Spy Myung-wol, episodes 1 and 2

I have no intention of writing this drama off, because my love for Eric gushes through my arteries and synapses and neurons and aortic valves, so no matter how bad it is, I will watch it for Eric.

But right now, it’s sitting pretty on the “pretty bad” side of things.

It’s only been two episodes so I can’t judge it completely yet, as there have been many dramas that didn’t wow me in the first two, but did improve dramatically afterward.

So what’s my take on Myung-wol?

Here’s the thing: I enjoy the premise of the story, in that I can understand it from the comedic point of view. Once it slips into the serious, I don’t really have patience for it because I find that the humor veers more on the slapstick side, and not on the satirical or ironic side (read: smart humor), so its current attempts to be Serious don’t register with me.

In particular, I find the North Korean comrades to be absolutely ridiculous, which I think is the intention of the writers, and I think how North Koreans will be portrayed in this drama is important, especially because this is a comedy. In shows like Iris and Athena, there is no doubt that the North Koreans are villains, but those characters often called for a level of complexity that can easily get lost in a comedy like Myung-wol, especially if it’s not done very well. That’s my fear of this drama, that the writers will be buffoon-ish in their attempt to portray North Koreans.

And then when you couple exaggerated North Koreans with a nationalistic-invoking product like the Hallyu Wave, things can be really annoying for a viewer like me, someone who’s interested in East Asian history and relations, and how anything and everything is portrayed in the media. They’re just gripes I can’t get over if they’re done badly, so there will probably be a lot of bitching on my part about the portrayal of North Koreans in the duration of this drama.

The problem with me and Korean comedies is that I’ve noticed that Korean romantic comedy dramas tend to focus on really, REALLY trivial things to sustain a storyline and it’s this writing that makes Korean romantic comedies come off as amateurish among the Kdrama landscape. I feel like dramatic Kdramas are better at injecting smart humor than comedic dramas are. I can’t really remember the last time I watched a straight-up comedy (that wasn’t penned by the Hong Sisters) — that was promoted as a comedy and not a dramatic story — that went well. (Lie to Me is the last one I can remember off the top of my head that was just really bad at the comedy and you know how that ended up.)

So the comedy in Myung-wol is what’s holding me back from enjoying the story immediately because other than the superficial jokes, it seeps into the story’s Serious conflict as well, and it’s not smart enough to make the political intrigue intriguing at all. I like the main characters and I think they have good chemistry, but a buffoon NK comrade’s daughter being photographed at a SK Hallyu wave concert leading to Myung-wol’s problems, making her cover-up her tracks by marrying the Hallyu star is so fucking stupid.

But! I must say, I LOVE clueless North Korean Myung-wol. You don’t know how many times I’ve watched her do this, while her handler shouts, “ES-SU LA-EEN!” on the side.