Wednesday, January 7, 2015

[At a Glance] Misaeng/ Incomplete Life (2014)

 If it is not for amazing reviews from several blogs and web portal, I may not watch this series in the first place. For me personally, Misaeng packaging is not interesting at all. Sure they have the beautiful yet talented actor-dol Im Siwan and charismatic Kim Haneul, but still, those two amazing men not convince me to watch this production. Adding the bleak ambience in the poster and the story of working condition, Misaeng is not my typical of favorite series. 

However, a LOT of people and articles said that Misaeng is not a joke and this series successfully gains popularity in Korea during its air time. I remember read an article about how Misaeng is being loved due to its real portray of how salary man and salary woman’s life. That sentence catches my attention and since I don’t have many dramas to watch to, I decided to give Misaeng a try. And voila! I find this series interesting so far, since I’ve only watched it until episode 8.


Misaeng tells a story of a 26 years old man Jang Geu Rae (Im Siwan) who gave up on his dreams of becoming a Go/ Badduk (Korean Chess or board game) professional player after fail several times. Geu Rae then works as an intern in trading company, One International, based on connection. Geu Rae, who only has GED and join late in that company, is hated by almost all interns in One International. Unfortunately, his senior in Sales Team 3 Kim Dong Sik (Kim Dae Myung) and his boss Manager Oh Sang Sik (Lee Sung Min) also treats him poorly and considers Geu Rae as someone who can do nothing since he only has GED. However, Geu Rae refuses to give up and starts to survive by learning and implementing several Badduk’s strategy during his office day.


Im Si Wan as Jang Geu Rae

This is the first time I watch Im Siwan’s acting. No wonder a lot of people praise him as another successful actor-dol generation after his senior, Park Yoochun, who by the way feel threatened by Siwan’s appearance in kdrama world. Aside from his cute and innocent face, Im Siwan (so far) gave believable acting. His role as innocent man who tends to accept everything makes me pity him and frustrated. However, this role is perfectly suitable for him. I see some Song Jong Ki’s gesture in his face, though he still has a lot to catch up if he wants to be as good as Joongki. He is able on giving different vibe despite lack of expression. Unlike Joongki who likes to express his character’s feeling through his eyes, Siwan is more stable and calm yet he still portrays his inner feeling. Amazing, isn’t it?

For example is the scene where he went home after being pranked by other interns. His expression tells the audience that he is angry yet he can’t do anything because it was his fault to be deserved that way. I can also see his motivation to be better and changes other perception about him.

Another scene when I find Im Siwan has potential skill to be an actor is when he cries in silent after seeing his boss and his team being treated poorly. It’s not as powerful as how Kim Tan (Lee Min Ho) cries in The Heirs when Cha Eun Sang (Park Shin Hye) left him or how Do Min Joon (Kim Soo Hyun) cries when he realize he can’t go back to his planet because he’s in love with Cheon Song Yi (Jun Ji Hyun), but Siwan’s cry still give me the vibe that he’s hurt and it makes me feel bad for him.

Also, I see a manly version of Geu Rae when he asks Ahn Young Yi (Kang So Ra) if everything is going well. For the first time from the first episode I watched this series, my heart flutters seeing Im Siwan. I used to see him as a little brother but in this scene I see him as a man.

Lee Sung Min as Oh Sang Sik

Same as Siwan, this is also the first time I watch Oh Sang Sik’s drama. He caught most of my attention and I would like to award him as the best actor in this series (so far). After digging into his Wikipedia, I found out that he has been involved in many amazing productions. This again, proved, that flying hours reflects one actor’s quality. Lee Sung Min has nailed the role of Oh Sang Sik. His expression is very realistic as the boss who always frustrated by his subordinate as well as the salary man who has resignation letter standby on his second drawer.

Since he always give strong impression on every scene he’s in, it’s so hard to decide which one is better so I haven’t found favorite scene of him so far.

Kim Dae Myung as Kim Dong Sik

Kim Dong Sik is a typical salary man and subordinate who works their asses off in order to survive and give profit to his team and company. He’s a neutral guy in a company. You know a guy who is not involve in any group yet still survive and exist both in social life and office life. Kim Dong Sik is one of those guys. I haven’t found anything special about this man except his amazing loyalty to his boss and funny gestures.

Byun Yon Han as Han Suk Yool

My favorite role in this series!! Despite his late entrance (he just showed up in second episode), Han Suk Yool manages to catch up with other’s role and leaves deep mark on viewers’ mind – in this case, it’s me. He is the vitamin in the drama. His dandy looks and easy going attitude slowly eliminates depressing ambience of office life. Han Suk Yool is a gossip man who knows almost every office scoop and not afraid to share it to anyone. He also has high confidence about his looks and work performance. He gets annoying sometime, especially when he treats our Geu Rae poorly. But fortunately it’s only for short time.

My favorite scene of him is when he comes to Sales Team 3’s cubicle and shares his latest gossip. His interaction with Kim Dong Sik as well as how he seems so close with Manager Oh is really entertaining.

Kang Ha Neul as Jang Baek Ki

Frankly, I don’t like his role in this series since he portrays a devious and competitive salary man who likes to gain advantage from other’s misery. But, since it’s new from him, who always plays a good boy role, this role seems interesting. So far, Kim Ha Neul gives solid acting as Jang Baek Ki. It’s still confusing to me whether he has some good intentions towards our Geu Rae or not.

Kang So Ra as Ahn Young Yi

Ok, this girl is amazing. She’s beautiful and sexy. And I just realized it now. This is (also) the first time I watch Kang So Ra’s drama. She’s a good actress, I guess. She seems dive in her role perfectly. Her role, Ahn Young Yi, is a genius salary woman who can speaks many foreign languages and tries to survive in a man’s world.  I wish she will be the love interest of Geu Rae although I’ve read some review about this series that there will be no romance between these two beautiful creatures.


As expected, tvN’s productions never disappoint me. This tv station always come up with fresh ideas for tv series. After being in love with Reply and I Need Romance series, I think I’m also in love with Misaeng. This drama is nothing like typical Korean drama. This drama is not focusing on the love story of two beautiful human beings or triangle love story of three ill-fated humans. Misaeng is focusing on the office life in Korea, particularly on how they survive in the cruel trading industry.

Apparently Misaeng is based on comic. No wonder the story is so original and extraordinary.

From the title itself, Misaeng, which means incomplete life, is already amazing. I didn’t understand why it titled as Misaeng until the episode where Oh Sang Sik explains to Geu Rae why they are Misaengs. His explanation makes me realize that salary man and salary woman lives in two worlds, office world and their real world (home). Their life is not complete yet if they can’t conquer the office life. Isn’t the idea of the story itself amazing? I think so.

The drama is not only tells a story about how office life is but also the story of the employees. Each episode portrays one character’s feelings regarding their office life. How they felt when they first came into the office. How they socialize with each other. How is their relationship with their boss and how to handle crisis. Also, the everyday issues in office life.

For example is when the scriptwriter discusses about gender equality in office life. I love to see how the drama portrays exactly how woman treated in their office. Not only in the office, Misaeng also tell background story of how working mother live their life between taking care of her children and her husband.

Amazingly, it is not stop until there. Misaeng also tells a story of their relationship outside office. How they spend their weekend with their loved ones or how they get frustrated on every Sunday when thinking about Monday.

The uniqueness of theme from each episode makes me want to watch this drama more.

The other thing I like about this drama is that surprisingly this drama is not bleak at all. The first episode is a bit frustrating, yes. But the next episode is getting funnier. I love seeing the interaction between sales team 3 members. Shockingly, Manager Oh is not as cruel as I thought before. His unique character is coming up nicely.

If there is something lack about this drama I think is the love interest. I do believe that one production will be getting better if it has love story inside. Misaeng is already good and amazing. But if only, just if only, it have a love story between two characters or more, it will be superior. 

TEMPORARY SCORE: 9 out of 10.

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