An office drama depicting a woman who became the first female executive in her group to make her career beyond her first to the highest position. In the background of an advertising agency, it contains realistic stories of the daily lives of those who live a life like war and behind the scenes in the industry. (Source: Korean = Naver || Translation = MyDramaList) Edit Translation
- Português (Brasil)
Cast & Credits
Women on the ball. Delighting, enraging, inspiring, concerning. Excellent script. High-end KDrama."Agency" has it all. Viewership has skyrocketed, as have ratings. "Agency" is the hit. Cool freshness, fashion, speed, one or the other rivalry as well as all categories of human manners, even the lowest, underline the handpicked lifestyle ambience. This all guarantees a lot of fun, seriously...
The topic hits the South Korean nerve of the time. The nerve of women in particular, I should add. What may appear to Western eyes as an entertaining office drama with catfights has a completely different explosiveness in the eyes of Asian, especially South Korean viewers: The deeply hidden, rousing topic of the time, which affects everyone, is ´population decline´. The critical nerve bubbling on the surface revolves around ´sexism´ and ´misogyny´. The incumbent President Yoon proclaimed that these topics could be shut into history books, but "Agency" gives him the lie, right on. The KDrama clearly demonstrates how up-to-date it is. More than one South Korean woman in this story, no matter what position – down to the generation of the mothers of those mothers in the series - will find themselves here. And more than one man as well...
It is pleasing to see how razor-sharp and competent the female protagonist proves herself in this man's world. Also pleasantly refreshing side effect here and there: alternative model approaches for female vs. male management styles. And then there is the extravagantly privileged and insolent Jaebeol of the youngest generation who eventually is inspired to break free from her heavy chains of family-clan expectations. Besides their punching power, both lead ladies are palpable, too. Watching the series is a pleasure, even if the topics touched on may also arouse rather different feelings as well... A colorful bouquet of thematically critical, plot-relevant threads is dramaturgically subtly intertwined. In addition to the two female leads, there are also diverting (women´s lib) moving stories about Go Ah-in's employees and colleagues.
Stellar, good-humoured actors. Excellent script. A wonderfully balanced mixture of fun and seriousness, of pace and depth. The coherent details were undeterred on a differentiated, complex overall picture of the current business world. High-end KDrama-'pleasure' – delighting, enraging, inspiring and concerning. And while we are at it, "Agency" is innocently, smilingly, prettily and yet cleverly and valiantly placing a feminism-sting, too.
SIDE NOTE: --- Misogyny and population decline in South Korean society ---
Without women it won´t do. But South Korean President Yoon has now officially messed with them. There was an enormous wave of protests when he announced that he wanted to abolish the ministry, which had been set up around 20 years ago to support women against sexual assaults and for equal rights, arguing the issue was no longer an issue. Immediately, around 800 organizations formed and stood up. President Yoon, who is promoted and sponsored by a strong conservative, patriarchal current, has blown a hornet's nest. His world – that of macho men – is obviously different from that of contemporary South Korean women.
It is a given fact, that misogyny in South Korea characterizes everyday life throughout all classes. Neither an entrenched, male-dominated business world from the bottom up to the boardrooms, nor professional disadvantage and discrimination of women in the workplace, belong to history yet. In the contrary, recently it has even been fuelled by the election of the current President Yoon. Fortunately, there are opposing movements and criticism. The KDrama "Agency" uses a socially critical magnifying glass here. Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go, although a drastic reflection is desperately needed, in order to be redirect economic development towards a positive light.
The current demographic trend is closely linked to the economic and social situation, which is shaped by antiquated patriarchal beliefs. Those old (apparently always happy to be taken off the socio-cultural shelf, dusted off, polished to a high gloss and then put back again) convictions stand in stark contradiction to the high pace of the high-tech modernity of everyday life in South Korea. This tense paradox is already having a negative impact (not just on women's attitudes towards life, but also) on the country´s economy. The official statistics on population development from August 2022 show declining numbers for the first time. Actually, the country's birth rate is the lowest in the world. There is no trend reversal in sight. The population will continue to shrink. And that is already and will even more so affect the economy. The proportion of women in the working population (at 55.1 percent) could certainly be increased. Although South Korean women are very well educated on average, only a little more than half of them actually bring their skills into business life. Among men, on the other hand, 73.7 percent are employed. This is due not least to the misogynist attitude in all areas. The difference in pay between women and men is estimated at 31.1 percent. Nowhere else in the 38 OECD countries is it THAT bad. Added to this is the disadvantage on the career path. Work-life balance is in its infancy, because the motto is: woman to the stove. Executive suites are for men only. Women are rarely seen here. And if so, then often only for ornament or to fill the image of an empty marketing shell (similar to "Agency").
It's high time that the many misogynists among South Korean men (including their president) arrived in the present. In the long run, a trend reversal can only succeed jointly – at eye level.
It may have some minor subplot issues, but is still an utterly underrated KdramaGo Ah-in (Lee Bu-young) is a no nonsense woman whose only purpose is to do her job as a creative director in an advertising agency in the most perfect and flawless possible. At first glance, she was able to finally achieve her ultimate career goal when she was promoted as the first woman to be an executive director (Chief Creative Officer/CCO) at her company. However, Choi Chang-soo (Jo Sung-ha), Go Ah-in's superior had another plan in mind.
At first glance, 대행사 (Agency) is an office drama comparable to Misaeng, but given with a company director's POV instead of an employee's. Both are great in their respective stories, and just love them both.
But for this show specifically, I love that it has a fast-paced flow and deals with the intricate office politics and complex world of the creative industry well, especially for people without creative industry background like me. Each episode increases tension between the main characters, and their rivalry really makes the plot interesting. One may think that this "rivalry" may be tiring for the remaining episodes, but with the addition of new stories and characters along the way, the story just keeps more interesting as more layers are being uncovered.
It's also great to know their respective characteristics and alliances on each factions in the office politics drawn early on. It may be seen as boring as we already know which side a side character is, but it didn't bothered me as much.
Jo Eun-jung (Jeon Hye-jin) is the most "fleshed out" character other than Go Ah-in in terms of her background story. It's quite remarkable to see how she is able to balance out her duties in the office, despite her son's disapproval for his mother to work and resign instead. Also, it's great to show that despite her dilemma, she is fully backed with support by her husband and mother-in-law. With this stigma against working mothers in a conservative yet competitive Korean society, it's quite good, if not refreshing, to know how this show addresses this issue. But then again, I didn't like that the MIL and the father wasn't that helpful to Eun-jung in convincing the son for her to work.
Personally, I knew what the outcomes would be, but would is still gagged with how each outcome are shown. It's like knowing that there would be a plot twist, but doesn't know what that plot twist would be. This is true most particularly with the presentation cliffhanger at episode 8.
The only production lapse that I noticed was during a throwback scene on the second ep where the creative office used modern-type computer monitors when it was set in 2004.
After the 1st half, this show now focused to complex corporate drama and chaebol problems care of Kang Han-na (Son Na-eun). She has an eccentric character and seems reckless on the outside, but is actually smart, if not cunning on the inside.
One complaint is that it would have been better pacing-wise had Han-na be developed into someone who can stand on her own despite facing failures, rejection, despair and loneliness. The romance subplot was just too transactional and there were virtually no chemistry between her and Park 부장. But if the writers really decided to insert this storyline, it would have made more sense had it was inserted towards the end (at least the last 2 episodes). I would have no complaints even if it was rushed since then again, I can't see the chemistry of said romance.
Being nit-picky as well, there were some things that this show failed to explained more. First, is Ah-in and her mother's story. After the episode 12 confrontation, I really hoped that there is more to be discussed and more emotions be shown to really have a a fulfilling closure on their issue. It ended even only through a text, which was appalling since it was built-up very well on the earlier episodes. Second, Ah-in and the budding romance with the CEO of a gaming company. The spark was already there and Ah-in could've enjoyed said romance, but it was just forgotten midway. What happened?
The ending was satisfying in a way that it wrapped the main stories very well, in a compelling but not overdramatic fashion. Yes, it was expected, but then again it was executed perfectly in such that it was not boring. The last episode was very engaging in terms of portraying the cooperation of Ah-in and Han-na for their "common enemies". It was the definition of women empowerment in a society where men are still dominant in many corporate aspects.
Still, every episode ended with a bang. I think the reason why it has a lower MDL rating is due to its delayed subbing. It's very surprising how this is not picked up yet by major international streaming platforms given its high ratings in Korea. It may have minor subplot issues, but is still an utterly underrated Kdrama.
It will be an unforgettable watching experience for the last 2 episodes. At times, I was reading English subtitles, and at others, it was Indonesian. I was really able to maximize my Korean and Indonesian skills just to get the gist of what they were saying. Still, it is a very rewatchable Kdrama and I enjoyed watching it despite some minor subplot issues.