The more I write about Empire of Gold the more I realize that this show is so outlandish that I find it to be closer to a visual novel than a drama. Everything is cast under stiff images: the static face of Choi Seo-yoon that happens to carry great intelligence, the genius under the guise of a child in Jang Tae-joo, the scorned woman with a plastic face of the name Han Jung-hee, and the list could go on. Whatever we end up seeing on the screen aren’t people, but a joke. Yes, I said it, a joke. This world is fictional of course, but there’s something extremely humorous about the whole affair that the winner in the end is really Dong-jin, the one man wise enough to see that what was once a venture to feed is no more than a petty “Game of Thrones” (I know nothing of the series, but hey, it works well here). For “proof,” here’s Episode 11, which shows us what four people in lust for power can do with 1 Billion dollars.
Min-jae and evil step mom meet to discuss their possible new partnership, while Seo-yoon and Tae-joo “finalize” their agreement to trade the 1 Billion for 10 Affiliate companies. Min-jae agrees to join hands with Jung-hee when she appeals to his thirst for revenge against Choi Dong-sung. As misery always finds friends, it didn’t take much effort from Jung-hee.
Jung-hee reveals her plan to replace Seo-yoon with Min-jae (as a “temporary” professional CEO) at the shareholder’s meeting as news of Sung-jin’s imminent collapse spreads. She needs Min-jae to have control of the 1 Billion to preserve the shareholders’s fears while she transfers the borrowed name account shares to her name right before the shareholder’s meeting so that they’ll be the majority stockholder over Seo-yoon. In the meantime, Tae-joo assures Seo-yoon that Min-jae will agree to give the 1 Billion to Seo-yoon, and promises to “raise” the affiliates well. Little do both Min-jae and Tae-joo know, getting the rights to withdraw the 1 Billion from each other will be far more difficult than they could have ever anticipated, for each now have different agendas.
After Tae-joo leaves, Seo-yoon sets up her plans for a “second foundation ceremony” for Sung-jin where she’ll reveal the “removal of weak affiliates” (her cover up for the transaction between herself and Tae-joo) and restore the faith of the shareholders in Sung-jin with the injection of the 1 Billion. Nearby, Tae-joo and Min-jae meet to discuss the very same 1 Billion. Min-jae brings up his plan with Jung-hee, albeit conspicuously, to finally control Sung-jin at the shareholder’s meeting. He asks Tae-joo to hand him the withdrawal rights when his secretary/director (who is more loyal to Jung-hee) calls to update him about the borrowed named shares’s transfer, which leads us to see that Min-jae’s secretary is actually with Jung-hee at Chairman Bae’s grave.
Back at the office, Tae-joo and Min-jae start to see their “friendship” wither, as Tae-joo refuses to give Min-jae his seal to withdraw the money. Min-jae tries to sweet talk Tae-joo into accepting his plan, but Tae-joo dryly comments that he “didn’t fabricate Sung-jin Construction documents for three years just to clap at Min-jae’s inauguration as Chariman,” and adds that while he may currently have trust in Min-jae, there is no way he’ll trust Chairman Choi Min-jae. He gives Min-jae two options: they give the money to Seo-yoon and after the signing ceremony, one, split the affiliates in half over a parting drink, or two, have a celebratory drink to their continuing friendship.
Back at Bae Yong-jae’s grave, Jung-hee and Director-nim discuss their past (and Director-nim’s regrets for not supporting Yong-jae when he needed it most), Bae’s death, and their plans to have Min-jae as a puppet chairman. Jung-hee tells the director (and the grave) that her feelings for revenge have not changed in twenty-seven years. She will see Sung-jin fall into her hands.
At Eden, Tae-joo is frantically preparing for an attack from Min-jae. He’s so tensed that he even snaps at Seul-hee when she gleefully tells him that she had set up a dinner for them at a beautiful restaurant near the Han River. Seul-hee and the Eden crew are shocked about Tae-joo’s mood, and they ask why Tae-joo wants them to close up all of Eden’s accounts and transactions when they are about to get five Sung-jin affiliates. Tae-joo wryly answers that Min-jae is not a man who would share ten affiliates, and keeps closing shop.
It looks like Tae-joo predicted correctly, as in the meantime, Min-jae is preparing for Tae-joo’s worst nightmare. The two later meet up over lunch before the signing ceremony, making casual chit-chat about their golfing styles that is really just a cryptic method of dissing their business running styles (which happens to be a totally accurate metaphor). But even lunch isn’t a time for temporary armistice, as phone calls for the two interject as they eat. Eden calls Tae-joo to update him that Eden’s accounts are settled, while Min-jae recieves call from Dong-hui (who has partnered up with Min-jae) that the financial investigators are over at Eden. Dong-hui also says that the documents are enough to incarcerate Tae-joo, provided that Seul-hee spills his name.
The two arrive at Seo-yoon’s office for the signing ceremony, and Seo-yoon basically ignores Tae-joo completely while letting the two (or just Min-jae) know about how she has set up the the ten affiliates for Eden. (Best line ever in EoG: “I’m not talking to you Mr. Jang Tae-joo.” Heh, serves that vain man right.) They don’t start the signing ceremony without another few insults thrown, but as Seo-yoon tries to sign the document with her father’s pen, she struggles to open it, so Director Park hands her his pen (Park Kyung-soo isn’t subtle with the foreshadowing, is he?). She signs the document, and hands it to Min-jae, who hands it to Tae-joo. But of course, foreshadowing can’t be wrong, right? So, right before Tae-joo signs it he gets a call that Eden has been ransacked by government investigators, and that Seul-hee has been taken into custody. So much for the signing ceremony…
Tae-joo and Min-jae walk out of Seo-yoon’s office and mark the bitter end of the two’s partnership. Min-jae and Tae-joo have a painful moment next to the elevator discussing their future and past together as friends and how things went completely downhill. Tae-joo thanks Min-jae for the latter’s apology to Tae-joo’s father, and Min-jae returns the gesture to Tae-joo, expressing his gratitude for Yoon’s ancestral tablet. Tae-joo enters the elevator and the two part ways for good.
Tae-joo meets Congressman Kim about what to do with his predicament, and Kim tells Tae-joo that Dong-hui is in charge of the case. He gets a call from Seo-yoon, and the two meet by the river. She tells him that he should just give up the 1 Billion to Min-jae (so she can get it) so that Director Yoon can come back to Tae-joo. Tae-joo then drops the bomb that leaving the 1 Billion with Min-jae will be a very bad idea, as there’s someone close to her has some hidden power (the one with the borrowed accounts). Seo-yoon is petrified by the news, and Tae-joo leaves her with one final, ominous, warning, “The person who calls for the Sung-jin Cement shareholders’ meeting first is the person you’re looking for.”
Seo-yoon sends subliminal threats to Dong-hui and asks that he release Seul-hee. Dong-hui refuses and leaves, feeling protected by Min-jae’s various guarantees. Director Park comes in to affirm Tae-joo’s words, telling her that 25% of Sung-jin Cement shares are in the process of being transferred to a real-name account.
Breakfast at the Choi family household gets a little more feisty than usual, with poor Sung-jae trying save his noona from all sorts of attacks from family members “concerned” about the state of the company. Seo-yoon, thinking back to Tae-joo’s words, initially is suspicious of Won-jae, since he refuses to spill their father’s last words to the family (which is only because he was shaken up by the fact that Dong-sung only wanted Seo-yoon at the time).
At the office, Won-jae is annoyed that Seo-yoon has started to investigate him and his department, as well as extremely confused by the reasons for it. Min-jae then hands Won-jae dirt on Seo-yoon to release to the public, which basically starts a media frenzy as news spreads about the family infighting. Tae-joo, watching the news from Eden has only one thought on his mind: the state of Seul-hee, and regret that he couldn’t protect her. He ponders whether he can give everything up for her sake, and decides to make the call to Min-jae that he’ll meet him that night about signing over the billion. Min-jae immediately lets Jung-hee know of the good news, and she starts preparing her move: holding a family meeting that night.
To Min-jae’s surprise, Pil-joo is the one to arrive at his office in the evening, whereas Tae-joo goes to meet Seul-hee in prison. Tae-joo calls Min-jae and drops something that Min-jae couldn’t have anticipated himself. Tae-joo reveals that he’ll “strangle himself” by giving up everything they’ve done to the prosecutors. He’ll then go to jail for at least five years, and the only time he would ever think of giving his seal would be after that time. But lest Min-jae had forgotten, Tae-joo reminds him that the billion will accumulate interest; something Min-jae will have to pay. To make matters worse Tae-joo adds, at the rate interest rates are rising, Sung-jin Construction as a whole will not be able to pay for that interest. As for option 2, Min-jae can just sign the rights to the billion over to him. Min-jae, backed into a corner, puts his seal on the document while Tae-joo walks out of the prison with Seul-hee, taking her to that restaurant she had been talking about.
At the same time, the Choi family has gathered together for the family meeting. Jung-hee immediately suggests that they hold a general shareholders meeting at Sung-jin Cement to discuss CEO changes—and a shocked Seo-yoon finds her mystery shareholder.
I’d like to first apologize for taking so long to publish my rather measly recaps, because it’s not just about how long everything takes to write (yes, it’s taking way longer than the time I have such that I had to resort to using other’s screencaps that don’t even match), it’s also the discovery that recaps make the drama viewing more painstaking (read this for a better idea of what I mean), and worse, lagging behind the drama causes my perceptions of one episode to be misconstrued by my own psyche. For me, the drama viewing experience is better in the sum of its parts, not the division of its elements. One episode adds onto the other, and when I think about and talk about a show, it’s in context of all the episodes that have aired, not just the one in the recap. Therefore, I think I’m doing a great disservice to the show’s writing by muddling my thoughts that exist in the time frame I’m writing the recap with the kind of reactions I should be writing about the episode in question. I will never be able to present something un-mediated.
So yeah, I guess that’s my long winded explanation for why I need to stop the recaps. That doesn’t mean I’ll stop talking about the drama, for there is plenty to talk about, flaws, strengths, and all, but it just won’t be in the traditional recap format. While there’s a small chance that you’ll see an Episode 12 recap, I’m making no promises for the sake of my sanity. 😄
Thank you everyone for reading what I have written, and I won’t lie and say that recaps were the most terrible experience ever, because they’re not. It was fun trying a hand at recaping, and the experience makes me even more in awe of people like ockoala, who are able to be superhumans with a high-end job, a family, and a drama site. I bow down to your prowess. Really, I do.
(SBS, Screencaps marked with “WT” in the image name are from Wandering Thoughts)