Side dish: In uncertain times, it’s best to fill up on comfort foods. There is almost nothing more filling than this recipe for Pizzoccheri della Valtellina from Delicious Days. Pizzoccheri della Valtellina is made of heavy buckwheat pasta, potatoes, chard, cheese, and hot butter. It will sit in your stomach like a stone, but I guarantee you won’t be hungry, again, all day.
Sales Team 3 leader, Oh Sang Sik (Lee Sung Min) prepares for his day by putting on his best suit, much to his wife’s approval. At the One International office, the sales manager approves of his decision to take on the China solar panel project, and sends him to the office of the executive director.
Over tea, the executive director gives friendly tips to Sang Sik regarding the project they’ll be undertaking together. Sang Sik responds with a straight shot, asking why the executive director chose him. “Because, you’re Oh Sang Sik,” is the executive director’s response.
Back in the office, Sang Sik meets with his subordinates, Kim Dong Sik (Kim Dae Myung), who is nervous; Mr. Chun (Park Hae Joon), who approves of his decision; and newbie contractor, Jang Geu Rae (Im Si Wan), who is shocked at the numbers involved. Sang Sik breaks down the project, and assigns everyone their tasks, then breaks the tension with a joke about Geu Rae acting like the team captain again.
On the way back to their desks, Geu Rae asks about “connections”, and Dong Sik explains that business in China proceeds through personal relationships. Geu Rae wonders why they were given the assignment when using connections isn’t Sang Sik’s style.
At the Resource Team, newbie An Young Yi (Kang So Ra) gets the news from her team leader that her dead project is back on. Assistant Manager Ha (Jun Suk Ho) congratulates her, while the other team member frets about the possible consequences. She volunteers to get everyone a cup of coffee, and runs into Steel Team newbie, Jang Baek Ki (Kang Ha Neul), who is wearing the shirt she gave him.
Fibre Team newbie Han Suk Yool (Byun Yo Han) enters the staff kitchen, and senses something between Young Yi and Baek Ki. Suk Yool identifies the fact that Baek Ki is wearing an expensive shirt. After Suk Yool leaves, Baek Ki wonders how much Young Yi spent on the shirt, then points out that since it was tight, he had to lose weight to wear it. I’m even more overcome by the awkwardness than Young Yi, who flees when she gets a phone call.
Back at the Fibre Team, Assistant Manager Sung (Tae In Ho) has taken Suk Yool’s warnings regarding delays with Chungsol company into account by adding penalty terms into the contract. Suk Yool takes him aside to voice his concerns about continuing to use an unreliable company, but Assistant Manager Sung just points out that Suk Yool can’t beat him.
At lunch with the executive director and the sales manager, Sang Sik looks like he’s at an execution. He nervously eats and drinks at the behest of the executive director, who talks about partner management in the China project. He counsels Sang Sik to make a lifelong friend in China. The executive director then gives Sang Sik his phone number so that they may talk the way they used to.
Back at the office, Sales Team 3 is hard at work on the China project, when Geu Rae gets a text from Ms. Ha, the friendly daycare worker. Dong Sik berates him for not replying, and Geu Rae explains that she practically followed him home after they went for drinks, but wasn’t put off by either his shabby house, nor his outright rejection. Dong Sik isn’t impressed by his explanation, and tells him to be nice to her, since it’s not easy for women to be so aggressive (oh, Dong Sik). Geu Rae points out that it’s not the time for him to be dating, looking sadly at the contractor name plate on his desk.
When Sang Sik comes back to the office, Dong Sik informs him that Poshin, the company they’re dealing with in China, doesn’t appear to have a middle manager, since the only phone number is a direct line to the CEO. When Sang Sik goes to the sales manager with this information, his concerns are dismissed.
On his way to buy snacks for the team, Geu Rae runs into Baek Ki, and tells him about the China project. Baek Ki points out that the leader must think of his team members, and then pauses in the middle of his thought. Back at the office, Baek Ki asks his supervisor, Assistant Manager Kang (Oh Min Suk) what happens when a team grows or changes, and from Assistant Manager Kang’s response, he confirms that Geu Rae could get a permanent job out of the China project. Later, Baek Ki awkwardly tries to offer Sang Sik his help for the project.
The problematic situation with the China project comes to a head when Poshin company demands the use of an agent who will require 2.5% commission, stating that it was verbally agreed with the executive director. Having already cut down their profit margin to 3%, the blatantly unnecessary agent would eat away most of One International’s profit in the deal.
Sang Sik goes to the sales manager again, who tells him to drop the issue so they can move on to the power plant deal. When Sang Sik points out that his team is on the line, the sales manager tells him to have some faith in the executive director.
Sang Sik tells the team to hold off on the China project while they quietly get in touch with the One International resident employee in China, Mr. Suk, to get info on Poshin’s designated agent. Mr. Suk confirms Sang Sik’s suspicions that Poshin company had never before used an agent, and the commission of 2.5% is unusually high.
Sang Sik takes Dong Sik and Mr. Chun up to the roof (given that we’ve moved on to winter in the show, they must be freezing). It’s Mr. Chun who expresses what they’re all thinking, that the executive director could be getting a kickback out of this deal. Sang Sik explains that he can’t drop the deal, because Geu Rae’s future at One International is on the line.
Back at the Fibre Team, Suk Yool questions his team leader about the reasons for using the unreliable Chungsol company. The team leader is happy to place his trust in Assistant Manager Sung, who comes in bragging about buying an expensive car.
Meanwhile, Baek Ki calls Young Yi up to the roof garden to give her a gift. The awkwardness reaches epic levels as he hands her a pair of shoes he’s bought her in exchange for the shirt. He quotes the price, to make sure she knows it’s not too extravagant. Their nice moment is interrupted by the ubiquitous Suk Yool, who had also noted Young Yi’s broken heel. But, for a change, Suk Yool has a serious question regarding his suspicions about Chungsol company and Mr. Sung, but he phrases it in such oblique terms that neither Baek Ki nor Young Yi can respond.
Back at the office, Baek Ki comes by as Geu Rae is lost in his worries about the China project. Baek Ki tells him to trust Sang Sik and get on with work, despite his reservations, since it’s his chance to become a permanent employee.
When Geu Rae realizes that Sang Sik is ignoring the irregularities of the deal for his sake, he goes to meet Sang Sik on the roof. Geu Rae bluntly asks him not to try to save him by a method that would put the team in danger. Mr. Chun comes back up to the roof just as Sang Sik launches into an angry defence of the executive director. Sang Sik assures Geu Rae that he’ll make the project work, if only to preserve the part of him that still cares about saving Geu Rae. Geu Rae’s job is not to worry, but to get on with work.
On his way out of the office, Baek Ki runs into Young Yi, who is practicing walking in her new shoes. In turn, they run into her father, and she tells Baek Ki to go home. Over dinner, Young Yi’s dad explains that he found her workplace by calling on Mr. Shin of Samjung company (Young Yi’s former boss). Young Yi is appalled, but her dad points out that he needed to thank Mr. Shin, for lending him so much money. Young Yi’s dad changes the subject to her new bank account, and counsels her to save money in case of an emergency, but then asks her for more money. When Young Yi asks how she can escape from him, her dad is abashed. He tersely orders her to wire him the money and leaves Young Yi to foot the bill for dinner. Baek Ki has, of course, not gone home, and texts her from outside the restaurant to go for a drink.
They end up on a park bench, where Young Yi spills the story of her dad, a former soldier who put no effort into her education, since she was a girl. She went to university on a full scholarship, but ended up taking part-time jobs to give him money, which he wasted in random businesses. Before graduating, she got a job at Samjung company, but it wasn’t long before her father asked her to take out a company loan. Her father then approached Mr. Shin, whom she looked up to, and asked him for money directly. Mr. Shin lent it to him, because he didn’t want Young Yi to be troubled by her father’s circumstance, but Young Yi took it badly and quit Samjung company, holing up at home instead. Six months later, Young Yi came back to life from watching a documentary about office workers having lunch together. When Baek Ki asks if she had feelings for Mr. Shin, Young Yi has no response. Instead, Baek Ki offers to go see a late-night horror movie with her, but draws the line at blood stew afterwards. Awwwwww.
The next morning, Suk Yool contemplates his suspicion about Mr. Sung receiving bribes, then goes to look for Geu Rae. Troubled by Geu Rae’s expression, Suk Yool asks Baek Ki and Young Yi if they know what’s going on with him, but Baek Ki says nothing.
Geu Rae is still turning over Sang Sik’s words when Sang Sik comes in to the office, and repeats what he said earlier about just doing his job. Instead, Geu Rae points out that Sang Sik’s efforts will be useless if the China project turns into a problem. Teary-eyed, Geu Rae tells Sang Sik that his intention to save him is enough for him, and runs off to the roof garden. There, he gets a phone call from his mother, and asks her if she’d rather be doing public service, something she’d had to give up when he became an intern.
Back at the office, Geu Rae answers Sang Sik’s ringing phone to find it is Mr. Suk on the other end. Geu Rae starts recording the call as Mr. Suk tells him that Poshin stands to make a lot of money with power plants if One International secures a good deal for the solar panels. Given that Poshin needs One International more than vice versa, the commission they’re asking for (and that the executive director approved) seems outrageously high. Before Geu Rae can voice his suspicion, Sang Sik roars his name. Sang Suik stares in horror at the phone recorder in Geu Rae’s hand, and the episode ends.
What happened to all that strategic thinking, Geu Rae? I mean, we can’t fault him for being decisive. He immediately went to Sang Sik with his concerns when he discovered that Sang Sik was going through with the China project for his sake, and then jumped on the opportunity to put his and Mr. Suk’s concerns on record. But, we can fault him for spending his brainpower and resolve on sacrificing himself, rather than helping Sang Sik figure out how to make the deal work. It’s as if he’s ignoring both Sang Sik’s words and all the lessons he’s picked up so far: that he’s a small cog in a machine that Sang Sik understands better than he does.
In this regard, he’s moving even faster than Suk Yool, who is being surprisingly cautious with his own bribery suspicion. But, speaking of Suk Yool, how does he manage to find out everything? Given how insensitive he seems, he’s like a hound dog with information. It’s too bad he doesn’t know anything about the executive director’s hidden motives, which are still up in the air in this episode.
But, we did learn something new about Young Yi, who finally opened up to Baek Ki about her life with her dad, and her troubles with Mr. Shin. No wonder she was so happy to have paid back the debt and gotten her dad out of her life, and so crushed to have him back again. It’s been interesting to see the progress of both Young Yi and Baek Ki over the course of the show. In this episode, the reserved Young Yi finally opened up to someone, and Baek Ki went from envying and belittling Geu Rae to wanting to help him become a permanent employee.
Two episodes left! Will we get back to Jordan? Will Geu Rae make it to full-time employee? Will this deal go through? What will happen to Suk Yool and Mr. Sung? So many questions!