And I was wondering is Boss a rom-com or a whodunnit…
- Yeon Woo-jin (from Marriage, Not Dating) as Eun Hwan-ki. The CEO of a successful PR agency, Brain, he is (ahem) the literal “brain” behind the agency’s success. However, he has a serious problem – he is agoraphobic. Crowds, or people scare him. So he hermitise himself in the tallest level of Brain agency and becomes a legendary — monster.
- Yoon-park (from Come Back, Mister) as Kang Woo-il. Hwan-ki’s best friend, and also his mouthpiece. While Hwan-ki is the brain behind the agency’s successes, Woo-il is the face of it. Which means, he gets to claim ALL the adoration from his staff for every success.
- Park Hye-soo (from Yong-pal) as Chae Ro-woon. She previously worked in a theatre, but took only secondary roles. Her elder sister committed suicide under (what she assumed to be) suspicious circumstances while working as Hwan-ki’s secretary. So she quits her theatre job and goes undercover in Hwan-ki’s PR agency.
We get a pretty strange opening: it’s near Christmas, and a young lady steps off the ledge of a window? parapet?, leaving her high heel shoes behind.
Cut to the current (?) timeline: Brain PR agency’s staff are all abuzz with preparing a PPT in a bid to win over their latest client, an international Opera performance – Turandot. Juz when they all thought their “mass advertising” strategies will secure them the contract, a competing company steals their idea from them. A hooded man beckons to Woo-il, whom we thought is Brain’s CEO. After the meeting, Woo-il updates Brain’s advertising strategy. Instead of trying to appeal to the common masses in the hope that they will purchase the costly opera tix, Brain will cut their advertising cost, and focus on the 20% who are opera lovers, and who are financially able to foot the cost of a ticket. Woo-il proves himself to be a charismatic presenter, and easily wins the contract.
But wait… the real boss of Brain isn’t Woo-il. It’s the hoodie guy, Hwan-ki. Prior to getting a proper introduction to him, we see his staff’s reactions to this strange, unseen boss. They think he’s a psychopath, or a monster hiding in his locked towers like the Phantom in Phantom of the Opera.
Their impression of him being cold, aloof and scary is far from the truth. Hwan-ki has an issue with simple social graces. He is actually caring and sensitive BUT shy to the point that having a “normal” conversation with a stranger leaves him in a bout of cold sweat. Hence his hoodie and all the Phantom of Opera myths. He even talks to his psychiatrist behind a wall. (tsktsk) Ironically, his family members are all social butterflies. His dad, who left him Brain in order to enter politics, is ashamed of having such a socially clumsy son, and instead of encouraging him, only nags him to “remain invisible” so that Hwan-ki will not affect his political career.
In contrast, Ro-woon is Hwan-ki’s exact opposite. Before joining Brain, she works at the theatre, taking on small roles. Recently, she has been receiving flowers from an anonymous fan, whom she nicknamed “Mr Smith”. She doesn’t know they are from Hwan-ki (since he never makes an appearance, though he TRIES), and that Hwan-ki/ Mr Smith is the same person whom she plans to exact revenge on. Her elder sister was previously Hwan-ki’s secretary, and she committed suicide 3 years ago. She guesses her sis’ death has something to do with Brain or its boss, so she quits her theatre job to work there.
Our OTP meets in a light traffic accident on Ro-woon’s first day at work, and furious at this arrogant guy who refuses to step out of his car to apologise, she tails Hwan-ki all the way to his (and her new) office. Ro-woon manages to sneak into Hwan-ki’s room, and recognizes her “arrogant twit” as the same man who may be involved in her sister’s death (she doesn’t see Hwan-ki’s face though). After she is hauled out of the room (screaming and kicking), she starts ingratiating herself to Brain’s staff the following days in order to obtain enough evidence to accuse Hwan-ki of murder.
From a short series of flashbacks on Hwan-ki’s part, we see him rushing to his office where Ro-woon’s sis had jumped. He had kept her heels in a locked drawer in his desk, and seems to be in remorse over her suicide. [kooriyuki: in his flashback, the heels were at an opened window. But the opening scene of Ep1 shows her leaving her heels at the top floor of the building. Make up your mind, production team.]
Strangely, I don’t quite like Boss. Even though I have watched till ep3 and the writer + PD had produced works like Marriage, Not Dating and Oh Hae-young Again, which were (and still are) my favs. I blame my disengagement partly on Boss’ plot and the characters. Even though Marriage and Oh Hae-young have both very complicated (and contradictory) female characters, they are very relatable and likeable. In contrast, Ro-woon appears to be too much in your face, rash, doesn’t really think things through and quite unlikeable. I know she is portrayed as an “extravert”…but as an extravert myself, I can’t even identify with her. (we are NOT like headless flies juz ramming into walls without thinking) [kooriyuki: I absolutely can’t stand her.]
And though the title says “Introverted Boss”, Hwan-ki’s issue is beyond introversion. Although he does spend more time thinking (and over thinking) things, the extent to which he does that becomes a handicap. Plus, introverted people may dislike public speaking, or having to deal with many people at one time…but they are not socially debilitated. [kooriyuki: I guess Koreans doesn’t know the difference between social anxiety and introversion.]
Boss’ plot is also too much of a stretch that it is over-testing my suspension of disbelief. While it is common for the characters’ narrative threads to cross each other and everybody to be related to everyone else in a drama; to have Ro-woon physically manhandle Hwan-ki several times without noticing how he looks like is rather odd. She should have made the connection that the semi-nude guy in a bath robe = her arrogant twit who crashed into her car = Brain’s CEO = her sis’ possible murderer = her Mr Smith. As it is, she meets Hwan-ki in his penthouse and also at the theatre — and tackled him both times. Even though she may be unsuccessful in bringing him down, it’s pretty far-fetched that she hasn’t associate Hwan-ki to be her adoring anonymous fan.
So Boss production team’s decision to tweak the storyline and re-shoot certain scenes over the New Year doesn’t come as a surprise to me. Boss definitely needs some tightening and reworking, somewhere.