As he had promised his boss, Jang Geu Rae (Im Si Wan) spends the entire night reorganizing the electronic files. He stops work at dawn to wash off the fermented squid at a sauna.
Returning to the office, Geu Rae runs into fellow intern, An Young Yi (Kang So Ra). Following a stilted exchange, Geu Rae is left flustered after Young Yi adeptly ties his necktie for him.
Geu Rae’s boss, Oh Sang Sik (Lee Sung Min) and his second in command, Kim Dong Sik (Kim Dae Myung) are in awe of Geu Rae’s system for organizing the electronic files. Despite this, Sang Sik states that he does not expect Geu Rae to remain long in the office.
When Geu Rae arrives, Sang Sik grudgingly gives his approval of his work before departing. Despite his previous enthusiasm for Geu Rae’s work, Dong Sik reprimands Geu Rae for ignoring Sang Sik’s electronic folders, pointing out that Sang Sik will ultimately be held responsible for Geu Rae’s work. Dong Sik dismisses him with a reminder that Geu Rae does not work alone. This sends Geu Rae into contemplation about working by himself until this point.
Sang Sik runs into a superior who invites him to go hiking with the executive director. Sang Sik looks taken aback then quickly comes up with an excuse. His superior starts lecturing him about work advancement, but Sang Sik cuts him off and beats a hasty retreat.
Sang Sik is grumbling about keeping work and pleasure separate when he witnesses a fellow manager lambasting one of the interns. Sang Sik runs into the frothing manager, and casually defends the intern. The manager concedes that his situation is preferable to Sang Sik’s before inadvertently revealing that it was the executive director who dropped Geu Rae in his lap.
A morose Geu Rae is shredding documents when a group of his fellow interns enter the room. Geu Rae overhears them discussing a presentation interview that will require the interns to partner up by tomorrow. The other interns return to work with the exception of Jang Baek Ki (Kang Ha Neul) who regards Geu Rae’s back thoughtfully.
Baek Ki glibly points out that the shredder is what lies in store for the interns who fail the final presentation interview, before walking off. This sends an anxious Geu Rae running after him for advice. Baek Ki laughs off his bleak comment, and reassures Geu Rae with the prospect of jobs outside of the company. But, in the meantime, Geu Rae will need to find a partner for the presentation interview. Geu Rae bitterly notes that everyone keeps lecturing him about working alone.
Back at the office, Sang Sik glares at an unwitting Geu Rae, thinking of the intern’s connection to the executive director who is known to hate Sang Sik. Sang Sik loses his temper with Dong Sik and spurns Geu Rae in the process.
Geu Rae is sent off to lunch. Alone on the roof of the building, he thinks bitterly about being admonished for failing to work as a team player while repeatedly being isolated by others. Geu Rae screams his frustration from the rooftop before scurrying to hide when Sang Sik and Dong Sik look up in confusion.
Young Yi is carrying bolts of cloth into the building when Baek Ki attempts to relieve her of the load using charm. Baek Ki’s joking withers under Young Yi’s gaze, and he releases the cloth. Baek Ki then reminds Young Yi about the partner presentations tomorrow.
Young Yi brings samples of the cloth to Sang Sik, and Geu Rae overhears her telling the manager that she has not found a partner, but does not particularly care who her partner is. Geu Rae runs into Young Yi and musters enough courage to ask her to be his partner. Young Yi is unnerved by Geu Rae’s intense gaze, and fails to give any response to his proposal. An embarrassed Geu Rae hurriedly returns the hair elastic that Young Yi dropped when they first passed each other in the hallway.
Geu Rae is still on a mission to find a partner when one of his fellow interns unexpectedly asks to be paired with him. Geu Rae is too shocked to accept the offer. What follows is a parade of interns bearing gifts in an attempt to entice Geu Rae to be their partner. The exception is Baek Ki who simply expresses his amazement at the pile of goodies on Geu Rae’s desk.
Young Yi is having the opposite experience, having been approached by no one other than Geu Rae to partner up. The intern who frequently torments Geu Rae offers her the favour of being partnered with him. He points out that no one else wants to partner with her, because no one wants to be overshadowed by Young Yi during the presentation.
An anxious Young Yi proposes to Geu Rae that they partner up, leaving him in a state of shock. Back in his cubicle, Geu Rae is beaming at the prospect of pairing up with Young Yi when his happy thoughts are interrupted by Dong Sik. Dong Sik bluntly reveals that the actual motive of the other interns is to partner up with a loser like Geu Rae in order to make themselves look good in comparison.
Geu Rae’s face falls, and he thinks about his lifelong isolation and misfit status. In his desperation to fit in, Geu Rae had failed to realize that he remained on the outside. Young Yi’s sudden change of heart about partnering with him sours.
Sang Sik runs into a despondent Geu Rae in the elevator, and the intern pours out his frustration over having to rely solely on himself. He hopefully asks Sang Sik to serve as his mentor. Sang Sik is seething as he points out the hardships other interns had to endure in order to get where Geu Rae has gotten. He is resigned to a system that allows Geu Rae to advance without merit. However, Sang Sik coldly states that he has no intention of helping a beneficiary of a corrupt system. Geu Rae meets Sang Sik’s hostile stare. When the older man leaves, Geu Rae bitterly reflects on the untold hardships that he has had to endure. Sang Sik appears unnerved as he glances back.
Despite having endured a verbal thrashing from his manager earlier, intern Kim Seok Ho is dozing off at his desk. He is caught and given more grief for falling behind other interns. Seok Ho is taken aside by his irate manager who turns out to be more supportive and understanding than expected.
Geu Rae stares despondently at his desk when Dong Sik gives him some receipts to glue onto paper and submit to General Affairs. Dong Sik then warns Geu Rae not to accidentally stick any confidential documents to the receipts. Dong Sik obediently pushes the scrap paper that he had collected aside.
Geu Rae is off to General Affairs when Seok Ho asks to use his glue. Seok Ho unwittingly does exactly what Geu Rae had been warned not to do, and ends up dragging a confidential document into the lobby.
The document is found by a senior executive of the company. He marches to Sang Sik’s desk in order to return the confidential document. As Sang Sik apologizes, Geu Rae attempts to claim responsibility, but is silenced by a death stare from Sang Sik.
After the departure of the senior executive, Geu Rae is kicked out of the office in disgrace, and punished like a schoolboy with exercise drills on the rooftop. By the time he is finished, it is nighttime.
Sang Sik surveys the troublesome document, as the team in the next cubicle noisily celebrate a successful contract. Sang Sik spots Seok Ho’s name imprinted by glue in the corner of the confidential document. He stares at his raucous colleagues, which include Seok Ho and his manager, as he realizes the true culprit of the security breach.
Sang Sik is taken aside by Seok Ho’s manager and must endure his boasting about his intern. Sang Sik tightly points out that Seok Ho had to borrow their glue. But, after learning that Seok Ho supports a family, Sang Sik swallows any further grievances, and ambiguously warns the manager to monitor Seok Ho more carefully in the future.
Geu Rae limps back to his empty cubicle, and is visited by a dapper intern looking for a presentation partner. Han Suk Yool introduces himself and has the cheer of a used car salesman. When Geu Rae asks Suk Yool his reasons for wanting to partner up, Suk Yool reveals that he has already passed the interviews, and is posted in a factory, but actually wants to be in sales. Geu Rae abruptly walks away as Suk Yool is boasting about his credentials.
Sang Sik returns to the office and shreds the damning evidence of Seok Ho’s mistake. He guiltily forces Geu Rae and Dong Sik to leave work early in order to go out for BBQ and soju. At the restaurant, a sloshed Sang Sik compliments Geu Rae’s efficient organization of the electronic files. To Dong Sik and Geu Rae’s shock, Sang Sik exonerates Geu Rae of responsibility for the security breach, though he stops short of revealing who the guilty party was.
Dong Sik and Geu Rae are escorting a drunk Sang Sik when they run into Seok Ho’s team, also inebriated. After fixating on borrowed glue, Sang Sik finally reveals that Geu Rae was punished for Seok Ho’s mistake. The two managers are separated by their teams, with Seok Ho apologizing profusely to Geu Rae.
A montage shows all the office workers making the commute home. The reason for Seok Ho’s exhaustion is revealed when he comes home to an exhausted wife and baby boy. Seok Ho dotes on his son as his wife attempts to sleep. Meanwhile, Geu Rae sits at home replaying the moment that Sang Sik defended Geu Rae, referring to him as “our kid”. Geu Rae smiles and tears up as he finally understand what it means not to work alone.
The next day, Geu Rae escapes into an elevator as Young Yi calls after him. Geu Rae marches straight to the cubicle of Suk Yool and accepts his proposal to partner up. Rather than be delighted, Suk Yool appears uneasy as a determined Geu Rae stares back.
I understand that viewers are meant to feel sorry for Geu Rae. He dedicated his life to a career that isolated him, failed due to circumstances beyond his control, and now, Geu Rae finds himself having to navigate the wider world without a clue. I am even sympathetic with Geu Rae about the strong prejudice he faces in the office.
So, while I pity Geu Rae, I found his self-pity tiresome to watch. He frequently zones out while brooding about how alone he is, and this behaviour only serves to isolate him further from his co-workers. Geu Rae is so fixated on his loneliness that he fails to realize when someone like Baek Ki is being kind to him, or when someone is acting hostile, as Sang Sik was after learning of his connection to the executive director.
Geu Rae has much in common with the candy girl character, minus the optimism and the good cheer. He does share the same dogged determination to succeed in the face of cruelty, and depends on others or dumb luck to turn the tide. In this case, Geu Rae should consider himself fortunate that his boss, Sang Sik happened to give the confidential document a second look, and thus, giving him a second chance.
Again, I wonder if Geu Rae would be compelling if a more skilled actor played the character. Im Si Wan does a good job of conveying awkwardness, but fails to show the resentment and self-loathing that bubbles under his blank face.
Fortunately, character actor, Lee Sung Min does a better job with Sang Sik, creating a believable character who is overworked and resentful of office politics. And, now that Sang Sik is supportive of Geu Rae, I can only hope that the tone of the show lightens up considerably. I don’t how much more punishing of Geu Rae I can take.