Side dish: When your life is going down the drain, you need something chocolaty while drowning your sorrows in wine. Bring it together with a Red Wine Chocolate Cake courtesy of Pastry Affair, who has some really pretty photos to accompany the recipe. Wait, Pastry Affair? Ha, that’s perfect for this show.
Barely recovered from his ordeal at the photo shoot, piano prodigy Lee Sun Jae (Yoo Ah In) hides in the music room of his lover, Oh Hye Won (Kim Hee Ae) and her husband Kang Joon Hyung (Park Hyuk Kwon). Joon Hyung’s assistant comes in and rebukes him for spacing out, telling him to come out and join the farewell party for lesser piano prodigy Ji Min Woo (Shin Ji Ho). Instead of responding, Sun Jae asks Joon Hyung’s assistant to bring him his clothes, since he’s uncomfortable dressed in clothing loaned to him for the photo shoot.
On his way back from retrieving Sun Jae’s clothes, Joon Hyung’s assistant is caught by Joon Hyung, who insists that Sun Jae come out of the music room to say hello, overriding Hye Won’s protests. It’s impossible to miss the gleeful look on Wang’s (assistant to the Chairman’s wife) face, as she foresees some entertainment.
Back in the music room, Joon Hyung’s assistant warns Sun Jae that he was supposedly sleeping, then asks why Sun Jae was so intimidated during the photo shoot. Sun Jae denies it, then goes out to the party.
Sun Jae is put on display like a prize calf, while Joon Hyung makes a show of intimacy with Hye Won. Sun Jae’s discomfort is palpable as the party guests bombard him with questions, but luckily, he’s saved when Hye Won’s friend, Ji Soo demands ramen. Hye Won leaps up from the couch and goes to the kitchen to make sure dinner is prepared. Sun Jae’s relief is short-lived as Joon Hyung exhorts Sun Jae to sit next to him, in Hye Won’s newly vacated spot.
No musical party is complete without music, and Min Woo plays jazz, as Sun Jae helps the assistants of Hye Won and Joon Hyung clean up the kitchen. Hye Won’s assistant tells Sun Jae to go back to the party before Joon Hyung calls him, but Hye Won tells her to leave Sun Jae alone. Back in the living room, Joon Hyung holds forth on Dvorak, comparing him to trot music, in that he wrings out the sorrowful elements. Hye Won brings out more wine, but Joon Hyung stops her before she can leave the room to ask where she’s going. She uses the excuse of brushing her teeth and flees, while Wang sits silently in the corner and poses like a Bond villain.
As Hye Won leans against the wall of her bedroom, she spots her copy of Sviatoslav Richter’s biography, the same book she gave Sun Jae, sitting propped open on the bed. She picks it up and reads the marked passage. Downstairs, Sun Jae has no time to rest when he’s called back to the party by Joon Hyung. As he reluctantly makes his way back, Hye Won sits on her bed and reads the passage (it’s Sun Jae in voiceover), about Richter’s habit of holding impromptu concerts by driving around with a piano in the back of a truck and performing in small towns. Hye Won is overcome with emotion as she reads another passage where Richter points out that he’s normal, but that maybe he’d like to be a crazy bastard.
Hye Won puts the book away as someone knocks on the door, but it turns out to be Ji Soo, who points out the obvious, that Hye Won can’t handle the situation (neither can I at this point). They go back down, and it looks like Joon Hyung is attempting to extract maximum torture from the situation by acting jovial and husbandly. He forces Hye Won to sit next to him, with Sun Jae on his other side, and Wang next to Hye Won. Wang is the only one on the couch enjoying herself; she laughs as Joon Hyung downs a glass of wine and pours himself another one.
Back at Hannam-dong, the Chairman’s wife, Han Sung Sook (Shim Hye Jin) and his crazy daughter, Seo Young Woo (Kim Hye Eun) are being briefed by Young Woo’s husband, the Chairman’s lawyer, about their plan to take down Hye Won, starting with smearing her reputation in the media. He goes on to outline the lies on her CV, adding an accusation of plagiarism on her master’s thesis. Ever incapable of lying, Young Woo pipes up that Hye Won didn’t plagiarize her thesis. Sung Sook points out that it doesn’t need to be true to create an impression of her as a liar, but Young Woo shoots back that Hye Won will hardly be scared of a false accusation.
Sung Sook phones to ask for a document to be brought to Young Woo’s husband, detailing Hye Won’s list of crimes, compiled for the purpose of scaring Sun Jae’s ex-girlfriend, Park Da Mi (Kyung Soo Jin). Young Woo is convinced that Sung Sook will be damned for taking advantage of a kid, but Sung Sook shrugs it off, since it’s the least of her sins.
Wang is apparently not content to gloat in person, and she texts Young Woo about the couple act being put on Joon Hyung and Hye Won at the party. Back at the party, Wang smiles smugly as Joon Hyung attempts to feed a resistant Hye Won, with Sun Jae unhappily looking on.
In Hannam-dong, Sung Sook points out to an uninterested Young Woo that this act must be the reason for the party. Young Woo’s husband interrupts to declare his satisfaction with the document, then exhorts Young Woo and Sung Sook to keep on working together. Sung Sook extends a hand, prompting the most insincere handshake ever from Young Woo, who drops her hand almost immediately.
Back at the party, Hye Won’s assistant and Joon Hyung’s assistant are looking on at the crowd, not sure whose boss is more pitiful. A drunk Joon Hyung tells Professor Jo to make the kids stop playing jazz. Professor Jo goes to the music room, reassures Sun Jae that they’ll be leaving soon, and asks the ever agreeable Min Woo to play classical music instead. Sun Jae looks on point of tears as Professor Jo goes back, but sits down and listens to Min Woo’s playing.
While the entire party comes to the music room to hear Min Woo, Sun Jae consoles himself with memories of playing for Hye Won. As Min Woo finishes up, Joon Hyung drunkenly commands Sun Jae to perform, but he’s in such bad shape that he passes out in Hye Won’s lap before Sun Jae even begins. Hye Wons slides a pillow under Joon Hyung’s head and goes to stand in the hallway, hidden from view of the rest of the party. She breaks down in tears as she listens to Sun Jae play, trying to cover her ears; whatever he’s playing, it doesn’t sound happy.
Joon Hyung’s drunkenness has finally provided the excuse to end the party and everyone leaves, while Hye Won’s housekeeper starts to clean up. Drunkenness does not stop Joon Hyung from waking up and hauling himself outside before Sun Jae can make his escape. Joon Hyung can barely walk, but he insists on driving Sun Jae home like one big happy family. Hye Won goes to get the car out, leaving Sun Jae and Joon Hyung alone together. In his only honest moment of the night, Joon Hyung drunkenly takes offence at Sun Jae asking him if he’s all right.
Luckily Joon Hyung collapses in a heap before he can get into the passenger seat of the car, and Sun Jae is stuck with the unenviable task of carrying him inside. A teary-eyed Hye Won can’t even watch as her lover is forced to carry her incapacitated husband into the house.
Sun Jae is waiting when Hye Won slowly makes her way back from the garage, and the two of them look at each other, completely drained. Hye Won brokenly apologizes for making him go through the evening, acknowledging that she has been overconfident. He stands silently as she begs him to speak, then stops her as she attempts to kiss him. He puts his arms around her, and tells her that he can’t kiss a pitiful woman, so she shouldn’t make herself pitiful. Sun Jae breaks the hug, and tells Hye Won to go to sleep.
The next morning at the Foundation, it’s time for damage control for Sung Sook’s reputation, as the stories about Hye Won hit the presses. Hye Won appears amused as she looks at the stories online, her assistant hovering over her shoulder. The editor of the magazine that did the interview with her, Joon Hyung and Sun Jae comes in for a visit, and Hye Won sends her assistant out to buy tea as they sit down to have a chat.
As Hye Won’s assistant buys the tea, she gets a call from Wang ordering the assistant to bring her one, too. Wang is on the phone as Hye Won’s assistant drops the tea off, informing whoever’s on the other end that they should call Hye Won’s office instead of her boss, the Chairwoman Sung Sook. She looks smug as Hye Won’s assistant walks away, looking annoyed. Back at the office, the editor counsels Hye Won to respond strongly to the damning articles, but Hye Won refuses, adding that the editor doesn’t have to publish the article either if it’s a problem. Of course it is, and they decide to hold off on publishing the interview that Sun Jae was tortured over.
Back at Hannam-dong, the Chairman complains about having to dress in pajamas and a robe for a photo op (presumably so he can look pitiful for press purposes), claiming that he’ll look dim-witted. Sung Sook sympathizes, asking Young Woo’s husband/the Chairman’s lawyer whether it’s necessary. Young Woo chimes in, wondering why Hye Won isn’t going to jail in the Chairman’s place. The Chairman asks whether Hye Won is having an affair with a younger man, and both Sung Sook and Young Woo confirm. The lawyer points out that they can’t play that card, since Hye Won knows all of their own indiscretions. As they leave, Sung Sook pulls Young Woo aside, telling her to cut things off with her own younger man. Young Woo flings an insult at her, and leaves.
At the Foundation, Sung Sook walks in to her office, stopping to ask Wang if Ms. Baek is already there. She is, but Wang, in full-on sycophant mode, stops her to ask how she should handle inquiries about the articles that have been coming out about Hye Won. An annoyed Sung Sook tells her to deal with it herself, and Wang goes back to studying up on mahjong.
Inside the office, Ms. Baek explains that she can’t exactly figure out how Hye Won distributed Sung Sook’s slush fund money in the accounts, and that they’ll need to sit on the information a while longer. Sung Sook calls Dean Min (Kim Chang Wan) and tells him to prod Joon Hyung instead, to Ms. Baek’s approval.
In Dean Min’s office, Dean Min works on an uncertain Joon Hyung, pointing out that the only one who can sue Hye Won is Joon Hyung, since only the spouse has the right to sue for adultery (there are two articles from K-Law Guru on the subject, if you’re interested). Joon Hyung doesn’t want to do it, but Dean Min reminds him that he can just threaten her with it, to get her on side.
Back at Hye Won’s office, a relaxed Hye Won finishes up a meeting, telling everyone to keep working. The facade of relaxation falls away as her assistant leaves as well. As she sits down at her desk, Hye Won gets a message from Joon Hyung, asking to have dinner. From the look on her face, Hye Won knows what’s coming, but she agrees to go anyway.
In the meantime, she makes an appointment for a massage and to get her hair done, while Ji Soo sneaks in to her office for a visit. Hye Won invites Ji Soo to join her at the spa, but she demurs, pointing out that she’s only parked in front. Ji Soo tells her she’s worried, that the articles are no joke. She advises Hye Won to keep up the act with Joon Hyung and to calm Sun Jae down, to make him change his mind. Hye Won dodges the advice, but Ji Soo reminds her that she’s on her side. Hye Won laughs and kisses her as she shows her out, but Ji Soo is too worried to be put off.
At the spa, Hye Won asks for Da Mi, and she looks relaxed as Da Mi comes in. Da Mi is formal with her, pointing out that she’s heard a lot of stories about Hye Won lately, that she might even be arrested. Hye Won asks her what it was that Da Mi didn’t want to show, her because it was so nauseating. Da Mi is hesitant to say, but it turns out to be the list of Hye Won’s crimes referred to at the beginning of the episode. Hye Won praises Da Mi’s actions in coming to see her, but Da Mi goes on to say that she told Sun Jae she’ll believe in Hye Won, only if she leaves everything behind for Sun Jae. Hye Won looks tired in the face of Da Mi’s sincerity, and tells Da Mi instead to show the list of her crimes to Sun Jae. Da Mi looks shocked as Hye Won leaves the room.
As Hye Won gets her hair done, she compliments the hairdresser on her discretion at not asking about the damning articles. Of course, the hairdresser is not at leisure to ask, since that’s how she maintains her business.
Joon Hyung looks grim as he waits at the restaurant for Hye Won, but stands up as she walks in. He’s in full-on seduction mode, with a bottle of Dom Perignon at the ready. It all looks very classy as they taste their champagne.
Sun Jae, meanwhile, is enjoying college life again by playing with the disavowed students. He looks relaxed for the first time this episode as they enjoy snacks and post-practice chit-chat.
Joon Hyung holds forth about the possibilities of a Korean musician doing well in politics, as they eat their dinner. With no segue, he points out how strange he must appear, celebrating while everyone is suspicious of Hye Won and Sun Jae. He compares himself to Schumann, who cherished Brahms without jealousy, and was only sad that he couldn’t pass on his knowledge due to his mental illness. Hye Won laughs at being characterized as Clara.
Joon Hyung looks serious as he tells Hye Won that it’s time to get up, and that he’ll wait for her if she has to go to jail, that he’ll even send Sun Jae to study abroad. But he can only do this if he has the power, referring to becoming the Dean if she takes the fall. He brings up the fact that if he chooses to sue her, Sun Jae will be branded as an adulterer. Hye Won can’t get over the crazy situation, where they discuss these things as a married couple, even if only in name. Joon Hyung points out that it’s desperate times, but Hye Won only looks tired, and asks him to wait a little longer. Joon Hyung appears to clue in that something might be in the works, but Hye Won merely asks for the check.
As the students walk out of the college, the sad cello student tells Sun Jae how grateful she was that he showed up that morning to practice with them. She asks him about the competition, but Sun Jae changes the subject to her quitting school. Sad cello student thinks that it’s better to quit if you can’t win, even though she wants to do well. Sun Jae promises to keep practicing with them, overriding her objection that his professor would want him to practice for his competition. From the sounds of it, Sun Jae has no intention of competing, but instead just intends to wait things out. Uh oh.
Back at home, Joon Hyung looks thoughtful, if frustrated. He bursts into Hye Won’s office, where she has her head on her desk and yells at her to put in an appearance (I assume at that Chairman’s house), that they would still accept her. I’m not sure if she’s sleepy or crying, but she can’t lift her head, and he storms out again. Hye Won’s secretive waiting game has obviously taken its toll on Joon Hyung (who doesn’t understand secrets or waiting), and he takes a sleeping pill, then knocks everything off the bathroom counter in a fit of rage.
Back at Hannam-dong, the Chairman’s lawyer is apprising Sung Sook of the gravity of her situation, pointing out that her shady dealings for purchasing SeoHan Apparel would be revealed if the investigation were to continue. Though we don’t hear the details, he alludes to her problematic past, which she acknowledges. She’s not embarrassed about it, and instead seems proud of having surpassed her former peers. The Chairman’s lawyer respects her, but is more concerned about the lack of time. Hye Won has to come to them, and he counsels using public shame to ensure that she does. Sung Sook shows her fangs again as she points out that Hye Won and Sun Jae will surely meet again soon, since Hye Won will not be able to withstand the temptation. In response, the Chairman’s lawyer makes a phone call, telling the planning team to be ready 24/7.
Unaware of the plots around him, Sun Jae eats dinner at his mom’s old restaurant with Da Mi, and their friend, Son Jang Ho (Choi Tae Hwan). He refuses to look at the document listing off Hye Won’s crimes, despite the fact that Hye Won had specifically asked for him to see it. Da Mi was intimidated by how nonchalantly Hye Won had told her to show it to him, but Sun Jae has no interest, assuming that he doesn’t have to see it to know what’s on it. Jang Ho protests, describing his appalled reaction upon reading the list. Jang Ho is obviously worried that Sun Jae will be kicked out of school, and forced to pay back the scholarship, but Sun Jae just gets up to leave as they stare after him. The new snack bar owner is shocked since Hye Won didn’t seem the type to do the kinds of things listed on the document, and Da Mi agrees that Hye Won’s appearance is, indeed, elegant.
Back at the house, a less than elegant Hye Won knocks back whiskey like it’s going out of style. She puts the glass in the sink, then changes her mind and takes another drink. Before she can move on to a third, she gets a text from Sun Jae, telling her he’s in front of the house. She’s frozen with indecision as Sun Jae waits outside on the moped. The episode ends on this ominous note.
Junggugeo Kaenada 중국어 캐나다: As I watched this episode of “Secret Love Affair”, I thought to myself, “I’m so glad Only is recapping this one. It will be hard to put into words just how boring this episode is.”
Only 만: Well, I think it’s another episode where everyone falls apart while we’re waiting for something to happen. So next episode we either see Hye Won crumble, or the culmination of her masterplan. But in the meantime, we’ll just keep circling the airport. That said, it was like emotional torture; I was about to start drinking, too.
중국어 캐나다: Yes, this is the most miserable that I have seen Hye Won and Sun Jae, and that’s saying a lot given the mood of this show.
만: It was a low point for practically every character. I even spared a thought for weaselly Joon Hyung. No wonder he’s going nuts, waiting for Hye Won to do something while imagining his own future go down the drain. I admire Sun Jae’s patience.
중국어 캐나다: Yes, I actually felt something akin to pity watching Hye Won beg Sun Jae for forgiveness and affection in the garage. For the first time, you could sense Sun Jae’s dedication to Hye Won wavering.
만: She really put him through the ringer, between the impersonation of a happy family and catering to Joon Hyung’s increasingly obnoxious demands, with everyone else there to watch.
중국어 캐나다: You point out that it was a low for practically everyone. Well, everyone except Wang! That bitch is coming up, and she is getting increasingly entitled about her potential career advancement. I love how she told Hye Won’s assistant to get her a tea, like she’s already her work superior.
만: The second time I watched, I noticed that Wang said that she’d seen Hye Won’s assistant in the tea shop and kept walking. Honestly, she’s really turned into a viper. During the party, she looked like such a villain that I kept expecting her to stroke a cat, or twirl her mustache.
중국어 캐나다: We need Wang and her cartoonish villainy. Otherwise, it would just be non-stop dread and depression at this point.
만: Yes. This episode was very much amping up the tension with no release. You kept expecting something to break, but it ended on a cliffhanger. On the other hand, it has served its purpose: I really do want to know what happens next.
중국어 캐나다: Well then, “Secret Love Affair” is provoking a higher level of anticipation in us than ever before.
Secret Love Affair (밀회)