“Secret Love Affair” episode 11 recap

Hye Won and Sun Jae can claim that they hold hands for safety, and not because of a secret love affair.

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Episode Recap

Piano prodigy Lee Sun Jae (Yoo Ah In) sits in his apartment, contemplating his powerlessness in the face of his lover and teacher Oh Hye Won’s (Kim Hee Ae) situation. He flashes back to watching her the night before from a distance, as she saw the SeoHan Group’s Chairman (Kim Yong Gun) off on his way to jail and questioning by the police. He recalls his fear in the face of the unfamiliar milieu of Hannam-dong.

At Hye Won’s office at the SeoHan Arts Foundation and College, Hye Won’s assistant gossips on the phone about the events of the night before, pointing out that people are more interested in the whereabouts of Hye Won for the hour that she was missing, rather than the Chairman going to jail. When Hye Won’s assistant hears the door, she hangs up the phone to greet Hye Won, who gives her the task of ordering a new nameplate stating her new position as vice CEO. Hye Won informs her that she’ll be going to the Chairman’s home in Hannam-dong, after meeting with his daughter and Hye Won’s crazy boss, Seo Young Woo (Kim Hye Eun).

On her way out the door, her assistant cautions Hye Won to be careful in all aspects. Hye Won pauses, then nods and leaves.

Hye Won’s husband, Professor Kang Joon Hyung (Park Hyuk Kwon) asks the evil cello teacher whether the Chairman’s case will affect the Arts Foundation. She wonders why he’s not asking Hye Won about it, but Joon Hyung claims that he doesn’t want to add to Hye Won’s worries. It’s a routine shakedown of the Chairman, so evil cello teacher tells him not to worry, and to stand behind his wife quietly. She reassures him that Hye Won is clever, though the situation is worrisome. Joon Hyung, looking alternately shifty and stressed out, believes that both Young Woo and the Chairman’s wife, Han Sung Sook (Shim Hye Jin) have put too much of their shady financial matters on Hye Won’s shoulders. Evil cello teacher, rather gleefully, informs Joon Hyung that Hye Won met with her brother, but that it was probably just a formality. We may need a diagram here, but her brother is Young Woo’s husband, the head of the SeoHan Group’s legal department, and also the son of a high-ranking prosecutor, which is why Joon Hyung is asking evil cello teacher for information.

Walking down the hall of the SeoHan Arts College, Joon Hyung spots Sun Jae walking ahead of him, and immediately turns tail and walks away. Sun Jae is meeting with Professor Jo In Seo (Park Jong Hoon), who compliments him on his performance the night before. Professor Jo is in the midst of packing up his office in anticipation of a move to a new building, but he invites Sun Jae to sit. Sun Jae is obviously there to ask for information about what’s going on with Hye Won, and Professor Jo tells him that while he’s close with Hye Won, he’s not privy to her work with the Foundation.

To compensate, Professor Jo digs in his boxes and comes up with a program for one of Hye Won’s performances from when they were students together (she was playing Schumann’s Toccata in C, Op 7, if you’re interested). Sun Jae flips through until he finds a picture of a young and smiling Hye Won. Professor Jo tells Sun Jae that it’s not necessary to know everything about Hye Won, but only to understand her unconditionally. Indicating the photo, he tells Sun Jae that if Hye Won were the 24 piano variations that Sun Jae had played at his performance, this picture would be the theme. Given the musical metaphor, Sun Jae understands and finally smiles.

Meanwhile, Hye Won sits in an office, looking bemused at the rare occurrence of Young Woo and Young Woo’s husband being in the same room. Her remark goes unnoticed, as Young Woo eggs her husband on to find Hye Won’s misdeeds in the documents before him. He remarks that there were many cases of abuse involving purchases of instruments and art. Hye Won shoots back obliquely that his sister (evil cello teacher) had herself been involved with getting kickbacks from a shady instruments dealer. Young Woo refuses to believe it, and instead asks Hye Won where she was during the missing hour of the night before. Hye Won dismisses the question as unrelated to work, and Young Woo’s husband shuts Young Woo up.

At her office, SeoHan Arts Foundation CEO Sung Sook meets with Ms. Baek, the fortune teller/trader in inside information. Sung Sook dismisses her assistant, Wang with instructions to tell Hye Won to go straight to Hannam-dong. As Wang leaves, Ms. Baek points out to Sung Sook that Hye Won must be using the current situation to consolidate her position, and encourages Sung Sook to make sure that she has some concrete evidence to hold over Hye Won’s head. Ms. Baek tells Sung Sook about her daughter, Jung Yoo Ra’s earlier assault at their spa by trainee Park Da Mi (Kyung Soo Jin). Having investigated Da Mi’s background, and likely uncovered her connection to Sun Jae, she tells Sung Sook that she would benefit by meeting with Da Mi.

Back at Young Woo’s favourite host bar, Young Woo’s boyfriend, Woo Sung (Kim Kwon), questions Sun Jae’s friend Son Jang Ho (Choi Tae Hwan) about the relationship between Sun Jae and Da Mi, and mentions how Hye Won got in the middle of the two. Jang Ho is now all caught up on the situation, but wonders why Woo Sung wants to know about Sun Jae. Woo Sung looks self-important as he lies about his own interest in classical music, then dismisses Jang Ho.

Woo Sung calls Young Woo, who is disappointed to learn that he hasn’t been able to dig up any hard evidence about Sun Jae and Hye Won. She hangs up, and goes into the office of the fortune-teller that she recommended to Joon Hyung. She wants to know what Joon Hyung talked about, but the fortune-teller demurs, citing professional discretion. He tells her that he predicted that Hye Won would never cheat on Joon Hyung, and stops there, despite her best efforts at persuasion.

Sung Sook is back at the spa, getting a massage from Da Mi. Veiled threats are the order of the day, as Sung Sook takes credit for Yoo Ra’s silence on Da Mi’s assault. Da Mi looks nervous as she continues to massage Sung Sook’s head.

In an interrogation room, the Chairman is enjoying his meal as he’s questioned by the prosecutor. The Chairman denies knowing a man named Oh Chang Seo, the CEO of a company in Singapore, which is likely the venture capital firm that Hye Won mentioned in an earlier episode as a possible channel to funnel funds to Young Woo’s company.

Back in Hannam-dong, Hye Won washes her face, then checks her two phones. Sun Jae has sent her the picture of her younger self from the program, telling her he’s close by. He fidgets as he waits for her in a nearby construction site.

Wang, Sung Sook’s assistant, gossips with Sung Sook’s housekeeper, who apparently already knows the rumours about Hye Won and Sun Jae. Wang cautions the housekeeper that Sung Sook wants them not to talk about it (thus ensuring that they will). Their chat is cut short by Hye Won announcing that she’s going to take a short walk to get some air. As she leaves, Wang gives the housekeeper a knowing look.

Hye Won walks along the street until she finds Sun Jae. Cautioning him to stay where he is (maybe to stay out of camera range?), she runs up a staircase to him, asking if he met with Professor Jo. He admits to it, and she berates herself for being crazy. Sun Jae pulls her into a kiss, then takes her by the hand and leads her carefully into the construction site so they can talk.

As they find a place to sit, she tells him the obvious: that Joon Hyung knows about them, since she acted like a fool (YES). He agrees, taking his share of the blame. They’re sitting apart again, as Hye Won looks at the picture of her 20 year old self. She jokes that she was better looking in person then, but Sun Jae’s not in a joking mood. Instead, he wonders if he should go beg, so that he can pay the price for their indiscretion instead of her. Hye Won is not one to let the men in her life help out, and she tells him not to. Even though Professor Jo told him to understand Hye Won, no matter what, Sun Jae can’t help but be angry at the situation.

Everyone needs Hye Won right now, and Sun Jae understands this, since even Joon Hyung sent her running to Hannam-dong instead of catching them in the act the night before. Hye Won congratulates him on going up a level in worldliness. She asks him to sit closer to her, but he puts his head in his hands instead, looking upset.

Instead, she asks him whether he finished the book she gave him on Sviatoslav Richter, to tell her which part touched him the most. After performances, says Sun Jae, Richter would drive around with a piano in the back of a truck and play in rural churches or warehouses. Hye Won calls it romantic, which prompts Sun Jae to promise her that he’ll become successful, so that she can come with him. She laughs, telling him that he has to become a good performer first, one that can even move Grandpa from Old Partner. She teases him, saying that if people were to read his old journals, they’d never say that, but he doesn’t care, as long as she’s with him.

Their lovers’ banter is interrupted again, by an anonymous text, telling Hye Won that the sender will keep knowledge of their affair to himself, but that he hopes she will get in touch with him soon. At her perturbed expression, Sun Jae takes the phone from her hand and reads it. Panicking, he runs around the construction site, trying to find the interloper. Sun Jae spots someone running off, but just as he’s about to chase them, Hye Won grabs him, telling him that this is no big deal. She pulls him back and kisses him, but instead of enjoying the moment, Hye Won flashes back to all the moments in the past few episodes when she gave herself away, to Wang, to Sung Sook, to Young Woo, and to Da Mi. They break the kiss, and she reassures Sun Jae that she’s only clumsy in front of him, that to others, she’s infinitely cunning and that this situation is nothing. She didn’t want him to see that part of her, so she tells him to pretend not to know and see what happens.

An angry Sun Jae rails against his inability to help her, calling himself a parasite if he does as she says. He begs her to get out immediately, leave behind everything. Hye Won says she’s rehearsing for that, but Sun Jae won’t hear it. He didn’t need practice to kiss her, sleep with her, to love her. He begs her to just leave a note and run away with him, saying that Hannam-dong isn’t the whole world. She’s clearly moved, and tells him that he’s wicked sexy (echoing his words when he saw her sitting in his apartment in episode 8), and walks out, telling him to wait 5 minutes to leave.

Sun Jae is completely distraught as he chases after Hye Won, but she calmly tells him that they shouldn’t see each other for a while, and gives him her spare phone to hang on to in the meantime. He grabs her hand as she tries to walk away again, and she smiles as he helps her down the tricky staircase. At the bottom, she walks away, and he calls out, speaking informally, that he’s going to pig out on noodles to make himself feel better (Ha! We have something in common, Sun Jae). She calls back that she finds it refreshing when he speaks informally. As Hye Won disappears in the distance, Sun Jae looks at her phone to find that she’s saved his number as “Home”.

Back in the house, Young Woo and Sung Sook sit in the living room, looking cranky. Hye Won sits, and reads out to them the threatening message she received moments ago, adding that the anonymous sender will decide which of the two, meaning Sung Sook and Young Woo, he’ll report to first. The two women immediately turn on each other, and Hye Won points out that the sender must be affiliated with one of them. Young Woo loudly protests, calling for Wang to send in Driver Choi, while Sung Sook throws the blame at Young Woo. As Wang comes in, Hye Won announces that in the face of this threat, her loyalty to both women has been cut by half, wondering why they would choose to do something at such a moment when they both need her.

As Young Woo and Sung Sook fight, Hye Won coldly sends Wang out to get her bag. Before Hye Won can leave though, Sung Sook pulls her aside for a conference. Wang goes out into the hallway to berate Driver Choi, who turns out was the culprit. Wang tells him that he gets to keep his job, but only because it would look suspicious if they fired him. I’m not sure, but it looks like he was under orders to follow Hye Won, then tried to blackmail her on his own. Before walking away, she asks if he actually saw anything, but is disappointed to find that he didn’t.

In their private meeting, Sung Sook puts her cards on the table, asking Hye Won to come over to her side. Sung Sook points out that while she doesn’t mind Hye Won helping Young Woo, Young Woo’s in-laws have their eye on the money that Sung Sook has squirrelled away. Hye Won answers noncommittally, as per usual.

Back at Young Woo’s in-laws’ house, Young Woo’s husband is talking about this very money with his father, pointing out that though they know something is going on, Hye Won has been too thorough and nothing is clear. His sister, the evil cello teacher, wanders in, and they ask her about the issue with the instruments that Hye Won brought up with him earlier. She’s nonchalant, but informs them that Hye Won is two-timing, and that she controls Young Woo’s money. They all comment on the peculiarity of the situation.

Jang Ho and Da Mi are at a café, and Da Mi is refusing to take the blame for Jang Ho’s unceremonious dumping by Yoo Ra, pointing out that he got caught in a lie. He tells a shocked Da Mi about his conversation with Woo Sung earlier, where Woo Sung told him about Hye Won coming between Sun Jae and Da Mi.

Hye Won, for her part, is on the phone to Sun Jae, checking that he got home okay as she drives herself home. She tells him the threat came to nothing, and she even got an apology, but Sun Jae blames himself for thinking that it would be okay as long as they didn’t get caught. He tells her that his friends have come over, and she responds with the somewhat motherly instruction that he sleep early.

In Sun Jae’s apartment, Jang Ho and Da Mi are visiting, and Da Mi asks him who the caller was. When he responds that it was his teacher, she announces that she has something to say, telling him to come down to the kitchen to hear it. In a serious tone, Jang Ho tells him to come down as well, and Sun Jae complies.

It turns out that Jang Ho and Da Mi have come over to warn Sun Jae to stay away from Hye Won. Da Mi has heard customers gossiping about the two of them at the salon, while Jang Ho points out that the salon is the kind of place where gossip is traded, and that Hye Won is a regular there. Da Mi reminds him of the necklace from the first episode, and tells him it was Hye Won’s. Trying to be cagey about his own job at the host bar, Jang Ho points out that he’s also seen her waving broken bottles around during an argument with Young Woo.

The power you can’t see is scarier than the obvious, says Da Mi, theorizing that it was Hye Won who got Sun Jae out of jail, and not Joon Hyung. It’s clear that both Jang Ho and Da Mi are intimidated by the kind of crowd Sun Jae has gotten himself involved in, the kind that play with people.

Back at her house, Hye Won and Joon Hyung ignore each other as they go about their evening routine.

Sun Jae, back at the apartment, has had enough of listening to Da Mi and Jang Ho’s warnings, and decides to play them his concert instead, overriding their objections. As he plays, he flashes back to his hours of practice, both with Hye Won and alone, running through the concert repertoire. Awestruck, Jang Ho and Da Mi listen raptly as Sun Jae flashes back to his concert, the moment when he reached for the handkerchief that Hye Won gave him, then continued to play. As he concludes and takes a bow, both Da Mi and Jang Ho look up at him, openmouthed and speechless. Da Mi in particular looks devastated, while Jang Ho tries haltingly to describe his feelings as he listened to Sun Jae. Sun Jae smiles, knowing that he did well, and asks Da Mi what she thought. She’s crying openly now, and asks if the piece was meant to be sad. Sun Jae tells her that it rips the heart open.

Da Mi and Jang Ho get up to leave, and Sun Jae’s smile fades as he watches them go. He looks lonely as he goes to bed, and calls Hye Won’s phone to watch it ring. He dozes fitfully with both phones next to him, then works off his excess energy the next morning by kicking his punching bag on the roof. He makes himself rice for breakfast, then eats, his thoughts clearly still in a muddle. He winds up on the computer, typing away.

Hye Won opens her safe to put away some earrings, which are conveniently sitting on some significant documents. As she closes up the safe, and moves the bookcase in front of it, she gets a message on her tablet from Sun Jae, who is writing to her online alter ego, still unaware that it’s Hye Won. Sun Jae asks his online hyung (older brother) whether he’s told anyone about his goddess. Hye Won denies it, and asks why, but Sun Jae merely asks him to continue to keep it to himself and signs off. Hye Won is taken aback at this, but gets ready for her day.

Her first stop is to meet Professor Jo’s wife, Ji Soo. As Ji Soo climbs in to the car, she complains about meeting like this, wondering why they couldn’t meet in the evening or in the house. Hye Won hands her a tea, and the complaints are cut short as the two friends settle in for a chat. Ji Soo asks if the Chairman, Young Woo’s father will be imprisoned. Hye Won has no idea, and reassures her friend that she’s too much of a small fry to get in trouble herself. Ji Soo is clearly not reassured by this, but Hye Won changes the subject. She asks if Professor Jo said anything, and of course he has. The subject finally turns to Hye Won’s relationship with Sun Jae, and Hye Won has snapped out of whatever fog she’s been in for the last few episodes, having realized that there are eyes everywhere.

Ji Soo asks if Joon Hyung knows, which he obviously does, whereas everyone else is still just guessing. Ji Soo is surprisingly worried about Joon Hyung, wondering what kind of agony he must be in, since he’s not even complaining to Hye Won. A stricken Hye Won explains that she didn’t know it would go this far. Ji Soo is aware of these justifications, of how a relationship can move forward by degrees. She points out that no one makes these decision all at once.

Hye Won needs the scolding, and Ji Soo is only too happy to provide it. She reminds Hye Won that the people around her are waiting for the blood to hit the water before attacking. Hye Won can’t do anything but agree, but when Ji Soo asks what’s troubling her the most, Hye Won answers that despite everything Ji Soo has said, that she still misses Sun Jae. Ji Soo is shocked as Hye Won breaks down crying. She offers her a tissue, but no comfort as the episode ends.


Junggugeo Kaenada 중국어 캐나다: As slow as this episode felt, I feel a great sense of relief that Hye Won has finally come to her senses about the danger she and Sun Jae are in.

Only 만: That said, I’m a little confused: if Hye Won is caught having an affair, what happens? I’m not sure of that anymore.

중국어 캐나다: Well, based on other K-dramas, it appears that personal scandal reflects badly on the organization. I suppose it would bring shame and financial ruin to the Foundation.

: Then why would anyone in the Foundation want to expose her?

중국어 캐나다: Because, they are petty bitches, or stupid. In the case of Young Woo, she is both. I think Sung Sook just wants to hold the affair over Hye Won’s head to force her to be loyal solely to her.

: Right, but what would the real consequences be to Hye Won? I’m not trying to minimise; I’m genuinely curious.

중국어 캐나다: I think you underestimate how catastrophic the exposure of the affair would be to Hye Won. It is all about appearances, so the problem is that if she is caught, her carefully constructed life is destroyed, her husband will probably also go down, and the Foundation would look bad. As well, the three Foundation bosses would lose someone they have come to rely on. I think the only ones who are eager to expose Hye Won are Young Woo, who doesn’t really think ahead, and underlings like Wang, who may benefit from having a space cleared in front of them.

: So, then that makes sense in the context of the conversation she had with Young Woo and Sung Sook, where she said that if they try to look for evidence, they’ll lose her loyalty. She’s emphasizing that they too have something to lose if she goes down.

중국어 캐나다: Exactly, though, as I’ve noted, I do not think Sung Sook really wants the affair exposed. She appears to want Hye Won’s loyalty too badly.

: But, using the affair as a lever won’t work, because it leaves Sung Sook with more problems as well. Which was Hye Won’s point, I guess.

중국어 캐나다: Well, now that Hye Won is more level headed, she realizes this. But, remember, only a few episodes ago, Hye Won was reacting badly to Sung Sook’s jabs about Sun Jae’s eyelids.

: It’s true. She could have prevented the suspicions from forming if she’d clued in from the start. Instead she’s ended up with this situation where the vultures are circling, and she’s having to fight them off.

중국어 캐나다: Meanwhile, I think Sun Jae is growing up, which is also a relief. Though, he still does more open mouth staring into space than I would like.

: He is growing up, though I did laugh when he started showing off for his friends. That said, I didn’t expect that to turn out how it did.

중국어 캐나다: I guess Sun Jae is just that good; turning riff raff into classical music lovers. But, I was more convinced about the relationship between Sun Jae and Hye Won in the episode, especially when they met in the construction site. They do have chemistry, even without the hysterics and hormones.

: I agree on the chemistry, though I thought Hye Won was being overly dismissive of his attempts to get her to run away with him. Is Hye Won really limited to the two options of a life dependent on Sun Jae, or staying at the Foundation? I’m hoping they’ll think of a third option in this series.

중국어 캐나다: This is “Secret Love Affair”, a melodrama, not “Ocean’s Eleven Love Affair” or “The Bourne Identity Love Affair”. Being clever is not an option.

Here are some bonus shots of the reactions to Sun Jae’s impromptu concert for Da Mi and Jang Ho:

Secret Love Affair (밀회)

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


  1. Well what I heard about getting caught cheating in ur spouse in Korea, u can go to jail, so for HW position is highly risky, so everybody wants the “proof”.
    My fave parts from this epi
    1. Prof Jo kindness to SJ, I love the way he consoled him and gave the pic! So touching!
    2.HW called SJ wicked sexy! Lol
    3. HW strikes back !!!!
    4. Answering with music to his friends!
    5. “중국어 캐나다: This is “Secret Love Affair”, a melodrama, not “Ocean’s Eleven Love Affair” or “The Bourne Identity Love Affair”. Being clever is not an option.” Best line EVER! Lol
    Thank u so much for recap!!!!!!!!


    1. Huh. That never even occurred to me, but you are correct: Adultery is illegal in Korea and Hye Won and Sun Jae can go to jail for it (more info here). That said, if I read this correctly, Joon Hyung has to make the complaint himself… so we’ll see how that turns out. I’d hate to see what constitutes proof in cases like this.

      Thanks for reading, and thanks for the info!


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