Before I go on, let me elaborate more on the subject.  Secret to Greatness was first published on July of 2010 as a webtoon in Daum. The author of the webtoon is known as Hun. The webtoon was well received by readers that the webtoon was given an average rating of 9.7 out of 10 by users. The series continued on until halfway of 2011 with 66 chapters and was published into a book mid of 2011. It may not be like one of those popular long running webtoon series in the web but it definitely is one of the best.

When I read the news of Kim Soo Hyun doing the project Secret to Greatness, it got me curious as to what kind of webtoon would actually turn into a movie. I mean is it really that good that it had to be made into a movie?! So I searched for the webtoon in the internet and landed in Daum webtoons. I was skeptic at first since my Korean still isn’t that good yet to actually read a webtoon. But after a few weeks of reading the webtoon and after so much North Korean dialect and vocabulary with naver dictionary as my best friend I was able to finish reading all of it. Imagine how North Korean would dialect would sound like! Most probably the same as the one in Spy Myung Wol or in The King 2 Hearts, that is how it is written in the webtoon.  Although it was quite different from the norm I still enjoyed reading the parts when they would have conversations with their own dialect apart from the difficult words of course.

Now lets get a run down on things shall we? First off let me introduce to you the main character of the whole series, Won Ryu Han or also known as Bang Dong Goo as his alias. He is a spy from the North dispatched to the South and he is  to stay undercover while blending in the crowd undetected until he receives orders from the north.

Kim Soo Hyun as Won Ryu Han


Won Ryu Han/ Dong Goo, is 24 years old and wandered into town with no memories of his past, taken in by an old woman and works in the old woman’s store doing deliveries, cleaning and such. He is also well known in town as the village idiot. Although he may have this facade to the people in the town, in reality he is a spy that knows 5 languages and is trained to be cold a blooded killing machine since he was a child.

Now all for the sake of his cover he receives insults and provocations like it’s nothing and just laughs it off like an idiot that he is supposed to be. But during all those years he has stayed in the town he didn’t just idle away and did nothing, he has collected data on each person in the town which would be used for future plans for the North. Useless as it may sound but he has memorized every detail and the very habit of the people around him.

I can actually picture Kim Soo Hyun actually playing this role as he did an almost a similar image from Dream High 1 as the unpolished country boy to his most recent movie, Thieves.


Jo Jung Seok as Lee Hae Rang


Next up we have a newcomer in town and he is named Kim Min Soo, an idol wannabe guitarist that keeps failing his auditions. But that’s also his front because in reality he’s known as Lee Hae Rang, the same as Won Ryu Han, a spy from the North. Lee Hae Rang’s back story is a little different from Won Ryu Han as his character is more carefree and straightforward than Ryu Han. Although they came from the same program of training kids to be killing-machine spies, Ryu Han is considered to be a genius and went up in ranks faster than any other recruit in the a program, even though Lee Hae Rang was recruited first before him. Lee Hae Rang always considered Won Ryu Han as his rival as he was always the second best compared to Ryu Han.

Lee Hae Rang/Kim Min Soo will be played by Musical Actor Jo Jung Seok. I have seen him in What’s Up and he can really deliver his role well. Especially when he sang in What’s Up, it’s truly breathtaking.  I haven’t seen any Korean musicals but judging from his resume he has done quite a lot of musicals. He has even gained a title of the Musical Idol. This really gets me even more curious as how he is going to act out this character.

UPDATE: Lee Hae Rang would be now played by Park Ki Woong(Bridal Mask). I’m sure the visuals he is projecting is definitely much better for the character of Hae Rang and with his acting skills he’s definitely gonna bring this character right up a notch. And it really suits his character with this role because of the free spirit attitude that Lee Hae Rang portrays in the webtoon.


Lee Hyun Woo as Lee Hae Jin


And the last member of our Flower boy spy trio is Lee Hae Jin, the pure boy spy. He first came out in the webtoon as a dark shadow lurking around the town from following Won Ryu Han to as far as pointing a gun at him in the dark. But  Ryu Han still caught onto him and remembered him from the same program in the North as one of the youngest recruits. Hearing that Ryu Han remembered him made him happy because he has always admired and idolized Ryu Han. After he as been found out he then slipped into society with a cover of a High School student and works part time at a gas station at night. He not only idolized Ryu Han but he wants to be always with him and is even willing to give his life for him because of what Ryu Han has done for him in the past. A flower boy story wouldn’t be complete without some Bromance now would it? But that’s how the trend usually is.

The actor playing Lee Hae Jin would be Lee Hyun Woo and I think he really fits the part. This is probably a different role from his previous works, since there would be more angst that the usual comedy for the role. But after watching him in Equator Man I believe that he can definitely pull it off.

These three have achieved the rank of captain with Lee Hae Jin being the youngest. All trained to be like monsters that can kill anyone without any hesitation and THIS is what they do on a daily basis..


We are then taken to a scene from the North where leaders are discussing the diplomatic relation problems they are facing with the South and it would only worsen if the spies they have dispatched are found. So they have decided to terminate those agents.

They have released an order to selected spies to kill the nearest comrade in their town and then afterwards perform suicide. Some agents abide by these orders and actually follow them, but these three believe that the North didn’t just abandon them for nothing. So they decided that they need to talk to a superior before they take any harsh actions. But to their surprise, their superior didn’t come all the way from the North just to have a heart-to-heart talk.

Although I may have already said too much about the webtoon, I wouldn’t be telling you what would happen next and I didn’t go into too much detail with the whole story. However let me tell you that this webtoon is a very well made and I think it would become a great movie! There is enough humor, action and drama in the webtoon that really kept the readers to finish until the very end. I must say I was in awe of the ending but I wont be discussing it as it would ruin most of the movie for some people when it comes out.


Image sources: dreamstar, covertness, keyeast

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  1. Do you mind if I post this on Kim Soo hyun’s soompi thread?
    I’ve been looking at the comics since it was released that they are going to make it to a movie with KSH as the main lead although I can’t undertand what they are saying the comic photos says it all and I love that drama and the action and the comedic side of the webtoon and I’d be very happy if you would share more spoilers on the webtoon you watched

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