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[Review] ‘Kkondae Intern’: What’ll Happen When the Tables Have Turned?

Edited by Yang Young Jun

Translated by Kim Hoyeun

Credit: MBC

The combination of ‘Kkondae’ and ‘Intern’ – something about it is odd. (kkondae – an older person who believes they are always right) Usually, the words that follow ‘Kkondae’ are ‘Boss’ or ‘Superior.’ So I got more curious. What’s going to happen if an intern, who is at the bottom of the company’s hierarchy, presents, “When I was at your age” speech in front of his boss? The story of a man who took the worst kkondae as his intern, it’s Kkondae Intern.

Ka Yeol Chan (Park Hae Jin) is one of the talents who became the head of the marketing and sales team of Hunsu Food in only 5 years. Not to mention his work abilities and leadership, he also lets everyone leave work on time, guaranteeing employees’ “work-life balance.” He is so-called the best boss any office workers want to work for. On the other hand, Lee Man Sik (Kim Eung Soo) is the worst kkondae imaginable. He always gives the speech of his old days and doesn’t even hesitate to sexually harass female employees. He completely ignores his subordinates and insists that he is the one who is always right. He even steals his juniors accomplishments as if they were his. He’s the type people never want to have as their boss.

Credit: MBC

The bad relationship between Ka Yeol Chan and Lee Man Sik dates back to the days when the two meet as intern and boss of Onggol Food’s marketing sales team. At that time, Ka Yeol Chan quit his job after being tormented by Lee Man Sik, but after five years later, the tables have been turned. Lee Man Sik, who was pensioned off, joined Ka Yeol Chan’s team as a senior intern. Ka Yeol Chan vowed that he would never become the boss like Lee Man Sik, but his principle begins to falter little by little as soon as he decides to make Lee Man Sik get a taste of his own medicine.

Kkondae Intern is more attractive in that it introduces various types of men – in other words, kkondaes – rather than just showing the “kkondae power confrontation” between Ka Yeol Chan and Lee Man Sik. From the traditional old kkondaes represented by Mee Man Sik and An Sang Jong (Son Jong Hak), to the young kkondaes and good kkondaes, which have become the recent hot issue, the “Kkondaes Party” is drawing much sympathy from viewers who have encountered them at least once in their lifetime. Even after laughing, the drama makes us look back on ourselves, allowing us to think “Am I like that, too?” Another advantage of Kkondae Intern is that it unfolds irregularities in the workplace, contract workers, and the joys and sorrows of interns in a light and pleasant tone.

Credit: MBC

Yet, it is somewhat regrettable that some unrealistic and exaggerated settings halts the immersion. The best examples are the rapid promotion of Ka Yeol Chan and the character Lee Tae Ri (Han Ji Eun). The fact that Ka Yeol Chan was promoted to the position of director in 5 years, which takes about 15 years in real life, and the scene where an intern confronts her supervisor makes the viewers think, “This went too far,” even though they are parts of a drama. The same goes for irregularities in the company. It is not that the act itself is exaggerated, but the fact that there has been no problem so far despite the fact that such irregularities have existed all this time is somewhat shocking for the viewers. Of course, I know that these are the factors to add to the fun, but I can’t get rid of the feeling that it’s too much.

However, the performances of the actors are more than enough to make up for this disappointment. Kim Eung Soo, Son Jong Hak, and Ko Gun Han (Oh Dong Geun) flawlessly portray the “traditional kkondaes” and “young kkondae,” whereas Park Hae Hin, who conflicts between “kkondae” and “good boss” is also quite attractive. Instead of a typical romance in Korean dramas, the bromance between Park Hae Jin and Kim Eung Soo is one of the main attractions.

While all actors of Kkondae Intern are energizing the play, the most eye-catching actor is Han Ji Eun, who plays Lee Tae Ri. She certainly knows how to express the character “who looks bright and light at first but has behind stories,” just like she did in Be Melodramatic.

Credit: MBC

Now, there are only four episodes left till the end. Except for the disappointment that comes from a few unrealistic settings, I would like to give the drama a passing grade. Ka Yeol Chan, who discovered his “inner kkondae,” and Lee Man Sik, who began to understand the joys and sorrows of “kids these days.” Will they be able to grow into a better person? It’s something to wait and see.

Verdict: One spoon of reality in Misaeng: Incomplete Life combined with one spoon of humor in Radiant Office (7.5/10)

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