I finally had the chance to watch this not long after it finished its run last month. Assembly is not your usual drama, in the sense that it really focused on how the Korean government functions, through the eyes of our protagonist Jin Sang Pil (Jung Jae Yong), who was a welder at a shipyard. He was unfairly sacked with a group of his colleagues, and Show began with the entire group of them fighting for their rights for a prolonged period of three or four years, with the latest court ruling in their employer’s favor yet again.
Through a series of political maneuvering from both the ruling and biggest opposition parties, Sang Pil became a new assemblyman, ending the fight Sang Pil and his retrenched colleagues were in. It did not make him a hero in his friends’ eyes however, as the actual leader of their group, Bae Dal Soo (Son Byung Ho) continued to protest against their unfair retrenchment, and eventually fell to his death by accident. Unknown to everyone, Sang Pil was tricked into accepting the terms of settlement of their retrenchment, and while Dal Soo is not against Sang Pil for being an assemblyman in exchange, he does not agree to the terms laid out…is what I understood.
Anyway, Dal Soo has a son, Kim Kyu Hwan (Ok Taecyeon) who like everyone else, thought Sang Pil indirectly caused the death of Dal Soo, and swore to himself to get revenge on his Dad’s behalf. Needless to say, Kyu Hwan was eventually bought over by Sang Pil’s righteousness and earnestness, as Sang Pil tries to navigate his way through a whole new world of politics.
Luckily for Sang Pil, he has a steadfast ally in Choi In Kyung (Song Yoon Ah), albeit her being extremely unhappy and skeptical about Sang Pil in the beginning(she was initially promised a seat in the Assembly). Eventually, she too, was bought over by Sang Pil’s unique way of dealing with the dirty games the politicians are used to play, and together they fought against the powers that be to make a change in the Assembly.
Our main antagonist is Baek Do Hyun (Jang Hyun Sung), who was nicknamed “The Prince of Assembly”, as he came from a family with strong political ties, and he himself was a successful politican, the secretary of the main political party. His main purpose of getting Sang Pil into the party is such that they have the majority of the seats in the Assembly, but he did not anticipate that Sang Pil has a mind of his own, and despite his severe inexperience in politics, In Kyung’s invaluable help and advice to Sang Pil time and again thwart Do Hyun’s ambitious plans. Do Hyun began to lose his initial intent as a politician, to have integrity and to make a difference for the people. Instead, all he wanted was to discard and push all the problems the party faces to Sang Pil.
Although Show is mostly about Sang Pil’s transformation from a blue-collar worker to a politician, I find Show is also about In Kyung’s journey as a political advisor and staying truthful to her beliefs as a lawmaker for the people. Show exposes how inefficient and sometimes biased the Korean government can be (perhaps the same can be said for most other countries), and that some laws are passed just because it’s a number game. It’s definitely an eye-opener to how a government works, although this is a work of fiction. I’ll definitely recommend this to anyone who likes an intellectual drama, especially those who love to play baduk (because personally I feel Show is like a huge game of baduk, where each move is calculated and the politicians have to learn to anticipate the opponent’s next move).