At the cafe, Ha-ri (Gugudan’s Kim Se-jeong) comes clean to Chairman Kang (Lee Deok-hwa) about her (previously) contractual relationship with Tae-moo (Ahn Hyo-seop). The Chairman – in his uncomfortably calm demeanour – tells Ha-ri that he doesn’t think she “wants to be in a situation that other people may interpret”, and firmly insists that she cuts ties with his grandson. Just then, he receives a call from Sung-hoon (Kim Min-gue), informing him that Tae-moo had gotten into a car accident. The Chairman rushes off to see Tae-moo, leaving a worried Ha-ri to make her own way to the hospital.
Tae-moo escapes with an arm injury, to everyone’s relief. As the couple come face to face with the Chairman once again, Tae-moo takes the opportunity to make things official, telling his grandfather that Ha-ri is “the person that [he] loves”. That doesn’t get him off the hook, however; Chairman Kang goes off at Tae-moo for continuing to see Ha-ri, and additionally to Sung-hoon for playing a part in deceiving him. Tae-moo agrees to end his relationship with Ha-ri, with a caveat: that the Chairman will never have any great-grandchildren, if he wants for Tae-moo to devote himself only to work and “never get married”. This would likely be the case; for Tae-moo, meeting someone like Ha-ri only comes round once in a lifetime.
A heavy downpour leads Ha-ri – who had been picked up by bestie Young-seo (Seol In-ah) from the hospital – to hastily rush back to Tae-moo’s side. Drenched from the rain, she enters her boyfriend’s room to find him staring into the distance, towards the N Seoul Tower. He then opens up further about his parents’ accident on that fateful rainy day: how he believed it had happened “because of [him]”, as he had made them rush to bring him to the amusement park. Tae-moo had long been resigned to the guilt he’d been carrying in his heart, but Ha-ri reassures him that his parents love him no matter what. She could tell how loved he was too, just from the way he fondly spoke of them.
Ha-ri sneaks home in the early morning after staying by Tae-moo’s bedside through the night. Young-seo swings by to pick up Ha-ri; aside from returning her cell phone, which Ha-ri had left in her car the night before, her bestie also drops some unsettling news: that Yoo-ra (Bae Woo-hee) had left a comment on Ha-ri and Min-woo’s (Song Won-seok) viral cooking video, claiming Ha-ri to be a “two-timer” because of her seven year-long crush on Min-woo, and her romantic relationship with her company’s president.
Tae-moo and Ha-ri’s dating news spread like wildfire through the company, but no one else is more shocked than Ha-ri’s own colleagues, who end up having their projects relegated to other teams. Ha-ri continues to put on a brave face, even with the other employees talking behind her back, and both touched and relieved to know that her team is still on her side. The dating news even spreads as far as Ha-ri’s parents’ fried chicken restaurant, but best girl Young-seo manages the on-ground sentiment with a simple heiress flex: paying for everyone’s food and drinks.
Tae-moo – still kept in the dark about the entire situation – calls Ha-ri from a phone booth at the hospital. Their conversation gradually segues into a proposal attempt, and in true rom-com fashion, the call gets cut off at the most apt of timings. When heading back to his room, Tae-moo overhears Chairman Kang making arrangements for him to be transferred to the New York branch. In addition to rejecting his grandfather’s actions, Tae-moo declares his intention to marry Ha-ri. This leads the older man to give his grandson some food for thought: that though Tae-moo may be perfectly fine, it’s Ha-ri who would bear the brunt of any gossip – as she already was, unbeknownst to him.
The next morning, Ha-ri gets summoned to Chairman Kang’s office, where he presents her with two options: either be sent to a provincial office “until the situation dies down”, or to resign. Ha-ri, in turn, summons whatever spunk that’s still left within her, and delivers an impassioned appeal as to why it would be GoFood’s loss if she was made to lose her job. Meanwhile, a furious archaeopteryx Tae-moo goes into fight mode after overhearing two nurses in his ward discuss the fake rumours of Ha-ri’s alleged “two-timing”, returning to the headquarters to get down to the bottom of things. Along with being angry at Sung-hoon for hiding the truth from him and leaving Ha-ri to suffer alone, Tae-moo also takes it up with his grandfather – telling him that he’s willing to resign as long as Ha-ri is left unscathed.
After leaving the headquarters, Tae-moo goes on a desperate search for an uncontactable Ha-ri (who had gone on a walk to clear her mind), even turning up at the fried chicken restaurant to see if she’d headed home. Tae-moo enlists the help of “brother-in-law” Ha-min (VICTON’s Choi Byung-chan) to contact Ha-ri. Ha-ri’s confused parents (Kim Kwang-kyu and Jung Young-joo), unsure as to why their daughter’s superior had begun referring to them as “in-laws”, eventually find out that Tae-moo is not who he said he was – but is instead someone even better.
Sung-hoon and Young-seo meet with her estranged father for dinner that evening, after being approached by him at their apartment complex’s car park earlier in the day. Based on past experiences, Young-seo preempts her boyfriend that things may not go in his favour. But in a surprising turn of events, Young-seo’s father seemingly approves of Sung-hoon, and even expresses his hope to reconcile and be on better terms with his only daughter. This leads Young-seo to wonder if her father was unwell, based on her premise that “people do weird things before they die”.
While in the car on the way home, Young-seo discovers a diamond ring that Sung-hoon had bought for her, prompting her to cheekily ask if he’d planned to propose. Between him making excuses to cover it up and Young-seo making the first move as always, Sung-hoon eventually pulls over at the side of a bridge and steps out of the car. “You really need to stop stealing my words,” he tells Youngseo, and proposes to her on bended knee.
Meanwhile, Ha-ri continues on her aimless walk, and ends up making a long trek up towards the N Seoul Tower. At the summit, she finally realises that Tae-moo had been trying to reach her all day. After a harrowing few hours, a worried Tae-moo finally gets to hold Ha-ri in his arms, telling her to never disappear without a word again. The couple then head to Tae-moo’s private space – he had previously met with Ha-ri here in episode three – where they consummate their relationship and spend their first night together.
The course of true love never did run smooth, particularly for Young-seo and Sung-hoon, as her father eventually makes a 180-degree turn and demands for the young man to break up with his daughter. Despite her unease, she bravely heads over to Sung-hoon’s apartment on the morning of her birthday, asking him to join her at Ha-ri’s parents’ place for an annual tradition: homemade seaweed soup (a customary Korean birthday dish). Just as Sung-hoon had told her on the night of his proposal to think positively about good things, Young-seo is assured of the people who care for her, even though she has, in her words, “lousy luck with parents”.
Over at Ha-ri’s place, all hell breaks loose as Ha-ri’s mother finds out that her “trustworthy” daughter (in her husband’s words) had spent the night with Tae-moo, per her intuition. After everyone calms down, Tae-moo finally has a formal first meeting with Ha-ri’s parents, who are incredulous that “a man who’s so intimidatingly perfect” would fall in love with their daughter.
Young-seo’s birthday celebration then follows, complete with a smorgasbord of food and just as many drinks to go around. When Ha-ri’s father heads out for a breather, Tae-moo takes the opportunity to speak to him and attempts to break the ice. He finds out that the older man’s uncertainty towards him is due to his own insecurities: of not being able to provide enough for Ha-ri to truly fulfil her dreams, and his fear that there would be comparisons because of their disparate social standings. Tae-moo reassures Ha-ri’s father that he would do all he can to protect Ha-ri, with everything he has.
The next day, Ha-ri meets up with Min-woo, who unpacks lots of updates in one sitting: not only had he turned down Tae-moo’s (surprising) request for a second collaboration, he’d also decided to close down the restaurant and go on a soul-searching sojourn to Italy. On top of that, both he and Yoo-ra – who had sent Ha-ri her apologies via proxy of him – decided to go their separate ways once more, finally acknowledging that they may have mistaken their “regrets for affection”. Min-woo asks if they could go back to being close friends as they were before, but Ha-ri takes a step back, saying that their friendship could be rekindled in time to come.
Young-seo heads to her father’s office to hand in her resignation letter, both as an employee of Marine Group and also from being associated with him. She was done having her father treat her as a commodity instead of as his own daughter – not to mention that he didn’t even remember her birthday. While at Sung-hoon’s place for a belated birthday meal, a visibly-affected Young-seo tells him about tendering her resignation. She then lets on that she plans to start her own company, something she’d always wanted to do. As a show of support, savvy saver Sung-hoon puts his money where his mouth is, and offers to be her first investor – as long as she has a solid business plan to show for it.
Over at the GoFood headquarters, Tae-moo receives a call from a company director, urgently informing him that Chairman Kang has been hospitalised, after having collapsed during a lunch meeting. Just as quickly as he was informed, an unamused Tae-moo realises that he had been tricked by his own grandfather – thanks to the same director, oblivious that he had not disconnected the call, thus failing to cover his tracks.
Ha-ri heads to the hospital to visit the hypochondriac Chairman, who’s displeased (as always) that she would dare show herself in front of him. As for positive-thinking Ha-ri, she continues to harbour the hope that the Chairman would eventually grow fond of her again, just as he did with her alter ego “Geum-hui” – since they’re one and the same, after all. The Chairman does everything in his power to hold himself back, but unconsciously finds himself being drawn to Ha-ri’s kind nature, natural charm and, in particular, her alluring singing voice.
The hospitalisation prank turns out to be for the better, as Tae-moo is informed by the Chairman’s doctor that subsequent tests revealed an issue with an existing stent in the senior’s heart vessel. The treatment for it is not yet available in Korea and the Chairman’s body is unable to withstand another surgery.
After returning from a pensive fishing trip with the Chairman and Sung-hoon, Tae-moo tells Ha-ri of his plan to bring his grandfather to the States for medical treatment and asks her to go along with him. Ever the grounded one, Ha-ri gently turns him down; not because she’s concerned about what others might say about it (she wasn’t), but that Tae-moo should be fully present with the Chairman, and focus on his treatment.
Fast forward a year later, and changes are afoot in Food Product Development Team 1, with Mr Gye (Lim Ki-hong) being promoted to the head of his own team. Another area of promotion: Manager Yeo (Kim Hyun-soon) and Mr Gye’s relationship status, now as a married couple.
Sung-hoon takes a year off from work while his grandfather and Tae-moo are away, and his relationship with Young-seo – who’s hard at work running her own company – continues to be stronger than ever.
Ha-ri and Tae-moo maintain their long-distance relationship as the Chairman continues his treatment in the States. A dating scandal that randomly arises does little to shake their firm foundation – though it does make Ha-ri spring into action, deciding to use her vacation days to visit Tae-moo in New York City. Before she could even leave, Tae-moo surprises Ha-ri by returning to Korea ahead of schedule.
As the reunited couple stroll down a cherry blossom tree-lined path, Ha-ri wonders out loud as to whether the Chairman approves of their relationship. It is then that Tae-moo presents a white box with a diamond ring, saying that he’s been ordered “not to come back home” until Ha-ri accepts it. Under the gently-falling petals, Tae-moo finally proposes to Ha-ri; and with her ringed hand in his, they both stride confidently towards a new season together.
- Ha-ri’s gentle, grounded approach with Tae-moo – both in assuring him of his parents’ love, and in reasoning about her going to the States together with him
- The sincere heart-to-heart that Tae-moo had with Ha-ri’s father, and the respect he showed the older man as he asked for his approval
- Seeing how Young-seo and Sung-hoon each have a place in Ha-ri and Tae-moo’s family settings, and how they’re accepted in their respective ways; along with Sung-hoon finally verbally acknowledging the Chairman as his grandfather
- Young-seo and Ha-ri each standing up for themselves before men of (considerable) power: Young-seo’ father, and Chairman Kang respectively. Truly admirable and refreshing as always to see such portrayals of strong, independent women
What (And Who) We’ll Miss
- Bestie goals, a.k.a. Ha-ri and Young-seo, who always have each other’s backs no matter what
- The reluctant bromancing between Tae-moo and Sung-hoon, especially after episode 11’s hilariously awkward hospital room scene
- The chemistry between the well-matched main leads, one of the most natural seen in a K-drama lead ensemble
- Drama king Chairman Kang; despite his traditional mindset, he truly breaks the stereotype of a typical K-drama chaebol (conglomerate) head with his 4D personality and occasional soft-heartedness – not to mention him being a fervent follower of his favourite daily drama series, dressed down in his comfy pyjama pants
‘A Business Proposal’ is available on Netflix globally