Misaeng Ep 16: Between A Rock and A Concrete Slab

What I always say is, ‘Do every job you’re in like you’re going to do it for the rest of your life, and demonstrate that ownership of it.’

– Mary Barra


It’s a brand new day! GR is in the midst of getting ready for work. There is a sense of purpose when he buttons his crisp white shirt and expertly tied necktie. He walks to work in a beautiful sunny morning and sees SY at the main lobby of One International… who has the most dramatic makeover with just a haircut o_O

GR voiceover:

Extremes can relate to each other. In order to withstand helplessness, in order to withstand injustice and phoniness, SY chose to keep his mouth shut. He was erasing time by training how to numb himself. He lost his smile, and we lost him.

I started to miss his annoying chatter long ago. But none of us would dare give him advice. It’s been 17 months since we started working. We knew clearly by now you had to withstand hardships by yourself.

But I still wanted to tell him, “Even if you lose a stone, the game goes on, SY-Sshi.”

Sales 3 Team

GR is the first to arrive at the Sales Team area. He looks through his planner and opens to the current month. He places both palms facing down onto it and closes his eyes. Then he writes “Yes! Yes!” in one of the squares when DS and Mr. Chun interrupt his solitude.

It’s GR’s big day of presenting his item. DS teases loudly about the hits and more misses GR had experienced before he was truly prepared for a real business item presentation. Mr. Chun is positive about GR’s item since Chief Oh did not have anything to say about GR’s content this time around.

GR’s email pings off and DS rushes over to his desk, scanning for the much-anticipated response from Finance… APPROVED. Mr Chun is also proud of GR’s accomplishment.

Chief Oh:  Why’d they do that? Anyway, good luck since you got the green light. Good luck!

Steel Team

BK is checking his email, for he too sent in a Business Proposal. The omnipresent Mr. Kang walks to his desk and asks if he has received Finance Department’s response. BK keeps mum, and Mr. K tells him not to worry. It’ll be approved.

Resource Team

The three male Resource co-workers return to their corner after a mentally-challenging meeting. YY rushes over and asked how the meeting went. Mr. Jung sighs and says they’re in trouble. Apparently Headquarters favored YY’s business item, and Mr Jung receives the dreaded call from Mr. Ma. It’s now a three-person meeting at the deck…

Mr. Ma:  What do the headquarters know? How could they ignore experience and evaluate with a few pieces of paper? It should be fair! [Looks at YY] I thought of your idea too, but I didn’t proceed with it. They think anything bold can become ideas, items, and businesses? Have you ever done a business before?

DS shares with his team that Mr. Ma is rooting for Resource 3 Team because he had been with them the longest. DS passes GR’s paperwork to Mr. Chun for him to check on GR’s structure. Mr. C adds, “There’s a rumor that Mr. Ma failed with HR by a small difference. So what would happen if HQ took Resource 2’s side?”

Back to the trio meeting on the deck…

Mr. Ma:  Don’t do it. Tell them you won’t do it.

Mr. Jung:  She worked overnight on it for a month – yes.

Mr. Ma:  Give it over to Team 3. (Then what shall we tell HQ – Mr. J) HEY! We’re the Pros! Persuade them that our proposal has more potential [To YY] Email the person in-charge saying you can’t do it. Report to me directly after you do. [YY remains quiet] Answer me. [Still remains quiet] What an arrogant one.


This is what she’s Really Doing in her mind, Mr. Ma… XD

DS and Mr. C continue to share their nuggets on living a sane life in this harsh world: What would happen if a female newbie’s idea is chosen? Think of it as Mr. Ma’s long-term race. They put so much effort into people who back them up. Office politics gives you such a headache, right? Avoiding isn’t the answer. Life itself is politics, not just work. You got to get used to it. That way, you can survive. Anyway, mind your own business. Focus on your first business. Bring in big profits and treat us to a big dinner XD XD

Fabric Team

SY is on the phone with his China counterpart (his Mandarin is rather decent too 😀 ) however, his conversation is monotonous and devoid of any sliver of enthusiasm. In comes Beloved Supervisor of the Year and first thing he says, “SY, coffee.” After 1 year and 7 months, he still treats SY as such.

Big boss comes in and praises him for a job well done on their US-business. Of course he takes all the credit and none is passed on to SY who was very likely the key person to handle A-Z of that task. They exchange looks and SY just walks away to the pantry to get that cup of coffee.

Sales 3 team

GR is reading up on cultural practices when greeting for the first time in Kazakhstan. He is putting in much effort in getting to know places where his business item will likely to have an impact. Chief receives a call from his boss..

In the privacy of a meeting room, Chief is told to pass on GR’s business proposal to DS and Mr. Chun. What is the reason? GR is a contract employee with less than a year to go. Chief Oh argues that it’s not a long-term business, only a two-month case and GR can pull it off responsibly.

This was likely the scenario Chief Oh had dreaded yet he wants GR to be given a fair chance at proving his worth. GR had put in so much into his business item.

Chief Oh meets with the Chief of Planning as asks if there has been any case where a contract employee had taken responsibility of seeing through a project. No. Only full-timers. Chief argues why can’t they make a precedent? “An infrastructure is built for the companies and buyers for a new business. The company’s conclusion is that GR, a temp, can’t handle that. Related businesses are created even after the business ends. It’s the company’s loss if the person in charge changes midway.”

Chief continues to stand his ground and fight for his guy, “So, it’s absurd to exclude the person who created the new business to make the new infrastructure – ”

Chief of Planning:  Geez. I’m not getting through to you. I’ll make it simple. Why would a company invest in someone who’ll leave?

But it has always been GR’s…


Chief Oh breaks the news to DS and Mr. Chun who are both shocked at the directive given by their boss. DS argues that GR had not been sleeping well for the past two months due to his business item preparation. He adamantly does not want to takeover a project GR had poured his soul into. Both Mr. Chun and Chief feel the same way, but it is the company’s decision. And GR is only a salaryman…


She contemplates Mr. Ma’s order regarding her proposal over a cup of coffee in the lounge area. Mr. Ha sees her from afar, and knows what she is likely to be thinking about. He walks over and advises her to do what was requested of her, “That will give you the least trouble. This is no competition no matter how hard you try. There’s no chance of winning. I’m not saying ‘just always back down’. You should know when to fight and when to back down… I’m not saying this out of worry for you. I just don’t want further trouble and Mr. Ma going insane.

Mr. Ha leaves and SY joins YY at her table, “You think bosses know everything? The know diddly-squat. They can’t make the deadline. Wait and see. The site won’t sit and watch. ”

Sales 3 Team

All three are looking into GR’s back who is blissfully focused on getting his work done. In fact, Sales 2 Team are also looking at GR. Seems that everyone knows about his fate except GR himself. Chief can’t take much more at the helplessness he feels and goes to the pantry. Mr. K of Sales 2 Team joins him and comforts Chief. They know how hard GR had been working and Chief must be feeling gutted because this in one event he can’t do anything about it. All he can do is comfort GR… and BK overhears this bit.

GR receives documents in the main lobby from a potential partner for his project and thanks him for personally coming all the way to One International.

This is likely also the first time that he makes a human connection to his work when after all this while has been number crunching, chart-making and information gathering via the computer. Whatever he does will affect livelihood of countless people.

He presses for an elevator to go up, and one opens… with ED the Voldemort in it. Force field up, GR o_O !!

ED asks if he is JGR of Sales 3 Team. (Yes). He continues with, “You did Mr. Park’s case and the Jordan case, right?” Bear in mind, more than a year has passed and ED still remembers these cases? Bearing grudges, perhaps? GR just keeps mum. “I thought, what a daring new employee. I wondered who it was. You’re the one related to Youngsung’s Mr. Kim. But, what did you do before?”

Oooh… I can just see the sarcasm about to be released from the Gates of Mordor… Yep, this Voldemort crosses over to Middle Earth.

“Ah, you said you played Go, right? Okay.” GR is likely to pray for a miraculous fast ride to his floor. He bows before leaving the escalator and ED extends a dangerous invitation, “Come on up someday to play Go.”

YY is staring into the monitor, still undecided about sending that email to HQ. She reaches out for a book she keeps in the corner of her cubicle: “On My 29th Birthday, I Decided To Die A Year Later.” YY reads the caption printed on the back of the front cover…

As I sweated like a dog, the miserable two hours went by. My body was shaking terribly till I returned to the waiting room to get dressed. Life is not easy for anyone. 

With a deep sigh, she returns to the email she had drafted:

This is Ahn Young Yi of Resource 2 Team. Due to personal reasons, I won’t be able to continue with the business item. Thank you for your interest. I request you replace it with another business.

And she clutches her head with both hands, unable to send the email. Mr. Jung reads her email over her shoulder and sighs too.

Chief Oh receives a call from a ‘Mr. Kim’ and meets him for drinks nearby the office…

He seems to know the ebb and flow of Chief Oh’s work. It’s business proposal period, Chief must be swamped. Chief asks how Mr. Kim’s pizza business is faring. Both men used to be co-workers in the past, but Mr. Kim opted out and started his own business. But being your own boss has its own challenges as well.

The Sales Department Manager walks over to Sales 3 Team’s corner and asks them if Chief has briefed them about taking over GR’s case. What an ill-timed moment. GR is just round the corner, walking back to his desk when he hears the news. “Didn’t Chief Oh tell you yet? He even went to Planning to talk about this. Geez. Tell him to make the changes and re-submit the item.” And of course such bosses would have voices loud enough to fill an entire opera house. GR is crushed. BK feels sorry for him.

Mr. Kim:  Maybe I should have hung in there then. Go along with the politics. Maybe I should’ve at least acted like I was lining up with the authorities. I can’t sleep.. out of regret. I’d go on 3 – 4 overseas business trips a month. The kids wanted gifts thinking I went sightseeing. But then, I thought I was doing a great job as a trading man. But it’s all useless. My wife is sacrificing too much. I can’t watch my kids grow up.

Hey, remember that time? Back then, our business partner was something else. I kept going to their embassy everyday and asked for so much info.

Chief Oh:  It was when you were new. We still talk about you over drinks.

Mr. Kim:  Right. So much ambition. We’d grab them by the collar. ‘Give us the data.’ ‘I need to make a living too.’ It was like war. I gave him a good shake. He became so obedient. Trading men aren’t ambitious like that these days.

Chief Oh:  You can’t afford that now.

Mr. Kim:  The company is like a battlefield you say? Don’t quit until you’re kicked out. Outside, it’s hell.

Chief Oh:  I’ll have to go out to the battle.

Mr. Kim:  Yeah? Then I’ll go back to hell…

DS informs Chief that GR found out about his fate and he is MIA. He doesn’t pick up his calls either. Chief tries to remain detached… which lasts a whole 3 minutes before he gets off his seat to look for GR.

GR is sitting in the stairwell where Chief finds him and asks why he was there when there are numerous phone calls for the person in charge of his project, “We’re not a call center. Come down.”

Mr. Chun crosses path with ED at the main lobby where the latter asks how the team dynamics is faring. Mr. C finds himself sitting in the plush office on the 18th floor…

ED:  Mr. Oh has a condition. A mental condition. He keeps at it though he knows the results. Age doesn’t change him. It’s useless. But I like that about him sometimes.

Mr. C:  Sir, can you possibly help GR out? … I’m sorry.

But I can see those gears clacking into position as ED smiles magnanimously at Mr. C… 😡

Resource Team

Mr. Ma wants to know why YY has yet to email her decision. Mr. Jung tells him to give her some time to do so. After all, she was the one who burned gallons worth of midnight oil to get her item approved. Mr. Ma pokes at Mr. J since when did he get emotional with a co-worker? Poke. Is he being soft just because she’s female? Poke. Poke. “Don’t you want to get promoted?” Ah.. the proverbial convenient carrot when the situation warrants it…

Mr. J brings YY out to the outdoor bench area and asks her to do a favor. For him. “I’ve a promotion review coming up. Let’s support Mr. Ma.”

Ugh. Triple UGH.


How often will I have to give in to others just so that “there’ll be less trouble?”


Will I ever get myself into a place where I’m recognized as an equal?


YY bit the bullet and reports to Mr. Ma the Toad that her item wouldn’t have worked out and she has emailed HQ not to pursue with her proposal. Mr. Jung could see how bloody difficult it was for her to give up her excellently prepared proposal.

Fabric Team

Crisis-mode On. Factories are boycotting due to overwhelming request. A group of reps from site barge into their corner and they call adjourn to the meeting room. SY’s posture is one of apology and empathy, but Mr. Sung sits back with one arm aside as though he is superior to them. His arrogant stance is definitely not working wonders with these men who bear the brunt of hard work and multiple deadlines.

After a fruitless discussion (more like Mr. Sung telling them off) the men warn them of a strike and left the room. Big boss is concerned of repercussions from such threats. He wants SY to smooth things over as he used to intern at Ulsan. Mr. Sung scoffs at SY abilities to handle such matters, but SY affirms the Big Boss’ request and runs after the men.

Sales 3 Team

GR is finishing up the last few bit of paperwork for his business item and as he looks at his green file one last time, he takes it and presents his business item to Chief Oh and formerly requests to switch the person in charge of the project to someone else. Both of them simply look at each other for a while. Chief breaths out a quiet, “Let’s do that.” And GR bowed deeply.

It’s killing both men on the inside.

GR, you are Da Man o_O … and I’m tearing up YET AGAIN!

BK’s item finally gets approved and he is elated. His mood changes swiftly when Mr. Kang informs him of GR’s fate. He walks over to the corner to look at GR who must be feeling devastated, but all he sees is someone who is focused on getting the next task completed. Not a trace of devastation is expressed.

It’s already late in the evening but SY is still at his desk, remembering his first day of confirmation at One International. He was proud to share with the ED his family’s bloodline as blue collar workers and their pride working at site. His phone goes off. It’s the Ahjussi who was part of the disgruntled factory workers.

He sees the bruise on SY’s cheekbones and the cooling patch on the side of SY’s neck. In the heated exchange previously, one of the men shoved SY against the wall due to their pent up frustration. SY assures the Ahjussi he’s fine. The elder explains to SY that the man with the glove who shoved him is his elder brother. He worked with him on the machines two years prior and had lost two fingers. Accidents occur every year. He explains to SY it’s not that they do not want to work, but they need to protect their hands especially when working with older machines. Their families depend on them.

GR and BK

They bump into each other as they are the last to leave their floor. They decide to go out for a drink before returning home. Being slightly buzzed, BK begins to talk, “JGR-Sshi… Sometimes I’m embarrassed of my specs. I found out today… It’s… It’s not your fault, nor mine. Nor my specs. Nor your past… Anyway, I found out that it’s not our fault. So… [he looks at GR who looks back at him intently, waiting for BK to make his point]… Cheers! Let’s drink…”

Next Day

SY:  I couldn’t do it. I’ll hire a subcontractor.

Mr. Sung:  Hey SY! You were acting arrogant and what have you done? You couldn’t send the employees back to the site.

SY:  You shouldn’t disregard the site… We shouldn’t give them work for the old machines and just badger them. It wasn’t possible to begin with. Mr. Sung must’ve known it was impossible too.

Mr. Sung:  What? Hey! You better choose good subcontractors. If you can’t find them by today, the factory can’t ever meet the deadline!

Big Boss:  Mr. Sung!… Do what you can to find subcontractors. If you can’t our performance will be bad and we’ll have a huge debt. That would mean trouble.

SY:  I’ll find them.

Mr. Sung:  It would’ve been better to use the old machines…

SY:  Sir, this is HSY from Fabric. Please work as hard as you can without using the old machines. We’ll find subcontractors and fill in what we can.

Site:  Okay, thanks. But it won’t be easy to find sub-cons now.

SY:  We’ll do our best. Thank you…. I should grow out my hair fast… XD XD

Resource Team

Mr. Jung:  We worked with them many times, what do you mean bankruptcy? What about insurance?

Mr. Ma:  What are you talking about?!… Give it to me. What? What are you talking about? How can you not do further checks? Then will you take responsibility for not doing so up till now? What’s wrong with you?! Are you crazy? How can you do sales on credit like that? (Insurance? – Mr. J) (It’s applied – YY) Come here! (Our company – Mr. J) What?! What?! What do you want to say?! What did you do? Why are you working like this? Come here! What did you do?! Get your act together! How can you get paid with this kind of work? And you!

Mr. Jung:  Mr. Ma! I just checked that our company has insurance.

Mr. Ma:  Can’t you see the messed up schedule? Can’t you?! Is everything okay since you get insurance money?

Mr. Jung:  Mr. Ma, I’ll finish the phone call… It’s me. Risk of bankruptcy? Are you sure? Okay, keep me posted… Mr. Ma, please do not touch my… I mean, our bodies again.

Mr. Ha:  I’m glad you did that. Stop trembling.

YY:  Thank you, sir.

Mr. Jung:  No… we were all victims… That was something.

Mr. Ha:  We’re all dead now.

Mr. Yoo:  Dang! We’re so dead!

Sales Department

The Manager passes a file on Solar Panel Export to Chief Oh. It used to be the Manager’s business item and he wants it to be reviewed again. He has discussed it with Upper Management and they agree it’s a stable business that’s worth a second look.

Chief Oh’s antenna goes up. Something smells fishy with this sudden re-visit of past business items.

ED is scrutinizing GR’s personal file.

Manager tells Chief Oh to do his “magic” just like he did with the Jordan case. If successful, he can get the Managerial spot too. Chief Oh takes a deep breath and looks down to the floor. His Jedi force is screaming this must be ED’s doing, “Did Mr. Choi give this item?”



My ❤ can’t take this.
With four more episodes to the finish line, our favorite underdogs are still tested and thrown into shark-infested waters.

Writer-nim, please, PLEASE grant us a highly-satisfactory Smack on the Black Mamba SOON.





  1. thanks for the recap!

    oh.my.poor.heart. throughout the episode, my tears just keep rolling. at first, it was tears of pride seeing how GR knows how to tie his necktie(he’s getting more mature).. then tears of sadness at SY’s unsmiling face..this guy is no longer that gossipy, cheerful fella we used to know. then poor YY with her loan problems and to top it off, she’s still treated like a cockroach by voldermirt’s sidekick, jerky ma. how happy was ST3, with mr. chun & mr. kim so proud of their dongsaeng… and me. oh’s gruff good luck wishes(he’s mighty proud of his boy, eh?)… darn. should have known it.. no happiness for GR. aigoo.. my poor heart.

    btw, who is mr. kim of youngsun? GR’s connection was the CEO of sungwon who’s buddy-buddy with mr. choi. so, who’s this mr. kim? oh, the other fella in RT2 is not mr. lee but mr. yoo.

    i’m dying to know what that devil-in-disguise is going to do to ST3 and JGR. aaargh!!! why do i have to suffer till next episode?!


    1. Anyeong Kayla 😀

      First, thank you for sharing your tears and heartache and ❤ for ST3. I understand the roller-coaster ride you're on. And thanks for pointing out Mr. Yoo instead of Lee of RT2. Kamsahamnida 🙂

      The writing team is really ironing out the details and revealing a bit more depth for many characters and I'm praying for KARMA to bite somebody's slithery behind, y'know wut I'm sayin'? XD XD

      Waiting for next Friday is like an eternity! Fighting!!


      1. ooooh.. i wouldn’t want karma to bite Voldermort n the gang in the behind… rather where it hurts the most.. you know.. down there!

        and i really hope the resource team 2 will be as tight as ST3. it’s very brave of mr. jung(ok.. so he’s shaking.. lol) to stand up for his team.


      1. I agree chom2, I wish I knew how to convey that to the networks. I’ve never seen such suspense in silence, or such tight plot in the minutia of an office setting. It literally has me on the edge of my seat every episode. Each character is fabulous, and Gu Rae is a hero!

        Liked by 1 person

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