WHAT LIES BENEATH
Eun Hwan Ki (Yeon Woo Jin) is the CEO of a public relations company, except that he is extremely introverted. Despite that he’s incredibly warmhearted, his employees fear him as he is often misunderstood and difficult to get close to. On the other hand, Chae Ro Woon (Park Hye Soo) is energetic and outgoing. She decides to give up her career in acting to work at the PR company but has other motives for working there. Her older sister had previously worked as Hwan Ki’s assistant and mysteriously committed suicide and Ro Woon has never come to terms with why her sister decided to take her own life but believes that Hwan Ki was somehow involved.
Spinning off the success of Another Oh Hae Young, there are a lot of similarities between that drama and Introverted Boss. Both dramas had heroines who were not afraid to be outrageous and restrained, seemingly cold heroes who became that way due to their backstories. Plus, many of the same artists were commissioned for the drama’s OST for both drama, most notably Ben, GGot Jam Project’s Kim E-Z, and the OST’s instrumental composers.
Ben – Memory
Also, much of the same production team and cast can be found in this drama, including Yeon Woo Jin who had made a cameo appearance in Another Oh Hae Young. I was delighted to see Lee Han Wie and Kim Mi Kyung return as the parents of the heroine but dismayed that Kim Mi Kyung’s appearance was short-lived. Still, Lee Han Wie brought a lot of depth to his performance as the grieving father.
Initially meant to be a 20 episode drama, the episodes were reduced to 16 episodes when the drama faced a lot of criticism early on in its run due to Chae Ro Woon being so over-the-top crazy that it didn’t seem plausible to viewers that her antics would just be readily accepted at the company as a new hire employee. In truth, I wasn’t so much bothered by that as I accepted Ro Woon’s antics as just a part of the heightened reality of the drama and that it was establishing the differences between Hwan Ki’s closed-off personality versus Ro Woon’s no-holds-barred personality. However, I’m still glad that the drama was reduced to 16 episodes because the reveal of Ro Woon’s sister’s, Chae Ji Hye (Han Chae Ah), backstory was nicely paced. The additional episodes might have stretched that story a little thin and I could have easily been bored by the repetitiveness towards the latter half of the drama.
Though Ro Woon’s antics may have drawn a lot of people’s attention to the show, I was drawn to Yeon Woo Jin’s performance as the insecure, meek and misunderstood Hwan Ki. I can be critical of dramas that overuse voiceover in order for viewers to understand the character’s innermost thoughts and emotions as it’s the actor’s job to be able to portray that. However, in the case of this drama, Yeon Woo Jin beautifully captures his character’s sensitivities and illustrates them through the struggles that Hwan Ki faces. Here, the voiceover adds another layer to the complexities of his character without it being over-expository.
Sandeul – 한 걸음만 더 (One Step Closer)
As a fresh-faced actress, I was incredibly surprised to see Park Hye Soo casts in the leading role in this drama. The last thing I had seen her in was playing a minor role as Joo Won’s younger sister in Yong Pal and here she is playing the lead but also playing the younger counterpart to Lee Young Ae in Saimdang, Light’s Diary around the same time. She’s a young actress who doesn’t have much on her resume just yet. I would have thought that she would be cast in more coming-of-age roles; and that reminds me that I need to go back and watch her in Age of Youth. Regardless of my hesitations about her, she quickly charmed me with her vivaciousness and her ability to balance the comedy with the more dramatic aspects the role in this drama.
As for the supporting roles in the drama, Gong Seung Yun and Yoon Park brought an interesting contrast in their roles as Hwan Ki’s younger sister, Eun Yi Soo, and best friend, Kang Woo Il, respectively with the main characters. Whether they’re accepted by the people around them or not, Hwan Ki and Ro Woon represented their true personalities. On the other hand, Yi Soo and Woo Il’s characters were all about putting on a happy face and only showing their best side. The differences provided a unique dilemma in how these characters faced their inadequacies.
It’s also worth nothing Jun Hyo Sung’s character, Kim Gyo Ri, as her character towed the line between being an introvert to putting on her best face. There were many instances where she found her boss relatable but also feared him like any other employee. The biggest takeaway though was just being pleasantly surprised by Jun Hyo Sung’s acting ability. She gives just the right touch in playing up the flightiness of her character but has a warm heart.
Although the drama has many of the same thematic and emotional elements as Another Oh Hae Young, this drama does stand on its own merit. Hwan Ki’s dilemma and Yeon Woo Jin delicateness approach to his character is really what endears me to this drama. The cast and their zaniness is just the lovely frosting on the cake. The drama isn’t a runaway hit like Another Oh Hae Young and there are minor issues I had with some unnecessary side plotlines and random characters but overall, there is a lot to love about the drama.