Kim Byung-Doo est loin d'être un gangster ordinaire. Aussi dangereux qu'ambitieux, il est vraiment prêt à tout pour gravir les échelons de son organisation criminelle. Il se voit alors offrir une occasion inespérée mais extrêmement délicate : tuer un procureur devenu gânant. Mais toute promotion a un prix...
PlotHangul: 김병두), a small-time gangster in his late 20s. Unable to acquire the money necessary to save his family from eviction, Byung-Doo subverts his boss, Sang-chul (Hangul: 상철), and takes a job directly from President Hwang (Hangul: 황 회장), Sang-chul's boss, to eliminate the public attorney Park who has been bothersome to President Hwang. On this job's completion, Byung-Doo receives the money he was hoping for in addition to President Hwang's respect and a spot at his side. Byung-Doo and President Hwang swear never to speak of the hit to anyone so that they, nor the organization, will not be implicated.
While these events unfold, Byung-doo is reunited with his high school friend, Min-ho (Hangul: 민호), who has become a movie director. Min-ho's current project is a gangster film, although prospective scripts are continuously shot down by his higher-ups for being too fake. In an attempt to improve the film's authenticity, Min-ho sets out to interview Byung-doo who he sees as "a real gangster". Meanwhile, Min-ho manages to reunite Byung-doo with his high school love interest, Hyun-joo (Hangul: 현주). Byung-doo finds that he still has an interest in her and attempts to rekindle their relationship.
Sang-chul becomes aware of the attorney Park murder and feels threatened by Byung-doo's subversion of his authority and lack of consideration for the organization. He sets up a hit to take out Byung-doo, but Byung-doo learns of this before it occurs and stabs Sang-chul to death, guaranteeing his safety in the short term.
These murders don't leave Byung-doo without heavy emotional baggage, however. When Byung-doo's gangster tendencies frighten Hyun-joo away, Min-ho attempts to console Byung-doo who reveals to Min-ho his darkest secrets, including the hits on both Attorney Park and his former boss, Sang-chul.
Missing Hyun-joo deeply, Byung-doo tries to hide his gangster tendencies to revive their relationship. However, despite his words to Hyun-joo otherwise, Byung-doo is unable to truly escape the gangster occupation. In fact, as his rank within the gang escalates, his actions become more violent and cruel, juxtaposing his ever growing affection for Hyun-joo.
Soon Byung-doo discovers that Min-ho's gangster film reenacts many of the events from Byung-doo's past, including the hit on Attorney Park. Realizing the dangers of the organization being implicated, Byung-doo confronts Min-ho and threatens him never to tell anyone, choosing to spare his life despite pleas from his underlings that he do otherwise. These underlings later decide to take matters into their own hands and threaten Min-ho more seriously than Byung-doo was willing to do, but still sparing his life. It is then that Min-ho, deeply disturbed, goes to the police and informs them of the potential threats on his life. The police attempt to arrest Byung-doo but fail. It is then that Byung-doo believes that the proper solution is to eliminate Min-ho once and for all. As Min-ho (and his film) have become quite popular, it will not be an easy job - Byung-doo intends to perform the hit and fly out of the country, escaping the consequences of his actions.
Byung-doo moves to assassinate Min-ho at an after-party for his film. Min-ho manages to escape outside where he is captured by Byung-doo's underlings who are supposed to take Min-ho to a planned location for Byung-doo to meet them at. Upon arrival, Byung-doo is attacked by unknown thugs. Despite being outnumbered, Byung-doo manages to stumble away from his attackers, heavily wounded. He appears to be saved as his underlings arrive on the scene, however, they betray Byung-doo and kill him. Notably, Jong-soo (Hangul: 종수), Byung-doo's former right-hand man and his lone accomplice in the President Hwang murder, is present and appears to be leading the betrayal.
The scene shifts to a meeting with President Hwang and Min-ho, who appears to be alive and well despite being captured by Byung-doo's men. President Hwang discusses potential movie ideas with Min-ho, saying he can draw inspiration from the stories of his past, though they shouldn't be too close to the truth for as he says, "a fiction should remain a fiction", referencing Min-ho's first movie and its connection to Byung-doo's untimely fate. Soon Jong-soo joins the meeting, taking Byung-doo's position at President Hwang's side, showcasing his subversion much in the same way that Byung-doo subverted his own boss, Sang-chul.
The final scene is a repetition from earlier in the film, where Byung-doo visits Min-ho on his movie set to give him advice. Byung-doo encourages Min-ho with the friendly words, "Make something with a real gangster spirit," reinforcing the strength of the friendship and gangster themes running throughout the film.