Sunday, September 06, 2020

Drama Stage 2020: I Object


After the considerably heavy previous episode, this one brought back hope and a bit of a subtle humor - mostly relying on a wonderful acting. Because the topic of this little story is not that light at all.

The story follows An Haeseon who is a dentist assistant at some big dental clinic. There is a wonderful juxtaposition of the clinic's boss - who is all smiles on the poster, yet in reality he's a spiteful, hateful and vindictive little tyrant. He's verbally and mentally abusive to his staff, reaping the benefits of their hard work and constructing the contracts in such a way, it becomes really hard for people to leave the place.

Haeseon's husband works in academia, but rather tries to enter his Professor's good graces, so he does what he's told and tries to keep up with expenses. Even if it means to emotionally blackmail Haeseon to take another loan for him. Because he needs an equipment to go with his professor on a journey out of the city. She puts up with this, putting him before herself, but we know one day the levee is going to break.

That day comes when Haeseon learns she's pregnant. And here we have a full display on how disgusting the male-oriented workplace and society can get. Minseong decides she should get an abortion because they can't afford the kid right now. Reason is simple - HE did not achieve the coveted status and position. So she has to yield to HIS career, because apparently, her earning more in the marriage drives his insecurities to the top. And as any guy who never was in that situation, he thinks it's just like teeth cleaning procedure - a person still has teeth after all. So he says, they can think of the kids when HIS position is secure. Long story short - he hates the idea of having kids.

Haeseon is forced to leave her job, because the boss demanded night shifts for half the week and she was told by her ob-gyn that she needs to be careful, at least in the first trimester. And the real Haeseon emerges after her latest pay from the clinic doesn't appear on her account. At first she tries reasoning with her former employer, but to no avail. Then she meets a lawyer, Kwak Jeonghu, who at first dismisses her case and doesn't want to take it, because she demands merely 1.3 million Won of compensation from the clinic. And he has his eyes set on much much bigger target, and he wants to score big.


But Haeseon is tenacious - she haunts him and hovers around him (even offers to help him at his office as a fee), so he gives her some ideas, rather to get rid of her, but she pours her all to study the law and prepare to file a claim for unpaid pay. This causes the incurable rift between her and Minseong. He asks her to stop doing this because, as we learn, his professor is friends with Haeseon's boss. And her trying to get justice for herself may damage his chance to enter the professors' club.

So when one day he brings back home an envelope filled with hush hush money from her former boss, she comes to the conclusion that was inevitable. She leaves him. I loved how she prepared a feast and left it under cover for him, and one of the dishes was - her wedding ring and a letter. I believe they later divorced, although there was no explicit statement. Minseong came home, saw the table all set up and even had the audacity to say to himself that she came back to her senses - and then he saw the ring. In your stupid face, you excrement!!

Haeseon wins her appeal but is sued by the Wang Myeongjin, her boss. He employs three lawyers, ready to crush her, just because she asked for what was rightfully hers. Haeseon represents herself in the court and just when the slander of Wang's lawyers seem to do irreparable damage to Haeseon as a person, Jeonghu records the talk with the witness who turned on Haeseon in court. From the talk it's obvious she was harassed by Wang to give the false statement. And Wang threw a tantrum not even his lawyers were able to calm. Haeseon even proved how much of the law she learned during those months of legal battles.

In the end, she ended up working for Jeonghu as his assistant and having a wonderful career and satisfying job. Then we had also Jeonghu, who at first did whatever he could to avoid Haeseon, but he was there when she gave birth, a bit taken aback by her words that her husband never wanted kids and wasn't there for her at this moment. And we see it's him who's taking care of the little one.

Even though it was hard to watch at times, because it has shown what kind of attitude women are faced with, it ended up with a positive note. Haeseon was happy, successful and still tried to help others facing the insurmountable wall of law that, as she said, wasn't created to protect such small people like herself. Pregnancy is seen as the hampering "illness", yet Haeseon was active until giving birth (a bit earlier, probably because of stress) without any problems. Her behavior was seen as abnormal, because she was fighting for HER rights, not surrendering to only supporting her husband. Her life and her career mattered too and she showed that. She was blacklisted in the society and couldn't get any job because Wang was influential in these circles. And yet she persevered and rose to the top, making everyone who ever demanded she would just "bear with it". Remarkable character.