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[2009] Mật danh Iris - Iris - Lee Byung Hun, Kim Tae Hee, Jung Joon Ho, Kim Seung Woo, Kim So Yeon, T.O.P - Baeksang Art Awards 2010 Best Drama, KBS Drama Awards 2010 Grand Prize

Mật danh Iris - phim "bom tấn" trên HTV2

Mật danh Iris - phim "bom tấn" trên HTV2

TT - Quy tụ dàn diễn viên sao (như Lee Byung Hun, Kim Tae Hee, Jung Joon Ho, Kim Seung Woo, Kim So Yeon, T.O.P...), kịch bản phim xuất sắc, mức đầu tư “khủng” lên đến 20 tỉ won..., Mật danh Iris đã tạo nên cơn sốt với khán giả khi phát sóng tại Hàn Quốc năm 2009.

Mật Danh Iris 1

Mật Danh Iris 1

Iris 1 (2009)




Mật danh Iris
IRIS Intertitle.jpg
Promotional poster for Iris
Thể loại Hành động
Phim tình cảm
Trinh sát
Kịch bản Kim Hyun-jun
Jo Gyu-won
Kim Jae-un
Đạo diễn Kim Kyu-tae
Yang Yun-ho
Diễn viên Lee Byung-hun
Kim Tae-hee
Jung Joon-ho
Kim Seung-woo
Kim So-yeon
Choi Seung-hyun
Phụ hòa âm Yi Dong-jun
Choe Seong-gown
Quốc gia Hàn Quốc
Ngôn ngữ Tiếng Hàn
Tiếng Anh
Tiếng Nhật
Tiếng Hungary
Tiếng Quan Thoại
Số mùa 1
Số tập 20
Sản xuất
Địa điểm Seoul, Hàn Quốc
AkitaNhật Bản
Thượng HảiTrung Quốc
BudapestHungary
Thời lượng 60 phút 
Thứ tư và thứ năm lúc 21:55 (KST)
Công ty sản xuất Taewon Entertainment
Trình chiếu
Kênh trình chiếu Korean Broadcasting System
Kênh trình chiếu tại Việt Nam HTV2
Định dạng hình ảnh 480i (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Định dạng âm thanh Stereo
Phát sóng 14 tháng 10, 2009 – 17 tháng 12, 2009

Synopsis

Best friends who are like brothers Kim Hyun-jun (Lee Byung-hun) and Jin Sa-woo (Jung Joon-ho), were training under the South Korean army's 707th Special Mission Battalion until they were scouted by NSS (National Security Service). The duo was independently scouted by the beautiful NSS agent, Choi Seung-hee (Kim Tae-hee). Unaware they have been scouted, the two were secretly captured and subjected through a simulated torture test, and both passed their test to be worthy NSS agents. In the process, they also fell in love with Seung-hee, who has kept the scouting process a secret from them.

After completing the test, Hyun-jun and Sa-woo were introduced to the director of the NSS, Baek San (Kim Yeong-cheol). Baek San explained to them that the NSS is a secret organization tasked with preempting foreign threats and protecting the country's interests through wetwork operations, including assassination of anyone who could be a threat to South Korean (SK) national security. Since its founding in 1976, during the rule of Park Chung-hee, the agency's very existence has remained a state secret from everyone, including the President.

After entering NSS, the pair learned that Seung-hee was their undercover scout agent. While the duo was surprised and somewhat hurt, Hyun-jun was angered the most as he felt his heart was toyed with. During a team celebration dinner, Hyun-jun confronted her alone and the two embraced the passion they have for one another. Afterward, the two maintained a secret romantic relationship without the knowledge of anyone.

Hyun-jun is then sent off on a solo mission to Hungary. In Hungary, Hyun-jun accomplishes his mission and while escaping, becomes wounded. Shortly later, Hyun-jun finds out that he was betrayed by fellow agent Sa-woo. Seung-hee attempts to help Hyun-jun escape, but a car explosion separates the two and both are misled to believe that the other person are dead. Hyun-jun is then saved by an unknown voice and learns of the secret society "IRIS".

One year later, Hyun-jun returns to Korea to seek revenge. During this time, North and South Korea are set to reunify. However, the members of IRIS are intent on stopping the reunification. They attacked a local mall for hostages to blackmail both sides of the Korean government to threaten SK's president into announcing their political stand to not unite with NK. Hyun-jun became the negotiator for the president Cho Myung-ho (Lee Jung-gil) and for the hostages' release. Eventually, Sa-woo was killed. With all things hindering the reunification process gone, the peace talks resumed.

At the reunification summit, the president personally requested Hyun-jun to be at his side. Concurrently, NSS agents realized they've been duped: the presumed dead IRIS agents at the mall crisis was actually the hostages. The true IRIS agents escaped and infiltrated the summit to kill all delegates. IRIS agents killed and replaced various security agents for a massacre. Unfortunately, it failed with Seung-hee's interference. She pretended to be an IRIS agent and used the confusion to stop them. This created mass panic as IRIS agents make their stand against all security forces. Ultimately, the SK president and NK forces survived the assault and Hyun-jun saved the day again.

Spoiler below:

In the aftermath, Hyun-jun and Seung-hee left NSS for a normal life. While Seung-hee waited at a lighthouse for Hyun-jun, he was driving up to meet her and propose. However, during the drive, Hyun-jun was shot in the head by a sniper. He dies while looking at her a distance away at the lighthouse, unbeknownst to her.

Cast

IRIS featured an ensemble cast split between characters of North Korean and South Korean descent. Because the series explores the tension and mentality behind the two sides of the conflict, both the North and South perspectives are shown at length. The plot focuses on the cast overcoming the manipulation they face at an international level and occasionally attempting to reconcile their differences to fight an evil greater than either side ever acknowledged, making way for scenarios in which their allegiances are stressed and put to the test.

Main

The main cast of IRIS, clockwise from top left: Lee Byung-hunKim Tae-heeJung Joon-hoChoi Seung-hyunKim Seung-woo, and Kim So-yeon. The cast won numerous awards for their contributions to the series.
A soldier with the South Korean Special Forces, Hyun-jun has floated through life with little attention for the details. Possessing a photographic memory, top athletic ability, and proficiency with most firearms, he has little difficulty distinguishing himself as a member of the NSS. Assuming the code name "TK1" during operations, he is frequently paired with his brother and colleague Jin Sa-woo.
Ranked as a "Team Leader" within the NSS, Seung-hee is an expert profiler that assisted the second-in-command, Park Sang-hyun, with recruiting Kim Hyun-jun and, more directly, Jin Sa-woo. Admired for her beauty and perspicacity, Seung-hee is universally liked within the organization and remains very close with fellow NSS member Yang Jung-in.
A friend that has grown up alongside Hyun-jun, Sa-woo is the more level-headed and responsible of the two. As members of the Special Forces, they often found themselves in fierce competitions, and after joining the NSS, find themselves competing for the affection of Choi Seung-hee. In accordance with Hyun-jun's code name, he becomes known as "TK2".
A seasoned and steadfast supporter of the WPK, Park Cheol-young is the head of the North Korean security team responsible for escorting and protecting heads of state on diplomatic missions. He first encounters Kim Hyun-jun as they are caught in a political impasse in Hungary—one that leaves Park and his entire team at the mercy of their superiors should they not resolve the situation quickly in their favor.
Despite being one of very few females to achieve her status, Kim Seon-hwa has gained the trust and acknowledgment of her colleagues in the North Korean security forces. As a subordinate of Park Cheol-young and a ranking officer in his security outfit, she has great admiration for her superior and harbors deep resentment for the South. She falls in love with Hyun-jun, who showed her mercy.
A mysterious assassin working for an even more mysterious organization, Vick answers to a man known only as "Mr. Black." Though of apparent Korean descent, his actual origins are unknown and he communicates fluently in both English and Korean. Often, he is responsible for eliminating political targets and retrieving, as well as destroying, sensitive information at the behest of his superiors.

Supporting[edit]

National Security Service (NSS)

The NSS is headed by Baek San (Kim Yeong-cheol), its standing deputy director only in title and the man responsible for the recruiting of Hyun-jun and Sa-woo. The named director of the NSS comes and goes with each change of power in the presidency, but it is the deputy director that oversees the organization. Baek San's motivations for many of his actions are mysterious, occasionally outright inconsistent with that of the general national interests. Due to the very existence of the organization being kept secret, he enjoys a state of personal protection that few others do.

While Baek San oversees the organization, the acting chief director, Park Sang-hyun (Yoon Je-moon), is the general supervisor and runs the daily operations of the NSS. He fabricated the understanding but also intransigent where failures are concerned, often personally dealing with each and every agent. For field assignments, he watches over and commands all missions set domestically.

Many of the NSS agents have close personal ties to one another, and the floor supervisor and head of security resources, Yang Jung-in (Kim Hye-jin), is no exception. She is often viewed as a dependable and accommodating authority figure and remains a very close friend to colleague Choi Seung-Hee.

Being the South's first line of defense against foreign threats, the NSS houses technology unavailable to their sister intelligence agencies. The two primary tech agents, Yang Mi-jung (Juni) and Hwang Tae-sung (Na Yoon), are often responsible for ensuring field agents have all that is required to see their missions through. Mi-jung does not meet the expected conventions of someone involved in national intelligence. Given that her sense of fashion and general interests are more contemporary than that of her associates, she often stands out from the others, but her status as the top hacker in Korea has made her irreplaceable. Still, Tae-sung remains the more perdurable of the two and is often instrumental in the success of a number of operations.

The forensics and scientific investigations section is headed by Oh Hyun-ku (Yoon Joo-sang), an eccentric that is the eldest of the general staff. He often exhibits a fatherly relationship with many of the agents, including Mi-jung and Seung-hee.

The Blue House

Due to the overarching plot of the series involving the disputes inherent to the Korean Peninsula and the intricacies of the foreign relations between the North and South, the Blue House and its primary staff are featured prominently throughout. The candidate that wins the election and assumes office is eventual President of South Korea Cho Myung-ho (Lee Jung-gil). His administration begins with his undertaking the grand task of forwarding talks of reunification between the North and South after witnessing the grim reality that is the struggle between the two nations. With strong ambitions, he leads diplomatic outreaches with the North that no one expected of a candidate so early in his term.

President Cho's chief advisor and head of his cabinet is Jung Jyun-jun (Jung Han-yong), and is one of the few around him that the president feels he can trust with any information, no matter how sensitive it may be. Later in the series, he becomes the only reliable lifeline the president has against the influence of sabotage originating inside and outside the Blue House.

The secretary to the president, Hong Soo-jin (Myung Ji-yun), tends to find herself at odds with the head of the his chief advisor. She rarely speaks her mind freely and appears to have allegiances beyond those that are already apparent.

Others

Given the wide range of countries the characters find themselves in throughout the story, a number of recurring characters arise from countries outside of Korea.

Early in the series, Hyun-jun and Seung-hee encounter a young Japanese schoolgirl while in Akita by the name of Yuki (Karen Miyama). Her family operates one of the tourist traps nearby, and she exhibits affection for Hyun-jun and attempts to find herself in his company as much as possible. Later, it is Hyun-jun that needs her, as Yuki and her family help him when he needs them most.

When Hyun-jun finds himself tangled in a political web while in Japan, he crosses paths with Eriko Sato (Yoo Min). A Japanese woman with the country's national intelligence agency, Sato is charged with investigating foreign threats that find themselves on Japanese soil.

Production[edit]

Development

Based on the general concept of the 1999 film Shiri,[4] Iris was first revealed in 2008 by its production company Taewon Entertainment and attracted wide attention due to its record budget and star power.[5][6][7] Kang Je-gyu, the director of Shiri, was involved with initially developing the project for television,[8] which would later be directed by Kim Kyu-tae and Yang Yun-ho.

Written by Kim Hyun-jun, Jo Gyu-won, and Kim Jae-un,[9] the series began pre-production without the backing of a Korean broadcaster in an attempt to spark a bidding war amongst potential suitors.[8]

On April 18, 2008, it was announced that Lee Byung-hun had been cast in the lead role.[8] It was to be Lee's first television role since 2003 after a five-year hiatus to focus on film roles, including the 2009 film G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, which had been filming at the time of the announcement.[10] Lee's salary was the third highest in the history of Korean television dramas, amounting to ₩100 million ($90,000 USD) per episode and was six times greater than that of the Korean industry guideline. His salary was inclusive of an overhead deal of ₩1.5 billion won ($1.35 million USD) in guarantees due to his namesake drawing potential investors, particularly in Japan, and opportunities in other overseas markets.[11][12]

The production company announced on June 24 that Big Bang member T.O.P would be starring alongside Lee as an assassin and the recurring antagonist of the series.[13] It was announced on October 10 that Kim Tae-hee, known for her roles in Forbidden Loveand Stairway to Heaven, had been cast as the female lead in the series. Like Lee, she had not worked in television for several years and had been working in film prior to accepting the role.[14]

Pre-production continued on Iris as it drew increasing attention not only in Korea but also in Japan due to Lee's involvement.[15]Kim Seung-woo and Jung Joon-ho were also cast as the head of the North Korean security team and Kim Hyun-jun's lifelong friend, respectively.[16]

The large budget and notable talent for the project made it difficult for the production company to secure directors willing to take on the series, causing 2009 to begin with a brief stir of media attention.[17] Shortly thereafter, Taewon announced that the search was over and Kim Kyu-tae and Yang Yun-ho would be helming the series.[18] Simultaneously, KBS was announced as the South Korean broadcaster. Later in the month, on February 19, Kim So-yeon was cast as a North Korean agent.[19]

Filming and promotion

The first filmed scenes of Iris were shot in Akita, Japan on March 10, 2009.[20] Lee Byung-hun's popularity in Japan caused the series and its production to gain immediate notability in the country.[21] Lee's filming was often shadowed by fans, beginning with thousands greeting him at Akita Airport upon his arrival.[20] Due to several pivotal moments of the series being filmed in the prefecture, Akita soon experienced a surge of Korean tourists going on tours tailored to followers of the show.[22][23][24] The crew went on to shoot in Japan for three weeks and left the country on March 28.[25]

With its unprecedented budget, IRIS was able to pioneer several firsts for Korean television dramas, particularly with its large scale action sequences. Throughout filming, the actors were often responsible for filming their own stunts and action sequences, including Lee Byung-hun jumping from the 130 meter-tall Tamagawa Dam in Semboku, Akita.[26][27] To prepare for the demanding physical requirements of the series, several members of the primary cast, including Kim Tae-hee, underwent special training to lend authenticity to the action.[26] During a break in filming, Lee Byung-hun appeared at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival in support of the production in May.[28] A press conference was also held later in the month with the entire finalized cast of the series.[26]

The following international shoot commence on June 9 in Hungary. Shot in and around Budapest and other locales, the filming lasted for one month before the cast and crew returned to Korea.[29] In late July, it was announced that IRIS would air on Wednesdays and Thursdays on KBS2, for premiere on October 14.[30] Filming continued throughout the year and, on October 5, a production press conference was held for the Korean and world media just over a week prior to the series premiere.[31]

Filming continue after the premiere of the series. On November 29, 2009, the filming crew took over a section of Sejong-ro at Gwanghwamun PlazaSeoul for twelve hours to film lengthy gunfight scenes.[32] The five lanes along the plaza in front of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts were closed to traffic for filming from 07:00 to 19:00. This marks the first time the Seoul Metropolitan Government has granted permission to blocked traffic along the Plaza for filming and it is part of Government's plans to promote the city's major tourist attractions.[33][34]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Recipient Result
2009
KBS Drama Awards
Grand Prize (Daesang) Lee Byung-hun Won
Top Excellence Award, Actor Nominated
Kim Seung-woo Nominated
Top Excellence Award, Actress Kim Tae-hee Nominated
Excellence Award, Actor in a Mid-length Drama Jung Joon-ho Won
Kim Seung-woo Won
Lee Byung-hun Nominated
Excellence Award, Actress in a Mid-length Drama Kim Tae-hee Won
Kim So-yeon Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Yoon Joo-sang Won
Best New Actor T.O.P Nominated
Netizen Award, Actor Lee Byung-hun Won
Popularity Award, Actress Kim So-yeon Won
Best Couple Award Lee Byung-hun and Kim Tae-hee Won
2010
46th Baeksang Arts Awards
Best Drama IRIS Won
Best Director (Television) Yang Yun-ho and Kim Kyu-tae Nominated
Best Actor (Television) Lee Byung-hun Won
Best Actress (Television) Kim Tae-hee Nominated
Kim So-yeon Nominated
3rd Korea Drama Awards
Best Drama IRIS Nominated
Best Production Director in a Miniseries Kim Kyu-tae Won
Best Actor Lee Byung-hun Nominated
Best Actress Kim Tae-hee Nominated
Best Producer Chung Tae-won Won
5th Seoul International Drama Awards
Outstanding Korean Actor Lee Byung-hun Won

===========================================================================

Điều gì đưa Mật danh Iris trở thành biểu tượng của màn ảnh Hàn

Mật danh Mật danh Iris là bộ phim đình đám của màn ảnh Hàn. Bộ phim không chỉ đạt thành công đáng ngưỡng mộ về mặt tỷ suất người xem mà còn bội thu giải thưởng.

Mật danh Iris xoay quanh cuộc đời nhiều biến cố của Kim Hyun Joon (Lee Byung Hun đóng). Anh cùng người bạn thân thiết Jin Sa Woo (Jung Joon Ho) được lựa chọn để trở thành nhân viên đặc vụ hàng đầu của tổ chức tình báo quốc gia NSS. Cả hai đều phải lòng nữ đồng nghiệp Choi Seung Hee (Kim Tae Hee) ngay lần đầu gặp mặt. Trong khi Hyun Joon và Seung Hee khá thân thiết với nhau thì Sa Woo lại phải đấu tranh rất nhiều để che giấu tình cảm dành cho Seung Hee và nén nỗi đau để chúc mừng cho Hyun Joon.

Lee Byung Hun và Kim Tae Hee đã vẽ nên chuyện tình đẹp như mơ trong bộ phim Mật danh Iris.

Để tránh sự để ý của các đồng nghiệp, Hyun Joon và Seung Hee luôn bí mật hẹn hò và khi tình yêu mỉm cười với Joon thì cũng là lúc số phận trêu ngươi, anh phải nhận nhiệm vụ hành động đơn độc tại Hungary. Dù đã hoàn thành xuất sắc nhiệm vụ song Hyun Joon lại bị truy đuổi ráo riết. Khi đã trọng thương, Hyun Joon khẩn khoản cầu cứu tổ chức, nhưng NSS đã lạnh lùng từ chối. Đúng lúc này, Sa Woo - người bạn thời nối khố lại nhận được nhiệm vụ phải thủ tiêu Hyun Joon...

Hai mỹ nam của Mật danh Iris

Với thông điệp “Ai cũng có thể là mục tiêu tiếp theo”, Mật danh Iris với cách khai thác tâm lý nhân vật sâu sắc, xử lý tình huống nhanh, mới mẻ và khéo léo đã liên tục đánh lạc hướng, đưa khán giả đi từ bất ngờ này đến bất ngờ khác, mang lại một sức hấp dẫn khó cưỡng. Nếu những cảnh hành động rượt đuổi, đấu súng mạo hiểm làm khán giả thót tim thì những phân đoạn tình cảm, những cảnh quay nóng bỏng và những màn khóa môi của 2 diễn viên chính là một bản tình ca lãng mạn, ngọt ngào mà bất kỳ đôi lứa yêu nhau nào cũng phải ganh tỵ.

Mật danh Iris: Tác phẩm mở ra trang sử mới cho truyền hình Hàn Quốc

Với lối làm phim theo phong cách hành động của điện ảnh Hollywood cùng với sự quy tụ của những kịch tác gia hàng đầu và dàn diễn viên ngôi sao, Mật danh Iris có vốn đầu tư khủng lên đến hơn 20 tỷ Won- tức gấp 10 lần so với những bộ phim thông thường. Đã có 200 chiếc xe bị phá hủy trong tổng số hơn 500 chiếc xe được dùng và có đến hơn 40 khẩu súng các loại cùng khoảng 20 ngàn viên đạn được sử dụng trong suốt chiều dài phim. Tất cả những cảnh đấu súng, bắn tỉa, cháy nổ, đánh đấm… đều được thực hiện hết sức công phu. Cùng với đó, máy móc và những thiết bị công nghệ hiện đại nhất cũng được huy động để sử dụng cho các cảnh quay.

Để có những cảnh quay đẹp nhất, đoàn phim đã di chuyển qua rất nhiều quốc gia từ Á đến Âu, thậm chí mất hẳn 1 tháng để đóng đô tại Hungary và 25 ngày cho các cảnh quay tại Nhật Bản, đó là chưa kể đến loạt bối cảnh tuyệt vời được thực hiện tại Trung Quốc và Hàn Quốc.

Bên cạnh sự góp mặt của Lee Byung Hun và Kim Tae Hee - 2 ngôi sao có sức ảnh hưởng rộng khắp Hàn Quốc, phim còn có sự góp mặt của dàn sao “nặng ký” khác như: Jung Joon Ho, Kim Seung Woo, Kim So Yeon, T.O.P… Diễn xuất chân thật, lôi cuốn và ngoại hình đẹp, mỗi nhân vật do họ hóa thân đều để lại dấu ấn sâu đậm trong lòng khán giả, giúp bộ phim tạo được tiếng vang lớn không chỉ ở xứ sở Kim chi mà còn lan rộng khắp các quốc gia châu Á.

Bội thu giải thưởng

Với sự tham gia của đạo diễn truyền hình Kim Kyoo Tae và đạo diễn điện ảnh Yang Yoon Ho cùng câu chuyện được xây dựng theo phong cách hành động của điện ảnh Hollywood, Mật danh Iris ngay khi phát sóng đã trở thành một hiện tượng truyền hình. Bộ phim đã thu hút 30% tỷ suất người xem và gặt hái thành công vang dội với 8 hạng mục quan trọng tại Giải thưởng truyền hình KBS 2009, 2 danh hiệu tại Giải nghệ thuật Baeksang 2010.

Đặc biệt, diễn xuất của cặp đôi diễn viên chính Lee Byung Hun và Kim Tae Hee còn giúp họ được vinh danh tại Giải thưởng Quốc hội Hàn Quốc lần thứ 10. Chia sẻ về vai diễn, Lee Byung Hun nói: “Tôi đã gắn bó với bộ phim và hoàn toàn chìm đắm vào vai diễn. Thật khó khăn và mất rất nhiều thời gian để quên được nhân vật của mình”.

Mật danh Iris sẽ chính thức phát sóng trên YouTV vào lúc 19h30 mỗi ngày từ 16/5/2017.

Lê Anh

Bộ phim xoay quanh nhân vật Kim Huyn Jun (Lee Byung Hun) và Jin Sa Woo (Jung Joon Ho), họ là hai người bạn thân thiết và cùng được lựa chọn để trở thành những nhân viên thuộc lực lượng Top 707 của Cơ quan An ninh Quốc gia (NSS).

gap lai dan sao han dinh dam qua sieu pham mat danh iris
Kim Huyn Jun (Lee Byung Hun) và Jin Sa Woo (Jung Joon Ho)

Tại đây họ gặp nhân viên tình báo Choi Seung Hee (Kim Tae Hee) và cả hai người đều có tình cảm với Seung Hee. Mối quan hệ này đã đưa cuộc đời của 3 người vào những biến cố của tình bạn và tình yêu.

gap lai dan sao han dinh dam qua sieu pham mat danh iris
gap lai dan sao han dinh dam qua sieu pham mat danh iris
Sa Woo đã phải che giấu tình cảm mình dành cho Seung Hee vì anh biết Seung Hee và Huyn Jun đã dành tình cảm cho nhau

Ba người đã cùng nhau hoàn thành xuất sắc một điệp vụ tại Hungary, ngay khi tất cả mọi người đều đang ăn mừng thì Huyn Jun nhận được một nhiệm vụ bí mật chỉ được thực hiện một mình.

gap lai dan sao han dinh dam qua sieu pham mat danh iris

Mặc dù hoàn thành nhiệm vụ nhưng Huyn Jun đã bị trọng thương và bị kẻ thù truy sát. Huyn Jun đã cầu cứu NSS nhưng tổ chức đã từ chối anh và giao cho Sa Woo nhiệm vụ thủ tiêu Huyn Jun. Bị bạn thân nhất phản bội và đứng trước ranh giới chiến đấu vì sự sống, lúc này Huyn Jun đã phát hiện ra một tổ chức bí mật mang tên “Iris”.

gap lai dan sao han dinh dam qua sieu pham mat danh iris

Những tháng ngày ở Iris, Huyn Jun đã phát hiện ra nhiều bí mật kinh hoàng. Huyn Jun bắt đầu lên kế hoạch trở lại và trả thù những kẻ đã đẩy anh vào bước đường cùng.

gap lai dan sao han dinh dam qua sieu pham mat danh iris

Siêu phẩm hành động với kịch bản chặt chẽ, mức đầu tư khủng cùng dàn diễn viên hạng A đã tạo nên một cơn sốt trên toàn Châu Á.

gap lai dan sao han dinh dam qua sieu pham mat danh iris
gap lai dan sao han dinh dam qua sieu pham mat danh iris

Tại thời điểm phát sóng ở quê nhà bộ phim ghi nhận rating lịch sử đạt 28,8% trở thành một trong những bộ phim có rating cao nhất lịch sử truyền hình Hàn Quốc.

gap lai dan sao han dinh dam qua sieu pham mat danh iris
gap lai dan sao han dinh dam qua sieu pham mat danh iris
gap lai dan sao han dinh dam qua sieu pham mat danh iris
gap lai dan sao han dinh dam qua sieu pham mat danh iris
gap lai dan sao han dinh dam qua sieu pham mat danh iris
gap lai dan sao han dinh dam qua sieu pham mat danh iris
gap lai dan sao han dinh dam qua sieu pham mat danh iris
gap lai dan sao han dinh dam qua sieu pham mat danh iris
gap lai dan sao han dinh dam qua sieu pham mat danh iris
gap lai dan sao han dinh dam qua sieu pham mat danh iris
gap lai dan sao han dinh dam qua sieu pham mat danh iris
gap lai dan sao han dinh dam qua sieu pham mat danh iris
gap lai dan sao han dinh dam qua sieu pham mat danh iris
gap lai dan sao han dinh dam qua sieu pham mat danh iris

Cùng gặp lại bộ 3 từng tạo nên cơn sốt cho dòng phim hành động Hàn Quốc gồm: Lee Byung Hun, Kim Tae Hee và Jung Joon Ho trong bộ phim Mật danh Irisvào lúc 11h00 hàng ngày từ 19/10/2017 trên TodayTV.


IRIS: Episode 1

by javabeans

Pretty badass, yo.

IRIS is an expensive drama, and it totally shows. I can’t say that the drama took my breath away, but it was very entertaining, and I can see why it burst on the scene with such a strong start. And then improved on it the following day.

I’m not surprised to see a lot of action, but I was a little surprised (in a nice way) to find that the first episode was actually pretty funny. I suspect that may fade as the story heads into more of its spy storylines, but it was a pleasant way to kick off the series — action mixed with beautiful cinematography, well-placed music, and oh yeah, Lee! Byung! Heon!

SONG OF THE DAY

LeeSsang – “Run” [ Download ]

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EPISODE 1 RECAP

 

We start out in Hungary. Present day.

KIM HYUN-JOON (Lee Byung-heon) is a National Security (NSS) agent — the top agent, in fact, although we don’t know that yet — and is surprised to be approached by his boss, the bureau chief Baek San. The man comes bearing bad news — they’ve suffered losses and agents have died.

Baek San relates the 1989 event when Hungary opened its border to the west, allowing Germans to leave en masse, thus aiding in the reunification of East and West Germany. He uses that as a segue to their current situation as he issues Hyun-joon a solo mission. If he succeeds, his actions could have a large influence in bringing about Korea’s own unification.

 

Hyun-joon prepares to carry out his mission: an assassination. The target is a high-ranking North Korean politician, and Hyun-joon’s shocked expression lets us know that he feels the gravity of this assignment.

In a very Bourne Identity-like sequence (and I mean the comparison positively, since the cinematography and music are top-notch), Hyun-joon prepares to carry out his task.

 

He scopes out the location of the hit, which is the Budapest History Museum. Posing as a tourist, he snaps photos of the premises, and cases the building, keeping a particular eye on the North Korean politician’s security detail. The guard team is led by Park Chul-young (Kim Seung-woo), who is closely attended by his subordinate, Kim Sun-hwa (Kim So-yeon).

As they await the arrival of the politician, Chul-young organizes his security team to receive him. Something is off when one of his guards stationed inside doesn’t respond to a roll call — and while he doesn’t know that Hyun-joon has silently taken out several guards, he knows something is wrong. He entrusts the team outside to Sun-hwa and runs inside to check.

 

When the politician’s entourage arrives, he is surrounded by bodyguards, while Sun-hwa remains on alert for danger. Still undetected, Hyun-joon takes out a position on the balcony and readies his gun to get a clear shot of his target. He waits as guards swarm the man, ready to pull the trigger…

Too late, Sun-hwa becomes aware of the danger and leaps in front of the man to shove him aside. Her instincts were just a split-second too late and the man is shot. Mission complete, Hyun-joon makes his getaway, not bothering to clear his weapons or take them with him.

 
 

Chul-young races to find the sniper, and spots Hyun-joon leaving from a distance. He manages to get off a shot, which hits Hyun-joon in the side.

Hyun-joon stumbles but keeps going, quickly blending into the crowd while the North Korean agents pursue. He slips onto the subway and loses them.

He’s badly injured, but his priority is to make it back to his apartment, where he calls Baek San to inform him that the mission was a success. He asks for a rescue, because he’s unable to make the escape on his own — but the cool-headed chief tells him he’s on his own.

 

Hyun-joon repeats his request, this time more fervently: “There is a reason I must stay alive and return. Please help me.”

But his boss just hangs up on him.

Alone now, Hyun-joon has to figure out his own way to survive and return home. He makes his way to an empty railroad depot, but Chul-young has launched a full-scale watch for him, and manages to trace his whereabouts.

 

Based on their intelligence, North Koreans head to the old railroad warehouse, where Hyun-joon crudely tends to his gunshot wound. The agents storm in and disperse in search of their quarry, and Hyun-joon is able to take out of few of them individually. Despite his injury, he is still strong and fast, and uses his benefit of surprise.

Young-chul spots him and follows while firing his gun at Hyun-joon, who ducks out of the way. He launches himself at Young-chul for a brief hand-to-hand struggle, and then they draw their weapons simultaneously at each other. Sun-hwa, poised to snipe from a distance, can’t get a clean shot and waits.

 

Hyun-joon knocks his enemy’s gun aside, and engages in more hand-to-hand fighting that ends with him being pushed off the landing to the lower level.

He takes that opportunity and runs outside — just as a helicopter swoops down and hovers over the scene. The pilot sees Hyun-joon running away and shoots a missile, which misses him but connects with a train car.

 

The blast shoots him into the air, into a car, and onto the ground. Bleeding from the bullet wound and stunned from the blow, Hyun-joon tries to crawl onward, but collapses into unconsciousness.

 

And then, we skip backward, to his school days.

Now we’re with a younger Hyun-joon, who makes his way to class at the beginning of his term. It’s an American politics and diplomacy lecture, and he walks in late as the professor lectures about Kennedy’s assassination. He asks his class about the various hypotheses about Kennedy’s murder. The student who responds is nameless throughout this episode, but we’ll know her as CHOI SEUNG-HEE (Kim Tae-hee).

 

Seung-hee lists a few of the conspiracy theories about Kennedy’s assassination (for instance, that it was really the work of the CIA, or the military-industrial complex). She believes the latter most plausible, relating it to Kennedy’s stance on withdrawal from Vietnam.

When the professor asks Hyun-joon what he thinks, he gives an off-the-cuff remark that dismisses Seung-hee’s comment. A little miffed, she launches into a more detailed explanation regarding the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, and calls Hyun-joon’s comment “simplistic and ignorant.”

He’s a little turned on at her intelligence, and a little insulted. But when he tries to talk to her during lunch, she simply walks away and ignores him.

 

In addition to school, Hyun-joon is also busy with army training alongside his best friend, JIN SA-WOO (Jung Jun-ho). The two have a good friendship and share a dorm room, and are also the top two of their group, as we see in various drills. Their shooting test gives me a bit of an Iceman–Maverick vibe, because Sa-woo completes the test coolly and proficiently, while Hyun-joon is a show-off; he’s just as good, but in a more unconventional way.

 

They have a healthy sense of competition and spur each other on. They also josh each other, as Sa-woo does when Hyun-joon moons over the new girl he’s just met, whom he is already describing in superlative terms. He doesn’t know her well enough to mean it 100% seriously, but he’s definitely intrigued. Therefore, Hyun-joon actually studies for class, determined to prove he’s not as dumb as Seung-hee seems to think him.

 

This time, he volunteers to answer a question (about the meaning behind the Gulf War) and satisfies the professor with an accurate summary. Instead of letting the professor continue, Hyun-joon keeps speaking, rattling off a litany of facts about the war.

Seung-hee is amused, but she shoots him down again, saying that explaining the meaning of war through memorized figures is “exceedingly simplistic and ignorant.”

Afterward, Hyun-joon can’t take the indignity and he talks to her after class, saying that he’s not simple and ignorant. He asks her out for some tea so he can defend himself. She declines, but he perks up when she adds, “Now, drinks, maybe…”

 

As they drink boilermakers (soju bombs), Hyun-joon explains that he didn’t actually force himself to memorize those details — his memory is really good, and once he reads something, he has it stored in his brain. He demonstrates by reciting the restaurant’s various menus, and she’s duly impressed.

She also drinks him under the table. She decrees his boilermaker “weak” and makes much stronger drinks, and in an effort to impress her, he drinks them all. Some time later, he wakes up at the table to find that she’s already paid and left.

The problem is, that’s the last he sees of her, because she stops showing up to class. Hyun-joon asks the professor if he knows why she’s not coming anymore, and learns that she was admitted to the class by special request of the dean; the professor doesn’t even know her name.

Over the next few days, Hyun-joon sulks over “the one that got away” — he doesn’t even know the girl’s name, or where she lives. Sa-woo tries to cheer him up, but Hyun-joon remains in a funk.

 

When Sa-woo meets his sunbae for drinks, however, he catches one glimpse of Seung-hee and falls head over heels in love with her. Naturally he has no clue that this is the same girl that Hyun-joon has been mooning over. The sunbae is PARK SANG-HYUN, who grew up in the same hometown as Sa-woo and is now a businessman. Seung-hee is introduced as one of his fellow employees, Jin-ah (and while we know that’s a fake name if we’re keeping up with character profiles, for the moment there’s no reason to think she’s assuming a persona).

Sa-woo comes home exulting over his future wife, and is in such good spirits that he urges Hyun-joon to drink his worries aside. The two sneak out to a nightclub, where Sa-woo gets busy acting as wingman for his friend by chatting up some girls.

Unfortunately, Hyun-joon gets into a minor clash with a drunk guy in the bathroom, who rallies his friends to go after him. The two friends run out of the bar while a whole gang of thugs chases after them, but they get separated — while Hyun-joon is able to run ahead, Sa-woo finds himself cornered.

 

In the morning, Sa-woo is nursing a black eye and is punished for his rule-breaking by running extra laps dragging a tire.

(Of course, then Hyun-joon tries to make things right by taking responsibility for the fight, thinking that’ll get Sa-woo off the hook. Instead, not only does their officer punish Hyun-joon, he makes the punishment even worse. LOL.)

 

One night, Sa-woo is roused from sleep by his superior officer, who is accompanied by some strange men. Hyun-joon is also awakened and taken in a strange car with the strange men to a strange location. He remains tense and asks where he’s going, but gets no response.

As Hyun-joon is led down the hall, however, he hears groans of pain coming from one chamber — and he recognizes Sa-woo’s voice. Suddenly in a panic, he struggles, but is dragged into his own chamber, where he is strapped to medical apparatus and administered an injection. The drugs make both men writhe in pain, and their heartrates speed to dangerous levels. The injection is pentothal (sodium thipental), a barbiturate used in interrogations to break the subject’s resistance.

 

All the while, Seung-hee watches impassively from the other side of the one-way mirror. Next to her is Sang-hyun, Sa-woo’s sunbae, who is NOT a businessman after all but the leader of this assignment. While the men’s vital signs are monitored, Sang-hyun asks a single question: “What is your mission?”

Seung-hee sees that Hyun-joon’s physical responses are normal, which means that Hyun-joon has managed to control his emotions perfectly. They increase the dosage of pentothal, which forces his heartrate even higher. Again, Sang-hyun demands to know what his mission is.

But then, Hyun-joon surprises them — fueled by fury, he strains against his bindings with all his strength, and actually breaks free of the wrist strap. Still weak, he stumbles to the ground, then grabs a chair and attacks the one-way glass. It’s reinforced so it doesn’t break, and he cannot see inside the room, but the agents are alarmed.

 

Hyun-joon continues to pound away at the glass. Sang-hyun tells his men to close off the room and prepare a sedative.

A voice interrupts, stopping them: Bureau chief Baek San walks in and instructs them to not do anything.

 
COMMENTS

First things first: shirtless Lee Byung-heon!

 

All right, now that that’s out of the way…

I thought IRIS got off to a great start. A great mix of action, humor, and enough intrigue to capture your interest without being cryptic (ahem, Swallow the Sun). I think most people already know the general premise of the story, which means that the torture/interrogation scene at the end isn’t really so shocking because we can all surmise that this is some kind of test. Therefore, it’s up to the execution to hold our interest, and that is something this drama certainly accomplishes at a high quality level. The production is very stylish, beautifully shot, and sleek without being too slick. If that makes sense.

I knew IRIS would look good, but the big question was whether it would connect with me. And I think one of the big draws for me was that it hits the right tone. I’ve seen big-budget blockbusters that felt devoid of spirit, and I was wondering if IRIS would be another one of those. I was pleasantly surprised at not only the suspenseful opening, but also the warm, funny flashback portion. I did think the flashback dragged on a bit too long, but I liked getting a chance to see Hyun-joon as a cocky young guy. The camaraderie between him and Sa-woo is another enjoyable bit, because they really do seem like close friends. That means the impending love triangle may actually hurt, which I consider a good thing in a dramatic sense.

 

Much of the drama’s appeal I will attribute to Lee Byung-heon — that man is compelling! — but even a great actor like him cannot act in a vacuum, and here’s where the high production values do make a big difference.

Kim Tae-hee wasn’t even that bad. I was not expecting much from her but hoping she would make all the naysayers eat their words (myself included). I don’t think she was strong enough to revoke her image as the Pretty Face Who Can’t Act, but at least she didn’t reinforce it.

I think the problem with Kim Tae-hee isn’t that she is a horrible actress, but that she lacks a certain charisma, oddly enough. (I say it’s odd because usually CF queens abound with charisma, since they’re trading on their appealing images more than skills.) But she does, especially compared to her co-stars. Lee Byung-heon is badass, Jung Jun-ho is warm, Kim Seung-woo is coldly professional, Kim So-yeon is sexy and strong, and TOP is… well, he’s TOP. Next to them, Kim Tae-hee sorta fades.

 

 THE VERDICT

Stylish, entertaining, well-acted, well-produced. Probably going to be a huge success. I won’t gush wildly and call it an instant winner, but it’s off to a promising beginning. Definitely worth at least checking out.


43 October 26, 2009January 24, 2016

IRIS: Episode 2

by javabeans

I’m still not sure how I feel about this drama, and whether I want to recap it through the end. I enjoy watching it, and I will keep watching it, but… I was kind of bored this episode. After a nice beginning, this episode felt like a re-cobbling together of shows I’ve seen before. (I’ve seen Alias, I’ve seen 24.) For all the excitement of the plot — spies, plots, assassins, secret missions — it felt kind of ordinary, in a way. On the upside, it looked great and the plot unfolded smoothly. Which is why I think it’s interesting that I felt let down.

SONG OF THE DAY

IRIS OST – “잊지 말아요” (Don’t Forget) by Baek Ji-young [ Download ]

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EPISODE 2 RECAP

Breaking free of his restraints, Hyun-joon pounds on the reinforced one-way glass with a chair. A medic enters to administer a sedative, but Hyun-joon turns the tables and sticks him with his own needle. The NSS director Baek San watches stoically (as does Seung-hee) from the other side, waiting to see how this scenario will unfold. This is why he lets Hyun-joon escape his holding room, fight off guards, and head out into the hallway.

Hyun-joon finds Sa-woo half-unconscious in another room and frees him, dragging him along to seek freedom. But they come to a dead end and are cornered by a trio of armed agents. Trapped.

The two men are brought before Baek San, and coerced into remaining calm by the presence of shadowy figures pointing guns at them.

The director explains that they have been tested by the NSS. Now that they have passed the trial, they have the opportunity to join the NSS as agents fighting to preserve national security. He assures them, “The country has chosen you, but you have the right to decline. If you want to give up here, you may go back.” If they choose to join, however, they will undergo training with the agency and be made into agents.

They accept.

On their first day inside the NSS offices, they are both shocked to be introduced to two of their superiors. First is the head of their counterterrorism unit: Park Sang-hyun, Sa-woo’s sunbae. Second is profiler Choi Seung-hee: the girl both fell for, who soon disappeared.

After shock comes anger: Sa-woo wants to know if this was all part of Sang-hyun’s plan — did he call him out for drinks just to scope him out? Hearing that yes, Sang-hyun was intending to recruit him, Sa-woo feels used. It’s a further abuse of his trust to subject him to such a painful test — but Sang-hyun tells him that he went through it, too. They all did.

Hyun-joon also wonders if his meeting with Seung-hee was orchestrated ahead of time — did she plan everything, down to the classroom interaction? She answers yes; she needed to profile him.

Both men feel peeved, although Sa-woo is quicker to get over it. Or rather, his romantic admiration of Seung-hee helps him accept her apology more readily, and he tells her that he understands.

The new recruits are taken to a lunch at Baek San’s house with Seung-hee and Sang-hyun, and afterward, the four agents head out for drinks. There, Sang-hyun admits that it’s incredibly difficult to keep this secret from his own wife, although the director seems to be doing just fine. That just goes to show how cold he is.

All this time, Hyun-joon has been quietly seething, sending hard glances Seung-hee’s way, as though trying to figure her out. When she steps aside to take a phone call, he follows her outside. He wants to know what her profile of him says and demands an apology, but she doesn’t feel the need to give one, since she’s done nothing to apologize for.

However, she does decide to reveal, in a hard tone, what her profile turned up: He acts big to disguise a troubled and painful past. She even profiled the fact that he fell for her, and adds sardonically, “But what can you do? Dating is strictly forbidden among our employees, and even if it were permitted, you’re not my type.’ She warns him that she’s his superior — just as he suddenly reaches for her and kisses her. She breaks free angrily and slaps him. He grabs her in another kiss.

Again, Seung-hee struggles, but this time, she gives in after a few moments and starts to kiss him back.

It’s for this reason that Hyun-joon feels rather proud of himself when Seung-hee calls him aside at work, especially when she assures him that the roof is the only place at the NSS without surveillance cameras. His self-satisfied smile fades when she warns him again that she’s his superior, once again cool and removed. Also, does he think her so insignificant that he can act this way?

Having put him in his place, she’s about to stalk off, but he stops her. Surprisingly, he admits openly that he’s not really in this job for the loyalty or patriotism. He just thought it would be fun, and he figured, “Ah, this must be my fate.” He’d seen NSS — “this dangerous, complicated organization” — in very simple terms: “If I risk my life, I can do this fun work that I consider my fate.”

Still, even if he isn’t motivated by deeper loyalty and isn’t a patriotic agent, he commits fully to his choices. Also, he adds that he’s never thought her insignificant, and this time he’s the one to excuse himself first. After the exchange, Seung-hee regards him in a new light, perhaps pleasantly surprised that there’s more to him than she may have seen.

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Justin James – “Love Me More.” This is the song prominently featured in the following scenes.
[ Download ]

And so, over the course of the following days, their dynamic undergoes a shift. Seung-hee eyes him with newfound interest, and the two engage in subtle worktime flirting, trading small glances and keeping their smiles from being noticed by their colleagues.

Seung-hee even initiates a game of footsie during a group briefing, which takes Hyun-joon off-guard. Both maintain composed expressions, not betraying the fact that he’s teasing her foot under the table…

…and certainly nobody catches on to the fact that he has retaliated by handcuffing her foot to the table. Ha.

They also meet their support staff, such as the eccentric older Oh Hyun-kyu who works in crime-scene investigation and forensics. (This drama seems to have adopted the Alias theory that wacky support staff is jokey and funny. I’ll just say that every time Marshall appeared onscreen with his “quirky” and oddball behavior, I felt the urge to spork him.)

After meeting the new recruits, Oh Hyun-kyu imparts the men with some Nietzchean advice: “Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster.” He explains to Seung-hee later that he read Hyun-joon’s file, and has seen that he has the makings of becoming a monster.

Also: Hwang Tae-sung is another member of the support staff; Yang Mi-jung (singer-actress Juni) is the resident computer programmer/hacker.

We don’t specifically see how Hyun-joon and Seung-hee’s romance starts, but by this point they’re dating, albeit secretly. Hyun-joon slips away from home (which he shares with Sa-woo) and heads over to Seung-hee’s house for a date. The moment he leaves, however, Sa-woo also gets spruced up and heads out — and arrives at her place unannounced, just ahead of Hyun-joon.

Luckily, Hyun-joon sees his friend at the door and hides out of view. Seung-hee is surprised, and Sa-woo hems and haws in a cutely insecure way. Fumbling for a reason to explain his presence, he asks about profiling. Thankfully (?), both men receive calls at the same time — it’s the office.

The counterterrorism team reconvenes for a briefing: their target is a Japanese man with Syrian citizenship named Yamamoto Takashi, who is wanted not only by the NSS but also Japan’s security agency. They have intelligence informing them that Takashi will be arriving at Incheon Airport tomorrow, and he is a known terrorist.

However, they can’t merely prevent his entrance to the country, because if he has an act of terror planned, it’s more important to suss out what he’s working on. It also means that his accomplices have already bypassed security to slip into the country. Therefore, it’s imperative that they survey Takashi and find out what he’s up to. This will be Sa-woo and Hyun-joo’s first mission.

The team is deployed and follows Takashi from the airport to an outdoor plaza (Cheonggyecheon), and then to a casino. Hyun-joon takes a seat a few tables away, where Sa-woo joins him, eager to get their first mission into action.

Until, of course, they both take note of an unexpected figure sitting at Takashi’s table: an undercover Seung-hee, decked out in her Austin Powers glitz. She flirts lightly with Takashi in Japanese, complimenting his gambling. She bets based on his actions, and happily cheers on as he wins them both money. The guys watch grimly, not liking this at all, especially when Takashi invites Seung-hee up to her room for champagne.

Because she’s wired, the guys can eavesdrop on her interactions, but both really hate seeing her put herself on the line like this. (I think Hyun-joon particularly hates how comfortable she is in this role.)

She defers the man’s advances by asking to shower first, and lets him use the bathroom first. When she hears the sound of the shower, she gets moving, and uses a special device to transfer all the data on Takashi’s cell phone to headquarters. There’s a moment of tension as the device slowly transfers its data and time ticks down, but she finishes just in time and leaves before Takashi catches her. He finds a note scrawled on a napkin, which asks for a postponement of their date till tomorrow.

For this second date, Hyun-joon and Sa-woo act as her backup team, monitoring her conversation while waiting in a nearby car. Seung-hee and Takashi go on a seemingly normal date as they browse the stores and she tries on clothing.

She keeps an eye on him, and her ruse seems to be going well… until he suddenly grabs her roughly and pulls her aside to a deserted storage area. Slamming hear against the wall, Takashi demands to know who she’s working for, and yanks off her earring (thankfully a clip-on), which contains her bugging device. He crushes it, and the transmission to headquarters fuzzes out.

The instant the conversation turns dire, both guys race out of the car and head toward the department store to intervene, now that Seung-hee’s in trouble and her cover blown. She fights back but he’s a lot stronger, and he manages to get a firm grip on her throat and chokes her. At the approach of Sa-woo and Hyun-joon, however, he runs away while Sa-woo chases. Hyun-joon’s first instinct is to check on Seung-hee, but she demands that he hurry and chase Takashi.

Using satellite tracking, the support staff relays Takashi’s movements to the two agents, who follow on foot. When Takashi grabs a delivery scooter, the agents follow by car, again guided by their backup staff.

The pursuit takes them to the subway station, where Takashi buys some time by blending with the crowd. The guys maneuver through the throngs of commuters, and Hyun-joon spies his target slipping onto the subway car. Shoving people aside, he gets on and races from car to car, his eye fixed on Takashi.

But when he catches up to him, a shocked murmur rises from the crowd. On the ground is Takashi, unmoving, with blood pooling around his head.

They’re too late: someone else has gotten to Takashi first. As the subway starts to move, Hyun-joon sees a man in black, who has just stepped off the subway, walking away on the platform. They don’t know who he is, but we do, since it’s North Korean agent Park Chul-young from Episode 1.

Examination of the body shows a clean, single shot through the back of the head — definitely the work of a pro.

NSS deduces that Takashi’s motive was terrorism, but the target of the act remains unknown. In a meeting, the likely possibilities are discussed — the South Korean president, an American ambassador, and the like — but that’s still too vague. They need to narrow down the search.

Hyun-joon speaks up about his own hunch about Takashi’s motives, but he’s unable to provide proof. His speculation comes from a feeling he got during his pursuit and he’s just putting out another possibility — but the agent leading the meeting angrily cuts him off. They have enough trouble with the info they do have; they don’t need to be mucking up the investigation with one agent’s gut feelings.

As a result, Hyun-joon and Sa-woo are taken off the mission and told to stand by. Seung-hee actually defends him, saying that a field agent’s hunch could be more accurate than data analysis — but Sang-hyun shushes her. She is also told to stand by.

They’re all irritated to be taken off the case, but Seung-hee and Hyun-joon don’t let this stop them from continuing to work on it (separately). Seung-hee analyzes her map for clues, while Hyun-joon asks for the schedule of a politician, Jo Myung-ho, who is running for president.

Scanning the agenda, something catches Hyun-joon’s eye. He recognizes that one of the locations on the schedule, Cheonggyecheon, was one of the places Takashi had been. Could this be coincidence?

Working on their own (without authorization), Hyun-joon and Sa-woo check out Cheonggyecheon, which is a large public square in Seoul. Jo Myung-ho is delivering an election speech here, and a large crowd has gathered to participate in the rally.

The agents scope out the surroundings, wondering where they would set up their hypothetical base if they were working on a terrorist operation. They both come to the conclusion — a balcony in one of the adjacent buildings — and Hyun-joon sends Sa-woo up to investigate, while he’ll keep an eye out on the ground.

Sa-woo calls Mi-jung in their tech team, who is reluctant to bend the rules to help him on an unauthorized job. However, he persuades her to go to Seung-hee, who takes responsibility and instructs Mi-jung to use the satellite tracking system to zoom in on the spot the guys picked out. To her surprise, they see a man setting up a rifle — it’s a sniper.

Sa-woo races to stop him, and shoots the sniper. But they know that there should be a second sniper setting up in another location, and Hyun-joon looks around trying to figure out where.

Indeed there is a second sniper in another building. Hyun-joon spies him just as Jo Myung-ho takes the podium to deliver his rousing stump speech. There’s no time for either Sa-woo or Hyun-joon to make it up to the second building to stop him, so Sa-woo grabs the first sniper’s rifle and takes aim at the second sniper. Hyun-joon races toward the stage to get to the politician in time.

(How badass does Jung Jun-ho look?)

Sa-woo spots his target and shoots, but it’s a split-second too late and the sniper gets off a shot. Lucky for the presidential candidate, Hyun-joon arrives in the nick of time and launches himself at him, knocking the man to the ground just a moment before the bullet rips through the banner behind him.

In the crowd, a familiar black-clad man watches over the proceedings. He’d been watching from a position on the ground, in the midst of the crowd. Now that the plan is thwarted, he walks away unnoticed.


Now for TOP. Dressed in crisp black and sporting a badass scowl, we know very little about him so far but his profile tells us this is “Vic,” an assassin with the shadowy organization called “IRIS.” (I suppose the name could be “Big” (빅), but I’m going with Vic.)

He hangs out in a dark graffiti-decorated den and is shown a video clip by an English-speaking colleague. It’s the footage of Hyun-joon saving the politician, and as soon as he watches it, he gets a call from a “Mr. Black.” Vic answers the phone in his gangsta English, “You got it. I’m on my way.”

Despite the fact that our agents acted without permission in a dangerous and highly visible mission, at the end of the day they prevented the assassination of an important politician, and Sang-hyun says that what’s important is that the job got done. The team heads out for drinks and celebrates. The two best friends indulge in a shameless round of karaoke singing, while the forensics guy Hyun-kyu again cautions Seung-hee that Hyun-joon may turn into a monster.

Afterward, a slightly tipsy and very cheery Seung-hee prods the guys to join her in another round of drinks, and they end up continuing the celebration at her place.

Seung-hee is in a particularly lighthearted mood and invites her two subordinates to use common banmal speech with her. She’s younger than both of them, but because of her higher rank, she typically gets to use banmal with them while they have to use the elevated polite speech with her. But in the spirit of the moment, she urges them to drop the formalities.

Hyun-joon tests it out first, enjoying the sound of the informal words. Sa-woo is more bashful, and has to be urged by Seung-hee to go ahead. He can barely bring himself to say it, but once he does call her “Seung-hee-ya,” he really enjoys the intimacy of calling her by her name rather than the strictly professional “team leader.”

The three pass out on the floor. They start out lying in fairly close proximity to each other, but by morning the bodies have shifted in sleep and Sa-woo wakes up on the sidelines. Perhaps acting unconsciously, Seung-hee and Hyun-joon are now sleeping in each other’s arms. I’m not sure if Sa-woo suspects more to their relationship, but he doesn’t mention it.

Later, Sa-woo and Hyun-joon are called to the Blue House (Korea’s White House), presumably in response to their service. Their posture above should tell you all you need to know about their respective personalities. For instance, Hyun-joon eats a cookie that’s been set out for them, while Sa-woo nervously tells him to wait until after their meeting.

But something else catches Hyun-joon’s eye: a painting hanging on the wall. He approaches it.

As he stands looking at his own reflection, he starts to hear echoes of the past, of a little boy named Hyun-joon standing here in this room and exclaiming to a man — possibly the then-president — that when he grows up, he wants to be a Superman who protects the earth.

At Sa-woo’s curious inquiry, Hyun-joon answers, “I think I’ve been here before.”

But that’s not the end of the memory, because there are flashes of the scene afterward, when his happy parents had been driving that night, a happily gurgling young Hyun-joon playing in the backseat. Out of nowhere, a truck had slammed straight into their car. The boy had cried in fear while his parents lay injured in their seats.

And if that weren’t bad enough, a dark figure had come up to the car and fired a bullet through the windshield.

 
COMMENTS

All right, let me start with the positive. The pacing is good, and the music definitely a standout feature (I don’t mean the soundtrack, although that’s fine, but the background score). Acting is solid, and the series continues to have the high-quality visual look of a film more than a television series. The subject material is certainly dramatic, and there is a lot of room for an exciting blend of mystery, intrigue, and action.

On the other hand, it’s a little too… slick.

It has all the makings of something interesting, but I felt this episode really showed that IRIS is merely utilizing the spy cliches rather than moving past them. What I mean by that is, this episode had high stakes and exciting setups, but the story was told in such a familiar way that everything was rather expected. Seung-hee’s disguise and cell-phone tapping was not particularly ingenious, and the sting operation to catch Takashi was — if you really look at it — kind of laughably simple.

Here’s the problem: IRIS doesn’t seem to be making its own mark on the genre, and seems to instead be borrowing someone else’s clothes. This episode could have been an Alias episode, circa Season 1. Now, I loved Alias Season 1, but that was eight years ago, and I think a show that airs now has got to offer something new. If you’re a new show that repackages the same old cliches (albeit in a well-made, good-looking way), it actually comes off rather silly, so I cringed a bit in some of the chase scenes. And particularly whenever a spy touched his finger to his ear to “communicate” via his high-tech communication device. No wonder Takashi caught on to Seung-hee’s act. The team was practically screaming, “Look at me! I’m a spy cliche!”

(Counterargument: But you say, JB, what about all those cliched romantic comedies you seem to love so much? Are THEY “making their mark” on the genre, or are they just copying the formula too? Why don’t you hold them to the same standard you’re holding IRIS to?

My answer: IRIS is probably the biggest-hyped show of the year, perhaps even more than East of Eden, definitely more than Cain & Abel, Hero, and the rest. It has a ridiculous amount of money poured into it and filmed months in advance. It was so hyped that there were licensing agreements to produce a movie and a manhwa even before the drama aired. It was supposed to be the newer, better, badder Swiri, which practically created the blockbuster genre in Korean film and was the highest-grossing film of its time, at the time. A fluff romance or a simple family drama — say, Smile or Sol Pharmacy — isn’t aiming to reinvent the genre so I’m pleased when it does its thing well. It’s like this: If you order mac n’ cheese, and you get a damn good mac n’ cheese, you’re going to be comforted and pleased. If you order some fancy haute cuisine and it comes out mac n’ cheese, you’re going to (1) feel cheated, and (2) say, “Bish plz, that’s a damn good mac n’ cheese but don’t try to sell it to me as gourmet reinvention.”)

I don’t need a drama to be realistic, but I do need it to speak to me. I don’t really mind that IRIS feels Western, but I do feel a little disappointed that it seems to have (voluntarily) ditched all semblance of a kdrama. I don’t mean I want melodramas and makjang plots (secret babies, adultery plots, switched-at-birth shenanigans), but I wish it didn’t feel like it was trying to be an American show. It wears the trappings well, to be sure, but I’m sorta sad that it’s not more… I dunno, taking ownership of itself?

(Example: Horror films. There are amazing examples from both the West and in Asia, but Asia has managed to carve out its niche and put its stamp on the genre.)

Okay, I think that came out a little harsher than I intended, because I enjoyed the episode. But when something is close to being good, it frustrates me more than if it were outright bad — because it was so close. But I feel like the writer is sorta half-assing the story. It sounds like people really loved Episodes 3 and 4, so I’ll give it another shot, because the North Korean political stuff is where I think the drama can set itself apart.

On a completely separate note, I find the romance between Seung-hee and Hyun-joon interesting in that the initial stages are glossed over in a music-video-like montage and suddenly they’re dating. Maybe it’s their way of sliding past Seung-hee’s change of heart from being a cool, distant professional to being won over by Hyun-joon’s charm. As we see, Hyun-joon surprises her early on with his frank admission that he’s no great hero; I wonder if she admires his openness or sees a hero inside anyway. (Or, as Hyun-kyu says, a monster.) It’s ironic, then, that she sold him short initially based on her profiling, because as a profiler she has all this insight into people’s characters and delves into their inner lives, even the parts that they keep hidden from others and perhaps even themselves. Yet she was swift to size Hyun-joon up and reduce him to his profile. In a way, in Seung-hee’s mind, people fit into profiles, rather than profiles fitting people.

 
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47 December 4, 2009January 24, 2016

IRIS: Episode 3

by kaedejun

My fave bad guy

Hello everyone! I’m kaedejun – and I will be doing the recaps for IRIS starting with episode 3. I know that it was the biggest competition against the much beloved You’re Beautiful – of which I am completely addicted to and love as much as Coffee Prince. However, I can’t resist the appeal of Kim Seung Woo (he he he), and so even though I am a You’re Beautiful supporter, I still want to watch IRIS.

Thanks a lot to Javabeans for letting me recap this series. I hope that it does not disappoint, and that there is something more to this drama than just the flash-bang-pizzazz that seems to draw in such high ratings each week!

Episode 3

We begin with Hyun Joon staring at the painting in the President’s office. He begins to have flashbacks of when he was a young boy with his parents visiting the then-President of Korea. His parents were nuclear scientists, and they were murdered by an unknown assassin.

Hyun Joon is troubled by these flashbacks, but keeps his emotions under control. Just then the President arrives, and thanks them for saving his life. Sa Woo informs him that they are from the NSS, but the President is not aware of the existence of NSS.

An advisor later informs the President the history of NSS. Established in 1976, Korea’s central intelligence had double agents working with the CIA. Since the former President was developing a nuclear weapons program, and wanted to keep it a secret from the US, he established NSS to oversee this nuclear program. Now, they not only safeguard the President but also protect the nation’s secrets.

The President wonders whether the NSS is still necessary, and his advisor suggests that the organization may prove useful to him in the future.

Meanwhile, a brooding Hyun Joon goes to a bar – he replays his memories of his parents’ accident, lost in thought, when suddenly Seung Hee arrives. She teases him about being nervous in front of the President (according to Sa Woo’s stories), and he deflects by asking her out on a date.

They go to the orphanage where Hyun Joon was raised since he was 7 until high school. Seung Hee did not know he was raised in a religious orphanage, as she was not given his background information from before he joined Special Forces. He tells her he has no memory of his childhood before he was 7, and now he wants to find out.

He greets the Father, who calls him Michael. Hyun Joon asks the Father if he knew anything about his parents. The Father mentions that this is the first time he has ever been curious. Hyun Joon finds it strange himself that he never once wondered what happened to him.

The Father tells him that he was brought in by a city worker, and there was no information about him. Because he was so traumatized, Hyun Joon had not uttered a single word when he first arrived, and it took him a year to adjust to the life at the orphanage. It is strange that neither the orphanage nor the NSS have information on his background prior to his joining Special Forces.

Seung Hee asks the statue of the Virgin Mary if it is ok to love someone full of secrets. When Hyun Joon asks her what the Virgin Mary’s response is, Seung Hee answers, “She said what difference does the past make?” It’s a sweet way for her to show how she accepts and still loves Hyun Joon despite his past, and they walk down the center aisle out of the church like a married couple.

The Father calls up a mysterious person and informs him that Hyun Joon had visited asking about his past, that he did not seem to know anything. The next shot reveals that the Father was talking to (OMO!) Bureau Chief Baek San! (Obviously the all-knowing chief had to know something). Just then, Sang Hyun comes in and informs the chief that the President wants to see him.

The President confronts Baek San, and asks if he thinks the NSS is still necessary. Baek San says that he is not in a position to make such a decision; the NSS merely follows the orders of the President, even if it means putting their lives on the line. But they do not get involved with politics. The President then asks a final question: “How far did we get with the nuclear arms technology program? Is it true we did not get far?”

Baek San answers that he understands it to be true, that because of the change in administration and the desire to win the favor of the US, the weapons program was abandoned. However, the President (so ever sharp that he is), asks where the information for building nuclear weapons is, because even if the projects were not completed, the information could not have just disappeared.

Baek San says he does not know where the information is, as it was not under his area of expertise. However, based on his expression after the meeting, it is clear he does.

Sang Hyun informs Hyun Joon, Sa Woo, and Seung Hee that they have all been granted vacation for their work in saving the President. Sa Woo is excited, and Seung Hee and Hyun Joon exchange mischievous glances.

As they walk out of the building, Seung Hee passes Hyun Joon a piece of gum; the writing in the wrapper suggests a trip to Japan. As Sa Woo is distracted by a call from his mother, Seung Hee asks if it is ok; Hyun Joon makes a cute gesture and hand signals an “O.K.”

Seriously – how cute is that!?

Shanghai, China: Vic receives his next target: Kim Il joong. As Kim Il Joong tries to relax with a lady friend, one of his guards calls him and is shot dead as soon as Kim picks up. Kim’s guards fan out, and see the elevator coming up. The four guards strike their coolest, most bad-ass poses, and as soon as the doors open, they shoot like mad…at the corpse of the first guard.

One by one, each guard gets picked off by Vic, and I have to say, that assassin has quite creative ways in killing his prey. One is dragged over a stairway railing and neck snapped; one is strangled by a string as Vic hangs over him in the air vent; another is karate-chopped to death; the last two, guarding Kim, are shot to death behind a sheer white curtain in front of Kim.

Kim calls his contact; they are going to have to put all of their hope in Hong Seung Ryong. TOP comes up behind Kim and says, “Give me the IRIS list you have.”

Kim denies any knowledge of it. TOP shoots him in the back of the head, execution style. Finding nothing, he has no choice but to track down Hong Seung Ryong next. He sees the dress of the lady friend, discovers her hiding in the bathroom, and instead of killing her gives her the dress and leaves. (Aw. He has a heart – that is totally going to pay off sometime in a future episode, I bet.)

Baek San is given an urgent call in the middle of the night: Hong Seung Ryong, the head nuclear researcher from North Korea, is the new target. He has defected and is seeking political asylum, heading for Hungary first. Sang Hyun has the agents called back from vacation.

Akita, Japan: Seung Hee and Hyun Joon are enjoying a wintry vacation in Japan. They ask for directions from a school girl named Yuki to the nearest hot springs, and the girl is infatuated with Hyun Joon from his first smile.

At the hot springs, Hyun Joon and Seung Hee are expecting to be enjoying exclusive hot spring pools, so when they both come out of the locker room leading to the same hot spring, they are shocked to see each other clad in only a towel. (Come on, are we REALLY supposed to believe that the two of them have NOT seen the other with less than a towel on?)

They realize that the one pool is a co-ed one, and so they change into their yukatas, too shy in front of each other to take off their clothes and soak in the pool.

Seung Hee says she’s going to soak in, sparking Hyun Joon’s delight at the possibility of seeing Seung Hee naked. However, they are interrupted by the presence of Yuki, who appears to be working at that hot springs, and she delivers them sake.

Hyun Joon thanks the girl and strokes her cheek, which causes Yuki’s heart to flutter with excitement. (Again, REALLY – Lee Byeong Hun – do you think that by doing that a girl would NOT fall in love with you?)

Back at headquarters, Sa Woo is surprised and wonders why Hyun Joon and Seung Hee aren’t around. Sang Hyun tells Sa Woo to go to Hungary first and get his assignment there. Sa Woo becomes suspicious that it is both of them who are missing.

In a weird homage to Winter Sonata, the two lovebirds walk around in the snow and throw snowballs at each other. Seung Hee tackles Hyun Joon and while she’s on top of him, she asks:

Seung Hee: Why did you kiss me so suddenly that day? Was it a challenge or was it love?
Hyun Joon: I think…it wasn’t just a kiss, but because from those beautiful lips of yours, crude words were pouring out. I just wanted to shut it for a bit.
Seung Hee: Then…I will have to say lots of crude things from now on.

And she kisses him. The two of them are so cuddly it’s amazing they’re both tough NSS agents.

Balaton, Hungary: Sa Woo delivers room service to where Hong Seung Ryong is staying. He is stopped by a bunch of European bodyguards, who inspect the dishes. A strawberry topping on a cake whizzes out of its place and turns on – gas fills the room and knocks out the guards.

Sa Woo, protected by a gas mask, brings a spare to Hong and helps him escape. He kicks a few guards’ butts, then shows off his motorcycle riding skills as he evades the guards. They reach a dock, and Sa Woo and a stunned Hong escape on a small boat far from the guards.

Back to the lovebirds.

Hyun Joon enters a store to purchase something, leading to Seung Hee to smile ridiculously and demand that he give her the contents of the bag during dinner. Hyun Joon doesn’t understand what she wants – it turns out, he just bought some pairs of underwear!

Seung Hee is miffed that he did not get her anything – not even candy for White Day. She refuses to talk to Hyun Joon, prompting him to leave the restaurant. Seung Hee pouts, and expects him to come back, but he doesn’t.

She waits outside the restaurant, wondering if he’ll ever return for her, and soon enough, he comes around the corner, STILL empty-handed. Seung Hee is annoyed, but he grabs her face and kisses her. As he does, he puts a piece of chocolate in her mouth.

Back at the hotel, they sleep on their own sides of the large bed. Hyun Joon is itching to get it on with Seung Hee, but he has to act cool. First, he lays his arm under her chin, but she doesn’t respond. He gets on top of her – she doesn’t respond.

He leans in for a kiss – she opens her eyes, and he immediately rolls over to her other side and says that he would feel a lot more comfortable sleeping on her side of the bed. His tactics are obvious, and she gives in to him.

All I can say is, Lee Byeong Hun has one hell of a muscular body.

Park Chul Young and his right-hand-woman Kim Sun Hwa arrive at Hungary and see the dead bodyguards. They are not pleased.

While waiting, Sa Woo approaches Hyun Joon from behind and asks him where he went for vacation. Hyun Joon admits that he went to Japan with Seung Hee. He’s gleeful, but he does not see Sa Woo’s heartbroken face. Hyun Joon tells him that he plans to marry Seung Hee after the assignment is over, and get her to quit.

Baek San meets with the President and his advisors about granting asylum to a North Korean nuclear scientist, and advises the President to wait for their conclusions regarding Hong’s intentions to defect North Korea.

Seung Hee questions Hong inside a chapel, forcing him to talk by showing him a picture of his family. She reports back the assessment to Baek San, and they await the President’s decision.

Turns out, the President wants to grant asylum – despite the political fallout – because…he is interested in developing nuclear arms himself.

Back in Hungary, the three agents receive word and escort Hong to go back to South Korea. Suddenly they find the local police on their tail and after some swift maneuvering, Sa Woo gets them all safely to an airfield, where they transfer him over to other agents and then leave.

This Hungarian can’t believe the mess the local police made on his street, so to solve this headache, he drinks his beer.

As the agents and Hong head over to another, more private airfield, the driver is immediately shot dead. Another agent steps out of the car and is immediately shot in the head by a sniper bullet far away – it’s Vic.

Vic eliminates all the agents around Hong, and he goes over to the car. He asks for the list from Hong, but Hong does not understand his request and does not say anything.

Too late, TOP shoots Hong dead as Hyun Joon broods over the rosary Hong handed him in the chapel.

Comments:

Ok, I think I will comment first on the acting.

I have to give some credit to Kim Tae Hee because she did improve a bit from the last I saw her. However, she does always have a bemused expression when she says her lines, similar to how Hilary Duff would recite her lines – always with a twitch of a smile. It is not befitting for a serious NSS agent that she’s supposed to be, but it does fit her character as someone constantly surprised and amused by Sa Woo and Hyun Joon.

The whole Japan escapade was a bit too long, as though it was just a montage to show how amazingly pretty Japan is in the winter time. I guess it was necessary to show how Hyun Joon and Seung Hee grew closer and closer, because there were a lot of moments that showed the other side to their characters as romantics or cuddly people. Lee Byeong Hun is funny in this part because you can totally tell he has one thing on his mind. He’s cute when he collapses from traveling in the hotel, but perks up at the suggestion that the two of them wash up – he thinks they’re going to do it together.

Lee Byeong Hun definitely looked like he was having fun – he has the funniest expressions that he makes Kim Tae Hee and Jung Joon Ho look wooden. Except Jung Joon Ho’s face is so expressive…

But the most fun part of this entire episode was seeing TOP!!! He doesn’t have much to act with – but my God he is cool. I have never heard him sing before, or seen him act before, so for me, this is a complete surprise. I loved the way he killed off the guards for Kim Il Joong (haha at the name…can a pun be any more obvious?), and how he just coolly shoots people down. If there ever was a believable assassin that exists in this series, it’s TOP. He is like the killers that chase Bourne in all three movies – the silent, cold-blooded killer who is just good at what he does. They need to give the man more lines.

Kim Seung Woo and Kim So Yun – I hope these two have more prominent roles soon, because I can feel they are such delicious characters.

The only thing I don’t like about the series is how everything seems to be episodic. So ok, TOP needs to get this “list” – but he kills everyone that knows about the list. So where the hell is he going to get it now? It basically allows for Vic to kill another target that NSS is somehow simultaneously searching for.

This drama is also trying too hard to balance the romantic drama with the action drama. I’m watching it for the action. I want to know more about what the hell IRIS is and why people are killing other people. I don’t care for whether Lee Byeong Hun is going to get his girl or not (frankly, I love Jung Joon Ho more and this is a rare moment where I’m actually rooting for the second male lead to get the girl!)

There are a lot of loose threads that I feel can be easily tied up. For one, I think Baek San might have been involved in the death of Hyun Joon’s parents and was actually the assassin that shot them dead. I also think that the IRIS list and the rosary that Hong gave to Hyun Joon are connected; I may be wrong, but just the way that the episode was cut made it seem like they are connected somehow. These two storylines can easily be done in two more episodes. I’m wondering if these threads can really last the entire series. I hope that the mysteries are going to be fully fleshed out and a lot more complicated than they seem to be right now.

Next episode brings us back to the present in Hungary, where Hyun Joon gets his assignment to kill the North Korean ambassador. FINALLY! Let’s get to the present and move forward!

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19 December 9, 2009January 24, 2016

IRIS: Episode 4

by kaedejun

I thoroughly enjoyed this episode – I do think that after three episodes of establishing the “ground work” with the characters, episode 4 picks up the pace and lets us plunge right into the main storyline. I’ve also heard that each character gets their moment to shine in terms of fleshing out their backstories – so I can’t wait to watch that part!

Sorry if it’s long – I will try to keep all episode recaps as succinct as possible! So, without further ado…

Episode 4:

After dropping Hong off to the other agents (and to his death), Hyun Joon, Sa Woo, and Seung Hee all lunch together at an outdoor café. They stare with curiosity and perhaps a little disgust at what Seung Hee is eating: goulash. But they refuse to try – leaving Seung Hee to lament how unsophisticated they are.

Sa Woo pokes fun at Hyun Joon, saying, “Shouldn’t you get used to eating things like that?” Hyun Joon says, “If she protests about my eating habits, then I might as well give up on her.”

Seung Hee’s revenge: she orders another goulash for Hyun Joon. This entire exchange, while cute, also shows off their amazing mastery of English. (Now, Jung Joon Ho just needs to speak English too…)

Hyun Joon receives a call: he has a new mission, but all he knows is the meeting location. And suddenly, we are back to the beginning of episode 1. Baek San informs Hyun Joon of Hong’s death, and that it might be an act of retaliation by the North Koreans. He gives Hyun Joon his independent mission.

Back at the café, Sa Woo asks how Seung Hee and Hyun Joon got close. She replies, “I just…think I had a thing for him from the start.” She tells him it was after the dinner at the Vice Director’s house, because…

And Hyun Joon appears out of nowhere to say, “Because we had our first kiss that day.”

Sa Woo’s heartbroken face is priceless.

Hyun Joon tells them that he’s been given a mission, and that Sa Woo and Seung Hee are allowed to enjoy the rest of their vacation. He then hints that he does not have much time left with Seung Hee, and that Sa Woo should basically shoo. Sa Woo is too good-natured so he leaves as though he’s cool with everything. But he spends the rest of his day brooding in a bar.

Hyun Joon and Seung Hee have their mini date by walking through a Hungarian bazaar, and while Seung Hee is enthusiastically looking at things, Hyun Joon is just a mite tense. They pass a fortune teller, who asks them to pick a tarot card, and while Seung Hee doesn’t want to, Hyun Joon thinks it might be fun. He picks two cards.

The Wheel of Fortune card comes up – the fortune teller informs him that he cannot avoid his destiny. Hyun Joon jokes that him and Seung Hee were destined to meet. Before the fortune teller can reveal the second card, Hyun Joon stops her, saying, “I’ve already heard what I wanted to hear.” They pay and leave.

The fortune teller cannot resist the temptation to see what is the second card, and immediately her expression darkens. Of course, we don’t see what it is, but she stares forebodingly after the happy couple. Seung Hee turns back and manages to get a glimpse of the fortune teller’s ominous expression. Her bag falls from her shoulder. (Nice touch.)

The couple returns to the hotel. Seung Hee notes that he was nervous all day, but he reassures her, that he’ll be back safe and sound.

As he turns to leave, Seung Hee stops him, and kisses him passionately…while across the hotel floor, Sa Woo overhears and oversees from behind a pillar.

The next morning, Sa Woo wakes up to find an already awake Hyun Joon. He asks Hyun Joon what his mission is, and Hyun Joon says, “EX” – an assassination. The target? “The Vice Director is here in Hungary. Go ask him if you’re curious,” says Hyun Joon.

After a thoughtful moment, Hyun Joon begins, “Sa Woo, if something goes wrong…” But Sa Woo cuts him off immediately, and tells him not to speak of such nonsense. He too notes Hyun Joon’s nervousness, but Hyun Joon shrugs it off.

Turns out, the target is Yoon Sung Chul – party leader of the Supreme People’s Assembly in North Korea. Yoon is in Hungary for a secret meeting with former Soviets because North Korea is just a step away from completing a nuclear warhead capable of attacking the U.S. directly. Therefore, NSS needs to stop North Korea from developing nuclear capabilities.

Budapest, Hungary: Hyun Joon moves into his new apartment. He unpacks all of his equipment and sets up all of his tracking equipment.

Meanwhile, Kim Sun Hwa and Park Chul Young arrive at the Budapest History Museum, where the politician Yoon is to arrive. Sun Hwa reports that they have 20 security guards, plus assistance from the local Hungarian National Security Office and police. Everything looks like it’s under control, but Chul Young decides to raise the security level to rank 1 – he has heard of a possible assassination attempt.

Sa Woo and Seung Hee wait at the hotel, not knowing what to do. Sa Woo suggests they meet with the Vice Director because he’s in Hungary. Seung Hee grows suspicious that Hyun Joon received his mission orders directly from the Vice Director.

Meanwhile, as Hyun Joon scouts out other high points around the museum plaza from the top of a domed building, he sees Chul Young and Sun Hwa in the courtyard. Chul Young wants reports about the square every two hours and checks his surroundings.

Hyun Joon sees Chul Young turn around to get a second look at him, and immediately runs off. Too late – Chul Young spotted him. Sun Hwa says they are going to close off that building when Yoon arrives, but Chul Young heads right on over.

Sun Hwa has been keeping tabs over all employees of the building and who has been going in and out in the last month, but Chul Young tells her to check up on what the South Korean intelligence agencies are doing, and to see if they can disrupt U.S./South Korean communications by satellite. He also wants a sniper in the location that Hyun Joon was just at.

They unsuspectingly pass Hyun Joon leaving the building.

The weight of the mission hangs over Hyun Joon, and Chul Young’s face haunts him. He calls up Baek San over a secure line… who is also having lunch with Sa Woo and Seung Hee at that moment. Baek San leaves the table for the conversation.

Hyun Joon reports that security has gotten tighter, with more North Korean agents and local security police in place. Baek San says he will contact Hyun Joon later and rejoins his guests. Sa Woo asks if there is anything wrong – but Baek San merely replies, “It’s nothing.” The terse answer unsettles Sa Woo and Seung Hee, and so she asks upfront what Hyun Joon’s mission is. Are they to provide assistance? Baek San deflects, asking them to wait a little and try to enjoy their vacation.

Seung Hee and Sa Woo take a walk in the park – and she continues fretting about Hyun Joon. They encounter the fortune teller. She tells Seung Hee that the second card is a tower that indicates something bad is happening. That’s just what Seung Hee needs right now…

Hyun Joon sits at a sidewalk café and sees (another) little girl watching him. He smiles at her, and she shyly hides behind her mother. Finding it amusing, he begins making funny faces at her, and she playfully peeks out from behind her mother. (First Yuki in Japan…now Blondie in Hungary…)

At that moment, Chul Young strolls up to the café, sitting a few tables away. Hyun Joon spots him and immediately covers his face. Chul Young sees Hyun Joon and wonders if he’s seen Hyun Joon before, but does nothing. Sun Hwa joins Chul Young, no longer in her black suit.

Chul Young drops his professional demeanor and engages Sun Hwa in small talk, telling her how he had to survive some months during his study abroad in Moscow eating hard black bread, still hopeful at the prospect of North and South reunification.

Just then, Hyun Joon sees the little girl crossing the street in front of an oncoming van. He runs over.

Sun Hwa and Chul Young react to the sound of the van’s honking.

The van drives away, and the girl is safe, but Hyun Joon nowhere to be found. The girl points in the direction of Hyun Joon to her mother, to show who saved her. And Chul Young’s interest in Hyun Joon has officially peaked.

The rest of the team in Hungary is uneasy, awaiting the results of Hyun Joon’s mission. The North Korean agents are equally anxious, awaiting Yoon’s arrival.

Hyun Joon overtakes a guard inside the building, and shoots down Sniper 5 after the sniper reports in with Chul Young in roll call. Chul Young, ever so cautious, asks for a second round of final reports. All the snipers check in, saying, “Standing by.” But Hyun Joon checks in with, “On standby.”

Knowing something is up, Chul Young tells Sun Hwa to keep a close eye on Yoon and on Sniper 5/Hyun Joon. He and several other agents then race up the building where Hyun Joon is.

Hyun Joon can’t manage to get a clear shot of Yoon. But when he does get a chance, he can’t take it – because Yoon has just lifted up the young girl from the café into an embrace.

Chul Young sees one of his agents down in the building and immediately tells Sun Hwa to protect Minister Yoon. But Hyun Joon takes his shot – and Yoon goes down.

Sun Hwa and other agents give chase towards the building while Chul Young calmly searches for Hyun Joon. Hyun Joon manages to get out of the building unstopped by guards. But Chul Young comes out on an overlooking balcony and shoots him right through the side of his torso.

Injured but unable to stop, Hyun Joon walks along the balcony around the plaza, unaware that Chul Young is creeping up to him from the front. They are about to meet at a corner but Chul Young says, “Yes. Continue the pursuit,” keying Hyun Joon in to Chul Young’s position. Hyun Joon looks behind him and sees Sun Hwa and her team marching towards him. He’s trapped.

Agents join Chul Young and inform him that Hyun Joon is just around the corner. Sun Hwa’s instincts tell her someone is also around the corner. They ready and aim their guns…but at each other.

Turns out – Hyun Joon has rappelled off the balcony with a long cord – silently making his way down. But the cord is too short, and he lets go, jumping down from a tree’s height.

Hyun Joon walks far, calm but slightly weak from loss of blood. Sun Hwa and Chul Young are in a car in pursuit. They search for Hyun Joon’s figure through the streets, continually just missing him as he weaves through people and behind trees and buses. But as Hyun Joon goes down a subway, Chul Young spots him. He and Sun Hwa get out and pursue him, but it’s too late – Hyun Joon has gotten on and the train pulls away before Chul Young can do anything. (Much like how Hyun Joon just missed Chul Young in South Korea’s subway with the murder of Takashi.)

Chul Young orders for all stations within 3km to be blocked and notifies the local police to look for an Asian male in his 30s.

Hyun Joon stumbles into his apartment and calls up Baek San and reports mission accomplished. He asks for help. Baek San refuses – if he sends in more agents, it will merely compromise their cover and all will know that NSS/South Korea was involved. Hyun Joon pleads – he really cannot escape in his current condition. But Baek San is firm.

Hyun Joon, faced with abandonment, has to treat his wound himself. They graphically display him extracting the bullet from his side, and then stab himself with more medicine to keep him from going into shock (or maybe it’s anesthesia?).

Baek San informs Sa Woo that Hyun Joon’s been injured, and that it would be bad if he were caught.

Hyun Joon waits with his gun drawn, looking almost resigned to his fate. He fades in and out of consciousness, and remembers a story Seung Hee told him while in Akita about a female statue. The woman had drunk from a magical spring that put her under a spell and turned her into a dragon that protects Lake Tazawako. Her love became a dragon as well that protects the other lake, Lake Towada. Despite their separation, they meet each other through the lake. Their unchanging love for each other is the reason why the lakes never freeze over in the winter.

Hyun Joon: So what you’re saying is that, these two people just wanted to love one another but they’ve turned into monsters in different places.
Seung Hee: Monsters? That’s right. Monsters. That makes it even sadder.
Hyun Joon: What?
Seung Hee: The work we do. Because if we keep going like this it feels like you and I will also become monsters.
Hyun Joon: Should we just give up?
Seung Hee: Now we can’t do that even if we wanted to.

But in the present, it does not look like they can be reunited anytime soon.

Seung Hee confronts Baek San, who is fishing. (Wow – what a way to reinforce Baek San’s cold-heartedness). She asks where Sa Woo and Hyun Joon are, for Sa Woo immediately left after his meeting with the Vice Director. Baek San doesn’t answer, but orders that she return to Korea on the first flight available tomorrow.

Back in the President’s household, a midnight call wakes him from his slumber and he orders for all his advisors to be called in immediately. They review classified files about Yoon’s assassination, and figure that the assassination may have been by conservative South Korean parties wanting to keep up tension between the North and South. The President orders them to find out the entire context of the situation before they make an appropriate response, and before the press releases the information and makes its own assumptions.

Meanwhile, Sa Woo drives by Hyun Joon’s apartment building, where there is a flurry of police activity. He observes from his car as Chul Young arrives at the location. Chul Young confirms Hyun Joon’s location and sends a team up.

Back in the apartment, a knock on the door wakes Hyun Joon. He readies his gun, and slowly unlocks the door.

It’s Sa Woo.

Hyun Joon is relieved. He tells Sa Woo that they need to get out right away, and grabs his jacket. But as he turns around, he faces Sa Woo pointing a gun at him.

Sa Woo: I’m sorry. It’s an order.

Comments:

GAH! That was my first reaction at the ending: gah – cliffhanger!!!

While not all questions are answered just yet, this episode raised more in regards to Baek San and his mysterious motives. For what purpose did he send Hyun Joon on a suicide mission to assassinate Yoon? I felt it wasn’t just as simple as wanting reunification and stopping North Korea from developing nuclear capabilities. Could it possibly have something to do with the President wanting nuclear weapon information (maybe Baek San does not want the President to get any)? Or, maybe there was a more personal agenda against Hyun Joon. I don’t know – but these are just my crazy theories. And I’m glad I’m theorizing – for me, that means the series is engaging enough to want to figure out what the hell is going on before I see the next episode. I may be wrong, or not have a good understanding of the entire situation, but I am definitely curious.

(For example, I could be wrong about the rosary being the key to the IRIS list or something, but they put so much importance to that rosary whenever the list is mentioned!)

Sa Woo/Jung Joon Ho was immensely fierce in the last scene. I was shocked in a very good way – I definitely like that there is more tension between the two friends aside from just wanting the same girl. But the switch in personality was also so sudden that I hope the next episode addresses why Sa Woo agreed to the task of killing Hyun Joon. Either way – I like “mean” Sa Woo. He was also amazing at being the friend who is cool with Hyun Joon taking the love of his life, and then subtly expressing heartbreak. What a nuanced and awesome performance.

It was interesting to see that the mission was actually one of Hyun Joon’s earlier assignments. From the first episode, I thought he was already a seasoned agent and placed in Hungary as an “on-site agent” of sorts. But to see that this was his first solo mission makes the stakes higher: he is not just a newbie to the whole assassination mission, but he had just fallen in love.

And then there was more Kim Seung Woo and Kim So Yun! Woohoo! They were amazing – and Kim So Yun gave such an interesting performance. While she is a very capable agent, she adds a subtle layer of humanity, in the sense that when Yoon was shot she was screaming and frantically calling for an ambulance. It’s not just a job – it’s personal, and it was sad because she seemed to take it personally that she failed. And when Chul Young was telling her about his experience in Russia, Sun Hwa had this expression that seemed to say, “What am I doing here…?” As though this was not a regular lunch date between superior and subordinate. I am especially curious to see how their relationship plays out, especially when she falls for Hyun Joon later on (as I have heard.)

It’s so hard to avoid spoilers for the series because 16+ episodes are already out and so much has happened. I’m only catching up now! Thank God school is ending soon and I can do a major marathon… 🙂

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25 December 19, 2009January 24, 2016

IRIS: Episode 5

by kaedejun

I’m starting to feel that the episodes alternate between good, fast-paced forward movement with the story line, and then 1-2 draggy episodes. Episodes 1-2 were fine, even though they were hard for me to get through quickly. But they were the first two – Korean dramas usually need that many before getting more interesting, no? Then episode 3 was exciting, personally. Episode 4 was good, but since it was mostly a more fleshed explanation of what happened in the first 20-30 minutes of episode 1, it was not as exciting as I had hoped. Then comes Episode 5, which had such a strong start with that cliffhanger from episode 4, but began to drag on a bit. It is as though there is a pattern of 2 episodes as so-so, and 1 episode of greatness…but I’ll leave that for you all to decide.

Episode 5:

Sa Woo apologizes for what he is about to do. It is clear he’s also reluctant to kill Hyun Joon even though he was ordered too. Suddenly, an explosion from behind knocks the two frenemies off their feet.


(The blue bar at the bottom stays there for pretty much the entire episode so it’s going to be in all the screencaps. Kinda distracting…sorry)

As Sa Woo slides backwards on his back, he shoots down the soldiers, forcing some of them to retreat. Hyun Joon manages to escape out the balcony through the chaos, and his laptop, which was set to a timer, implodes, destroying all information.

Later at Hyun Joon’s now-empty apartment, Chul Young informs Sun Hwa that if they capture Hyun Joon, it’s to kill. Sun Hwa does not want to kill him just yet – she wants to properly investigate the assassination. But Chul Young is firm.

Hyun Joon makes his way to a train yard and into an office/locker room, where he hides, bandaging his wound and trying to regain his strength. Meanwhile, Sa Woo informs Baek San that the mission failed, but since the Hungarian police and North Koreans are looking for him, Hyun Joon will have no where to go. Baek San tells him to find Hyun Joon first and finish his task.

It turns out, Sa Woo had refused at first to carry out the mission, but Baek San told him he had no choice – it was decided from the very beginning, even before Hyun Joon was accepted into NSS, that Hyun Joon would be selected to do this mission, and would have to be killed. Baek San hands Sa Woo a folder that contains information about Hyun Joon’s past, saying, “This will tell you why Kim Hyun Joon was selected, and why NSS is abandoning him.”

Sa Woo adamantly refuses. Baek San then tells him to send Seung Hee in – she will have to do the job then. Of course, Sa Woo can’t let her do that.

The President asks Baek San on the phone if it is true that Minister Yoon was assassinated by enemy bullets. Baek San lies – the incident was because of internal dissension in North Korea. The President, appeased, tells his advisors to inform the security personnel of the situation and to deal with it appropriately.

Baek San makes another important phone call – this time, agents enter the NSS headquarters and begin to confiscate everything that belonged to Hyun Joon to be destroyed. He is being charged with espionage, and anyone in contact with him from here on out will be equally suspected and charged.

The coroner Oh Hyun Kyu loses all of his Hyun Joon-relevant files as well, prompting him to later catch up with Sang Hyun and ask who is framing him with espionage. Sang Hyun wisely says that it must be Baek San.

Hyun Kyu: So another innocent victim is made a sacrificial lamb.

Apparently, before Sang Hyun joined, two other agents were similarly charged with espionage, and they disappeared, with no formal procedures. Hyun Kyu says no one is ever going to see Hyun Joon again.

Seung Hee receives a notice on her phone that Hyun Jun has been tried with espionage. She calls up Tae Sung, who does not know what is going on either, and does not want to get involved by helping her. She calls up a fellow agent/friend, but the friend cannot find anything on Hyun Joon – he’s pretty much been erased.

Hyun Joon and Sa Woo are respectively haunted by their confrontation. But Sa Woo has to face Seung Hee first. Seung Hee refuses to believe that Hyun Joon would be a double agent, and she wants to see him now. Sa Woo tells her that there are too many people looking for him in Budapest right now. Seung Hee is shocked and holds in her crying, leading Sa Woo to finally make a move and hug her.

Hyun Joon is discovered the next morning by a cleaning lady, who calls in for an ambulance and unwittingly alerts everyone about Hyun Joon’s location.

Sa Woo and Seung Hee, and the North Korean agents separately make their way to the train yard. One by one, Hyun Joon knocks out cold each agent he encounters. He shoots a lot of them down before Yong Chul and Sun Hwa shoot at him.

FACE OFF BETWEEN YONG CHUL AND HYUN JOON!!! They aim their guns at one another but they have no more bullets. They start fighting with their fists on a bridge that moves through the warehouse. Hyun Joon falls down from the second level and runs off, escaping from Yong Chul’s punches and Sun Hwa’s sniper bullets. Another agent shoots at him, but he is shot down…by Seung Hee. Sa Woo pulls Seung Hee back and restrains her (yes you stupid girl, your rash actions are definitely not going to help you or Sa Woo, because now people will think Hyun Joon has back up and start looking for you!)

Hyun Joon manages to hide in one of the abandoned train cars outside; he takes a break, until he sees a helicopter getting ready to shoot a missile at him. The missile barely misses him and the explosion severely weakens him. The North Korean agents think they’ve got him now – but he’s no longer there.

Watching from afar, Sa Woo and Seung Hee determine the surrounding areas and decide that he would have exited through the west, and so they immediately head out that way. Yong Chul figures out the same thing and has all the agents assemble there.

Hyun Joon gets out and breaks into a truck, tailed by the helicopter raining bullets on him. He drives right past Seung Hee, who does not see him properly in the driver’s seat but perhaps suspects it’s him, and he plows right on through the North Koreans’ barricades. The truck comes to a stop, and Yong Chul opens the door.

No one is inside. Hyun Joon had managed to tie a leather strap around the wheel to keep the truck moving forward.

Seung Hee cannot stand waiting around to hear from Hyun Joon, so she tries to track him down from her computer on her own, but Hyun Joon has been deleted from the NSS database. Sa Woo enters her room telling her that it’s too dangerous for them to stay at the hotel any longer. Although Hyun Joon has not been caught yet, it will be difficult for him to escape. (That, and the fact that Yong Chul orders Sun Hwa to kill Hyun Joon, as that is the only way for them to survive through this mission.)

Hyun Joon calls Baek San, confronting him – why was he abandoned?! Baek San it was out of his hands – his fate was set before he joined NSS.

Hyun Joon: I will return no matter what it takes. And when I do, you will pay for playing with my fate.

Baek San says that Seung Hee is there in Budapest – “Perhaps her fate is the same as yours.”

Sa Woo and Seung Hee go into an abandoned parking lot, and they sense someone behind them. It’s Hyun Joon – battered and beaten. And this time – he raises a gun at Sa Woo. He shoots Sa Woo near the heart, and Sa Woo falls. Hyun Joon shoots two more times in the back. Hyun Joon approaches Sa Woo’s fallen body slowly, and Sa Woo immediately retaliates with a couple of shots from the ground – Hyun Joon falls down, dead. Seung Hee just stands there, in complete and utter shock…

…only to wake up from her dream. She senses someone beside her bed, and grabs for the gun under her pillow to aim it at the dark hooded figure sitting there. He turns the light on – it’s Hyun Joon.

Seung Hee is shocked and immediately hugs him in relief. She tells him that the Yoon assassination was due to internal North Korean dissension – as stated by the President. But Hyun Joon insists that he received his orders from NSS. Seung Hee tells him that Sa Woo was actually trying to save him, and that the three can work together. This brings tears to Hyun Joon’s eyes – but he regains control over his feelings (of betrayal?) and tells Seung Hee:

Hyun Joon: In order to prove that our side didn’t have anything to do with the assassination, I must not stay alive. As long as you’re with me, Sa Woo and you will be in danger.

Seung Hee refuses to leave him. She says she’d rather die together with him than go home alone.

She escorts him out of the hotel, both of them wearing hoods/hats to cover their faces. Sa Woo sees them leave the hotel together, and looks at the tracking device on his phone, showing the movements of the North Korean agents.

Yong Chul is notified that they have located Hyun Joon, and the entire team moves out – this is their last chance to get him. Seung Hee and Hyun Joon drive up to a train station, where he goes in to buy tickets for the both of them.

Ticket purchase is taking way too long.

As the North Korean agents enter the train station, Yong Chul looks around for any sign of suspicious cars or people outside, but misses spotting Seung Hee sitting in the car. Hyun Joon finishes buying the tickets, and sees North Korean agents led by Sun Hwa looking for him. Sun Hwa continually misses him as she searches through the crowds. Hyun Joon grabs some clothes of a deliveryman in a personnel room, and even though Sun Hwa sees him several times, passing by each other, she doesn’t recognize him. Yong Chul walks into the station, and passes RIGHT BY Hyun Joon without a second glance.

BUT, Yong Chul swivels around and aims his gun at Hyun Joon, telling him to stop. Hyun Joon grabs the nearest agent’s gun and protects himself with the guard’s body. Yong Chul, Sun Hwa, and two other agents face off against Hyun Joon and the poor-body-armor-agent.

Local police comes running in and calls for the agents to put their guns down, getting in between Yong Chul and Hyun Joon. Hyun Joon manages to escape with his captive agent out of the station, frustrating Yong Chul.

Hyun Joon rushes back to the parking lot, escaping from Yong Chul, but just as he approaches the car, it blows up right in front of his eyes.

That does it – his lover is dead right in front of him…memories of them together in Japan flash before his eyes…he can’t stop thinking about her sacrifice for him. The agents catch up to him – and Sun Hwa fires a bullet right into his arm. The other agents start shooting at him, and he ducks behind a car. But he does not run further, nor does he fight back.

The incessant gunfire snaps him out of his reverie and he hijacks a car and drives away, right past Sa Woo in his own car. Sun Hwa and Yong Chul follow him in a car they hijacked as well. They weave through the narrow streets of Budapest and end up in the countryside.

The chase ends up on a wide ledge next to an old building. Yong Chul brings his car right up next to Hyun Joon’s and repeatedly pushes his car against a building. He tries to cut in front of Hyun Joon to stop him, but Hyun Joon plows right into him and keeps driving forward. Yong Chul and Sun Hwa start shooting like mad through the front window, but Hyun Joon speeds up, pushing the car over the ledge that they were driving on, flipping Yong Chul’s car over.

Hyun Joon manages to escape and gets on a private airfield. He takes over a small private plane and begins to taxi off.

And who comes driving alongside him but Sa Woo in his car. Sa Woo accelerates and cuts in front of the plane… and then aims a sniper rifle at Hyun Joon.

Sa Woo is pained – he really does not want to do this. Hyun Joon is hurt – he wishes things could have been different for the both of them. And so, he accelerates the plane, and begins to pull up into the air…

Comments:

First of all, I must apologize if the recap is too long – it’s just so hard to exclude certain things!

This episode felt a little repetitive for me. It was constantly all about Hyun Joon running, Hyun Joon suffering from his wound, Hyun Joon fighting the North Korean agents…the North Korean agents chasing after him and losing him…wash, rinse, repeat. I would have liked more moments with the team back at NSS headquarters, or even get an update on what Vic was doing to find the IRIS list since he so blatantly failed in the beginning. I will concede that most of the story/action lies in Budapest, but a little reprieve from it would be nice…

I know that I said I loved the action scenes in an earlier recap…but I’m going to have to say that right now they are using the whole flash-bang-pizazz to full effect. This episode ties up the Hungary storyline, but it’s clear the IRIS production team is really showing off their large budget. I liked the quiet moments displaying the characters’ internal conflict (i.e. the two frenemies Sa Woo and Hyun Joon). I am still not too convinced about Kim Tae Hee merely because the whole scene where she was distraught over being unable to find Hyun Joon felt very…acted – just not natural. But I really need to stop criticizing her before it becomes a habit (hehe). It’s just that, the action scenes are just there – they’re not really adding more to the storyline, but just extending the chase. We have 15+ episodes of chasing! Let’s all go somewhere (else)!

The jewel moments – for me – were when Sang Hyun and Hyun Kyu realize that Baek San is behind the plot to frame Hyun Joon, and whenever Sa Woo came on screen. Seriously, that man’s got the EYES. Also Seung Hee’s dream sequence. It felt so fitting that Hyun Joon would come for revenge against Sa Woo, but it started getting surreal when Seung Hee just stood there and shrieked. Thank goodness it was just a dream sequence or else I would have been shaking Kim Tae Hee and the writer, saying, “Really?! That’s all you would have Seung Hee the NSS agent do!?” The reasons why Hyun Joon was a target of the NSS and his past, plus the IRIS list mystery are good as overarching story threads for the series – but I think it needs to play a more prominent role in the episodes than all the action before it becomes secondary to all the action scenes. Or else, these story threads are going to be stretched out very thinly.

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16 December 23, 2009January 24, 2016

IRIS: Episodes 6-7

by kaedejun

I’m doing two episodes because IRIS has already ended, and I’m sure there are plenty of people who already know the ending. I, however, don’t – and therefore I’m trying to get there as fast as I can!

These two episodes got this reaction from me: “Whoaaa…” And episode 6 DID prove to be much more interesting than the previous two (following the pattern). Episode 7 just had its moments, story-wise.

Episode 6

On the airplane tarmac, Hyun Joon pulls up towards the sky, and Sa Woo fires at the engines. The plane begins to leave a trail of black smoke, and no matter what Hyun Joon does, he cannot keep the plane up. There’s this great moment where all we see is Sa Woo holding the gun and then hear the plane crash in the distance, and Sa Woo’s arms fall down.

Six months later: Mi Jung enters the office wearing a yellow minidress and an insolent look on her face. She’s depressed about Hyun Joon’s death.

Hyun Kyu informs everyone about modified weapons that will be smuggled into South Korea illegally. Mi Jung has narrowed down the number of shipping docks where these weapons could possibly be arriving at, but the list is too long for the agents to go through. Mi Jung argues, “If Hyun Jun sunbae was here right now, he would be able to sense which one…” But Tae-sung hits her on the side to shut her up. Sang Hyun reminds her, and everyone else, “I told you to erase all memories of that man in this office.”

Later, Sa Woo meets Baek San in his car at a parking lot. He hands Baek San a small chip, and Baek San notes that Sa Woo seems to be getting comfortable with the idea of working under Baek San – “A man that allows his conscious or sense of responsibility to hinder his ambition cannot attain anything. I wasn’t wrong in choosing you.”

Mi Jung goes to a nightclub for some dancing and relieving of stress. On a floor above, Vic watches her dance and get accosted by a couple of foreigners trying to hit on her. He comes down and beats up the two foreigners with a few swift kicks. His expression asks for nothing in return, and he walks away. (And now let us set up the next romantic coupling…)

The Blue House is in good spirits having heard the news that talks between North and South Korea can begin once again. The President tells Baek San privately that he finds it unsettling that the deaths of Hong Seung Ryong and Yoon Sung Chul are reminiscent of a similar situation 30 years ago. He says, “I can’t help but believe that there is a powerful force out there that we do not know about.”

Baek San then meets with Sa Woo, discussing Seung Hee. She is still unable to grasp Hyun Joon’s death, and Baek San wisely says that she is in a fragile state, where she cannot even trust anyone. It will take time but she will get better.

Seung Hee’s friend at NSS, Team Leader Yang Jung In, tells her that there is no hope that Hyun Joon is alive anywhere, and so she might as well give up. But she also sends Seung Hee a photo of Chul Young and Sun Hwa, telling her that they were in charge of Yoon during his assassination.

In Pyeongyang, North Korea, Chul Young and his new sidekick walk down the hall of prisoner cells. In one of them, Sun Hwa is making do with her bare furnishings and exercising to stay strong. Chul Young, still ashamed, refuses to speak to her. He meets with his superior, who explains that someone had to be sacrificed for Yoon’s assassination. The Intelligence director tells Chul Young that Yoon’s death is also not a bad thing, since he now holds all of the nuclear development information that Yoon had. For his country, the military director is willing to go all the way in developing nuclear capabilities – and Chul Young can be part of it as a reinstated agent.

Chul Young wants Sun Hwa reinstated as well, but the military director decides against that, saying instead, “Let’s think of creative situations.”

Meanwhile in Hungary, Hyun Joon wakes up to find himself in a sparse hospital room. A man in a suit comes into his room and hands him a phone. The man on the phone, whom we can call Mr. X for now, informs Hyun Joon that he is the man who saved his life.

Mr. X: You, Kim Hyun Joon, it was not chance that you fell into this conspiracy. You were selected by those who would profit from this venture.
Hyun Joon: Are you saying you know who selected me?
Mr. X: I know that those who brought you into this and gave your latest order are not the only players.

He offers to help Hyun Joon to end the conspiracy. Hyun Joon thinks it over – but he wants none of it. And so, before he can become another pawn in another game, he fights the guards and escapes to his freedom.

Back in Seoul, Seung Hee is working in a greenhouse potting plants. Her boss tells her that she should not plan to stay working in the nursery for too long, and to mend her heart as soon as possible. Sa Woo comes to visit her, and he tries to tell her what is happening in the office. However, Seung Hee refuses to hear any more of it. “All that stuff no longer has anything to do with me. I don’t really care, and it’s not much fun either,” she says. Sa Woo changes the subject and asks about the flowers in the garden.

Seung Hee: Iris. In Korean, it’s a “Brush flower.”…In Greek mythology, the river to the underworld was called the Iris. For me, it’s not a pretty flower but a sad flower. Hyun Joon liked irises.

In Pyeongyang, a newly reinstated Chul Young goes to visit an imprisoned Sun Hwa. He gives her another chance: Hyun Joon was found to be in Japan, and she has one last chance to kill him.

Akita, Japan: Hyun Joon climbs up a mountain in the deep, fresh snow. He travels alone, but a few hundred feet behind him Sun Hwa is climbing up in his footsteps. Struggling, she continues searching for him and carries only a sniper rifle on her back.

Sun Hwa spots Hyun Joon struggling up the mountain, and immediately she drops down and sets up her rifle. She shoots, and Hyun Joon’s figure disappears behind the trees, so she climbs up to where she shot him to find his body.

Only to find that he is standing right behind her. Hyun Joon quickly disarms her and knocks her down, pushing her off an edge and lets her tumble down in the snow.

Later, Sun Hwa finds herself waking up in a warm cabin, and Hyun Joon lies on the floor beside her. She quickly grabs for a knife in her boot, but finds that she has been completely disarmed and her coat taken off. But she is not dead.

Instead, Hyun Joon makes tea for her and tells her to drink it if she does not want to die. Sun Hwa refuses the drink. A little while later, she wakes up again to find a note from Hyun Joon, saying: Don’t chase me anymore. This is the one and only instance of goodwill.

Yuki returns home to the hot springs and discovers a weak Hyun Joon sitting at the steps. She brings him into her home and tends to him back to good health. As she takes care of him, she discovers the rosary given to him by Hong Seung Ryong.

As Hyun Joon researches on the internet for gun resellers, he is contacted by Mr. X. Mr. X wants to do “something” with Hyun Joon, but Hyun Joon refuses. Mr X warns him, “Are you choosing revenge after all? There’s a saying that two graves are needed for revenge: one for your enemy, and one for yourself.” That does not scare Hyun Joon, and he hangs up on Mr. X anyways.

Hyun Joon returns home, and immediately, he senses Sun Hwa’s presence in his room. She points a gun at him – “Did you think that I’d be grateful because you saved me once? Don’t be fooled.”

Hyun Joon once again disarms her and points the gun right back at her. He ties her up as a captive, but every day he brings her three meals. She refuses to drink the water or the soup, slowly dehydrating and starving to death. Finally, she can’t take it anymore and asks Hyun Joon to just kill her. She asks him why he is treating her with such mercy when he knows that she’s only there to kill him. He throws the question back at her, “What’s your reason? For what must you do this? Just go back.” But Sun Hwa says, “I have nowhere to go back to, if I don’t kill you.”

Hyun Joon tells her to not kill him just yet. He needs to exact his revenge first, and once that is done, he will let her kill him. He unties her and leaves her in the room.

Sun Hwa wakes up to find herself in a nicely furnished room, this time sleeping in blankets. A meal is once again set beside her. Struck by guilt from Hyun Joon’s kindness, Sun Hwa begins to eat. She cries as she eats, knowing that eating is a betrayal to her country and her mission, that she is unable to fulfill that mission. She is accepting Hyun Joon’s kindness and is indebted to him for her life by accepting the food.

Sun Hwa goes to the kitchen, where she asks Yuki if she can help prepare a meal this time. Yuki brightly lets her help and Sun Hwa brings the meal to Hyun Joon’s room. Hyun Joon thanks her, but thinks it’s Yuki. When he turns to see Sun Hwa, he is surprised, and she is startled to have been mistaken for someone else. She leaves hurriedly.

Sun Hwa bonds with Yuki at a local market, buying groceries but not knowing what is good to buy. She bonds with Hyun Joon as she follows him during a walk by Lake Tazawako, where the unfortunate female statue is situated. Sun Hwa hesitantly reaches out for Hyun Joon’s arm, and finally she touches it with her fingertips. Hyun Joon stops, but he does not push her away, and Sun Hwa smiles shyly as she holds onto his arm.

They stop at the statue, and Hyun Joon tells her there is a sad story associated with the female statue. Sun Hwa asks what it is, but Hyun Joon tells her, “I don’t believe in stuff like that,” and pulls away from her grasp.

Sun Hwa goes into his isolated cabin and discovers all of his research around Baek San. It’s clear he is a target. She also discovers a photo of Hyun Joon and Seung Hee together in Akita, and she realizes that he is out for revenge. She leaves him a note: “There’s a place I need to go to for a short while.”

Back in South Korea, Jung In comes to inform Seung Hee that NSS arrested Sun Hwa with two Russian pistols and documents regarding Baek San in her possession. This piques Seung Hee’s curiosity, as why would a North Korean agent have that much information about NSS. She returns to NSS for one purpose: to interrogate Sun Hwa.

Baek San permits her for interrogation, despite Sang Hyun’s protests. Seung Hee enters the interrogation room, locking the door. Sun Hwa recognizes Seung Hee instantly from the photo she saw at Hyun Joon’s cabin. Seung Hee gives her a photo of Hyun Joon and turns off the audio recording for the room, raising an alarm.

Seung Hee: What I want to know is not why you came here. The man who was in Budapest back then…that man…I want to know if he’s alive or not. Is he alive?
Sun Hwa: I don’t know.
Seung Hee: I’m not interrogating you right now. I’m asking you for a favor.

Outside, Sa Woo and Sang Hyun are banging at the door, yelling at her to open up. Sun Hwa refuses to answer, so Seung Hee ends her questioning. She leaves Sun Hwa with a warning: the other NSS agents will interrogate her now, and no amount of training can save her from it. She extends her hand to Sun Hwa, and Sun Hwa sees that there is a pill in her palm.

After a long moment of regarding Seung Hee’s intentions, she lightly shakes her hand and palms the pill. Seung Hee opens the door and leaves.

Sa Woo confronts Jung In, and tells her that he knows she leaked the information about Sun Hwa’s arrest to Seung Hee. He warns her, “The information you leaked can lead Seung Hee into danger,” and tells her never to do it again.

Seung Hee, meanwhile, packs up and leaves the nursery.

Back at the interrogation room, Sun Hwa is seizing and foaming at the mouth. A doctor determines that she swallowed a poisonous pill, and they have no choice but to transfer her to a hospital. They call in an ambulance, and the EMTs give her Vasopressin to counteract her symptoms. But before they can do so, she wakes up and begins beating everyone in the ambulance into a bloody pulp, including a NSS agent. She takes control of the ambulance and drives off.

Back in Akita, Japan, Hyun Joon is taken captive by Japanese Intelligence and held at the Akita Classified Prison. An agent injects a serum into him, and begins the electrocution torture.

Episode 7

We backtrack a little bit to see Hyun Joon approaching an arms dealer. He wants certain modified weaponry – the ones Hyun Kyu was probably warning NSS about – and will pay a large sum for it. However, he was caught when trying to rendezvous with the dealer and was arrested by the Japanese Intelligence agents.

Then we return to the present – Erika Sato, from the National Intelligence Office, is watching as two other agents torture and interrogate Hyun Joon. She tells everyone to leave and sits for a one-on-one interrogation session. She notes, “We researched your background but we weren’t able to find out a single thing. It’s just as if you don’t exist in this world.” She offers him a deal: if he does something for her, she can guarantee his freedom. (So many people keep offering Hyun Joon his “freedom”…)

Back in Seoul, Sa Woo is frantically searching for Seung Hee after the Sun-Hwa-interrogation-fiasco. Tae Sung finally reports that she’s in Japan, and Sa Woo puts two and two together. He tells Sang Hyun that Seung Hee gave Sun Hwa the pill, which is only used by NSS agents, to let her escape and then trail after to Japan. Sang Hyun tells Sa Woo to bring her back before she causes bigger problems. He then confronts Jung In about why Seung Hee would want to help Sun Hwa. Jung In informs him that Seung Hee doesn’t believe Hyun Joon is dead, and that Sun Hwa may know where Hyun Joon is because Sun Hwa was in charge of protecting Yoon during the assassination. Sang Hyun tells Jung In to keep this information to herself.

Sun Hwa, meanwhile, calls up Chul Young, who is in Shanghai, through a pay phone. She tearfully asks him if it’s true – if her family is dead. “Didn’t you promise me that you’d protect them?”

Sun Hwa does not hear his denial, and she hangs up on him. Chul Young immediately sends for an agent to find her in Japan. For all they know, she could defect – and it might be better to just eliminate her.

In Japan, Sun Hwa threatens the arms dealer with a gun to his head – she wants to know where Hyun Joon is. He fearfully reveals that Hyun Joon is being held by the National Intelligence Office in Akita. But rather than going in to save Hyun Joon, Sun Hwa waits from afar, perhaps knowing that Hyun Joon is going to find a way to escape somehow.


As she strolls through the streets of Akita, Seung Hee follows Sun Hwa into a parking lot. She tries to stay hidden as she follows Sun Hwa up and down the different levels of the lot, but she is not the only one – a North Korean agent is also following Sun Hwa. Seung Hee hides behind a car as Sun Hwa comes around a corner, but when Seung Hee goes around, she loses Sun Hwa. Instead, she finds a dead North Korean agent.

Hyun Joon is sent on a mission – Erika Sato wants him to assassinate a politician who has won the favor of the nation, but also has ties to the mafia. If he can get rid of their “little problem” she will ensure his freedom.


The Japanese politician enters a room for a meal with friends and colleagues and to watch a drumming performance group. The drummers are all dressed in huge masks and costumes. The other drummers go around touching the guests’ foreheads as though blessing them – and one of them in a black and red mask approaches the politician. He touches the politician’s forehead and blesses him. Then at the end of the performance, the black-and-red-masked performer undresses in the next room – and Hyun Joon begins to assemble his gun with a silencer. He turns off all the lights, and dons an infrared pair of glasses.

When the light goes out in the other room, Hyun Joon can see clearly the red dot that he placed on the politician’s forehead. He shoots through the screens and into his target’s head just before the lights go back up. The guests all start screaming and running as Hyun Joon walks off. Erika Sato’s boss informs the other Japanese agents to eliminate Hyun Joon, as it is too dangerous to have him walk around. Erika is disturbed, because it would mean she cannot fulfill her promise to him.

But he doesn’t need any of her promises – as he walks down the staircase, he sees the shadow of two Japanese agents with their gun drawn. Hyun Joon knows where they are and can hear them cock their guns. When the agents decide to whip around and shoot at him, he’s already gone.

He goes home, tired and cold, and still processing all the suffering he’s gone through and the fact that there is another death caused by his hands. The next morning he is greeted by Yuki, who is excited to see him back. She tells him that she’s been waiting for him for a long time and is still wearing the rosary necklace he gave her.

Chul Young’s new sidekick (whom I have no idea what his name is) confirms the agent’s death in Japan, and Chul Young puts him in charge of finding Sun Hwa.

Sun Hwa boards a train, with Seung Hee still following her, and now with Sa Woo chasing after Seung Hee. Sun Hwa and Seung Hee board the same train, but Sa Woo does not reach the station in time, so he follows with his car.

Seung Hee continually glances over at Sun Hwa’s direction, and eventually Sun Hwa catches on. As the man next to her raises a newspaper and blocks her from view, Sun Hwa disappears. Seung Hee starts heading for the end of the train car, but before she makes it to the other car, Sun Hwa presses a gun to her side.

Sun Hwa: For the debt owed for what you did in Korea, I’ll let it go just this once. Stop following me.
Seung Hee: Are you looking for Hyun Jun? Where is he?
Sun Hwa: Go back to Korea.
Seung Hee: Hyun Jun is still alive, isn’t he?

The car door opens, and a little boy sees the gun. Seung Hee immediately pushes the gun away, sending bullets flying around the train car. The passengers all run to one end of the car and let the girls have their catfight.


They throw each other around with Sun Hwa having the advantage first, and then Seung Hee. But Sun Hwa reaches her gun first, just as the train comes to a stop at the station and Sa Woo manages to board the train. He sees Sun Hwa aiming a gun at Seung Hee, and he shoots her gun out of her hands. Sun Hwa escapes down the train tracks, and Sa Woo shoots after her, but Seung Hee stops him. Seung Hee tells him, “If she dies, we can’t find Hyun Jun!” He tells her that Hyun Joon’s dead, but she stubbornly affirms that he is still alive.

Meanwhile, at the border between North and South Korea, government cars pass right on through without stopping for inspection. This alarms several countries that are keeping surveillance over the area, including Japan, United States, and Korea’s NSS. At a tunnel, the President’s advisor gets out of his car to greet the North Korean convoy – his guest is the Intelligence director, and Chul Young’s boss.

The President reassures his other advisors at the Blue House, telling them that North Korea is under turmoil because of starvation and their nuclear program being hindered by the incident in Hungary – he needs to meet North Korea face to face to solve the problem before it escalates – and they do not need to inform the other allies about it.

Baek San tells Sang Hyun to stop the investigation into the passing of the border. The Blue House is intentionally keeping NSS out of the loop because of the Hungary incident, and Baek San is not happy about it.

Back in Japan, Hyun Joon makes his way to the arms dealer’s office. The arms dealer orders his bodyguards to stop Hyun Joon in anyway possible, but Hyun Joon is too strong for them. Even without a weapon he manages to incapacitate each and every guard until he reaches the arms dealer. The arms dealer gives him the guns, but does not have fake ID’s ready. He tells Hyun Joon that he will find a way for him to get back to Korea without ID’s, but he needs another week.

Seung Hee revisits Lake Tazawako and the statue, and reminisces her time spent with Hyun Joon. She also visits the restaurant where they took a picture together. Hyun Joon had not wanted to take a picture but Seung Hee says no one would know who they are anyways. Sa Woo watches from outside the restaurant as she breaks down in tears at the restaurant.

Hyun Joon also revisits the lake and the same restaurant later that day, and he sees that this time their photo has something added to it – someone drew angel wings on Seung Hee’s back. A waitress comments that the lady from before looked just like the one in the photo, and Hyun Joon runs out onto the street, looking up and down for any sign of Seung Hee. But he gives up – it would be asking for too much to think she’s still alive, right?

Back in Seoul, the President meets with the Intelligence director.

President: History shows us that reunification of divided nations did not happen as a result of planning for it, but occurred as a single dramatic event. I believe that was because planning for a reunification was not something that was possible. I’m sure that during the planning period, there would have been too much protest, both domestic and international…The US, China, Russia, and Japan cannot want to see our two countries become united…I would like to meet with your Leader Kim and discuss the matter of reunification.

He tells the Intelligence director that South Korea has enough nuclear reactors to produce 5,500 warheads. The Director thinks that the President wants North Korea to abandon their weapons development, but the President says that if they do abandon, South Korea will help the North with their domestic and international issues.

In Pyeongyang, the Director consults with Chul Young. Leader Kim wants to meet with the President, but Chul Young says that if they join the South, North Korea will end up following South Korea’s will. Chul Young says they need to stop that from happening, and he will take care of it using the international connections he has.

Hyun Joon manages to gain passage to Korea through a fishing boat. He is brought to his small room, and receives a call from Yuki. Yuki is scared and hiding in a closet. There is an assassin killing off the people in the hot springs. Hyun Joon tells her he’s coming for her, but suddenly, he finds himself on the phone with Vic.

Vic tells him to bring the USB he received from Hong Seung Ryong in one hour to the Amaga Bridge. If he brings it, Yuki will be safe. The problem is – Hyun Joon has no idea what USB Vic is talking about.

Hyun Joon sets himself up in a high tower overlooking the bridge with his sniper rifle. He sees Vic’s car pull up to the middle of the bridge. Before Hyun Joon can shoot him, Vic raises his arm up and reveals a detonator in his hands. He pulls out Yuki, who has a bomb strapped around her chest. Hyun Joon has no choice but to go down and meet Vic.

Hyun Joon throws down his gun, and Vic insists on getting the USB first. Hyun Joon says no, “Let the girl go first.” Vic shoots at the ground right at Hyun Joon’s feet. Hyun Joon throws a black USB at Vic, who checks it immediately on a USB reader.


It calls for a password, and Hyun Joon gives him one. However, it’s the wrong password, and Hyun Joon immediately kicks the detonator away from Vic’s grasp. The USB reader flies up in the air and explodes, while Hyun Joon grabs a rope lying among a construction set up on the side of the bridge. He grabs Yuki and jumps off the bridge, letting the rope bring them down as far as they can until it gets stuck.

Vic begins shooting at him, and Hyun Joon begins running alongside the bridge, escaping from Vic’s bullets. Vic manages to shoot at the rope, thus forcing Hyun Joon and Yuki to slide down the side of the bridge.

Comments:

Ok, I’ll comment in order of the episodes. First, for episode 6 – I was so surprised at how fast it moved even though the episode was a little “slow” in the storyline. It mostly showed how everyone at NSS was dealing with Hyun Joon’s death/disappearance, and how Seung Hee was still in denial about his death. Then Hyun Joon returned to Japan and all of a sudden he was face to face with Sun Hwa. I thought it was terrific that he kept trying to get rid of her, and she wouldn’t let go. First she wouldn’t let go because she had a mission that she was stubbornly trying to accomplish while trying to disregard her emotions and guilt. Then she wouldn’t let go because she saw that Hyun Joon was not who she thought he was – he had revenge on his mind against his superior.

Interesting isn’t it, that the two women fall for Hyun Joon when they realize that he’s got more to him than they initially thought. Women love a complicated man…

I don’t like the way Sa Woo’s character is going. He’s becoming the pathetic third wheel in the relationship, with the skills of a secret agent. Since he couldn’t get the girl in the first place, he has resorted to betraying his best friend and working for (the evil) Baek San. And he is always chasing after Seung Hee as she goes off trying to find Hyun Joon. His betrayal makes the stakes higher because he can kill (rather than a simple betrayal of not telling the lead guy where the lead girl is or something like that). But I don’t understand his motivations anymore and why he would so readily give up years of friendship – is it really all just for a girl?! Man up, dude.

And now for episode 7 – it was heavy on the action, as though making up for the less amount of action in episode 6.

Sun Hwa was already a complex character in episode 6, and I have to admit her sudden switch in loyalties threw me in for a loop. But the whole curve ball of a family that was killed came in a little too late. If that had happened in episode 6, then I would understand that it was the last straw, and she therefore went rogue. To have it happen in episode 7 made that little fact seem so unnecessary; her feelings as a woman, her guilt, and a possible semi-resentment for being the sacrificial lamb in the Yoon assassination would have been enough. Her personal feelings and how she regarded Chul Young could have complicated the situation too. That was the one scene that frustrated me.

Otherwise, yay for the fight between Seung Hee and Sun Hwa! I liked seeing Seung Hee get into the action. All the characters are also finally coming together now because by this episode, everyone has met one another. Vic has encountered his main target, Hyun Joon, and his love interest Mi Jung; Hyun Joon has already faced off with Chul Young and Sun Hwa, AND is in constant interaction with his second leading lady; Seung Hee has met Sun Hwa, her love-rival and general-nemesis, etc. Fun, fun, fun!

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26 January 1, 2010January 24, 2016

IRIS: Episodes 8-9

by kaedejun

If I could title the episodes, episode 8 would be “Exposition,” and episode 9 would be “New Hairstyles, New Beginnings.”

One note: I’m going to apologize for my inability to name some of the characters. I just figured them out today (late in the game, as I’m halfway through the series) but it’s hard for me when the subtitles don’t mention their names. Anyways, the one head advisor to the President is named Jung Hyung Joon, and the female advisor is named Hong Soo Jin.

It’s annoying how the names are all similar in a slight way – most start with an S or H. Sometimes I get confused myself on what each person’s name is!

Episode 8

We left off with Hyun Joon and Yuki sliding down against the side of a bridge. They tumble down into the snow bank below until they reach the road. They escape into Hyun Joon’s parked car and drive away. Hyun Joon grabs the bomb off of Yuki’s chest and throws it out the window, where it explodes a few seconds later.

Yuki begins to cry, thinking about her family. Hyun Joon comforts her, when all of a sudden they are rammed at the side by an oncoming car – it’s Vic. Car chase ensues. The two cars face each other, and Hyun Joon begins driving in reverse with Vic after him. Hyun Joon spins the car around to face forward again, but not before Vic fires several bullets into the side of the car.

This action sequence was great with the car chase and the low angle of the camera – we could actually see the bullet shells hitting the ground and fly right past the camera.

Hyun Joon manages to avoid an oncoming truck, and Vic is forced to get back in the car as the truck nearly collides with him. But despite this close shave, Vic reacts too late and slams into another car, and Hyun Joon manages to get away.

However, not all is well – when Hyun Joon asks Yuki if she’s ok, she does not respond. He stops the car and takes her out, and sees that she was shot in her abdomen – one of Vic’s bullets that went into the side of the car earlier hit her.

While her family is in the temple for her funeral, Hyun Joon can’t bring himself to go in, knowing that he caused her death. He calls up Mr. X instead, asking for help. Mr. X tells him, “You left after rejecting me, and now you want me to help you?” But Mr. X says that Hyun Joon definitely has the USB people are looking for, because Hong gave it to him. Hyun Joon realizes it’s the rosary, and he goes back to Yuki’s shrine where the rosary is lying among her possessions.

Outside, Sun Hwa is waiting for him.

In Seoul, Baek San and Sa Woo have another one of their private meetings. Baek San relays his concerns about NSS being excluded from the secret meeting between North and South Korea. He then tells Sa Woo that the real reason he wanted to speak to him was about Seung Hee. He wants Seung Hee to return to her original position. Sa Woo thinks it will be too difficult for her, because she still cannot get over Hyun Joon’s death. Baek San says, “If she can’t believe it, then make her believe it. That’s your mission.”
(the word ‘mission’ just puts everyone in a bind, doesn’t it?)

So Sa Woo, having no choice but to follow orders, goes late at night to where all the secure computer servers are and enters a classified room using Hyun Kyu’s fingerprint ID (he has on a prosthetic fingerprint). He copies all the files into a USB.

The next day, Sang Hyun tells Jung In to summarize all the information in the ISIC (International Security Information Center). Jung In discovers a new folder – Hungary. In it contains all the news clippings and information about the man found in the plane crash. The information suspiciously matches Hyun Joon’s statistics, and so Jung In asks to speak to Mi Jung privately. She asks if Mi Jung has any information left on Hyun Joon. Mi Jung doesn’t, since all information was taken away, but she knows Hyun Kyu has it. She wheedles him for the information, which he unwillingly gives and tells her to keep her mouth shut.

Jung In reviews the files and matches it up with Hyun Joon’s secret medical records. There’s no doubt – it’s a match. She visits Seung Hee, who’s back at the greenhouse, and tells her that the body in the plane crash really is Hyun Joon’s. “The reason I’m delivering this cruel message to you,” she says, “is so that you can scrape off the hurtful feelings in the bottom of your heart, and bring an end to the feelings you have for Hyun Joon.”

Kim Tae Hee is amazing in this scene. She begins to tremble as the file confirms something she has denied for so long. When Jung In leaves, she continue to cut the flower stems, still shaking, until she can’t hold it any longer and just starts crying. And it’s not just flat-out bawling – it’s one of those cries where you can’t breathe, and even though you try to hold it in you really can’t, causing your chest to hurt.

Cold-hearted Sa Woo, who’s been watching Jung In every step of the way, watches Seung Hee cry from afar.

In Japan, Hyun Joon begins to tell Sun Hwa the whole story – beginning with Hong’s defection, all the way to the present. Sun Hwa reacts when Hyun Joon tells her about Seung Hee’s “death”, but she does not reveal that Seung Hee is actually alive. Instead, she says that she has questions to his story:

1) Hong’s death had nothing to do with the North since he managed to successfully defect to the South. So who killed Hong?
2) The assassination of Yoon could have caused a war between the North and South, but the whole situation was quieted down so easily and quickly, which made it suspicious. Both the North and the South covered up the death – why?
3) The car explosion at the train station had nothing to do with the North. (Also, Sun Hwa never says Seung Hee’s name at any point when asking the question. She says instead, “the person who died at the train station.”)

Sun Hwa smartly deduces that the person who killed Hong is the same as the one who killed Yuki, and could have been the one who gave him the Hungary mission. Or it’s all a conspiracy by an unknown organization. All the answers lie in that rosary’s USB.

The two of them hide in a makeshift basement office and plug in the USB into a laptop. It’s locked by a password however, so they take turns working on breaking the code. Hyun Joon catches her putting a blanket over him as he sleeps, and so he asks why she doesn’t kill him and just go back to North Korea.

Sun Hwa tells her story: when she was training to become an agent, the one thing she could not handle was killing people. It took her a while before finally she could kill without remorse. But, as she says, “During all those difficult times, what kept me going, was my mother and my siblings, but because of me, they’re all dead.” She sheds a few tears, and Hyun Joon gently wipes them away, eliciting surprise from her.

The password is decoded at that point, and it’s – wait for it – “IRIS”. In it are profiles on all members of IRIS – including Baek San.

A little later, Vic enters the basement office to find no trace of their whereabouts and a destroyed laptop. He hears cars screech outside – it’s the Japanese agents searching for Hyun Joon. One of them calls Erika Sato, and she orders them to bring everything back, even if they are destroyed.


Hyun Joon and Sun Hwa aren’t far away – as they walk out of the mist the Japanese agents find them and get on their trail. The two spies immediately make a run for it. Hyun Joon and Sun Hwa get ahead far enough to hide behind a column, each taking a side. When the agents run past Sun Hwa, Hyun Joon grabs her and holds him tight against her, hiding her from view.

Back at NSS during a meeting, Hyun Kyu gives his opinion about one of the cases, saying that he does not think the evidence points to one conclusion because it is just a “feeling.” Manager Hwang says there’s no way he can explain a “feeling” in his report, but Hyun Kyu shuts him up, saying he should not question a senior. This cracks everyone else up. Sang Hyun asks if Hyun Kyu is losing his touch, which elicits an angry glare.

Mi Jung mentions that today is also Seung Hee’s birthday, and she wants to throw a surprise birthday party. Since Seung Hee has not left her house since, Mi Jung suggests they bring the party to her home. Everyone – Sang Hyun, Sa Woo, Jung In, Tae Sung, and Hyun Kyu all agree to go.

They arrive outside her house that night. All the lights are dark, and they wonder if she’s home. But Tae Sung says he tracked her via GPS – she’s definitely home. (Freaky, stalker-ish, but it is Tae Sung…)

Before they go in, Mi Jung hands everyone party hats – they have to wear it. Sang Hyun questions it, but Mi Jung just tells him to loosen up a bit.

They enter her house and start lighting the candles on the cake. The inside of the house is dark, and they think that Seung Hee is still asleep. Jung In goes over to her bed to wake her up, only to discover Seung Hee is unconscious. Sa Woo rushes to check on her, and has them call for an ambulance.

The doctor informs Sa Woo that she’s dehydrated and has high blood pressure. She will have to stay at the hospital for a few days. Sa Woo stays at her bedside, and he apologizes for not being able to help her, because he’s not Hyun Joon and he does not know what Hyun Joon would do in this situation.

Hyun Joon, meanwhile, calls up Mr. X – he wants to know what IRIS is. It turns out, IRIS is a secret international organization that uses terrorism and assassinations to create hostilities, because they profit from conflicts and weapons development. Mr. X tries to convince Hyun Joon to give him the information, and in exchange he will help with the revenge, but Hyun Joon hangs up on him.

Baek San meets with Advisor Jung over dinner. Advisor Jung tells Baek San honestly that NSS was excluded from the North-South Korea meeting because the President does not trust him. “If the NSS doesn’t want to be left out of this event,” he cautions, “something must happen to decisively win over the president’s trust.” And Baek San is a smart man – he can figure out what to do.

The next day, Sa Woo informs Baek San of Seung Hee’s hospitalization and of his concerns over her ability to get better. Baek San brushes it aside, saying it is necessary for her to hit rock bottom – but then asks, “You like Choi Seung Hee, don’t you?” Sa Woo, embarrassed, denies it and leaves the office. But Baek San knows better, and smiles like an amused father.

Chul Young’s new sidekick (I’m just going to call him CY Sidekick since I have no idea what his name is) reports that Sun Hwa wants to meet him in Shanghai. He offers to accompany him, but Chul Young says he’ll be fine. It’s better to go alone and regain her trust anyways.

Sa Woo hands another job for Tae Sung to do, who then complains of all the work piling up for him. One of them is identifying a Korean for the Japanese Intelligence. Sa Woo offers to do it for Tae Sung and checks out the disc the Japanese sent. In it are Hyun Joon’s interrogation videos. Sa Woo is stunned – Hyun Joon’s not supposed to be alive. He quickly takes out the disc and brings it to Baek San’s office….

…Only to see Seung Hee there – she will be returning to her original position starting that day. Sa Woo quickly leaves, saying he will report to Baek San another time.

In Shanghai, Chul Young meets with Sun Hwa on a small cruise ship. He apologizes for her mother and sister’s deaths, but she says she does not blame him. She tells him there’s somewhere they have to go, and she will tell him what is going on once they get there. It’s a long trek – and Chul Young begins to get suspicious about their destination. They arrive at an antique store, and make their way to the back. She asks him to sit at a small table.

And Hyun Joon appears before them from the shadows.

Episode 9

Chul Young is pissed. He thought Sun Hwa was loyal to him and North Korea. Hyun Joon diverts his attention by asking for help. Even though he killed Yoon, he was only doing what he was ordered to do, much like how Chul Young was ordered to protect Yoon. Hyun Joon argues that in the aftermath of the assassination, he was abandoned and so he would like to seek revenge. He gives up his gun to Chul Young as a symbolic act of putting his life in Chul Young’s hands.

At a Chinese shipping port, several guards arrive at a fishing ship and round up the crew. They claim that there is a serious virus onboard that they are investigating. Once they are all assembled, the guards take out their guns on them, and Hyun Joon and Sun Hwa appear from behind the crew – they’re taking the boat hostage.

At NSS, Tae Sung asks Sa Woo if he identified the person the Japanese Intelligence was asking about. Sa Woo replies, “He is of no interest to us, and I reported as such.” However, when he reopens the file, Mi Jung catches it and asks if that’s really Hyun Joon. Sa Woo lies quickly and says the video came from their initiation training. Mi Jung thinks it’s odd that he still has something on Hyun Joon, especially when he’s not supposed to, so Sa Woo deletes it in front of her. Mi Jung also reminds him that a retreat celebrating Seung Hee’s return will be held the day after tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Sang Hyun briefs Seung Hee on her duties. He tells her to consult Sa Woo since he had been covering for her, and confides to her about the incident where NSS was excluded completely from the secret meeting between the North and the South. Sang Hyun tells her to keep it to herself, as the others don’t know about it.

On the boat, now headed towards South Korea, Hyun Joon thinks back to when Chul Young brought him in for questioning, where they made him undergo a lie detector test. The interrogator asks him why he sought out Chul Young.

Hyun Joon: I needed help for my revenge.
Interrogator: Who is the target of your revenge?
Hyun Joon: Baek San, the Vice Director of NSS. And, the nation of Korea, which used me and then threw me away.

Hyun Joon passes the test, but Chul Young does not trust him just yet. He gives him an assignment. “Take care” of a particular defector who used to be part of a North Korean security team, and then maybe Chul Young can trust him.

The North Korean Team Leader breaks into Hyun Joon’s thoughts and tells him they are arriving soon. He should go down to the freezer to get a few members of the crew to help with getting into port.

At Kam Chun Port in Busan, three other North Korean agents are waiting. The Team Leader calls in and tells them to prepare for their entry. But first, they have to go through customs.

There is a mix of North Korean agents and real crewmembers throughout the boat as the customs officers make their way around. The agents are wary of the officers, although the officers see nothing suspicious. The head customs officer inspects the fish that were caught to make sure nothing explosive or illegal weapons are hiding within the fish, but nothing is out of place. They go towards the freezer where all the hostages are being held, and ask why it’s completely empty. The Team Leader says they did not catch a lot of fish this time. One of the other officers then asks where Ahn Ki Nam is – he was a worker on the ship and his friend.

Good old Ahn Ki Nam is one of the hostages below, and one of the North Korean agents hiding in the side prepares his gun to settle any problems. Hyun Joon sees this and defuses the situation right away with a smooth lie: Ahn Ki Nam got sick onboard and is in another town recovering. The officer is appeased, and the boat passes customs and is allowed to unload.

As the agents go through immigration, Hyun Seok, the computer hacker, uploads false backgrounds for each agents’ aliases, including Hyun Joon’s. He then downloads the footage from the numerous surveillance cameras and erases all images of them. Their van then meets up with the truck loaded with all of their “fish.”

Sa Woo enters a super fancy jewelry store – and he has no idea what to buy. He tells the saleswoman that he wants something that won’t make the recipient too uncomfortable, and she asks, “Are you going to propose?” He replies, “Yes…something like that…” She asks if he knows her ring size, but since Sa Woo does not know, she offers him a pendant. “It’s a pendant that’s said to make fateful love possible,” she says.

On the road, Jung In drives a more cheerful Seung Hee to the retreat, and they have their heart-to-heart, good old girl talk.

Jung In: Are you okay now?
Seung Hee: I’m not laughing because I’m happy. But if I do laugh, I can become happy. I’ve been too sensitive with you lately, haven’t I?
Jung In: As long as you’re okay, I can take much more. So get angry, throw tantrums, throw hissy fits – do it all.
Seung Hee: I never threw hissy fits.
Jung In: Just don’t cry. That’s something I just couldn’t handle.

At the retreat, everyone is already there present: Hyun Kyu, Manager Hwang, Sang Hyun, Sa Woo, Tae Sung and Mi Jung. They’ve all already begun drinking when finally the girls arrive late, and they all bond over some of Seung Hee’s Special Soju Bombs.


Later on they play a game. Anyone can start off the count, but whoever says a number together at the same time have to do a “love shot.” Hyun Kyu and Hwang unfortunately say “Three” at the same time, and are forced to do a love shot. Everyone cheers for a kiss.

Another round. Sang Hyun starts it off with “One!” almost immediately. After a few moments, Seung Hee and Sa Woo declare “Two!” together. (Wah – Sa Woo totally planned that). Sa Woo blushes like crazy, but Seung Hee playfully goes along with it. They lean in for a kiss (with Mi Jung screaming a fan-girl scream) and their lips just touch…

…When Hyun Kyu breaks it up between the two of them. He complains, “This is really unfair. It’s fine to do a love shot if you get a girl, but what’s this with a guy?” (His bitterness is just so Sa Woo and Seung Hee don’t get their proper kiss now.)

Hyun Kyu invites Mi Jung to sing a song for them all. She sings a sad one about trying to forget a pain by pretending nothing is wrong and smiling to the world. It hits home for Seung Hee, and really brings the mood down at the table. But Seung Hee nods and smiles along, as though pretending nothing is wrong. Only Sa Woo notices the pain that she’s really going through.

Sa Woo and Seung Hee take a midnight walk by the lake, and Seung Hee thanks him for being there by her side and helping her get better. She asks, “You’ll continue to be my friend?”

Assuming the answer is yes, she walks away, but she does not see Sa Woo’s disappointment. He now does not have an appropriate opportunity to give her the necklace anymore.

Hyun Joon and all the North Korean agents are assembled at an abandoned warehouse, going through all of their weapons. Noticing Hyun Joon, one of them tells the other, “Once we get into action, don’t ever stand in front of him. You never know when a bullet might come at you from behind. Even betrayal becomes a habit.”

Sun Hwa warns him, “You really want to say those useless things?” The agent says in response, “Oh, you have to be even more careful of this b****. She already has a history of betraying her people.” Sun Hwa slaps him right across the face, and they start duking it out. He throws her on the table and is about to hit her again when a gun cocks and presses against his temple. Hyun Joon pulls the trigger – but the gun isn’t loaded. He tells him, “If you don’t want to die, get back to working on the guns.”

Not liking the fact that he was bested by a South Korean agent, he tackles Hyun Joon. But Hyun Joon is too strong for him, and manages to subdue him. The other North Koreans don’t like that, and so they all gang up on Hyun Joon, three to one. Hyun Joon easily overpowers all of them and knocks them down one by one. Eventually the Team Leader shows up and tells them to all stop fighting – they’re going to have to work together and this kind of conflict cannot happen again.

Sun Hwa later goes to Hyun Joon and asks if he’s ok. He tells her to leave him alone, and just as she’s about to leave, he grabs her hand. He tells her, “Don’t try so hard for me anymore.”

What a way to send a girl mixed messages.

At NSS, Tae Sung reports that a North Korean defector was assassinated – the same one Hyun Joon was assigned to “take care of.” Sang Hyun assigns tasks to Seung Hee and Jung In, but Mi Jung enters the conference room with news that the crewmembers on the fishing boat in Busan were kidnapped.

Sa Woo and Tae Sung investigate the ship, and they are informed that there are no more recordings left of the kidnappers. Sa Woo sees a camera belonging to a restaurant covering the back alley and asks if they’ve checked that one yet.

Later, Hyun Joon approaches Hyun Seok with the rosary USB. He asks if he can hack open one of the folders, but Hyun Seok tells him that they need a special program and a better computer system to support it. An NSS computer just might work.

Baek San visits the President at the Blue House, and the President explains that he does not fully trust NSS. However, to follow through on his plan for reunification, he will need NSS’ experience and expertise.

After the meeting Baek San bumps into the President’s female advisor, Hong Soo Jin, in the hallway. She hands him a small USB and tells him that the President is planning to develop nuclear weapons if the North does not stop developing them. Advisor Jung catches the two of them in the hallway, and when Baek San leaves, he asks Advisor Hong if she’s close to him. But she denies any relationship.

The North Korean Intelligence Director informs Chul Young that their leader has agreed to meet the South Korean president – any plan that Chul Young has needs to be jumpstarted. Chul Young assures him that they are already taking action, and asks to be put on the panel that will decide on the team that will attend the conference.

The Team Leader addresses everyone – Dae Hyun and Young Bum are to scout the conference venue while Sun Hwa and Hyun Joon are to check out the VIP route. Their operation will begin in two days.

While en route, Hyun Joon decides on a little change of plans. He tells Sun Hwa that the file on the rosary USB can be opened on an NSS network, and the one place he knows that has one is at his home. Once inside, he is flooded with memories of his time spent with Sa Woo as roommates.

But back to business. Hyun Joon opens up Sa Woo’s computer. It takes him a few seconds, but he remembers Sa Woo’s password and types it in. He then gives the USB to Sun Hwa, and she immediately starts accessing the file.

Meanwhile, Mi Jung receives a security alert that someone is accessing the NSS main server through Sa Woo’s computer, and she reports it to Seung Hee. Since Sa Woo is at Busan, someone must have broken into his house.

Sun Hwa receives a warning on the computer as well, and she thinks that NSS knows they’re there. Mi Jung decides to hack into the web cam to get a look at the hackers, but Sun Hwa and Hyun Joon are simultaneously notified about the connection. Hyun Joon moves the web cam, and so all Mi Jung and Seung Hee can see is the window.

Something is now definitely up, so Seung Hee has Mi Jung notify security. Sun Hwa is afraid that they’re going to be caught, especially since the code breaking is going so slowly. Hyun Joon tells her they won’t have another chance, and they have to finish it now.

The security team, including Seung Hee, pull up to the front of the house. Mi Jung reports that the intruders are still inside, so Seung Hee moves forward and has the team break in. They rush inside, and Seung Hee faces the closed door to the study. The security team open the door, but no one is there.

Sun Hwa and Hyun Joon are already in the car. It turns out, the locked folder wasn’t a data file, but instead had the location of a file that was kept in a storage section. That storage section belongs to Baek San.

Sa Woo reports that the tuna from the boat were loaded into an unregistered truck. Those tuna fish could have been hiding the terrorists’ weapons. There are two possibilities: the fish are still in a storage facility at the dock, or they were transferred to another location by that truck.

Mi Jung was able to download the footage from the restaurant’s camera, but the video was grainy. She presents it to everyone, and while they cannot see their faces or identify anyone, only Sa Woo recognizes Hyun Joon’s figure. He looks over at Seung Hee, but she has a neutral expression – she does not recognize Hyun Joon.

As Sa Woo leaves the meeting, Hyun Kyu calls him over. Hyun Kyu tells him he analyzed the footage from Sa Woo’s web cam. He says, “This is completely my personal opinion, but I think it might be Hyun Joon.” Seung Hee catches the tail end of the conversation and asks Hyun Kyu, “Did you just say Hyun Joon?”

They go to Hyun Kyu’s office, and replay the footage. Based on his analysis of the reflection on the window, the bone structure is a 74% match to Hyun Joon. However, there are still many people who could match that frame, so Sa Woo brushes it off, saying that it’s a stretch to say it matches Hyun Joon. Later, Hyun Kyu treats Seung Hee to drinks, apologizing for his insensitivity towards her.

Sa Woo goes home and checks out the study. He sees that half of the rosary chain is still on his desk, and immediately remembers that Hyun Joon was looking at it when they were in Hungary together. If it wasn’t already confirmed before for him, it is now: Hyun Joon is here in Seoul and working with the terrorists.

CY’s Sidekick brings in a uranium capsule enclosed in a briefcase for Chul Young to bring to the South safely. At the same time, Hyun Seok finishes organizing all of the photos, VIP route and information for the team to use, so the Team Leader announces that they will now start the operation.

Sa Woo presents his report to Baek San, and tries one more time to tell him about Hyun Joon. However, Mi Jung interrupts – they’ve located the unregistered truck and traced it to a storage facility. Baek San orders Sa Woo to send a tactical team over right away.

The team is already packing up their equipment and weapons. Hyun Seok struggles with carrying two large cases, so Hyun Joon wordlessly picks one up and helps him carry it. Score one for Hyun Joon in earning a team member’s trust!


As they finish putting away their weapons, the NSS tactical team arrives and surrounds the warehouse. The North Korean agents pick up on the noises outside, and freeze, listening to what is going on. The NSS team breaks the locks and throws tear gas through the windows. And then, from all sides, they invade the building…with the North Korean team still inside.

Comments:

These two episodes were easy for me to watch but so hard to recap. Episode 8 was really like a catch-up episode. The beginning and the end were exciting, whereas the middle just summarized and ended the prolonged suffering of Seung Hee. But in Episode 9, so many things kept happening at the same time. It felt as though there were so many threads going at once, but they all tied up neatly by the end. Slick. Real slick.

And the hairstyles – did you see the North Korean Team Leader’s!? Wooh that must have been a bad perm…

While watching the episodes, I started ranting irrationally about the plausibility of the series. I already don’t understand Sa Woo, and every time they have to confirm Hyun Joon is actually alive, it implies his hesitancy and (slight) stupidity at being an agent. How many times must it take before he can believe Hyun Joon really is alive? If he didn’t die the first time, he won’t die the next eight times. I was also mad at Sun Hwa’s character in episode 8. Why did she forgive Chul Young so quickly for her family’s deaths? And why did she have to blame herself for them?! I saw no reason for her to try to be on good terms with Chul Young, especially since she already “betrayed” her country by allying herself with Hyun Joon. And she figured out all the connections between the deaths and Vic for Hyun Joon – it is as if had she never figured it out, neither would have Hyun Joon. And Hyun Joon’s targets for revenge – I can understand Baek San, but “Korea”?! Really? He probably said that to make the North Koreans trust him, but I thought he was stretching it, and nothing turns me off more than when I can’t believe in what the actor is saying. Lee Byeong Hun doesn’t even do much in episode 9 except brood. Sun Hwa is just the brains and beauty, and Hyun Joon is all brawn.

I’ll be understanding though, and say that they all have a reason for doing what they do. It’s just that these moments struck me as unbelievable, but then I got over it quickly and just kept watching. This series has become just complete spy-fun, with the appeal of 24 or Alias. I liked Alias despite its own implausibility, so I can like IRIS too.

I don’t just have complaints though. Episode 8’s highlight for me was Kim Tae Hee’s crying scene, and Sun Hwa and Chul Young’s walk through Shanghai (I miss that place!). And what’s great about episode 9 is that they utilize all of the supporting characters at NSS. (Haha – as though my wish for seeing more of them came true!) I can understand better the dynamics of the place, and they are making it seem like the workplace is actually more fun than it should be. And now, I just want to know Chul Young’s grand ole’ plan – because if it involves blowing up something like a national stadium, then woohoo! Cheesy, but fun.

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11 January 8, 2010January 24, 2016

IRIS: Episodes 10-11

by kaedejun

Congratulations to IRIS for all the awards won at the KBS Drama Awards! Whether they were well deserved or not, I have to give props to Kim Tae Hee for winning an Excellence Award in acting. She really sold her acting abilities to me by episode 8, and even more so by episode 10. I wasn’t a fan of her since I saw her last, which was Stairway to Heaven and so, so long ago, but now I’m a (half-) believer.

These two episodes were up on the action and set up for the exposition-laden episode 12. I had mixed feelings at the end of episode 10 on how I wanted it to end, but since it is also the halfway mark of the series, its ending was inevitable.

Random side note: Hyun Seok the computer hacker is so cute – I just want to pinch his cheeks! Cute kid for a hacker, I mean.

Episode 10

Sa Woo leads an NSS security team inside – but the warehouse is empty. So what are the North Korean agents looking at? It’s only Hwang Soo (the same person who insulted and got beaten up by Hyun Joon), knocking at the door. Instead, Hyun Seok sees the NSS agents through a camera planted in the rafters and connected to his computer. Everyone huddles around him to watch the NSS agents poke through their things, and immediately, of course, Hyun Joon recognizes Sa Woo.

The NSS agents and Sa Woo see half-burned papers and photographs on the table. It appears that their target is the East Asia Foreign Affairs Conference and the U.S. Secretary of State attending the conference. However, the Team Leader, Kang Do Chul (with his crazy pama hair), tells his team that their actual target is NSS.

Since the NSS will concentrate most of their forces at the conference, NSS headquarters would be left mostly defenseless. And since they also have Hyun Joon’s full confession, they have an understanding of the NSS security system. Their way in would be to pretend they are part of the waste disposal service.

When Hyun Joon asks for their motive for breaking into NSS, Leader Kang calls up Chul Young and hands Hyun Joon the phone. Chul Young informs him that if he helps with this mission, he will promise Hyun Joon the chance to exact revenge upon Baek San. Meanwhile, Sun Hwa’s primary concern is the chance that Hyun Joon may meet Seung Hee accidentally during the infiltration.

Baek San is in a car with Seung Hee to meet Chul Young and the North-South conference inspection team at the border. However, a call regarding the new target of the terrorists’ attack forces him to send Seung Hee back to headquarters and provide support for Sa Woo, Sang Hyun, and the tactical assault teams.

Half of the North Korean team manages to enter the parking lot of the NSS under the guise of a waste disposal service. At Hyun Joon’s signal, Hyun Seok slips out the side of the moving van and enters the building through a side entrance’s stairwell. They park and wait until Hyun Seok breaks into the computer system.

The guards start getting suspicious at why no one is getting out of the van, but finally, Leader Kang and Hwang Soo get out of the car. When the guards check to verify if they are really part of the waste disposal service, they are shot dead.

The rest of the team makes their way into the parking lot as well, and Hyun Joon tells them it is impossible to enter the headquarters because of the elevators’ bio scan. However, Hyun Seok shows them another way, so Hyun Joon has no choice but to follow. (And here, we are greeted with an odd placement of “Hallelujah” for the soundtrack.)

The “terrorists” blast their way into the building, sounding off the alarm. Tae Sung, Jung In, and Mi Jung, as well as other NSS workers are immediately alerted, but oddly enough the alarms turn off just as suddenly (thanks to Hyun Seok). The terrorists set up motion detectors at various points, but they don’t turn off the security cameras (which I find is a very stupid move, considering you already have a computer whiz around). The NSS security center sees their presence and tries to notify the control room – but Hyun Seok has already cut off all communication connections within the building and going out of the building.

The security team, with no way of notifying the control room, is forced to battle the terrorists by themselves – and all die valiantly. They keep up the fight, even though most are injured and know that they are going to die anyways. Mi Jung connects to the CCTV cameras, and all see the gunfight ensuing below them.

Meanwhile, Seung Hee is calmly making her way down to the control room via NSS elevators. Everything is fine and dandy to her, until she sees a dead security guard in the security room. Out comes the gun.

Chaos is in the control room, and everyone is trying to get out. Mi Jung refuses to leave until she finishes protecting all the servers. The terrorists enter the control room and put force everyone down on their knees, holding them hostage. Despite having a gun held at her head, Mi Jung types furiously away and presses enter – she gets punished with a gun butt to her head.

The President refuses to call off the conference despite the threat of a terrorist attack, so all goes according to plan. Advisor Hong and Baek San meet Chul Young at the border. One of Baek San’s henchmen stops Chul Young from crossing the border with the briefcase (that has the uranium), but Baek San lets it go through.

Seung Hee takes the long way through the basements, wary of every corner and nearly avoiding an encounter with one of the terrorists. She tries to call for help, but none of the phones work. She climbs through the vents and sees her colleagues being led to the control room.

Meanwhile, Hyun Joon tries to get into Baek San’s office, but Leader Kang catches him and forces him to return to his position. Cue flashbacks of him and Seung Hee. What he does not see are the photos on Seung Hee’s desk that prove she’s alive. Sun Hwa catches him and distracts him by asking about the hidden file. When Hyun Joon leaves, she goes over to Seung Hee’s desk and overturns the photo from the reunion party and a report that bears her name.

Hyun Seok reports that the server he was working on shut down, and everyone knows it was because of Mi Jung. Mi Jung refuses to open it, and Jung In says that only a high ranking administrator can open it with their password. However, no one in the room is of such high rank. Leader Kang is about to shoot Jung In when Hyun Joon stops him in front of the hostages.

Leader Kang is not too happy to have his leadership undermined like that, but Hyun Joon confirms Jung In’s claim. Hyun Seok says they need the server up and running to unlock the R&D room, but to turn it back on, he will need another thirty minutes that they don’t have. So Hyun Joon immediately activates a lock down of NSS. No one can get in or out – and he has now bought them some time.

Ever resourceful that she is, Seung Hee connects some of the wires from the servers to a phone, and eventually she gets a dial tone. She calls Sa Woo and lets him know that NSS is under attack. At the same time, Hyun Seok sees that someone has tapped into a wire connection and can be found a floor below. Leader Kang sends two agents to go after Seung Hee while Hyun Seok disables the connection.

Sa Woo informs Sang Hyun and immediately has his team go back to the agency for support. He figures that the terrorist just might be Hyun Joon. Sun Hwa tells Hyun Seok to access the internal security cameras so that they can find out who called outside – and imagine her shock to see it’s Seung Hee.

Hyun Seok really can’t open up the server again. Leader Kang has Hyun Seok, Hwang Soo, and a remaining agent go with him to the R&D room to unlock the safe directly. He leaves Hyun Joon and Sun Hwa to guard the hostages.

One of the agents trailing Seung Hee wanders into Hyun Kyu’s lab. He uncovers Hyun Kyu lying under the white sheet, but because Hyun Kyu’s face is so still, the agent assumes he’s dead. Just as he moves away, Hyun Kyu can’t suppress his cough any longer. Suddenly, Seung Hee attacks the agent from behind – and my goodness it’s a vicious brawl. I mean, glass vials breaking, bodies banging against the shelves and refrigerators, people thrown through windows… Seung Hee holds her own really well and eventually manages to strangle him with a desk lamp.

Hyun Joon takes the opportunity to go into Baek San’s office and retrieve a fingerprint. Sun Hwa wants to go with him, but she settles for being his lookout, watching out for any threats via security cameras. He then goes down to the classified information storage facility, accessing it with Baek San’s fingerprint.

Hyun Seok unlocks the safe in the R&D room, but just as one of the other agents is about to open it, he gets a warning that there is high voltage surrounding the safe. Too late – the agent is electrocuted. He works on it again, and this time, he really thinks it’s ready to be opened. Hwang Soo is dead nervous about being electrocuted, but a few hits on the side of the safe and no electricity shocks assure him. He opens up the safe and removes the piece of equipment from within.

Sa Woo and his team reach NSS, but they can’t disable the system because the emergency security system was activated (thank you, Hyun Joon, for making Sa Woo’s life so difficult). The only way to get in is to blow up the doors, although it may be impossible and risky to do so. But Sa Woo just says, “Blow it up.”

Watching through the security cameras, Sun Hwa sees that Seung Hee is trailing Hyun Joon into the storage facility. That is not going to work if she wants Hyun Joon for herself, so she immediately runs after them. Hyun Joon enters the room and finds the file he’s looking for. He transfers all the files into a USB, and just as it finishes, he hears, “Don’t move.”

Seung Hee aims a gun behind him. He turns around, and sees Seung Hee. No words can express the shock in Hyun Joon’s eyes as he sees his supposedly dead lover right in front of him, battered, but very much alive.

Seung Hee demands he throw his gun away, not recognizing him under his mask. He tries to go over to her, but she won’t give up any ground. Just then, one of the guards who was trailing her shows up behind her. Hyun Joon shoots the agent and Seung Hee shoots him down. Curiosity getting to the better of her, she begins to peel off the mask…

Episode 11

…And Sun Hwa stops her. A swift hit on the face knocks Seung Hee out.

The NSS security team blasts its way through the front doors, so Leader Kang has everyone get ready to leave. They set up a bomb in the control room and Tae Sung has the brilliant idea of wanting to act against the terrorists with his secret gun hidden under his shirt.

Sun Hwa drags a still unconscious Hyun Joon out of the facility when she receives word of their impending evacuation. He comes to, and his first thought is to go to Seung Hee. He attempts to go back to Seung Hee, despite Sun Hwa’s pleas, so she draws her gun on him.

Sun Hwa: We must leave now. This isn’t the time.
Hyun Joon: What did you do to Seung Hee?
Sun Hwa: Don’t worry. She was only knocked out.
Hyun Joon: I have to see Seung Hee.
Sun Hwa: Then what? Then what will you do? After you see her, what can you do then? If you’re caught here, no one will believe you. You have to get out of here first.

Leader Kang catches the two of them. He tells them they have to get moving, as the NSS team will be there at any moment. Despite his reluctance, Hyun Joon goes along with Sun Hwa and the rest of the team.

Sa Woo and the rest of the NSS team make their way to the control room and throw in tear gas. Suddenly the lights turn off (Hyun Seok’s move). Wannabe-agent Tae Sung creeps his way around the corner with his gun and slips on some steps, accidentally firing off his gun. The NSS team responds with gunfire, but Sa Woo stops them. He inches slowly and comes face-to-face with Tae Sung, their guns pointed at each other.

Everyone is safe, except Seung Hee’s whereabouts are unknown and there is a bomb with only 5 minutes left to detonation. They have to evacuate the building.

In a very Ocean’s 11 move, the terrorists disguise themselves as NSS agents and escort an “injured” agent on a gurney (the other female North Korean agent, Young Bum) out of the building. They pass through the underground passageway, unsuspected – Hyun Joon even going right past Sa Woo.

Two NSS security agents manage to disable the bomb with less than two minutes left on the timer as Sa Woo finds an unresponsive Seung Hee in the classified information storage facility.

Hyun Joon sadly looks back at NSS as the team packs into the van, regretting leaving Seung Hee behind. He stays in that same daze when they go back to their hideout, sparking suspicion in Leader Kang. Sun Hwa appeases him by saying that he killed colleagues, so he would be in a shocked state right now, but she later tells Hyun Joon to snap out of it.

Back at NSS, everyone commends Mi Jung for staying so level headed and using emergency protocol in protecting the servers. Tae Sung says, “I just saw white and my mind went blank.” Mi Jung replies, “Computer operator should fight with computers, not with a gun that he can’t even use well.”

Sang Hyun reports the casualties to a very pissed off Baek San, and informs him that Hyun Kyu has begun investigating the two dead terrorists. He also tells him that the terrorists’ target was the R&D Room. Now Baek San has to answer to the Blue House for this recent infiltration.

He gets a verbal scolding from all of the President’s advisors before he is whisked away to a private meeting with the President. Even though NSS has started an investigation, he will resign from his position due to this incident. The President asks if they know why the terrorists entered NSS. Baek San informs him that they excluded a fact from the report – that the equipment the terrorists stole was a detonation device that could be turned into a nuclear bomb if combined with uranium. Throughout this meeting, Advisor Jung listens in through a listening device bugged in the President’s room.

After a sweep throughout the room for listening devices (there is one, so they turn on the TV), Chul Young calls up Leader Kang for an update. Leader Kang requests for additional men, and then he tells Young Bum that she is going to have to assemble a nuclear bomb but cannot tell the other members of the team. Meanwhile, Hwang Soo is pissed off that a woman killed two of his comrades. (What a male chauvinist pig.) Leader Kang informs everyone that they will be staying in until further orders, and notes that Hyun Joon is missing. He tells Sun Hwa to never let Hyun Joon leave her sight.

Seung Hee remains at the hospital, with Sa Woo at her bedside. He goes to a bar to drink, and thinks about the day when he was assigned to kill Hyun Joon. Baek San’s words flood back to him: “If one’s ambition is controlled, his sense of loyalty, of responsibility, there is nothing for him to lose. In that sense, my choosing you was the right decision.”

Sa Woo is filled with anger and resentment, and he calls Baek San.

Sa Woo: It’s too hard to get through this with a clear head, so I had a little to drink. I had a drink thinking of Hyun Joon. I had a drink thinking of Choi Seung Hee. And while I thought of you, who turned my life upside down, and while blaming you, I had another drink. After those drinks, I find myself a little drunk. Why did you pick me? Why did you pick me and make me stand at the edge of the cliff?
Baek San: Jin Sa Woo, you listen to me carefully. It was me that chose you, but the one that made the decision was you. So who are you trying to blame? If you ever repeat those worthless words again, I will not forgive you then. [And he hangs up.]

The next day, Jung In asks if Sang Hyun has found out anything about the terrorists. Sang Hyun has nothing concrete, save for the fact that someone within NSS was helping them, especially because the terrorists knew of the emergency shutdown system. Sang Hyun later confides in Sa Woo that the detonation device has gone missing. A nuclear weapon going off in the middle of Seoul would be devastating; the weapon going off in another country would be something South Korea cannot withstand.

Back at the Blue House, Advisor Jung broaches the topic of the NSS report. He tells the President that the report states nothing about the terrorists’ motive for entering NSS. The President tells him that there is a reason, but he does not think it is fit to share it with him just yet. Advisor Jung warns the President not to trust Baek San too much.

Chul Young walks through the hotel where the conference will be held with Manager Hwang. He checks every security camera and even the security room. Afterwards, in a meeting with Advisor Hong and Baek San, Chul Young raises his concern about the number of security personnel. Advisor Hong assures him that all security personnel would be made available, but Chul Young points out that the democratic Seoul is very different from Pyongyang. If protesters arrived at the event and were able to throw so much as an egg at the leader of North Korea, South Korea would receive international backlash and embarrassment, and be unable to carry forth their other plans.

Meanwhile, the North Korean “terrorists” are restless. Hyun Joon calls Sun Hwa out for a meeting, and he tells her he won’t be stupid. He won’t approach Seung Hee just yet. He hands her the USB he downloaded from Baek San’s storage server, and asks Sun Hwa to check it out for him. Making sure no one is watching her, she plugs it into her computer as Hyun Joon watches her from afar. Sun Hwa opens the file and sees files all relating to Baek San’s activities for IRIS. Included is a file on Hyun Joon’s parents and his entire background.

Sun Hwa tells Hyun Joon that when South Korea was developing nuclear weapons, IRIS and Baek San were behind the elimination of all the participants, including Hyun Joon’s parents, Kim Jung Kook and Yoon Mi Yeon – both nuclear scientists. However, Hyun Joon doesn’t remember them at all, or even knew their names. Sun Hwa tells him that Baek San killed them and then took Hyun Joon to the orphanage.

Recovered from her injuries, Seung Hee drives back to work. She can’t shake off her curiosity about the terrorist who shot a comrade behind her to save her life. She visits Hyun Kyu and asks him about the program that had determined Hyun Joon’s reflection in Sa Woo’s apartment. Despite Sa Woo’s protests, they both conclude that it’s more than likely Hyun Joon really is alive. Seung Hee then asks Jung In about the report regarding her in the storage facility, truly believing now that it was Hyun Joon who saved her. She requests a favor: “Please double check that information from Hungary.”

Back at the hotel, CY Sidekick connects to the security room’s cameras and begins recording the empty hallways, just as Chul Young changes his clothes. CY Sidekick connects the recorded image to the security room, so that when Chul Young leaves the hotel through the back exits (briefcase in hand), the security room would only see an empty hallway. He safely gets away in his car and drives off to the North Korean agents’ headquarters.

Hyun Kyu presents his scientific findings to everyone at NSS. There were no fingerprints, no dental imprints, or picture identification for any of the dead men. There was nothing about them that could identify who they were or where they were from, except for the dust off their clothing. The dust was a unique form of asbestos found in construction sites and factories. Seung Hee says that these terrorists could not have been based too far from NSS, so they just have to find a storage area nearby that also processed or stored that form of asbestos.

Jung In later tells Seung Hee that the Hungary Intelligence never sent the information over. Rather, the information was created and put into the system. But by who?

Chul Young hands off the uranium capsule to Leader Kang, and then meets with Hyun Joon. Since Hyun Joon has been cooperative so far, he will let Hyun Joon carry out his revenge. He can move around freely as long as he is with Sun Hwa. Hyun Joon ventures to ask what it is they stole from NSS, but Chul Young does not tell him. “It’s not that I don’t trust you,” he says, “but those are the circumstances. In the near future, in the middle of Seoul, something will happen that you could never imagine.”

Sa Woo asks Baek San privately in his office if it’s true a nuclear bomb can go off in Seoul. Baek San says yes and gives Sa Woo a new assignment. “What you and I have to do, they are doing it for us. Before it happens, they cannot be caught. You – control the areas of investigation.”

Just then, Seung Hee enters and tells Sa Woo to stay as she informs Baek San: Kim Hyun Jun is alive.

With his newfound freedom, Hyun Joon and Sun Hwa drive to the orphanage where he grew up. Just as they arrive, a black van drives off and the people inside it start shooting at him and Sun Hwa. This triggers an alarm within Hyun Joon, and he rushes into the sanctuary to discover the Father on the floor, shot dead.

Now the one person who knows the answer to his past is gone. BUT Hyun Joon spots an old photograph lying on the floor: it’s a young Hyun Joon standing beside a mysterious man…

Comments:

My favorite scenes in these two episodes came from episode 10:

1) Hyun Seok had Hwang Soo open up the high voltage safe. Hwang Soo stared at the safe for a full five seconds, so scared to open it. He asked Hyun Seok, “Is it safe?” and Hyun Seok said, “Maybe.” What kind of answer is that, computer expert!? Made me laugh out loud for the first time in a while in this series.

2) The fight scene at Hyun Kyu’s lab. This was the point Seung Hee Kim Tae Hee really convinced me that she could be an agent, that she could be Seung Hee. That brawl was absolutely vicious and well choreographed – and not to mention, Kim Tae Hee was fighting a guy twice her size. He could easily snap her in half, and there was no way she could REALLY overpower him without using a lot of strength. Her screaming as she got hurt or as she used up all her strength to beat him up was so realistic and so painful that I really believed it. (And I like nothing more than getting engrossed in a story/scene!)

Baek San is like the evil father(-in-law) who plans out everything to go according to his plan. Very much like BB in City Hall. And his “prodigal son” Hyun Joon just has to ruin every single plan of his because he’s that awesome an agent.

The really nice thing about this series is that so far, I can’t hate anyone. (Unlike in Brilliant Legacy where the Sun Woo mother-daughter pair are such stereotypical characters that make me hate them to the core and suffocate me every time they come onscreen!!) There are no real enemies or friends in this series that I can like or dislike. Baek San’s inner motives don’t appear to be entirely selfish (unlike BB); Sa Woo – I dislike him for staying with a girl who doesn’t like him back, but that is what every/most other second male leads do in other dramas so it’s not surprising. He’s evil for going after Hyun Joon, but he’s also a sentimental guy. And Sun Hwa – she is SO JEALOUS in episode 10 it’s ridiculous (and I mean that in a good way). She would go at such lengths to make sure Hyun Joon does not see Seung Hee – if every other second female lead in other Korean dramas could do that, we’d be watching very different dramas with different pairings.

These two episodes could have gone a lot faster though. Actually, episode 10 could have gone a lot faster, but certain scenes took a lot longer to end before we went to the next scene. Case in point: the parking lot scene where the terrorists came into NSS under the guise of a waste disposal service. The first time I watched it, I wondered how long it was going to be before the van finally parked, and when Hyun Seok would just hack into the servers already. And then I wondered why I was watching Hyun Joon and Hyun Seok inside the van for so long, when the intention did not seem so clear that Hyun Seok was going to jump out.

Then there were also a lot of sentimental scenes of Hyun Joon reminiscing. Every episode so far has a “reminiscing scene” that it’s starting to become expected in each episode. Sorry if I keep repeating myself about the pacing, but I think it might be one of those faults in this series where they extend a lot of scenes to fill the one hour mark just so that they can end the episode at a cliffhanger.

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22 January 16, 2010January 24, 2016

IRIS: Episodes 12-13

by kaedejun

Sorry for the delay! I watched the episodes a while ago, but then life happened. Anyways – on to episodes 12 and 13!

Every episode rehashes old issues, but there’s always one new nugget of information that the writers drop like a single jellybean into my greedy hands. Weird analogy – sorry, but basically, I’m just hoping right now that they do not rush the ending.

Episode 12

We last saw Hyun Joon rushing to the side of the Father who raised him in the orphanage. He spots a photo on the ground of himself when he was younger standing next to a mysterious man.

The shooter in the car reports to Baek San’s right hand man about Hyun Joon’s presence. He receives the order to go back and kill Hyun Joon and Sun Hwa.

Sun Hwa hurries Hyun Joon – those who shot them will no doubt be back for them. Hyun Joon grabs the Father’s ring and runs out to the car. The henchmen are back, and Hyun Joon and Sun Hwa put up a good fight, killing two of them before escaping in their car. It’s easy for him to see that Baek San planned the murder.

In the privacy of his office, Baek San mulls over what Seung Hee told him about Hyun Joon. She confidently states that the Hungarian government’s information was fake, and that it was highly likely, based on Hyun Kyu’s investigation, that the person in Sa Woo’s house was Hyun Joon. She also believes that the person whom she came face to face with was Hyun Joon. Sa Woo is shocked – flabbergasted – totally, completely found out! (Except no one knows it is him just yet)

Baek San visits the confidential information storage facility and opens up his storage system. He sees that a file was stolen from him, and tells Sa Woo that that file had information about IRIS and Hyun Joon’s parents. Based on his reaction, Sa Woo clearly knows that Baek San works for IRIS, and that his assignments are done to achieve IRIS’ ends, and that the missing file will spell trouble. Baek San orders Sa Woo to keep a close eye on Seung Hee and make sure she doesn’t meet Hyun Joon.

Hyun Joon tells Sun Hwa he needs to meet Mr. X now. Since more North Korean agents will show up for the next part of their plan soon, they need to act now.

Seung Hee asks Tae Sung if he’s come up with a list of asbestos factories, and although there are a lot, she asks that he sort it out in the order of which are the most probable locations. She also requests that he hand her the final list first, even though he’s not reporting to her.

Tae Sung reports to Sa Woo about Seung Hee’s interest in seeing the list of asbestos factories first. He doesn’t know if he should do as she says (clearly, by telling Seung Hee’s worst enemy, you’re not going to do as she says). Sa Woo gives the excuse that Seung Hee is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and to not listen to her at all. Instead, give him the list first.

Advisor Hong gives a report on their meeting with Chul Young and the North Korean inspection team. The President also wants the North-South summit taken place at Pyongyang, and he will send Advisor Jung (or should I say Secretary Jung), along with Hong and Baek San in the delegation.

The President has a private word with Baek San. The investigations on the terrorists aren’t going too well, so Baek San wants them to bring the issue to the National Security Meeting and hold off on the summit. The President refuses: if they adjust the summit’s schedule, it would definitely be cancelled and north-south relations will go downhill. He also believes that is the true intention of the terrorists – to put off the summit.

Chul Young reports back to the North Korean Military director, Yeon Gi Hoon. Director Yeon is surprised to hear the name Baek San, and when Chul Young asks if he knows him, Yeon says he met Baek San once in Shanghai. Yeon is concerned that after Jung and Baek San visit, the summit will definitely go on as planned, but Chul Young assures him that it will not happen.

To keep Seung Hee busy, Sang Hyun has Seung Hee working on recent criminal cases within Korea. As she goes through the list, she sees the Father’s murder case listed suspiciously as an accident. Seung Hee has Mi Jung transfer the entire investigation over to her, and notices that it’s the same Father she had met with Hyun Joon before.

Tae Sung submits the complete list to Sa Woo, telling him that the most likely facility is in the Suk Soo district of An-yang. Baek San orders him to buy some time first, so after Sa Woo receives confirmation from another agent that the terrorists are indeed hiding in the Suk Soo facility, he takes it off the list and changes the order around.

Just then, Seung Hee surprises him from behind. Sa Woo jumps like a guilty cat, but she doesn’t notice. Seung Hee shows him the Father’s murder case, and tells him that someone definitely killed the priest because of his relation to Hyun Joon.

Hyun Joon stands at the Father’s grave, brooding. Meanwhile, Seung Hee and Sa Woo are also making their way to the grave. Sun Hwa spots the two of them first in the distance, and manages to get Hyun Joon away before they arrive. Seung Hee stubbornly reaffirms that Hyun Joon is alive, sparking Sa Woo to yell at her – she’s being reckless because she is putting herself in danger in wanting to deal with a terrorist.

The security level has been upped for the storage facility, and Jung In says there is no way for her to see who went into the server room and uploaded the fabricated Hungarian files. Seung Hee pleads with her, using the priest’s murder case as an additional excuse. So Jung In changes her clearance level and Seung Hee is temporarily allowed to go in. However, Baek San’s henchmen find out and start running in. Jung In herself is caught warning Seung Hee by Sa Woo.

Baek San reprimands Seung Hee and removes her from all of her cases. Likewise, Sang Hyun reprimands Jung In and asks why Seung Hee wanted to go into the confidential storage facility. Jung In admits to him everything that she found out. Sang Hyun confirms it with Seung Hee, and tells her to keep it quiet and not spread it further past Sa Woo and Baek San. He’s suspicious, and says, “If what you say is true, then there is a conspiracy involved in this that you and I don’t know about.”

Hyun Joon has managed to contact Mr. X and arrange a meeting. They go to a deserted area in the middle of a park and are met by a contact. This contact takes their weapons and cell phones, and blindfolds them in the car before bringing them to Mr. X’s beautifully modern house. It is guarded by plenty of security officers, and Sun Hwa is forced to wait somewhere else as Hyun Joon goes up to see Mr. X.

Mr. X’s room is converted into a comfortable private hospital room, with him lying on a bed hooked up to a lot of machines and IV fluids. Mr. X is paralyzed, with a large cast wrapped around his neck.

Hyun Joon shows him the photo, and Mr. X – now known as Yoo Jeong Hun – tells him that he tried to take him out of the church when he was younger. But because of Baek San’s close surveillance, he could not do anything. Hyun Joon asks if Baek San really killed his parents, and now we reach the second “exposition period” of the series.

Years ago, Yoo had brought Hyun Joon’s parents onboard the nuclear development project under the preceding president. After the former president got into an accident, everyone involved in the project started “getting eliminated” – including Hyun Joon’s parents. Yoo barely escaped with his life. Therefore he decided to dig deeper and find out who was behind the conspiracy – and it was IRIS. Yoo gathered supporters to go against IRIS but he was found out, and so all of his colleagues were slowly getting killed off – including Hong Seung Ryong, who had the list of IRIS members. Baek San enlisted Hyun Joon as bait to draw out Yoo, knowing that Yoo would want to help Hyun Joon.

Sun Hwa is getting restless, wanting to know where Hyun Joon is. The guards tell her to stay where she is, but she single-handedly brings down two guards. She meets Hyun Joon and Yoo outside, and is allowed attendance to this private meeting/story time.

Yoo tells them their work is not done – the IRIS list is not complete and they need to find out everyone involved and where the roots of IRIS lie – in that way, they can truly bring down the organization that is currently threatening a nuclear war during the North-South summit.

Meanwhile, the President’s delegation has reached Pyongyang, and has begun discussions with the North. Secretary Jung suggests that the location be Seoul instead, but Director Yeon is not appeased. Chul Young wants an additional 200 bodyguards for their delegation, using the same excuse that Seoul, being democratic, is more dangerous than it seems.

The South Korean delegation don’t like all the demands that North Korea is making in regards to the delegation, but they know they cannot put off the summit without summoning the ire of the President. Baek San says, “It could be that they’re trying to avoid the discussion the president is trying to have about the nuclear weapons.”

In the hotel, Baek San receives a secret note handed to him by Director Yeon’s assistant, and drives away with him. He meets Director Yeon, and they speak frankly about the issues of Hong Seung Ryong’s assassination and Kim Hyun Joon’s escape. And then…it becomes clear that Yeon is also part of IRIS.

CY Sidekick witnessed Baek San meeting Director Yeon and immediately reports it to Chul Young. There is no way for them to find out what they were talking about, so Chul Young orders that Baek San be closely watched from now on.

Back at the “terrorists” headquarters, Leader Kang comes in with a team of additional men to help them with their mission – many of them old friends of the current ones we all know.

Seung Hee is restless, not being able to do any of her usual work and not being able to access the NSS computer servers. She goes to the control room and uses one of the computers there, but Tae Sung tells Seung Hee quite harshly that she can’t be here – she’s putting them in a difficult situation. So then, she goes off and apologizes to Jung In for all the punishment she received. Jung In suggests that she file a formal report investigating the fabricated report, but Seung Hee wants to find Hyun Joon first and hear the truth from him, including why he became a terrorist. In that case, Jung In says she will no longer help Seung Hee. (Seung Hee’s expression looks as though she’s betrayed – but what does she expect? She’s abused Jung In so much for information already!)

So finally, Seung Hee goes to Hyun Kyu for help, and he lets her use his computer. With his access code, she manages to get the list of factories that Sa Woo and his team would be investigating. Of course, since it’s the revised list, the team discovers nothing in each factory that they go to. Seung Hee logs on to the satellite systems in Hyun Kyu’s office and searches for a location that she noticed was missing on the list – it’s the Suk Soo factory.

Tae Sung sees on his computer that Hyun Kyu logged on to the satellite server, and Mi Jung pulls up the images that he was looking at. The Suk Soo facility is now listed as a low-probability site, but Sang Hyun has Sa Woo send the team there, especially since Seung Hee is on her way there and they can’t contact her. Sa Woo has no choice and can no longer delay in finding the terrorists.

All the while, Tae Sung is suspicious – he knows he told Sa Woo that the most probable one was the Suk Soo facility, and yet they are not going there until now.

Leader Kang is notified that their location has been discovered, and they all have to get out of there within 10 minutes with all their belongings.

But not before Seung Hee gets there first. She inches up to the front door, but Hwang Soo catches her.

He drags her into the factory, where everyone is packing and getting rid of evidence. And her eyes lock on Hyun Joon.

Episode 13

Leader Kang has no time to deal with Seung Hee, so he orders her to be killed. Hyun Joon reacts and Sun Hwa has to pull him back. Another agent recognizes her as the NSS agent who killed their colleagues. This makes everyone angrier, but Sun Hwa just won’t let Hyun Joon protect his girl!

But then – Hyun Seok intervenes and with just a few whispered words, Seung Hee is spared. Leader Kang asks Hyun Joon, “Do you know this woman?”

Hyun Joon says, “No. Within NSS we don’t know people outside of our own group.”

Packing proceeds, and Seung Hee is taken away as a captive. Sa Woo, in the meantime, is heading over to the facility but Tae Sung and Mi Jung can’t access the satellite to provide assistance. Sang Hyun wants Sa Woo to stand down until they fix the satellite connection, but of course he moves in as planned.

The moment the first agents enter, the motion sensors are activated and bombs start exploding within. No one is inside, and all Sa Woo has done is lose a few more men. On top of that, Seung Hee is nowhere to be found.

They reach their new location, and immediately Seung Hee is tied up and kept in the basement. Sun Hwa checks it out and reports back to Hyun Joon, who is anxious. Seung Hee will be fine until they extract the information from her, so Hyun Joon resolves to save her. But Sun Hwa warns him – if he saves her and gets killed in the process, no one will be able to stop the nuclear attack.

Using Seung Hee’s gun, Hyun Seok finds that she is an NSS agent with Level 1 security clearance, which is good for him. Leader Kang takes this opportunity to inform everyone of their mission. They will explode a nuclear bomb in the middle of Seoul to block the North-South summit meeting. They’re keeping Seung Hee alive to get the password for level 1 clearance, because the password will make everything easier. And Hyun Joon is given the task of interrogating Seung Hee. Once the password is given, Hwang Soo can kill her.

Sa Woo goes back to the office and starts ranting at Tae Sung and Mi Jung for not being able to properly do their jobs while sitting at a computer. Sang Hyun has to yell at him to stop railing against them, who already feel guilty enough. Turns out, Seung Hee had shut down the satellite using Hyun Kyu’s computer, but not everyone knows that yet.

Sang Hyun informs everyone that their new assignment is to find the terrorists. He tells them all about the nuclear threat, but also warns them that because there is high security surrounding this assignment, no one can contact their family and friends in regards to the matter.

After the meeting, Tae Sung takes Sang Hyun aside and tells him about his suspicions regarding Sa Woo and the asbestos factory list. This causes Sang Hyun to form his own conclusions.

Mi Jung loses herself in her daydreams. Late at night in a club, she was sitting alone singing “Empty” (an awesome song that she sings very well by the way) while a bartender was fixing up the chairs. As she sang, Vic came down the stairs and watched her sing. Mi Jung was startled, but she shyly approached him.

Tae Sung wakes her from her reverie, and Mi Jung decides to make a phone call. She calls up her older sister and tells her not to come visit Seoul, or if she really has to come, to leave right away. She doesn’t explain the reason though, even though we all know.

At a meeting in Blue House, all discussions with the North in regards to the summit have been moving forward smoothly. So the President takes this time, knowing that the summit is now set in stone, to inform everyone about the NSS terrorist attack and what was stolen inside NSS. Of course, the other advisors want to postpone the meeting, but the President stubbornly refuses. He does not want to lose the chance they have right now for reunification, and so while they go on with the summit plans, NSS will have the sole responsibility of removing the threat.

Hyun Joon sits across from Seung Hee. Despite their emotions, it’s business as usual. He tells her to give up the password so that she does not have to undergo torture. Seung Hee tells him that her passwords were all deactivated when she was kidnapped. However, simultaneously, Hyun Joon taps out a message in Morse code with his fingers, telling her not to reveal any information.

All this time, Sun Hwa sits several floors above listening to the interrogation through headphones. Next to her, Hyun Seok hacks into Seung Hee’s computer, and he discovers her files regarding Hyun Joon’s mission in Hungary, including a picture of Sun Hwa and Chul Young. Hyun Seok finds the entire matter suspicious, and leaves to go inform Leader Kang. Sun Hwa immediately jumps on to the computer and goes through more of the photos; they include Seung Hee’s trip to Akita with Hyun Joon. Sun Hwa immediately deletes all of those photos.

Hwang Soo tells Leader Kang that Hyun Joon is moving much too slowly, so Leader Kang allows him to start using truth serum. Seung Hee begins asking Hyun Joon why he became a terrorist, but he doesn’t respond. He sees that they have prepared truth serum, and so immediately gets up and starts slapping and punching her face. She falls off her seat, and he begins kicking her in the gut. As much as it pains him to do so, she is saved for a few more hours as she loses consciousness.

Hyun Seok brings Leader Kang over to his computer and shows him that Seung Hee was in Hungary when Minister Yoon was assassinated. Therefore, Hyun Joon and Seung Hee most definitely know each other despite what they say.

Leader Kang is disappointed with Hyun Joon for not getting the password and knocking her out. He has them wake her up with cold water, and Hyun Joon repeats his question. She doesn’t answer, so Young Bum injects the serum in her. (It takes everything he’s got for Hyun Joon to restrain his emotions.)

Baek San makes a phone call in his office to a member of IRIS (whom we don’t see, but only see Vic deliver the phone to that person). He asks for help in protecting Seung Hee because she cannot be killed by the terrorists.

Leader Kang asks her several control questions, which Seung Hee answers affirmatively. But in regards to the access code for level 1 security, she won’t give it. Young Bum injects more serum (and honestly, Hyun Joon’s anxiousness is so evident it’s surprising no one else catches on to it). But before he can get an answer, Leader Kang gets a phone call, and then lets Seung Hee go.

He’s not too happy at having to release her, and neither is Hwang Soo, but he’s ordered to do so. He has Sun Hwa and Hyun Joon let her go. Sun Hwa drives off initially, but Hyun Joon sends Sun Hwa back first and takes Seung Hee all the way back to her home. He puts her down at her front door and tearfully kisses her goodbye.

Hyun Joon: Just like you feared, I’ve become a monster. I don’t think I can return back to you. Please erase all your memories of me, Seung Hee.

By the time he’s gone, Sa Woo has come to Seung Hee’s house (Why would he visit someone he knows is not home?) He finds her at the front steps and brings her inside, as Hyun Joon watches from a distance. (Wow – Sa Woo knows the password to her house and Hyun Joon doesn’t?)

Director Yeon has come to Seoul and takes a tour of the summit location with Chul Young. They enter the meeting room, which has been cleared of all listening bugs. Chul Young tells him that the threat of the nuclear bomb is ready to be used whenever they want. However, Director Yeon says the bomb must go off.

Director Yeon says that he wants a war to happen between the North and South, even if the UN sanctions against North Korea. They will just blame the nuclear attack on someone else, and with nuclear weapons, a stronger, more independent North Korea can come out of it. This is news to Chul Young, who only did not want the summit to happen because he thought the conditions weren’t favorable enough for the North. He ultimately wants a united Korea, but only if North Korea has the same amount of clout as the South.

Director Yeon responds, “I never realized before how two-faced you were.”

Chul Young calls up Leader Kang and changes his orders. He wants to send all recordings to NSS and the Blue House as a threat to stop proceedings for the summit. However Leader Kang tells him outright that he can’t follow his orders – Director Yeon’s orders override his, and those orders are to detonate the bomb.

Sang Hyun visits a brooding Sa Woo sitting alone in the meeting room. He tells Sa Woo that it’s not his fault Seung Hee was hurt. Then, he gets straight to the point: Tae Sung’s list included the Suk Soo facility, but did Sa Woo know anything about it? Sa Woo pretends he knows nothing, and Sang Hyun says, “I think we have a betrayal within the company.” Sa Woo has no reaction and no comment.

Sang Hyun immediately reports to Baek San that he thinks there’s a leak in NSS – someone shut down the satellite and the Suk Soo facility was removed from the list. He suspects it is Sa Woo.

Baek San tells Sang Hyun he’ll take care of it, but he warns Sa Woo. There’s only so much protection he can provide before Sa Woo is caught. He then gives him a new mission: get rid of Yoo Jeong Hun.

As Sa Woo starts searching through the database for Yoo, Mi Jung approaches him from behind to offer some ramen or coffee. Sa Woo immediately minimizes the screen, which Mi Jung notices. She tries to make up with him by offering to help, but Sa Woo says there’s no need. (What a way to raise your suspicious profile within NSS)

Sa Woo confirms Yoo’s house, and along with two vans full of agents and Baek San, they begin to massacre every guard in the house. And here, Sa Woo acts like a cool, badass version of James Bond.

At the same time, Hyun Joon tries to contact Yoo, but this time there’s no call back. He’s worried, since they don’t know where he lives, but they decide to find out where the nuclear bomb is first.

When all is clear, Baek San enters the house and goes up to Yoo’s room. Yoo’s hands are under the covers, and he activates two hidden cameras hidden in one of his paintings and in a statue beside his bed. Hyun Joon gets a video transmission on his phone and asks Sun Hwa if she can find out where it’s coming from.

They drive off, and the whole while Hyun Joon watches as Baek San and Sa Woo confront Yoo. Yoo says that everything has already been taken care of.

Baek San: You can say that even after what you’ve suffered through? A nation, or even an individual like yourself, could not go against the will of IRIS. If you’re relying on Hyun Joon, throw your hopes away now. He’s only being kept alive for our needs. But whenever we want, his life will end. Is there anything else you want to say?
Yoo: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed.” Genesis chapter 9, verse 6.
Baek San: I will take that to heart.

And with that, Baek San takes a pillow, covers Yoo’s face, and shoots Yoo in the head.

Comments:

There’s not much to say about episode 12. It was more exposition, and Yoo’s story just confirmed my/our/everyone’s speculations. Episode 13 though, was very interesting, and it wasn’t even the action that caught my attention. It was Chul Young.

I had been wavering between deciding whether Chul Young was part of IRIS or not. Episode 13 made it clear that he wasn’t, but Director Yeon was. I like that Chul Young has become conflicted because the leader whom he thought was on the same page as he was, was actually someone else. It’s that moment of betrayal in beliefs, and Chul Young has to decide whether to follow Yeon’s path, or the path he thinks is best for North Korea.

When Yeon says, “I never realized before how two-faced you were,” I thought, “Wow there is some serious misunderstandings in their relationship.” Each thought the other was on his side and shared his thinking. Instead, they have the warped version of Baek San and Sa Woo’s relationship. While Sa Woo knows that Baek San is part of IRIS and is unwavering in helping him achieve IRIS’ ends, Chul Young is just being jerked around like a puppet for Yeon. Their relationship is based on assumptions rather than straight-out conversations. Yeon assumes that Chul Young is on his side because of the suggestion of nuclear threat, but does not realize that that is all Chul Young wants: to threaten.

I feel like Chul Young is now on the same boat as Hyun Joon – both have been betrayed by their bosses in some way, and both have to decide what they will do about it. Hyun Joon chose to fight back, but he was also abandoned and left to die. Chul Young hasn’t been abandoned, but he can become a scapegoat for the nuclear bomb if he doesn’t follow Yeon’s wishes.

Everything is moving towards the nuclear bomb going off at the summit, which is looking to be the climax of the series where everything at stake will just come out. It’s a bit slow in getting there – and that’s what I mean by the one jellybean an episode – so I truly, truly hope that everything doesn’t happen all at once in one episode (I’m talking about all the betrayals being found out, identities discovered, the world going right – all happening in one episode).

I also have to say – I just love Hyun Kyu. He treats Seung Hee – especially in episode 12 – like a doting grandfather who likes to pretend he’s grumpy. If only he’d clean up and look like he’s taken a shower, I would hug him.

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22 January 16, 2010January 24, 2016

IRIS: Episodes 12-13

by kaedejun

Sorry for the delay! I watched the episodes a while ago, but then life happened. Anyways – on to episodes 12 and 13!

Every episode rehashes old issues, but there’s always one new nugget of information that the writers drop like a single jellybean into my greedy hands. Weird analogy – sorry, but basically, I’m just hoping right now that they do not rush the ending.

Episode 12

We last saw Hyun Joon rushing to the side of the Father who raised him in the orphanage. He spots a photo on the ground of himself when he was younger standing next to a mysterious man.

The shooter in the car reports to Baek San’s right hand man about Hyun Joon’s presence. He receives the order to go back and kill Hyun Joon and Sun Hwa.

Sun Hwa hurries Hyun Joon – those who shot them will no doubt be back for them. Hyun Joon grabs the Father’s ring and runs out to the car. The henchmen are back, and Hyun Joon and Sun Hwa put up a good fight, killing two of them before escaping in their car. It’s easy for him to see that Baek San planned the murder.

In the privacy of his office, Baek San mulls over what Seung Hee told him about Hyun Joon. She confidently states that the Hungarian government’s information was fake, and that it was highly likely, based on Hyun Kyu’s investigation, that the person in Sa Woo’s house was Hyun Joon. She also believes that the person whom she came face to face with was Hyun Joon. Sa Woo is shocked – flabbergasted – totally, completely found out! (Except no one knows it is him just yet)

Baek San visits the confidential information storage facility and opens up his storage system. He sees that a file was stolen from him, and tells Sa Woo that that file had information about IRIS and Hyun Joon’s parents. Based on his reaction, Sa Woo clearly knows that Baek San works for IRIS, and that his assignments are done to achieve IRIS’ ends, and that the missing file will spell trouble. Baek San orders Sa Woo to keep a close eye on Seung Hee and make sure she doesn’t meet Hyun Joon.

Hyun Joon tells Sun Hwa he needs to meet Mr. X now. Since more North Korean agents will show up for the next part of their plan soon, they need to act now.

Seung Hee asks Tae Sung if he’s come up with a list of asbestos factories, and although there are a lot, she asks that he sort it out in the order of which are the most probable locations. She also requests that he hand her the final list first, even though he’s not reporting to her.

Tae Sung reports to Sa Woo about Seung Hee’s interest in seeing the list of asbestos factories first. He doesn’t know if he should do as she says (clearly, by telling Seung Hee’s worst enemy, you’re not going to do as she says). Sa Woo gives the excuse that Seung Hee is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and to not listen to her at all. Instead, give him the list first.

Advisor Hong gives a report on their meeting with Chul Young and the North Korean inspection team. The President also wants the North-South summit taken place at Pyongyang, and he will send Advisor Jung (or should I say Secretary Jung), along with Hong and Baek San in the delegation.

The President has a private word with Baek San. The investigations on the terrorists aren’t going too well, so Baek San wants them to bring the issue to the National Security Meeting and hold off on the summit. The President refuses: if they adjust the summit’s schedule, it would definitely be cancelled and north-south relations will go downhill. He also believes that is the true intention of the terrorists – to put off the summit.

Chul Young reports back to the North Korean Military director, Yeon Gi Hoon. Director Yeon is surprised to hear the name Baek San, and when Chul Young asks if he knows him, Yeon says he met Baek San once in Shanghai. Yeon is concerned that after Jung and Baek San visit, the summit will definitely go on as planned, but Chul Young assures him that it will not happen.

To keep Seung Hee busy, Sang Hyun has Seung Hee working on recent criminal cases within Korea. As she goes through the list, she sees the Father’s murder case listed suspiciously as an accident. Seung Hee has Mi Jung transfer the entire investigation over to her, and notices that it’s the same Father she had met with Hyun Joon before.

Tae Sung submits the complete list to Sa Woo, telling him that the most likely facility is in the Suk Soo district of An-yang. Baek San orders him to buy some time first, so after Sa Woo receives confirmation from another agent that the terrorists are indeed hiding in the Suk Soo facility, he takes it off the list and changes the order around.

Just then, Seung Hee surprises him from behind. Sa Woo jumps like a guilty cat, but she doesn’t notice. Seung Hee shows him the Father’s murder case, and tells him that someone definitely killed the priest because of his relation to Hyun Joon.

Hyun Joon stands at the Father’s grave, brooding. Meanwhile, Seung Hee and Sa Woo are also making their way to the grave. Sun Hwa spots the two of them first in the distance, and manages to get Hyun Joon away before they arrive. Seung Hee stubbornly reaffirms that Hyun Joon is alive, sparking Sa Woo to yell at her – she’s being reckless because she is putting herself in danger in wanting to deal with a terrorist.

The security level has been upped for the storage facility, and Jung In says there is no way for her to see who went into the server room and uploaded the fabricated Hungarian files. Seung Hee pleads with her, using the priest’s murder case as an additional excuse. So Jung In changes her clearance level and Seung Hee is temporarily allowed to go in. However, Baek San’s henchmen find out and start running in. Jung In herself is caught warning Seung Hee by Sa Woo.

Baek San reprimands Seung Hee and removes her from all of her cases. Likewise, Sang Hyun reprimands Jung In and asks why Seung Hee wanted to go into the confidential storage facility. Jung In admits to him everything that she found out. Sang Hyun confirms it with Seung Hee, and tells her to keep it quiet and not spread it further past Sa Woo and Baek San. He’s suspicious, and says, “If what you say is true, then there is a conspiracy involved in this that you and I don’t know about.”

Hyun Joon has managed to contact Mr. X and arrange a meeting. They go to a deserted area in the middle of a park and are met by a contact. This contact takes their weapons and cell phones, and blindfolds them in the car before bringing them to Mr. X’s beautifully modern house. It is guarded by plenty of security officers, and Sun Hwa is forced to wait somewhere else as Hyun Joon goes up to see Mr. X.

Mr. X’s room is converted into a comfortable private hospital room, with him lying on a bed hooked up to a lot of machines and IV fluids. Mr. X is paralyzed, with a large cast wrapped around his neck.

Hyun Joon shows him the photo, and Mr. X – now known as Yoo Jeong Hun – tells him that he tried to take him out of the church when he was younger. But because of Baek San’s close surveillance, he could not do anything. Hyun Joon asks if Baek San really killed his parents, and now we reach the second “exposition period” of the series.

Years ago, Yoo had brought Hyun Joon’s parents onboard the nuclear development project under the preceding president. After the former president got into an accident, everyone involved in the project started “getting eliminated” – including Hyun Joon’s parents. Yoo barely escaped with his life. Therefore he decided to dig deeper and find out who was behind the conspiracy – and it was IRIS. Yoo gathered supporters to go against IRIS but he was found out, and so all of his colleagues were slowly getting killed off – including Hong Seung Ryong, who had the list of IRIS members. Baek San enlisted Hyun Joon as bait to draw out Yoo, knowing that Yoo would want to help Hyun Joon.

Sun Hwa is getting restless, wanting to know where Hyun Joon is. The guards tell her to stay where she is, but she single-handedly brings down two guards. She meets Hyun Joon and Yoo outside, and is allowed attendance to this private meeting/story time.

Yoo tells them their work is not done – the IRIS list is not complete and they need to find out everyone involved and where the roots of IRIS lie – in that way, they can truly bring down the organization that is currently threatening a nuclear war during the North-South summit.

Meanwhile, the President’s delegation has reached Pyongyang, and has begun discussions with the North. Secretary Jung suggests that the location be Seoul instead, but Director Yeon is not appeased. Chul Young wants an additional 200 bodyguards for their delegation, using the same excuse that Seoul, being democratic, is more dangerous than it seems.

The South Korean delegation don’t like all the demands that North Korea is making in regards to the delegation, but they know they cannot put off the summit without summoning the ire of the President. Baek San says, “It could be that they’re trying to avoid the discussion the president is trying to have about the nuclear weapons.”

In the hotel, Baek San receives a secret note handed to him by Director Yeon’s assistant, and drives away with him. He meets Director Yeon, and they speak frankly about the issues of Hong Seung Ryong’s assassination and Kim Hyun Joon’s escape. And then…it becomes clear that Yeon is also part of IRIS.

CY Sidekick witnessed Baek San meeting Director Yeon and immediately reports it to Chul Young. There is no way for them to find out what they were talking about, so Chul Young orders that Baek San be closely watched from now on.

Back at the “terrorists” headquarters, Leader Kang comes in with a team of additional men to help them with their mission – many of them old friends of the current ones we all know.

Seung Hee is restless, not being able to do any of her usual work and not being able to access the NSS computer servers. She goes to the control room and uses one of the computers there, but Tae Sung tells Seung Hee quite harshly that she can’t be here – she’s putting them in a difficult situation. So then, she goes off and apologizes to Jung In for all the punishment she received. Jung In suggests that she file a formal report investigating the fabricated report, but Seung Hee wants to find Hyun Joon first and hear the truth from him, including why he became a terrorist. In that case, Jung In says she will no longer help Seung Hee. (Seung Hee’s expression looks as though she’s betrayed – but what does she expect? She’s abused Jung In so much for information already!)

So finally, Seung Hee goes to Hyun Kyu for help, and he lets her use his computer. With his access code, she manages to get the list of factories that Sa Woo and his team would be investigating. Of course, since it’s the revised list, the team discovers nothing in each factory that they go to. Seung Hee logs on to the satellite systems in Hyun Kyu’s office and searches for a location that she noticed was missing on the list – it’s the Suk Soo factory.

Tae Sung sees on his computer that Hyun Kyu logged on to the satellite server, and Mi Jung pulls up the images that he was looking at. The Suk Soo facility is now listed as a low-probability site, but Sang Hyun has Sa Woo send the team there, especially since Seung Hee is on her way there and they can’t contact her. Sa Woo has no choice and can no longer delay in finding the terrorists.

All the while, Tae Sung is suspicious – he knows he told Sa Woo that the most probable one was the Suk Soo facility, and yet they are not going there until now.

Leader Kang is notified that their location has been discovered, and they all have to get out of there within 10 minutes with all their belongings.

But not before Seung Hee gets there first. She inches up to the front door, but Hwang Soo catches her.

He drags her into the factory, where everyone is packing and getting rid of evidence. And her eyes lock on Hyun Joon.

Episode 13

Leader Kang has no time to deal with Seung Hee, so he orders her to be killed. Hyun Joon reacts and Sun Hwa has to pull him back. Another agent recognizes her as the NSS agent who killed their colleagues. This makes everyone angrier, but Sun Hwa just won’t let Hyun Joon protect his girl!

But then – Hyun Seok intervenes and with just a few whispered words, Seung Hee is spared. Leader Kang asks Hyun Joon, “Do you know this woman?”

Hyun Joon says, “No. Within NSS we don’t know people outside of our own group.”

Packing proceeds, and Seung Hee is taken away as a captive. Sa Woo, in the meantime, is heading over to the facility but Tae Sung and Mi Jung can’t access the satellite to provide assistance. Sang Hyun wants Sa Woo to stand down until they fix the satellite connection, but of course he moves in as planned.

The moment the first agents enter, the motion sensors are activated and bombs start exploding within. No one is inside, and all Sa Woo has done is lose a few more men. On top of that, Seung Hee is nowhere to be found.

They reach their new location, and immediately Seung Hee is tied up and kept in the basement. Sun Hwa checks it out and reports back to Hyun Joon, who is anxious. Seung Hee will be fine until they extract the information from her, so Hyun Joon resolves to save her. But Sun Hwa warns him – if he saves her and gets killed in the process, no one will be able to stop the nuclear attack.

Using Seung Hee’s gun, Hyun Seok finds that she is an NSS agent with Level 1 security clearance, which is good for him. Leader Kang takes this opportunity to inform everyone of their mission. They will explode a nuclear bomb in the middle of Seoul to block the North-South summit meeting. They’re keeping Seung Hee alive to get the password for level 1 clearance, because the password will make everything easier. And Hyun Joon is given the task of interrogating Seung Hee. Once the password is given, Hwang Soo can kill her.

Sa Woo goes back to the office and starts ranting at Tae Sung and Mi Jung for not being able to properly do their jobs while sitting at a computer. Sang Hyun has to yell at him to stop railing against them, who already feel guilty enough. Turns out, Seung Hee had shut down the satellite using Hyun Kyu’s computer, but not everyone knows that yet.

Sang Hyun informs everyone that their new assignment is to find the terrorists. He tells them all about the nuclear threat, but also warns them that because there is high security surrounding this assignment, no one can contact their family and friends in regards to the matter.

After the meeting, Tae Sung takes Sang Hyun aside and tells him about his suspicions regarding Sa Woo and the asbestos factory list. This causes Sang Hyun to form his own conclusions.

Mi Jung loses herself in her daydreams. Late at night in a club, she was sitting alone singing “Empty” (an awesome song that she sings very well by the way) while a bartender was fixing up the chairs. As she sang, Vic came down the stairs and watched her sing. Mi Jung was startled, but she shyly approached him.

Tae Sung wakes her from her reverie, and Mi Jung decides to make a phone call. She calls up her older sister and tells her not to come visit Seoul, or if she really has to come, to leave right away. She doesn’t explain the reason though, even though we all know.

At a meeting in Blue House, all discussions with the North in regards to the summit have been moving forward smoothly. So the President takes this time, knowing that the summit is now set in stone, to inform everyone about the NSS terrorist attack and what was stolen inside NSS. Of course, the other advisors want to postpone the meeting, but the President stubbornly refuses. He does not want to lose the chance they have right now for reunification, and so while they go on with the summit plans, NSS will have the sole responsibility of removing the threat.

Hyun Joon sits across from Seung Hee. Despite their emotions, it’s business as usual. He tells her to give up the password so that she does not have to undergo torture. Seung Hee tells him that her passwords were all deactivated when she was kidnapped. However, simultaneously, Hyun Joon taps out a message in Morse code with his fingers, telling her not to reveal any information.

All this time, Sun Hwa sits several floors above listening to the interrogation through headphones. Next to her, Hyun Seok hacks into Seung Hee’s computer, and he discovers her files regarding Hyun Joon’s mission in Hungary, including a picture of Sun Hwa and Chul Young. Hyun Seok finds the entire matter suspicious, and leaves to go inform Leader Kang. Sun Hwa immediately jumps on to the computer and goes through more of the photos; they include Seung Hee’s trip to Akita with Hyun Joon. Sun Hwa immediately deletes all of those photos.

Hwang Soo tells Leader Kang that Hyun Joon is moving much too slowly, so Leader Kang allows him to start using truth serum. Seung Hee begins asking Hyun Joon why he became a terrorist, but he doesn’t respond. He sees that they have prepared truth serum, and so immediately gets up and starts slapping and punching her face. She falls off her seat, and he begins kicking her in the gut. As much as it pains him to do so, she is saved for a few more hours as she loses consciousness.

Hyun Seok brings Leader Kang over to his computer and shows him that Seung Hee was in Hungary when Minister Yoon was assassinated. Therefore, Hyun Joon and Seung Hee most definitely know each other despite what they say.

Leader Kang is disappointed with Hyun Joon for not getting the password and knocking her out. He has them wake her up with cold water, and Hyun Joon repeats his question. She doesn’t answer, so Young Bum injects the serum in her. (It takes everything he’s got for Hyun Joon to restrain his emotions.)

Baek San makes a phone call in his office to a member of IRIS (whom we don’t see, but only see Vic deliver the phone to that person). He asks for help in protecting Seung Hee because she cannot be killed by the terrorists.

Leader Kang asks her several control questions, which Seung Hee answers affirmatively. But in regards to the access code for level 1 security, she won’t give it. Young Bum injects more serum (and honestly, Hyun Joon’s anxiousness is so evident it’s surprising no one else catches on to it). But before he can get an answer, Leader Kang gets a phone call, and then lets Seung Hee go.

He’s not too happy at having to release her, and neither is Hwang Soo, but he’s ordered to do so. He has Sun Hwa and Hyun Joon let her go. Sun Hwa drives off initially, but Hyun Joon sends Sun Hwa back first and takes Seung Hee all the way back to her home. He puts her down at her front door and tearfully kisses her goodbye.

Hyun Joon: Just like you feared, I’ve become a monster. I don’t think I can return back to you. Please erase all your memories of me, Seung Hee.

By the time he’s gone, Sa Woo has come to Seung Hee’s house (Why would he visit someone he knows is not home?) He finds her at the front steps and brings her inside, as Hyun Joon watches from a distance. (Wow – Sa Woo knows the password to her house and Hyun Joon doesn’t?)

Director Yeon has come to Seoul and takes a tour of the summit location with Chul Young. They enter the meeting room, which has been cleared of all listening bugs. Chul Young tells him that the threat of the nuclear bomb is ready to be used whenever they want. However, Director Yeon says the bomb must go off.

Director Yeon says that he wants a war to happen between the North and South, even if the UN sanctions against North Korea. They will just blame the nuclear attack on someone else, and with nuclear weapons, a stronger, more independent North Korea can come out of it. This is news to Chul Young, who only did not want the summit to happen because he thought the conditions weren’t favorable enough for the North. He ultimately wants a united Korea, but only if North Korea has the same amount of clout as the South.

Director Yeon responds, “I never realized before how two-faced you were.”

Chul Young calls up Leader Kang and changes his orders. He wants to send all recordings to NSS and the Blue House as a threat to stop proceedings for the summit. However Leader Kang tells him outright that he can’t follow his orders – Director Yeon’s orders override his, and those orders are to detonate the bomb.

Sang Hyun visits a brooding Sa Woo sitting alone in the meeting room. He tells Sa Woo that it’s not his fault Seung Hee was hurt. Then, he gets straight to the point: Tae Sung’s list included the Suk Soo facility, but did Sa Woo know anything about it? Sa Woo pretends he knows nothing, and Sang Hyun says, “I think we have a betrayal within the company.” Sa Woo has no reaction and no comment.

Sang Hyun immediately reports to Baek San that he thinks there’s a leak in NSS – someone shut down the satellite and the Suk Soo facility was removed from the list. He suspects it is Sa Woo.

Baek San tells Sang Hyun he’ll take care of it, but he warns Sa Woo. There’s only so much protection he can provide before Sa Woo is caught. He then gives him a new mission: get rid of Yoo Jeong Hun.

As Sa Woo starts searching through the database for Yoo, Mi Jung approaches him from behind to offer some ramen or coffee. Sa Woo immediately minimizes the screen, which Mi Jung notices. She tries to make up with him by offering to help, but Sa Woo says there’s no need. (What a way to raise your suspicious profile within NSS)

Sa Woo confirms Yoo’s house, and along with two vans full of agents and Baek San, they begin to massacre every guard in the house. And here, Sa Woo acts like a cool, badass version of James Bond.

At the same time, Hyun Joon tries to contact Yoo, but this time there’s no call back. He’s worried, since they don’t know where he lives, but they decide to find out where the nuclear bomb is first.

When all is clear, Baek San enters the house and goes up to Yoo’s room. Yoo’s hands are under the covers, and he activates two hidden cameras hidden in one of his paintings and in a statue beside his bed. Hyun Joon gets a video transmission on his phone and asks Sun Hwa if she can find out where it’s coming from.

They drive off, and the whole while Hyun Joon watches as Baek San and Sa Woo confront Yoo. Yoo says that everything has already been taken care of.

Baek San: You can say that even after what you’ve suffered through? A nation, or even an individual like yourself, could not go against the will of IRIS. If you’re relying on Hyun Joon, throw your hopes away now. He’s only being kept alive for our needs. But whenever we want, his life will end. Is there anything else you want to say?
Yoo: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed.” Genesis chapter 9, verse 6.
Baek San: I will take that to heart.

And with that, Baek San takes a pillow, covers Yoo’s face, and shoots Yoo in the head.

Comments:

There’s not much to say about episode 12. It was more exposition, and Yoo’s story just confirmed my/our/everyone’s speculations. Episode 13 though, was very interesting, and it wasn’t even the action that caught my attention. It was Chul Young.

I had been wavering between deciding whether Chul Young was part of IRIS or not. Episode 13 made it clear that he wasn’t, but Director Yeon was. I like that Chul Young has become conflicted because the leader whom he thought was on the same page as he was, was actually someone else. It’s that moment of betrayal in beliefs, and Chul Young has to decide whether to follow Yeon’s path, or the path he thinks is best for North Korea.

When Yeon says, “I never realized before how two-faced you were,” I thought, “Wow there is some serious misunderstandings in their relationship.” Each thought the other was on his side and shared his thinking. Instead, they have the warped version of Baek San and Sa Woo’s relationship. While Sa Woo knows that Baek San is part of IRIS and is unwavering in helping him achieve IRIS’ ends, Chul Young is just being jerked around like a puppet for Yeon. Their relationship is based on assumptions rather than straight-out conversations. Yeon assumes that Chul Young is on his side because of the suggestion of nuclear threat, but does not realize that that is all Chul Young wants: to threaten.

I feel like Chul Young is now on the same boat as Hyun Joon – both have been betrayed by their bosses in some way, and both have to decide what they will do about it. Hyun Joon chose to fight back, but he was also abandoned and left to die. Chul Young hasn’t been abandoned, but he can become a scapegoat for the nuclear bomb if he doesn’t follow Yeon’s wishes.

Everything is moving towards the nuclear bomb going off at the summit, which is looking to be the climax of the series where everything at stake will just come out. It’s a bit slow in getting there – and that’s what I mean by the one jellybean an episode – so I truly, truly hope that everything doesn’t happen all at once in one episode (I’m talking about all the betrayals being found out, identities discovered, the world going right – all happening in one episode).

I also have to say – I just love Hyun Kyu. He treats Seung Hee – especially in episode 12 – like a doting grandfather who likes to pretend he’s grumpy. If only he’d clean up and look like he’s taken a shower, I would hug him.

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12 January 24, 2010January 24, 2016

IRIS: Episodes 14-15

by kaedejun

First off, I have to apologize – I have made several mistakes, in my last recap and before, which episode 14 made very clear.

When Hyun Joon drops Seung Hee off after she’s released by the North Koreans, he drops her off at (his and) Sa Woo’s home – not hers.

And secondly, when Mi Jung makes the phone call, I made the incorrect assumption that she called her sister. She really called Vic. I should have realized it when putting the scenes together and following Mi Jung’s train of thought – but hehe…that’s what happens when you make assumptions, right!?

Also, the female North Korean agent I’ve been calling Young Bum this whole time? Just because I wasn’t sure what her name was? Yeah – she’s Dae Hyun. Young Bum is the guy who saw Seung Hee kill his colleagues in NSS. Just realized it when I saw the translations for episode 14. So sorry for the confusion!

So! Let’s get on with episodes 14 and 15!

Episode 14

I’ll preface this with: GOODNESS – so many things get revealed and confirmed! A shower of jellybeans came my way!

Sa Woo deletes all camera footage of the assault and leaves before Sun Hwa and Hyun Joon arrive. Guns drawn, they check the premises – but there’s nothing to fear. Everyone in the building is either dead or gone. Hyun Joon makes his way up to Yoo’s room. He remembers his last words, which were quoted from a particular chapter in the Bible. Hyun Joon searches for a Bible in the room and opens up to that page. He finds a small box embedded into the book containing an ID card with medieval designs on it that says ERHARD, and a silver crown keychain.

As they return to the hideout, Sun Hwa asks who the other person in the video was, and Hyun Joon says it is Sa Woo. He had hoped that when Sa Woo pointed the gun at him in Hungary, he was simply unable to disobey orders. He never imagined that Sa Woo would be part of IRIS.

Later that day, Baek San goes to the supermarket to buy some groceries, where his wife meets up with him. (Kind of cute but really weird to see the stern Baek San in a supermarket.) In the distance, he spots the back of Vic, but doesn’t get a good view before Vic disappears. Mrs. Baek San asks if he knows the person, but Baek San says no.

At NSS, Mi Jung gets a message, and immediately leaves the office. She runs out to the bridge – and there, she meets up with Vic. She tells him, “I told you not to come.” (Meaning Seoul – she had called him to leave Seoul in the last episode) Instead, he suddenly kisses her…

…And the next morning, Mi Jung wakes up to find Vic making coffee for her. She tells him to leave, but he asks about her. She says she won’t leave because of work, and so Vic replies, “If you’re not going, then I’m not going.” (Insert passionate kiss here that was completely censored.)

Sang Hyun reports to Baek San about a new case – a house full of dead bodies and many guns. Baek San tells him not to investigate it any further, as they cannot spare any anti-terrorism agents towards solving an internal affairs case. Hyun Kyu later catches up with Sang Hyun to update him on the dead bodies at the house but Sang Hyun tells him they’re transferring the case to someone else.

Hyun Kyu stops him – the body he is examining right now is a match to a skull comparison he did for Sa Woo before the shootout happened. Dun-dun-DUN!

Chul Young broods in his office, rethinking over Director’s Yeon’s words to him. Yeon sends for him, and warns him once again that if Chul Young does not follow his orders, he will be returned to the North, where he will no doubt demoted or even imprisoned. Director Yeon asserts that his actions will lead to a revolution against their current leader, who has done nothing for them.

Chul Young stands and gives his decision: He will work with Director Yeon.

Back at NSS, Sang Hyun asks Manager Hwang, who is head of internal investigations department, if Baek San gave him any orders in regards to Sa Woo. Manager Hwang says he received none, from Baek San or otherwise.

Chul Young meets privately with CY Sidekick and updates him on what has happened so far between him and Director Yeon. He orders his Sidekick to keep a close eye on Director Yeon, and he will find a way to meet Sun Hwa first.

Baek San meets with Director Yeon for a walk. Director Yeon says that he will report the nuclear attack as the work of a resistance group. He has decided on a date, but refuses to divulge that just yet to Baek San. Baek San asks for a favor – can he get rid of Kim Hyun Joon for him before D-Day?

In the distance, Sang Hyun watches the exchange.

Leader Kang receives the order to kill Hyun Joon and Sun Hwa. Hwang Soo offers to do it, but Leader Kang tells him to hold off on it first. They need a group meeting with everyone else.

Dae Hyun (the girl agent I’ve been mistakenly calling Young Bum this whole time; also known as Tae Young depending on the translator) says that the nuclear assembly is nearly done, and Young Bum (the other guy who saw Seung Hee at NSS) is to check for escape routes. In the middle of this meeting, Sun Hwa and Hyun Joon return, but they are stopped by guards. Hwang Soo comes out and tells them that they are both on standby and have no reason to be part of the meeting.

Therefore, with no new information, they’re only lead is the ID card.

Sang Hyun visits Seung Hee at her house, to inform her of his suspicions against Sa Woo and Baek San. Meanwhile, men are outside of Seung Hee’s house, watching.

Hyun Joon visits an odd building with too many medieval coat of arms and shields decorating the outside. He hands the person inside the ID card, who then registers him in. He asks for a “book,” but Hyun Joon hands him the keychain instead. He is led to a lavish room where a small security box is kept. Inside are car keys and a note saying “B4.”

Hyun Joon goes down to the parking lot and unlocks a very, very fancy and sleek black car. There is nothing inside the compartments that give him a clue to anything, so he starts the car. The computer in the car asks for his fingerprint, and immediately, it gives him a destination to drive to.

However, there are people on his trail – most probably Baek San’s men – and Hyun Joon weaves through traffic to escape them. He finally evades them when he makes a sudden switch in lanes and exits the highway.

He reaches a heliport, where more security agents meet him and pat him down for weapons before allowing him to board the helicopter. Inside sits Secretary Jung.

They fly off to a mysterious location and go up an oddly shaped building. More guards screen Hyun Joon before allowing him to go up to the glass room at the top of the building. The President is there, waiting for them.

The President recognizes Hyun Joon right away as the man who saved his life, along with Sa Woo. However, he is surprised to find out that Hyun Joon was accused of treason and presumed dead.

Hyun Joon: I assassinated Chairman Yoon Sung Chul.
President: Under whose orders did you do such a thing?
Hyun Joon: It was NSS Director Baek San.

Hyun Joon describes IRIS for the President, who can’t believe what he’s hearing. Secretary Jung shows the President the footage of Baek San killing Yoo as evidence of Baek San’s true character. Hyun Joon confirms that he has the list of IRIS members that could incriminate Baek San, but they cannot arrest him just yet. They don’t have a complete list or know Baek San’s boss just yet, and on top of that, Hyun Joon can find out the location of the nuclear weapon from the terrorists he works with, who are taking orders from IRIS.

When Secretary Jung returns to the Blue House, the other advisors bug him about where the President was. His disappearance and the changes to the summit plans make all of the advisors uneasy about whether the President even trusts them or not. Baek San joins the meeting late, and the President has Advisor Hong bring Baek San to him.

On the way, he tells her that despite Secretary Jung and the President’s suspicions, their plan must go along as planned.

The President asks Baek San what his personal opinions are in regards to the summit, even though NSS is not supposed to have any political leanings whatsoever. He’s on to Baek San, and the following conversation is basically his way of letting Baek San – and IRIS – know that nothing can change his plans for reunification.

Baek San: I think that the nuclear terrorist attack is something prepared by the opposition force. Your wishes on unification, changes to the North’s political structure, to those who do not wish for the Korean peninsula to be united, it will probably be a bad scenario.
President: Who are “they”?
Baek San: Pardon?
President: The forces opposing…who are they?
Baek San: Sorry, sir. I’m not sure if I didn’t understand the president’s words correctly…
President: That’s all right. No matter what dangers I may face, I’m going to go through with the summit this time. Whoever may be interfering with the summit will not be forgiven.

Sang Hyun meets with Seung Hee at a bar. He tells her to continue acting cool in front of the spies following her, and also to find out where Hyun Joon is. They need to know why Hyun Joon joined the terrorists, and who Sa Woo and Baek San are working for.

As Seung Hee goes to a gym class, a man dressed all in black conspicuously follows her around until she goes into the women’s locker room. Seung Hee calls up the police, who then have a talk with the men waiting outside the gym. She leaves the gym by taking the stairs. She misleads the spy by putting her lipstick down as a doorstop, and leaves through a back entrance, right into Jung In’s car.

Jung In and Seung Hee drive to the Suk Soo facility to start their search for Hyun Joon. They call up Sang Hyun, and Mi Jung begins to track their movements. There is only one road that they could have taken, which has several speed bumps. Seung Hee counts the seconds between the speed bumps, using the intervals she measured when she was transported to their next hideout, to figure out where the truck went.

They see a CCTV camera above a road, and Seung Hee has them check the footage for the truck, and then track the path of the car. However, Sa Woo comes up behind Sang Hyun. He and Mi Jung lie to Sa Woo and say they cannot contact Seung Hee.

Sang Hyun gives Mi Jung access to a server room so that she can locate where the truck was last seen and send the destination to Seung Hee. At the same time, Sa Woo is notified of her actions and heads off to stop Seung Hee before she comes into contact with the terrorists.

Sun Hwa and Hyun Joon figure that Dae Hyun is actually the one assembling the bomb, since she is nowhere to be seen. Hyun Seok comes up to the two of them and signals for Sun Hwa to come out with him. He hands her his cell phone and tells her that Chul Young will be calling soon, but that Leader Kang cannot find out. Yay for Hyun Seok! I knew that Hyun Joon-helping-with-the-luggage-incident had to pay off sometime!

Chul Young and Sun Hwa arrange to meet at Riverview 8th St – where there is a viewing area under the bridge. However, when Chul Young gets there, the place is full of agents. He tries to get away, but there are too many that surround him right away.

Knowing he cannot fight off all of them, he lets himself be taken away to another location where this time, he is the one getting interrogated – by none other than Hyun Joon.

Episode 15

Hyun Joon punches Chul Young and fires a couple of shots in his direction, demanding to know the location of the nuclear bomb.

In another room, Secretary Jung and Sun Hwa observe.

Chul Young, once again seated, spills everything he knows to Hyun Joon. He can no longer help Hyun Joon with his revenge because he himself was betrayed by Leader Kang. He also has no idea what IRIS is, but if anyone is involved with IRIS, it’s Director Yeon.

Back at the hideout, Leader Kang asks where Sun Hwa and Hyun Joon are, and Hwang Soo says they should just kill them already since they’re always missing. Hyun Seok reluctantly reveals that Sun Hwa received a call from Chul Young and left soon after that. Leader Kang calls up Director Yeon, who tells him to kill them now.

Before Chul Young is let go, Secretary Jung makes a request: the war can only be stopped by Chul Young’s decisions to help them. Chul Young asks to speak to Sun Hwa, and takes a deep introspective look on himself that makes me love Kim Seung Woo even more:

Chul Young: I can think of times when I should have realized that I was being used. After we failed to protect Yoon Sung Chul, for me to be reinstated so quickly, that wasn’t something that is possible in our party. But even then, I never suspected Minister Yeon Gi Hoon even once. I was blinded by my loyalty, to our party and our people, or so I thought. But I realize today, that it was my personal ambition, and that breaks my heart.

Jung In drives Seung Hee up to a plaza where there are several tall buildings; one of them houses the terrorists’ hideout. Seung Hee leaves by herself, and she goes through several buildings’ basements, hoping to recognize one of them.

Sa Woo, meanwhile, has several of his agents searching for her in the area.

Jung In phones in to Sang Hyun, but just as he tells her he will send more agents, Baek San’s henchman comes up to him and arrests him for treason in front of Tae Sung. Tae Sung rushes off to tell Mi Jung.

Seung Hee spots Young Bum entering a building and hides behind a pillar, but she is caught by Sa Woo instead. He suspends her from duty, and she accuses him of trying to protect the terrorists because he would not send in additional agents to the building. She says that he’s changed too much, but he throws it right back at her – she was the one that changed, and it was all because of Hyun Joon. He’s only trying to put her back on track with her life.

Chul Young returns to the hotel, where his Sidekick tells him that Director Yeon is looking for him, and might be suspicious of his actions. Chul Young tells the Director that he’s only been looking into escape plans for when the bomb is to go off.

Director Yeon tells Chul Young that they have powerful people backing them up. When the bomb goes off, Head of National Security Lee Tae Soon and the Marines will begin the coup d’etat. The army will surround Pyongyang, and if the US prepares to attack them, the North Korean army will use their nuclear weapons to attack the UN forces. Reunification will be stalled, and Lee Tae Soon will take power.

Chul Young returns to his room and has Sidekick scramble the signals. He calls up Secretary Jung, who then passes the message along to the President. The President broods over his past conversations with Baek San, Secretary Jung and Hyun Joon. He regrets now handing Baek San the position of Director to NSS, thinking that Baek San would have told him all of NSS’ actions.

Hyun Joon and Sun Hwa return to the hideout, where several North Korean agents await their arrival with guns. At the same time, Seung Hee is being driven away by two other NSS agents, while Sa Woo and a few other agents enter the hideout building. But when the car stops at a railroad track because of an oncoming train, Seung Hee takes this opportunity to knock out the agent beside her, take his gun, and escape.

Sun Hwa sees no one in the meeting room and everything is packed up.

Sa Woo checks out the basement equipment room, where a North Korean agent catches him. He is forced to put down his gun, but suddenly, the North Korean is shot dead…by none other than Hyun Joon.

This time the tables are turned: Sa Woo is unarmed, and Hyun Joon is pointing a gun at Sa Woo’s chest. Hyun Joon asks: How long has Sa Woo worked under Baek San and IRIS? Sa Woo refuses to divulge. He tells Hyun Joon to just kill him – “It was a hellish life for me as well. Hurry up and end it.”

However, Hyun Joon spots several North Korean agents searching for him, and immediately Sa Woo and Hyun Joon leap into action. Sa Woo grabs his gun from the floor and the two of them (temporarily) work together to shoot down all of the North Korean agents. As soon as they’re dead, Sa Woo points the gun at Hyun Joon and shoots him. Hyun Joon barely makes it out of the way, with one of the bullets grazing his cheek.

Cue reminiscing scenes of their friendship!

Hyun Joon gathers his strength and yells across the room: He blamed Baek San and NSS for Sa Woo’s actions in Hungary, but knowing that Sa Woo was part of IRIS was the biggest betrayal that he’d felt.

Sa Woo retorts: Hyun Joon had NO IDEA how much he suffered and had to give up these past years. (I don’t either, but ok.)

They shoot at each other, Sa Woo having come to the conclusion that the only way for everything to be OK again is for Hyun Joon to die. But Sun Hwa comes down and starts shooting at Sa Woo, and so he runs, knowing that he’s outnumbered.

They figure that Leader Kang wanted them dead before they moved to their new location, and so they start going through the dead bodies, trying to find someone who is still somewhat alive and can tell them where the new hideout is.

They bring one agent to a local doctor. Hyun Joon forces the doctor to wake the injured man up with Atropine. He wakes up temporarily, but doesn’t reveal anything. They only find a car key on him, and decide to go down to the parking lot to check it out.

Sun Hwa and Hyun Joon find a black van, and they take out all of the belongings in it, including the GPS system. As they leave, they are blocked by traffic, and newly escaped Seung Hee is walking towards them, back to the building that she was going to investigate. However, they miss each other, and Seung Hee only sees police cars outside the building.

Advisor Hong is suspicious of Secretary Jung, and she relays her concerns to Baek San. He tells her that she may have to “take care of the President,” a prospect that she is not looking forward to.

Baek San goes in to question Sang Hyun. Sang Hyun snaps, saying that nuclear terrorism is not going to benefit anyone if 150,000 lives are going to be sacrificed. However, Baek San reveals his true side and says that if those lives are needed to protect the security of South Korea, then it’s worth it.

After Sa Woo finds out that Seung Hee is once again missing, he goes in to talk to Sang Hyun. He wants to know where Seung Hee could possibly be, but Sang Hyun is shocked and betrayed by Sa Woo’s change. He had thought of Sa Woo as a younger brother, and is angry to see that Sa Woo would so easily change sides just because Baek San is holding something over him. He reminds him that he is acting contrary to his true nature.

Meanwhile, Baek San’s henchman comes to Hyun Kyu’s office to ask if he’s seen Mi Jung. Hyun Kyu says he has no idea, but once the man leaves, he tells Mi Jung to wake up. She was hiding under the white sheet on the examination table.

Jung In picks up Seung Hee and gives her a gun and new phone. However, they have no new leads. They contact Mi Jung to have her find areas that had high radioactivity at any moment. When the uranium capsule was taken out of its case and put into the detonator, there would have been heightened radioactivity somewhere.

Sun Hwa and Hyun Joon go through the van’s belongings. The GPS system has a list of locations that the car has been to. They decide to go to the more frequented areas, but those areas are busy intersections or historical locations with no sign of the terrorists. They check the GPS again, and decide to visit the location where the car only visited once.

Mi Jung’s satellite tracking alerts Baek San’s henchmen, and they catch her in Hyun Kyu’s office. She’s already found the location, but she tries to hide the screen from the henchman’s view. He leads her out and asks her what she was doing. Mi Jung reports everything, and he orders her to inform Seung Hee of the location. He then calls Sa Woo with the location.

Secretary Jung meets with the doctor that Hyun Joon had brought a North Korean agent to. Based on what the doctor witnessed, he and the President conclude that Hyun Joon has lost track of the terrorists, and has no idea where the bomb is. They decide to arrest Director Yeon.

Sun Hwa and Hyun Joon make their way to the building and find the room where Dae Hyun assembled the bomb. The weapon is already gone. They hear footsteps and a door creaking open. Guns ready, they raise the gun – at Seung Hee.

Comments:

These two episodes were so full of information. It’s nice to see that everything is coming together, except everything fell into their place so quickly that it makes me feel like the series could end by episode 18. (In fact, the preview for episode 16 was such a spoiler for me that I was sad for a few days and I have not gotten the courage to watch it yet! But I will.)

Chul Young joining the side of the “good guys” happened so fast, that it put me on a tailspin. I understand his viewpoint about the nuclear weapon, but I would assume his patriotic feelings for North Korea would take precedence over choosing to join the South Koreans. On top of that, we saw who was on which side in episode 15. Advisor Hong became firmly on the side of the “bad guys,” and Hyun Seok was undoubtedly on Leader Kang’s side (even though I was hoping he’d be on Sun Hwa and Hyun Joon’s side.) And all of a sudden one of the advisors – the Head of National Security – did something that finally had some substance! He was no longer just a side advisor that played devil’s advocate to Baek San during meetings, but was finally informed of what was happening with NSS thanks to Manager Hwang and was equally suspicious of NSS as Secretary Jung.

And Sa Woo – so many people told him that he was acting out of character in episode 15 that I’m sure there’s going to be a last second switch of allegiances. Or else, Sa Woo will remain a mystery to me in regards to his character.

The only character that is slow in developing is Vic. He had just a couple of scenes in episode 14, and the reasons for his actions are so inexplicable that they’re suspicious. I want more T.O.P.! (and not just for eye candy! …well, sorta.)

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24 February 1, 2010January 24, 2016

IRIS: Episodes 16-17

by kaedejun

I did say I was very hesitant to watch Episode 16 because of the spoiler that I saw in the previews, but it wasn’t as bad as I initially thought (more on that later, or skip to my comments section). Honestly, I think this series could end by episode 18, because it’s been unraveling so fast. Case in point: by episode 15 we know who is on whose side and the lines are set for battle, and all it took was an episode and a half to establish that.

We’ve reached the critical moment – will the North and South enter a nuclear war?

Episode 16

We ended the last episode with Seung Hee and Hyun Joon pointing guns at each other in the lab where the nuclear bomb was assembled. The two of them are clearly shocked to see each other again under such circumstances, and Sun Hwa gets the hint immediately that she does not belong there.

This is finally the chance where the lovebirds can ask and answer all their questions. Seung Hee asks simply for Hyun Joon to hold her, and as they embrace, Seung Hee reveals that she left the car when Sa Woo called her. Hyun Joon also tells her that Sa Woo was the one who tried to kill him, and that his orders to kill Minister Yoon came from IRIS. Seung Hee has no idea what he is talking about, and for the first time she becomes suspicious of Baek San and Sa Woo.

However, because Sa Woo and his cronies have arrived, Sun Hwa rushes in to drag Hyun Joon away. Seung Hee stays behind to buy them some time, reassuring Hyun Joon that Sa Woo will never shoot her. As Seung Hee says this, Sun Hwa immediately looks away – as though she can’t bear the sight of the saintly Seung Hee standing before her Hyun Joon and saving their lives.

As Sa Woo approaches the building with his team, Seung Hee appears. And this time, she tells him not to approach her. With each step forward he takes, she shoots the ground at his feet. He comes still closer, and asks what she’s doing. Seung Hee flips the gun towards him and dares him, “Try and shoot me. Just like what you did to Hyun Joon.”

After driving away, Hyun Joon broods by a fountain, and Sun Hwa apologizes. She knew about Seung Hee being alive when she was captured way back when, but she couldn’t tell him when she saw Hyun Joon again. He asked her, “Why did you do that?” Sun Hwa only looks up at his face, tears welling in her eyes, and immediately looks down again. And in that instant, Hyun Joon understands, and he comforts her by leaning her head against his shoulder.

Secretary Jung visits Chul Young and lets him know that they have decided to arrest Director Yeon. Since Hyun Joon lost the other terrorists, they have no other choice. Chul Young phones Hyun Joon, who picks up this time, but Hyun Joon thinks they shouldn’t go through with the arrest. He decides to head over to the hotel where Director Yeon is staying.

Chul Young has a heart-to-heart with his Sidekick. The Sidekick is a little hesitant to turn over someone to South Korea, but Chul Young reasons, “Yeon Ki Hoon is no longer part of the republic. If he was a part of the republic, he wouldn’t have insisted on sacrificing numerous citizens.”

They head over to Director Yeon’s living quarters, and Chul Young and Sidekick swiftly take out the guards. Chul Young goes in and tells him that Secretary Jung wishes to speak to him face-to-face – it’s urgent. As soon as they reach the hallway, Chul Young pulls the gun on Director Yeon. Director Yeon is surprised at the betrayal, but Chul Young counters, “Compared to your betrayal to the country and its citizens, my betrayal is nothing.”

Director Yeon ends with his threat – there’s nothing they can do because the nuke will explode in Seoul at dawn. (That’s actually a lie, because Director Yeon had just confirmed with Leader Kang that the nuke will explode at 5pm.)

Yeon is amused that Chul Young would sell him off to South Korea for this, but Secretary Jung corrects him – they’re arresting him because he’s part of IRIS. Now that’s not too funny.

But before they can take him away, Vic appears and shoots Director Yeon down. Just at that moment, Hyun Joon and Sun Hwa arrive, and along with Chul Young, they chase after Vic. Hyun Joon manages to fire a few shots at Vic, only injuring him, before Vic gets into his getaway car.

Seung Hee is led into NSS like a prisoner, with everyone watching her. She enters Baek San’s office, and Baek San tells her that if she is going to keep going rogue, he can no longer protect her. Seung Hee replies that she never wanted his protection, and asks him instead about IRIS. Baek San tells her that Hyun Joon is just making things up to blame others, and that she should only trust him (although by now, she clearly doesn’t).

Tae Sung – the blabbermouth – goes on to Manager Hwang and tells him about his suspicions regarding Sa Woo, and how Seung Hee was taken away. Manager Hwang thinks it’s too much now – all of the team leaders and chiefs are being taken away in the middle of a nuclear crisis, and he warns Tae Sung to keep his mouth shut.

Sa Woo enters the conference room, where Seung Hee is held, and tells her that he will answer all of her questions. But Seung Hee says she no longer cares about what he has to say.

Sa Woo: No. I need to do it.
Seung Hee: Why do you need to do that?
Sa Woo: Because the beginning of all this was you. Because the reason I’m here right now, is because of you, Choi Seung Hee.
Seung Hee: So, is that why you were trying to kill Hyun Joon in Hungary? Why can’t you say anything? Try to make up some excuse.
Sa Woo: Because Hyun Joon was better off dying by my hands.

He tells her about Baek San’s orders, and that, “After the moment you had entered my heart, I was always standing on the edge of a cliff.”

But Seung Hee ruthlessly brings him down:

“What difference does it make now, having this emotional rant? So, how does it make a difference if I came to understand you? Even if Hyun Joon forgives you, I can never forgive you.”

Secretary Jung informs the President that Director Yeon was killed; since no one else knew of the plan, IRIS has deeper connections than they ever knew. With the nuclear bomb going off at dawn, the President decides that he can at least stop the coup d’etat by calling North Korea’s Leader Kim and expose the truth. Hyun Joon leads Chul Young to the President’s office and Chul Young is sent back to the North to stop the coup in any way possible.

Chul Young wishes Hyun Joon luck, and tells him to try as much as possible to stop the bomb from going off in the first place.

It is D-Day, and Leader Kang receives a phone call notifying him of Director Yeon’s death. He is much more heartbroken than I’d expect. Despite this setback, the plan goes forth – the bomb will be detonated at 5 o’clock at Kwang Hwa Mun, the main gate of Gyeongbok Palace. They’ve already planted the bomb in a city tour bus that goes around Seoul, and it makes a stop in front of Kwang Hwa Mun at 5 o’clock. When it makes that stop, they will detonate it remotely through a cell phone. Once they confirm the nuclear bomb cloud in the distance, they can make their escape via boat.

Just then the President’s security team arrives at NSS to come and arrest Baek San. Baek San informs Sa Woo to buy some time while his right-hand man (who is NOW given the name Oh Sung Shik) incinerates all incriminating files. They have no way to escape arrest.

Sa Woo and his own right hand man go up to the rooftop and wait for the President’s security detail to find them. Meanwhile, Oh Sung Shik goes to another rooftop to start erasing all the files on the computer and burn them all up. Baek San locks himself in his office as the Head of National Security, Yoo Kwang Ho, comes into NSS and arrest him.

Up on the roof, Sa Woo shoots at the Presidential security team without killing them, only delaying until Oh Sung Shik finishes burning everything up. Once Oh completes it, Sa Woo calls Baek San, and they all surrender to the security team. Baek San comes out of his office and surrenders to an audience, with Yoo announcing that he will take charge over NSS for now.

Sun Hwa and Hyun Joon map out the possible locations that the bomb could be placed, based on the GPS system that showed the locations the terrorists had scouted several times. They figure that the amount of uranium could affect anything within a two-kilometer radius, and the location has to be significant historically.

Back in North Korea, Chul Young is holding an interrogation session, but his captive is not talking. They bring in his wife and son, and Chul Young threatens to shoot his family if he doesn’t talk. He’ll be executed anyways, but his family could be spared. The captive still doesn’t say a word, so the guards blindfold everyone, and Chul Young raises his gun aiming at the wife. He shoots, and the son screams for his parents. The captive – unable to see anything – crumbles and talks. (Chul Young didn’t really shoot the wife, but another guard has his mouth clamped over the wife’s mouth so that she can’t scream.)

Chul Young calls up Hyun Joon and tells him that the targets are the Federal Building Complex, the U.S. Embassy, and the Blue House. With that information, Hyun Joon and Sun Hwa do the math and figure that there is only one place that can provide that sort of intended effect.

It’s 20 minutes to detonation time, and at NSS Seung Hee asks for information regarding detonation devices. Sang Hyun is informed about the bomb going off in Kwang Hwa Mun, but still doesn’t know where the bomb is exactly located. Seung Hee comes in saying that they will detonate the bomb remotely, so they need to jam all satellite signals in that area. How long will that take? Mi Jung says 20 minutes.

The moment Seung Hee hears that Hyun Joon informed the Blue House, she heads out on her own too. (That girl just won’t let Hyun Joon save the world by himself.)

At 5 o’clock, with the bus, Hyun Joon and Sun Hwa, and Seung Hee all heading to Kwang Hwa Mun, Mi Jung completes the jamming. Leader Kang detonates the bomb through the cell phone, but he’s just as confused as the people on the street with no signals on their phones when nothing happens.

Leader Kang says they have to detonate the bomb themselves, even though they will all die (Hwang Soo doesn’t like that plan). Kang tells Dae Hyun and Hyun Seok, along with a couple others, to stay back and be backup – if they can detonate the bomb remotely, then do it.

Sun Hwa and Hyun Joon arrive Kwang Hwa Mun and look around. There’s no sign of a specific place that they could have planted the bomb. Hyun Joon thinks back to the maps at the hideout, and the short glimpses he had of the information he wasn’t privy to. He sees the Seoul Tour bus and the number K915, which triggers his memory.

He runs to the bus and has Sun Hwa check the cargo area. Hyun Joon boards the bus and tells all the tourists in English to get off the bus. Everyone thinks he’s crazy, until he pulls out a gun.

With the bus empty, and the cargo area empty, Hyun Joon finds a large bag encasing the bomb behind the last row of seats. They take the bag and run. At the same time, Leader Kang and his small group are speeding towards the bus.

The terrorists equip themselves, and Leader Kang shoots at a bystander blocking his view of Hyun Joon and Sun Hwa, alerting them of danger.

Episode 17

Gunfight ensues as all pedestrians run for safety. No one is spared in the gunfire, and the battle lasts all the way into early evening. Leader Kang and the terrorists inch closer to Hyun Joon and Sun Hwa every chance they get, while the two of them fight back. Each side manages to hold their own with no real progress except a few casualties on the terrorists’ side.

The news on the radio reports about the gunfight and how no authorities have arrived yet because of the jammed signals. Dae Hyun makes the decision to join Leader Kang in this fight.

The terrorists are being picked off, one by one, and Hyun Joon grabs the ammo and extra guns from fallen terrorists to reload. When Dae Hyun, Young Bum, and Hyun Seok join Kang in the fight, he’s surprised but clearly grateful for their loyalty.

But backup does not last for long – Hyun Joon manages to pick off Young Bum, and he kills Hyun Seok. (!!!!!!!!!!!!) Leader Kang and Dae Hyun have the same reaction as I do at the sight of Hyun Seok being cruelly gunned down. (And this was one moment that I hated Hyun Joon because he did it with no hesitation – I like to imagine that he had a small soft spot for Hyun Seok. Clearly, the other terrorists do.)

Hwang Soo is pissed, so he aims to fire at Sun Hwa and Hyun Joon, having made it all the way to where they were hiding.

But they are saved – by the Angel Seung Hee with her own big badass gun.

Seung Hee joins Sun Hwa and Hyun Joon, and she hands Sun Hwa another gun. It’s now the three of them against Dae Hyun and Kang. The three of them take turns, popping up from behind the car to fire off a few rounds. Hyun Joon takes a few bombs that Hwang Soo had hidden within his jacket and tells the girls to run. He plants the bombs inside the car they were hiding at and retreats.

Kang and Dae Hyun move forward, and belatedly, Kang realizes that he’s standing next to a car full of bombs. Hyun Joon fires at it, and Kang tells Dae Hyun to run before the car blows up. Too late – she is killed.

Kang, all alone, shoots at Hyun Joon but it’s futile – the NSS security team has arrived and they gun Kang down. Hyun Joon, Sun Hwa, and Seung Hee drop their weapons and give up to NSS.

Days later, the President has a meeting with all of his entire Cabinet and answers their questions regarding the incident. Advisor Hong is the most displeased of the bunch. The President says that he will continue plans for another summit conference with the North.

At NSS, Advisor Yoo tells everyone that he will oversee all NSS activities, since it has been corrupted to the core. He will be ruthlessly strict with everyone, so no one should even dare try to do anything illegal. Only Hyun Kyu complains about the strictness of Yoo’s policies.

Hyun Joon is being interrogated by the National Assembly at their facilities, along with Sun Hwa. They verify their histories and how they reached this point. The interrogator for Sun Hwa asks her why she chose to turn her back against her countrymen and side with Hyun Joon, but a tear falls in response.

They ask Hyun Joon about Sa Woo and Baek San as well, and IRIS. Hyun Joon is unaware that those two are being held at the same facilities. Sa Woo is placed in a room, perhaps getting ready to be interrogated as well, and he reflects on his misdeeds.

Secretary Jung later picks up Hyun Joon to bring him to the President. The President thanks him – for the second time – for saving his life. He then asks a favor – to speak to Baek San, however painful it may be, to complete the list of IRIS members. Hyun Joon is their best candidate to get that information. (He’s the best candidate for everything!)

Hyun Joon meets with Baek San, who is chained up. Baek San decides to just start talking – he killed Hyun Joon’s parents thinking that the order came from NSS. He later found out that the order came from IRIS. He was supposed to kill Hyun Joon but decided not to because he felt that he just shouldn’t.

Baek San: Your life became as I had designed. Your life should have ended already, but the fact that you’re here now, is because of me.
Hyun Joon: If you were responsible for my life, why did you throw me away?
Baek San: Asking me that is the same as asking me to tell you everything about the organization I serve. That is a secret I must take to my grave.

That’s an unsatisfactory answer, and so Hyun Joon kicks Baek San to the ground and grabs him by the collar, insisting for an answer on why Baek San saved him, only to abandon him. The other guards pull them off of each other. Before Baek San is led away, he says, “You were being punished for eating the forbidden fruit. The life I designed for you did not allow for you to do that.”

(I’m guessing that forbidden fruit may have been getting involved with Seung Hee, but I’m not too sure. It could also be that Hyun Joon’s superhero complex and off-the-cuff tactics in missions were derailing IRIS’ plans.)

Hyun Joon calms down, and they bring Sa Woo in. However, Sa Woo does not want to speak to him. Instead, he says “If you believe that our relationship was real for even one second, please don’t make me more pathetic than I already am,” and leaves.

Back in North Korea, Chul Young is continuing with his own investigations on who within the North Korean government is part of IRIS, investigating even the Head of Security. He asks his Sidekick where Sun Hwa is, and tells him they will have to prevent any due process that will occur when she returns.

Before Sun Hwa is let go, she has a private talk with Hyun Joon. He tells her that she could just stay in South Korea or go to another country – he already asked the President for a special pardon for her.

But Sun Hwa merely smiles and says that she’s going home. Even though she has no one there, she doesn’t have anyone in South Korea either. She asks him for a final favor – he’s never said her name before.

Hyun Joon brings her into an embrace and says, “If it weren’t for you, I would never have made it to this point. Thank you for being with me, Sun Hwa.”

Outside, a car is waiting to bring her back to North Korea. They shake hands, and as the car drives away, Sun Hwa allows her tears to come pouring down.

Hyun Joon’s interrogator hands him an envelope, saying it came from Baek San. It details the location of where Hyun Joon’s parents’ ashes were scattered.

At NSS, Mi Jung goes to Hyun Kyu’s office, where he’s looking very depressed. Turns out, he really does not want to work with Yoo as the director of NSS – Yoo won’t let him monitor his stocks! (“Oh the travesty!” thinks Mi Jung). He begs her to unblock him on the server, but she refuses to do anything that will risk her position in NSS. He continues to bug her down the hallway, until she stops in her tracks.

HYUN JOON HAS ARRIVED AT NSS!

He is greeted warmly by everyone on the team. He and Seung Hee don’t say anything to each other, but acknowledge each other only with smiles. Jung In teases that this is the happiest she’s seen Seung Hee in a long time.

But business first – Hyun Joon meets with Yoo, who tells him upfront that he’s suspicious of Hyun Joon’s motives, and if he tries to do anything against the government, he will pay for it. Sang Hyun later tells him that they’ll catch up another time, and knows that he’s tired.

Seung Hee takes Hyun Joon to her home for rest, and he stands awkwardly in her living room. She prepares to make some dinner for him, and he comes up behind her for a surprise hug. He says, “That I can have moments like this again, I could never have imagined it. I keep thinking it’s a dream that I’ll wake from and that scares me.”

Seung Hee replies comfortingly, “The dream is what you went through. This is the absolute reality.”

She finishes preparing for dinner, but Hyun Joon is asleep on her couch.

At Mi Jung’s, Vic tends to his wounds. He won’t tell Mi Jung what’s wrong with him, but he grabs her into a hug and asks a favor from her. When she goes to work the next day, she’s fidgeting and nervous enough to capture Tae Sung’s attention. She decides to go to Hyun Kyu and suck up to him by buying him coffee. If Hyun Kyu gives her his security pass, she’ll unblock the server for him so that he can access his stocks. She begins to download things into a small USB drive at the server room.

Secretary Jung updates the President and the other advisors on Baek San – they still haven’t been able to get any additional names for the list. They decide to change their focus of investigation by targeting anyone that’s worked for Baek San and anyone who has security clearances. This alerts Advisor Hong, who is growing more fearful as the investigation goes on.

Hyun Joon wakes up from his sleep just as Seung Hee arrives home. She tells him that he slept for 33 hours straight. For the first time, Hyun Joon was able to sleep soundly because he no longer had any nightmares. Seung Hee has taken some vacation days, and so he suggests that they go to where his parents’ ashes are scattered.

Mi Jung returns home that night and is greeted with a romantic setting – wine glasses and candles – from Vic. She hands him the USB that has the code he needs to access the files from her computer. He takes her face into his hands and thanks her, and leans in for a kiss…

…Before he violently twists her neck and allows her body to drop on the floor.

Comments:

Sooo… I’ll start with what was going through my head when I watched episode 17:

OMG!! WHAT THE FRICK JUST HAPPENED?! ARGH! YOU WRITERS JUST HAD TO KILL HYUN SEOK – MY HYUN SEOK – AND THEN AS IF THAT WEREN’T ENOUGH YOU HAD TO KILL MI JUNG TOO! (Although honestly, what’d you expect for going out with a bad boy? That hair had to have clued you in, plus all those kickass moves at the club.)

BUT YOU HAD TO TWIST HER NECK?! THE POOR GIRL – I WOULD HAVE RATHER SEEN HER SHOT DEAD DEFENDING HER COMPUTER AT NSS OR SOMETHING RATHER THAN SO EASILY BROKEN LIKE A TOY BUNNY!

GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHRRRRRRRRGGGGHHHHH!

And then after that little scream I calmed down. (I don’t know why I thought bunnies – I think it’s because my favorite stuffed toys are bunnies.) To this moment, I can’t watch that scene without getting goosebumps. The preview in episode 15 had shown Hyun Seok dying, but that was nowhere near as bad as the episode 17 ending.

The most amazing thing about these two episodes was watching the dynamic in the Hyun Joon-Seung Hee-Sun Hwa triangle, because for me it was the first time seeing two female leads who could be in the same room (so to speak) and not want to tear the other’s hair out because the other had “her guy.” It was brilliant watching Seung Hee hand Sun Hwa a gun as though it were nothing, as though she were saying, “Yeah, you’re working with my man and so I like you too.” She has no antagonism or jealous feelings towards Sun Hwa – basically, she is one confident girl in terms of her feelings and her relationship with Hyun Joon.

I feel for Team Sun Hwa-Hyun Joon shippers, but I think their relationship was made out to seem more like a brother-sister relationship than that of a lovers’. Looking back at the old episodes, I feel that Sun Hwa first felt indebted to him, then looked up to him for being such a compassionate spy almost like an older brother. And then it developed into love when she realized that Hyun Joon wasn’t hers for keeping. She’s had no man to hold onto and so with Hyun Joon being the first person to care for her, she eventually fell for him. She wants a man to take care of her, and that’s all Hyun Joon has ever done for her.

As for Hyun Joon, he definitely looks after her like a dongsaeng because when Sun Hwa admits that she knew about Seung Hee that was her way of confessing her feelings for him without ever saying it out loud. One look, and Hyun Joon understood everything. AND YET he didn’t push her way – instead he hugged her. Cruel – I mean, he’s kinda playing with her feelings even though he doesn’t mean to – but he’s not heartless. He’s not like other male leads who push the girl he’s not interested away even though she is. He accepts her love, but they have an unspoken mutual understanding that it’s not going to be anything more than friendship. All Sun Hwa has to do to figure that out is to watch how he treats Seung Hee.

It was so sad to see them shake hands at the end, because that was the closest thing they had to holding hands, ever. And then at the car when Sun Hwa just cried – it’s a shattering of the whole cold agent-façade and her catharsis for letting go of Hyun Joon and everything that has brought her to this point. I honestly wish he could have convinced her to stay. It might be cruel to want her to stick around as a younger sister, but Hyun Joon is the closest thing to family for her and they both know it. Still – it was nice to see Sun Hwa smile. She’s stunning – and she needs to smile more.

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10 February 11, 2010January 24, 2016

IRIS: Episode 18

by kaedejun

Just when you thought things could only get better, it only drastically goes wrong. Why, you ask?

Well, of course! – We have two more episodes! (I promise – two-episode recap next time!) Therefore – we need a few more problems and obstacles before we bring the series to an end.

And so, let’s get back into the swing of things…just after Vic snaps the neck of our poor sweet Mi Jung…

Episode 18

Sang Hyun meets with Hyun Joon, who informs him that he does not want to return to NSS. And it’s not because he doesn’t have the time, considering he has duties to fulfill for the President in finding all IRIS members and bringing the organization down. It’s because he’s finally had the best sleep he’s ever had in two years. Sang Hyun returns to the office, and isn’t too happy to find that Mi Jung hasn’t arrived at the office yet.

Seung Hee and Hyun Joon go off on their vacation to Jeju Island, where they do fun, couple activities such as playing foosball at the resort, drinking at an empty bar, bike riding, and staring out at the sea. Hyun Joon is grateful that he no longer has much to fear about or has to constantly look over his shoulder.

Later that night, Seung Hee returns to the hotel room and tells Hyun Joon that she met with a college friend. She snuggles up next to him and tells him that she will be his medicine – a “pain reliever” for any future headaches he may have. Of course…we all know where THAT leads to!

The next morning, Seung Hee wakes up beside a half-naked Hyun Joon and her ringing phone. (I’m not really complaining about this – but OF COURSE Hyun Joon had to be half naked so that Lee Byeong Hun could show off those sculpted abs he worked so hard at getting, while Seung Hee can remain “innocent” because she’s all covered up in pajamas.)

So “innocent” Seung Hee answers her phone to a withheld number. She leaves the bed and answers. She’s not too happy about what she’s hearing over the phone, and after the cryptic conversation, she leaves the hotel without telling Hyun Joon. (ehm, did I say “innocent”?)

Back in Seoul, Baek San, Sa Woo, and their two henchmen are being transported in an armored truck with security detail. At the end of a tunnel, the security detail is met with gunfire coming from numerous assassins from all over the world. The assassins pick off every single guard, while inside the truck Sa Woo and the two henchmen take care of the guards inside. Sung Shik is shot by one of the guards in the gut, but Sa Woo takes care of him. Before they leave the truck, Sung Shik apologizes to Baek San. He forgives Sung Shik and then shoots him in the head.

The assassins from IRIS then free Baek San, Sa Woo, and Sa Woo’s henchman.

Hyun Joon waits for Seung Hee, but gets a call from Sang Hyun first recalling him back to his position in NSS. They need him to help catch Baek San and Sa Woo. Everyone has died, so there is no way they can find out who initiated the attack. On top of that, no one was supposed to know about the transit except for Director Yoo Kwang Ho and Hyun Joon’s interrogator Kang Cheol Hwan. Based on satellite tracking, it will be near impossible to find out where they went because of the mountainous region.

Well for one thing, there’s no need to worry about whether they’ll have food or shelter. The escapees are brought to a huge mansion where security is tighter inside and outside the premises than the Blue House. Even Baek San is surprised that the lengths IRIS has gone to prepare them their new headquarters. He announces to everyone that from now on, Sa Woo will be giving out the orders.

The moment he has time for himself, Sa Woo looks at his surroundings and swallows – he knows that he has just dug a deeper hole for himself just by being at the IRIS headquarters, and there is no Hyun Joon offering him a ladder to get out.

Meanwhile, in North Korea, Sun Hwa reunites with Chul Young. He offers her old position back, but Sun Hwa does not want it. She’d rather return to her hometown and become a farmer or local teacher – anything that would let her lead a simple life. Chul Young respects that, but he wants her to return to South Korea with him for one last time during the summit. Sun Hwa painfully tells him that she’d rather not.

Chul Young: Is it because of Kim Hyun Joon?
Sun Hwa: I just…wish it were something like a cold. Even if it hurts a lot, I just – I wish I could just sleep a night and shake it off.

Chul Young gently touches her shoulder (WHEEEE!!!!!! CONTACT!!!!) and then says that he only wishes for her happiness. Similar to Sang Hyun’s offer to Hyun Joon, he tells her that they’ll both give it some time before the revisit the South Korea proposition.

Hyun Joon arrives at NSS, and Sang Hyun tells him that professionals attacked the transport vehicles – and, that Mi Jung is dead.

Hyun Kyu is grieving in his lab. He uncovers Mi Jung from under the white sheet for Hyun Joon to see. All he knows is that she was killed in a single blow and that her killer was a professional. Tae Sung and Jung In report that her cell phone was missing and they did some recovery on her damaged computer. Information about Baek San’s transport time and location came up, and they were hacked into from the servers. Jung In says the hacker was Hyun Kyu. Hyun Kyu vehemently denies any involvement, and they realize that because he asked Mi Jung to give him access to his stocks online, she used his card and took the opportunity to steal the information.

Hyun Joon calls Seung Hee again – but no one is answering.

Sa Woo checks up on the IRIS mercenaries, and asks Baek San what the plan is. Since IRIS does not want a summit between the north and south to happen, but the President is stubbornly pushing for one, they have to get rid of the root of all “evil”: the President.

Tae Sung manages to hack into Mi Jung’s private blog, and they find several private photos of her with her mysterious boyfriend. Vic’s face is carefully blurred out in every photo, but Jung In manages to clear it up a bit. It’s enough for Hyun Joon to recognize that it’s the same man who killed Yuki in Japan and Yeon Gi Hoon.

At the Blue House, Secretary Jung tries to persuade the President to put off the summit – someone is leaking information and preventing them from investigating any further into IRIS. It’s unsuccessful once again.

Back at IRIS headquarters, they discuss plans for how to infiltrate their target building through biochemical weapons that will enter via ventilation system. Everyone speaks with the authority of an experienced professional, but the new-kid-on-the-block Sa Woo says that their plan won’t work. The location does not have many escape routes, and their current plan won’t allow for easy escape. They need more time during the infiltration – enough to set up booby traps and ensure their ability to escape even if a SWAT team comes in.

Sa Woo’s henchman comes to him after the meeting and informs him that a mysterious prisoner is being held at the second basement level, but he has no idea who it is. Only Baek San is meeting this person. Sa Woo makes his way down, but he encounters Baek San on the phone saying, “I will do as ordered for the Choi Seung Hee issue.”

That night, Sa Woo meets with Baek San. He wants to know simply what he is to the organization – what position he holds and what the true identity of the organization is. And, most importantly, he wants to know what Baek San’s relationship to Seung Hee is, because it’s clear that he gives preferential treatment towards Seung Hee. Baek San dismisses his questions by saying that he does not need to know the answers, and that he should throw all questions away about Seung Hee. “If you have Choi Seung Hee within your heart,” he warns, “then that is the most dangerous thing of all.”

Back in North Korea, Sun Hwa enters Chul Young’s office. He apologizes for calling her during her rest, and asks her to look through information that he acquired from a suspect. He’s sure that IRIS is planning another conspiracy that can stop the summit. Chul Young wants her to analyze the information, because if there is another threat then he has an obligation to tell Leader Kim and prevent him from attending the summit.

Sun Hwa goes through the files, all of which contain profiles of IRIS agents from around the world. None of the names surprise her – except for one: Choi Seung Hee.

She returns to Chul Young’s office and says, “I will also go to South Korea.”

NSS continues their simultaneous investigation into Mi Jung’s death and the attack on the transport convoy. Tae Sung finds a picture on Mi Jung’s blog that shows her drinking wine. However, she never drank wine. They zoom into the picture of the bottle, and it’s a rare enough wine that they can track down who bought that particular bottle. Just then, Seung Hee returns to NSS.

She can’t look into Hyun Joon’s eyes when he drags her for a private chat. She asks that he not ask her anything about her disappearance. When he visits her later in the middle of her analysis, she acts all businesslike and deflects his questions. Hyun Joon says it’s fine if she doesn’t want to tell, but he has one question. Why did Kang Do Chul free her after he received a phone call?

Seung Hee admits that she wondered about that too, but offers no answer. Hyun Joon tells her he’s only worried that she may be a target for IRIS, and then he walks away. Seung Hee is concerned, but not because she’s a potential target. She seems more concerned that Hyun Joon may be on to a secret she’s hiding.

Sa Woo has a rendezvous with Advisor Hong at a gallery. After she asks after the well-being of Baek San, she discreetly hands over a USB that contains all the information Baek San requested. He later goes out for a drink to wallow in misery and thinks back to his previous conversations with Baek San and Seung Hee.

Chul Young meets with Secretary Jung and Advisor Hong. Secretary Jung says that he has not made any headway in his investigations of Baek San and Sa Woo. Chul Young reports that based on his interrogations and findings, IRIS could be plotting another scheme to stop the summit. However, Jung interrupts him and then awkwardly asks Advisor Hong to leave the room. (FINALLY! You are placing your suspicions on the right person! And Hong is equally worried about being found out so she places a call.)

Meanwhile, Sun Hwa, who tagged along with Chul Young, calls up Hyun Joon and tells him that she found a file on Seung Hee. It looks to her that IRIS may want to eliminate Seung Hee.

After the meeting, Secretary Jung and Advisor Hong leave together. However, Hong stops midway to the car and pulls out her phone, pretending to answer a call. Jung goes into the car first with his bodyguards.

Behind a pillar, Vic watches the scene.

Sun Hwa and Hyun Joon walk across the plaza to meet with the Secretary.

The driver starts the car – and it blows up.

Hyun Joon spots Vic leaving the scene, and he and Sun Hwa chase after him. Vic manages to get away in a car, and Sun Hwa prepares to shoot him to prevent him from getting away. However, Hyun Joon stops her – they have to chase him, because he’s their only lead on where Baek San and Sa Woo are.

And so, they hijack a car and drive off together after Vic.

Comments:

Well first of all, boy am I mighty glad to see my A-team back together: Hyun Joon and Sun Hwa. The action just isn’t right when he’s with Seung Hee – any action, for that matter. Such as when Seung Hee is in the car with Hyun Joon on their way to Jeju Island, it’s so weird to see her leaning on his shoulder as he drives. He’s driving for goodness sakes! Don’t impede his arm!

I kind of felt bad for Sa Woo when he saw what he was getting himself into. He just realized that IRIS is bigger than he thought, and more dangerous than he thought. His world used to just consist of Baek San; the Director was his sun, moon, earth. And now he realizes that there are a whole bunch of others that he has to answer to and give orders to, and honestly, Baek San does not look like he’s the top dog anymore. But I stopped feeling bad for him when he went for a drink. Getting drunk does not elicit any pity from me, and on top of that, after all that he had done he was still getting hung up over a girl who would never forgive him. He lost his chance with Seung Hee two years ago – it’s about time he moved on.

Now, for the REAL scandal of the episode: Choi Seung Hee now definitely seems to be the “forbidden fruit” that Baek San was talking about in the last episode. At first, I thought she was off-limits because she represented love, and love can’t exist in IRIS members’ hearts because it makes them weak. But THEN – it looks like now she’s an IRIS member!

Of course I can’t be too sure – they didn’t show the full screen of her profile so I couldn’t see if her file stated explicitly that she was a member of IRIS (all other profiles stated that fact). And, if I am to trust Sun Hwa, Seung Hee could easily be a target as well. But I don’t trust Sun Hwa – and I think Seung Hee is definitely an IRIS member. Or perhaps she’s Baek San’s secret daughter. Or perhaps she’s the secret daughter of the head of IRIS. Or perhaps…ok I’ll stop now.

Either way – this is one twist I did not see coming. Was the twist necessary? Perhaps – it does add tension for the last two episodes, and they really need it if they’re going to go all the way to 20 episodes. But I can’t say I really like it – it honestly came from nowhere and I did not see any clues from previous episodes that could have lead up to this. I feel its more as if the writers decided to just throw it in for the heck of it.

Save for Seung Hee, when I look back on this episode it was mostly forgettable, and it moved quickly without advancing any storyline that we have not heard before (i.e. the President STILL wants to go through with the summit and Baek San STILL does not want the summit to happen). This even feels like the shortest recap I have ever written for one episode.

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110 February 21, 2010January 24, 2016

IRIS: Episodes 19-20 (Final)

by kaedejun

I thought a long time about how I wanted to start off this last recap for IRIS:

First off, I want to thank javabeans for giving me this opportunity to write a recap and contribute to her site. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity as an avid fan of her site and as a Korean drama lover.

Secondly, I’d like to thank everyone who has followed this series or read my recaps. I know I had a rough start, so I’m very thankful for those who stuck through with me on this.

And now, mushiness aside… the last episode ended with the death of Secretary Jung, and Hyun Joon and Sun Hwa chasing after Vic.

Episode 19

Vic manages to get home to his spic and span, glossy apartment safely, shower, and pour himself a glass of wine. He clearly unwinds by savoring excellent wine, but just before he can fully relax, he senses a presence behind him.

Hyun Joon is pointing a gun behind his head. They stare at each other for a tense moment, and finally Vic gives him a smart-ass smirk. Hyun Joon kicks him full in the face and knocks Vic out of his chair. He takes out a photo of Yuki and says that he will take his vengeance for Yuki.

Throwing away his gun, Hyun Joon demands that Vic beg for his life. Vic just smirks again, inciting Hyun Joon’s anger.

Hyun Joon kicks him again, and prevents Vic from reaching for a gun. He continually punches Vic to a near pulp, saying that it’s all for Mi Jung. All the while, Vic doesn’t utter a single word, but just smirks. (Really? You couldn’t give T.O.P. any lines to make the fight a little more interesting?)

Hyun Joon asks for information about Baek San’s whereabouts, but Vic doesn’t answer. A bullet goes into Vic’s arm. He finally replies, “The one that will end my life is not God, nor you. The one that will end my life is me only.”

That smart-ass answer deserves a good solid punch in the head, and then Hyun Joon orders Sun Hwa to go search the house. He turns his back for a moment to make a call, and Vic takes the opportunity to pick up his own gun. Good thing Sun Hwa turns around just in time to see this, and she yells out, “Hyun Joon!”

He shoots Vic in the heart.

Advisor Hong reports to the president that she will make a full investigation into Secretary Jung’s death (yeah right!) while Director Yoo berates the NSS agency for their lax protocol, which led to Baek San’s escape and Mi Jung’s death. On the other side, Chul Young reports in that the Chairman of the Labor Party will arrive in Seoul for the summit with the South Korean President. Even though it’s dangerous, because clearly IRIS is on the move, the chairman doesn’t want to postpone. Chul Young appeals to the President then, but the President refuses. Stubborn, stubborn leaders.

Now, we reach the incredulous part of the series that makes me laugh even though it shouldn’t. We have a bilingual dialogue between Sa Woo and his IRIS mercenaries – they speak in English, while Sa Woo and Baek San reply back in Korean. And they all understand each other. It kind of reminds me of the movie Seducing Mr. Perfect where Daniel Henney and Uhm Jung Hwa have a bilingual relationship throughout the movie – and that was stretching it a bit for me. Here, it’s as though Baek San and Sa Woo can’t expend the effort to at least respond a few lines in English, and so they speak in Korean to all these mercenaries who look like they can’t understand a word, but somehow miraculously they do. Sa Woo’s delivery of his one line in English is SOOOO laughably funny, though – hm, maybe that’s why they decided to stick to a bilingual conversation. Ok, rant over and back to the story.

A mercenary (played by toughie Korean American David McInnis) informs Sa Woo that they can hold 150 hostages and kill the rest. That disturbs Sa Woo, which leads to the mercenary and the female version of Hyun Seok to report to Baek San. Baek San defends Sa Woo by saying that their doubts show they have no faith in him. That shuts up the complainers.

He meets with Sa Woo, and he gives him a little life lesson. With this mission, he is facing the greatest opportunity in his life to reach an even higher position than Baek San, and to wield more power than others on the team.

Chul Young grabs a drink with Hyun Joon and tells him that they need to defeat IRIS before the summit meeting takes place, especially since both leaders are so bullheaded about going through with it. He says:

“I have faith in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. I always believed that one day, just like the name, the people, through their own efforts, will make Korea truly the People’s Republic. And I determined that no matter who the opponents are, if anyone dirtied the name of our nation, I would not tolerate it.”

That elicits a chuckle from Hyun Joon, but not meant to offend. Hyun Joon is just amazed that someone could be so patriotic because he never felt that way – he just wanted excitement in his life.

Back at NSS, Tae Sung reports to Hyun Joon that they located the supplier of the expensive wine in Vic’s home. It came from a golf course where their exclusive clubhouse serves that particular brand of wine. The golf course’s background is murky, and clearly run by IRIS operatives, and so Hyun Joon goes to check it out. True enough, the golf course is “closed due to construction.”

Hyun Joon calls for backup from an attack team, then sneaks up the hillside towards the clubhouse. He chokes one of the guards to death with string and takes the poor guy’s weapons. As he breaks into the building, he is seen by another guard. The guard informs everyone quietly through his earpiece, but before he can do anything, Hyun Joon picks up on his presence and shoots him down. His position found out, he rushes through the lobby with guns ablaze.

Two other guards are deleting all of their data in their computer system, and Hyun Joon takes them out. Meanwhile, the attack team arrives at the location and takes out the guards patrolling the outside perimeter of the clubhouse. Baek San knows that it’s Hyun Joon, and he walks out of his private room completely calm towards Hyun Joon.

They meet at the front staircase. Hyun Joon forces Baek San to throw down his gun and asks for Sa Woo. Baek San replies that he sent Sa Woo on a vacation. Hyun Joon can’t stand the smarminess that runs through all IRIS agents’ veins, and he shoots at the ground by Baek San’s feet. He demands that Baek San beg for his forgiveness for killing his parents. Baek San replies, “If I asked for forgiveness, what will that change? Aren’t our lives too twisted and our relationship beyond repair?”

Hyun Joon shoots Baek San in the leg and brings him down to his knees. He demands to know what IRIS is, where the root of evil lies. Baek San says that Hyun Joon still needs to be punished for taking in the forbidden fruit, and that Hyun Joon will die just like how his parents did.

Sang Hyun manages to intervene in time, and he tells Hyun Joon to put his gun down – living will be a greater punishment for Baek San than dying. When Hyun Joon finally puts his gun down, Baek San falls back – as though he wished he had died instead.

Director Yoo reports back to Advisor Hong and another advisor that they’ve successfully recaptured Baek San. Advisor Hong tries to find out more information about Baek San’s whereabouts, but Yoo wisely tells her that he can’t do that. More and more, her expressions of happiness and worry when IRIS succeeds or fails are becoming more obvious.

Advisor Hong meets with Sa Woo, and tells him that he has to go meet the person who will now protect him. He enters a church and sits inside a confession booth. On the other side sits Mr. Black.

Mr. Black tells him officially that Sa Woo will now take Baek San’s place in the organization.

Hyun Kyu calls Hyun Joon down to his lab to show him something he found at the clubhouse’s CCTV cameras. Hyun Kyu has no idea how to break it to him about his discovery, but knows that he ought to show it to him first. He plays the video.

It shows Seung Hee in a private meeting with Baek San and another mysterious figure whose face we don’t see. Seung Hee is clearly distraught and angry in the video. But the more important thing is, she was with Hyun Joon’s mortal enemy.

Hyun Joon invites Seung Hee out to dinner (at a restaurant that looks SUSPICIOUSLY like the one Shin Woo brought Mi Nam to in You’re Beautiful). Seung Hee isn’t hungry because she’s more worried about what Hyun Joon is going to say to her. She finally breaks down her defenses and tells him what she avoided to say for so long.

Hyun Joon interrupts her first. He says that he saw the video, and he believes that she has been approached by Baek San and IRIS to perform a mission, like he was approached in Hungary. He wants to help her get out of it, and so he asks that she spare no details.

And then we switch immediately to Sun Hwa putting a little bit of butter in her coffee (awww for memories!). She is called in by the security team, and reports to Chul Young that they are missing four cylinders of Soman gas (a nerve toxin gas) from their North Korean bunker. Who else but IRIS could have taken it?

Ok, back to the restaurant. Seung Hee tells Hyun Joon that she was approached by Baek San to join IRIS, but she refused. It turns out her father was the founder of NSS under former President Park. When President Park was assassinated, her father was held responsible and executed.

Baek San helped her and her mother continue living, even providing for her education all the way to college. She was even able to work for NSS because of him (hence his fatherly affection for her). She thought that she was benefiting from Baek San upholding his respect for her father. When she discovered his ties to IRIS, she realized that she was a puppet for their organization and that ultimately, Baek San wanted her to work for IRIS.

Hyun Joon stops her – why didn’t she tell him this earlier? She explains that she suffered from leading lady’s angst: how could she tell him that the one man who was like her father killed his parents? And so she felt guilty about being in a relationship with him. She would rather suffer silently than talk it out with him.

Sa Woo tells the remaining mercenaries and IRIS representatives that he is now in charge. One of the mercenaries says that he refuses to work for Sa Woo – it wasn’t in the contract. Sa Woo replies by shooting a few bullets at the wall right by that mercenary’s head. Disobeying him means disobeying the head of the organization.

Hyun Joon meets with Chul Young and Sun Hwa to discuss the recent incident of missing Soman gas. However they have no clue about where Sa Woo could be. When Sun Hwa walks Hyun Joon out, she asks him about Seung Hee’s situation. He quells her concerns by saying that she has no reason to worry about Seung Hee anymore, and then leaves. Translation: Seung Hee comes first and you can butt out now, please.

The IRIS team moves into a large shopping mall. They put on their masks and fire bullets in the air, forcing all the shoppers to go down on their knees. They shoot all the security guards dead, close down the mall, and gather all 107 hostages to one area. Most of the hostages are women and their children, and the mercenaries take everyone’s phones and electronics.

As they set up their traps and the Soman gas in the ventilation system, Hyun Joon meets with the SWAT team on location and Tae Sung. The leader of the SWAT team has already acted on the situation without telling Hyun Joon though.

Three SWAT Team members rush up the stairs, and one of them trips on the wire. A bomb explodes.

Episode 20

Hyun Joon. Is. Pissed. He berates the SWAT team leader for acting rashly then gets permission to take over this operation. Seung Hee phones in to Sang Hyun and tells him that she is going over to the site, whether anyone likes it or not. Tae Sung manages to connect to the CCTV inside, but since they are getting a live feed, it’s clear that IRIS wants them to see through that particular camera. And that camera shows all the mercenaries guarding over about a hundred hostages.

Chul Young is notified of the situation and has CY Sidekick (who is finally named!!! He’s Joong Bum, but I’ll call him CY Sidekick to the end) check over the leader’s schedule again. They don’t want the leader to come, but the summit is not likely to be cancelled anyways. He also sends Sun Hwa to the operation site.

Seung Hee joins Hyun Joon, who’s surprised to see her. She tells him it’s easier since she’ll be worried about him if she’s back at NSS.

They receive a live video of one of the IRIS leaders making his terms for negotiation. It is very simple: they want the President to cancel the summit by 7:00 pm the next day. All economic and unification talks must end. If they don’t acquiesce, the Soman gas in the ventilation shafts will be released.

He takes one of the male hostages and says, “This is the penalty for attempting to break in,” and he shoots the hostage dead.

Everyone at the operation site, NSS, and even the other IRIS members witness this murder. Sa Woo is angry with him – he was not ordered to kill hostages. The IRIS leader argues that it is part of their business in terror – to instill fear through killing. Sa Woo points his gun at him, saying, “According to you, the fear these guys will have towards me will dramatically increase if I kill you.” Point taken.

After getting Director Yoo’s permission, Sun Hwa appears at the operation site, much to the shock of Hyun Joon and Seung Hee. No jealous looks exchanged though! Hyun Joon wants to understand what is happening inside the mall, so he offers himself up to go negotiate with Sa Woo. Seung Hee isn’t too thrilled that Hyun Joon is risking his life, but he says that Sa Woo is in there, and he will not harm anyone during a negotiation.

Hyun Joon is thoroughly patted down and escorted to meet Sa Woo. On the way, he observes the guards and the hostage situation. When Sa Woo sees that NSS sent Hyun Joon, he sends everyone else to get out. But he’s all business.

Hyun Joon is all sentimentality, however, telling Sa Woo that he was right – he knew nothing about him. Sa Woo tries to stop him, but Hyun Joon plunges on:

“When I thought about it, I really did have a lot of things I didn’t know about you, like you said. Stuff like being closer than blood brothers is just another vague emotion. I really had a lot of things I didn’t know. A long time ago, when we went out to Itaewon after finishing our 1000 li march, I didn’t get the tattoo with you because the thought of tattooing a little bird and calling it a phoenix was so childish, but if I think about it now, I wonder why I didn’t do it then. I should’ve done something like that to engrave our memories…of being together.”

Sa Woo gets increasingly incensed by Hyun Joon’s speech. He says, “You and I have come too far to bring up such things as past memories now.”

But Hyun Joon counters that holding hostages is not Sa Woo’s thing. Sa Woo just tells him his side’s demands rather than negotiating – he wants all IRIS associates being held in North Korea to be released and sent to China and Syria.


While Hyun Joon performs a risky negotiation, his two lady loves wait anxiously outside. It’s interesting that Sun Hwa first notes Seung Hee’s facial expression, and then from afar, begins to show that same exact emotion. It’s as though she needed to see if it’s ok to feel like that for Hyun Joon.

The President is informed of the new demands, and he wonders if canceling the summit will mean the hostages will be released safely. Hyun Joon says there’s no guarantee on that, so the President gives NSS the power to infiltrate the mall, but to minimize the inevitable casualties.

Hyun Joon returns to Sa Woo and agrees to their terms. However, he insists that all women and children be released first.

Sa Woo relents, and orders the mercenaries to let the women and children go, but one of them raises his gun at Sa Woo and says he won’t obey. He was ordered to kill all the hostages, and by Mr. Black no less. All of the IRIS members point their guns up at Sa Woo and at Hyun Joon. Sa Woo’s sidekick defends his man and raises his gun to shoot. He is shot down first by another mercenary, but that is enough distraction for Hyun Joon and Sa Woo to overpower the others and grab weapons.

They team up for the last time against the IRIS members, managing to slowly pick off all their enemies. They manage to finally grab a respite behind some display cases and walls to reload and regroup. Sa Woo gives Hyun Joon a look, and then a nod; Hyun Joon gives him a small smile in return. And they go back to shooting off the baddies.

It’s nice to see Sa Woo initiate this camaraderie, especially since he broke it off first by choosing to kill Hyun Joon. His look shows that he has finally returned to his roots and what he naturally knows is best, which is to work alongside a friend. He just needed a lot of prodding and reminding before he could go back to being good ol’ Sa Woo.

They continue their gunfight (while the SWAT team begins to enter the mall), and are pretty much winning when Hyun Joon runs out of bullets. Sa Woo doesn’t have much left himself, and he sees Hyun Joon struggling. He yells, “Hey idiot!” and slides his handgun across the floor over to Hyun Joon.

They smile at each other, and then Sa Woo goes completely out in the open and shoots at the remaining IRIS mercenaries. They shoot back, and they don’t miss.

Right in front of Hyun Joon’s eyes, Sa Woo is hit repeatedly with bullets that tear right through his body. Hyun Joon kills the remaining mercenaries with a vengeance, then catches Sa Woo as he falls.

Sa Woo: Hey man…you’ve…made me…hell of a lot lonely…

He struggles with his next words, but Hyun Joon tells him to save his strength. Memories with Hyun Joon flood Sa Woo’s mind, and next thing you know, Seung Hee is running towards them. She grabs Sa Woo’s hands, and when he registers her presence, he thinks back to the time when she said she would never forgive him. Surrounded by his two beloved friends, Sa Woo struggles for life, but also looks like a poor child who’s lost his way, his eyes widely innocent and scared. He was misguided by a bad man, and has paid dearly for it.

Hyun Joon and Seung Hee grieve over this loss, and Sang Hyun feels it keenly as well. He regrets bringing Sa Woo into NSS, but Hyun Joon says Sang Hyun is to blame for not letting him kill Baek San.

Seung Hee mourns in the privacy of her car. Jung In comes over and rushes her to return to NSS, but Seung Hee says she’ll go in a bit. Once alone, she calls someone and tells the person that she refuses to carry out the task.

She hangs up, and puts her head against the wheel, torn and unhappy.

Hyun Joon goes to the Blue House to talk to the President. He asks if all this is worth it for the summit – so many have died and they’ve had so many threats to deal with. The President replies that for such advancement to happen, pain must follow. He hopes that Hyun Joon will be with him at the summit.

At the location of the summit, the North Koreans check the facilities to make sure it’s clear before Chul Young brings in the Comrade Chief – who’s a woman! (Honestly, was not expecting that). Seung Hee also arrives, and she questions a guard about the exact route of the President for the press conference.

Back at NSS, Hyun Kyu rushes to find Sang Hyun – they have a BIG problem – the bodies that Sang Hyun brought back (which were supposedly the terrorists) were actually the hostages. The mercenaries had disguised the hostages, and managed to escape on their own. Sang Hyun immediately notifies Hyun Joon.

Those said mercenaries actually enter the press conference site with the help of Advisor Hong. Several of them are stationed above the press conference as snipers.

The President arrives and he meets with the Comrade Chief to enter the press conference together. Chul Young and Hyun Joon act as bodyguards, and keep a sharp eye looking about. What they don’t see is Seung Hee, dressed in black with a sniper, watching them from above.

The two leaders manage to get on stage and greet the reporters. Seung Hee looks through the rifle-scope and aims at the President. She spots Hyun Joon phoning her cell phone and hesitates, but does not release her finger from the trigger. The two leaders extend their hands for a shake…Seung Hee’s finger tightens around the trigger…suddenly, two shots ring out.

The bodyguards immediately cover the two leaders, and the IRIS members in the back start to head out into the open where the action is. Turns out though, that Seung Hee did not shoot the President – instead she shot the two IRIS snipers dead.

Sun Hwa and Hyun Joo begin firing at the IRIS mercenaries hidden in the crowd of journalists. Chaos ensues as they try to remove the leaders from sites. Advisor Hong waits in an outside hallway in anticipation, and suddenly Hyun Joon leaves the President and two other guards to Advisor Hong’s care. They go back to the site of the action and begin to shoot all of them down – casualties on both side remain fairly equal though.

The SWAT team arrives a little late but starts shooting the remaining mercenaries coming into the building. Sun Hwa, Chul Young, Hyun Joon, and CY Sidekick manage to kill everyone, and they survey the area for more. But just when there doesn’t seem to be anyone left, David McInnis comes out from behind a car with guns ablazing.

Who sees him first? Why, Sun Hwa of course! She jumps in front of Hyun Joon to protect him from the line of fire.

Chul Young mercilessly shoots McInnis dead – you don’t mess with Sun Hwa, without messing with him. Seung Hee rushes down to see Hyun Joon holding Sun Hwa in his arms – much like he did with Sa Woo – and she asks about the President.

The President’s two bodyguards lead him to a safe room with Advisor Hong trailing behind. Just as they reach the door, Hong shoots the two guards down and then points her gun at the President.

President: What, you?
Hong: No, it’s not me. It’s the ideals I embrace. They were too big for someone like you. For someone with greater capability to take its place, I need to break the small one.

She readies to shoot him, but is shot first by Hyun Joon. (Count that as the ten millionth time Hyun Joon saved the President)

A new day arrives in Seoul, and Hyun Joon carries a bouquet of flowers to a hospital. He’s there to visit Sun Hwa, whose arm is still in a cast. Chul Young is standing by her bedside. Hyun Joon lays the bouquet by her side and smiles awkwardly for a moment before finally saying, “Thanks.”

Chul Young: Isn’t a bundle of flowers and saying thanks a little lacking when the Republic’s greatest warrior saved your life?
Hyun Joon (sheepish): Well I kept thinking about it on the way but nothing would come to mind so…
Chul Young (leaning into Hyun Joon’s ear): I’ll leave so think about something good to say.

HEHEHEHEHEHEHE!

Sun Hwa asks, “Is it really just these flowers?” And they share a giggle. When she’s left alone, she smiles tenderly and smells the flowers. Hyun Joon meets with Chul Young, and they part as friends.

Later that night, Seung Hee tries to confess to Hyun Joon about what happened the night of the press conference, but he doesn’t let her continue. Instead, he tells her that all he wants to do is comfort her so that she can quickly escape her dark past.

Three months later:

Hyun Kyu invites everyone for a meal – his treat – because his stocks managed to go up 5x than normal. He boasts that he has fingers of gold and wishes to treat Hyun Joon and Seung Hee too. But Sang Hyun holds up their IDs – they’ve both quit.

Seung Hee and Hyun Joon are on an extended vacation in Jeju Island – and Seung Hee is starving. Hyun Joon continues to sleep, but she slaps him in the back and tells him to hurry up and feed her. He calls her a single-celled organism, because all she thinks about is food – she whines when she’s hungry and is happy once he feeds her.

As they walk through the hotel, they spy children playing around a Christmas tree. Hyun Joon proposes that they have 5 kids. He gets down on his knees and says, “Just give me five of them.”

Seung Hee (and I) ask, “What kind of a proposal is haphazard and without a ring? Oh my God – I can’t recognize this at all” – and she walks off.

Later, she sees an invitation on the bed to meet him at a lighthouse; meanwhile Hyun Joon is driving to that location with a new ring in his hand. She happily waits for him, listening to her mp3. (I can see why she’s a CF queen with this montage)

On the road, Hyun Joon’s car suddenly swerves off course and comes to a stop.

The windows in the car are blasted through. Hyun Joon’s head lies against the car wheel, blood streaming from his temples. His eyes are faced towards Seung Hee, and he sees her waiting for him in the distance, completely unaware of his situation.

Another last flashback of his happy memories with Seung Hee elicits tears in his eyes, before he finally succumbs and dies.

THE END.

My Eulogy:

In the beginning, a tiny seed was planted into the writers’ minds to create a series that would surpass all other productions in budget and scale. And no, it would not be another historical drama or a fusion sageuk – instead, it would be a modern action tale about loyalty and betrayal. And so IRIS was born – and it came out looking a lot like 24. As it progressed, it changed into Alias with a hint of its predecessor Shiri. It was very, very cute when it was young, and showed plenty of promise.

But as children age, they lose their cute factor, and the same goes for IRIS. IRIS grew older and seemed a little more lost with each episode. It peaked at (episode) 18 and then, it totally lost its way. The poor writers could not get it back on track, and so they decided to finish it off – lamely – at the ripe old episode/age of 20. Had they finished it off at 18, IRIS would have lived a good life and died while still memorable.

So basically, this is what I have to say about the end:

ARE YOU FREAKIN’ KIDDING ME?

Ok – I understand that Lee Byeong Hoon would not return for the sequel, so the writers’ solution was to kill him off. However, I think they still could have ended differently, as in they could have sent him and Seung Hee somewhere very far away and never to return, and just start IRIS 2 with the same background cast but new lead. This ending had a very James Bond Casino Royale feel, when Vesper Lynd died instead of living happily with Bond. Here, they killed off “Bond” and it did not seem necessary at all. For Casino Royale, it was necessary because Vesper Lynd is the reason James Bond is the way he is now. Perhaps, the writers are hoping to develop Seung Hee further and show her change in the sequel. But that is putting a LOT of faith in her acting skills and saying that she can totally play a conflicted, ruthless spy seeking revenge for her loved one. (If she even shows up in the sequel!)

I would love it if it were T.O.P/Vic who killed him, but that’s wishful thinking. I’m sure the mystery of who killed Hyun Joon will be for IRIS 2.

I liked the questions that were raised in this drama, such as the running theme of loyalty. Are you loyal to your country even though it will bring a lot of suffering to your own life and conscience? Or are you loyal to your conscience and what YOU know is right or wrong (thus viewing sacrifices for the country as pointless)? And then, to wonder: is it worth it to lose everything you know for the greater good (historical advancement)? It is a conflict between selfishness and selflessness, but what if that selfishness is because one wishes to save some lives? The treatment of the North Korean characters were done well and done lightly – no one was made to seem worse than the other; everyone was human and acted on human emotions. It’s all nice and dandy and sounds nice on paper for a treatment.

But I think in the end, the drama didn’t really deliver these themes and make these issues more poignant. It got muddled by the whole love triangle/square and by the dragging pace it was going. I think the directing and editing left much to be desired because there was so much that felt like filler scenes. I mean really, how many flashbacks do we have to see? Those really detracted from the series. And then I thought the writing got a little careless (one of them being, how could they have let the terrorists just escape and kill all the hostages? Didn’t they realize they were killing women and children, who were the majority of the hostages?!)

I’m glad I saw this series, and I can sort of understand the pull of this series. However, the ending was completely anticlimactic and not worthy for a drama that pulled in such high ratings. It was different because of the exciting backdrop, but it was still a clear-cut Korean drama – predictable and somewhat angsty.

I’d give it a 6 out of 10.

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