Side dish: Dark and spicy seems to be the theme of this show, and what’s more dark and spicy than chocolate? If you’re in Toronto, head immediately to Soma Chocolates and try a cup of their Mayan Hot Chocolate. It’s made with Dark Venezualan chocolate and a blend of spices. I like it as a shot, but you can also have it with milk or hot water.
Lee Sun Jae (Yoo Ah In) drives a sleeping Oh Hye Won (Kim Hee Ae) in her car. Sun Jae stops the car at a crossing, and glancing over at Hye Won, notices the bandage on her forehead. Sun Jae is alarmed, but chooses not to disturb Hye Won.
The car finally stops, and Hye Won wakes up, thinking that two hours have passed. However, Sun Jae reveals that he has only driven for 40 minutes, and they are now in Jangheung (Google Maps indicate that it is north of Seoul). Hye Won is agreeable to staying put for a while.
Sun Jae asks Hye Won about the wound on her forehead. Hye Won flashes back to her crazy boss, Seo Young Woo (Kim Hye Eun) whipping mahjong tiles at her, earlier in the evening. However, Hye Won chooses to blame a falling star for her injury. It’s meant to be a joke, but Sun Jae just looks concerned.
Sun Jae asks Hye Won why she called him out instead of going home. Hye Won initially refuses to answer, then confesses that being at home sometimes feels like she is still at work. This is not surprising given how her husband, Kang Joon Hyung (Park Hyeok Kwon) frequently gripes at her about his lack of advancement at work.
Hye Won tells Sun Jae to get himself something to drink, and Sun Jae obeys. In the convenience store, Sun Jae checks his bank statement on his smartphone, and sees that he has only $180.00 left. Sun Jae sighs, then heads across the street to a love hotel. Hye Won spots him from the car, but does not stop him.
At the front desk of the love hotel, Sun Jae asks the rate for an hour and a half ($30) then how much for the best room ($50 with a $5 discount if paid in cash).
Back in the car, Hye Won is still watching the love hotel anxiously. She looks panicky, and ready to cry.
Sun Jae is taken to see the best room in the love hotel, which features a red whirlpool tub, mood lighting options, female forms decorating the wall, adult TV channels, and a chair for assuming different sexual positions. The proprietor invites Sun Jae to sit down in the sex chair, and Sun Jae can only wipe his face in embarrassment. He asks if there is a clean room with none of these amenities.
Sun Jae runs back outside, having found a less freaky room, but Hye Won and the car are gone. He calls her, explaining that he wanted to find her a place to rest, since she could not find it at home. However, Hye Won is too busy having a panic attack to hear reason. She apologizes to Sun Jae for even calling him out, adamantly refuses to go to a love hotel with him, then hangs up.
Sun Jae seems pretty calm for a guy stranded by the woman he loves, because his good intentions were misconstrued. He stands at a bus stop, but Google Maps tells me that it will take Sun Jae at least an hour and 40 minutes to get back to Seoul via public transit. He eventually decides to walk, and seems more hurt than angry.
Meanwhile, Hye Won is suffering an anxiety attack as she drives. When she gets home, her husband, Joon Hyung startles her in the kitchen. He points out that she’s late, then orders her to bring tea to his office.
Hye Won is infuriated by Joon Hyung’s insensitivity, but complies. In his office, Joon Hyung finally notices the bandage on her forehead, and asks what happened. She answers vaguely, but Joon Hyung just tells Hye Won to be careful, lest people think he is a wife beater. He follows this up with a not so subtle warning to watch her conduct.
Hye Won gives a death stare that unnerves even Joon Hyung. She coldly reveals that it was Young Woo who hit her, then storms out.
Joon Hyung marches after her, and demands to know if Hye Won is now angry at him; to anyone listening in, it sounds like she is blaming him for her injury. Hye Won laughs bitterly, noting that the opinion of others is what matters most to Joon Hyung.
She finally raises her voice at Joon Hyung, furious that her husband is giving her grief over the injury instead of comfort. They enjoy a life of luxury, because Hye Won takes the abuse. Joon Hyung roars in Hye Won’s face that she chose this burden, because she enjoys the affluent lifestyle that comes with it. Therefore, she can always choose to quit.
Hye Won laughs at the suggestion, since quitting would mean giving up the house, her job, and Joon Hyung’s professorship. She sarcastically suggests that they return to their 20s when they had none of these things. Her tone then becomes mournful as she admits that she would gladly give up everything if it were possible to be 20 again. As Hye Won walks away, Joon Hyung resentfully mutters that, of course, she would want that, thinking of her relationship with 20 year old Sun Jae.
In the privacy of her office, Hye Won checks her phone, and reads a message from Sun Jae. The key to his apartment is in the pocket of his jacket, which is in her car. He is waiting in front of her house.
Hye Won pulls Sun Jae’s jacket out of her car, and indeed finds a key in the pocket. Her hand encloses the key in a fist, and her anxiety returns at the prospect of having to face Sun Jae again.
Hye Won solves this dilemma by opening the front door a crack, placing Sun Jae’s jacket on the floor, then quietly closing the door again. Sun Jae makes a sound of disbelief, and stares with exasperation at Hye Won’s front door, before retrieving his jacket. Standing on the other side of the door, Hye Won adds insult to injury by sending Sun Jae a condescending text, blaming him for not taking care of his belongings.
Sun Jae’s text is more direct, asking what he did wrong, since he hadn’t suggested that they sleep together. Hye Won sarcastically asks if he thought she would happily follow him into the love hotel. Sun Jae continues to protest his innocent intentions, while Hye Won continues to act outraged.
Sun Jae admits that while he would like to eventually sleep with Hye Won, it was honestly his intention tonight to lighten her burden. This final text sends Hye Won running outside, but only just in time to watch Sun Jae’s receding back. She falls back against the door frame, looking remorseful.
Hye Won takes a bath, and assesses the state of her body, tearfully checking her neck for wattle. Meanwhile, Sun Jae is lying in bed, holding his head and wincing like he has a headache as opposed to a pain in the ass.
The next morning, Hye Won applies a new bandage to her head, and Joon Hyung passes without a word. Hye Won peeks out onto the street, but Sun Jae is nowhere to be found. As she prepares to leave, Joon Hyung steps out to apologize, explaining that he was actually angry with himself for being unable to protect her.
Hye Won coolly cuts him off, which worries Joon Hyung. She softens her tone, and apologizes as well. Joon Hyung asks if she will be coming to Sun Jae’s audition, and she plainly says no. As Hye Won leaves, Joon Hyung plaintively calls after her to stop being angry.
Driving in her car, Hye Won calls Sun Jae, and uses her authoritarian voice to scold Sun Jae for not sticking to his morning run. Sun Jae states the obvious, which is that he avoided her, because she was angry. Hye Won exclaims in annoyance, before switching to the topic of his audition.
When Sun Jae fails to respond to her advice on how to convey passion on the piano, Hye Won assumes that that he is spitefully playing mind games. Sun Jae speaks up to say he understands her advice, and he denies that he has ever played mind games. Hye Won impatiently tells him to focus on his audition, then hangs up. Poor Sun Jae attempts to text Hye Won an assertion that he will do well at his audition before giving up to get ready.
Hye Won is having breakfast in a private dining room with the Chairman (Kim Yong Geon). She immediately apologizes for provoking his daughter, Young Woo the night before, and the Chairman dismisses the matter. The Chairman reveals that he intends to keep Young Woo in the CEO position, and promote Hye Won to Vice CEO. Hye Won plays off her disappointment, and the Chairman reminds her that she wanted the authority to make decisions, and not necessarily the title to go with it.
The Chairman suggests that he and Hye Won open up an account together. Hye Won claims not to understand, but the Chairman does not explain himself. Instead, he brings up the two Malevich and one de Kooning paintings that his wife, Han Sung Sook (Shim Hye Jin) recently acquired for investment purposes.
The Chairman admits that he does not have high hopes for Young Woo’s company. Hye Won suggests that she register Young Woo’s company as a parallel import business so that the Chairman can also invest in art work, and the Chairman is satisfied.
Sung Sook is getting ready when her assistant finds something in the Chairman’s coat pocket. Though the assistant tries to hide her discovery, Sung Sook notices, and asks for the item. It turns out to be a a diamond ring. Sung Sook is already plotting as she examines the ring.
Meanwhile, the Chairman asks Hye Won if his wife is aware of his mistress, but she reassures him that Sung Sook is not. The Chairman gushes about how his mistress goes from cold to hot in an instant, then dreams of spending a month with her. He asks Hye Won if this is at all possible, but Hye Won quietly reminds him of the high risk of being caught.
Hye Won arrives at the SeoHan Apparel showroom to find Young Woo modelling a jacket for her boyfriend. There is an absence of animosity as Young Woo asks Hye Won how breakfast went, and Hye Won claims it went well thanks to Young Woo, then compliments her on her figure. Hye Won and the boyfriend are even courteous to each other. The scene makes me suspect that Young Woo’s crazy assault on Hye Won last night was all a strategic act engineered by Hye Won.
Hye Won outlines to Young Woo that she will not need to worry about the mundane, day-to-day running of her SeoHan Apparel spin-off brand. Young Woo is not worried as she believes that the key to success will be the exclusion of her stepmother, Sung Sook from the project. The boyfriend and Young Woo ask if they will have a hand in the marketing, and Hye Won humours them with an open-ended answer.
Sun Jae walks out onto the stage for his audition wearing an outfit that reminds me of a cholo. Joon Hyung is in the audience with his peers taking credit for teaching Sun Jae, and pointedly downplaying his wife’s role. As Joon Hyung prompts Sun Jae to play, he flashes back to coming upon his wife and Sun Jae laughing together, his wife telling him to let Sun Jae go, and finally, overhearing Hye Won and Sun Jae hug.
Sun Jae plays Liszt’s “Spanish Rhapsody” on the grand piano with as much passion as he showed in the privacy of Hye Won’s piano room. The audience seems as entranced by his playing as Hye Won was. As he plays, Sun Jae thinks back to when Hye Won sat in his apartment, listening to a recording of him playing this very piece.
When Sun Jae finishes, both professors and students alike are visibly impressed. One professor gives an understated compliment, calling Sun Jae “pretty good”. Joon Hyung, being the humourless twat that he is, protests that Sun Jae is better than “pretty good”.
All the professors and their hangers-on pile onto the stage, and Joon Hyung’s rival, Prof. Jo applauds him, pointing out that he did not make a single mistake. Sun Jae is introduced by Prof. Jo (Park Jong Hoon) to his star pupil, Ji Min Woo (Shin Ji Ho), and the two students are encouraged by Prof. Jo to positively influence each other. Joon Hyung eagerly suggests that the two students compete, which instantly excites Min Woo whereas Sun Jae appears unenthusiastic.
Walking together behind the professors, Min Woo reveals to Sun Jae that he was discovered by Hye Won and introduced to Prof. Jo by her. He credits her as his real teacher, and says he still uses her pointers, despite not seeing her as much anymore. Min Woo then asks if Sun Jae would like to exchange numbers, and Sun Jae bluntly turns him down. Min Woo apologizes, then runs after Prof. Jo. Sun Jae smiles to himself.
Meanwhile, Hye Won is in her office, seemingly listening to Sun Jae play, and in a daze when Sung Sook’s assistant informs her that there is an emergency. Sun Jae walks quickly to Sung Sook’s office while reprimanding Sung Sook’s assistant for getting caught with the diamond ring in the Chairman’s coat pocket. Hye Won braces herself, then enters Sung Sook’s office alone.
Sung Sook is playing with the ring in question, speculating that it might have been given then taken back by her husband, or the girlfriend purposely wanted her husband to get caught. Hye Won apologizes, but tells a bold faced lie in claiming ignorance.
Sung Sook is in a conspiratorial mindset as she speculates that Young Woo introduced her father to another woman, and Hye Won helped out, because Hye Won is dissatisfied with what Sung Sook can do for her career. She believes that Hye Won is capable of such ruthless scheming. To prove otherwise, Hye Won is tasked by Sung Sook with taking care of the problem. After Sung Sook leaves the room, Hye Won grasps her head, which is probably about to explode from the pressure of dealing with her bosses’ scandalous affairs.
Hye Won is having trouble contacting the Chairman’s mistress via phone. After brainstorming with her assistant and Sung Sook’s assistant, she peevishly decides to go search for the mistress alone. The assistants note that Hye Won has been more bad-tempered of late.
Sun Jae is hanging laundry at home when his girlfriend, Park Da Mi (Kyung Soo Jin) knocks on the door. She declines to come in, because she just wanted to check on how his audition went, and see his face. She wants to be cool, now that he is a college student.
As Da Mi turns to leave, Sun Jae tells her to visit again, which surprises her. Sun Jae wishes to stay in contact with her and their friend, Jang Ho in order to remember where he came from. Da Mi laughs and threatens Sun Jae with death if he forgets his vocational high school and courier job.
Sun Jae may wish to keep in contact with Da Mi, but he also wants to add a barrier. He asks Da Mi to call before she comes in the future. Again, this surprises Da Mi. Sun Jae trips over his words as he tries to indicate that a teacher other than Joon Hyung might be over. Da Mi accepts his rather cryptic explanation, and tells him to sleep well. Sun Jae chooses instead to sit on his bed and think heavy thoughts.
Hye Won manages to find the Chairman’s mistress working at a modest restaurant. The mistress has no wish to speak with Hye Won, but reluctantly sits down at her table. Hye Won repeatedly makes attempts at social pleasantries, but is rebuffed by the stone faced mistress until she accepts Hye Won’s offer of a drink by requesting hard liquor.
The mistress is downing a shot when she spots an envelope that likely contains a pay off. She rejects it right away. Hye Won quietly compliments her on her principles, then brings out the diamond ring. The mistress reveals that she gave it back to the Chairman before escaping, because he would not leave her alone. She correctly surmises that the wife has found the ring, then tells Hye Won to pass along a message to Sung Sook: she slept with the Chairman twice and it was no fun so she dumped him. So, the matter is settled.
When Hye Won appears confused, the mistress plainly states that she received the diamond ring when she tried to end the affair with the Chairman. She rages at having to change her job, phone number and her life to get away from the Chairman.
Hye Won shamefacedly puts the diamond ring away while asking, as the messenger, for a firm promise that she will not see the Chairman again. The mistress does not understand how much clearer she can be than to say that she dumped the Chairman, but Hye Won requires that the mistress accept the envelope of money as confirmation. The mistress throws a drink in Hye Won’s face, calling her a lackey for the rich, in addition to having poor listening skills. She storms off, and a shocked Hye Won uses napkins to dry herself off.
Back in her car, Hye Won reports to Sung Sook that the mistress will no longer be a concern. She hangs up after reminding Sung Sook of Sun Jae’s scholarship award ceremony tomorrow afternoon. Hye Won gingerly holds her cheek as if she was slapped in the face.
After speaking with Hye Won, Sung Sook sings and plays acoustic guitar for the Chairman. The Chairman appears nervous as he downs a drink and asks her what is wrong. Sung Sook gingerly gets up and pulls the Chairman in close to slow dance.
Sung Sook continues to sing sweetly into the Chairman’s ear. She stops singing to ask for a gift. Stammering, the Chairman asks what she wants. Sung Sook wants a vasectomy, but since she is unlikely to receive that gift, Sung Sook decides to gift the Chairman with a knee to the groin. She holds him as he slumps wordlessly against her shoulder.
The next day, Sung Sook acknowledges that Hye Won has restored the trust between them, just before everyone enters her office for the scholarship award ceremony. Sun Jae looks over at Hye Won as he comes in, but she avoids eye contact.
Young Woo arrives just as the award ceremony is completed. Sung Sook smoothly invites her to join in on the group photograph, explaining that Young Woo was not informed of this event since it was a Foundation matter. Young Woo makes a bitchy remark, and only Dean Min (Kim Chang Wan) calls her on her bad behaviour.
When Young Woo is introduced to Sun Jae, she instantly recognizes him from Hye Won’s piano room. Young Woo threatens to expose Hye Won’s admission corruption. Then, Young Woo asks Hye Won why she continues to serve Sung Sook when she is now a Vice CEO in her own right. It appears that Sung Sook was not aware of Hye Won’s new position, as she reacts with surprise.
After signing some documents, Sun Jae runs into Hye Won in the hallway. Hye Won surveys the area before telling Sun Jae to leave. A concerned Sun Jae chooses instead to ask about Young Woo and her mistreatment of Hye Won. Hye Won just marks it as a life lesson for Sun Jae.
Sun Jae reveals that seeing Hye Won’s horrendous work environment has made his own hurt feelings disappear, only to be replaced by outrage at Hye Won’s mistreatment. Hye Won listens to Sun Jae with eyes averted before suddenly shoving Sun Jae and shouting at him to go. She escapes into her office, slamming the door, and alarming her assistant.
Unbeknownst to Hye Won and Sun Jae, Joon Hyung was eavesdropping around the corner. As Sun Jae stands, uncertain of what to do next, Joon Hyung rounds the corner, pretending to be oblivious to what just happened. He tells Sun Jae to follow him, and Sun Jae reluctantly complies.
Hye Won is lying on her office couch when her assistant asks how she should resolve an issue seen in an earlier episode in which one of the professors misled a student into buying a sub par instrument from a recommended dealer. Hye Won refuses to deal with the matter now, and the assistant offers her a blanket, instead.
Meanwhile, the professor in question is asking the student why she had to make such a fuss, and involve Joon Hyung’s assistant. The assistant had witnessed their exchange, and disapproved of the professor’s underhanded dealings.
The student attempts to defend herself, explaining that she got frustrated with her instrument, but the professor tells her to find another adviser, because she refuses to teach her anymore. At that moment, rich girl, Jung Yoo Ra (Jin Bo Ra) enters the office, and is immediately given preferential treatment, while the student stuck with the sub par instrument is unceremoniously kicked out.
Just before getting into Joon Hyung’s car, Sun Jae suddenly claims to have a personal matter to attend to, and promises to catch up with him later. Sun Jae probably just wanted to avoid being alone in the car with Joon Hyung, because we are not shown what he attended to, and he shows up in Joon Hyung’s office shortly thereafter.
Due to his mid-term enrolment, Sun Jae will only be taking performance tutorials with Joon Hyung. In anticipation of his liberal arts classes next semester, Joon Hyung provides Sun Jae with books to catch up on academics since his grades were poor. Joon Hyung lectures Sun Jae on the importance of learning objectivity to reign in youthful passion, which can be mistaken for purity. Sun Jae says he understands, but I doubt he understood Joon Hyung’s hidden message regarding his affair with his wife.
Disconcertingly, Joon Hyung then invites Sun Jae over to his home on the weekends in order to have his progress assessed by his wife. Sun Jae pauses long enough for Joon Hyung to ask if he has something to say, which Sun Jae denies and scurries out. Joon Hyung continues to be put off by Sun Jae’s attitude. It is a petty sentiment given that it appears to be unrelated to Sun Jae’s affair with his wife.
At home, Joon Hyung paces in his office, remembering his wife pushing Sun Jae away in the hallway earlier in the day. He frowns, but appears thoughtful.
Sun Jae is also at home, thinking of the same moment, but focusing on Hye Won calling the mistreatment he witnessed as a life lesson. He presses his fists down on the keys of his piano, while also looking thoughtful.
The person on both men’s minds, Hye Won is still lying on the couch in her darkened office. Tears fall as she struggles to stand up, but her legs buckle under her, and she props herself back onto the couch to cry.
What a harsh reality Hye Won’s injury has thrown in her face. The juxtaposition between the inappropriate younger man who showes her love and concern, with the husband who does not show the same regard for her, is stark.
Clearly, Joon Hyung is a self-absorbed child, but Hye Won is an enabler. She keeps him blissfully ignorant of the mistreatment that she suffers regularly to keep them in the lap of luxury. When her husband is remorseful enough to want to discuss her problems, she refuses to honestly communicate with him.
However, Hye Won clearly has a problem with being honest in general, as she hides behind her position of authority to keep Sun Jae at a distance. She accuses Sun Jae of playing games, when she is the one role-playing as his teacher. Hye Won’s scolding of Sun Jae for not sticking to his morning run was especially ludicrous. I am not even sure she believes her own accusations against Sun Jae of lewd intentions, or if they were just another way to hold him, and her desires at bay.
I suppose that it is all a knee-jerk reaction to a rapidly deteriorating situation, both at work and in her personal life. Presumably, Hye Won is seasoned in deception after years of dealing with the Chairman, Sung Sook and Young Woo. Perhaps the appearance of Sun Jae has made Hye Won less enthusiastic about professional scheming.
Speaking of the catalyst, Sun Jae’s honesty only seems to apply when it concerns Hye Won. Though he is uneasy about deceiving his girlfriend, and Hye Won’s husband, he does it anyway. It is notable that he maintains a relationship with Da Mi in order to keep him level headed, then places a barrier between them that only benefits him.
Finally, is Joon Hyung so desperate for prestige that he is willing to bring his wife and Sun Jae together? That may not be far fetched since it has already been established that Joon Hyung cares more about what his wife can do for him professionally than for her well being. It will be interesting to see when Joon Hyung will find it convenient to play the outraged and ignorant cuckold.
Secret Love Affair (밀회)