K-drama ‘Auditors’: Shin Ha-kyun Hilariously Discusses Corruption in the Workplace
5 mins read

K-drama ‘Auditors’: Shin Ha-kyun Hilariously Discusses Corruption in the Workplace

Korean title of the series (Kamsahamnida), a play on words that means both “check” and “thank you,” refers to the story’s playful exploration of the line between following principles and being guided by emotion.

Shin plays a character on the side of the ideological divide that follows the rules: Shin Cha-il, a steely-eyed corporate auditor who joins companies to weed out “rats” and then quickly moves on to the next job.

After dealing with fraud at one company, he moves on to JU Construction, where a near-fatal workplace accident occurred.

As if carved in stone, Cha-il’s perpetually frowning face remains stiff and unsmiling, barely registering the slightest emotion. The only emotion visible through the facade is fear; memories of past trauma surface in occasional panic attacks that paralyze him.

On the emotional side of this division is the idealistic Goo Han-soo (Lee Jeong-ha, Moving), a new member of the audit team at JU Construction. Naive and full of hope, Han-soo blindly follows anyone who shows him an ounce of kindness.
K-drama ‘Auditors’: Shin Ha-kyun Hilariously Discusses Corruption in the Workplace
Lee Jeong-ha as Goo Han-soo in a still from The Auditors.

This puts him at odds with Cha-il when he takes over as the audit team leader. Finding his young team member’s trusting personality a hindrance, he tells him that he will soon be transferred to another department.

Han-soo isn’t the only person Cha-il treats badly at the company. During a surprisingly candid interview with the young JU chairman, Hwang Se-woong (Jung Moon-sung, Divorce Attorney Shin) and two other executives, Cha-il exclaims that the company is infested with rats and he intends to exterminate them.

While his colleagues are outraged by Cha-il’s arrogant declaration, Se-woong seems to agree with Cha-il and entrusts him with the task.

Cha-il also puts herself in danger for Se-woong’s brother, Hwang Dae-woong (Jin Goo, Descendants of the Sun), the company’s vice president, who exudes a sense of superiority and corruption from the moment he steps into action.

Jin Goo as Hwang Dae-woong, vice president of JU Construction, in a still from The Auditors.

A mix of workplace, procedural and legal drama, Auditors is an undemanding and effortlessly entertaining prime-time series. While the chaebol (Korean family corporation) trope in K-dramas is starting to get a bit stale in 2024, a year dominated by dramas set around chaebol, the show’s scope is refreshingly narrow.

The first two episodes more or less focus on the company and its various components and the several subcontractors they work with, as well as occasionally showing the home life of Dae-woong, who lives with his parents.

While Cha-il’s rigid interpretation of corporate guidelines is remarkably effective in finding problem individuals, his inflexibility and total lack of interpersonal skills put him in danger of condemning the wrong people, or at least failing to consider their differing motivations.

On the other hand, Han-soo, with his trusting nature, is so gullible that he is apparently unable to make a decision on his own if he is met with the slightest sign of kindness.

Jung Moon-sung as JU chairman Hwang Se-woong in a photo from The Auditors.

Even though he is a member of the audit team, he apparently fails to see the hypocrisy of using company credit cards for fancy dinners and cab rides or receiving gifts from department heads the team has helped.

He also fails to notice the problematic behavior of his dissatisfied superior, who is passed over for the team leader position.

Making full use of its star front and center, the show capitalizes on Shin’s magnetism. Gazing at his teammates and targets with the same unwavering intensity, Cha-il stalks the halls of JU with purpose.

Meanwhile, rising star Lee adds drama to his portrayal of Han-soo’s honesty and naked emotionality.

Villain Jin as Dae-woong is showing off his confident style for now, while Jo A-ram, a former member of Korean girl group Gugudan, is preparing to take on a bigger role in the series as Han-soo’s strict classmate Yoon Seo-jin, who has a secret of her own.

Starting with a relatively simple case that points to widespread corruption in JU, Auditors skillfully presents its characters, their motivations and the environment in which they work.

Shin Ha-kyun as Shin Cha-il, a steely-eyed corporate auditor, in a still from The Auditors.
With 10 episodes left, there’s still plenty of time for the stakes to rise, though hopefully in a similar vein to the best Korean workplace dramas like On the verge of madness AND Misaeng: An Incomplete Lifewill stay focused and resist the temptation to go outside of JU.

Auditors are available on the Viu platform.