“Secret Love Affair” episode 16 recap – Finale!


All’s well that ends well: Sun Jae smiling and not in a poo coloured environment.

Side dish: Advice on how to cook in student housing is a dime a dozen so we won’t need to worry about Sun Jae. However, Hye Won will appreciate this: How to Cook in Jail


Episode Recap

The disavowed music students are at a student pub with piano prodigy Lee Sun Jae (Yoo Ah In), analyzing the contents of the email that Professor Jo In Seo (Park Jong Hoon) read to them in the last episode. They wonder about other musicians whose instruments are not high quality, and then ask Sun Jae about his piano. They don’t even recognize the maker when he names it, so he changes the subject, complimenting the sad cello student on her playing earlier. When the two violinists express their envy, Sun Jae encourages them to play on the spot.

Sviatoslav Richter would have been proud, as the violinists play an impromptu concert to an appreciative audience.

Back at the Foundation, Sun Jae’s lover, Oh Hye Won (Kim Hee Ae) wanders through the halls like she owns the place. She saunters over to the desk of Wang, the scheming assistant, and notes that Wang was attempting to learn mahjong. Wang plays off her betrayal of Hye Won as a momentary madness, but Hye Won is not having it. She gives Wang a noncommittal answer before sauntering away again.

Seo Young Woo (Kim Hye Eun), formerly Hye Won’s crazy boss, has dinner with Hye Won’s estranged husband, Kang Joon Hyung (Park Hyuk Kwon) and scheming assistant Wang at her former love nest apartment. Young Woo points out that last night in the police station, Hye Won basically took control of the game. Joon Hyung is more concerned about Young Woo, who will have to live quietly in the meantime.

Ever tactful, Joon Hyung asks Young Woo if she’s capable of living quietly, as Wang snickers. Young Woo has no choice in the matter, but Joon Hyung still doesn’t understand. It’s Wang who explains that Young Woo’s husband, Director Kim, is about to take over the SeoHan Group, and since Young Woo’s company was being used for money laundering, Young Woo is in a vulnerable position if she provides him with grounds for divorce. The naive Joon Hyung wonders whether Hye Won was responsible for the shady financial deal, and they both confirm that she was.

Wang rightly asks Joon Hyung why he dragged Hye Won to the police, instead of continuing to turn a blind eye, but Young Woo cuts in. She was caught off guard by Hye Won’s reaction, having assumed that Hye Won would go to jail for love. Disgusted, Joon Hyung asks them to stop talking about it, but Wang can’t help being a bitch, and tells him he should display his wounds, since everyone already knows what happened. Joon Hyung denies being wounded; he was willing to let her go, as long as she paid the price of her indiscretion. Both Young Woo and Wang point out that he should have stuck with Hye Won. Joon Hyung is more interested in borrowing Young Woo’s apartment, since she can no longer use it as a love nest.

The doorbell rings before Young Woo can come up with an appropriate answer, and it turns out to be evil cello teacher, aka Young Woo’s sister-in-law. Since she’s well on her way to taking over the SeoHan Arts College, she swans in like royalty. Wang is in full-on sycophant mode, but evil cello teacher isn’t interested. Instead, she orders a compliant Joon Hyung to get her a drink.

It turns out that Young Woo has decided to give evil cello teacher the apartment to use as a lesson studio, and she’s come by to have a look at it. Joon Hyung asks to borrow the apartment for a couple of days in the meantime, and she readily agrees.

It’s mahjong night at the SeoHan Group’s Chairman’s (Kim Yong Gun) house, and he’s telling his troubles to his three subordinates. He tells them that he’d hoped to throw Oh Hye Won to the prosecution, but she wasn’t going for it, and instead lured Director Kim to her side.

One of the men, Director Hong, volunteers to go to jail in the Chairman’s place, and the other two affirm their willingness to do so, as well. The Chairman’s wife, Han Sung Sook (Shim Hye Jin) has never looked friendlier, as she comes in with tea. The Chairman asks where Young Woo is, and Sung Sook informs him that she’ll arrive soon. Sung Sook’s face is creepy as she smiles nervously.

Hye Won is also there for mahjong night. She returns to Sung Sook the diamond necklace that Sung Sook got for her on her trip to Geneva, pointing out that it may be seen as a bribe. Sung Sook asks if she’s grown wings, and Hye Won disingenuously tells her that it happened that way, without her intending it. It’s time for mahjong, and the two of them start making their way downstairs. On the way, Sung Sook asks if it won’t be upsetting to let Director Kim take all of Sung Sook’s money. Hye Won is not interested in the money, however, and admits freely that she’s using it to get respect. Sung Sook tells her that she’ll give that money to the Chairman, if Hye Won will save for her what she has. Hye Won politely demurs, and leaves an annoyed Sung Sook behind.

The mahjong games begin. Wang is back in the kitchen with the housekeeper, who asks if Hye Won and Director Kim have solidified their power, and Wang predicts that those two will be battling it out for top spot soon.

Back in the games room, the conversation seems to have many layers, as Director Kim comments that the Chairman looks relaxed, and Young Woo informs him that Director Hong is protecting him. Hye Won calls Director Hong heroic, but the Chairman calls his actions beautiful. Hye Won is not impressed, refusing to die a meaningless death. She opens her hand, having won the game, as everyone expected. As Hye Won laughs, Young Woo asks Sung Sook if she was disappointed that Hye Won turned out to be a tiger, and not a dog.

After the game, Director Kim asks Hye Won for more information. She reminds him that they’re opponents and leaves.

Hye Won is outside of Sun Jae’s apartment when he gets home. The conversation isn’t particularly friendly as she tells him that she dropped by, using the company car and driver. She’s about to leave, but Sun Jae stops her. Despite the benefits to himself, he’s not impressed with the endless money and power games. Hye Won insists that there will be an end, but he doesn’t believe her. Rather than try to convince him, she tells him to stop playing with the quintet, that it doesn’t suit him. He starts to get angry, but tries to explain how much he loves playing with them, improving the piece by increments. She agrees, but she sounds like she’s humouring him. He can’t help but take a shot at her for having a driver as she leaves, but Sun Jae looks dispirited rather than angry as he enters the apartment.

Hye Won doesn’t look much better when she gets home, to be informed that Joon Hyung has moved out entirely.

Back at Sun Jae’s place, his ex-girlfriend, Park Da Mi (Kyung Soo Jin) and friend, Son Jang Ho (Choi Tae Hwan) have come over to drink. As he stares at the sleeping Da Mi, Jang Ho wonders if he should confess his past to her, and ask her out. Sun Jae tells him to try it, then wait for 100 days and kiss her on a bridge. Sun Jae chats with his online friend on the classical music website, to invite him to a performance of his quintet on Friday. Of course, it’s Hye Won on the other end, and she’s surprised and upset to find that he’s inviting his friend, and not her (even though they’re the same person… how complicated). He signs off before she can get an answer as to why.

The next day at the music school, Joon Hyung peeks in on Sun Jae and the rest of the quintet painting a sign saying “Goodbye”. He goes to the evil cello teacher’s office, and tells her to break them up, but she doesn’t care, since they’re all quitting school. Joon Hyung is shocked to discover that this includes Sun Jae. Evil cello teacher invites him to lunch with her brother, Director Kim, but Joon Hyung is too rattled and refuses. Instead, he goes to his office, where his assistant explains that Sun Jae has returned the Foundation scholarship and quit school. Joon Hyung asks him to leave, but his assistant can’t resist adding that Sun Jae said his last farewell. Joon Hyung finally explodes, flinging the papers off his desk, and screams at him to get out. He threatens his assistant with dismissal if he can’t stop the quintet from playing.

In the meantime, Sun Jae and the rest of the quintet are getting ready for the performance in the practice room (as a side note: they really had a lot of art supplies to make such a crappy sign). He looks relaxed as they start to play Dvořák’s Piano Quintet No.2 in A major, Op.81, and people slowly start to file in, including Professor Jo. The crowd has spilled out into the hallway by the time Hye Won comes to watch, but she leaves shortly after. As they finish, Sun Jae races out to the hallway, but she’s nowhere to be found.

Instead, Hye Won is at her desk, getting worried looks from her assistant. She slowly wanders out and makes her way to Sung Sook’s empty office. Wang congratulates her on her upcoming appointment ceremony as Chairwoman. Hye Won smiles and agrees. She slowly walks in to the office, looking at the desk. She sits down on the couch, and calls a nervous Sung Sook to tell her that the chair doesn’t suit her. Sung Sook tells her to replace it with something she likes, but Hye Won hangs up.

Sung Sook is at the Chairman’s house with Young Woo, who counsels her that there’s still time to beg Hye Won for mercy.

Back at her house, an emotional Hye Won wanders around, reliving her past moments with Sun Jae from their first meeting, to the times they played music together, to the disastrous party. She goes back upstairs to pack up her clothing, and calls her mother to ask her to store her things when she moves out of the house. Hye Won doesn’t have much, and she wants to replace everything in her new home.

Sun Jae is sound asleep when he’s woken by the sound of Hye Won’s voice calling him. She’s standing outside his apartment, and he drags her in none too gently when he opens the door. Without any preamble, he asks if she was at the performance. She was, and she even heard about how he overdid it at the after-party. Sun Jae must still be drunk, because he demands she tell him where she’s going rather than say she’s just dropping in. She doesn’t, and instead asks for tea.

They sit on his bed as they drink tea, and Hye Won explains that she’s not intending to bargain for a lighter sentence. Sun Jae asks if the prosecutor can be trusted, but Hye Won doesn’t know, since he’s just a prosecutor. She has an appointment for 7am, but she wants to get her hair done first, since she’s been told to dress comfortably and keep her hair tidy.

She savours the tea, intending to remember the moment with its taste. Sun Jae hugs her, telling her to remember the moment with flesh, instead. Sun Jae chokes up and they share a sad kiss. Hye Won and Sun Jae end up curled around each other in bed, in what appears to be post-coital melancholy.

In his office, the prosecutor points out that Hye Won is casually dressed. She dressed for comfort, since she’ll be interrogated for a few days. He replies that she’s made a big decision, and she asks him to keep them (referring to Chairman et al) in the dark. He tells her that he’ll make an announcement, and they get to work.

As the prosecutor plugs Hye Won’s USB key into his laptop, she tells him that it also contains a list of transactions between the Chairman and Director Kim. The prosecutor looks nervous for the first time as Hye Won explains that she hated seeing them try to get their hands on everything.

Back at the college, a man rips down posters detailing the evil cello teacher’s abuses towards her students.

Dean Min (Kim Chang Wan) sits down with Director Kim and his sister, the evil cello teacher. The first topic of conversation is Hye Won’s confession, which caught Dean Min off guard. Director Kim believes it to be a strategy to get herself a better deal. Dean Min points out that the Chairman will leave Sung Sook to be hung out to dry, and Director Kim agrees, since there’s no other choice. They dance around the topic, but in effect they’re telling Dean Min that he’s about to be replaced, and he should leave the country.

Back in the Chairman’s house, Sung Sook instructs Wang to pack a bag for two nights and three days. The Chairman wonders why she’s going to the prosecutor so soon, but Sung Sook didn’t want to wait until she was picked up. She asks him to give her some money to use while she’s in custody, but Young Woo pooh-poohs her concerns. Sung Sook looks beaten as she tells Young Woo that she’s won by default, and to be well until either her or Hye Won gets out of prison.

Before Sung Sook can leave, Director Kim walks in. She wonders where Dean Min is, and Director Kim spins a story about how he went to the Banff Music Festival with evil cello teacher. He’s immediately contradicted by Young Woo, who informs them that evil cello teacher went shopping in Hong Kong. Sung Sook already knows the score, and cuts her off. She tells the Chairman she’ll be seeing the loyal Director Hong in court. The Chairman can’t muster up much more emotion than telling her to take care of herself, and she regally walks out the door.

As the Chairman, Young Woo and Director Kim sit down, Director Kim gets a phone call from his father, informing him that it’s a matter of time until the Prosecutor’s office will come for them with Hye Won’s information. Everyone in the room is visibly shaken, including the Chairman, who won’t be able to sleep at night after this.

A tired Hye Won is still in questioning with the prosecutor, who is impressed by how well she eats and sleeps while in custody. He tells her that they’re going to wait for the right timing to take action on the information Hye Won has given them about the Chairman and Director Kim’s family. Hye Won is satisfied that they’re already being punished. She had considered negotiating with them before coming to the prosecutor, but felt that she would still be their dog if she had.

In the practice room at the college, Professor Jo plays, as Sun Jae listens. Professor Jo tells Sun Jae that Hye Won has brought something huge enough that the Prosecution is debating over it. Sun Jae already knew this, but he tells Professor Jo that Hye Won didn’t want to mitigate her sentence. Sun Jae looks relieved as Professor Jo tells him that it will likely be a year and a half. Instead, he tells Sun Jae to win prize money with the music he just played, and gives him the details of a competition to enter before the Busoni. Sun Jae looks happy to finally be able to do something.

At the trial, Sung Sook is being questioned by Director Kim on the witness stand in a prison uniform. She’s spinning a story about how Hye Won attempted to leave the country after Sung Sook told her to cancel the Foundation trust fund. Hye Won puts off her own lawyer’s attempt to object to this lie, and in the gallery, Sun Jae, Hye Won’s assistant, Ji Soo, and even Wang look anxious.

Sung Sook’s story-telling continues, as she attempts to portray herself as helpless, abandoned by Hye Won. Her own lawyer isn’t buying this story as Director Kim cuts her off to ask Sun Jae be called to the stand. The court dismisses the application.

Back at the college, an outraged Joon Hyung questions his assistant about why Sun Jae didn’t testify. The assistant is spared from having to reply by a knock at the door. It’s Professor Jo, who has arrived to pick up Sun Jae’s paperwork. Joon Hyung wonders why Professor Jo isn’t at the trial. Ji Soo is already there, and Joon Hyung comments bitterly on their touching friendship.

In the Chairman’s house, Young Woo points out that Hye Won has still won this round, since both the Chairman and Director Kim are living in fear. Not for the first time, she points out that Hye Won is the real big fox.

At the courtroom, the judge asks Hye Won to make her final statement. Sun Jae looks intense, as Hye Won stands in her prison uniform. She starts out by stating that she’ll focus on herself, since she’s no longer interested in what punishment the rest of them will receive. She goes on to admit she was fully aware of what she was doing.

In the audience, Jang Ho leans over to Da Mi to ask why Hye Won isn’t claiming innocence, but instead of responding, Da Mi looks over at Sun Jae, who is listening raptly. Hye Won goes on to talk about how she wanted to have influence, wealth, and power, as if she was born to have these things. Instead, one day, she saw the price she had paid for them. She remembers the moment where she first thought about how she was going to live the rest of her life, the first moment where someone dedicated himself to her entirely. It was when Sun Jae wiped the floor so that she would have a clean place to sit, and that was the only time when she had felt such devotion from anyone, including herself. Hye Won was the one who hurt herself, and in the process hurt others, and so she intends to accept whatever sentence is given her, with no appeal. For the first time, Sun Jae looks proud of her as she sits down. They glance at each other as she’s led away, both of them looking as if a weight’s been removed.

It’s one of the few moments in the show where everyone looks genuinely happy, as Sun Jae plays for Da Mi and Jang Ho. When the woman who runs his mother’s old cafe comes up with food, she also sits down happily to listen, quietly shutting the door behind her. Da Mi puts her head on Jang Ho’s shoulder.

It’s nighttime in the prison, and two inmates discuss Hye Won’s trial. They think she’ll get ten years with all the charges, coming to the conclusion that she lost everything, because she was touching a young boy. She’s snoring, sleeping a little too peacefully for their liking, so they decide to teach her a lesson. Hye Won wakes up to find the two inmates cutting her hair, but she doesn’t care, as long as they don’t cut her neck. Hye Won tells them to just shave it off instead.

Sun Jae waits for Hye Won in the visiting room. He’s shocked to see her hair when she comes in, but she jokes that she got it done at the beauty parlour for his visit. They’re both surprisingly relaxed considering he’s visiting her in prison, and it’s the first time he returns her banter. On a serious note, she tells him to forget about her, that he’s already done enough in loving her and changing her life.

He tells her it would be a shame if they broke up without living together, describing how they would fight one day and make up the next. She still looks down, so he makes her laugh, and the two of them smile at each other through the glass partition.

Back in his apartment, Sun Jae plays “Rondo in A Minor”. He seems to be narrating a letter to Hye Won, talking about how he plays this piece every morning, no matter what. It’s in an undertone, but it’s not a tone of resignation, he says. It invites the listener to contemplation and ultimately, love, and the way he touches the piece, he says, is the way he touches her, wickedly sexy woman that she is.

In the prison yard, Hye Won crouches next to a fence in the sun, with a smile on her face. Back in his apartment, Sun Jae puts on his shoes, picks up his luggage, locks up his apartment, and leaves, promising to be back.

Comments

Only 만: Well, that was the end.

Junggugeo Kaenada 중국어 캐나다: I don’t know how they managed it, but by the end, I worried about Sun Jae and Hye Won reuniting. They made me care!

: That is impressive. The ending wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but pretty good in terms of emotional pay off. And, probably a better ending than the Godfather scenario I had in my mind.

중국어 캐나다: Someone was going to wake up with a horse head beside them? Everyone gets shot?

: Everyone gets shot, and Hye Won becomes the godfather. No, I wasn’t expecting anyone to die, but at least something bad to happen to them, and for Sun Jae and Hye Won not to end up together.

중국어 캐나다: Instead, we realize that Sun Jae was probably right about Hye Won being sucked right back in, and Hye Won decides to do exactly what he has been pleading for, which is to give it all up and come clean.

: Pretty much. I was surprised that I liked it, though in retrospect, it was the only acceptable ending; Hye Won was a pretty nasty character on a certain level; she needed to atone.

중국어 캐나다: Yes, redemption is a big part of K-dramas. I am happy that Sun Jae and Hye Won are finally on the same page, and they finally left no doubt of having slept with each other.

: I did enjoy their unchaste snuggling, though I actually enjoyed it less than the prison visit. It was one of the few times where they joked together like equals. It was pretty charming.

중국어 캐나다: Yes, they make a good couple. I was impressed at how relaxed Hye Won was, now that she is free of the Foundation. Even in the midst of a forced prison hair cut.

: Well, she beat them all, even when she went to prison. Sung Sook was completely cowed, the Chairman and Director Kim are living in fear, Young Woo is forced to behave herself, and even Joon Hyung got his comeuppance. And in the end, she even got Sun Jae; it’s a pretty spectacular win.

중국어 캐나다: No wonder she’s smiling in the end. Hye Won came out on top, made Sun Jae happy, and she is not sitting in a poo coloured environment as she has for the majority of the series. That’s a win.


Secret Love Affair (밀회)

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 || series review

12 Comments

  • I was curious how it’ll end before I watched this episode, but after watching it, I can honestly say that it’s the most appropriate ending given everything that had happened. I’m glad Hye Won decided to let go of everything and admit to her crimes. To set herself free. In order for her to have a chance to actually live her life instead of being on a leash of those evil people around her. A very satisfying ending for me. All in all, SLA was a great drama for me. I love everything about it, the mood and tone (gloomy as it was), the emotions, the performance. Kim Hee Ae and Yoo Ah In were brilliant. So I’m a bit sad that SLA had come to an end and I will surely miss this drama very much.

    Thank you for the recap 🙂

  • Thank you for your recaps. SLA certainly was thought provoking, enticing and superbly done. The direction was amazing. Did the actors express enjoying making the drama? If it were my son in that situation I imagine I would be appalled but the actors convinced me of the rightness of their characters’ love. Well done. I look forward to watching it again, so many layers. I too will miss it.

  • After messing with my emotions , mind , torn my heart last week I really want a great finale , I don’t want complain, but am I complaining?! Yes, cause I wish I could have more ten minutes to see SJ coming to pick up HW after she serving her prison time, seeing her without her beauty routine ( I confess I want see his reaction, lol) taking her on his truck and going town to town playing their magical piano music, I want their love shocking ordinary people, I know I know …in the end the drama was about HW awakening and I love her speech at courtroom, but I wish she was standing tall feeling the sun and energized instead siting there…I loved when she was fierce and strong ! Oh boy, I think I read too many comments that I’m feeling confuse lol! Anyone also feel that in this episode SJ was distant ?! Lol that he was just an angel?!
    Lol…ok I need to detox!

    • Lol I agree, it would have been cool if we get to see SJ waiting for HW after she served her time, but then it would make the ending rather bland in a way. Still to me, SJ will be there when HW is release from prison. He might even show up with a piano on the back of his truck playing “Rondo in A Minor” to welcome her back. Okay, I know I’m corny 😛

      I didn’t feel that SJ was distant in this episode, but I think he grew up though. When SJ returned his scholarship and held the goodbye concert. To me he was showing HW how she could let it all go and leave the foundation. SJ gave up his scholarship was like telling HW this is how you do it. I opened the door for you and all you had to do was walk through it.

      • I like what you say that he was showing her that you can give it up when he was playing with the quintet.

        I felt that he was showing her that what was important was the music and the love for it. and I thought perhaps at that point perhaps the thought would cross her mind that he would be ok without her and that would give her peace of mind to make the later decision of going to jail

  • thanks for the recap. I have to say that this was the ending I wanted. and predicted. the other acceptable ending was that SJ, being unable to compromise on his values, leaves her for choosing to continue on her old path.

    I don’t see the story as a redemption of HW. I see it that she rediscovered what was real and of true worth in life and choosing then to embrace that regardless of the consequences she had to bear for that. she came to see that what she had worked so hard for all her life and placed such a high value on was worth nothing coz she was as she says a dog. she lost herself in such gradual bits she couldn’t even see it UNTIL SJ entered her life. I mean she was even helping the chairman to get women!! how low had she sunk?

    so while some saw her as having lost everything to gain SJ, I saw it as her finally SEEING that the massive rooms full beautiful objects didn’t provide her with warmth nor happiness and the ceo chair gave her no real power and so
    she gave up NOTHING of real value or importance.

    I was hopeful for happy ending although it could have been different mainly because there were a few references during the drama of real life musical prodigies who loved older women and loves them for life

    anyway this drama was like no other for me. it jut really was all
    consuming. and still really hard to let go off !! 🙂

  • I too liked the wrap up to this series, ep 15 & 16 were strong. SJ sparked HW back to her authentic self and she picked a bold path to redemption. As I noted in multiple of my recaps SJ was wise beyond his years.

    • SJ is a prodigy and genius.. Kudos to the scriptwriter and director and of course to YAI who acted true to that… His quirky walk, foot fetish, unassuming directness, and of course his wisdom and angle from which he views everything points to that genius in him… All these details and more makes SLA a masterpiece.

  • Loved the drama. Loved Yoo Ah In. Loved the ending. It was better than expected. Was so scared YAI was going to have the same ending as Fashion King (even though I absolutely Love Love that drama)

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