MIFF 2018: The Spy Gone North (2018)

Director: Jong-bin Yoon

Starring: Jung-min Hwang, Sung-min Lee, Jin-Woong Cho, Ji-Hoon Ju

Based on the real case of the Black Venus spy from the 1990s we follow said spy as he infiltrates the North Korean inner circle in search of information about the North’s nuclear weapons program.

After a somewhat confusing opening of a North Korean spy being arrested we see the spy telling of how he covered his identity after leaving the army by drinking and gambling and ruining his credit rating. His new identity is as a businessman working in Beijing looking for North Korean products to sell. He is warned by his superior that if he is captured or exposed that the government will deny all knowledge.

Due to it being based on real life and less James Bond style theatrics there is a lot of dialog and meetings in this movie. There are the classic spy movie tropes of bugs and tails but the main character knows enough to act accordingly when he goes to North Korea and ends up drugged and interrogated when they take a blood sample.

Great performances all round including from the actor playing Kim Jong Il. His little dog got a lot of laughs from the audience for some reason.

The scenery for North Korea was good but the movie was shot in Taiwan for obvious reasons.

There are political machinations involved when the secret service agency tries to change the election outcome by asking for the North’s help, something which the spy does not agree to and decides to act on his own initiative to change things.

If you like more thoughtful spy dramas and less action then I would recommend this movie.

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