‘Agency’ Season 1 Recap & Review: Do Ah-in And Hanna Achieve Their Goals?


The Korean Drama titled Agency has made us feel many things through its narrative. When it comes to the rat race, we often only talk about either winning it or leaving it. Nobody wants to sacrifice the entirety of their personal lives to do neither. But then, what guarantees success in this rat race is not ability. For example, there was no one more capable than Ah In, but she had to fight some of the hardest battles simply because she couldn’t be part of a boys’ club. As for Kang Hanna, she had to learn the different facades she would need to adopt other than the one she already had if she wanted to do the things according to her. We also liked that mental health was discussed, but we wish it had been connected to the traumas of the job without mixing it up with childhood issues. The non-existence of a personal life can be a trauma in itself that needs to be addressed. Regardless, here is a recap of the series.

Spoilers Alert

What Is The Battle Lying Ahead For Go Ah In?

When the position of Chief Creative Officer at VC Communications opens up, Go Ah In and Kwon Woo Cheol are up against each other to win it. Go Ah In knows that her immediate boss, Choi Chang Soo, favors Woo Cheol; therefore, she will have to present a very strong case while misleading Woo Cheol, who will certainly try to cheat. Needless to say, Go Ah In wins the round, and she is promoted to CCO. However, when she discovers that her promotion was just a scam pulled on her, she is furious. They promoted her because she was a woman, and her poor background painted the image of VC as a company that was women-centric and valued merit over everything else. The company needed Ah In to be their face for a year so that she could pave the way for the chairman’s daughter to take over.

Once a year was up, Ah In would have to leave. Though she is initially shocked at this, Ah In is determined to not take this lying down. She makes sweeping changes within her authority, where she promotes people with ability to being the “Creative Director” and demotes those in power to lesser posts. To bring people over to her side, she sends out an email to their clients, telling them that tasks assigned on Friday would not be executed by Monday. She also draws the line at their personal projects. This brings the company over to her side, but the people in power are still trying to bring her down. This is when Ah In makes use of Kang Hanna, the chairman’s daughter, who has recently returned from the US to start working in the company. She asks her to take credit for the email, making it a win-win situation for them, with Kang Hanna being touted as the next Vice Chairman instead of her brother. However, now it looks like the backlash was directed at Hanna, which resulted in Woo Cheol being fired, taking down one of Ah In’s enemies. But the battle is far from over.

The next challenge for Ah In is to come up with a corporate ad campaign, and this is a crucial point for her. Ah In had put out a challenge that if she failed to raise the revenue of the company by 50%, she would resign from her post. The trouble is, she was counting on the ads of Woowon Company to reach the target, but since their chairman was arrested, all their ads have been stopped. During matters of litigation, advertising is kept to a minimum to avoid undue attention. Therefore, asking for a new corporate ad seems a little out of place. But Ah In figures out that this is a ruse to gain sympathy for the chairman, so he is granted bail. It is this exact insight that helps Ah In win over the rest of her competitors and get her ad selected. This also brings back the Woowon ads to VC Communications, and since it is Ah In’s credit, she is back on track to achieving her goal. Chang Soo is in hot water since he has not really proven his competence so far, and Hanna is in no mood to have him around. She decides to deal with him by transferring him to their Busan branch, but Chang Soo saves himself by joining hands with Han Soo, Hanna’s brother. He has been feeling threatened by Hanna and tries to adopt some of her ways, one of which is a presence on social media, and Chang Soo is there to guide him, thereby saving his job.

Do Ah-in And Hanna Achieve Their Goals?

This has been a strong storyline so far, but from hereon, it takes a turn for personal politics. Ah In has neglected her mental health for far too long, and when one of her trusted people in the company, Jung Seok, seemingly betrays her, she takes it especially hard and starts spiraling. But when she hits rock bottom by waking up in a place with no memory of how she got there, she starts to straighten her act. As for Hanna, she and Young Woo, her personal assistant and advisor, have feelings for each other, and these are being used against them. Young Woo is offered a sizeable amount of money and a good position in the company on the condition that he keep dating Hanna. But he refuses, knowing that if they continue their relationship, it will get in the way of her ambition. Young Woo resigns, and Hanna is left without anybody at her side for the first time.

Meanwhile, Ah In has hit her goal of increasing the revenue in the stipulated time period, despite the obstacles placed by Han Soo and Chang Soo. Her job is secure, but Chang Soo is now given the challenge to do the same in a lesser amount of time. Not having any other way, Chang Soo ends up poaching a client from a smaller ad agency, but this doesn’t last long when his partner, a person he had double crossed long ago, takes his revenge by revealing Chang Soo’s shady dealings on live television.

As for Han Soo, he is furious with his fiance, who resumed the ads with VC, thereby helping Ah In secure herself. Han Soo is the stupidest, most arrogant man we ever saw, and he proceeds to cheat on his fiance and hire that very woman to be their company’s model. Ah In knows what is going on since she has had the two on surveillance ever since she discovered that the model was arrested for drunk driving, and her recommendation by Han Soo smells fishy. She lets the public opinion blow up so that Hanna can step forward to soothe the hurt sentiments, presenting herself as the better future of the company. As for Han Soo, he lets Chang Soo take the fall for it. An enraged Chang Soo fires back at Ah In, calling her crazy due to her mental health, but when the whole office rises in support for her, he knows that he has crossed way too many lines. He apologizes to her and decides to leave the industry for good.

Ah In has uprooted all of her enemies, and now it is Hanna’s turn. At a board meeting, she reveals how it was Han Soo’s decisions all along that cost the company dearly. With this out in the open, the board decides not to make him vice chairman. The current CEO is promoted to that position, which means that Ah In gets promoted to CEO. She has not just achieved her goal and proved her point, but gone above and beyond it. As for Hanna, she gets back with Young Woo and publicly announces that they are dating.

Agency ends with a scene set a year later to these events, where Ah In is running an agency of her own, still determined but enjoying her job on her own terms without trying to prove anything to anyone. As for Hanna, she is still working at VC, rushing towards her goal with Young Woo by her side.

Final Thoughts

Agency wasn’t fast-paced to any degree, but it was one of the most thrilling dramas we have seen in a while. It did not get everything right, and we wish that the mental health aspect had been handled with more sensitivity rather than as a quick fix solution that could just be decided upon in one day. But in that regard, Agency won’t be the only culprit. Either way, this drama deserves to be talked about more. We would recommend this.

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Divya Malladi
Divya Malladi
Divya spends way more time on Netflix and regrets most of what she watches. Hence she has too many opinions that she tries to put to productive spin through her writings. Her New Year resolution is to know that her opinions are validated.

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