Soap Report: “City Hunter”

Let’s talk City Hunter! For some reason, I watched this show, loved it to death, started this post and then never finished it for 6 months. I got distracted? I don’t know, you guys. No one pays me for this stuff.

City-Hunter logo

Anyway, City Hunter is a 20 episode 2011 Korean drama, currently available on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon… basically everywhere. You have no excuse. Just watch it.

What’s it about? After the Rangoon bombing in 1983, a secret cabal of South Korean officials sends a special unit across the border to wreak some havoc, but they’re forced to disavow the mission and order all the men killed. The only survivor is Jin-pyo, whose dying BFF makes him promise to look after his wife and infant son.

Naturally, Jin-pyo interprets this request to mean: “please kidnap my baby from his mother, leaving her a shitty note to move on with her life. Then take the kid into the Golden Triangle and spend the next 20+ years becoming a drug lord and teaching him the ways of REVENGE.” As you do.


Do NOT hire this guy to babysit.

(If that sounds spoilery, please note that all of this occurs within the first 20 minutes of the first episode. It’s kind of amazing.)

He sounds terrible. Does someone shoot him in the face? Listen, I spent 20 episodes waiting for Mom to shoot that bag of dicks on the face. Spoiler alert: it never happens, and it’s so disappointing, and I’m telling you now so you don’t get your hopes up: no one shoots Jin-pyo in the face. No one kicks him in the balls. No one sets his head on fire. It’s the worst.

Then what are the other 19 episodes about? Long story short: the baby grows up to be Lee Min Ho. Which… good for him, you know?

City Hunter - Lee Min Ho


His name is Lee Yoon-sung, and once his training is finally complete, his “dad” sends him undercover into the government to enact their Byzantine revenge scheme against the secret cabal. There’s just one caveat: he’s not allowed to fall in love.

I assume he immediately falls in love. Obviously. He ends up undercover with a spunky secret service agent named Kim Na-na. Who also kind of becomes his indentured personal assistant for debt related reasons of Rom-com contrivance that I won’t get into. GO WITH IT.

Yoon-sung has some jerk moments, but he’s a basically likeable hero who is struggling to do the right thing and be his own man under the shadow of his psycho daddy issues. Na-na is independent, strong-willed and also physically capable of holding her own, which is a nice change of pace.

Kim Na Na

City hunter kiss

They are sparkly and adorable together and you will want them to bone so hard, but this is a KDrama and all you can hope for is some chaste kisses. Sorry.

Anything else? Yoon-sung basically Batmans around Seoul, fighting crime and corruption and also taking down the secret cabal one by one while hiding his secret identity from Na-na. But she is not an idiot, so things eventually come to a head.

The show is 100% amazeballs great when they’re working together as partners. The one time they really let Na-na be a bad ass and actually rescue Yoon-sung was so good for me, I can’t even.

City hunter looming

City hunter hug

Why would you break up this cuteness? WHY?

It fell apart for me a bit when the focus shifted to the Shakespearean daddy drama in the last act — not because I don’t love a good paternity reveal as much as the next girl, but the sudden separation angst with Na-na felt contrived.

Also, the show spent a lot of time on Yoon-sung’s relationship with certain spoilery parties, but somehow still managed to never quite deliver on the emotional aspects of an 11th hour reveal in a totally satisfying way. (There is almost secret incest and they barely even deal with it afterward! Come on!)

Special shout outs to: Poor Kim Young-joo, the good guy prosecutor who spends most of the show trying to catch our vigilante hero. His quest is supposed to be determined and righteous, but just starts coming across as really homoerotic by the end.

Kim young-joo

Even that dumb mask can’t dim his hotness.

So dreamy. So doomed to failure. I salute you, Kim Young-joo.

So should I watch this or what? Do you enjoy Revenge but wish it involved more crime-fighting? Have you always wondered what Batman would be like if Alfred was a crazy drug lord? Do you think Lee Min Ho is unbearably pretty? Watch this shit. Watch it now.


8 thoughts on “Soap Report: “City Hunter”

  1. City Hunter–one of the all-time best K-dramas! Loved it! Faith (The Great Doctor) is my favorite but for all around deliciousness, You Who Came From The Stars has everything.

    • Nothing has been able to top Faith yet for me either, but City Hunter came pretty close. You Who Came From The Stars is on my list as well. THE LIST IS GETTING SO LONG. SEND HELP.

  2. If you are a fan of Lee Min Ho, you have just got to give ‘The Heirs’ a look. Totally worth it.
    PS. I love your blog. This is the first time I’m commenting on it. You even have me watching K-dramas.

    • Yes! That is on my list. Also, I’ve been told to check out Healer. So many dramas, so little time.

      p.s. Aw, thanks. It makes my heart grow three sizes every time someone tells me I’ve incepted them into watching something terrible that I love.

      • You also got me started on Korean dramas. I’d thank you, but I fear the amount of time I spend thinking about/watching these dramas is kinda unhealthy. In basically 2 and 1/2 weeks, I’ve already watched Fated to Love You, Master’s Sun, You Who Came From the Stars, and Faith. I’m finishing up City Hunter and Pinocchio right now.

        I recommend trying Pinocchio; it’s sooo good. And it’s a nice break from the leads always being the rich snob/poor girl. They’re on equal footing – plus the girl hiccups whenever she tells a lie (and her dream is to be a reporter). It’s AMAZEBALLS. Lee Jong-Suk plays the lead so well as this quirky genius who’s reeling from the injustice and devastation that reporters/the media put on his family when he was young. So, so good. Highly recommend. :)

        • Holy crap! I don’t know whether to be impressed or terrified. When do you have time to sleep?

          Thanks for the rec — I’ll add it to my list. Finishing up Queen In-Hyun’s man now, so I’ll probably have a post up about that soon, as it is DELIGHTFUL.

  3. They recently added three excellent Korean dramas to Netflix, Coffee Prince, Shut Up and Let’s Go and, best of all, It’s Okay, That’s Love. You may even find some rivals to Lee Min Ho.

    • Thanks! Coffee Prince has been on my list for a while, so I will definitely be getting to that one at some point…

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