incomplete life


roads are open to everyone. but not everyone can have the roads. 

“Misaeng” or literally means incomplete life is not everyone’s cup of coffee. Unlike other dramas I’d watched marathoning, I spent to watch this drama slowwwwwly throughout the long weekend. Why oh why? Because I needed to digest it! Each episode is rich with tearful, heartwarming, and lifting spirit stories. I’d been searching this drama quite while since I read one review that it’s might be the best drama in 2014. 🙂

The story of this drama is so real. It’s us. I know, it’s salaryman story. But indeed, it’s our story. It’s the story that “enduring is winning” to move forward to “complete life.” Our story that is portrayed by the characters in “One International” like Jang Geu Rae and three other newbies: Young Yi, Baek Ki, and Seok Yool. In the company world that is called “battle field”, we will find jerky boss like Assistant Manager Sung or a nasty boss like Manager Ma. And, few of us will have boss like Oh Sang Sik. Women in the workplace will face problems like Young Yi who is discriminated or endures hardship toward her male co-workers because “she’s a woman”. But on the hint of it, it’s also because Young Yi is a smart ass who can do everything. In one of the episode, Young Yi was sent to the company to confirm delivery to the port. But it happens, all the labours are having strike that day. Her boss says, “Just go back to the office. If you’re a man, I’d tell you to hire truck and transport the stuffs to the port.” Being underestimated and hurting her pride, she transported the goods to the port by herself!

Or, the internal conflict that may happen in all working mother – to balance work-life balanced which is portrayed by Chief Sun. It’s really conflicting between her career and her family. For example, when she has to delay some meetings because she needs to pick up her daughter in the day care. She needs to be professional at work. But at home – after finishes working, she does all house chores. Sun says, it’s not easy to be a working mother. In every situation, it’s always the woman who will be blamed – by the family, and society. And, to be honest, it’s not always easy for women to climb the ladder in a corporate. To her junior, Young Yi, Chief Sun advices her, “If you want to keep working, just don’t get married. It will save you lots of troubles…..”

Life is not easy indeed. We need to work hard. We need to endure. We need to be patient. It’s portrayed by our protagonist, Jang Geu Rae. After his father passed away, Geu Rae quits playing baduk (Go). He’s about to become a professional player at that time. With a poor background, he works any odd jobs he can find from delivering papers to chicken, cleaning sauna to taxi driver. Then, with a help from a sponsor and with only GED score, he lands his internship in a big company called “One International.” Maybe, this company is the same with Fortune 500 in the US. :). He has no other skills than operating computer. There, he meets people that will really change his life: Oh Sang Sik (the boss of Team Sale 3), Kim Dong Shik – his sunbae-, and the other newbies as his friends and supporters, and other people in One. He, at the same time, also changes other people’s lives too. When he asks his Chief Oh to give him opportunity, Chief Oh asks, “What you offer me?” He answers, “Efforts. It’s all brand new. I never use it.” It’s the reflection from what Dong Shik has asked him during informal interview in the office rooftop. “What have you done in 26 years?” So, I can relate now why he says, “it’s all brand new.”

And the stories roll on. Office politics. Office culture. Business. Team work. Responsibility. Indeed, “One International” is like a “battlefield”. But, when you go out (from the office), it’s all hell!!! GR uses baduk as the guidance in his office life and making decision. Cruising his work life is like playing a baduk. GR is lucky to have boss like Oh Sang Sik, but he’s also a mentor to him. He – although he’s not buying him at the first time because he hears that GR entering the company through connection – is very impressed what GR efforts and work hard. With all his flaws, Chief Oh is a boss that will become a shield to his subordinates and fights for them, and at the same time, he’s the man of the principle which makes his relations with the bosses are sometimes not going to be smooth. His cares for his subordinates can be seen how he’s fighting for GR employment status as a temp. Well, not only GR, but also for his former subordinate who dies (commit suicides) after the company did not renew the contract and nothing Chief Oh could do. Because of GR, he’s willing to take offer to work on the Executive Director’s project proposal although he does not like Mr. Choi, the ED. Because, once he success with the project, he could be promoted and has ability to choose his own people – including keeping GR in the company. It’s life in the corporate: when most people have to “kiss” other people’s butts although we hate that people to the bones as the Chief Chun once told GR, “You know what I learn from working in a company? To drink and to kiss off people we hate….”

There are so many heartbreaking moments in this drama. Sure, it’s a drama. But it feels so real. Such as, when Head of Department Kim has to resign because of the Mr. Park’s side back case or Chief Oh who eventually is forced to “resign” because China’s case that involves the ED. It’s all the ED fault’s. But almost everybody in the company “blames” Chief Oh because of the effect after the incident. We see how the send-off farewell is so heartbreaking. Or, when people in the office joins “Save Jang Geu Rae” movement with all their means. Such as Seok Yool who writes in the notice board (seriously, I cries a lot with his letter) or Jang Baek-ki who at the end becomes a really nice person to GR – though at the beginning, we can see how he’s very jealous to GR. And, at the end, when their efforts is in vain, people just stand and hold their eyes for Geu Rae.

Well, there are funny moments though, like when Team Sale 3 drinks spoiled milk in the rooftop so they would get sick and do not need to come to work the next day. Or, Oh Sang Shik’s sons who can be a good fillers. I like the youngest one, the one who always calls, “Dad, buy me chicken: spicy and fried. Half and half…..” Or, when Assistant Manager Ha and Kang were stunned by two women from HR who’s done survey. Later we know, what kind of woman the meticulous Kang likes, hehehe.

And, this drama is also full with friendship that is built throughout 20 episodes and the support from  family – the unconditional support and love. We can see the support from Chief Oh’s wife to his workaholic husband in decisions he takes “Do if you think it’s right…” Or, GR mother who makes GR ramen to her drunken son. That’s all family can do. Or, even it’s not obviously shown in the early episode, how people call Seok Yool when he’s doing the presentation. We know how proud his family to him. Coming from the blue collar family, SY is the first one lands a “office work.” We can also see how he loves his family such as when he’s preparing all presents to his nieces and nephews back in his hometown and how sorry he is to finally miss his dad’s 60th birthday because of the jerky Assistant Manager Sung does not allow him to with tons of reasons!

And finally, this serial gives a happy ending. Chief Oh finally set up his own company with a sunbae then ask Boss Kim to join as the “salary” CEO, as well as GR, and Dong Sik. Their company motto, “We can lose the deal. But we can’t lose people….”

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