K-drama Review : City Hunter

This drama came highly recommended by my sister so I finally gave in and watched it despite my busy schedule.  (I couldn’t help it, she knew my weakness.  She lured me into her room and showed me some scenes with Lee Min Ho in it, and I just caved in.)   Anyway, I really enjoyed it so I decided to make a short review.

Just a quick warning : I will be posting A LOT of spoilers below, so if you haven’t seen the show you might want to stop reading now.

Plot summary :

The show begins in 1983 when North Korean soldiers planted a bomb meant to harm the South Korean president during his visit in Myanmar.  The president was unharmed, but several high ranking officials were killed due to the explosion.  To retaliate, five South Korean officials planned a  covert operation to sneak into North Korea and kill several high ranking officials.  Twenty one well-trained South Korean soldiers were sent to fulfill the task without the president’s knowledge.  However, while the mission was being carried out, the South Korean officials who ordered the attack changed their minds and decided to kill the 21 soldiers on their way back to Korea and hide all evidence of the raid mission.  One soldier, Lee Jin Pyo, managed survive after his good friend and comrade, Park Moo Yul, took the bullet that was meant for him.  Filled with anger, Jin Pyo managed to make his way back to Seoul and kidnapped Moo Yul’s newborn son, Yoon Sung to make him a pawn for his revenge.  He escaped to the Golden Triangle and became a drug lord while raising Yoon Sung as his own and training him to become a strong fighter and bounty hunter of some sort.  When Yoon Sung turned 28, Jin Pyo sent him back to Korea to track down the five officials who betrayed him and kill them.

The Cast:

Lee Min Ho as Lee Yoon Sung

So once again I was lured into watching a drama because of this dude.  But Lee Min Ho is not just some guy with a pretty face, he’s a decent actor as well.  I thought that his acting has improved a lot since Boys Over Flowers.  It was a bit hard to tell at first because Yoon Sung’s character is very similar to Goo Jun Pyo’s, but as the drama progresses you can see him add more depth to his role.  I was quite impressed with him in the scene when his ajusshi almost died after getting ran over by a car, as well as his final scenes in the last episodes.  Yoon Sung was a very conflicted and confused character, and Lee Min Ho portrayed him really well I think.

Park Min Young as Kim Nana

This is the first drama I’ve seen of her, (well, the first complete drama – I tried watching Sungkyungkwan Scandal but I wasn’t able to finish it) and I found her absolutely adorable.  I loved Kim Nana in this drama.  She was cheerful, kind and strong.  She helps out others, is a good friend to those who need her and can even pick herself up when life knocks her down.

I really like how she wasn’t one of those clingy and helpless girls that often appear in dramas.  She can take care of herself (most of the time –  there were some moments when Yoon Sung had to rescue her despite being a strong fighter) and she’s very honest with herself, which is another thing I liked.  When she realized her feelings for Yoon Sung, she didn’t go around denying it or trying to hide it.  She went up to him and openly admitted it.  And despite being rejected many times, her feelings never wavered.

Lee Jun Hyuk as Kim Young Joo

I thought he looked a bit like Big Bang’s Seungri at first glance, but that’s just me XD   He was a new actor to me, I’ve never seen any of his other works before and again I was fairly impressed. (EDIT: I just found out that he was in Secret Garden!  I never realized that he was in it until I checked his past dramas on Wikipedia, lol.  He played Oska’s friend in one of the flashback scenes.)  Anyway, I really liked how he portrayed his character.  Sure, there were a couple of times that he was a bit annoying – following Yoon Sung around all the time, trying to prove that he was City Hunter – but that’s just his job.

Like Yoon Sung, he played a conflicted character that was torn between his loyalty to his father and his sense of justice.  I think the scene that best showcased his talent was the hospital confrontation with Yoon Sung after his father’s accident.  I could really feel his anger radiating from the screen at that point.

Kim Sang Jung as Lee Jin Pyo

He looks happy and peaceful in the picture above but in the drama he was portrayed as a strong military soldier with a burning desire for revenge.  He was quite scary and heartless at times, but I thought that he was still very cool.  He did a lot of terrible stuff throughout the drama (like stealing Yoon Sung away from his mom when he was just a baby, blackmail, murder, etc), but I still connected with his character in some way, and I’m sure many of the audience did so as well.

I like that you can tell that he cared a lot for Yoon Sung despite his hard exterior.  I wasn’t sure about this at first, and there were a couple of times when I started to wonder if he truly saw Yoon Sung as anything more than a pawn in his path to revenge, but it all became very clear in the last episode how much he cared.  I don’t want to give too much away, but I can tell you that his final scene in that episode made me bawl like a baby.

Other minor characters that I liked:

  • Choi Da Hye – this role was played by the adorable Goo Hara.   I’m used to seeing her acting so sweet so it was interesting to see her being a brat in this series XD
  • Go Ki Joon – I think all Running Man fans would love this character.  I mean it’s Gwang Soo!  All he had to do was appear on the screen and I would start laughing like crazy.  (But the episode with his younger brother made me tear up a bit – so touching.)
  • “Ajusshi”/Bae Sik Joong – he pretty much acted as Yoon Sung’s pseudo-mom in this drama.  He was rescued by Yoon Sung in the first episode and remained loyal to him until the very end. I loved how addicted he was to Home TV Shopping, lol.  It got to the point that Yoon Sung had to block his credit card to stop him from overspending.  (But he unblocked it in the end because he couldn’t resist his loving Ajusshi)

Some of my favorite scenes:

  • The scene when the 21 soldiers were shot and killed at sea.  Not because I’m evil or anything like that, but because it showcased the friendship between Lee Jin Pyo and Park Moo Yul.
  • Seeing Gwang Soo appear for the first time, lol
  • The scenes when Da Hye would flirt with Yoon Sung and he would just turn her down
  • Yoon Sung and Nana’s first kiss at the club
  • Kim Young Joo and Lee Yoon Sung fighting over the wallet that they wanted to give Nana
  • The martial arts training sessions.  There was always something sweet or funny or dramatic happening during these scenes.  And it was always funny to see Gwang Soo getting beaten up in the background.
  • The bus scene when Yoon Sung “fell asleep” on Nana’s shoulder and wouldn’t budge.  I loved his mischevious smile when she finally gave in.

  • The scene when Yoon Sung and Nana were bargaining the living arrangements.  I loved it when Yoon Sung asked her how much it would cost him for a kiss XD  (It sound a bit pervy and wrong here, but it was actually really sweet the way he said it.)
  • This is sort of a continuation of what I mentioned above – the scene where Nana comes back home and sees Yoon Sung staring at her.  I loved it when he said “I was just just thinking about how much money I have in my bank account, because you’re so expensive”.  Again, some girls might find this degrading, but it was actually a sweet moment.
  • The awkward scenes they had when they had to live together

  • Yoon Sung acting like a super hero once again and rescuing Nana from some politican’s son.   I love it when he said “Do I have to put a sticker on you to let people know you’re my girl?”  D’awwwww~
  • The scene when Nana fell asleep at Yoon Sung’s house (wearing that “provocative” white long sleeved polo if his) and he tries to steal a kiss.  My heart almost stopped when she opened her eyes and caught him in the act, but then she closed them again, silently giving him permission, and my heart just went crazy.  Kyaaaaah~

  • When Yoon Sung tried to push Nana away by flaunting some cheap girl in front of her.  She got rid of the girl (in a non-violent way of course) and told Yoon Sung to “find and date a girl that I can acknowledge”.  It was nice to see she knew what he was up to and didn’t turn into some crying mess.
  • The crazy chain of spies at the hospital.  Get his blood tested, don’t get his blood tested, lol!
  • Shin Eun Ah taking a tour of Yoon Sung’s house while Nana was hiding there.  I loved the part where Nana had to squeeze herself next to the giant teddy bear and Yoon Sung rushed to cover her.  That wink was so hot~ *Drools*
  • Gwang Soo’s love confession ❤
  • The dramatic scene in the last episode when Lee Jin Pyo made his sacrifice for Yoon Sung.  I love it because it showed that he truly saw Yoon Sung as his son and would give up anything for him.
Now while I do love this show, there were a couple of really stupid moments that made me roll my eyes a bit.  I’m not being a hater or anything, but I thought I’d just share some of the really crazy ones with you guys:
  • There was this scene at a hotel when a politician asked  Nana to go up to his room, introduce herself to the guards as his bodyguard and get some papers for him, but somehow she ended up knocking on Yoon Sung’s room – which was coincidentally right next door. Now after the dramatic scene where both Nana and Kim Young Ju find Yoon Sung and Young Ju’s ex-wife in the room together (don’t even get me started on how everyone is in the right place at the right time!  I’ve never been to Korea but watching this makes me wonder how small Seoul really is for them to keep running into each other like that), the politician’s guards came out of the other room on their own and handed her the forms.  It was just a bit weird because she never knocked on their door, so why would they come out.  And, she was told to introduce herself, which meant that the guards didn’t know who to give the form to, but they just automatically knew it was her and handed her the papers.
  • Another scene was in Episode 7 when Nana found the collapsed guards at the press conference.  She checked to see if they were alive then went on ahead to search for City Hunter without even requesting for backup.  Hello?  You just saw that he was able to take down a whole group of guards on his own, why would you go looking for him by yourself?
  • The scene when Nana was hanging on edge of the railing and Kim Young Ju just ran past her.  I understand that he really wanted to catch the politician, but c’mon!  Someone’s dying in front of you dude!  And it’s not even some random citizen (which he should rescue anyway since he’s a prosecutor) but it’s Nana!  Someone he supposedly cares about!
  • The crazy fight scene which took place at some steamy parking lot/warehouse at the hospital.   Yoon Sung wanted to get his blood tested to see if he could save his mother, but Lee Jin Pyo didn’t want him revealing his true identity so he sent his guards to stop him.   I understand the stopping him part, but the fight scene was just so random and out of place I think.
  • The whole “fanservice” scene when Nana and Yoon Sung gets soaked in the rain and she had to go back to his place and let her clothes dry.  She ends up wearing one of his oversized polo shirts (which men find so seductive for some reason).  The entire scene was just so full of sexual tension that it made me laugh.  Especially the part when she was trying to reach a bowl that was placed high on the shelf.  (Grab a chair and stand on it, why don’t you!  Instead of jumping up and down like a maniac – you’d probably end up breaking the bowl that way!)  But I think the whole point was to showcase Nana’s beautiful legs and also for Yoon Sung to get the chance to come up behind her and use his sexy height to hand her the bowl – while exchanging sultry yet innocent looks with each other, lol.  (I don’t often see fanservice scenes like this in Kdramas so I found this very weird, but my sister reminded me that this was based off a manga, which actually explains a lot XD)
  • The fight scene in the warehouse where Kim Young Ju was fighting FOUR guys one-handed and texting Yoon Sung at the same time!!  Is that even possible???  And that’s not even the craziest part, while this was happening, Yoon Sung was also caught in a fight and getting beaten up, but when Kim Young Ju’s message arrived he had time to reach for his phone and read the message.  Tell me that’s not crazy!
  • Also, may I just point out that Yoon Sung sometimes behaves a little too carelessly for someone who’s supposed to be a well-trained spy?  Sure, he goes around covering his tracks (both from the cops and his father) but then he often walks into a building unmasked and assumes that he would just blend in with the crowd.  C’mon~  A guy that tall and that good looking??  He might as well have paraded around with a giant banner that says “I’m the City Hunter!  Look at me!”  But fortunately in this drama, no one recognizes him and he is able to keep his true identity safe.
(Again, I’d like to remind the fans who are probably ready to flame me by now – I am also a fan of the show and I enjoyed it thoroughly.  I’m not trying to turn people against it or anything, I just wanted to point out that the writers could have done a better job in some parts.)
One thing I really liked in this drama, besides all the sweet moments between Yoon Sung and Nana, is that it showed us that in real life, there is no distinct line which separates “good” and “bad” or “right” and “wrong”.  (Lee Jin Pyo is a good and loyal friend but he’s a cold blooded killer, Yoon Sung is a hero for catching corrupt politicians but he uses illegal means to do so, Kim Young Ju is a good prosecutor but he turns a blind eye to his father’s wrongdoings, etc…)  It shows us the true reality that there is both good and bad in everyone and that it is our choices that make us who we are.
I’ve always mentioned that I prefer comedies over anything serious, but I absolutely loved this drama. Probably because while it does tackle some serious issues, it’s not a hardcore drama and it still has a bit of comedy and a love story.  The first episode wasn’t that enjoyable for me though, because it was too serious, but it was necessary in setting up the entire story.  As for the ending, I can’t really say I’m too happy with it.  It left a lot of things hanging and unfinished in my opinion.  And I wasn’t really too pleased that they killed off two characters that I really liked (grrrrr).  I understand that this isn’t a light drama and that deaths of some characters are to be expected, but I still didn’t like it.
While I really enjoyed this drama, it’s not something that I was able to finish watching quickly.  It took me over a week to finish the entire series.  This is mostly because it’s a bit longer than your average K-drama, and also because the story line can get pretty heavy at times.   There were a few moments where I had to stop watching to give myself time to internalize and think about what was happening.
Anyway, another thing I really liked about the show was the soundtrack.  My favorite song would have to be “So Goodbye”, sung by SHINee’s Jonghyun.  I found it to be a very emotional and powerful song and it was always played during the perfect times.  (You can listen and fall in love with the song HERE if you wish XD)
Lastly, may I just express how much I love the Min-Min couple?  Lee Min Ho and Park Min Young were really cute together in this drama.  And I suppose spending all that time together filming made them realize how cute they would look off-screen too, so they decided to start dating 😀  So sweet ❤
My rating:
I would give this drama 4.7 out of 5 stars.  I really enjoyed it but I decided to deduct 0.3 points because of the abrupt ending (and the crazy/unrealistic scenes).

12 thoughts on “K-drama Review : City Hunter

  1. An excellent review. I could not agree more with your comments – especially over the stupid moments.
    i thought the role of kim na na was so well played and the chemistry betwwen her and the city hunter was fantastic

  2. wah! ate carmi! ngayon ko lang binasa kasi katatapos lang sa abs-cbn. :))) sobra lang ung iyak ko nung ending, buti na lang magisa akong nanood XD favorite ko rin ung scenes kapag may gustong uminom ng energy drink ni johnny aka yoon sung na bigay ng nanay niya. :)) gusto ko rin malaman ung reaction ni da hye pag nalaman niya na magkapatid sila. hehe. paputol-putol nga lang ung panood ko. XD


    • Hi Tring 😀 Tapos na pala sya sa ABS-CBN. Inaabangan din nila lagi yan dito sa bahay tuwing gabi e, hehe. (Nakikisilip lagi ako pag mga scenes ni Lee Min Ho XD)
      Super sad nung ending noh? Iyak din talaga ako dun e. Natouch ako masyado dun sa ginawa nung dad nya. Buti magisa lang din ako nung pinanood ko kaya todo emote, haha.
      (Haha, salamat! 😀 Pahinga muna siguro kami ni Ezra. Para magka energy ulit magaral ^__^)

  3. I like your review, it makes me missing my blog, to write some posts again. I just watched the drama above, and I finished it in three days – a spectacular time record for my level. This is indeed one of my favorite Kdramas, and fyi I finally decided to watch it because of Sungkyunkwan Scandal! Yeah, I fall for Park Min Young in SKK (actually I fall for all F4 Joseon :D) and be curious enough to check all her dramas (I think after this I’ll watch Man of Honor/Glory Jane – I am quite late for some Kdramas because there was a time I am sick of all of them without cannot explain the reason).

    Anyway, I want to add some points about City Hunter based your thought above:
    1. The scene when Nana was hanging on edge of the railing and Kim Young Ju just ran past her.
    For me, it’s not strange that Young Ju just passed her because before he ran he already exchange glare to Yoon Sung and both have the same understanding about who will run after the politician and who will save Nana. it’s only my opinion, no offense, okay? 😀
    2. Like you, I am a bit disappointed with the ending, there are some hanging things like the ring that is supposed to be given to Nana (where is it???), the shoes that showed up in the scene which the 4th politician be released from the prosecutors (who it belongs to???), etc.
    3. I am also disappointed with the relationship between the MinMin Couple. After their hard struggle to keep distance from each other, after all, there are no sweet or romantic ending for both of them! How come T___T
    At least, I hope there will be a scene with the tie that Nana gave to Yoon Sung.

    Finally, I just want share my hilarious theory about how Lee Min Ho and Park Min Young ended being a couple in reality. I think there was no partner in all of his dramas who didn’t fall for him due to his gorgeous and super handsome look, but only for this time he didn’t turn his partner down because this time his partner is matched him very well due to her adorable and sweet look! If we flashed back, Min Ho’s partners are never a really beautiful and young female celebrity. Okay, Moon Chae Won is indeed a pretty girl, but Mackerel Run only has eight episodes if I’m not mistaken, so there was no time enough to build a chemistry and fall for each other.

    Go Go MinMin couple! I hope I can watch both of you in other dramas *bighope*

    • Wow, thank you for the long comment 😀 I love hearing other people’s reactions to my reviews (especially if they’re positive like yours, lol) 😀

      When K-dramas are good, I can usually finish them in 2-4 days – assuming I have nothing else to do. These days I’m so busy I don’t really have that much time to watch anything 😦 It’s such a shame because there’s so many new dramas I want to watch.

      In the scene where Nana was hanging off the edge of the railing I did find it strange, but yeah, I agree with what you said about how through exchanging looks Young Ju and Yoon Sung sort of managed some communication between them. At least that’s what I told myself when I watched it. Because otherwise Young Ju would seem really heartless, lol.

      There’s so many unanswered questions in the series that I’m really hoping that they will make a second season, but that probably won’t happen. Especially now that the Min-Min couple have broken up 😦 It’s too bad because I thought they looked really cute together. (I like your theory about how they ended up being a couple, lol. It’s probably true too, haha.)

  4. City Hunter is definitely one of my favorite dramas. Personally, I found that the overall setup of the drama is poor; #1 Senior officials are usually quite old and my question was they are still alive after 28 years? #2 The method he used to convict four out of the five targets was using hidden cameras? I think the producer should look for more interesting methods. #3 Scenes method previously e.g. Nana hanging of the railing, the fight scenes, and sometimes his carelessness seemed really off.

    HOWEVER, this the first 2 problems seemed very minor to me as this is a drama designed to entertain and I usually don’t mind scenes such as Nana knocking on the wrong hotel door.

    The second episode when he first spoke to his father through the ipad and later first meet Nana gave me this excitement and anticipation that this was going to be a really interesting story despite any way the producer took it (and it was).

    The poor setup of the drama in my opinion laid the grounds of a lot and i mean ALOT of good scenes. The part where Yoon Sung, Nana and the 2 children playing in the fountain like a family was my fav. Almost all the scenes you mentioned i also really like it. The drama was also very creative and touched on alot of issues like the good and bad you said and was no doubt extremely entertaining.

    I agree with alot of the things you wrote on this blog and i also felt that the end was a bit too abrupt. e.g. when Nana carrying the bag saw Yoon Sung and smiled then scene where Yoon Sung drives of into the night, I thought Yoon Sung died and Nana was just remembering him… But it is always good to end a drama where it suggests strongly that the two characters will be together and let the fans fill in the rest. Great Drama, Great review. Thanks for sharing your thoughts 😀

  5. Pingback: “Looking At A Different Lens” A Discourse Analysis on the Korean Drama, City Hunter | Criticism of Broadcast Texts

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