Watching Misaeng after a long day at work perhaps is not the best timing. Especially when you just had a crappy day and your colleague or superior was being a pain, sitting through now 70 minutes of Geu-rae trying his best to do his work well, to source and prepare presentation materials all by himself, and to please his partner and ultimately his manager will probably feel like rubbing salt into the wound. Will it?
The show runs on contemplative mood and medium-to-slow pace but i was so engrossed in the first week (episode 1~2) i wasn’t even aware that the premiere was 90 minutes long. The second week felt longer although the episodes are ‘only’ extended by 10 minutes. Not so much on the third as i was amused by a myriad of expressions Geu-rae put on, but the fourth one was downright draggy.
Episode 3~4 focus on the presentation, which should be riveting since it’s gonna make or break our interns and Geu-rae picks less-than-ideal partner. I thought he would choose Young-yi since she seems a better and more familiar choice, together they could make it work, but he goes to flamboyant Han Seok-yul (Byun Yo-han) instead. He makes Geu-rae stews in silence as he refuses to chip in yet insists on having the last word on everything. Seok-yul’s also a year older; Geu-rae’s stupefied expression upon realizing he fails to pull rank on him was priceless.
By the time the presentation was on, my interest waned. I cheer for the characters, look forward to their development, and cross my fingers that they’d do well in their jobs but i don’t care about the jobs itself. Not into the formalities and details, business dealings and related lingo; corporate life never fascinates me. That’s why i was lost (in translation) for half the duration — why the business deal goes awry, what
the heck topics the interns are presenting. Still, we don’t need that female character sitting next to Manager Oh telling us how well and badly the hopefuls are performing. It’s pretty obvious that Seok-ho, Young-yi, and Baek-ki will make the cut.
Seok-yul too, initially. He’s so slick and full of confidence (a smooth talker at that) it’s easy to foresee him nailing the oral presentation. However, when he looks visibly sweaty and jittery — he forgets to bring “it” with him, his phone keeps ringing, and his voice falters when on stage — i was tense too instead of, yunno, elated to see him fall from grace. And when Geu-rae stands up and takes over… only to utter incoherent sentences and keep restating his words, i was mortified for him i felt like running for cover. That’s not the end yet as there’s a second round wherein they need to sell something their partner can’t say no to… can submissive Geu-rae be persuasive?
It’s no secret how it ends and who succeeds being a two-year contract employee at One International. The show continues to focus solely on Geu-rae that side characters feel superfluous. Not that i mind since his little moments with Manager Oh are particularly endearing, which also become the highlights of the drama thus far, but wouldn’t it be nice if other resourceful interns get more screentime?
Bleary-eyed, haggard-looking Manager Oh may not be the best boss, but he surely is a great — albeit reluctant — mentor to Geu-rae. He doesn’t support the world where people with connections come through the back door and jump the queue, honestly wants him to fail, and isn’t pleased to have him in his team, but is also very protective of “our kid”. He’d vaguely yet readily throw cryptic yet valuable hints Geu-rae’s way, pettily get even with Seok-yul for ‘wronging’ his kid (a lol scene), and still manage to learn a thing or two from clueless, cutely-awkward Geu-rae (suprise surprise!).
Episode 4 ends with the two of them on the rooftop, talking about how and where to go from there. Manager Oh advises Geu-rae to hang in there no matter what and uses baduk’s terms to make himself clear to someone who knows nothing but baduk strategies. If they can ‘grow’ and go from misaeng (incomplete life) to hwansaeng (complete life) together, wouldn’t that be the best thing ever?
Four episodes in, we’re back to square one. Why do i feel that it’s only the beginning (from now on)?