“Numbers” is already a third of the way into its run, and things are shaking up fast. The loyalties in this show shift faster than air currents, and it’s hard to figure out where things stand, if at all, between parties at certain times. Jang Ho Woo (Kim Myung Soo) has been attempting to ingratiate himself with the higher-ups, specifically VP Han Je Gyun (Choi Min Soo) by supporting his deals and that of his lackey, Shim Hyung Woo (Lee Sung Yeol). But a new finding this week brings everything to a halt when he discovers that he just might have been aiding the enemy.
Warning: spoilers for episodes 3-4 below.
1. Seung Jo being in charge of Haebit Construction’s auditing
The bulk of the third episode is spent on getting Ho Woo and Han Seung Jo (Choi Jin Hyuk) to a point where they’re working together. Ho Woo still seems to resent Seung Jo for his role in Haebit Construction’s liquidation, but also doesn’t seem to see him as the primary culprit and continues to hunt for who, within Taeil, could have done it. He continues to impress at work by seeing solutions that take Hyeong Woo much longer, resulting in Je Gyun viewing him favorably. But all of this comes crashing to a halt when he happens to overhear that Seung Jo was in charge of Haebit Construction’s auditing. Not only that, the decision to liquidate the company was made based on his report.
Ho Woo finally dares to demand a straight answer from Seung Jo, revealing himself as the kid at the construction site all those years ago when Seung Jo and his lackeys came knocking to destroy the company, quite literally. It turns out that Seung Jo always knew it was him too. Ho Woo demands to see Seung Jo’s report, as, at the time of Haebit’s liquidation, it would have been more profitable to keep the company running. The CEO, Jang In Ho (Nam Myung Ryul), had just begun using a type of 3-D construction that would have allowed for sturdy homes to be built faster. So why did Seung Jo recommend that the company be dissolved? Ho Woo’s ready to quit Seung Jo’s team, but he asks him to stay in return for one part of the report per day. Ho Woo’s nothing if not tenacious. He sets to work on a new deal with Seung Jo’s team and has the full report before long. But it raises even further questions.
2. Hyung Woo having switched Seung Jo’s report
Seung Jo’s report reads like having dissociative-identity disorder. Half the report indicates that Haebit is solvent and shows good potential for growth, meaning that dissolving it wouldn’t make financial sense. Yet, the other half of the report takes that same information and uses it to spin the company as not having enough potential for growth and that dissolving it is the best course of action. Ho Woo demands to know why there appears to be two conflicting reports. Seung Jo is reticent, but it doesn’t take Ho Woo long to find out.
Because the same situation is about to repeat itself. Soma Tech, a construction company, which has patented topnotch tech to produce modular homes like Haebit, is being audited to determine if it can pay off its bank loans. Seung Jo’s team determines that it can. But Hyung Woo is sick of being an underdog. One of Seung Jo’s last corporate maneuvers got him verbally and physically abused by Hyung Woo’s biggest corporate client. And he’s tired of being given orders instead of giving them.
So, he decides to sell Soma Tech to an overseas buyer. Je Gyun doesn’t care, so long as he’s part of the deal that’s getting him the most money. And Hyung Woo doesn’t care about Soma Tech as long as it’s making him money. It’s a match made in a garbage truck. And it’s the same decision that was made for Haebit Construction. The goal is to liquidate the company and sell its assets and bones to the overseas buyer. Seung Jo cannot take that happening, especially after what happened with Haebit. He was engaged to Jang Ji Soo (Kim Yoo Ri), CEO Jang’s daughter, and she broke off their engagement after her father took his life due to Taeil’s report. Seung Jo has panic attacks about it to this day and has never forgotten Ji Soo or Haebit. So, he storms over to Hyung Woo and whacks him in the face.
Ho Woo, who insisted on tagging along, is shocked, but grows even more so when the two men start attacking each other. The truth about the report that folded Haebit Construction comes out in seconds. It turns out that Hyung Woo switched Seung Jo’s report when Seung Jo was on leave due to his mother’s death, no less. And the person who ordered the switch? None other than Seung Jo’s father, Je Gyun.
3. Je Gyun playing his son and Hyung Woo like puppets
Je Gyun is a fascinating villain, more so because of everything he doesn’t do. Ho Woo remarks to Seung Jo at one point that true power is making people move without having to order any of them. And that’s precisely what Je Gyun does. He doesn’t have to ask Hyung Woo or Seung Jo to fight amongst each other. A little bit of manipulation and they’re doing that on their own. He constantly pits them against each other and temporarily favors the one who makes him the most money.
He tells Hyung Woo that people are whispering about him after a big victory by Seung Jo, saying that he rode on Seung Jo’s coattails. Hyung Woo immediately goes on the warpath against Seung Jo’s latest project, Soma Tech, to prove himself. Meanwhile, Je Gyun watches the mess hit the fan. When Seung Jo comes to him furious that he knew about Hyung Woo’s sabotage, Je Gyun merely tells him that Hyung Woo’s far more capable at bringing in money than he is, and he gaslights Seung Jo by calling him weak and childish.
It’s easy to feel for Seung Jo here, but Hyung Woo emerges as surprisingly sympathetic himself. He wants nothing more than to stop having to clean up the ultra-rich’s dirty deeds. He’s all but a slave to them because they’re quick to remind him that they pay his salary. Worse, they blame him for all their mistakes, while knowing that Hyung Woo wasn’t responsible for any of them. He’s caught between a rock and a hard place, constantly having to prove that he has worth in order for Je Gyun to finally make him partner. But in order to prove his worth, he has to perform increasingly illegal and morally dubious deeds. And the man is fracturing under the weight of his choices. Seung Jo points out that he isn’t going to be in a much better position as a partner. Hyung Woo has spent so many years being rewarded for hurting people to maximize shareholder value that he’s likely to fallback on the same tactics once he’s partner to make money. But Hyung Woo makes the great point that only wealthy people like Seung Jo can afford to have morals because they don’t have to work their way up the ladder. It’s a fair point.
4. Joyce Jang’s identity
With matters already strained, Hyung Woo digs into Ho Woo and finds his connection to Haebit Construction. He corners Ho Woo and throws every threat and excuse at him, saying that he didn’t do anything wrong by switching out Seung Jo’s report, and warning him that things won’t go as Ho Woo wishes. And this might very well be the case. The private buyer for Soma Tech that Hyung Woo has lined up turns out to be none other than Ji Soo. Seung Jo, who’s trying desperately to save the company, is horrified to find himself facing off against his ex-fiancée (whom he still loves), who seems to have lost all conscience and turned corrupt. Meanwhile, Ho Woo, who grew up with Ji Soo, is bewildered at the woman she’s become. Je Gyun, as always, only looks pleased at the chaos.
Next week promises more in the way of trouble as Ho Woo and Seung Jo face off against the combined power of Ji Soo, Je Gyun, and Hyung Woo. Jin Yeon Ah (Yeon Woo) remains a sadly underused character, relocated to playing a love-interest and occasional coffeemaker. Hopefully, she’ll join Ho Woo and Seung Jo’s team. Looks like they’ll need all the help they can get!
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Shalini_A is a long time Asian-drama addict. When not watching dramas, she fangirls over Ji Sung, and spins thrillers set in increasingly fantastic worlds. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and feel free to ask her anything!
Currently Watching: “See You In My 19th Life,” “Delightfully Deceitful,” “Lies Hidden In My Garden,” “Numbers,” and “King The Land.”
Looking Forward to: “Gyeongseong Creature,” “Ask The Stars,” “The Girl Downstairs,” “The Worst Evil,” “Queen of Tears,” “Vigilante,” “Demon,” “Daily Dose of Sunshine,” and Ji Sung’s next drama.