A man cuts a striking figure as he strolls through the airport, catching the eyes of those around him. Kang Tae-moo (Ahn Hyo-seop) – the soon-to-be-inaugurated president of food manufacturing company GoFood – looks like he’d just stepped out of an anime, instead of a flight from the United States. Accompanying him is Cha Sung-hoon (Kim Min-gue), his (just as good looking) secretary. Despite Tae-moo’s initial glowing impression, he creates a slight misunderstanding due to his one-track mind, which Sung-hoon calmly mitigates.
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At GoFood’s R&D kitchen, food researcher and birthday girl Shin Ha-ri (Gugudan’s Kim Se-jeong) is immersed in developing a mackerel recipe, when she’s reminded to attend the new president’s inauguration. The company auditorium is abuzz with anticipation as the employees await his inaugural address, eventually giving way to confusion when Sung-hoon steps up to the podium in his boss’ place.
Tae-moo returns to the headquarters after confronting Mr. Park (Kim Won-shik), a GoFood director and the son of his grandfather’s close friend, about his corrupt deeds. He finds his grandfather, chairman Kang Da-koo (Lee Deok-hwa), waiting to berate him for his inauguration no-show. The older man lets on that he has an “important project” for his grandson: to go on a string of blind dates with “20 elite, single ladies in the business world”. Tae-moo repeatedly turns him down, to the point that the chairman begins to suspect something going on between him and Sung-hoon. Eventually, Tae-moo relents and agrees to go on the dates as a favour to his grandfather – but decides to marry the first lady he meets, to avoid going on the rest.
Ha-ri’s birthday celebration plans with her colleagues change in an instant when she receives a text from her crush, Min-woo (Song Won-seok), asking her to come to his restaurant. She heads over in giddy excitement, fantasising about “transferring from the friendship train to the boyfriend express”. However, her over-exuberance causes a mishap with a cake meant for Min-woo’s customers. A disappointed and grumpy Ha-ri returns to her parents’ fried chicken shop to help out, but later ends up in an altercation that leaves her $800 in debt.
The next day, Ha-ri has lunch with her good friend, Jin Young-seo (Seol In-a), whose father is hellbent on matching her up with fellow chaebol (conglomerate family) heirs. With Ha-ri’s help, Young-seo – who wants to meet her other half by fate – has managed to avoid her previous blind dates, thanks to their elaborate schemes. When a call comes through from Young-seo’s father about a newly arranged date, the Marine Group heiress pleads with her good friend to do yet another favour by posing as her. Ha-ri is adamant about not going through with it, until Young-seo dangles a carrot that’s impossible to refuse: money.
That evening, Ha-ri (as Young-seo) attempts to project her most obnoxious side to her dashing blind date, but falters momentarily when she realises that he is the Kang Tae-moo of GoFood, i.e. her boss. With money on her mind, she decides to press on, employing every possible trick in the book to turn him off: from baby-talking her luxury bag to introducing her “bosom buddies”, even portraying herself as a lusty serial dater. To Ha-ri’s bewilderment, Tae-moo is far from being fazed, even complying with her request for them to get a hotel room.
A random case of mistaken identity gives Ha-ri an excuse to escape from the situation at hand – and, as she hopes, a reason for Tae-moo to write her off. Unbeknownst to her, Tae-moo informs his grandfather that she’s the one he’s decided to marry. Ha-ri and Young-seo’s celebratory karaoke session gets cut short when the latter gets a call from her father with the news, to both the ladies’ shock.
The next morning, Ha-ri has a close call with Tae-moo at the company lift lobby. She does her level best to avoid his gaze, but drops her staff pass, which he picks up. Tae-moo recognises her as the competent employee he’d once singled out for having exceptional product proposals. As for Young-seo, she runs into Sung-hoon in a “meet cute” outside a convenience store, and falls in love at first sight.
Tae-moo requests to see Young-seo, who twists Ha-ri’s arm to have her go in her place once more. At their meet-up, Tae-moo insists on marrying “Young-seo”, but Ha-ri tells him that he shouldn’t be taking marriage so lightly and has no intention of marrying or dating him. Despite telling Tae-moo that she “hopes to never see [him] again”, Ha-ri embarrassingly ends up getting into his car a few moments later to avoid being spotted by a passing Min-woo.
After a drunken night out with Young-seo – who had stationed herself at a tent bar hoping to run into Sung-hoon again – Ha-ri heads to work the next day, and discovers that her colleague might be having a fling with Min-woo. She then ends up having a “fling” of her own when her slipper unceremoniously flies into the air after she trips, hitting Tae-moo in the face. A chase through the building ensues, with Tae-moo determined to give “the lady in the white lab coat” a piece of his mind. Upon recognising her name as that of the same competent employee, he compliments her for her good ideas that unfortunately were never approved.
Young-seo manages to run into her “meet cute” again – quite literally, as Sung-hoon’s car bumps into hers from behind. Unforunately, Tae-moo is also at the scene and finds out that she is the real Young-seo, much to his chagrin. Young-seo agrees to let Tae-moo meet up with Ha-ri, whom she brings on yet another shopping and makeover spree – not knowing she would have to come face-to-face with Tae-moo. Ha-ri apologises for wasting his time (and for calling him an archaeopteryx, a Jurassic-era bird), promising to be at his beck and call, an offer which he takes up.
With marriage plans falling through, Tae-moo is made to resume his rigorous blind date schedule of 10 dates in a day – even one in Japan. Unimpressed by the carbon copy women he’d met, Tae-moo rejects all of them, but his grandfather threatens to send him on a year’s worth of dates. In desperation, Tae-moo declares that there is someone else he intends to marry, which both surprises and appeases his grandfather.
Tae-moo meets with Ha-ri and asks her to enter into a contract relationship with him, pitching it as a “win-win” situation for them both. He would make it lucrative for her too, promising to pay double of what she received originally – just for meeting with his grandfather. Despite being tempted by the offer to pay off her debts, she holds her ground and turns him down. Undeterred, Tae-moo heads to her house/fried chicken shop later that evening with a contract he’d drafted up. In Ha-ri’s haste to prevent her younger brother Ha-min (VICTON’s Choi Byung-chan) from spotting them outside the shop, she pushes Tae-moo out of the way and he begins to fall backwards. Ha-ri reaches out and gets pulled down with him – and in classic K-drama fashion, they end up in a compromising position and an accidental kiss.
- The brilliant teamwork between Ha-ri and Young-seo in a well played-out “exorcism” scheme to deter a blind date, along with impeccable comic timing.
- The VR magic added to Ha-ri’s clothes makeover scenes, making it fresh and fun to watch.
- Young-seo encapsulating what it’s like to fall in love at first sight – complete with blooming flowers and petal explosions (fireworks?).
- Tae-moo turning up at Sung-hoon’s place to cook and clean as a way to “destress”. Their bromance appears understated at present, but likely one to watch out for.
- Tae-moo’s grandfather, who appears to slightly break the chaebol norm. His commentary on how rich people are portrayed in dramas is certainly quite meta – being one himself.
‘A Business Proposal’ airs every Monday and Tuesday on SBS at 10:00pm in South Korean, and is also available on Netflix