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Backtrack: Review on ‘Jugglers’

Juggling with Love and Life while having a good Laugh

Jugglers is a romantic comedy drama that centers on the life of jugglers in the office, or so Jwa Yoon Yi (Baek Jin Hee) coined the term for secretaries like her, that offer their life just to perfectly serve their bosses. Because secretaries need to know everything about their bosses and have to do it perfectly to make their bosses look good in the public eye, juggling task (aka multitasking) is their specialty.

Of course, what will go wrong if you have the perfect sidekick with you? None! They are like both their bosses’ strength and weakness because they knew them like the back of their hand.

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This approach into tackling the stressful work of secretaries in the corporate world is quite refreshing, for the fact that they have not once been the center of a drama. It’s always the CEO or the boss that is under the spotlight and the secretary is always just like a lost puppy following them.

In this drama, as an example, Jwa Yoon Yi represents the legion of secretaries out there that has the same job description as her. You think that her jobs is simple–to keep her boss’ schedule organized. However, we see in this drama something more than the normal job of secretaries. Besides that, she serves her boss food and drinks, make sure that she’s present at meetings to take down minutes for him, she attends to anyone who wants to speak to him, accepts calls for him. More than that, she also needs to sort out his own personal matters, like making sure it doesn’t get out he’s dating different girls per day even if she has ‘Misery’ for his wife, buys gifts for his women, bring the best suite and tie for him and worse sacrifice for him.

Bong Jang Woo (Choi Dae Chul), her boss, is the ultimate asshole. In most dramas and in reality, he is the perfect example of  the boss you don’t want to ever cross with in your life, especially when he stabs you on the back and pins you as his scapegoat away from an impending doom. Eventually, Yoon Yi loses her position as his secretary because of him, but that won’t be revealed until later in the drama.

Anyway, the good thing about her removal from position is that it’s only temporary (and well at least she doesn’t have to deal with the asshole anymore even if it’s sad that she worked for him for so long and this is all she gets from him? No thank you?). She spends her days uselessly and lazily while waiting for another secretary posting. Since this is the only job she knows how to do flawlessly, she is devastated after one failure. But I think I understand how that feels even if I’ve never been fired. It’s just that, if I were in her shoes and I am at that age, I would also think hard about what I am going to do next after everything–title, position, salary–has just been stripped off me.

Her luck pushes through, though, when she’s hired to be the secretary of the anti-social managing director of YB’s Video Department, Nam Chi Won (Choi Daniel). Chi Won, however, never had a secretary in his entire career and doesn’t plan on having anytime soon. He’s forced to take her in, however, after the appointment has been unexpectedly made (all thanks to the plotting of a certain villain named Jo Sang Moo (In Gyo Jin), who hates Nam Chi Won with a passion) and with Yoon Yi’s persistent personality and dedication for her work, it’s become hard to really kick her out.

Their relationship gets even better, despite the constant pushing and pulling namely because of Chi Won’s cold personality and the wall he built around him, when Chi Won starts living in the old, ratty house that Yoon Yi owns after seeing a lease notice at the gate of her house one night. Thanks to Yoon Yi’s mother who is desperate to get her married–and well her friends who did the posting for her–and her persuasive conditions for the house, Chi Won is convinced to moved in. After all, the rent is cheap and he’s most definitely broke after just getting a divorce. Plus, the house used to be his childhood home, but after a certain fire incident where he got his trauma from, I guess, he can’t live in the house anymore.

This turn of events may not be that original, but oh well, who doesn’t want any cliche development like this? Wherein they live under the same roof and eventually begin a fluffy journey of falling in love with each other while finding themselves?

Chi Won’s personality may be prickly and he doesn’t think he is wrong or that he needs anybody’s help, but he realizes soon that Yoon Yi’s generous personality, her efforts of knowing him to serve him better and her devotion to her role as his secretary won’t ever changer any time soon. She eventually ruins his defenses one by one and Chi Won finds himself vulnerable to her, yet he learns to trust her. And it means a lot to him, knowing that he thought he’s a lone island for a very long time. Now, there’s a person he can rely on. And Yoon Yi finds herself in a better position, because despite Chi Won’s prickly personality, he’s not cheap like Bong Jang Woo. In fact, he’s a million times better than him, because he cares for her.

Through thick and thin, somehow, they manage to work things out together and despite their obvious differences, they admit to their feelings eventually. I guess, I like that part the most, especially when Chi Won came for her one day with an umbrella in hand to shield her under the rain. That is one of their moments when I feel like falling in love is a good thing, but it is all the more better when he’s not ashamed to tell everybody ‘she’s my girl’.

That’s probably what I like the most about Chi Won. Despite him being stingy, he’s a cute geek who loves quotes from manhwas and is someone not scared to show the world his love for Yoon Yi, even if everybody else is saying something else. That’s probably also one of the charms of this drama; unlike other dramas that start to have problems after a boss and their secretary is found out having an affair or relationship, they resort to breaking up because ‘it’s the best for them’. This cute couple is different because they rowed through the tides together and soon came out victorious together.

Add to the mix some crazy but funny villains like Bong Jang Woo and Jo Sang Moo (along with Line 1 and Line 2 who’s working for him to spy on Nam Chi Won) and their plots to overthrow Chi Won, and you get to pee your pants in anticipation of what’s to happen next, but also feel calm at the same time, knowing there’s always some sort of miracle that will happen and their plans will just backfire.

Some power struggle here and company politics there, but it’s nice that we know the protagonists will always be the winners. This level of conflict doesn’t make the story ultimately realistic, but is optimistic in a good way that it doesn’t make the drama frustrating or hard to watch.

With warring bosses, of course, it also test the friendship between two secretaries: Yoon Yi and Ma Bo Na. Bo Na is Jo Sang Moo’s secretary. She is also very capable like Yoon Yi, but because Bo Na also wants to do better like Yoon Yi and move up the ladder, she becomes blinded by envy and Jo Sang Moo’s promise to bring her up with him in a better place in the company. This causes a rift between the two and Bo Na tries to help Jo Sang Moo oust Nam Chi Won out of the company for calling out to corrupt officials and attacking his own company, YB.

Bo Na, however, isn’t that bad. Yoon Yi knows of this and believes her friendship with Bo Na is just as important as Chi Won is, that’s why despite their misunderstanding that rooted from Bo Na’s envy towards her, Yoon Yi understands Bo Na’s situation and still comes to visit Bo Na’s shoemaker father, who is deaf. Bo Na is so shaken upon witnessing this, that she surrenders back to friendship. She realizes that Yoon Yi sincerely cares about her and that she’s aware who really Bo Na is.

And through Bo Na’s help, Jo Sang Moo is thrown to jail after his corruption is exposed. Soon after, everyone works to oust Bo Jang Woo (who I think is worse than Sang Moo) with the help of his wife, ‘Misery’. Jang Woo is both Chi Won and Yoon Yi’s biggest nemesis and with the level of his villain-ness in the story, I guess, he just deserves to be punished like he had in the last few scenes. That was totally hilarious! Bo Jang Woo being dragged out by Misery like a defeated-looking puppy.

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Bo Yool and Jung Ae

So, I ultimately left out this pairing for this reason. I think they deserve a corner of their own in this post, especially that they also played a huge part in the story of Jugglers.

Hwangbo Yool (Lee Won Geun), is the grandson of the pioneer of YB. He’s also the cool, kid at heart managing director of YB Sports, that considers Nam Chi Won as his brother from another mother and follows him like a lost puppy despite Chi Won’s constant attempts to shoo him off. Because he’s high maintenance and has many unreasonable demands from his employees, all of his past secretaries quit.

Then Wang Jung Ae (Kang Hye Jung), one of Yoon Yi’s closest friends, appears in his office one day–pretending to be her younger sister–as his next secretary, to hide the fact that she’s already thirty-ish and a divorced mother of one.

Because of Jung Ae’s difficult living conditions, she is forced to run away from loan sharks–which her ex-husband is in debt to, take care of her difficult son alone, pretend like she’s a different person to get a decent job that will earn her a living, and adjust to a working environment, which she’d been pulled away from for far too long after being a dedicated housewife for almost half her age.

Jung Ae doesn’t know anything. She’s aware how hard it is to be a secretary and cope with the demands of being one, but because she needs to learn it as soon as she can, she pushes herself to work harder, At the same time, Bo Yool sees this hardworking side of her that he grows fond of Jung Ae.

Jung Ae, on the other hand, is a true mother at heart, and this is often seen whenever she unknowingly takes care of Bo Yool during his not-so-great days. She dotes on him and does things for him that his dead mother can no longer do for him, eventually making Bo Yool open his heart for her.

Their pairing could have been something great despite the age gap, because they truly have good chemistry, that is why I still wonder up to this day what Bo Yool really feels for Jung Ae, since the ending provides us answers how they setup a small company, with Jung Ae still Bo Yool’s secretary just that she’s gotten seriously better at it, but doesn’t elaborate whether they are just truly partners in crime or there’s really room for a potential romantic spark between them, which we were lead to believe in the beginning.

But oh well, maybe it’s not their intention to really make the two of them fall in love with each other since the story clearly emphasizes Jung Ae’s instincts to take care of Bo Yool arising from having a son, but it would have been really great if there’s something more to that, right?

Nonetheless, both of them are really great people whether as a pair or as individuals who rooted also for bot Chi Won and Yoon Yi.

Friendship overcomes it all

I love how the drama portrayed the friendship of four individuals–Yoon Yi, Bo Na, Jung Ae and Kyung Rye–who stood by each others’ side no matter what they go through. It made friendship mean so much more than just all laughs and talks to ‘we also fight and make up’.

Although they have to show it in a much intense way, wherein we start to question whether friendship can be restored or not, I think that it’s good to see something different and raw and real. Seeing friends fight for the same reason that Yoon Yi and Bo Na did makes it really frustrating (I even considered slapping Bo Na for acting whiny), but seeing them make up and learn to forgive and accept each other again touches me, knowing that not every friendship is as strong as what they have.

Not many friends in dramas return as friends. Most of the time, one of them continues to back stab the other and eventually ends up being the protagonist’s worst enemy.

But at least, Jugglers is one of those dramas that shows us friendship is just as important as a happy ending is.

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Over all

Romance in the office, like what Jugglers is besides it tackling about the work life of secretaries, isn’t very original–‘we’ve already seen that before in so many dramas–but they add their own flavor to it and make it their own. So, instead of feeling annoyed by the cliche, I feel like I am seeing something new. I can’t find any ill bone to it to the point that I can criticize the drama like I normally do with the others.

It’s so funny, heart warming, and real to some extent that I didn’t get tired watching it. In fact, at some point I got addicted to it that I even watch it while doing something else. It made my heart happy because it’s fluffy and light and I seriously don’t have any problem if the villain is as lame as Jo Sang Moo is. That just makes everything better for me, knowing I don’t have to see someone dying or getting kicked out because of abuse of power.

Plus, the characters’ chemistry with each other is so prominent that I feel like they must have had a fun time filming Jugglers, which is a good thing if it truly is the case. Furthermore, everyone’s just so good at their role that it made me believe Yoon Yi and Chi Won are really so in love, that Bo Yool likes Jung Ae to some extent, that Sang Moo is evil but is also just a victim of power.

The sequence, pacing and story flow, too, is very solid. There’s not too many strong conflicts, but I guess that’s why this is a rom-com. You get the lesser villains at least and win in the end.

Over all, I can say that I can recommend this to everyone. The drama tackles about office life and romance, which I know sounds boring most of the time, but I think you can’t just underestimate something not unless you flip the cover and begin learning something about it. Because who knows? Maybe you’re missing out on something big already if you don’t try, right?

Rating Jugglers, I give it 4.7 out of 5.



This post first appeared on The Korean Lass, please read the originial post: here

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Backtrack: Review on ‘Jugglers’

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