Air City
MBC (2007) 16 Episodes
Airport-Themed Melodrama
Grade: A
Korean Drama Review by Winnie, USA

I like digging out and watching older Korean drama classics from time to time. Just like my friend Jill, I think they are sadly overlooked by newer Korean drama fans who don't know any better, who only want to gossip about what is new, whether or not it's worthy of their time. Those new dramas are usually cheap rip-offs of older, better dramas!. I find the classic Korean dramas are almost always worthy of my time. Air City (2007) is just such a drama classic. It features a splendid cast, including Choi Ji Woo from Winter Sonata (2002) fame, playing a female airport manager and director, of all things, a role that would normally go to a man, and Lee Jung Jae, who recently had a big splash with Squid Game (2021), and Lee Jin Wook, an actor whom I know Jill loves from 9: 9 Time Travels (2013).

I read that Choi Ji Woo and Lee Jin Wook actually dated for quite awhile after meeting on this drama. If you paid attention you could definitely see their chemistry together, although the script, of course, pushed Choi Ji Woo to develop feelings for first male lead Lee Jung Jae instead. This older series is available to watch with a free trial at the Kocowa web site. You could watch it within 7 days, then cancel the trial, and not have to spend a dime.

The Story:

In an historic move a female was hired as Airport Manager and Director of Incheon Airport, set thirty miles west of central Seoul. Han Do Kyung (Choi Ji Woo) was hired partly because she didn't object to being paid less than a man would in the same position. She figures that a bigger salary can always come later, that first she needed to accept the demanding position to see how she could handle it. Her prior experience had been in running a small airport in Singapore, so this job in Korea is a big step up for her.

Do Kyung is smart. She knows several different languages fluently, which helps her in dealing with international tourists to Korea who sometimes experience trouble. When something challenging happens at the airport, like a security breach that might expose an international spy ring operation, she is always calm and collected, never having a temper tantrum. That professional demeanor impresses everyone around her. As our story progresses we do notice that Do Kyung lives with some emotional scars, caused by her estrangement from her younger sister, Yi Kyung (Lee Da Hee, Love Is For Suckers, Search: WWW), who is a talented pilot. Their home life growing up had not always been the best.

Do Kyung's inner strength is put to the test when she meets turbulent National Intelligence Service (NIS) Agent Kim Ji Sung (Lee Jung Jae, Sandglass). Acting on instinct whenever he thinks national security is at stake, he often breaks rules at the airport, and ruffles feathers on the job, bringing him into almost constant contact, and sometimes conflict, with Do Kyung. After being stationed at the airport for security reasons, he suddenly encounters doctor Seo Myung Woo (Moon Jung Hee, I'll Go To You When The Weather Is Nice), his ex-girlfriend, who is now working at the airport health clinic, and with whom he had parted on painful terms.

Meanwhile, another airport employee is Do Kyung's childhood male friend Kang Ha Joon (Lee Jin Wook), who is hired as a security intern. Ha Joon is quick-tempered, with a habit of talking aggressively due to the nature of his job with airport security, which involves watching over thousands of surveillance cameras weekly. A tall order for just one man. However, he has a good relationship with all the airport employees, even the lower level ones, because of his basic kind personality. As he and Do Kyung renew their friendship he becomes a strong source of support for her during her conflicts with Agent Ji Sung. His feelings for her quickly turn romantic, despite the complication of Do Kyung being his superior at work.

As time passes Ha Joon's affections remain unrequited, because Ji Sung and Do Kyung, despite past struggles in their jobs at the airport, find themselves falling for each other. Both had denied themselves love for quite a long time. Will such a challenging employment field be healthy in the long run for the success of their relationship? What if it threatens to become a long distance one for quite some time? Will love prevail?

Air City was cutting edge for its day, and some would say our day, too, in showing a female running a whole airport, instead of a man. Choi Ji Woo was excellent in her role and she was able to show some versatility that she didn't get a chance to show in other dramas. I admire female characters who are not intimidated by the actions of the male characters! If you are her fan then you should definitely watch this drama. The ending is like a poem, her recitation at the conclusion of the drama is very beautiful. I highly recommend Air City.