The K2 is a 16-episode K-drama series about an ex-Korean Special Forces, ex-private military mercenary (Ji Chang-wook) who becomes an internationally wanted fugitive after being framed for a crime he didn’t commit while stationed in Iraq. Returning to South Korea, he attempts to live a lie-low, incognito life, but circumstance leads him to clash with a ruthless, scheming chaebol madam named Choi Yoo-jin (Sang Yoon-ah), after she deems him a threat to her plot of winning the presidency for her husband Jang Se-joon (Jo Sung-ha), a corrupt, womanizing but charismatic assemblyman. But, in a twist of fate, he surprisingly gains the favor and admiration of Madam Choi, and he reluctantly allies himself with her since it puts him in the position of taking revenge against the man who wronged him, which happens to be one of Madam Choi’s enemies and her husband’s biggest rival for the presidency. He begins to work as a bodyguard for Madam Choi’s security firm and is given the alias “Kim Je-ha”, codenamed “K2.”
While waiting for the chance to strike against his enemy, K2 is given the assignment to look after Go An-na (Im Yoon-ah), assemblyman Jang’s illegitimate daughter, who Madam Choi uses as leverage to control him. After being kept in confinement for most of her life as well as experiencing a childhood trauma involving the death of her mother, An-na is left psychologically and socially unbalanced while harboring her hatred for Madam Choi. Likely due to finding affinity with each other as damaged souls, K2 and An-na gradually fall in love with each other.
This puts K2 in a complicatedly knotty situation as he juggles between working with Madam Choi and protecting An-na at all costs, since Madam Choi is quite ready to kill her without any second thought or remorse if she thinks An-na will put her ambitions in peril.
I first got intrigued of The K2 because I kind of liked Healer (which lead actor Ji Chang-wook previously starred on). I was expecting that The K2 will have the same “cloak-and-dagger” vibe and solidly choreographed fight scenes as Healer. And it does have those. It even has a droplet of science fiction in it, too, for good measure. Moreover, the plot also reminds me of Yong-pal and even Games of Thrones as it has aspects of political power plays; fragile, intricate alliances; and ambiguous moralities.
So The K2 has everything needed to make a genuinely thrilling watch. And yet, the stretches of boredom and annoyance I had while watching it is as many – or even more – than the stretches I was absorbed.
The story simply gets bogged down by extensive talking scenes (though, I admit, there may be an argument to be made that they’re necessary), nonsensical plot points that snapped me out of my suspension of disbelief, uneven transition of tones, some messy action scenes (ugh, shaky cams), and melodramatic clichés. The character developments didn’t satisfy me enough, as I was expecting at least one well-executed redemption arc. Most notably, every time the narrative manages to have a successful dramatic build-up, it constantly fails to deliver a worthwhile payoff for it
The plot might had gotten too intricate for its own good, and the writing was at a loss on how to smoothly navigate through it.
The K2 could – should – definitely have been something more. At first, I really thought it was going to be this outstanding, thrilling, unconventional Koreanovela. There are definitely glimpses of this in the finished product. But that’s all there are: glimpses. In the end, The K2 is simply too problematic and unrewarding.