Disclaimer: It is important to note that I relish the lighthearted, and action-oriented k-dramas such as Falling for Innocence or Man to Man. Give me the silliness of What's Wrong With Secretary Kim or Strong Woman Do Bong Soon and I’m content. With some trepidation, I decided to watch Chief of Staff, currently airing on Netflix. I knew that this show would be serious (really serious) and most assuredly, lacking in the cartoonish scenes found in Sweet Dreams or Mr. Pride vs Miss Prejudice. If you prefer weighty subject matter and political intrigue, Chief of Staff is perfect for you!
Chief of Staff centers around the character Jang Tae Joon, a former police detective, turned politician. He is currently the Chief of Staff for assemblyman Song Hee Seop. On the side, he is living with or married to (not quite sure yet) Kang Sun Yeong, who was elected with the help of Song Hee Seop’s chief rival in the assembly (can we say dysfunctional). There are other politicians and various aides and hangers, on who make up the rest of this very large assemble cast.
Jang Tae Joon is played very nicely by Lee Jung Jae. He portrays just the right amount of angst and brains that keep us interested in what he is up to. His performance as an ambitious and intelligent political aide is convincing. Right away I could see the innate desire Jang Tae Joon has to be an assemblyman, which keeps me wondering if he’s a good guy or a bad guy. Unfortunately, I understand his reasons to make a deal with the skeezy politician Song Hee Seop, I just hate that he did.
His girlfriend/wife (hopefully they tell us soon) Kang Sun Yeong, is a former TV program host. Within the first episode, she is thrown under the bus by the man who got her elected and is sort of rescued by her boyfriend/husband Jang Tae Joon after she provides crucial information needed for him to save his own career. Their relationship, in general, is a bit strange but they appear to be very supportive of each other. For obvious reasons, they keep the relationship secret from everyone around except her Chief Political Aide.
A love triangle appears to be brewing between the two and Jang Tae Joon’s fellow political aide Yoon Hye Won. The poor woman obviously has the hots for Jang Tae Joon, and has figured out something is going on between him and Kang Sun Yeong. Truth be told, I already feel sorry for her. The politician she works for is a nasty set of goods. I suppose the conflict created by the horrid politicians is what makes this show so compelling. Chief of Staff has one fine upstanding politician so far and no surprise, the crooked ones are out to get him. How are all these seemingly intelligent people striving to make a difference stuck with these loser politicians that belong in prison more than in the government?
I liken this show to any US political drama, fast-paced, and full of intrigue. The characters are smart, and the conflict gripping. They run the gambit from the naive intern to the gangster-ish political aide and each contributes nicely to the storyline. The question for me is will I finish this? Unfortunately, as an American, I get to see skeezy politicians on the news every day. The idea of watching them for entertainment purposes is a little daunting and makes my stomach churn. However, if political intrigue and passionate drama is your cup of tea, Chief of Staff is the show for you. It certainly isn’t boring, but how I wish someone, just anyone in the show, besides those unscrupulous politicians, would smile.