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Spygirl (2004)
"Geunyeoreul moreumyeon gancheob" (original title)

6.1
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Ratings: 6.1/10 from 437 users  
Reviews: 8 user | 9 critic

Go-Bong has a huge crush on Gye-Soon who works at a fast food restaurant without knowing that the girl he love is a spy from North Korea.

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Cast

Credited cast:
Jeong-hwa Kim ...
Park Hyo-jin
...
Choi Ko-bong
...
Nam Jin-a
Jadu ...
Park Hyo-jin II
Il-seob Baek ...
Park Mu-sun
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Seung-hee Baek
Kwang-gi Lee
Seung-yeong Lee
In-yeong Yu
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Storyline

Go-Bong has a huge crush on Gye-Soon who works at a fast food restaurant without knowing that the girl he love is a spy from North Korea.

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Action | Comedy | Romance

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30 January 2004 (South Korea)  »

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Spygirl  »

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User Reviews

 
Charming yet flawed romantic comedy
31 May 2013 | by (London, UK) – See all my reviews

Given its proximity to one of the world's most secretive states, it's perhaps no surprise that the South Korean box office is dominated by films about spies – whatever the genre. In that vein, this perfectly serviceable (if unoriginal) rom-com sees a hapless young dropout fall for a beautiful North Korean spy, who is working undercover at a Seoul 'Burger King' while hunting down a defector on the run from Pyongyang. Although the concept would later be redone – and far better – in 2007's My Girlfriend Is An Agent, those looking for a charming and inoffensive romp could do a lot worse than this…

Spy Girl begins from the perspective of Ko-bong, a perpetual loser whose bachelor status is a constant source of ridicule. Hoping to inspire the lovelorn chap, Ko-bong's friends direct him to a website they've set up that allows young men from across Seoul to share pictures of attractive girls working in local fast food restaurants. Ko-bong – along with half the population of Seoul, it seems – soon falls head over heels for newcomer Hyo-jin, who is described on the site as being "so beautiful, anyone who doesn't know her is a North Korean spy".

You can probably guess where this is going.

After switching to Hyo-jin's perspective, we learn that she actually is a spy for the North and is in Seoul to track down a defector wanted for embezzlement. The fast food job is a useful cover for this, but when Hyo-jin stumbles across the 'hotties' website – and misinterprets the "North Korean spy" reference as blowing her cover – she quickly tracks down the owners of the site to demand they delete her photos. They agree, but on one condition: Hyo-jin has to go on a 'blind' date with their friend, Ko-bang. And so it begins.

In one sense, it is difficult to criticise Spy Girl because it delivers much of what it promises at the outset: some proper laughs, a sprinkle of genuine charm and lots of screen time for the strikingly attractive Kim Jung-hwa. But even judged by this lower standard, it isn't a perfect film by any means. I think what ultimately lets it down is its lack of clear focus and direction. Perhaps due to the dual-perspective opening, the whole film feels like it's just setting the scene for something bigger; it never really gets out of that 'first act' mentality into something approaching a conventional narrative.

By the time we approach the final act, then, we're still not really sure if the two protagonists are even in a relationship, let alone if it's a strong one. This obviously makes it difficult to empathise with the characters when they face inevitable tough decisions towards the end. So although there's plenty of genuine laughs and some very funny scenes along the way, the overall structure for those scenes seems sadly lacking.

But perhaps I'm being too harsh. This isn't meant to be taken seriously: it's a fun, leave-your-brain-at-the-door romantic comedy that hopes to raise a smile or two en route to a warm and fuzzy ending. Judged by that standard, Spy Girl succeeds - although if you haven't yet seen the similarly themed (and quite brilliant) My Girlfriend Is An Agent, you might want to check that out first.

6/10 - more than watchable.


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