ENA’s Unlock My Boss (사장님을 잠금해제) holds a lot of surprises. But the biggest of all is probably how much heart it has. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll gasp. The series mixes drama, comedy, fantasy and mystery into a tight package. And the unexpected bit of heart really holds everything together.
Unlock My Boss centers around young job-seeker Park In Seong (Chae Jong Hyeop) who is unexpectedly recruited by president Kim Seon Joo (Park Sung Woong) to take over for him at tech company Silver Lining. And the reason being that President Kim has found himself somehow trapped inside his smartphone. In Seong is immediately thrown into the business world and in the middle of a family battle for control at Silver Lining’s partner conglomerate. But with the help of his secretary Jung Se Yeon (Seo Eun Soo), President Kim tasks In Seong with helping to uncover the truth behind the potentially nefarious reason for his current state.
Going into Unlock My Boss, one might have a certain expectation or perception about what it might be about. Especially with the series strange premise. But the series has a great balance of plot and character-driven story. That’s not something you see everyday in K-drama. But this series manages to do that.
For the series-long plot, there are many twists and turns in the mystery over President Kim’s odd predicament. The fantasy and touch of sci-fi helps to give the series a high concept feel. But the characters and their relationships allow for it to also be humble and relatable. And when both sides come together, it results in a fascinating and (again) unexpectedly meaningful look at everyday relationships and the effects of technology.
Even when technology can help and improve our lives, it can also work to push people further apart from each other. With that basis, the series is able to explore the many relationships that are maintained and formed between the characters. Unlock My Boss deftly plants seeds that will eventually spring up later in the series in quite satisfying fashion. And that careful planning shows the series knows exactly what it is doing and what it wants to be.
The main relationship of the series is of course that of In Seong and President Kim. Chae Jong Hyeop does an excellent job in a well-deserved lead role. Especially as many of his scenes are with Park Sung Woong’s voice coming out of a smartphone. In Seong and President Kim, however, are able to help each other grow.
For In Seong, it is to help him grow more confident as he struggles with finding a stable job to help his hard-working parents (played wonderfully by the always great Ahn Nae Sang and Kim Young Sun). Being able to overcome his insecurities, while still being a kind and good-hearted person makes In Seong immediately endearing. And Chae Jong Hyeop’s charm and charisma really help to make that possible.
For President Kim, he has focused almost solely on the development of groundbreaking technology. And in the process, has potentially drifted away from his young daughter Min Ah (the cute and scene stealing Ki So Yu). In Seong and others are able to help President Kim gain new perspectives and appreciate life a lot more. Park Sung Woong also delivers with every diverse character he’s tasked with. And here, he must deliver that performance not only with him physically in scenes, but mostly with just the sound of his voice. And he does it effortlessly.
Other relationships to watch out for in the series include Min Ah and loan shark Mapi (Kim Sung Oh) who In Seong recruits to be his driver and bodyguard. Mapi (a nickname short for “mafia” based on his initial personality) has one of the series best and most affecting character arcs. And there’s definitely a bit of romance between In Seong and Se Yeon, but never overpowering the rest of the series.
Se Yeon feels like an emotionless robot at first. But Seo Eun Soo is able to slowly peel back the layers to her character through her performance. Lee Sang Hee as Oh Mi Ran, executive director of the Bumyoung Group, also delivers one of the series’ most nuanced performances that will keep you guessing as well.
And all the relationships and interactions between characters help to highlight the difference between humanity and technology. That is, real life human interactions and the distance that technology can create. Sometimes, technology can make us forget even basic sense in how to treat others. And that is really what Unlock My Boss is strongest with.
In the midst of familiar corporate soap opera and a sinister mystery, there is a sweet and heartwarming look at human emotions. The series features many clever and witty moments. And as satisfying as the engaging main series-long plot threads end up being, it’s those character moments that really elevate the series. Being able to relate to these characters and feel these characters’ emotions is not always guaranteed on a series. But Unlock My Boss does such a great job in quickly endearing these characters to the audience. And in the end, that allows for the series’ plot to play out and make you engaged with every twist and turn.
Unlock My Boss is really simply just a wonderful treat. Being able to get some deeper discussions behind the bright and fun façade of the story is such an unexpected experience coming into the series. But it is a very welcome one. A perfect ensemble cast and well-written story are held tightly together by the series’ big heart. And ultimately, it succeeds as an enjoyable, emotional and fun ride. A really great way to start off the year with.