From left, actors Mun Chong-hyok, Han Ye-seul and Lee Jin-wook pose during a press conference for "Spy MyeongWol" last week in Seoul. / Courtesy of KBS
By Kwon Mee-yoo
True love is often said to be borderless, but the DMZ dividing the North from the South on the Korean peninsula might be a tough one.
"Spy MyeongWol," a new KBS drama, bringing together a beautiful North Korean spy who falls in love with a top South Korean “hallyu” or Korean wave, actor starts today.
Director Hwang In-hyuk said the drama, "Spy MyeongWol," will be more about the story of a man and woman than the ideological conflict that separates the two Koreas.
"We will try to keep the drama balanced. While shooting the drama, I felt that there could be such a man in the South and such a woman from the North, concerned with similar things," Hwang said at a press conference last week. "Our drama will center on individuals, instead of political issues."
Han Myeong-wol, a North Korean hallyu squad member, meets South Korean hallyu star Gang-woo in Singapore while on a mission. Actress Han Ye-seul portrays the secret agent. Myeong-wol’s successful life as an undercover spy takes an unexpected turn when she is ordered to get Gang-woo’s autograph, but fails. Unable to accept failure, she stows away to South Korea determined to marry Gang-woo within three months.
Mun Chong-hyok, also known as Eric from K-pop group Shinhwa, returns to the small screen in some three years after completing his military service to play Gang-woo.
"I might seem similar to Gang-woo, but it's been a while since I was a hallyu star and I'm trying to recollect my experiences," Mun said. "Not all entertainers and celebrities are that poingnant and the character is somewhat exaggerated because it is a drama."
The character is likely to be compared with Dokgo Jin, played by Cha Seung-won, in the recent hit drama “The Greatest Love.”
Mun said he greatly enjoyed watching the drama, but Dokgo’s character affected his portrayal of Gangwoo. “I also thought about setting a unique tone for my character, but I changed my mind after watching Dokgo and tried to be simple,” he said.
For her role, Han cut her hair to suit the image of an intelligence spy. "Spies are considered to have a more defiant and stronger image than the average women in society," she said.
She added that she found it lucky that her character is assumed to have stayed in the North for a short time and she speaks mainly in a stiff manner, not in a heavy North Korean dialect.
Another actor Lee Jin-wook (“Air City,” 2007) also makes a return to the entertainment scene after being discharged from mandatory army service. Lee plays the role of Choi Ryu, an elite agent from the North and Han’s boss. Jang Hee-jin (“Rough Cut,” 2008) plays Ju In-a, an heir of a conglomerate who competes for Gang-woo attention and veteran actor Lee Duk-hwa will take on the role of her grandfather.
The success of "Spy MyeongWol" straddles the thin line between romantic comedy and inter-Korean relations. There were other dramas and movies that dealt with a love story between a South Korean man and North Korean woman such as "Hidden Princess" (2002), "Love: Impossible" (2003) and "Spy Girl" (2004), but most of them were not very successful either commercially or artistically.
The drama airs at 9:55 p.m. on KBS2, every Monday and Tuesday.