Side dish: I’ve been experiencing a craving for pad thai recently, and blog sponsor David Kim swears by this recipe from Chez Pim. It’s long, but your pad thai will be delicious.
The Seohan Arts Foundation is definitely a pit of snakes as Vice CEO, Oh Hye Won’s (Kim Hee Ae) assistant goes running to share news of the confrontation in her office between her boss and beauty spa worker, Park Da Mi (Kyung Soo Jin). However, the assistant of the Chairman’s wife already knows; after all, it was the Chairman’s wife, Han Sung Sook (Shim Hye Jin) who brought about the meeting.
They would be disappointed to discover that Da Mi, the ex-girlfriend of Hye Won’s lover is surprisingly calm and reasonable, given her penchant for violence. Hye Won musters up a lame excuse as Da Mi attempts to confirm that Hye Won is continuing to see her ex-boyfriend, Lee Sun Jae (Yoo Ah In). Da Mi shames Hye Won for seemingly having it all, including a husband, and still giving in to momentary passion.
When Hye Won tries to convince Da Mi that she has been misled, Da Mi threatens to expose the affair. Hye Won then attempts to rush Da Mi out of her office, while maintaining the illusion of decorum by inviting her and Sun Jae to eat sometime. Da Mi cuts to the chase by revealing that someone higher up than Hye Won had forced her to come and scare Hye Won. This was the kind of underhanded politics that Da Mi did not want Sun Jae involved in. A disgusted Da Mi storms out, spitting on the ground instead of in the face of the “bitches” at the Foundation, as she would like. Hye Won is left to pant and cry, then collapse. Hye Won’s assistant places Hye Won on the couch in order for a doctor to examine her. Sung Sook peers in with satisfaction at the destruction she has wrought.
Sitting at home, Sun Jae receives a text from Hye Won giving Da Mi credit for being decent. Before Sun Jae can text back for clarification, Hye Won directs him to delete the message and not to reply. Sun Jae stares at his phone in frustration.
Fortunately for Sun Jae, the straight-talking Da Mi arrives at that moment. She freely admits to visiting Hye Won, and telling her to stay away from Sun Jae. When Sun Jae loses his temper, Da Mi points out that Hye Won is as corrupt as everyone else at the Foundation. Sun Jae desperately attempts to give Hye Won the benefit of the doubt that she will change, because of her love for him. Da Mi will only believe Hye Won loves Sun Jae if she abandons her life for him. Sun Jae screams in frustration, because Da Mi is right.
Hye Won’s husband, Kang Joon Hyung (Park Hyeok Kwon) enters the office of Dean Min (Kim Chang Wan) to find his and Hye Won’s former student. The former student is now an editor at a classical music magazine who wishes to interview Joon Hyung and Hye Won. Joon Hyung tries to turn the offer down, but Dean Min is eager for the publicity, and even offers up Sun Jae for the article. The editor is excited at the prospect, given Sun Jae’s scholarship and reputation.
Hye Won goes to meet with the Chairman’s lawyer/son-in-law, but sends a text in advance. The lawyer asks suspiciously if the text is supposed to serve as evidence of their meeting. Hye Won denies any such intention, since the text could be deleted; she was just protesting this interruption of her busy schedule. The lawyer regards Hye Won with disbelief at her deviousness. The lawyer slides a piece of paper across to Hye Won, which presumably contains the terms of an agreement to have Hye Won take the fall for the Chairman. Hye Won appears resigned to the arrangement, and the lawyer destroys the slip of paper.
The Chairman is released from jail and back home. He is informed by his lawyer/son-in-law that he will still have to go to trial as soon as possible, but there is a good chance they will win in the first trial if the Chairman will consent to sacrificing Hye Won. The Chairman gives the go ahead, and the lawyer proceeds with his plan.
Sung Sook is having a rather muted spat with her step-daughter, Seo Young Woo (Kim Hye Eun) about the Chairman’s health while Hye Won serves them tea. They are interrupted by the lawyer/brother-in-law requesting Hye Won to go upstairs to see the Chairman. After Hye Won leaves the room, Sung Sook and Young Woo bicker until Young Woo’s lawyer husband tells them both to stop fighting.
Meeting the Chairman in private, Hye Won is offered money in acknowledgement of her hard work. Hye Won reluctantly accepts the money, but back in her office, the Chairman’s praise rings in her ears. Hye Won rents a cab to think as she watches people flying kites by the river. Sun Jae is chugging back soju when he receives a text from Hye Won directing him to an address so they can have a discussion. Sun Jae enters an unfamiliar building, which turns out to be the studio of a former classmate of Hye Won. Hye Won has belatedly decided to be prudent about exposing their affair.
After Hye Won explains the clusterfuck that she now finds herself in, Sun Jae is angry at having feigned ignorance and trusting Hye Won to deal with everything while caught up in his romantic notions. Hye Won now asks him to endure her attempt to suck up to her husband in order to protect everything she has worked for, and her future. Sun Jae stares bitterly as a cowed Hye Won directs him to be on his best behaviour.
Sun Jae asks once again for Hye Won to run away from it all, but Hye Won claims that the time is not right. Sun Jae wonders what it is that Hye Won wasted her youth to achieve, and Hye Won admits she wanted to join the upper class. With such a laughable motive, Sun Jae wonders when Hye Won will consider it the right time to abandon her goal. Hye Won challenges Sun Jae asking whether he would still have been attracted to her without all the trappings of money and prestige. But, Sun Jae refuses to let Hye Won use him as an excuse for her choice to remain imprisoned. He asks if Hye Won intends to live the rest of her life, possibly 60 years, without love. Hye Won shouts at Sun Jae to stop and clutches her head. Sun Jae walks out alone onto the street.
Back home, Joon Hyung walks cautiously through his house, but fails to find Hye Won in her office. Hye Won copies the files from the USB key that was entrusted to her onto her laptop, then returns it to her safe.
The next morning, Hye Won meets the Chairman’s lawyer in a private dining room. The Chairman has decided to have Hye Won take the fall, and turn herself in to the law. However, Hye Won quietly refuses to concede to the Chairman’s wishes, and walks out in polite insubordination.
Back at the Chairman’s home, the entire family is gathered to plot how to force Hye Won to take the fall for the corruption scandal. The Chairman’s lawyer/son-law advises Sung Sook to make peace with Hye Won, and Young Woo to simply watch what she says. Finally, the line of communication between Hye Won and the Chairman will be cut. Witness to the entire scheme, Sung Sook’s assistant is thrilled by Hye Won’s downfall.
Hye Won turns over the USB key of damning information to Sung Sook, conceding defeat. Sung Sook placates her by enclosing her in a hug; all the better to stab her in the back. Sung Sook attempts to reassure Hye Won about the impending legal charges, but Hye Won refuses to acknowledge them, and continues to speak about overseeing Foundation business. Sung Sook regards Hye Won with amazement, and gives a little smile.
Sung Sook’s rejoicing assistant is already reading up on how to play mahjong in anticipation of a promotion that will see her become an invited guest at the Chairman’s mahjong nights. She quickly hides the book when Hye Won steps out of Sung Sook’s office, and offers Hye Won false pity at her departure. Hye Won pauses to regard the two-faced bitch before giving her a hug. As Hye Won walks down the hall, Young Woo passes and advises her to think carefully. Hye Won laughs, wagging her finger as she walks away.
Back at her office, Hye Won finds her calls to the Chairman rebuffed, and sits back in disbelief. After being reassured by Dean Min that Hye Won’s actions may still work to their advantage, Sung Sook turns the USB key handed back by Hye Won to Ms. Baek, the fortune teller/trader in inside information.
At the Foundation’s favourite beauty spa, the clientele are all gossiping about Hye Won’s downfall. Da Mi overhears the speculation on what Hye Won might have over the Foundation.
In conversation with Dean Min, Joon Hyung distances himself from his wife. Dean Min advises Joon Hyung to maintain his marriage so he may be given the Dean position as compensation for her downfall. Joon Hyung decides to forgo his misgivings and do the interview with Hye Won for the editor.
Sun Jae stops by Joon Hyung’s office, and is directed to come to his house over the weekend for the interview. Sun Jae protests that he is supposed to attend the party of fellow star student, Min Woo, but Joon Hyung simply directs his assistant to bring Sun Jae to his home for the interview.
Joon Hyung’s assistant is expressing sympathy to Sun Jae about being forced to do the interview when Sun Jae is stopped by rich classmate, Jung Yoo Ra (Jin Bo Ra). Yoo Ra taunts Sun Jae about the rumours regarding Hye Won, and Sun Jae tells her to get lost. Joon Hyung’s assistant approves of Sun Jae’s response to the bitchy Yoo Ra, who is favoured, because her mother, Ms. Baek manipulates finances for the dean as well as many of the professors. To demonstrate the disparity at the college, the assistant points out the student who fell out of favour, because she dared to complain about the shoddy cello that she bought from a dealer recommended by her supervising professor. Now, the fallen student is ready to drop out of school, because she cannot major in music performance without a supervisor.
After being encouraged by the assistant to simply go with the flow, Sun Jae finds the sad cello student playing in a practice room. The student is pleasantly surprised that Sun Jae has come to take her up on her request to do a duet. As Sun Jae plays on the piano, the cello student excitedly texts her friends, and they come running to the practice room to gawk. Sun Jae is taken aback by the trio of students behind him. Like the cello student, they do not have a supervisor, and will flunk their performance class as a result. However, with Sun Jae’s accompaniment, they hope to excel in their mid-term. Sun Jae agrees to help, and everyone sets up and follows his lead.
Professor Jo In Seo (Park Jong Hoon) watches this impromptu practice session with approval. When the professor who abandoned the sad cello student passes by, she is dismissive and stalks away. Soon after, Joon Hyung marches up, looking for Sun Jae, but is stopped by Professor Jo from interrupting the practice session. Joon Hyung is outraged at what he considers a waste of time, since Sun Jae can gain no benefit from playing with the disavowed students. However, he is kept at bay by Professor Jo.
Sun Jae texts Hye Won about his very first quintet, and how much he enjoyed it, though he worries about having to come to her place for the interview this weekend. He is upset that he is unable to share his happiness with her. Hye Won appears calmer and thoughtful after reading Sun Jae’s text.
On the day of the interview, Hye Won has picked out complementary outfits for her and Joon Hyung. Joon Hyung directs her to dress Sun Jae as well. Hye Won initially protests then, under Joon Hyung’s pointed stare, she agrees. Joon Hyung calls Sun Jae to remind him of his pick up. This is followed up by a text of encouragement from Hye Won to Sun Jae.
When Sun Jae arrives at Joon Hyung’s home with his assistant, Joon Hyung makes it clear that Sun Jae will not be attending Min Woo’s party. An uneasy Sun Jae is introduced to the editor who will be interviewing them, then led away by Joon Hyung for a wardrobe change. As Joon Hyung offers Sun Jae an outfit he claims Hye Won picked out, Sun Jae looks like he is about to let loose some choice words. However, when Joon Hyung asks why he is so tense, Sun Jae stays silent.
Joon Hyung leaves Sun Jae in his bedroom to change. Sun Jae regards the separate beds of Joon Hyung and Hye Won, and spots the same book that Hye Won gave him when he had given up on music on Hye Won’s bedside table. The sight leaves Sun Jae teary and dispirited on the couch. Sun Jae walks downstairs just as Joon Hyung is making a show of affection towards Hye Won for the interview. The editor asks about children in their future, and both Joon Hyung and Hye Won give a PR friendly answer.
Sun Jae sits down on the stairs and clutches his head. He is interrupted from his distress by Joon Hyung’s assistant, who brings him to the piano room. Joon Hyung immediately leads Sun Jae to the baby grand piano for his photo shoot. Sun Jae is then placed on the couch between Hye Won and Joon Hyung for more photographs. Joon Hyung enthusiastically places his arm on Sun Jae’s shoulder while Hye Won and Sun Jae look uncomfortable. The photographer directs them to smile, then asks Hye Won and Sun Jae to get closer together. The episode ends on this portrait of awkwardness.
Only 만: Hye Won strikes back!
Junggugeo Kaenada 중국어 캐나다: Well, Hye Won has no choice. Everyone is attacking her from all sides.
만: That’s true, too. On the other hand, I’m not sure what Sun Jae is asking for: that she just walk away? I doubt that it’s even an option at this point. Is he suggesting she go to jail and then leave?
중국어 캐나다: Sun Jae probably does not understand the legal implications, but running away has never seemed more attractive than it does now. I would be tempted to run away if I were in Hye Won’s situation, and to hell with the consequences.
만: I don’t think Hye Won can give up what she has. That’s what she seems to be saying to him. But, as you said, she has no choice. She either goes to jail quietly, or she fights the Foundation; there is no third option.
중국어 캐나다: I felt sad watching Hye Won explain the situation to Sun Jae, and then outlining the desperate measures that she will take to hopefully save what she has. Does she really think being nice to her husband, Joon Hyung will do any good at this point?
만: I couldn’t figure out the benefit of that, but there must be. Otherwise, why bother to put up a front for either Joon Hyung or Sun Jae?
중국어 캐나다: It seems like Hye Won has given up and this is her form of retreat. She is too overwhelmed and exhausted to come up with a better strategy. I hope she gets angry in the next episode, and we finally see the devious plotting that everyone seems to think she is capable of, but that we have not really witnessed thus far.
만: Well, that’s the thing. I feel like this episode is setting us up to see what comes next, like the battle lines are being drawn. Hye Won has basically taken Sun Jae off the chessboard to protect him. Maybe, that’s what making nice with Joon Hyung is all about.
중국어 캐나다: That makes sense. When Sun Jae was playing the quintet with the outsider students, I realized that Sun Jae has been missing the college experience, because of his involvement with Hye Won and Joon Hyung. It may be for the best that Hye Won leave Sun Jae alone to develop as a musician, and also as an adult in the rarified world of classical music.
만: That also makes sense. He’s been wading through Hye Won’s claustrophobic world. Playing with the other students looked like fun, like something a normal college student would do, though still in the context of Sun Jae being a prodigy. They were meant to be his peers, but they were learning from him.
중국어 캐나다: Yes, Sun Jae was unexpectedly self-assured, and I assume, competent, given that the students never questioned his directions. 만: Yeah, after he got over his initial surprise, he looked surprisingly natural teaching them.
중국어 캐나다: It makes me suspect that if there is a happy ending, it will not involve Hye Won and Sun Jae being together. He will have a normal college experience; well, as normal as it can be for a piano prodigy. And, Hye Won will escape the Foundation, and discover herself in a way she never had a chance to in her twenties.
만: I think the one idea that was reinforced in this episode was that what Hye Won had become is the product of her own choices. She admitted as much to Sun Jae, that she wanted to become upper class.
중국어 캐나다: Well, for me, it was a revelation that Sun Jae does not have an idealized image of Hye Won in his head. Despite her attempt to prevent him from seeing her scheming side, Sun Jae knew that Hye Won was corrupt, and had hoped that his love would provoke her to give it up.
만: That’s true. I’ve been frustrated with her treating him like a kid in that sense, so finding out that he already knew about the corruption (though not the extent of it), was a welcome revelation for me, too.
중국어 캐나다: The most entertaining character in this episode was Sung Sook’s assistant. The blatant schadenfreude got me all riled up, but I chuckled watching her read up on mahjong, then attempt to convey sympathy while practically dancing on Hye Won’s freshly dug grave.
만: I burst out laughing when I saw the mahjong book. It was a reminder that she may be sneaky, but she’s no Hye Won.
중국어 캐나다: No, she is not. I can’t wait for her to fall for someone inappropriate then suffer the same fate as Hye Won. I volunteer Young Woo and her boyfriend as the two other points of the most explosive love triangle ever.
Secret Love Affair (밀회)