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Series / Protect the Boss

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Clockwise from top-left: Cha Ji Heon, No Eun Seol, Seo Na Yoon, Cha Moo Won

What happens when a former juvenile delinquent (played by Choi Kang Hee) lands a secretarial position for an immature chaebol heir (Ji Sung)? What if both he and his cousin (Hero Jaejoong) fall for her? Add a former girlfriend (Wang Ji Hye) into the mix, and what's next? Hilarity Ensues, of course!

Protect the Boss (보스를 지켜라) is a 2011 Romantic Comedy which aired in South Korea, also known as The Boss Has Changed and The Last Secretary. After being repeatedly impeded by her Backstory, No Eun Seol becomes the secretary for agoraphobic Cha Ji Heon. His father, Chairman Cha of DN Group, assigns Eun Seol with the task of grooming Ji Heon into his successor. As she attempts to cure him, Ji Heon comes to the conclusion that he can't live without her. In a romantic sense, as well.

To complicate matters, Cha Moo Won, Ji Heon's more handsome and capable cousin, falls for Eun Seol as well. Too bad Moo Won's mother, Shin Sook Hee, has other plans for her son—to take over the company. Preferably by marrying Seo Na Yoon, whose family would give Moo Won the backing he needs to become heir.


Oh, and Na Yoon is Ji Heon's ex, who just happens to want him back.

This series provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Eun Seol. Her best friend Myung Ran.
  • Abusive Parents: Played for Laughs. Chairman Cha, who's trying to dial it down
  • Acting Unnatural:
    • The Cha cousins, acting friendly for the press, to cover up that they're mad at each other.
    • Also Chairman Cha and Shin Sook Hee, doing community service together. "Oh, hello, Sister-in-law." "Yes, Brother-in-law?"
  • Always Someone Better: Cha Moo Won. In fact, before the story begins, Ji Heon is mostly an Unknown Rival to Moo Won. When Chairman Cha announces Ji Heon as his successor, everyone, including Ji Heon, is surprised.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Ji Heon's previous secretary Kim, who constantly complains that he's Ivy League-educated
  • Broken Pedestal
  • Brutal Honesty:
  • Bullying a Dragon: When Na Yoon confronts Eun Seol about her not meeting with Ji Heon, she proceeds to slap her when Eun Seol refuses to answer and Eun easily grabs her hand. However, Na Yoon states she's been taking self-defense classes and twists Eun's arm behind her back. This being Eun Seol here, she easily turns around and bend Na Yoon's arm backwards.
    • Ji Heon rants about the fact that Eun Seol is disheveled all the time, then admits he must be crazy for liking her.
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    • Moo Won is brutally honest about his feelings, even when he knows he'll get hurt.
    • Eun Seol tells it like it is.
    • Na Yoon too is clear about who she wants.
  • By "No", I Mean "Yes": Ji Heon tells Eun Seol to go away, then immediately starts looking for her.
  • Call-Back:
    • Moo Won wears makeup
    • "Rock!"
  • The Cameo: Ahn Nae Sang as Eun Seol's lecherous boss
  • Celebrity Crush: Myung Ran calls Won Bin and Hyun Bin her "boyfriends."
  • The Chew Toy/The Comically Serious: Na Yoon, who practically gets beaten up or chewed up every time she's on screen to hilarious results. She even takes self-defense classes to break this fate. It doesn't help.
    Na Yoon: (whining) Why do you do this to me?
  • Chew-Out Fake-Out: Chairman Cha scolds his nephew and son for fighting, then asks who won.
  • Cock Fight: Between Moo Won and Ji Heon
  • Companion Cube: Ji Heon occasionally talks to the full-size poster of Eun Seol.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: What is Grandma's response to the Cha cousins fighting in public? Dinner together as a family once a month. Grandma! Ok, twice a month. Mom! Ok, weekly.
  • Cool Old Lady: Grandma.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Ji Heon tries to beat up a pervert who touched Eun Seol on the bus, but Eun Seol ends up beating up the perv instead.
    • Eun Seol and Myung Ran in Episode 15, taking out two guards in about 5 seconds, in front of Moo Won's and Na Yoon's mothers.
  • Death by Origin Story:
    • Chairman Cha's older brother (Moo Won's father), whose death results in the rivalry between Chairman Cha and Shin Sook Hee
    • Ji Heon's older brother, Ji Seok, whose death may have caused Ji Heon's phobia
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Moo Won
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male
  • Drowning My Sorrows
  • Dysfunctional Family: The Chas
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: The ubiquitous Namsan Tower in the first episode. Also, the Tower shows up in the background of the video Ji Heon made for Eun Seol.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The series starts out with Myung Ran and Eun Seol in high school, kicking ass. Unfortunately, once she gets out of school, this backstory prevents Eun Seol from getting a decent job.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: As Ji Heon get serious, his bangs go from flipped up to pushed down. For Moo Won, it's the opposite; the covered forehead gets exposed as he becomes more sociable and less Married to the Job.
  • Family Business: DN Group
  • Friendless Background: Eun Seol, when she's first hired, because the other secretaries think she's a 'parachute,' i.e. someone who uses someone else to climb the social ladder.
  • Friendly Enemy/Vitriolic Best Buds: Sook Hee and Na Yeon's mom. Though they constantly plot together, Na Yeon's mom acts only in Na Yeon's favor; she doesn't care if Na Yeon marries Moo Won, just that Na Yeon marries the Cha cousin she wants. Sook Hee knows that Na Yeon's mom isn't completely on her side.
    • Na Yeon's mom also spend most of her time telling Sook Hee how old she looks.
    • They later realize that they're each other's best friends.
  • Full-Name Basis: A bit of Lost in Translation. (The Korean language tends to eliminate pronouns.) However, while others call Eun Seol 'Secretary No' or 'Miss Eun Seol', Ji Heon always calls 'No Eun Seol' by her full name.
  • Generation Xerox: The Cha cousins' relationship seem to be the same love/hate as their parents'.
  • Gratuitous English: Ji Heon lapses into Surprisingly Good English when Eun Seol tells him that he needs to learn foreign languages. She then chides his pronunciation.
  • Gratuitous Ninja: Ji Heon's Grandma.
    Chairman Cha: Mom, are you ninja?
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack
  • Hobos: Eun Seol's father is a slight aversion. He ran away to avoid debts, but he now lives in the mountains, teaching martial arts.
  • I Am Not My Father: Moo Won
  • I Have No Son!: Sook Hee says "I can't remember having a son like you" to Moo Won.
    • It backfires when Moo Won continues "Is that so, President Shin?" without breaking a sweat. "Can you tell my mother I'm disappointed in her, President Shin?"
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Na Yoon, who realizes too late that getting into a Love Triangle with one's two best friends can end up badly
  • Insult Backfire:
    • Moo Won calls Ji Heon "childish" for kicking him in the back. Ji Heon agrees—"Yes, I, who's childish, can't let this go."—and kicks Moo Won again.
    • As Sook Hee is playing whack-a-mole, she refers to Chairman Cha as 'a sly fox' and implies that she will treat him just as she's doing the moles. Her mole, as in the person who's her spy, is quick to note that she's whacking moles, not foxes.
  • Karaoke Box: A noraebang scene in Episode 12.
  • Keeping Secrets Sucks: Eun Seol hiding the fact that she's "dog-poop girl"
    • Eun Seol is also working with a corporate advocate secretly to get Chairman Cha to come clean about his secret slush funds.
  • Kicked Upstairs: Ji Heon
  • K-Pop: Hero Jaejoong is a singer from groups JYJ and DBSK.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: When Eun Seol asks Ji Heon how he's going to live without her, he tells her to just stay with him forever.
  • Love Triangle
    • Ji Heon —> Eun Seol <— Moo Won
    • Ji Heon <— Na Yoon <— Moo Won
  • The Makeover/Makeover Montage: Chairman Cha does one for Eun Seol.
  • Mama Bear: Sook Hee
  • Manchild: Ji Heon
    • As Ji Heon is the only one who brings out immaturity in Moo Won, Moo Won becomes more childish around Ji Heon.
  • Manly Tears: Moo Won when Na Yoon rejects him
    • Chairman Cha when he finds out about Ji Heon's psychological condition
  • Meet Cute: Eun Seol/Ji Heon. Well, getting beat up on the first meeting is not so much 'cute' as unforgettable.
  • Missing Mom
  • The Mole: Director Park
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: As part of therapy, Ji Heon's psychiatrist has Ji Heon picturing himself on stage with other phobics, discussing their phobias. Afterwards, Ji Heon berates the psychiatrist, because he's developed more phobias because of the treatment.
  • The Nicknamer: Eun Seol calls Moo Won "Moo Won God" and Na Yoon "Ice Cream Girl."
  • Oblivious to Hints: Chairman Cha. Leading every character to tell him how oblivious he is.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted. Both Chairman Cha and Eun Seol's dad have the same first name, Bong Man.
  • Open Secret: Though the audience is not clear on the circumstances surrounding the death of Chairman Cha's brother and Ji Heon's brother, all the characters (but Eun Seol) know. Yet the characters go out of their way to avoid talking about the deaths.
  • Papa Wolf: Chairman Cha is a former boxer, who constantly beats up his son, but goes out of his way to beat up the gangsters who mess with Ji Heon by himself.
  • Piggyback Cute: Inverted with Eun Seol carrying Ji Heon while he's drunk.
  • Posthumous Character:
    • Chairman Cha's older brother.
    • Ji Heon's older brother.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Ji Heon's wardrobe.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Eun Seol to Ji Heon
    Eun Seol: Have you tried running in high heels? After meeting you, I'm running here and there. My heels have no rest; they're limp and worn out. Do you think that it's just my feet? My head feels like it's going to shatter. ' Cha Ji Heon, this helpless person - what would he do if I quit? How will he survive? ' I feel like a worried mother with a bad child. I'm not married yet and you've made me a mother, you jerk. You say you like me? You said you want me forever by your side? What about me? Should I follow you forever? Do I have to act like a crazy bitch all my life? My heels are worn. So is my heart! You keep calling me 'superhero' and 'amazing.' I'm not!
  • The Rival: Moo Won to Ji Heon
    • Chairman Cha to his sister-in-law, Sook Hee (Moo Won's mother)
  • Secret Psychological Problem: Ji Heon tries to hide this from his father by pretending to be lazy instead of troubled.
  • Shout-Out: In Episode 12, Na Yoon's bad attempt at karaoke is "Don't Forget Me", the love theme from Iris, a 2009 SBS Korean Drama.
  • "Shut Up" Kiss
  • Single-Issue Psychology: Double subverted. Even though at the death of Ji Heon's brother appears to be the cause of Ji Heon's phobias, he also has other issues, like being second-best to Moo Won, constantly being beaten by his father, and being fearful of abandonment.
  • Sleep Cute:
    • When Eun Seol watches Na Yoon, Ji Heon, and Moo Woon all pass out drunk.
    • Bromance flares when Moo Won falls asleep on Ji Heon's shoulder, and Ji Heon rests his head on Moo Won as a gesture of affection.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The scene where Ji Heon confronts Moo Won about their (separate) feelings for Eun Seol is overshadowed by the cutesy soundtrack. The fact is, to the characters, this is a really serious moment where they're barring their hearts out. Ji Heon even tells Moo Won that this isn't funny. Of course, the scene then turns into a fight, and neither of the Cha cousins know how to throw a punch.
  • Squash Match: Every time Chairman Cha beats up Ji Heon.
  • Toilet Humor
  • Two Guys and a Girl: Used to be Ji Heon, Moo Won, and Na Yoon, before their complicated relationship dynamics
  • Unkempt Beauty: Eun Seol
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo
  • Uptown Girl: Ji Heon is a gender-inversion.
  • Wimp Fight: The Cha cousins.
    • The battle starts with Ji Heon kicking Moo Won in the back of the leg as Moo Won is walking away. What does Moo Won do? Walk up to Ji Heon and slap him across the face in slow-mo, while Ji Heon is daring him to retaliate! It later dissolves into hair-pulling and biting.
  • Woman Scorned: Na Yoon