Misaeng Episode 15 recap

Side dish: Somebody gifted me with an apple pie today, which put me in mind of Dutch appeltaart. If you haven’t had one of these, get yourself immediately to Dudok Café. If going to the Netherlands seems like too much trouble for appeltaart, try this recipe from Food Nouveau.


Episode Recap

We’re back on the roof where newbie contractor, Jang Geu Rae (Im Si Wan) is listening in on a conversation between Sales Team 3 leader, Oh Sang Sik (Lee Sung Min), and his colleague, Sun Ji Young (Shin Eun Jung) regarding the impossibility of Geu Rae ever making it to full-time employee.

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Robbed of his empty hopes, Geu Rae decides to concentrate on the year he has left. He shows up the next morning with renewed enthusiasm, much to the consternation of his colleagues.

Geu Rae’s cheerfulness is in direct contrast to Fibre Team newbie, Han Suk Yool (Byun Yo Han) who looks miserable as he gets coffee for his boss. Steel Team newbie, Jang Baek Ki (Kang Ha Neul) tells Suk Yool to keep his chin up, but doesn’t have time to listen to his troubles. First, they’re interrupted by a phone call, then by the arrival of Assistant Manager Kang (Oh Min Suk), who nitpicks over Baek Ki’s files. And finally, an impending disaster takes precedence, as the Steel Team’s cargo ship develops a hole. All of Baek Ki’s solutions are summarily shot down. Instead, the Steel Team acts on Geu Rae’s random suggestion of filling in the hole.

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At the Resources Team, newbie, An Young Yi (Kang So Ra) gets a call from her mother, asking for money to pay down their security deposit, since her father has taken the money out for his business. Young Yi emotionally points out that she barely scraped by paying off their last debt, and refuses to hand over money she doesn’t have.

Baek Ki resentfully looks on as the Steel Team is full of praise for Geu Rae’s quick thinking. When Geu Rae comes by, Baek Ki is crushed to hear Assistant Manager Kang give Geu Rae the kind of compliment he has never received himself. Baek Ki goes to the break room to vent his anger, but he’s followed there by Geu Rae. Baek Ki’s pettiness gets the better of him, and he advises Geu Rae to focus on his own faults rather than solve other’s, sending Geu Rae back to his desk, deflated. Suk Yool visits Geu Rae to finally vent some of his frustration, but he’s distracted by Geu Rae’s hangdog expression, and they talk about the distant Baek Ki, instead.

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That evening, Baek Ki meets up with Sang Hyun, the obnoxious intern who didn’t land a job at One International. Baek Ki is put in the uncomfortable position of defending Geu Rae from Sang Hyun who blames Geu Rae for his failure to get hired. Sang Hyun is bitter about how hard he and his mom worked to get him through school, only to be eclipsed by Geu Rae’s connections.

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Geu Rae, meanwhile, is up late working on a proposal for a business item, convinced his conviction will carry it forward. But, the next day, when he presents it to Sang Sik and Mr. Chun (Park Hae Joon), he’s unequivocally shot down. Geu Rae is crushed, and his moment of defeat is caught by Baek Ki, whose words of disdain echo in Geu Rae’s head.

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Back at the office, Mr. Chun questions Sang Sik’s dismissal of Geu Rae’s proposal without explaining to Geu Rae what’s wrong with it. Mr. Chun gets right to the heart of the matter, pointing out that it will be hard for Geu Rae to make it as a full-time employee, and that he should start looking for another job where he can use what he’s learned. Sang Sik goes up to the roof to think about Mr. Chun’s words.

Back at the Resources Team, Young Yi is completely discombobulated, as her teammates looks on in confusion. Assistant Manager Ha (Jun Suk Ho) even goes so far as to ask if something is wrong, but she plays it off. When acting department head Mr. Ma starts screaming for a copy of a contract, Young Yi is so out of it that she can’t even get the combination of their file locker right. Her phone rings continuously as she fumbles, and Assistant Manager Ha has to take over. In the end, Young Yi’s team leader gets kicked by Mr. Ma for being late as Young Yi runs off to the roof with her phone. It’s her dad on the phone this time, trying to cajole her into giving him more money. Young Yi angrily tells him never to call her again, and hangs up. Sang Sik stands aghast, witness to whole exchange. Young Yi runs away to cry in the stairwell, then she returns, red-eyed, to her desk, only to brush off the concern of the rest of the team.

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A crushed Geu Rae, meanwhile, sits at his desk, thinking about his shortcomings. Sang Sik finally relents, and gives him an assignment to teach him the basics of sales. With $100, Geu Rae must buy something cheap, and sell it for a profit by 7pm, excluding his family from the exercise. Meanwhile, Assistant Manager Kim Dong Sik (Kim Dae Myung) forgets Geu Rae’s failed proposal in the copy room, where it’s found by Baek Ki. Baek Ki ends up reading it, but is caught by Dong Sik and Assistant Manager Kang. Baek Ki thinks the proposal isn’t that bad, and at their request details what he would change. Without comment, Assistant Manager Kang sends Baek Ki to join in Geu Rae’s $100 assignment.

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On the street, Baek Ki sizes up Geu Rae, then refuses to join in on the buying part of the assignment, confident that he can sell whatever Geu Rae buys. As Baek Ki hangs out in a café, Geu Rae promptly falls into the trap of buying extremely cheap socks and underwear from a street vendor, as predicted by Dong Sik and Mr. Chun.

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Back at the office, the other newbies are faring just as poorly. Suk Yool is taunted by the other teams, as his supervisor promises loudly to teach him well, by alternately abusing or ignoring him. Meanwhile, Young Yi gets more flak from Assistant Manager Ha for being in a daze at the office, while still insisting that everything’s fine. She tries, but fails to secure a company loan, ostensibly to pay for her father’s debt.

Geu Rae takes his purchases to Baek Ki, who tries to pass it off to a friendly senior from school. Baek Ki explains the dilemma to his senior, and promises to give him a good deal, but his senior shoots him down for trying to sell him a low-quality product.

When they end up on the subway, Baek Ki is too embarrassed to help Geu Rae sell to the commuters. Baek Ki becomes a witness to Geu Rae’s willingness to debase himself in order to make a sale. Still, Geu Rae fails to sell anything.

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With two hours left to the deadline, Geu Rae leaves Baek Ki waiting at the subway station to make his last stand at the Go Institute of Korea. Geu Rae meets with his former team captain and is forced to ask if he can sell the socks and underwear to the other players. His team captain kindly refuses, since everyone will buy the merchandise out of sympathy, which he doubts is what Sang Sik was looking for. Geu Rae sadly takes his leave, as his team captain fondly says goodbye.

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Baek Ki, of course, followed Geu Rae, and overhears the other players discuss how he was forced to quit a promising Go career, because of his financial situation. Baek Ki surreptitiously returns to the station to meet a disheartened Geu Rae, and they glumly head back to the office, with nothing sold.

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Back at the office, Young Yi is returning from a food run, when she runs into a dispirited Suk Yool on his way out. She offers him tea, but her encouragement barely seems to register. Sang Sik, meanwhile, checks in with HR about sales employees with GEDs, only to find there aren’t any. Up on the roof again, Sang Sik runs into Young Yi, who is beating herself up over both screwing up at work, and the situation with her dad. Sang Sik offers her the compassion and benefit of the doubt that she failed to receive from her team.

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Geu Rae has a sudden flash of inspiration walking past a public sauna. To loosen him up enough to sell, Geu Rae buys Baek Ki a bottle of soju, which Baek Ki reluctantly chugs. The two of them end up drunkenly selling the socks and underwear on the street in front of the sauna, to office workers looking to freshen up after working overnight. Their first sale goes to a pair of businessmen who sympathize with their mission, but they soon have a crowd going, and their drunken sales tactics net results.

Geu Rae returns to the office, drunk but triumphant. Sang Sik is surprised at his success, but still forces Geu Rae to stay late in order to write a report on his sales experience. As Geu Rae finally leaves, he runs into Baek Ki, who also stayed late to write a report. Baek Ki obliquely admits he has gained some respect for Geu Rae, and the episode ends.

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Comments

I’m glad we ended on a high note for somebody, as all the newbies struggled pretty hard this episode. Suk Yool’s persistent humiliation at the hands of his supervisor, coupled with Young Yi’s family troubles made for a pretty sad situation.

That said, while it was within character for Young Yi not to bring up her problems at home, she’s really given her team no reason to cut her any slack, when she’s obviously not at 100%. Doggedly repeating that nothing is wrong isn’t terribly smart, and opening up enough to admit there is a problem would definitely have taken the pressure off. In the meantime, here’s hoping Assistant Manager Ha learns to express his concern a little better.

As for Suk Yool… yikes. Given that he’s been the source of laughs for the show thus far, it’s hard to see him lose the sparkle in his eye, especially since his supervisor is particularly petty in taking his revenge. On the upside, from the previews, it looks like he’s getting a hair makeover, so I guess that’s some consolation?

Even without poor Suk Yool, we did get some laughs this episode in the form of Baek Ki and Geu Rae’s drunken sales pitch. Granted, it came at the end of a spectacularly hard and humiliating day, but, that’s something this show does well: showing us how hard-fought these small victories are, and the slow and steady progress of our newbies, in their work, but also in their relationships.

That said, I must admit, I do miss a more active Sang Sik. Sitting around on the roof and contemplating Geu Rae’s sad future doesn’t really seem to be his style.

Here’s the winning sales tactics of Geu Rae and Baek Ki:

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Misaeng (미생)

misaeng 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 || series review

4 Comments

  • Excellent, how do you do it? The editing team of this drama must be at the top of their class. It’s probably near impossible to provide depth of background to each of the current realities of the characters, yet with flashbacks, overheard conversations, etc., there is just enough to keep us satisfied. There is also forward movement and coherence. Even structure, such as the symmetry of the two impromptu salesmen’s failed solutions.

    May I annoy with you a nitpick–4th paragraph last sentence, “distracting” should be “distracted”.

  • Dear Noonas

    These same day reviews are fantastic. I am sure you have to run fast to get them to upload, but It is this underlying intensity that makes the forum such an interesting place.

    Again, Misaeng continues to maintain its essential focus on the core drama contained in the office narrative (without falling for the distraction of external tangents that don’t fundamentally influence the main narrative). It is this unwavering attention that enables this drama to maintain our connection with each of these characters and, at times, navigate the suffocating realness of office politics.

    It is not the scale of the drama, but the impact on the participants that is its measure. To me, there are strong parallels to the West Wing, just expressed at the everyday level. It sets our aspirations for the leaders we hope for, but sets them in a context generated from our realities.

    • I do love how sharp the focus on the workplace is in this drama; I can’t think of any other drama where, for example, whatever relationship Young Yi had with Mr. Shin from Samjung Company is just a side note. Instead, we get the surprisingly human drama of the office workplace, and the show is all the better for it.

      Thanks for reading, and thanks for the insightful comment.

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