Hee! How much do I love that so much subtext — and even some of the text — of this entire episode is sex? It’s treated with utter seriousness, which just makes it even gigglier for me, watching these grown people trying to strategize and maneuver this relationship in military/strategic terms. What a crackup.
SONG OF THE DAY
Ryeo-wook – “더 사랑한다면” from the Myung-wol the Spy OST [ Download ]
EPISODE 5 RECAP
After catching Myung-wol in her stunt gone awry, Kang-woo flashes back to the Singapore auction, when the woman in the mask had come to his rescue.
This time, the sequence continues differently from the reality we’d seen: Kang-woo approaches the woman in red, who puts her hand up to his face, and he pulls off her mask. There stands Myung-wol, looking up at him.
Aw, what a pretty way to illustrate his moment of discovery, conflating their actual meeting with his dream. Kang-woo wakes up with that dream-vision on his mind, and mulls over his suspicions.
Peering in on the bedroom where Myung-wol sleeps, Kang-woo sees her sprawled out with mouth agape and shakes his head in denial. The lady in red whom he’s in awe of and attracted to cannot possibly be the bumbling bodyguard he’s trying to convince himself he’s not attracted to. So he tells himself.
In the car, he stares at her curiously (prompting a jealous Dae-kang to pout that he can tell he’s looking at Myung-wol). Kang-woo asks if she’s ever been to Singapore, and Myung-wol lies that she’s not even sure where that is. He muses that she looks like someone he saw there who left “quite an impression.”
Myung-wol worries that he’s recognized her, while Kang-woo puzzles over these details all afternoon. He’s so preoccupied that he doesn’t even register In-ah’s presence at his drama shoot (muttering “No, no, that’s not it” — which she mistakes as a barb against her new Parisian ensemble).
As he fumbles with the prop gun he’s to use in his scene, Myung-wol pipes up and shows him the proper way to put it together, before realizing she’s acted out of character.
To cover, she says that she grew up near an army training site and hastens away with an excuse, but Kang-woo tests her by tossing the gun at her back, and she whirls around instinctively to catch it. Whoops.
Kang-woo tells President Kyung to check into Myung-wol’s customs records for records of her movements of the past month. And what about her family — perchance do they live in Singapore?
Operation Seduce, Marry, and Kidnap Kang-woo is still in early stages, as Ok-soon runs Myung-wol through some training drills…of how to introduce some skinship while under cover of bodyguard duty. Hee. Do they teach a class on that too? And where can I sign up?
Ajusshi spy Hee-bok wears a sign reading “Kang-woo” and acts as stand-in, but Ok-soon is dissatisfied with this visual mismatch. Just as Ryu walks in to check on their doings, conveniently enough.
Ryu is swapped in for Fake Kang-woo (while Hee-bok pouts), and when Myung-wol shoves herself against his chest in a protective hug, he freezes at the contact, then shoves her away awkwardly. Ok-soon sighs that Myung-wol must be completely without feminine charm, which is just about the diametric opposite of the truth.
Yoo Da-hae presents her findings to her NSA team, which include the sighting of the North Korean general’s daughter at Kang-woo’s Singapore concert. That indicates some kind of North Korean movement…and it so happens that Kang-woo was also at the secret auction. There’s no evidence linking the two — yet — but this looks like an angle worth pursuing…
Director Yoo relents (against his better judgment) and gives his daughter the go-ahead to pursue this mission, though he warns her that she’d best be careful when messing with the Hallyu star.
Up in Pyongyang, North Korean General Kim nervously informs his superior about his (rashly-thought-out) scheme to abduct Kang-woo and bring him over to the North. Thankfully for him, the plan is well-received, although now General Kim actually has to, yunno, do it. Gulp.
Ok-soon decides that the way to Kang-woo’s heart is to analyze his past girlfriends for clues on what he’s attracted to. As it happens, his past three lady loves were all co-stars, which gives us a hilarious bit of meta as we retrace Kang-woo’s, and Eric’s, recent career:
First there was Go Hye-sun from Strongest Friend (heh, an allusion to Gu Hye-sun of Strongest Chil-woo), and then Hwang Ga-in (Han Ga-in) from Experienced Employee (the opposite of Super Rookie). Last but not least, my particular favorite: Jeon Yumi (Jung Yumi) from She’s Strong. (Phonetically expressed as Gye, Se-da Se-da, it’s a reference to Que Sera Sera and is like literally saying, “She…Is Strong, Is Strong.”) Hee!
Ok-soon starts analyzing the commonality between the women — their intellectual images — only to be cut off by Hee-bok, who tells her that men don’t care about women being smart. He points out that these ladies are all cute and innocent: “Men only care if the woman’s pretty.”
Just then, a knock at the door. To Myung-wol’s shock, it’s Kang-woo, here to find out more about her background. She panics, shutting the door in his face while the spies clean up the incriminating Kang-woo dossier, then introduces the two elder spies as her parents. Kang-woo recognizes Dad as the detective, which Hee-bok laughs off as one of those weird coincidences. Small world, isn’t it? Especially when one of you is stalking the other and pretending to be someone else?
Spy Mom and Dad spot one of their Kang-woo photos sticking out of its hiding place, and hastily pick a fight with each other to distract Kang-woo while Myung-wol tucks the photo out of sight. The mood turns so quickly from one extreme to another that Kang-woo just leaves feeling confused.
At home, he looks over Myung-wol’s recent travel history, which is blank. Kang-woo tells himself this makes sense: “Living in that family, it was a wonder she got properly educated, much less traveled to Singapore.”
Ryu returns to Chairman Joo’s secret wall safe, this time prepared to decode the passcode with the help of some fingerprint dust…only to be cut short by the entry of Joo himself. Ryu hides, but the chairman senses an oddity and heads over to the hiding spot…but Ryu is saved by the bell, and Joo is pulled away with a phone call.
Kang-woo calls Myung-wol repeatedly, annoyed that he can’t get a hold of her. When she finally comes home (her phone was on vibrate), he gives her the contact info to an academy, telling her that any bodyguard of his needs to be college-educated. Myung-wol lies and says she went to university down in Gangwon-do, then finds herself a bit stuck in the lie and says that she dropped out of university.
Kang-woo finds more than a few things suspicious about her behavior and is all about to pry, so she distracts him by suggesting it was quite thoughtful of him to worry about her education. At the implication that he cares about her, Kang-woo retorts that he’s doing it for his own reputation, then lets the topic drop.
He instructs Myung-wol to answer all his calls within three rings from now on, then tries it (and her patience) by calling her repeatedly for the most trivial tasks, like handing him a script lying several feet away, or wiping his sweat while he works out. So. Childish. Like a little boy being annoying just for some attention. I love it.
Ryu decides that with their superiors getting antsy, they’ll have to move the mission along. Ok-soon points out that July 25 (drama broadcast day!) is an ideal occasion, as it is both Kang-woo’s birthday and the day of his drama’s preview screening. She declares a birthday an opportune time to push a man and woman together, and names this Operation Great Wall of China. (Pfffft! That also happens to be a slang term for having sex, hahaha. I don’t know if that should be as funny as it is, but I’m dying here.)
Myung-wol slips out of the house that night to meet Ryu, unaware that she’s being watched by NSA agents on a stakeout. It’s Da-hae and her cohort Ki-tae, who wonder what the deal is with the new bodyguard. Perchance she is Kang-woo’s girlfriend, living with him under the ruse of being his employee?
Ryu has called Myung-wol out to inform her of her new mission, but hesitates before giving the orders. First he confirms, repeatedly, that she’s ready and willing to perform whatever duty her country requires of her. A passing car sets off his alarm bells, and Ryu swoops in to hold Myung-wol close, hiding their faces, which leads to some awkwardness on both ends as they pull apart. (Meanwhile, the NSA agents see the embrace and suppose she isn’t Kang-woo’s woman after all.)
After pulling apart, Ryu resumes his speech and tells her, “Your orders are…they are…” We don’t hear the words themselves, but Myung-wol’s eyes widen in shock as she Gets It.
Both agents return to their respective homes, greatly disturbed. Ryu seems to be cluing in to some of his latent feelings for Myung-wol, which he tries to shake off, while Myung-wol tosses and turns in bed in frustration.
Ryu reports to Chairman Joo about progress on his quest for the lost Four Books. He’s tracked down one possessor: Chairman Joo himself. While Joo feigns outrage, Ryu says levelly that he can’t be any help if he’s kept out of the loop.
Joo tells him to concentrate on finding the last book — hm, so he has three? — but Ryu replies that before he gets to that, he wants to see the ones in Joo’s keeping.
Kang-woo takes Myung-wol to a gymnasium and hands her a wooden stock, telling her that he needs to practice for the demonstration at the preview event. I’m guessing this is his way of testing her fighting skills, but he plays it cool as he readies to spar.
Myung-wol’s preoccupied with other matters, though, such as Ryu’s orders, which we now get to hear: “Sleep with him.” Wow. Where’s my test of patriotism and duty?
Her jittery nerves are worsened when Kang-woo sheds his jacket and bares some skin. Eyes straying to his muscles glistening with sweat, Myung-wol tries to get a hold of her sanity and tells herself not to imagine anything — only, once you’ve told yourself not to think about something, it has a tendency to take over your mind. So she’s not paying attention when he strikes, landing a blow right on the head.
He’s contrite, but that fuels her aggravation and she grabs the stick, challenging him to take her on. He’s impressed at her prowess, but she’s mad now and takes out her anger about the mission on him, finally landing a blow on his head, leaving him rolling on the ground in pain.
He’s quick to assert that he was just going easy on her, leading to this hilarious exchange that gets misinterpreted by In-ah, who walks in:
Kang-woo: “In any case, I’d better not doze off at the preview.”
Myung-wol: “Who told you to overexert yourself all night? I told you it was enough, but you wanted to do it again, and again.”
Kang-woo: “And who’s the one who kept coming at me all night?”
Myung-wol: “Get your story straight. Was I the one to suggest it?”
Kang-woo: “So if a man says so, do you just throw yourself at him without any fear, all night?”
Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh.
Ok-soon and Hee-bok arrive at the hotel where the preview is being held to support Myung-wol on her Operation Great Wall of China. Spy Mom gives her the advice that really, the whole process is no big deal. It’s just a “fighting of ki” (ki referring to energy), so all she has to do is exude sexual energy.
How to do that? “It’s that heart-racing feeling you get when you look at the man — you’ll need to bring out that intense desire of wanting to make him yours, drawing out that heat from deep within. That’s what you need to seduce him.”
Myung-wol just stares at her blankly, so Ok-soon instructs her to get some practice in: Spy Mom spots Kang-woo in the distance and tells her to give it a try. Myung-wol looks at Kang-woo while repeating the mantra, “I want him. I want him. My heart is palpitating.”
And…no go. She doesn’t get it, and can’t tap into her ki. Ok-soon decides that it’s beyond Myung-wol to master this so quickly, and says that she’ll take care of everything. All Myung-wol needs to do is follow instructions.
In-ah prepares a birthday surprise for Kang-woo, which involves cake and fireworks. Also, a helicopter as a gift. GEEZ, woman. I’m guessing it’d be a waste of breath to ask if the word overkill means anything to you.
With the mission scheduled to go down at 10pm, Ryu busies himself with push-ups, taking out his own frustrated ki with physical exercise.
Myung-wol waits in his hotel room, aided by Spy Mom and Dad, who watch Kang-woo’s movements and tell her via wire how to proceed. The lights are tinted red (which always seems scarier than sexy to me), and she drops her trench coat to reveal the slinky dress underneath.
Following Ok-soon’s instructions to the letter, she moves “sexily” (which has her bobbing up and down erratically) and Kang-woo guesses with a laugh, “Are you seducing me?”
But the closer she comes, the more he starts to get flustered, the amusement fading right quick. Brusquely, he pushes her away to get some space, but Myung-wol comes on more strong, and at Spy Mom’s cue, she throws him to the bed like a rag doll. Hahaha. Don’t try this at home, girls. I think it speaks more to his eccentric tastes than anything that it’s actually sorta turning him on.
Unfortunately, Myung-wol takes the order to make her move too literally, and actually jumps on top of him, which sort of kills the mood. With distance and time to collect himself, Kang-woo storms out of the room in a huff, and the mission is declared a failure. Upon hearing this news, Ryu collapses in the middle of his grueling push-up regimen…and smiles. Awww. So cute.
Myung-wol tries to appease Kang-woo’s temper, but he’s had enough of her crazy antics and warns that if she tries anything like this again, she’s fired. Though dejected at this setback, she recalls how badly she needs to succeed in this mission, and refuses to give up. And has an idea.
In-ah has prepared a romantic spread on the beach and waits for Kang-woo, who doesn’t show up. In-ah’s lackey muses that she’d heard Myung-wol was also missing, which sets off In-ah’s jealousy radar. Not that it’s ever off, she of the monstrous ego and entitlement complex.
Myung-wol presents Kang-woo with a cake and bottle of wine, wishing him happy birthday. This brings up the painful memory of his father singing for him — it’s likely he stopped celebrating his birthdays after losing Dad — and he angrily tells her to stop.
She persists in singing, though, which sets off his temper as he refuses the offering, throwing the cake to the ground. He tells Myung-wol he has no birthday and stalks off to brood alone.
Peeved and hurt, Myung-wol pops the cork and swigs from the wine bottle. By the time Kang-woo’s done with his pity party, table of one, Myung-wol finds him and drunkenly scolds him for his attitude.
She urges and wheedles him to accept the birthday (and its attendant celebration), which he persists in denying. Not understanding his reaction, she asks why until he yells, “That’s the day my dad died!”
He starts to head off again, but his big exit is interrupted by Myung-wol’s sudden drunken collapse. Whoops, down she goes. Exasperated, he carries her on piggyback while she mumbles about her mission and how she must marry Kang-woo. Only catching a few words here and there, he just assumes she’s talking fangirlspeak and sighs.
In-ah grows pissier and pissier the longer she’s left waiting on the beach, and her humiliation is made complete when the helicopter runs low on fuel and leaves, and the fireworks display goes off in the sky. All while she sits there, fuming and alone.
On his way back to the hotel, Kang-woo looks up at fireworks and tells himself sardonically, “Happy birthday, Lee Kang-woo.”
Just then, Myung-wol mumbles part of her mission mantra, “I love Kang-woo. I love you, I love you…” Rather than his usual cockiness, though, tonight he wonders what she sees in a mean guy like him — and then assumes she’s mocking him when he misunderstands the second part of her mission (“that’ll bring out your sexual energy” gets misconstrued as “the bastard,” ha).
From afar, Kang-woo’s photo is snapped by an unseen observer. In the morning, Kang-woo is accosted by an upset Dae-kang, President Kyung, and In-ah, all of whom demand to know where he was last night and why he wasn’t answering his phone.
Myung-wol chooses this inopportune moment to stumble out of the room, still half-asleep and wearing one of Kang-woo’s shirts. Ha.
Kang-woo runs through the events of last night in all their unsalacious, unscandalous detail, although it’s met with skepticism. It’s hard to be convincing when the tableau in front of them is so contradictory to his story, and you know what they say about a picture being worth a thousand words…
Outside, Ryu catches the reporter who’d been snapping photos last night, and In-ah grabs the camera to see the piggyback photos with jealousy. She tells Ryu she’ll “take care of this” — which would normally mean that she’d get rid of the photos, only this has an ominous ring about it. A woman scorned is scary enough, but a spoiled and crazy woman scorned? Watch out for Hurricane In-ah, is all I’m saying.
Sitting outside as Kang-woo is interviewed by a swarm of reporters, Myung-wol remembers Kang-woo carrying her back last night and figures he’s not really that bad after all.
As she looks at Kang-woo in the distance with her heart softening, Ryu joins Myung-wol to say that he’d miscalculated the mission and asked too much of her. He’s just about to rescind orders — only Myung-wol realizes that she’s starting to understand Ok-soon’s advice after all. Hand to heart, she declares with excitement, “I’m getting that feeling!”
There’s just something so weird and funny about a mission constructed expressly to get a woman to seduce a man. Or maybe it’s that the beautiful woman spy is trying to seduce a man…and bungling it so badly at every turn. I mean, the guy clearly is into her and she’s halfway there already, with attraction on both sides. But she’s actually winning him over with her real self, which means that whenever she tries to put on an act, it goes hilariously awry. Who takes the phrase “jump his bones” literally and jumps on top of the guy? Ha.
I like that Myung-wol’s and Ryu’s awakenings to their feelings are occurring simultaneously. Perhaps Ryu had feelings for her in the past, but either he’s been oblivious to what they meant, or he’s been a pro at repressing them. In either case, he’s only now starting to become aware of them on a conscious level, just as Myung-wol is tapping into hers. It makes the development painful on his part, but that’s what gives the conflict such…conflict. It’s great.
I’m not sure that Kang-woo’s been developed much, and wonder if it’s because he’s meant to be mysterious at this point, or if it’s because the writers haven’t gotten around to fleshing out his character yet. I love the North Korean spy team and think they’ve been given such zazz, down to the last amusing detail, and hope that they’re not going to skimp on the hero just because he’s hot enough and got enough chemistry with the heroine that we’re willing to let that slide. Sure, I’m not complaining that much when he’s so (so, SO) very pretty to look at, but now that we’ve established Myung-wol’s side of this romantic development, I’m eager to see what we find in Kang-woo’s past.