Drama Recaps
IRIS: Episodes 19-20 (Final)
by | February 21, 2010 | 99 Comments

I thought a long time about how I wanted to start off this last recap for IRIS:

First off, I want to thank javabeans for giving me this opportunity to write a recap and contribute to her site. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity as an avid fan of her site and as a Korean drama lover.

Secondly, I’d like to thank everyone who has followed this series or read my recaps. I know I had a rough start, so I’m very thankful for those who stuck through with me on this.

And now, mushiness aside… the last episode ended with the death of Secretary Jung, and Hyun Joon and Sun Hwa chasing after Vic.

Episode 19

Vic manages to get home to his spic and span, glossy apartment safely, shower, and pour himself a glass of wine. He clearly unwinds by savoring excellent wine, but just before he can fully relax, he senses a presence behind him.

Hyun Joon is pointing a gun behind his head. They stare at each other for a tense moment, and finally Vic gives him a smart-ass smirk. Hyun Joon kicks him full in the face and knocks Vic out of his chair. He takes out a photo of Yuki and says that he will take his vengeance for Yuki.

Throwing away his gun, Hyun Joon demands that Vic beg for his life. Vic just smirks again, inciting Hyun Joon’s anger.

Hyun Joon kicks him again, and prevents Vic from reaching for a gun. He continually punches Vic to a near pulp, saying that it’s all for Mi Jung. All the while, Vic doesn’t utter a single word, but just smirks. (Really? You couldn’t give T.O.P. any lines to make the fight a little more interesting?)

Hyun Joon asks for information about Baek San’s whereabouts, but Vic doesn’t answer. A bullet goes into Vic’s arm. He finally replies, “The one that will end my life is not God, nor you. The one that will end my life is me only.”

That smart-ass answer deserves a good solid punch in the head, and then Hyun Joon orders Sun Hwa to go search the house. He turns his back for a moment to make a call, and Vic takes the opportunity to pick up his own gun. Good thing Sun Hwa turns around just in time to see this, and she yells out, “Hyun Joon!”

He shoots Vic in the heart.

Advisor Hong reports to the president that she will make a full investigation into Secretary Jung’s death (yeah right!) while Director Yoo berates the NSS agency for their lax protocol, which led to Baek San’s escape and Mi Jung’s death. On the other side, Chul Young reports in that the Chairman of the Labor Party will arrive in Seoul for the summit with the South Korean President. Even though it’s dangerous, because clearly IRIS is on the move, the chairman doesn’t want to postpone. Chul Young appeals to the President then, but the President refuses. Stubborn, stubborn leaders.

Now, we reach the incredulous part of the series that makes me laugh even though it shouldn’t. We have a bilingual dialogue between Sa Woo and his IRIS mercenaries – they speak in English, while Sa Woo and Baek San reply back in Korean. And they all understand each other. It kind of reminds me of the movie Seducing Mr. Perfect where Daniel Henney and Uhm Jung Hwa have a bilingual relationship throughout the movie – and that was stretching it a bit for me. Here, it’s as though Baek San and Sa Woo can’t expend the effort to at least respond a few lines in English, and so they speak in Korean to all these mercenaries who look like they can’t understand a word, but somehow miraculously they do. Sa Woo’s delivery of his one line in English is SOOOO laughably funny, though – hm, maybe that’s why they decided to stick to a bilingual conversation. Ok, rant over and back to the story.

A mercenary (played by toughie Korean American David McInnis) informs Sa Woo that they can hold 150 hostages and kill the rest. That disturbs Sa Woo, which leads to the mercenary and the female version of Hyun Seok to report to Baek San. Baek San defends Sa Woo by saying that their doubts show they have no faith in him. That shuts up the complainers.

He meets with Sa Woo, and he gives him a little life lesson. With this mission, he is facing the greatest opportunity in his life to reach an even higher position than Baek San, and to wield more power than others on the team.

Chul Young grabs a drink with Hyun Joon and tells him that they need to defeat IRIS before the summit meeting takes place, especially since both leaders are so bullheaded about going through with it. He says:

“I have faith in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. I always believed that one day, just like the name, the people, through their own efforts, will make Korea truly the People’s Republic. And I determined that no matter who the opponents are, if anyone dirtied the name of our nation, I would not tolerate it.”

That elicits a chuckle from Hyun Joon, but not meant to offend. Hyun Joon is just amazed that someone could be so patriotic because he never felt that way – he just wanted excitement in his life.

Back at NSS, Tae Sung reports to Hyun Joon that they located the supplier of the expensive wine in Vic’s home. It came from a golf course where their exclusive clubhouse serves that particular brand of wine. The golf course’s background is murky, and clearly run by IRIS operatives, and so Hyun Joon goes to check it out. True enough, the golf course is “closed due to construction.”

Hyun Joon calls for backup from an attack team, then sneaks up the hillside towards the clubhouse. He chokes one of the guards to death with string and takes the poor guy’s weapons. As he breaks into the building, he is seen by another guard. The guard informs everyone quietly through his earpiece, but before he can do anything, Hyun Joon picks up on his presence and shoots him down. His position found out, he rushes through the lobby with guns ablaze.

Two other guards are deleting all of their data in their computer system, and Hyun Joon takes them out. Meanwhile, the attack team arrives at the location and takes out the guards patrolling the outside perimeter of the clubhouse. Baek San knows that it’s Hyun Joon, and he walks out of his private room completely calm towards Hyun Joon.

They meet at the front staircase. Hyun Joon forces Baek San to throw down his gun and asks for Sa Woo. Baek San replies that he sent Sa Woo on a vacation. Hyun Joon can’t stand the smarminess that runs through all IRIS agents’ veins, and he shoots at the ground by Baek San’s feet. He demands that Baek San beg for his forgiveness for killing his parents. Baek San replies, “If I asked for forgiveness, what will that change? Aren’t our lives too twisted and our relationship beyond repair?”

Hyun Joon shoots Baek San in the leg and brings him down to his knees. He demands to know what IRIS is, where the root of evil lies. Baek San says that Hyun Joon still needs to be punished for taking in the forbidden fruit, and that Hyun Joon will die just like how his parents did.

Sang Hyun manages to intervene in time, and he tells Hyun Joon to put his gun down – living will be a greater punishment for Baek San than dying. When Hyun Joon finally puts his gun down, Baek San falls back – as though he wished he had died instead.

Director Yoo reports back to Advisor Hong and another advisor that they’ve successfully recaptured Baek San. Advisor Hong tries to find out more information about Baek San’s whereabouts, but Yoo wisely tells her that he can’t do that. More and more, her expressions of happiness and worry when IRIS succeeds or fails are becoming more obvious.

Advisor Hong meets with Sa Woo, and tells him that he has to go meet the person who will now protect him. He enters a church and sits inside a confession booth. On the other side sits Mr. Black.

Mr. Black tells him officially that Sa Woo will now take Baek San’s place in the organization.

Hyun Kyu calls Hyun Joon down to his lab to show him something he found at the clubhouse’s CCTV cameras. Hyun Kyu has no idea how to break it to him about his discovery, but knows that he ought to show it to him first. He plays the video.

It shows Seung Hee in a private meeting with Baek San and another mysterious figure whose face we don’t see. Seung Hee is clearly distraught and angry in the video. But the more important thing is, she was with Hyun Joon’s mortal enemy.

Hyun Joon invites Seung Hee out to dinner (at a restaurant that looks SUSPICIOUSLY like the one Shin Woo brought Mi Nam to in You’re Beautiful). Seung Hee isn’t hungry because she’s more worried about what Hyun Joon is going to say to her. She finally breaks down her defenses and tells him what she avoided to say for so long.

Hyun Joon interrupts her first. He says that he saw the video, and he believes that she has been approached by Baek San and IRIS to perform a mission, like he was approached in Hungary. He wants to help her get out of it, and so he asks that she spare no details.

And then we switch immediately to Sun Hwa putting a little bit of butter in her coffee (awww for memories!). She is called in by the security team, and reports to Chul Young that they are missing four cylinders of Soman gas (a nerve toxin gas) from their North Korean bunker. Who else but IRIS could have taken it?

Ok, back to the restaurant. Seung Hee tells Hyun Joon that she was approached by Baek San to join IRIS, but she refused. It turns out her father was the founder of NSS under former President Park. When President Park was assassinated, her father was held responsible and executed.

Baek San helped her and her mother continue living, even providing for her education all the way to college. She was even able to work for NSS because of him (hence his fatherly affection for her). She thought that she was benefiting from Baek San upholding his respect for her father. When she discovered his ties to IRIS, she realized that she was a puppet for their organization and that ultimately, Baek San wanted her to work for IRIS.

Hyun Joon stops her – why didn’t she tell him this earlier? She explains that she suffered from leading lady’s angst: how could she tell him that the one man who was like her father killed his parents? And so she felt guilty about being in a relationship with him. She would rather suffer silently than talk it out with him.

Sa Woo tells the remaining mercenaries and IRIS representatives that he is now in charge. One of the mercenaries says that he refuses to work for Sa Woo – it wasn’t in the contract. Sa Woo replies by shooting a few bullets at the wall right by that mercenary’s head. Disobeying him means disobeying the head of the organization.

Hyun Joon meets with Chul Young and Sun Hwa to discuss the recent incident of missing Soman gas. However they have no clue about where Sa Woo could be. When Sun Hwa walks Hyun Joon out, she asks him about Seung Hee’s situation. He quells her concerns by saying that she has no reason to worry about Seung Hee anymore, and then leaves. Translation: Seung Hee comes first and you can butt out now, please.

The IRIS team moves into a large shopping mall. They put on their masks and fire bullets in the air, forcing all the shoppers to go down on their knees. They shoot all the security guards dead, close down the mall, and gather all 107 hostages to one area. Most of the hostages are women and their children, and the mercenaries take everyone’s phones and electronics.

As they set up their traps and the Soman gas in the ventilation system, Hyun Joon meets with the SWAT team on location and Tae Sung. The leader of the SWAT team has already acted on the situation without telling Hyun Joon though.

Three SWAT Team members rush up the stairs, and one of them trips on the wire. A bomb explodes.

Episode 20

Hyun Joon. Is. Pissed. He berates the SWAT team leader for acting rashly then gets permission to take over this operation. Seung Hee phones in to Sang Hyun and tells him that she is going over to the site, whether anyone likes it or not. Tae Sung manages to connect to the CCTV inside, but since they are getting a live feed, it’s clear that IRIS wants them to see through that particular camera. And that camera shows all the mercenaries guarding over about a hundred hostages.

Chul Young is notified of the situation and has CY Sidekick (who is finally named!!! He’s Joong Bum, but I’ll call him CY Sidekick to the end) check over the leader’s schedule again. They don’t want the leader to come, but the summit is not likely to be cancelled anyways. He also sends Sun Hwa to the operation site.

Seung Hee joins Hyun Joon, who’s surprised to see her. She tells him it’s easier since she’ll be worried about him if she’s back at NSS.

They receive a live video of one of the IRIS leaders making his terms for negotiation. It is very simple: they want the President to cancel the summit by 7:00 pm the next day. All economic and unification talks must end. If they don’t acquiesce, the Soman gas in the ventilation shafts will be released.

He takes one of the male hostages and says, “This is the penalty for attempting to break in,” and he shoots the hostage dead.

Everyone at the operation site, NSS, and even the other IRIS members witness this murder. Sa Woo is angry with him – he was not ordered to kill hostages. The IRIS leader argues that it is part of their business in terror – to instill fear through killing. Sa Woo points his gun at him, saying, “According to you, the fear these guys will have towards me will dramatically increase if I kill you.” Point taken.

After getting Director Yoo’s permission, Sun Hwa appears at the operation site, much to the shock of Hyun Joon and Seung Hee. No jealous looks exchanged though! Hyun Joon wants to understand what is happening inside the mall, so he offers himself up to go negotiate with Sa Woo. Seung Hee isn’t too thrilled that Hyun Joon is risking his life, but he says that Sa Woo is in there, and he will not harm anyone during a negotiation.

Hyun Joon is thoroughly patted down and escorted to meet Sa Woo. On the way, he observes the guards and the hostage situation. When Sa Woo sees that NSS sent Hyun Joon, he sends everyone else to get out. But he’s all business.

Hyun Joon is all sentimentality, however, telling Sa Woo that he was right – he knew nothing about him. Sa Woo tries to stop him, but Hyun Joon plunges on:

“When I thought about it, I really did have a lot of things I didn’t know about you, like you said. Stuff like being closer than blood brothers is just another vague emotion. I really had a lot of things I didn’t know. A long time ago, when we went out to Itaewon after finishing our 1000 li march, I didn’t get the tattoo with you because the thought of tattooing a little bird and calling it a phoenix was so childish, but if I think about it now, I wonder why I didn’t do it then. I should’ve done something like that to engrave our memories…of being together.”

Sa Woo gets increasingly incensed by Hyun Joon’s speech. He says, “You and I have come too far to bring up such things as past memories now.”

But Hyun Joon counters that holding hostages is not Sa Woo’s thing. Sa Woo just tells him his side’s demands rather than negotiating – he wants all IRIS associates being held in North Korea to be released and sent to China and Syria.

While Hyun Joon performs a risky negotiation, his two lady loves wait anxiously outside. It’s interesting that Sun Hwa first notes Seung Hee’s facial expression, and then from afar, begins to show that same exact emotion. It’s as though she needed to see if it’s ok to feel like that for Hyun Joon.

The President is informed of the new demands, and he wonders if canceling the summit will mean the hostages will be released safely. Hyun Joon says there’s no guarantee on that, so the President gives NSS the power to infiltrate the mall, but to minimize the inevitable casualties.

Hyun Joon returns to Sa Woo and agrees to their terms. However, he insists that all women and children be released first.

Sa Woo relents, and orders the mercenaries to let the women and children go, but one of them raises his gun at Sa Woo and says he won’t obey. He was ordered to kill all the hostages, and by Mr. Black no less. All of the IRIS members point their guns up at Sa Woo and at Hyun Joon. Sa Woo’s sidekick defends his man and raises his gun to shoot. He is shot down first by another mercenary, but that is enough distraction for Hyun Joon and Sa Woo to overpower the others and grab weapons.

They team up for the last time against the IRIS members, managing to slowly pick off all their enemies. They manage to finally grab a respite behind some display cases and walls to reload and regroup. Sa Woo gives Hyun Joon a look, and then a nod; Hyun Joon gives him a small smile in return. And they go back to shooting off the baddies.

It’s nice to see Sa Woo initiate this camaraderie, especially since he broke it off first by choosing to kill Hyun Joon. His look shows that he has finally returned to his roots and what he naturally knows is best, which is to work alongside a friend. He just needed a lot of prodding and reminding before he could go back to being good ol’ Sa Woo.

They continue their gunfight (while the SWAT team begins to enter the mall), and are pretty much winning when Hyun Joon runs out of bullets. Sa Woo doesn’t have much left himself, and he sees Hyun Joon struggling. He yells, “Hey idiot!” and slides his handgun across the floor over to Hyun Joon.

They smile at each other, and then Sa Woo goes completely out in the open and shoots at the remaining IRIS mercenaries. They shoot back, and they don’t miss.

Right in front of Hyun Joon’s eyes, Sa Woo is hit repeatedly with bullets that tear right through his body. Hyun Joon kills the remaining mercenaries with a vengeance, then catches Sa Woo as he falls.

Sa Woo: Hey man…you’ve…made me…hell of a lot lonely…

He struggles with his next words, but Hyun Joon tells him to save his strength. Memories with Hyun Joon flood Sa Woo’s mind, and next thing you know, Seung Hee is running towards them. She grabs Sa Woo’s hands, and when he registers her presence, he thinks back to the time when she said she would never forgive him. Surrounded by his two beloved friends, Sa Woo struggles for life, but also looks like a poor child who’s lost his way, his eyes widely innocent and scared. He was misguided by a bad man, and has paid dearly for it.

Hyun Joon and Seung Hee grieve over this loss, and Sang Hyun feels it keenly as well. He regrets bringing Sa Woo into NSS, but Hyun Joon says Sang Hyun is to blame for not letting him kill Baek San.

Seung Hee mourns in the privacy of her car. Jung In comes over and rushes her to return to NSS, but Seung Hee says she’ll go in a bit. Once alone, she calls someone and tells the person that she refuses to carry out the task.

She hangs up, and puts her head against the wheel, torn and unhappy.

Hyun Joon goes to the Blue House to talk to the President. He asks if all this is worth it for the summit – so many have died and they’ve had so many threats to deal with. The President replies that for such advancement to happen, pain must follow. He hopes that Hyun Joon will be with him at the summit.

At the location of the summit, the North Koreans check the facilities to make sure it’s clear before Chul Young brings in the Comrade Chief – who’s a woman! (Honestly, was not expecting that). Seung Hee also arrives, and she questions a guard about the exact route of the President for the press conference.

Back at NSS, Hyun Kyu rushes to find Sang Hyun – they have a BIG problem – the bodies that Sang Hyun brought back (which were supposedly the terrorists) were actually the hostages. The mercenaries had disguised the hostages, and managed to escape on their own. Sang Hyun immediately notifies Hyun Joon.

Those said mercenaries actually enter the press conference site with the help of Advisor Hong. Several of them are stationed above the press conference as snipers.

The President arrives and he meets with the Comrade Chief to enter the press conference together. Chul Young and Hyun Joon act as bodyguards, and keep a sharp eye looking about. What they don’t see is Seung Hee, dressed in black with a sniper, watching them from above.

The two leaders manage to get on stage and greet the reporters. Seung Hee looks through the rifle-scope and aims at the President. She spots Hyun Joon phoning her cell phone and hesitates, but does not release her finger from the trigger. The two leaders extend their hands for a shake…Seung Hee’s finger tightens around the trigger…suddenly, two shots ring out.

The bodyguards immediately cover the two leaders, and the IRIS members in the back start to head out into the open where the action is. Turns out though, that Seung Hee did not shoot the President – instead she shot the two IRIS snipers dead.

Sun Hwa and Hyun Joo begin firing at the IRIS mercenaries hidden in the crowd of journalists. Chaos ensues as they try to remove the leaders from sites. Advisor Hong waits in an outside hallway in anticipation, and suddenly Hyun Joon leaves the President and two other guards to Advisor Hong’s care. They go back to the site of the action and begin to shoot all of them down – casualties on both side remain fairly equal though.

The SWAT team arrives a little late but starts shooting the remaining mercenaries coming into the building. Sun Hwa, Chul Young, Hyun Joon, and CY Sidekick manage to kill everyone, and they survey the area for more. But just when there doesn’t seem to be anyone left, David McInnis comes out from behind a car with guns ablazing.

Who sees him first? Why, Sun Hwa of course! She jumps in front of Hyun Joon to protect him from the line of fire.

Chul Young mercilessly shoots McInnis dead – you don’t mess with Sun Hwa, without messing with him. Seung Hee rushes down to see Hyun Joon holding Sun Hwa in his arms – much like he did with Sa Woo – and she asks about the President.

The President’s two bodyguards lead him to a safe room with Advisor Hong trailing behind. Just as they reach the door, Hong shoots the two guards down and then points her gun at the President.

President: What, you?
Hong: No, it’s not me. It’s the ideals I embrace. They were too big for someone like you. For someone with greater capability to take its place, I need to break the small one.

She readies to shoot him, but is shot first by Hyun Joon. (Count that as the ten millionth time Hyun Joon saved the President)

A new day arrives in Seoul, and Hyun Joon carries a bouquet of flowers to a hospital. He’s there to visit Sun Hwa, whose arm is still in a cast. Chul Young is standing by her bedside. Hyun Joon lays the bouquet by her side and smiles awkwardly for a moment before finally saying, “Thanks.”

Chul Young: Isn’t a bundle of flowers and saying thanks a little lacking when the Republic’s greatest warrior saved your life?
Hyun Joon (sheepish): Well I kept thinking about it on the way but nothing would come to mind so…
Chul Young (leaning into Hyun Joon’s ear): I’ll leave so think about something good to say.


Sun Hwa asks, “Is it really just these flowers?” And they share a giggle. When she’s left alone, she smiles tenderly and smells the flowers. Hyun Joon meets with Chul Young, and they part as friends.

Later that night, Seung Hee tries to confess to Hyun Joon about what happened the night of the press conference, but he doesn’t let her continue. Instead, he tells her that all he wants to do is comfort her so that she can quickly escape her dark past.

Three months later:

Hyun Kyu invites everyone for a meal – his treat – because his stocks managed to go up 5x than normal. He boasts that he has fingers of gold and wishes to treat Hyun Joon and Seung Hee too. But Sang Hyun holds up their IDs – they’ve both quit.

Seung Hee and Hyun Joon are on an extended vacation in Jeju Island – and Seung Hee is starving. Hyun Joon continues to sleep, but she slaps him in the back and tells him to hurry up and feed her. He calls her a single-celled organism, because all she thinks about is food – she whines when she’s hungry and is happy once he feeds her.

As they walk through the hotel, they spy children playing around a Christmas tree. Hyun Joon proposes that they have 5 kids. He gets down on his knees and says, “Just give me five of them.”

Seung Hee (and I) ask, “What kind of a proposal is haphazard and without a ring? Oh my God – I can’t recognize this at all” – and she walks off.

Later, she sees an invitation on the bed to meet him at a lighthouse; meanwhile Hyun Joon is driving to that location with a new ring in his hand. She happily waits for him, listening to her mp3. (I can see why she’s a CF queen with this montage)

On the road, Hyun Joon’s car suddenly swerves off course and comes to a stop.

The windows in the car are blasted through. Hyun Joon’s head lies against the car wheel, blood streaming from his temples. His eyes are faced towards Seung Hee, and he sees her waiting for him in the distance, completely unaware of his situation.

Another last flashback of his happy memories with Seung Hee elicits tears in his eyes, before he finally succumbs and dies.


My Eulogy:

In the beginning, a tiny seed was planted into the writers’ minds to create a series that would surpass all other productions in budget and scale. And no, it would not be another historical drama or a fusion sageuk – instead, it would be a modern action tale about loyalty and betrayal. And so IRIS was born – and it came out looking a lot like 24. As it progressed, it changed into Alias with a hint of its predecessor Shiri. It was very, very cute when it was young, and showed plenty of promise.

But as children age, they lose their cute factor, and the same goes for IRIS. IRIS grew older and seemed a little more lost with each episode. It peaked at (episode) 18 and then, it totally lost its way. The poor writers could not get it back on track, and so they decided to finish it off – lamely – at the ripe old episode/age of 20. Had they finished it off at 18, IRIS would have lived a good life and died while still memorable.

So basically, this is what I have to say about the end:


Ok – I understand that Lee Byeong Hoon would not return for the sequel, so the writers’ solution was to kill him off. However, I think they still could have ended differently, as in they could have sent him and Seung Hee somewhere very far away and never to return, and just start IRIS 2 with the same background cast but new lead. This ending had a very James Bond Casino Royale feel, when Vesper Lynd died instead of living happily with Bond. Here, they killed off “Bond” and it did not seem necessary at all. For Casino Royale, it was necessary because Vesper Lynd is the reason James Bond is the way he is now. Perhaps, the writers are hoping to develop Seung Hee further and show her change in the sequel. But that is putting a LOT of faith in her acting skills and saying that she can totally play a conflicted, ruthless spy seeking revenge for her loved one. (If she even shows up in the sequel!)

I would love it if it were T.O.P/Vic who killed him, but that’s wishful thinking. I’m sure the mystery of who killed Hyun Joon will be for IRIS 2.

I liked the questions that were raised in this drama, such as the running theme of loyalty. Are you loyal to your country even though it will bring a lot of suffering to your own life and conscience? Or are you loyal to your conscience and what YOU know is right or wrong (thus viewing sacrifices for the country as pointless)? And then, to wonder: is it worth it to lose everything you know for the greater good (historical advancement)? It is a conflict between selfishness and selflessness, but what if that selfishness is because one wishes to save some lives? The treatment of the North Korean characters were done well and done lightly – no one was made to seem worse than the other; everyone was human and acted on human emotions. It’s all nice and dandy and sounds nice on paper for a treatment.

But I think in the end, the drama didn’t really deliver these themes and make these issues more poignant. It got muddled by the whole love triangle/square and by the dragging pace it was going. I think the directing and editing left much to be desired because there was so much that felt like filler scenes. I mean really, how many flashbacks do we have to see? Those really detracted from the series. And then I thought the writing got a little careless (one of them being, how could they have let the terrorists just escape and kill all the hostages? Didn’t they realize they were killing women and children, who were the majority of the hostages?!)

I’m glad I saw this series, and I can sort of understand the pull of this series. However, the ending was completely anticlimactic and not worthy for a drama that pulled in such high ratings. It was different because of the exciting backdrop, but it was still a clear-cut Korean drama – predictable and somewhat angsty.

I’d give it a 6 out of 10.


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99 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. lettle

    Bravo, Bravo, Bravo!!! Thank you so much Kaedejun for the wonderful recaps! Yes I was a little disappointed with the ending, but hey it’s a korean drama we should have expected it. Hopefully if Iris 2 every gets made they will bring back Seung Hee as the ruthless and vengeful spy. I would love to see Seung Hee bring down the almight Iris!

  2. Dual SN3s

    I watched that last scene and was totally shocked. Why would they do that? It didn’t even make any sense. And how was he even killed? Sniped from a boat? That would take an awesome sniper to headshot a target in a fast moving vehicle while shooting from an unstable platform.

    • 2.1 DKail

      PROness 😀

  3. xiaoSxin

    that’s the ending?!

  4. FasirisFay


    Like, seriously?

    People had spoiled the ending for me when it was first airing and hard/Viikii subs hadn’t come out, so since then I haven’t watched the ending but was anxiously waiting for your recap so I could finally see how him dying closed the drama and made sense. Um IT DOESN’T

    And I completely agree with you…it started off cool, awesome even, making me sit on the edge of my seat and shout at my computer screen and made my pulse race. But by episodes 17/18, I lost it. I mean after all that evading, Vic just dies in his apartment by himself? That was lame.

    And the ending?
    What, he’s going to propose to her and then he dies on the way? I want to be upset but it’s just too funny.

    I feel like the writers set out to do something fabulous, got distracted and then tried to cobble something together for the ending which didn’t make much sense. And yeah, they wanted to leave us with a mystery that would make us anticipate the next one, but by killing off ‘Bond’? Again, LAME.

    Thanks for your recap though!

  5. langdon813

    kaedejun, you’ve done a great job with these recaps, truly! Can’t wait to see what else you might have in store for us in the future!

    I went into IRIS just like you did, with high expectations and a crazy level of anticipation. Then, because I was watching it streaming, I had to go on hiatus for a while until I could sort out a way to watch it. Many episodes had gone by at that point, so I tended to watch several at a time. I figured out pretty quickly that the thing to do with IRIS was to check my brain at the door and just go along for the ride. Once I stopped going “WHY? WHAT? and WHO?” I was a much happier viewer.

    And that’s why I can fanwank that that ending really doesn’t mean what we think it means. Yes, LBH is off making G.I. Joes. Yes, we see Hyun-joon in the car, blood dripping from the gunshot wound in his head, gazing at the love of his life as he loses consciousness…but is he dead-dead? Or only mostly dead?

    Everyone knows that WUV…TWUE WUV, can make anything possible. 😀

  6. mint

    Sunhwa’s love kept Hyunjun alive for his revenge (he wouldn’t have made it past the Busan port if it wasn’t for her and so many more instances of ‘lost puppy’ moments) and she let him go unconditionally with only a bouquet of flowers to remember. But his larger than life pre-planned love for Seunghee killed him twice. Whatever for? CSH said she would rather die with the fugitive HJ than return home alone (the Hungary scene) yet she left him the moment SW called her despite HJ telling her to stay put. Yeah yeah.. lovers’ instinct. Whatever.

    CSH had profiled HJ right from the beginning for NSS (in the pretense of IRIS) and knew he had fallen for her way before. If she was really thinking of HJ instead, the absolute hell he had gone through and knowing what IRIS is capable .. she would have let him go but.. noooooo. Not even telling the authority of her connection to BS & IRIS. So.. HJ dies and CSH’s dark secret is safe, well done!

    Oh Hyunjun-ssi.. please please please don’t return to IRIS 2 if you’re only going to be fooled the third time.

  7. momosan

    @5 langdon813

    If he’s only mostly dead we need to send for Miracle Max!

    Sorry, I just hated that ending. I think ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME! pretty much sums it up.

  8. nileey

    I have been waiting for this posting, waiting to see what are your thoughts on the last 5 minutes of Episode 20. For me, it was like the biggest ‘WTF’ moment of watching a K-drama since Lovers in Paris.

    One of my friends claimed it was Seung Hee that planned Hyun Jun’s death but I think it’s unlikely. Anyway, we can only find out in the sequel, if there’s any in the first place.

    Thanks for your recaps :)

    • 8.1 riin

      when considering all that was said by Baek San I think his death was totally predictable, especially because they gave these long draggy sugary scenes before his death. I mean.. I always get itchy that somebody will be dead when something like that happens in an action film/series. so this was not a shock for me at all. when he got shot I thought: oh well, that’s what you get for messing with the wrong girl. and I hate Seung Hee for that 😀

      the death of Vic was a leeetle bit disappointing though. although that little smirk of his was absolutely worth watching the scene 😀 he died cool. on the other hand, not dying would have been the coolest 😀

  9. Molly

    kaedejun, you did a wonderful job recapping IRIS and you deserve a round of applause! I knew that Hyun-joon would die, but never thought it’d be like this – like you said, it was just anticlimactic, abrupt, and poorly conceived. I’m also a bit bummed that the loose ends weren’t tied – what about the summit? What about the rest of IRIS? etc.

    On the other hand, the scenery and cinematography was just gorgeous, and overall, I have to say that the actors and writers did a great job with IRIS.

    And so did you!

  10. 10 angryparsnip

    WUV … TWUE WUV, can make anything possible…
    it can also me laugh so hard when I read that, I almost choked on my drink.
    great comment.
    I gave up on IRIS long ago…

    Great recap kaedejun

  11. 11 rambutan

    The ending was realistic. No one messes with IRIS and thinks he can live happily ever after. To allow the hero to walk about openly in Korea and live after what he did, would be to trivialize IRIS, the all-powerful and much-feared organisation.

    The ending wasn’t unexpected. In fact, I expected LBH to die after watching the first few minutes of IRIS. All because of that piece of sad music played in ep. 1 after he was shot in Hungary. The sadness of the music gave me a foreboding of his ending. (My husband who sometimes “dropped by” while I was watching once commented: “Why are they playing funeral music all the time?”)

  12. 12 kaedejun

    hey ya’ll! thanks so much for your comments!!!!! i’m really glad you guys enjoyed it! =)

    @langdon813 – when you said TWUE WUV i was reading it on the street and i swear i passed by at least 5 people who thought i was crazy for cracking up so foolishly

    @rambutan – good point there about the music. i rarely pay attention to the music because they start playing it on a loop so much that it feels like second nature when i watch the eps. heh!

  13. 13 Grace

    I think they did the ending this way so that IRIS will have season 2, you know like even though all this IRIS agents are dead and seem to look like we got the victory the message is that IRIS is bigger than it seems.

    If they didnt kill him, it would not have been meaningful to have season to without the main guy, then it would become completely different drama with same IRIS thing..

  14. 14 CG

    ARE YOU FRIGGIN KIDDING ME?!!?!?!?!!?!?!?! tHE ENDING WAS POINTLESSLY TRAGIC !!!!! What is the purpose of killing off Hyunjoon?? His character doesn’t have to die for him to be left out of the sequel!!! Are the writers on crack or are they just scatterbrained sadists?!!?!?! Worst ending to a drama I’ve ever seen!!!

  15. 15 pabo ceo reom

    Ahhh can’t spoil myself yet but I’ve already been told the ending sucks so maybe I won’t watch it….. :(

  16. 16 haikuwarrior

    I felt the ending was nonsensical as well. Almost as if it was KBS’s way of saying to all lead actors in their possible blockbuster dramas: “If you don’t sign on for as long as we see fit, no happy ending for you!”

  17. 17 ohemgee

    i’ll be honest-i gave up on IRIS after episode 6 and your recaps are the only things that have gotten me through episodes 7-20.

    thanks for all of your hard work!!!!

    i’m glad i at least stuck with your recaps (even if the ending was lame!!!!!). ^__^

  18. 18 temposoul

    kaedejun- you have done a wonderful job recapping IRIS :)

    I think Hyun Jun didn’t die but just fainted (or something like that happened) so IRIS 2 still might have the main characters. I think somebody else will play Hyun Jun’s role instead of Lee Byung Hun. But, to be honest the ending of IRIS sucked. After I watched it there were 4 questions pondering in my head. WHAT?, WHY?, WHO?, and HOW?

  19. 19 HK

    At least it’s consistent with Baek San’s warning that he would die without knowing where it came from (and neither did we)

  20. 20 emeldy

    ….. I understand what is Iris..but.. still don’t get what is Iris..Confusing.. Yes, i am still very confused. Yes the ending, kaedejun you sum it up perfectly..


    Thanks kaedejun for Iris.. It was a wonderful journey

  21. 21 fraulein

    Overall, IRIS had more highs than lows (read as : flaws) for me

    The highs – the budget, the exotic locations, the cast, the plot.
    It had what it promised – a mix of action and melodrama

    The lows / what I didn’t like – the fact it was made for overseas viewers in mind.
    Case in point – notice how all the computer screens displayed english c’ters? Usually dramas show korean c’ters. I know, I am a stickler for details

    The love theme between HJ and SH should have been more pronounced. Going on a short trip to Akita and exchanging amorous glances in the office does not form the foundation of a relationship that strong and rooted. Maybe, time was not on the writers’ side to develop it further.

    The action sequences were fine – again, I speak for the drama overall, without reference to specific scenes

    But what separates a good actor from a great actor is LBH. I was left in awe of his ability to emote in the scene where he shot Baek-san in the leg in ep 19. I could almost feel his pain

    IRIS is one drama I enjoyed from start to finish

  22. 22 fraulein

    I agree with the comments that the ending was warped in more than one sense of the word. He survived so many attempts on his life to die like that??

    I guess it sets the scene for IRIS 2 : Who is IRIS? Who killed HJ ? Who is Mr Black?

    I am batting for Song Seung-hun or Jung Ji-hoon = D to pick up from where LBH left off.

  23. 23 cathy

    This is amazing drama , smart storyline , solid casts , worth to watch .

  24. 24 b020

    After waiting for months and then finally getting the full 20 episodes, I felt…ripped off. Not angry ripped off, but disappointed rip off. There were so many WTH moments.

    The premise was promising – they have an overall plot that can and probably will be used for multiple seasons. The North/South politics is something that everyone can understand. The big bad – IRIS who wants to destabalize the reunification talks(IMO-out of greed; there’s money to be made in war & conflicts).
    The betrayals of friends, loyalty of coutry vs. self. But then they had to stick in the love story angle. I’ve said it before – the love story is the weakest plotline in the overall story. Sang Woo going over to the dark side because SH chose his best buddy? There was no set up for that – it didn’t even set up that he fell in love at first sight type thing. It was just another WTH moment. If you had to have the love story – then what about CY& SW? There was a much better set up of a relationship/love story there. Another WTH plot pitfall – how does one man always save the day?!? Seriously???? Isn’t HJ part of NSS who is the elite security of Korea yet only HJ can save hostage crisis, the president, the bombs?

    The cast was, for the most part, outstanding. However, KTH, in the love story, which I find to drag down the entire show, was so lacking. In fact, while in scenes with Hyun Joon & SunHwa – she really sticks out like a sore thumb. I do give her credit for improving, but man, she is not leading lady material – please! Somebody in the production/directing/casting side finally come to terms with this!!!! She can not act in a serious drama like IRIS and come across as anything but lacking. Keep her to trendy dramas – she might be able to carry that off.

    And TOP. I love you TOP-I love looking at you, listening to you sing/rap, but…and I say this with love, you need to practice your line delivery. Your physical acting is TOP-notch and your eyes are very piercing and convincing. Its just when you open your mouth to deliver your lines, it doesn’t quite match with the attitude you’re trying to convey. I think a little more practice will definitely help this. There’s potential there.

    Sang Woo actor – this was the most complex character in the series, and it would have been the breakout role despite LBH, but he seemed a bit too cautious at times, not fully embracing his role. Was it the confusion over the motivation of the character? I, as a viewer, was too so I wouldn’t be surprised. This role was a bit too ambitious for him and while he was trying really hard, you could see he was struggling.

    LBH – you can see why he’s a top actor and is very popular, but for some reason, I think this show did him a great dis-service. I feel like it wasn’t challenging enough for him and in fact, if he had played the Sang Woo character, I think he might have had to work at that role and it would have been refreshing to see him in it.

  25. 25 b020

    eh – sorry for the long rant!

  26. 26 tai

    All of that fantastic build up to kill off the future father of my kids! UUUHHHHH!

  27. 27 iris

    really , i would give this a 9.5 out of 10 ,
    the -.5 is from killing hyun joon …
    i honestly think if they wanted to kill him
    they should have killed seung hee as well …

  28. 28 fraulein


    I enjoyed reading your ” rant ” = )

  29. 29 Victoria

    I think Sang Woo was more conflicted then what most thought. He lived in Hyun Joon’s shadow and that Baek was intuitive enough to pick that up and manipulate it for his uses. Hyun Joon was a quick study, but was loyal to a fault when it came to SH and Sang Woo.

    While SH was suppose to be the leading love interest, I think that I was more in Sun Hwa’s corner. She was intensely loyal, passionate, and deep. She had experienced pain in her life and actually her pain resonated with Hyun Joon who lost his parents when he was young. There are insecurities with not knowing your parents and being orphaned. I found SH character shallow, and my feeling was that she was part of IRIS and she messed things up when she became emotionally involved with HJ. I don’t think she was suppose to get involved, and while her story to HJ seemed reasonable, I feel like it was contrived. She had many opportunities to initially talk to him about her life. When we are “in love” we want to know everything about that person.

    The ending was too cruel. HJ should have just disappeared. I don’t see SH on the road to passionately find his killer*(s), but Sun Hwa would leave no stone unturned to find out who was behind everything. Chul Young missed the boat, and figured it out too late, that Sun Hwa was important to him. You see little signs of that…..
    All in all, I think this was a good drama despite some of the weaknesses in the writing and in the actress KTH, but she did improve. Maybe the fault wasn’t so much her, but that her character was shallow and that came across to me.

    Just my opinion folks. :) Love the K-dramas. I watch more Korean dramas than American TV.

  30. 30 Lynnette

    i totally agree with you. iris lost it’s flavour after ep 18. they shld have just ended stuff there. so draggy and unnecessary for the extra 2 eps.

  31. 31 jim

    Thanks for your great recap!

    I agree that the ending didn’t make sense. Wouldn’t IRIS to kill Seung Hee since she saw and talked to their leader along with Baek San (and refused to join them!) Hyun Joon really wasn’t a threat.

    Would you expect IRIS 2: Seung Hee and Sun Hwa team up to get revenge on Hyun Joon’s killer with unofficial help from Chul Young and NSS. Sun Hwa will have a “take no prisoners” attitude. Or even better…Sun Hwa goes it alone!

  32. 32 Min Soo

    I loved IRIS but it was a typical Kdrama. Thank you for the recaps, your work is awesome! Hyun Joon dying-I was surprised. I expected him to live to fight another day. But after Baek San’s statement, he did die just as his parents did. ) If projecting to IRIS 2, could Seung Hee be pregant? The story picked up 3 months later and that is close to the time its hard to hide a pregnancy. She was very hungry-also a sign. They did every other twist at the end so it could one last bit. What would this mean for Sun Hwa? A chance to go off and seek justice for her lost love. She would succeed!! Chul Young might finally realize his feelings for her and take the risk of telling her how he feels. Unfortunatly, it leaves Seung Hee rocking a cradle and not much else. But if we are projecting why not have some fun. :)

  33. 33 kaedejun

    i can see it clearly now… (if we are giong to speculate)

    seung hee tries to avenge hyun joon’s death, and she meets kwon sang woo’s character (if he’s taking up the role). sang woo sweeps seung hee off her feet with his cool charm. they take it upon themselves to investigate with the help of sun hwa. sun hwa watches with disgust as the two get closer, thinking “woman – can’t you stick to one man!?”

    baek san plots his dastardly deeds behind a jail cell until someone breaks him free. he plots to assassinate the president again, but nss and sang woo manage to thwart him again and again. sang woo also grew up without his parents – but it turns out his father is mr. black! of IRIS! and baek san wants to bring sang woo in to the dark side, but fails to do so. instead, baek san kills mr. black to gain power over IRIS, causing sang woo to go on a vengeful course of action.

    seung hee falls deeply in love with sang woo and she ends up pregnant with his child, having found no proof that hyun joon is alive anymore. however, the ever persistent sun hwa discovers hyun joon’s hiding place and inadvertently leads seung hee to the location. but seung hee loses sun hwa’s trail and she ends up entering a room…where a healthy and restored hyun joon awaits her.


  34. 34 temposoul

    @kaedejun that might not happen cause kwon sang woo was to play hyun joon not a different character also IRIS 2 (Athena) has a totally different plot to it
    (I hope this comment doesn’t offend you :))

  35. 35 kaedejun


    haha – i’m not offended! i meant it as a joke anyways – and i said it way before i knew anything about iris 2 – so it doesn’t matter. and that would be weird – if kwon sang woo was going to be hyun joon… well no matter, at least he’s not in it!

  36. 36 fionnula

    I think the problem with this drama was the emphasis on romance. I found myself hating Sun Hee and rooting for Sun Hwa. Perhaps it’s to do with the actress. I also thought that things became a bit too pitiful towards the end – if IRIS was so good I think it would have been harder to capture them. As you said it was like 24 in the beginning but then that died and it went downhill from there. But as a massive T.O.P fan I thought he got a terrible ending and wished he had more scenes. He seemed like such an interesting character but never got any background.

  37. 37 grayzilay

    Thanks for the recap, kaedejun!

    Man, the ending! – I was like NO WAY!!! I wasn’t really looking for some sort of a happy-ending, but the one they had for this drama really disappointed me.. It may be because they killed-off my baby LBH’s character.. but NO.. I definitely agree that they should have just ended with ep. 18..

  38. 38 katakwasabi

    just finished the watching IRIS..love sunhwa and vic and yuki..everyone else was meh to me..

    i found that some of the characters confusing and i find it hard to differentiate the actors faces especially sa woo and two other guys that i dont know their name

    besides, i kinda hate the love scenes execpt for the scenes with TOP and tech geek girl (sorry i dont know her name)..

    IRIS started slow..in ep 2-3 the pace changed abruptly..and in the middle it started to slow down and then it just lost the storyline..

    in my opinion, i dont see the relationship between HJ and his coworker at NSS is supposed to be strong at all as he just joined them..i find it contradicting that he is held so highly in NSS when he is just a newbie..the timeline of the series was confusing to me..

    eventhough not all the scenes were believable..i gotta say, top did a good job killing people esp the tech geek girl..:)

    i watched because of the high ratings..but i didnt enjoy it that much..just my 2cents~

    btw..thanx for the recaps..loved it! ^_^

  39. 39 kpop0215

    i hate the ending…
    mostly hate it..why he must die??
    they had gone through all the hardship to be together n live happy after..
    n the end..he die….its suck

  40. 40 psychoanalyst

    i NEVER comment but i have to. WTF?!!!!! ajfioSNKl/smdgig/sedgkv;jganzbavjsd
    are you F******** KIDDING ME?! this is like the EAST OF EDEN SHIT. WHY?! AFTER ALL THE SHIT HE HAD TO GO THROUGH, HE DIES?! WTF? okay i’m done.

  41. 41 LiteratiTempo

    At first I was kinda pissed about the ending… but then again I would’ve been pissed about a “they ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after” ending too. SO I guess they had to end it somehow. I think to show IRIS as the organization that nobody ever escapes from is a good call. Man Director Baek is one sneaky SOB, killing Sa Woo while he’s safely in prison and protecting his precious (because you know IRIS will bust him out). TT.TT poor SaWoo he took to long to realize that he had a way out, or did he kill himself on purpose. Waaah all the conspiracies in this show are driving me mad.

    As a whole I’d give the series 7-8/10 (for an action flick) and 5/10 (if you’re looking for a love story)

  42. 42 CPW

    i marathoned this drama. skipping sleep and meals, but to find out LBH die the end…WTXX.??!! I HATE YOU, SHOW!!!

  43. 43 sarasa36


    I’ve just ended today this drama (even when I don’t really like the lead actress). I really enjoyed it at first, but the two final episodes were so strange….. They should have enden it earlier.

    The lead actor was brilliant, it was my first time seeing him acting, so I would like to see his movies soon!!! About the story…. it was good.

    And about the end…. I knew it would be sad, but not killing him… maybe just separating them…. oh my god… how could they? But on another hand Director Baek said to him once that he was alive because IRIS wanted… so it was like “hey you should know he is going to die”.

    Thanks for recap this drama!!!

  44. 44 lemon

    Thanks for your recaps and staying dedicated to this series!! 😀

    and omg wtf that was a horrible ending. I really thought he was going to get to propose to Seung hee, but poor guy just never gets peace in his life huh? :(((

  45. 45 kc

    Im ranting now! I thought what the hell is going on at episode 18? Geez skip this… and go straigh to 20 final episode!!!! WOW! it totally states KOREAN DRAMA! DEAD lead actor! Good thing they did not kill Seung Hee as wel!

    Totally dissapointed how can they kill VIC and not end it there? Geez I thought the beginning was good enough. but they blew it all the way!

    KTH really needs to exert more of her acting skills. Thou she improved but for her age and yrs spent behind the lense she should offer more. I see her same acting as Stair way to Heaven. Thou I dont dislike her but she needs workshop. Dont they offer that before they start a kdrama?

    Will not watch IRIS again. it depressed me.

  46. 46 Billy

    I thought the entire show was brilliant! Its the only show to make me want to watch it again immediately after finishing. I’m a little more optimistic about the ending though. Hyun Joon was still alive for quite a bit after the “shot” so I’m more inclined to believe it missed a fatal blow slightly. I know Lee Byung Hun has a movie to star in soon, but with the air date of October 2011 for IRIS 2 I don’t see why he’ll be unavailable. 😛
    It’s also noteworthy that a representative of the IRIS movie stated he may only be injured and not dead. (Sadly I can’t find the movie because its said the sniper was revealed!!!!)

    Hopefully he does come back, because I have to admit he was an awesome lead actor. Either way, can’t wait until IRIS 2 T_T

  47. 47 =_=

    damn , i was only watching episode 6 but curiousity got the best of me and i ended up reading all the spoiler here…damn…

  48. 48 =_=

    IMO, KHJ dying is pretty understandable…
    how would a big organization like IRIS leave someone who had go against them to be alive (Didnt Baek San said that anyone that go against IRIS will never survive)
    i think KHJ and KSH make a better couple coz CSH is such a drag and is so damn freaking abosolutely emotional and i freaking hated her when she said she wont forgive Jin Sa Woo….
    KTH’s acting isnt really that good here…she only look good during the first few episode because she still has her long hair and when she cut her hair , she is nothing more than those annoying female lead in the drama….
    seriously , i think IRIS should had killed CSH then CSH and KHJ can meet in heaven….

  49. 49 Davada

    Question I had about episode 20:

    One of IRIS main objective is to prevent the summit between North and the South. Since IRIS was able to easily infiltrate so many of their men into what I believe to be a tight-secured, impregnable SUMMIT meeting why go as far as setting off a NUKE in the middle of Seoul? For example, why not let the meeting go as planned, assassinate the President from the South (forgot his name) and plant evident that it was the North’s doing. Simple, easy, and sure fire way to spark a war, right? No need to kill 150,000 citizens and you’ll have a clearer conscious (aka Chul Young wouldn’t have betrayed what’s his face).

    And the most important reason I didn’t really like IRIS is:

    My second rant is just the unclear reason for Baek San’s actions. What exactly was Baek San’s reason to frame Hyun Joon? From my understanding it’s because Hyun Joon fell in love with (vice-versa) Seung Hee and how she was the “forbidden fruit” in his eyes. But I call TOTAL BULLSHIT on that CRAP. If Baek San was truly a father figure to Seung Hee why not affirm their LOVE? Why act like a sadistic bastard and go

    “Oh this jerk is in love with my god-daughter, and even though I murder his parents and basically made his life a living hell, I’m going to frame his ass.”

    Seriously, did Baek San think that he can keep Seung Hee from seeing a guy or losing her virginity forever?

    I mean, Baek San monitored and control Hyun Joon’s life, so he should have a good understand of what a great guy he was.

    Which reminds me, why did Baek San make Hyun Joon life a living hell? I believe (even though he never stated why) that he spared Hyun Joon life out of mercy (it’s within his character). Yet not only did you traumatized the kid by killing his parents, you sent him to an orphanage, and made him your little puppet which you controlled. In retrospect, Baek San should allow the relationship between Seung Hee and Hyun Joo after all he’s done to him.

    Ok,, I understand, you needed to control his life because IRIS ordered his assassination and you didn’t carry it out. But why make him a part of NSS? Isn’t that like going the opposite direction of keeping him hidden and away from you “forbidden fruit”? And after all that crap, IRIS still figured out that Baek San never fully carried out his assassination order and he was never reprimanded for it. So why did the mission to assassinate that North Korean Politician (guy from episode 1) “had” to be Hyun Joon?

    I thought the reason it “had” to be Hyun Joon is because he needed to be buried and unknown to IRIS. So sending him into a suicide mission was the best solution to keep him a secret. But why do so if IRIS never really mind that Baek San hadn’t killed him? And I’m pretty sure Baek San is clever enough to realize IRIS wouldn’t have punished him for not killing Hyun Joon.

    Alright another scenario I figure was that IRIS knew Baek San never killed Hyun Joo. And that he was chosen to be the sacrificial lamb because for fear of “Doctor” (aka Mr. X or The Voice) reaching out to him. Which turns to my previous question, why bring him to the NSS and turn him into a killing machine, ripe for the picking by the “Doctor”?

    So in conclusion, I guess my biggest rant is:

    There was no reason that Hyun Joon “HAD” to be the target of that suicide mission. Writers was just creating retarded excuses. And if there “HAD” not been a reason to set Hyun Joon up, then the whole story of “IRIS” is crap.

  50. 50 Phuong H.

    NOOOOOOOOO BIG BANG’S T.O.P DIED!!!?!??!?! the only reason i watched this kdrama was becuz hes in it! (wish he was the main main main character) i mean like i love big bang n all of the members! WHYYYYYYYYYYYY! lol this is weird for a typical asian girl to say this 😛 i know its just acting but nooo oh n the look he gave b4 he died was creepy so GOOD ACTING !!!! *clap clap clap clap*

    • 50.1 Emily

      NO SPOILER! AHHHH! *cries* I was just skimming throught to find t.o.p stuff, but that spoiler was too big.

  51. 51 sitaslide

    just finished watching it… really have the same feeling with you (@kaedejun) : “ARE YOU FREAKIN’ KIDDING ME?”
    ..at first…
    but then i rethink again and read the comments… especially comment by rambutan.. u’re right it should have been considered very logic the end of this drama for Hyung Jun to be killed… however like most comment-ers i am also disappointed in how they brought up the story at the end episodes (18-20) that just feels dull and weird… just lose its senses and what the real message that is trying to be delivered to the audience…
    anyway… it sure is quite exciting and enjoy watching the episodes even though it wasn’t wrapped up nicely…

    thanks for the recaps kaedejun!

  52. 52 sitaslide

    just finished watching it… really have the same feeling with you (@kaedejun) : “ARE YOU FREAKIN’ KIDDING ME?”..at first…

    but then i think again and read the comments… especially comment by rambutan.. u’re right it should have been considered very logic the end of this drama for Hyung Jun to be killed… however like most comment-ers i am also disappointed in how they brought up the story at the end episodes (18-20) that just feels dull and weird… just lose its senses and what the real message that is trying to be delivered to the audience…
    anyway… it sure is quite exciting and enjoy watching the episodes even though it wasn’t wrapped up nicely…

    thanks for the recaps kaedejun!

  53. 53 $pOnGeBaBe

    Im So Dissapointed To The Ending !
    Im So Curious Who AsSaSinate Hyun Jun ?
    Huh ?It Has So Many Mystery Scene That Happen !
    :))But Hopefully Our Question Answer In IRIS 2 !

    Im So Excited To Watch The IRIS 2 !

    When ?

  54. 54 Michael

    Thank you for a WONDERFUL recap. After staying up two straight nights watching all 20 episodes, I have to admit that it was a very compelling series. I have never watched Korean drama before, so it was pretty good.

    I have to admit, the only reason I started to watch the series from the first episode was the MUSIC. Pure and simple, the music track was the best I’ve seen for a TV show, ever. I’m 50, and to be honest, the music was the key.

    In addition, I understand that this is first and foremost a DRAMA. One should never inject reality in such shows, so all the gun battles, nuclear bombs, nerve gas, and other whatnot are all incidental devices, rather than the fact that any discharge of any weapon for any reason would always entail investigations. OK, the deaths were all suppressed from the public (secret agent stuff, y’know), and the autopsy of EVERY bad guy went through Pigpen’s…er, Hyun Kyu’s… forensics lab. All three or four hundred of them. I chalk it up to creative license.

    OK, back to the drama: I admit I’m a sucker for good Romeo / Juliet plots, which many K-Dramas seem to spawn. Saying nothing about acting abilities, but rather responding to the actual moments that effected me, I have to admit that the Uranium room love scene was the one that affected me the most, and brought tears to me. (yes, I’m 50 male, so sue me). That was really a surprise.

    But that’s really the only memorable love point (other than the monster talk by the statue in Akita). Now, as I said before, this was my first foray into Korean fare, and I suspect the plots have more to do with Korean expectations in plots, what they view as macho/feminine, etc, which is markedly different than American expectation.

    Having said that, I have to admit…the writing really was awful for much of the series. “Continuity of Plausibility” is probably the best term I can come up with. Yes, I can understand the concept of extraordinary crimes happening on a routine basis, this is fiction after all. My term, though, is my attempt at OBJECTIFYING my interpretation of a series, based on the SUBJECTIVE level of the actual plot sequence, ie terrorism and North/South Korean unification.

    It appears that the Korean writing staff had an incredible vehicle, but wasted much of it on mundane matters. I never did have a sense that IRIS had any sense of real “control.” I sense that IRIS went way beyond the “minor” issue of Korean unification, though I admit that KU is probably the major political situation on the peninsula to most of the show’s primary viewers.

    But some of the technical issues seemed to be a bit juvenile. Lots of great forensic devices, such as GPS tracking of radiation, the enhanced “Enemy of the State” real-time satellite tracking of suspects, etc.

    Finally, I wanted to commend you for pointing out my own pet technical peeve of the show: the peculiar scene where Americans were talking English in a meeting with Koreans. I really thought that their dialog was irrelevant. But seriously, they are actors; couldn’t they have at least learned one or two lines of script in Korean? Frankly, I understand that the Korean agents are fully fluent in both English and Korean, after all the computer was nearly 100% English itself. But the translation must be PLAUSIBLE. In other words, during the meeting, only two scenarios pass the plausibility test:

    1. Everyone speaks English. This doesn’t work, because this is, after all, a Korean drama.
    2. The main actors all speak Korean, and if something must be reported from the Americans, throw in a translator character.

    Now, having said that, I’m unfamiliar with Korean drama so I don’t know if seamless English/Korean dialog is common enough. All I do know is that the American dialog seemed pointless, and if they needed to establish the presence of Americans, I’m sure we have an accent that can verify this fact to the audience. Hope you don’t mind me expanding on this.

    Back to the storyline: I have a feeling that the writers were writing for 17 episodes, or 18 maximum, and seemed to think, “Oh, we culminated the nuclear bomb arc; now how do we fill 2-3 more hours of extra storyline?” I mean, seriously: Did the production staff know for sure they were going to do 20 episodes? The Nuclear Bomb should have been the ultimate scene, while the department store terrorism scene should have been much earlier, say around Episode 14. That would have also added more complexity to the storyline by allowing simultaneous developement of the two threats, which in turn would allow for more Continuity of Plausibility interactions by the characters.

    And finally, really… HOW the HELL could professionals NOT know the difference between hostages and hostage takers? THAT was one plot device that must have come out of desperation. Seriously, this has all the earmarks of trying to do an encore to something that really had no business trying to be improved upon.


    Having said that, I have to admit, if one can suspend reality, and instead enjoy the ride, I can certainly say that Iris was entertaining. But I will say this: the music is by far and away the BEST music I’ve heard for this type of show. I’m not as nuanced as to true acting abilities as you are, so everyone acted with the same intensity to me (well, other than those stupid ass American contractor dolts).

    Finally, the ending: I think they could have done a lot better on the ending. These people are superhuman of their own right, I know. Sa Woo can take 10 bullets, but be damned if he dies before having one more threesome with his two best buds, good ol’ Hyung and Seung. Yeppers, have a nice cry before ya die, Sa Woo old sport.

    And of course, killed in a car to end the series: Frankly, I thought if they were going to kill off Hyung, they would have done it either a bit more spectacularly, or a bit more mysteriously. While I believe the writers were killing off Hyung, I thought it would have been a bit more dramatic if Seung were in the scene, rather than on the lighthouse. American drama would not stand for this scene, this “Who Shot JR” type of ending would at LEAST have some plausibility factor involved. To me, that is the most troublesome of endings that could occur. I thought maybe he wasn’t dead, but seriously injured, however it seems that there is a consensus that he really IS dead.

    OK, long enough rant. Thanks for letting me vent.

  55. 55 Michael

    I know this is a bump of my post, but it’s the next day. I really wanted to let you know I appreciate your attention to detail on your official recap. I was going to take the time to review the entire series again over the course of a couple of weeks, but your recap made it real easy for me.

    Using the basic construct of the entire plot, I’m going to retro-edit the script that would have made this series a top-notch run. Again, although I realize that K-drama is culturally different than American drama with quirks in personality traits that are markedly different, I am going to attempt to address the inconsistencies (what I defined as “Continuity of Plausibility”) that occurred in the script, while maintaining the flashback sequence proportions (I’m guessing 15-20% of the script are direct flashbacks of prior scenes). I’ll touch up on this later.

    There are five major points of character development I want to address:

    1. Jin Sa Woo’s (JSW) FULL life background, namely: How involved was he with IRIS, or at least the influence of IRIS, before he met Hyun Joon? Through CoP, I believe that his character should have been set up BEFORE meeting Hyun Joon. Now, this is tricky, and I will have to look at the existing script to see how I work it, but my thinking is that Sa Woo will think he’s doing this in the name of national security. A lengthy indocrination process in this regard will meet CoP in a satisfactory manner. In short, the entire friendship will be based on Sa Woo’s manipulation of the sequence.

    2. In a similar manner, Choi Seung Hee’s character could be more nuanced than just a simple profiler for the department. This was based upon the fact that she never displayed ANY emotion that belied her true feelings or her true involvement with Baek San, the man who was her surrogate father. Though ultimately her character was “pure,” I believe that she could have displayed more complexity in her scenes. For instance, when she is first “seduced” by Hyan Joon, she could be seen as smitten with him, but when her face is turned away from his, her expression could have been far more conflicted. Of course, the audience would note this conflict of expression, but not understand it fully. This would allow her to show a potential evil trait that would have been far more plausible in the end.

    Interim 1 and 2: Possible romance between Seung Hee and Sa Woo before she first “meets” Hyung in the college classroom? We would never have found this out of course until much later in the arc; I’ll keep this in mind, but something like that would DEFINITELY add to the triangle that was somewhat missing at a complex level.

    3. Hyan Joon: He would, of course, maintain his innate morality, and in essence, he would maintain the same facade that he maintained in the original, though I believe his background story could have been expanded on a bit more, perhaps with flashbacks and lincremental discovery of his past. I was especially enamored of his ability to move between cool, calculated agent and boorish, exasperating male, which is unique.

    4. Kim Sun-hwa’s character background needs to have a lot more detail. For instance, though she was jailed, there should have been more background on her family, perhaps even the reason she became an agent in the first place. In addition, she could have had tangential involvement with Iris SOMETIMES in her past, perhaps even being instrumental in getting her the current assignment. (In fact, I was actually going to wonder if Hyan and Sun-hwa would have somehow been related, perhaps not by family involvement (Luke and Leia still leave a “weird” feeling with me in Star Wars, incestual happenstance is one fictional device I think should stay relatively taboo) so that romance is not taboo, but their ultimate relationship will be based upon the fact that, maybe, they were childhood friends but she got whisked to the north after Hyan Joon’s parents’ death by Iris agents. Now THAT would have been intriguing! I think I’ll work that aspect into the fantasy alteration. In addition, her “family” would not have been “killed” but actually removed by Iris and taken somewhere else. THAT would add more opportunities for plot devices in the future, and perhaps in Athena (if she does that show) or Iris 2.

    5. Park Chul Yung is probably the most complex character to develop a background for. Obviously, his feelings for Sun-hwa is apparent, and frankly should have been expanded a lot more. In addition, his character should have started with repercussions similar to Sun-hwa. Now, I do understand the reason he was reinstated (or never demoted, not sure the sequence) from his post was that Iris (through is superior) needed him there. Finally, I don’t believe that he should never have been involved with Iris until his rise with the North Government. After all, Iris can’t predestine EVERYONE… 😉

    Basically, the five main characters above would have significant background traits, but the level of acting they would have to perform would have been minor. Significant, but minor. AS I said, I’m using current material and doing a rewrite of a few scenes, with a shuffle or two of plot devices.

    As far as additional character development: I would have liked to see Baek San’s character have more significant background scenes. While production costs may have prohibited certain luxuries such as additional actors, scenes, and perhaps set construction, I believe that scenes from how NSS were transformed, perhaps with Iris as part of the apparatus following the ’92 election would have been fantastic. The flashbacks could have been released incrementally to maintain CoP standards.

    Anyway, I just wanted to throw a few ideas in my thinking process. So, onward: I’m going to work on an ALTERNATE Iris recap, with your permission!

    • 55.1 kaedejun

      be my guest! although instead of an IRIS recap i think you might as well write an alternate script! hehe

      i enjoyed reading your comments/rant/suggestions :)

      • 55.1.1 Michael

        Well, it depends on what you mean by “alternate script.” Here is my own project challenge: Maintain the main scenes in the current script, as well as incorporating the two arc climaxes (nuclear bomb, hostage scene). In other words, let’s say I saw the recap you gave me as a script, including commitments for sets, actor contracts, logistics, etc. for the major arc scenes. What minor changes could I make to the current script that would result in a much more sophisticated script that enhances the Continuity of Plausibility equation?

        In other words, I don’t want to create completely different physical scenarios, but alter the current scenes by injecting more plausible, and complex, character development that would improve the property. Iris 2 is the time to create a completely new scrip from the get-go.

        One thing I probably would like to do more is expand on the Vic scene where he gets killed by Hyan. I think the climax in his apartment was a bit stale, though again, that may have been a personal, American bias than an acknowledgment of Korean drama preference.

  56. 56 Michael

    OK, I believe I have the overview for a plot that involves all the of the major physical elements of the original series, while adding complex character background and development that would comply far more with Continuity of Plausibility protocols. This series provided me with interesting challenges.

    Having said that, I have not read any novelizations or conceptual characterizations by anyone associated with the production, so I am only going with what I saw in the 20 episodes, and my own gut impressions on the characters in that sense. The need to maintain a Korea-centric theme, particularly of reunification, is also Job One, but I feel to really make this more plausible, I have to introduce a world-wide conspiracy to make all the subelements work.

    Therefore, let me start by first describing MY interpretation of the agencies. I am working on the assumption that eveyrone reading this has read through your recap or watched the series.

    1. IRIS: There was no acronym given for the agency, but I will create my own for it, and of course, maintain the consistency of naming it in English: Institute for Reactive International Security. This is not a big issue, so if anyone can come up with a better one, or more importantly, if I missed it originally, then a correction would be appreciated.

    Basically, IRIS is a very secretive, very hush-hush, quasi-legal WORLD-WIDE organization that is run by a select, unknown cadre of individuals who ostensibly are trying to coordinate security around the world with regard to internal and external security organizations. (In the US, the equivalent would be CIA: Foreign security, and FBI: Internal security). However, in reality, IRIS’s REAL mission is to render governments around the world useless through chaos. It works first by trying to simultaneously discredit/destroy totalitarian governments (such as China and North Korea), while undermining the will of the people in democratic countries (such as Japan, US, and South Korea). “Mr. Black” is one of the higher ups, and for this series is the unknown antagonist.

    IRIS was started in the late fifties, coincidentally in Korea, originally as an organization to facilitate Korean unification following the truce that ended military hostilities, but was subverted (first with Chinese and Russian, then with American) agents who took the organization in a horrific direction. It’s most notable attempts included the manipulation of the US Presidential Election of 1960 (by compromising the ballots in Chicago, Illinois), allowing them to place the preferred candidate, John F. Kennedy. This allowed a relative neophyte to encourage the Soviet Union to facilitate the Cuban Missile Crisis, in which the US was to capitulate. But Kennedy called the bluff, Bay of Pigs happened, and the crisis was subverted. That successful end led IRIS to have Kennedy killed so the Gulf of Tonkin incident (remember Choi Seung-hee’s dissertation in the college classroom in Episode 1?), and allowed IRIS to maintain instability around the world, including Cold War operations.

    Throughout the next few decades, IRIS was the primary backer of all major grouops such as the Red Brigade in Italy, the IRA in Ireland, and the Weathermen in the United States, along with backing most of the governments in Latin America. It’s finances are controlled by the Drug Cartels around the world, primarily in China and Mexico.

    That’s the overview. NOTE: Not all this information will be relevent in the original IRIS 1 series, because there has to be much left for subsequent series. But in order for Continuity of Plausibility to be sustained, the framework has to be established.

    In Korea, uncertainty with regard to reunification is the easiest hot button that IRIS can manipulate a coup to allow them a foothold into the East Asian sector, and this will be the prevelent theme for the series; however, several references to the International component will add complexity that will increase the Continuity of Plausibility for the series itself.

    I am leaning toward making the true leader of ISIS American, as well as basing it in America, but that’s speculative for now. Since IRIS 1 doesn’t matter where IRIS originates, I’ll leave it in the air, but will work with the framework that ISIS is global with Korean genesis.

    2. NSS: National Security Service. I am going to maintain as much canon with the original storyline, but I believe I will make two changes:

    a. The NSS was started to assist the current Security agency with regard to absorbing N. Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) with S. Korea. I’ll still make the year 1976, and Baek San will be involved from the beginning. The start of the organization will have an eerie similarity to how IRIS was ostensibly started; indeed: IRIS elements would be instrumental in facilitating the creation of IRIS behind the scenes.

    b. I am going to concentrate less on administration and policy changes that account for the change in NSS’s policy, but rather focus its efforts on migrating from its original, single purpose of reunification into that of a straight out Black Ops department, and work in a flashback sequence in Back San’s own migration from patriot to international conspirationalist, to terrorist backer.

    3. I’m going to divide the Iris control of NSS (and, in extension, the equivalent services of other countries) into two different factions: Covert, and Nationalist. The Covert faction is actually the faction controlled by IRIS itself. Any individuals involved in Covert are inherent to the actual IRIS organization itself, including knowing the true motive behind IRIS. The Nationalist faction, on the other hand, is probably the most complex of organizations to write around, as this faction will include Choi Seung-hee, Jin Sa-woo, and, in parallel, N. Korea’s Kim Seon-hwa. Baek San will remain as the only member of the Covert faction of IRIS associated with the NSS. Briefly, the Nationalist factions (of both S. Korea and N. Korea) are based upon being manipulated by the Covert faction through device of “National Pride.” This will allow the progenitors to show a “dark side” that is not really dark, but ignorant of the true evil, and allow for more complex realizations and alliances. This division will allow me to satisy Continuity of Plausibility protocols, and add to the sophistication and ultimate enjoyment of the series. This will also enhance the various love triangles that were a bit lacking in dimension, but maintaining the emotions of the primary love matchups that Korean drama demands.

    4. Maintaining the two main climactic scenes: I am going to put the department store hostage scene around Episode 14, move the conference assassination attempt to Episode 18 cliffhanger, and redo the Nuclear Scene to the Episode 19 cliffhanger. I’m going to make some changes on the Nuclear Bomb climax to make it a bit more dramatic as well. I’m going to remove the “switch hostages for hostage-takers” nonsense; even for Korean Drama that’s a bit much. Finally, while I understand the reason that Kim Seon-hwa took the bullet for Hyan Joon (love triangle implications), I’m going to resolve that love triangle earlier, and instead have N. Korean Seon-hwa take the bullet intended for the S. Korean President. That would be more symbolic to her sacrifice, especially with her history that I will have entailed upon her.

    As far as additional characters: I am not going to introduce any more “regular” characters than already exist. In addition, I will differentiate between “flashback” scenes from previously dramatized episodes from flashback scenes from time periods not covered by the episode arcs. I would suggest imaging those type of flashbacks in Black and White (ala Leverage). In addition, I will try to cut down on the overwhelming amount of flashback scenes in the existing episodes. Really, do we need to see a flashback of Hyan Joon and Seon-hwa 6 times at the Statue by the Lake every time they think of each other?? NOTE: If this is part of K-drama protocol, someone enlighten me.

    The bottom line is that the vast majority of the series locations and scenes will still be used, but frankly, this is one series I would LOVE to see improved in IRIS 2. OK, now that I have the overview and general character development, on with IRIS 1, Version 2.0. Like it so far?

  57. 57 Michael

    The story so far…

    I have decided upon a framework that essentially takes in all the major scenes. I’ve changed a significant amount of background for many of the characters, as well as moved the plot around to justify those character changes. I knew this would be a relatively daunting task, but instinctively I believe this is a damn good property, and I hope the production company looks into incorporating more changes into Iris 2.

    I have a term that I came up with to describe the events of a teleplay or screenplay, called “continuity of plausibility.” Insomuch as fiction generally does not portray events as they would normally be handled in real life, the term is actually more correctly known as “continuity of RELATIVE plausibility.” This allows the fictionalized story to be judged on its “relative” rules.

    Let me give an example: In real life, when there is any activity that involves the discharge of a weapon, most westernized have a very strict, arduous, and comprehensive review of the incident. Virtually every shot fired has to be accounted for. In addition, in a country such as Korea there is very little likelihood that normal citizens would be able to acquire the technology or armanents to engage in multiple gun battles. In the case of nuclear threats, far more than just a small rogue CIA-like department would be investigating the entire sequence.

    But in the fictionalized storyline, bad guys can have access to weapons like marathon runners to bottled water, rogue agencies can run with no administrative red tape, and lovers can occur on both sides of the iron curtain. This is were the story can now be tapestried into a cohesive, intelligent tale of intrigue.

    So for the most part, the suspension of normal procedures are allowed. To that end, there STILL has to be some amount of plausibility within the story. Such plausibility, for instance, would explain actions of characters inherent to their character’s past development. For instance, Seung Hee would not suddenly, by Episode 19 or 20, have knowledge of IRIS personnel like Baek San, when in Episodes 1 through 18 she was just as ignorant as everyone else. This would be a violation of the “continuity of relative plausibility” rule. In addition, finding out the hostages were actually exchanged for the real kidnappers, and the agency not even finding out about this until several hours later strains ANY relative level of plausibility. Such a situation doesn’t even merit a response.

    But the general character development is, in fact, doable with the existing script. I have decided to go with what my original instinct told me. I’ve made Seung Hee the daughter of Baek San and the female presidential aide turned traitor, Advisor Hong, though she was brought up by another entity. In addition, I’ve made Sun-hwa the twin of Hyan Joon, separated at birth and taken to the north. (I’ve not decided if such realization will be made in the first Iris season or not).

    In addition, I created a tie between two relatively low-key characters, but instrumental in character development and continuity of relative plausibility. Those two characters are Na Yoon, Mi jung’s hacker partner (the fat, jovial guy who stupidly brandished a gun during the attack), as well as the female hacker for the terrorist gang. This was key in setting certain disclosures to be released with plausible results.

    Finally, if this were the script from the get go, there would have been no change in production costs (as far as paying additional talent or scenes), yet increased the robustness of the property oodles and oodles. Anyway, I”m off to the races 😀

  58. 58 swui

    I watched IRIS only now…yeah I know …a total latecomer, in anticipation of Athena. I keep putting off watching it because I didn’t really like KTH( I only saw her in the nine tailed fox legend some ten years ago…and it was pure torture..watching her and Jun Jin brood half the series…urgggh). But I liked LBY (Beautiful days…he was totally mesmerizing) and KSY(All about eve…wow) and cop-spy stories so I was gonna watch this sooner or later anyway. Of course my love for Cha Seong Won totally made this “sooner”, cos I don;t wanna be left out in case they made cross references between the two series…

    I thought that HyunJun dying is logical…just maybe he should die more heroically…because now it would seem that Seung Hee might need to avenge him in Athena…but since KTH hasn’t sign up for Athena…I guess its gonna be totally unrelated…

  59. 59 Christine

    First of all, the ending was lame. I was a little disappointed. I mean, I was hoping for a happy ending! And they just kill him off, and Seung Hee didn’t even know a thing? I mean, he was about to propose to her and out of the blue THAT happened?!

    What I mean is, the least the authors could do was to let Seung Hee know that he was dead…I guess.


  60. 60 Biankoy

    I’ve been meaning to finish Iris.. i’m up to episode 12 now. but then, Hyun Joon died. dammit. and T.O.P too! ftw!

  61. 61 silly xilu

    i think it was Kim Seon-hwa who killed (assassinated) Kim Hyun-jun…at the end she was seen on a yacht and was facing towards the white tower where Hyun-jun is heading to….>_<…there she was with her gun (idk 'bout its model..lol!)
    ..ow men!!..i wish it was TOP…hes really cool!!.lol!

    ..i was so touched!!!!…..it was so heartbreaking!..(T-T)

  62. 62 bigapple

    I gave up on Iris after watching ep 11 today – it just got to be a bit much, too predictable and too drawn out. I read through the recaps and honestly the ending didn’t surprise me. I expected that HJ would get truly killed off in the end (not because I knew that he didn’t re-up for season 2) because you just knew this guy wasn’t going to have a happy ending since throughout the first half of the series you kept getting all these “monster” references being thrown his way.

    Honestly, this series reminded me a lot of Bad Guy in terms of writing – the first half was relatively well crafted – although there were a number of holes, and then it’s like the writers lost track of timing and their ability to evenly space the action and plot over the course of allotted number of episodes for the series. Somehow, both series managed to have characters who were supposed to be professionals but couldn’t find their butts from a hole in the wall! IRIS has these elite special agents (SeungHee who never seems to catch on to what’s happening around her until after the fact) and Bad Guy had the cops who were the world’s worst detectives.

    Either way, IRIS didn’t really go beyond my expectations in the K-Drama department. It was definitely flashy and did have a 24 vibe to it. I thought the casting was good. I know many people had issues with the lady who played SeungHee, but to me she was ok…there were some scenes where she was a little flat, but it was no less believable than LHB’s character HyunJun running around in a daze yearning after SH at really bad times (in front of the N.Korean agents when they’re interrogating her/in front of the N. Korean agents when they infiltrate NSS).

    Now I’m moving on to either Coffee Prince or Dr. Champ – probably Coffee Prince, I need something light after IRIS! ^_^

  63. 63 Flo

    It would have been a very good drama but there are certain things I am not happy about. How come no one suspected Advisor Hong of being a spy except Secretary Jung who was assassinated before he could blow the whistle on her? The way Vic/T.O.P. died was unbelievable. If he is an assassin, he would have known that Hyun Joon was following him and in his house before he sat down to relax ! It is as if he wants to die since he didn’t really put up a fight at all. If the members of IRIS don’t cooperate with Sa Woo, then the mission is half lost already. I don’t like the ending either not because of Hyun Joon’s death but rather it is lame to make him die when he is no longer a NSS agent. I hope Athena will tell us more about his death.

  64. 64 Moliser

    I was about to watch this drama, but I hate sad endings so I will just pass…I dont see any reason for sad dramas.

  65. 65 HeadsNo2

    Commenting like 2 years after this drama aired, but whatever.

    Vic’s death was, to me, one of the most upsetting aspects of the finale. This character was perpetually underdeveloped and the fight scene appallingly anti-climactic. It’s like the writers phoned in that scene. All TV writers should take into account that a certain percentage of their viewers watch for one character… In the case of those of us who watched for Vic, his poor death scene and its treatment was a disservice to those of us who were avidly following his story. Sad.

    • 65.1 JJ

      Guess that a lot of you feel that the ending is lame. Killing off HJ left the biggest impression to viewer. Sad ending always is best choice since most the drama/movie end happily. It is a bit too unrealistic if it end happily since there are still a lot of IRIS members. Moreover, this is an action drama and viewer should expect a sad and emo ending. What is the point of watching people shoot bullet but nobody die?

      • 65.1.1 Fatutu

        Man, i finisd reading ur post n jst bursted into laughter afta readn d last sentenc.cldnt help it, ws sooo funny.

  66. 66 Mikey

    Just finished watching it and was reading your recap, You did a very good job. YES! what kind of ending was that?!?!?!?!?! When everything couldn’t be better Hyun Joon is killed… o.O. He better comes back in IRIS2 that’s all I have to say.

  67. 67 Kath C.

    Thanks for the awesome recap! 😀

    Iris is such a great series and since it is a modern action series, i was kinda expecting that either of the lovers will die.
    (while watching the last part) i was hoping that it’ll be a happy ending though i cautioned myself to see a sad one (since i had such a long time to get over from the sad ending of another Korean drama, “Money War”)…
    and yea… it is TT-TT

    i hope if there’s part 2 it’ll be a happy ending XD

  68. 68 Lizmarie

    Maybe TOP killed him? I know he apparently died, but I don’t think it was that simple. I fnid it hard to believe that one of Iris’s top assasins was just downed. So I believe that in Iris 2, TOP will be my main baddie, gone rogue from IRIS, and Seung Hee will be the world’s best AVENGER! HURRAH for IRIS, best show ever! Now hurry up and make Iris 2.

  69. 69 sylvaprince4

    korean films end sucks…y always kill of all d characters

  70. 70 Sanctus Jp

    I hate d last episode.it’s heart breaking after such fatal,pathetic risk,why must he die??? He had to spend time with the love of his life and the so called ‘IRIS’ being the villian has to be comprehended.u better produce a 3rd season to end it melodically cos if am T.O.P,i won’t chose such tragedic character

  71. 71 Sanctus Jp

    I hate d last episode.it’s heart breaking after such fatal,pathetic risk,why must he die??? He had to spend time with the love of his life and the so called ‘IRIS’ being the villian has to be comprehended.u better produce a 3rd season to end it melodically cos if am T.O.P,i won’t chose such tragedic character and i mean it.Bt,u guys did a really gud job although there was not a scene of CHS and KHJ making love{sex} u knw what i mean?

  72. 72 Priyanka

    I dont know wt to say or do am just angry with all south korean movie they never end happly same with jumong,iron empress,queen of shilla,conqureor,a man called god.i think i will have to stop watching ur movie dat is all south korean film

  73. 73 KlingonMami

    Just finished the series. The ending was horrible. HORRIBLE. This is only the 7th K-drama I’ve watched and the last 2 episodes were indeed muddled.

    I’m so disappointed in how this show ended overall. It had so much potential to be the best drama, Korean or not.

    Well it’s off to finish Faith and continue watching The Seer.

    Great site by the way.

  74. 74 Taufiq

    k-drama’s SUCKS

  75. 75 rima rai

    i just couldn’t androstand why they killed hyun joon, they shouldn’t do that, i hated it

  76. 76 lava kore

    i love u kim hyung joong & jinsaw i love themmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

  77. 77 Casper

    another sick ending by KDrama….i remember watching joumong with long freaking series still with no good ending….or the baker who i think the writer force to everyone happy ( how can they happy if their true love being cut off forever)

    thx for this recaps…so i dont have to watch till the end….or maybe can u made directory such like…”happy ending movie list” and “not happy ending movie list” LOL!!

  78. 78 felicia

    Korean movie is the worst ever, they never have a happy ending e.g Iris, The man call God and Fashion king. They should improve more on how to end their movies.

  79. 79 Haryomide

    Cnt diz korean people jes mak a filmwich ends hapilllyyyy?????

    Buh fnkz bro u’ve saved me d stress/money of buyin d next season nd probably korean films

  80. 80 vincent

    It is really an intresting movie bt ending wth tragedy.So we are anxiously expecting the next season.

  81. 81 Sungsung

    I was personally satisfied with Hyun Joon’s death. But what pisses me off is that they just ended right then and there. They (the creators) should’ve at least showed the funeral and how everyone else that was close to him handle it.
    Something like: After the funeral, the rest of the NSS group goes on with their daily lives knowing that it’ll never be the same. While Seung Hee, who is depressed with HJ’s death, is in the room that both she and her love shared, loading her pistol and putting it in her pocket, then, before leaving the room, she looks back at the room for the final time before setting out to take vengeance on the person who killed HJ. *I know my grammar is crappy*
    But nooo. they just had to end it with HJ dying, leaving us unsatisfied and depressed at the same time. Personally I think that many other fans would’ve been more satisfied with what I thought of; the ending where there is no actual end, where fighting will still go on no matter what.
    I haven’t start watching Iris 2 but from what I’ve heard, it’s just as good but doesn’t have the same casts which really disappoints me.
    Right now, I also would’ve been happy with a happy cliche ending. Something like: Both hand in hand looks into each others eyes, knowing that they’ll be together forever, grasps each other’s hands and walks into the plane that’ll take them to America where they’ll have a happy family.
    I just hope that Iris 2 would be good enough to replace this feeling that I got from the ending of Iris 1.

  82. 82 siddiq

    Mtseew. I dislik the ending. Why should he die jst like that?

  83. 83 Shadow walker

    Oh oh oh!?is this the real end or let us wait for for the other episodes .why kim hyun joon? Why him?i was about to have a heart attack.anyway this movie was more interesting.thx.

  84. 84 hayabusa

    My view:
    One of the main theme or storyline in Iris is for Hyun Joon to avenge his parent’s death and to eliminated the group Iris that was responsible. This was clearly pointed out in one episode where Hyun Joon met up with an old friend of his parent (the injured bed ridden guy that was later killed by Baek San). So how can Hyun Joon die at the end when Iris still exist? Hyun Joon was still twitching at the end so I’m hoping the shot was not fatal and that he comes back in Iris 3

    Also, in the series Athena, it mentioned Sun Hwa (the short hair girl fighting along side Hyun Joon in Iris) and the death of her husband and daughter. She vowed vengeance on Park Chul Young (her former lieutenant) and North Korea.

    I hope to see a Hyun Joon and Sun Hwa comeback in Iris 3.

  85. 85 Abdullah oluwatosin

    The film should not be ended like that.hyun joon suppose not to die.and also the person who shot him was not reveal the same as mr black.

  86. 86 Fifee

    I am in complete agreement ith you. This is one of the most badly written ending I have seen in a long tine, especially since that Lee byun Hun never got a chance to completely anialate the roots of IRIS. Very bad ending. Very annoyed. Yes, why couldn’t they just send them away in a far away land and create a sequal plot on that??? Uggghhh

  87. 87 Deborah Zabron MATASIA

    In the Great queen seon duk Bidam, ma luvly actor died!!! Again in Iris, dat starring guy dies at the end?!!! Annoyng!!!

  88. 88 Mike Harrington

    Sad ending and a surprise to me. However, throughout the series you have to suspend belief because of odd implausible parts. For example where do these people keep all their ammunition as they fire hundreds of rounds from their pistols; we are fed that NSS are technically great but there was no tracking of mobile phone calls/messages, and during periods when satellite and cellphone blocking had been put in place the characters were still able to use their cellphones. Also when CSH disappeared and Baek San asked her to join IRIS the video shows the back of the Head of IRIS/Mr Black in the same room but KHJ does not ask who he is and CSH does not offer such information. I don’t want to be too picky because it is after all fiction and overall it was entertaining escapism.

  89. 89 Mike Harrington

    And another thing …. After KHJ completed his assassination in Hungary and becomes a very wanted man there are no attempts by him at disguise(eg dark glasses, or change of clothes) – he carries on evading and running around wearing the same black clothes and baseball cap. They all walk the streets (and art galleries) as if no-one is looking for them and no-one will ever recognise them. I thought the ending would twist and reveal that the head of IRIS was CSH’s father (not dead after all) and such a scenario would give more “credibility” to KHJ’s demise and reveal the smile on her face at the lighthouse as one of smug satisfaction rather than happy anticipation, and tie in with her confessed acting when she first met KHJ at NSS.

  90. 90 L

    Finally got around to watching this drama – loved the beginning eps! Only~ Vic’s death was sooooo disappointing! I mean, he was portrayed as this really impressive assassin and then..THAT’s how it ends for him?? How the hell was he so easy to take down; how the hell did he last this long then?? Mi Jung’s death was disappointing too, like, that’s it?? And also, how the hell is Hyun Jun always soo unscathed? – Like in that scene where he enters the golf place where IRIS is, he shoots everyone successfully 100% of the time and they hit him never?? IRIS can’t take down ONE man?? I lost some interest in this drama about half way through but still managed to finish it. I also liked the ending + the extended ending though so it was a good drama overall haha

  91. 91 Lola

    IRIS started off really great, with a solid storyline, a direction, and all that. Unfortunately, that started unraveling pretty quickly – the show reached its peak in ep. 17-18, with the nuclear bomb story, and it seems that the writers just didn’t know what to do with it after that.
    Some stuff:

    1. Sa Woo – I really don’t understand why he went that far off into the dark side. I never got an answer to this question, and I never got to see the process of his moving there. What is the drive behind his actions? What drove him to side with Baek San, try to kill Hyun-joon, join IRIS, and sacrifice so much? I have no idea. And this is a major flaw.

    2. The Seung Hee love story thing – I agree with someone else here who said it was the weakest part of the series. I felt zero chemistry between her and Hyun-joon. It was as if they were in love because they said so – and that’s it. No feeling at all. On the other hand, Hyun-joon had definite chemistry with Seon Hwa. I would have been extremely happy if something had happened between them.

    3. So many nonsensical events – The hilarious bilingual thing. The fact that IRIS is supposed to be super-secret but they’re taking hostages and making noise like that right out in the open. The president’s insistence on making that summit happen. A whole bunch of stuff that would have never happened in a competent military/intel organization.

    4. The ending. WTF? What was the point here, exactly?… it was anti-climactic, contrived, and came out of nowhere. I could have accepted this ending if it was presented properly, but this…

    I’m really disappointed in IRIS. :(

  92. 92 Lola

    And one more thing that I can’t believe I forgot in my above comment: VICK!
    He was presented as this super-professional assassin, but he was so extremely easy to kill. He didn’t even put up a proper fight. Nothing about that scene made sense, nothing. It contradicted everything we were told about his character and it sucked.

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