Radiant Office: Episode 16 (Final)
It’s time to say goodbye to Hauline and its cast of quirky, realistic characters. Ho-won, Ki-taek, and Kang-ho have learned a lot in their time there, and though the lessons haven’t always been fun, all three of them have grown and matured since they first met in the emergency room. From their lowest moments to their highest, these three friends have stuck together through thick and thin, and no matter where their lives take them next, we’ll always remember them for their quest to be the very best versions of themselves.
FINAL EPISODE RECAP
Sick of Hyun’s manipulations, Woo-jin slams his resignation onto Hyun’s desk. Hyun mutters that he’s been too lenient, and Woo-jin tells him that his mindset is terrible. He calls out how Hyun toys with people, saying that he treats the company like his own personal playground.
He tells Hyun to stop relying on his father’s money and abusing his power, and adds that he has to actually listen to his employees. Manager Park breaks in to say that Hyun is doing his best for the company, but that’s not good enough for Woo-jin. He asks if the company’s future is more important than the futures of the employees who contribute to its success.
Hyun accuses Woo-jin of making decisions for emotional reasons and trying to protect his team, but Woo-jin points out that he just quit, so the loss of his salary should cover the salaries of the two employees Hyun would have fired. Hyun threatens to blackball Woo-jin if he does this.
But Woo-jin makes it clear that he’s not afraid of a small man who doesn’t use his advantages for positive results. He tells Hyun one last time to be mindful that his decisions affect thousands of employees and their families, then he walks out.
Gu-dong is upset that Woo-jin didn’t tell him in advance of his plan to quit, but Woo-jin says that he would only have tried to stop him. He adds that he and Hyun would have butted heads soon anyway, but he denies that he’s running away. He says that this is the best thing he could do under the circumstance.
Manager Park bursts into Woo-jin’s office, not to criticize him, but to say that Woo-jin’s speech in there was touching. It’s obvious that Manager Park admires Woo-jin’s ability to stick to his principles, and Gu-dong jokes that Woo-jin should start his own fan club. Woo-jin teasingly asks if Gu-dong would be president, but Gu-dong has a better person in mind… Ho-won.
Woo-jin goes out for coffee with Suk-kyung and guesses that she’ll probably do all of Hyun’s dirty work from now on. He warns her not to trust Hyun, but she argues that corporations always treat people as tools. That may be true, but Woo-jin thinks that she’s the one seeing herself as nothing more than a tool.
He says that Suk-kyung is the most competent, dedicated person he’s ever worked beside. She replies sadly that that’s not always what matters, but Woo-jin counters that it’s all that matters. He tells Suk-kyung that her skills are wasted on Hyun and advises her to trust in herself.
At lunch, Yong-jae tells Ho-won and Kang-ho a twisted story about how the heroic Manager Park fought the villainous Hyun for their jobs, getting all the facts wrong. He bossily sends Ki-taek for more kimchi, and Ki-taek shoots Yong-jae a look that says he’s getting sick and tired of his bullshit.
After lunch, Yong-jae picks on Ki-taek again, this time by rudely insisting that he drive them back to the office. But when Ki-taek hears him saying they should just fire the temps instead of restructuring, he finally blows. He flattens Yong-jae with a surprise right hook, yelling that every one of those temps works harder than Yong-jae does. They then make a run for safety, though Kang-ho gives Yong-jae a solid kick for good measure, hee.
That night, Woo-jin calls Ho-won to meet him in the park, and she notes that he calls her a lot lately. They go for a walk, enjoying the spring air, and Woo-jin smiles as he says that Ho-won taught him to enjoy the springtime in spite of the looming winter. He casually takes her hand, saying vaguely that he’s not her boss anymore.
Ki-taek wipes away his tears at his frightening diagnosis when Kang-ho asks how he plans to deal with Yong-jae’s fury at work tomorrow. Ki-taek doesn’t really care, since his contract says he can’t be fired, and they laugh that he sounds like Ho-won these days. Ki-taek wishes that tomorrow would come so that it can become “a happy today,” as Ho-won always says.
At Ho-won’s gate, Woo-jin finally tells her that he quit his job today. She asks if it’s because of the restructuring, but he tells her that it’s really because of her self-introduction assignment. It made him realize that Hauline was special to him like it’s special to her, and he apologizes for being so mean to her when they first met.
Ho-won starts to cry, worried for Woo-jin’s future. She dives into his arms to sob on his shoulder and beg him not to go, and Woo-jin smiles and says that she can hug him any time now that he’s no longer her boss.
Later, Woo-jin spends some time cleaning his place. He stops to water the small hyacinth that Ho-won planted when she was cleaning his apartment, telling it, “Grow well, Eun Ho-won.”
Yong-jae comes to work the following morning sporting an impressive black eye and looking angrily for Ki-taek. After some well-deserved teasing, Ji-na says that Ki-taek is visiting with his high school sunbaes. It scares Yong-jae into backing down, since he went to the same school a year or two behind Ki-taek.
Hyun offers Woo-jin’s job to Suk-kyung, but she tries to decline since it would look bad to the employees. Hyun accuses her coldly of being too fussy in wanting a promotion only under specific circumstances, but either way, he orders her to finish the restructuring soon. Lastly, he tells her not to take experience or position into account when deciding who to fire, only job performance.
It also falls to Suk-kyung to inform the office that Woo-jin quit before she’s called into Manager Park’s office. He feels betrayed that she’s taking Woo-jin’s job when he’d planned to be the new CEO and give her his job. He warns her that a dog who bites its master will always be viewed with suspicion, but then he tells her to do a good job and hopes that she doesn’t become like him.
Ji-na finds Ki-taek sitting outside and joins him, though she doesn’t hear him wonder softly if he should let her go. (No, don’t let her go!) She asks if he’s sad because of his sick friend, and he nods.
Ki-taek asks if she’d rather have one year of passionate love, or ten years of boring love. Ji-na wants to know why she can’t just have ten years of passion, hee. She chooses the one year, saying that one year of passion can last you the next forty years. Ki-taek agrees, because he wants to love her passionately, like every day is his last. Okay, stop that, you’re making me cry!
Woo-jin sends Suk-kyung a message through Ho-won and her to his old office, where she finds a nameplate naming her as General Manager of Marketing. She remembers him telling her to rely on herself as she stares at the nameplate.
Woo-jin can’t even last one day of unemployment without going stark raving mad. He’s made even grumpier by the fact that Ho-won hasn’t called or texted, jumping to the conclusion that she was only using him for his position at work. He’s so mad that he even yells at her hyacinth, ha, but then he benevolently shares his beer with it.
The boys walk Ho-won home, all of them exhausted after a day where everyone was freaking out about the restructuring. But then Ki-taek reminds them to be happy anyway, and they reaffirm their determination to stay positive.
Finally, Woo-jin caves and texts Ho-won to meet him at the playground, though he’s adorable with his Meet me, or don’t, whatever. Of course she does, and he whines that his day was super boring before griping at her for not reporting in to him. Ho-won asks why she should when he’s not her boss anymore before asking what was in the package for Suk-kyung.
Smiling, Woo-jin says that it was Ji-na and Ho-won’s future, though he doesn’t explain any further. (If I didn’t already love him, that right there would have done it.) He asks about Hyun, and Ho-won says that he was being interviewed by the restructuring team all day long. Confused, Woo-jin asks if their department wasn’t exempted after all.
Ho-won asks if it’s true that Woo-jin quit to save the rest of the team, but then she says gently that she thinks he’s a coward. She tells him that even though he was cool and sacrificed himself, he also avoided the real battle when he should have stayed to fight. That stings, but she’s not wrong.
Woo-jin stays up late thinking about Ho-won’s words while also thinking that she’s growing up well. He calls Gu-dong, who’s still at work and who calls the office a battlefield, quipping that the second-in-command has to stay vigilant since the commander isn’t there. Woo-jin admits that he regrets quitting the battle instead of taking Gu-dong’s advice, so Gu-dong asks him for a favor: to return if they win.
The next morning, Suk-kyung arrives early at the office to find Kang-ho already there. Kang-ho says he has something to take care of and that it’s something he wants to do, not work that Yong-jae dumped on him. He tells her that he’s happy to have a job here, which touches something in Suk-kyung.
She starts to head to her desk, but Kang-ho stops her again to say that he’s also happy to work with someone as great as her. She’s moved by his words, and as they take their desks, they smile at each other.
Manager Park goes to Yong-jae with a plan to oppose the restructuring, hoping to get everyone to strike. Yong-jae can’t understand why Manager Park is suddenly against Hyun when he’s always supported him before, but Manager Park just says he’s on the side of justice and a better company.
Suk-kyung tells Hyun that they’ll have to put a hold on the high-end furniture project due to unrest within the company, but of course Hyun refuses. He even tells her to accelerate the project, but Suk-kyung declines and tells him to find someone else to head the new project. She says that she misjudged the project, and now she believes that Woo-jin was right, in that it’s a bad risk.
She tells Hyun that if he ever bothered to leave his office, he’d know that the employees are preparing to strike, but he just fires back that the employees’ fears aren’t more important than the company’s future. Suk-kyung asks if he means the company’s future or his own, because she can’t tell the difference anymore.
She leaves, and Hyun hardly has time to react to her accusations before a call notifies him that his older brother has filed an application to become their father’s legal guardian. He’s floored, as this means that Hyun no longer has the legal right to run Hauline.
Manager Park talks to former-CEO Han at the convenience store, telling him about the elder Seo brother’s surprise takeover. Hyun has been transferred to the U.S. branch, effectively neutralizing him as a danger to Hauline any longer.
Han ridicules Manager Park for his flip-flopping loyalties, having been a victim of them himself, and quips that he must be exhausted. Then the store owner comes out to yell at Han for talking instead of working, and Han stands to put his store-issued vest back on and go back to work. HA.
Ho-won goes up to Hyun’s office to speak to him before he leaves, which surprises him. He asks if she’s here to yell at him for causing Woo-jin to quit, but she just reminds him that he liked Woo-jin too, once. She says that she’s actually here to thank him before he goes.
She tells Hyun that even though he seemed mean, she knows that he was really looking after her in his own way. She mentions that he didn’t retaliate when she yelled at him in the meeting, and that he arranged for two temp employees to be hired so that she’d get the job.
Ho-won adds that she believes he meant it when he said that seeing the three of them in the emergency room at their lowest moment made him want to do something good for them. She reminds him that she once said he was the best doctor she knew, clarifying that she meant that he’s really a good person before telling him to stop trying to hide it.
In a moment of honesty, Hyun says that people always use those who are nice and good. But Ho-won argues that that’s not always true and advises him to just tell people when he likes them. She says that it doesn’t matter what others think—what matters is the honest feelings between two people. She adds that she would have liked him even if he hadn’t gotten her the job at Hauline.
Ho-won lightens the mood by saying that they’re really the same, having both gotten their jobs through nepotism. She tells Hyun that she’ll wait for him to return, and then they can face off and see who’s the better employee. He takes her up on her offer.
With Hyun gone, Suk-kyung accepts the marketing manager position, which seems to make everyone in the office happy for her. Yong-jae pouts that since everyone leaves, he’s not going to show love to the new CEO, but Ji-na jokes that he’ll just bow and scrape as usual when he meets him, hee.
Ho-won is glad for Suk-kyung, but she can’t help but miss seeing Woo-jin at the office. She goes to his place that night, but he’s not home, nor does he answer her calls.
Ki-taek meets Ji-na at a cafe to talk, where he reminds her that she said she’d rather have a year of passion than ten years of boredom. Though he admits that he agreed, he says that he doesn’t think he can give her that year. He tells Ji-na that this is where his love ends, leaving her reeling.
Hyun visits his comatose father one last time before leaving the country. He tells his father that he always misses him when they’re apart, that he’s proud of him, and that he likes him a lot. Awww, he’s taking Ho-won’s advice.
Ho-won asks Gu-dong for a day off, and he seems to know exactly what she plans to do with it. She finds Woo-jin sitting on the beach and joins him, and since it’s the middle of the day, he assumes she got fired, ha. She says that she works very hard, and she sympathizes with his continued unemployment, understanding that it’s not easy to find a job.
She slyly asks when he’ll start bringing in money, wondering if she should ask for a raise. Woo-jin jokes that she shouldn’t be counting her chickens just yet. He grins when she fusses at him for making her look all over for him, asking if she’s been waiting for him.
Before leaving him to his thoughts, Ho-won reminds him that life is short and that you never know which day will be your last. She says what she came to tell him — that she likes him. Woo-jin looks stunned for a moment, but then he breaks into a giant smile and teases her for being too impatient to wait a few days until he comes home.
Ho-won is embarrassed, but she perks up when he says, “Me too. I like you, too.” Just for fun she makes him say it again, and they hold hands as Woo-jin gives Ho-won a sweet little kiss.
Life at Hauline resumes as usual, though Ki-taek is conspicuously absent. He’s refused a contract extension and told everyone that he’s going on a trip, but the truth is that he’s in the hospital, all alone.
A knock on the door reveals Ji-na, who somehow found out about Ki-taek’s illness. She’s angry that he didn’t tell her he’s sick, but she says that she’ll be waiting for him to overcome this and come back to her. Ki-taek can’t hold back his tears as she reminds him of his promise not to make her pitiful over him.
He goes to Ji-na and hugs her tightly, telling her that he’s about to go into surgery. He renews his promise never to make her look pitiful, and they both cry as he thanks her for being there.
The office has heard that a new CEO will be arriving today, and they’re all atwitter over meeting the new boss today. Yong-jae is especially upset, worried that he’ll be pushed out, but Gu-dong promises that the new CEO won’t let that happen.
We see a man in a suit riding the elevator, and hey, that tie looks familiar! We don’t see his face as he strides confidently to the office. The whole team is shocked to see Woo-jin, grinning a mile wide. Manager Park greets him familiarly, assuming that he’s here for a reference.
But Woo-jin has another surprise up his sleeve as he announces that he’s the new CEO. Everyone freezes, mouths hanging open, but they quickly recover to warmly welcome their new boss.
Very rarely do I watch a drama and get exactly what I was expecting. And even when it does happen, it’s even rarer that I’m completely satisfied with what I got. But for me, Radiant Office is a show that hit that sweet spot in every way that counted — it was wholesome without being saccharine, it touched on serious issues without ever growing maudlin, and it highlighted the characters in a way that made them so real that I just wanted to meet them all and be friends. I’m glad that it didn’t dwell on the fact that Ho-won, Ki-taek, and Kang-ho met when they all tried to commit suicide, but quickly rose above their darkest moment with heart, love, and a positive message that life is what you make of it.
I also liked that the show was well-balanced, allowing life issues, office politics, and romance to share equal time and again lending to the feeling that the show was reflecting life as it really is. I even thought it was interesting that Ki-taek and Ji-na were the couple with the more serious relationship, giving the audience a taste of a passionate love while allowing Woo-jin and Ho-won’s romance to blossom slowly. Though I don’t think that it would have bothered me if they had escalated their relationship to something romantic while still working together (it obviously wasn’t against company policy), I am glad that Woo-jin waited to make a definitive move until after he quit. It put him on more equal footing with Ho-won and eliminated any question of whether it’s inappropriate for a new employee to date her boss.
The show wasn’t perfect — there were a few dropped plot lines and inconsistencies, like why Hyun hired two new employees instead of one, then less than a week later took back his promise to hire the contest winner and ordered several people to be fired. And some things that seemed like fun sidelines were just left unfinished, such as the early tease that Ho-won’s roommate worked in the Hauline cafeteria. It did feel a lot of the time as if things happened at Hauline because they were convenient for the plot, and not because they made logical sense within the show’s dramaverse.
Most notably, I wish we’d been given more information about Hyun in general instead of having to guess at his motivations and goals. Despite Ho-won’s parting words, it just doesn’t sit well with me that he got Ho-won, Kang-ho, and Ki-taek the jobs at Hauline just because he was feeling generous, when we learn later that he couldn’t possibly care less about other people. It felt like Ho-won’s “You’re really a good person, just stop hiding it” spiel was a bit of a late attempt to excuse Hyun’s horrid behavior to everyone he met, and it wasn’t enough to make me forgive him for all the terrible things he did to so many people.
I would also like to have known why Hyun paid so much attention to Ho-won at first, seeming to genuinely like her, then once he went to work at Hauline he pretty much ignored her. And I wish I knew how he justified to himself that a person might die because he didn’t feel like telling them they might be sick. But most of all, I wish that Hyun’s downfall was the result of his own hubris in some way, instead of the mysterious invisible older brother stepping in at the most convenient time.
But conversely, I liked how some things were left open-ended but with hints of the future, leaving us with the impression that life doesn’t stop just because the show is over. It left me feeling like these characters will go on working hard and being good people and maybe even finding love (I’m still crossing my fingers for Kang-ho and Suk-kyung). I do wish we’d found out whether Ki-taek will live or not, but I felt as though his and Ji-na’s story ended on a positive note and book-ended a lot of what Ho-won learned when she thought she was the sick one. She always said that whether life is short or long, what matters is what you do while you’re alive. And in that sense, no matter what happens to Ki-taek, he’s lived an excellent life.
Aside from being left with some confusion about certain characters, I’ve really enjoyed Radiant Office and the way it showed everyday people living everyday lives. Ho-won’s simple dream of working an office job and her determination to stand up for what’s right sometimes clashed, but in the end, she was right — there are some things worth fighting for, even if it means risking everything.
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- Butting heads with the boss in Radiant Office
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- 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