Review: KBS’ Myung Wol the Spy Struggles to Find Balance and Tone

Moderate spoilers.

Myung Wol the Spy (스파이 명월/Spy Myungwol) is a few weeks away from wrapping up its run on KBS World and I’ll likely go deeper in the Hindsight Review. But while I like the show and have kept watching through 12 episodes, I feel like the show has dropped the ball on many things so far.

I was looking forward to the series mainly because it would be Lee Jin Wook’s first project after completing his military service. Lee Jin Wook and Kim Jung Eun have always been my two favorite Korean actors thanks in part to the fact that their dramas (Someday and Lovers in Paris respectively) were the first two Korean dramas I ever watched. Definitely two great series to introduce anyone to Korean drama, and I’ve been a fan of theirs ever since.

And while Lee Jin Wook is great with what’s given to him, the series itself has had a hard time.

Myung Wol the Spy centers on the title character (played by Han Ye Seul), a North Korean secret agent that’s been tasked to disrupt the Hallyu or Korean Wave by kidnapping one of the biggest Hallyu stars, Kang Woo (Eric) and get him to defect and help promote the North’s agenda.

She has some help from two former North spies now living in Seoul as well as her handler and comrade Choi Ryu (Lee Jin Wook).

That’s all very interesting and a great premise. But instead, the series pushes aside all the interesting spy stuff for the too typical rich boy/poor girl love story.

And maybe because of that, the series has had a hard time finding the right balance between the spy action, the romance, and genuine humor and comedy. The series isn’t a straight spy drama, nor is it a romantic drama. It isn’t a spy or romantic comedy either. The series tries to be all of it and none of it.

It isn’t easy to blend comedy and secret agent action/adventure. And even more difficult on television and with half a dozen different things being thrown from every which direction.

Myung Wol the Spy started off well enough, but has since forced viewers to go through abrupt tonal changes throughout the episodes. From fun capers to melodrama to “fish of out water” comedy to romantic angst, the chain yanking could leave anyone dizzy after each episode.

The series isn’t a lost cause yet and I’ve read it picks up as it nears the finale, but it is just a little disappointing at all the wasted potential so far. The series could’ve been cute and thrilling fun. I want to love the show, but so far, it’s only been a mish-mash of nice but incohesive ideas.

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