K-Drama Review: “Chief Of Staff” Weaves Realistic Plot On Politics, Lawmakers & Their Aides
With an engrossing script powered by a renowned cast, Chief Of Staff takes a deeper plunge into the world of politics.
Chief Of Staff highlights how ugly the world of politics can be and how extremely dirty it can get. Throughout the drama, the contemplation of choosing between the right and wrong is raised. Should the protagonist avoid playing by the rules and bend things in his favor to achieve the fast effective results or should he walk in the path of righteousness even if the process is slow?
Title: Chief of Staff
Network: jTBC | Netflix
Theme: Political thriller, drama
Length: 10 Episodes
Broadcast Date: 14 June 2019 – 13 July 2019
Main Leads: Lee Jung Jae, Shin Min Ah, Lee Elijah
Highlights: Noteworthy Performances, Unpredictable Plot
Related Dramas: Punch, The Good Wife, The K2, Stranger
Boasting of cast known for their acting prowess, Chief Of Staff spins an unpredictable tale of the political battles that takes place continuously. At every step, a lawmaker has to keep thinking at his feet in order to get ahead of his opponents.
Making his comeback in the small screen after ten years, Lee Jung Jae depicts the role of a dynamic chief of staff, Jang Tae Joon, who wants to change the corrupt system. Taking on a different avatar, Shin Min Ah portrays the character of a lawyer turned assemblywoman, Kang Seon Yeong, who is also in a secret relationship with Jang Tae Joon.
Even though they are from opposing parties, Tae Joon and Seon Yeong help each other for achieving their individual goals.
Quick Plot Round Up
Jang Tae Joon is an ambitious individual who works at the National Assembly as an aide for a shrewd politician Song Hui Seop. He is a reliable right-hand man who comes up with strategies to ensure that the politician he is aiding steers ahead of the opponents.
An occurrence of an incident where a lot of innocent people died while he was on duty as a policeman awakened Tae Joon’s urge to change the corrupt system, thus leading him to seek a career in politics.
He aims to become an assemblyman so that he can reform the system. However, he believes that in order for him to move to the top of the hierarchy, he must resort to foul play like the rest of the politicians.
Focusing on the politicians and their aides, the story writers have added multiple twists to the plot. In every episode, a new challenge springs up for the male lead and it is difficult to determine which direction the story will head to. There is a continuous battle of wits going on and there are enemies from every direction waiting to strike at the right time.
Jang Tae Joon has many enemies and therefore, he also has to outsmart all of them to ensure that there are no hindrances in achieving his goal. With the greed of own’s selfish needs, each of the characters takes an active part in scheming plans to get ahead of others. None of the characters can be underestimated as each of them are experts in manipulating and influencing things in their favor.
Along with the motivations of the main protagonist, the drama effectively captures the motives of the different characters in the story. It was amusing to watch on how quickly everyone changes sides based on the situation. There was no such thing as loyalty and everyone betrayed one another in the blink of an eye.
Realistic portrayal of politics
The series does not sugarcoat anything and reveals how ugly the playground of politics can be. There is no fair play and every politician set out to play dirty for their own selfish gains. It is overwhelming to see how many powerful forces were at play and the dependencies required to gain power. Jang Tae Joon was dependent on Song Hui Seop and thus, was willing to do his bidding. Consequently, Song Hui Seop was dependent on Lee Chang Jin and other powerful businessmen.
The only righteous politician in the story is Lee Seong Min, also Jang Tae Joon’s mentor, who cares for the people and became an assemblyman to benefit the public. He believes that one should do everything in a lawful manner. But, he is a lone warrior in the playground facing many hurdles.
On the contrary, Tae Joon believes that in order to change the system he has to be powerful enough thus resorting to bending the laws for his personal gains. The question is how far is he willing to go and what is the limit on how far should he go. He does not want to end up corrupt like Song Hui Seop, but what if the greed for power blinds him so much that he goes astray.
Every character has an interesting dynamics with other story players throughout the series. The most notable one would be that of Han Do Gyeong. He started out working as intern at the National Assembly because he idolized Jang Tae Joon. However, his perception gets shattered when he realizes that his idol is not same person as he had visualized.
The relationship of Jang Tae Joon and Kang Seon Yeong also take tumultuous turns as they juggle between their feelings for each other as well as pursuing their political endeavors. Seon Yeong has supported Tae Joon diligently but now that things have gone awry, it is difficult to predict what her next move would be.
The mentor-mentee relationship between Lee Seong Min and Jang Tae Joon was endearing. They both started their political careers to reform the system but took different paths. Lee Seong Min was the only determinant that had constantly reminded Tae Joon of the difference between right and wrong. But, with that sole consideration gone, it might be difficult for Tae Joon to stay at the right path.
The entire series was an overwhelming journey of Jang Tae Joon fulfilling his ambition of becoming an assemblyman. The sequence of actions undertaken and their consequences makes the audience ponder on whether they are justified. Jang Tae Joon started out with his dream to build a beautiful world that is devoid of corruption. In order to build that world, he destroyed the existing world with even adopting questionable means in the finale episode.
Throughout the series, the question that is raised repeatedly is whether it is alright to perform wrong deeds like everyone else in order to change things from the inside. The drama has showcased that the world of politics is scary and it is impossible for a single person to cleanse the system as there is big network of powerful people controlling things. Tae Joon’s motivation is to change the system, but the bigger question is what if the power corrupts him.
The series ended in a powerful note with many open-ended questions raising expectations for the upcoming sequel. In season 2, it will be interesting to see whether Tae Joon redeems himself and change the system or ends up getting intoxicated with his newly assigned powers.
The second season of the drama is scheduled to be released on November 11.
Image Credit: JTBC