What a hoot. I think I may end up loving this show. The first episode piqued my interest with the gorgeous visuals and offbeat vibe, the second had me busting a gut with its quirky humor, and the third? It stirred that sense of excitement, that feeling that I could feel love on the horizon. It’s not quite here yet, but I’m eagerly looking to the next episode.
SONG OF THE DAY
Lena Park – “세상 그 누구보다” from the Myung-wol the Spy OST. [ Download ]
We back up from the ending scene of Episode 2 to show how we got there: Myung-wol is given three months to marry Kang-woo, and sleeper spy Ok-soon put in charge of her lady training. Thing is, she’s so bad at using her feminine wiles that Ok-soon decides the best strategy is to go in with a direct assault: a declaration of love.
Myung-wol studies Hollywood romances and their K-drama counterparts, taking in Im Soo-jung’s anguished love declaration from MISA (I’m Sorry, I Love You), which seems like exactly the wrong choice for Kang-woo. I’m giggling already.
A camera is planted for spy surveillance, and Ok-soon gives Myung-wol the advice that the key to Operation Seduce Kang-woo is “a quick progression and skinship.” Can that be the key to my mission, too? Heck, can this BE my mission? I’ll totally seduce Eric, FOR MY COUNTRY!
Ok-soon feeds Myung-wol lines for her love confession, and it’s the standard, prettily worded stuff: “I don’t expect anything from you — just let me be with you,” etc. Hee-bok scoffs that her dialogue is too old-school — men don’t want a clingy declaration — and it doesn’t appear to be working on Kang-woo, so Myung-wol goes off-script, and takes a page from the MISA handbook with a straightforward “I love you.”
That shuts Kang-woo up, and when he sees In-ah appear at a distance, he kisses Myung-wol as his way of making his rejection of her clear.
The thing is, Kang-woo’s reply to Myung-wol sounds ominous (“How far are you willing to go?”). Combined with the sudden kiss, the agents freak out and order her to retreat.
Alas, “retreat” stirs a knee-jerk reaction in Myung-wol, for whom that word is usually accompanied by a very different scenario. She instinctively lashes back at Kang-woo, which naturally makes it tricky when he asks, “What, isn’t this what you wanted?” Ok-soon urges her to retreat rather than attempt explanation, so Myung-wol just runs away. HA.
In-ah thinks he’s trying to make her jealous — funny how everything’s about her, no? — and tells Kang-woo to cut today’s shoot short because she’s in no mood to film. He tells her to be a professional and learn how to act, or go home. I love how very blunt he is about his disinterest in her.
Ryu picks up the phone In-ah throws out of pique, and she recognizes him from Singapore. He merely says they can attribute this meeting to “strange coincidence,” and leaves. Just the thing to keep him mysteriously interesting.
Kang-woo can’t shake Myung-wol’s declaration, because he can’t figure her out, and that intrigues him. He thinks back to all their encounters, and I love that this supposedly poignant reminiscence includes an explosion, ha.
In the following days, he sees Myung-wol everywhere — working at the cafe, posing as a stylist at the station — and naturally shakes it off, thinking he’s seeing things. HA. I love that in any other drama, this would be one of those “I can’t stop thinking about you” montages, but in this one, it’s Myung-wol playing stalker. And if she just happens to drive Kang-woo nuts in the process, all the better.
Ok-soon tells her that the plan is to make him doubt his own eyes (hee), because his interest will be stirred once he starts wondering why all the women around him suddenly resemble her. It’s like reverse-psychologizing his brain: If you mimic the symptoms of love, can you get him to think he’s in love? (Or, to cite a more recent reference, it’s like Dokko Jin confusing his pounding heart for love.)
The kiss — and this mission — gets Myung-wol all confused, too, and she tells the stone-faced Ryu that she’d always known who her enemy was — till now. Ryu tells her to think simply of her orders. Spoken like a true soldier automaton. I do enjoy how stiff and humorless he is.
In-ah’s grandfather, hotelier Chairman Joo, background-checks the helpful stranger he’d met in Singapore, and finds that Choi Ryu has quite the resumé with creds from Geneva University and such. Obviously his identity’s been padded, and succeeds in assuring Chairman Joo that Ryu is no danger to him.
Kang-woo meets with an elderly man in a teashop, a longtime acquaintance who is familiar with his quest for the lost ancient books. The man knows he’s been looking for the past decade, and advises him to give up the search now. Kang-woo says he has to find it, even though the only hard clue he has is a name: Goblin.
The ajusshi passes along a contact, but adds the caution that what he’s heard of this man’s legendary ability to find anybody is merely rumor. Which turns out to be Hee-bok’s investigative agency. OOH. Worlds colliding in interesting ways.
Ryu is brought in by Chairman Joo, who asks if he knows of the four ancient volumes, and what they mean. As the story goes, one went missing before the four were even completed, so they’ve never occupied the same space together. Each volume is needed to unlock the other coded books, so one must possess all four to make meaning of the books.
Chariman Joo explains that there aren’t many people able to discern real artifacts from fake, and asks Ryu to work for him. Ryu answers that he’s never seen the real one, but he’s seen plenty of fakes to be able to spot one.
Kang-woo seeks out the agency and asks Hee-bok to find him the person named Goblin. It’s a boon for our spies, to have this opportunity fall in their laps, ripe for exploiting.
Hee-bok supplies Kang-woo with an address in the mountains of Gangwon-do, and when Kang-woo gets there, he finds the house empty. He settles down for a long wait, tired and thirsty, until finally someone arrives, calling for “Grandpa.”
Kang-woo starts at the sight of Myung-wol, who explains demurely that she’s here to drop off some potatoes for Grandma. Heeding Ok-soon’s words not to make the first move this time, she pretends she’s about to leave, making him call out to stop her.
Hearing his stomach grumble, she offers him some potatoes, which he declines haughtily. And then steals glances at, after she leaves. He’s just about to take one, pride be damned, when he hears eerie voices emanating from the house, and jumps back when a hand reaches up from under the house to grab his potato.
Turns out these are three neighborhood kids out searching for snakes (a prospect that makes Kang-woo jump and look around wildly), and he actually bristles when they don’t recognize him. (Kang-woo, miffed: “Don’t you have a TV at home?” Kid: “Why would you care if we have a TV, ajusshi?” Kang-woo: “I guess not.”)
The snake gives Myung-wol an idea, though, and she goes off into the woods looking for one — after scoffing, “What kind of man is scared of a snake?” (In fact, she’s gone on training missions where they’d been her source of food.)
Kang-woo finally helps himself to a potato (grumbling all the while, “This tastes horrible. Really horrible. Why am I eating this?”), but his attention fixates on the snake that slithers into the yard. He orders the kids to go get it (“Keep it away from me!”), and Myung-wol makes her reappearance. He’s so preoccupied with the snake that he only half-heeds their conversation, inching closer to her all the while.
Myung-wol picks it up with her bare hand and dangles it in his face, wondering what’s so scary about snakes. He shudders and tells her to get it away, so she tosses it outside (where Hee-bok gathers it up for future use). Myung-wol assures him that the snake has probably gone off and told all his snakey friends not to come ’round, and Kang-woo worries, “What if one of them doesn’t listen?” Aw.
Just then, another one shows up. Jumping away in fear, Kang-woo lands right in a pile of cow dung. Ha!
Off to the stream it is, to wash his hand. Once there, Myung-wol wades in and enjoys the water, while the Old Spies observe. Ok-soon’s plan: There’s nothing quite as appealing as a woman soaked with water, and this time they’ll make Kang-woo rescue Myung-wol, thereby making them each other’s lifesavers. Little do they know that it looks like Kang-woo’s already halfway in love (or at least attraction) with Myung-wol, stealing glances at her against his better judgment.
Plan initiated: Myung-wol fakes a leg cramp and goes splashing into the water, crying out for help. Kang-woo dives in after her…only to realize that somehow, the snake that the kids caught has slithered free and has become entangled with his hand. Heh, acting in water is hard enough, but giving us a reaction that great? Brownie points.
His (apparently debilitating) fear of snakes makes him oblivious to all else, and now it’s Kang-woo who flails in the water. Myung-wol is forced to be the savior once again, and takes him to safety.
He wakes up in the village hospital, where his agent, President Kyung, finds him. She’s in damage control mode, because the internet has exploded with news of the set accident and rumors that Kang-woo kicked his savior girl to the curb with nary a penny.
President Kyung finds it mighty curious that Myung-wol continues to bump into Kang-woo, although it’s a fortuitous coincidence this time since she was looking for her anyway. She wants Myung-wol to make a statement explaining that Kang-woo paid for her hospital bills and gave her a sizable reward, and hands over an envelope of money to make that statement true.
The Spy Squad decides it’s time to change up their strategy, and Ok-soon proposes that Myung-wol ask to be assigned as Kang-woo’s personal bodyguard. Whether he’ll accept that request is another matter.
Hee-bok’s employee Dae-kang bursts into the agency all torn up at being left out of the loop and essentially fired. Hee-bok hilariously talks about his wife and daughter like they’re really his true family, saying that the Missus didn’t want to make a big fuss over the wedding. He gives Dae-kang a tearful hug, sorry to lose him as a partner.
Now for the introduction of yet another entity: The NSA, the South Korean agency safeguarding national security. In a briefing, they discuss Chairman Joo and his recent trips in search of certain national treasures. But according to their intel, while in Singapore, he also made contact with the North.
OOH, interesting! Is this what they’re gleaning from his contact with Ryu, or is it based on something else? If it’s Ryu, it’s great because it’s a total crossed wire — yes, he’s from the North, but Chairman Joo doesn’t know he’s from the North.
The meeting is presided over by Agent Yoo Jung-shik, who is told (with some anxiousness) that this report was prepared by Agent Yoo Da-hae. Hmm, I sense familial tensions.
Sure enough, agents Yoo and Yoo battle it out over a session of kendo (or geom-do), where we are tipped off to some clues about this contentious father-daughter relationship. Dad worries overmuch for her safety and keeps her buried in paperwork, which Da-hae resents. She wins this round, and earns the right to be included in this case.
Ryu’s new position takes him to Joo Mansion, where he runs into In-ah. Who, naturally, presumes he must be stalking her. Oh, princess. Ryu just smiles in his noncommittal way, while she sulks about how he’s bothering her. ‘Cause you looooove him!
Chairman Joo presents Ryu with photos of the ancient book, and Ryu answers that he can’t judge its authenticity: “Although I might, if I could see the real thing in person.” So you can steal it! Chairman Joo chuckles that it’s up to him to earn that trust from him.
Ryu finds Myung-wol brooding again, and she confesses that she thinks she’s the wrong person for this job. She’s so unclear on how to succeed in this mission that she’s afraid she’ll fail her country.
Ryu asks why she applied for his special ops squad, and she answers that she wanted to die for her country meaningfully, as her father had done. His squad is a place she could entrust her life, because, “I have no family. So I want to enter in that one.” She promises to return to that family.
Hee-bok is totally enjoying his role as husband way too much, to Ok-soon’s irritation. Dae-kang walks in with new resolve, to their surprise, and declares that he can’t give up on his love over something so trifling as a salary. Initiate hilarious misunderstanding: Hee-bok: “You…loved me?” Ok-soon: Suspicious side-eye. Dae-kang: “No, not that!”
Dae-kang sidles up to Myung-wol outside, where her cat-like reflexes kick in; she grabs his hand and twists it before seeing that it’s harmless Dae-kang. He smiles up at the pretty noona and earnestly expresses his alarm over the mosquitoes that threaten her, “Since they’re bastards that attack you to steal your precious blood!”
Grasping her hands in his, he declares, “I knew at first sight that you were my fate!” Oh, puppy. Is this going to be a reincarnation of your adorable noona-crush in Wish Upon a Star? Lee Kyun does that combination of eager, sincere, and absurdly comical so well.
The news hits the media of Kang-woo’s superwoman savior, and the girl formerly known as the high school student is explained in the reports as Kang-woo’s bodyguard. Well, thank heavens for that! ‘Cause really, you expect me to believe she’s in high school? That was one of the most absurd bits of this whole plot — and that’s saying a lot.
With that, Myung-wol is installed as the bodyguard; President Kyung was forced to accept that condition, since it was the only way Myung-wol would participate, thereby stopping the rumors that dog Kang-woo.
President Kyung reminds her of the rules, and Myung-wol recites them: she is not to speak of her work to the public, she is not to tarnish Kang-woo’s image, and she is not to cause any unsavory incidents to blow up into a scandal. Furthermore, President Kyung has just fired Kang-woo’s manager for being lazy, so she asks Myung-wol to do basic manager duties, like running errands. Which keeps her stuck to his side, day and night. Oh, yeah.
Kang-woo’s frustrated, though I’m totally thinking this is in more ways than one. (Can we please get a Kevin Costner/Whitney Houston parody out of this? Please?) He finds her constant hovering unsettling, but she reminds him that she’s on orders not to let him out of her sight.
She does, perhaps, take her job a tad too seriously, practically terrorizing the dry cleaning deliveryman in her search for threats. A rogue staple merits a vicious patdown of the garments.
The next disturbance: a crowd of young men, demonstrating against Kang-woo. The hilarious thing? Their tone is all serious-political-protest, but their grievance is that Kang-woo despoiled the reputation of their favorite female star. They’re avenging fanboys, hee!
They demand that Kang-woo restore Hayuri’s angelic image, ignoring Myung-wol’s orders to be quiet. I love that she deals with them in an age- and occasion-appropriate manner, subduing them with twisted fingers and yanked ears, since they’re basically petulant schoolboys.
The boys are both scared and incensed, and she casually flicks her wrist and tells them to go ahead, take her on.
The result? A line of duck-walks around the yard, with Myung-wol leading the recitation: “I will not interfere with other people’s business.” Hilariously, an afternoon of discipline has the fanboys all in love with her — ha! Boys are so easy.
She returns home, where Kang-woo tells her to leave him alone. She promises not to bother him and stays by his side, recalling Ok-soon’s advice that she’s to act the part of a woman “crazy in love.” Oh, why does that reminder have me both giggling in anticipation, and cringing at the thought?
Taking a page from lovesick Dae-kang’s book, she approaches to touch Kang-woo’s cheek, explaining that a mosquito was about to bite him. There’s something about Kang-woo’s own swift reflexes — much like hers, though he’s less, uh, violent — that has me wondering what his true deal is… I’m not convinced he’s just an ordinary Hallyu star… (Well, as ordinary as a Hallyu star gets.)
Myung-wol starts to repeat Dae-kang’s words about mosquitoes, only Kang-woo’s now batting at the air and misses her comment. (Ha! Is there really a mosquito there, or is he just really, really weak to the power of suggestion, as with the snakes? That would be hilarious.)
Myung-wol cringes before repeating Dae-kang’s corny words about the bloodsuckers, and mumbles in her embarrassment, “Kang-woo-sshi… blood… guys…” He totally kills the moment, though, by grilling her, military-style: “Blood? What did you say? What about mosquitoes?” All she can say is that she hates them, and he gets up to leave in exasperation.
With her moment slipping away, Myung-wol goes off-script and bursts out, “I don’t care if this is a crazy love. I’ll stay by your side and protect you, and if I say this is the reason I love you—”
But looking around, he’s gone. She’s disappointed, until he reappears to ask, “Do you know why I’m letting you stick around? Because you’re someone who risked your life for me. I feel like I ought to repay the one who saved my life.”
She’s touched, and smiles with a few tears in her eyes. Until he adds, “I’ll make sure you tire of your crazy love, wait and see.”
Meanwhile, In-ah hears about the new wave of gossip spreading about Kang-woo’s hot bodyguard, replete with speculation of there being more to their relationship. So she puts on her bitchface and arrives on set, where she sees Myung-wol standing guard.
Myung-wol blocks In-ah from approaching Kang-woo, saying he’s to be left alone. Bratty In-ah pulls the “Do you know who I am?” card, saying she’s somebody who isn’t to be blocked.
Still, Myung-wol tells her that she hasn’t gotten that report, and refuses to let her through, to In-ah’s ire. Like the child she is, In-ah retaliates in the only way she can, swiping in the air to slap Myung-wol — only, that gets her arm twisted behind her.
Kang-woo gets up to approach the two ladies, and his intervention mollifies In-ah. He tells Myung-wol to let go, which gratifies In-ah to have him come to her aid.
Or so she thinks — because she makes a second attempt at a slap, only to be stopped by Kang-woo this time.
Eyes widen all around, and Kang-woo glares at In-ah, ordering, “Don’t mess with her.”
One thing I’m really enjoying is that the plot of Myung-wol the Spy is dense. It’s a show with a very strong silly bent, but that doesn’t mean it can’t have a story. There are multiple sides on multiple missions, and each of them have pieces of the truth that are mixed in with wrong information. That tickles my fancy like none other. I love how many different entities there are, and that they’re all operating on different levels of info, which makes this such a rich playground for conflict.
It’s not a case of A versus B, because there are so many motives at play at once. It’s a game of cat-and-mouse-and-bird-and-dog. I can’t wait to see how everyone gets completely, hopelessly entangled in each other’s business, busily trying to find out information for themselves while maintaining their covers. Heh heh.
Plus, how great that it looks like there are some connections (I hesitate to call them alliances) across the standard lines. Kang-woo’s contact takes him to the North Korean spy. Chairman Joo unwittingly hires a North Korean spy. The South Korean spies read potentially too much into this intel. And then: What’s the deal with Kang-woo? Is he a spy too? I mean, there haven’t been many clues hinting at that, but I can’t help thinking there’s more there to him.
On top of that, you have Myung-wol with her mix of naivete and asskickery, and Kang-woo’s curious interest/attraction/dislike of her (the dislike being somewhat forced, methinks, with him trying to convince himself he doesn’t care). And the goofy spy parents, with Ok-soon the legend apparently making shit up as she goes — that cracks me up like none other. There’s a scene where they all look to her expectantly to give them orders, and she shrugs like she’s got no clue, and makes up a believable explanation when it’s clear to us that she’s sorta flying by the seat of her pants. HA.
- Myung-wol the Spy: Episode 2
- Myung-wol the Spy: Episode 1
- Character stills and posters for Myung-wol the Spy
- Han Ye-seul in action as Myung-wol the Spy
- Myung-wol the Spy heads overseas for shoots
- Myung-wol the Spy’s poster and promo stills
- Eric confirms Myung-wol the Spy
- Lee Jin-wook joins Han Ye-seul in spy drama
- Han Ye-seul returns to TV as a spy