review: spy Episode 1


Spy is nice work. I just hope it doesn’t out to be some heartbreaking Mata Hari tale. KBS is airing two episodes back-to-back a week but I have decided to review the episodes separately. Jae Joong looks sharp and I like the calculated pace and sound plot enough so far. Cinematography is sleek, soundtrack is a great listen.

Our heroic South Korean spy, Kim Seon Woo (SW) is chatting causally on the phone with his mom while on a mission in China. Just as he hops into the getaway car, a truck smashes into its flank. The baddies roll out, led by Hwang Ki Chul (KC). Seon Woo’s poor colleague is stabbed to death and SW is about to suffer the same fate when XX sees SW’s family portrait in his wallet. Obviously, he recognises someone in there and barks orders to his lackeys to let SW live.

Park Hye Rim (HR), SW’s mother, gets a call informing her that SW has gotten in a traffic accident and is in hospital. She rushes to the hospital frantically. SW must have taken the next spy plane from China to South Korea. Spy team leader Song Jung Hyuk (JH)) tells SW he has to explain what happened during the mission gone wrong. HR barges into the room and frets over SW. JH hastily takes his leave and when HW inquires curiously who he is. SW fibs that JH is his team leader – not exactly a lie, more like a half-truth.


We meet SW’s Kim Woo Seok (WS), who is a busy, but pleasant, loving father and husband. He reassures HR over the phone that their boy will be fine. HR wonders why SW keeps going on business trips. She thought SW’s job as a civil servant would be a rather safe and uneventful one. Later, SW gets interrogated and passes the lie detector test with flying colours.

Meanwhile at home, HR is preparing a feast for dinner: SW is bringing his girlfriend home for the first time. SW is running late because of his interrogation, thus girlfriend Lee Yoon Jin (YJ) is left waiting in the cold outside his home. But SW’s parents spot her from the window and invite her in. Someone is watching her. YJ seems like the perfect girl but there is something about her that unsettles HR. They start dinner without SW so it’s just YJ and SW’s family. Awkward…I would loathe to be stuck in such a situation if I were YJ. When YJ mentions she is originally from China and her hometown is the very same one as HR, HR grows even more uncomfortable. SW’s sister accidentally knocks the water jug over and YJ catches it in speedy reflex. Another spy in our midst? Mata Hari sent to seduce SW?


SW finally returns home and the couple leave after a short while. WS comments he likes YJ, while HR shares that her six sense is telling her something is off with YJ. WS think she’s just being paranoid and jealous. Heh. The couple end up having drinks at a pretty café and YJ sighs that she didn’t make a good impression on HR.


A young girl, Soo Yeon (SY) gets thrown out of a van. She escapes her tail and quickly dials someone from a public pay phone. SW gets a call in the morning and he quickly gets going without touching his breakfast. Before he rushes off, he tells HR that he likes YJ because she is a lot like HR. Anyway. SR heads out to make contact with a turned North Korean spy who has indicated she wants to check in.

SW manages to spot the contact: they exchange a coded message. She is taken to the spy quarters for interrogation. The initial interrogation doesn’t go well and SW steps in. He manages to deduce where SY has been kept. SY begs him to save her family back in North Korea. HR is all happy after a sweet afternoon with her hubby but she is rudely interrupted by KC.




Spy is engaging and the narrative is actually not too bad considering the rather dubious setup for a couple of things. I like the chemistry between SW and his mom, and the chemistry between his own parents. I like the 007-ish background music. The episodes being 40-minutes long each actually doesn’t feel too rushed since the next episode resumes almost immediately and viewers get about 1.5 hours of solid drama watching. I quite enjoy the short break in between and the story continues rather seamlessly. And yes, Jae Joong is more than convincing as an eagle-eyed cutie pie spy.