K-Drama Review: “Miss Lee” Starts Off With A Unique Plot But Falters On Weak Characterization
Miss Lee imparts a lesson on persevering and not giving up until the end.
tvN’s Miss Lee focuses on the journey of how a small company work its way from scratch to protect itself from the impending disaster. Lee Hye Ri, Kim Sang Kyung, Uhm Hyun Kyung and Cha Seo Won play the key characters in the drama.
Lee Hye Ri plays the titular character Miss Lee/ Lee Sun Shim, a novice CEO who must save her company from bankruptcy. Aiding her is Kim Sang Kyung’s character Yoo Jin Wook, the Head of Sales who possess a cold demeanor but is caring on the inside.
Uhm Hyun Kyung takes on the role of Koo Ji Na, who is Sun Shim’s friend and supervisor at the work. And Cha Seo Woon portrays Park Do Joon, a person with a strong sense of justice.
Title: Miss Lee
Theme: Drama, Workplace
Length: 16 Episodes
Broadcast Date: 25 September 2019 – 14 November 2019
Main Leads: Lee Hye Ri, Kim Sang Kyung, Uhm Hyun Kyung, Cha Seo Won
Highlights: Realistic portrayal of workplace life, Focus on supporting characters, Optimistic narrative
Oh No Moments: Poor characterization of female lead, Slow progress in the plot
Related Dramas: Misaeng, Chief Kim, Jugglers
Quick Plot Roundup
Lee Sun Shim is an optimistic accountant who works at Cheongil Electronics. She holds a little to no importance in the company and most of her work involve running small errands. Even though she has been working at the organisation for a little less than a year, she is not taken seriously by her colleagues. Also, she is referred as “Miss Lee” rather by her name.
Sun Shim’s daily normal life however takes a twist when she ends up becoming the CEO of her company. The challenges are many for the novice company head, as she must also save her company which is on the verge of bankruptcy.
Realistic portrayal of workplace life
The workplace life of different kinds of people that was shown in the drama was relatable. It showed how difficult it is for small companies to survive in a competitive environment and how they are at the mercy of large corporations. But if the smaller companies unite themselves, they can be so much stronger.
Initially, towards the story the smaller corporations were at the mercy of TM Electronics, a larger corporation. TM was exploiting weaknesses of the smaller companies and abusing their power. However, later these companies realized that it was better to stay united and help each other than being a puppet to the larger corporation.
It is also true that often people think once they get a good job in a large company, they will be happy only to be proved wrong. This was exemplified in Park Do Joon’s case. He thought that working in a large company like TM Electronics was what he wanted. But he realized that the ideals of the company didn’t match with his thus resulting with him being unhappy.
The drama shows how difficult and sad the workplace can be. The fact that most people were working only for their monthly paycheck rather than having a drive towards their work or loyalty is what often happens to most people.
Focus on supporting characters
Though a workplace drama, Miss Lee also touched upon the various human emotions. The drama blended the personal and the work lives of the characters which goes on to show on how much one’s personal life can have an impact on their work life and vice versa.
Each of the employees at Cheongil Electronics had their own story to tell and they all had different motivations for their actions. At the end of the day, the drama gave out the message that no person is necessarily evil, but it’s the situation that they were at which led them to make unavoidable wrong decisions.
A deeper dive into each of the characters’ personal lives provided a perspective on how difficult life can be for a person working in a small company; and why they endured so much even if they hate what they’re doing. Because the audience got to see the human sides of the people working at Cheongil, it made them want to root for their success.
All is well that ends well. For the drama, one of the strong points was the optimistic and the fighting spirit it has showcased. The characters involved with Cheongil Electronics were at their lowest and quitting would have been the best option for them. But they did not give up which was commendable.
It was no hidden fact that everyone wanted the underdog to triumph in the end. The journey of Cheongil Electronics and its employees from the lowest of the lows to stabilizing themselves was like watching a miracle. This also sent out the message that if one tries hard enough and do what is right, they will end up winning in the end.
Cheongil Electronics was against a big company like TM Electronics and it was a David versus Goliath battle. Being a small company, the employees of Cheongil had to come up new innovative ideas so that they could sustain. Showing how a small company can rise up to the occasion shows that hard work does not betray anybody. What matters most is to not to give up.
Oh No Moments
Poor characterization of female lead
The focal point of any story is the protagonist. A protagonist has to have certain aspects in their character to draw in the audience, which is what Sun Shim clearly lacked.
It was extremely painful to see the main lead being trampled upon and treated as a doormat for most part of the series. It was understandable that she started from nowhere and her being chosen as the President of the company was merely a fluke. However, it was extremely agonizing to see her being too naive.
The problem with Sun Shim is that she was too nice and comply with trivial things even when she didn’t need to. It wasn’t until later half of the series that she showed growth.
Slow progress in the plot
The first half of the series was very slow, with little to no progress. The repeated cycle of Cheongil faced with problems and the employees arguing over petty issues was a big turnoff. The drag was unnecessarily long and excruciating.
It did take a long time for the employees of Cheongil to actually start working with a clear focus and goal in mind. Those were the moments that can get the viewers annoyed because in case of crisis, the foremost thing is to think and act fast. What happened here was the opposite.
Miss Lee started slow but gained some momentum towards the second half of the series. The underdog’s journey had a lot of potential, but the creators did miss out on making the main character likable. The second half of the drama did make up for what was missing in the first half as there were a lot of things happening as Cheongil fought to get itself back on its feet.
The workplace scenario was relatable as it showed how the scary and competitive the world of business really was. The way smaller corporations had to constantly live under the fear that they might go under if the larger corporations cut them off is the harsh reality.
The drama also put a perspective on the dilemma of whether to bend to the system or stick to one’s own beliefs. It was never easy doing what’s right when the repercussions are many. But if a person was brave enough to follow their gut feeling will eventually attain contentment.
Also, the drama put forth a notable message of trying hard until the end. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel, and if one perseveres hard enough, they will eventually reach the summit at the end.
The drama could have been a lot better if they had picked pace a little earlier. Still, the later episodes were meatier enough and did make up for what the initial episodes lacked.
Image Credit: tvN