Drama Recaps
IRIS: Episode 1
by | October 16, 2009 | 155 Comments

Pretty badass, yo.

IRIS is an expensive drama, and it totally shows. I can’t say that the drama took my breath away, but it was very entertaining, and I can see why it burst on the scene with such a strong start. And then improved on it the following day.

I’m not surprised to see a lot of action, but I was a little surprised (in a nice way) to find that the first episode was actually pretty funny. I suspect that may fade as the story heads into more of its spy storylines, but it was a pleasant way to kick off the series — action mixed with beautiful cinematography, well-placed music, and oh yeah, Lee! Byung! Heon!

SONG OF THE DAY

LeeSsang – “Run” [ Download ]

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EPISODE 1 RECAP

We start out in Hungary. Present day.

KIM HYUN-JOON (Lee Byung-heon) is a National Security (NSS) agent — the top agent, in fact, although we don’t know that yet — and is surprised to be approached by his boss, the bureau chief Baek San. The man comes bearing bad news — they’ve suffered losses and agents have died.

Baek San relates the 1989 event when Hungary opened its border to the west, allowing Germans to leave en masse, thus aiding in the reunification of East and West Germany. He uses that as a segue to their current situation as he issues Hyun-joon a solo mission. If he succeeds, his actions could have a large influence in bringing about Korea’s own unification.

Hyun-joon prepares to carry out his mission: an assassination. The target is a high-ranking North Korean politician, and Hyun-joon’s shocked expression lets us know that he feels the gravity of this assignment.

In a very Bourne Identity-like sequence (and I mean the comparison positively, since the cinematography and music are top-notch), Hyun-joon prepares to carry out his task.

He scopes out the location of the hit, which is the Budapest History Museum. Posing as a tourist, he snaps photos of the premises, and cases the building, keeping a particular eye on the North Korean politician’s security detail. The guard team is led by Park Chul-young (Kim Seung-woo), who is closely attended by his subordinate, Kim Sun-hwa (Kim So-yeon).

As they await the arrival of the politician, Chul-young organizes his security team to receive him. Something is off when one of his guards stationed inside doesn’t respond to a roll call — and while he doesn’t know that Hyun-joon has silently taken out several guards, he knows something is wrong. He entrusts the team outside to Sun-hwa and runs inside to check.

When the politician’s entourage arrives, he is surrounded by bodyguards, while Sun-hwa remains on alert for danger. Still undetected, Hyun-joon takes out a position on the balcony and readies his gun to get a clear shot of his target. He waits as guards swarm the man, ready to pull the trigger…

Too late, Sun-hwa becomes aware of the danger and leaps in front of the man to shove him aside. Her instincts were just a split-second too late and the man is shot. Mission complete, Hyun-joon makes his getaway, not bothering to clear his weapons or take them with him.


Chul-young races to find the sniper, and spots Hyun-joon leaving from a distance. He manages to get off a shot, which hits Hyun-joon in the side.

Hyun-joon stumbles but keeps going, quickly blending into the crowd while the North Korean agents pursue. He slips onto the subway and loses them.

He’s badly injured, but his priority is to make it back to his apartment, where he calls Baek San to inform him that the mission was a success. He asks for a rescue, because he’s unable to make the escape on his own — but the cool-headed chief tells him he’s on his own.

Hyun-joon repeats his request, this time more fervently: “There is a reason I must stay alive and return. Please help me.”

But his boss just hangs up on him.

Alone now, Hyun-joon has to figure out his own way to survive and return home. He makes his way to an empty railroad depot, but Chul-young has launched a full-scale watch for him, and manages to trace his whereabouts.

Based on their intelligence, North Koreans head to the old railroad warehouse, where Hyun-joon crudely tends to his gunshot wound. The agents storm in and disperse in search of their quarry, and Hyun-joon is able to take out of few of them individually. Despite his injury, he is still strong and fast, and uses his benefit of surprise.

Young-chul spots him and follows while firing his gun at Hyun-joon, who ducks out of the way. He launches himself at Young-chul for a brief hand-to-hand struggle, and then they draw their weapons simultaneously at each other. Sun-hwa, poised to snipe from a distance, can’t get a clean shot and waits.

Hyun-joon knocks his enemy’s gun aside, and engages in more hand-to-hand fighting that ends with him being pushed off the landing to the lower level.

He takes that opportunity and runs outside — just as a helicopter swoops down and hovers over the scene. The pilot sees Hyun-joon running away and shoots a missile, which misses him but connects with a train car.

The blast shoots him into the air, into a car, and onto the ground. Bleeding from the bullet wound and stunned from the blow, Hyun-joon tries to crawl onward, but collapses into unconsciousness.

 

And then, we skip backward, to his school days.

Now we’re with a younger Hyun-joon, who makes his way to class at the beginning of his term. It’s an American politics and diplomacy lecture, and he walks in late as the professor lectures about Kennedy’s assassination. He asks his class about the various hypotheses about Kennedy’s murder. The student who responds is nameless throughout this episode, but we’ll know her as CHOI SEUNG-HEE (Kim Tae-hee).

Seung-hee lists a few of the conspiracy theories about Kennedy’s assassination (for instance, that it was really the work of the CIA, or the military-industrial complex). She believes the latter most plausible, relating it to Kennedy’s stance on withdrawal from Vietnam.

When the professor asks Hyun-joon what he thinks, he gives an off-the-cuff remark that dismisses Seung-hee’s comment. A little miffed, she launches into a more detailed explanation regarding the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, and calls Hyun-joon’s comment “simplistic and ignorant.”

He’s a little turned on at her intelligence, and a little insulted. But when he tries to talk to her during lunch, she simply walks away and ignores him.

In addition to school, Hyun-joon is also busy with army training alongside his best friend, JIN SA-WOO (Jung Jun-ho). The two have a good friendship and share a dorm room, and are also the top two of their group, as we see in various drills. Their shooting test gives me a bit of an Iceman–Maverick vibe, because Sa-woo completes the test coolly and proficiently, while Hyun-joon is a show-off; he’s just as good, but in a more unconventional way.

They have a healthy sense of competition and spur each other on. They also josh each other, as Sa-woo does when Hyun-joon moons over the new girl he’s just met, whom he is already describing in superlative terms. He doesn’t know her well enough to mean it 100% seriously, but he’s definitely intrigued. Therefore, Hyun-joon actually studies for class, determined to prove he’s not as dumb as Seung-hee seems to think him.

This time, he volunteers to answer a question (about the meaning behind the Gulf War) and satisfies the professor with an accurate summary. Instead of letting the professor continue, Hyun-joon keeps speaking, rattling off a litany of facts about the war.

Seung-hee is amused, but she shoots him down again, saying that explaining the meaning of war through memorized figures is “exceedingly simplistic and ignorant.”

Afterward, Hyun-joon can’t take the indignity and he talks to her after class, saying that he’s not simple and ignorant. He asks her out for some tea so he can defend himself. She declines, but he perks up when she adds, “Now, drinks, maybe…”

As they drink boilermakers (soju bombs), Hyun-joon explains that he didn’t actually force himself to memorize those details — his memory is really good, and once he reads something, he has it stored in his brain. He demonstrates by reciting the restaurant’s various menus, and she’s duly impressed.

She also drinks him under the table. She decrees his boilermaker “weak” and makes much stronger drinks, and in an effort to impress her, he drinks them all. Some time later, he wakes up at the table to find that she’s already paid and left.

The problem is, that’s the last he sees of her, because she stops showing up to class. Hyun-joon asks the professor if he knows why she’s not coming anymore, and learns that she was admitted to the class by special request of the dean; the professor doesn’t even know her name.

Over the next few days, Hyun-joon sulks over “the one that got away” — he doesn’t even know the girl’s name, or where she lives. Sa-woo tries to cheer him up, but Hyun-joon remains in a funk.

When Sa-woo meets his sunbae for drinks, however, he catches one glimpse of Seung-hee and falls head over heels in love with her. Naturally he has no clue that this is the same girl that Hyun-joon has been mooning over. The sunbae is PARK SANG-HYUN, who grew up in the same hometown as Sa-woo and is now a businessman. Seung-hee is introduced as one of his fellow employees, Jin-ah (and while we know that’s a fake name if we’re keeping up with character profiles, for the moment there’s no reason to think she’s assuming a persona).

Sa-woo comes home exulting over his future wife, and is in such good spirits that he urges Hyun-joon to drink his worries aside. The two sneak out to a nightclub, where Sa-woo gets busy acting as wingman for his friend by chatting up some girls.

Unfortunately, Hyun-joon gets into a minor clash with a drunk guy in the bathroom, who rallies his friends to go after him. The two friends run out of the bar while a whole gang of thugs chases after them, but they get separated — while Hyun-joon is able to run ahead, Sa-woo finds himself cornered.

In the morning, Sa-woo is nursing a black eye and is punished for his rule-breaking by running extra laps dragging a tire.

(Of course, then Hyun-joon tries to make things right by taking responsibility for the fight, thinking that’ll get Sa-woo off the hook. Instead, not only does their officer punish Hyun-joon, he makes the punishment even worse. LOL.)

One night, Sa-woo is roused from sleep by his superior officer, who is accompanied by some strange men. Hyun-joon is also awakened and taken in a strange car with the strange men to a strange location. He remains tense and asks where he’s going, but gets no response.

As Hyun-joon is led down the hall, however, he hears groans of pain coming from one chamber — and he recognizes Sa-woo’s voice. Suddenly in a panic, he struggles, but is dragged into his own chamber, where he is strapped to medical apparatus and administered an injection. The drugs make both men writhe in pain, and their heartrates speed to dangerous levels. The injection is pentothal (sodium thipental), a barbiturate used in interrogations to break the subject’s resistance.

All the while, Seung-hee watches impassively from the other side of the one-way mirror. Next to her is Sang-hyun, Sa-woo’s sunbae, who is NOT a businessman after all but the leader of this assignment. While the men’s vital signs are monitored, Sang-hyun asks a single question: “What is your mission?”

Seung-hee sees that Hyun-joon’s physical responses are normal, which means that Hyun-joon has managed to control his emotions perfectly. They increase the dosage of pentothal, which forces his heartrate even higher. Again, Sang-hyun demands to know what his mission is.

But then, Hyun-joon surprises them — fueled by fury, he strains against his bindings with all his strength, and actually breaks free of the wrist strap. Still weak, he stumbles to the ground, then grabs a chair and attacks the one-way glass. It’s reinforced so it doesn’t break, and he cannot see inside the room, but the agents are alarmed.

Hyun-joon continues to pound away at the glass. Sang-hyun tells his men to close off the room and prepare a sedative.

A voice interrupts, stopping them: Bureau chief Baek San walks in and instructs them to not do anything.

 
COMMENTS

First things first: shirtless Lee Byung-heon!

All right, now that that’s out of the way…

I thought IRIS got off to a great start. A great mix of action, humor, and enough intrigue to capture your interest without being cryptic (ahem, Swallow the Sun). I think most people already know the general premise of the story, which means that the torture/interrogation scene at the end isn’t really so shocking because we can all surmise that this is some kind of test. Therefore, it’s up to the execution to hold our interest, and that is something this drama certainly accomplishes at a high quality level. The production is very stylish, beautifully shot, and sleek without being too slick. If that makes sense.

I knew IRIS would look good, but the big question was whether it would connect with me. And I think one of the big draws for me was that it hits the right tone. I’ve seen big-budget blockbusters that felt devoid of spirit, and I was wondering if IRIS would be another one of those. I was pleasantly surprised at not only the suspenseful opening, but also the warm, funny flashback portion. I did think the flashback dragged on a bit too long, but I liked getting a chance to see Hyun-joon as a cocky young guy. The camaraderie between him and Sa-woo is another enjoyable bit, because they really do seem like close friends. That means the impending love triangle may actually hurt, which I consider a good thing in a dramatic sense.

Much of the drama’s appeal I will attribute to Lee Byung-heon — that man is compelling! — but even a great actor like him cannot act in a vacuum, and here’s where the high production values do make a big difference.

Kim Tae-hee wasn’t even that bad. I was not expecting much from her but hoping she would make all the naysayers eat their words (myself included). I don’t think she was strong enough to revoke her image as the Pretty Face Who Can’t Act, but at least she didn’t reinforce it.

I think the problem with Kim Tae-hee isn’t that she is a horrible actress, but that she lacks a certain charisma, oddly enough. (I say it’s odd because usually CF queens abound with charisma, since they’re trading on their appealing images more than skills.) But she does, especially compared to her co-stars. Lee Byung-heon is badass, Jung Jun-ho is warm, Kim Seung-woo is coldly professional, Kim So-yeon is sexy and strong, and TOP is… well, he’s TOP. Next to them, Kim Tae-hee sorta fades.

 
THE VERDICT

Stylish, entertaining, well-acted, well-produced. Probably going to be a huge success. I won’t gush wildly and call it an instant winner, but it’s off to a promising beginning. Definitely worth at least checking out.

 
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155 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. xiaoSxin

    pretty intense episode.. i am loving the relationship between the the LBH and JJH. i always love the brotherly relationships. action sequences are very good, and the love triangle is already introduced.. i just wish t.Op was in this episode!!!!!!!! To.p TOP I want TOP!!!!

    i just hope IRIS won’t crush Your’re Beautiful too badly ratings wise..I don’t want that drama to be “cut” by the station.. please they need to stop that bad practice

  2. hmm...

    Thanks JB for the recaps!

    I agree that the production is really well done. And yes, LBH’s body is just amazing, how can he be so muscular, and yet look so slim in a suit/clothes??? Amazing…!
    Love the rest of the cast as well.
    And really love the music!

    Does anyone know who sings the english song playing in the background when they are running out of the club? It’s got so much drive, really makes a big impact!

  3. Linda

    same here.. i found myself laughing out loud in a lot of places.. then the ending got really intense and i was completely lost.. gotta watch episode 2

  4. soysauce

    Ohhh, it looks soooo goood. How am I gonna find time T_T

  5. E-gyrl

    As soon as I saw this Episode, I had to see the second one!! I am really excited about this show and Lee Byun Hun is absolutely gorgeous!!! Cannot wait to see TOP in this show.

    E.

  6. dramafreak19

    I liked IRIS’s first episode because it surprised me with how much non-action substance it had…the only downside is…no T.O.P in this episode!!! =(

    Oh well, off to see Ep. 2!!

  7. Joonni

    I was surprised at the how funny some scenes were but that got me hooked enough to watch how intense it got. I am in for this drama.

    Thanks for the recaps. You definitely cleared up more of the technical stuff for me.

  8. Reese

    I agree with you completely Javabeans. I hope the rest of the episodes are just as good (if not better) than this one. At the moment, I’m like ten minutes into episode two, and so far its turning into a good episode.

  9. missmanderley ` blossompop!

    I think the problem with Kim Tae-hee isn’t that she is a horrible actress, but that she lacks a certain charisma, oddly enough. (I say it’s odd because usually CF queens abound with charisma, since they’re trading on their appealing images more than skills.) But she does, especially compared to her co-stars. Lee Byung-heon is badass, Jung Jun-ho is warm, Kim Seung-woo is coldly professional, Kim So-yeon is sexy and strong, and TOP is… well, he’s TOP. Next to them, Kim Tae-hee sorta fades.

    Javabeans

    I agree. Actually I really want to watch IRIS, but KTH’s acting just really puts me off every since I saw her in The Nine Tailed Fox. She’s a pretty face, but the acting is just surprisingly flat… maybe a strong lead like LBH might fill that lacking part of her acting.

    Every other character has their own distinct “charisma” as you said it… and I’m eager to give Kim Tae Hee a chance to prove that she can go with this heavyweight cast.

    (OOT, but… yey for Jung Junho… missed that ahjusshi ~ )

  10. 10 christine

    oohhh.. looks promising… and the cinematography is just plain awesome… and a shirtless Lee Byung-heon, need i say more;p

  11. 11 cc

    I enjoyed the first 2 episodes!
    Can’t wait to see more Kim Seung-woo, Kim So-yeon & TOP!!
    So far so good!

  12. 12 mojadora

    holy hotness lee byung heon!

  13. 13 aspsara

    KTH is OK for me-her pretty face can cover everythings, man in Korea love her, so she can go further with that,-the only problem with her is just her face expression is not strong enough (maybe not yet)-anyway many famous korean actress are like that, only a few are just borned talented-she’s not the only one. Hope she can be strong with all the critictism.
    Bottom point is she is lucky enough to move her career alongside those talented actors/actresses-sure more CF for her after this. At least her character definately not going to be chopped off like the other actres (EOE cough..cough).

    EP 1 and 2 -SOOOO good, hope they will maintain that.

  14. 14 rubie

    Dear JB, your heartwarming IRIS recap is spilling fireworks and confetti. I’m so glad and happy reading your detailed thoughts..Till the next episode of LBH uhh..I mean IRIS.. Wednesday is still too far away. Sigh.^^

    The first episode is actually pretty safe and predictable but the flashback really starts everything off nicely & well-meant — why and how things happen. It’s one of the strongest points aside from all that money going to the right places and the right actors bringing the characters the attitude to rule. Can’t wait for the episode 2 recap.

  15. 15 langdon813

    I was a little worried that IRIS would be a bit of a letdown after so many months of anticipation and hype, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The relationship between Hyun-joon and Sa-woo is already so special; your Maverick – Iceman comparison is spot-on. Nothing wrong with a little bromance to complicate the romance…bros before ho’s? We’ll see!

    Thanks JB, can’t wait for Episode 2 (and Kim Seung-woo, who already has me saying…hmm, hot ajusshi alert)!

  16. 16 Lucille

    Thanks for the recap. I enjoyed the first two episodes. I felt like I was watching a movie. It moved pretty quick and it didn’t bore me. Which is saying a lot. I hope they can keep this pace until the end without being tiring.

  17. 17 Kobe

    I don’t normally read the recaps here, since most of the time I don’t watch the dramas that are being recapped anyway, and even if I do, I don’t want to spoil anything. But with IRIS, I want to know and understand as much about the drama as possible, and reading JB’s recap certainly helps in that regard. I really hope she continues recapping this.

    I felt so relieved after watching the first episode. Why? Because you know how when you’ve been anticipating something for such a long time, expecting it to be really amazing, and then when the time finally comes, you’re like….this is it? This is what I’ve been waiting for? Well, IRIS has so far been everything I’ve expected, and more! Can’t wait for episodes 3 & 4, and more importantly, subs from WITHS2!

    @9

    I agree. Actually I really want to watch IRIS, but KTH’s acting just really puts me off every since I saw her in The Nine Tailed Fox. She’s a pretty face, but the acting is just surprisingly flat…

    I think it’s a little too early to judge KTH on her acting here, and IMO, she’s doing a decent job so far. I mean, much of KTH’s reputation as a bad actress actually comes from ‘The Stare’ that she always does, especially in Stairway to Heaven, and from thereon there’s been a lot of bandwagon jumping, but I have never really felt at any point that KTH is a bad actress. Of course, she might not be a strong actress, but at least she never makes me cringe in the way that, say, Dennis O’Neil does.

    I’m also glad to say that after a 5 year hiatus from dramas, KTH still looks as pretty as she did in Love Story in Harvard. Her smiling eyes makes me melt, and if I was a large iceberg, KTH would be responsible for rising sea levels.

    Anyway enough rambling from me. Thank you JB for the recap, I hope you continue and I hope IRIS never loses its momentum.

  18. 18 belleza

    Thoughts on Iris First Episode

    Boom Boom: 9/10
    Pow: 10/10
    Love Love Love: 5/10
    Average: 8/10

    Thought on Iris 2nd Episode:
    Boom Boom: 10/10
    Pow: 8/10
    Love Love Love: 15/10 (greatest kiss ever in K-drama)
    Average: 11/10. And I’m pregnant with Lee Byung Hun’s babies. (Seriously LBH, WTH man!!)

  19. 19 marni

    I agree with post #16, it did feel like a movie. Looked high quality, big budget and loved the fast pace. I LOVED the ending!! LBH looks so good on big AND small screen.

  20. 20 rubie

    @belleza

    And I’m pregnant with Lee Byung Hun’s babies!

    LOL! How true, the Kdrama kisses hall of fame redefined — the Byunghun effect is now beyond the drooling bucket! ^^

  21. 21 Lil

    I was waiting to see when you would make a commentary about this drama. I definitely agree with you. The first two episodes definitely deserved the ratings they received respectively. LBH lives up to his name as one of the best Hallyu stars ever! His acting just pulls you into his character.

    @#18! Definitely agree with you on your ratings.

  22. 22 Kaishing

    i liked the flashbacks too! although LBH looked kind of old to be a student..he pulled it off w/ his great acting skills. KTH on the other hand…i feel like she’s the same in every drama/movie…i think the drama where she was at her best, in terms of acting, was Stairway to Heaven

  23. 23 mookie

    I’m still lol’ing @18 Belleza……babIES…umm…

    LBH is proving what a Hallyu King can do, carrying a drama. Even if u r not his fan, it’s undeniably he can A.C.T. I’m a bit bored by ep1. Maybe because I’ve fallen asleep in all of the Bourne movies repeatedly as well….. (shame on me). JJH is holding up pretty well, TOP is actually quite eye catching in his seconds, just because he may do some harm to our hero and I’m craving for much much more KSW pretty please. 3 ajusshis I find attractive in different ways… ahhhhh… I feel like MiNam in an ajusshi heaven as opposed to the boys.

  24. 24 Fiey

    Woah, Thanks Javabeans for this recap!

    i’ve been wondering if you’ll recap this drama and been refreshing since then. I know IRIS might be more difficult to recap than others with all the little details/facts but i always love reading your reviews and want to know your thoughts on this drama too. sometimes your recap also clears any confusion i had . Thanks for this! and i agree with you completely on everything you said here!

    I’m also a little suprised at first with the comedy IRIS has so far. i didnt expect it at all. i think its mostly LBH character that is hilarious. LOL i think i’m already falling for KHJ now (not bcoz of his body okkay! haha!). His gifted talent&skills blew me away, and the kid in him lol. he’s cool, funny & romantic. what else can we ask from a man? and LBH’s acting perfects it.

    Awesome start for me. and i hope IRIS continues to do this good or even better.
    love the directing, love the casts, love the osts, love the pace. love everything so far about IRIS. i even like the opening credit, its so cool~!

  25. 25 gustave154

    First episode rocked!!!
    Really happy to see LBH and KTH back on the small screen xD

  26. 26 missmanderley ` blossompop!

    @17 Kobe

    I think it’s a little too early to judge KTH on her acting here, and IMO, she’s doing a decent job so far. I mean, much of KTH’s reputation as a bad actress actually comes from ‘The Stare’ that she always does, especially in Stairway to Heaven, and from thereon there’s been a lot of bandwagon jumping, but I have never really felt at any point that KTH is a bad actress. Of course, she might not be a strong actress, but at least she never makes me cringe in the way that, say, Dennis O’Neil does.

    i’m not judging her already from the first episode itself, but just her track record as an actress. and that the fact that she’s not a newly debut actress anymore (with a few dramas under her belt already)

    just wishing her acting skills won’t “lag” behind the others… since that can kinda take away the awesomeness of the production…

  27. 27 kdramalovers

    The beginning reminds me too much of ‘All In’ what with him hurt and the story flash back to the past. All in all, I’ll watch it whenever but not something I would mark on my calendar to watch.

  28. 28 all4movies

    Wow, after 2 episodes, I just may become a LBH fan.

    He doesn’t always look hot from some angles, but boy he sure can act. Coupled with the best body in the korean film industry and you have a MEGASTAR.

    Ok, I know a lot of people already know that, but I just had to add my own girlyfan moment. Now I understand what the excitement has been about.

  29. 29 trixicopper

    I really enjoyed the first 2 episodes. Come on, this drama has explosions, assasins, spys, humor & romance. Not to mention a hot extremely buff leading man. Please, LBH can handcuff my ankle to a chair any time he wants.

  30. 30 jenny

    The first episode was not that appealing to me except for the few moments of camaraderie ( I love camaraderie). But then again, it is easy for me to get bored of expositions. But episode 2 definitely perk up my interest. I love how fast pace the love story is going, I love all the explosives, and I love the nice choreography.

    But I am very uncertain about the plot. Iris have promise to be a good suspense drama especially with a conspiracy plot already setting up by the end of episode 2. But I can just see how romance might underhand that, and to me it would be a major disappointment. And the danger to any suspense/action drama is if it drags. Suspense dramas are suppose to be fast paced and give you a certain thrill. I don’t know if Iris can hold that up for a full 20 episodes. But I am hoping for the best.

    I am very well pleased with the cast. I see no problems with Kim Tae Hee so far. But I agree that acting opposite to LBH does highlight her flaws. Especially when LBH gives off such an intense feeling. I think with LBH, it is not just that he can act ( because I think he acts really well, but just short of spectacular) it is that he has such a demanding presence on camera. When he enters a scene, it’s like the camera is focus on him. And it is not just because he’s hot. I don’t get the same presence from TOP as I do for LBH. Combined with good acting skills, I can see how LBH became one of the more famous Hallyu stars.

    Overall, I hope the best for this drama, but somewhere in the depths of my mind I feel like there is a possibility that I will drop this drama. Oh fickle heart of mine.

  31. 31 MEIKO**** ^-^

    lol!!! at Belleza’s pregnancy…. ^-^

    I was waiting for the ep2 recap to comment on the “kiss”, but since most have been commenting about it…, I have to join in and say:

    *drooling and nosebleeding* “OMG! LBH IS ONE HOT KISSER!!!” I had to go back to that scene three times and gawked again and again! LOL!

    LOVE LOVE JJH too…*sigh* … I guess he will be the nice guy here…. “why oh why do the naughty guys get the girls??!! (well…not that I mind..) but…, am just thinking that since LBH will have two of the leading ladies all over him throughout the series …, what about JJH?! … I wanna see some JJH yummy scenes too! ^-^

    ok, TOP is coming! 100% kill rate…hehe! (am dying!)

  32. 32 belleza

    “But I can just see how romance might underhand that, and to me it would be a major disappointment.”

    I think Iris is having the romance go at a hyperpace, because LBH has to switch sides (i.e. play for North Korea.) Will Kim Jong Il join up as LBHLUVR1369 on his fansite? Just wait and see. :D

    Kim Seung Woo appeared very short in the first episode, but his performance was major ownage too, especially since we rarely get to see him (except the thriller Yesterday) like this. When KSW and LBH battle and pair up, it’ll be really something.

  33. 33 bleu

    Question: Does anyone know the song played when Hyun Joo and San Woo running on the street on their night out?

  34. 34 MEIKO**** ^-^

    ADD: SPOILER!!!!

    on Choi Seung Hee(KTH), I am not(yet) sold by her being the profiler and “team leader”… she is pretty but she kinda lacks the aggressiveness, coldness(perhaps?), and mysteriousness a “NSS” leader and/or profiler should be(?)…. she looks a bit transparent and fragile…. and for a psychological analyst…she was emotional (i mean, LBH got her to all mad and smitten in a flash…aahh..as early as ep2!!)….

    sorry JavaB! Forgot to warn readers of my spoiler in my previous post!

  35. 35 belleza

    “I am not(yet) sold by her being the profiler and “team leader”… ”

    Mmmm . . . yeah . . . originally the producers wanted Son Yeh Jin to play the female lead. And of course, SYJ could play this part in her sleep.

    LBH+SYJ in a kissing scene? Wow, forget twins, This Belleza would have a F4 and conquer Shilla.

  36. 36 tokai

    I have to admit I had a few problems with the first episode. I thought the middle part of the episode was rather boring and a bit too slow for an action show; while especially in the first action scene (the train hangar) the hand-cam style was overused in an extreme way (reporters usually try to keep their hand-cam stable and not wave them around on purpose) which made me almost sea-sick while trying to watch the sequence. Also the stunt doubles were too easy to detect.

  37. 37 mookie

    Actually I think KTH is even more perfectly cast than SYJ because her CSH is exactly what she’ll be in real life IF KTH chooses to be a profiler/psychoanalyst. Academically a smart cookie, if stuff is in black and white in prints, she can devour like nobody…but this ‘greeness’/vulnerability (both as the character and an actress
    ) bring a genuine juxtaposition against Belleza’s babydaddy. She can know all the psych book stuff, and be a superior, but not all doctors can cure themselves, right?

    After all these years, I still have a ‘meaty’ taste in my mouth recalling that Rain/SMA’s kiss. If we’re really talking about ‘eating’, but coming across as asexual and carnivorous as that one a la Animal Planet. Rain, baby, (or even my binnie baby) follow our lead and repeat THAT scene till u GET it.

    I mean I would not be surprised IF 2 months after IRIS was over we got confirmation KTH had fallen for LBH, they can then go star in a reality show with binnie and SHK. that’s my kind of crack TV.

  38. 38 bbm

    thank you for the recap JB
    seriously, half naked LBH is not good for you, especially when you’re still in the office and you can’t squee all you want… he look soooo delicious :P

    @mookie, agree with the ajusshi comment, those 3 are surely attractive

    @belezza, i’m truly sorry because your plan to conquer Shilla fails coz of SYJ no show, but i hope the twins are okay though… XD

  39. 39 gracefulmoonie

    @ 35 Belleza-

    “Mmmm . . . yeah . . . originally the producers wanted Son Yeh Jin to play the female lead. And of course, SYJ could play this part in her sleep.

    LBH+SYJ in a kissing scene? Wow, forget twins, This Belleza would have a F4 and conquer Shilla.”

    Oh, I know what you mean, girl…SYJ kissing LBH- oh, why couldn’t SYJ be attached to this project????- but I should not dwell on the past, and we’ll just have to settle w/ KTH. (This is probably the most upset I have been when an actor could not be cast as the producers originally intended.) hee hee =]

    Afer reading JB’s recap– I started to watch some of the bits with Kim So Yeon, and I am liking it so far. Hopefully, I will spend more time watching when there is more depth to KSY’s character. . .and lastly, Mr. LBH is still hot and ozzes emotion from every pore of his body as someone once posted.

  40. 40 belleza

    @gracefulmoonie,

    “Oh, I know what you mean, girl…SYJ kissing LBH- oh, why couldn’t SYJ be attached to this project????-”

    Honestly didn’t think it would happen. Iris required a lengthy, lengthy production schedule, and SYJ’s just way too in demand to set aside half a year to do a show. Much more likely for a LBH/SYJ movie, which itself would generate great interest. I also thought Ha Ji Won would be a good fit, since she’s known for her versatility in film. Again, production schedule.

    There was a brief period where it sounded like maybe LBH, KTH, and SYJ who all be in the show. Of course, all the actions would have to be done with shadow puppets, since that’s pretty much what would be the remaining budget.

    This was a great career move for Kim Tae Hee. Originally, she was going to play Sujini in The Legend, but she wasn’t going to set aside 2 years for the drama. Iris is going to be a huge Hallyu export, especially riding behind LBH’s exposure in GI Joe.

    This might be a great choice for Kim So Yeon too. She’s kinda shifted back to support role status, which I found baffling since she’s one of the few Korean actresses who can step into the kind of roles Kim Hye Soo and Uhm Jung Hwa kinda own.

    And TOP may never get a funner role than this one too. Boom Boom Pow + Big Bang = TOP Thug 4 Lyfe!!!

    @mookie,

    “Actually I think KTH is even more perfectly cast than SYJ because her CSH is exactly what she’ll be in real life IF KTH chooses to be a profiler/psychoanalyst.”

    Mm hmm. And in fact, I feel that the character is being written very much for KTH. When she’s there as a graduate student or in the office as a profiler, our background knowledge of KTH’s education makes her immediately credible. The character is written as a little cold and enigmatic, but also sensual and maybe even pensive. Son Yeh Jin would have explored the ethical dissonance in her character. Meaning, we know that the NSS — good intentions aside — is a nasty piece of work. But rather than explore the ugly paradoxes of this lifestyle, KTH’s beatific acting style embodies the “Facade” of the NSS.. She drunk LBH’s character under the table, merely to test him. She had his feelings for her profiled in her dossiere. She observed him getting tortured. She remained neutral about all this. Her blankness expresses the nature of the NSS. The casting works.

  41. 41 Deena

    OK- I tried really hard not to read the comments here, so that I won’t be tempted to watch the first 2 episodes. (wanted to wait till the whole series is aired, and then watch all at once). However, JB recaps and the comments I read here make it a real torture :-) LBH is an actor I really fell for because of his acting (probably the first Korean actor I appreciated that much, till Kim Myung Min came with his Beethoven-like Kang-Mae). Now, in addition, I cannot erase the images of his naked upper body. Since, accept “Addicted”, I have no other film with LBH which can quench the thirst on the spot, though temporarily, so alas, IRIS …2 EPISODES… HERE I COME…

    I became totally addicted to this community as well. If someone would have told me a while ago that every morning I will be running to my PC to see what JB, SAMSOOKI, BELLEZA, MISHANE, OCKOALA, LANGDON and many others have written that day, I would probably laugh and say that they have no idea what they are talking about…

  42. 42 heejung

    oh!! i know that school!!! that’s yeonsei university. omg it’s right behind my school – i’ve even walked through there on my way to sinchon a couple times. LOL

    iris looks interesting. very intense~

  43. 43 Agent Darwin

    Agreed!! KTH cannot act!! Why did’t they cast some other actress like SHG (LBH’s ex) or CJW for KTH’s role.

    KTH has got this evil smile that really got into my nerves!! Er! Yuck!!

    Thank you Dramabeans for doing the recap!! ^_____________^

  44. 44 krnkimbap

    I’m so happy I finally have TWO good dramas to watch this year! The last one I fully stuck out with was BOF! That being said… LBH- it’s been much too long! His charisma is something else, I tell ya… And I love the bromance between him and JJH- they definitely have chemistry (not sexual) together! JJH is a bit underrated with overseas fans but I really like him because he seems like a natural actor~ And am I the only one that’s excited for Kim Seung Woo??? And TOP better not disappoint me!!!! ^^*

  45. 45 Mathew Kraft

    In this drama the actress have to be physically fit because there are some robust

    scenes like hanging quite down from the bridge and also sprint skiing and some

    other actions which they performed and not shown yet.

    There will be some sexy scene (cute too !) from LBH when they are in Japan,

    especially a wrap white towel wow !!! his waist line and slightly below the waist !!!

    (no women can resist that look !! )

    go to youtube and search LBH.

  46. 46 Agent Darwin

    “Baek San relates the 1989 event when Hungary opened its border to the west, allowing Germans to leave en masse, thus aiding in the reunification of East and West Germany.”

    From my little understanding of Hungarian history and geography, I think the scriptwritter was incorrect about Hungary opened its border to the west, allowing Germans to leave en masse, thus aiding in the reunification of East and West Germany.

    To the west of Hungary is Austria. It is a German speaking country, but a social democratic country which has a separate ruling regime from Germany.

    BTW, Hungary only opened its border once before the Berlin War collapsed which is in the mid 1960s (I think) to revolt against the Nazi ruling. Hungarian, Southern German and Austria used to be under the Hofburg dynasty as far as the history is concerned, and Hungary has little administrative interest in getting both germans to reunify. It is the US interest to have the reunification.

    I think the correct incident (assisnation of the North Korean politician as captured in IRIS) should have been taken place in Prague (Czech Republic) or Warsaw. Prague or Warsaw (Poland) is west to Berlin.

  47. 47 Agent Darwin

    Error of above message: It should be read Berlin Wall, not Berlin War!! Hehe…:P

  48. 48 deannadsc

    IRIS…what can I say that you guys haven’t already? We, Kdrama addicts have always been anticipating & awaiting new drama genres that we could sink our eager teeth on…and very rarely do we get a chance to really appreciate a GEM…

    well that’s what IRIS has to offer!!! it’s polished,and tight storyline,great ensemble casting,powerful action scenes were just awesome!!!

    but….it is LEE BYEUNG HEON’s persona & powerful presence & performance that gives it a 10-star rating for me!!! all the other dramas showing just pales in comparison!!!

  49. 49 ripgal

    Thanx DB for the recap! Was waiting to see if you’d give this drama a chance..hehehe..

    And I agree with all of you, that LBH totally RAWKED the drama! It’s the kind of charisma and on screen presence that not every actor can have… it’s like when you watch him, you see him and him only. Totally not good for health…XD

    Overall, I thought Ep 1 was a pretty solid episode. Action scenes were intriguing enough, and acting, pretty decent across the board. Some ppl lamented on the sudden transition from the present/action scenes to the flashback scenes….but I beg to differ. Totally think the flashback scenes brought a whole meaning and insight to how Hyun Joon became an agent and such other events that followed. And the better aspect of it was, LBH as Hyun Joon = AWESOME. He’s like a perfect package that ANY GIRL would want to have as a boyfriend. Looks (and BOD), humor, wit and most importantly, the charm that no girl can ever resist. Just look at his eyes, and we’re gone.

    I also liked how Hyun Joon and Sa Woo’s relationship was laid out. Heartwarming, endearing and cute. And LBH and JJH have great chemistry too. Too bad it won’t last long, and I dread the episode whereby everything will fall apart for them. Sighs.

    KTH’s doing a pretty okay job. Not great but passable for her character. We all know her limits when it comes to acting… but for myself, I’m willing to give her a chance in this. Hopefully working with LBH would ease her up a bit and allow her to act more naturally…

  50. 50 nell123

    @ 44 krnkimbap:

    “… am I the only one that’s excited for Kim Seung Woo??? ”

    I love Kim Seung Woo. Ever since I saw Hotelier years ago. He stole the show from BYJ then. I want him to come into the spotlight already. He and Kim So Yun + LBH is going to be what makes this show interesting. I don’t care about KTH+LBH romance because it looks boring. KTH is only in this for product placement and for giving LBH’s character some sort of romantic hero aura (otherwise he would be just a badass killing machine, but that’s TOP’s job ;) ). Bromance is ok only if there’s abs flashing (1st epi :))) ) and that’s it. But when KSW and KSY enter that’s when the real spy games will begin. And if there’s something between KSY and LBH– even better.

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