First Impressions and Unfiltered Thoughts: Kkondae Intern

Are you ready for Park Hae Jin in a new drama? He’s had bad luck in some of them lately; Let’s see if things go better for him this time around!

What is going on?

This is a story about a man who was badly bullied by his old boss, but moves to a new company and does very well. Later, the old boss is hired on as an intern in his department. Since this is billed as a comedy, we can expect hijinks. He does in fact do some things to his old boss that were done to him, and the old boss is hoist with his own petard.

Mind you, the first half hour isn’t funny. It’s there to set the sad backstory, Watching that part lets you understand the original incidents, and how they are not just always reversed, but sometimes slid sideways, and turn out in unexpected ways. By episode 8 we get hints that the story of the elderly chef is not as sad as we feared.

Who have we got here?

Park Hae Jin is sympathetic as the quiet, unassuming Ka Yeol Chan. (He’s a far cry from his character in Man to Man, who was tough and invincible.) It turns out he speaks Hindi, and lands a lucrative contract in India. There’s divided opinion on the commercial they show, but it’s intended as over-the-top comedy, as they go on and on about chickenless Hot Chicken Ramen for vegetarians. Even after acquiring confidence at his new company and getting an award, he still comes undone when confronted by his old boss.

Kim Eung Soo is solid as our Kkondae boss, Lee Man Sik. (They take pains to teach us that a Kkondae is someone not only old-school and outdated, but who forces his way on others and is often a bully.) We hate him so much at first for the way he treats our guy, but later we notice how mobile his face is and see his remorse. We see the wheels turning as he recognizes that Manager Ka is copying his old tactics, and when his attempts at sabotage don’t go as planned. (Watch what happens when he gets sent on errands!)

The President, a slacker who is jealous of Manager Ka’s success, is the son of the Chairman. He has one of the directors in his pocket, and they try to use the Kkondae to make Manager Ka look bad and gain favor with the Chairman. The President is played by Park Ki Woong, who I last saw as the Crown Prince in Rookie Historian, a character I really liked. I’m amazed at how much plainer he looks here, and how much his IQ has gone down.

One of the things the President does to bring down Manager Ka is to put all the worst new hires in his department. One of the new interns that gets dropped on him is the scatterbrained Tae Ri (Han Ji Eun from Melo Is My Nature) with two-toned hair. Another is Yoon Soo, who is so shy he can hardly talk, and of course the Kkondae. But then we start to notice that the existing staff are not that great either – one of them keeps track of everyone’s bathroom breaks.

One thing Manager Ka has in his favor is his mentor, Director Koo, who you will recognize as Kim Sun Young (Crash Landing on You, Romance is a Bonus Book), one of my favorite actresses. When she meets him to ask how he’s doing and cheer him up, she teases that people might think they are a couple. He laughs. Actually, I don’t think there will be a romance in this drama, but these two are seven years apart. It could happen. There is the same age difference between Park Hae Jin and Han Ji Eun. Hmm. Still no.

What do we think?

I am really enjoying this one. Park Hae Jin and Kim Eung Soo are great together! I’m even wondering if they will call a truce and start working together. This show may not be for everyone, with the story touching on suicide at the beginning. But that’s a small part, and there’s a lot of funny stuff. Watch for the Kkondae trying to entertain the Chinese guests in episode 4! Or where they reference Goblin and play the theme song in episode 6! I love that song! My husband was originally interested in this show because he’s worked at places where older people are assigned under younger managers. It’s not without flaws, but it’s turned out to be more interesting than we expected.

Let us know how you like it!


Dramas With a Side of Kimchi

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