‘Numbers’ Review: Three Reasons Why It’s Unfamiliar Yet Captivating

numbers kdrama review

Edited by Hwang Hong Sun
Translated by by Kim Hoyeun

numbers kdrama review
Credit: MBC

While we often find dramas delving into the world of professional vocations, they tend to primarily focus on doctors, lawyers, or their ilk. MBC’s weekend drama Numbers piques viewer curiosity by highlighting the rather uncharted profession of accountants. This audacious endeavor is a rarity in K-dramas and comes with its own set of concerns: Won’t the complexity and novelty of the subject matter deter viewers? Fortunately, you can tuck away such worries. Each episode offers a suspense-ridden story and impassioned performances, resulting in a viewing experience as exhilarating as any top-notch thriller. Let’s examine what draws audiences into this drama.


The Hidden Stories Behind the Numbers

Numbers chronicles the journey of high school graduate-turned-accountant Jang Ho Woo (Kim Myung Soo), who takes a stand against the injustices of a massive accounting firm. An orphan, Ho Woo successfully prepares to step into society thanks to the benevolence of In Ho, the CEO of Haetbit Construction. However, he loses everything in an instant. After a company named Taeil Accounting Firm issues a report demanding the liquidation of Haetbit Construction, In Ho commits suicide and his network of associates disperse. Incensed by Taeil Accounting Firm’s role in this tragedy, Ho Woo becomes an accountant and resolves to unearth the conspiracy surrounding Haetbit’s liquidation.

The drama focuses on the lives of those who stake their existence on numbers. Accountants, often considered to prioritize numbers over people, prove that their evaluations extend beyond mere digits. They hold the future of a company, its employees, and stakeholders in their hands, reflecting the immense responsibility that comes with their role. This is why they are known as “certified public accountants (CPA),” symbolizing their commitment to fairness and public interest. The drama fervently unfolds the world of accountants, revealing the plots concealed behind the numbers and the relentless pursuit of truth by those who challenge these ploys. By portraying characters who either abandon their professional calling for personal gain or steadfastly uphold their integrity in the face of pressure, Numbers imbues the narrative with intrigue and conflict.

numbers kdrama review
Credit: MBC

One of the most striking elements in Numbers is the bromance between two men, who, despite their initial animosity, unite in pursuit of a common goal. This is about Jang Ho Woo, who joins Taeil Accounting Firm to uncover the truth behind In Ho’s death, and his senior manager Han Seung Jo (Choi Jin Hyuk), who handpicked him.

Ho Woo’s initial encounter with Seung Jo was far from pleasant, as Seung Jo was the accountant who appeared on the day of Sunlight Construction’s dissolution. It was Seung Jo who advised Ho Woo, who was throwing a fit at the scene, that “your anger is merely a powerless opinion.” However, when Ho Woo takes this advice to heart and becomes an accountant, they transition from adversaries to allies in a shared cause. Actually, Seung Jo has his own reasons to topple the reign of his father, Han Jae Gyun (Choi Min Soo), who is the deputy head of the same company as his ambitions cost Seung Jo his love and professional honor. And for this job, he chooses Ho Woo as his partner.

The duo’s chemistry brings an effervescent dynamic to the drama. While Ho Woo is always upbeat and affable, Seung Jo is cold and calculating. The contrasting personalities provide humorous episodes that serve to lighten the otherwise intense atmosphere. The different problem-solving approaches the pair employ is also fascinating. Ho Woo disrupts the status quo with his reckless choices and creative ideas, while Seung Jo lends support and shields him from adversarial forces. Their contentious yet resilient bromance doubles the drama’s charm.

Complex but Accessible

Numbers portrays the role of accountants, chiefly translating the value of a company into numbers and terms. While complex economic terms and figures occasionally make appearances, they are always accompanied by easy-to-understand explanations in subtitles. More importantly, it keeps the focus by presenting corporate buyouts and sell-offs through clear monetary values and accounting reports. Ho Woo and Seung Jo’s thrilling takedowns of those manipulating company values for personal gain, backed by solid evidence and logic, are electrifying. The duo’s performance, grounded in tangible data, comes across as impressively realistic.

Despite tackling a subject with a high barrier to entry, Numbers does not compromise on the fun and tension inherent in office dramas. The clash of desires and values amongst the characters paints a comprehensible picture of the world of accountants and the broader economic society, prompting viewers to ponder on the drama’s message. The unfolding narrative of this drama, which highlights the value of corporations hidden behind numbers and, even more importantly, the value of individuals, is eagerly anticipated. (7/10)


Editor Hwang Hong Sun: A Korean movie buff who wishes that the warm messages in good works will warm up this world at least by one degree Fahrenheit.

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