Side dish: We all know what side dish the Chairman wanted to take home, but since he was at the restaurant nominally to eat seollongtang or beef bone soup, let’s concentrate on that instead. Making seollongtang isn’t complicated, but it does involve a lot of time on the stove. Here’s a recipe from Korean Bapsang. If you make it, don’t forget to check it off your “Let’s Eat” list.
Oh Hye Won (Kim Hee Ae) walks in to her house followed by Lee Sun Jae (Yoo Ah In). She leads him into the music room where they played together before, and asks him to wait there. In a daze, she goes to the kitchen and starts to make tea, when her housekeeper walks in and startles her out of her reverie. Hye Won asks why she’s awake, and it turns out that Hye Won’s husband, Kang Joon Hyung (Park Hyuk Kwon) has been calling, since he’ll be coming home sooner than expected. The housekeeper asks if Hye Won has a guest, but Hye Won denies it, and sends the housekeeper to bed.
Hye Won checks her phone to find that Joon Hyung has left a message and is on his way home. She calls him back, only to be blasted by his annoyance over the phone. The romantic mood is resoundingly dead, and she looks nervous as she walks back to the music room. She takes a moment to compose herself outside, and walks in to find Sun Jae looking nervous. Instead of addressing their illicit kiss in her garage, she pretends to have forgotten why he’s there, and what just happened. He looks crushed as she tells him to leave, and to contact her only if he wants to play piano. He apologizes to her husband, since he has never wanted another man’s woman before. Abruptly, she smacks him on the cheek, and tells him to call her “Teacher”. He looks shocked and no wonder: this is a spectacular flip-flop from the garage.
Sun Jae huffs out a breath, admitting that he made a mistake despite being sober, and she coldly replies that he doesn’t have to tell her, since she doesn’t know. Hye Won opens the door to show him the exit, and he walks out, looking defeated.
Sun Jae’s truck passes Joon Hyung’s car just as he approaches home. Hye Won is in the shower when Joon Hyung comes in, and he asks if she just arrived. Hye Won admits that she did, and she asks him why he’s back so early since he usually stays with his students on their overnight team-building trips. Joon Hyung responds that it is awkward now that he’s the academic chair, so he bought them some beer and left them to his professional rival, Professor Jo In Seo (Park Jong Hoon). As she gets ready for bed, Joon Hyung drinks a beer and complains about passing a junk truck zooming past him in their street.
Later, Hye Won drinks coffee in her kitchen and calls herself pathetic. Back in his room, Sun Jae sees the book that she sent him and throws it in the garbage. As he mops the floors of the government office where he is serving his non-active duty service, he gives excuses to his girlfriend, trainee hairdresser Park Da Mi (Kyung Soo Jin) over the phone for not meeting her. Annoyed, she tells him that after waiting for an hour, she slept in a jjimjilbang and came to work early. Da Mi asks Sun Jae where he was, and he tells her that he was wasting his time. Sun Jae flashes back to the frantic kiss with Hye Won of the night before, then remembers her claiming that she didn’t remember what happened. Sun Jae looks on the point of tears, but he keeps mopping instead.
As if in response, Hye Won vows never to remember as she is driving in her car. She breathes out heavily as she answers a phone call from one of her bosses, SeoHan Arts Foundation CEO Han Sung Sook (Shim Hye Jin), who, as usual, complains about her stepdaughter (and rival) Seo Young Woo (Kim Hye Eun), who appeared at breakfast with the family, but then tearfully dragged the Chairman (Young Woo’s father and Sung Sook’s husband) into his study for a private talk.
A tearful Young Woo sits in the Chairman’s (Kim Yong Gun) study and looks as tragic as she can in several thousand dollars worth of clothes and jewelry, whining that she’s always been miserable, and her mother never gave her any love. Unimpressed, the Chairman asks if she’d like him to recite the next verse of this sad song, then tells her to grow up and look after her own kids, rather than complain about her childhood. Wiping away non-existent tears, she whines about how she can’t see the children either. He asks how he can trust her, since she always gets into trouble when she goes abroad on the pretext of visiting them, then asks what she really wants.
Outside the door, Sung Sook is interrupted in her eavesdropping as someone walks by. In her office at the Foundation, she relays what she heard to Hye Won, disappointed that she wasn’t able to hear any more. Sung Sook asks if Hye Won can set up a bug in the study while Sung Sook is away on her trip, but they both agree that it would be hard to do behind the Chairman’s back. As they sit down to tea, Sung Sook asks Hye Won if Young Woo’s angling for a divorce. Hye Won doesn’t know, so Sung Sook asks if Hye Won told Young Woo’s boyfriend to stay away, and Hye Won confirms this, but doubts that it worked. Sung Sook asks if Young Woo’s boyfriend dumped her, and Hye Won says that it’s possible, since Young Woo liked the boyfriend more than the boyfriend liked Young Woo. Sung Sook disapproves, since that would mean giving up the power in the relationship, especially since the guy in question is a bar boy.
Hye Won excuses Young Woo by explaining that she’s lonely, but Sung Sook isn’t having it; Young Woo must be pitiful for the guy to see her as a wallet rather than a woman. Sung Sook’s dignity is her weapon, she says, pointing to how she got her husband to pony up the “chocolate” money (aka the Foundation’s money) for her personal use. Sung Sook instructs Hye Won to let Young Woo embarrass herself, but Hye Won refuses, saying she’ll be fired. Sung Sook apologizes for putting Hye Won in the role of a double agent, but Hye Won explains that since the Chairman paid for her study abroad, she’s repaying the favour. Sung Sook points out that she’s the one who gave Joon Hyung his job, and Hye Won explains that she plays triple agent to repay that favour. Sung Sook is impressed with her sneakiness.
They go back to discussing Sung Sook’s travel itinerary, and Sung Sook confirms that she’ll be travelling by herself with a local security team. They discuss how the “chocolate” money is being distributed, which they will confirm once they discuss things with Ms. Baek.
Ms. Baek chooses that moment to arrive with Dean Min Yong Ki (Kim Chang Wan), and after discussing her daughter’s poor school attendance, they get down to business.
In the Chairman’s study, he issues instructions to his assistant to give Young Woo her confiscated passport back, to allow her to go abroad. He instructs his assistant to tell Young Woo’s husband that he’s sent her on an errand. Back at the spa, Young Woo gets the news, and immediately phones her boyfriend, Woo Sung, to suggest a shopping trip to Paris. I revise my already low opinion of Young Woo’s intelligence downward.
Back in Sung Sook’s office, Ms. Baek is doing some fortune telling about investments while Sung Sook looks skeptical and Dean Min looks enthusiastic. Hye Won excuses herself on an urgent errand.
Outside his workplace, Sun Jae shovels a pile of dirt into a wheelbarrow. He gets a message from Hye Won, asking if he got home safely and ignores it. She sends another, telling him to respond, and he ignores it again. Bad piano music spills out of a nearby building, and he winces as he carries on. The music seems to get louder and louder, until he finally snaps and runs into the building.
He storms into a ballet studio, and screams at the bad pianist to stop torturing him. The little girls run screaming out of the room as he yells. Panicked, the ballet teacher calls the cops, but Sun Jae doesn’t care and tries to get the bad pianist to play the tune right. As the cops take him away, he lunges at her again, to correct her posture.
At the police station, an officer reads out the charges against Sun Jae, which are pretty serious. His supervisor defends him, saying he’s quiet and sincere, then asks Sun Jae if he has any psychological problems. Before he can answer, the bad pianist insists they throw him into jail. They ask if Sun Jae can reach a settlement, since he’ll go to jail otherwise. The police officer asks if he has a guardian, and Sun Jae says he doesn’t.
Da Mi and Sun Jae’s friend Son Jang Ho (Choi Tae Hwan) visit Sun Jae in detention. Jang Ho explains that he went to the hospital first to check the amount of the settlement, and Da Mi chimes in that the bad pianist was obviously faking her injuries, since she was eating chicken and beer. Da Mi tells Sun Jae that he’ll have to beg, since the bad pianist is obviously hoping for money. Sun Jae protests that he’s too confused to beg, and Jang Ho hits him with the reality that he’ll have to come up with $7000 otherwise. Jang Ho and Da Mi tell him to ask Joon Hyung for help, but Sun Jae refuses, rubbing his cheek where Hye Won slapped it. Instead, he says he will just go to prison and live there.
At the airport, Young Woo and Woo Sung get on the elevator for the CIP lounge, and he’s awed by the perks of travelling with her. In the lounge, Hye Won explains to Sung Sook that the Chairman will take her for lunch to find out if Sung Sook still loves him. Sung Sook protests that he’s only interested in her money, but Hye Won reassures a disbelieving Sung Sook that the Chairman still loves her. Sung Sook instructs Hye Won to be vague with the Chairman and to keep an eye on his philandering.
Young Woo and Woo Sung choose that moment to walk into the lounge, much to Hye Won’s shock. Hye Won immediately runs over and under her breath tells Young Woo to pretend that Woo Sung is a business associate. Sung Sook joins them, and they trade bitchy looks while establishing that they’re booked on the same flight. Hye Won dismisses Woo Sung, and the three women carry on their bitchfest. It is a disaster for Hye Won as both women refuse to change flights. She’s saved as boarding begins. On the flight, Sung Sook seethes as Young Woo sits back in her chair next to Woo Sung.
Back in the Foundation offices, Young Woo and Hye Won’s assistants celebrate their freedom. Young Woo’s assistant (who is also Hye Won’s friend from dinner) gets a phone call from Hye Won, who tells them to have lunch without her.
In a seolleongtang (beef bone soup) restaurant, the Chairman laughs at Young Woo and Sung Sook’s situation on the airplane. He belittles Young Woo’s intellectual capacity. Hye Won defends her, mentioning a possible business plan, but the Chairman scoffs. Hye Won tells him that Young Woo is travelling with a man, but the Chairman is only annoyed at Young Woo’s stupidity. Hye Won asks if the Chairman can give Young Woo some responsibility, but since he can’t trust Young Woo without Hye Won’s help, he refuses. And, he goes on to say, Sung Sook would never let Hye Won leave the foundation anyway. He reminds her that if she stays under Sung Sook, she’ll be a director forever. Hye Won replies diplomatically that she doesn’t mind what her position is, as long as it’s forever.
The Chairman muses that Sung Sook’s boobs are great, but her other pocket has grown too large (i.e. she has too much of her own money), and that she’s had her position for too long. Hye Won points out that she’ll have to pass on this information to Sung Sook, and the Chairman laughs and compliments her, calling her the biggest fox of all. He’d be happier if Young Woo was more like her, and if she’d been a man, he’d have married her to Young Woo. Rather than running away screaming at this pronouncement, Hye Won notices that the soup has arrived. The Chairman makes chitchat with the harried looking waitress, then makes a note to have his way with her. Hye Won silently raises her eyebrows, but the Chairman eats with gusto, telling Hye Won that they should go for a picnic soon.
On the way out of the restaurant, Hye Won gives the waitress an outrageously large tip, then confirms the waitress’s days off, to the waitress’s surprise. I’m not sure, but it looks like Hye Won is setting up a “date” for the Chairman. Hye Won nods to the Chairman, date confirmed, and the Chairman’s car leaves, as I struggle not to vomit.
Back at the school, a college student chases Ms. Baek’s daughter, Jung Yoo Ra (Jin Bo Ra) as she leaves the school. The student is upset because she will fail if Yoo Ra does not show up to class, but Yoo Ra could not care less, and gets into a car. The driver is none other than Jang Ho, who drives off as Yoo Ra complains. Back at the school, Joon Hyung asks another professor to take it easy on Yoo Ra, but it is a tall order since Yoo Ra has only shown up to her class once. The professor asks for investment information from Ms. Baek in compensation, so Joon Hyung promises to ask the dean about it. The teacher goes into a music room, where the student who was chasing Yoo Ra is tuning up her cello. Yoo Ra is obviously not present, but the teacher has no sympathy, and proceeds to harshly criticize her playing for the rest of the class, pointing out the crappiness of her cello.
Jang Ho drops off Yoo Ra at her mansion. He asks her if her mom has connections in the prosecution or police to help out his friend, meaning Sun Jae. She tells him that she’s worried about her mom going to jail herself, and gets out of the car. Disappointed, Jang Ho drives off. Back at the bar, Jang Ho gets an earful for running off with Woo Sung’s car, but he stops the manager to ask if he knows anyone powerful. The manager tells him to park the car and get to work. As Jang Ho gets back into the car, he gets a phone call from Da Mi. He goes to meet her and reports that he couldn’t find anyone to help Sun Jae.
In a packed jail cell, a tormented Sun Jae listens to the snoring of the other detainees. To block out his miserable reality, he latches on to the memory of playing piano with Hye Won. At home, Hye Won is restless, and does a futile search for Sun Jae on the classical music website where she first talked to him.
At the spa the next day, Hye Won asks for Da Mi to massage her aching head. Da Mi is embarrassed when she sees Hye Won, and apologizes because she’s wearing the necklace that Hye Won told her to throw away. Hye Won reassures her, and they get on with the shampoo. Hye Won thinks back to her meetings with Sun Jae, first in the music room at their house, then at his house, then finally the kiss in her garage. She gasps for air, and Da Mi checks if she’s okay.
Hair done, Hye Won is about to leave when Da Mi takes her aside, and tearfully spills the whole story of her boyfriend being in jail. Partway through, a shocked Hye Won clues in that it is Sun Jae she is talking about, and agrees to help, without revealing their connection.
From her car, Hye Won calls her assistant to look into Sun Jae’s situation. She gets the full story back at the office, then immediately goes to the police station, where she sees Sun Jae sitting in lock-up. Rather than bail him out or visit him, she hangs around for a while, thinking to herself over a cup of coffee, then goes home.
Over breakfast the next morning, Joon Hyung gets the news that Professor Jo might be a judge at the next Chopin competition. He goes ballistic, flinging accusations of betrayal at Hye Won, who hands him his ringing phone. She smiles as he answers it, and eats a tomato as he goes tearing out of the room.
Joon Hyung winds up at the police station where Sun Jae is locked up, spinning a story to the police officer and the bad pianist about Sun Jae becoming mentally ill from the pressure of preparing for international competitions. The bad pianist agrees to settle, and when the police officer brings up the criminal charges, Joon Hyung makes a phone call to the police commissioner.
Back at the Foundation, Hye Won eats with her assistant, who says that she wanted to become like Hye Won when she first started working there, but soon gave up the idea when she realized the punishment that Hye Won has to endure. She asks Hye Won about Sun Jae, and Hye Won answers that it looks like it’s going to work out.
At the police station, Joon Hyung hugs Sun Jae as he’s led out of his cell, much to Sun Jae’s surprise, who is unaware that Joon Hyung is putting on a show for the police officer. A pleased Joon Hyung laughs as he drives a sleeping Sun Jae back to the house.
Upon arrival in Joon Hyung’s garage, Sun Jae panics about going AWOL from his civil service job, but Joon Hyung reassures him that he’s arranged a doctor’s note to get him out of his public service duty, and invites Sun Jae to stay at their house. Sun Jae protests, but he’s cut off by Hye Won’s arrival. As she gets out of the car, Joon Hyung presents Sun Jae, obviously proud of himself.
Joon Hyung explains that Sun Jae went crazy from wanting to play piano. Sun Jae cuts him off so that he can explain it himself, and tells her that there was more to it. She tells him to go inside, and Joon Hyung agrees, suggesting they talk about it over a beer. As they go inside, he tells Sun Jae that he won’t be able to live if he turns away from his talent. Hye Won follows them in, and the episode ends.
I don’t have to like a character to want to watch a show, and in this case that’s a good thing, because Hye Won is looking less and less sympathetic. In her rejection of Sun Jae, rather than tell him directly that she’s had a change of heart, because her husband is coming home, Hye Won plays it off as his mistake, and one that she’s willing to overlook as his teacher. She’s covering her own ass, and it’s a cruel game to play with Sun Jae, because he has no defence against her; she’s literally the first and only person so far to understand him. Hye Won follows this up by kicking him out when it’s clear that he’s in turmoil. It’s no wonder that Sun Jae ends up in such a bad state.
The Chairman and his family are even worse. Whereas Hye Won plays triple agent in between these three factions at war, they engage in behaviour that ranges from stupid to despicable. I’m not sure which of them is the worst: Young Woo, whose selfish passions make her stupid and violent; the Chairman, who manipulates his family for his amusement; or Sung Sook, who has turned the SeoHan Arts Foundation into her personal slush fund. Right now, I’m leaning towards the Chairman, who literally made Hye Won act as his procurer. Ick. Now, her usual smiling and tipping no longer seem like acts of kindness, since this is one end result.
So far, I’m enjoying this show, though I can’t say I’m rooting for Hye Won, whose motives are dubious, and whose actions are always circular. However, having established what kind of world she lives in, and what she does to survive there, I’m curious as to how she’ll change with the presence of Sun Jae. I’m also curious about Sun Jae, and the growth of his character now that he’s fully immersed in Hye Won’s world. Their chemistry is obviously pretty explosive, so that’s something else to look forward to. That aside, the music is great, the mood is perfect, the characters are sharply drawn and the story is scandalous enough to keep me interested. I can safely say that I’m hooked.
Secret Love Affair (밀회)