This episode was surprisingly zany and fresh, with a good blend of quirky and awesome. How much do I love this premiering episode? This much: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥
I loved History of the Salaryman so much that I was motivated me to get off my lazy butt and actually write a drama recap, which is something I haven’t done in a long while. My new drama crack, and so early in the year, too. It certainly can’t get any better than this! Or can it?
Episode 1 Recap:
A man enters a room on a gloomy, thundering night. The place is dark and eerie as he searches, the floor littered with pieces of debris. His flashlight finally shines upon something: a dead man lying on a chair. Completely shaken, he turns to run the heck out of there when he notices that there’s somebody hidden behind the curtains. It’s a woman he knows. She screams and shakes, barely able to stand. He tells her, “Come to your senses!”
The camera pans to the funeral of the dead man, where our main man and lady are in attendance. The police enter in, arresting our hero as a murder suspect. They handcuff and take away the lady as well. Both insist on their innocence, but are dragged away.
The clocks turn back to three months ago, prior to this scene.
At an executive board meeting, Chairman Jin Shin Hwang (Lee Duk Hwa) of Chun Ha Group orders that his granddaughter, Baek Yeo Chi (Jung Ryeo Won), be given management training. Ever since she lost both of her parents, the chairman has taken it upon himself to raise her, perhaps for the very purpose of leadership in his company. He completely ignores the protests of his executive staff, though they point out that his son, Ho Hae (Park Sang Myun), is the vice president of the company, one that everyone assumed would eventually lead the company. Regardless, his plan is to leave his company in the hands of the most capable person.
Chairman Jin doesn’t care whether it’s his son or his granddaughter that ends up succeeding him; the one who’s more competent and skilled will take over for him. Ho Hae isn’t too happy to hear this news, angrily scribbling gibberish on his notepad in response. The chairman turns to his son and berates his womanizing ways (alimony costs are expensive, y’know), and warns that if he continues on his current path, he’ll never even attain a meager managing position in the company. Meanwhile, where’s Yeo Chi?
In a cafe, our protagonist Yoo Bang (Lee Beom Soo) is mesmerized by our heroine, who is in another cafe next door. Complete with the puppy-in-love expression on his face, he wonders aloud if her lips are actually flower buds and her saliva, honey. Little does he know that she’s spewing F-bombs like a pirate at a staff member from Chun Ha on the phone. She’s pissed that the secretary she’s been waiting for is seven minutes late, and is angry enough that she tells the poor guy she’s speaking to that he’s “f-cking fired.”
She ends the call abruptly and throws her phone on the table. As a consequence, an approaching waitress jumps and accidentally spills a teeny drop of coffee on her shoes. Oh dear. Somebody get the fire extinguisher! Yeo Chi’s about to explode!
Just as Yoo Bang muses that this sort of woman is completely out of his league, the pharmaceutical representative he’s meeting arrives. While he signs the contract in agreement to be part of an upcoming clinical trial test, he’s completely oblivious to the pandemonium going on next door, where shoes and fists are flying! He’s also unaware that someone is snapping a photo of him nearby.
As one of the thirty participating subjects for Chun Ha’s BB project, Yoo Bang’s being investigated secretly by another company. In a conference room, Choi Hang Woo (Jung Kyeo Woon) reports to Chairman Oh Ji Rak (Kim Eung Soo) of Jang Cho Group that Chun Ha’s developing a new anti-aging drug to prolong longevity. This “Eternal Youth” project is so secret that even the participants are being kept in the dark as to which company hired them and what the drug is.
As the rivaling pharmaceutical company, Chairman Oh is furious that Chun Ha is creating a new drug when they themselves have spent millions on their own project. If Chun Ha should get their drug approved first, then Jang Cho will be ruined!
Hang Woo offers three solutions to solve the problem: 1) Continue their research on their new drug and gain approval first, 2) prevent Chun Ha’s development of the new drug so that they can’t amass investors, or 3) steal their new drug. And the person to do it? Hang Woo himself.
On the day the clinical trial begins, all thirty subjects are gathered on a bus to be taken to the testing site. One of the researchers begins collecting everyone’s cell phones while Yoo Bang sneaks in one last call to his aunt. Before his phone is snatched away, it’s revealed that Yoo Bang signed up to be a guinea pig to pay off his mother’s hospital bills.
The lead researcher of this project addresses the subjects before the bus takes off. She’s Cha Woo Hee (Hong Soo Hyun), and she reminds everyone to keep everything that happens in the next ten days completely confidential. Next, in order to keep the experiment site of utmost secrecy, she asks each to put on an eye mask. When a few participants complain, she coolly reminds them that should fail to comply, they’ll have to return the advance deposit on their account.
Everyone quickly puts on their mask, but not before we see Hang Woo planting a location tracker underneath his seat. Another car from Chun Ha follows the bus to ensure that no other cars are following them. Unbeknownst to them, Jang Cho Group knows their exact location without needing to tail them closely, thanks to Hang Woo’s tracking device.
Meanwhile, Chairman Jin and his corporate staff members are playing golf when they receive the report that all trial participants have safely arrived at the experimenting site. The chairman speculates that perhaps a few of the thirty subjects could be spies. His perceptive director, Park Beom Jeung (Lee Ki Young), tells him that all thirty could be spies. His rival, Jang Ryang (Kim Il Woo), who’s unfortunately less shrewd, is quick to counter him, reassuring the chairman that his fears have no foundation. After all, these participants are “fishes that have entered into our nets.”
Jang Ryang wins brownie points from Chairman Jin, who also believes it’s highly impossible for spies to be planted amongst the subjects. Before he can say anymore, there’s a shout of “Fore!” as a ball comes zooming towards them. Chairman Jin ducks and his staff members hurry to shield him. He’s barely off the ground when another ball comes flying.
It isn’t long before they recognize the other party — it’s Chairman Oh and his underlings from Jang Cho Group. A very pleased Chairman Oh calls him to provoke him about hitting that flying ball. The tables turn when Chairman Jin starts taunting Chairman Oh about his new drug, saying that they should stop wasting money and invest in Chun Ha’s drug instead. It’s not long before patience on both ends expire.
In epic slow-motion, the two men run towards each other and swing their golf clubs, ultimately missing each other. They end up falling on the grass, and the two party’s members start battling amongst themselves. Sprinklers turn on and what results is the most hiiillliiiaaarrriiioouusss and epic fight EVER! What’s so funny is that these are top-notch executives that resort to hair-pulling and kicking and screaming. I’m so entertained!
Back at the secret facility, the subjects submit all their belongings and in return, are given jumpsuits and an assigned number. Hang Woo takes this moment to put on his special
Clark Kent Spy Kids 3D glasses, that serves as both a recorder and transmitting device. But the next problem that arises for Hang Woo is to somehow get his accessory earpiece across the security metal detectors.
Yoo Bang suddenly blocks his way and stares as his glasses. He says he can’t be fooled, and tells a suddenly distressed Hang Woo that he’s going to reveal everything straight-up. “These glasses… are 100% (wait for it) … knock-offs! Lol. You certainly did get fooled, son! Hang Woo sighs in relief.
Yoo Bang introduces himself to Hang Woo, quick to explain to explain his name, because most would think that it would mean “breasts” in Korean. Seeing Hang Woo’s assigned number on his jumpsuit, he happily announces that they’ll be roommates and offers his hand. Researcher Woo Hee comes walking behind them, and Hang Woo takes this chance to shove Yoo Bang towards her. When the two go down, it provides the perfect opportunity for him to slip his earpiece into her pocket. Though the metal detectors sound when Woo Hee walks past, she’s allowed to go through.
Shortly thereafter, Hang Woo finds Woo Hee making coffee in the lounge. He times her exit perfectly and makes sure no one else is watching before colliding into her. While she’s scrambling to clean up the mess on his jumpsuit, he reaches into her pocket to retrieve his earpiece. Mission accomplished.
Behind him, Yoo Bang cuts in and remarks that Hang Woo’s actions are weird. He saw the whole thing, and finds it extremely odd that a man wouldn’t know his own pockets from another’s. LOL! Hang Woo shoves him against the stair railing, telling him that he’s just here to earn some money so Yoo Bang should just keep quiet and leave him alone. Yoo Bang’s not entirely threatened, and goes on to ask him what the gadget is.
They’re interrupted by an employee, who tells them that all testing participants are called for a meeting.
Chairman Jin gets off the phone with one of their investors, eager to lure in more. He pets his beloved chicken (!!!) in glee, one of the earlier tested animals for “Eternal Youth.” It’s mentioned that his chicken is now 112 years old in human years.
Beom Jeong is called into the chairman’s office and given instructions to have Yeo Chi in charge of all future investments. He’s quick to protest, but Chairman Jin hands him his chicken, which has just pooped and is stinking up the whole office. Beom tries to get the chairman’s level-headed secretary, Mo Gabi (Kim Seo Hyung), to take care of the chicken instead, offering her expensive opera tickets in return for the favor.
She doesn’t take the chicken off his hands, however, but opens her desk drawer to show him the extra hanboks and diapers, advising him to wash and dry the chicken’s feathers first before putting on the diaper. Bwahahaha! A hanbok and a diaper on a chicken! Oh. My. God! I don’t even want to know why…
As the clinical testing begins, each subject is given a dose of the drug every day. Hang Woo takes care to investigate every nook and cranny of the facility, noting down all the security cameras and the restricted areas. He mentally jots down that only Woo Hee and Chief Kim, who’s in charge of the research facility, are the two people who have access to the drug’s storage room.
Hang Woo sneaks off to the bathroom to check back with his team, who are located in a van outside the vicinity. Their surveillance team leader shoos away a young man that’s come to ask about their “Love Goods.” Young man must’ve been attracted by the logo on their van, which includes a silhouette of a woman. LOL. After telling him that there were no “love goods” to offer, the leader gets back in the van to hear Hang Woo’s report.
Hang Woo tells his team that it’s impossible to steal the drugs now, but they’ll have a better chance next time when he’s got the whole place fully analyzed. He adds that no side effects have yet emerged, which is too bad because if he could record the drug’s effects, they could block out any investors. While talking, Hang Woo doesn’t notice that Bang’s come into the restroom and shoots him curious looks. Heh.
Yoo Bang isn’t the smartest cookie in the world, so he takes Hang Woo’s glasses and starts talking to it! He’s worried that the drug’s effects are getting to Hang Woo, and volunteers to tell the staff that his friend is having problems. Hang Woo menacingly warns him to leave him alone, then tells his team to investigate Yoo Bang’s background when he leaves the bathroom.
Once Hang is out of sight, Yoo Bang checks all the stalls, where he was told to find a special piece of gum stuck to the bottom of one of the toilets. But the special gum’s not there.
We flash back to when Yoo Bang was working as a waiter in a nightclub, where he begs Ho Hae to help him get a job. He had offered to do anything for the vice president, even getting down on his knees and barking like a dog, and eating food thrown at him as a dog would. He’s then assigned to steal the drug when given to him, and then to use the gum to conceal it. Yoo Bang wasn’t told who would be sent to plant the gum on the toilet, and ponders to himself that perhaps it was Hang Woo, the glasses guy.
Not the one to beat around the bush, Yoo Bang directly asks his roommate that very night who sent him as a spy. Hang Woo totally didn’t expect a confrontation such as this, and vehemently denies it, banging his head on the bunk bed (he’s on the lower bunk) in the process. Yoo Bang notes the reaction and confirms him as a spy. When asked by Hang who sent him, he concludes that they must not be on the same side and drops the subject. However, this gets Hang Woo to think who else could’ve been sent here as a spy.
As he was ordered to do so, Beom Jeong is trying his hardest to inform Yeo Chi about all the attendees at an upcoming business party. Yeo Chi is clearly uninterested, much more enthralled with all the clothes and jewelry she sees around her. She pauses in her shopping to question Beom’s use of informal language (banmal) with her, even though he’s known her all her life and was one of her father’s closest friends. She’s willing to test her new authority at the company and Beom, quick to take a hint, switches to formal language immediately (jeondaemal).
Yeo Chi is pissed when she finds out that one of her dresses she ordered is being tried on by her grandfather’s secretary, Gabi, who also ordered the same dress, but only one order came in. She demands that Gabi takes off the dress right then and there, snidely commenting her grandfather must be paying her a lot for her to afford the dress. Either that, or she’s been seducing him with her foxy ways.
Gabi holds her own and reprimands Yeo Chi’s less-than-respectful attitude towards her grandfather. She agrees to take off the dress, but she won’t stand to hear this sort of rude talk against the chairman. Yeo Chi is only too happy to fire her, and Gabi would love to be fired, if only the chairman could let her go. She answers to the chairman only.
She takes off the dress in front of everyone and walks out wearing nothing but her nightgown slip. Yeo Chi can do nothing but watch and seethe. That? Epicly badass right there.
In the exercise lounge, Hang Woo’s surveillance team is keeping him updated about Yoo Bang, who tell him that there’s nothing particularly notable about the man, except for the fact that he tries to become a salaryman at the large corporations every year. Still thinking that Bang is some hotshot guy, Hang asks his team to continue checking which company Bang is working for.
As Hang Woo is talking to his team, Yoo Bang is working out and accidentally drops a dumbbell on his toe. Ouch. Instead of crying out from pain, he starts laughing hysterically. Hang steps on his bloodied toe to judge his reaction, but Bang only continues to laugh. Guess it’s safe to call that the first side effect has emerged!
Researchers are brought in to discuss the side effect, with Woo Hee in charge of questioning Bang. He realizes that he’s laughing not because he wants to, but because he just can’t stop. The leaders of the trial experiment agree that with a day left of testing, this side effect must be kept a complete secret.
Hours later, Bang is still laughing throughout dinner. Then a fellow testing subject snatches his food away, suddenly consumed to eat everything he sees. The second side effect has emerged! Hang Woo records all this and his surveillance team leader comments that this footage alone is enough to block all future investors. He then asks if Hang has experienced any side effects himself, and receives a negative answer. However, from the team leader’s viewpoint, the screen is abruptly tilted repeatedly. Hahaha! Oh noes, it’s because Hang Woo’s head has started to twitch uncontrollably.
Beom Jeong finds Ho Hae at a nightclub and chides him for seemingly doing nothing. He asks Ho Hae if he’s content to allow his niece to take over the company. He’s here to remind Ho Hae to join forces with him, and is told that the latter has planted a spy among the test subjects. Ho Hae is confident that he’ll have the new pill tomorrow, planning to sell the drug overseas so that everyone will come crawling to him for it! Or so he hopes.
The other spy finally gets down to business and starts with the security camera, sliding a transparent film to cover it, which shows a perfectly normal hallway. With that out of the way, he sticks a wad of gum to the bottom of a toilet.
Hang Woo finds it hard to sleep, with Yoo Bang still laughing continually. He gets out of bed and fights the urge to slap him, opting for a light tap on the forehead instead. The laughter ceases immediately.
Yoo Bang sits up and flashes back to a fight he had with his father years ago. Upon hearing that he wouldn’t be going to college to further his education, his dad is sent into a rage. Even when he reassures his father that he’s found a new job with a good company, his father kicks him out of the house, vowing to never contact him until he graduated from college. It was his father’s wish to see him graduate from college and head off to work in a suit, having always been treated as “less than human” in his lifetime because of his lack of education.
Bang asks his father to watch over him, promising that he’ll be able to grant his father’s wish soon.
It’s the last day of testing and all subjects are being lined up to receive the last dose of the drug. Since it’s the very last day, Bang sneaks off to find the piece of gum in the bathroom, but comes up short. It’s not there! Unfortunately for him, the same fella who snatched away his food last night had used the bathroom just seconds earlier. The unkempt guy had found the gum and, overcome with the side effect of an insatiable appetite, had promptly put the wad of gum into his mouth. Yum.
Hopes dashed, Bang emerges from the restroom only to be called by Woo Hee — what’s he doing here when he should be in the gathering room? He then turns around and notices that she’s chewing gum. In an act of desperation, he corners her purposefully, while she protests nervously. Bang grabs a hold of her jaw, forcing her mouth to open. She mistakenly thinks he’s about to kiss her, when he puts his fingers inside her mouth to take out her piece of gum. She stares at him in bewilderment, only to be disgusted moments later when he pops her gum into his mouth.
She leaves, just as another employee approaches, muttering about his craziness. The employee also asks Bang why he’s not at the meeting room, when he notices the special film covering the security camera.
Bang is about to take the drug when the employee storms into the room and halts the proceedings, declaring an intruder among their presence. The employee walks up to him and tells him to spit out his gum. Bang swallows just as the employee repeats his order, this time to the guy standing next to him, the one with the insatiable appetite. The employee calls researchers to analyze the gum.
Chairman Jin receives the unsettling news that a spy was caught. He jumps to the conclusion that it must be Jang Cho Group, although his staff members reassure him that thankfully, the spy was caught. They were unable to attain a confession from the spy, speculating that he must’ve been a highly trained professional. Yeah, right.
Together, Ho Hae and Beom Jeong discuss the failed attempt of stealing the new drug, with Ho Hae blaming the country bumpkin he hired. The two — more like Beom Jeong — come up with a new tactic to oust Yeo Chi from the company, which is to mess up the relationship between Yeo Chi and the idol star she’s currently dating. The last time the chairman sent away a boyfriend, Yeo Chi had gone crazy. If investors at the upcoming business event saw that, they’d be against her no matter what, even if they were afraid of the chairman.
Yoo Bang dials the vice president’s number to no avail. He leaves a text message saying that he’ll meet the VP at the hotel where they met last time.
In the meantime, Hang Woo meets his older brother Hang Ryang (Jang Hyun Sung), who’s the finance director at Chun Ha. Waitaminute, they’re working for rivaling companies? Or is Hang Ryang a spy for Chun Ha?
Yeo Chi arrives at the same hotel (coincidence, I think not!) to meet up with her soon-to-be ex-boyfriend, played by real-life idol Lee Joon, from MBLAQ. She demands an explanation for the sudden break-up, which was hinted at through an earlier phone call, and is given a reply of, “Because I love myself more than I love you.” Ha! In all things honest, aren’t we?
During this interval, Yoo Bang is talking to his mother on the phone and playing with a string from a Christmas tree. Only it’s actually yarn from Yeo Chi’s red dress, and Bang is absentmindedly twirling it around his finger.
Yeo Chi asks Lee Joon if her grandfather paid him five million dollars. Or was it ten? Idol Guy’s eyes widen as he sputters, clearly realizing now that he’s been underpaid. Yeo Chi throws water in his face, sick of talking to him, and orders him to get out of her sight.
When she gets up to leave, she notices that everyone in the lobby is staring at her. It’s then that she realizes her dress is a few inches higher than it originally was. Yeo Chi finds the culprit behind her mortification, thinking that he’s a perverted bastard. Just her luck, Yoo Bang loses connection and gets up to search for reception, completely oblivious that he’s dragging a horrified Yeo Chi along by the string. Heh.
Hang Woo emerges from his meeting with his brother, only to stumble across the commotion in the lobby. Everyone watches as Yeo Chi attempts to strike Yoo Bang with her purse, and misses when he bend downwards to continue searching for a signal.
Her movement causes the Christmas tree before them to come crashing down. Bang pushes her out of the way in time. Except he pushed her right into the lobby’s fountain. Bwahahahahahahaha.
Happy to have saved the day, Bang asks Yeo Chi if she’s okay, probably anticipating a sweet “thank you” in return. Instead, utterly incensed, Yeo Chi asks, “Who are you?”
Goodness, what an absolutely crazy ride that was! Even after watching all those trailers, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this show besides utter craziness. Whatever my expectations were, this drama exceeded them, and was much better than I had ever anticipated it would be. What makes History of the Salaryman, henceforth known as HOTS, different from your usual fare is that it’s a drama that doesn’t take itself too seriously. That’s actually a bonus, and makes the drama infinitely more entertaining to watch. Not only is it entertaining, it’s fun! Furthemore, it’s also evident that the entire cast is having the time of their lives with their characters, boldly aspiring to be as insane as possible.
Each character leaves its mark, from the chairman who loves his pet chicken, to the shrilly Yeo Chi that swears up a storm. I mean, who the heck thought of this stuff anyway? It’s crazy weird, yet absolutely genius, if you ask me. Part of it’s thanks to the writing, which is both witty and wacky, infused with some tongue-in-cheek and dark humor. What’s interesting is that this premiering episode took a very simple storyline and conflict — two big corporations in competition to see whose drug would come out the winner — and turned it into something new and refreshing. In addition, the adept directing, smart editing, and perfect score all contributed to a huge trifecta of win.
And just how much do I love that our bumbling hero is always on the verge of thwarting our level-headed antagonist without realizing it! It helped that our hero and antagonist were contrasting characters, creating a lot of ironic situations. Here we have a very shrewd director who’s up against a clueless unemployed man, but latter somehow always gets in the way of the former’s next big scheme! It’s such an enjoyable farce, with the most unintentionally funny situations ending up as the most hilarious, memorable scenes from this episode.
I enjoyed everyone’s acting, but major props go to Lee Beom Soo, who’s an absolute hoot to watch with his abundant facial expressions. Jung Ryeo Won may be going out of her way to be as screechy as possible, but I’m loving every bit of her performance and can’t wait for her to be tamed. So far, Hong Soo Hyun’s Woo Hee is the most obscure character out of the four leads, for we know very little about her besides the fact that she’s the head research scientist in the “Eternal Youth” experiment. As for Jung Kyeo Woon — humona humona. When he put on his Clark Kent-esque glasses, I melted into a puddle of goo. Aside from his physical hotness and the shower scenes galore that shall be a’coming in the near future (preferably in episode 2), I want to add that I don’t think his character is hard to play. But in comparison to his previous dramas that I’ve seen, this may just be his best role to date. (Note: I haven’t watched La Dolce Vita or Sign) I throroughly enjoyed every second he was on my screen, with my eyes screaming for moar!
Will I be recapping this drama to the very end? For now, I’ll give a tentative yes, but it’s not a definite guarantee. I’m not sure whether this drama will be able to maintain the funny, because it’s bound to get melodramatic and serious sometime in the series. It’s one of the staple characteristics of most Kdramas I s’pose, where a series may start off awesome and begin to wind down halfway through. But then again, I guess we’ll worry about that later when it comes. As long as Show keeps me entertained, I’m all game!
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