This drama is off to a rollicking great start. She just wants a job. He just wants to putz around through life. Too bad her job solely consists of forcing him to stop putzing around and do something meaningful. Two episodes in and I love Protect the Boss to pieces. The characters are three-dimensional and well-constructed, the acting from the two leads is phenomenally on point with crackling chemistry, the supporting cast is capable and effortless, and story is very interesting.
I feel like there is a point to this drama, to watch the man-child Ji Heon transformed not by magical love but by support and assistance from Eun Seol, and to watch Eun Seol shed her delinquent past and make something of herself in the professional world by meeting challenges head on with Ji Heon. The broad humor is tempered with sincere emotional issues from all the characters, and I’m already feeling like I care about these people and what happens to them.
Episode 2 recap:
Ji Heon stares at Eun Seol, and then promptly says that her face leaves him in a bad mood. LOL. He asks for and is handed Eun Seol’s resume. He smirks and says that Eun Seol is a parachute (a fly by employee), right?
Just then Moo Won walks in and asks if Ji Heon has met his new secretary. Ji Heon wonders why such an unqualified person is the secretary for him, who holds multiple management positions at the DN Group? If she’s not a parachute, then she must be a spy sent by Moo Won.
Ji Heon says he’ll pick his own secretary from now on. Moo Won asks what he could possibly want to spy on Ji Heon for? Where he goofs off all day? What he eats? Ji Heon turns it around and says he goofs off on purpose just so Moo Won has nothing to spy on him for. Moo Won says Ji Heon ought to just keep this spy secretary by his side and continue to goof off all day long. Nothing wrong with keeping the status quo. The boys step closer and proceed to give each other the staredown. I almost started chanting “kiss, kiss, kiss” when at this scene. Heh.
Eun Seol interrupts that she may not have the credentials, but she’s no parachute or spy. Director Cha selected her for her passion and determination. She’s willing to work her hardest for Ji Heon, especially to show Moo Won who selected her that she can succeed. Ji Heon is not having any of it and tells her to leave.
That night, Eun Seol’s friend Myung Ran celebrates her first day on the job. Eun Seol remembers going to pray at all types of churches and temples begging to get a chance. But her first job was a loan shark with a sexual harasser pervert for a boss.
Now that she has a legitimate job, she won’t give up that easily. She decides to make a new wish – she looks skyward and wishes not to be fired, to maintain her job, and to win over Cha Ji Heon’s desire to get rid of her.
Ji Heon arrives at work and is startled to see Eun Seol. He proceeds to walk past her and ignore her, doing this repeatedly day after day. Finally Eun Seol walks up to his office and he opens the door on her. He allows her inside and asks if she really wants to give it a try. He agrees to try it out. Eun Seol bows in gratitude, but she bows only twice, and Ji Heon asks her bow a third time because bowing just twice is bad luck.
Ji Heon lays down the ground rules. He hates repeating himself, and all calls must be answered by the second ring. The room must be maintained at the proper temperature and he likes the room freshened with a light fresh scent. She needs to clean the air filters herself, clean the office herself, and if Ji Heon raises his palm up she has to immediately give him hand sanitzer.
Even the blinds have to be set at the right opening to let in the proper amount of sunlight. She needs to screen his calls and only allow the right people through. If he asks for a phone number she has to immediately remember it. Eun Seol’s arrival and departure at the office has to be at the same time as Ji Heon.
He says she has to dress professional as befits his secretary. He points to her bun head and tells her to immediately get rid of it because he hates that hairstyle. He drinks low-caffeine coffee, and his hot coffee must be hot and iced coffee must be cold. The last rule is that “boss-father-teacher-is-one” meaning she has to respect her boss as she does her father and teacher. Eun Seol happily recites this mantra back to Ji Heon.
He allows Eun Seol to go outside and quickly write down everything he just told her. But when she heads to her desk, he immediately calls her and asks if she’s done writing. He wants his lunch NOW. He gives her a very complicated lunch order.
We see Eun Seol rushing to and fro getting Ji Heon’s food. She spills it on the streets when traffic comes her way. Ji Heon takes his lunch and then flicks the carrots off the plate at Eun Seol, saying he hates carrots. He takes a drink of his iced coffee and spits it one, saying the drink isn’t even cold anymore. She has five minutes to buy him a new drink.
We see Eun Seol decking Ji Heon in the face and telling him to get his own drink. But of course that is just her imagination, and the real Eun Seol smiles and says she’ll do it right away. Ji Heon goes home and flops on the sofa, muttering about Eun Seol’s tenacity. Eun Seol goes home and collapses on the bed, exhausted but still trying to memorize phone numbers.
Myung Ran and Eun Seol go to a spa and Eun Seol bitches that one day she’ll kill Ji Heon. One day, one day. Eun Seol wonders why Ji Heon doesn’t do any work, but is an expert at torturing people. Apparently his nickname is the X-Man of the DN Group. She can’t believe there is a bastard as awful as Ji Heon.
Suddenly Eun Seol’s phone rings and she answers it, but her hands are wet so the phone falls into the tub. Eun Seol screams in shock. The next day Ji Heon berates Eun Seol for not answering the phone. What if something important happened at work? He forbids Eun Seol from going to the spa henceforth.
Eun Seol says she needs to go next month, but he says to stop arguing. When she doesn’t respond and he asks why, she says that he told her to stop arguing. Eun Seol reminds Ji Heon that he’s due to attend a meeting and Ji Heon heads out.
At the meeting, Ji Heon is doodling while Moo Won gives a presentation. They discuss employees being late to work and such. The Chairman asks Ji Heon what he thinks, and Ji Heon is not listening so he says that it’s a good idea. The Chairman yells at Ji Heon.
Moo Won follows Ji Heon out of the meeting and asks how things are going with No Eun Seol? Ji Heon quotes Slam Dunk and says that it’s better to resolve disputes rather than making more enemies. Moo Won and Ji Heon both walk away, but Ji Heon sees a tissue on the ground and has to turn back to pick it up.
Eun Seol is singing about how much she loves her job. She even loves her employee badge. She loves it all here. Suddenly she gets a call to go meet the Chairman. The Chairman is meeting with Moo Won and discussing how Ji Heon can’t be relied on to take over the company. The Chairman wishes Ji Heon were as capable of Moo Won, and mentions that Moo Won is primed to take over his own mother’s company, right? That was the company left to Moo Won by his deceased father, and it’s Moo Won’s duty to take it over.
Eun Seol sits with the Chairman and she’s so nervous she’s fidgety. He yells at her for being so nervous, and then proceeds to lay the responsibility at her feet for being a secretary that allows her boss to show up at work late every single day. He asks if she’s derelict in her duty and she has no choice but to agree.
The Chairman tells her to get her butt to his house tomorrow morning and make sure Ji Heon gets to work on time. Also make sure Ji Heon doesn’t leave the office other than on official matters. If she fails, he’ll toss her and her desk out on the street. She agrees to do it, but asks if she can use physical means to get him to work. The Chairman says go right ahead, what kind of strength can a girl have.
She asks for one month to succeed. It’s not something she can do in one day. If he asks her to do it in one day, he might as well just fire her now. The Chairman says that he’s been around the block and can tell, Eun Seol must’ve have been a delinquent in her school days. Eun Seol says everyone has a dark period they would love to erase. The Chairman laughs and says he feels this kinship with Eun Seol.
Eun Seol arrives at the Cha family mansion to wake up Ji Heon. She runs into grandma in the yard dressed like a gardener and asks where Ji Heon’s room is. Eun Seol wonders what it must be like to live in a place like this? Rather than envy it, Eun Seol says living in such luxury makes people weak and listless, with no desire to succeed. Grandma reluctantly agrees with Eun Seol.
Eun Seol tells grandma (who she thinks is a household help here) that she’s here to get Ji Heon to work on time. Grandma wonders if she can do it? Eun Seol pats herself and says she’s got what it takes. Eun Seol tells grandma that working keeps her healthy, and if Ji Heon tries to mistreat her, to ignore him and not let him upset her. She leaves grandma with a “hwaiting”, and grandma watches her leave and smiles that this girl is totally fearless.
Eun Seol knocks on Ji Heon’s door and doesn’t get a response. She slowly opens it and whispers that she’s coming in. She see Ji Heon still fast asleep on the bed and goes to wake him up. Calling his name doesn’t work. Ji Heon turns over in his sleep and Eun Seol has to avert her eyes because he’s wearing cartoon boxers. LOL, how apropos.
Ji Heon wakes up and then jumps on his bed in shock that Eun Seol is in his room. He suddenly remembers that he’s only wearing boxers and screams at Eun Seol, asking if she saw anything. He goes to take a shower and rages at Eun Seol, wondering who she really is?
Eun Seol looks around Ji Heon’s room and notices a card board cut out of a woman with a question mark on the face. She sees a single shoe and puts it on because it looks like her shoe. She then puts two and two together that Ji Heon was the guy she ran into in the room salon and she was the cause of the violence incident that roiled the Chairman and Ji Heon.
When Ji Heon comes out and asks Eun Seol if the shoe fit, she quickly says no, nope, it doesn’t fit, her feet are too big it would be living shoving a sausage into a casing. OMFG this is a hilarious way to subvert the very Cinderella story trope if ever there was one. She widens her toes to show Ji Heon her HUGE feet.
Ji Heon tells her not to touch the shoe which is important evidence. He wishes he could remember the chick, but all he remembers is her bun head. Ji Heon takes some darts and starts to throw it at the cardboard cut out. He vows to make that chick pay for damaging his mind and body, causing his reputation to be besmirched, making the company stocks plummet, and leading his dad to be angry at him. All of that he will get back from that chick tenfold. Every time he throws a dart at cardboard Eun Seol, the real Eun Seol flinches and makes the most hilariously painful expressions.
Eun Seol thinks that if the girl knew about the harm she had caused, she might be feeling totally bad. Perhaps he ought to forgive her just a bit? Or not! He can just find her and punish her. Ji Heon thinks it’s a great idea if Eun Seol can find that chick. He shoves the shoe in her arm and happily makes that her job to accomplish and he’ll make her a permanent employee if she succeeds. Eun Seol looks so stricken it’s adorable.
They walk to work and Ji Heon asks if Eun Seol isn’t pleased to have the offer to become a permanent employee? Eun Seol says she’s thrilled. Ji Heon warns her not to come to his house again, but she explains that the Chairman specifically told her to. But she’ll be careful and not see his underwear in the future. Ji Heon moves to silence her which is when the Chairman arrives.
They all get into the elevator and the Chairman berates Ji Heon for showing up at work at this late hour. Ji Heon says his dad is arriving at the same time, so what’s the big deal? The Chairman screams that he was doing community service all morning until now, and whose fault it that.
The Chairman starts to beat Ji Heon and his secretary quickly gets on the floor and gestures for Eun Seol to climb on his back and block the CCTV from recording this scene. God, this might never get old for me. Ji Heon warns that he’ll run away from home if his dad keeps doing this. He won’t put up with his dad allowing Eun Seol into the house to get him.
Finally Eun Seol can’t stand it anymore and she goes to shield Ji Heon. The Chairman tells her to move away but Eun Seol says it’s her job to protect the boss. The Chairman again tells her to move away and he goes to slap Ji Heon. But Eun Seol doesn’t move away so she gets slapped across the face. Everyone freezes in shock.
The Chairman offers Eun Seol some compensation for the incident, explaining that is was purely an accident. Instead of cash, Eun Seol asks for insurance, or perhaps allow this incident to be a marker that she can cash in should one day the Chairman be displeased with her performance. The Chairman laughs, liking her gumption.
Eun Seol looks at the envelope of money and the Chairman asks if she’s regretting turning it down. Eun Seol says since the Chairman wants to give her the money, she doesn’t want to say no. Walking out clutching the envelope in happiness, Eun Seol confesses to Ji Heon that she is always giving money for beating others and has never been on the other end. So this is what it feels like. She thinks it’s like winning the lottery.
Ji Heon tells her to go put some medicine on her face, but Eun Seol says it’s no big deal, some spit will be fine. Ji Heon sits in his office and remembers Eun Seol shielding him. He walks outside to see the other two secretaries ganging up on Eun Seol for not cleaning the office. Ji Heon thinks to himself that Eun Seol is HIS secretary, not those ladies. Hur, only be can be mean to her.
Ji Heon loudly calls out No Eun Seol and says that she is not allowed to leave her desk at ANY TIME unless it’s to do his bidding. She explains that she was just cleaning and Ji Heon tells her to get into his office and clean it now. He jumps between the desks of the other two secretaries and says that germs can come in at any time.
Eun Seol is cleaning while Ji Heon tries to manuveur her cleaning so that she can see the first aid kit. Eun Seol is oblivious to his intentions and he has to pointedly take the ointment out of the case and tell her that the medicine is for bruises. Eun Seol asks if he’s worried about her, and Ji Heon just twirls around in his chair and pretends to look up and ignore her.
Ji Heon sees that Eun Seol is just rubbing the medicine on in a cursory fashion and that upsets him. So he goes to put it on her. He’s dabbing it on her face when they realize their faces are in close proximity, which causes them to jump apart. Ji Heon puts on the ointment from far away, and afterwards Eun Seol immediately sanitizes his hand.
Ji Heon’s former secretary arrives at the office and calls Ji Heon, asking for a letter of recommendation and revealing that he found the bun head girl. Ji Heon loudly says you found her, and Eun Seol overhears this. He’s so happy and tells Eun Seol that the crazy bun head girl has been located. Eun Seol asks if she can use the bathroom right now because she has poopy air inside her. Ji Heon calls her crass but lets her go.
Eun Seol runs downstairs and sees the secretary in the lobby. She uses her hair scarf to cover her face and then intercepts the secretary by stealing his file. The secretary chases Eun Seol outside. Once alone, she grabs him in a headlock and warns him that he is to pretend that he has never saw the file and never read the resume of the bun girl in the file. She’ll get him his recommendation but he’s to leave right now. The secretary asks if perhaps she’s “bun head girl No Eun Seol”?
Eun Seol tells Ji Heon that he’s needed at a department store for promotional rounds. She’ll support him all the way. She says from now on she will be sincere, and he wonders if she hasn’t been sincere until now. But he agrees to go, and Eun Seol thinks to herself that she’ll do this as a way to do penance towards Ji Heon.
Ji Heon does a meet and greet at the department store and Eun Seol follows behind him to sanitize his hand afterwards. They are walking when suddenly Ji Heon looks around and doesn’t see Eun Seol anywhere. He tries to call her but she doesn’t answer. A group of parents with kids walk towards Ji Heon, and he starts to feel dizzy and disoriented.
He tries to remember to breath deeply, but he keeps calling out No Eun Seol until he falls down on his knees. Eun Seol, back with a bottle of water, holds Ji Heon and asks if he needs medical attention. He asks her to just let him rest on her for a moment. She holds him as he calms himself again.
When he’s fine again, he realizes that they are embracing each other and he quickly shoves Eun Seol away from him. He hurries away all the while muttering that they have to keep their distance in public.
Back at home, Ji Heon moves from sofa to chair to bed, all the while thinking back to Eun Seol hugging him. He tries to get these images to leave his mind and is totally frustrated when he can’t. Eun Seol is at home and searching the internet for medical conditions with symptoms that include panicking in public and having an episode. Ah heck, she’s so awesome and practical.
At work the next day, Eun Seol opens the top drawer in Ji Heon’s desk and spies bottles of pills. She doesn’t look carefully because Ji Heon arrives right then. He asks her why she got 1 Million Won worth of dining coupons when he asked for 1 Million Won worth of new bills (the two things sounds similar). Does she want him to eat until he explodes!
Moo Won walks into the office and Eun Seol smiles to see her favorite Cha family member. They go outside to have a cup of coffee. He asks how she’s doing and she confesses the recent dining coupon escapade. He laughs and says this is a honest mistake, and his secretary makes such mistakes at times as well.
She thanks him for always encouraging her and he thanks her for sticking with it longer than he expected. She asks Moo Won if Ji Heon is sick, but Moo Won in turn asks her if she knows anything about Ji Heon being sick. Eun Seol says yesterday….but doesn’t continue and just says it’s nothing.
Back in Moo Won’s office, his secretary delivers the report that she pulled Ji Heon’s medical files and the diagnoses is that he has severe anxiety attacks, and they haven’t been able to diagnose what the trigger is that sets ofj Ji Heon’s panic attacks. Moo Won thinks back to Ji Heon running out of the meeting and finally makes the connection.
At a management meeting, Moo Won suggests that an upcoming project be handled by Ji Heon as a way to demonstrate his leadership as the successor of the company. Ji Heon refuses and walks out of the meeting.
The Chairman follows him back to the office and demands that he does this project. The Chairman sincerely says that Ji Heon is the only one left. He’s the only one who can succeed the Chairman. Since losing Ji Heon’s older brother (OMO – was not expecting this), Ji Heon is all the Chairman has left.
The Chairman says he doesn’t expect Ji Heon to do better than others, he just wants Ji Heon to do as well as others. Ji Heon says his expectations are too high. The Chairman leaves and Eun Seol can see Ji Heon standing in his office in silence.
Ji Heon has the driver let Eun Seol off near the subway station. He tells her that he’s not planning to go to work in the next few days so she can take those days off. Ji Heon sits in his room and looks at the proposal for the project, which Moo Won handed to him with a word of advice that he does want to see Ji Heon succeed.
At a secretaries meeting, Eun Seol pipes up and says that she needs to go to her boss’s house. She enters Ji Heon’s room to see him sitting at the desk reading the project proposal. He starts marking it up and reading it out loud. Eun Seol hids outside his room with the door ajar listening to him work. She starts nodding off and Ji Heon notices his door is open.
He jerks the door open to find Eun Seol crouched there. She tells him that his oratory skills are dreadful – it’s hard to determine if he’s giving a speech or an ultimatum. She helps him practice his speech and he’s still very stiff. She makes him practice over and over again until he can give a rousing and lively speech. They are simply wonderful together.
Moo Won’s mom is preparing the venue for the event. Eun Seol watches as Ji Heon gets dressed for the event and wishes him the best of luck. He says that she sure talks a lot, but I know he secretly is getting used to it. She gives him a “hwaiting” hand gesture as they walk into the venue.
Ji Heon gets up on stage to give the speech, where his dad, grandma, and the management of the company are all present. He looks out into the audience and takes a deep breath before starting. As the new director of the DN Group Foundation……Ji Heon is talking when suddenly he looks up and sees Seo Na Yoon (Wang Ji Hye) walking into the room.
Ji Heon freezes and stammers that his speech will be concluded by his secretary. Ji Heon runs out of the room and the audience is totally disappointed in him. Eun Seol walks up to the podium and finishes the speech for Ji Heon. After the speech is concluded, Eun Seol runs out looking for Ji Heon but he’s nowhere to be found.
Grandma asks the Chairman to go look for Ji Heon. They can both hear other people murmuring about Ji Heon’s performance today in public. The Chairman gets angry and wants to go confront those people but his grandma restrains him.
Eun Seol walks into Ji Heon’s room to find him playing video games. He thinks it’s a shame that he couldn’t stick around and see Eun Seol make a fool of herself on stage. She sits down and asks to play video games with him. As they are playing, Ji Heon asks if she doesn’t have anything she wants to say? Didn’t she come here to comfort him?
Eun Seol wonders if he needs comfort? Ji Heon thinks that the two responses would be either comfort or ridicule. Eun Seol asks if he wants a particular one? Ji Heon says forget about it, and they resume video game playing. Eun Seol says Ji Heon can cry if he wants, she can’t tell him how to feel.
The Chairman barges into the room and disconnects the game box. He demands to know why Ji Heon did that! He is willing to hear his reason, but it has to be acceptable. Ji Heon says there is no reason, he just wanted to do it. The Chairman slaps Ji Heon across the face, asking his son to please give a reason. Beg him, or give an excuse, just say SOMETHING!
Ji Heon says he has nothing to say. The Chairman tells him to leave this house now and never come back. Eun Seol tells the Chairman that Ji Heon must have a reason that is understandable. She thinks she knows the reason, but without Ji Heon’s consent, she can’t reveal it to the Chairman. She asks the Chairman to please understand for the time being.
I love how much the Chairman genuinely loves and wants his son to succeed. And even when his son embarrasses him, his first instinct is to protect his son and stand up for his son. I wonder why Ji Heon can’t tell his dad about his anxiety disorder? And I wonder how his older brother died, and whether his current condition is somehow connected to that?
Moo Won has dinner with Na Yoon. He knows why she’s back and working at the company. She says that she’s going to fix everything so that she can return to Ji Heon’s side.
Ji Heon is walking down the street and Eun Seol trails him. He tries to shoo her away repeatedly but she keeps following him. Until one time he turns around to scream at her to leave but sees the street is empty behind him. He gets nervous and calls out No Eun Seol and looking for her. Which is when she pops out from behind a park bench and freaks him out.
Ji Heon is torn between wanting Eun Seol to scram or continue to follow him. When she moves to leave, he confesses that he left with neither phone nor money. He tells her that he can’t take the subway or the bus. She goes to take money out of her bank account for the taxi and realizes that she pretty much nothing left. They get into a taxi.
Eun Seol suggests going to a jjimjalbang but he says he doesn’t go to places filled with strangers. Eun Seol takes him back to Myung Ran’s apartment where she is sleeping on the floor. Ji Heon thanks Eun Seol for today…just a little.
Which is when he turns and sees a pair of shoes on the floor. Ji Heon’s eyes widen in recognition as Eun Seol jumps over the bed and dives for those shoes to conceal them. Ooops, too late, Eun Seol darling.
Thoughts of Mine:
What a fun episode, and so fast-paced with the plot development. More dramas need to take cues from PTB on how to develop characters and drive the plot forward at the same time, rather than letting the plot grind to a halt for some character exposition. I love how the OTP doesn’t fall into the “I hate you” routine that bickering couples are forced to play out in many dramas, but rather are simply butting heads and bumbling forward at the same time as boss-secretary. There are already many layers to their interactions adding color and flavor to each scene.
If episode 1 really made me love Eun Seol, episode 2 vaulted Ji Heon into a very compelling hero-to-be. His loserish ways are real (and not some sort of act waiting to be magically shed by the presence of Eun Seol) yet it’s not some end-of-the-world hang up. He’s not a jerk because he can be, he’s just someone who has no ambition due to a mental condition that is untreated and lots of father-son issues that remain unresolved.
I appreciate how Eun Seol is NOT some spirited, sassy, prone-to-lecture type of heroine. You know, the kind that tells off the hero for being a jerk and possesses a holier than thou mind set because she’s just too forthright and honest. She doesn’t judge Ji Heon, she simply needs him to change and become a contributing director at the company because her job hinges on him doing his.
I love how the cousins bicker and try to always have the last word with each other. It shows me that Moo Won is not some paragon of virtue and accomplishment, but can be petty and juvenile with his cousin. It also shows that Ji Heon is not some push over, understanding he might be unable to perform his professional job, but when it comes to verbal jousting he’s on top of the game.
I really like Ji Heon’s dad, the Chairman. There has been a lot of physical violence in this drama though done in a tongue-in-cheek way without any relevance to reality. But in this episode, the Chairman slapped Eun Seol, albeit accidentally, and it was nice to see everyone react in shock at the slap, and then deal with it by feeling contrite afterwards. Plus Eun Seol can take care of herself, and it was cute when she was so pleased to be on the receiving end of slap money.
I can’t fully describe what make PTB so engaging right off the bat, because it really is a combination of good storytelling, wonderful directing, a surprisingly moving OST that hits all the right emotional buttons, and an all-around excellent cast. Ji Sung is NAILING it as Ji Heon – so ridiculous and not afraid to show all of Ji Heon’s weaknesses. Choi Kang Hee’s the girl of a million faces so it seems, because Eun Seol just kills me with her animated expressions that never feel fake but instead feels so real.
I’m thrilled the story already makes so much sense. Eun Seol sincerely wants to protect Ji Heon the moment she realized that she was the inadvertent cause of his recent woes. But that pay-back-her-debt approach is quickly supplanted by her actually seeming to see the real person within his persona and wants to encourage him. I also love how quickly Ji Heon is interacting so comfortably with Eun Seol. They make such an endearing OTP it’s not even funny. I can’t wait to watch more. PTB rocks!