Lustrous, brilliant, glowing, resplendent – all synonyms for the word radiant. So wouldn’t you think a Kdrama entitled Radiant Office would shout all the wonderful virtues of office life? That makes sense. But if that’s what you were thinking they tricked you like they tricked me. This show very plainly spells out all the evils of working in an office for a large corporation.
After failing her 100th job interview, Eun Ho-Won goes to the bridge over the Han River to bemoan her sad fate. While yelling at her boss on the phone, she looses her footing and falls into the water. When she awakens she’s in the emergency room of a hospital. As she’s lying there she, and two other patients beside her, over hear two doctors talking about a patient who tried to commit suicide, only having about six more months left to live. While she’s trying to make sense of what she just heard she hears another voice giving a patient instructions on where to pay their hospital bill. That quickly brings her back to reality and, knowing she doesn’t have money to pay her bill, Ho-Won decides to slip out quietly before anyone notices she’s gone. But she’s not the only one with that idea. The man beside her bed is trying to sneak out as well. Once their escape has been accomplished they find they’ve been followed by another distraught patient. Since misery loves company they end up on the Dongjak Bridge over the Han River ready to follow through on the suicide all three botched earlier that evening (their individual attempts that landed them in the emergency room next to each other). But their intentions are never carried out because of reporters who show up to cover the incident. Distracting the reporters with a look-over-there ploy, the three strangers manage to get away and part company. However, they end up meeting once again when all three are hired as temporary employees of the Hauline Furniture Company. Is it coincidence, fate, or is something else at play?
Although she received great grades in school, they haven’t helped Eun Ho-Won at all with her career. In fact, she doesn’t even have a career. She has worked multiple part-time jobs but has never been successful in finding anything full time. It’s not that she’s picky. She just doesn’t have that certain something employers are looking for. Although she’ll take anything that will help her pay the bills, what she wants is the stability of a real full time job.
Seo Woo-Jin’s worked long and hard to earn all the management positions he’s held at such a young age. His focus is on the company he works for and gives them nothing less than 100%, expecting the same out of the folks who work for him. He is respected by those above him in rank and the ones below him, as well. When interviewing a potential employee all he cares about is their qualifications and he hates it when people get jobs through connections.
After his girlfriend dumps him because he’s failed the Civil Service exam multiple times, kind-hearted Do Ki-Taek decides to give up and end his miserable life. However, after his two suicide attempts fail he figures he might as well give life another try. When he ends up temporarily working for the company that his ex-girlfriend is employed by he decides to give the job everything he’s got. After all, maybe he can earn a permanent position there and get his sweetheart back as well.
It seems that no matter what he does Jang Kang-Ho just can’t please his mother. She reminds him his father has paid for his education and they expect him to repay that generosity by securing a fantastic job. She also emphasizes the fact that failing every job interview he’s ever had is completely unacceptable. He just wants to make his mother proud but realizes she sees him as a failure and an embarrassment.
Handsome Seo Hyun is the doctor who was on duty the night Ho-Won, Ki-Taek, and Kang-Ho were brought into the emergency room (and escaped without paying their bill). He is charming, intelligent, and wealthy. When Ho-Won meets him later on, even though he remembers her, she has no idea who he is and falls head over heels for him.
There are more employees at Hauline…
Ha Ji-Na is the gal who dumped Ki-Taek. She loves him but the fact that he doesn’t have a career scares her. Her main worry – what kind of difficult life would she have if her husband couldn’t hold down a decent paying job?
The people who work with Jo Suk-Kyung have no idea she’s a single mom. She works hard trying to get ahead but worries that no matter how good she is she’ll never make it to the top of the corporate ladder because she’s a woman.
Park Sang-Man has been with Hauline for 30 years. Even though he is considered middle management it’s not enough for him. He doesn’t mind dirty tricks if it gets him a better salary and a more powerful title.
The office jerk is Lee Yong-Jae. He acts like he’s still in high school. He loves circulating office gossip, making fun of people, getting other people to pay for his food and do his work, and he does a great job groveling to the higher-ups.
Go Ah-Sung, who plays Eun Ho-Won, was in her first commercial when she was just four years old. Then, at the age of 10, she joined the cast of the stage musical Peter Pan. (I wonder if she played the part of Wendy.) When she was 13 she joined the children’s show Oolla Boolla Blue-Jjang. In 2006 she took home the Best New Actress award followed by the Best Young Star award in 2007, both for her role in the monster movie The Host. I first saw her in the Kdrama Master of Study. If you haven’t seen it yet I suggest you keep it in mind. It’s wonderful. Go Ah-Sung is currently studying Psychology at Sungkyunkwan University.
Ha Seok-Jin, whose role is Seo Woo-Jin, made his entertainment debut as a commercial model for Korean Air. Aside from Radiant Office the only thing I’ve seen him in is One Percent of Something – not great but not bad either. I can’t help but think he looks a little like actor Song Seung-Heon in his younger Autumn in My Heart days, especially from a distance. What do you think?
I classified this drama as a romance but only because it didn’t fit in any of the other genres – action/adventure, comedy, crime/thriller, drama, sci-fi/fantasy, historical, mystery, medical, music related. It’s not any of those. But if you’re hoping for a show packed with romance you’re in for a big let down. One kiss, that’s it, and it’s towards the end of the show. We’re aware of when Ho-Won and Woo-Jin begin to like each other but the writer did nothing to satisfy our romantic itch. There’s no fun sexual tension, no come hither glances, nothing to indicate any yummy stuff is on the horizon. It’s just a show about the stress and demands of office life. It’s as if the characters are saying, “You think your job is bad, be glad you don’t work in a big corporate office.”
There are a few inconsistencies here and there (for instance there’s a scene where Ho-Won quickly lies down in her hospital bed with her hair completely out of the way, yet when the nurse looks in on her there is a chunk of hair across her face, but after the nurse leaves it shows Ho-Won’s face and all her hair is in back once again – obviously two different shots) but nothing major.
This drama was written by rookie screenwriter Jung Hoe-Hyun who won the 2016 MBC TV Drama Screenplay Competition in the miniseries category. It’s an okay show, but if you’re in the mood to watch a drama whose script was selected from a scriptwriting contest I suggest you find Lie to Me. There’s tons more romance, the main characters are much more likable and their chemistry is thumbs-up hot. It’s leaps and bounds more entertaining as a whole than Radiant Office.
As for the soundtrack, there aren’t a lot of songs and only a few are worthy of mentioning. 101, performed by Ho Yoon of Closet, is my favorite with Stunning, by Junggigo, coming in second and the ballad Come to Me, sung by Taeil from the boy group Block B, taking third place.
The story’s main focus is what’s going on inside the Hauline office building so most of the drama is filmed there. However, there’s one thing the drama makes sure to do and that is to show the vast difference between the living space of one of Hauline’s full time employees vs. those of the temporary folks.
This show teaches us a valuable lesson – just be happy today. Yesterday was a today and tomorrow will be a today so we only need to be concerned with today.
“Let’s be happy just for today. Then every day will be happy.” – Do Ki-Taek (paraphrasing Eun Ho-Won)
We may not all work in a Radiant Office but by adopting that attitude we can all have a radiant life.
The lesson we learn about being happy just for today
Some minor inconsistencies
Lack of romance