Thankfully when you set up a world so zany, there’s no plot twist you can create that doesn’t sound any crazier than the last. For example, Operation Marry Hallyu Star vs. Operation Become Hallyu Star. Why the hell not? The downside is that it doesn’t do much to propel the characters forward, as we stay pretty firmly locked in limbo as far as the romance goes. Not that I don’t like the pigtail-pulling shenanigans from Prince Petty, but you’re not fooling anyone anymore, mister. Not even yourself. Somebody get this guy a love vegetable, stat.
EPISODE 9 RECAP
Kang-woo shows Myung-wol the incriminating video, and tells her it’s time to take off her mask. He asks angrily if she approached him with this objective from the get-go, wanting to trade up on her fortune by seducing him.
He informs her that it’s too bad, since he doesn’t marry just anyone, adding that even hotel heiress In-ah can’t manage to lock him down. “But a thing like you dares to dream of marrying me? You must not know me very well yet. Marriage is something that requires a match of levels. It might be a different story if you were a star like me. Stop dreaming.”
Aargh, I know he’s angry thinking she only saw him as money, and he’s lashing out even more so because he’s just realized his feelings for her. But he’s being especially assy on purpose to cut deep. Also, I have a feeling she’s going to take him literally.
He tosses her the ring and tells her to keep it, and sell if she wants to. Ouch. He leaves her shell-shocked, and she’s still frozen like that when Hee-bok and Ok-soon run over to check on her.
He stops in his car to brood over it, and we flash back to earlier that night, where In-ah was the one to discover Myung-wol and Ryu together. She took the video and went straight to Kang-woo to announce triumphantly that he got played. As if I needed another reason to hate her.
Aw, now that I see his hurt puppy face, all cut up from his fight with Ryu, heartbroken thinking everything that Myung-wol said was a lie… WAH.
In a fit of anger, he figured he’d take revenge and mess with her too, which is when he planned the fake proposal. Back in the present, it weighs on him, and he sighs, “Rotten girl.” Okay, I sort of love heartbroken Kang-woo more than any other version.
Myung-wol goes to Kang-woo’s place to pack her bags per his orders. He’d told her that he wouldn’t tell anyone if she just quit and left quietly on her own. She sighs that of course this is the outcome, laughing at herself for thinking that Kang-woo really liked her. Oh, if you only knew.
Kang-woo alerts the agency that Myung-wol quit, and tells them to fill his schedule with everything that comes in—another movie with In-ah, interviews, even variety shows. They wonder what on earth has gotten into him.
The mood is even worse at Covert Spy Central, as Hee-bok and Ok-soon argue over who’s to blame, and devolve into wondering if anyone will care when they’re executed for failing their mission.
Meanwhile Chairman Joo decides it’s time to test Ryu once and for all, and tasks him with the sale of one of the ancient books. He completes the drop without a hitch, but then follows the man to a warehouse. No! Don’t go in there!
He goes in, and is immediately surrounded by henchmen, as Chairman Joo comes out to greet him. Uh-oh.
Myung-wol looks at her ring from Kang-woo, remembering how happy she felt when he told her he loved her, only to have it so completely shattered in her face. Ok-soon and Hee-bok run in with more bad news – they’ve gotten word over the airwaves that if they don’t succeed on this mission, it’s not only their deaths on the line, but their families’ honor and status at stake.
Basically either they succeed or their families get reduced to nothing. Myung-wol asks how much time they have left. One month. She gives a determined look, deciding that they can’t give up like this.
Back at the warehouse, Chairman Joo tells Ryu that the jig is up, and asks whom he’s working for. Ryu says he was acting alone, and advises them not to do anything to him, since he’s the one in possession of three of the ancient books now, including the one Chairman Joo used to have… until Ryu swapped it out for a dummy.
He makes a deal with Chairman Joo to join forces, since all they have to do is find the last book, after which “the map of the Korean peninsula will be changed forever.” Hm, what the hell is in those books?
He agrees to let him go for now, and tells his lackeys to find out who he’s working for. Ryu returns to homebase to discover that things have gone south with Kang-woo.
As expected, Myung-wol decides to take Kang-woo’s advice literally, when he told her that he wouldn’t marry beneath his level, star status or otherwise. She takes out her makeup case like a weapons arsenal, and tacks up a picture of Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft, and gets to work on her transformation.
Awesome. Especially since this was one of Kang-woo’s particular hallucination-fantasies. Also? This drama is nutty. We’ve gone from marry a Hallyu star to Become a Hallyu star?
It turns out that Kang-woo and In-ah have been booked as guest judges for reality star competition Super Star K crossed with Miracle Audition, which Kang-woo grumbles about despite being the one who asked to be made busy. Auditionees line up out the door.
They watch crazy act after crazy act, some hilariously bad, others just creepy, until the last one is called to the stage. Myung-wol steps up and everyone’s jaw drops. It’s not a warm welcome, but she gets a chance to do the audition, where she waves a stick around impressively, except it’s not really that kind of competition.
She then attempts to act: “This is a sad face. This is a happy face. This is an angry face.” HAHAHA. They’re all exactly the same. Love her. This drama cracks me up. Is this Myung-wol-as-Zoolander, doing her best Le Tigre? It’s totally different from the Blue Steel. Can’t you tell?
She chases Kang-woo down afterwards and he asks angrily what she’s up to now. She tells reminds him of his words, and tells him that she’s going to be a star so he’ll marry her. He asks why.
She confesses that she did approach him thinking she’d change her fortune by being with him, but when he reacted like he did, she asked herself how great could he possibly be, how much better than her?
“It made my obstinate pride swell up. It made me want to take it all the way. So don’t forget your promise.” He tells her to go ahead and try, scoffing that she thinks becoming a star like him is so easy.
Oh, I hope she becomes an even bigger star than you, and you have to beg to be in her movies. Okay, this is unrealistic given her show of acting skills just a few moments ago, but crazier things have happened.
In-ah hears everything and belittles her for her outrageous plans, even pitying her. Argh, now you really have to follow through on this, just to make her eat her words.
She comes home and fills Ryu in on her new mission, which she knows is grasping at straws. But she can’t just stand by and do nothing. She tells him that her father served his country with pride and died a hero – even if she can’t become like him, she’ll fight to keep his honor intact. Aw.
Ryu asks expectantly if that’s her only reason for fighting. She says it’s all she has. Or yunno, you two could run off to some tiny island and make spy babies. Just a thought.
Kang-woo broods at home while watching Eric (As Kang-woo? I can’t tell anymore.) in Strongest Chil-woo. He gets angry all over again, but isn’t above getting angry while staring at her picture on his phone. Aw.
Meanwhile Ryu gets reinstated at In-ah’s bodyguard which she pretends is more annoying than it is, and Chairman Joo asks him to try and separate her from Kang-woo. His minion reports on the results from tailing Hee-bok, which amounts to a lot of sleeping and gambling. Heh.
Kang-woo shows up at his agency the next day and finds Myung-wol sweeping the floor. Ha, she really takes stalking to new heights. His agent tells him that she’s here working for free so that she can learn how to act.
Kang-woo starts out angry, and then decides that two can play at this game, and volunteers to be the one to teach her properly. So off they go, back to Kang-woo’s house.
So she’s back in the house? Again? Haha. This is getting ridiculous. Are we gonna have to make this a drinking game? Every time she packs a bag, drink!
She thanks him, but he makes it clear that he brought her here to break her spirit. If she isn’t going to give up on her own, then he plans to drive her to quit, one way or another. She didn’t expect him to take this tactic, but tells him to bring it on.
His hardcore regimen consists of working out while he lounges around, saying tongue twisters correctly (or no dinner), and staying up all night to watch every single movie or drama he’s ever been in.
HA. Oh, this isn’t about you at all. Nope.
She watches until her dark circles get dark circles, and then he piles a few more on, just to be extra sadistic. It’s not as fun as the I’m-going-to-uglify-you-to-deny-my-feelings routine, but this new dynamic is still him tormenting her and keeping her close, despite himself.
She asks how long she has to keep doing tongue twisters and watching videos, so he finally relents and brings her on set to play a very important role in his drama… Corpse Number 1. Hee.
Kang-woo shoots her and she has to crash to her violent death, except he keeps finding excuse after excuse to do take after take. It’s “Oh I blinked,” or “The action wasn’t strong enough,” or “Oops I ran out of bullets.”
She doesn’t complain though, and does all the takes, tirelessly throwing herself on the ground over and over again. In-ah and Ryu both watch, neither of them amused, until Ryu finally confronts Kang-woo about it.
He asks if Kang-woo isn’t taking the torment a bit far, and Kang-woo counters that he has no right to issue warnings, after participating in that makjang show, just for him.
Ryu: “If you’re really that angry, then doesn’t that mean your feelings were genuine? Otherwise you wouldn’t feel such betrayal.” Ooooh, nice.
Kang-woo: “What about you? Why are you always butting in on Myung-wol’s affairs? Then weren’t your feelings genuine?” Damn, I really like this conversation. Could you guys maybe have it in front of Myung-wol?
They have a stare-off, and Kang-woo raises his prop pistol at Ryu’s face and pops the trigger for effect and laughs as he walks away.
They do a final take, and everything goes swimmingly, except that Myung-wol lands badly, enough to knock her out. What they don’t see is that her final fall made the scaffolding above her shaky, and it starts to lean over, ready to fall right on top of her.
Everyone sees it topple, and hearing the screams, Kang-woo starts to go over to her, but Ryu swoops in before him and scoops her up in his arms. He totally steals the thunder and rescues her before Kang-woo can even budge.
He gets the big hero walk, carrying Myung-wol off the set, just like the scene Kang-woo was watching from Chil-woo the night before. The two men exchange snarly looks once she’s safely on her way to the hospital.
In-ah remarks that Ryu’s excuses that he’s not involved with Myung-wol now seem pretty unbelievable. She hits it pretty square on the nose too, guessing that he’s got the pining one-sided love. He tries to deny it, though she doesn’t believe him.
Kang-woo comes home and stews over Ryu’s words that his anger pretty much confirms his feelings, and calls to check on Myung-wol, but she’s already checked herself out of the hospital.
Chairman Joo asks Ryu when he gets his book back per their deal, and Ryu confirms that he’ll get it back tonight. He meets the people he originally handed it off to, and has to fight them to get it back, suffering a nice stab wound in the process.
He struggles back to home base, where Myung-wol is resting up after her accident. She patches him up and wraps a bandage around his torso, worrying about his well-being. He sneaks glances at her while she’s not looking, touched by her care but not able to tell her so.
And just then, Kang-woo shows up in the doorway behind them. He stops short when he sees Myung-wol looking up at Ryu as she wraps his bandage, and he turns away.
Angry with himself for even coming, he drops the fruit basket he brought and storms off. Aw, poor puppy. But you kinda deserve it, and worse. I do enjoy a jealous Kang-woo though.
He takes it out in his petty childish way of course, by making Myung-wol do extra chores like carry his stuff back and forth. When they arrive at the agency she sees a notice for auditions for a supporting role in Kang-woo’s drama.
She begs for a chance and scores an audition, against Kang-woo’s protests that she’s not ready. But then he turns around and tells her that if she doesn’t get the role, the whole marriage promise is off.
How funny – he’s actually taking the promise seriously? I mean, despite never believing that she’d become a star, he’s still abiding by the promise. It’s kind of adorable.
Kang-woo meets with a new investor who’s been wooing him for some time, and he starts to consider the move favorably, since he’s been looking to get out from under Chairman Joo’s thumb. The chairman gets word and has a fit over it.
Myung-wol rehearses her lines badly, and Dae-kang shows up with some other drama scripts so they can practice. I love that he’s always her little cheerleader. They start reenacting scenes from fake dramas, puns derived from real drama titles:
Hwang-bo Jini (instead of Hwang Jini), That Same Autumn Day (instead of Autumn Story), and What Happened in Ballet (What Happened in Bali). Pfft. Okay, that last one is funny.
Kang-woo pretends to be annoyed, all the while crankily commenting the entire time, and of course strategically breaking up the pair whenever they get too close to each other.
Myung-wol recites a line: “If I don’t see you, I think I’ll go crazy!” Kang-woo: “If I have to keep watching you act, I think I’ll go crazy!”
Ryu returns the book he took from Chairman Joo, and satisfied that it’s the real deal, they partner up to find the final book.
Kang-woo finds Myung-wol working hard to learn her lines, practicing them with a pen in her mouth to get her enunciation down, like he taught her. He sighs as he thinks back to his days pre-stardom, when he was just the pre-idol-trainee, mopping up the floors as the other idols got to practice.
They teased him mercilessly for writing on his mop: “Property of Hallyu Star Kang-woo,” which totally breaks my heart. Can we please see more of Kang-woo in his idol days? Such a sad little boy.
Back in the present, he yells at her to stop reading it like a book, saying that a dog on the street could do better than her. He tells her to just cut her losses and give up now, and upstairs he mumbles to himself that she has no idea how tough this world is.
Are you trying to protect her? Or trying to give her some tough love help? Pick a thing and go with it. You’re giving her whiplash.
He comes down the next morning to find her passed out on the couch, script in hand and a tissue up her nose to stop the blood. Why is the Korean sign of studying hard always a bloody nose? I always hated that, like if I didn’t study till my nose bled, I was somehow failing. Gah.
He lets her sleep for a while, and they arrive at the studio for the auditions. Meanwhile, a story comes out about Kang-woo’s academic past being fabricated, throwing his whole boy-next-door image into question.
He asks if it’s Chairman Joo’s doing, and his agent confirms it, urging him to make things right now before things get out of hand. But Kang-woo is tired of being controlled, and decides to do something about it. He asks for the reporter’s number, ready to give him an even bigger story.
Myung-wol waits nervously for her audition, and Dae-kang and her parents come to cheer her on. She finally goes in, nerves on edge, and takes out her lines, ready to read. Only she looks down at the page and freezes.
It turns out that Kang-woo took her lines that morning and marked them up for her, to make it easier for her to read with the right inflections. Aw. He adds a little note on top: “Show them your true self. Acting that comes from your experiences is true acting.”
She thinks back to all of her aggravating times with Kang-woo as she recites her angry lines, then their happy times as she laughs, and finally his fake proposal as she cries on cue. Aw.
She does such a good job that she gets cast right away, and she runs out looking for Kang-woo to thank him.
She finds him in the lobby and runs toward him, but a sea of reporters gets to him first. They snap away as they ask frantically, “Is it true? Are you dating Joo In-ah?”
Myung-wol stops in her tracks. They lock eyes and he smirks. He takes off his sunglasses and smiles, “Yes, it’s true. We’re thinking of marriage.”
Not her! WHY? Aaaargh, isn’t there some other way you can stick it to Chairman Joo? Like outing his dirty business dealings? Or turning public sentiment against him? Why’s it have to involve you chaining yourself to Princess Napalm?
I’m a little concerned that the plot is retreading the same ground all over again, with the Myung-wol-as-Hallyu-star thing, just as another way to keep them together but apart. I wanted a little more change from Kang-woo’s revelation that she was playing him, because it’s not entirely untrue.
I don’t care much in the grand scheme because there’s no difference between bodyguard and actor-in-training, since both are simply devices that do the same thing – keep them together. But too much repetition of the same setup shows your hand, especially when we expected a big change-up and got another round of the same, which is still cute and zany, but in the same place, plotwise.
Now that we’ve taken this direction, I wonder if the drama shouldn’t have started here in the first place. How great would it have been to make her initial mission something like become a Hallyu star in order to seduce a Hallyu star, so that we could witness her progression in the star system slowly and more organically.
That way the new development wouldn’t feel like it either came from left field or got tacked on to prolong their interaction, but rather started out as a viable way to complete the mission (or yunno, as viable as marrying him as his bodyguard was). I think this setup is wackier than the previous ones, and would’ve been great from the get-go, especially given Myung-wol’s previous job as Hallyu Crackdown Squad officer.
Well, now that we have switched gears to acting, I hope she totally surpasses Kang-woo, becomes an even bigger star, and makes him chase her like a crazy fanboy. Meh-rong.