How odd. That is how I describe this addiction to Misaeng. I finally caved after hearing such raving reviews about how good it is. I even watched 6 episodes before pulling myself away long enough to write this review. What is weird, is that even though the drama hits none of my favorite drama tropes, it grabs me in another way. What had put me off from watching it earlier was the theme of the drama, office-life, which of course did not spark any interest and to be honest, sounded really boring. I was much more used to the regular drama fare, the dramatic story lines, the angsty chaebols, the birth secrets, the whirlwind romances or longing first loves. However, Misaeng is one of the most realistic and truest pieces I’ve ever watched. It portrays regular, ordinary life, but delivers such powerful messages at the same time. It really shows character growth and the power of human relationships.
Misaeng is a story that follows Geu Rae, a young man who discovers what it really means to live life. Previously, he had tried becoming a professional baduk (Go!) player, which requires a brilliant mind and intensive problem solving. However, failing to make it into the big leagues, he is dropped into the office-life as a nakasan intern (parachute or a higher up pulling the strings). After suffering bullying, being looked down left and right, he manages to pull himself up and adapt to his new environment. Not only does he survive his internship, but he manages to also get hired as an employee on his own merit and have his new manager in his corner even though his qualifications are only up to a GED.
Another huge reason that I am watching this drama is because of Im Si Wan and Lee Sung Min’s brilliant acting. Im Si Wan of ZE:A comes from idol stock which of course made me wary. However, I am really touched by his performance in this drama. He portrays his character with a certain type of delicateness and naiveness that is so endearing to watch. He seems so fragile as an underdog that you just want to hug him and protect him from the chaos of office politics. However, his perseverance more than makes up for his lack of qualifications. He is not stupid, he’s just learning the ropes of life later than everyone else. Lee Sung Min as Geu Rae’s boss is also fantastic to watch. The boss acts like a second father to Geu Rae and it’s as if his praise is lifeblood to Geu Rae. His boss protects his team fiercely and teaches Geu Rae about the office and life.
I also enjoy that the drama places such emphasis on the inner workings of office life that one usually just overlooks because they think it’s boring. The drama addresses the issue of the glass ceiling for female workers. It comments on the bullying and looking down upon women even though the women handle so much more than can be seen on the surface. For example, women in the workforce must balance children, pregnancies, housework, and marriage while still trying to ascend the work ladder. The drama also comments a lot on hierarchy and office politics. How sometimes, one’s pride must be bent so many different ways just to achieve a simple deal.
Anyways, what I thought was going to be simply a filler between Healer and Pinocchio (two amazing dramas I am in love with), has my full attention to the point where I am passing the newly aired episodes of the other two to watch Misaeng. It completes my life right now!