Yay for the first episode in weeks that I’ve enjoyed all the way through. This episode has a lot of the cute, light, funny moments that made early Myung-wol the Spy so enjoyable for me, and lightened up on the gloom and angst. The stakes are still high, but we can get that across without all that denial and frustration, and that makes for a much more watchable hour. Phew!
SONG OF THE DAY
Hwayobi – “Bye Bye Bye” [ Download ]
EPISODE 16 RECAP
Kang-woo says he can’t live without Myung-wol, so she should turn herself in, marry him, and live here. Ryu steps out of hiding and holds Kang-woo at gunpoint, telling him to leave while he has the chance. Kang-woo: “Can’t you see I’m proposing?” Ryu: “Can’t you see I’ve got a gun to your head?” One point, Ryu.
Kang-woo declares that he won’t give Myung-wol up, and Ryu lets him leave. He tells Myung-wol that since he held up his part of the bargain not to kill Kang-woo, it’s time for her to return home.
Broody time. The three leads separate in order to mope, with Kang-woo heading back to his house, Myung-wol sitting in her empty studio apartment, and Ryu in…an abandoned warehouse? Ha, why is that so funny?
Spy Mom and Dad come home from their failed attempt to head North. Ok-soon is crankier than Hee-bok, and asks suspiciously if perhaps he’s happy to stay. They find that Dae-kang has taken advantage of their planned absence to play landlord and lie about his supposed wealth. He brags to idol starlet Kyung-joo that he doesn’t have to work, but it’s character-building and all that. Hee-bok ruins his illusion and sends the huffy idol stalking out.
Chairman Joo orders his minion to locate Ryu and the books, thinking that if he gets them back first, he can regain the upper hand with Kang-woo. He hasn’t quite unraveled the secrets contained therein, and Ryu busily gets to work assembling the books to decode them. What he comes up with are coordinates for several locations on the Korean peninsula.
Ryu arranges to meet Myung-wol to divulge what he’s learned, but he gets there moments too late; Kang-woo comes roaring up in his car and takes Myung-wol away, reminding her that he won’t give her up.
Learning about the reason for their aborted trip home, Ok-soon and Hee-bok wonder what would have driven Myung-wol to let Kang-woo go. Ok-soon wonders if this means she loves Kang-woo, and Hee-bok sighs that it sure is complicated, with Ryu loving Myung-wol and all. She’s startled to hear it, but he points out that it’s as obvious as day to anybody who so much as looks at them.
Kang-woo takes Myung-wol to observe the way ordinary people live, appealing to the part of her that wishes for this life for herself. He asks if she wants to continue living her strictly regimented life: “Don’t you want to learn how people love each other?”
As they watch couples and families out on dates, Myung-wol wistfully imagines the two of them engaging in everyday activities like jogging together and playing with children. He takes out a ring and proposes, then takes her back home with the request to think it over.
Ryu waits till Myung-wol is gone, then approaches Kang-woo angrily to ask what the hell he’s doing, insisting that he leave her alone. Kang-woo replies that he’s encouraging Myung-wol to choose herself, and challenges Ryu to think of her happiness.
Ryu drinks, then shows up at Myung-wol’s door, this time to do the talking. He opens up about his own childhood, and how he was saved from starvation by a man who took him in. That man had a pretty daughter who used to say she’d be a special agent just like Dad. He’d liked her but couldn’t say so, thinking it wasn’t appropriate behavior toward his savior. Then when the man died, he’d asked Ryu to look after his child and he’d decided that protecting her was his duty — “I thought that was my way of loving her.”
She’s stunned speechless. He asks, “Return to our country, and be with me.”
Is it bad of me that I want her to say yes? It’s just a shame this conversation didn’t happen earlier, because that would’ve totally ramped up this love triangle for me. Placed here, it comes too late to interfere with her feelings for Kang-woo, and even if she did choose Ryu, it would always be linked with a sense of duty and family, rather than love. Poor, hot Ryu.
Myung-wol shows up at Kang-woo’s house to return the ring. He urges her to reconsider, but she says there are too many walls between them. Aside from their cultural differences, she can’t betray her comrades or her country, and has decided to return home. She leaves the house in tears.
Chairman Joo finds out where Ryu is squatting and sends his minions to retrieve the books. In-ah overhears this conversation and frets, wondering if she should do anything, and ends up sending Ryu a text from an unknown number warning him to escape. Thus when the minions arrive, they find the rundown building empty.
In-ah hears this and sigh with relief, and it’s only now that she realizes she might have feelings for Ryu. Well, she could never be accused of being knife-sharp, could she? Maybe sharp like a spoon.
That night, Myung-wol meets Ryu on the roof of their headquarters, and while he’s content to pass, she stops him by taking his hand. Ackkk, I cringe for Ryu, because surely that’ll get his hopes up when we know she’ll have to choose Kang-woo in the end.
She tells him she’ll prepare to head North, and in response he grasps her hand more tightly and just barely lets out a smile of relief.
Ryu convenes the team to plan their exit, and this time there’s the added worry that Kang-woo might turn them in to the authorities. True, Myung-wol’s involvement acts as a sort of insurance since he won’t want to harm her, but they plan on moving quickly all the same, and paring down their luggage to deflect suspicion.
Ryu can’t hide his happiness, and his wide grin both warms my heart and hurts it. That night when he drops her off at her apartment, he thanks Myung-wol for her decision, watching with loving eyes as she heads inside…where Kang-woo waits.
Kang-woo insists that Myung-wol be honest about her true feelings, knowing that she’s forcing this separation. She bursts out that this is the only choice she can make, which Ryu overhears as he arrives. Sigh. It seems that a whole lotta angsty moments could be avoided if she just started taking herself home. Just sayin’…
Dae-kang finds a flyer touting awareness for spy and terrorist activity, and tells Hee-bok that the reward money for turning in a spy has recently increased. He supposes that if he were a spy, he’d turn himself in and live off the stipend they’d provide, then turn in his former colleagues for the reward. And that lack of fidelity is why we should all be glad he’s a lowly road manager instead.
But suggestible Hee-bok entertains this fantasy, and imagines what he’d do if he became an overnight millionaire. His first fantasy scenario (stuffing himself on delicacies) gets panned for being too weak, and Dae-kang also decries his second, which involves Kang-woo being ogled by hotties at a bar. Dae-kang: “What does Kang-woo have to do with this?” Hee-bok: “If I had a billion won, do you think I’d keep living with this face?” HAHA. Oh, I wish this drama had kept up this sense of humor throughout. The next time he sees Ok-soon, he pictures her as (literal) riches.
With bag packed on departure day, Myung-wol thinks over Kang-woo’s words about being honest with herself. Ryu fetches her, and they leave just as Kang-woo arrives at her empty apartment.
The spies head to the harbor, but find their exit thwarted by guard presence at the docks, who’ve been tipped off by Chairman Joo. Spotted, they scatter in two teams and hide from the guards who scour the pier.
Ryu acts as diversion to give Myung-wol the chance to run back to their boat, but she’s intercepted by Kang-woo, who asks, “Where do you think you’re going, dummy? You can’t go anywhere now.” He hugs her, and she cries.
Ryu doubles back after ditching the guards, just in time for his heart to go breaky. *craaaaack* He thinks over Kang-woo’s words about wanting Myung-wol to be happy above all else.
Thus, another escape attempt is stymied. The spies (minus Myung-wol) return to headquarters, worrying that they’ve hit a dead end. Ok-soon asks if they’ve been abandoned by their country, and Ryu tells the other two that he’ll leave them to decide their own futures, saying that right now his comrades are more important than his country. He, however, will return to the North — without Myung-wol. He’s decided that he’s the only one who needs to go back. Awww.
Ryu finds Myung-wol to assure her that everything is fine. Acting as though he expects her to return to the North on their next attempt in another week, he asks for her to spare tomorrow for him. He cuts her off before she can say anything, perhaps suspecting that she’s going to tell him she’s changed her mind, and asks that she save that for a future date.
Kang-woo confronts Chairman Joo, angry that he intervened at the harbor. Driven by impatient greed, the chairman is dying to get his hands on those books and orders Kang-woo to bring them to him immediately.
Ryu takes Myung-wol on a date, requesting that she follow his lead today. He takes her to a mountain stream, fishing with boyish enjoyment and grinning widely, which just kills me. As they sit down to eat their catch, she tells him that she’d never seen him so smiley before, having previously thought him scary.
He explains that his sternness with her was because he’d always wished for her to live a normal life, not dangerously as an agent. He’d imagined that she’d marry a man, have children, and be loved: “And I wished that would be with me.”
He asks for a souvenir photo, and to get him to smile wider, she tickles him. Oh, why does this make me so sad? Maybe it’s better after all that this episode didn’t come earlier, because then my heart would’ve had to break for yet another poor, unloved second lead and his unfulfilled romance.
He takes her home that night, except he pulls up to Kang-woo’s house instead of hers and tells her, “Today, I was truly happy. But more than anything, I wish for you to be happy. I thought I could make you happy, but I don’t think I can.”
She realizes what he means and starts to protest, eyes filling with tears, but he slaps on a happy face and assures her that he has the books to ensure his safety. “So now, seek your own happiness.” And why couldn’t this be our main couple again? Oh right, I guess she loves someone or something. Sigh.
Overwhelmed at his sacrifice, Myung-wol hugs Ryu and thanks him. He holds back his pain and puts on a brave face until she leaves the car. He drives away with tears running down his face, watching Myung-wol throw herself into Kang-woo’s waiting arms in the rearview mirror.
With that relationship back on track, news of Kang-woo’s impending wedding hits the media. The spies worry that this puts too much attention on Myung-wol, and Ryu says that’s why he’ll have to return and handle their superiors.
In-ah shocks them all by arriving unannounced at spy central, and takes Ryu with her to a bar. She says that she’s letting go of her feelings for Kang-woo, basically setting the stage to pursue a relationship with Ryu, except that he misses all her signs. Heh.
He thanks her for her warning text, and adds that he knows she’s soft-hearted on the inside. Citing drunkenness and dizziness, In-ah hitches a piggyback ride with Ryu, vastly exaggerating her condition so she can stay close. Ha. For once, I like this girl. She suggests prolonging the night with some coffee, but Ryu declines and notices that she seems sober now and bids her good night.
Our main couple is happy once again, and this time when Kang-woo suggests turning herself in after their wedding, she agrees. Kang-woo shares his fantasy of married life, which consists of the mundane daily joys of waking up alongside a wife who makes breakfast and sees him out the door, alongside their son. He likes that idea, and suggests having a whole brood of kids — say, ten or more? — which makes her hiccup nervously. Ha.
But if there’s a dark cloud hanging over his head, it’s his last-ditch partnership with Chairman Joo, who warns that if Kang-woo doesn’t deliver him the books by tomorrow, he’s taking the story of Myung-wol’s true identity to the press.
Kang-woo goes to Ryu to ask for the books, saying that he’s worried about Myung-wol. Ryu tells him he’ll take care of it, and advises him to focus on keeping her happy. Ryu declines Kang-woo’s gratitude, saying that thanks aren’t quite appropriate because he doesn’t want her hurt, either. A bit sadly, he offers his congratulations on their wedding.
Ryu walks right into the Joo mansion to hand over the books to the chairman, telling him not to lay a finger on Myung-wol. But before he relinquishes the books, he has one additional condition to ask of Chairman Joo: to find Ryu a safe flight to the North, since Joo has interfered with his exit route.
In-ah eavesdrops, wondering what all this talk about the north means. Two plus two, girl, two plus two…
As Ryu leaves, we see that he hadn’t quite handed over his only card, because before giving the physical books up, he’d cracked the code and recorded the information on a data drive.
Wedding day. Myung-wol in her wedding dress literally has Kang-woo gaping at her with slack jaw.
Ryu is at the airport about to catch his flight when he receives an alarming phone call, and it sends him racing out of the airport and for a taxi. He charges into the wedding venue and pushes pasts security, just as we see what has him in such a state:
While the happy couple poses for photographs, a sniper takes aim from a nearby building, trying to get a clear shot of Myung-wol.
He fires, and in the split-second it takes the bullet to travel, Kang-woo senses that something’s wrong and leaps in front of her. The bullet lands in his back, and he collapses.
A note: Myung-wol the Spy will be airing both of its remaining two episodes tomorrow. This comes as a result of its extension to 18 episodes, and then the whole Han Ye-seul kerfuffle that delayed one broadcast. Since there’ll be two hours to cover, we’ll do our best to have recaps out for 17 and 18 in a timely manner, just in case you were wondering what the plan was!
The ending of the episode’s a little City Hunter for my tastes, not that that’s the only drama to have ever employed this I’ll-take-a-bullet-for-you maneuver. It’s the most recent, though, and let’s just say that comparing this drama to that one doesn’t do Myung-wol any favors. That aside, though, we can choose to look favorably on the appearance of the sniper, since all series long we’ve been told these spies are in mortal danger, only to have that claim supported by nothing in the plot. So if Myung-wol’s defection really does get her into some danger, I welcome the plot complications that brings up. I can’t help but wish they’d done it sooner, though, since I can’t get too worried about characters being thrust into mortal peril when I know they’re also getting their happy ending tomorrow.
Speaking of things that could have come earlier, I’m a little bummed that they waited so long to factor in the Ryu loveline, because now it’s not so much a loveline as it is a pityline. I sort of understand why they would want to keep his confession to Myung-wol till later (to shape Myung-wol’s decision for going, and then staying), but I would have much preferred this angle to have been played earlier, if only for the fact that it’s so much more compelling than anything else we’ve seen in recent episodes.
I really liked Myung-wol’s reaction to both Ryu’s confession and his decision to let her go, because you could see that she does have a lot of love for him, even if it’s not the kind of love he has for her. I could believe that she would have returned with him, and even maybe married him and lived in a state of semi-melancholy semi-contentment, if he hadn’t made that decision for her. On that score it’s a little irritating that she’s not the one making the decisions while the men push and pull here about, but in this case the emotional reactions made up for that. If Ryu had just been more of a romantic foil earlier…before she’d fallen totally in love with Kang-woo…. sigh. The what-ifs about this drama, they kill me.
- Myung-wol the Spy: Episode 15
- Myung-wol the Spy: Episode 14
- Myung-wol the Spy: Episode 13
- Myung-wol the Spy: Episode 12
- News stills from Myung-wol the Spy
- Myung-wol the Spy: Episode 11
- KBS speaks about Myung-wol the Spy’s future at press conference
- The Script Doctor is in: Myung-wol the Spy
- Myung-wol the Spy unable to complete shoot, to air special
- Myung-wol the Spy gets an extension, sort of
- Myung-wol the Spy: Episode 10
- Myung-wol the Spy: Episode 9
- Myung-wol the Spy: Episode 8
- Myung-wol the Spy: Episode 7
- Myung-wol the Spy: Episode 6
- Myung-wol the Spy: Episode 5
- Myung-wol the Spy: Episode 4
- Myung-wol the Spy: Episode 3
- Myung-wol the Spy: Episode 2
- Myung-wol the Spy: Episode 1