Drama Check-In: Birth of a Salaryman

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It has been a while since the last Drama Check-In and I have lots to talk about. Since that last post, I've dropped several shows from my currently-watching list, added a lot of new dramas to fill the empty slots, and even managed to check one drama as "completed". 

Yup, I've been keeping my drama-schedule rather busy. In fact, it's been so busy that I'm gonna post ANOTHER Drama Check-In sometime after this one because I still have more shows to talk about and one post just isn't enough to cover all of them. 



Birth of a Beauty (Episodes 1-2)

I started Birth of a Beauty mostly because I felt like I needed something light, funny and romcom-y to watch in between all the other, more serious dramas that I've been watching lately (Liar Game, Bad Guys, Misaeng, Pride & Prejudice). And I feel that this drama might just be doing the trick.

Granted, I am not yet fully onboard with the show. As I am only two episodes in, there are no guarantees that it's going to be enjoyable all the way though. However, I quite like the tone of the drama and the main leads are rather charming in their roles. 

I'm not the biggest fan of Han Ye Seul because her acting doesn't always do it for me, but there's a part of me that wants her to do well after that unfortunate Spy Myung Wol controversy three years ago. And I actually quite like her as Sara/Sa Geum Ran in this drama because her character gets to be a lot more cheerful than she was in either Spy Myung Wol (which failed so hard at being a romcom) or Will It Snow For Christmas?, and I enjoy her acting that way more. She just seems to do comedy better than drama (if you don't believe me, just watch 219 of Running Man). 

But for me, the real star of the show is definitely Joo Sang Wook. It actually occurred to me that I've never really seen him in anything before, except for in a two smaller roles that I don't even remember him being in. In any case, I find him absolutely hilarious in this drama. His character Han Tae Hee is supposedly a chaebol (or so he claims) but he looks and acts nothing like it, dressing more like a homeless person and acting like a huge dork. And I love that he seems to fall in love first, which I have no problem with because that always leads to cute jealousy and awkward attempts to woo the girl. 

My only big concern about the drama is the fact that despite being betrayed by her husband Lee Kang Joon (Jung Gyu Woon), Sara still continues to idolize and love him. I kinda wished they had gone for a full-on revenge, through which Sara realizes that her husband really wasn't never worth her love anyway and she needn't get revenge on him because she's better than him. 

But then again, maybe she continues to be in love with him because inside she still feels insecure about herself and feels that she doesn't think anyone better could ever come her way. That actually could be an interesting thing to explore, but I somehow doubt the drama would do that. 

Oh well, let's just hope that the husband will be out of the picture soon enough since I bet no girl could ever resist Joo Sang Wook's irresistible charm for too long. 


Misaeng (Episodes 1-5)

I went into Misaeng knowing very little about it and having no real expectations to what I might be getting out of it. At first, I wasn't drawn to the show at all because work-dramas have never been particularly compelling to me, and so I thought I'd find something more interesting to watch. 

However, when I eventually gave in and decided to have a peek, I was quickly taken in by the thought-provoking mood and the overall sombre tone of the drama. 

It is certainly a lot more serious than I expected, but I might like it all the more because of that. There is a sense of realism to the characters and the situations, which adds an extra layer of poignancy to everything that happens in the show. It makes me understand the emotions of the characters better, because I see them struggling with everyday problems and stress just like we all do in real life. The situations aren't super exciting to watch and the pace is rather slow (also, the episodes are longer than usual), but what the drama lacks in excitement and plot-movement, it makes up with constant character development and believable office dynamics.  

But most of all, I love our hero Jang Geu Rae (Im Shi Wan), who won me over in just a few of seconds when he walked into that office looking all kinds of awkward and lost in his dad's old suit. 

He's the underdog of the underdogs, a quiet and humble young man with no direction in his life and no skills he can use in the grown-up world. On top of that, he's still very much trying to find himself and searching for a way to fit in with the others. Yet it is Geu Rae's earnestness and effort that makes him so endearing as a character and urges me to root for him all the way through. And despite the fact that Geu Rae appears to be hopelessly unskilled at everything (except baduk), he certainly isn't stupid and he has a way of surprising people through hidden strengths.

Another thing that I like about the drama is that instead of romantic relationships taking the spotlight, we have a compelling mentor-mentee relationship between hapless Geu Rae and the overworked Manager Oh (Lee Sung Min). I love that Manager Oh's tough and gruffy exterior does not fool Geu Rae, who immediately starts seeing the team leader as someone with a lot of wisdom to offer and whose respect he surely wishes to have. While Manager Oh might be in denial about that wonderful budding bromance for now, I'm sure this will blossom into something glorious eventually.

Just look at them little hearts, LOL

Then there are the characters of An Young Yi (Kang So Ra) and Jang Baek Ki (Kang Ha Neul), but I'm still waiting to learn more about them before I make premature judgements. There's an air of mystery around both of them, but in Young Yi's case it's more because of her professional attitude that keeps others from getting too close to her, while Baek Ki's intentions are more concerning as he does seem to be hiding something. I hope the latter won't turn into a nasty character should he start seeing Geu Rae as a love rival when it comes to Young Yi, but we'll see...

Lastly, I'd also like to mention that how awesome it is that the drama addressed the issue of sexism in the workplace in episode 5. It's really nice to have a drama that tries to draw attention to problems that the modern society still struggles with, and actually portray it really well. Good job!



Plus Nine Boys (Episodes 1-11)

I'm only a few episodes away from completing this one. While it hasn't been the most exciting show I've watched this year, I find the nine-boys endearing and I feel quite invested in their respective story arcs. I'm glad it's only 14-episodes long, though, because the pacing is a little slow for me.

I'm planning to save most of my thoughts on the drama for the review, but since the finale is coming up soon I'd like to point out that I've changed my mind about the couple I'm rooting for the most. 

In the last Drama Check-In I said how I was more invested in Jin Goo's and Kwang Soo's stories and that I hoped that Kwang Soo would be the one who gets his girl in the end. But after a while I realized that I don't really like Da In and that Kwang Soo deserved a woman who would actually make an effort to communicate with him. So as much as I want a happy ending for Kwang Soo, I'd be okay if it wasn't with Da In.

Meanwhile, I grew a lot more attached to Jin Goo and his relationship with Se Young. They both have come a long way and I now see that they are great for each other. Even though I feel awful for Jae Bum (that moment when he finds out at the end of episode 11 - oof), this is the couple deserves their happy ending the most, I think.

Meanwhile, Min Goo and Soo Ah are absolutely adorable together that I now want them to stay together as well, but they relationship is about to hit the rocks so I'm not sure how things end between them. And poor Dong Goo hasn't had much screen time, though it's understandable since his story arc isn't particularly interesting.



Surplus Princess

Oh, Surplus Princess...how I sorry I am that you didn't get a proper chance to say goodbye. What a bummer that the show was cut down to just 10 episodes, because the ending did end up lacking in both logic and emotional impact.

But I will say this: it was a wonderful wacky romcom for a while, and wacky in the best way. Thanks to the quirky characters, hilarious parodies and the overall humor, it was truly entertaining to watch.

Ultimately though, even the wacky wasn't enough to cover up for the fact that the plot lost it's focus rather quickly and there was no meat to the story. The flaws were there even before the cut and sadly the rushed ending made them a lot easier to see. Nevertheless, I will look back on the drama with good feelings.

It's Okay, It's Love

I'm still trying to figure out how do I exactly feel about this drama. 

On the one hand, I was not happy with how the drama was paced and felt rather bored during the middle chunk of the drama. Not to mention, I was disappointed about the ending, which I personally think was a lot happier than it should have been. 

On the other hand, however, out of all the dramas I've completed so far this year, IOIL probably got the biggest emotional reaction out of me. And by that I don't mean the romance, which was a little bit too frustrating for me because of my love-and-hate relationship with Hae Soo's character. 

But it was Jae Yeol's story that truly got me in the heart and I believe it's mostly thanks to the absolutely amazing portrayal of the character by Jo In Sung. And I'm being totally unbiased here, because I was probably one of the few people watching the drama who DIDN'T drool over the actor and just focused on his performance. And he really did do a great job. 



My Secret Hotel

A major disappointment, although I was actually one of the lucky ones who got out before it became a total bore. 

Because I was not happy with the fake wedding that took place in episode 8, I lost interest pretty quickly and things went south from then onwards. I didn't even ask for much from this show: all I wanted was just Sang Hyo and Hae Young to solve the murder mystery together and have a beautiful reconciliation after learning to appreciate each other again. Apparently, that was still too much to ask.

I'm aware they eventually did get together in the end, but it was just so lame that I would've had to get through loads of angst and zero plot movement to get to that. 

Yeah, I have better things to do and watch.

Joseon Gunman

If I'm being completely honest, I probably made the decision to drop it a long before I started asking people's opinion about whether to drop it or not. I just didn't acknowledge it and kept pretending like I still gave a crap about the show. 

It wasn't a bad drama, but it simply didn't do it for me. Mostly I'm just sad that the drama didn't turn out to be half as amazing as The Princess' Man was. And I really hoped it would because I'm afraid that I won't ever be able to watch that again, without being creeped out by Park Shi Hoo (sorry, not sorry).

Iron Man/Blade Man/Cactus Man 

I gave it a chance. Kinda. Sure, I only watched the first episode but I think I got the gist of what it's all about:

  • First, I begrudgingly admit that Blade Man was not as bad as I hoped it would be (maybe it is now, though). It's more in the weird category. Like, oh SO WEIRD. If I had to describe this drama somehow, I guess I'd say that it's a joke that I don't really get. 
  • When I said I got the gist of it, that did not mean the plot. I got nothing out of that. In fact, it's probably the most confused I've ever been while watching a drama.

  • Lee Dong Wook and Shin Se Kyung make the freakiest faces.
  • While I'm not a fan of Shin Se Kyung, I gotta admit that I do like her voice. She's got a good voice.
  • Secretary Go is the coolest character in the show. And Han Jung Soo rocks!

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  1. Yeah, I dropped Secret Hotel, Joseon Gunman and Blade Man as well, although i was more than 3/4 through each before I finally gave up, lol. Blade Man was disappointing because I actually really liked it at first. It wasn't until the dead ex girlfriend came back that it got really boring and I realised there literally was no plot.

    It's Okay It's Love - "because I was probably one of the few people watching the drama who DIDN'T drool over the actor and just focused on his performance. And he really did do a great job." Me too. I had no interest in Jo In Sung before, and I don't find him attractive. But I found him to be amazing in this role, truly amazing. I actually think he's a good actor now, whereas before I had no opinion on him whatsoever.

    I agree entirely with everything you said about Surplus Princess. The good thing I got from that show though, is Song Jae Rim. Forever grateful for that, I'll be.

    1. I found Jo In Sung more attractive in That Winter, The Wind Blows but not so much in IOIL. He's good-looking sure, but the way they styled him in IOIL was a little awkward and not to my taste. But indeed, he was amazing in the role of Jang Jae Yeol and now I am truly looking forward to seeing him act more things.

      I had a fondness for Song Jae Rim even before Surpluss Princess, but I didn't have a chance to see him in any drama that I was interested in. He was really lovely in SP and Rim's acting in the last episode broke my heart. I hear he's pretty awesome in WGM too, so maybe I should check that out as well?


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