“Royal Secret Agent” is a historical fiction Korean drama series, set against the backdrop of the Joseon Dynasty. It was released in 2020-2021, has 16 episodes, and is categorized as a Historical Detective TV show, Crime, Mystery, Romance, and Comedy.
♦ A Royal Secret Agent is Just Like James Bond
A “Royal Secret Agent” is not a job title that requires decoding. It is what it is. The modern-day secret agent 007, James Bond, was sent on an assignment for Her Majesty’s Secret Service. A royal secret agent was also sent on a mission by royal command. He (or she) can investigate and make arrests with the king’s authority.
It was a temporary position and the agent worked undercover for and reported directly to the king. Proof of the king’s royal command is a “mapae” (“horse requisition tablet”) which the secret inspector or secret agent presented to the people when declaring his authority and making arrests.
Set during the reign of King Yeongjo, Royal Secret Agent Sung Yi-gyeom, is ordered by the king to work secretly and uncover corruption and injustice within the kingdom. Why send a secret agent? Because the king’s public officials can’t be trusted to tell him the truth.
The public officials commit acts of corruption and then intercept reports intended for the king to make him aware of what’s going on. If it is deemed necessary they will order the murder of those who stand in their way. They might even plot to murder the king.
- Chun Sam is a slave but he assists the royal secret agent. Sung Yi-gyeom does not consider his class or status, and treats him with equality, as an able assistant, as well as a loyal friend.
- Hong Da-in is a resourceful female inspector sent to accompany the royal secret agent on his mission. To easily navigate in a male-dominated world, she sometimes dresses as a man and sometimes as a beautiful courtesan.
In addition, Hong Da-in has a secret identity and a secret reason for going on the mission. She seeks to uncover the truth about the death of a royal family member who was falsely accused of being a traitor.
The work is personal for Hong Da-in. By helping Sung Yi-gyeom with his work, she hopes to accomplish the professional mission for the king and her personal goal of having the royal family member’s good name reinstated.
Right from the start, the Royal Secret Agent and his team have difficult work to do. They must solve murders, expose corruption, defend the innocent … the typical secret agent stuff. The corrupt public officials certainly did not want the king to know about their illegal gold-mining operation.
Another royal secret agent had been sent on this mission but he disappeared. Sung Yi-gyeom learned that the agent had uncovered lots of illegal activities and was killed for his efforts. In performing their duties, Sung Yi-gyeom, along with Hong Da-in and Chun Sam, solve mystery after mystery, bring criminals to justice, and narrowly escape being framed for the crimes they were trying to expose.
- Sung Yi-Gyeom (played by Kim Myung-Soo, “Numbers”, “My Lovely Girl”)
- Park Chun-Sam (played by Lee Yi-Kyung, “Marry My Husband”)
- Hong Da-In (played by Kwon Na-Ra)
Viewership and Rating:
- IMDb: 7.3 out of 10 stars
- My Drama List: 8.1 out of 10 stars
- iQIYI: 9.3 out of 10 stars
- Public reviews shared via Google: 4.8 out of 5 stars
My personal rating is aligned with iQIYI. One might think the rating is so high because “Royal Secret Agent” is an iQIYI Original K-drama series. But not so. It was 16 episodes and each episode drew me in and kept me hooked until the very end.
Not only was solving the mysteries engaging, but the character development of Sung Yi-gyeom and Hong Da-In and their romance made them both very likable. Chun Sam was also very likable. He is humble, strong, brave, and funny! The trio worked well together and had great onscreen chemistry. If you are a fan of historical Korean dramas, this series is a must-watch.
- NOTE: This series should not be confused with “Secret Royal Inspector & Joy” which was also released in 2021.
LINKS OF INTEREST:
- Royal Secret Agent review: An emotional ending to light-hearted series | YAHOO!Life
- K-Drama Review: “Royal Secret Agent” Raves A Heroic Story With Engaging Comedy & Mystery | kdramadiary
- “Royal Secret Agent” Ends On A High Note With New Personal Best In Ratings | Soompi
the, Get. “Official Trailer: Royal Secret Agent | 暗行御史：朝鲜秘密搜查团 | IQIYI.” YouTube Video. YouTube, December 12, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtg7-Dtlen8.