Hungary, IRIS, Us

I stayed up late last night to watch the rerun of IRIS last night on KBS Channel. It is my favourite Korean drama to date. Probably because it is about espionage, politics and military service. These made an ex infantryman who read political science in university so intrigued about it. Not to mention, it has a very beautiful love story that tugs my heart every time I view it.

Watching the episode last night, I realised it was set in location in a castle which I had just recently went during my honeymoon. It was the Buda Castle in Budapest, Hungary.

In that episode, Hyeon Jun (played by Lee Byung Hun), a South Korean spy was made to complete a assassination of a North Korean politician at the Buda Castle. After all I missed several episodes when IRIS was first screened, I was not aware that it was filmed in Hungary at some point.

Viewing the castle on the screen, I made out the pavements, that I walked, the statues I marvel at. The viewing point on the castle where my mind was rather troubled as I almost lost my wedding ring in Hungary. I also remembered praying slightly to that little Magpie who in Hungarian legend brought back a ring to the Hungarian King.

Yep, the Magpie did its work. My wedding ring came back to me safe and sound.

Hungary was not such a favourite country for me during my honeymoon. The language was confusing and I felt security was a concern. However, after viewing last night episode, I realised Hungary linked me and my wife back to IRIS once again.

Our love story has always being slightly intertwined with IRIS. For starters, I was never a Korean drama fan. During the early days of our relationship, IRIS was introduced to me, sceptical as I was initially. It grew on me.

It was Hyeon Jun's brooding personality and difficult past that made me connect with his character. While I am not a orphan like him, I had a difficult past and lost much especially in my early adult life. His ability to handle rifles, communications equipment, pilot a plane etc also connected me with him. As an ex infantryman made to operate with small team tactics, I was trained to kill.

On a sadder note, Hyeun Jun suffered from a certain degree of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Though, I was not diagnosed officially with PTSD, to a certain extent, suffered from it, a result of my difficult past.

While, it would be nice to attribute my wife to be like Seung Hui (played by Kim Tae Hee). She is in a way is pretty like her with long hair and cute smile. But nope, my wife is not a trained rifleman like me. She is also not my classmate.

The early days of our courtship resembled the courtship between Hyeon Jun and Seung Hui. While we did not travelled to Akita, Japan. We travelled much especially by driving during our early days. The most memorable of course being the driving holiday in Phuket, Thailand. That was the first time, I drove in Thailand, and it was good fun living like a Thai driving around in a Thai plated Honda City.

While there were joys, there were also heartaches. We had a hard time becoming an item. So terrifically difficult were our conditions that even asingaporeanson were lost for words on whether I should continue my courtship.

At one point bullets almost took my life during a rogue live firing exercise, and I remembered how my life flashed past me that as I ran down that forest path that night. The strongest thought that went through my mind was this, 'Will I ever see her again?'

When we began choosing our honeymoon destination, we wanted to go to Akita, Japan as what Hyeon Jun and Seung Hui did. But because of the fear of radioactive contamination from the March 2011 earthquake. Family and friends discouraged us from visiting Japan.

We stumbled onto picking Eastern Europe as our honeymoon destination by chance. While at the back of my mind, I remembered that some parts of IRIS were filmed at Prague. It didn't influence my choice of picking Eastern Europe.

Eastern Europe is full of old and beautiful buildings. Not decades old, but centuries old. Some castles dates backs to the medieval times. You could feel its history on every step and tile. Walking amongst the buildings, you really feel like a Cold War spy especially in previously Soviet Union states such as Hungary and Poland.

After watching last night's episode, my perception on Hungary has changed somewhat. Just as Hungary served as a linkway for the unification of East and West Germany. On a lesser scale, it served as an important connection between us and Hyeon Jun and Seung Hui.

We had probably walked the same pavements, ate at the same alfresco restaurants, saw the same monuments and more personally, I had frowned at the same spot as did Hyeon Jun at the Buda Castle, worrying over my wedding ring.

Now when is the next episode showing?

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