Posted in Commentary, Drama Series

Misaeng: on episode 13~14


Acknowledgement and appreciation go a long way in boosting morale and keeping employees motivated and happy. That receiving a simple card containing just one line feels so swelling.

Not that it wasn’t obvious before, just that Misaeng makes it even more unmissable.

That the situations depicted in each episode are damn relatable it hurts so good will sound like a broken record, but that’s the drama’s biggest pull, yes? I believe most viewers loving the series keep tuning in each week because we (i) see versions of ourselves in the characters (as obstinate and defiant as Manager Oh, as lugubrious and careful as Geu-rae, as envious and overreaching as Baek-ki, as nosy and explosive as Seok-yul, though i am never as patient and persistent as Young-yi) — we (i) laugh, cry, beam, and get dejected alongside the characters as if it’s our own stories they’re portraying.

Still, the day-to-day grunt work goes beyond hitting home as there is a thing or two we can learn from what transpires onscreen. So much so that not only young workers can enjoy or gain benefit from it, but also those already in managerial or higher role: what kind of managers who bring out the best in their team members or shut them out, who are a pleasure to work with or frustrating to deal with, and who will make people stay or run toward the nearest exit.

misaeng_1323 misaeng_1322 misaeng_1405 misaeng_1404

The most profound takeout from episode 13 is stated up there, but that’s not all there is to bring home. Another enlightening yet heartwarming point is (arguably) unnecessary competition we subject ourselves to in the workplace — and in other aspects of life as well. Baek-ki is our representative in this department, feeling bitter and losing out to his peers, especially to Geu-rae, whom everyone considered won’t last and he looked down on initially now the first among the newbies to attend all sorts of important meetings and even get the nod from the company’s president. Hmm, school grades do not define one’s success, much less happiness indeed…

Baek-ki’s interaction with Kang daeri has been awkward, rather distant, and pretty wry i am glad he can open up and have a heart-to-heart with his senior. Kang’s response is unexpectedly insightful: some jobs aren’t glamorous and/or easily noticeable, but that doesn’t mean the work is unimportant. Do not care too much of how others may see and think of our role, because what matters is we do the necessary work properly. Drive and motivation thus must come from within.

They are no empty words though — Kang daeri is among the top performing employees acknowledged and rewarded by the company.


How about the underdogs from Sales Team 3? They need to get the dreaded presentation on the controversial Jordan project passed first. To achieve that, the team does something radical to change the mindset of the executive officers so they can see the case from a different perspective and then judge without prejudice. It looks like an uphill battle — the Jordan’s representative is even shocked at the format he’s never seen or heard before; furthermore, the executives walk into the room ready to shred the idea and the team into pieces… and uh-oh, the president joins in too! *gulp*

That aside, it is a feel-good episode. Young-yi is still the object of condescension (now from the sexist dept. head) and Seok-yul up in arms against his senior, but the other scenes are filled with happy faces and moments that leave you with fuzzy feelings. It couldn’t have been better. YES!

So much so that i am taken aback by the turn of events in the pair episode. It is so hard to watch i shamelessly teared up multiple times throughout the episode. Especially on the last scene in which Manager Oh pours his heart out — the way he suppresses his emotions to the point that his whole body is trembling is just… Here’s thinking i have stopped crying for you like 8 episodes ago~~

misaeng_1418 misaeng_1416 misaeng_1421 misaeng_1419

It all started when Geu-rae’s contract employment status is brought up, insinuating that regardless of his current accomplishments, they may not work in favor of getting his contract extended. What a mood killer. As a result, he spends every minute with an inconsolably long face. When others are happily discussing about pay increase and bonuses, he as a contract worker has none. When others receive ham gift set for the New Year, he ends up with cooking oil. Even when he’s trying to help out, he’s told not to exert himself too much — doing so won’t necessarily make him a permanent employee.

I was like, what’s wrong with these people?? Why are they so fond of making others feel bad about themselves? That’s just cruel, more so since what Geu-rae covets is not the permanent status, but the continuous ability to work with Sales Team 3 for a long time (“uri gatji gyesok”). Man, he loves his job AND his colleagues so much, not to mention the proven initiative and resourcefulness that benefit the company, why won’t they let him stay?

Is being a contract worker in South Korea that unstable and insecure? Are credentials that far more important than how well you do/fit the job? Does the team manager not have a say in keeping or letting go of his/her people? Plus, Geu-rae is in two-year contract, isn’t he — that means he has another full year to turn the tables around right?

We know where Manager Oh is coming from. He remains contrite toward what happened to his former subordinate Eun-ji. She was also a smart contract worker and seemed to be the one who took the hit for previous problematic case involving Manager Oh and the executive director. Geu-rae’s current status and verbatim question as Eun-ji’s reopens old wound; Manager Oh clearly doesn’t want history to repeat itself. But Geu-rae is one of many people who’s desperate to hear any kind of assurance even if it’s just an empty hope…

Since it’ll be too depressing to end on this, let’s bask in the hearty moments and Seok-yul’s genius gestures:

misaeng_1325 misaeng_1326 misaeng_1308 misaeng_1327




I blog sometimes, gush ofttimes, snark all the time.

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