Feel Good to Die was my final present of 2018, so I’m a little tardy in writing up my impressions of the series, but I hope you wont dawdle in giving this show a look-see as it was consistently amusing and well-produced.
Those of you who know me well know that I’ve got a major soft spot for Kang Ji-hwan, even if some of his more recent choices haven’t always lived up to my expectations (pick better drama, Ji-hwan-ssi, please!), so the teasers I saw leading up to the premiere had me cautiously optimistic. One in particular had me giggling in anticipation – his character, a punctilious department manager chastising his failing subordinate belittles the worker, not so funny in real life, but the way Kang Ji-hwan used his voice to create an over-the-top jerk was perfection. I wanted more. And I got it. His Marketing team leader Baek Jin-sang was all that I hoped* for, and more, when it came to being the perfect company man running a tight ship, all the while being generally oblivious to any need to coddle his team. He is perfectly aware of their weaknesses and strengths and, in his own way, thinks he’s challenging them to up their game and do their work. He knows, for example, that Baek Jin-hee’s character Lee Roo-da is just marking time, keeping her head down and trying to work well enough to stay gainfully employed. With that attitude she’s not going to become a star employee in his book any time soon.
The company they work for is a division of a mid-sized chaebol run corporation, running a chain of chicken franchises. The CEO’s second son is tasked with running the division and he’s doing a fine job of doing a bad job of things, like making misguided investments and trying to find ways to cut costs to keep showing a profit. In Gyo-jin plays a mix of good guys and weasels and has fun no matter which side of the fence he’s on; this time he’s King Weasel and he lives it up. He’s under major pressure when his nephew is brought into the company “at the bottom” by the aging CEO who hopes he’ll become the next generation leader. Gong Myung is a little too much of a puppy dog for this kind of role, but he’s generally so earnest that I’ll give him a pass. He’s also brought in to be a romantic interest for the affections of Baek Jin-hee and provides a marked contrast to the more mature (and attractive, even if he is a jerk) Kang Ji-hwan.
Baek Jin-hee is one of those actresses that would be miscast as a simpering Candy-type, so I’m happy to report that she once again is smart, resourceful, decent, plain-speaking, and normal (normal in her manner of speaking, behaviors… it’s refreshing) in terms of her age as Lee Roo-da. One minor note: she is always layered up to the max in her wardrobes; she reminds me of Diane Keaton in this regard. I think this is true even in summer dramas – could she have Reynaud’s Syndrome? But, I digress.
As for the plot… There are elements that put me in mind of Chief Kim, and that is a good thing. You have a workplace ensemble of interesting and diverse characters who work together (and sometimes work against each other) and reflect some real issues in the working world today – and not just in Korea. “Something” happens, however, to make Lee Roo-da snap, and take a stand against the frustrating rectitude of Baek Jin-sang, to the point where she wishes he would just die… and (no spoiler, really) he does. Shampoo, rinse, repeat, the cycle of Baek Jin-sang doing something infuriating sets Lee Roo-da off wishing him into the afterworld and boom! Wishes come true. The pair are stuck in this repeat cycle and it’s up to them to find out how and why, and what to do about it.
While there are moments I felt that the story could progress a little more quickly, I found myself chuckling at some silliness in every episode. The cast entered into the plot with energy and good humor – especially Kang Ji-hwan, who had to make his many demises look fun – but they don’t forget the need for balance. There are touching moments as well. All-in-all, I enjoyed this show and thought it was an entertaining change – a good way to wrap up the year.
- My hope would have been for the more sexy Kang Ji-hwan to get some screen time. I don’t think he and Baek Jin-hee get to demonstrate any man/woman sexual chemistry, though they do make very good, intelligent partners.