K-drama Good Job: Jung Il-woo, Kwon Yuri in series that’s part Batman, part Sherlock Holmes, all toxic masculinity
- Starring Jung Il-woo and Kwon Yuri of Girls’ Generation, Good Job follows a CEO/private detective who teams up with a plucky young woman with a special power
- There’s a bouncy energy to the series that makes it an easy watch, but it both points the finger at and embodies the same problem: outdated K-drama gender roles
The overweening male lead is alive and well in the new Korean drama series Good Job from ENA, which debuted with the unenviable task of occupying the time slot in Korean broadcast schedules vacated by Extraordinary Attorney Woo a week earlier.
Jung Il-woo and Kwon Yuri of K-pop group Girls’ Generation lead the new series, which may trigger déjà vu for viewers familiar with 2021’s period drama Bossam: Steal the Fate, which featured the same two leads.
Jung plays the brilliant and suave Eun Sun-woo, the head of the Eunkang Group, Korea’s largest corporation. He is also secretly a private detective who specialises in going undercover with the help of elaborate costumes and make-up, assisted by his trusty lawyer assistant Yang Jin-mo (Eum Moon-suk).
The case he’s busying himself with at the moment concerns the grisly death of his mother 20 years ago. Her priceless diamond necklace, named the Queen’s Tears, has suddenly resurfaced and thus finally provided him with a lead to uncover what really happened on that rainy night.
Sun-woo attends the auction for the Queen’s Tears in a wheelchair, buried under thoroughly unconvincing old man hair and make-up. The disguise doesn’t get him very far as he instead punches his way through a dozen guards on the way to the office of the auction house’s CEO.
When she catches him in her office, the pair try to outcool each other until Sun-woo gets the upper hand and waltzes out with the diamonds.
More guards appear and he beats a quick retreat from the building, with Jin-mo guiding him to his getaway vehicle. Sun-woo is surprised to land on a pink scooter, but little does he know that he’s taken the wrong bike – this one belongs to the plucky jack-of-all-trades Don Se-ra (Kwon).
Se-ra works multiple jobs as she tries to raise funds before her sister leaves her orphanage. She does standard odd jobs like making deliveries, but once a week she also takes a shift at a casino, where her true skills shine.
Se-ra has what she calls eagle vision, except that doesn’t really do justice to her extraordinary abilities of sight. On the casino floor she can handily spot cheats and crooks. Her pit boss would love to have her on full-time, but using her ability drains her energy so much that a weekly stint is all she can manage.
In typical meet-cute fashion, Se-ra bumps into Sun-woo several times, with each reunion less happy than the last. After several near misses, their fates are inextricably tied when Se-ra’s friend Sa Na-hee (Song Sang-eun) opens her cake shop right below Jin-mo’s law office, which doubles as Sun-woo’s secret lair/oversized fashion wardrobe.
One night, Se-ra follows Sun-woo to the house of a famous actress and calls the cops on him when he enters a room filled with blood. Sun-woo is quickly released by the police and Se-ra soon joins his investigative crew when he finds out that she saw someone else exit the house while he was inside.
Se-ra proves to be a valuable asset to the team, and Sun-woo quickly discovers her eagle vision. He calls her up and tells her to go up to her roof, while holding a sign atop the Eunkang skyscraper on the other side of town saying “I know your secret”.
In effect, Sun-woo is a Korean drama version of Batman, with all the playboy billionaire trappings, investigative skills and traumatic backstory to go along with them, but without any of the angst.
Like Batman, but unlike Se-ra, Sun-woo has no superpowers, yet what he is gifted with is super arrogance. He knows how powerful and skilful he is and he isn’t afraid to sing his own praises. At one point he refers to himself as a better version of Sherlock Holmes.
Good Job has a bouncy energy to it that makes it an easy watch, but what’s holding it back so far is its outdated K-drama gender roles.
Arrogant male leads still dominate Korean television, but Sun-woo gets to be supercilious and the hero at the same time. When Se-ra shows up in a stunning one piece outside a club, her heel gets caught between cobblestones and he’s there to perform the first of surely many catch-hugs in the show.
In the next scene, Se-ra stands up for a woman in a VIP room when the rich and entitled Kang Tae-joon (Yoon Sun-woo), son to Sun-woo’s business partner Kang Wan-soo (Jo Young-jin), becomes gross and violent, but as soon as the problem escalates, Sun-woo immediately steps in to save her.
As Su-woo and Se-ra’s partnership evolves over the coming weeks, the CEO/private eye is likely to temper his haughty impulses, but it’s an awkward step for the show to start off on – particularly as the first mini-case they solve together involves a talent-agency CEO blackmailing his actresses with compromising videos.
So far, Good Job has done a good job of both pointing the finger at and embodying the same problem: toxic masculinity.
Good Job will start streaming on Viu on September 7.