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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Awl" Episode 10


Once again, don't watch the preview for this episode if you can help it. There's a spoiler for the cliffhanger. For "Awl" to do this twice in a row, I think, points to a bigger problem in the drama than just a bad preview editor. The reason the previews keep spoiling the cliffhangers here is that lately, in any given episode of "Awl" there has been very little in the way of dynamic action. At this point the union is in a waiting game, and corporate management can't really do anything active anymore.

They do make the passive move of hiring Manager Ko (played by Gong Jung-hwan). The guy looks and acts like a gangster, and it's weird to see Min-cheol acting all generally helpless and aloof considering hiring decisions which affect his branch. Most of the conflict involving Manager Ko would seem pretty avoidable. Surely Go-sin has given a lecture some point on how important it is to not let yourself be baited by management.

But then Go-sin relationship the labor struggle here is fairly limited, as instead he gets visit by a ghost from the past. While I can appreciate the character building involved in noting that Go-sin used to be involved in labor movements under a much worse context, at the same time, this backstory really does come out of nowhere. Which has gotten to be a bit of a recurring trend for "Awl".

Consider this- Soo-in is married. Brief reference had been paid to this in the past, but this fact was so irrelevant when initially brought up that I completely forgot about it until Soo-in's whole family shows up this episode. Narratively, I understand that the reason for all this is to show the stresses that everyone has to go through while they wait for the legal issues surrounding the union to resolve. Even so, "Awl" has been, at its best, such a lecture on labor movements it's easy to forget that the characters are actual people.

I'm beginning to wonder if "Awl" is really more intended as a visual exposition for the benefits of webtoon fans than it is a drama necessarily intended for a broad audience. Without more exciting, dynamic plot movement, or even more discussion of how labor movements work "Awl" is having increasingly more trouble justifying its own existence. By and large the drama is still a decent quality production, although that's increasingly mattering not that much.

Review by William Schwartz

"Awl" is directed by Kim Seok-yoon, written by Kim Su-jin and Lee Nam-gyoo and features Ji Hyun-woo, Ahn Nae-sang, Kim Ga-eun, Park Si-hwan, Hyun Woo and Baek Hyun-joo.

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