When I first read the synopsis for this drama, I thought it was going to be stupid. I liked Lee Seung Gi going in and Ha Ji Won I had some interest in after seeing her on Running Man. Little did I know, this would turn into my crack drama of the first half of the year. I initially decided not to recap midway through the series because I didn’t feel like going back and doing the older episodes, but it’s gotten to the point where yelling at my screen isn’t good enough. To this end, I’ll just do a quick recap of the earlier episodes to catch up.
All picture credit goes to The King 2 Hearts facebook page, though I’m pretty sure they got them from Dramabeans.
After a brief glimpse into the past for our cast, we cut to the future and see Lee Seung Gi as Lee Jae Ha training in the military. He’s still a brat and is generally out causing trouble. Meanwhile, his brother Lee Jae Kang, played by Lee Sung Min, is now king. He announces that for the first time, both North and South Korean soldiers will be allowed to participate as a joint team in an international competition called the World Officer Championship.
Next we’re introduced to Kim Hang Ah, played by Ha Ji Won. She’s apparently one of North Korea’s best soldiers and is forced into a fighting competition that they’re having at the moment. Though she’s reluctant to fight the other guy, as soon as he draws blood on her, she goes into full on combat mode and straight up kicks her opponent’s ass. This is after the guy pulls a chair on her in what is supposed to be purely hand-to-hand combat. However, our female super soldier does have a feminine side and we see her the next day on a date. As the guy leans in for a kiss, Hang Ah kills the mood by instinctively grabbing him and pushing him away. I like this girl already.
When she’s first approached to join the team for the WOC, Hang Ah refuses because she’s having trouble enough getting guys without having the world see her as a trained killer. However, the general in charge of the team bargains with her, saying that he’ll help her find dates in exchange for her participation. She agrees to the deal and away we go to South Korea to meet the rest of the team. On the way though, she fangirls at billboards of two of Ha Ji Won’s former costars: Jo In Sung from “What Happened in Bali” and Hyun Bin from “Secret Garden”. Kudos to the writer and director for random nods to her other dramas btw. Makes this drama that much more entertaining. We also see a giant screen of SNSD performing “The Boys”, which will become a running joke with one of her fellow North Korean operatives Rhee Kang Seok, played by Jung Man Shik.
After some difficulty getting past the South Korean security at the palace, the North Korean team members are introduced to Jae Kang, who makes certain to mention a certain troublemaker that’s going to be on the team as well. Speaking of the troublemaker, Jae Kang knows that his little brother Jae Ha won’t just agree to join the team and is forced to trick him into doing so as he gets discharged from his mandatory military service. Jae Ha still objects, of course, which forces Jae Kang to through him out of the palace unless he does agree.
Now we meet another one of the members of the South Korean team: son of the Chief Secretary Eun Shi Kyung, played by Jo Jung Seok. Jae Ha tries to convince Shin Kyung to graze his finger with a bullet so he can get out of the WOC and Shi Kyung being the loyal solder he is pulls out his gun and points it directly at Jae Ha. Of course, our brat of a prince doesn’t think Shi Kyung has the guts to shoot the gun and him and takes the gun from Shi Kyung to demonstrate. One small problem with this scenario: there’s live ammo in the gun and fortunately for both Jae Ha and Shi Kyung, Jae Ha is terrible with guns and the recoil from the shot makes him miss wide on Shi Kyung. Shi Kyung actually smiles at this development and orders some of the officers that ran in after hearing the shot to take Jae Ha to the dorms.
At first, Jae Ha is supposed to room with Kang Seok, but gets freaked out when he opens the door to their room and the North Korean soldier is in the middle of a rather intense solo fight scene. He then finds out about Hang Ah and immediately agrees to room with her, thinking that no way she can be worse than what he had before. Hang Ah, however, is not happy about the situation, despite her commander’s assurance that he’s just helping her meet more guys. Hah.
Our two main characters finally meet over dinner with the rest of the team, but Jae Ha is completely dismissive of the North Koreans, even go so far as to greeting one of them happily after saying that his unit killed a bunch of the men from the North Korean’s unit. Hang Ah has had enough and asks Jae Ha to escort her to the bathroom.
She lures him inside and immediately proceeds to kick his ass and pin him to the ground. As she has him immobilized, she smiles and states her name and rank, making sure to note that the equivalent would be South Korean special forces. Jae Ha then looks up at her in horror as she says that she’s been trained to kill him on sight. Just as Jae Ha thinks he’s a goner, Hang Ah grins at him and quickly helps him to his feet saying that there’s no way she’d kill him now since they’re in a time of peace. By the look on his face, Jae Ha doesn’t quite believe her assurances.
We’re now introduced to the bad guy in the form of Kim Bong Gu, played by Yoon Jae Moon. In the past, he stabbed Jae Ha with a pen, but now as a grown man he’s watches his father die in bed, making him head of a multi-nation corporation inconspicuously called Club M. He’s definitely got a few screws loose in his head, but we’ll see what trouble crazy people can cause later.
Back to our bickering couple, who are now roommates. Jae Ha walks in on Hang Ah locking her underwear in a small case and scoffs saying he has no interest in seeing it. She sneers at him and says she’s been taught that South Koreans are perverts, but stares in wonder as Jae Ha starts pulling out his rather ridiculous collection of skin care products. Hang Ah, of course, wants to try some and Jae Ha agrees…but then tricks her into putting on shaving cream instead. LOL, you have to enjoy the petty bickering between these two. It’s definitely one of the highlights of the series early on.
The next day, as the team meets, they’re put through the first of many tests that the North and South Korean military leadership had decided to put them through. First they’re ambushed in a meeting and have to deal with the situation, and then later they have to recall exactly what happened during the ambush. Jae Ha, of course, wants nothing to do with this and walks out on them.
We’re now whisked away to North Korea to continue the training. Of course the trip over wouldn’t be complete without Jae Ha almost causing an international incident by insulting the North Korean leader, but fortunately all 6 members of the team make it to the base alive. To celebrate, they decide to have a little campfire and share songs of their respective countries with each other. Hang Ah looks like she’s falling in love with Shi Kyung as he sings rather well while playing the guitar. Of course, Jae Ha, who is hanging out by himself in his room, has to kill the mood by calling Hang Ah and saying that he’s hungry.
To get revenge on him, the North Korean team decides to act out a little script that they came up with. After luring Jae Ha to a door with pictures of half-naked women, they talk about how they’re going to kill Jae Ha with poison needles if he doesn’t start participating with the team. I’m cracking up at this point at how awkward they are at reading the scrip but also at Jae Ha’s look of complete terror as he listens. Hang Ah pretends to be surprised to see him when he opens the door, but further scares him by pulling out the case of acupuncture needles that she carries with her.
Jae Ha immediately goes to find Shi Kyung to save him, and finds him running laps at night while carrying all his gear for training. He tells Shi Kyung that he’ll do the training after all, which causes our dutiful soldier to think that the prince might be worthwhile after all. Hang Ah also comes out as well and watches the two talk, with Jae Ha mouthing silently about the North Koreans’ plans to kill him. Shi Kyung, of course, has no idea what his prince is talking about and walks off leaving Jae Ha and Hang Ah alone.
Later, Hang Ah receives a call from one of her male friends and promptly gets all dressed up to see him. As she enters the restaurant where she’s supposed to meet him, she’s surprised by her friend bending down on one knee and making a surprise proposal. Hang Ah is at a loss for words but reaches for the flowers that he’s holding towards her, but the other shoe falls and he pulls them back saying to his friend behind him that they need to do it just like that for his actual fiancé.
She retreats to the base in tears and see Jae Ha munching on a donut instead of training. He immediately starts going into panic mode and rattles off excuses but Hang Ah says nothing and just gets on the treadmill to start running. She isn’t on it for long though and her legs give out and she bursts into tears. Jae Ha is completely confused at this point, but does actually seem to care by asking what’s wrong and comforting her as she blurts out all her insecurities about never being able to meet a guy and the reason why she joined the WOC in the first place. As she falls asleep, Hang Ah dreams about Jae Ha kissing her neck. When she realizes it’s a dream, she asks Jae Ha how far they went last night, and he just says that he patted her back to help her sleep.
Of course, Jae Ha the pompus jerk is back in action as he’s spilled her secret to everyone on base. She immediately goes for her needles, but Jae Ha smirks and waves them in her face. After teasing her about whether she dreamed that he kissed her, he leans in close and methodically says that he doesn’t see her as a woman, causing a tear to fall from Hang Ah.
This series wasted no time in getting me hooked. There’s almost instant chemistry between Lee Seung Gi and Ha Ji Won and as I said before, seeing the two of them banter with each other is easily the best part of this series thus far. Granted, Seung Gi is pretty much type-cast for this role, but he pretty damn good at it that it’s hard to complain. Ha Ji Won’s character also really appeals to me as the kick-ass elite soldier with the soft side. It also helps that the two characters play off each other so well.
You also see growing connections with the other cast members as well. I’d believe Jae Kang and Jae Ha are brothers from how they act, and I enjoyed seeing the comradery of the North Korean team. Even the interactions with the straight-laced Shi Kyung are very well done. Just two episodes in and I actually already care about what happens to these characters to actually relate to what happens to them on screen. The comedy in this drama is right up my alley and I was definitely sad when it ends and the plot turns serious. Fortunately, there’s still plenty of comedic relief hanging around.
The one minor problem I had with these two episodes was the supposed-to-be bad guy who just sounds crazy and surrounds himself with random English-speaking henchmen. Fortunately, they’re American or European so at least the accent isn’t awful, but seriously? I know you’re going for an international feel here, but it still looks really weird and it’s awkward hearing Bong Gu switch from broken English to fluent Korean while his minions all speak to him in slow English.