In 'Itaewon Class' episode 5, Park Sae-ro-yi (Park Seo-joon) trusts his gut instincts and ends up hiring Cho Yi-seo (Park Da-mi) and Jang Geun-soo (Kim Dong-hee) to work in his restaurant Danbam as the manager and a part-timer, respectively. He does know about Geun-soo being the brother of the man -- Jang Geun-won (Ahn Bo-hyun) -- who killed his father. Sae-ro-yi, however, seems to understand that one cannot choose who their siblings or parents are. Sae-ro-yi is running towards success, but not at the cause of going against his beliefs and his decisions are not colored by naivete but with faith.
This is especially evident when Yi-seo, Geun-soo and Choi Seung-Kwon (Ryoo Kyung-Soo) learn the truth about their cook Ma Hyun-yi (Lee Joo-Young). The three end up at a club after Yi-seo and Geun-soo realize that Seung-kwon has never gone clubbing in his life. Yi-seo even teaches him how to approach a girl on the dance floor and the entire chain of events is equal parts hilarious and illuminating.
Illuminating because you understand the lifestyle of youngsters in South Korea and how they perceive relationships. It is at this club that the three meet Hyun-hi, who they think is a man.
However, Hyun-yi is dressed as a woman and when the three confront Hyun-yi they learn that the cook is a male to female trans person. She explains to them that she is saving up for the surgery and this makes the three of them visibly uncomfortable. In addition, when customers begin to complain about the food the next day, Yi-seo cannot take it any further and brings it to Sae-ro-yi's attention.
She explains that Hyun-hi is not a good cook and for a pub to be operational and successful, they cannot depend on ambiance and service only, but serve food that is beyond reproach. She also explains that if word got out that Hyun-hi is a trans person, then that might make customers uncomfortable leading to an issue for Danbam.
He is asked to make a decision and not base it on his emotional attachment for his employees but logically. At every step of the way since his high school, Sae-ro-yi is asked to make a choice between success and his beliefs and he has always chosen the latter. Be it when he was rusticated from his school, or when he was sent to prison for assault or most recently when he chose to do the right thing and shut his pub for two months because that was the law.
This time too, Sae-ro-yi stands up for what is right. He asks Hyun-hi if she liked working for Danbam and goes on to explain that the pub's only problem at this point was the food. It is not upto mark and this has to change. He also gives her the month's pay and while Hyun-hi gets ready to be fired, she is instead told that the pay has been doubled. This surprises the others at Danbam because they did not expect Sae-ro-yi to continue employing Hyun-hi.
Sae-ro-yi also tells Hyun-hi that she has to work twice as hard if she wants to be of any help to him and his restaurant. He tells the others at the table that he is a ex convict who has employed two young kids at his restaurant and a former gangster. The two kids were the reason why he had to even shut his pub for a couple of months, and the only person who has ever worked hard and supported him was Hyun-hi. So to fire her would be unfair and that is something that Sae-ro-yi doesn't stand for.
Instead, he tells the other employees that if anyone has a problem with Hyun-hi just because she is a trans person, and not because of how good or not her work is, should tell him right away. And he will fire the person who has a problem and not the other way round. This leaves Yi-seo stunned and she has nothing to do but hope for the best. Hope that Hyun-hi will get better and the quality of food will improve.
This is potentially another lose end that Soo-ah or the Jang Corporation owned by Geun-soo's father can use to stop Sae-ro-yi's growth. However, Sae-ro-yi's aim has never been just about becoming successful and facing Jang Dae-hee (Yoo Jae-myung), but to keep his pride and his belief intact.
'Itaewon Class' episodes can be streamed on Friday and Saturday on Netflix.