Congratulations to IRIS for all the awards won at the KBS Drama Awards! Whether they were well deserved or not, I have to give props to Kim Tae Hee for winning an Excellence Award in acting. She really sold her acting abilities to me by episode 8, and even more so by episode 10. I wasn’t a fan of her since I saw her last, which was Stairway to Heaven and so, so long ago, but now I’m a (half-) believer.
These two episodes were up on the action and set up for the exposition-laden episode 12. I had mixed feelings at the end of episode 10 on how I wanted it to end, but since it is also the halfway mark of the series, its ending was inevitable.
Random side note: Hyun Seok the computer hacker is so cute – I just want to pinch his cheeks! Cute kid for a hacker, I mean.
Sa Woo leads an NSS security team inside – but the warehouse is empty. So what are the North Korean agents looking at? It’s only Hwang Soo (the same person who insulted and got beaten up by Hyun Joon), knocking at the door. Instead, Hyun Seok sees the NSS agents through a camera planted in the rafters and connected to his computer. Everyone huddles around him to watch the NSS agents poke through their things, and immediately, of course, Hyun Joon recognizes Sa Woo.
The NSS agents and Sa Woo see half-burned papers and photographs on the table. It appears that their target is the East Asia Foreign Affairs Conference and the U.S. Secretary of State attending the conference. However, the Team Leader, Kang Do Chul (with his crazy pama hair), tells his team that their actual target is NSS.
Since the NSS will concentrate most of their forces at the conference, NSS headquarters would be left mostly defenseless. And since they also have Hyun Joon’s full confession, they have an understanding of the NSS security system. Their way in would be to pretend they are part of the waste disposal service.
When Hyun Joon asks for their motive for breaking into NSS, Leader Kang calls up Chul Young and hands Hyun Joon the phone. Chul Young informs him that if he helps with this mission, he will promise Hyun Joon the chance to exact revenge upon Baek San. Meanwhile, Sun Hwa’s primary concern is the chance that Hyun Joon may meet Seung Hee accidentally during the infiltration.
Baek San is in a car with Seung Hee to meet Chul Young and the North-South conference inspection team at the border. However, a call regarding the new target of the terrorists’ attack forces him to send Seung Hee back to headquarters and provide support for Sa Woo, Sang Hyun, and the tactical assault teams.
Half of the North Korean team manages to enter the parking lot of the NSS under the guise of a waste disposal service. At Hyun Joon’s signal, Hyun Seok slips out the side of the moving van and enters the building through a side entrance’s stairwell. They park and wait until Hyun Seok breaks into the computer system.
The guards start getting suspicious at why no one is getting out of the van, but finally, Leader Kang and Hwang Soo get out of the car. When the guards check to verify if they are really part of the waste disposal service, they are shot dead.
The rest of the team makes their way into the parking lot as well, and Hyun Joon tells them it is impossible to enter the headquarters because of the elevators’ bio scan. However, Hyun Seok shows them another way, so Hyun Joon has no choice but to follow. (And here, we are greeted with an odd placement of “Hallelujah” for the soundtrack.)
The “terrorists” blast their way into the building, sounding off the alarm. Tae Sung, Jung In, and Mi Jung, as well as other NSS workers are immediately alerted, but oddly enough the alarms turn off just as suddenly (thanks to Hyun Seok). The terrorists set up motion detectors at various points, but they don’t turn off the security cameras (which I find is a very stupid move, considering you already have a computer whiz around). The NSS security center sees their presence and tries to notify the control room – but Hyun Seok has already cut off all communication connections within the building and going out of the building.
The security team, with no way of notifying the control room, is forced to battle the terrorists by themselves – and all die valiantly. They keep up the fight, even though most are injured and know that they are going to die anyways. Mi Jung connects to the CCTV cameras, and all see the gunfight ensuing below them.
Meanwhile, Seung Hee is calmly making her way down to the control room via NSS elevators. Everything is fine and dandy to her, until she sees a dead security guard in the security room. Out comes the gun.
Chaos is in the control room, and everyone is trying to get out. Mi Jung refuses to leave until she finishes protecting all the servers. The terrorists enter the control room and put force everyone down on their knees, holding them hostage. Despite having a gun held at her head, Mi Jung types furiously away and presses enter – she gets punished with a gun butt to her head.
The President refuses to call off the conference despite the threat of a terrorist attack, so all goes according to plan. Advisor Hong and Baek San meet Chul Young at the border. One of Baek San’s henchmen stops Chul Young from crossing the border with the briefcase (that has the uranium), but Baek San lets it go through.
Seung Hee takes the long way through the basements, wary of every corner and nearly avoiding an encounter with one of the terrorists. She tries to call for help, but none of the phones work. She climbs through the vents and sees her colleagues being led to the control room.
Meanwhile, Hyun Joon tries to get into Baek San’s office, but Leader Kang catches him and forces him to return to his position. Cue flashbacks of him and Seung Hee. What he does not see are the photos on Seung Hee’s desk that prove she’s alive. Sun Hwa catches him and distracts him by asking about the hidden file. When Hyun Joon leaves, she goes over to Seung Hee’s desk and overturns the photo from the reunion party and a report that bears her name.
Hyun Seok reports that the server he was working on shut down, and everyone knows it was because of Mi Jung. Mi Jung refuses to open it, and Jung In says that only a high ranking administrator can open it with their password. However, no one in the room is of such high rank. Leader Kang is about to shoot Jung In when Hyun Joon stops him in front of the hostages.
Leader Kang is not too happy to have his leadership undermined like that, but Hyun Joon confirms Jung In’s claim. Hyun Seok says they need the server up and running to unlock the R&D room, but to turn it back on, he will need another thirty minutes that they don’t have. So Hyun Joon immediately activates a lock down of NSS. No one can get in or out – and he has now bought them some time.
Ever resourceful that she is, Seung Hee connects some of the wires from the servers to a phone, and eventually she gets a dial tone. She calls Sa Woo and lets him know that NSS is under attack. At the same time, Hyun Seok sees that someone has tapped into a wire connection and can be found a floor below. Leader Kang sends two agents to go after Seung Hee while Hyun Seok disables the connection.
Sa Woo informs Sang Hyun and immediately has his team go back to the agency for support. He figures that the terrorist just might be Hyun Joon. Sun Hwa tells Hyun Seok to access the internal security cameras so that they can find out who called outside – and imagine her shock to see it’s Seung Hee.
Hyun Seok really can’t open up the server again. Leader Kang has Hyun Seok, Hwang Soo, and a remaining agent go with him to the R&D room to unlock the safe directly. He leaves Hyun Joon and Sun Hwa to guard the hostages.
One of the agents trailing Seung Hee wanders into Hyun Kyu’s lab. He uncovers Hyun Kyu lying under the white sheet, but because Hyun Kyu’s face is so still, the agent assumes he’s dead. Just as he moves away, Hyun Kyu can’t suppress his cough any longer. Suddenly, Seung Hee attacks the agent from behind – and my goodness it’s a vicious brawl. I mean, glass vials breaking, bodies banging against the shelves and refrigerators, people thrown through windows… Seung Hee holds her own really well and eventually manages to strangle him with a desk lamp.
Hyun Joon takes the opportunity to go into Baek San’s office and retrieve a fingerprint. Sun Hwa wants to go with him, but she settles for being his lookout, watching out for any threats via security cameras. He then goes down to the classified information storage facility, accessing it with Baek San’s fingerprint.
Hyun Seok unlocks the safe in the R&D room, but just as one of the other agents is about to open it, he gets a warning that there is high voltage surrounding the safe. Too late – the agent is electrocuted. He works on it again, and this time, he really thinks it’s ready to be opened. Hwang Soo is dead nervous about being electrocuted, but a few hits on the side of the safe and no electricity shocks assure him. He opens up the safe and removes the piece of equipment from within.
Sa Woo and his team reach NSS, but they can’t disable the system because the emergency security system was activated (thank you, Hyun Joon, for making Sa Woo’s life so difficult). The only way to get in is to blow up the doors, although it may be impossible and risky to do so. But Sa Woo just says, “Blow it up.”
Watching through the security cameras, Sun Hwa sees that Seung Hee is trailing Hyun Joon into the storage facility. That is not going to work if she wants Hyun Joon for herself, so she immediately runs after them. Hyun Joon enters the room and finds the file he’s looking for. He transfers all the files into a USB, and just as it finishes, he hears, “Don’t move.”
Seung Hee aims a gun behind him. He turns around, and sees Seung Hee. No words can express the shock in Hyun Joon’s eyes as he sees his supposedly dead lover right in front of him, battered, but very much alive.
Seung Hee demands he throw his gun away, not recognizing him under his mask. He tries to go over to her, but she won’t give up any ground. Just then, one of the guards who was trailing her shows up behind her. Hyun Joon shoots the agent and Seung Hee shoots him down. Curiosity getting to the better of her, she begins to peel off the mask…
…And Sun Hwa stops her. A swift hit on the face knocks Seung Hee out.
The NSS security team blasts its way through the front doors, so Leader Kang has everyone get ready to leave. They set up a bomb in the control room and Tae Sung has the brilliant idea of wanting to act against the terrorists with his secret gun hidden under his shirt.
Sun Hwa drags a still unconscious Hyun Joon out of the facility when she receives word of their impending evacuation. He comes to, and his first thought is to go to Seung Hee. He attempts to go back to Seung Hee, despite Sun Hwa’s pleas, so she draws her gun on him.
Sun Hwa: We must leave now. This isn’t the time.
Hyun Joon: What did you do to Seung Hee?
Sun Hwa: Don’t worry. She was only knocked out.
Hyun Joon: I have to see Seung Hee.
Sun Hwa: Then what? Then what will you do? After you see her, what can you do then? If you’re caught here, no one will believe you. You have to get out of here first.
Leader Kang catches the two of them. He tells them they have to get moving, as the NSS team will be there at any moment. Despite his reluctance, Hyun Joon goes along with Sun Hwa and the rest of the team.
Sa Woo and the rest of the NSS team make their way to the control room and throw in tear gas. Suddenly the lights turn off (Hyun Seok’s move). Wannabe-agent Tae Sung creeps his way around the corner with his gun and slips on some steps, accidentally firing off his gun. The NSS team responds with gunfire, but Sa Woo stops them. He inches slowly and comes face-to-face with Tae Sung, their guns pointed at each other.
Everyone is safe, except Seung Hee’s whereabouts are unknown and there is a bomb with only 5 minutes left to detonation. They have to evacuate the building.
In a very Ocean’s 11 move, the terrorists disguise themselves as NSS agents and escort an “injured” agent on a gurney (the other female North Korean agent, Young Bum) out of the building. They pass through the underground passageway, unsuspected – Hyun Joon even going right past Sa Woo.
Two NSS security agents manage to disable the bomb with less than two minutes left on the timer as Sa Woo finds an unresponsive Seung Hee in the classified information storage facility.
Hyun Joon sadly looks back at NSS as the team packs into the van, regretting leaving Seung Hee behind. He stays in that same daze when they go back to their hideout, sparking suspicion in Leader Kang. Sun Hwa appeases him by saying that he killed colleagues, so he would be in a shocked state right now, but she later tells Hyun Joon to snap out of it.
Back at NSS, everyone commends Mi Jung for staying so level headed and using emergency protocol in protecting the servers. Tae Sung says, “I just saw white and my mind went blank.” Mi Jung replies, “Computer operator should fight with computers, not with a gun that he can’t even use well.”
Sang Hyun reports the casualties to a very pissed off Baek San, and informs him that Hyun Kyu has begun investigating the two dead terrorists. He also tells him that the terrorists’ target was the R&D Room. Now Baek San has to answer to the Blue House for this recent infiltration.
He gets a verbal scolding from all of the President’s advisors before he is whisked away to a private meeting with the President. Even though NSS has started an investigation, he will resign from his position due to this incident. The President asks if they know why the terrorists entered NSS. Baek San informs him that they excluded a fact from the report – that the equipment the terrorists stole was a detonation device that could be turned into a nuclear bomb if combined with uranium. Throughout this meeting, Advisor Jung listens in through a listening device bugged in the President’s room.
After a sweep throughout the room for listening devices (there is one, so they turn on the TV), Chul Young calls up Leader Kang for an update. Leader Kang requests for additional men, and then he tells Young Bum that she is going to have to assemble a nuclear bomb but cannot tell the other members of the team. Meanwhile, Hwang Soo is pissed off that a woman killed two of his comrades. (What a male chauvinist pig.) Leader Kang informs everyone that they will be staying in until further orders, and notes that Hyun Joon is missing. He tells Sun Hwa to never let Hyun Joon leave her sight.
Seung Hee remains at the hospital, with Sa Woo at her bedside. He goes to a bar to drink, and thinks about the day when he was assigned to kill Hyun Joon. Baek San’s words flood back to him: “If one’s ambition is controlled, his sense of loyalty, of responsibility, there is nothing for him to lose. In that sense, my choosing you was the right decision.”
Sa Woo is filled with anger and resentment, and he calls Baek San.
Sa Woo: It’s too hard to get through this with a clear head, so I had a little to drink. I had a drink thinking of Hyun Joon. I had a drink thinking of Choi Seung Hee. And while I thought of you, who turned my life upside down, and while blaming you, I had another drink. After those drinks, I find myself a little drunk. Why did you pick me? Why did you pick me and make me stand at the edge of the cliff?
Baek San: Jin Sa Woo, you listen to me carefully. It was me that chose you, but the one that made the decision was you. So who are you trying to blame? If you ever repeat those worthless words again, I will not forgive you then. [And he hangs up.]
The next day, Jung In asks if Sang Hyun has found out anything about the terrorists. Sang Hyun has nothing concrete, save for the fact that someone within NSS was helping them, especially because the terrorists knew of the emergency shutdown system. Sang Hyun later confides in Sa Woo that the detonation device has gone missing. A nuclear weapon going off in the middle of Seoul would be devastating; the weapon going off in another country would be something South Korea cannot withstand.
Back at the Blue House, Advisor Jung broaches the topic of the NSS report. He tells the President that the report states nothing about the terrorists’ motive for entering NSS. The President tells him that there is a reason, but he does not think it is fit to share it with him just yet. Advisor Jung warns the President not to trust Baek San too much.
Chul Young walks through the hotel where the conference will be held with Manager Hwang. He checks every security camera and even the security room. Afterwards, in a meeting with Advisor Hong and Baek San, Chul Young raises his concern about the number of security personnel. Advisor Hong assures him that all security personnel would be made available, but Chul Young points out that the democratic Seoul is very different from Pyongyang. If protesters arrived at the event and were able to throw so much as an egg at the leader of North Korea, South Korea would receive international backlash and embarrassment, and be unable to carry forth their other plans.
Meanwhile, the North Korean “terrorists” are restless. Hyun Joon calls Sun Hwa out for a meeting, and he tells her he won’t be stupid. He won’t approach Seung Hee just yet. He hands her the USB he downloaded from Baek San’s storage server, and asks Sun Hwa to check it out for him. Making sure no one is watching her, she plugs it into her computer as Hyun Joon watches her from afar. Sun Hwa opens the file and sees files all relating to Baek San’s activities for IRIS. Included is a file on Hyun Joon’s parents and his entire background.
Sun Hwa tells Hyun Joon that when South Korea was developing nuclear weapons, IRIS and Baek San were behind the elimination of all the participants, including Hyun Joon’s parents, Kim Jung Kook and Yoon Mi Yeon – both nuclear scientists. However, Hyun Joon doesn’t remember them at all, or even knew their names. Sun Hwa tells him that Baek San killed them and then took Hyun Joon to the orphanage.
Recovered from her injuries, Seung Hee drives back to work. She can’t shake off her curiosity about the terrorist who shot a comrade behind her to save her life. She visits Hyun Kyu and asks him about the program that had determined Hyun Joon’s reflection in Sa Woo’s apartment. Despite Sa Woo’s protests, they both conclude that it’s more than likely Hyun Joon really is alive. Seung Hee then asks Jung In about the report regarding her in the storage facility, truly believing now that it was Hyun Joon who saved her. She requests a favor: “Please double check that information from Hungary.”
Back at the hotel, CY Sidekick connects to the security room’s cameras and begins recording the empty hallways, just as Chul Young changes his clothes. CY Sidekick connects the recorded image to the security room, so that when Chul Young leaves the hotel through the back exits (briefcase in hand), the security room would only see an empty hallway. He safely gets away in his car and drives off to the North Korean agents’ headquarters.
Hyun Kyu presents his scientific findings to everyone at NSS. There were no fingerprints, no dental imprints, or picture identification for any of the dead men. There was nothing about them that could identify who they were or where they were from, except for the dust off their clothing. The dust was a unique form of asbestos found in construction sites and factories. Seung Hee says that these terrorists could not have been based too far from NSS, so they just have to find a storage area nearby that also processed or stored that form of asbestos.
Jung In later tells Seung Hee that the Hungary Intelligence never sent the information over. Rather, the information was created and put into the system. But by who?
Chul Young hands off the uranium capsule to Leader Kang, and then meets with Hyun Joon. Since Hyun Joon has been cooperative so far, he will let Hyun Joon carry out his revenge. He can move around freely as long as he is with Sun Hwa. Hyun Joon ventures to ask what it is they stole from NSS, but Chul Young does not tell him. “It’s not that I don’t trust you,” he says, “but those are the circumstances. In the near future, in the middle of Seoul, something will happen that you could never imagine.”
Sa Woo asks Baek San privately in his office if it’s true a nuclear bomb can go off in Seoul. Baek San says yes and gives Sa Woo a new assignment. “What you and I have to do, they are doing it for us. Before it happens, they cannot be caught. You – control the areas of investigation.”
Just then, Seung Hee enters and tells Sa Woo to stay as she informs Baek San: Kim Hyun Jun is alive.
With his newfound freedom, Hyun Joon and Sun Hwa drive to the orphanage where he grew up. Just as they arrive, a black van drives off and the people inside it start shooting at him and Sun Hwa. This triggers an alarm within Hyun Joon, and he rushes into the sanctuary to discover the Father on the floor, shot dead.
Now the one person who knows the answer to his past is gone. BUT Hyun Joon spots an old photograph lying on the floor: it’s a young Hyun Joon standing beside a mysterious man…
My favorite scenes in these two episodes came from episode 10:
1) Hyun Seok had Hwang Soo open up the high voltage safe. Hwang Soo stared at the safe for a full five seconds, so scared to open it. He asked Hyun Seok, “Is it safe?” and Hyun Seok said, “Maybe.” What kind of answer is that, computer expert!? Made me laugh out loud for the first time in a while in this series.
2) The fight scene at Hyun Kyu’s lab. This was the point
Seung Hee Kim Tae Hee really convinced me that she could be an agent, that she could be Seung Hee. That brawl was absolutely vicious and well choreographed – and not to mention, Kim Tae Hee was fighting a guy twice her size. He could easily snap her in half, and there was no way she could REALLY overpower him without using a lot of strength. Her screaming as she got hurt or as she used up all her strength to beat him up was so realistic and so painful that I really believed it. (And I like nothing more than getting engrossed in a story/scene!)
Baek San is like the evil father(-in-law) who plans out everything to go according to his plan. Very much like BB in City Hall. And his “prodigal son” Hyun Joon just has to ruin every single plan of his because he’s that awesome an agent.
The really nice thing about this series is that so far, I can’t hate anyone. (Unlike in Brilliant Legacy where the Sun Woo mother-daughter pair are such stereotypical characters that make me hate them to the core and suffocate me every time they come onscreen!!) There are no real enemies or friends in this series that I can like or dislike. Baek San’s inner motives don’t appear to be entirely selfish (unlike BB); Sa Woo – I dislike him for staying with a girl who doesn’t like him back, but that is what every/most other second male leads do in other dramas so it’s not surprising. He’s evil for going after Hyun Joon, but he’s also a sentimental guy. And Sun Hwa – she is SO JEALOUS in episode 10 it’s ridiculous (and I mean that in a good way). She would go at such lengths to make sure Hyun Joon does not see Seung Hee – if every other second female lead in other Korean dramas could do that, we’d be watching very different dramas with different pairings.
These two episodes could have gone a lot faster though. Actually, episode 10 could have gone a lot faster, but certain scenes took a lot longer to end before we went to the next scene. Case in point: the parking lot scene where the terrorists came into NSS under the guise of a waste disposal service. The first time I watched it, I wondered how long it was going to be before the van finally parked, and when Hyun Seok would just hack into the servers already. And then I wondered why I was watching Hyun Joon and Hyun Seok inside the van for so long, when the intention did not seem so clear that Hyun Seok was going to jump out.
Then there were also a lot of sentimental scenes of Hyun Joon reminiscing. Every episode so far has a “reminiscing scene” that it’s starting to become expected in each episode. Sorry if I keep repeating myself about the pacing, but I think it might be one of those faults in this series where they extend a lot of scenes to fill the one hour mark just so that they can end the episode at a cliffhanger.
- IRIS: Episodes 8-9
- IRIS: Episodes 6-7
- IRIS: Episode 5
- Scorecard: How did IRIS’s stars measure up?
- Kwon Sang-woo for IRIS 2?
- IRIS: Episode 4
- IRIS served with plagiarism suit
- IRIS: Episode 3
- Lee Byung-heon won’t star in IRIS sequel
- Kim Tae-hee attempts new challenges with IRIS
- IRIS’s popularity still falls short of expectations
- IRIS: Episode 2
- IRIS: Episode 1