미생 (Misaeng)

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미생 (Misaeng)

tvN – 20 Episodes
A Number 3 Pictures Production
Timeslot: Friday and Saturday Evening, 08:30 PM
Genre: White Collar Drama
Format: 1080i Dolby Digital 2.0 – 65 Minutes
Ran from: 2014/Oct/17~2014/Dec/20

WITH 임시완 (Im Si-Wan) as Jang Geu-Rae; 강소라 (Kang So-Ra) as Ahn Young-Yi; 이성민 (Lee Seong-Min) as Oh Sang-Shik; 강하늘 (Kang Ha-Neul) as Jang Baek-Gi; 이경영 (Lee Gyeong-Young) as Choi Young-Hoo; 김대명 (Kim Dae-Myeong) as Kim Dong-Shik; 변요한 (Byeon Yo-Han) as Han Seok-Yool; 신은정 (Shin Eun-Jung) as Seon Ji-Young; 오민석 (Oh Min-Seok) as Kang Hae-Joon; 박해준 (Park Hae-Joon) as Cheon Gwan-Woong; 김종수 (Kim Jong-Soo) as Kim Bu-Ryeon; 류태호 (Ryu Tae-Ho) as Go Dong-Ho; 김희원 (Kim Hee-Won) as Park Jong-Shik; 손종학 (Son Jong-Hak) as Ma Bok-Ryool; 정희태 (Jung Hee-Tae) as Jung Hee-Seok; 전석호 (Jeon Seok-Ho) as Ha Sung-Joon; 성병숙 (Sung Byeong-Sook) as Geu-Rae's Mother; 남명렬 (Nam Myeong-Ryeol) as Geu-Rae's Baduk Mentor; 이시원 (Lee Si-Won) as Ha Jung-Yeon; 황석정 (Hwang Seok-Jung) as Kim Sun-Joo; 남경읍 (Nam Gyeong-Eup) as One International CEO; 오윤홍 (Oh Yoon-Hong) as Sang-Shik's Wife; 이승준 (Lee Seung-Joon) as Shin Woo-Hyun; 김경룡 (Kim Gyeong-Ryong) as Lee Shin-Tae; 박진서 (Park Jin-Seo) as Shin Da-In; 장혁진 (Jang Hyeok-Jin) as Moon Sang-Pil; 정수영 (Jung Soo-Young) as Kang Min-Gyeong; 윤종훈 (Yoon Jung-Hoon) as Lee Sang-Hyeon; 민복기 (Min Bok-Gi) as Kim Sang-Hyeop; 전진기 (Jeon Jin-Gi) as Young-Yi's Father; 이달형 (Lee Dal-Hyung) as Byun Young-Cheol; 정의갑 (Jung Eui-Gap) as Moon Choong-Gi; 정석용 (Jung Seok-Yong) as Chief Hwang;

CREW Production Director 김원석 (Kim Won-Seok) Main Writer 정윤정 (Jung Yoon-Jung) Planning 박지영 (Park Ji-Young) 최진희 (Choi Jin-Hee) Executive Producer 김미나 (Kim Mi-Na) Chief Producer 이찬호 (Lee Chan-Ho) Producer 이재문 (Lee Jae-Moon) 함승훈 (Ham Seung-Hoon) Director of Photography  최상묵 (Choi Sang-Mook) Lighting 유재규 (Yoo Jae-Gyu) Editor 김나영 (Kim Na-Young) Art Director 이항 (Lee Hang) Music 김준석 (Kim Jun-Seok) 박성일 (Park Seong-Il) Action Choreography 박주천 (Park Ju-Cheon) Assistant Writer 조현주 (Jo Hyun-Joo) 정다희 (Jung Da-Hee) 김정훈 (Kim Jung-Hoon) Assistant Producer 김형준 (Kim Hyung-Joon)
Based Upon Yoon Tae-Ho's Webtoon 미생 (Misaeng)

AGB Nielsen Nationwide
HIGHEST: 8.24% (12/20 - E20)
LOWEST: 1.60% (10/17 - E01)
AVERAGE: 5.39%

[2015] 백상예술대상 (Baeksang Art Awards) BEST DIRECTING 김원석 (Kim Won-Seok)
[2015] 백상예술대상 (Baeksang Art Awards) BEST ACTOR 이성민 (Lee Seong-Min)
[2015] 백상예술대상 (Baeksang Art Awards) BEST NEW ACTOR 임시완 (Im Si-Wan)


Photo ⓒ Number 3 Pictures, tvN


Since he was a child, the board game baduk has been everything to Jang Geu-rae. But when he fails at achieving his dream of becoming a professional baduk player, Geu-rae must leave his isolated existence and enter the real world armed with nothing but a high school equivalency exam on his resume. Through an acquaintance's recommendation, he gets hired as an intern at One International, a large trading company. There, Geu-rae meets his boss, manager Oh Sang-shik, who's a workaholic and has a warm personality; fellow intern Ahn Young-yi, who attracts her colleagues' ire because of her impressive educational credentials and by being extremely competent at any task; and Jang Baek-gi, a geeky co-worker whose anxious nature masks his inner ambition. Geu-rae learns to navigate and adapt to corporate culture, with baduk as his guide.[Wikipedia]


Synergy is the new buzzword in Yeouido, something that intimidates the big 3s (because they can't seem to achieve it) and is making CJ E&M's brand of channels (with tvN on top) relevant both commercially and in terms of word of mouth, after over a decade drenched in red ink and middling attention from the public. Synergy means that you can get a popular webtoon from the Daum portal like Yoon Tae-Ho's 미생 (Misaeng) – a derivative but competently concocted Korean answer to the white collar manga and Office Lady dramas of Japan – and turn it into a cinematic prequel distributed online; commission a drama that will shamelessly litter all your seemingly endless array of channels as if it was a presidential speech; produce the (admittedly quite accomplished) OST in-house and even have your leading star-cum-singer perform in it; and, dulcis in fundo, coordinate massive amounts of PPL that will appear in your show. All without ever having to deal with the middleman. Yes, it's the dreaded vertical integration, the same thing CJ is doing on the big screen by producing and distributing its films, which end up dominating screens on CGV theaters owned by the media conglomerate. Old school corporate modus operandi at its best.

The end result is a lingering “smell” of sugarcoated reality and complacent conformism pervading this drama, even when its supposedly realistic portrayal of ordinary corporate life in Korea reaches its apex. There is very little social insight into what makes the struggle of “little men” like Jang Geu-Rae and “middle men” like Oh Sang-Shik so irritatingly poignant, as the inevitable reality that they're only seen as interchangeable by a ruthless corporate machine that considers its labor force as dispensable pawns is almost taken for granted, as if it was an acceptable compromise or way of life. It's the perfect corporate fantasy, glamorizing and romanticizing this kind of working environment a bit like the military juntas of yesteryear romanticized the military service as a precious and emasculating coming-of-age tool. Join our company, give it your all even if it means sacrificing your family life for the sake of our quarter earning reports, and maybe when we fail to renew your contract (or kick you out after 20 years of proud service because at 45 you're a “dinosaur that stifles innovation”) you'll get a pat in the back and a few shots of soju for a job well done. It's a step every productive young adult in Korea needs to go through, right?

Yes, I'm asking too much from what is “just a drama,” the excuse apologists and cheerleaders will make whenever trying to defend middling fare that doesn't rise above the text to say something that isn't disarmingly clichéd and/or insultingly complacent. But that the system that engulfs these gloriously pathetic models of human struggle is never really questioned is telling. Of a greater drive towards entertainment that has very little to say that is pungent, eclectic and topical – why bother, when you can just present a wholesome image of productive ants, yesmen struggling and dying for the elusive and charming big leaders on top? You could argue that the focus is on the relationship that is established between the workers, and that the company acts as an almost invisible non-playing-character enveloping their stories as a mere canvas. But that would be insultingly naïve, and would ignore how ultimately derivative all those mini-stories are – as we don't even need to bother mentioning 20 years of OL dramas on Japanese TV, as homegrown classics like TV 손자병법 (TV's The Art of War) showed that you can put the spotlight on corporate life without pandering to corporatism.

Its failure to challenge status quo, to say anything about the overarching system that creates (in a certain way) tragic figures like Oh Sang-Shik is this drama's greatest fallacy, what limits it to a very watchable but ultimately artless exercise in franchise marketing. Not the fact that for a cast filled with theater and indie film regulars of proven repute, we only got great acting from two people (and both have done much better, especially in Lee Seong-Min's case) and lots of mediocre but hardworking youngsters trying to measure up to real pros (it's the best acting of Im Si-Wan's career, but that's like saying the best basketball of the New York Knicks' season); not the fact that despite his still considerable talent, Kim Won-Seok is turning more and more into a journeyman, turning in competent but listless work; not even the bloated and anticlimactic third act, where the show overstays its welcome by a good two episodes and ends up in Jordan with a ridiculously overblown finale.

It's that lack of soul, of something meaningful to tell that kills its chances of making a mark. Unless you consider not having romance (for a change) as a sign of greatness...


82 이성민 (Lee Seong-Min)
78 이경영 (Lee Gyeong-Young)
70 김대명 (Kim Dae-Myeong)
69 김경룡 (Kim Gyeong-Ryong)
69 강소라 (Kang So-Ra)
68 성병숙 (Sung Byeong-Sook)
68 김종수 (Kim Jong-Soo)
68 장혁진 (Jang Hyeok-Jin)
67 이승준 (Lee Seung-Joon)
67 정석용 (Jung Seok-Yong)
67 손종학 (Son Jong-Hak)
67 남경읍 (Nam Gyeong-Eup)
66 오윤홍 (Oh Yoon-Hong)
66 정의갑 (Jung Eui-Gap)
66 변요한 (Byeon Yo-Han)
65 오민석 (Oh Min-Seok)
65 민복기 (Min Bok-Gi)
65 류태호 (Ryu Tae-Ho)
65 신은정 (Shin Eun-Jung)
65 강하늘 (Kang Ha-Neul)
65 전석호 (Jeon Seok-Ho)
64 남명렬 (Nam Myeong-Ryeol)
64 김희원 (Kim Hee-Won)
63 박해준 (Park Hae-Joon)
63 정희태 (Jung Hee-Tae)
62 황석정 (Hwang Seok-Jung)
62 박진서 (Park Jin-Seo)
62 임시완 (Im Si-Wan)
61 전진기 (Jeon Jin-Gi)
61 정수영 (Jung Soo-Young)
57 윤종훈 (Yoon Jong-Hoon)
54 이달형 (Lee Dal-Hyung)

~ Last Update: 2015/03/13