What a fun, zippy mystery. My favorite thing about this drama is that it’s so pretty to look at. (And I’m not even talking about Lee Min-HOT.) It’s got some seriously sexy cinematography, and a fictional world I already take to—it’s a heightened reality, which feels like a comic book. Think: Alias rather than 24. It’s maybe a slight difference genre-wise, but a massive difference tonally. It may be this drama’s only real connection to its original source manga—not story, not character, not anything else, but the feel of a pulp comic kind of world. Which I gotta say, I totally dig.
EPISODE 2 RECAP
After finding out the truth about his birth parents, Yoon-sung decides to fulfill his destiny to avenge his father’s death. He begins to train and study fervently, while his surrogate father Jin-pyo builds his drug empire, from huts to mansions.
Yoon-sung gets accepted into MIT, and Dad furnishes him with a new identity, as an American citizen from Texas. Well that’s a handy way to avoid paying international students’ tuition… which maybe isn’t a concern for a drug lord, so yeah…
Dad tells him the rules, now that he’s about to leave home and assume a new identity: “Trust no one. Love no one. The moment your identity is revealed, you and those around you will be stained blood-red.”
Seven years later, Yoon-sung arrives in Seoul. He stands in a plaza in the middle of the city, unaware that KIM NANA (Park Min-young) is standing but a few feet away.
Nana gets a call and rushes to the hospital, where she’s behind on hospital bills, and the doctors are threatening to take her comatose father off of life support, and refusing to operate on him. The doctor tells her that it’s been ten years that he’s been in this state; it’s time to let go.
Tears streaming down her face, she pleads with the doctor to please save her father, and that she’ll scrape the money together somehow. She seems to blame herself for his condition, saying that she’s the reason he’s lying there like that.
Nana is quite the odd-job fiend, juggling as many part-time jobs as humanly possible, and then some. One of these is a designated driver service, and she rushes from work to go pick up a customer…
At the same time, Yoon-sung is at a club, talking on the phone to “Ajusshi” (Shik-joong) about someone who has a bunch of odd jobs, and mostly works at night for a designated driver service. He’s clearly talking about Nana, having looked into her whereabouts as a favor to him.
He’s joined by a drunk girl, and they head out to make a night of it… only to find that the designated driver waiting for them is Nana. This is their first official encounter, but he’s clearly aware of who she is, from her photo and his background research on her, for Ajusshi’s sake.
He doesn’t let on that he recognizes her, and they get in the car, only to be chased down by KIM YOUNG-JU (Lee Joon-hyuk), who wants a word with Yoon-sung’s date. When he can’t locate his ID, he tries to force her out of the car, and before Yoon-sung has a chance to stop him, Nana jumps out.
She handily throws him over her shoulder in her sparkly dress and heels, without even breaking a sweat. She’s one cool cucumber, enough to impress Yoon-sung. Heh, love a girl who kicks ass.
Turns out Young-ju is a prosecutor, who tracked the woman down because she’s senator Lee Kyung-wan’s girlfriend. That man happens to be Yoon-sung’s Target No. 1 as well, which means these two are about to cross paths in more ways than one.
On the car ride, Nana squirms at the level of very public foreplay going on in the backseat, missing out on the fact that all Yoon-sung seems to be doing is staring in the rearview mirror at HER. Um, awkward.
She finally can’t take it anymore and just pulls over abruptly, announcing that she’s done driving. He follows her out and she tells him that she’ll only take 10,000 won, half her usual pay, for taking them this far.
He scoffs and refuses to pay up, and so she reaches in his pocket and scoops out his wallet for herself. Is it just me, or are all the women on this show getting mighty handsy with this boy? Not that I’d, yunno, do differently.
She takes out the 10,000 won and declines a tip (to herself, heh) and leaves them in the street. Problem is, once she’s at the bus stop, she realizes that she left her cell phone in the playboy’s car, of all godforsaken places.
Said playboy is busy enjoying a nightcap with his honey, while also plying her for information about her sponsor. Pretty ballsy to actually have him sleep with her for information. I like that he’s not squeaky clean, as far as heroes go.
He records their conversation, asking about the money that he gives her, and if she’s seen where it comes from. She confirms that it’s dirty money, but has never actually seen him take the bribes himself, though she does know that he writes it all down in his little notebook. Bingo.
Meanwhile, Nana chases them down to the hotel to ask for her cell phone back, and calls up to the room. She’s met with a swift denial, not only because he’s annoyed but because he’s in the middle of getting crucial information.
So she stands outside the car, kicking it for a while, which sets off the alarm and manages to grab his attention. He runs down in his bathrobe, but by the time he gets downstairs, Nana has seen her phone ring with a call from the hospital, and has rushed off.
At the hospital, she begs the doctor again to operate on her father to save him, and promises to repay the cost any way that she can. He tells her that it’s time to give up on him, which she can’t bring herself to do.
She cries, pleading with him, until Yoon-sung’s voice calls out from down the hall, “Let’s do that surgery.” He tells her that the bill is already paid in full, and leaves her phone before walking out.
Shocked, she follows him out and asks why he’s helping her. He tells her he’s not helping; he merely doesn’t want to know that someone died because of him. He turns down her request to pay him back, adding that to him, that amount of money is the price of a stick of gum.
Nana: “It’s true that I’m someone who sweats for the price of that gum, but that doesn’t mean I’m someone who doesn’t know how to say thank you. Thank you.” He drives away with a glace at her in the rearview mirror, while she says to herself, “I will repay you.”
While her father gets the operation, Nana receives a phone call, accepting her into the Blue House as a secret service agent-in-training. She jumps for joy and soon after reports to her first day of training, nervous and happy.
She’s lined up for her first roll call, when Yoon-sung strolls in. The lead agent yells at him for being tardy on his first day, and dressed inappropriately at that. Everyone turns around to see who he’s talking to, and Nana gasps to see none other than playboy-turned-daddy-savior standing right there.
Confused, Yoon-sung tells him that he’s not an agent-in-training, and that the front desk told him to come here. That’s when geeky intelligence agent GO KI-JOON (Lee Kwang-soo) runs in, calling Yoon-sung, “Doctor!” (The PhD-professor kind, not the medical kind.)
Nana: “Doctor? MIT?” Yeaaaaaaah. I know. Let’s just go with it. Frankly, you being a secret service agent isn’t exactly… MORE believable than his being a doctor, so here’s the moment where we all just take a big leap and choose to roll with it. Okay? Okay.
He turns to go, but then sees Nana out of the corner of his eye, and calls out, “Hey, Ten Thousand Won!” Mortified, she turns around, but he seems happy to see her there. The lead agent asks if they know each other. Yoon-sung: “Yes.” Nana: “No.” Heh. I already see the potential for much delightful banter to come.
Yoon-sung is introduced to the communications department as the MIT-golden-boy, and despite Ki-joon’s efforts to turn him into the traditional maknae (workplace newbie, also youngest at 28), Yoon-sung makes it clear that he’s not going to be anyone’s lackey.
He turns away the delivery menus for late-night food-runs, explaining that one of his contract stipulations was no late hours. Ah, because hunters hunt at night, yeah? Either that or you’re a vampire, but I don’t think that’s where this is going.
The lead training agent informs Nana and another female agent that he’s pulling them out of training for a special assignment—the President’s youngest daughter is a bit of a handful, and her secret service detail quit without notice. They’ll take over immediately.
She sneaks over to the communications department to see Yoon-sung and insist on repaying the hospital bill. He reminds her that working other jobs isn’t allowed while she’s employed here, but she doesn’t think it’s a problem as long as he keeps it quiet.
Yoon-sung, “It seems like you’re trying to use this to DO something with me, but you’re not my type. Do I need to buy you a mirror too?” Oh, DAYUM. He walks away, leaving her slack-jawed.
It appears that the communications team and the secret service agents have a little in-house rivalry going on, which they put to a judo-wrestling contest. Um, I’m gonna go ahead and bet against the geek squad on this one. What kind of Brain Trust deduces that they ought to challenge the President’s bodyguards to a test of physical strength? Pffft.
Yoon-sung gets paired up with Nana, and he basically lets her body slam the hell out of him, to keep up geeky appearances. She insists that he hand over his bank account number so that she can repay him, refusing to let it go.
Yoon-sung: “Why are you being so stubborn?” Nana: “Because it’s the price of saving my father’s life. He’s the most important person to me. The most important, so I don’t want it for free. The more important someone is, the more you have to survive and protect him, when things get difficult.”
The funny part is, she’s saying all this while lying on top of him, and he finally looks up at her for a moment. She twists his leg, literally, until he finally caves and agrees to let her repay him.
Shower broody time! We see that Yoon-sung’s back is covered with scars, not surprising given his militant upbringing, and that he still wears the bullet that pierced his father’s heart around his neck.
By the by, I love the vengeance trinket, because of the fact that it went through his father’s heart in his final act to save his best friend, and then lodged in Jin-pyo’s shoulder… and then that man KEPT IT THERE for seventeen goddamn years until he was ready to tell Yoon-sung about his purpose. That’s hardcore dude.
He comes up with a plan for Nana to repay him, knowing full well that she’s just going to spend late nights being a designated driver again. So he offers for her to be his driver and errand-doer every once in a while, and figures that after oh, two hundred times or so, their debt will be settled. Ha. Contract relationship it is.
Oooh, does that make her your girl friday? Well, I guess not until you become a PI, which I’m not really sure you’re going to do, so we’ll put that title on the backburner for now.
They both get called in to meet the President, and this is the first time that Yoon-sung comes face to face with him. The sitting President is none other than Choi Eung-chan, the man who betrayed his father most directly. While they’re in the meeting, the President gets a call from Target No. 1 Lee Kyung-wan, which Yoon-sung notes with interest.
The President’s youngest daughter is CHOI DA-HAE (Gu Hara), who basically looks Yoon-sung up and down like the tall drink of water that he is, and throws him her best come-hither wink. Yoon-sung nearly busts a gut with his very audible “Pfffffft!” right back at her. Hahaha.
She tries to engage him in conversation, but he ignores her completely and gets the hell out of dodge. Nana and her partner, SHIN EUN-AH, get introduced to their charge, the bratty Da-hae, who is post-high-schol, pre-college (as in, couldn’t get in so she’s going to an academy to reapply). She seems like a hellbeast trapped in the body of a girl. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Yoon-sung takes a moment to give a progress report to Dad. He reports on Senator Lee Kyung-wan, he of the clean image and dirty money. Dad tells him that the senator must be dealt with. Yoon-sung asks something that he’s been curious about: why has he only given him the identity of one of the five men he’s to take out?
Dad tells him that of the Big Five, he knows only one person’s identity for sure: Lee Kyung-wan. Oh, LIES. That’s Lie #1 from Daddy. Interesting that he’s keeping the President’s involvement out of this for now. I assume it’s because “Assassinate the President” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue as an order.
Dad tells him to start with Lee Kyung-wan, and make him reveal the identity of the others. Yoon-sung asks what Dad’s purpose was in sending him to the Blue House. Errr…. To put a bullet in the President’s heart is the real answer, I’m betting, but Dad’s not showing his hand just yet. Man, it’s gonna be so good when he finds out!
Yoon-sung tells him that he wants to find a way to destroy Lee Kyung-wan that he can live with, like getting him caught for doing something that people will never forgive him for. Dad seems pleased with his initiative, so he plans to stand by and let Yoon-sung call the shots.
Hotshot prosecutor Young-ju is knee-deep in an investigation of his own, targeting the same dirty senator. He ruffles enough feathers to make it onto the news, and Yoon-sung immediately recognizes him from the night at the club, realizing that they were both after the senator’s girlfriend for the same reason. He smiles, a little impressed at his moxy.
Both boys head to the senator’s house, but their means of entry says a lot about them, as people. Young-ju goes in the front door to confront him with the investigation, while Yoon-sung scales a wall, makes friends with the guard dogs (via whistle), and slips in the back door.
Young-ju’s visit riles up the senator, who either has convinced himself that lobbying and bribery is simply a means to justify the righteous, for-the-people ends, or he’s got the defensive act down pat.
Young-ju shows that he is a very classic by-the-book prosecutor: he rebuffs the senator’s claims to friendship through his father, and points out that unjust means lead to unjust ends. The senator counters that his father is no different (uh-oh, dramaaaaa), and threatens him with his career.
Meanwhile, Yoon-sung listens to their conversation while cloning the senator’s phone and snatching his little notebook, full of names, dates, and whadduya know… exact amounts in bribery funds. Why does the bad guy always have a ledger? Ah well. Bread n butter of the gumshoe genre. Humphrey Bogart never would’ve solved a case if it weren’t for bad guys keeping good books.
The senator’s phone rings and they discover Yoon-sung mid-grab, but he blows the power and sneaks out, easy as pie.
In her modest home, Nana hangs up her suit, clearly her one and only, bought for her new job. That totally strikes a chord with me—I so remember the stress of getting my first real job, and then realizing that I couldn’t actually afford to dress myself for said job.
She picks up a family portrait and tells Dad that she wanted to become a secret service agent who protected the President, just like him. “It’ll happen someday, right?” God, I really hope for your sake it doesn’t. She pats herself on the head, like her dad would, and gives herself a word of encouragement. Aw, that kinda kills me.
On her first day on First Daughter detail, Nana makes the mistake of body slamming a classmate who comes to retrieve his notes, like he’s about to knife her. Whoops. Hellbeast throws a fit, screaming that her DAD is the President, not her. Sigh. I feel for you, and yet when you act like that, I have no sympathy.
She decides to retaliate by going clubbing, and hands the agents their outfits for the night. What? They’re not undercover cops. They’re secret service detail. She says they’re not supposed to stand out, so off they go, to the club.
It happens to be the same club where Yoon-sung is making time with the senator’s girlfriend, who asks if they’re going back to the hotel tonight. He asks why she hasn’t been running off to see her sponsor lately, and she tells him that they broke up. Or rather, that he changed his phone number and hasn’t called.
Damnit. That’d be because of his little break-in. Realizing that this lead is now cold, he unceremoniously dumps her too, just like that. She chases him out, trying to coax him back, which is when he sees Nana standing right in front of him.
Thinking on his feet, he grabs her in a kiss. Hot damn. Nana’s eyes bug out of her head and she stands there in shock. The senator’s girlfriend gets a good slap in for his cheating ways and leaves.
Yoon-sung tries to snap Nana out of her daze, quite pleased with himself for the effect he’s had on her. He takes out a large bill and tucks it into her sleeve, as payment for her “designated kiss,” (which makes a little more sense in Korean: proxy kiss, as in proxy driver) calling it enough to count for 50 errands/pick-ups.
Dude, you are an ASS. Hahahaha. He turns to walk away, which is when Nana finally comes to her senses and throws him over her shoulder with her signature move. “Does it hurt? Here, you can use this to pay for your hospital bills,” and she hands him the money. HA. Sassy girl for the win.
Problem is, Da-hae has used this opportunity to slip away with her friends, so Nana runs off to find her. Outside, she runs into Young-ju, who’s still trying to track down the senator’s girlfriend. He helps her find Da-hae, and she offers to get him the girlfriend’s number, from the “Bad Luck Bastard.”
At work the next day, Yoon-sung pages her for her first errand—bringing him coffee, and she gives him a notebook to fill with stamps for every errand. He wonders why she didn’t just take the offer of knocking 50 of them out with the kiss, and she counters that he ought to be apologizing for using her.
He scoffs that it wasn’t a kiss; it was a hello. Um, HI there. *waits patiently for kiss*
Yoon-sung: “Why are you acting like I stole your first kiss?…” She looks away awkwardly, and he giggles, “Couldn’t possibly… Is that what that was? Really?” She scurries away in embarrassment, while he has a giggle fit. Keh.
Time for the Brain Trust to get more judo training from the secret service. Nana tries to teach Yoon-sung some moves, but he just keeps staring at her and giggling like a fool. So cute.
She slams him down and asks what he’s looking at, and so lecherously at that. He’s like a dog with a bone: “Be honest. It was your first time, right?” She answers in banmal and he takes issue with it, noting that she’s a year younger than him. But she one-ups him—she’s the instructor here, and they go tumbling down, her ankle twisting in the process.
Young-ju shows up at the Blue House to ask Yoon-sung directly about information on the senator’s girlfriend. Yoon-sung plays it off like it’d be a waste of cell phone memory to get a one-night-stand’s phone number, and Nana eavesdrops, her jaw dropping at the magnitude of his playboydom.
Young-ju catches up to Nana and offers her a ride to the hospital to x-ray her ankle, but Yoon-sung pulls up first, insisting, “I’m the one who made her ankle that way,” and she chooses to go with him, leaving Young-ju behind.
At the hospital, Nana recognizes two children who live in her building, running off. The nurse calls out and tells them to go eat at the Sunshine Welfare Office, which immediately triggers Yoon-sung’s memory—this is something under Lee Kyung-wan’s purview.
The nurse complains that the children keep having allergic reactions to flour, but continue to eat bread because they don’t have to worry about hospital bills. They’re the recipients of a government grant, which Nana suspects is some mistake.
As they leave the hospital, Nana sees the children eating more bread out on the street, and they panic and run away. She asks Yoon-sung to chase after them, and they nearly get run over by none other than Lee Kyung-wan himself, on his way to drop off his son.
Yoon-sung drops off Nana at home, but when he sees her hobbling up the steps and then falling over in pain, he scoops her up and carries her all the way home. He decides he’s hungry, so he starts looking in her cupboards, and happily cooks up some ramen.
As they eat, he looks around and sees all the red stickers on her stuff, wondering what it means. He actually doesn’t know, not having grown up here, so she explains that her mother died in the accident that put her father in the hospital, and because of the hospital bills, the bank’s been threatening to seize all her assets. But now that she’s dutifully employed, she doesn’t need to worry about it anymore.
There’s a knock at the door, and the neighbor boy from earlier comes crying, saying that his sister has collapsed. They rush her back to the hospital, and the doctor tells them that she probably went into shock from the allergy.
Back at home, Nana asks why they aren’t eating rice, and finds out that their father has abandoned them, and that they’re basically starving. The next day they go to the social welfare office to suss out why the children aren’t getting their welfare checks.
The man tells them that they’re listed as receiving monthly food stamps from Sunshine Welfare. To top it off, the man in charge of the distribution of funds arrives, and his name rings a bell—it’s one in Lee Kyung-wan’s ledger.
Yoon-sung basically reaches the same conclusion that we do—this man is siphoning welfare funds to pad the senator’s pockets. He alludes to it indirectly, by asking pointedly whether the children are lying or he is, but Nana drags him out before he causes more of a riot.
On his way out, he starts casing the joint, noting where all the cameras are positioned. He looks back at the man, who is already busy shredding documents to cover his tracks.
Hm, not the best way to end an episode, for a drama based on intrigue and action, but hopefully they’ll step up the cliffhangers from here on out. Otherwise I like it so far, despite my reservations for how the second episode would live up to the first, which was a great way to set up the vengeance plot. What a strong opening that was.
This episode took a lighter tone and felt more relaxed, giving us plenty of ways to connect with the characters emotionally rather than plowing us down with too much Council of Five business. This way I’m already attached to characters like Nana, who is so far a kickass heroine who ACTUALLY has a good head on her shoulders. (I know! This shouldn’t be so rare!) It makes for smart, sexy banter between the leads, and some great situational comedy amidst the drama.
It’s clearly going to be a big problem when Yoon-sung discovers that the President is the man responsible for his father’s assassination, if Nana lands her dream job… to protect him. It’s the kind of setup that inherently creates conflict between them on a massive scale: love vs. country, ideology, and vengeance. Bring. It. On.
- City Hunter: Episode 1
- Lee Min-ho nekkid
- Random, thy name is City Hunter
- City Hunter posters and stills
- Lee Min-ho gets down and dirty (literally) for City Hunter
- The supporting leads of City Hunter
- City Hunter’s first kiss scene
- More Lee Min-ho photos from City Hunter
- Lee Min-ho on location for City Hunter
- Lee Min-ho’s other romantic loveline in City Hunter