Now the second Kdrama I’m watching is Incomplete Life. The Korean word, per its Korean title, is misaeng. Apparently the drama is based off a web comic by a Korean cartoonist named Yoo Tae-Ho. The comic ran from January 2012 to October 2013. As for Incomplete Life, it aired from October to December of 2014. Twenty episodes even.
So what’s it about? Twenty-something Jang Geu-Rae was once a thriving and prolific baduk player. From his childhood forward he dedicated himself to the game. So as an adult he stood on the threshold of becoming a professional. He even forfeited completing high school and earning his GED to continue his passion, by sliding up in rank.
Now this next part of his story I think I understood correctly. Anyway, somewhere in the mix Geu-Rae's father dies, leaving just him and his mother. Now the man of the house, Geu-Rae gives up baduk and starts working odd jobs to keep the house running. He works as a delivery boy, bathhouse cleaner, and a convenience store clerk simultaneously. His dad is gone, and now baduk and his education is sailing by him. With what remains as a stream of dead end jobs, Geu-Rae is left disappointed and hurt by life.
Then a secret–and unconfirmed as far as I’ve gotten–consociate recommends Geu-Rae into an internship with One International trading firm. Pushed by his mother, Geu-Rae walks into the offer.
But with absolutely no education or credentials to back him up, Geu-Rae faces bullying taunts once his background is found out. And the more he insist on pushing forward with his internship, the more he suffers navigating his way through what’s deemed the “real world.” Yet, he has a little help along the way in the form of warmer friendships with other peers. And when situations get too tight, he employs his strategic thinking skills developed from excelling at baduk. This allows him to chess piece his way in and out of trouble, as he finds acceptance in the office. As well as in himself.
First, I like this drama for different reasons. But I really just want to hone in on my ultimate appeal.
Reason. I identified with Geu-Rae’s inner and outer battles–especially his inner. In terms of finding yourself, and the pain searching simmers inside along the journey; I instantly fell into the frustrating feelings Geu-Rae suffered trying to find his way. I've definitely been in and out of his shoes working jobs that deplete you of life, while others claim they build character. Some jobs simply take the most passionate of individuals into a place of hopeless, that not many will experience or understand. I got so much of that from Geu-Rae’s story, and understood his position on pursing a home inside One International. Despite the hazing and bullying he suffered, his internship could blossomed with possibilities.
So Geu-Rae found something. He was apart of something. He mattered even if to some he was a paper-printing cog in the whole scheme. He was happy to do so. And held on to the hopes that his life could get better there.
We all want that, right?
Now where Geu-Rae and I differ...
Though, from a cultural perspective, I can tell you right now I wouldn’t be as timid and shy as Geu-Rae. The number of times he kowtowed to his peers and superiors had me frustrated beyond belief. For events both his and not his fault, I can’t count the number of times I screamed at the TV screen for Geu-Rae to backhand someone chewing him out in the face. You know, angered that he allowed so many other employees of the company to talk to him so out of pocket. (Sidebar: I understand Korean company bosses/supervisors are hell to deal with. Actually, I brushed up against one working at a cell phone factory back when I was Geu-Rae's age. Not so much hell than hyper-directive and annoying, however.)
But as I said, cultural differences were definitely at play. Geu-Rae just had a slicker approach than the scenarios I'd given to myself.
Toward the middle of the 20-episode show, I felt like the material kind of slumped. And that may be in regards to how Geu-Rae, the underdog, kept taking abuse that even wore on me. Yet, all that was saved by office run-ins where crafty Geu-Rae got the upper hand on many of his abusers. Like staying late on group projects as an effect to both prove his resilience and dull the shine of his bullying peers. Or how he recorded an international phone call necessary to initiate an office audit that subsequently got one of his tormentors fired. But rightfully so.
Though Geu-Rae remained humble in his intuitiveness, not all of his crafting came with promising results. Especially when it came to office politics and skating around the firm's policies. He consistently put his team in the line of fire, until more than his tormentors' jobs fell underway. And though unintentional, by the end of the show his misjudgments even came down on the executive director's position.
Still, as an often misguided and poor-judging underdog, Geu-Rae’s intentions were always to protect himself and others. As he, quite quickly, grew fond of his office friends and team members. He didn’t want to ever have to let them go. Nor find himself thrown back out into a world he felt he didn’t have a place in.
While I’ve been holding off on watching the last episode for probably two weeks now (I know, I know), I can say with resounding easy this is probably the realest Kdrama I’ve ever watched.