Without supernatural intervention or genius fusion ideas, I landed on a pensive mode while watching the reflective and heart wrenching workplace drama “Misaeng”. And it’s very rare for me to do so because my excessively diverted mind usually craves for something different and evolving but with Misaeng, I was sent back to ponder on my forgotten dreams, regrets and what-nows?
While bravely showing the downside of a typical salaryman realm, witnessing Jang Geu Rae unfazed and continuously persevering to work on the opportunity given to him regardless of the many hurdles he has to overcome was an encouragement for people who have work-related doubts and challenges. He is a reminder of what most all of us when we were all unsure of entering the professional world. It was also a nudge to leave a job you are unhappy about and go back to what you really wanted to do.
Misaeng provided an engaging experience for me because of its wonderful cast and their interaction. Though mostly shot in the office premise, the candid pantry small talks, the rooftop heartfelt confrontations, the cubicle power struggles were able to capture in detail and in pure emotions the many faces of employees struggling everyday to get their job done.
I got to meet Geu Rae and the rest of One International newbies who underwent a top conglomerate scrutiny of what they can offer if given a chance to become an employee of a successful trading company. I rooted for our underdog main lead who had to stop playing professional baduk because fate played against him and he was left no choice but to squeeze in as many part time jobs as he can to help out with his mother with the house finances. Through his mother’s connection, he landed an internship program with a big conglomerate company.
Without any famous university diploma and any language fluency, his keen mind, patience and humility has made him proven his worth to the initial sales team who believed he wouldn’t also go far, but he has proven it otherwise when he was offered a 2 year temporary contract employee. Alongside his fellow newbies who were assigned to their respective departments after passing the internship program, they were set to find their niche by combining their natural talents and efforts. It was a real-life game of withstanding a vile immediate boss who takes the credit over the work you do or letting go of the cold treatment from the team that will push you to think that you are wasting your skills in the company or proving your effort to an elite team who stoops down on career oriented women.
It was the pain turned motivation that got me connected with each character. Each of them has to stay afloat because more than what is paid for to get the job done, it all goes down to proving their self worth as a person. The depth of friendship you get with people you meet at work will be different from the passing friends especially if you worked together for a long time. Because little by little and through stories and deductions they knew you better as a person. In Misaeng, the implied, direct and disguised friendship established by the characters propelled the predictable conflicts to a flowing narrative because the motivations and struggles of each character were thoroughly presented. Each triumph won, each business secured reverberates on my TV screen making me feel so happy like I was also a member of the team.
It was like stepping to a company’s door, sitting silently in a corner while you watch all of the employees get to their job. For the jobless and people who wish for a different job it would be a great encouraging watch. The traditional companies where I live also follow the top-university requirement in selecting employees, sometimes even your base salary would depend on where you studied. But since global workforce are mostly stationed in the Philippines, the American companies mostly put their customer facing jobs here without paying regard to how many diplomas you can present but how you can work as a team member in performing your job descriptions.
Personally, I knew university educated people who are not so smart and college undergrads who are surprisingly efficient. It has also been my stand that companies would give fair treatment to aspiring regular employees following the results of the scorecards out of an honest hard work they do after their probationary stage, and whether they came from a reputable school should never be treated as an advantage. But in most societies, that hasn’t always been the case.
It is hard these days to find a human TV drama that follows the fundamentals of how and why storytelling emerged to inspire people. We frequently have to see stories to escape from the problems we are facing so sitting down upfront a courageous and flaw-filled human nature TV presentation chronicling what is true and happening, what we hide to people relying on us and what we don’t want to admit to ourselves because of too much pride has had me really feel high spirited to surmise that fulfilling personal goals need not be happening in an instant and all at the same time.
Definitely the best produced and written drama for me last year with its simplicity and amazing depiction of the daily life of the working class, Misaeng is no frills, never superficial and all heart and a must watch for all of us on board and soon to be boarding on the corporate world. -jediprincess