Drama Casting & News
Monstar director lines up next drama
by | July 21, 2013 | 37 Comments

There’s a new toon-to-drama adaptation in the works, and while I’m not particularly excited by news of webtoon I’ve never followed, I am perking up at the mention of PD Kim Won-seok, whose last two projects were Monstar and Sungkyunkwan Scandal. Both were memorable, well-drawn, thoughtfully executed dramas whose romances carried a distinct cute factor, so yes, you’ve got my attention.

The webtoon in question is titled Misaeng (which translates to mean not yet alive) and deals with baduk. Yes, the chess-like board game. Baduk is the most important thing in the lead character’s life, but he fails to make it as a pro player and is cast into a cold reality. Is the cold reality that chess was the most important thing in your life, maybe? I kid, I kid, kinda. It’s not something that makes you think high stakes or emotional depth, but it’s all about execution — the series is really about wandering young adulthood and finding your way in the world, which is a type of narrative I love which hasn’t really been explored much by Korean dramas.

Following that failure our hero tries to forget all about baduk, only to find that ironically enough, the insights and skills he learned from the game now become the key to solving his problems. I can see that working, if the game is used as a kind of running motif rather than being a story all about chess. Like dramas that use baseball as metaphor for romance, or whatnot. (Side note: Is there something in the water? There’s another baduk-related project in the works, though that one’s a movie starring Jung Woo-sung and Lee Beom-soo.)

The drama adaptation purports to depict the lives of office workers in an honest, relatable, and poignant way. The main character seems like just an ordinary young salaryman with a dream, who turns out to possess “not at all ordinary philosophy and insight.” The drama will aim to show delicate emotions with depth, which I think we can expect given the PD’s deft touch in handling sentiment and humor in his previous dramas. I’m intrigued with this idea of telling a story of young adults finding their way in the world, which seems really appropriate for this generation of youngsters becoming adults without really knowing who they are yet.

Misaeng is still in early stages and hasn’t been picked up by a broadcaster, but aims to air next year.

Via TV Report


37 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. greenie

    It sounds like a sweet premise. Looking forward to this one 🙂

  2. houstontwin

    I can think of baduk appearing in several dramas as a device to show us (and some dad or grandpa) how smart some guy is.

  3. TheTofurkey

    I have to say, I’m a tally really excited about this premise. I can’t wait to see who’s casted!

  4. Arhazivory

    After SKKS and Monstar, I think I’ll trust this guy with poignant. But next year seems a long way away. Lol

  5. crazedlu

    Liking what I’m reading. Hope it’s good.

  6. Alice20

    This is the type of drama that Japan really excels at. Korean youth-struggles dramas are rare, but very welcome!!

    I’d love to see what someone like Yoo Ah In can do in this role. He’s made some really terrible drama choices recently, but he was so lovely in SKKS and Punch!

    • 6.1 Toto

      yes I was just thinking of this, I agree, Japan does well in this type of dramas 🙂

    • 6.2 swui

      yeah…I loved a jdrama – don’t remember the name but it’s a bout a set of twins, one of which is totally weird but talented in “Go”…A sort of chess. It was a pretty longish drama…and I don’t even know the actors anymore…LOL

      The other one is a manga/drama about the ghost who taught a boy how to play Go too…

      Both are well-done and memorable so yeah, it’s all in the execution.

      • 6.2.1 Rovi

        Go and badeuk are basically one and the same, so nothing to differentiate that.

      • 6.2.2 foulou

        Hikaru no Go! That was a badass manga/anime.

  7. 정남

    Baduk may seem boring to most but I do believe in the show. There is a comic in Japan that focuses on the trials of a child from amateur to pro player that just works. Incredibly well done and it actually increased interest in the game this is one I’ll keep an eye on

    • 7.1 rainerust

      Haha Hikaru no Go. I never thought I would actually find Go interesting but thanks to that manga I actually did try playing Go for a while. HNG is supremely addictive and I loved the layers in the story – even if I never understood the Go strategies they talked about!

      If Misaeng can achieve half the engagement that HNG did I think the drama would be a hit.

  8. aly

    Can you guys review monstar soon please. I swear i am Still swooning. That comercial killed me! That Should have been seol chan.

  9. Makoto

    Isn’t it the project which ZEA’s Im Siwan in it? Its official Line once revealed the poster. He looks different.

    • 9.1 lee

      the one that star siwan was a short film for this webtoon.. not this soon to be drama..

  10. 10 Dramafed1782

    OMG JB, Misaeng is like right now the “in” webtoon in South Korea. There was a mobile movie of the same released featuring ZE:A’s Im Siwan (I think it is a prequel to the character before he becomes the salaryman). The webtoon artist Yoon Tae Ho was a pupil of Heo Young Man (Gaksital, Beat, Gourmet, etc…)

    Link for the movie:

    Link of the article:

  11. 11 Mommai

    This sounds like it could be awesome. How many of us go through youth and young adulthood loving something so much, yet turn out unable to make a living at it, and have to make some life and dream changes. I love Monstar and SKKS, so I’m looking forward to this one!

  12. 12 cherkell

    Baduk is way serious over in Korea — I noticed there were THREE television channels only devoted to baduk, its strategy, recaps and films of live matches. Hardcore, baby!

    As a casual chess player, the premise intrigues me so I will definitely check this one out!

  13. 13 Toto

    Finally something new? for k-dramaland…it reminds me of a lot of japanese dramas about offices, hope it gives a similar feel.

    and it reminds me of this anime hikaru no go!! 🙂

    • 13.1 oftheshore

      Agreed, I thought about J-dramas, too.

    • 13.2 Rovi

      “God of the Office” was the Korean version of “Haken no Hinkaku / The Pride of the Temp”

  14. 14 oftheshore

    This seems like an interesting premise – and a relatively fresh one. I am always excited for workplace dramas depicting office life in a way that’s at least not too glossy. There have been quite a few (a by that I mean approximately a billion) films on the topic of entering the adult life and searching for yourself made in the US, so it would be interesting to see a different perspective. Hoping for some heartfelt humour here, too!

  15. 15 Juliesean

    You are so wrong! His best role to date is Jang Ok Jung Live In Love. It’s not a hit in Korea but its not his fault. He brought to life the role of King Sukjong. No one could have replaced him for the role. Especially when not everyone can pull up a sageuk role!

  16. 16 Juliesean

    Oops sorry. Above comment refers to Yoo Ah In. He would be great for this role. Kim Tae Hee can be the female lead they’ve got mad chemistry that is off the charts.

  17. 17 Perrie

    If it’s something like Stranger than Fiction (Will Ferrell) where like the character is constantly thinking of how to make his next move like he would in the game, I’m in it

    That makes no sense at all…but it’s too hard to explain

  18. 18 pogo

    I’m glad to hear of this – I may not have loved the heroine of SKKS (PMY’s flat acting had something to do with it) but I did appreciate how much detail went into fleshing out other characters, who would normally have been ignored. And of course, Monstar is fantastic, though t’s a shame there are only two episodes left

    (I thought I’d grown too old for high school dramas after Playful Kiss, but this one sucked me right back in. I don’t count I Hear Your Voice as a high school drama, since it isn’t really centred on school)

    • 18.1 verte

      ‘I don’t count I Hear Your Voice as a high school drama, since it isn’t really centred on School’


  19. 19 Gaeina Lee

    This is something to be looked forward to next year..
    With 2 Weeks, Good Doctor and other dramas in my list and on top of that RL, am sure next year will come soon.. ^^

  20. 20 ivy

    i’m glad it will be used metaphorically than focused on the game. or I would have been expecting somthing like Hikaru no Go.

  21. 21 dramajoo

    the webtoon is written and drawn extremely well…i just hope the movie doesn’t disappoint and is worthy of the webtoon’s quality, although its going to be hard to match readers’ expectations.

  22. 22 Yuki1906

    Somehow I heard about this project somewhere, and there it said the main cast is Siwan. But the one i heard about will be a net drama. Is that a same project? Anyone know about that?

    • 22.1 lee

      it’s the same webtoon but its not the same since that with siwan was just a short film and this was a soon to be drama..

  23. 23 Yee

    Awesome. I love these type of plots. I’ve been waiting ages for a korean drama like this to show up. A new age of korean drama has been born.

  24. 24 yy

    Yes, oh lord. I’ve been waiting for a Korean drama akin to “Hikaru no Go” and “March Comes in Like a Lion.” I have no patience for board games in real life, but I eat up works centering on them like crazy.

    I’m still waiting for a “Cheese in the Trap” drama adaption, though. It has nothing to do with the sports genre, but it sooooo compelling and psychological and entertaining for a relatively simplistic COLLEGE romance webtoon. Fantastic characters, development, atmosphere, and narration all around. Do you hear me, writers?????? Do you hear me??????

  25. 25 chulz08

    I’m actually one of those young adults..So I think I might wait and watch this one :))

  26. 26 MeeisLee

    You had me at “Monstar director”. Strangely enough I haven’t watched SKKS but I love Monstar so much that Im automatically tuning in on his next project. But damn, next year is so far. That means before I can enjoy it, I at least have to get through my first semester of college. Ugh ><. Can't all the good dramas just air before August 28 (first day of classes) :(?

  27. 27 Ethalina

    Baduk, eh? Intriguing. I have no idea how that is played but I’m all up for coming-of-age dramas and over-exaggerated metaphors! Provided that they’re executed well, of course.
    I hope they get someone engaging to play the lead. It’ll take more than a pretty face to pull off the story line AND not confuse the heck out of us baduk non-familiars.

    And I guess this is one type of a high-risk drama? In the sense that the premise is a bit specific (then again, baduk is not that ‘specific’ in Korea, is it?) & it’s not picked up by any broadcasting company yet.
    What if nobody wants to air it? Will it be another ‘Faith’ or what? =(

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