“Secret Love Affair” episode 8 recap

All beer, no action.

Side dish: Paganini was mentioned this episode, and he was born in Italy, in the coastal city of Genoa. You can’t get more Genoese than pesto, so give this recipe for Trenette with Pesto from Lidia’s Kitchen a try.

Episode Recap

Lee Sun Jae (Yoo Ah In) is sitting at home, thinking back to the bitchy attack Oh Hye Won (Kim Hee Ae) received from her crazy boss, Seo Young Woo (Kim Hye Eun), as well as the injury Hye Won suffered as a result of a physical attack from Young Woo. His concern compels him to message his online chat room friend for advice.

Little does Sun Jae know, his 25 year old male friend is actually Hye Won. Hye Won reads Sun Jae’s lament that he is miserable, because he is powerless to protect her. Hye Won tartly notes that Sun Jae’s woman has diminished from a goddess to a girl.

Sun Jae ignores this comment and asks if he should ask her to see him. Hye Won grumpily tells Sun Jae that he is annoying, and to do what he wants.

Sun Jae decides to text Hye Won asking to see her before their weekend lesson. He promises to be silent and just sit by her side, and they can hang out at his place rather than a love motel. It’s cute that Sun Jae fails to see that the potential for naughty behaviour is just as high in his apartment.

Hye Won’s husband, Kang Joon Hyung (Park Hyeok Kwon) is creepily eavesdropping outside of Sun Jae’s apartment. Fortunately, he cannot hear text messages. Joon Hyung finally tip toes away, averting his face as he walks past Sun Jae’s girlfriend, Park Da Mi (Kyung Soo Jin).

Da Mi noisily tells Sun Jae to let her in, and he is dismayed that she failed to call before coming as he had requested. Da Mi charges into the bathroom, leaving Sun Jae to panic outside about how to prevent his crush from coming face to face with his violent girlfriend. Sun Jae suggests that they go out to eat.

Hye Won pulls into a parking space just in time to spot Sun Jae and Da Mi exiting his apartment building. Sun Jae is enthusiastically gripping Da Mi by the shoulder in order to guide her away as quickly as possible. Hye Won ducks her head as the couple pass.

Meanwhile, Joon Hyung has gone from creepy stalker to uninvited guest. He pours himself drink after drink as Young Woo screams at him to get out of her apartment, because she has plans. Joon Hyung tells Young Woo to go out, and he will just drink alone in her home. Young Woo chooses instead to call Hye Won to complain. Hilariously, Young Woo calls both of their marriages fake, but still considers Joon Hyung drinking at her place unacceptable. Hye Won snarkily suggests that the two long time friends figure things out on their own, then hangs up.

Sun Jae is eating furiously at a food stand, while Da Mi outlines her plan to get a two-year cosmetic college diploma in order to live up to his standards. Da Mi continues to speak hopefully of advancing her career for his sake while Sun Jae shows little reaction. He looks nervously at his phone, and haltingly attempts to ask Da Mi something (If he may leave the table? If they should break up?), but gives up.

Hye Won looks like she is ready to do a stake out when a resident harasses her about parking illegally. The hostile man shouts at Hye Won until she drives away, unnerved and angry. Hye Won cries as she drives home.

The next morning, it is presumably the weekend, as Sun Jae arrives at Hye Won’s home for his lesson. Hye Won appears exhausted, but composed as she primps in front of the mirror. This composure pretty much shatters as soon as Hye Won sees Sun Jae in the piano room.

Hye Won acidly asks how Sun Jae’s Friday night went, then attacks him for a lack of ambition. Sun Jae is understandably confused as Hye Won asks him rapid-fire questions while shoving him repeatedly into the piano then around the room.

Sun Jae grabs a hold of Hye Won’s wrist when he realizes that she showed up at his place last night. Hye Won has a screechy, jealous fit, as Sun Jae sits her down on the couch. Sun Jae gives his approval of her visit last night as well as her current tantrum, before attempting again to find out why Young Woo humiliates Hye Won.

Hye Won is doing a great job of humiliating herself, but Sun Jae attempts to smooth things over by revealing how embarrassed he was standing by while Hye Won was abused. Hye Won calls Sun Jae’s hero aspirations a fantasy. To her credit, she tries to steer Sun Jae away from focusing on her and to consider the real life opportunities his piano talent will bring. Hye Won is resigned to her life of catering to the wealthy, because she is a slave to money.

Joon Hyung arrives home, and decides to search through Hye Won’s car, but fails to find anything. He enters the house cautiously after spotting Sun Jae’s running shoes in the entrance, then silently approaches the piano room. Joon Hyung swings the door open without warning, only to find his wife and student sitting at opposite ends of the couch.

The scene is innocent enough, but Sun Jae and Hye Won jump to their feet, and Hye Won looks away guiltily. Joon Hyung demands to know why Sun Jae is not practicing, and Hye Won overcompensates by loudly lambasting Sun Jae’s lack of ambition. Joon Hyung is left to defend Sun Jae until the student apologizes. Joon Hyung then sheepishly withdraws without another word.

Alone together, Hye Won attempts to compose herself, and advises Sun Jae to do a concerto. Sun Jae attempts to comfort Hye Won by telling a story about Mozart choosing artistic integrity over money, then going crazy and dying. Hye Won impatiently uses logic to shoot down the moral of Sun Jae’s story, before pointing out that he can live off the rich while doing what he wants.

Hye Won softens her approach as she outlines the competition she wants Sun Jae to enter. She asks if he has memorized any concertos. He relates his usual self-directed methods, and Hye Won loses her temper. She calls him a baby and storms out, leaving Sun Jae to cry alone.

Hye Won collects song books and CDs then returns to the piano room to play a CD, barking that everyone can shut up, because music is the most important. She sounds insane! Thankfully, the music takes over, and soothes the crazy.

Meanwhile, Joon Hyung is calling Young Woo to ask about a fortune teller. He starts the conversation off by asking how her night went, then reassuring her that he only ate some of her food. Young Woo must have asked if Hye Won took issue with his actions, and Joon Hyung dismisses the idea since he and Young Woo are platonic like a comedy duo. Joon Hyung makes an appointment with a fortune teller recommended by Young Woo.

In the piano room, Hye Won and Sun Jae are enraptured with the music. When it ends,  Hye Won tells Sun Jae that his ability to entrance listeners with his playing is how he will steal from the rich. Hye Won makes a schedule for her and Sun Jae to practice regularly. Sun Jae has a one-track mind and asks whether Hye Won considers his declaration of love childish given the nasty environment she works in. Hye Won tells him to worry about himself, and leaves.

What follows is a montage of Sun Jae and Hye Won playing the piano separately.

Hye Won is sitting before her mirror and accidentally drops the cap of a spray bottle, and hurts her hand. When her husband asks what is wrong, she blames it on menopause. I suppose this establishes her physical decline.

Sun Jae enters the college practice room for his lesson with Hye Won, and finds her on the phone complaining about the positioning of the two pianos. There’s nothing that can done about it, but Sun Jae is okay with working under less than ideal conditions, as usual.

Sun Jae attempts to ask Hye Won how she is doing, and Hye Won repeats her order that he should worry about himself. They start playing side by side, and gone is the entranced Hye Won. In her place is a merciless drill sergeant.

Dean Min (Kim Chang Wan) calls Joon Hyung into his office to ask him to organize the graduate students for a short notice performance at a Christian entrepreneurs meeting. It is a thankless job, since the students will not be paid, so Joon Hyung passes the responsibility onto his assistant. His assistant protests that in previous gigs, the students were not even fed, and had to pay for taxis to transport their instruments. Joon Hyung flippantly says that there is no pay in worship, and to regard the opportunity as an honour. His assistant is cursing Joon Hyung once the door closes behind him, but Joon Hyung unexpectedly doubles back. The assistant stands at attention while Joon Hyung orders him to wash his car before taking off again. The assistant curses silently.

Hye Won continues to whip Sun Jae into shape with shouting and harsh words. Unfortunately, Sun Jae regards her with rose tinted glasses, and interrupts Hye Won’s tirade with admiration. Hye Won angrily orders Sun Jae to splash cold water in his face, but she has already dampened his enthusiasm. The collapse of Sun Jae’s face is priceless.

After washing his face as ordered, Sun Jae decides to contact his online friend on his smartphone to commiserate. He believes that Hye Won is punishing him when she is the one who is making mistakes. Back in the practice room, Hye Won reads all this on her tablet, and she chuckles. She writes back that he should consider himself lucky to have someone help him practice. Sun Jae is appreciative, but he feels suffocated by guilt over making her talk too much. Hye Won points out that she humiliated herself in front of Sun Jae. Sun Jae wonders if he should simply show her his heart, and Hye Won snickers at his earnestness. She is laughing by the time Sun Jae suggests running away with her.

Hye Won is forced to drop her conversation with Sun Jae when she is summoned by Young Woo. Young Woo initially takes issue with news that Sun Jae will be making a recording. Then, after Hye Won answers a call from Sun Jae, Young Woo amuses herself with the idea of Hye Won having an affair with the young student.

Hye Won angrily says that she will not be bullied by Young Woo to relieve her boredom. As usual, Young Woo attempts to inspire loyalty by demanding it while verbally abusing Hye Won. Hye Won decides to treat Young Woo like the spoiled child she is, calmly taking her leave then picking up the book that Young Woo whips at her. She challenges Young Woo to use her brain in stead of relying on her to defeat her stepmother. Young Woo threatens Hye Won with the appearance of her brain, and Hye Won laughs at her bluff. Young Woo could definitely use a good spanking as she has a tantrum after Hye Won’s exit.

Joon Hyung meets with fortune teller and asks him to assess the future for him, Hye Won and Sun Jae. The fortune teller instantly assumes that Joon Hyung wants to know if his wife is having an affair with his student, but Joon Hyung dismisses this line of thinking. Joon Hyung insists that he is more interested in professional success. Shortly thereafter, Joon Hyung receives a text from Young Woo taunting him about Hye Won and Sun Jae being alone together in the practice room. Joon Hyung frowns and texts Young Woo to take a nap if she is bored. Poor Joon Hyung cannot seem to get away from smut regarding his wife and student.

Joon Hyung will have to continue suffering insinuations of being a cuckold after the fortune teller informs him that Sun Jae is his lucky charm. The fortune teller can tell that his marriage is less than satisfactory, but insists that he must not divorce his wife. Joon Hyung tries to return to the subject that he is more interested in: Sun Jae. Even the fortune teller finds Joon Hyung’s obsession with his student bizarre, so he returns to the subject of Hye Won, claiming that she would never cheat on him, because she prioritizes work over men. Most importantly, the fortune teller states, Sun Jae will be Joon Hyung’s means for career advancement, so he must not let him go.

At the spa where Da Mi works, she overhears two of the clients gossiping about the professor’s wife being in love with Sun Jae. The wheels start turning as Da Mi recalls Sun Jae telling her that he is working with a teacher who is not the professor. Da Mi instantly calls friend, Son Jang Ho (Choi Tae Hwan) about her reservations, and requests that he ask his girlfriend, a classmate of Sun Jae, about this professor’s wife.

The practice continues, but Hye Won is looking more blissful, before the intensity is cranked up for both Sun Jae and Hye Won while tickling the ivories. Hye Won calls an end to today’s lesson, then points out how Sun Jae was being overly familiar by writing her given name on her song book. Sun Jae meant to be funny, but Hye Won simply leaves without responding.

Just before she leaves, Sun Jae asks Hye Won if she could consider his feelings. Following the advice he received from his online friend, he wishes simply to live life and enjoy music; to hell with credentials and social status. Hye Won simply reminds him of their next practice session, and exits the room, leaving Sun Jae frustrated at being rebuffed.

Hye Won is more affected by Sun Jae’s words than he realizes. She returns to her office looking downtrodden and exhausted. Hye Won then notices Sun Jae’s jacket lying on her couch, and remembers that he keeps his house keys in his jacket.

Sun Jae arrives at home just as he realizes that he is missing his keys. He call Hye Won to retrieve his belongings, and is shocked to discover that Hye Won is waiting for him in his apartment. He rushes up the stairs excitedly then stops, suddenly nervous.

Sun Jae enters his apartment and is about to place Hye Won’s shoes in a better position when Hye Won’s voice stops him. He looks up and she is sitting on his bed, wearing his shirt. Hye Won states that she has decided she will have fun tonight, then playfully asks Sun Jae if wearing his shirt makes her look like his girlfriend. Sun Jae denies this, since Da Mi was wearing his mom’s clothes the last time he saw her. Hye Won correctly labels Da Mi as more family than girlfriend.

Sun Jae laughs as Hye Won claims to have mapped an escape route in case they are caught by Da Mi. He tells her that she looks sexy. And yet, Hye Won points out, Sun Jae remains standing at the entrance. Sun Jae beams at this flirty side of Hye Won.

Joon Hyung calls security at the college to ask if Sun Jae and Hye Won have finished practice. The security guard confirms that they have. Joon Hyung frowns then grabs his tablet to view the first video his wife made of Sun Jae. He zooms in on his wife, and realizes that Hye Won fell for Sun Jae early on.

Joon Hyung pops some pills and goes to bed. The fortune teller’s assurances that his wife would never cheat on him ring in his ear, and Joon Hyung is lulled to sleep by the idea of Sun Jae acting as a lucky charm for his career.

We return to Sun Jae’s seedy apartment, and hear a rather suggestive conversation between Sun Jae and Hye Won, followed by some panting. Of course, they are not having sex. Get your mind out of the gutter. They’re just drinking, and Hye Won was really enjoying her beer. (Correction: our reader, xine has informed us that production confirmed intercourse between Sun Jae and Hye Won, and I don’t mean conversation.)

Sun Jae first had alcohol as a child whereas Hye Won has always followed the rules. She then points out that when he is 40, she will be 60. They marvel at the thought. Sun Jae then pops up and retrieves a photograph of an acclaimed pianist in her 60s. Sun Jae thinks Hye Won will be more beautiful in her 60s, which Hye Won admits is entirely possible with enough money and time spent on her face. They laugh, but Sun Jae earnestly insists that she will be beautiful since even her brain is sexy. His words still embarrass Hye Won, and she asks how he can speak like that sober. Hye Won plays footsie with Sun Jae, and since he has a thing for women’s feet, Sun Jae sweeps her up and throws her into bed. He straddles her, but nothing appears to be happening. They are drunk and flirty – how are they maintaining abstinence?! (Correction: They are not.)

Sun Jae ends up playing the piano as Hye Won lies, fully clothed, in his bed. Later in the night, Sun Jae has fallen asleep and Hye Won is changing back into her clothes. She peeks at Sun Jae then leaves, talking business on her cell phone as she closes the door.

Sun Jae wakes up with a start as the door closes, and he jumps out of bed, only to realize that Hye Won is gone. He sits heavily back down, looking despondent and lost.


Hye Won went insane in this episode. I understand that the stress she is suffering is probably to blame, but she has lost all control over herself. Hye Won becomes embarrassed by her wanton need for Sun Jae, then makes it worse by taking it out on him. I am afraid that the writers went too far with her breakdown, as it seems premature.

To her credit, Hye Won does have the right idea regarding Sun Jae’s talent. She wants him to make use of it to improve his standing in life, but all Sun Jae can focus on are her problems, which are insurmountable. It is infuriating to try helping a starry eyed kid with his whole life ahead of him when you’re stuck in a terrible job/marriage.

Hye Won is also spot on regarding Da Mi’s asexual status with Sun Jae. Poor Da Mi feels inadequate to her rapidly rising boyfriend. Initially, it seemed like she was going to act like an anchor, but now, she aims to match him, which is even more sad.

Sun Jae is at his worst when dealing with Da Mi, ignoring her while enjoying the domestic perks she provides.  As a result, Hye Won’s assault on Sun Jae seems like just desserts.

The character I found the most entertaining in this episode was Joon Hyung. The man is creeping around like a detective, then drinking his pain away as an unwanted guest of a hilarious Young Woo. I don’t even know what compels him to act this way since every time insinuations of an affair between his wife and student pop up, Joon Hyung reacts with a mixture of distaste and annoyance, as opposed to anger. And as shown in his session with the fortune teller, he is really more interested in Sun Jae and his career than his marriage of convenience.

It was funny how the fortune teller has neutralized Joon Hyung as a threat to the burgeoning relationship between Hye Won and Sun Jae. Joon Hyung is now compelled to look the other way for the sake of his ambition. It will be interesting to see what the tipping point is for Joon Hyung to finally acknowledge the affair happening right under his nose.

I think Joon Hyung and Young Woo are my new favourite couple. For your viewing pleasure, Young Woo post-tantrum.

Secret Love Affair (밀회)

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


  1. Thanks for the recap. I keep on refreshing my ipad to check if the review is already available. Anyway, sounds funnt but i agree with all your comments especially the last one sbout Joon Hyung and Young Woo. Fighting!


  2. I have to agree they made love. Her coming to his flat, wearing his clothes and then saying if you find me sexy why are you still down there gives pretty clear signals one to the other what’s on the cards. The conversation about is this really your first time / let me know if this is uncomfortable, etc, is also pretty clear. I think the filming really underscores what sort of relationship it is: they have a deep and instantanteous passion rooted in music through which they speak soul to soul, heart to heart. The intimate world they are creating for themselves has no relevance to mundane daily life or age or social class. They simply fit. So the camera panning about his impoverished flat and us only hearing the random remarks as they make love is really just underscoring how far removed their private place is – not telling us that nothing has happened. And I agree with startulle that he would never have thrown her on the bed later, called her Hye Won-ah and wrestled with her laughing like that if those physical barriers had not already been removed. He woudl never have had the confidence.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I watched that scene three more times after seeing this discussion, and they are definitely talking about sex. Personally, I’m more curious about what he meant by their hug being his first time.

        Either way, this is the most entertaining discussion ever. 😀


      2. So I went back and rewatched that scene since you mentioned it, and honestly, I’m still not sure what was going on. Obviously more than I first suspected… which is kind of hilarious in that he still stops to answer the phone. On a random side note, I just noticed for the first time that Joon Hyung has tears in his eyes in the car.


      3. I assumed that due to his age and relative inexperience, he had an episode in his pants just by that short “hug” period. Men and their quick responses and all…… Or maybe I’m hyper imaginative. ….. since he said it was his first time, I took it as confirmation that what I thought about the hug scene was correct.

        I’m actually running home to rewatch the series because there are so many little things I must reconfirm. ..eg the medicine OHW and her cuckold take.


      4. Soompi had some pretty comprehensive discussions on the “Secret Love Affair” forum. Someone even started a blog about it from there, if you want to check it out: Piano Conversations.

        Back to the scene, I made the assumption that the two of them looking down was just because they couldn’t look each other in the eye, since Sun Jae’s over-reaction to her offer of a hug had made them both nervous. On the other hand, I think my base assumption with K-dramas is that nothing sexy is going on. But, yes, she definitely wasn’t thinking chaste thoughts when she watched him clean the floor, and something was going on to inspire that level of heavy breathing (and the comment he made in this episode).

        BTW, Betsy from Creating Volumes commented further down as well, if you want to read some more of her thoughts.


      5. It’s amazing the number of things I am picking up while rewatching this drama….. even the things I saw the first time get my blood racing a second time like HW admitting her relative inexperience and SJ telling her that he’ll be the judge of that …… the last time a drama affected my sleep and eating patterns was in City Hall. I must allow myself a girl crush here!!


  3. My guess is, they took very little clothing off. He is shy, she is private, neither one of them are confident. At 20 I probably would have required more details but at 50 I can fill in the blanks just fine thankyouverymuch.


  4. it is a bit of a cheat – but i gather from another blog that production staff have confirmed on twitter that otp did in fact make love


  5. @Jung-gug-eo Kaenada, lol let me join with you in making tantrum… Anyway, that’s fine. Correct me if I’m wrong, I do think did the right thing, i mean wrote the right thing. You maybe not that brave or very bold to write that the fact that they made love but still i do appreciate it. I have to admit, i myself have waited for that moment and how would the production will show it since it’s a Korean drama and how are they going to do it without embarrassing the main lead Yoo Ah In (one of my favorite actor) and the lead actress. Fortunately it is clean and very neat. ( vey wise of them) Clap clap to them…

    Anyway thanks again and to my fellow Secret Love Affair companions here for sharing :-). Stay healthy


  6. Oh, I loved Hye-won’s breakdown. Again, she is revealing herself completely to Sun-jae. In a way she’s never been allowed (or never allowed) herself to be revealed to anyone. And I loved that Sun-jae got how big a deal that was and that she’d be embarrassed and unsure and touchy. And that he was trying to figure out how to best handle it for her sake. (So much love he’s expressing! ♥)

    And I thought his bringing up Mozart… that was him expressing hopelessness. (Mozart tried to buck the system. He went crazy and died.) A poor kid like him — he doesn’t have any illusions about the way the world works. That’s part of why he was crying throughout the scene. He understood the burden Hye-won was under. So her rebuking him (no one knows if that’s why Mozart died) was more her fighting back against his deepening sense of hopelessness. And then she went racing for music because that’s where they both seek solace. And it worked. Which was awesome. (How I read it anyway. 🙂 )


    1. That’s interesting… I took his mentioning Mozart as his support for her choices in working the system (or living off rich people as she calls it). Since people who buck the system end poorly, then he’s saying she made the right choice to survive, despite what it cost her pride. He’s not as naive as he looks, like you said.


  7. Sun-jae said that he “might not do well” and Hye-won’ answered “did you sense that I wasn’t experienced then?” Was her marriage to her husband never consumated? It seems to me that she was still a virgin before this encounter.


  8. Also, when Sun-jae said he might not do well, Hye-won said she might do worse after they discussed the Lizst experience.


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