Itaewon Class: Episode 10
It almost feels too good to be true when the break our hero needs to finally tip the scales in his favor falls into his lap. With the support of his friends and allies, Sae-ro-yi makes a new play to take Jang Ga down but President Jang won’t go without a fight and his counter-attack could spell the end for someone important to Sae-ro-yi.
EPISODE 10 RECAP
In a coffee shop, Geun-won freezes mid-chuckle when Yi-seo coldly tells him to stop. His confusion turns to rage as Yi-seo flips over her phone and plays back Geun-won casually confessing to Dad’s death. He fails to snatch back the phone and Yi-seo sighs that she loves Sae-ro-yi like crazy and is jealous of how preoccupied he is with Jang Ga. Geun-won lunges for her but Yi-seo throws hot coffee in his eyes. As he howls, Yi-seo vows to destroy Jang Ga and leaves.
Geun-won gives chase and quickly catches her outside, slapping her so hard she crumples to the ground. Demanding her phone, Geun-won couches down to hit her again. Yi-seo laughs that they’re in Itaewon and turns to the gathering crowd of expats, tearfully begging for help. A handful of men step up to Yi-seo’s defense but Geun-won cockily throws a handful of cash in the air. The crowd confusedly picks up the bills as Geun-won spits that money solves problems anywhere – before taking a fist to the face.
Sae-ro-yi helps an overjoyed Yi-seo to her feet and she excitedly tells him that she got Geun-won’s confession. He doesn’t even seem to hear her as he stares at her bloodied lip, gently asking what happened to her face. Yi-seo winces and Sae-ro-yi advances on Geun-won, demanding if he’s responsible. Geun-won confirms he did it and taunts Sae-ro-yi to punch him again. Fury burning in his eyes, Sae-ro-yi glares at Geun-won but before he can do anything, Yi-seo grabs his arm and snaps him back to his senses.
Police sirens wail and Geun-won tries to flee, but the expats block his path. He’s sullen as he is hauled away in the patrol car and Yi-seo tells Sae-ro-yi to let it go. Sae-ro-yi asks if she’s okay and Yi-seo cheerfully says that seeing him worried and angry over her is enough for her. Patting her hair, Sae-ro-yi apologizes and pulls Yi-seo into a hug. She melts into hit happily as he continues to pat her back gently.
The next day, Yi-seo’s post goes viral, incurring public outrage. President Jang brutally slaps his son, fuming at Geun-won for hitting Yi-seo when he was told to hire her. Geun-won can only mumble weak apologies as President Jang hits him again and again, cursing his stupidity. Raising his hand a fifth time, President Jang sighs when Geun-won flinches and declares him not even worthy a beating. Dismissed, Geun-won leaves and is immediately approached by Min-jung.
She’s sympathetic and says that he was wrong, but what’s done is done. Patting his shoulder, Min-jung promises Geun-won that the company will resolve matters and sashays into President Jang’s office. She recommends he dismiss Geun-won immediately, warning that when his involvement is revealed, it will no longer be just a family issue. President Jang wonders suspiciously how Min-jung knows and she points out that Yi-seo uploaded Geun-won’s confession. As Geun-won was a teen at the time, it would be impossible for him to handle it alone.
Over at Danbam, Seung-kwon and Hyun-yi were just as blindsided as President Jang and admit they’re unsure how to act now. Yi-seo coolly retorts that they should do their jobs and Sae-ro-yi agrees. Ho-jin calls and when Sae-ro-yi goes to meet him and Min-jung, he brings Yi-seo. Min-jung is unhappy Yi-seo’s video negatively impacted Jang Ga stocks, but Yi-seo nonchalantly says it would’ve happened anyway when Min-jung replaces President Jang.
Yi-seo asserts that the current situation is ideal for usurping President Jang since stockholders will be furious at the Jang family. Yi-seo warns that it could easily backfire, however, and declares there are two conditions they must meet. Jumping to the following morning, Detective Oh admits his shame to Hye-won. Sae-ro-yi and Min-jung arrive to see Detective Oh, but he’s frantically searching for Hye-won that ran out at the news. They split up and thankfully, Hye-won is quickly located at the park.
Sobbing, Hye-won says she feels bad for Sae-ro-yi but that she doesn’t want her father to be taken from her. Min-jung gently explains that it takes a lot of courage to take responsibility for a mistake and Hye-won should be proud of Detective Oh. Embracing his daughter, Detective Oh apologizes and vows to be an honorable person. Flashing back, we see that Yi-seo’s first condition was to get Geun-won charged for his crime against Dad, which is why Sae-ro-yi and Min-jung had come to get Detective Oh to turn himself in.
Sure enough, Geun-won pulls up to the courthouse amidst a crowd of reporters vying for a statement. Muttering that he’ll cooperate with the investigation, Geun-won disappears inside. Across town, Yi-seo declares the first condition has been met but tells the others they now need to figure out President Jang’s intentions. If he chooses to protect his son, or even remain silent, they’ll have the upper-hand. But she says if President Jang abandons his Geun-won, they might as well give up.
Ho-jin tries to argue they still have stocks and Min-jung’s supporters, but Yi-seo asserts that choosing the company over his son will appease the stockholders. Sae-ro-yi is confident President Jang will abandon Geun-won and suggests they try to gather evidence against President Jang as a backup. Ho-jin points out that President Jang was thorough in the past, so there’s nothing to be found. However, Ho-jin believes President Jang will never abandon Geun-won, so Min-jung agrees to wait and see.
At Jang Ga HQ, Geun-won’s lawyer announces that Yi-seo’s recording was dismissed so there’s no doubt Geun-won will be released on lack of evidence. Geun-won sighs relief and Present Jang barks that Jang Ga took a huge hit thanks to this chaos. He dismisses Geun-won and the lawyer but holds Soo-ah back. Once they’re alone, Soo-ah says he should abandon Geun-won. President Jang argues that Geun-won will be off scot-free but Soo-ah argues that the damage is enough for Min-jung to steal his seat.
President Jang tells her he was born the eldest of four children. His youngest sibling starved to death while the remaining two died from eating rotten food in the streets. President Jang: “I built Jang Ga Co. so that my family could eat good food and will never have to starve again.” He says he’ll never abandon his son and explains that this scandal caused only half the damage as Geun-won’s incident 8 years ago… which stabilized in 6 months.
President Jang’s confidence comes from his confidence that Jang Ga foods are delicious. He further asserts that Min-jung knows better than betray him because he’s the only person who can represent Jang Ga. Soo-ah apologizes and President Jang levels a glare at her, “Don’t you dare… Don’t you dare tell me to abandon my family ever again.” Outside, Min-jung’s spy texts her a play-by-play of the conversation. Satisfied, Min-jung pushes forward with the plan.
That evening Geun-won explodes when he sees the notice of the proposal for President Jang’s dismissal. He crashes the meeting and screams at Min-jung for attacking President Jang how’s “done nothing wrong.” Oh honey… Min-jung barks back that President Jang appointed an incompetent fool like Geun-won as a director and continues to protect him despite the losses and shame be brings to the company. Geun-won tries to argue she’d promised to help and Min-jung reiterates that she’d said the company would handle it – and they are.
Geun-won wanders out dejectedly and runs into Soo-ah. She tells him she’d advised President Jang to dismiss Geun-won, but he’d chosen to protect his son. “‘Blood is thicker than water,'” Soo-ah scoffs, “I hate that saying mor than anything. But I guess it’s true.” She stalks off leaving Geun-won even more shaken. Meanwhile, Geun-soo reads the news articles and admits to Hyun-yi that he feels conflicted about his father’s dismissal. He wonders how he can feel that way knowing what President Jang did to Sae-ro-yi but Hyun-yi thinks it’s normal since President Jang is still his father.
They return downstairs where Yi-seo is explaining the dismissal to Seung-kwon. Hyun-yi coughs loudly and Seung-kwon clams up but Sae-ro-yi openly admits they were discussing President Jang. “I’m sure you know this,” he adds, “Your dad is my enemy.” Sae-ro-yi continues that he’ll do anything to make President Jang pay for his sins and to surpass him in business. Ignoring Hyun-yi and Seung-kwon’s protests, Sae-ro-yi tells Geun-soo that he won’t change his plan over Geun-soo’s feelings.
“I’m sure you also don’t want me to do things that I don’t mean,” Sae-ro-yi concludes, pointing out that despite knowing everything, Geun-soo chose to stay at Danbam. Choking back tears, Geun-soo glances at Yi-seo and then excuses himself for some air. Yi-seo says that this too was bound to happen. Outside, Geun-soo thinks to himself that he agrees with Sae-ro-yi, admitting he was actually impressed. Recalling Yi-seo’s teasing words that if Geun-soo wants her, he should take over Jang Ga, Geun-soo thinks, “So you’re saying it’s okay for me to want you, right?”
The following morning, Geun-won visits President Jang before heading to the prosecutor’s office. He informs his father that the lawyer prepared a statement and he should be able to return to work tomorrow. President Jang interjects that he’s spent his life building Jang Ga, musing “I, Jang Dae-hee, am Jang Ga Co. itself.” He declares that no one can drive him out and tells his son to handle his own business and not worry about his father.
Geun-won goes to leave, but President Jang continues that he’d always disciplined Geun-won in order to hand Jang Ga over someday. Fixing Geun-won’s tie, he laments that as a father, he’s never once hugged his son. He pulls Geun-won into an embrace and Geun-won cries at the first expression of affection in his life. President Jang tells him to get going and Geun-won leaves. To Soo-ah’s confusion, President Jang says they should be heading out too.
In the lobby, Geung-won runs into Sae-ro-yi, who explains he’s here to cast his shareholder vote for President Jang’s dismissal. Sae-ro-yi thanks Geun-won, “I couldn’t see the end of it. But thanks to you, it seems possible.” Enraged, Geun-won nearly punches Sae-ro-yi but Secretary Kim warns him not to make matters worse. Geun-won spits that he and his father aren’t people Sae-ro-yi can mess with and storms out.
The Danbam crew wait anxiously for news and Seung-kwon says it’s good Geun-soo has the day off. Hyun-yi suddenly freezes and shows them something on her phone. Turns out President Jang is holding a press conference. To the crowded room of reporters, President Jang passionately tells them that he’s here as a father, not a chairman. He apologizes for Geun-won, admitting that he didn’t discipline him correctly. Explaining that Geun-won will be found not guilty for lack of evidence, President Jang shocks everyone by announcing that Geun-won confessed to him after the first hearing.
In her office, Min-jung declares they’re doomed. President Jang continues to sob crocodile tears to the reporters, claiming no prior knowledge and Geun-won covered it up alone. Geun-won orders Secretary Ki, to stop the car while President Jang wails that he looked into the case and confirmed Geun-won’s guilt. At a stoplight, Geun-won takes the opportunity to jump out of the car, racing back to his father and losing his tie in the process. President Jang admits he hesitated, but upon learning the truth, he turned all the evidence over to the prosecutors.
Min-jung is on the phone screaming there’s no way President Jang didn’t know while he announces his son must pay for his crimes. Overwhelmed, Sae-ro-yi runs to the bathroom to be sick. Meanwhile, Soo-ah looks on through tears as President Jang lies, “To the victim who passed away because of my son and his family, I sincerely apologize. We will regret it for the rest of our lives.” Apologizing fervently, President Jang bows deeply, finally kneeling on the podium as Soo-ah covers her mouth in distress.
Afterwards, President Jang leaves through a throng of avid reporters just as Geun-won arrives at the location. The men stare at each other for a charged moment as Geun-won realizes what President Jang’s hug meant. Tears slide down his face and President Jang gets into a car and leaves. Accepting his abandonment, Geun-won admits to the reporters that everything is his fault. Heartbreakingly, President Jang’s dismissal is rejected.
Later, Min-jung sits in President Jang’s office and he coolly informs her he holds no grudge. He believes she did it all for Jang Ga and reveals he’s been aware of her spy in his office. President Jang sighs that Min-jung must be disappointed but she corrects that she merely underestimated him. He continues that he’s disappointed but won’t kick her out because her father was his partner. Instead, he’s exiling her to the Pajin office to clear her head.
Sae-ro-yi meets Min-jung and Ho-jin at Jang Ga’s pub that evening. She’s already quite drunk and loudly declares that they never had a drink together as partners. Ho-jin apologizes guiltily and Min-jung shushes him. Sae-ro-yi asks what she’ll do now and Min-jung pouts that her supporters have all been ousted and she has not choice but to do as she’s told. Ho-jin continues to apologize all night and when he scurries to the bathroom, she grumbles that he has no reason to be sorry for her choices.
She asks what Sae-ro-yi’s plans are and he says he’ll find another way. She’s surprised he’s not giving up when the odds are stacked against him and Sae-ro-yi points out they always have been. He says that despite their failure, Geun-won will still pay for his crime and President Jang lost a son. Min-jung pouts that she lost everything and Sae-ro-yi agrees – she lost, but he didn’t. She tuts that he really can be a jerk and her eyes fall on Dad’s watch.
Min-jung recognizes it and Sae-ro-yi admits he wears it whenever he as something important to do. Min-jung continues that during the 1997 IMF financial crisis, there was one dish that saved Jang Ga. Sae-ro-yi recalls reading about it in President Jang’s biography – Jang Ga’s signature dish that made the company what it is now. Min-jung confirms that it wouldn’t be an understatement to say Jang Ga wouldn’t be where it is without the special sauce. “Marketing always needs a good story,” she muses, “It’s more compelling to say that it was developed by the chairman, not a mere employee.”
Sae-ro-yi is confused and Min-gun reveals, “It was Mr. Park who made this sauce. It’s the dish developed by Mr. Park. And what he got in return for giving credit to the chairman is this watch.” She growls that Dad should’ve been the last person kicked out of Jang Ga. Min-jung agrees that she’s the one who lost today and thinks Sae-ro-yi will do better. She tells him to hold out his hand and slaps it. “I’ve passed the baton,” Min-jung announces, “Make sure to win, Sae-ro-yi.”
President Jang and Sae-ro-yi both attend Geun-won’s hearing where he’s declared guilty and sentenced to 7 years in prison. Geun-soo is led away and Sae-ro-yi looks thoughtfully at Dad’s watch before standing to leave as well. President Jang calls after him, assuming Sae-ro-yi is now satisfied. “Not at all,” Sae-ro-yi retorts, “You’re sitting comfortably right there.” President Jang commends him for teaming with Min-jung but tsks that Jang Ga won’t fall apart easily.
Sae-ro-yi questions whether the company is worth abandoning his son and President Jang says he’ll do anything for Jang Ga. He admits he still feels bitter and Sae-ro-yi points out Geun-won is just paying for his crime. President Jang growls that Sae-ro-yi is crossing the line but Sae-ro-yi’s expression remains calm as he says President Jang is next. Finally admitting that Sae-ro-yi is his enemy, President Jang vows to make him regret it. “I will offer my life to make the same promise,” Sae-ro-yi counters.
Later, Sae-ro-yi visits Dad’s grave, apologizing for not coming sooner. He says he was a bad son that went to jail without finishing the funeral and felt too guilty to visit. He lays the paper reporting Geun-soo’s sentence next to the grave and kneels, saying that while he may be a bad son, he has a lot of good people around him. Sae-ro-yi pours a drink for Dad and himself, telling him not to worry anymore and rest in peace. Taking the shot, Sae-ro-yi once more hears Dad asking how it tastes. Through tears, Sae-ro-yi says, “It’s still… bitter.”
Y’all… I am doing my best to keep this a family-friendly post but know that expletives have been said, even if I won’t repeat them here. There is so much to unpack this hour, so let’s start with President Jang: I honestly had not thought it possible to hate President Jang more than I already do… and then the show just casually drops in that the entire Jang Ga empire hinges on Dad’s recipe? As if Dad’s death and Sae-ro-yi’s backstory weren’t tragic enough! Just chuck my heart into a woodchipper, it would be faster.
And in case you doubted he was a villain, President Jang tells Soo-ah that he built the company – on Dad’s back, mind you – to ensure his family never went hungry again only to chuck Geun-won into the sun in order to keep his claws in the company. I wonder if President Jang can even see the irony here. He may be eeeeeeevil but the further into the show we get, the more I find President Jang to be quite pathetic. His hatred for Sae-ro-yi is beyond petty, especially now that we know he wouldn’t even have his money and power without Dad.
The character that continues to frustrate me the most, however, is Soo-ah. Just as I was starting to like her, she throws a wrench in our hero’s plans by warning President Jang that Min-jung will likely betray him and he should oust Geun-won to avoid losing the company. It’s so strange because she didn’t have to say anything. Whether President Jang retained his position or was usurped by Min-jung, Soo-ah’s position in the company is secured. Her unnecessary and frankly unwarranted loyalty continues to baffle me. During the press conference, the tears in her eyes seemed sympathetic to Jang… but I hold out a sliver of hope that Soo-ah is running her own long con.
She doesn’t appear to be waffling anymore. After the bus scene, she has been much more resolute about her standing with Jang and Sae-ro-yi’s confession last episode is another confidence boost I’m not sure she needed. The threat of Yi-seo winning Sae-ro-yi’s affections made her think twice about taking his feelings for granted but when Soo-ah told him it was getting harder for them to be together; I don’t think she was talking about external factors. This episode she finally admitted she liked Sae-ro-yi back… but it wasn’t even to him, so what’s the point?
Speaking of ill-fated loves, Geun-soo is in quite a precarious position. Yi-seo teasing him about taking over Jang Ga has been swirling around his mind and now that Geun-won is in prison, President Jang will need his backup successor. His inescapable bond with his father as well as his complicated feelings towards Sae-ro-yi both as a mentor and a rival only make matters murkier. All I can hope is that whatever he chooses, he maintains his sweet puppy nature. I’ll be said to see him leave Danbam, but perhaps he’ll be instrumental to taking President Jang down from the inside. Only time will tell.
As for the rest, I’m sad to see Min-jung go but I doubt that’s the last we’ll hear from her. She’s too good of a character and I’m with Hye-won that it would be pretty cool if she hooked up with Detective Oh. She’s a badass that don’t need no man, but her instant bond with Hye-won was so sweet and Detective Oh completely won me over when he told President Jang where to stick his contract. That scene last episode had me screaming. I love this show a lot and while there may be hiccups here and there (President Jang is ridiculous, Soo-ah makes no sense, where was Tony this week???) I am having so much fun and I hope y’all are too!