Ji Hyun-woo fights for the little guy in JTBC’s new drama Awl
Ji Hyun-woo is heading to cable for his next drama, a JTBC series with a serious-sounding bent, titled Awl. The drama is based on a webtoon of the same name, which is in turn inspired by real-life events that transpired in 2002 when union workers were unfairly fired from large supermarket chain Carrefour, and fought back. Meaty sounding stuff, and I have to think Ji Hyun-woo was aided by his recent turn as an idealistic teacher in Angry Mom, where he started out weak and naive but eventually tapped into his inner strength to rally against the corrupt educational system.
In Awl, Ji Hyun-woo will play the lead character of Lee Soo-in, an employee who takes the charge in leading hardworking employees in the union’s fight against unfair management. Ahn Nae-sang (Hwajung, Maids) is currently in talks to join as well, and his potential character is described as a very quiet type who helps the hero. I can see him wringing my heart with his ability to draw pathos out of soul-wearying despair, and look forward to his partnership with the hero.
The popular webtoon is written by Choi Kyu-seok and began running in 2013, and already the drama is drawing comparisons to Misaeng. Okay, I know it seems like such an obvious thing to say that a drama wants to be the next Misaeng (who wouldn’t want to be showered with those high ratings and accolades?), but this vehicle does sound like it could follow in that vein: Both series were based on webtoons, and both dealt with the stories of everyman underdogs in unfriendly workplace environments with delicacy and nuance.
It doesn’t hurt that the webtoon writer is known for his sensitive touch in drawing upon the realities of modern society, as he did in other series that include A Sad Homage to Dinosaur Dooly, Wetlands Ecology Report, and The Natives of the Republic of Korea. Also, a similar premise helped propel the movie Cart to critical acclaim last year (Cart wasn’t based on the same incident but drew on similar themes; it was inspired by a 2007 case where union employees of a supermarket went on a 512-day strike to protest unfair dismissals).
The project will reunite Ji Hyun-woo with director Kim Seok-yoon, who directed him back in the movie version of Old Miss Diary, which was an early career-making turn for Ji. Kim Seok-yoon is now bureau director at JTBC, but prior to that his directorial projects included I Live in Cheongdam-dong and Detective K. Awl will be written by a team, writers Lee Nam-kyu and Kim Su-jin, the former of whom Director Kim worked with on those two projects.
Awl is aiming to begin filming in August for a fall premiere.