Radiant Office: Episode 13
Woo-jin isn’t taking the management shake-up very well as he and Hyun continue to butt heads at every turn. Not only is Hyun awful on a personal level, but he has no idea what he’s doing and refuses to listen to Woo-jin’s advice. But just as he’s getting ready to throw in the towel, Woo-jin learns a hard lesson from a surprising source, and he’s going to need to do some difficult soul-searching if he wants to stay and fight.
EPISODE 13 RECAP
Hyun visits the office to announce that there’s a new employee filling CEO Han’s role: him. He calls the managers to the office for a short meeting, where Manager Park immediately starts kissing up. Woo-jin refuses to kowtow and expresses his annoyance that Hyun is flouting proper hiring procedure.
Back in the office, Yong-jae realizes that the rumor of Woo-jin being Chairman Seo’s eldest son was false. Then it hits him that Manager Park won’t be getting the promotion to CEO Han’s position as they all expected. It also means that the three temps suddenly have more influence due to their connection to Hyun.
The three friends get away to talk it over, and while Kang-ho thinks this is a good thing, Ho-won is still smarting over Hyun’s betrayal. Internally she pouts that now there’s no way her evaluation for the permanent position will be fair, since Hyun will be one of the people evaluating them.
This occurs to Kang-ho and Ki-taek as well, and since the chief director’s position gets fifty percent of the vote on the new hire, they both assume Ho-won has the edge. Ho-won senses their suspicion (probably tipped off by the massive amount of side-eye she’s getting) and assures them that Hyun will certainly not give her a high score since she threatened him.
Hyun dismisses everyone but Woo-jin, then informs him that he’s the main reason Hyun chose this department as his Hauline entry point. Since Woo-jin refused to be Hyun’s follower, Hyun decided to just make himself Woo-jin’s boss instead.
He preens at his own cleverness, but Woo-jin reminds him that they’re both employed by Hauline, meaning that neither of them is the ultimate boss here. He asks Hyun to revise the criteria for choosing the permanent hire, but Hyun refuses. Woo-jin slams out of the room, muttering that Hyun relies too heavily on his father’s backing.
Yong-jae nervously delivers the nameplate that Manager Park ordered for himself when he assumed he would be the new chief director. Manager Park looks at it like it’s the Holy Grail, vowing that some day it will sit on his desk.
Woo-jin cheers up when he finds Ho-won in the hallway, but he notices that she seems down. He jokes that she must be worried after threatening the boss’s son now that she knows he’ll pretty much decide if she’s hired on permanently.
Ho-won says that she’s already survived one life or death situation, and that even after Hyun’s fifty percent, she still has control over the other half. Woo-jin smiles indulgently and moves on, sighing that Ho-won only cheers up when he provokes her.
Ji-na urges Ki-taek to spend time with Hyun socially in order to get a better evaluation from him. She even starts planning to send gifts to the other evaluating managers, not noticing Ki-taek’s embarrassment. She finally sees that he’s uncomfortable and reminds him that her future also rides on whether he gets this job.
Yong-jae is such a kiss-up that he even goes to butter up Kkot-bi, who’s now Hyun’s secretary. He prods her for information on Hyun’s likes and dislikes, until she pointedly reminds him that Hyun has been working here for less than one day.
Suk-kyung meets with Hyun in his father’s hospital room, where he says that her reports are very different from the ones he’s been getting from Manager Park. He tells Suk-kyung to report directly to him from now on, and if her work makes him look good, he’ll put her in charge of the new team when the sales and marketing teams are merged. He makes it clear that he intends to cut Manager Park out.
Meanwhile, Manager Park slips into Hyun’s office and picks up his nameplate, speaking to it as if it’s Hyun himself. He complains that he’s scratched and clawed for years for this seat, only to have some brat who knows nothing about furniture snatch it out from under him.
Ho-won slogs home that night to an empty apartment, but she finds that the doorknob has been broken and the light is on, so she runs back down to the street. Woo-jin just happens to be down there dithering over whether it would be seen as favoritism to offer Ho-won rides to and from work, so he sees her looking frightened and asks her what’s wrong.
Terrified, Ho-won stammers that she thinks there’s someone in her apartment, so they go back upstairs together, where Woo-jin’s fraidy-cat nature takes over as he hesitates to go inside. Does Ho-won seriously expect the biggest chicken on the block to protect her? Good thing she doesn’t have a cat…
Ho-won hands him a broom to use as a weapon, then he motions for her to stay outside while he valiantly charges into the apartment. The place has been ransacked but seems to be empty now, so after checking the whole place, he goes back out to report that the thief is gone.
Woo-jin waits with Ho-won until the locksmith comes to replace the doorknob, insisting that he put in an extra lock for good measure. He stays for coffee on the patio, and when he asks if Ho-won is okay sleeping alone tonight, she says that the days she has to endure lately are much scarier than this.
Ho-won tells Woo-jin that when she threatened to sue Hyun, she let go of her hope to be hired on permanently. But she still thinks it was the least she could do for the friends who have been there for her when things were at their toughest.
She admits that she feels guilty that Hyun is invading their office because of her, but Woo-jin promises that that’s not his reason. She takes his word for it and turns back to the view, pretending not to notice that Woo-jin is staring at her when he says that the view is nice.
As soon as Woo-jin gets home, he texts Ho-won to make sure she locked up. He sends several worried texts in a row, which is adorable, as is his grumpiness when Ho-won replies simply that she’s fine. He texts back to tell her to call him if anything happens, and Ho-won squees quietly to herself when she reads it.
The following day, Woo-jin revises the permanent hire criteria and emails them to Hyun just as Manager Park is teaching Hyun to use the complicated email system. It pops up on Hyun’s computer screen, so instead of approving a sample file, Manager Park accidentally approves the new criteria. Whoops.
He attempts to reassure Hyun that there’s no way the executive director and the company CEO will send in their approvals before the evaluations take place, only to have the approvals pop up almost instantly. Ha, even Woo-jin is shocked, but he figures out that it must have happened so fast because Hyun is the chairman’s son.
Manager Park assumes the same thing, and he wanders back to the office grumbling to Ho-won that this is the problem with nepotism. He goes to Woo-jin and sarcastically says that he should thank him for this. Ho-won shoots Woo-jin a thoroughly confused expression, and he gives her a huge grin and a thumbs-up.
The day of the evaluations finally rolls around. Ji-na explains to the managers and the candidates that they’ll be given a number score in each category, and the person with the highest score gets the job. Part of the test includes a self-evaluation — the candidates will submit a personal appeal to the employees, who will get a chance to score them. Suk-kyung tells the trio that they’re all doing great at their jobs, so their self-evaluations will probably end up being the tiebreaker.
Ho-won strongly objects when Ki-taek and Kang-ho want to take Yong-jae out to an expensive dinner, hoping to earn his favor during evaluations. She argues that it’s no different than the time the vendor paid for their dinners, and she’s shocked when Kang-ho snaps at her.
As the lone sales team member, he’s worried that he’ll have fewer supporters, so he’s determined to do what he can. Ho-won’s jaw drops when Ki-taek says he’ll go too.
So the guys end up at the restaurant watching Yong-jae assemble a horrifically huge bite of food before shoving the whole thing into his mouth. Kang-ho is riveted, while Ki-taek looks as though he may hurl, ha.
The managers all join Hyun for a meal, and Hyun wastes no time handing out new office culture rules, such as forbidding overtime and instituting a weekly casual dress day. Woo-jin points out that making people go home on time is useless as long as they’re afraid of their superiors, and Gu-dong says that casual day will only force people to buy more clothing. Even Manager Park argues that it will be difficult to get the executives to give up their power suits.
Attempting to support Hyun, Suk-kyung agrees that those suggestions will probably be popular among the younger employees. Hyun asks her to make the suggestions on his behalf, and he promises to push forward Suk-kyung’s idea for a high-end furniture line. Well, that’s not an obvious tit for tat.
It so happens that they’re at the same restaurant as Yong-jae and the boys, and Suk-kyung spots them on her way out. Something about the sight upsets her, and she rushes out, but not before Kang-ho sees her there. When Kang-ho tries to pay the bill for dinner, he learns that a woman paid for them already.
He arrives back at the office the next morning to find Suk-kyung there early. He brings her a coffee and asks if she paid for them last night, and though at first she looks a bit sad, she smiles and says she only wanted to treat them. She mentions that today is the first day of evaluations and tells Kang-ho not to try to earn brownie points with anyone, because he’s more than qualified for the job. Awww.
Kang-ho sighs to Ki-taek that Ho-won was right all along about bribing Yong-jae. Ki-taek agrees that it felt wrong to him too, in addition to making things awkward with Ho-won. Kang-ho leaps up guiltily when Ho-won enters the break room, and she yanks his chain for a minute before grinning and saying that they’re okay.
They wait nervously while the evaluations are handed out to the employees. Ki-taek asks Kang-ho whose evaluation of him he’d most like to see, but Kang-ho just smiles nervously and mutters that he can’t say.
Ho-won also hesitates to answer, but the camera pointedly switches to Woo-jin in his office, staring thoughtfully at the resignation letter on his desk. The friends hold hands, comforting and calming each other’s nerves, knowing that their coworkers are out there right now deciding who they want to keep.
Yong-jae gleefully gives Ho-won zeroes in every category, awarding Kang-ho the most points. Ji-na predictably gives Ki-taek the highest score on her evaluation, though she also gives Kang-ho and Ho-won high, if slightly lower, scores.
Hyun, Manager Park, and Woo-jin review the evaluations together, and though Ho-won has less points from her peers, Hyun notes that his score could change everything. He changes the subject to ask Manager Park about the high-end furniture project, and Manager Park tells him that that idea has already been attempted, but it failed.
Hyun says coldly that it’s Manager Park’s job to make it work, but Manager Park blames the marketing team for the original idea. Woo-jin fires back that the sales team vetoed the idea.
Hyun interrupts to say that they need to start marketing to the rich instead of catering to those who always buy the cheapest product. Woo-jin counters that their brand is familiar to consumers, which is why they keep coming back — and besides, Hauline lacks the resources to produce high-end furniture.
Hyun just says he’ll pay for everything, but Woo-jin argues that throwing money at it won’t solve all of the problems associated with creating and launching a high-end line. Hyun snaps that if money wasn’t the answer, Hauline wouldn’t have spent all that money hiring Woo-jin himself. Damn.
He asks Woo-jin if he’s not capable of doing this job, his words a clear challenge. Woo-jin protests that starting a new project hinges on utilizing the abilities of your employees, and that handing down random edicts from on high isn’t the way to run a business.
Hyun doesn’t budge and ends the meeting, but Woo-jin isn’t finished. He says that issuing orders without understanding how things work can cause businesses to fail, and that it will be the employees who suffer.
Back in his own office, Woo-jin tells Gu-dong that he’s quitting once the temporary employees’ evaluations are finished. Gu-dong warns him against running away again, asking him to take some time and think about it, but Woo-jin is convinced that he can’t work with Hyun.
Ki-taek hands out health drinks for a little PPL moment as he and Kang-ho discuss their self-evaluations. Kang-ho acts as though his is nothing special, though he refuses to let Ki-taek see it, and they both wonder what Ho-won is working on so intently.
Poor Ho-won has nothing, but as she’s making some copies, she suddenly gets an idea and heads to a nearby printing shop. The boys stay at the office until late — Kang-ho puts together a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) on himself, while Ki-taek’s self-evaluation includes incredibly adorable photos of himself as a child.
In the morning, they hand in their evaluations to Gu-dong on USB drives, but Ho-won is nowhere to be seen. Yong-jae is quick to remind everyone that missing the deadline will cost Ho-won her chance at the job.
Ho-won is stuck in a taxi in bumper-to-bumper traffic, frantic to get her self-evaluation in before the deadline. Eventually she arrives and races to hand her evaluation to Gu-dong, out of breath and exhausted, but thankfully right on time.
That night Ho-won waits for Kang-ho and Ki-taek at the convenience store, where the owner gives her some taffy for good luck. When the boys arrive, they all agree to reveal what they did for their self-evaluations.
Ki-taek says that he made a compilation of videos and pictures of himself from childhood, to help the managers better understand who he is. Kang-ho tells them about his SWOT analysis, then they ask what Ho-won made.
She says that she gathered all of her hundred self-introductions from the job interviews she went on over the years and made them into a book. Kang-ho asks if they weren’t all the same, but Ho-won explains that because she didn’t have much experience, she wrote something different for each one.
Woo-jin smiles softly as he reads Ho-won’s book, eagerly taking in all of the stories she’s written about herself. He reads every word, particularly taking interest in her epilogue, which is the story of her experiences at Hauline. She’s written about how important this job is to her, and how it’s become the center of her life: “A small story about me. One hundred and one small stories became the start of the grand one hundred and second story of my life.”
Woo-jin finishes the book, touched by Ho-won’s heartfelt dedication to give everything she can to her job. He looks at his resignation letter again, now feeling uncertain of his own path.
He meets with Ho-won that night for a drink at a pojangmacha, admitting that he’s wanted to do this for a while but felt it was inappropriate until after evaluations were finished. Ho-won vents about her stressful morning waiting for the printer’s to open before getting stuck in traffic, while Woo-jin just smiles at her indulgently.
She suggests that Woo-jin try narrowly escaping death some time, because it’s enabled her to see things she couldn’t see before. He asks what she means, and she shyly whispers that she really likes…
But another patron yells for soju so Woo-jin doesn’t hear her confession, and Ho-won suggests they also get another while she quietly dies on the inside. Woo-jin asks what she was saying, but she just says there’s a cat behind him, earning a playful death glare when he realizes she’s teasing him. Cuteness.
The next morning, Yong-jae enjoys crowing at Ho-won that she’s not getting the permanent position, taunting that she reaps what she sows. Ho-won gives it right back to him, saying that he’s sowed a lot too, and offering to reap their crop together. Ha, Ji-na grins in admiration.
Annoyed, Yong-jae calls Ho-won a troublemaker, but she’s still not intimidated. She does this hilariously dramatic over-apology, even getting on her knees with her arms in the air, clearly enjoying having the upper hand for once.
The decision is made, and Woo-jin calls the office to attention to hear the results. But first he announces that there’s been a change in the number of full-time positions, and that two people will be hired. He begins to read the names of the two temps who will be offered permanent positions, as the whole office holds its breath.
Awww Show, that’s just mean to end on a cliffhanger like that! And now that I think about it, it’s even meaner to have two people being offered jobs instead of just one. At least when only one of the three was going to get the job, the other two wouldn’t be alone in their rejection. They would have had each other’s shoulders to cry on. Now the one person who isn’t hired will be left out in the cold to deal with their continued unemployment all alone, knowing that they were the least qualified for the job.
I really enjoy how this show continuously subverts tropes, which makes it stand out among other workplace dramas where you can reliably predict what will happen episode by episode. My favorite subversion is the most obvious — that Ho-won, Ki-taek, and Kang-ho have never let themselves become rivals even when they argue, as this episode highlights yet again. They always come back to each other, understanding that their friendship and support is vital to each of them while being willing to give up any advantages that might result if they lowered themselves to play dirty. But for these three, it’s not even about having a strong moral compass, it’s simply because they deeply care for each other and genuinely want good things for the others as much as they want them for themselves. So they consistently choose fair play over rivalry, for no other reason than that they love each other.
I also love how the show has spent several weeks preparing us for Manager Park’s eventual hostile takeover, only to have the rug snatched out from under him by Hyun. It’s so satisfying to see the office scammer get scammed for once! I don’t think Manager Park has abandoned his play for power, but I also see him as pretty toothless, because he’s got nothing and nobody backing his pursuit. He doesn’t even have intelligence on his side, either to construct an effective evil plan, or to simply set himself up as an invaluable employee. He hasn’t learned that when you have no privilege or money to buy your way to the top, the way to get there is through hard work, not bribes and schemes and dirty tricks. That’s coming back to bite him in the ass, and for once it’s nice to see that happen before the character gets his wish, not after he’s had time to use his newfound power to make everyone else miserable.
Then on the other side there’s Hyun, who has nothing but money and privilege, and yet his entry into Hauline has been anything but smooth. He can’t convince the one person he sees as capable of helping him succeed to come over to his side, so he resorts to forcing Woo-jin to work for him by making himself Woo-jin’s direct boss. I don’t know why he thinks that’s going to make Woo-jin any less hostile towards him, but then, I never know what Hyun is thinking. But I like that he doesn’t just put himself into the job and suddenly become an expert at it like some shows do with their characters (I love you, Perfect Wife, but I’m side-eyeing you so hard for this). Hyun is actually a pretty bad boss, and his terrible decisions could very well destroy the company he’s so eager to acquire. Woo-jin isn’t afraid to tell Hyun this to his face, and I think Hyun’s about to find Suk-kyung a major obstacle as well. She’s going along with him for now, but she’s already seeming very uncomfortable with his controlling antics. I don’t think it will be long now before Suk-kyung decides that a promotion isn’t worth it and joins up with Woo-jin to take Hyun down.
At least, that is, if Woo-jin doesn’t decide to follow through with his threat to quit. He’s lasted much longer at Hauline than he has at any other job, in no small part due to Ho-won’s influence. I don’t blame him for wanting to bail when he faces the choice of either becoming Hyun’s toady or quitting — for once that would be an understandable reason for him to leave a job. But I think that Ho-won’s self-evaluation was very timely, because it showed Woo-jin that there are people who value a good job so much that they’re willing to overlook the bad and appreciate the good, which is a lesson he could stand to learn. He’s always taken jobs that offered him money and prestige, but it’s time that he learned what it means to truly love what he does.
- Radiant Office: Episode 1
- Go Ah-sung livens up the company meeting in Radiant Office posters
- Detectives, spies, liars, and new hires in poster parade for spring dramas
- Butting heads with the boss in Radiant Office
- Battling for survival at the workplace in Radiant Office
- Everyone’s desperate to work in MBC’s Radiant Office
- Go Ah-sung’s part-time blues in Radiant Office
- MBC’s Radiant Office fills its rank and file employees
- Ha Suk-jin considers a romance with Go Ah-sung in Radiant Office
- Go Ah-sung in talks to headline new MBC office drama