City Hunter (TV series)

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City Hunter
Promotional poster
Based onCity Hunter
by Tsukasa Hojo
Written byHwang Eun-kyung
Choi Soo-jin
Directed byJin Hyuk
StarringLee Min-ho
Park Min-young
Lee Joon-hyuk
Kim Sang-joong
Hwang Sun-hee
Goo Ha-ra
Chun Ho-jin
Opening theme"It's Alright" by Yang Hwa-jin
Ending theme"Suddenly" by Kim bo-kyung
Country of originSouth Korea
Original languageKorean
No. of episodes20
Executive producerKim Eui-joon
ProducersKim Young-sup
Sebastian Dong-hun Lee
Production locationsKorea, Thailand
Running time70 minutes
Production companySSD
Original networkSeoul Broadcasting System
Original release25 May (2011-05-25) –
28 July 2011 (2011-07-28)
Preceded by49 Days
Followed byProtect the Boss
External links
Korean name
Revised RomanizationSiti Heonteo
McCune–ReischauerSit'i Hŏnt'ŏ

City Hunter (Korean시티헌터) is a 2011 South Korean television drama based on the Japanese manga series of the same name written and illustrated by Tsukasa Hojo,[1] starring Lee Min-ho, Park Min-young, Lee Joon-hyuk, Kim Sang-joong, Kim Sang-ho, Hwang Sun-hee, Goo Ha-ra, Chun Ho-jin and Lee Kwang-soo. It premiered on May 25, 2011 on SBS and finished broadcasting on July 28, 2011. This show was successful in Europe and paved way for Lee Min-ho's popularity in Europe.[2]


In 1983, the South Korean president and his delegates are visiting Burma when a bomb planted by North Korean agents explodes, killing some high-ranking officials. This historical event is called the Rangoon bombing (also known as the Rangoon incident). To strike back, five South Korean officials plan a covert operation, codenamed "Operation Cleansweep", to enter North Korea and kill several top members of the North's high command. Lee Jin-Pyo (Kim Sang-joong) and Park Moo-yeol (Park Sang-min), two Presidential Security Service bodyguards and best friends who were present at the bombing, organize a 21-man team for the mission. However, as the team wreaks havoc in Pyongyang, the five officials, by a majority decision of 4 to 1, abort the plan to avoid an international crisis if the mission is discovered. Their major concern is that the United States will withdraw its nuclear protection if the mission is made public. In light of Seoul's official declaration, it will not retaliate.

The operation is successful, but as the troops swim out from Nampo to an ROK Navy submarine assigned for their extraction, snipers aboard the submarine open fire on them. An already injured Park sacrifices his life to save Lee. Lee swims back to shore and returns to South Korea, where he finds out that the assault team's service and personal records have been erased.

Promising to avenge his fallen comrades, Jin-Pyo kidnaps Mu-yeol's infant son and names him Lee Yoon-sung (Lee Min-ho). He flees to the Golden Triangle to raise the child as his own and trains the boy intensively in combat. Following an attack on a village they live in, Jin-Pyo confesses his long-term plan for revenge on a teenaged Yoon-sung.

Seven years later, after successfully finishing his education and attaining a doctorate in the United States at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yoon-sung returns to South Korea to fulfil his adoptive father's plan for revenge. He enters the Blue House as an IT expert under the National Communication Network Team. Jin-Pyo warns him not to trust anyone and never fall in love, as doing so will put the people around him in danger.

While working at the Blue House, Lee meets bodyguard Kim Na-na (Park Min-young). Eventually, Na-na participates in his revenge plan, as they discover that they have the same goal in mind. Problems occur as Jin-Pyo's revenge plot unfolds, especially when Lee defies his surrogate father on several occasions as they try to identify and kill the officials, known as the "Council of Five".

Each member of the Council has achieved significant wealth and political influence since 1983 and is engaged in various corruption levels. Jin-Pyo and Yoon-sung's conflict stems primarily from Jin-Pyo's wish to murder each official and Yoon-sung's wish to teach them a lesson and expose their corruption without killing them. As Yoon-sung exposes the officials' corruption, the citizens of Korea sense an unseen force of justice that they dub "City Hunter".


Main characters[edit]

Codenamed "City Hunter", Yoon-sung's ultimate goal is to avenge his father's killers. Using the identity of a Korean-American teenager named John Lee, who is later revealed to have died several years before, he assumes a double life by graduating from MIT with a doctorate degree and lands a job at South Korea's presidential palace. It led him to cross paths with presidential bodyguard Kim Na-na, with whom he falls in love. Unlike Jin-pyo, Yoon-sung does not desire taking lives and only hopes to bring the five murderers to justice by exposing their crimes and sending them to prison, which often made him go into conflicts with Jin-pyo, who wanted to kill the five men.
Forced to take care of herself at an early age after her mother was killed in a drunk driving accident and her father became comatose (Na-na's father never regained consciousness and he eventually passed away in the end of the series), she is independent and strong-willed. Her exceptional skills in martial arts eventually earns her an assignment with the Presidential Security Service. During her time as a bodyguard, she falls in love with Lee Yoon-sung and eventually discovers his real identity.
An intelligent prosecutor, Kim Young-joo possesses a strong sense of justice, even against the corrupt politicians of South Korea. He is the son of one of the members of the "Council of Five", and was ashamed of his father for his corruption and cover-up of the accident that killed Na-na's parents. Out of guilt, he helped Na-na to complete her education and ensure her stable employment as a bodyguard. He is a constant rival of City Hunter, working towards the same goals under legal cover, while trying to figure out his identity at the same time. He was later ruthlessly killed by Jae-man and his henchmen before he could arrest him, and before he died, he pleaded with Yoon-sung to forgive his father for his crime.
Operation Clean Sweep's sole survivor, Lee spends the mediate years in the Golden Triangle as a drug lord. Full of anger, he wants to kill all of the people who ordered his team dead. Under the alias Steve Lee, Jin-pyo pretends to be a Korean-American investor and uses Lee Yoon-sung as his agent of vengeance. Originally a good-natured person, he was gradually depicted as a murderous and merciless man who would do anything to achieve his goals of vengeance and had even targetted innocent people who got into his way. His notable victims include two of the "Council of Five" members: Lee Kyung-wan and Chun Jae-man.
A problem gambler but a very good cook whom Lee Yoon-sung saves from thugs in Thailand and later becomes his close friend. Over the course of the series, Bae and Lee become partners under Lee Jin-pyo's scheme – and also racks up huge debts buying stuff from the home-shopping network. However, it is revealed that Bae witnessed the accident that resulted in Kim Na-na's woes and was hiding in Thailand by the start of the series after being paid off by the culprit – Kim Jong-shik, a member of the Council of Five – to change his story. He regretted the cover-up despite having done it, and had wanted to make amends with Na-na, which he eventually did and Na-na also eventually forgave him.
A veterinarian by trade, Sae-hee is Young-joo's ex-wife and a good friend to the other characters. She is the first of Lee Yoon-sung's accomplices to learn of his secret identity as the City Hunter.
One of President Choi's two children, Da-hye is smitten with Lee Yoon-sung early in the series and requests him to be her tutor. Her status of being the president's daughter does not win her any friends at school and even creates a public scandal when she attacks a group of girls who criticizes her father's governance within earshot. She decides not to go to college (because of her poor grades) and is forced to find a job, and later falls in love with Kim Young-joo. It was later revealed that she was Yoon-sung's biological half-sister, with the revelation of Yoon-sung's blood link with Choi.
The incumbent president of South Korea, Choi was one of the five men involved in planning the 1983 operation and promised the unit he will help get them home. He was later out-voted in the decision to abort the operation and forced to live with the guilt for 28 years. He is the only member of the group who knows that Lee Jin-pyo survived the debacle, yet does nothing to stop him despite knowing that the former bodyguard's ultimate goal is to kill him and the other officials. It is later revealed that the president is Lee Yoon-sung's real father, who sired him with Lee Kyung-hee. He is depicted in the series as an idealist who believes the end is worth the means, which results in his impeachment by the National Assembly after he bribed a number of deputies to help pass an important education reform bill.

Supporting characters[edit]

Lee Yoon-sung's father, who dies protecting Jin-pyo in the first episode. It is revealed that he is not Yoon-sung's real father, and was merely protecting Lee Kyung-hee after her affair with Choi Eung-chan ended. Park and Lee Jin-pyo's names are at the top of a memorial slab honoring the Clean Sweep team.
Lee Yoon-sung's mother, who went on to lead a solitary life running a small eatery after Yoon-sung was kidnapped as an infant. She had become pregnant with Choi Eung-chan's child, but when she decided to keep the baby, her life and the baby's was threatened by Chun Jae-man. She contracts leukemia later in the series, but starts to recover after Yoon-sung donates bone marrow to her. Kyung-hee travels to the United States with Shik-joong to start a new life in the final episode. Initially misled by Jin-pyo's lies, Yoon-sung believed that his mother abandoned him, until the truth came out.
The head of the Blue House's National Communications Network team.
Kim Na-na's other female colleague in the PSS, who is assigned to look after Choi Da-hye.
Yoon-sung's colleague in the National Communications Network team who is visibly interested in Eun-ah. The couple are engaged at the end of the series. Ki-joon has a younger brother who served in the military but was crippled due to Seo Yong-hak engaging in corruption by supplying the military with poor quality boots, which caused Ki-joon's brother to suffer from a permanent leg injury.
A former police officer, Kim is tapped by Jin-pyo for the revenge project upon learning that his own brother was part of the 1983 operation. He was sacked from the force for breaking into the National Intelligence Service's files while trying to find out what happened to his brother. Eventually, after seeing Jin-pyo's true self and disagreeing with his extreme methods of revenge, he switched his allegiance to Yoon-sung and secretly helps him in the later part of the series.
A senator, Kyung-wan is the City Hunter's first target among the Council of Five, who also pocketed certain children's welfare funds. He is imprisoned for the crime, but is implied to have died at Jin-pyo's hands in episode 9.
A businessman running a chaebol (a chemical company and hospital is seen in the series as part of it), Jae-man participated in planning the North Korea mission. He is the most corrupt and ruthless member of the Council of Five. He later burns a book containing all covert operations in 1983 that were supposed to be declassified in 2030. It is revealed that the book he burned was just a copy and Jin-pyo acquired the original document, but not before Jae-man does a little historical revisionism by saying that the operation took place because the team tried to defect to the North with some state secrets. His corruption case is also depicted as one that no government prosecutor wants to handle, as those who do take it on are often harassed into quitting. Chun dies at Jin-pyo's hands in the final episode.
Kim Young-joo's father and a former education minister, Jong-shik was one of the officials who plotted the North Korea mission and agreed to the subsequent cover-up. He also killed Kim Na-na's mother and gravely injured her father while drunk-driving, and pays off a witness (Bae Shik-joong) to say that Na-na's parents were at fault for the accident. He showed no remorse of his crime, which made him even in odds with his son. He would become comatose later in the series as the City Hunter tries to take him down in light of an investigation over hiding around two billion won in college subsidies. He regains consciousness in the final episode to learn of his son's death.
  • Choi Sang-hoon as Seo Yong-hak
A former defense minister and a prospective presidential contender, Yong-hak was an army general at the time of the 1983 operation and has often used his influence to have his three sons avoid the military's required three-year conscription. The City Hunter unmasks him for entering into deals to provide substandard combat boots and acquire defective fighters for the Air Force. As the truth behind Clean Sweep unravels, Yong-hak comes forward with what he knows and pins the president as the mastermind.

Special appearances[edit]

  • Min Young-won as Min-hee
  • Yoon Ye-hee as Mrs. Yong (First Lady)
  • Kim Byung-choon as Jang Woo-hyun
  • Shin Young-jin as Kim Mi-ok
  • ไก่ สุปราณี (Kai Supranee) (supporting Thai actress)

Original soundtrack[edit]

City Hunter
Soundtrack album by
Various Artists
Released2011 (2011)
LabelSony Music
Glory MK Entertainment

Part 1[edit]

Released on May 20, 2011 (2011-05-20)
1."Sarang "(사랑)"" (Love)Yim Jae-beom4:34
2."Sarang" (Inst.) 4:34
Total length:8:38

Part 2[edit]

Released on June 3, 2011 (2011-06-03)
1."So Goodbye"Kim Jonghyun4:12
2."It's Alright"Yang Hwa-jin3:47
Total length:7:59

Part 3[edit]

Released on June 10, 2011 (2011-06-10)
1."Cupid"Girl's Day3:38
2."Cupid" ((Acoustic ver.))Girl's Day3:20
3."Cupid" (Inst.) 3:38
Total length:10:56

Part 4[edit]

Released on June 15, 2011 (2011-06-15)
1."Suddenly"Kim Bo-kyung3:42
2."Lonely Day"J Symphony3:40
Total length:7:42

Part 5[edit]

Released on June 23, 2011 (2011-06-23)
1."I Only Look at You"Gyuri4:12
2."I Only Look at You" (Inst.) 4:12
Total length:8:24

Part 6[edit]

Released on July 6, 2011 (2011-07-06)
1."You and I"Rainbow3:35
2."You and I" (Inst.) 3:35
Total length:7:30

Part 7[edit]

Released on July 20, 2011 (2011-07-20)
1."Can't Stop"Son Han-byeol3:32
2."I Love You, I Want You, I Need You"Apple Mango3:23
3."I Love You, I Want You, I Need You (Sweet Acoustic Version)"Hara3:20
4."I Love You, I Want You, I Need You" (Inst.) 4:06
Total length:14:35
Disc 2:
1."A Hot Spade"Oh Joon-sung2:04
2."Aria of the City"Oh Joon-sung2:22
3."Attention"Oh Joon-sung1:47
4."Always Here"Oh Joon-sung1:41
5."Black Warrior"Oh Joon-sung1:52
6."City Hunter"Oh Joon-sung1:41
7."Dead or Live"Oh Joon-sung1:44
8."Deep Inside"Oh Joon-sung1:41
9."Eagle Eye"Oh Joon-sung1:50
10."Endless Cry"Oh Joon-sung2:07
11."Fire Flower"Oh Joon-sung2:08
12."Gun Fighter"Oh Joon-sung1:35
13."Glory of the City"Oh Joon-sung1:57
14."Kwang Hwa Moon"Oh Joon-sung2:46
15."Lair"Oh Joon-sung2:01
16."Mama's Cry"Oh Joon-sung1:29
17."Memories of Love (Acoustic ver.)"Park Joo-won2:22
18."Memories of Love (Guitar ver.)"Park Joon-won3:19
19."Middle point Symphony"Oh Joon-sung1:46
20."Morning Garden"Oh Joon-sung2:05
21."Nice Play"Oh Joon-sung1:44
22."NaNa's Theme"Oh Joon-sung2:21
23."Puchai Love"Oh Joon-sung2:47
24."Puchai Waltz"Oh Joon-sung1:59
25."Red Water"Oh Joon-sung1:43
26."Sad Run"Oh Joon-sung1:40
27."The Fire of Love"Oh Joon-sung1:43
28."Yellow Party"Oh Joon-sung1:55


The series has received positive reviews[3] and was also a commercial success selling out advertising space at a high price of ₩420 million ($420,000) per episode.[4] By the end of its run in July 2011, the series had earned ₩10.45 billion ($10.45 million) from television advertising in South Korea.[5]

Lee's role netted him Best Actor at the 4th Korea Drama Awards, as well as an endorser for the Hyundai Veloster in China.[6] He would later be recognized by the Seoul Prosecutor's Office as an "Honorable Prosecutor" in a ceremony on January 4, 2012.[7]

In between December 2011 and January 2012, the Asian-American Donor Program partnered with the Transplant Informers blog to run a special raffle for a full DVD boxed set of the series, as part of an awareness campaign for bone-marrow transplants. The promotion was held to recognize the show's authentic depiction of a bone-marrow transplant (when Yoon-sung had to donate some for his mother).[8]


In this table, the blue numbers represent the lowest ratings and the red numbers represent the highest ratings.

Ep. Original broadcast date Average audience share
AGB Nielsen[9] TNmS
Nationwide Seoul Nationwide Seoul
1 May 25, 2011 10.5% (6th) 11.0% (7th) 9.5% (9th) 11.8% (6th)
2 May 26, 2011 11.1% (8th) 12.2% (7th) 10.0% (9th) 12.2% (7th)
3 June 1, 2011 12.3% (5th) 13.0% (5th) 11.9% (4th) 13.6% (5th)
4 June 2, 2011 12.8% (5th) 13.3% (5th) 12.6% (5th) 15.0% (4th)
5 June 8, 2011 13.7% (5th) 14.9% (4th) 13.0% (4th) 15.7% (3rd)
6 June 9, 2011 14.2% (4th) 14.8% (4th) 13.2% (4th) 15.4% (2nd)
7 June 15, 2011 13.7% (5th) 14.0% (5th) 13.6% (3rd) 16.7% (2nd)
8 June 16, 2011 13.8% (4th) 13.8% (5th) 12.7% (4th) 14.2% (2nd)
9 June 22, 2011 13.4% (5th) 13.4% (6th) 13.8% (4th) 15.2% (3rd)
10 June 23, 2011 14.6% (4th) 15.4% (5th) 14.4% (4th) 16.4% (3rd)
11 June 29, 2011 18.4% (1st) 19.4% (1st) 17.4% (3rd) 19.5% (1st)
12 June 30, 2011 18.8% (1st) 19.1% (1st) 18.3% (2nd) 20.5% (1st)
13 July 6, 2011 18.7% (1st) 19.8% (2nd) 18.5% (1st) 20.5% (1st)
14 July 7, 2011 19.6% (1st) 19.8% (1st) 18.3% (2nd) 20.6% (1st)
15 July 13, 2011 19.9% (1st) 20.5% (1st) 17.4% (3rd) 19.6% (1st)
16 July 14, 2011 19.2% (1st) 19.8% (1st) 17.5% (3rd) 18.8% (1st)
17 July 20, 2011 18.8% (1st) 19.7% (1st) 17.9% (2nd) 19.6% (1st)
18 July 21, 2011 19.3% (1st) 19.3% (1st) 18.6% (1st) 20.3% (1st)
19 July 27, 2011 18.8% (3rd) 19.0% (3rd) 17.2% (3rd) 18.7% (1st)
20 July 28, 2011 18.0% (1st) 20.0% (1st) 19.1% (3rd) 20.6% (1st)
Average 16.0% 16.6% 15.2% 17.2%

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Recipient Result
2011 4th Korea Drama Awards Best Director Jin Hyuk Nominated
Best Actor Lee Min-ho Won
Best Actress Park Min-young Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Kim Sang-ho Nominated
Hallyu Star Award Lee Min-ho Won
Best New Actress Hwang Sun-hee Nominated
5th Mnet 20's Choice Awards Hot Male Drama Star Lee Min-ho Nominated
SBS Drama Awards Top Excellence Award, Actor in a Drama Special Won
Excellence Award, Actor in a Drama Special Lee Joon-hyuk Nominated
Excellence Award, Actress in a Drama Special Park Min-young Nominated
Special Acting Award, Actor in a Drama Special Kim Sang-joong Nominated
Chun Ho-jin Nominated
New Star Award Goo Ha-ra Won
Top 10 Stars Lee Min-ho Won
Popularity Award Won
Park Min-young Nominated
Best Couple Award Lee Min-ho & Park Min-young Nominated
2012 48th Baeksang Arts Awards Popularity Award, Actor (TV) Lee Min-ho Nominated
Popularity Award, Actress (TV) Park Min-young Nominated
Goo Ha-ra Nominated
7th Seoul International Drama Awards Outstanding Korean Drama City Hunter Nominated
Outstanding Korean Actor Lee Min-ho Nominated
Popularity Award Nominated


  1. ^ "시티헌터 – Daum 영화" (in Korean). Archived from the original on 2014-03-05. Retrieved 2013-09-08.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "YESASIA: City Hunter (2011) (DVD) (7-Disc) (English Subtitled) (End) (SBS TV Drama) (US Version) DVD - Lee Min Ho, Park Min Young, YA Entertainment - Korea TV Series & Dramas - Free Shipping - North America Site".
  4. ^ "Sold out guy Lee Min-ho". HanCinema. 2011-06-14.
  5. ^ 100억의 사나이 이민호. Hankook Ilbo (in Korean). Hankook Ilbo Media Group. 2011-08-01. Retrieved 2013-04-25.
  6. ^ "Lee Min-ho chosen to model for Hyundai 'Veloster' in China @ HanCinema :: The Korean Movie and Drama Database". 2011-09-20. Retrieved 2013-09-08.
  7. ^ 이민호, 대한민국 검찰 울린 '폭풍매너' 화제 : 네이트 뉴스 (in Korean). Retrieved 2013-09-08.
  8. ^ "City Hunter makes bone marrow donation badass: Kdrama Series Sweepstakes #1". TransplantInformers. 2012-01-30. Archived from the original on 2015-01-09. Retrieved 2013-09-08.
  9. ^ "Nielsen Korea". Nielsen Korea (in Korean). Retrieved May 25, 2011.

External links[edit]