A Born Outcast: Thoughts on Episode 3 “Awl”

I’ve been thinking about this show quite a bit, especially after I went out shopping yesterday on ‘Black Friday’. It used to be so much fun. When the kids were little, my mom and I would plan out what we’d get them for Christmas after Thanksgiving dinner. When the kids were too old for toys, I’d get up at Oh Dark Thirty, with my youngest teen son already waiting–he inherited the black belt shopping gene from me and his grandmother–and we’d hit the stores running, then stop for a big breakfast, and go for a second round. It was great time spent together.

Now the stores open on Thanksgiving night, which is a sacrilege in my eyes because the employees can’t spend the day with their families. I refuse to shop at stores that open at noon or 3 or 6pm on Thursday. Most of the really good buys are online now anyways, and we all have the electronics we need so there’s nothing compelling to go and buy–as long as I maintain my temper! I bought work boots yesterday for my oldest son–and that was it. A few weeks ago, I talked to a couple of Target employees who seem resigned to having to work the crazy hours during the Thanksgiving holiday. It was simple math: they needed the money and the job. Not working on Thanksgiving night=instant job loss.

*All screencaps from Dramacool.com*

Goo Go Shin is in a negotiation meeting between a group of striking workers and the President of a company. I think this is the group Miss So Jin belongs to, but I am not sure. However, it looks like the talks are going nowhere, as GGS picks apart the poorly worded employment agreement:

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The President blows a gasket, calling GGS a scoundrel, and asking for him to be removed from the discussion. His attorney puts the kibosh on that idea:

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Furthermore, it is required by law that GGS be there…and the attorney is not this guy’s employee either. This doesn’t sit too well with the blustering Prez:

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Boo freakin’ hoo! The Prez needs some cheese with that whine! GGS tries to explain:

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The negotiations degenerate as GGS goes on the offense, smacking the table as he accuses the Prez of intentionally sabotaging the process. Then things take a weird turn as GGS makes an observation about the contract as it currently stands:

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Whaaaat?!? The Prez can’t believe that! (BTW–porn is technically illegal in SK) GGS clarifies:

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This takes some of the wind out of the sails of the Prez, especially after we find out:

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OMG, that’s hilarious! It’s his son, and he’s finally acting ‘like a man’ according to the lady on the right! *snort* More like a horny teenage boy if you ask me….but who is this woman?

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Bwahhaahaa! Another dysfunctional family airing out their dirty laundry! Check out the smirk on the attorney’s face too. Sis blusters that Dad shoulda put her in charge and not her oppa :

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GGS is so done with this dramarama…the father and daughter continue to argue back and forth that she would have bankrupted the company and GGS has to remind them–Hey! Let’s get this deal done! Perhaps they would prefer the workers to strike? Afterward, GGS and the union workers joke about how stupid that whole session ended up being, and he leaves to hand out more business cards.

GGS calls the opposition attorney (while he’s trying to take a leak!) and berates him for the morning’s soap opera-esque meeting:

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The attorney whines that educating the cranky President is more than he can handle, and maybe GGS should give it a try. This shuts GGS up quick, and he returns to handing out cards, and doing some impromptu street level labor law education. The way people avoid him though…it’s like he’s handing out flyers with the Ebola virus attached to them:

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The porn-watching CEO brings GGS an envelope…holy cow! I thought for a minute he might have a knife!

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I know that bribery may be the reality of how business is done elsewhere in the world, and heaven knows there is plenty of it going on here in the US too…but to see it so often, openly and blatantly like I see in DramaLand is still mind boggling. The CEO puts the spin on it:

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He wants GGS to be the one who negotiates for the company’s side. Heh. Fat chance, my friend! GGS surprisingly takes the envelope of cash and counts it!

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He asks if the CEO will get in trouble if he takes the cash envelope back…and then he says he has something for the CEO as he reaches into his shirt pocket….Whoa! It’s not a knife but something even better:

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Ah, it’s a little digital recording device…very cool! GGS speaks into the recorder, listing out the crimes the CEO has just committed, including bribery, corruption and unfair labor law practice. This shuts the CEO up real quick, and GGS lets him know that no matter how scary his father might be:

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GGS tells the CEO to make sure his company is more open to negotiation so he doesn’t have to meet the prosecutor!

Back at Fourmis Mart, Lee Soo In asks his workers to prepare lots of sample fruit, because more samples=more sales. The disgruntled ahjummas ask why they should even bother:

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Kang Min is chatting with Joon Chul. Hmm, looks like Joon Chul’s getting hitched soon!

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I’m sure this is some kind of important detail, so I’m filing it away. KM asks if Manager Heo said anything. JC explains as LSI listens in:

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Inside the store, Manager Kim starts throwing a fit, asking why last season’s merchandise is still on the shelf and dumping it on the ground. Seriously, he acts like a toddler. Manager Yoon flashes back to another shin-kicking incident from Manager Jung as he scolds one of the ahjummas for packing the shelf too tightly. He continues to berate her as her son Dong Hyub listens in. Finally DH can’t take it anymore:

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LSI is watching as DH’s mom tries to defuse the situation:

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She continues to plead with her son to apologize to Manager Yoon. LSI, still wearing the apron over his shirt and tie, is stocking fruit and a piece rolls away. None of the workers will even pick it up and give it back to him. How petty. I’ve got co-workers who act like this, so I can empathize with LSI. It’s very clear:

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GGS is handing out cards and flyers in front of Fourmis.

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I think the subbers meant “overtime pay” and not “overpay”, but I could be missing something here. Overtime is 150% of the hourly wage, and night shift work is 200%. When a security guard/thug from Fourmis tries to chase him away, GGS retorts with:

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They get into this whole deal about calling the security guy ‘sir’ or ‘kid’, and GGS says it doesn’t matter; he is gonna get in trouble no matter what. GGS ends up getting chased across the street.

LSI leaves work late in the evening, and one of GGS’s cards has landed on his windshield.

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Over at the Bu Jin Labor Law Center, GGS tries to kick So Jin out of the office late at night as she reads a magazine. He’s got logic on his side:

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I’m not entirely sure she has a home to go to:

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She wonders who in their right mind would spend all their free time hanging out at the union. GGS looks nonplussed for a second, then he gets distracted by the instant coffee–it’s not the cheap stuff he’s used to. So Jin claims to have bought it with her own money. He relents, and calls it delicious. They act like a cute bickering couple.

LSI visits the Labor Law office as GGS is giving a lecture. Check out So Jin’s face as LSI folds up those long legs of his to sit down on the floor and listen:

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Why do I have the feeling LSI has never noticed a lady checking him out before? He nods to So Jin, but he’s way more interested in GGS’s lecture. She scoots over closer to him:

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But he politely declines and she continues to gawk at him. So cute!

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GGS explains how collective bargaining works, and that it’s much better than working with the company’s labor management council which is usually worthless. The union has the force of law behind it, and the company has to listen. The conversation turns to the bribe offer GGS got from the CEO–a measly $5K–and one of the meeting attendees brags that his boss offered him $100K to leave the union. That gets GGS right in the ego as he claims the bribe offer was a mere deposit!

GGS praises one of the attendees for understanding that if a boss picks on a worker just because he joins a union, that is an unfair labor practice. This makes LSI think about his confrontation with Gaston:

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What’s the punishment for interfering?

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Heh, I wonder how quick Gaston would learn Korean if he got thrown in a SK prison for a couple of years? I’m sure he’d pick up a few words. I’ll leave it to your vivid imagination to decide which words he might learn first!

Another attendee says, Yeah–that’s nice, But the law doesn’t protect the ordinary worker. A small fine is a mere slap on the wrist to these large corporations. GGS has a different perspective:

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He explains that in Europe during the 1800’s, it was illegal for 2 guys to meet at a pub and discuss working conditions, and young children worked 12 hour days. Even in those difficult conditions, people who didn’t just blindly follow orders (my emphasis) were starting to think about labor laws. GGS calls out LSI and asks him if he’s ever heard this kind of talk before. Then he floats an even better idea:

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Side note: I wholeheartedly agree. Pretty much everyone I know including myself, my kids, and their friends and mine have been taken advantage of at some point by unscrupulous employers. Employment laws should be taught as part of a Civics or US government class that is already a required HS graduation class. I’ve had to go head-to-head with my own boss over the issue of meeting times. For years, she had this notion that if she bought us lunch, she could conduct an office meeting without having to pay us for the hour. I tried to talk to her about it, but to no avail. I talked myself blue in the face to my coworkers who just wanted to go with the flow and not cause a problem. Sheesh. I ended up flatly refusing to attend the meeting unless I was paid for the hour, lunch or no lunch. I was ready to go to the labor board over it, and I made that very clear. We now have all our office meetings during paid time, and not during lunch.

Show then gives us some info about how labor law education works elsewhere in the world:

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And in France–of all the ironic places!

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Right here, the light switches on for me–Gaston is one guilty Mofo. He is fully aware of the employment laws in France, but he thinks he can get away with whatever he wants in SK. #whattadick

GGS goes on to explain that in Europe:

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LSI looks like he wants to download GGS’s brain and all the knowledge about the labor laws ASAP.

Both the police and the military have unions in Germany and Sweden. Wait, did he just say military?!

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LSI looks like he got punched in the gut as he hears this. Plenty of info: SK has one of the lowest Worker’s Comp claims, but one of the highest death rates for workers on the job. Whoa.

It looks like the light went on for LSI as he puts his hand up to ask GGS if he’s heard correctly:

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Answer:

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LSI notes that his company is based out of France, and the managers are French…so:

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The devastating answer:

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The government will be loathe to prosecute them, and the citizens won’t criticize their actions–plus it’s cheaper:

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GGS surmises that’s how people are–if they think no one is looking then they will try and get away with it. GGS goes one step further–if a worker becomes a CEO, he’s gonna try and break up the union. The other attendees grumble that they’d never do such a wicked thing, but GGS says don’t be so sure.

LSI and GGS meet together afterward. GGS doesn’t look too impressed:

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After chasing off one of the meeting attendees who is singing and playing his guitar, GGS lets LSI know why this is gonna be a problem:

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I think if GGS knew the crap LSI had been taking lately over at Fourmis, he’d change his tune quickly. Right now, he might see LSI as an enemy or possibly a mole. He asks why LSI cares so much. It’s not his butt on the line here, and the upper managers will take care of him anyway. LSI disagrees:

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GGS is like, yeah whatever–you’re a good guy. He doesn’t buy into how sincere and honest LSI really is. He gives LSI the 411:

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LSI says that he’s already thought about it. GGS is totally dismissive, and tells LSI that soon there will be a moment he’s not sure about anything, and to let him know when that happens. LSI knows he’s getting the sign to leave here, so he gets up, bows politely and bails out. So Jin has some questions for her ‘boss’:

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Why would he want to do that? After all, he has such a pretty face! Ha! I love it when women are just as shallow as men. GGS says he organizes a union too, implying he’s got just as pretty a face as LSI, and they bicker back and forth cutely.

Cut to the Ahjumma crew having dinner together at a restaurant, and trying to combine what they all know into something cohesive. The idea that maybe someone in management is trying to get them all fired is brought up, but shot down quickly. Who would do the work? The Managers? Lol. Jung Mi’s take:

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The real source of the problem is this:

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LSI is back at his apartment, reading the online bulletin board for the Fourmis Mart Labor Union. The next day, he shows up at the Labor Law Center, and gets a delicious cup of instant coffee from a very pleased barista aka So Jin:

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She asks him why he wants to form a union, and LSI says that he doesn’t, but:

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So Jin says that’s what a union is for, and then she gets down to business:

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Heh….LSI is caught off guard, and she correctly surmises that he went to all-boys Junior high and HS, and then military academy! He’s so transparent…and the “Heol!” she exclaims isn’t even subbed! LSI ends up missing GGS who comes back exhausted from a tough day negotiating:

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So Jin lets GGS know that LSI came by, and they both agree that LSI has no clue what a union is:

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LSI gets a text message from GGS–“Let’s take a field trip!” But this is no fun and games field trip. They head to a confrontation between the union workers and management:

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The police (who are actually from the military) watch the union workers get beat up by the company’s security thugs, and do nothing but sit around in their riot gear. The security guards spray the protesting workers with fire extinguishers:

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Kyung Mi begs a policeman for help, but he doesn’t move:

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So Jin is right in the thick of it too, even though some of the older male workers try to hold her back so she won’t get hurt by the thugs….it’s a very chaotic scene, and looks like a mini-version of the protests from a couple of weeks ago. LSI is stunned:

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GGS speaks in English (but it’s captioned anyway!)

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As the protest continues to spiral out of control, the security guard with a a scar on his face orders the cops/military to intervene (BTW, why does this guy get to tell the cops/military what to do and have them do it?!) The cops separate the protesting workers from the gate to the factory:

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Kyung Mi verbally takes on the cops:

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GGS steps up to the front and center of the protest. He stops in front of the riot police, brandishing a piece of paper. What is it?

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He lets everyone know that the company fired the workers for joining the union. These contract workers should have been FT employees. He demands that the union and management meet. Security guard with the scar tells one of the military/police guys to go and block the other side. He proceeds to stumble and cuts himself on the razor wire blockade:

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At this point, LSI gets involved, hollering at Scarface:

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LSI has to be restrained by the security guards as he tells Scarface he has no authority to order around military soldiers. He breaks through the grasp of the other security guard and immediately checks on the injured young conscript:

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I gotta love how this kid seems to know instantly that he’s in the presence of an officer, addressing LSI as “Sir”. Scarface barks at the soldier to go back to his post and hits him in the head for good measure! Then Scarface whines to LSI that he’s making him into the bad guy here. OMG. LSI has a awfully long fuse. He stares at Scarface as Scarface continues to taunt him. The repressed rage in LSI’s expression is pretty easy to see. Meanwhile, the police captain (?) tells the striking workers:

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If they don’t back off:

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as well as disrupting a business. Hmm, seems to me there’s not much business going on without any workers in there…then So Jin gets into the fray:

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GGS adds that the police and the military are disrupting the business right now:

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He continues that it is illegal to fire workers because they joined a union, and their right to protest is being impeded. GGS challenges the police: if you wanna do something meaningful:

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Kyung Mi adds that the police stood by while the female workers were pushed, cursed at and sexually harassed:

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Yeah, I wanna know that too! The police captain mealy-mouths that it’s not about taking sides, it’s about avoiding physical confrontation! What a load of BS that is….I’ve seen plenty of physical confrontation already in this scene! GGS tries to clarify the message for the obtuse police captain:

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GGS then calls 119 to make a report:

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The owners come out and deny that these folks ever worked for them–they were hired by a 3rd party service. So Jin has something to say about that! Not only did San Jin’s other employees act as their supervisor:

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GGS shows the owners the judgement of the illegal outsourcing, and accuses them of hiding behind a 3rd party company. The owners are like–alrighty then, screw it. We’ll just pay the fine! That sparks another pushing/shoving fracas–which is not shown. Later, things have calmed down somewhat and LSI and GGS are standing around talking outside of the factory.

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LSI asks if this is gonna happen if Fourmis starts a union…GGS responds with: maybe or maybe not. He asks if LSI is getting scared. LSI replies:

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That’s….that’s so logical. WTH. Hey, LSI! If everyone acted logically and rationally, you’d be living on Planet Vulcan with Mr. Spock and his tribe! You might be thrilled about that, but the rest of us wouldn’t because if everyone acted reasonably and rationally, there would be no Kdramas to watch! Not to mention all the unemployed actors and actresses. Geez! Unfortunately, you’re stuck here on Planet Earth with all these irrational and highly emotionally volatile humans. I know. My oldest son laments about this all the time. It’s a drag!

So Jin asks LSI if he thinks they like being in this situation: where you get fired the minute you join the union. LSI gets a text message and has to leave just as the police pull up responding to the 119 call from GGS.

Later on, LSI is sacked out on his couch napping. The phone rings–and the person on the other end calls him oppa!

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Heh–he’s awake now! It’s So Jin. She invites him to hang out and he meets her at the factory (?) Police station with the other striking workers. Hee Hee-she says exactly what I was thinking!

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I agree. I also want to give props to whoever is the tailor for Ji Hyun Woo’s suits. Every single one that he wears is perfectly fitted and looks fantastic on him.

LSI is confused–why are they meeting at a police station? So Jin explains–if you win a race, I’ll go to the movies with you. She leads him away and he’s so under her spell he follows her obediently….heh. This should be good. GGS is there, and he can’t believe that she actually called him. She says it’s because he’s from the army and they hard-core train. She asks him-What’s your time in the 100 meters:

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But he qualifies that as being a while ago. No matter–it’s gonna be way faster than if GGS runs! They need someone to report the protest. LSI is clearly flustered as So Jin leads him off:

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GGS gets into a hassle with the policeman on duty. There’s a reason the protests are being held here:

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and now he is firing workers for joining the union. *headdesk* No wonder GGS told LSI that once the workers got on top, they became just like the ones they were fighting against. Here’s an interesting statistic–What is the wage gap between large and small companies? 94% back in the ’80’s and 56% in the 2000’s. Why would someone work for half the wage and get fired with a text message. (Whaaat? Fired with a text message? That’s right on par with breaking up with a text. Totally cowardly and unacceptable, although my kids tell me it happens.) I like how this show throws in the educational stuff in a seamless way, like with the lectures that GGS gives or when he hands out cards on the street. Well done.

LSI sees a ripped looking guy in shorts get off a scooter and asks:

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So Jin explains:

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So the police decided to have a race and accept the winner’s paperwork. Yeah, makes perfect sense to me! /sarc

This is why LSI has to win:

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GGS goes up to the ringer guy and asks if he’s getting paid for this, regardless if he wins or loses. The ringer doesn’t respond, but GGS gives him his card anyways and tells him if there’s a problem with getting paid to give him a call! Ha! He’s always in the moment!

The race starts and LSI is way ahead of the ringer. The policeman calls them back for a false start. Ahhhh! GGS cries foul:

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The policeman/referee and GGS get into an increasingly heated argument, until LSI comes over and pulls the plug:

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GGS backs down, and they race again. It’s a little closer this time, but LSI still wins and it’s great to see a big smile on his face for a change:

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They get the assembly permit this time, but will have to take turns in the future. LSI is invited to a meal with GGS and So Jin, but he goes over to talk to a security guard first that he recognized from the ‘field trip’. He wants to know if the recruit who hurt his hand on the razor wire was okay. The guard rudely blows him off:

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Undaunted, LSI asks again if the injured soldier got proper treatment for his injury. The guard pretends that he has no clue. No one was hurt. Nothing to see here. LSI is patiently insistent:

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LSI wants to know since he’s speaking to a captain/officer:

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GGS, sensing that this encounter is going to end badly, tries to defuse the situation:

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Once the captain knows that LSI was an officer, things turn around real quick:

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LSI gives GGS the behind-the-scenes info:

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Looks like maybe GGS is starting to accept LSI:

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At the restaurant:

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(Sorry for the foodie pic. I got up early in the morning to write this; it’s cold in the house and I’m ready for breakfast! Dayum that looks tasty!)

So Jin cutely puts a piece of meat on LSI’s spoon; then GGS steals it as LSI is gawking at So Jin! Ha! Later that evening, LSI and GGS are walking on the street, and GGS tells LSI that although it feels like it was a win today, this isn’t LSI’s life. This makes LSI stop in his tracks. Considering what we know of his humble past, GGS is really stepping on his toes here. GGS must think LSI is some kind of Richie-Rich boy, because he says that LSI’s motivation is:

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Wow. GGS claims if some other manager was told to fire his workers, this wouldn’t be happening. He thinks LSI won’t want to get ‘dirty’, and these conflicts always make everyone dirty. LSI responds, as So Jin watches:

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GGS warns LSI–there will be a lot of lost battles, and even the victories can seem hollow. He lets LSI know that this isn’t his battle, and that it’s really a lost cause:

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He tells LSI to go home, but LSI isn’t done yet. He asks GGS what has he got to lose anyways? It’s not GGS’s fight either:

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LSI goes on the offensive: GGS hands out all these business cards so he can help people, right? His voice rises:

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Sadly, GGS just tells LSI to go home again, and he turns and walks away. So Jin and the guitar-playing ahjussi are watching this whole spectacle:

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Heh. I was thinking this is what happens when you have two people with highly principled and unwavering personalities who each think they have the moral high ground.

Back at Fourmis Mart where the happy Muzak is piped in at full volume, it’s anything but happy as Manager Jung sees LSI stocking fruit, and then dumps a whole display of it on the floor. So childish! The ahjumma crew turn around to see what is gonna happen next, but not one of them makes a move to help him clean up the mess. Also childish! LSI gets a phone call asking him if he has any friends left. LSI runs to the outside front of the store where GGS is hanging out and eating taffy! (Ha…I get the joke!)

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GGS gives LSI some advice: People listen to people they like, not people who are right. I think the corollary to that is: People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. The union needs members desperately. He encourages LSI to have lunch with his workers. But the stunned silence that greets LSI as he sits down with the Ahjumma crew to eat his pre-packaged lunch is painfully awkward.

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The ladies all get up and bail out, leaving LSI to eat by himself. In the next scene, LSI meets up with Kang Min, Dong Hyub and Joon Chul. He brings a cart and says, “Let’s do it!” What is he talking about? Yep–Shopping cart races! The guys are stunned–does he really wanna do this?

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LSI says he’s seen the guys do this a couple of times, and he wondered if he’d be good at it too. He jumps on the cart and takes off!

Omo, he’s in a parking structure with a spiral ramp…

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and all I can think of is this scene from my most favorite car movie: “Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift”

Oh Yeah! Gawd, I love that movie…there’s no better way to blow up an hour and 40 minutes than watching this with my youngest son! Bonding time too! Woot! Hot cars, hot men…it doesn’t get any better unless you go to a show like Wekfest or Hot Import Nights and see real live hot cars and hot men….ok, ok. Back to the show!

Poor LSI….his shoe took a beating:

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Heh….a $250 pair of dress shoes sacrificed for “The Struggle”. He makes it all the way down to the ground level of the parking structure to the surprise of Kang Min–and the parking lot attendant. As they ride the elevator back up, KM muses that they usually use the broken carts, but LSI said that he wanted to make a good impression, so he used a non-broken cart! Hee! This rattles KM so much that he bails out with a flimsy excuse.

LSI knows that thanks to Gaston, he has become persona non grata at Fourmis Mart:

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The other managers get clear orders from Manager Jung: You are responsible for reining in LSI.

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He gets continuing hassle about wearing the apron and arranging the vegetables from Manager Jung. LSI gives Manager Jung the scoop–It’s work that’s gotta get done. If you don’t want to see me do this, then:

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He gently encourages the other workers to join the union. It will make it harder for the management to fire them…

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But the evil upper management has spies all over the store, snooping in on LSI’s conversations. He flashes back to his time in the military, when all the recruits had to roll around in the muddy water and crawling under the barbed wire…it gave a person a certain sense of freedom. Manager Jung overhears LSI talking about the union to an employee, and asks what the heck he was doing. LSI is breathtakingly honest:awl3-113

I love the ending lines: the ironic freedom that comes after tasting sewage…LSI knows that he’s a born outcast.

Side note: I’d bet that LSI has the personality that tends to make one feel like they are a born outcast. Check out this personality test Ha Ri took after she quit her job at the hotel in “She was Pretty”:

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Thanks to kdrama-life-lessons on Tumblr for screencapping this so I didn’t have to!

It’s based on 16personalities.com. After taking the questionnaire, I found out I am the polar opposite of Ha Ri; an INFJ personality. INFJ personalities are less than 1% of the population. No wonder I feel some kinship with the character of LSI. I’d bet he’s one too, or very close to it.

 

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3 thoughts on “A Born Outcast: Thoughts on Episode 3 “Awl”

  1. Pingback: AWL. JTBC. | IKurate

  2. Hi Shamrockmom! I’ve just finished an Awl marathon, and I thought I’d drop by to say how much I like your Awl recaps, especially the related RL stuff (links, your own experiences, etc) that you’ve included. I really hope you will finish recapping this amazing show. Btw I’m commenting on the Episode 3 page because a lot of what GGS and LSI say in this episode either comes true or becomes ironic later, when LSI’s willingness to get his hands dirty surpasses GGS’s, but not necessarily for reasons to do with helping the Fourmis staff…

    Also, sorry to say this, but I don’t think that’s taffy GGS is eating! It looks like a popsicle in a plastic tube, like this one: https://www.dramafever.com/st/img/wp/2013/07/Tank-Boy-Korean-icecream-dramafever-blog.jpg

    Liked by 1 person

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