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Series / Air City

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Air City is a television drama from South Korea. It ran on MBC on weekends in May and June of 2007.

It deals with the people who work at Incheon International Airport. Han Do-kyung has just come to Incheon to take a job as chief of operations. She is hard-nosed and no-nonsense, and she speaks five languages. On her arrival at Incheon she spots a couple of suspicious characters, and winds up getting arrested and handcuffed with one of the suspicious characters, a man named Kim Ji-sung (Lee Jung-jae). Ji-sung is an agent with the National Intelligence Service, South Korea's spy agency. Since Incheon is the main port of entry and exit for South Korea the NIS has an office there, but NIS is not subordinate to airport administration. The headstrong Ji-sung often clashes with Do-kyung, but naturally romance is in the air.

Also in the cast is Kang Ha-joon, head of airport security, a good-natured fellow who gets along with all the employees at Incheon. He begins to develop feelings for Do-kyung. The fourth main character is Seo Myung-woo, a doctor at the airport clinic...and Ji-sung's ex-girlfriend.


  • The Bet: Staffers at Incheon start taking bets on just who Do-kyung is when she arrives at Incheon and is noticed by security. The top choice is that she's a spy.
  • Counterfeit Cash: A story arc that starts with episode 10 has NIS tracking a Russian bad guy, who is part of a team smuggling counterfeit American dollars through Incheon. Eventually it's revealed that the actual plot is to take the counterfeit $10 million and switch it out with ten million real dollars being sent to the Incheon airport bank for currency conversion.
  • Cuffs Off, Rub Wrists: Both Do-kyung and Ji-sung ostentatiously do this when they're uncuffed from each other in the first episode.
  • Conspicuous Trenchcoat: The guy who comes to the airport in episode 2 to meet the murderer who faked a heart attack (and his nattily dressed handler) wears a very conspicuous trenchcoat, but Ji-sung still fails to spot him.
  • Cowboy Cop: Technically Ji-sung is an intelligence agent and not a cop, but he is basically this trope straight, being an impulsive hothead with a habit of conducting unauthorized investigations. In episode 2, the killer who faked a collapse in episode 1 has been spotted. Ji-sung gives chase, but he gets to a checkpoint that he can't get past because he is not actually part of airport security. So instead of letting airport security handle it, he leaps over the gate and goes chasing after the bad guy, while security chases after him.
    Police commissioner: Are you always reckless, spontaneous, and violent?
    • The Triad drug arc sees Ji-sung suspended from his job after punching a drug officer in a fit of temper. So Ji-sung simply ignores his suspension and flies to Hong Kong to investigate the Triad drug gang anyway.
  • Dead Partner: Ji-sung's partner Young-jae was killed while the two of them were chasing a bad guy through Hong Kong's alleyways. The bad guy got away and Ji-sung desperately wants to catch him.
  • Dies Wide Open: Young-jae in the prologue, after he's thrown off a roof and plummets to his death at Ji-sung's feet.
  • Discreet Drink Disposal: In episode 5, Ye-won has finally badgered Ha-joon into a date. She is drinking heavily while Ha-joon isn't interested in drinking—he's pumping her for information about the mysterious top-secret patient in the airport hospital. So when she insists he take a shot, Ha-joon says "Look over there!", and throws his drink over his shoulder when her back is turned.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: Sun-woo holding Ji-sung hostage at the beginning of episode 14 does this, presumably to be a little scarier.
  • Faux Fluency: In episode 14, Sun-woo briefly switches to English when talking to Ji-sung; he grew up in the USA and says English is more natural. The actor delivers this dialogue in a stilted manner with a heavy accent and it's perfectly clear he's a native Korean speaker.
  • Finger-Twitching Revival: How the suspicious character who collapsed on the plane wakes up in the first episode. Subverted in that he was faking the whole time.
  • Glasses Pull: The mastermind behind the steal-the-money plot does this at the end of episode 12, shooting a Death Glare at the airport security agents behind him, as he realizes the jig is up.
  • Grave-Marking Scene: In episode 2 Ji-sung, deeply troubled about the guy who probably killed his partner getting away, goes to a memorial site for NIS agents killed in action.
  • Hey, You!: Ji-sung gets irritated when the police commissioner speaks informally to him in episode 2, saying "Don't drop the honorifics on me! It's annoying!"
  • High Heel Hurt: Do-kyung is apparently bothered by her high heels as she's going to work, so she takes them off and starts walking across the airport concourse in her stocking feet. Ji-sung catches her, and it's a humanizing moment for the uptight Do-kyung.
  • I Was Never Here: Ji-sung is suspended from the NIS but goes to Hong Kong anyway to catch the bad guy who set up Do-kyung. After the NIS has defeated the bad guys at the end of episode 8, he tells Ha-joon, as he's leaving, "You never saw me in Hong Kong."
  • Karaoke Box: In episode 3, Ha-joon gets senior airport staff to welcome Do-kyung by taking everyone out for a night of drinking. It of course ends with people singing karaoke.
  • Let the Past Burn: In episode 4 Myung-woo meets Ji-sung again, three years after she dumped him. The trauma of this leads him to burn all their past letters and all his photos of her, which he's kept for three years.
  • MacGuffin: The Triads killed a Korean man who knew the secret for "Day Light F707", a night-vision device that could be used for weaponry.
  • Meet Cute: Do-kyung and Ji-sung meet when they both independently investigate a suspicious character on the plane taking them back to Korea, and wind up handcuffed to each other when airport security arrests them.
  • Neck Snap:
    • The bad guy who faked a collapse on the plane in the first episode, eventually gets up from his hospital bed and starts dressing. When a nurse notices and hurries over, he snaps her neck.
    • A very silly moment in episode 8 has Ye-won, who looks like she's about 110 lbs. soaking wet, casually snap the neck of a Triad goon during the big shootout.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Ha-joon seems to know all the airport staff personally, chatting up the runway workers (and changing out a couple of runway lights himself when he notices one of the workers has a sprained ankle) and asking a lady who's collecting cardboard for recycling when her son is getting married. This becomes plot relevant in the second episode, when his familiarity with the staff causes him to realize that one of them's an impostor (the bad guy who escaped the hospital in the first episode).
  • No Romantic Resolution: The last episode ends with Ji-sung asking Do-kyung to marry him, and very soon thereafter getting sent on a highly dangerous secret mission to Moscow. The series ends with Do-kyung watching airplanes taking off at Incheon and wondering if she'll ever see him again.
    Do-kyung: Farewells are painful, but discovering that waiting for someone can be a happy thing is something I learned at the airport.
  • Parking Garage: In episode 4 Charlie Wei the gangster kidnaps Do-kyung in the airport and drags her to the parking garage. Ji-sung chases them there and starts shooting, and Wei crashes his car.
  • Percussive Pickpocket: Ji-sung is able to lift the suspect's passport in the first episode by bumping into him, as they pass on the way to the airplane's toilet.
  • The Place: "Air City", aka Incheon.
  • Shout-Out: In episode 3 Do-kyung asks Ji-sung why he joined the NIS in the first place. Ji-sung answers that he once saw Robert Redford in a movie where Redford was a CIA agent, and Redford looked cool.
  • Sinister Switchblade: One of the gangbangers Ji-sung is brawling with in episode 15 draws a switchblade and flicks it open, but Ji-sung still wins the fight.
  • Title Drop: During her big presentation with the airline executive in episode 15, Do-kyung refers to the new version of Incheon, after expansion and modernization, as "Air City".
  • The Triads and the Tongs:
    • Ji-sung believes that the Chinese man who snuck through airport security is a Triad, and points out that his partner was clutching a Triad pendant when he was killed in Hong Kong. This is later confirmed by the arrest of Charlie Wei, the mystery man's handler, who is a known Triad gangster.
    • The second story arc also involves the Triads, as one of them, who turns out to be an old friend of Do-kyung, tricks her into accepting some hidden drugs and Do-kyung gets arrested. The good guys have to go to Hong Kong to catch the real culprit and clear Do-kyung's name.
  • Turn in Your Badge: Do-kyung gets arrested by whoever the Korean equivalent of the DEA is, after her "friend" gives her a pair of sneakers with some drugs hidden inside. In episode 7, Ji-sung confronts the drug cops about this, loses his temper, and punches one. For this he has to turn in his badge and is suspended from the NIS.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: As it turns out, Ha-joon knew Do-kyung and her sister when they were all schoolchildren together. Do-kyung puts him permanently in the friend zone, as she has fallen for Ji-sung.
  • Vacation Episode: In episode 9 the senior staff of the airport take a team-bonding retreat to a scenic island. Ha-joon makes the ill-considered decision to book them a vacation on the very island where Ji-sung is sitting out his NIS suspension (and healing from his stab wound). This results in Ji-sung and Do-kyung's first kiss and (apparently, it's hard to tell with a Korean Drama) the consummation of their relationship.
  • "Wanted!" Poster: In episode 2 airport security is distributing wanted posters of the mystery man who killed a nurse and escaped from the airport clinic in episode 1.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: In episode 4 Mr. Eum, the custodian staff supervisor, brings Ji-sung home from a night of drinking, and invites Ji-sung to rent a room in his house. He was so drunk that the next morning he's forgotten all about it, accusing his niece Nan-young of bringing Ji-sung home and saying that she is a blackout drunk.