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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Assembly"


Politics is not exactly wholesome family fun, but it is a part of our everyday lives. At the same time, it is a challenging concept in fiction. Either entirely demonized or overly sugarcoated, it is usually a tool for stories not political at heart. "Assembly" might be honest in portraying a lot of what is wrong with our current systems of power, but it is at its core a simple "what if" story. What if a good man did not get tainted or rejected by these systems?

Jin Sang-pil (Jung Jae-young) is working as a welder. When he and others get into a dispute with their employer, Sang-pil loses his best friend. In order to create a better country where this does not happen, he accepts the offer to become an assemblyman. Choi In-gyeong (Song Yoon-ah) is assigned as his aide by the man who plans to use Sang-pil for his own gain, Baek Do-hyeon (Jang Hyun-sung).

Sang-pil and Gyoo-hwanIn-gyeong and the team

What clearly pops out as the show's biggest and well-used advantage is some exceptional acting by a solid main cast. The great chemistry and well-written relationships further enhance all the emotions created. Even Ok Taecyeon, clearly the weakest of the main names is very amiable at the hands of creators who clearly understand what each of their cast members needs to do their best. There is no romance here, but the connections are far deeper than drama-romance.

Much like "Incomplete Life", "Assembly" offers some great "bossmance". Great friendships which defy gender and social standing can be found here, as well as some great women's characters. This character-driven approach includes the antagonists who, rather than being caricatures do have understandable motivations and ideologies, however flawed and selfish those might be. They range from terrible to misguided, but they are people nonetheless. This gives their actions gravity.

When it comes to the way politics is portrayed, the drama does oversimplify things and is not very realistic. The close connection between capital and government is barely touched upon and the way in which foreign relations and international agreements influence domestic decisions is nowhere to be found here. Perhaps it would have made the show overly complicated, but acknowledgement of their existence would have made a difference.

Sang-ho, Choon-seob and Do-hyeonIn-gyeong and Chan-mi

Despite being more focused on characters, values and emotions, the drama does have its hiccups there too. Jung Jae-young is great, but there are only so many times they can have him scream inspirational speeches before it gets silly and takes his voice, which it did. Some of the radical changes of heart characters have are also not gradual enough or sparked by strong enough events to make sense.

To its credit, "Assembly" is not a blindly patriotic piece. Its honest approach to certain aspects of politics is refreshing to see. Even so, fiction is fiction and its view is still idealistic. What it does achieve is to entertain, give food for thought and remind us its "what if" does exist, whether in government buildings or not.

"Assembly" is directed by Hwang In-hyeok, written by Jeong Hyeon-min and features Jung Jae-young, Song Yoon-ah, Ok Taecyeon and Jang Hyun-sung.

Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'

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