Misaeng Episode 17 recap

Side dish: I’m not great at making soufflé, but I’m told this Austrian variation is pretty easy. Try this recipe for Salzburger Nockerl from Delicious Days and let me know how it goes.


Episode Recap

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The office is busy, as newbie contractor Jang Geu Rae (Im Si Wan) takes another phone call for the project he handed off. His supervisors in Sales Team 3, Kim Dong Sik (Kim Dae Myung) and Mr. Chun (Park Hae Joon) look at him sadly as he passes the phone call on.

Over at the Steel Team, newbie Jang Baek Ki (Kang Ha Neul) is scolded by his supervisor, Assistant Manager Kang (Oh Min Suk) over only working on his own project. His attempt at a joke about his lack of multi-tasking skills is met with a blank stare.

At the Resource Team, newbie An Young Yi (Kang So Ra) jokes around with her team leader, as he compliments her work. Assistant Manager Ha (Jun Suk Ho) and the other guy (anyone know his name?) are nonplussed at this change in the formerly reserved Young Yi.

Over in the Fibre Team, newbie Han Suk Yool hands off a completed contract to his grateful team leader, as Assistant Manager Sung (Tae In Ho), aka his evil supervisor, stares on in silent rage. It’s the return of Suk Yool (woot!) as, later in the kitchen, he invites Baek Ki and Geu Rae out to a group blind date. When they turn him down, Suk Yool points out they have no other way of meeting girls, since the only women at work are transvestites and Young Yi (suddenly, I miss Suk Yool’s sad incarnation again).

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Young Yi walks in to hear her name being discussed, but her questioning is interrupted by the arrival of two assistant managers, who take over the kitchen, leaving them to find refuge in the staff lounge. The assistant managers complain about Sales Team 1 leader, Sun Ji Young (Shin Eun Jung). Suk Yool fills in the curious newbies that a project in Pakistan has gone wrong and Ji Young is cleaning up the mess without the support of her team.

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Sales Team 3 leader, Oh Sang Sik (Lee Sung Min) is back on the roof, looking over the solar energy project in China that was handed to him by the sales manager in the last episode. When he shows the project to Mr. Chun and Dong Sik, Dong Sik questions why they’re being handed such a large scale project (0.5 billion dollars). Mr. Chun urges Sang Sik to take it, but Sang Sik is hesitant, since it proceeds through a connection, which may or may not be illegal, and the failure to secure the order would mean disaster for the team that took it on.

Later, Mr. Chun explains to Dong Sik that the executive director stands to profit the most from this project with a promotion to vice-president, but needs a shield in case of failure, i.e., Sales Team 3. Since it has a high likelihood of success, however, both Mr. Chun and Dong Sik want to do it.

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Back at the office, Sales Team 3 gets a visit from the fast-talking manager of the factory in China, Seo Jin Sang. You may remember Mr. Seo as the man Geu Rae was chasing in Jordan in the first episode. Mr. Seo tries to offer both Sang Sik and Dong Sik presents. When they turn him down, Mr. Seo tries Geu Rae and the other newbies next, offering them Baekdusan deer honey, which is good for men’s stamina. The men all perk up at this, while Young Yi looks uncomfortable. They all taste it, but when Geu Rae starts staring at the pen in Mr. Seo’s pocket, Mr. Seo takes his leave. Young Yi and Baek Ki purchase the honey for their respective teams, only to discover they’ve been ripped off with sugar water, while Geu Rae discovers that the pen he was staring at belonged to Dong Sik.

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Dong Sik looks on enviously as a Sales Team 2 member, Mr. Hwang, gets a posting overseas. Sang Sik follows Dong Sik to the staff kitchen, where he apologizes, since the reason for Dong Sik not getting postings is likely that Sang Sik doesn’t play office politics. Dong Sik, ever loyal, laughs it off and blames it on his own refusal to go to the Congo. Later, when Sang Sik goes for a smoke with the leader of Sales Team 2, Sang Sik overhears Assistant Manager Sung talking to the other assistant managers, including Mr. Hwang, about how Dong Sik got screwed over by Sang Sik’s insistence on picking unprofitable projects.

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During a Fibre Team meeting, Assistant Manager Sung promises to ensure on-time delivery from a company named Chungsol. Later, Suk Yool takes Assistant Manager Sung aside to point out that he should switch companies, since Chungsol is always late. The conversation devolves into a confrontation, and Assistant Manager Sung throws down the gauntlet; only one of them can stay in the team. Later, Suk Yool overhears Assistant Manager Sung clearly having trouble with Chungsol.

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Back at the office, the leader of Sales Team 2 tells Mr. Hwang that the assistant managers’ discussion was overheard on the roof. Appalled, Mr. Hwang takes Dong Sik aside to tell him, and then takes him for drinks with the other assistant managers (including Kang, Ha from Resources, and Sung). Dong Sik gets sloppy drunk, and tells them off for talking crap about Sang Sik. It takes four of them to hold him back from getting into a fight with the obnoxious Assistant Manager Sung.

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When Dong Sik passes out in the street, the assistant managers realize that none of them knows where he lives, and none of them can take him in for the night (Assistant Manager Kang gives the hilarious excuse that his place is too messy). The entire group (minus Sung) ends up in a hotel, waiting for Dong Sik to sober up, and reminiscing about old times.

Back at the office, Geu Rae is hanging around, waiting for Sang Sik to leave first. Sang Sik sends him home, offering the wisdom that the people you meet will change your life. He goes off by himself to brood, but luckily, he’s interrupted by a phone call from his kid.

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The next morning, Sang Sik calls a hungover Dong Sik up to the roof, and asks if he’d like to switch teams. Dong Sik assures Sang Sik that he’s happy where he is, and can take care of himself.

Ji Young drives in from the airport, exhausted, but still taking calls. When she pulls over to take a break from driving, she faints by the roadside and ends up in the hospital. Sang Sik and her team members go to visit her. Ji Young’s husband is there, and tells Sang Sik that he blames himself, because of a recent argument, since he’d been promoted and wanted her to quit working.

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On their way out, Ji Young’s team members ask Sang Sik to persuade her to drop the unprofitable Pakistan project, since it’s driven her to this state. Sang Sik sends them off and goes back to the room, to find Ji Young awake. When he passes on the good wishes of her team members, she tells him about her sense of betrayal at overhearing the same team members talking about their promotions in the case of her resignation. Sang Sik tells her to wait until her more loyal team member returns before making up her mind, but Ji Young appears to have given up already.

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Back at the company lobby, Sang Sik runs into the executive director, who asks after Ji Young. Sang Sik looks nonplussed as the executive director offers his regret at being unable to help Geu Rae, and encourages Sang Sik to be strong, and to keep training Geu Rae.

Instead, Sang Sik returns to the office, and tells Ji Young’s team members to continue with the Pakistan project. When they protest, Sang Sik calls Suk Yool over with some documents for the project, then orders him to come to the King’s Hotel the next morning, a Saturday. Back at the hospital, Sang Sik tells Ji Young that he’ll finish most of her report for her, since the extra work will help him think his own problems through. He encourages her not to quit, or at least, to leave without regrets.

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The next morning, Geu Rae picks up Ji Young’s briefcase from her car and takes it to a hotel room, where Baek Ki and Young Yi are already working. Suk Yool comes by with a fabric sample shortly thereafter. The fabric sample is a leftover, and therefore will only require manufacturing costs since it’s already paid for. They all get to work, and the four newbies look like they’re having fun, as Sang Sik looks on. When Sang Sik falls asleep, Geu Rae steals the sleeping Suk Yool’s blanket to cover him up.

While Sang Sik sleeps, the four newbies go out to get some air (or, more importantly, beer). While they’re outside, Suk Yool extends his theory as to what each of the newbies would do in the same situation as Sang Sik, offering his imitation of each of them. In the end, Suk Yool comes to the conclusion that only he would look bad, because he would be the only one not to help. Oh, Suk Yool, I’ve missed you.

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Back in the room, Sang Sik wakes up to find himself alone, and is impressed by the report prepared by the newbies. He finds them all asleep in the bedroom of the hotel suite, the men cuddled up on one bed, and Young Yi on the other. He takes a picture, and sends it to them after he leaves, instructing them to remember this day. The picture completely fails as an inspirational memory, as they all delete it in embarrassment.

Sang Sik isn’t ready to let it go, though, and shows it to Ji Young so she can see how hard they all worked. The two of them have a good laugh, but Ji Young is curious as to what Sang Sik is so concerned about that he’s willing to spend his weekend working. He tells her his dilemma over the China project. Knowing that Sang Sik considers himself to be at war with the executive director, Ji Young offers the alternate perspective that if the order goes through, Sang Sik will be promoted to department head, and he’ll have hiring discretion according to company rules, meaning that he’ll be able to give Geu Rae a permanent position.

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Sang Sik is so taken aback by this that when he goes home for dinner, he can’t stop turning it over in his mind. When his wife asks him to tell her what’s wrong, he wonders whether it’s okay to help someone again. Sang Sik’s wife bluntly tells him that he needs to get over what happened with Eun Ji (the contractor who died), since he did the right thing in her situation. She points out that he takes too much upon himself, and that he’s not that important, in the scheme of things.

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The next morning, Sang Sik’s seat is empty at the office as he takes a half-day off for the first time ever. Geu Rae wonders if it’s not the effect of spending the weekend working, but Mr. Chun points out that it’s the last day to make a decision on the China project. At home, Sang Sik’s super cute kids speculate on why he hasn’t gone to work, but his wife chases them away. Instead, Sang Sik suits up like he’s going into battle; it’s like a scene of out of High Noon as he walks in to the executive director’s office, and the episode ends.

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Comments

I’ll start off by admitting that I enjoyed this episode, what with all the bonding between co-workers, and horsing around by Suk Yool. But, 80 minutes of Sang Sik making up his mind on the China solar panel project may not have been entirely necessary, when it seems a foregone conclusion that he’ll do it. Given that it’s come down the pipeline from his superiors, and it’s the biggest project of his career, my guess is that turning it down would be career suicide, however risky and problematic it may seem.

It’s pretty funny that after setting up Sang Sik as a bombastic man of action, we’ve spent multiple episodes on him doing little more than waffling over making decisions; first on Geu Rae’s desire to be a permanent employee, then on taking away Geu Rae’s project, and now on going ahead with the possibly problematic China project. Hopefully, we can get back to the fearless Sang Sik who actually, you know, does stuff.

I’ve got another bone to pick with this episode, and that’s the repeated use of unnecessary flashbacks to pad out an overly long running time. Flashbacks to previous episodes are at least justifiable, but flashing back to a conversation that only happened minutes ago is too much. Especially when they’re interspersed with Sang Sik doing nothing, but staring into space.

That said, it’s not as if the entirety of the episode was just padding. The scenes of bonding between the various employees were great. I especially loved the scene where all the assistant managers end up in a pile around the unconscious Dong Sik, while even the standoffish Assistant Manager Kang can’t bring himself to leave the group, and spends the night in a chair. It was a nice parallel to the group of newbies, who, after spending a couple of days working on Ji Young’s Pakistan project, end up in a similar puppy pile in the hotel room, much to their embarrassment.

Also, does anyone else want Assistant Manager Kang to loosen up enough to crack a smile? And, is Mr. Chun’s voice the best thing ever? No? Just me?

I’m almost sad I didn’t get to see a puppy pile with all the section chiefs, but in the meantime, here are two generations of puppy piles. Cute!

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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

6 Comments

  • Well, I didn’t enjoy the episode until I read your recap. It felt plodding as you noted (though very gently), kind of like an overly long recitative. But, your recap allowed some recollection of important moments that might have otherwise been lost in the ether. For example, the moment when Ji Young’s husband is lamenting the argument regarding his wife’s career was on target as far as reflecting today’s dilemmas for professional women, and it was so smoothly inserted that I didn’t take note until your recap jogged it. There were definitely other nuggets like that, so I’ll probably have to re-watch it to get the most out of it. Thank you again.

    “Delicate state”? A britishism?

    • Let me put it this way: In terms of plot development, literally nothing happened except for the normally brash and impulsive Sang Sik waffling over a decision that had already been made for him. But, I’m pretty forgiving of nothing happening as long as I get a good laugh out of it, which I did, more than once. In retrospect, what I forgot to mention in my comments was my annoyance with the insistence on the use of unnecessary flashbacks to fill in an 80-minute running time. Actually, I’ll go add that now.

      As for delicate state, I probably meant fragile. I think I may have implied that he’s pregnant. 😉
      Anyway, it’s gone now. Thanks for pointing it out!

  • Only

    Again thanks for the fantastic recap. I agree the episode was a break in pace. However, without this, the story line would have had to address and potentially reveal the underlining intent behind executive director’s offer of the China project. It is too early for such a battle and there was insufficient story to fully develop a well rounded context for this final thread.

    Until now, the motivations behind the executive director’s offer have been unclear. It is this that has created uncertain for all our team (which is the realistic position in such an organisation). Instead of the episode travelling down such a repetitive and unrealistic narrative of tilting at windmills and engaging with the executive where our team has no direct ability to impact him due to the intervening layers of the organisation, this episode let us revel in our teams bonding while creating a body of narrative (external to the managing director) that can drive or protagonists into accepting the project. It also sets a series of motivations for all involved

    Here is where the story becomes tricky all the characters and us as well. There is a subtle yet seismic shift that will be generated by the fundamental change of motivation from justly fighting power – to opportunities more aligned to self interests of the group, or members of the group (i.e. a full-time position for Geu Rae). Can the team achieve this with their honourable methods when the project and its success have already been shown to be outside the realm of what our team accept as the right thing to do?

    Now our team has to battle and it sets the classic question of “good vs evil”…can the “good” remain so if it has to resort to dishonourable (sic “evil”) means. All the characters are potentially blinded by their perceived honourable intentions. Hence their drivers are no longer consistent with the elements that had previously made them such a strong team.

    Here in lies the risk for them all and us.

    • Looks like they caught a nice sunset that day. It probably made standing up on that freezing cold rooftop in nothing but a shirt worthwhile.

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