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Athena: Goddess of War (아테나: 전쟁의 여신) is a 2010-11 espionage drama that served as a spin-off from Iris, created as a follow-up when IRIS had high ratings in South Korea and Japan. While a majority of the characters are new to the storyline, a few from IRIS appear as cameos with a few celebrities. The show had been previously broadcasted by SBS.
The TV series takes place in the middle of IRIS when the South Korean government authorizes a black ops mission in Japanese soil to rescue a defecting North Korean scientist named Kim Myung Guk from the FSB, which was led by Dr. Kwon Yong-Gwan. In the midst of the operation, a mysterious and heavily armed group led by a Korean-American named Son Hyuk intercepts the rescue and kills most of the black ops agents before Kwon was captured by the armed men and tortured by Son Hyuk personally to reveal who dispatched him to Japan from South Korea. Three years later, Kwon survives the ordeal before the government appointed him to lead an anti-terrorist agency called NTS (National Anti-Terror Service) to prevent terrorists from seizing/attacking anything related to TWR, which is a brand new nuclear-based technology that South Korea plans to use in securing funds needed to have a successful reunification. Among the agents assigned to NTS is Lee Jung-Woo, an ex-National Intelligence Service operative who was dispatched there. Initially feeling bored, Jung-Woo's life begins to change after he gets involved with a mysterious terrorist group called Athena.
While Athena was still filming, some of the main cast members got involved in mishaps that forced some changes in the script. For instance, Choi Si-Won was sick due to septicemia that resulted in food poisoning when he was filming his Japanese scenes, which eventually forced the production team to modify the script to accommodate his recovery back in South Korea. A car accident took place when Jung Chan-woo and Jung Woo-Sung sustained serious injuries during filming in an underground parking lot. During their absence, a TV special was placed instead of the actual episode with Soo Ae hosting the TV special with interviews from most of the main cast.
During the time of Athena's production in Italy, the Italian Tourism Board gave full support to the production crew after they arrived in the country on July 11, 2010.
Taewon Entertainment currently plans to make a movie version of the series, as well as having Athena characters appear as cameos in IRIS 2 and in future sequels. Prior to the show's unveiling, many news media outlets believed that Athena would be known as IRIS 2. As of now, there are no further details as to what would happen to a future Athena movie version and on the future of the show.
Soundtrack CDs were also released to the public, showcasing music from Taeyeon, TVXQ, Kangta, and Boa for the first release on February 11, 2011 while the follow-up, released shortly thereafter on February 16, 2011, contained vocal contributions by Park Hyo-shin, Browneyed Soul, Jang Jae-in, Supreme Team, and 8Eight. They were both sold in South Korea and in Japan. CD singles for Athena based on insert songs were also released.
Like IRIS, it had a budget of 20 million won or 17 million American dollars, making it an expensive Korean action drama.
- Action Girl. Yoon Hye-In and Han Jae-Hui for starters. A little bit of Kim Seon-Hwa on the side.
- Anyone Can Die: Some did die. Don't wanna list them.
- All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Son Hyuk launching a raid at NTS' HQ.
- Bait and Switch: Faking the death of Kim Myung Guk. Unfortunately, Son Hyuk catches on.
- Bilingual Dialogue: A lot. Let's see, Korean/Japanese, Korean/English, Korean/Italian, Korean/Russian.
- Bottomless Magazines: Seen somewhat.
- Cool Guns: The Daewoo K11's one of them. A few include M4/M4A1s.
- Cold Sniper: Kim Gi-Soo when he followed Chul-Young to conduct a solo assassination mission in Seoul. Hye-In also.
- Cool Shades: Done.
- Continuity: Takes place first in the middle of IRIS.
- Clark Kenting: For Hye-In until the Italy operation.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Kim Gi-Soo. No one expected him to be a badass after he made the accidental mistake of firing his sidearm in Italy by mistake. Isn't he suppose to be an ex-North Korean black ops agent after all and just live the life of a gambler? See Let's Get Dangerous.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Several of the characters in the show have this.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Seon-Hwa swearing revenge on the North Korean government after State Security Department agents assassinated her family in New Zealand while living the life of a civilian when the SSD mandated that she's suppose to be the target.
- Double Agent: Son Hyuk and Andy during their time with DIS. Han Jung-Pil from the Blue House. Hye-In when she was both with the NIS and NTS. Athena has a lot of them worldwide, including agents in the US government.
- Death Is a Sad Thing: When some of the characters die like Jae-Hui, who was an old lover of Jung Woo's. Also Park Sung-Chul.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: In part with Jung-Woo and Hye-In at least, both wanting to end Son Hyuk and Athena's mission to destroy South Korea for attempting to use TWR.
- Elite Mooks: NTS Special Reaction Team.
- Faceless Goons: Averted.
- Fake Russian: Korean-American actor Ricky Lee Neely as Russian mafia boss Viktor Sevcenkov/Sasha. His Russian ain't bad too.
- Foreshadowing: There's an episode where Jae-Hui and Son Hyuk spent the night together. In the end, she was killed by Son Hyuk after he left Athena.
- Finger-Twitching Revival
- Good Guns, Bad Guns: Almost averted in one instance where Hye-In takes an AKMS assault rifle from an Athena terrorist when they stormed NTS headquarters after taking out their SRT forces by surprise. In other instances, both Athena and South Korean security forces (including NTS) use Glocks, Walthers and Heckler & Koch weapons including M4/M4A1s.
- Gondor Calls for Aid: NTS called for help from South Korean security forces, including the military after learning of an Athena terrorist plot against the President.
- Government Agency of Fiction: NTS or National Anti-Terror Service. DIS or Department of Intelligence Service from America. Depending on the subtitles you see, either Division/Section 35.
- Happily Ever After: While the main cast (except for the ones who died) went about their separate ways, Jung-Woo heads off to New Zealand to meet with Hye-In, who had been living there after surviving the NTS raid.
- Handguns: Glocks and Walthers are prominent.
- Hates Everyone Equally: Son Hyuk. Where can I start? That's right! He bitterly hates Jung-Woo for "taking away" Hye-In, NTS for foiling his Athena-backed plans, Athena for not letting Hye-In back due to her questionable actions and Yong-Gwan for being such a pain in the head-type opponent.
- Heel Face Turn: Hye-In after spending time with Jung-Woo and the rest of NTS that she begins to question her association with Athena and her actions on the group's behalf. She eventually turns on her Athena comrades before leaving South Korea to live a peaceful life in New Zealand.
- Heroic Resolve: Everyone in NTS after learning of a planned attack against Seoul.
- Heroic RROD: There are some, but the most notable is Jae-Hui after seeing her father die in front of her and having explosives strapped on her body.
- I Did What I Had to Do: Gi-Soo after he was instructed by Chul-Young to covertly assassinate Kim Ho-Gyun in South Korea because he noticed that the man has no problem joining forces with Athena, which would spell doom for Kim Jong-Nam's succession.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Not always.
- Improbable Weapon User: Kim Seon-Hwa using kitchen appliances against pistol-armed State Security Department assassins.
- Leave No Survivors: After the raid on NTS HQ.
- Let's Get Dangerous: Gi-Soo after he witnessed the death of Sung-Chul that he goes with Jung-Woo to defeat Athena's Korean branch. You'd never expect him to be badass since he defected from North Korea and managed an underground gambling hall for so long that he doesn't do field work except to pass intelligence on Russia, China and North Korea.
- Mission Control: No need to explain.
- Non-Action Guy: Those in the Situation Room.
- Product Placement: The Hyundais/Kias used by NTS; their logos are covered if an episode airs with their appearances.. Hyundai Mobis was heavily used as a GPS and phone system.
- Race Against the Clock: Jung-Woo, Gi-Soo and the rest of NTS battled against Son Hyuk's faction to prevent a missile from being fired at Seoul.
- Reality Ensues: At first, no cars are at the Incheon Bridge in the shootout.
- Pretty much you can call on police and military special response units to help, but calling on a gunship?
- Real Person Cameo: Boa.
- Rare Guns: The Daewoo K11 assault rifle made its debut in South Korean TV. I totally wished the airburst grenades were used.
- Redshirt Army: The NTS' SRT forces once they were taken out by surprise when NTS HQ was under attack.
- Sniper Rifle: Gi-Soo used a silenced PSG-1 in Japan to back up Jung-Woo. In South Korea, he seemingly used it as well, though the scene was too dark to determine the make of the weapon.
- Spy Fiction: Done in episode 2 when Jung-Woo infiltrates a party in Italy with Hye-In. Turns out to be a dream all along. Poor guy.
- Spy-Versus-Spy: Athena versus NTS.
- Temporary Substitute: The Athena TV special being aired after Jung Woo-Sung and Jung Chan-Woo got involved in a serious car accident.
- The Cameo: A few and the newbies includes singers and a Japan-based Zainichi Korean MMA fighter. In fact, Douglas Day Stewart was in the show and he did okay despite the fact that he's a movie/TV writer in America.
- The Dragon: Andy to Son Hyuk in both the DIS and Athena.
- Tracking Device: Used when Hye-In was "escorted" off NTS grounds to see Son Hyok.
- Twenty Minutes Into the Future: Done here.
- What Could Have Been: The production team wanted to cast in a Korean male actor who has the same success as Lee Byung-Hun for their international release. Unfortunately, they couldn't do it as no one has the same appeal as Lee