Truth be told, I am very fond of shows that are smartly written,that has heart, that has great characters that are engaging and have great chemistry with each other, and that is consistent in tone all throughout, even though it may not be all perfect. Shows like this usually have the most heart, and have the most fun with itself, making it an absolute delight to watch. At first, I honestly thought the reason why I was loving “Chief Kim” so much was because I was coming off of Korean dramas like “Missing 9” and “Voice”, which were pretty dark, but as I watched on, I realized that all of the reasons I mentioned earlier is why I loved the show so much.
“Chief Kim”, or “Good Manager” is a KBS drama which finished its twenty episode run just recently, and enjoyed consistently high ratings all throughout its run. It starred Namgoon Min as Kim Seong Ryong, or the titular Chief Kim; Nam Sang Mi as Assistant Manager Yoon Ha Kyung; and 2PM’s Lee Junho as Seo Yul, a former prosecutor turned business executive.
The show follows Kim Seong Ryong, a genius with numbers and an accountant with a penchant for pocketing money and getting away with it, who ends up getting accepted into the Business Operations Department of TQ Group, one of the largest (and most corrupt) conglomerates in South Korea. While there, Seong Ryong, ends up going through life changing journey, after witnessing the corrupt methods of the company first hand.
Running in parallel to Seong Ryong’s story is Seo Yul’s story, which shows and explores the character of this former prosecutor turned Finance Director. They are also supported by an ensemble cast of quirky and fun office workers, who also go through journeys of their own, thanks to their experiences with Chief Kim.
This show is very much aware of itself, and there is plenty of humor to go around, whether it be because of the jokes, the inside Korean drama jokes, or the comic book over the top style that the show has. However, despite its levity, this show tackles some pretty deep subjects such as corruption within a company, and discovering who you really are and what your potential truly is. All in all, “Chief Kim” blends these two together really well, and also creates a very interesting character study, especially for Seong Ryong and Seo Yul.
The cast of this show was just wonderful, and the main characters were well written. I also liked the fact that despite that the show was so over the top at times, the characters did feel quite realistic. I loved the fact that they were written in such a way that all of the story arcs wrapped up and were paid off realistically in the end.
Namgoong Min and Lee Junho were just brilliant as Seong Ryong and Seo Yul respectively, and their unconventional bromance and banter, aside from everything else the show had to offer, truly made the show just something else.
I give mad props to Namgoong Min for his performance here, as this role was no doubt physically challenging, as his character has so much energy and physicality to it. I also liked how at a certain point, his character really looked scary and dangerous before reverting to his usual self, but that just makes me want to see Namgoong Min in a villain role even more.
I was very impressed by Junho, as I only knew him as a member of the boyband 2PM. I really hope that I will be able to watch more of their work in the future. (Any recommendations anyone?)
All in all, if you want a smartly written show with a lot of heart, and endearing characters that you will sorely miss when you finish watching, and character and story arcs that pay out in a satisfying and realistic manner, then “Chief Kim” is definitely for you.
Now, please be warned that we will now be delving into some spoiler territory.
Kim Seong Ryong’s story and character arc is an interesting one, as he started out as someone who is a little bit self-serving, to someone who solidifies his own moral code in the end.
Inherently, Seong Ryong was never a bad person to begin with, he was just very street smart, and knew how to survive. Because of this, it was immensely interesting and satisfying to see him evolve several times from small time accountant and swindler, to becoming the reluctant “Mr. Righteous”, to becoming “Mr. Righteous” for real, to becoming an accountant who will never rip off money or scam those who are powerless such as waitresses and bartenders. And I love how in the end, he got approached by a prosecutor to help them out by going undercover into another corrupt business.
Seo Yul is also another very interesting character study. As a prosecutor, Yul (who loves to eat A LOT), always liked to win, and saw that his chances and opportunities were better on the opposite side of the fence, which was why he agreed to work at TQ Group. Yul, unlike the other corrupt executives, had some class when it came to dealing with problems, but his dealings (and awesome bromance and banter), with Seong Ryong, ended up with him becoming someone who still likes to win, but for the right side.
Even though he was set up as one of the villains, the writers always left enough room for us to feel that there is still some good in him, even when he truly was going down the dark path to villainy. I’m also glad that he wasn’t really undercover in TQ, as I thought at first, because it made the whole scheme of them pretending that Yul was an undercover agent within the company, even more ironic and satisfying. I also like that in the end, the writers kept it vague as to whether Ha Kyung and Yul are dating or not, because having a love triangle and complicated romantic plots, would have taken so much away from the drama.
I also love how Seong Ryong and Yul banded together in the end. I knew that once they weren’t too busy annoying the heck out of each other, that they would be a formidable team together, and I was right. Plus, the chemistry they had together when they weren’t bickering with each other is off the charts!
Each of the supporting cast also went through very interesting journeys, but none were as satisfying as seeing Seong Ryong’s former assistant turned barista, Oh Gwang Sook (Lim Hwa Yeong), become an accounting intern at the end of the show; and the spoiled son of the chairman, Park Myung Sook (Dong Ha) becomes someone who could stand up to his abusive father and become a better person, and hopefully, one day, become the best CEO that TQ Group needs when the time is right.
There were just two episodes in which I felt that the show’s energy dipped a little bit in, however, it was those points in which Seong Ryong was at his lowest, and during the aftermath of someone almost killing him, but I see why those plot points were necessary.
I also loved how they pulled off all the schemes that they had to pull in order to get the upper hand over the executives at TQ Group, and it was executed well, both in plan, and in the explainer portions.
“Chief Kim” is definitely a show worth watching, as it is a character study,has heart, smart writing, great and engaging characters, wit and excellent comedic moments, all while tackling such a heavy subject such as corruption within a company, and the hardships that those who try to fight it face every day.
- Yul and Ha Kyung’s baseball moments.
- Yul and Ha Kyung’s ending.
- Myung Seok finally stepping up and working with Business Operations to take his father down, but he did it also because he doesn’t want his father to continue to do awful things.
- Yul getting drunk.
- All of the Seong Ryong and Yul moments, complete with undercover dancing, bickering, banter, their well practiced hand shake, their earlier interactions with each other, Seong Ryong trying to kiss Yul, and them planning TQ’s take down together, complete with matching suits.
- Yul eating. I ship Yul with food.
- Seong Ryong’s and Myung Seok’s earlier interactions with each other.
- Gwang Sook spilling coffee all over Director Go’s lap in retaliation.
- That entire sequence with Seong Ryong acting over the top in order to get into TQ Group.
- That entire sequence at the end of the first episode with Seong Ryong rescuing Gwang Sook from the mob boss he worked for.
- Yul getting annoyed after getting hit in the back by TQ Group’s awesome cleaning lady.
- Episodes 1, 6,7, 8, 9, 11, 15, 16, 18,19,20