[PICK] Only Handsome Actors Play the North Korean Agents in Movies?

Edited by Hwang Hong Sun
Translated by Kim Hoyeun

In a recent interview for the movie Steel Rain 2: Summit, Jung Woo Sung joked that Kwak Do Won became the first actor to break the “handsome North Korean agent formula.” As such, the roles of North Korean men (soldiers, police, special agents) in various works drew attention for the actors’ handsome looks. This is because colorful actions and lonely images combined with the actors’ dazzling visuals leave strong impressions on the audience.


Secretly Greatly – Won Ryu Hwan (Kim Soo Hyun)


Based on a popular webtoon, it revolves around Won Ryu Hwan, North Korea’s elite spy who is dispatched to the South. Kim Soo Hyun played the role of Won Ryu Hwan, who has outstanding fighting skills, but disguises himself as a fool, perfectly portraying a two-faced character with splendid action scenes and unexpected comic acting. Secretly Greatly, in which Kim Soo Hyun played his first leading role in a movie, attracted 6.95 million viewers, proving its popularity.


Ashfall – Ri Joon Pyung (Lee Byung Hun)

Credit: CJ Entertainment

Ashfall, which drew attention for its jaw-dropping scale, tells the story of agents from the two Koreas working together to prevent the Paektu Mountain’s volcanic eruption. Lee Byung Hun played a North Korean agent who holds essential clues to prevent the eruption and fluently spoke various languages such as Russian, Chinese, and Jeolla-do dialect. He also added to the fun od the play with his unsparing action sequences. His tit-for-tat bromance with Ha Jung Woo, who starred as a captain of the South Korean special forces, gave a big laugh.


Confidential Assignment – Im Chul Ryung (Hyun Bin)

Credit: CJ Entertainment

In Confidential Assignment, which depicts the first joint investigation between the two Koreas, Hyun Bin made a deep impression by playing a North Korean detective who came to the South to find the murderer who killed his wife. In order to show perfect actions, he received training for physical strength and martial arts for three months, and threw himself into filming without a stuntman. Recently, Hyun Bin played the role of a North Korean soldier in drama Crash Landing on You, captivating the hearts of female viewers with his delicate and romantic performance.


Secret Reunion – Song Ji Won (Kang Dong Won)


The movie is about a former NIS agent, who already knows about the identity of the spy, and a North Korean spy forming a team. Song Ji Won, played by Kang Dong Won, is one of numerous North Korean undercover spies living in South Korea who was abandoned by his country after being marked as a traitor. Kang Dong Won, expressed his character’s cool-headedness with his unique eyes, while naturally portraying the humane side as he misses his family members who are still in North Korea.


The Suspect – Ji Dong Cheol (Gong Yoo)


The story is about a North Korean agent who came to the South to find the person who killed his family, but ends up being chased as a murder suspect. Gong Yoo played the role of a North Korean agent Ji Dong Cheol, successfully breaking away from his previous soft image and showing a whole new charm. He worked hard on “acting with his body” to convey the emotion of a character who barely speaks, and created “combat-type” muscles while combining extreme diets for three months to express the character’s harsh life.


The Berlin File – Pyo Jong Sung (Ha Jung Woo)

Credit: CJ Entertainment

The Berlin File is a spy action film about a chase between elite agents from the South and the North in Berlin, Germany, and made headlines even before its production with its brilliant lineup of prominent actors, including Ha Jung Woo, Han Suk Kyu, Jeon Ji Hyun, and Ryu Seung Beom. Ha Jung Woo played Pyo Jong Sung, a North Korean agent who is chased by both Koreas due to some kind of incident, and emotionally portrayed loneliness of the character along with high-level action sequences. As he hinted at the sequel, I am looking forward to Ha Jung Woo’s return as Pyo Jong Sung.


Steel Rain – Uhm Chul Woo (Jung Woo Sung)

Credit: NEW

Based on the popular webtoon of the same name, it presents full tension on the Korean Peninsula, which is on the verge of war after a coup in North Korea. Jung Woo Sung played a North Korean agent chased by coup d’etat forces, and showed heavy emotional performances along with jaw-dropping action scenes. While North Korean men who have appeared in several works mostly dealt with their personal problems, Uhm Chul Woo has drawn realistic concerns about inter-Korean issues with lines such as “I am more distressed by those who use division politically.”

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