In “Radiant Office,” a young woman totters on the tangled tightrope of adulthood. One false step might lead her to land in the most unexpected of places.
WARNING! This article contains SPOILERS and discusses the topic of suicide and depression.
Right from the get-go, this drama had my attention. In the opening scene, a chicken helmet-clad Eun Ho-won, played by Go Ah-Sung, crashes a delivery truck into a building lobby. Naturally, I wondered what on earth had spurred this girl into such a salty rage. Eat a Snickers and breathe, child. My goodness.
We quickly find out that Ho-won has applied for a job at the large and prestigious company Gi Dong Foods 99 times. She has also been rejected 99 times. On her one-hundredth interview, her hopes and spirits are sky high, and I couldn’t help but root for her. It seemed that nothing could bring her down. Nothing, that is, except her unsmiling interviewer, Seo Woo-jin, played by Ha Suk-jin. It instantly becomes clear that he is not interested in playing games nor is he interested in hiring someone with a less than stellar résumé, which is sadly the category that Ho-won falls into thanks to her long string of part-time restaurant, delivery and convenience jobs. She has good grades but little else. Ho-won’s situation is one that many young adults know all too well. I, for one, certainly felt her pain.
After enduring the grueling interview process — which briefly brightens when she has quirky daydreams of a feisty fencing match against Woo-jinn — a few kind words leave her hopes renewed. However, those kind words will come back to bite.
Things only go downhill from here, guys. Ho-won struggles to make ends meet, support her sick mother and pay her rent with part-times jobs. Meanwhile, the show introduces Do Ki-taek and his girlfriend, Ha Ji-na.
Well, an ex-girlfriend who has broken up with him in the chilliest of fashions. In my opinion … bye, Felicia.
WARNING: The following paragraphs may be upsetting to readers.
The breakup scene was as brutal as Ki-taek’s troubling response. After a fruitless attempt to win Ji-na back via drunken phone call, which interrupts her date (that was quick), he pops a handful of pills and washes them down with alcohol, lamenting that he only wants to sleep soundly. At this point in the episode, I strongly suggest you locate a tissue box. You’re going to need it.
I felt the rug had been yanked out from under me right along with Ho-won when she discovers that she has been rejected from Gi Dong Foods for the 100th time. My heart continued to break for her as she reminisces about her father’s passing while walking along the Han River, completely disheartened. At this point, “Radiant Office” surprised me. Ho-won walks by several signs on the bridge that encourage second thoughts and promise that the day will get better. Depression and suicide are very, very real issues that people across the world struggle with every day. “Radiant Office” addresses this in a very unflinching fashion when Ho-won, tearfully asking why she has been rejected yet again, accidentally slips and falls into the river.
She later awakens in the hospital alive, but not quite well. After overhearing some rather earthshaking news, she sneaks away with the help of Ki-taek, who had been in the bed next door. They are later joined by the third musketeer, Jang Kang-ho, who was also hospitalized for an apparent suicide attempt after his own mother told him to “die” when he failed to secure a job yet again. Though their escape ends with a hilarious chase over the Han River, the humor doesn’t take away from the sad undertone that left me desperately trying to convince my roommate that I was not crying over a television show (I was). The trio later share a meal and are treated to firm but kind advice from the restaurant ajumma. It certainly warmed my heart and seemingly theirs as well.
Instead of giving up and returning home, Ho-won decides to take a chance on one last interview. She is not alone. Kang-ho is a fellow interviewee, and he lets her know that they are in for a rough ride. Their interviewer has a brutal reputation and sends his victims fleeing in tears.
At this point, I already knew what was coming, but I will still confess to cackling in delight when the man himself, none other than Woo-jin, walks by and locks eyes with a horrified Ho-won.
It’s about to get real.
I hope this drama will continue with the momentum it picked up in episode one. I love it when a drama can weave multiple characters an stories together without the plot becoming needlessly tangled. So far, “Radiant Office” has managed to do just that. The cast is wonderful, and they set a fantastic balance between humor and harsh subject matter. I cannot say that this is a drama that I would binge watch, but I can certainly see myself enjoying a few episodes per week. “Radiant Office” got its hooks into my curiosity, and I can’t wait to see Woo-jin and Ho-won face off in a battle of the résumés.
Want to see more “Radiant Office”? Find the episodes on DramaFever.
Do you know someone struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide? Find help with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.