Tag: misaeng

Spoilers Darling

This page is for me. Well, they are all for me, but this one uniquely caters to an experimental view that might not be as enjoyable for others as it will be for me writing it. Time will tell, but the reality is that one would have to have a deep familiarity with Korean drama to get the references and names to follow.

I’ll probably revise a lot, over a long period of time. The trouble is always where to start. There is just so much! And no real way to trace back to beginnings.


The first scene to float up is an image of Valid Love‘s Carpenter Kim, whose unusual, alien-like beauty makes him seem almost unreachable. When Il Rae catches sight and smell of Carpenter Kim she is immediately taken aback – we are too – and I believe that what appears to unfold later actually happens entirely in that moment. Another man had never entered Il Rae’s mind before, and this one appears with a beautiful, restful world, steeped in lineage – a place out of time and space.

The two are immediately nesting, and the sighting scene presents a whole reality that shows up at once, simultaneous to the one she is in, and still makes complete sense. Later at the police station, after Tae Hoo and Kim Joon have fought, and she is asked which man she will take responsibility for/who she is the guardian of, she answers “both.” Which strikes us as the truth.

I love sighting scenes, like Ko Dok-mi’s first sight of Enrique at the window, in The Flower Boy Next Door, or Dokko Jin’s surprise at finding Au Jung inside of his fortress-like house, holding his underwear (or rather, “panties!”), and discovering later that his foolproof pass code was easily guessed.

Enrique is an intrusion into Dok-Mi’s personal space, her dark apartment, even without entering. He is bright and unapologetic, and ignores only her false boundaries, even hearing thoughts she doesn’t share. And Au Jung stubbornly shrugs off Dokko Jin’s bravado, seeing the ordinary person along with his larger-than-life image. Yet she doesn’t choose between them, nor want him to.

Imagine sunshine coming through the window where the plant grows. The sun is not saying, ‘Please open the window I need to talk to the flower. Maybe the flower does not want me to shine on it.’ The sun has none of these doubts, nor does the flower.”
-Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche

There are flavors of ‘imaginary friend’ in these encounters, in the sense that the bonds are choiceless, bound to occur. K-drama writers seem to understand this as rich ground. In Its Okay That’s Love, Hyde Jekyll and Me, and Kill Me Heal Me, where second, third, even fourth fifth sixth and seventh selves can’t be leashed by the safest and most acceptable-to-the-world personae, life is determined to fully live, and is indeed what happens when we are busy making other plans. (Thanks, John Lennon)

We must lose composure. We must “always be drunk” as Geu Rae learns in Misaeng. Tae Hoo must be brought down by the “sea anemone-like punk” and Seo Bom’s inlaws must give away the trappings they value most to be raw enough to love (IHTTGV).

Geu-rae: Be drunk. You must always be drunk. Everything lies in that; it is the only problem. To avoid the detestable weight of time that makes your shoulders give and makes you fall to the ground, you must be incessantly drunk. Whether it be on alcohol, poetry, or virtue, be drunk. Wherever you are, wake up from the hindering loneliness. If you get lost, just ask — the wind, water, stars, birds, time, everything that passes, everything that feels sadness, everything that runs, everything that sings, everything that talks — what time it is. They will reply. Now, it’s time to be drunk.

And now I’m sleepy, and want to post this although I’ve not nearly finished nor polished. The closing image is Hee Soo, dancing in the hospital corridor even as she lays in bed unable to move or speak, beginning to desire again – to dance, to eat. Il Rae may be the only real witness to Hee Soo’s rich inner thought life, and certainly her closest friend, again naturally crossing “impenetrable” boundaries. And again it isn’t that she chose her – it is what life itself decided.

In a cafe scene days before this one, Il Rae knows the taste that Hee Soo prefers and touches the foam of it gently to her lips. She makes sure to show her the beauty of the presentation, and to place her at the best vista. She lives inside of her, with her. It is love, and who gives to whom? Hours of my Life and Ando Lloyd face a similar contemplation: what is the value to a life that is not useful? What is the place for those who cannot earn their keep?

Hee Soo is the epitome of grace, class, and composure. No one asks her if she is able to give that away. There is no relief for her, no pay off. If there is a consolation prize, it is imposed, because we can’t bear the idea that there might be no justification at all.

“Hope?” she asks, “Give that to the dogs.” Even so, she dances.

hee soo