Sunday, June 14, 2015

Drama Review: Misaeng (Incomplete life)

 

Plot 

Since he was a child, the board game baduk has been everything to Jang Geu-rae. But when he fails at achieving his dream of becoming a professional baduk player, Geu-rae must leave his isolated existence and enter the real world armed with nothing but a high school equivalent exam on his resume. Through an acquaintance's recommendation, he gets hired as an intern at One International, a large trading company.

There, Geu-rae meets his boss, manager Oh Sang-shik, who's a workaholic and has a warm personality; fellow intern Ahn Young-yi, who attracts her colleagues' ire because of her impressive educational credentials and by being extremely competent at any task; and Jang Baek-gi, a geeky co-worker whose anxious nature masks his inner ambition. Geu-rae learns to navigate and adapt to corporate culture, with baduk as his guide. - Wikipedia


Misaeng OST: Han Hee Jang - 내 일 (Tomorrow)


Webtoon: Misaeng

Introduction to the main characters 


Im Si-wan as Jang Geu-Rae

Character: loner, clueless, smart, resilient 

Strength: brilliant since he learnt about strategies and problem-solving skills since young and he can put that into practice. 

Weaknesses: Clueless about office politics 

Background: He used to play baduk from 7 years old and was training to be a professional player. However, due to financial situations and family issue, he had to quit baduk. Now, he is a 26 years old man that does not have any skills or qualifications. He is naturally a social misfit in many people eyes. People were curious about how he lived his life like this for 26 years. Geu-Rae blamed himself for not making the extra efforts and promised to work with great quality and quantity. He is an underdog to root for as the story progress and we will gradually see his transformation. 
 

Lee Sung Min as Oh Sang Shik

Character: Stubborn, hardworking, dependable, warm, workaholic 

Strength: Good leader, charismatic and command respect

Weaknesses: drink and smoke too much

Background: He work hard through the proper way but was slow to climb up the cooperate ladder as compared to his other colleagues. A loving family man, but does not treat his family that well. He stick to his own principles and will fight for things that he think is right according to his perspective. Initially, he has doubts about Geu Rae as he dislike "connection" in workplace. However, he gradually changed his mind and mentor Geu Rae along the way. 
 

Kang Sora as Ahn Young Yi

Character: Competent, smart, independent 

Strength: Strong, resilient, patient, attractive

Weaknesses: Tough cookie, stubbornness 

Background: Young Yi father longed to have a son and was disappointed that Young Yi was born as a girl. As a young girl, Young-Yi proved to be a tough cookie. She always tries her best in everything that she does. There is a mysterious aura about her, since she does not talk about anything personal such as her family. 



Kang Ha Neul as Jung Baek Gi

Character: Arrogant, prideful, Ambitious 

Strength: Good qualification, gentleman 

Weaknesses: Arrogant

Background: He is goal oriented and place his self interest above everything. However, he will lend a helping hand to others if it does not hinder his success. He is a survivor in the office politics and  is considered as an outstanding intern in the company. He thought that he is at a higher league than Geu Rae and was jealous of him. However, he gradually  learn more about Geu Rae after working with him in a project and observe his way of working. In the end, he humbled himself and became closer with the other rookies too. 


Byul Yo Han as Han Seok Yool

Character: Slacker, talkative, obsessed with fabric since his family work at the site.

Strength: High adaptability, smooth talker, cheerful

Weaknesses: impatient

Background: His nickname is a wall dog. Which means that he is not serious about work and knows how to manipulate people and situations to his benefits. He is also good in digging information and uses everything to his advantage. During a presentation, he has stage fright and a flashback to his past enabled us to understand this person better and empathise his situations.  Just like the rest of the rookies, he has his own challenges in work too. 


Kim Dae-Myung as Kim Dong Shik

Character: Loyal, warm, dedicated to work

Strength: A good role model and senior to his hoobaes

Weaknesses: Bluntness 

Background: He is part of sales team 3 and is a great subordinate to Chief Oh and a good senior to Geu Rae. He had followed chief Oh for many years and he enjoyed working with him. 

Drama Queen thoughts 


Comradeship is one of the highlight of this drama. I love the bromance between the rookies too. They went through internship, work through tough times and build their comradeship over time. Their character development were evident as the story progress. This is the only drama that did not emphasize too much about the love line and that is unusual, since most of the Korean drama talks about love as the main topic. It is refreshing and interesting to see something different that they offered in this drama. Nonetheless,  the plot itself is enough to get me engaged in every single minute. Instead of complicated love relationship, we have comrades that support each other.

All of the actresses and actors work very well together and have great chemistry with each other. I like the character development and the screenwriters have successfully make us root for each character in the drama, not only the underdog Geu Rae. Among all the impressive cast, I like Lee Sung Min acting the most. This veteran actor is so good at conveying his emotions using body language and expressions in his eyes. His character as the super salary man mentor is charismatic. Im Shi Wan and Byul Yo Han were both making great impressions in their respective role too.


The storyline is quite depressing and featured the darker side of office politics and the survivor rules in the society. There are many things to learn from this drama. We see the different style of each salaryman and the daily challenges that they face. It is more practical and convincing to unveil the reality of life than some fluffy romance comedy in a office settings. The story illustrates the struggles of a regular salaryman, and the daily situations faced by the four rookies in their team. I am glad that the writers have the courage to offer something different and unique. 

We learnt about the sacrifices that the team leader have to make in order to protect his team, the discrimination towards women in a male dominance workplace, the disappointments in life, adapting to the harsh environment, the long working hour and the hard truth that they suffered so much is just for the sake of their family and the salary that bank into their accounts every month. Amidst the serious and dark tone of the drama, the writers injected some humour along the way and sometimes in unexpected situations too.


The introduction of baduk (Go game) is sometimes too profound for me to understand fully as I am unfamiliar with this game. Despite that, it is a good way to blend in Go game with the daily challenges that Geu Rae faced. It is interesting to analyse the characters and see the way they uses strategies and problem solving skills to solve those problems. I am impressed with the nice pacing of the drama, the camera angle, the sound effects and the suspense in between every exciting moments.

In conclusion, Misaeng portrayed a more realistic view about office politics and the story never have any dull moment. I have learnt that there are many roads in life and it is all about the matter of choice and how we want to cross the road that we choose. At the same time, bearing the consequences of our every action. Misaeng which means incomplete life has a deep meaning behind the title. After watching the drama, I agreed that we all live a incomplete life and it is how we choose to live our life and make the best out of every situation. I would highly recommend this Korean drama if you have not watch it.







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