orders everything on the menu. Once the food comes out, he devours it quickly, never letting his mouth or hand rest. Ha-kyung asks why he eats so fast, and Yul admits that he’s worried someone will steal his food. Ha-kyung then offers her bowl of noodles to Yul, and he cheerfully eats that too.
As Ha-kyung and Yul walk outside after their dinner, she confesses that Sung-ryong told her everything. She asks why Yul saved Sung-ryong, and after a pause, Yul replies, “I’m not sure.” Smiling, Ha-kyung tells him that she likes that reason, and after they part ways, Yul mutters that he couldn’t just stand by and let a person die in front of his eyes.
Sung-ryong meets with Prosecutor Han, who asks him about his involvement with the TQ subsidiaries. Before Sung-ryong replies, he notices a suspicious man in the background, and realizes there’s a listening device taped under their table.
Madam Jang announces her plans to install an internal monitoring system to Chairman Park, and the latter doesn’t hide his disapproval. He reminds her that the company is going through an audit, but Madam Jang believes that’s only more reason to push for transparency.
Back at the café, Prosecutor Han tells Sung-ryong that he was the one who contacted Chief Lee and asked him to be a whistle-blower. The news shocks Sung-ryong, but when Prosecutor Han asks for his help, Sung-ryong loudly proclaims that he won’t help. However, once outside, Sung-ryong complains about the clueless prosecutor and wonders how he’ll contact him.
Executive Director Jo gets information about Sung-ryong’s meeting with Prosecutor Han, and when her spy tells her that Sung-ryong was adamantly against helping the prosecutor, she tells him to stop spying on Sung-ryong.
At the office, Ga-eun walks in on the accounting team hastily shredding papers and transferring documents in the middle of the night. Before she can snoop, Ga-eun is caught by the female accountant, who swiftly dismisses her.
When the accounting team finally leaves for the night, Ga-eun comes out of her hiding place and returns to the office. She gathers the shredded papers, and then looks into the computers. However, unbeknownst to Ga-eun, the female accountant remained behind and is watching Ga-eun’s suspicious actions.
Over drinks and ramyun, Director Chu asks Sung-ryong if his target is the chairman, and wonders what any of this means to Sung-ryong. Sung-ryong states that the world occasionally needs jerks like him who’ll act first, and Director Chu admits that cowards like him are the worst.
That’s why he doesn’t understand why Sung-ryong is doing this for people like him, but Sung-ryong disagrees. He doesn’t believe that Director Chu is a coward because he’s just acting within the confines of the system. Knowing that he can’t change Sung-ryong’s mind, Director Chu simply advises him to quit if things get bad.
It’s the first day of the audit, and Ga-eun hands Sung-ryong a copy of the files the auditors were given today. Of course, the documents paint TQ Group as an upstanding company, and Sung-ryong calls the files a work of fiction.
The chairman meets with Yul and Executive Director Jo and warns them to monitor the audit to make sure it goes well. As the chairman finishes, Yul asks for a private word and motions for Jo to leave.
Elsewhere, Ms. Uhm meets with Sung-ryong and hands him Chief Lee’s key. She tells him that it’s from the previous chief and that they’re for Sung-ryong. Perplexed, Sung-ryong mentions that he’s never seen Chief Lee before, so Ms. Uhm begins to explain.
Back to Yul’s meeting, he tells the chairman that he knows about Taipan’s Bank and the connection to the chairman’s personal account. He advises the chairman to share all his secrets with him in order for him to effectively protect the chairman in the future.
After Ms. Uhm recounts the story about the key, Sung-ryong asks her why she chose him. She explains that he’s the most trustworthy and capable, and Sung-ryong starts to laugh before complaining about the added burden, especially since they don’t even know what the key opens. He attempts to run away, but Ms. Uhm twists his arm behind his back and throws him to ground. Triumphantly, she states, “Mission clear.”
Sung-ryong finds himself holding the key and decides to share it with the entire department. They’re all at a loss as to what the key might open, so Hee-jin suggests checking all the locks in the office first. Unfortunately, none of them fit, thus, Ha-kyung offers to look into the key since Sung-ryong should concentrate on the audit.
Much like Director Chu, Ha-kyung advises Sung-ryong to quit if things become dangerous, but he tells her that he’s come too far to stop now. Cocking her head, Ha-kyung notes that she’s heard this before. As Sung-ryong leaves, he sings the OST from the drama as a little meta-reference.
Sung-ryong pops up unannounced to the auditors’ room bearing medicinal snacks. He introduces himself as Mr. Righteous and tries to steal a file, but is stopped by Yul, who also came to visit. Sung-ryong uses aegyo, which only makes Yul call him a psychopath. Taking offense, Sung-ryong whispers in Yul’s ear that he should use his nickname, “TQP” (TQ’s Psychopath), instead.
Yul complies, calling him TQP, and Sung-ryong leaves for now. However, he quickly comes back to retrieve his snacks (which Yul was eyeing) and then plants a quick peck on Yul’s cheek before running out of the room.
Ha-kyung visits Chief Lee’s wife, who already checked the house to see if the key unlocks anything. She tells Ha-kyung that the key didn’t work, so Ha-kyung asks if she might know of any places Chief Lee might have been, but his wife can’t recall anywhere in particular.
At the office, the female accountant hands Ga-eun a stack of files to destroy, and unaware that her cover might be blown, Ga-eun excitedly hands the files over to Sung-ryong. He thanks her for her help, and says aloud that he needs the auditors’ file. Ever the optimist, Ga-eun promises to retrieve an even bigger catch next time. Unfortunately for Ga-eun, Yul also discovers the listening device in the present she gave him.
Ha-kyung receives a call from Chief Lee’s wife, since she remembered a place her husband visited before leaving for his trip. She ends up at a bowling alley, and the key works on one of the lockers. Once Ha-kyung opens the locker, she reaches in to grab something, though we don’t know what exactly she found.
The auditor has dinner with the accounting team, and the accounting team tells him about all the problems he should look for. The auditor is surprised by how bad this year is compared to previous years, and a familiar voice asks if this year really is that bad.
The accounting team answers the questions without thinking, before they finally realize that something seems wrong. They recognize Sung-ryong’s voice and yell at him to show his face. Popping his head through the door, Sung-ryong taunts the accounting team and explains that he happened to come by because of the delicious smell of food.
The accounting team accuses him of eavesdropping and barging into their private meeting without permission, but Sung-ryong corrects them because he has every right to be here too. Unfurling a notice granting him an Internal Monitoring title, Sung-ryong declares, “I am TQP, your undercover investigator!”
Little by little, Sung-ryong prepares his battle against the corruption at TQ Group, and after the strangling incident at the beginning of the episode, his target seems to have officially changed from Yul to Chairman Park. It’s odd but consistent with Sung-ryong’s character that he’s now facing the real “big bad” after experiencing a firsthand account of the chairman’s evilness. It seems to me that Sung-ryong’s motivation to take down the corrupt leader isn’t out of a sense of justice, but as a result of personal vengeance. Much like his initial goal to bring down Yul, Sung-ryong is spurred to action because of a personal attack, but as we’ve seen with the new Sung-ryong, the personal motivators are really just the catalyst. In the end, his own sense of “justice” and his duty to fight for the weak and bullied are the reasons he continues his arduous battle against formidable opponents rather than escaping to Denmark as originally planned. It’s amazing to see how much our protagonist has changed after working for TQ Group, though his maniacal laugh and sense of humor still seems to be intact, thankfully.
The fact that Sung-ryong’s enemy has shifted to Chairman Park also makes me think the show is setting up a possibility for Yul to go down a different path. It’s still hard to tell, because Yul hasn’t changed much as a character. Even his heroic action of saving Sung-ryong wasn’t completely out of character. Yul has consistently shown that he doesn’t like using thugs (though I would argue that he and his minion tend to act like thugs themselves) and he never seemed to cross the line of actually killing someone. It was also nice to hear Yul admit that he couldn’t just watch Sung-ryong get murdered because—even though it’s a pathetically low bar—the other “villains” obviously have no qualms about killing some of their employees.
For the most part, I like Yul and wouldn’t mind if the show made him evil or tried to redeem him at this point, because it’s the contradictions present within his character that I really enjoy. At one moment, Yul will be a cold-hearted businessman who knows nothing about tact, but then in another, he’ll be a bumbling pup who gets excited over food. Both sides are part of Yul, and it’s these two seemingly opposing personalities that make him a fun character. It is also what makes him difficult to pin down as a character because he doesn’t fit into a box, much like Sung-ryong. However, since he’s a “villain,” his role is even more complicated than Sung-ryong’s in a sense because, as the audience, we know that Sung-ryong will eventually be the good guy, but on the other hand, Yul could easily flip-flop or even be both. However, I find this ambiguity about Yul intriguing rather than frustrating.
As usual, the plot was serviceable, and the jokes made me laugh. The bodyguards made me chuckle so much that I’m almost sad that they’re gone. It’s was hilarious how they started to copy Sung-ryong at the end, but I guess they milked that cow for what it’s worth. On a minor note, I felt bad for Myung-suk when the Business Operations team distanced themselves from him while gossiping. I completely understand why they did that since they’re talking about his father, and while I don’t think Myung-suk felt too isolated by their behavior, he’s grown on me, so I feel overly protective. I’ve also come to realize why Madam Jang still adores her son, because though he seemed like a complete cad and a hopeless entitled brat in the beginning, I’ve come to learn that he’s just another misunderstood soul who can change with the right guidance. Anyway, I like my workplace comedies with a good dose of idealism, so if Myung-suk can change, I guess almost anyone could with the help of some of Sung-ryong’s magic.