(남자 이야기), aka Story of a Man
, is a Korean Series
(20 episodes) about corporate intrigue, murder, and revenge.
Kim Shin (Park Yong-ha) is a rich young playboy, the younger son of a family that operates a dumpling factory. He's content to mark time with his gorgeous girlfriend Seo Kyung-ah (Park Shi-yeon), until tragedy strikes in the form of a television news report accusing his family of putting unsafe ingredients in their dumplings. The charges are false, but the family business goes into bankruptcy anyway. His responsible, hardworking older brother, Kim Wook, is ruined, and kills himself
. Kim Wook's widow and daughters are driven to a life of poverty, pursued by loan sharks looking to get back money that Kim Wook borrowed to try and keep the business afloat.
Kim Shin tries to save his sister-in-law and nieces but a bad decision (assuming the loan shark debts himself) and a rash act (attempting to hijack the television studio that ruined his family in order to tell his family's side of the story) land him in prison for attempted murder. There he finds out that the villain of the story is Chae Do-woo, only son of construction magnate Chae Dong Soo. Do-woo is building his own financial empire by underhandedly ruining other companies (like the Kim family dumpling business) and buying them on the cheap. When Kim Shin is paroled from prison, he emerges determined to wreak his revenge on Chae Dong Soo and Chae's family business, Chae Dong Construction, which Shin (mistakenly) thinks was behind the whole plot.
Meanwhile, Seo Kyung-ah has become a courtesan in order to pay off Shin's family's debt.
Also, after Do-woo orders the murder of Mr. Do, his father's right-hand man, Mr. Do's estranged son Do Jae-myung (Phillip Lee) vows revenge and joins Kim Shin's plot.
This show provides examples of:
- Anachronic Order: The first episode opens with Kim Shin attacking the news studio, and skips back and forth in time from there as we learn how things came to this.
- And the Adventure Continues: In the final scene Shin anticipates that he and Do-woo will battle again.
- Astro Turf: Another of Do-woo's tactics is to pay people to spread nasty Internet gossip about companies he's looking to ruin.
- Best Served Cold: Kim Shin's mob boss patron advises him that there are better ways to get revenge on someone than simply killing them. Later Kim Shin makes the same point to Do Jae-myung.
- But for Me, It Was Tuesday: When Do-woo and Shin meet again after Shin gets out of prison, Do-woo doesn't even remember him.
- Call Back: The douchebag TV reporter from Episode 1 pops up again in Episode 19, still a douchebag.
- The Casanova: Jae Myung.
- Completely Different Title: This drama was marketed in English-language media as The Slingshot but the actual Korean title translates to "Story of a Man" or "A Man's Story" (and many websites refer to it by that title).
- The Con: Kim Shin and his fellow conspirators impersonate Chinese business men to trick Chae Dong Construction into a bogus deal that will wreck their company.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Hoo boy. Do-woo doesn't even care about the Kim family dumpling business; he ruined them (and many other companies) in order to weaken and take over Byukjaewon, a large retail company that bought dumplings wholesale from the Kim family.
- Danger Takes a Backseat
- Dead Person Conversation
- Defector from Decadence: Chae Eun-soo. See Rebellious Princess below.
- Dirty Cop: The Myungdoshi police chief is in Do-woo's pocket, going so far as to cover up a murder.
- The Dragon: Kang (usually called "K"), Do-woo's creepy, intimidating henchman, who is completely devoted to Do-woo.
- Driven to Suicide: Kim Wook. Kang.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Dong Soo after he hears the news about Eun Soo.
- Enfant Terrible: See Missing Mom below.
- The Faceless: The shadowy group of investors who conspire to take over Chae Dong Construction towards the end of the series are literally a shadowy group. For some reason they like to have meetings in the dark.
- Had to Come to Prison to Be a Crook: Hijacking the TV studio in a desperate effort to save his family gets Shin sent to jail—where he meets a mob boss and becomes part of his gang.
- Hidden Depths: When Do-woo isn't ruining lives, bankrupting companies or having people murdered, he's a pianist in a jazz band.
- High-Class Call Girl: Kyung-ah.
- Hitler Cam
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Kyung-ah. At least at first. She later undergoes a gradual Face Heel Turn and throws in her lot with Do-woo.
- Ironic Echo: In the final episode, of the Kneel Before Zod demand.
- Karaoke Box
- Kneel Before Zod: Do-woo demands that Shin kneel before him if Shin wants Do-woo to buy Shin out of Shin's failed Chae Dong takeover. Shin complies—but later in the series, Do-woo makes the same demand, and Shin refuses.
- The Lancer: Do Jae-myung.
- Left Hanging: Who won the mayoral election? Will Kyung-ah get her husband's city built? Where are those secret bribe account books? Will Do-woo ever succeed in getting out of the asylum, and will the renewed battle that Shin anticipates ever happen?
- Libation for the Dead: Done sarcastically by the loan sharks at Kim Wook's funeral, and then in earnest by Shin after he's released from prison and visits his brother's grave.
- Loan Shark
- Magical Defibrillator: Eun-soo gets revived by one.
- Man of Wealth and Taste: Do-woo sure can wear a suit.
- Missing Mom: Dong Soo knows that his son is a monster because of this. When his wife (Do-woo's mom) was dying of cancer, the boy gave his mother an overdose of painkillers. It might have been a Mercy Kill, or it might have been an accident, except for when Chae Dong Soo yanked the boy away from his mother in a panic—and saw his son smiling.
- Morality Pet: Do-woo's sister, the gentle Chae Eun-soo, who appears to be the only person Do-woo has any feeling for.
- Professional Butt-Kisser: Manager Oh has no problem transferring his loyalty from Dong Soo to Do-woo after the son overthrows the father.
- The Rainman: Shin winds up making friends in prison with an odd young man named Kyung-tae, who happens to have a supernatural skill for picking stocks and giving financial advice, and got sent to prison for deliberately spreading false information. However, Kyung-tae has a series of Tourette-style tics, compulsively wears headphones all the time, and has difficulty communicating verbally unless he pushes a "button" (that is, touches something with his index finger). He helps Shin figure out Do-woo's scheme and joins Shin's plot to take down Chae Dong Construction.
- Rebellious Princess: Sickened by all the terrible things her father and brother have done, and also none too happy about her father's plans to basically sell her off in an Arranged Marriage, Chae Eun-soo joins Kim Shin's conspiracy and helps to wreck her own family's business.
- The Shrink: Chae Dong Soo knows that his son is a monster and is trying to get him committed.
- The Sociopath: Chae Do-woo seems like a pretty textbook case, right down to having to fake emotions, torturing animals in his youth, and oh yeah, murdering people. In episode 13 The Shrink makes this exact diagnosis.
- Split Screen and Split-Screen Phone Call
- Staggered Zoom: When Do-woo visits Shin in prison and tells Shin his name.
- Taking the Bullet: Eun Soo.
- Villainous Breakdown: Do-woo comes unglued in later episodes.
- Wedding Day: A rather grim one.
- Wrong Name Outburst: A very unsettling example. As Do-woo describes his enormous construction project to Kyung-ah (he will be building a luxury city/resort modeled after Monaco), he gets steadily more passionate and excited, until he calls Kyung-ah, his girlfriend, by his sister's name (Eun-soo).