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[K-Drama Review] MBC’s Savior ‘The Veil’ Sees a Half Success

Edited by Hong Hyun Jung
Translated by Kim Hoyeun

The Veil Namgoong Min
Credit: MBC

The Veil, which has successfully secured a fixed audience, is a drama that MBC has unveiled with firm determination. The combination of Namgoong Min, a never-failing actor, and an action genre revolving around an intelligence agency that’s rarely seen on the small screen garnered great interest even before the premiere. The big question was will this drama become a reliever for MBC, which continues to be in crisis. Of course, Namgoong Min’s intense bulk up and the budget of 15 billion KRW (about $12.7 million) became a hot topic as well. And on September 17th, the day when new dramas poured out, The Veil also took off its veil. Soon, the drama quickly emerged as the “savior” for MBC, which was struggling with poor ratings.

The Veil begins as the top NIS (National Intelligence Service) agent, who vanished a year ago during his secret op in China, returns home after losing his memory. The series follows as he tries to undercover the traitor within the organization. In order for a story with a distinct color of an action genre to captivate viewers, diverse attractive features are a must. From the start, the show showcases unrelenting action scenes and breathtaking chasing scenes, highlighting the genre-specific genre. From Namgoong Min’s beast-like barehanded action on a smuggling ship that overwhelms the screen and speedy car chasing scene with a drug lord to bloody brawl in a penthouse. All these action scenes satisfy viewers who were expecting a “weighty” genre. In particular, although it’s a drama airing on a terrestrial network, The Veil employs an R-rated strategy and surprises everyone with intensely violent scenes. 

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The story is probably as important as “what is seen on the screen.” And The Veil passes this category with flying colors. The “mystery” behind the incident that put Han Ji Hyuk to hell a year ago is a theme that flows throughout the series. At the same time, the drama builds a structure in which Han, who has returned to the organization, gradually approaches the truth as he encounters a series of incidents that leads him to the “inside traitor.” Since Han, who had lost all the memories related to the incident, is the protagonist, the process of answering questions unfolds rather slowly, and the confusion is doubled. However, the series does not lose its focus with unexpected twists. For example, at the end of episode 1, it was revealed that Han himself deleted the memories to find an inside traitor. As such, a situation that could reverse the flow is showcased at the end of every episode, triggering curiosity about what’s to come.

The Veil Namgoong Min
Credit: MBC

On the other hand, this may also be why The Veil has failed to attract new viewers. Although building up new clues and questions every episode increases the immersion level, it repeatedly clenches onto each event without unraveling it straightforwardly and only reveals it at a decisive moment. Moreover, the surrounding situation is never explained sufficiently, leading to fatigue for the viewers. For those who are accustomed to shows with an easy and simple plot, The Veil is an attractive yet unfriendly work. 

Episodes 9 and 10 are good examples of such disappointments. Finally, the truth of what was called ‘Bloody Friday’ a year ago poured out, but the question of whether it was necessary to keep it so hidden comes before the pleasure of solving the mystery. Due to the nature of the organization, it is not needed for higher rankings like Lee In Hwan and Do Jin Sook to kindly inform their subordinate Han Ji Hyuk of the situation at the time, but I seriously question whether it was that big of a mystery for Han to erase his own memories. On top of that, the production crew’s explanation regarding the character Seo Soo Yeon, who died midway into the story, seems like an excuse. In the end, as the story progresses, the series gives a strong impression that the mystery connected with the various controversies about the NIS, which made headlines a few years back, got wrapped up grandly with a bow on top. Yes, it’s certainly interesting to see how the show deals with content that could demean NIS with the support of NIS. However, because of the development preoccupied with showing twists, realistic materials are used only functionally. It would have been nice if they had been less obsessed with twists and proceeded with the flow that’s a bit more “dry.”

Nevertheless, Namgoong Min, who has totally committed himself to the series, and the other actors who showcased the characters’ charisma or double-mindedness are commendable. Jang Young Nam as Do Jin Sook, who is in the power game with Lee In Hwan within the NIS, Jung Moon Sung as Jang Chun Woo, who makes us wonder about his story despite the small role, and Kim Do Hyun as Ha Dong Kyun, who turned out to be Han’s helper, are good examples. Among them all, the presence of Kim Ji Eun, who plays Yoo Jae Yi, Han Ji Hyuk’s partner, stands out. Breaking away from the stereotypical female agent character, she humanly portrays a character with a dark secret, enlivening the overall dark play.

Now, there are only two episodes left till The Veil closes its curtain. How will the story of the two masterminds – Sangmuhoe that took control of the NIS, and Baek Mo Sa, who is determined to have his revenge against NIS – that dumped Han JI Hyuk and his team members into the abyss end? Will Han Ji Hyuk be able to escape the pain in the end? I sincerely hope that the drama will have its last hurrah.

 

Verdict: It’s interesting, but the overly twisted story is disappointing (6/10)

Edited Hong Hyun Jung: I am a K-content guide who publishes various articles for people to enjoy Korean movies and dramas deeper and richer. I’ll introduce you to the works that you can laugh, cry and sympathize with.

Translator Kim Hoyeun: If you are a fan of K-drama, K-movie, and K-pop, I am your guy. I will continue to provide you with up-to-date K-entertainment news.

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