Job Atrociously Done

Yes, at the end of episode 30, the only thing it’s done well is to enrage me. So I cheated. I skipped 11 episodes in the middle. If I had written this right after I watched episode 10, I would have positively gushed. Tentatively, being a virgin of k-dramas with more than 20 episodes, I took ginger steps towards Job Well Done. It all started from not knowing Eom Ki-joon but intrigued in seeing him in Closer photos (cugly but sexy!), watching Worlds Within for him, and completely going bonkers about him.

Heck, I watched all 16 episodes of Worlds Within for him! I think it is quite an achievement. So, eventhough I heard warnings to not watch a drama just for a certain actor / actress, I decided to go ahead and plunge into the world of family dramas – the smiling faces of Eom Ki-joon and Daniel Choi (another cutie find from Worlds Within) encouraged me every step of the way. Besides, I do like Chae Rim and that Ahjumma whom I recognised as Min-ho’s always melancholic mum in Goodbye Solo, and the adorable tea-inn lady in Flowers for My Life. I heard gushes from reliable sources on the net at the start of the drama. Yes, at the start.

Now let me start off with the gush. We hit it off right away. I didn’t have a hard time watching at all, instead, I was enamoured. I was presented with an unravelling family drama, a seemingly simple premise of a single unwed mother and a man who pursues her tirelessly for ten years. The story was told with love and a wonderful simplicity, a tale of imperfections, compassion, expectations, disappointments, selfishness and sacrifices. We meet two families: The Lees and the well-off Chois, who are portrayed as well-meaning and nice folks – with their own secrets and flaws.

What makes it work so well is that the story was woven in a sincere and non-judgemental way, and so too my compassion towards these characters, like the giant sunflowers at the end of every episode that reflected my exact feeling with the show: warm and sunny… It is like handmade pottery, the central occupation depicted in the drama – crafted with full attention and tender care.

Yes, the Engrish – coming from a character that was supposedly raised in the States, annoyed me (Come on k-dramas, don’t you know how exasperating this is for your online English speaking audience?), but it’s tolerable with all the other good things in the show. You will also meet the most adorable little girl with mushroom haircut, Byul.

I sympathised hard with the characters; white lies, secrets and all. Kang-joo (Chae Rim) hid the fact that Byul’s her daughter instead of her little sister, a fact that tortured her conscience day by day. I understand Kang-joo’s mum insistence to take her granddaughter as her child, in order to protect Kang-joo. How would I feel if I were Kang-joo’s mum, if not one, but both my kids have a kid out of wedlock, while I’ve had so much expectation for the little son, for whom I’ve worked so hard and scrimped to send him abroad to study?

Seung-hyun (Eom Ki-joon) is the only son of a well-to-do family, growing up in a household without men. No wonder he became what he is today, overly attached to his mum and grandma, an immature man-child but brimming with lots of potential, goodness, and cuteness. Seung-hyun’s mum is Soo-hee, a kind and understanding boss, a self-made business woman who took Kang-joo under her wings. She might have spoilt her son a little too much. Although successful and outstanding from the outside, she’s an incredibly lonely widow, thus her affair with the married Photographer Han. Mi-ra is Seung-hyun’s baby cousin, who came back from the States with her fiancé in tow, Ho-nam, who turns out to be Kang-joo’s first love and Byul’s father.

Thus unfold the following sad, sad concept central to the story:  “when you become a mother, you stop being a woman”, a mother’s complicated love, and how these admirable women will unsheathe their claws, fight tooth and nail, and sacrifice their every organ, to protect their offsprings. Didn’t my amicable dog also turn into a ferocious little beast every time someone tried to touch her newborn puppy? While it sounds really ruthless, patriarchal and anti-feminist to me, the way the story is told, with heartfelt and sincerity, touched me. What did Seung-hyun first do when he first heard that Kang-joo is an abandoned single mother? He weeped for her, for goodness sake. Lots of anger, no doubt. But no judgement. Isn’t he incredible?

I knew that even with the the sunny start, a mighty storm was brewing in the horizon, because the foundation of it, after all, are the (white)  lies. That Kang-joo is an unwed single mother, which is complicated by the fact that the child’s father is the prospective brother-in-law of Kang-joo’s lover. Spinning head? I would too. But I was ready, if they’re gonna weave the story in the same masterful way, I’m up for it. I have faith in the characters I’ve grown to love. I didn’t look for 40 episodes of shiny happy people. If I do, I’d just go watch Home Shopping Channel. After all, the show has given me so much vitamin with heart-warming scenes and generally all of the above gushing.

What went wrong, then? When did it all crash down? Hmmm, when Soo-hee realised that Kang-joo has an eye for her delicious baby lamb.

Grandma: I didn't sign up for this.

I should have known. The minute she broke it off with Photographer Han, and cut her hair to a very unflattering style, I should have known that gone too the compassion with the hair.

I sat down and tried to understand the anger of Seung Hyun’s whole clan to Kang-joo. I kind of somewhat did. How would I feel, if my trusted confidante for ten years, hid her single mother status while I’d confided my affair with a married man? (hurt, but then again she (meant to) hide it from absolutely everybody in the world). Will I give my son to a ‘loose’ woman who shamelessly hid her child in order to marry into my well-to-do family and take advantage of my good-hearted, infatuated son? Hmm, I see her point and I too would unsheathe my claws if I were her. But! Objection! Soo-hee, Kang-joo has been by your side for ten bloody years. Yes she hid stuff from you, but ten years is a good long time to get to know the heart of a person, unless she’s a cold heartless bitch who straight-facedly lie to her, covering her rotten nature masterfully, never slipping even once. Even Dexter can’t do that. Is there reason for you treat her worse than crap? Na Mi Ra too, I appreciate that she’s immature and incredibly insecure, she feels that she loves more than her fiancé. How would I feel if my fiancé’s love child and the child’s mother – his first true love, are to be married to my close cousin? Yes I suppose I would go berserk and wish for them to disappear from the face of the earth forever.

Even with my partial understanding, as each lie was uncovered, the show has a more and more damaging effect to my poor heart. I was baffled with how the heart of the show – so big and warm in the first nine or so episodes, suddenly shrinked and shrivelled and died. Alas, naively I wasn’t aware that a single unwed mother is worse than leprosy. When did Soo-hee turn into such a heartless bitch? Even if the root of it all was to protect her son from further hurt and pain in the future, when did it all turn selfish and ugly? The stiffness, the fear to ‘lose face’ social stigma, the society’s prejudice, disgust me.

I look at Seung-hyeon, a good man no doubt, but is he worth all the pain Kang-joo has gone through? Suddenly this show has morphed into a crippled thing, the opposite of everything that made me love it in the first place. The big sunflowers at the end of each episode is now a hollow consolation and a warning of further pain I will have to go through in the next episode. It continued to go downhill, the psychological abuse wore me off. Seriously, I feel like a masochist even as I hurriedly gulp episode by episode. Yes, the writer did provide us with little doses of vitamin and ginseng with little heartfelt scenes, barely enough to console me for the next minutes of pain.

I watch Job Well Done through mysoju. Episode 16 wasn’t too bad, I was especially happy when finally Kang-joo felt she’s had enough of Soo-hee bitch and is, (hopefully, as I naively thought) about to unsheathe her own claws. At the end, when Kang-joo said to Seung-hyeon “lets run away” I was overjoyed. Alas, episode 17 is broken, probably one of the most important vitamin of all. Where they got away for a trip and took a well-deserved rest, just the two of them, away from everybody.


So, after that,I looked up every page in Soompi – at this rate I didn’t care about spoilers anymore, and what I saw confirmed my fears: it got worse. But I still don’t wanna give up on the drama I love for the first ten episodes. I care too much for my own good. So, I thought, lets jump to episode 28 and take some more food supplements, Kang-joo and Seung-hyeon’s wedding. Newly-wedded marital bliss couldn’t go wrong right?

It was sweet, true, but! It angered me some more since it is, unfortunately, also the fateful event where Kang-joo willingly turned herself into the witch’s lair, poor Byul on tow. The conditions of the marriage were atrocious.

  • She has to stay with the evil in-laws
  • She has to give up her career
  • The marriage must not be registered
  • No Byul (although she finally relented)

What loads of shitbags!!!!!

What's scarier than a witch? A two-faced witch.

Seung-hyun, although admirably has grown into a man and is willing to stand up for his wife and step-daughter, is still lacking the wisdom and the tactfulness in managing the messed up relationship between his lover and his mum. I suppose it’s something that one learns as he lives with it, but he needs to learn it urgently. Yes he’s a doting husband and father, but it’s really not enough. Many of his decisions – most notably to publicly gave out wedding invitations -when he perfectly knew mommy was so hysterically against it, is like throwing flames into the witch’s tail, is like a childish and brazen act of defiance, and only works to provoke his mum and deepen the  cold war. Not good, Seung-hyeoni, not good! (Would it be better if they have a quiet marriage or even elope? Actually I don’t know the answer to this since I don’t understand the consequences with the societal prejudices etc etc and I don’t understand what those Koreans are thinking) And lastly, what were you thinking to not move out of that madhouse ASAP?!?!

Can her poor heart take this?

Kang-joo, I’m disappointed in you. Such a strong and independent woman at first. At first I so rooted the two of you to be together because he loves you so much and you two make a really nice balance as a couple. I was angry with your stubbornness. Now, seeing her mercilessly reduced into the shell of her former self, a dejected and tortured pitiful creature bowing deeply saying  “yes Omonim” repeatedly, I look back and think seriously if you’re right after all. A drama that makes you doubt the OTP? Yikes! Kang-joo’s wilting inside at an alarming rate. I’ve lost count of how many times she’s just let out phrases like “But Seonsangnim… (later on Omonim)” without ever managing to let out what she actually wants to say, because she’s quickly cut off by the merciless witch. AARGH!!!!

I pity Byul so much. You poor precious little thing! Such a young child, so much she has to go through. The whole shenanigans are just detrimental to her. Who would have the heart to say to an innocent child “you’ve born from the wrong mother.”? A weaker child would rebel and join some emo gothic cult and get 100 piercings and tattoos. As for Byul, if her present state continues, if I were her I would work my arse off at school, do everything I can to support myself as early as possible, bring mum and run the hell away from that minuscule-minded and sorry-excuse-of-a-heart  family, and close my cold hardened and jaded heart to men forever. (see, the cycle continues? About women stop being women?)

SShhhh. Calm down. Steroid fix. Steroid fix.

Cheap trick! Because who can say no to this?

So Job Well Done continues to be hard to watch, a risk to my well-being. In one particular scene I was so scared Na Mi-ra would snap and eat Byul alive. Of course, the show could take a worse turn. Byul is like magic who’ve charmed Seung-hyun’s granny. And at least they didn’t keep up the two-faced act for too long and manage to turn Seung-hyun towards Kang-joo. I also find myself symphatising with Ho-nam, even though he did make that unforgivable mistake of not coming back to Kang-joo, no, not even contacting her as soon as he could. As for making her preggers? Hey, it takes two to tango. He was young and he didn’t know he had a kid, I would very much like to know what if he knew. Would he stay a coward or would he come back? Indeed he meets Kang-joo by chance, seven years later, where it’s too late to correct his mistake, and he has absolutely no initiative whatsoever to look her up and make amends. Which should make me hate her, but I can’t. Isn’t it heartbreakingto see Byul and him to instantly bond with each other? How can I hate Byul’s ideal type? This unwelcome sympathy on my part, I think, is attributed to the excellent portrayal of the actor, Kim Seung-soo.

Which brings me to the cast. Top-notch. Absolutely no complain whatsoever (well, the Engrish… but it seems so insignificant now).

It's good that you know what you are, Seung-hyun.

Eom Ki-joon is a star. If I was taken aback by his acting, it’s because I have a Sohn Kyu-ho hangover – the only time I’ve seen him act. I mean, he’s practically a different person over here! He skips! His little laughs are squealy! He’s a mummy’s boy! He’s devoted to her! How he manages to tone down the sex and MAX the squee, I seriously do not know. Behind the adorableness, is a serious chameleon of an actor. I will be forever loyal to you Ki-joon-ssi. I will. Have to admit at first I suspected that you overacted just a teensy bit, mianhamnida, since your Choi Seung-hyun is such an infatuated mummy’s boy in earlier episodes. But I heard that he takes it that far because he knows hell it to unfurl. As the show goes on he does shows more and more flashes of maturity and asserts himself, boy, he’s awesome!

Chae Rim… there are better actresses out there, but I always like her in what I saw of her, and here she does a great job of portraying the strong and wilful (at first anyway) Kang-joo. Not one second did I feel her overacting. Her calm but quietly tough demeanour is admirable, and her interactions with her mum and Byul, and finally, with Seung-hyun, are just love.  Together, their chemistry is not the electric or the sensual type, but a warm gooey sticky date pudding. Friendship and camaraderie between really good friends who genuinely care about each other. After all, he’s pursued her for ten years. When she finally accepts him, they made my heart full and really warm, just like a generous serving of fresh, warm beef casserole.

Kudos to Jung Ae-ri. The ladys is a force to be reckoned with. In earlier episodes I used to respect her Soo-hee, I pitied her loneliness and find her relationship with Photographer Han likeable. When she transformed into an unrecognisable wicked witch with a black hole as a heart, I hate her with passion. I still remember this scene vividly – upon receiving a congratulatory phone call, after Seung-hyun stealthily gave out his wedding invitations, when her face contorted with shock and uncontrollable fury, she seriously scared the crap out of me. Amazingly, even in witchy mode, one rare moment when she cried to Seung-hyun’s grandma “I will try my best to learn to love her” or something of that sort, I have to admit I was a liiiittle moved by her desperation.

I will stick with this show. I gritted my teeth to suck it all up and I vowed to myself I will finish this thing, this thing that has messed up with me, because we have unfinished business. I know that episodes 39 and 40 is broken in mysoju. And the torrent files that I’ve downloaded refuse to play the video 😦 I have no regrets of missing episode 17 – 27 (well, 17 a little), and I found out that I just a miss a little – I did miss Kang-joo’s pretty ceramic shop but heard from Soompi that the place turned into a psychological battlefield – and spares myself some insanity. Still, I think finishing will give me the emotional satisfaction. Or have I taken a closer step towards masochism? Who knows. I will edit this post or make a new one once I finish, to give some closing comments.

If only I keep it in my pants


About toopai
part time couch potato, full time movie and drama enthusiast.

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