Tuesday, December 01, 2020

KBS Drama Special 2020: The Joys and Sorrows of Work

This was the short story in which nothing of any magnitude happened and yet so much happened.

At first the drama reminded us that it's not too late to see the light and become a SHAWOL.

Moving on, we get to know the workers of the start-up company residing in the Korean "Silicon valley" trying to make a name for itself (Udong Market) and succeed. And at first, nothing disrupts the workings of the company.

It's run by David, and as we learn from his introductory video, he chose the English name for himself and all of his staff because he wanted to create a meritocratic environment and not the one repeating the rigid structural hierarchies of the usual Korean workplaces. That's why all of his workers address each other, him included, with the English name. Which may sound like another corporate title, and that's why it is so comfortable to use. Udong Market is the online platform to sell and buy "second hand goods". Which is actually very forward-thinking and eco-friendly. 
And maybe that's why it is not making any profit and David is lured by other places to abandon the company and move into another company.


One day, David asks to take care of one user who puts multiple items on sale, items that do not seem to be used at all. And this raises concerns - whether the user legally obtains them and also another issue - it chokes up the app. Kim Anna is tasked with it. We see the company mostly through her eyes, as she's the main narrator and heroine of the story. We learn about her attitude to work and her mistake she did not choosing another name for herself at the company so she remained Anna. This is actually a very nice point the drama makes and it can be applied to everyone, I think. We tend to differentiate ourselves - the persona who works and the persona who writes online. I do this. Vast majority of my online friends do this. This is an attempt to compartmentalize but also of something even more important - of keeping a space that is entirely YOURS. I relax from work with dramas and Kpop, so I don't want those two worlds to collide, I like to keep them separated.


Through the meeting with the problematic app user, Anna learns she needs to find the outlet for her life outside of work. As it turns out - the user is a worker for some company, who did not account for her boss' addiction level to the social media and advertised the concert of a classical musician through company and not giving her boss the opportunity to advertise it through his SNS. In his petty revenge he not only demoted her, but also turned her pay from being deposited in money to being deposited in loyalty points. Yi Jihye, after being flabbergasted at first, turned that into an opportunity. After all, as she reminded herself - the money deposited as pay has also no tangible value, it is also some kind of loyalty points. And since she had millions of those, she started to order stuff through her points and later she opened an account on Udong Market app and started selling it to make real money, because she could not pay with points everywhere.

In the end, Anna learns how to resolve her issues - she makes up with Kevin, a coworker who works in coding for the app, with whom she had a huge misunderstanding, accusing him of lack of willingness to comply with her request (when in fact her request, written on a post-it was scooped by herself and landed inside her purse), but also with the way of balancing her work-life conundrum. In the end, she buys tickets for Cho Seong-jin's concert in Hong-Kong (she is a huge classical music admirer, and if I'm being honest, I'd kill for those tickets too) because - she deserves this, and money are to be spent on things that make us want to come back to work.

This episode resonated with me as it spoke about the separating your workplace and your private life. Something I am unable to do, something that "academia" is unable to allow their members to do. Weekday or weekend there is no difference. 10 am or 10 pm there is no difference and to stay sane, we need to erect some barriers.

I also really liked the editing of his episode - with various styles of the text edited onto the film like the one moment imitating Star Wars credits, or the actual credits appearing as the Word windows)