Kolorful Palette: Jumping in Jordan [Misaeng]
For a long time now I’ve been putting off watching Misaeng, despite coming close several times. I made the mistake of looking at screenshots before giving it a go, which pretty much just gave me the impression that it features a lot of cubicles and office personnel standing around doing nothing. Turns out all that nothing is a whole lot of something, and I finally get why you guys love this show so much. It gets me right in the feels.
Granted, I probably don’t actually understand how great this show is just yet since I’ve literally only watched one episode (a super fun bout of food poisoning kept me from watching more, but I think I’ll be caught up before long). I’m very grateful to all you fans though because one episode is better than none, and it’s the Beanie vote that really put me over the edge and got me to finally hit play. In retrospect I was a complete idiot for hemming and hawing for so long since it ended up only taking about 30 seconds for Misaeng to capture my interest. Pretty sure I spent more time than that looking at screenshots.
This show is surprisingly mundane, but I think that’s what makes it work so sell. Sure, watching some kid have his entire family murdered to then fall victim to extreme betrayal and poverty is sad, but that sort of story always makes me feel somewhat manipulated, and there’s only so much relating I can do. Despite nothing particularly dramatic happening in the first episode I found myself getting teary-eyed several times, and tears are usually something I reserve for dog videos and 49 Days.
Almost everything Geu-rae went through in this episode was relatable to me, and I think even people with the easiest of lives would be able to empathize with him. Who hasn’t felt inadequate or been the brunt of a joke? Who hasn’t had to throw away at least a little bit of pride to achieve a goal, and who hasn’t failed to achieve one? When we’re kids we’re always told that we can do anything we set our minds to, but unfortunately life isn’t always that simple, and Geu-rae is a prime example of that. The worst part is that he just blames himself for everything, but I actually find that pretty admirable of him (even if it is a little heart breaking). So many people choose to blame fate and circumstance for everything, but at least Geu-rae’s perspective motivates him to keep trying instead of just giving up. The end of a dream isn’t the end, and I really hope Geu-rae manages to find some happiness for himself.
The main thing giving me hope for him is that opening sequence in Jordan, showcasing him as anything but a useless little intern. If I got hit by a car I would probably go to a hospital instead of jumping insane distances between buildings, but I am kind of a wuss. Geu-rae is apparently a badass. That’s the main reason I drew this scene (this is right before he makes the jump) but have I mentioned that I loooove when material is filmed on location? There’s a lot that can be done with sets, but lighting is always unique, even with modern equipment and filters. Even without seeing the city it’s pretty clear in just one shot that we’re somewhere different. It makes me want to travel!
Misaeng is also pretty mundane in its style, and I think that’s working for it too. There are no cheesy love ballads, bouts of wallowing sorrow, or slow-motion skinship accidents. As much as I enjoy the cliches of Korean dramas (I wouldn’t watch them otherwise) it is nice to see something so different in tone, and it really makes this show stand out against its competitors. Diversity is a wonderful thing, and can only make the Korean drama scene stronger.
Of course there’s tons I’m wondering about this show, like what Geu-rae’s company connection is or why he ends up in Jordan, but there’s not much point in guessing since I’m sure everyone else here already knows! Plus I know you’d all just be secretly mocking me for my absurd hypotheses. I’m looking forward to getting caught up so I can talk about the current details and be tuned in for the finale. I have to say though, I am a bit worried about how heart wrenching this is all going to be. When Geu-rae had to dig through barrels of squid in the suit his mom couldn’t afford (in the freezing cold no less) I wasn’t sure I could handle it. Then he dropped his phone in a barrel. Then his co-workers pranked him. Then he still had the tenacity to face them and go back to work, all the while blaming himself for his situation. It’s a miracle I survived! I guess I’m a glutton for punishment.
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