Jang Geu Rae played the board game go since he was a child. Playing the game was everything to him, but he failed to become a professional go player. Now he is thrown out into the real world. But when his gaming plans fail, the down-and-out Geu Rae is forced to get an office job and goes to work as an intern by an acquaintance’s recommendation for large company called One International. On his first day, Geu Rae faces the eager fellow intern An Yeong Yi as they both try to please their new boss, Section Chief Oh Sang Shik, and keep up with the ambitious employee Jang Baek Ki.
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Misaeng's path of story transcends the typical office narrative. It's not just watching office workers struggle, suffer, get praise, or be joyful. We know these characters; we know their faces and names, their pasts, their hang-ups, and their fears. However, we don't know them only as Jang Geu Rae, Oh Sang Shik, Kim Dong Shik, Jang Baek Ki, Ahn Young Yi, or Han Suk Yeol. We KNOW these people; they are our friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and often, ourselves. That's what Misaeng brings in its storytelling, its cinematography, its constant image of being small in a big world and finding what we can do to be significant.
That path was taken by, in my opinion, one of the greatest ensembles I have ever seen in a drama. The entire cast has this way of making one completely identify or not identify with their actions. We see how everyone starts--naive, raw, rough, intimidated, at times, arrogant and ridiculous. Yet we also experience their growth, admissions of success and failure, and admissions of self-centeredness or guilt.
Behind the ensemble, traversing the path of Misaeng was an exciting and memorable soundtrack. Each piece told a story. I enjoyed the somewhat folk storytelling of the OST tracks because it mirrored the narrative of the day-to-day experience of the office workers. One could argue that the music is a character in and of itself as it travels the visual text.
Through its story, cast, and music, Misaeng took me on a journey. At times, I felt like Jang Geu Rae, wondering and asking myself the same questions. That's what I loved about Misaeng. I'm not an office worker, but I identify with their struggle. I ask myself the same questions. I feel defeated at times. At the end of the day, I'm just an incomplete life looking for completion.
As much as I love my usual rom-coms, Misaeng completely took me by surprise and gave me thrills and heart wrenching moments in every single episode. Some people find the pace slow, but it worked for me. I was engrossed with each and every character and every single plot. I laughed and cried with the trio from Sales Team #3 and its group of supporting casts. It has unexpected moments and original story telling that is rarely seen. I absolutely loved it!
Give it a try. If nothing else, you will walk away with a few valuable life lessons.