An Almanac For The 21st Century

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City Hunter

City Hunter

It's no secret that I love Korean Dramas. I don't just like them. I love them. I'VE GOTTA HAVE THEM. (Thanks to Coldstone Creamery, I now know how to appropriately convey the enormity of my obsessions.) I'm relatively new to the KDrama scene, but I'm quickly making my way through one drama after another. I could talk about dramas all day. From the wrist-grabs to the piggy back rides - I love it all. If I could, I'd buy a baggie of KDrama, crush it up, and snort it through a $100 bill off a mirror table. You may not be too interested in the wonderful world of KDramas, but I must insist that you put any prejudices aside and watch City Hunter. You will not regret it. In fact, you will thank me for bringing such awesomeness into your life. In advance: You're welcome.

How would I describe City Hunter in two words? Korean Batman.

In more than two words? Why, I thought you'd never ask! I'll tell you all about it, but first, let me say that I'm going to be intentionally vague at times, because the plot twists and "holy shit!" moments are what makes this show so great.

At its core, City Hunter is a revenge thriller. Every story line branches out from the "you killed my father, prepare to die" premise. Even the swoonworthy romance is messily intertwined with the revenge plot. This focus on the central storyline grounds the show, and keeps the story tight and always moving forward. This is a HUGE plus. How many shows have you gotten invested in that had great storylines, but got off track and took you to a weird place? (Alias, Lost, and Battlestar Gallactica come to mind immediately.)

The show starts in 1983, where we meet two special agents, Jin-Pyo and Mu-Yeol, who are best friends. And Mu-Yeol's wife just had a baby boy! Congrats! The two agents are assigned a secret mission to assassinate top ranking North Korean officials as revenge for an attack on South Korean officials.This mission is so top secret that only five South Korean government types know about it, plus the two agents that are assigned the mission. Jin-Pyo and Mu-Yeol round up a team and head off to Pyongyang to do some killin'. But! Back home in S. Korea the government bigwigs that assigned the mission hear that the president is 86ing any retaliation against N. Korea. Rats! They have to stop their assassination mission, but more importantly, they have to erase any evidence that they, as government officials, were planning an attack at all. How do they do this? They kill all the men on the top secret mission. Bummer jones.

So now the men on the mission are in the water on their way to Pyongyang, when a submarine from their own country shows up, out pop some snipers, and they start shooting every man in the water. Jin-Pyo and Mu-Yeol are in the midst of the attack, and the new dad ends up taking a bullet for his friend, and dying in the process. Some stuff happens that's not important to this already long synopsis, and in the end the one survivor of the attack, Jin-Pyo, steals his best friend's infant baby and runs off to the Golden Triangle.

Years later, we find that Jin-Pyo is a badass druglord, and he's raising the stolen baby, Yoon-Sung as his son. Jin-Pyo ruthlessly trains Yoon-Sung to be an expert fighter, shooter, and all around killer. Yoon-Sung doesn't know it at the time, but this is all part of Jin-Pyo's plan for revenge on the five men that killed their own countrymen all those years ago in Pyongyang. Yoon-Sung grows up to be a super-fighter, and he eventually learns of his father's plans for revenge. He's sent off to school at MIT and then returns to Korea to work in IT for the president's office. With access to the government files and such, Yoon-Sung will be able to find the five men responsible for his bio-dad's death and kill them one by one. Before Yoon-Sung starts his mission, his father tells him that he needs to be heartless, and that he can't fall in love. So, naturally, falling in love is like the second thing Yoon-Sung does once he's in Korea.

The revenge and fighting are totally engrossing, but the love story is just as fantastic. Yoon-Sung and Nana are one of my favorite TV couples of all time. Plus, they're dating in real life (Ohmygod it's so adorable I can't stand it). Yoon-Sung adopts the identity of City Hunter as he vigilantes all over Seoul. Nana knows City Hunter, and she knows Yoon-Sung, but will she discover they're one in the same? How does she tie into the revenge plot? WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?!?! You'll have to watch to find out.

I hope that got you interested enough to check City Hunter out, because I'm not telling you any more (but I will add that when they say, "City Hunter" it sounds like "Shitty Hunter"). It's just going to get too spoilery, and as much as I love spoilers (really, I look up how movies end before I watch them), this show should NOT be spoiled. Every episode ends with a cliffhanger that makes you desperate to see what happens next. I watched the show after it had already aired, so I could watch like, five episodes in a row. I can't imagine how people could stand waiting from week to week to find out what happened next. It would be torture.

Another thing City Hunter has going for it is that it stars Lee Min-Ho, AKA everyone's KDrama boyfriend. I dare you to not fall in love with him. YOU CAN'T. IT'S IMPOSSIBLE. On a semi-related note, Lee Min-Ho stars in this Toyota commercial where he plays a guy who wakes up from a coma to find that his evil twin has stolen his life (or something like that) and at one point he yells, "The Camry will prove it all!" and it cracks my shit up every time.

I suggest you take a long weekend, get all cozy, and have a City Hunter marathon. You can try to just watch one episode at a time, on your lunch break or whatever, but you'll just end up jonesing for more. One warning: If you've never watched KDramas before, this one will spoil you. It's just that perfect. In fact, I'd argue that City Hunter is one of the best TV shows to air in any country, ever. Yeah. I said it.

City Hunter available for streaming on Hulu or Drama Fever

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