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(Chilgeup gongmuwon) (Korea)

  Publicity Stills of
(Courtesy of Encore Films)

In Korean with English & Chinese Subtitles
Director: Shin Tae-ra
Cast: Kim Ha-neul, Kang Ji-hwan
RunTime: 1 hr 52 mins
Released By: Encore Films & Cathay-Keris Films
Rating: PG
Official Website:

Opening Day: 5 November 2009



Disguised as a travel agent, AHN Soo-ji is a government spy with six years’ worth of field experience. At work, she’s smart, beautiful and packs a real punch. However at home, she faces mundane problems just like any women her age. Soo-ji is constantly having problems in her relationship with her boyfriend LEE Jae-joon, due to her need to conceal her exotic career choice from him.

Jae-joon on the other hand has become tired of his girlfriend’s constant and suspicious lies. One fine day after she lies yet again, in one final phone call, Jae-joon tells her he’s leaving Korea for good to study in Russia. Jae-joon breaks up with her and leaves without notice, leaving her to struggle alone with her sadness.

Three years later, while on-the-job in disguise as a cleaning lady, she happens to run into Jae-joon in the public bathroom of a hotel. Looking smart and suave, he has since become an international certified accountant and seeing him throws her feelings into doubt. However, this is just a cover for Jae-joon, as he had actually left Korea previously to join the Korean NIS (National Intelligence Service) as an agent in its overseas branch.

Unlike Soo-ji, Jae-joon is a newbie who has gotten a late start. He is highly motivated but he is always trying too hard to impress. Taking off on his first field mission, Jae-joon chases a Russian crime syndicate into a hotel, where he runs into Soo-ji. He is shocked to see her now as a hotel cleaning lady, but his affections for her remain as strong as ever…

Now, unbeknownst to each other, both of them are working for different spy departments within the same intelligence agency. Action-packed hilarity ensues as their paths cross when the Russian organized crime group sets out to steal an advanced chemical weapon from Korea.Lying is part of the job, and secrecy is the name of the game in MY GIRLFRIEND IS AN AGENT!

Movie Review:

My Girlfriend Is An Agent has the winning ingredients of a box office hit; it has two cute actors fronting the movie and a comedy component that promises lots of side-splitting laughter. And this has been proven by its strong box office performance in Korea.

As a comedy of errors, it is a riot! It is splendidly acted, wittily scripted, big on laughs and short on tedium. It is indeed one of the more entertaining mainstream comedies I’ve seen at the cinemas all year.

Many call it Korea’s Mr and Mrs Smith because it has a pair of bickering and deceitful spouses who are really spies. But it doesn’t merit that kind of labelling because it is of a different league, a far better film than that overhyped Hollywood dreck. It has a tighter script and is smart enough to relinquish the thriller aspect in favour of situational comedy, a genre which the Koreans excel in. Although it may not offer much in terms of twists, it makes up for them with the sizzling chemistry between stars Kang Ji-hwan and Kim Na-heul and a ton of hilarious scenes.

Much of the movie’s appeal lies in the likeable and charming Kang and Kim. Although their characters, Jae-joon and Soo-ji, aren’t three-dimensional, they are endearing and compelling enough because they are never larger than life. They are simply ordinary people who could be your next-door neighbours. They just happen to make their living as spies.

The movie milks laughs out of the couple’s second-guessing games, and their painstaking attempts and lame excuses to cover up their true identities. But most of my enjoyment came from watching the (unsuccessful) transition of Jae-joon from bookish and timid accountant to a suave and macho spy. His bumbling countenance and inexperience annoys the hell out of his new regimental superior and those scenes are infectiously funny. The laughter quotient increases when he tries to impress, outsmart and outwork his immediate boss and colleagues.

It can be tricky to have a less-than-macho male lead for a spy movie as it can be an alienating factor for females. This movie takes that leap of faith and pulls it off successfully. The credit goes to up-and-comer Kang, who has only acted in two other feature films thus far. He steps up to the plate of the unconfident and slightly effeminate Jae-joon and manages to come across as goofy and charismatic at the same time. His comic timing is impeccable. Although some of the comic scenes require him to embarrass himself by contorting his face and acting like a sissy and a hen-pecked son, he brings to the role unwavering gusto. On the other hand, Kim plays Soo-ji cool most of the time and she acts like the man in the relationship. Somehow, it’s always funnier to see a guy acting effeminate than a woman acting butch. In this sense, Kang upstages Kim in nearly every scene. After all, his role is also meatier than Kim’s.

Although touted as a spy comedy, the movie doesn’t fare as well in the action department. Action fans will be disappointed. The two major action sequences which bookend the movie are run-of-the-mill. The chases are standard fare and the villains are one-dimensional and unthreatening. You’ve probably seen them somewhere before, most likely, in Hong Kong’s screwball action comedies.  
Judging by the movie’s hot reception in Korea, Kang will likely be propelled to leading man status. This movie seals his leading man status and should win him more big roles.

On a side note, why do such movies always feature Russian villains? Are they are an economical way to keep the already gargantuan budgets in check?

Movie Rating:

(My Girlfriend Is An Agent fires blanks when it comes to action, but more than redeems with its excellent comic moments)

Review by Adrian Sim


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