The Daily Grind
Episode 2 of My Liberation Notes begins with us returning to the sleepy village of Sangpo. The weather is hot and both Je-Ho and Hye-Sook (the siblings’ parents) busy themselves with work. Mr Gu is there too and he waits for the postman to arrive in order to intercept the mail. When he picks up Mi-Jeong’s letter, he notices this is from the bank and deliberates over it before throwing it in his cupboard.
Meanwhile, Mi-Jeong finishes work but misses the village bus home. It’s not initially clear whether she walked or got a later bus but the next scene she arrives back in Sangpo and is told about the letter. Meanwhile, Gi-Jeong heads home but despairs at it already being dark by the time she sits down to eat.
The siblings are all feeling alienated in their own ways, with Mi-Jeong’s woes continuing at work when she’s seated with the “club rejects” at lunch, including Tae-Hoo. The four misfits all share their stories as to why they were rejected. Among them is Park Sang-Min, who bemoans how this is just like school being a popularity contest, with lunch being made uncomfortable for them all.
Gi-Jeong is briefed at work on her latest project, as all the call center staff begin cold calling different customers. Gi-Jeong listens in to make sure they’re all doing right, as she receives a tip-off that one of the agents is asking leading questions. This busywork all stems from a comment a prominent politician has made about when youth ends.
Gi-jeong is also conflicted over why she hasn’t been asked out yet by her boss, bemoaning that he always gets lottery tickets and flirts with the other employees, whether they’re married or not. Chang-Hee is incredulous to his sister’s moaning that night, pointing out that it’s not really any of her concern. Gi-Jeong ignores that though and goes on to list her positive attributes – including bags of charm.
Gi-Jeong sits and vents to her brother and his friends, who all tease her when she asks why her boss hasn’t asked her out. Their conversation is only exacerbated when Mi-Jeong and her friend Hyeon-A show up, with the latter deciding she’s going to break up with her boyfriend. Why? Well, he said he’s going to buy a bed… a single bed for 800,000 won when he doesn’t have any money.
They’ve been dating for two years now and Hyeon-A wants to get married. This expense is seen as a kick in the teeth for her, believing this is a sign that he’s not serious about them being together long-term.
Gi-Jeong may come across as desperate in the wake of all this drama, but the truth is he just wants a real connection with someone. Specifically, she wants to talk to a man and just connect on a deeper level. It’s not even that she wants sex either. This explains why she wants attention from the boss; she doesn’t really fancy him, she just wants to feel loved.
Remember Mi-Jeong’s money woes? Well, it turns out she actually loaned some money out to Chan-Hyeok who has his own business but it’s fallen into disrepute. In fact he’s fled to Thailand, running off with his ex girlfriend without actually paying back Mi-Jeong the money he borrowed. Ultimately, this causes her to feel like a fool, as she reflects on her life choices on the train back home.
When Mi-Jeong returns to Sangpo, she finds Mr Gu a bloody mess. He’s bleeding from the nose and her parents drive him off to the hospital. They chalk it up to him getting drunk and tripping but for Mi-Jeong (and us as the audience) it could well be linked to the money she owes.
Mi-Jeong is a mess and eventually she breaks down crying at work. Her day to day grind is too much and she’s physically and mentally exhausted. She’s offered a place on the Recital club though, a new club that’s been formed by three employees from engineering. Mi-Jeong refuses, as she looks on the verge of slipping into a deep state of depression.
That night, she approaches Mr Gu and admits that her life is a mess. She pleads with him to worship her in order for her to make her life whole. “Love isn’t enough. Worship me.” She says, as Mr Gu heads inside and looks up what the word actually means.
The Episode Review
My Liberation Notes returns with another snapshot of life in the sleepy village of Sangpo. Although we haven’t seen a whole lot of Chang-Hee, beyond his break-up and chatting with that woman during Hyun-A’s birthday, we do learn more about the two sisters.
Both Mi-Jeong and Gi-Jeong have a lot of issues in their life, with part of this stemming from their constant traveling and the other half with their growing disillusionment with what’s happening in life. They’re both stuck in a rut and something needs to change to snap them out of their sleepy slumber of mundanity. That’s something the first episode offered too but at times it did feel a bit directionless. The second episode does well to at least address that.
As someone who used to commute for several hours a day (before landing this gig of course!) I do understand where the writers are going with this and I can appreciate that some of Mi-Jeong’s monologues will resonate. Seeing her break down at work thanks to exhaustion is a particular highlight.
This is one of those melancholic dramas that really speaks to the introverts in modern society and how isolating it can be when you spend so long commuting. This second episode is a bit of an improvement over the first in that respect, with some brutal scenes between Mi-Jeong and Gi-Jeong at their respective work environments.
It’s too early to be casting judgments on this one but I’d imagine this is going to be a slow burn, with the later episodes starting to seep into the mental and physical toil the three siblings are experiencing. For now though, episode 2 improves over the first chapter’s drama.