Awl (2015)

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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 366 users
Reviews: 3 users

Lee Soo-In has the kind of temperament where he has to do the right thing no matter what. After his discharge from the military, he has worked at a large retail market. One day, his boss orders him to fire temporary employees at the store. Lee Soo-In refuses to do so and decides to join the labor union. He and the temporary employees struggle against unfair dismissals.

  • Native title:

  • Also Known as:

    Songgot; Ice Pick; Drill;

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17 people found this review helpful
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Dec 17, 2015
  • Overall 10
  • Story 9.0
  • Acting/Cast 9.5
  • Music 8.5
  • Rewatch Value 8.0
I didn't expect to get excited, laugh and cry over—labor, of all things. I'm not sure how much appeal this will have for younger viewers who aren't in the workforce, but quite a few scenes resonated with me. Don't be scared off by the plot. Even though Awl covers unions, labor law and workplace issues, it's not a lecture (except when it is, but even then it's fun!). Despite delving into the read more ugliness of reality, you never lose sight of the fact that the workplace is ultimately populated by people—and that we are equally capable of cruelty and kindness. A key theme is that there are no good guys in a fight; unions defend the mean and poor against the cruel and rich. Despite all that, we get our escapist fun with a dash of faith in the basic good of humanity.

The MC is an uptight manager at a supermarket. He refuses an order to illegally fire employees and quickly ends up organizing a union with the help of a wizened labor lawyer. Per the title, he is the spike that drives a wedge into this closed society. But soon the show moves past him to feature other's stories and motivations. It might be one righteous individual that drives the first swing, but it's the actions and support of many others that widens the crack. The show also explores how he withstands the pressure—you have to hit an awl, it's not a sledgehammer.

The plot started out slow, with a big emphasis on exposition. I ended up sitting at the edge of my seat pretty quickly. There are some comedic moments that felt forced, but overall the cast gave great performances. For fans of Ji Hyun Woo and Ahn Nae Sang, this is a must see. They acted out rich, mutidimensional characters with finesse. If you came for a supporting character, I still suggest you watch—sub-plots are brief, but develop over time, and show off each actor's strength.

This is a show that easily deserves 16+ episodes. The ending wrapped up far too quickly, with huge leaps. The writing wasn't exactly slipshod, but needed saving by the actors. But when do we ever get a great ending? Still, it got pretty good ratings (almost 2% average on cable), so I'm hoping this will be the "awl" for similar works—there are only so much high schoolers and makjang that one can take.

If you watched the movie Cart, which is based on the same true story, the plot is quite different.
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4 people found this review helpful
Other reviews by this user
Jan 11, 2016
  • Overall 8.5
  • Story 8.0
  • Acting/Cast 8.0
  • Music 7.5
  • Rewatch Value 9.0
This is probably a huge matter in every country. It is even a very big problem in wealthy countries. Still. I don't know if it changed much from 2003 to the present of Korean laws and rules for work and unions, but is sure to give you an idea of how things work in the big world, cuz my mother had a similar thing like this. Unions do differ from each other read more but eventually help you big time. And I had a little problem too, but this drama lit a small fire in me and I think I'm charged enough to go on just bare a little more, before losing my mind.

But let's have a moment for Ji Hyun Woohuhuuuu that damn fine fit full muscle body as always. Oh, how to concentrate at the main stories problem with him in it.
And my since 2009 number one husband Yesung. Love to hear his husky voice over and over. He looks still so good even after his discharge from the army.

Story 8/10
Because it is a big problem that most of the people struggle with day in out. We are just too clueless about these important matters. These problems will occur and knock on your door sooner or later. We have to deal with them smoothly and also with a great patient.

Acting/Cast 8/10
Ahn Nae Sang is one of my fav actors, I have seen so many films/dramas of him. The way he acts, so natural and convincingly and sure is a funny guy. The way he bobs his head and stares at the person in front of him is so unique and funny. :)
Ji Hyun Woo he has something special. His way of acting is so different compared to Ahn Nae Sang. The way he is so serious and a smile that pops out makes me, a big rock of ice turn into a flowing river.
Really love their funny moments XD

Music 7/10
I don't really pay attention to music. Never did. Maybe the main song, that's about it.

Rewatch Value 8/10
You can see it as a documentary and in my opinion, it is an instructive topic. It's short, so it won't take up much of your time.

Overall 8.5/10
I think that they should make more of this kind of short dramas. They make some dramas so long that it eventually strays away from its topic. Such as unnecessary love scenes and other male-female moments. useless and sudden "comedy" they put in to make if seem funny to the viewers.
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Make a Recommendation More recs (1)Recommendations

If you like the way Stranger is filmed, check out Awl. It's produced by the same company & I suspect it shares the same filming crew (at least to some extent). Both have very elegant, muted colour palette consistent through a whole runtime (greener in Awl, blue to light warm brown in Stranger). Music is limited mostly to background sounds and instrumentals and it's sparsely used, OSTs come mostly in ending credits, like a MV's teaser. Flashbacks are used for the sake of the storytelling, not filling the empty spaces to meet the time limit. Both are of excellent quality.
One of the main characters in both isn't very expressive and doesn't socialise much (in Stranger he's nearly emotionless due to a brain damage, in Awl it's just a way he is: gentle and rigid).
The topics are different, but hitting similar tones and both approach them with similar attitude: showing some kind of a corruption in a broad context, as a systematic, social failure based on relationships between humans. Stranger is sexier and wittier as it takes place between Prosecutor Office and Police and involves high officials and men in power, whereas Awl's more revolting (it showcases a conflict between a labour union and a mart's foreign executives), yet both have similar down-to-earth setup and problems are solved in a realistic pace.
Recommended by namopanik
Based off of webcomics, these two workplace dramas feature MCs that do their best to survive in a harsh reality—Miseang focuses on an entry-level grunt in a trading company and Awl a manager who forms a union in a supermarket. No makjang antics, just great acting and unexpectedly gripping plotlines.
Recommended by rymes

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Comments (69)

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  • Reply
    Lily 19 days ago

    Hooked after the first episode, can't wait to see the rest!

  • Reply
    Sharn Mar 16, 2017

    Ahn Nae Sang deserves a daesang.

  • Reply
    BAsfaw Nov 28, 2016

    where can I watch this drama?

  • Reply
    Kikka Jun 26, 2016

    interesting drama! :) They should do more dramas like this, and show us more about the realities koreans are really facing and their difficulties.

  • Reply

    I didn't watch it yet but the soundtrack is great!

  • Reply
    Syranus Mar 5, 2016

    Interesting, nice-paced drama. If you liked Misaeng, then you'd probably like this, too. :-)

  • Reply
    XoXo Feb 18, 2016 - edited

    Is there any romance in this drama?

    • Reply
      mika Feb 22, 2016

      I haven't finished Awl so I don't know if there's any endgame relationship, but there's really no romance at all (so I doubt it). There's some half-hearted pining (the older women finding the younger men attractive) but nothing serious. It's still a great show, based on a true story, and I recommend it.

    • Reply
      XoXo Feb 22, 2016

      Thank you so much for the reply ^_^

    • Reply
      mika Feb 23, 2016

      No problem! Nice profile picture tho, Hyun Woo's great ;_;

    • Reply
      XoXo Feb 23, 2016

      Thank you. Yeah Ikr I love him ♡

  • Reply
    KamZ Dec 19, 2015 - edited

    Ahn Nae Sang, Kim Hee Won and Ji Hyun Woo..brilliant performance by all 3 of them <3

  • Reply
    bmore Dec 17, 2015 - edited

    Stunning, Brilliant, all the adjectives you can think of. This drama just took my breath away. Words cannot begin to express how outstanding this show was for me. Everything about it, acting, cinematography, direction, but most of all the mind blowing writing. I want to be able to quote Ahn Nae Sang's speeches when he talked to the workers. There were so many times the lines in this drama just shook me...mentally and emotionally. I will be watching it again and again I know. Never has any film since Maundy Tuesday affected me like this drama has. Film (and literature) has the ability to entertain, to affect us emotionally and mentally, and, in its finest moments (like this one), to educate us and change us. Awl did all of these for me. My ignorance and prejudice regarding unions was fundamentally changed forever after watching this show. I am forever in Awe of Awl!!

    • Reply
      my3views Dec 21, 2015

      Wow and wow **bmore** you totally evaluated this drama so accurately, so on point with your observations. I also read your wonderful review on AWi, also love reading you on Viki yummy yummy.

  • Reply
    milkycoffee Dec 16, 2015 - edited

    Am I the only one who finds Ahn Nae Sang absolutely fantastic in this show? Well, it's a great drama overall but his character and his acting is one of the main points why I loved this show so much. When I googled him, I realized that he's been in so many shows I watched, but never paid attention as he was just a supporting character or somebody's father... I really hope he starts getting some better roles from now on because his charisma and acting were definitely outstanding in this drama.

    • Reply
      bmore Dec 17, 2015

      could not agree more. He has played so many creepy type characters and supporting characters over the years, he is a staple who now blends into the background of most dramas and films I see him in. Here he was was every single thing in this drama.

  • Reply
    Yani Dec 15, 2015 - edited

    Can we get more dramas like this please? So refreshing!

    • Reply
      NewKDramaAddict Jan 2, 2016

      One of the reasons I gravitate to J-Dramas. You have a lot of dramas like this!

    • Reply
      Syranus Mar 5, 2016

      I know right? Have you watched Misaeng? I kind of feel the same way for the two dramas. :-)

  • Reply
    Jacleen Dec 12, 2015

    amazing, fantastic, great, brave, emotional, all those things and more.. i'm glad i found this little masterpiece. everybody should at least give this drama a try. Ji Hyun Woo and Ahn Nae Sang, woah, just wow.. it will take sometime to not see them as Mr. Lee & Mr. Goo in another drama. :)

  • Reply
    sickofme Nov 26, 2015 - edited

    I'm still amazed how, I repeat, HOW this drama isn't popular in Korea, although it's so good? ;_; that's a pity

    • Reply
      Saya1987 Dec 1, 2015

      It's a slow Burner, I guess It will gather pace with time and people will turn to it when repeated, honestly I was introduced to it through Yesung, watched it for him and liked it from Ep 01.

    • Reply
      solia Dec 2, 2015

      I thought it WAS popular in Korea. It had a great viewership from ep 1.

    • Reply
      NewKDramaAddict Dec 12, 2015

      I believe it did! Koreans can relate to the story because of the recent and current treatment of workers. Sure, it is everywhere and hopefully people will see the constant struggle! I'm still amazed at the brutality STILL!!

  • Reply
    Saya1987 Nov 26, 2015

    Episode 9 and 10 Eng Sub is still not out !
    can't wait, sub groups please hurry up

  • Reply
    _Rosie Nov 24, 2015

    Thanks to all the favourable comments on here...after watching 5 minutes of episode 1 I knew this drama was going to be good and something different and special.....


  • Country:

    South Korea
  • Type:

  • Episodes:

  • Aired:

    Oct 24, 2015 to Nov 29, 2015
  • Aired On:

    Saturday, Sunday
  • Network:

  • Duration:

    1 hr. 5 min.


  • Score:

    8.2 (scored by 366 users)
  • Ranked:

  • Popularity:


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