My Secret Romance: Episode 1 – A Giant, Cliché-packed Cupcake

.;a1My Secret Romance premiered today, and it has the delicious Sung Hoon in it. So basically, I’m in. This drama is a lot like that fancy cupcake you see at the supermarket. You know it’s just a frosting-filled mess of empty calories, and you should really check out the carrot stick section. Then that traitorous voice inside you whispers, “But I love frosting!”

If you want a plot that shocks you with its twists and turns, and acting that will wring the deepest corners of your heart, you’re in the wrong section of the drama grocery store. This sweet, little aisle is reserved for those of us that have had a long day at work and want to curl up on the couch with something light and romantic.

He likes cats!


Brace yourselves. He’s a rich, rebellious, chaebol son in disguise who likes to play around. Yes, I can sense your shock. This Cha Jin Wook character is Drama Hero 101. I expected them to shove in a shower scene right off the bat, but they chose to go the swimming pool route, instead. I admit that Sung Hoon looks a little too old to play this kind of whiny, spoiled brat, but he still manages to bring some unexpected moments. Take the time he catalogues the plastic surgery of a clingy girl at the club (Sidenote: She is played by one of the newest members of the Running Man family, Jeon So Min. Still not sure how I feel about the new additions, but the first episode after they joined was funny.) Instead of accepting the not-even-remotely-veiled invitation she offers, he chooses to go home and feed his cat. How can you hate that?

Grim Reaper Heroine


Song Ji Eun plays Lee Yoo Mi, a woman with only one outfit in her closet. No, seriously. She wears the same black pantsuit to a job interview, the club, and her mother’s second wedding. Add a pair of Clark Kent glasses and you get the picture. She’s all business, not looking for love. Except for those racy, romance novels she likes to read. This modern day, working girl seems focused on a career, but can’t help letting her mind wander to kisses and bubble baths when no one is looking.

Mommy Issues x 2


Let’s say our heroine’s mother doesn’t fit the traditional mold. To say the least. She proudly displays the poster from her past as an erotic actress during her wedding slideshow. And when Yoo Mi jokingly comments that she won’t come to her third wedding, her mom seriously wonders how sexy she’ll be then. Something tells me her eager bridegroom wouldn’t be happy to hear that. Needless to say, Yoo Mi still has bad memories of her classmate’s whispers during her school days. No wonder she’s more focused on a career.


The hero also has mommy issues, but they are yet to be revealed. We see him leaving a birthday bouquet outside her store, but hiding around the corner when he sees her come home. It’s obvious she and his father are separated, maybe even divorced.  I imagine she abandoned them when he was little. Since we’re already on the cliché train, we might as well ride it all the way to the station.

I ❤ funny butlers


One of my favorite things in this episode was the relationship between Jin Wook and his father’s . . . butler? Right-hand man? I’m not sure what he is. A glorified babysitter, from the looks of it. He stands around in his hot pink suit and makes our entitled heir get a job. Perhaps the funniest scene of the whole hour was when he tickles Sung Hoon onto the bus. Yes, you read that right. I look forward to more of their shenanigans.

I don’t ❤ pushy music


It’s a small thing, but this really bugged me. The music and sound effects were so overdone! It’s not necessary to put ding, whoosh, and bam with every movement. It’s like the sound editor doesn’t trust us to notice when a scene is sad, or dramatic, or important, so they crank the volume up to 10. Background music should remain in the background. Not drawing my attention away from the makeout scene.

Since you brought it up


Most dramas have the slow buildup until around that magic episode 8 when a couple shares their first kiss. But not this one. It’s all the way in episode 1. There’s a lot more going on than two people who are feeling attraction and an entire bottle of wine. These two are hurting from serious, emotional scars and decide to find comfort in each other. It’s telling that the thing that wins Yoo Mi over is when Jin Wook asks if she’s okay. Because she’s so obviously NOT okay. And this is so obviously NOT a good idea, which the heroine will make worse by sneaking away in the morning. I don’t think they even know each other’s names. Unless you count “Mr. Smile”. Thus, our story will fast forward in episode 2, when Jin Wook finds his new employee is his one-night relationship from three years ago. (I’m thinking this doesn’t count as much of a spoiler since it’s right there in the show’s description on Dramafever.)

I looked up the Director, Kang Cheol Woo, and discovered he did Something about 1%. I LUVED that drama. It was also a simple, unoriginal setup, yet it had such a sweet, sincere core to it.  This project had some rough moments at the start, but I hope he can find his stride and bring the same kind of feels. Was this first episode perfect. Nope. Did I enjoy it? Yep. Will I be back for more? You can bet your candy-colored sprinkles I will.

0 thoughts on “My Secret Romance: Episode 1 – A Giant, Cliché-packed Cupcake

  1. I love your review, but this is too much cupcake for me. Not my type of drama. I’m waiting for Sung Hoon to get a starring role he can really sink his teeth into, because as you noted, he’s a bit long in the tooth for these characters. Still, he’s just so beautiful look at if I really had nothing to watch I’d pop this on.

    • I’d be interested to see him in a serious role. I think he did a good job with his serious mommy issue scenes in “Oh My Venus”.

  2. You can bet your candy-colored sprinkles I will.
    I love this sentence. Hahaha.
    Pile on the sugar.
    And a tall drink called Sung Hoon.
    Make it a double. STAT!

  3. I notice in each of the epilogues there are hash tag comments that aren’t being subbed. Can anyone tell me if they relate to the epilogue and provide a translation 🙏🏼

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