Posted in Commentary, Drama Series

Misaeng: on episode 5~6

Another post on this drama! Planned to write on Bad Guys, but since that’ll be more exerting, let’s do this one first, shall we? xp

Misaeng continues to amazes and enchants me with its depiction of workplace blues and intricacies which hits home every single episode (thus far). Now that internship period is over and our then-interns officially become part of the company, one would think that work life would be easier… says who? It really is only the tip of the iceberg.

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Continue getting yelled at by Manager Oh for unsatisfactory work, Geu-rae positively muses that his situation is better as he at least gets to stay in the same team. He may be the least-likely-to-pass intern then, but he is also in the team most likely to treat him nicely. Sales Team 3 may be the least preferred team to join — it has the ‘worst’ location at the far end of the office with the least number of staff — while also houses the company’s best people. If Dong-shik and Manager Oh don’t win your heart by now, i don’t know who else will.

A quick look at how the others are doing says it all. Being the brightest intern doesn’t guarantee favorable treatment from your team members. Baek-ki and Young-yi can vouch for this; they are far from making contributions and put their knowledge and skills into use. Baek-ki is squarely ignored by his immediate superior, without anything to do. Young-yi is treated as errand girl, ordered around and yelled at for the littlest missteps. Seok-yul receives better treatment although the hands-on fellow finds difficulty settling into desk-bound position.

(I don’t understand why they let the new additions loiter around though. Pull rank much? Still, don’t you hire them so you get to delegate what’s piling on your plate? If not, does it make a difference whether they’re present or not? I don’t think companies are willing to spend extra monies on these superfluous staff…)

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We soon know why Young-yi is looked down on: episode 5 delves into blatant gender discrimination in workplace, where women are regarded as less capable and loyal than the male counterparts. Even when a colleague passes out from overexerting herself when in early stage of her third pregnancy, her coworkers tsk tsk at it as if it’s her excuse to slack off and delegating her work to others. Which is… plain awful.

On one end, there’s newbie Young-yi who just sets a foot in the corporate world; on the other end is Sun Ji-young (Shin Eun-jung) who has climbed the ladder to be where she is now. I’m not sure what her title is, if i catch correctly, she is a chajang — deputy division head? Regardless, she is promoted faster than batch fellow Manager Oh. Also a working mom, that respected position naturally doesn’t come without sacrifices. So much so that she advises Young-yi to forgo marriage if she wants to keep working.

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There’s also a case of a missing B/L (bill of lading) from Sales Team 3 to Resources Team. Manager Oh insists he’s passed it to them months ago, while the other side insists otherwise. The boojang — division head(?) — makes a huge fuss out of it, conveniently reopens old wound, and there’s no way to prove who has the original copy besides rummaging through Resources Team’s files. Through this case we get a sneak peek into what possibly triggered the bad blood between Manager Oh and the Executive Director who assigned Geu-rae to his team, presumably twice.

Despite the drama and over-the-top-ness of some side characters in this episode, it is a breeze to watch. Manager Oh’s halfhearted, tongue-in-cheek apology, Geu-rae’s conspicuously lurking around Resources Team, Geu-rae with kids, Manager Oh with his, Sun Ji-young with hers (So-mi is sooo cute and adorable!), and Geu-rae’s slobber-sleeping outside the manager’s house are the highlights.

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Episode 6, on the other hand, feels tedious and thus the drearier and slower of the pair episodes. Is it intentional — odd episodes (except the premiere) are zippy, while the heavier stuff is saved for the even ones? The coupling episode tackles business deal with former schoolmate and spineless salesperson. Manager Oh takes center stage in the first case and IT’s Park daeri in the second while Geu-rae being the silent witness in both cases.

Manager Oh is brimming with excitement and enthusiasm; the head of potential client company Sales Team 3 finally able to set up a meeting with happens to be a close schoolmate of his, thus his confidence that it’ll be an easy breezy deal. (Who says academic performance defines your success? Look at what and where his friend is now: struggled academically then, now thrives professionally.) Too good to be true, no?

He must’ve realized it too the moment he’s made to wait for hours only to be informed that he’ll be contacted after the friend carefully considers the proposal. Still, he believes the best in him and perks up at the latter’s dinner invitation… where he ends up serving his so-called ‘friend’ and rowdily laughs off all veiled jabs at his company, job/position, and eventually himself like they’re truly laughable matters =(

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Second case of the day involves an IT sales guy who’s pretty much a pushover. A nice person who builds good rapport with his clients while concurrently lets them take advantage of his good traits. He can’t be stern with his clients and buys their excuses not to make on time delivery for the umpteenth times; his superior berates him for siding with them. The one time he is insistent, the client’s totally playing up reverse psychology by putting the 10-year partnership between two corporations on the line; the poor guy ends up being the cornered one. Luckily, Geu-rae is present and draws his baduk strategies to save his face.

Somber as the daily grind is, each genuine flash of smiles onscreen is like raindrops after a long drought — it makes you forget all the bad stuff happening earlier. Sans cliffhanger, the show somehow able to turn the tables around and ends on a positive note — it gets you musing ah, it is a good episode and readies yourself for the next installment. Misaeng is expert at drawing you into its world you wince, laugh, and cry alongside the characters.

Manager Oh’s shell-shocked expressions and (rooftop) forced laughs are heartbreaking, the aha moment as to why So-mi drew her parents faceless totally got me tearing up. All this while, her parents’ backs are all she sees — dad sleeping on the couch, mom not looking back to see her say her bye after dropping her off at daycare. But if at the end of the day she gets to see So-mi’s grin and Manager Oh sees how proud his son is of his dad’s job even though he himself may hate it to the bone, everything is worth it, isn’t it?

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