‘Uncle Samsik’ Episodes 1–5 Recap Summary: Are Uncle Samsik and Kim San friends?


Disney+’s new K-drama Uncle Samsik is unique in many ways. Most importantly, it’s Song Kang-Ho’s debut series. The historical drama is set between the late 40s and the 60s and tells the story of a man named Park Doo-Chill, who only one goal: three meals a day for everyone. The 16-part series debuted its first five episodes on May 15, 2024. The first five episodes are focused on Uncle Samsik bringing together his team for his big dream. Specifically, he indoctrinates Kim San into his schemes to take over the country and make it prosperous. The historical drama is set in a tumultuous time that we, as an international audience, haven’t often seen in the K-drama sphere. Though occasionally a bit confusing, specifically because of its massive roster of characters, the show is quite fast-paced and intriguing thanks to its glamorous cast. With that said, let’s dive into everything that occurs in the first five episodes of the series.

Spoiler Alert

Do Uncle Samsik and Kim San Have the Same Dream? 

Uncle Samsik begins in the year 1960, when Kim San is taken in to be interrogated about the man himself, Uncle Samsik. The flashbacks begin in November 1959, when Koreans are stealing oil from American soldiers at their storage facility. It’s President Rhee’s tenure, and the elections are just around the corner. A couple of thugs, or rather desperate men who are trying to make ends meet, find Park Doo-Chill. Apparently, the guy is known to be like a genie who can get you anything you need, so many people go to him for help. The men tell Park Doo-Chill that their gang’s been caught and taken to the CIC. Will Doo-Chill be able to get them out? Doo-Chill’s condition is for the guys to call him “Uncle Samsik,” and their work will be done. He’s got contacts in all sorts of high places: the government, the military, the business elite, you name them. Samsik even offers the Dongdaemun province to the gang because it’s their dream spot, but only if they’re able to do some work for him. This is how an alliance is formed. 

On the other hand, Kim San works at the Reconstruction Bureau. He’s currently engaged to the daughter of the presidential candidate, Choo Intae. Kim San has returned from the US and hopes to bring economic reform to his own country, the same as our Uncle Samsik. However, his comprehensive economic policy for the next 5 years is completely ignored by the ministers. In the meantime, President Rhee has decided to step down from his candidacy, but the minister gets him to reconsider. 

In order to make his plan a reality, Uncle Samsik needs financial aid, so he’s made his way into the elite business club known as the Cheongwoo Federation. Uncle Samsik is planning an industrial complex for the prosperity of the nation; that’s what the businessmen are for. On the other hand, the American company that is willing to invest in the project wants to monitor Korean government funds and wants a guarantee for the use of their port to take on the project. They don’t trust the government, and the plan will fall through if their demands are not met. 

On the other hand, a close friend of Samsik is a Liberal Party Assemblyman named Kang Seongmin. Samsik got a man named Yoon Pal-Bong to kill Assemblyman Ahn Yo-Seop’s son in Busan a few years ago. Now, Seongmin wants Pal-Bong dead because he could kill him at any given moment. However, what Pal-Bong wants is to become an assemblyman, and Samsik believes that if he can just have that, he’ll leave Seongmin alone. To get the job done, Samik entrusts the two gang members and their entire gang to take down Pal-Bong’s gang at Choo Intae’s speech. Dongdaemun is currently Pal-Bong’s territory, so if they defeat them, they automatically have it for themselves. Though they manage to defeat all the guys in Pal-Bong’s gang, Pal-Bong is the first to escape the commotion. Ultimately, because of the situation, Choo Intae is taken out of the scene, and San ends up giving a speech instead. To Samsik’s astonishment, he uses the same pizza analogy as he uses himself, leaving Samsik impressed by San. San talks about co-prosperity in Korea, leaving Samsik reeling with joy. He’s found his scapegoat. 

How Does Uncle Samsik Get Kim San On Board? 

Despite his achievement with the speech, San learns that Kang Seongmin does not care for his economic policy, and with the position that he’s currently in, there is no way he can make it a reality. So, he decides to leave the Reconstruction Bureau. When he’s at his lowest, Samsik shows up and tells him that he can help him realize his dream because they both share it. San’s very apprehensive at first. Not only is Samsik a strange man who has people follow him around and give his family food, he’s come out of nowhere and is suddenly everywhere. Samsik doesn’t want San associated with Intae’s Innovation Party because he wants to bring him to the Democratic Party. In the meantime, Choo’s daughter Yeojin decides they can postpone the wedding a bit, but she asks San to stay out of politics. San respects Choo Intae very much and sees him as a father figure. On the other hand, to save Pal-Bong’s life, Samsik sends him to the Innovation Party because it’s the safest place for him. He tells Pal-Bong to spy on Intae for Seongmin because Seongmin would never kill someone who is useful to him. 

However, Seongmin wants Pal-Bong dead still, and he asks Samsik to bring Cha Taemin, leader of the Sineui Alliance, in to do the job. Kang and Cha worked together when they were high school kids and killed Kang’s father. They started the alliance to fight injustice through violence. It seems Kang basically used Cha to do all of his dirty work. Kang had a terrible relationship with his father and Assemblyman Ahn. When Kang was young, he had tried to kill his father with a knife, but Ahn had stopped him. I suppose his animosity was personal, which is why he got rid of the guy’s elder son in order to take his place in the political world. Now, in order to work on the industrial complex, Samsik decides he needs to pay off all the assemblymen and military leaders who can help in putting forth the project. It is Samsik’s plan; however, at the interrogation, San says he doesn’t know who came up with the idea or how Samsik was involved. 

In 1959, the Reconstruction Bureau was shut down, as were all non-essential offices for the elections. This is when San has to reach out to Samsik and see what he has planned for him. To win over San, Samsik sets up two of San’s close friends from the Albright Scholarship days. One of them, Kwangmin, gets to join the Cheongwoo Federation. Samsik gains military guy Hanmin’s trust by telling him that together, they’ll weed out the corrupt officers of the military, whom he so hates. 

In a flashback, we see that Samsik killed a man at the age of 16 in order to have food on his plate. In ‘59, Samsik starts a business selling expired American goods on the black market in order to make the bribe he’s going to pay off the corrupt guys with. While Samsik is working hard to impress San, San finds himself lost and confused. On a drunken night, he tells his father that he wishes the old man had died in the war instead of San’s older brother because he can’t bear to see his niece and sister-in-law suffer. Ultimately, though, San decides to team up with Samsik, hearing all the praise from his close friends and having the idea that he’s going to change Korea. At the end of episode 3, there’s a massive fire in the Innovation Party office, where Yeojin and San are present, too. San watches her father, Choo Intae, drive away to safety while his daughter lays on the ground there. I suppose, in a way, San loses some respect for Intae here. 

How Does Samsik Plan on Using San? 

Samsik then gets San to head the Democratic Party’s Economic Policy Committee. He tells the guy to break up with Yeojin or at least hide the truth for the time being, but San refuses. He doesn’t even hide the fact that he respects Intae of the Innovation Party. However, Samsik gets some people to spread the news of San’s appointment at the Democratic Party to the Innovation Party, and so Yeojin and he are pretty much done. According to Yeojin, San’s plan for the country is hypocrisy disguised as a dream. In the meantime, Samsik goes to Cha Taemin, as instructed by Seongmin, to kill Pal-Bong. Taemin is traumatized by all the killing he’s done for Kang before and doesn’t want to do it, but Samsik convinces him that Pal-Bong is a man who deserves to die. At the same time, a picture of Kang and Cha from their childhood was found and released by the press. Kang’s association with the Sinieu Alliance is then questioned. 

When San takes Yeojin aside to talk about his joining the Democratic Party, there’s a mob at the rally. Samsik saves San because he knows it’s there for Taemin to kill Pal-Bong. However, Pal-Bong manages to escape with Choo Intae. Taemin and his associate take their shot at Pal-Bong, but when Choo Intae sees what’s happened, he comes out of hiding and gets shot, too. Pal-Bong dies on the spot, but Intae is in critical condition. Though Choo Intae wasn’t the target, it obviously looks like he was the intended mark. This, of course, puts Kang on the spot because of the picture with Cha Taemin. 

Samsik had planned out Taemin’s escape to Osaka. One of the assemblymen gets Samsik to reveal Taemin’s location, though. However, Samsik knows how to keep his guys safe. Seeing the situation, the Federation is also not funding Seongmin. In the meantime, San investigates Kang Seongmin and his association with Cha Taemin. He realizes that Kang and Pal-Bong also knew each other, which means Kang Seongmin was probably the mastermind behind all of this. Finally, Choo Intae passes away, making room for San to clear his head and take on the job that Samsik has set aside for him. He’s finally ready to step into the war zone. Now, his fight is with Kang Seongmin. At the end of the five episodes, Jang Doosik, Samsik’s military pal, betrayed him at some point. We’ll have to wait and find out what he actually did.

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Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
When not tending to her fashion small business, Ruchika or Ru spends the rest of her time enjoying some cinema and TV all by herself. She's got a penchant for all things Korean and lives in drama world for the most part.

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