Inspired by the true story of former South Korean spy Park Chae-seo, The Spy Gone North revolves around Park Suk-young (Hwang Jung-min) an army major who poses as a businessman to infiltrate a North Korean nuclear facility in the early 90s.
Given the code name “Black Venus,” Park must gain the trust of a group of North Korean officials to get valuable information on the North’s nuclear programme. After getting close to power broker Ri Myong-un (Lee Sung-min), Black Venus succeeds in earning the trust of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il (Gi Ju-bong). However, political schemes on both sides of the border threaten to obstruct his carefully planned operation.
Unlike most action-packed spy films, this thriller is filled with tense conversations between Park and North Korea’s high officials, showing off Hwang’s beautifully subtle acting skills.
The emotional highlight of the movie stems from the brotherhood established between supposed enemies Park and Ri. Divided by their patriotism at first, the two soon bond over their shared goals.
There are, however, some logical flaws in the plot. While Park is a highly skilled double agent, there are a few traps in the movie that even he shouldn’t have been able to avoid. And the ending, while touching, is somewhat cliché.
Nevertheless, The Spy Gone North is a thoughtful, suspenseful political drama that is worth seeing.