Myung Wol (Han Ye Seul) is a member of the North Korean military and has hopes to follow her father, who passed away, into the North Korean special forces. Myung Wol is close to realizing her dream, but has one final test. The leader of the special forces is Choi Ryu (Lee Jin Wook). At the time of Myung Wol’s father’s death, Choi Ryu promises him to protect Myung Wol. Choi Ryu is in conflict, because he wants Myung Wol to pursue her dream, but also knows that she may be risking her life in the special forces. Luckily for Choi Ryu, Myung Wol fails her test and has to return to the anti Hallyu division (anti South Korean Entertainment division).
Myung Wol’s division helps to recover and prevent South Korean Entertainment from reaching North Korea and tainting the North Korean people. Coincidentally, Myung Wol’s bosses daughter is in love with a North Korean star, Kang Woo (Eric). Myung Wol is asked to go on a secret mission with Choi Ryu to escort the daughter to a Kang Woo concert. Choi Ryu actually has two missions, one that Myung Wol is unaware of. Choi Ryu has to recover a sacred book from an auction. The book contains secrets about natural resources in North and South Korea and will make the owner of the book extremely wealthy.
After Choi Ryu and Myung Wol attend the concert, they return with their bosses daughter to the hotel. Myung Wol stays with the daughter, while Choi Ryu goes to the auction. In the meantime, the bosses daughter requests an autograph from Kang Woo. In order to prevent the daughter from taking matters into her own hands, Myung Wol agrees to find Kang Woo and get his autograph. Myung Wol chases Kang Woo down. After being denied a signature from Kang Woo several times, Myung Wol follows him to the auction.
At the auction, Kang Woo bids on and wins the sacred book. Kwang Woo is trying to complete the search for the sacred book, which his deceased father started and led to his father’s death. When the sacred book is handed to Kang Woo, a disguised Choi Ryu strikes. As Choi Ryu attempts to take the book from Kang Woo, Myung Wol sees this and protects Kang Woo by attacking Choi Ryu. Choi Ryu’s hand is injured by a pen, which Myung Wol throws, and Choi Ryo is forced to retreat. Choi Ryu and Myung Wol return to South Korea, where he is unable to tell Myung Wol about the mission that Myung Wol mangled.
Eventually, Myung Wol sees Choi Ryu with the pen she threw at him. Immediately, Myung Wol figures out that she ruined Choi Ryu’s mission. In an effort to complete the mission and get another shot at the special forces, Myung Wol takes matters into her own hands and returns to South Korea.
Upon Myung Wol’s departure, Choi Ryu covers for Myung Wol and creates an elaborate plan for Myung Wol to kidnap or marry Kwang Woo and bring him back. Kwang Woo will be paraded as a defector. Kwang Woo will also be used as a leading man in North Korean Entertainment, cutting down on South Korean entertainment imports.
When Myung Wol first approaches Kwang Woo it is on the set movie. On the set things go awry, Myung Wol steps in and saves Kwang Woo’s life, but is hurt in the process. Kwang Woo repays Myung Wol by allowing her to be his bodyguard. In this particular instance, Myung Wol’s duties including staying at his house. Her consistent presence and care leads to romance.
Highlights In the course of the drama: 1) there is another woman, Joo In Ah, that is vying for Kwang Woo’s heart, but later turns to Choi Ryu, 2) Myung Wol also becomes a star in her own right, 3) Joo In Ah’s grandfather owns Kwang Woo’s career because he helped him get his start, 4) Kwang Woo tries to break free from Joo In Ah’s grandfather, especially after he realizes they are both pursuing the sacred books, and 5) Choi Ryu discovers that he is in love with Myung Wol and 6) Kwang Woo is a sweet boyfriend except when it comes to the treadmill.
This is one of those drama that starts off with a very strong plot and a promising cast, but ends up in frivolous territory. The spy plot began with serious characters, real tragedy, and a side of quirkiness. Then, quickly it strayed from its more serious storyline and went straight into making the characters look foolish and killed any morsel of wit. Hold the phone, this sounds kind of harsh, but I really really really liked this drama until episode 11. As for comparison, Lie to Me and Personal Taste got difficult in the character development department, but at the end of the day girls be crazy, especially when it comes to love. On the other hand, you do not have the same leash when your characters are North Korean operatives, whose stupid decisions will easily lead to death by their enemies or their allies. Nonetheless, by the time you get to episode 11, you want to know what happens in the end.
Highlights and Things That Could Have Been Done Better:
- Eric: Eric should have done more performances. This drama really showed off Eric’s talents in singing and dancing. I think that this could have easily gotten another star, if his talents were a bigger part of the storyline. Who would’ve guessed that the dancing and singing would be better than the spy plot. To be truthful, the spy plot and kidnapping was enough, the subsidiary sacred books plot was too much. To improve the sacred books storyline, a better explanation and backstory was necessary.
- In Ah and Choi Ryu: I really liked Joo In Ah and Choi Ryu, individually and as a couple. As a viewer you understood the motives for their actions, much more so than the leads. I really like the fact Joo In Ah saved Choi Ryu’s life several times. Although, the writers disappointed me again in the finale, they wouldn’t let you actually see Choi Ryu and Joo In Ah together.
- Choi Ryu: Choi Ryu’s character was just too awesome. Choi Ryu does not show his emotions outwardly, but I expect nothing less from a North Korean Operative. I really wanted Myung Wol to end up with him, you can’t make the second male lead so good that either way the viewer is upset. See this repeated in Boys Over Flowers, but done well in My Girlfriend Is a Nine Tailed Fox.
- Joo In Ah’s Grandad: Joo In Ah’s grandfather was repulsive and I loathed every time the writer’s allowed him to recover. I will say this was worse then the roommate in Personal Taste. He is the type of character that would be killed off in american films. The fact that he didn’t die, Joo In Ah easily forgave him, and Choi Ryu was supposed to let it go discredited this whole production.
- Disappearing character: At one point the characters in North Korea were an essential part of the plot, apparently they disappeared and took that plot line with them. On another note, Eric’s manager also strangely disappeared.
- Chemistry: The chemistry between the two leads was mediocre. It really creeped me out the Choi Ryu was waiting outside while Kwang Woo and Myung Wol were in bed together. The best chemistry was between Lee Dae-Kang, Kwang Woo’s new manager, and his girlfriend.
- Are you guys really spies? It didn’t seem like Myung Wol, Han Hee-Bok, or Lee Ok-Soon were qualified, what’s up with: 1) Myung Wol’s decision to give the book back 2) Myung Wol’s decision to become an actress 3) Myung Wol’s decision to put Choi Ryu, Hee-Bok, and Ok-Soon at risk and 4) the best thing that Hee-Bok and Ok-Soon could come up with is fighting anti-neitzens on a blog and protesting.
Up Next: Protect the Boss, Then Secret Garden (sorry I had to change the order, because I am watching it twice).
- Myung Wol the Spy (beefworld500.wordpress.com)
- Sidus HQ explains why Han Ye Seul hasn’t shown up for ‘Spy Myung Wol’ (allkpop.com)
- ‘Spy Myung Wol’ ratings experience a healthy increase (allkpop.com)
- Wedding photos of Han Ye Seul & Eric revealed for ‘Spy Myung Wol’ (allkpop.com)