The King 2 Hearts, you officially own my heart. I love you, I love you, I love you. Wonky North Korean accents, hilariously over-the-top villain, and typical jerky male lead aside, the drama just works for me when I look at the big picture. Its subject matter is far-fetched but intriguing to contemplate, the story moves fast but takes time to develop the characters, and the directing and music score are both kick ass. This is what I wanted all those recent so-called thriller with a side of romance dramas to be, but all failed miserably from the outset. So far TK2H is hitting it out of the park for me in terms of ratcheting up the emotional tension between the OTP right off the bat in believable and meaningful ways, so already I’m madly waiting for them to either make out or have a down-and-out punches flying fight. Either way, Hang Ah and Jae Ha are hot as fire together, and I can’t wait to get burned.
Episode 2 recap:
After Hang Ah scares the living bejesus out of Jae Ha by telling him about her special ops background that involved being trained to kill the South Korean prince, she gets up and dusts herself off while amending that statement by saying that was all in the past and she’s here just to train for the WOC. She offers a hand to help Jae Ha up, and when he hesitates, she pulls him up by his jacket. She tells him not to worry, all that assassination stuff is in the past and now it’s all reunification and peace.
Frankfurt, Germany. An old man is being examined by doctors while a younger man is tearfully cutting his toe nails. After the doctors walk away, the younger man goes to clutch the older man’s hand. The older man apologizes to his son John for not doing enough for him. The son John tells his father that he gave him enough. He gave him a pen from the United States, and that pen made him the envy of his classmates. Wow, what a mighty pen. We see John is the grown up kid from the school who stabbed Jae Ha with the pen and wrote “I am KING”.
Daddy asks for music and John (Korean name Kim Bong Goo) opens a stereo and out pops the Star Wars theme. Nice. Daddy hands his son the papers which have transferred title of Club M to Bong Goo, who tearfully cries at accepting such a largesse at the expense of his father’s life. When daddy asks for water, Bong Goo walks off to fetch water via an ominous sounding telephone call.
King Jae Kang is getting briefed by Secretary Eun, who says that both the US and China are taking a wait and see attitude while the WOC committee considers the application of the joint Korean team. Jae Kang sighs and Secretary Eun asks if he’s worried about Club M? Jae Kang says Club M has been too quiet lately. He’s told the chairman is very ill so the club is likely handling internal affairs. Jae Kang says the WOC will be detrimental to Club M, which derives most of its income from international arms trafficking, i.e. they need countries to be at war rather than at peace.
A woman eats a piece of chocolate as she rides an elevator with her two lackeys. Classical music plays and this woman wheels items into the room and passes right by Bong Goo who sits there in a daze just clicking his pen repeatedly. The woman pops another chocolate and prepares her syringe of poison. Bong Goo clicks and clicks his pen as his father is being murdered right behind him. He flashes back to scenes from his past and well as what seems to be from the future, including Jae Kang, Jae Ha, and even the North Korean soldiers. The chairman dies and finally Bong Goo’s pen stops clicking. Creeeeepy.
Bong Goo gets up and leaves, but instead of just walking down an incline he slides down as if he were a happy kid. As he walks out to the lobby, he suddenly stops and looks at the club ownership papers in his hands. He smiles and hugs it to his chest, falling on the ground in giddiness and exultation. Apparently patricide makes this man overjoyed. This villain scares me, because he’s batshit insane and quite intelligent.
Jae Ha teleconferences Jae Kang to whine about two horrible things that happened to him: the North Korean team leader kicked his ass in the restroom and threatened his life, and his fellow South Korean team member Eun Shi Kyung, the son of Secretary Eun, pointed a gun at Jae Ha. Jae Kang just hangs up on Jae Ha, refusing to entertain his nonsense. Jae Kang tells Secretary Eun not to worry, Jae Ha was clearly making shit up.
Jae Ha walks to his dorm room and sighs when he sees that he’s now rooming not with ninja assassin Kang Seok but with his new nemesis Kim Hang Ah. Jae Ha walks in just as Hang Ah is putting all her underwear in a special bag which she locks. He tells her not to worry, he’s not interested, but she retorts that she heard South Korea has lots of perverts. Jae Ha unpacks his stuff by taking out his table full of skin care products.
Hang Ah sees it and her girly side emerges, walking over all eager to see what he’s using. Jae Ha acts all solicitous and offers to let her try some. She adorably sticks her hand out and he squirts some in her hand, while she shyly says he doesn’t need to give her so much. He tells her that using more is better. Hang Ah happily rubs it on her cheeks only to stop a few moments later because it feels weird. Jae Ha then reveals that he punked her by giving her shaving cream. She glares at him.
At the first day of training, the team sits and goes through the history of the WOC and finds out this year the theme is called “Fellowship.” Hang Ah turns and asks Jae Ha if he knows who won the first WOC? Jae Ha glibly replies The Team From Space. Everyone rolls their eyes at him. Hang Ah reveals that the US won the first WOC and since then the Western nations have dominated. The two Koreas have never even participated since they have never cooperated before. The instructor confirms that they need to take this seriously because it is such an unprecedented event.
Suddenly the lights get shot out and then a sniper comes in from the window and proceeds to riddle the room with bullets. Everyone has crawled under a table while the sniper orders everyone to not move. Suddenly two more snipers come in through the windows, all wielding automatic weapons. When their instructor tries to get help, he’s shot and goes down with blood splatter everywhere.
Hang Ah, Kang Seok, and Shi Kyung all make eye contact and the WOC team (minus Jae Ha) fight back. Jae Ha tries to crawl out the door but the body of the dead instructor blocks his exit. After the WOC team successfully subdues the snipers, they realize that the guns they have wrangled are all firing blanks. That is when the not-so-dead instructor gets back up, scaring Jae Ha, and tells the team that they have just encountered their first assignment. They must now recreate the sequence of events of what just happened. Jae Ha is still on the ground and the instructor tells the princeling to come along and participate.
The team is given toy models to help them recreate the sequence of events. Everyone participates and Hang Ah especially does a good job of remembering the details. Suddenly Jae Ha announces in a very serious voice that they are forgetting the most important thing. He goes to a white board and draws two circles, one is the enemy and the other is Team WOC. He draws a line between the two circles and says their job is to keep the enemy out, aside from him. Everyone gapes at Jae Ha, who breezes out of that room.
Hang Ah asks Shi Kyung what he’s going to do about Jae Ha, who doesn’t want to and doesn’t have the physical stamina to train with them. Jae Ha can’t even run one lap! Shi Kyung says he’ll take care of it, which involves him running extra laps while dressed in full gear and carrying a giant backpack. Hang Ah and Kang Seok watch Shi Kyung running and discuss how he’s picking up the slack for a fallen comrade. Jae Ha arrives, and when asked how he feels to see a comrade picking up his slack, Jae Ha says he feels something. He now feels that Shi Kyung is crazy. When Kang Seok complains about how he’s going to put up with Jae Ha, Hang Ah reminds him that in one week they’ll be back in their territory.
The bus carrying Team WOC passes through the DMZ as it heads for North Korea. Team WOC will train one week in the South and one week in the North. The Northerners are happy to be back home, breathing their familiar air. Kang Seok hands Jae Ha a phone for him to use when he’s in the North. Jae Ha isn’t impressed since it’s just on loan anyways. When Jae Ha looks out and sees some of the billboards which extol communism and working hard to achieve goals, including one which uses a dog as a metaphor, Jae Ha’s foot-in-mouth syndrome hits and he asks if the North Korean leader is a dog? Kang Seok is PISSED while Shi Kyung stands up in case he needs to break up some ass kicking. Hang Ah just calmly tells Kang Seok to get back to his seat.
Team WOC arrives in their North Korean dorms and Jae Ha goes to check out his room, which is decked out in all red with tons of communist propaganda plastered everywhere. When Jae Ha looks out his window, he sees the rest of Team WOC gathered around a campfire. Hang Ah is currently singing a North Korean work song about how she’s happiest when she’s working. LOL. When she sings, she makes these hand gestures and facial expressions that indicate how earnest she is.
When the South team members are asked to sing, Shi Kyung starts to play the guitar and he and the other member croon this lovely and simple song. Eventually Shi Kyung gets really into it and he’s so much better that the other member stops singing and everyone just basks in Shi Kyung’s singing. Especially Hang Ah, who sits there and fairly glows as she watches Shi Kyung. Suddenly the mood is ruined when Jae Ha calls Shi Kyung’s cell phone.
Jae Ha complains about not getting fed, and refuses to join them since he’s not a primate and can’t possibly eat outside. He asks about his doughnuts which were airlifted here, and is told that it’s been handed over to mess hall. Jae Ha leaves his dorm room to head to the mess hall to find his doughnuts. Along the way he stops to pick up half-dressed pictures of girls randomly left on the ground. Suddenly he hears talking from the room, and its the North Koreans putting on a eavesdropping show for Jae Ha. Kang Seok rages that he needs to take that useless Prince out, but he gets too excited and Hang Ah has to remind him to stay on the script. It’s hilarious! They talk about assassinating with deadly poisonous needles that will immediately stop the heart. Hang Ah tells them not to be rash, no matter how much they hate Jae Ha, they can’t just off the Prince of South Korea……..
Hang Ah walks out and sees Jae Ha right there, asking how much he’s overheard. She tells him that it was just them joking around. Jae Ha tells her to calm Kang Seok down. Hang Ah says she will, but then she flashes a box containing some needles at Jae Ha, gesturing oh so casually that a stab will “pop” kill a person right then and there. Jae Ha swallows as Hang Ah casually walks away.
Shi Kyung, who is jogging in full battle gear once again, is informed by Jae Ha that he will participate in special training. Shi Kyung is so touched that he grabs Jae Ha’s hand and looks all verklempt at this sudden change of heart. When Jae Ha says he will train with Hang Ah, Shi Kyung is about to suggest otherwise when Jae Ha pulls him in and tries to indicate that he is being threatened with Nuclear Poisoned Needles! Hang Ah walks over and asks what they are talking about? With a smirk. Heh.
Shi Kyung goes to encourage Jae Ha, who is running on a treadmill in full battle gear. Adorable Shi Kyung tells the Prince “fighting” before leaving. Jae Ha complains about Shi Kyung being so decent and sincere, but Hang Ah says a man like that is rare even in North Korea.
Queen Mother has read a story about the royal family intending for Prince Jae Ha to marry a North Korean and thereby reunite the two countries. King Jae Kang says the report is false. But later Jae Kang talks with Hang Ah’s father and reveals that this plan is indeed real, They discuss the candidates from North Korea, and Jae Kang asks about Hang Ah. Her dad downplays her, saying she’s too old what with being thirty, and she’s not interested in dating despite all these men wanting to date her. Jae Kang assures Hang Ah’s dad that he’ll remove her name from the list then.
Team WOC is training in the weight room. Hang Ah gets a call from her old friend Ki Woon. Immediately Hang Ah is all aegyo and excited, which makes Jae Ha curious. Later Hang Ah puts on make up while Jae Ha sits on the bed and watches her. When he asks if she’s going to see a lover, she says that it’s an old friend. She warns him to keep training despite her being out tonight, she has spies watching for her.
Hang Ah walks through the subway station and bumps into someone, dropping her compact. It leads right into a flashback of when her friend Ki Woon gave her that very compact. Back then Hang Ah laughs at him, asking if he’s just been dumped hence he’s giving her a present intended for another woman. They discuss how neither has anyone. and Ki Woon suggests they make a marriage pact if one day they are both still single. Back then Hang Ah teases that she’s got lots of men waiting to date her. Cue present day Hang Ah smiling at this memory, and she happily goes to meet with Ki Woon.
When Hang Ah walks into the place they are supposed to meet, it’s dark inside and then suddenly the lights all turn on. A group of friends are singing and Ki Woon has a flower bouquet behind his back as he nervously smiles. Ki Woon offers the flowers to Hang An and then gets on his knees, asking if she will be with him. Hang Ah smiles, but before she can take the bouquet, Ki Woon stands up and asks the friends if he did well? Everyone says he did, since it made Hang Ah blush, so the girl it was really intended for will surely love this gesture.
Poor Hang Ah is ready to cry when she’s handed a party noise maker to pop when the actual event happens. Ki Woon then practices the flower gesture on Hang Ah a few more times. Thank goodness he notices that Hang Ah is red-rimmed and asks what’s wrong? Hang Ah says nothing and leaves. Poor girl.
Jae Ha has gotten one of his prized doughnuts and is eating it in the work out room. Hang Ah arrives and he worriedly asks why she’s back so early? He takes a bite and then joins her on the treadmill. He asks if something is wrong, which is when Hang Ah takes two steps and then tumbles off the treadmill. Jae Ha checks on her ankles, which is when Hang Ah crosses her limit and burst into tears. Jae Ha asks who has been mean to their team leader?
Hang Ah tells Jae Ha the entire story, and he’s angry on her behalf that she’s been used like that. Jae Ha says that men from the North and South are all alike. Hang Ah needs to forget this guy, a better one will come along. She’s thirty and that’s just the beginning. Hang Ah says that’s just in the South, here in the North she’s considered on the shelf. Plus she’s a soldier. She’s never been in love before, all she wants is a decent looking man who wants her. That can’t be that hard, right? Though he does need to be taller then her at least. And can’t be so ugly people will talk about him.
Hang An then proceeds to tell Jae Ha all the things she’s looking for in her dream guy. He has to be dependable like her father, schooling just a little bit better than her, and can tell jokes. He has to understand her so they have something to talk about. But he can’t cheat on her, that would be a dealbreaker. When Jae Ha asks why she joined the WOC, Hang Ah reveals that the communist party has agreed to help her marriage prospects. Jae Ha is intrigued and asks what exactly will they “help” on? Hang Ah shyly says they will help her find the right guy.
Hang Ah asks why men are like that? She may be a soldier, but she has her attractive qualities. Yet when men see her, they just think she’s dependable and strong. They want her to be their younger brother or their son. Is something wrong with her? Jae Ha sits down next to Hang Ah and turns on his manly charm. He indicates for Hang Ah to sit down next to him first. After she does, he tells her that those men need to get their eyes checked. Kim Hang Ah is a very attractive woman, cute and sexy. He reaches down and lightly grazes her hand before tightly grabbing it.
Hang An quickly gets up and thanks him for helping her get her confidence back. She’s so nervous she suggests they wash up so they can sleep together….. Ahahaha. Jae Ha goes to wash, but pausing to stare at Hang Ah before walking into the bathroom, which makes her even more nervous.
A party is taking place to introduce John Mayer, the second president of the M Society. Bong Goo is introduced but he’s not wearing any pants. He proceeds to conjure up a pair of pants, to the applause and cheers of the guests. He announces that THEY are the real leaders o this world. With their 136 enterprises worldwide, those countries pretending to want world peace will need to listen to them.
Bong Goo does a few magic tricks, like conjuring up a dove from inside a book. The real magic trick is one involving a levitating coffin. He places one guest inside, and the the coffin lid filled with knives is closed over the coffin. One little kid spoke out loud about the secret to one of Bong Goo’s trick, so Bong Goo suggests that kid’s dad be the audience participant. The trick goes well and the man is not stabbed to death. Instead he’s been whisked away, and proceeded to be tortured by Bong Goo’s lady assassin who killed his father.
Hang Ah is hiding in bed trying not to peek at Jae Ha, who walks out of the bathroom. She sees his feet and wonders if he’s undressing, but turns out he was just drying his feet. She nervously lays back down in bed. Jae Ha sits down on her bed and tells her not to worry, it’s not like he could possibly take advantage of her. He pats her shoulder and tells her to go to sleep.
When she turns around, he grabs her wrist firmly. Jae Ha tells Hang Ah the reason she doesn’t have a boyfriend is because she’s too strong. Sometimes she needs to just accept and receive.
Jae Ha pats Hang Ah to help her go to sleep. Slowly his hands move over to her ears as he touches her hair. Jae Ha leans down and kisses Hang An on the neck. Hang Ah gets up yelling that this is too much……only to discover that it’s morning time already.
Jae Ha walks in munching a doughnut. Hang Ah tentatively asks if anything happened yesterday? Jae Ha asks what could have happened, she just went to sleep. Hang Ah asks again if that was what happened? Jae Ha says yes, then asks if she’s hoping something else happened. Hang Ah runs to the bathroom while Jae Ha has a devilish glint in his eye that clearly indicates there is more than what he told her.
When other team members see Hang Ah, they tease her for being so pretty today, and to cheer up. Everyone then offers to set her up on dates or asks her what kind of guy she likes. Hang Ah finally realizes what happened and goes to confront Jae Ha, asking if he spread the rumors? Jae Ha smiles like a boy scout, confirming he did. Since she wants to get married so bad, he did her a favor and now everyone can help her find a man. Jae Ha mocks Hang Ah, asking if she told her commander that she was desperate for a man and wanted to join the WOC to get one. Oh Jae Ha, you are such an ASS.
Jae Ha threatens to tell everyone this unless Hang Ah does what he asks. When Hang Ah goes to look for her needle box, Jae Ha shows her that he’s now got the box, which he found last night after Hang Ah went to bed. Jae Ha, you are not just an ass now, you’re a devious sneaky ass. Hang Ah rails at Jae He for being a bastard. Jae Ha asks why she was sticking her tongue out this morning, did she dream that he kissed her? Hang Ah doesn’t say anything which Jae Ha takes as confirmation of such a dream. He mocks her even more, asking what kind of kiss it was. Was there tongue?
Too bad he doesn’t have any reaction to her. If Hang Ah wore a skirt and stood in front of him acting all sexy, he still wouldn’t be affected by her. Hang Ah is barely containing her tears, but Jae Ha continues. He grabs her hand, saying that it is good for driving tanks and shooting. But not when it comes to marriage because she….is not a woman. Hang Ah finally cries, her tears coming down.
Thoughts of Mine:
People, we got some serious Jae Ha ass kicking to do! I can’t believe he said all of that to Hang Ah! What a bastard through and through, especially when she opened herself up to him and shared her secrets and vulnerabilities. And he took all of that and used it hurt her. This boy has got some serious groveling to do, but I’m ready to accept that when it comes. I see Hang Ah as not just very strong physically, but emotionally as well. She’s still got feelings, but she’s not going to crumble because some pathetically whiny and devious little princeling from the South picked at a few of her emotional scabs and jabbed at some of her insecurities. I would love to see her prove Jae Ha all wrong when an awesome guy falls for her (I nominate Shi Kyung), and then have Jae Ha make himself worthy of her.
A great romantic coupling has to have actors who spark onscreen and their characters have to believably demonstrate that they can and will fall in love. So far Ha Ji Won and Lee Seung Gi have shown all signs of doing both, and TH2K is already crackling with the best kind of energy. I also really love all the interactions between the Team WOC members. Shi Kyung earnestness, Kang Seok’s rigid short temper, Hang Ah’s perceptive and calculating ways, all are just begging for this team to gell into some sort of kick ass unit. I don’t know if Team WOC is just a red herring to get Jae Ha and Hang An to meet and interact, and later on in the drama it won’t happen. Already we see that the North and South are negotiating behind the scenes for a marriage alliance between Jae Ha and a North Korean woman. Of course if that happens, we know it’ll be Hang Ah. I can already see so many potential plot points set up, and despite it being obvious, I’m looking forward to how the writer chooses to develop it.
I don’t know how the writer managed to created a large scale cast and still make me interested or care about almost all the important characters. Episode 2 introduced us to John Mayer aka Bong Goo, who was the clearly crazy pen-stabbity kid from year ago. His brand of insanity is the sociopathic kind, and paired with his intelligence and vast resources, makes him a formidable foe. I wonder why he wrote “I am KING”? Is he perhaps an illegitimate Lee offspring, or more like he wants to one day become the real “king” behind the scenes of international politics and powers. If it was the latter, I’m weirded out by his fixation with the South Korean monarchy, but I’ll be patient and see where this all goes. Even if this drama also goes to crazytown in the second half, thus far I’m beyond entertained and am thankful for something different and well-made to liven up my drama portfolio.