Designated Survivor: 60 Days Season 1, Episode 1, “Day 60: The Acting President” already feels stronger than the original with a genuine approach to the story.
This episode of Designated Survivor: 60 Days Season 1, Episode 1, “Day 60: The Acting President” contains significant spoilers. The Korean Netflix Series will be running weekly every Monday and Tuesday until season 1 ends.
If you have watched the American original, then you know what is coming in Korean Netflix series Designated Survivor: 60 Days. We have ourselves an Asian adaptation. I watched the first few episodes of the original when it first surfaced on Netflix, and I was winded by the fact that it was poorly written and underperformed by the cast. A few of my friends state that the original series is enjoyable now, which is usually the irony. I was expecting more or less the same with episode 1, “Day 60: The Acting President”
The premise is entirely the same, apart from some cultural differences; Park Mu-jin (Jin-hee Ji) is the Environmental Minister, fraying on the sidelines. Episode 1 develops a character weak and nervous around his work acquaintances, and especially socially anxious when facing people in power. I was encouraged by the opening scenes as he drives across the highway with his family, and the Government building in the distance explodes. It’s telling that time and effort was thought into this moment; the pure shock and horror is evident. “Day 60: The Acting President” is a surprising first entry into the Korean adaptation of a weaker series.
Designated Survivor: 60 Days draws the audience back before the explosion, subjecting us to Park Mu-jin’s days, and his acquaintances before the deadly explosion that killed all the ministers and the current President of South Korea. We learn that Park Mu-jin is weak. He does not bode well with corporate and political pressure. There’s a scene in particular when he is facing his American counterpart, discussing the validity of an imported vehicles emissions report, and he makes such a mess of preparing his papers that he accidentally attacks a foreign delegate.
But there is a glimpse into his seemingly feeble character in episode 1, “Day 60: The Acting President” in a scene when he has a frank discussion with the President about the emissions report. He is understandably horrified that the Government is choosing to accept the report, despite it hurting the future generations who are going to inhale the polluted air. The conversation leads to an “implied dismissal until it is official” from the President, and like in the original series, this dismissal never occurs because a deadly explosion wipes out the entire Government.
Designated Survivor: 60 Days Episode 1, “Day 60: The Acting President” becomes stronger when Park Mu-jin is nudged into a security car and raced to another governmental building. When it dawns on him that due to the process he is the Acting President, he becomes aware of his surroundings and all the eyes on him. Again, it’s very much like the original, but Designated Survivor: 60 Days delivers it with patience and context to the situation. The Korean Netflix series is not a rush-job.
And I guess that’s where I’ll end my recap; Designated Survivor: 60 Days already feels like an outstanding version of the original after one episode. It follows the same story, with other characters acting suspiciously, and an anti-terrorist agent commanding her charges to dig deeper into who is responsible for the terrorist attack. Of course, we will discuss the other characters in more depth in corresponding recaps, but this was Park Mu-jin’s experience mostly. Maybe it’s because episode 1 had a running time of 72-minutes, giving the story more time to breathe. If the remaining chapters follow the same quality as “Day 60: The Acting President”, then we are in for a genuinely well-built series.
You can read the recap of the second episode by clicking these words.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.