I love Search: WWW for one very simple reason – the protagonists are kickass women who are professional in their jobs, but are complicated in their thoughts, as well as in their dealings with each other.
The show explores office dynamics, ethics in the internet age, and the complex relationships between women in a universe where gender is a non-issue.
Bae Ta-mi (Im Soo-jung) works at Unicon, the largest search engine in Korea. Once buddies, she’s now on bad terms with her boss, Song Ga-Gyung (Jeon Hye-Jin), who has made some questionable decisions at work as she is a daughter-in-law of the powerful chaebol family which owns the KU Group. After getting fired from her job, Ta-mi starts a new job at Barro, a rival of Unicon, and locks horns with Cha Hyun (Lee Da-hee), whose views are often contrary to hers.
Ta-mi and Hyun also have the best boss in Brian Min (Kwon Hae-Hyo), who constantly tries to wiggle out of odious meetings, and sings of not wanting to go to work.
In terms of romantic relationships, the drama explores three very different threads: Ta-mi starts a frustrating on-off relationship with Park Morgan (Jang Ki-yong), who she had initially filed as a one-night stand. He wants marriage and a family while she doesn’t. Hyun, an ex-judoka with anger management issues and a knack for falling for the wrong guy, becomes a fan of a rising actor, Seol Ji-hwan (Lee Jae-wook), in the makjang soap opera she watches religiously. Ga-Gyung, stuck in a arranged marriage with Oh Jin-woo (Ji Seung-hyun), starts getting closer to her husband as they inch even closer to divorce.
Comic relief comes from Hyun’s obsession with her makjang, and some pretty amusing side characters. Ga-gyung’s growth – from exhausted repression to her bid for freedom – is also a surprising arc. However, it’s the AWESOME ending that makes this one of my favourite shows this year.
Side note: Lee Jae-wook is the actor to watch – from the delinquent Marco in Memories of Alhambra to the sweet and sensitive Ji-hwan here – he shows a fantastic range for such a young (only 21!!!) and new actor (this is only his second show).
The only annoyance I have is the drawn out relationship between the leads – when the fundamental values are so different, it would have been much wiser to walk away from the get-go, as the more level-headed Ta-mi had decided earlier if not for the earnest pursuit from the indefatigable puppy. I had to fast-forward most of their scenes in the later half of the show because their issue was so repetitive.
All in all, I love that there is nothing black and white in this show, that each issue has got a plethora of perspectives, and every decision made now impacts the future in unforeseeable ways. The characters feel like real people – nobody is a saint or devil, everyone takes calculated risks, and we are very much a product of our circumstances, beliefs, and actions. Look no further, the Search stops here!