I picture a What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim fan driving to work in the morning and passing a construction site. She spots a bright yellow appliance with the giant bucket on the front and lapses into a dreamy reverie as the friend that carpools with her wonders why she’s smiling at a bulldozer. The passenger may silently consider if the driver has gone insane, but don’t worry. Drama fans understand.
You mean they have phones in France?
I hereby dub thee the Interruption Couch. Whether it’s ice bags, unexpected visitors, or unwelcome phone calls, this is the place where Young Joon and Mi So never finish what they start. Last week, we left our main couple in a horizontal position, but an intrusive call from Director Park waylays their amorous adventures with news of a company emergency. Young Joon goes to the other room and Mi So wonders if she should button back up. He’s gone for quite awhile as he must make plans to travel to France to fix the situation; but he hates the thought of being away from Mi So for a week, especially since she fell asleep while he was working, and no amount of fake coughing will rouse her. (If you notice, she retied her bow but kept her buttons undone. I think this small clothing detail is indicative of her mental state in this matter. She’s both a yes and a no at the same time.) Mi So awakens the next morning to the sight of him sitting a safe distance away in a chair watching her. He tells her no he did NOT sleep well and bemoans this unforseen separation. He wants to pack her in his luggage, but the professional Secretary Kim has too many things to take care of in his absence. Young Joon insists that she stay in touch during his trip or she will get a scolding when he returns. (May I digress here to say how refreshing this is? So often in K-dramas, they act like traveling to another country requires no contact whatsoever. As if they don’t have phones, or internet, or postage stamps outside of Korea. To justify themselves, they might use a lame excuse like, “I couldn’t concentrate on work if I was thinking of you.”) Thankfully, our genius Young Joon knows better and he only gets as far as the car before he’s texting that he already misses her. Mi So keeps her phone handy while he is away, even falling asleep with it clasped in her hand. When her eager boyfriend calls, she fixes her hair and pretends the time difference doesn’t matter. She even knocks poor Cow Doll off the bed when Young Joon remarks that he envies his spot. Has there ever been a cuter couple in all of Dramaland?
The secret’s partway out
Replacement secretary Ji Ah figures out Mi So’s romantic relationship with the boss when a college friend takes a picture of him kissing her hand at a restaurant. It takes the clueless character a little while to put two and two together, but she eventually recognizes the bracelet in the picture as the one on Mi So’s arm. She’s tickled at the news and promises not to tell anyone, even remembering to apologize for any bad comments she might have made about the Vice Chairman. (It’s a surprise that she makes it through the whole episode without spilling the beans. I think we all know if it had been the gossipy guy who calls everyone “Honey” it wouldn’t have lasted ten minutes.) A panicky Mi So informs Young Joon they have been discovered and his adorable reaction is “So what?” He likes the idea that they won’t have to hide anything, but she is not ready to face that hurdle yet.
The sexiest thing you’ve ever said
Despite the fact that Young Joon has only ever fake dated, the man is naturally gifted at being swoony. He covers the gamut from romantic events to thoughtful gifts to unashamed confessions. But this episode he tops himself as he rides home from work with Mi So. He asks if she will be coming to his place tonight for their “unfinished business” and it takes her a moment to catch on. She chastises him for his racy choice of conversation, but he admits that he’s got steamier words if she likes such as hot, explosive, and erotic. She begs him to stop and he laughs at her shy reaction, but then declares that the sexiest words are “I love you” which he proceeds to tell her as he takes her hand. Considering their track record, it comes as no surprise that he was the first to say the words.
The missing Dad finally appears
The sweet car ride makes a detour when Mi So receives news that her father has been hospitalized. She rushes to his side but finds his problem far from life threatening. Apparently, the aging rocker forgot he was in his fifties and took a stage dive, but nobody caught him. Mi So spends the night at the hospital, and her dad tells her how sorry he is for leaving her to support the family while he chased his musical dreams. He encourages her to find a dream of her own because he knows she will excel at whatever she chooses. (Rocker Dad brings up a good point. The blossoming romance with Young Joon has sidelined the original event that kickstarted everything: Secretary Kim’s resignation. Is she still doing that? And if so, what does she do next? There hasn’t been any hint of an unexplored desire that she suppressed over the years such as painting or teaching or travel. I think she honestly doesn’t know what she wants to do and I would argue that the business arena is where she shines. When Young Joon was in France, we saw her sitting at a conference table with others looking more like the boss than the secretary. Even if she leaves the company, she could put all her hard earned knowledge to work for herself.)
The gentle bulldozer
While Mi So is bonding with her father, Young Joon suffers through another forced separation. It’s actually less than 24 hours, but that’s an eternity to our impatient master of forehead kisses. When she finally returns to the office, he tries to reschedule their couch session, but Mi So balks at the suggestion. She tells him that his recent behavior brings a word to mind and Young Joon guesses which flattering adjective she means. Sexy? Provocative? Deadly? But she denies them all with a smile, and says he’s like a “bulldozer” always coming at her. After that unexpected blow, our poor narcissist needs some counseling with his best friend who once again gives some pretty sound advice. He reminds Young Joon that this is Mi So’s first time dating. He needs to slow it down, no matter what he’s feeling. Young Joon pounds his chest in frustration at the thought but doesn’t dismiss the suggestion completely. Afterwards, he meets Mi So in his office and apologizes for rushing things. His nine years of bottled up emotions want to explode all at once. He also makes the meaningful confession that he would suffer the childhood trauma he experienced all over again if it meant meeting her. But he’ll slow down his pace if that’s what she wants. Young Joon leaves an emotional Mi So behind to attend a meeting and comes home later that evening to find her waiting outside his door. He asks her very carefully what she’s doing there. She responds that she came to apologize for not considering his feelings before and his head drops in disappointment until she utters the word “also.” Mi So declares that she isn’t going home and she’ll stay with him. The considerate bulldozer warns her that if she comes in he won’t be able to control his pace tonight. She looks nervous but resolute as she turns around and walks inside. He follows and pushes her against the wall as he kisses her and this time she helps him take his tie off instead of putting it on.
Notice again her wardrobe choice. When they were going on their first date, she went shopping for a frilly, feminine dress. Even though she has obviously decided to take a defining step in their relationship, she changed out of her work clothes into . . . more work clothes, with a pencil skirt and office worthy blouse. But her glorious ponytail has changed to a softer hairdo that hangs down her back. It looks like her mind is still conflicted over this decision and perhaps Young Joon senses this. As they progress from passionate kisses in the hallway to the bedroom he pulls back to look at her, giving her the chance to change her mind, but she never does. This unselfish aspect is one of Lee Young Joon’s most attractive qualities. He may push like a bulldozer but ultimately wants her happiness above his own. Even in their Boss/Secretary relationship, he told her that he gave her so much responsibility because she never said “No.” If she had, he wouldn’t have done it. On this night, he takes a moment to say once again that he loves her and Mi So responds that she loves him too. The Interruption Couch is nowhere in sight and this time Young Joon will not be answering his phone.
Okay, Secretary Kim fans. Admit it. How many times did you watch the last scene? Or maybe you shouldn’t tell us. Now that the depressing childhood mystery is revealed, the show spends most of the time focusing on the Rom and the Com. The funny side characters get a bit of screen time. (Best Friend’s hapless secretary cracks me up. I love the fact that he keeps a stack of clean shirts in the cabinet because she regularly spills stuff on him. If it weren’t for the ex-wife storyline I might suspect he was secretly in love with the klutz? Why does he put up with her?) But our main couple is the focus which proves whoever is making the decisions knows what their bread and butter is. I read somewhere that the show actually changed writers partway through, but the switch hasn’t hurt in the least. The earnest, heartfelt confessions that our haughty hero throws out leave us hungry for more, not to mention the OTP’s off-the-charts chemistry. We only have three episodes left, so I hope they pack it in.
If you’ve been reading my Secretary Kim recaps, then you probably like rom-coms. (I warn you this is Shameless Plug Time.) My novella released on Amazon for $0.99 this week. The main character is a die hard romantic who finds herself on a tour of South Korea with a busload of wacky K-drama fans. She squeals and swoons at the famous drama locations, while trying not to invoke the ire of the snarky, but gorgeous guide, Jae. It’s a short, fluffy read and if you click the picture below you get a sample that may help you decide if it’s your cup of tea.
Until tomorrow. Keep the K-love alive!