A movie where Kim Soohyun plays a North Korean black ops spy who goes undercover in South Korea as a village idiot slash idol boy group member? How awesome is that?! To boot, Park Kiwoong and Lee Hyunwoo co-star as his comrades slash idol bandmates. This synopsis already has me giggling. I WANT.
For anyone wondering why PKW is sporting the flaming orange head of hair, it’s for his upcoming role in the still-filming movie, “Covertness” (which is getting lots of attention in the press right now, since four of the main actors received end-of-year drama awards: Son Hyun Joo - SBS Daesang; Kim Soo Hyun - MBC Best Excellence; and Lee Hyun Woo - SBS New Star Award)
And don’t worry – the queue will go back to being orange-free next week. But first, we celebrate PKW’s drama win!
Secretly, Greatly | Kim Soo Hyun, Park Ki Woong, Lee Hyun Woo
A group of spies called the 5446 Corps were trained by North Korean elite special forces since their youth, ostensibly towards the lofty goal of unifying Korea. They are ambitiously dispatched to South Korea, where each disguises himself as a fool, an aspiring singer, and a high school student. Passing boring time without receiving any orders from the North, they gradually get used to life as ordinary neighbors in a small town until one day, their mundane lives are turned upside down when a “secret and great” mission is suddenly assigned to them. Due to the events of the Second Battle of Yeonpyeong, South Korea demands the names, location, and rank of 30 North Korean spies active in South Korea, promising financial aid to the North on the condition that Pyongyang turns in their spies. To prevent the elites from falling into enemy hands, the North Korean government orders dozens of active duty spies to take their own lives. Meanwhile their North Korean army instructor Kim Tae-won crosses the border to eliminate those who refuse to follow.
So I’ve gotten around to finally watching this movie because I’ve been wanting to watch this for quite some time.
Before I start I should say that even though this was one of my most anticipated movies of the year, I did hear that the film didn’t get a lot of critical praise (but killed it at the box office) so I went in with low expectations.
The film is about Won Ryu Hwan, played by the quirky and charming Kim Soo Hyun, an elite North Korean Agent who infiltrates South Korea to carry out a mission to basically assimilate in a village as the village idiot under an assumed name Bang Dong Gu. 2 years past without any orders from North Korea until 2 other agents from North Korea come by and things start to get a bit interesting. These 2 agents are Lee Hae Rang (Park Ki Woong) and Ri Hae Jin (Lee Hyun Woo). Time goes by and the three undercover spies start to get use to their daily lives until an unexpected order comes. The order? To commit suicide and die with honor.
The first half provided the comedic element of this comedy-action drama and it was hilarious watching Kim Soo Hyun as Bang Dong Gu/ Won Ryu Hwan run around and act like a complete fool. We get to see the basic lives of the villagers around him and we also get to see a bit of their backstories which provided an emotional element to the first half rather than be just comedy. It’s not until the second half that things start to become a bit darker once the conflict heightens.
The three leads were absolutely great in their roles. The way Kim Soo Hyun switched from an idiot to elite spy was something to be awed by because he played both roles with such sincerity. You saw Won Ryu Hwan as the elite captain, loyal to his nation and then BAM, you then see Bang Dong Gu, just the typical village idiot. Park Ki Woong was awesome as always and I’m thankful that he didn’t overact like he did in Gaksital. Lee Hyun Woo was a total cutie and I thought he was incredible in the film, I didn’t think that this baby faced boy could make me cry but he did.
Thinking back, I think that decision of going in with low expectations was probably for the best because this film, whilst entertaining, didn’t give me the sort of impact and impression I hoped it would. The ending had me going why?! I haven’t read the original webtoon so I don’t know if this ending was intended. How did their deaths provide us with any sort of message. Did the film actually have some sort of message that they wanted to convey to the audience? I felt like the film had a weak plot and was just there to cater to the teenage audience.
In saying that, this isn’t a bad film at all. There were moments that made me tear up and there were moments in the film that were really well done. Like the action scenes, they were cool and sleak to watch and felt cleanly filmed. Also I loved seeing the three interact and bond with each other and with the villagers.
Not the greatest korean film I watched this year but if you’re just here to watch 3 handsome actors act or if you just have 2 hours to kill, this is the film for you.
Finally, a teaser for “Covertly, Grandly” a.k.a. “Secret to Greatness”, “Covertness”, and a couple other English translations.
As an aside: Of course this movie was created for the Korean market, but because of Hallyu, it is expected that this will gain the attention of international fans. I wish production companies (for both movies and TV) would pay a little more attention to releasing a catchy official English title for their releases, and not leave it up to English language media/sites to come up with their own translations (e.g. “Gu Family Book” was known as “Writings of Nine Houses”, “Book of the House of Gu”, “Medical Novel”, “Kang-chi, The Beginning”, etc.) An official English title will be good for exposure, online searchability, and for general marketability. Well, unless you’re not aiming for that and are just looking to sell in Korea, then…poor us international fans. :P
To continue with the teaser…
I’ve been waiting for a glimpse of this movie ever since Kim Soo-hyun was cast. I like his work as an actor. He’s the reason I stuck it out with “The Moon That Embraces The Sun” even when the story turned into a one-trick pony, and also “Dream High” even if I could barely tolerate the rest of the cast. I also want to see Park Ki-woong, who I totally loved in “Gaksital” (oh, the creepy chills that his character gave me), and Lee Hyun-woo, who I first noticed in “Equator Man”.
As is appropriate, this first teaser focuses on KSH’s character, Won Ryu-hwan, a top-notch North Korean spy who is sent on a secret mission to South Korea. His undercover identity is the village idiot Bang Dong-gu, and he will be joined by PKW, who will masquerade as an aspiring idol (love the hair!), and LHW as a high school student.
I’m already laughing at KSH’s Dong-gu, who gives off a rather Song Sam-dong (his character in “Dream High”) kind of vibe (at least before he went to Seoul to study), only more ridiculous and more ridiculed. One of the reasons why I like KSH as an actor is he does not seem too self-conscious about his characters–he just acts. And so we get this really goofy Bang Dong-gu, which is a such a contrast to his cool, deadly Ryu-hwan. The transformation really works. He’s rather like Joo Won in that way, I think.
This movie is based on a webcomic called “Covertness” by Hun (Choi Jung-hoon), which is about a trio of NoKor spies on a mission in a SoKor village, where their cover is as a bunch of aspiring idols. It sounds really funny in principle, so I hope the movie will have that light, not-so-serious feel to it. And it’s okay to make the three guys do some goofy wannabe idol dancing and singing. Really, it’ll be totally okay. ;)
The upcoming Korean movie Covertly, Grandly just might be a hit. I’m definitely interested after hearing about the cast starring Kim Soo-hyun (The Moon that Embraces the Sun), Jo Jung-seok (King 2 Hearts), Lee Hyun-woo (To the Beautiful You) and Park Ki-woong (Gaksital).
It’s be based on the popular Daum webtoon of the same name where North Korean spies infiltrate a South Korean village and pose as dim-witted idol wannabes. It sounds awesome and stars some of my fave actors, so can’t wait!