Wait! What’s that sweet smell? Like fresh, fudgy brownies coming hot out of the oven?
Yes! It’s a romantic comedy! A real one! Not a legal drama or a supernatural story with romance woven through it. What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim (Why Secretary Kim) is a genuine, honest-to-goodness, squeeworthy, romantic comedy. And I am sooooooooooo happy.
If this fun and feisty new drama stays as enjoyable as the first installment, I will do a semi-recap for every episode. By “semi” I mean that I won’t hammer out every nitty-gritty thing that happened. I’ll just hit the highlights. If it starts to drag, I may combine two episodes and just do one recap a week. But things are looking hopeful because our introduction to Secretary Kim’s world was a hilarious, enjoyable hour. Even though it all revolved around one basic plot point – Secretary Kim is quitting.
Lee Young Joon is a handsome, wealthy, genius, CEO who is far too wrapped up in himself to notice anyone around him. Sorry, girls. He wasn’t checking you out. He was just looking at his own perfect reflection in the mirror. Not exactly breaking the mold in Dramaland. But this guy is so untouchable, he literally won’t let any woman touch him. With one exception. Secretary Kim. Now why do you suppose that is? And why do you suppose the unflappable Young Joon starts to slowly unravel when his faithful Girl Friday tells him she’s quitting?
There’s a reason this kind of character keeps popping up in our beloved dramas. It’s so much fun to watch the self-absorbed, snooty hero twist himself in knots when he falls for the heroine first. Plus, Park Seo Joon has a natural sweetness to his acting that makes you automatically want to forgive him for being such a jerk.
Perfect man + Perfect secretary
Park Min Young (Healer) has a knack for playing strong, yet feminine characters. At first, Secretary Kim comes across like a well-groomed automaton, only there to serve her master. But as the episode progresses, we start to see her human side. Her character still needs fleshing out, but there’s justification for that. Kim Mi So spent 9 years, basically her entire adult life, making her boss tea, tying his ties, buying flowers for his girlfriend, and anticipating his every desire. No wonder he can’t live without her. But he’s going to have to, because she’s turning in her notice.
Why? Why? WHY???????
To say that Young Joon takes the quitting news badly doesn’t quite do it justice. The man starts to gently lose his ever lovin’ mind. Denial is the first reaction. How could she possibly leave a perfect boss like himself? Bargaining follows as he offers her a promotion to Director, her own private secretary, and a house if she’ll stay. Delusion makes an entertaining appearance as he concludes that she is leaving because she likes him and can’t bear to see him with another woman. He then offers to break up with his current arm candy, but Secretary Kim remains stalwart. And Young Joon spends sleepless nights trying to figure out why she’s leaving him.
How original! Take 2
Just like there was a gratuitous shower scene with the well-muscled hero in the first episode, some things are expected in Dramaland. It should come as a surprise to no one that there is a mystery surrounding Secretary Kim’s childhood. She freaks out at the sight of a spider (who doesn’t?), but isn’t sure why. She asks her sisters if they’re sure she was never lost when she was little, but they deny it. Obviously, this is about more than just a creepy, crawly insect. There is also an old notebook that is yet to be explained with a childish drawing of her “oppa.” I’m taking bets now. Who else thinks it will be a young version of her boss and they will eventually discover they share some sort of childhood trauma?
What’s in a name?
In Korean, the way they pronounce Secretary Kim (Kim Bi Saw) and her real name Kim Mi So are almost identical. We discover that Mi So has devoted so long to being Young Joon’s secretary, she has no idea who she really is. For years, she lived for her job as she helped whittle down the mountain of debt her family accrued, but everything is finally paid back and she can start living for herself. Maybe even get married and have a family of her own. This leads to a final, hilariously desperate offer from her boss that he will let her marry him. How could a girl refuse! But she somehow musters the strength.
I find this recurring identity theme one of the sweetest and most poignant parts of the first episode. Mi So struggles with who she is as a person apart from her job, even accidentally signing her job title instead of her name at the bank. But it seems like Young Joon already knows there’s a difference. When he appears at work with a zit on his normally flawless forehead and a haggard look on his face, she offers to call a doctor or get him a prescription. When he sees her concern, he asks exactly who is worried about him: Secretary Kim or Kim Mi So. Awwwwwwwwww. This guy is so far gone it’s amazing this hasn’t been a problem before now.
It’s so nice to have a heartwarming, rom-com again! The writing, the chemistry, even the funny sound effects. Everything is mixed together deliciously. I’m not sure where the story is going from here. (I believe it’s based on a webtoon, so anyone who knows, please don’t spoil it for the rest of us!) Will petty jealousy rear its amusing head? Will Young Joon start sabotaging Mi So’s blind dates? And since we’re throwing in the usual cliches, how about a cookie kiss or a contract relationship? Those are some of my favorite extras on top of my rom-com brownies.
Is it Thursday, yet? Until, then. Keep the K-love alive!
Dramas With a Side of Kimchi