Chief Kim: Episode 16
This show has always been great at giving us satisfying triumphs, but this episode feels like a real treat as Sung-ryong depends more and more on his trusty team of friends. TQ continues to throw all sorts of diverse obstacles at Sung-ryong, from the physical to the legal to the all-out corrupt — and although it might be impossible to bat away all those weapons with a single shield, Sung-ryong has his own team of brilliant minds to help defend him while they push each other to victory.
EPISODE 16 RECAP
With no choice now that Sung-ryong’s barged his way in, Accountant Lee leads the team out of the restaurant, leaving their untouched meal on the table. Sung-ryong starts to dig in, but follows them out when he realizes that he’d have to foot the bill.
Using Chief Lee’s key, Ha-kyung unlocks and looks through the corresponding locker at the bowling club. Inside, she finds… a copy of Chairman Park’s autobiography. She flips through it in confusion.
Sung-ryong walks down the street with a smug smile, and we flash back to see how he got his Internal Monitoring title. Over the phone, he’d complained to Madam Jang that he wanted access to the audit information to get more evidence, and Madam Jang had agreed to help.
Sung-ryong had also spoken to Prosecutor Han, telling him that he needed him to leave him alone for a while. Prosecutor Han had agreed, and then informed him that Accounting was currently having a secret meeting with the auditing team, which was how Sung-ryong had found the accounting team at the restaurant.
At home, Director Chu marvels over Sung-ryong’s certification. They’re suddenly interrupted by a phone call from Ha-kyung, who wants to show them the book. She drops by, pointing them to a marked page and an underlined quote: “The basics of distribution begins in an office.” Director Chu wonders why he would emphasize that line, while Sung-ryong notes that it must be important if he’d even left the key with Ms. Uhm. For now, Ha-kyung suggests that they tell the Business Operations team about it.
An excited Sung-ryong then starts to tell Ha-kyung about his new title, but Director Chu bellows it out first, cutting Sung-ryong off. He pouts grumpily.
Sung-ryong waltzes into TQ the next morning, announcing his new Internal Monitoring job to every employee who passes by. He urges everyone to report any findings to him, offering meal tickets in return.
Meanwhile, Chairman Park growls at Yul and Executive Director Jo for letting Sung-ryong take on such an important role. Executive Director Jo gives the rundown: Sung-ryong can now create teams, request disciplinary actions on executives, and partake in the auditing process.
Chairman Park suggests that they get rid of Sung-ryong the same way they got rid of the former Chief Lee: by framing him. With the overconfident way Sung-ryong is acting right now, the chairman says, it’s the ideal time to target him.
As they walk out, however, a dubious Yul warns Executive Director Jo that Sung-ryong won’t be that easy to take down. When Executive Director Jo snorts at how highly Yul thinks of Sung-ryong, Yul warns her against her arrogance. Executive Director Jo just swears to get rid of Sung-ryong once and for all.
Business Operations crowds around the autobiography, but no matter how they look at it, it’s just an ordinary book. Ha-kyung decides to keep it safe for now. Director Chu then holds the book cover up to compare Myung-suk’s face to his father’s. The team notes that he doesn’t look like either parent, making them wonder if he was adopted. An exasperated Myung-suk snaps at them for making up birth rumors.
At Accounting, Sung-ryong visits Accountant Park to demand the auditing materials. Accountant Park takes issue with Sung-ryong’s overconfident attitude, but Accountant Lee intervenes to tell him not to make a scene. Annoyed, Accountant Park gets up to fetch the materials.
Accountant Lee reports Sung-ryong’s actions to Executive Director Jo before informing her of another way to attack Sung-ryong: through Sung-ryong’s secret informant. Oh no, Ga-eun!
At Accounting, Ga-eun approaches the female accountant, pushing her to task her with anything she needs. The accountant promises she will, but when Ga-eun turns around, the accountant smirks at her coldly.
Business Operations reminisces over Chief Lee’s kindness, wishing they could uncover the evidence he left behind. Sung-ryong returns at that moment, ordering Myung-suk to take copies of the audit materials he’s brought back. While he kicks up a storm in the auditing room, he says, he wants Business Operations to conduct the audit themselves to uncover their own evidence.
It’s a large workload, but the team is fired up at the prospect of battling Accounting again. Their enthusiasm is contagious, and they all prepare to work overtime. They note that Myung-suk doesn’t have a license and won’t be able to participate in the audit, but Sung-ryong just smiles deviously.
In the auditing room, Sung-ryong acts loud and obnoxious, but the auditors ignore him. To himself, Sung-ryong notes that the auditors’ files are already useless since they’ve been doctored; the only way to uncover the truth now is to go after the documents that the information didn’t reach.
Yul already knows that Sung-ryong knows this, however, and warns the accounting heads that Sung-ryong will be targeting documents from factories, warehouses, and real estate properties. He requests a list of those documents along with primary contacts.
Prosecutor Han informs an elated Ga-eun that he’s decided to team up with Sung-ryong for now. But, he tells her, she can’t reveal her cover just yet.
In the auditing room, Sung-ryong deliberately bothers everyone trying to work, peeking at the documents they’re working on. The auditing chief tells him to stop being distracting, but Sung-ryong has already figured out what documents he needs to look at; using those, he’ll surely find something that differs from the financial records. Sung-ryong then calls Myung-suk, asking if he has a driver’s license.
Ha-kyung sits in the office, writing and rewriting the underlined quote in her notebook, but she doesn’t come up with anything. The team tells her the code is uncrackable.
Meanwhile, Sung-ryong gets into Myung-suk’s car, putting his smelly feet up on the dashboard and asking him to play ’90s pop songs.
At TQ, the auditing chief tells Yul that TQ’s financial records have too many problems and missing sums. If they go ahead and approve the audits, he says, there will surely be trouble later on.
In his office, Yul asks Accountant Lee how much of the Taipan’s Bank slush fund Chairman Park owns, and Accountant Lee reluctantly estimates that it’s about eighty percent. Yul is amazed that Chairman Park could take so much and leave only crumbs for the rest of them. He smirks at the injustice, noting that this information will reach the public one day, and the country will riot.
Myung-suk drives Sung-ryong to a TQ warehouse, where Sung-ryong tells the warehouse manager that they’re a potential winner of the TQ Management Award. The ecstatic manager prepares to give any information on their inventory at the prospect of the prize, and they shriek in excitement together while Myung-suk shuffles off to investigate on his own.
Myung-suk discovers a poorly secured door to the inventory room and goes inside, browsing through boxes until he finds a massive stock of expired products. He marvels at the sheer amount of dead stock and snaps photos as evidence.
At that moment, a couple of warehouse employees run toward him, certain he’s a thief. Myung-suk weakly explains the TQ Management Award, but at their disbelief, he tries to swear that he’s actually Chairman Park’s son. But they only laugh at him, more than prepared to beat him up.
When Sung-ryong shows up to save him, Myung-suk adorably hides behind him: “You guys are dead now. My hyung is here!” LOL. Sung-ryong acts horrified that the employees are threatening his subordinate, and the warehouse manager scolds the employees. They back off, but when they wonder if Myung-suk is really the chairman’s son, he just scoffs: “No, what are you talking about?” Ha.
They stroll out of the warehouse to the car, where Myung-suk shows Sung-ryong the photos he took. Sung-ryong explains that these photos are evidence that the audit is a lie. Every company must make its inventory transparent, he explains; if they don’t, it seems like it sold the stock instead, which is clearly not the case. Pleased with their success, Myung-suk even overlooks Sung-ryong putting his smelly feet on the dashboard again as they head off.
Accountant Lee reports to Yul that the “TQ Management Award Team” just dropped by TQ’s biggest warehouse. Yul knows that it must be Sung-ryong under the pretense of a fake award. They have no choice now, he says; they have to make that inventory’s stock the same as the financial report.
At the office, Business Operations is hard at work with the audit, dismayed at the lack of proof. Sang-tae suggests looking into dubious-sounding subsidiaries like TQ’s Tanzanian branch to see if they actually exist, and Director Chu expands the doubt to warehouses and real estate. Ga-eun drops by for a visit, and Director Chu notes that Ga-eun always seems to come in when they need help. She grins, citing her luck.
Executive Director Jo finally confesses to Chairman Park that Yul has been threatening her before telling Chairman Park to stop letting Yul in on so many of their secrets.
At Business Operations, the team notes Sung-ryong asleep at his desk and leave him to rest. Myung-suk calls a contact in Tanzania to confirm that there is no TQ branch there, and Ha-kyung suggests that they split up to survey real estate and warehouses.
At that moment, a pizza delivery arrives for the team, but it’s actually Prosecutor Han in disguise! Sung-ryong follows him out of the office, pretending to pay the bill. Prosecutor Han tells Sung-ryong to call him when he finds hard evidence before giving him a list of executives who have teamed up with Executive Director Jo.
Ms. Uhm suddenly pops out to hit Prosecutor Han, thinking he’s the delivery boy who came last time and left trash everywhere. Sung-ryong flees back to the office to escape her wrath, and when Ga-eun wonders suspiciously why the transaction took so long, he just shrugs it off.
At home, Myung-suk greets Madam Jang before suddenly complaining that everything his father does is shady and corrupt. Scoffing, he heads upstairs to his room, and Madam Jang smiles proudly to herself.
The next day, Business Operations gets to work. Sung-ryong continues to annoy and insult the auditing team while the other team members visit TQ’s property sites, which turn out to be abandoned or fake.
When the team reconvenes, they confirm their suspicions of TQ’s lies. But, they note, the auditing team only means to cover it up further. At that, Myung-suk leaves the room in fury, muttering to himself: “This is so embarrassing.” Sung-ryong wonders if they were being too harsh, but Ha-kyung shakes her head: He’s just embarrassed of his father.
Accountant Lee reports Sung-ryong’s actions to Yul, explaining that his team is conducting their own investigation by finding fake sites. When Yul orders him to get rid of them for the audit, however, Accountant Lee tells him that doing so would create too many missing sums.
So Yul goes to Chairman Park for help, telling him that he needs money to clear up the fake real estate assets. Using company money to do so, however, would harm TQ; instead, he needs Chairman Park’s personal funds from his Taipan’s Bank account. Chairman Park is averse to using those funds, however, saying that they are necessary for TQ’s future. He gently tells Yul to settle the matter another way, insisting that Yul is the only one he trusts.
As Yul leaves the office, he angrily snorts at Chairman Park’s idea of TQ’s “future,” while Chairman Park mutters to himself at how Yul dared to try and touch his private funds.
Ga-eun sits at her desk, thinking about all of her genuine encounters with Sung-ryong. Finally deciding to tell him everything, she packs up her wiretap and heads out to confess. Before she can even bring it up, however, Sung-ryong tells her he already knows: Who but a detective could do such efficient background checks? He had wondered who she could be working for, but figured it out after seeing her reaction to Prosecutor Han yesterday. He also knows about the wiretap – after she’d said she would use bugs on Yul, he went straight to his own desk to check if she’d bugged him.
Ga-eun explains that she’d originally wanted to spy on him, but had later begun to help him as Ga-eun The Intern. She might have lied, she says, but everything she did was to help. He nods, telling her not to get caught. However, when he wonders how she could take the revival plan bonus as a police officer, she changes the subject and escapes, hee.
Late at night, Accountant Park infiltrates the Business Operations office, slipping a fat stack of cash into Sung-ryong’s desk drawer and messing with the accounting files on his computer. Uh oh.
The next morning, a disgruntled Sung-ryong arrives at work. Ga-eun has reported that TQ has gotten rid of its expired stock and is now clearing up its fake real estate assets. Sung-ryong is totally frenzied for the rest of the day, pacing the room in deep thought: “Everything I’m doing feels useless.” He shakes his head, refusing to just let that happen.
Meanwhile, Director Go instructs the Financial Management heads to say that Sung-ryong threatened them for their confidential documents.
Sung-ryong barges into Yul’s office, offering Yul the chance to redo the audit from the beginning – they both know the financial records are still a mess, he says.
But Yul just snorts, seeing right through his bluff. He’s already cleaned up everything Sung-ryong has investigated, he says. Hiding his dismay, Sung-ryong insists that he’ll absolutely make sure to ruin this audit, and calls Yul names before Yul can kick him out. Annoyed, Yul calls Accountant Lee: It’s time to start their plan.
Sung-ryong returns to the auditing room, where the chief of the auditing team receives a sudden phone call. He brings one of the auditors outside, and Sung-ryong follows to eavesdrop. The chief orders the auditor to go check the short-term marketable securities, and fast.
With this information, Sung-ryong asks Ga-eun to send him anything on short-term marketable securities. When the female accountant hands Ga-eun a stack of confidential papers to shred, Ga-eun agrees, but notes that they’re about short-term marketable securities.
Ga-eun delivers the documents to Sung-ryong, telling him that she checked to make sure this is the real deal. Sung-ryong thanks her for the crucial find.
Suddenly, a group of security officers barge into Business Operations, accusing Ga-eun and Sung-ryong of violating the classified documents clause. Ga-eun and Sung-ryong must now stay in the security office until the executives come in tomorrow. Snatching away the documents, they drag a crying Ga-eun and an indignant Sung-ryong out of the office.
The next morning, Ha-kyung and Director Chu hurry to the security office, realizing that someone must have set Ga-eun up to take Sung-ryong out of the game. Sung-ryong asks Ha-kyung to watch the auditors for him and tell him how they wrap things up.
Upstairs, Sung-ryong and Ga-eun sit before Executive Director Jo and Director Go, insisting that they did nothing wrong. But Executive Director Jo informs him that if they’re found guilty, they’re both fired.
Worse, Ha-kyung and Director Chu return to Business Operations to find security looking through Sung-ryong’s desk and computer. When they find the stack of cash that Accountant Park planted, Accountant Park sings that Sung-ryong must have been embezzling loads of cash all this time: “I guess secrets always begin from inside an office,” he says.
Director Go receives report of the cash they found in Sung-ryong’s desk and smugly notes how much evidence they have now. In addition, Director Go has reports from Financial Management accusing Sung-ryong of threatening them for classified documents. Sung-ryong stares at them in rage while Ga-eun silently cries beside him.
As the auditors announce the results of the audit, Ha-kyung worriedly looks through Chief Lee’s book, rereading the underlined quote: “The basics of distribution begins in an office.” Noting the similarity to Accountant Park’s words, Ha-kyung orders everyone to look for the office copy of Chairman Park’s autobiography.
Meanwhile, Executive Director Jo starts to fire Sung-ryong, certain that he can’t object to the overwhelming evidence against him. But Sung-ryong just smirks and pulls out his phone. When Executive Director Jo tells him that not even Madam Jang can’t help this time, he claims he’s not calling Madam Jang.
Ha-kyung finally finds the office’s copy of the autobiography, and the team gathers around as she flips to the page marked in Chief Lee’s copy. There’s nothing there, however, and they all sigh… until Ha-kyung catches something in the spine of the book.
Using tweezers, she pulls out… a micro SD card! The team inserts the SD card into their computer to see what evidence Chief Lee left behind.
Meanwhile, Executive Director Jo demands to know why Sung-ryong is taking so long with his phone. Suddenly, he shows them the screen to reveal a video recording of Accountant Park going through his desk late at night. Ga-eun immediately stops her fake crying, giving the executives a smug look, and Sung-ryong snorts: “How can you use the same method you used against Chief Lee? Your method hasn’t changed at all!” Hee.
Sung-ryong then encourages them to take a look at the documents they took. Looking flustered, Director Go pulls out the documents to see… the TQ cafeteria menu for March. LOL.
Through a flashback, Sung-ryong explains that he knew from the start that TQ was obviously trying to trick him with the short-term marketable securities business. He’d let Ga-eun in on the hunch over the phone, and when the female accountant had given her the documents, she’d known it was bait.
Sung-ryong begs Director Go and Executive Director Jo to stop using dirty tricks so crudely – he’s embarrassed for them. Ga-eun agrees, and they giggle together, noting that they should sue the directors for slander. Sung-ryong asks Ga-eun if she knows any prosecutors, and she cheerily confirms.
Meanwhile, the auditors continue their meeting with Yul and Accounting, finding TQ in good financial standing.
They’re interrupted by Ha-kyung, who barges in on Sung-ryong’s behalf to object to the audit and to previous audits as well.
Sung-ryong runs in late to back her up. Accountant Lee demands evidence, and she pulls out the micro SD card left behind by Chief Lee, which contains evidence that last year’s audit was a total lie. Sung-ryong grins at the chip, while Yul looks dismayed.
I really liked the way this episode unfolded, because it gave our team a chance to be the heroes. Chief Kim is, naturally, about Chief Kim, but it’s also a show that puts emphasis and heroism on the team he leads, as well – after all, he wouldn’t be a chief of anything if he didn’t have a team to lead and inspire. In fact, this episode felt like it had a very high number of camera shots that included the entire team, with the Business Operations members gathering around Chief Lee’s book, making strategic decisions together, or working overtime late into the night. The showrunners seem to have a thoughtful aesthetic control over those shots, always filling them with vibrant color and balance, which I think adds an important artistic dimension to how crucial teamwork is in this show. Even apart from the aesthetics, though, the show lets the Business Operations team continue to be a vital inspiration to each other, revealed though moments of expressive characterization. I loved when Hee-jin pushed the other employees to get fired up in the battle against Accounting, sharing a contagious enthusiasm that has even totally converted the cynical Manager Lee and the jaded Director Chu in recent episodes. And how totally cute was it when Myung-suk called Sung-ryong his “hyung” at the warehouse?
In the opposite vein but even more well done, I love that Ha-kyung had an opportunity to work on her own this time. The team definitely looks toward her as a leader, and it’s easy to see why, with her confidence and charisma. But the show has tended to let Ha-kyung take the backseat on many of the past arcs, and instead strengthened her role as a crucial support to Sung-ryong. I loved seeing Ha-kyung get to figure out an important piece of evidence entirely on her own, using her unique strength of slow but steady persistence. When she barged into the auditing room at the end of this episode, Sung-ryong had no idea what evidence she had; that victory was totally on Ha-kyung and the rest of the team, who managed to take care of this piece of the fight on their own. Sung-ryong still got his time to shine in this episode’s satisfying and triumphant twist with Ga-eun, but with Ha-kyung’s contribution, it felt like this episode made real progress toward taking TQ down once and for all.
Additionally, this episode was particularly great at showing how much Yul has changed since the beginning of the show. As Executive Manager Jo said, Yul now sees Sung-ryong as a real threat; though he’s always taken precautions, Yul now seems to think about his battle techniques in their “game” by thinking, “What will Sung-ryong do next?” It added a whole new dimension of fun to today’s battle, because Yul was able to unravel all of Sung-ryong’s progress from the first half of the episode by knowing exactly what Sung-ryong is capable of and willing to do, a knowledge that seemed to directly force Sung-ryong into a black moment of (apparent) hopelessness. The more they know about each other, the more effective and fast-paced their battle becomes. The show did a really excellent job at the twist this week, I think, by really drawing on that aspect: Yul is always a step ahead of Sung-ryong… who is always a step ahead of Yul… who, maybe, is still a step ahead of Sung-ryong.
It seems unfair that Sung-ryong has so many opponents at TQ – it’s him against the executive directors and the chairman, as well as all of the people TQ has hired to help them, from the accountants to the security officers. But Sung-ryong is unique as a hero in that he’s not at all reluctant to depend and trust his team; the show never makes him “rescue” his friends from trouble or uses them as unnecessary emotional leverage. They’re a team, working with each other and for each other toward a single, righteous goal. It’s what made the ending twist of this episode so much fun: We as viewers trust Ga-eun to take care of her problems, trust the Business Operations team to stay positive, and trust Sung-ryong to come up with some wacky plan to befuddle everyone around him. But when everyone’s individual decisions come together? It’s dazzling to think what they can do.
- Chief Kim: Episode 15
- Chief Kim: Episode 14
- Chief Kim: Episode 13
- Chief Kim: Episode 12
- Chief Kim: Episode 11
- Chief Kim: Episode 10
- Chief Kim: Episode 9
- Chief Kim: Episode 8
- Chief Kim: Episode 7
- Chief Kim: Episode 6
- Chief Kim: Episode 5
- Chief Kim: Episode 4
- Chief Kim: Episode 3
- Chief Kim: Episode 2
- Chief Kim: Episode 1