Monday, July 05, 2021

[First Impression] On The Verge of Insanity

I understand this might not be everyone's cup of tea, because it tells the story of workers trying to survive during mass layoffs and uncertainty because of their job. As side stories, this drama adds other social issues that we usually don't like to think about.
It starts slowly like any drama telling a story about the mundane life of usual workers and not glamorous CEOs. One additional plus is that it takes place not in Seoul but in Changin. Our male protagonist, Choi Banseok sees how the situation unfolds in his own workplace. He is a developer, working in electronics division of Hanmyung Electronics, one of the biggest local workplace. He's been working there all his life and with electronics he's gifted, but dreads the looming possibility to either be laid off or transferred to unknown department.
He lives with his daughter and his Mother, and we can assume from one short moment of him looking at the photo, that his wife died of cancer. Just a regular guy at the regular work. I especially liked the long sequence of him going to work, through tunnel, but most of all - through astoundingly blooming cherry trees, adding the color and contrast to both this mundane scene and uncertain future ahead.

As with every big companies, acquisitions are the norm, especially when it starts generating losses for big people at the very, very high. Dang Jayoung is the blade wielded by such people. She is responsible for informing the workers of the layoffs and presents them with options. She's been working in HR and wants to stay in Seoul and climb higher as the executive. Nothing can change the decision of big CEOs and therefore Jayoung is met with hostility, verbal abuse, cursing people, but she is just messenger, right?
And one day her bosses send her to Changin to prepare a list of people to lay off and start working on it. Not soon afterwards she learns that Hanmyung Electronics is going to be sold out and bought by an outside investor. However, the investor doesn't want to buy the place with people. It's going to be downsizing to the maximum.

Choi Banseok is sent to work in a team lead by Han Sekwon. To say that Han Sekwon is a jerk is to say nothing at all. He and his co-workers treat Banseok as a pest, even though he solves the problem with robot vacuum. Jealousy starts and Sekwon did everything, even sabotaged his own program to get Banseok off his team. Thus probably making the worst decision of his life. 

And the jerk's life is about to get even worse as Jayoung comes to Changin. The first meeting between them is violent and brimming with seething hatred. Her presence is unnerving to Sekwon, because now he knows he has real pair eyes to look through his doings, schemes and machinations. She knows his body language, so she knows when he's lying, which of course up to this time was absolutely his weapon nr 1. He's hiding being in a relationship and one posed question he dismissed quickly was whether the affair started before or after the divorce.
This screenshot best sums up their current relationship:

Choi Banseok lands in HR department to the gruff reaction from Jayoung. Her arguments are actually valid - he's a complete newbie in this field. However, bit by bit, given his tenacity and tendency to be thorough and accurate, he starts to slowly sink in the HR. 
The first four episodes just presented the characters and general layout, but much can change and drama may turn into unexpected direction. I will be watching of course, Jeong Jaeyoung being one of the mostest reason, but also the subjects this drama explores. 
It's not only about the state of economy, not about treating thousands of blue-collar workers as expendables. It also touches upon such problems like palliative care, or generally care of the elderly parents unable to live alone - Jayoung's father is under a special care and the caregiver is her younger sister. Jayoung feels guilty that the burden is thrown onto the young woman even though she says she is fine. 
Despite few lighter moments here and there, the first few episodes painted a bleak portrait of the mundane life of workers, trying to work yet another day, and stay relevant in a world that doesn't value years-worth expertise. 
Corporate dramas share few traits with sageuks: thirst for power, scheming, backstabbing, lying, upper layer and peasants. I feel right at home here.

I also had a moment of a sudden trauma when Banseok's telephone alarm went off because it's the same sound as in mine and I was thrown to the times when I had to wake up when there was no sun yet on the horizon as well.

Character posters. Very nice. I like that part of the poster is in black and white and that monochromatic part reflects somehow the characters.

 And this was one of the teaser posters that I liked the best.