The world number six is still searching for his first win of a disappointing season and offset seven birdies with five bogeys at Woo Jeong Hills Country Club near Cheonan, south of Seoul, to tie for fifth at the one billion Korean won (£580,000) event.
"I'm driving the ball very well and for the most part my iron play is pretty good, but I definitely missed a few opportunities out there," the Northern Irishman, who capped a brilliant 2012 with a second major win, told the OneAsia Tour.
"I definitely could have been a few shots better, but I'm in a good position going into the weekend and that's all you can ask for."
South Korea's Hong Soon-sang was the clubhouse leader midway through Friday's second round after firing a bogey-free 68 for a five-under total.
That mark looked way beyond the 24-year-old McIlory, who started his round on the 10th and made four bogeys in five holes from the 12th to slip well down the field.
However, McIlroy displayed all the talent that helped him claim the world number one ranking last year as he rallied with five birdies over his remaining 10 holes to leave him handily placed heading into the weekend.
A dropped shot on his last was the only disappointing aspect of his charge back up the field.
"There was a few sloppy shots, or sloppily played holes. I made three (consecutive) bogeys on the back nine which wasn't great but most of the other stuff was actually pretty solid," the former US Open and US PGA Champion said.
"After that stretch today on the back nine, I turned it around and played the last 10 holes in four-under, so it was a pretty good effort. I was a little disappointed to bogey the last there, but it was good for the most part."
McIlroy is back in action following a four-week break and explained what was required to get back in the winner's circle.
"Just to keep playing the way I am, stay patient," he said. "I don't need to go out there and be overly aggressive, but I just want to get myself into a good position for Sunday if possible."