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5 Reasons to Watch Kim Soo-hyun's Secretly, Greatly (Movie 2013)

Updated on May 29, 2018

Secretly, Greatly is an action-comedy film about three young North Korean undercover spies Lieutenant Won Ryu-hwan / Bang Dong-gu (Kim Soo-hyun), Rhee Hae-rang / Kim Min-su (Park Ki-woong) and Rhee Hae-jin (Lee Hyun-woo) who infiltrated a small village in South Korea with the main mission of having a unified country.

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Secretly, Greatly got my attention when I stumbled upon an article about it bagging several box-office records on its release including highest single day opening of all time, highest-grossing webtoon-based film, fastest movie to reach the million of audience number mark and several other records, by a domestic film in South Korea. It sounded like a great film so I decided to watch and I absolutely enjoyed it. Here are five reasons why Secretly, Greatly should be included in your “must watch list” Korean movie.

Secretly, Greatly Movie Trailer

Lieutenant Won Ryu Hwan
Lieutenant Won Ryu Hwan

Great story with balanced elements

Secretly, Greatly’s story can be briefly summarized as a group of North Korean spies infiltrating a small South Korean village with the ambitious goal of unifying a one Korea. With this rationale, you can expect action-filled scenes with guns and martial arts. It is also typical for a spy or soldier movie to revolve around the subjects of patriotism, friendship and betrayal. This spy film would make you question the extent and boundaries of patriotism when measured up against love and loyalty towards your own family or people you consider as such.

The plot thickens and became more interesting when the main characters had to become a member of the community and live amongst the people they would possibly need to destroy to carry out their mission. For two hours, expect to laugh, cry, be touched and be entertained by the amazing elements of Secretly, Greatly.

Kim Min Su, Bang Dong Gu & Rhee Hae Jin
Kim Min Su, Bang Dong Gu & Rhee Hae Jin

Random Facts about Secretly, Greatly

Secretly, Greatly holds the box office records by a domestic film of being the fastest movie to reach the million of audience number mark, largest admissions total in a single day and several records on being the fastest film to hit 2, 3, 4 and 5 million audience mark. It is also the highest-grossing webtoon-based film and after 19 days since release, it officially became the fourth highest-grossing film of 2013. (Wikipedia)

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Bang Dong Gu
Bang Dong Gu

Interesting and complex characters

The main protagonist is Lieutenant Won Ryu Hwan. He was the first undercover spy sent to the small village and a member of a group trained by the Elite Special Forces since childhood. He was a member of the 5446 Corps, whose ambitious goal is to unify Korea or die as legends, serving the Republic.

While waiting for his main mission, he was tasked to guise himself as a village idiot known as Bang Dong Gu. He lived and worked for an old woman and his only son. Though extremely loyal to his country and focused on his mission, he slowly grew fond of the old woman and his son who treated him like a family. He was also a loving son who longed to see his mother again, safe and sound, after completing his mission.

Kim Min Su
Kim Min Su

He was followed by Rhee Hae Rang, a son of a high-ranking North Korean officer who also had to deal with his own issues while trying to complete his mission. While awaiting orders, he guised himself as Min Su, a musician-wanna be who needed to pass an audition.

Rhee Hae Jin
Rhee Hae Jin

They were followed by Rhee Hae Jin, the youngest North Korean spy in history. Though considered as the youngest spy, Hae Jin is one of the more ruthless and focused. While awaiting orders, he became a seemingly innocent high school student who resided in the village with his two seniors.

They are the three complex characters you will get to know in the movie. Three different characters with diverse personalities connected by their mission and later on bonded by friendship and a community that welcomed them with open arms not knowing the disaster headed their way.

The South Korean villagers...
The South Korean villagers...
Lunch gathering with the villagers...
Lunch gathering with the villagers...

Random Facts about Secretly, Greatly

It took 5 months to complete the whole movie, from October 7, 2012 and ended March 8, 2013.

Kim Soo Hyun as Lieutenant Won Ryu Hwan, a North Korean Spy
Kim Soo Hyun as Lieutenant Won Ryu Hwan, a North Korean Spy

Great casting especially for the main characters

The complex and interesting characters will be lifeless if unsuitable actors were casted for the roles. This definitely didn’t happen in Secretly, Greatly. Let’s get to know the actors that portrayed the main characters:

Lieutenant Won Ryu Hwan was portrayed by Kim Soo Hyun, currently known as one of the hottest and highest-paid South Korean actors. His good looks and noteworthy performances made him popular on dramas and movie Dream High, Moon Embracing the Sun and The Thieves respectively. His performance on Secretly, Greatly earned him the Best New Actor Awards in the 50th Grand Bell Awards and the 50th Baeksang Arts Awards. He is currently considered as one with most number of product endorsements in South Korea and also starred in the fantasy-romance series My Love from the Star, a drama with one of the highest viewership ratings in his country and internationally.

Read More: My Love from the Star: 5 Reasons to Watch this Outstanding Korean

My Love from the Star: The Alien, the Actress and an Award-Winning Korean Drama

Rhee Hae Rang was played by Park Ki Woong, a South Korean actor who became popular after appearing in a phone commercial. He made his entertainment debut in 2004 and started acting in 2005. In 2008, he became the honorary ambassador of his hometown Andong. He is known for his roles on the television series The Slingshot and Bridal Masks and the films War of the Arrows and My Tutor Friend 2.

Lee Hyun Woo was casted for the role of Rhee Hae Jin. He is a South Korean actor and singer who started as a child actor for the popular television series The Return of Iljimae and Queen Seondeok. In 2011, he began hosting Music on Top and in the recent years, acted in the series Master of Study, Man from the Equator and To the Beautiful You. He also received several nominations as Best New Actor and Best Young Actor for his role in this film.

Please refer to Wikipedia/(Actor's Name) and Wikipedia/Secretly,Greatly for more information on the main actors and the rest of the Secretly, Greatly casts.

The cinematography and fight scenes did not disappoint

The fight scenes and combat exhibitions of this movie were very well performed. The scenes, effectively strewn all throughout the movie, have successfully shown the toughness but at the same time established the depth and humanity of the characters.

The three main actors Kim Soo Hyun, Park Ki Woong and Lee Hyun Woo were amazing with their characters’ fight scenes and stunts. I am wondering though if they did all the stunts themselves or if they needed doubles to do the more complex ones. How much training did they went through to perfect the execution of the stunts? And the technology used? I still haven’t seen an article on this topic – and I’ll update this once I’ve seen one - but one thing is for sure; the stunts and fight scenes of Secretly Greatly did not disappoint.

After a long fight with some North Korean private armies...
After a long fight with some North Korean private armies...

Random Facts about Secretly, Greatly

Kim Soo Hyun won some awards for his work in Secretly, Greatly from several award-giving bodies namely Men’s Fantasia Award in 17th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival, Best New Actor in 50th Grand Bell Awards, Dream Icon in Cosmo Beauty Awards (China), Best New Actor (Film) and Most Popular Actor (Film) in the 50th Baeksang Arts Awards.

Lieutenant Won Ryu Hwan/ Bang Dong Gu looking at his savings, anticipating he'll be rich when he goes home to North Korea.
Lieutenant Won Ryu Hwan/ Bang Dong Gu looking at his savings, anticipating he'll be rich when he goes home to North Korea.

Honest and meaningful humor.

True to its comedy-action genre, this movie will make you chuckle, giggle and laugh out loud. From the crazy humor brought about by the character of the village idiot and his freaky spy friends to the meaningful laughs mostly embedded on the differences of the lifestyle and way of living of the citizens from the North versus the people from the South. It was honest and meaningful. You will be amazed how a film can entertain and make you laugh but at the same time, show intensity and raise awareness of reality.

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© 2014 Sheila Pornan

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