Secret Love Affair Episode 13 Recap

If Seohan had been an ancient kingdom and Hye Won a man, King Seo would have been wise to employ her skills to lead his troops. Her comfort with and talent in waging battle on several fronts simultaneously impress me. I can imagine marshalling thousands of troops would not daunt her any more than dealing with all the intricacies of her current work. As it is, Hye Won leads an army of one. Maybe three if you count Jo and Ji Soo as assets. History shows us many David and Goliath victories, so her case is not hopeless yet. In fact, if we reference the Chinese Thirty-Six Strategems of battle, we can recognize several of General Won’s battle plans. Poetically written, I love the imagery they evoke.

Deceive the heavens to cross the ocean – Let the enemy believe you have one goal, when you are actually attempting something unexpected. This is the one I hope Hye Won  has up her incredibly elegant sleeve. Does anyone really know what she wants? Hide a knife behind a smile – Gain the enemies trust, then use all the information you have against them. Seo and Prosecutor Husband must have anticipated this one, but still, she has sooo much dirt on them. Feign madness but keep your balance – Let them think they know her weakness giving them a sense of overconfidence that can be exploited. Everyone seems to think that her affair with Sun Jae will bring her down, but I am not so sure it will.

I am conflicted about what Hye Won should do, however. I want her to get her due from the Seohan clan, or more specifically, I don’t want them to triumph. Not necessarily because I think she deserves a reward for getting involved in this dirty mess in the first place, but because they don’t deserve to keep all the illicit gains they are hoarding. Although General Lee (Sun Jae) may prove to be a stronger leader than General Oh, as he has been advising what has been described as the best strategy all along. GET OUT! In the words of General Wáng, the most quoted military mind of all time. “Surrender is complete defeat, compromise is half defeat, but escape is not defeat. As long as you are not defeated, you still have a chance. ‘Of the Thirty-Six Stratagems, fleeing is best.’”


Episode 13 recap:

The very nice secretary rushes to tell Han’s secretary about Da Mi visiting Hye Won. She replies, surprisingly, that she is not surprised. She seems almost happy about it.

Da Mi is telling Hye Won to stop seeing Sun Jae, even though telling Sun Jae not to see Hye Won failed. After all, Hye Won has a husband. Da Mi doesn’t believe Hye Won’s assertion that they only met to talk about things.

“It took one night and two days to tell him?” It’s difficult for Da Mi to understand why Hye Won, who has everything, is doing this. “I’m a good kid.” Unlike the other girls at the salon who drool over the designer bags and clothes, and who gossip about the clients, Da Mi puts up with their crap and treats them like the queens and princesses who pay her. Hye Won, she thought was a good person because of the way she handled the broken necklace.

Da Mi admits that Sun Jae isn’t hers but their friendship and gratefulness could be the path to marriage. Most people only experience that their whole lives staying married. “Passion only lasts a minute.”  Hye Won has been taking this silently from the start, gathers her courage. “I like you Da Mi, and have been on your side, but this isn’t right.” Whoever has been telling her these things, it would have been better to ask her first.


Hye Won stands up for herself, “This is my workplace.” She asks the younger woman to leave, warning that judging her by listening only to what others say is dangerous. Da Mi counters that she has seen the evidence and it made her puke. Hye Won tries the brush off with “Let’s meet again when I have time. How about a meal with Sun Jae?” Da Mi then reveals Mde Han and “that strange woman who runs errands” put her up to it, calling them ridiculous and disgusting. But it is because Sun Jae, that punk, is too precious to her to just sit still about this. She walks out as Hye Won crumbles, in tears and guilt that bring her down to the floor.

Da Mi, calling them crazy bitches, spits as she walks out.

A medical person, IV and all, tend to Hye Won on her office sofa. Mde Han watches on the sly, exchanging looks with her secretary.

Sun Jae reads a text from Hye Won, puzzled, “Park Da Mi, she’s a decent kid. Be sure to keep her as a friend.” He’s composing a response “What did Da Mi –“ when he gets a follow up “But not as a girlfriend! Delete this immediately and do not reply.” He appears confused by this.

He doesn’t have to wait long to solve this mystery.

Da Mi arrives, confessing she caused trouble, as he suspected. He orders her not to sit on his mother’s bed. When she admits she told his teacher to stop meeting him, he loses it.

“What?! Who are you to do that?” Her concern is that hanging around them will taint him, and his ahjumma is just like the rest of the corrupted people in Seohan. He knows, but wants to give her the opportunity to change. “Because she loves me, she doesn’t want to be dirty anymore.” Sun Jae is mortified that Da Mi stepped in. His angry response stuns Da Mi, as well as Sun Jae’s defense of the woman. He tells her now that she has had her say, she can stop. Da Mi allows for only one outcome between the pair, “If the ahjumma throws everything away and goes to you, then I will believe it…Otherwise it was all a lie.” Another wave of utter embarrassment hits Sun Jae.

A deeply felt “Aish!” and he buries his head in his hand, bent over.

Min is chatting happily with a woman, who it turns out to be a magazine editor. She greets Joon Hyung who joins them. Editor has good things to say about Hye Won had helped her when she was just starting out.

Min manipulates the situation and the easily swayed Kang. It is decided there will be an interview with the happy family: Joon Hyung, Hye Won as well as star student, Sun Jae.

Prosecutor Husband goes to meet Hye Won, relaying a message from Seo, that he wants to honor him as well as they can, they just need to know “How much?”

They are served two coffees. He accuses her of texting him as a way to leave evidence of the transaction, which she doesn’t deny. “You are meticulous.” He hands her a slip of paper that she reads and approves to it with a nod. “Will that do?” he asks. “The chairman ordered that you choose between the two.” Prosecutor Husband picks the latter. He tears up the paper, and puts it in his coffee. “We’ll begin the process of the handover,” he instructs, swirling his cup. She drinks hers and replies, “Do so.”

The line of black cars carries the Chairman home. He sits near a sunny window with Prosecutor Husband. The Chairman knows how great the cost was to bring him home but he couldn’t survive in there. He was dying. They conspire about the investigation and trial, which can be sped up. Without mentioning it specifically, it is understood that in order to be make Chairman innocent, he has to consent to making someone else the scapegoat. They go along with on this course of action.

It is somehow business as usual downstairs in the kitchen. Hye Won waits on the Queen and the Princess pouring them tea.

“I should have taken him to the hospital,” Young Woo regrets, but Han suggested that to him already and was denied. Young Woo wants coffee and sends Hye Won off to make some. “Are you worried I’ll take control of your Dad? Is that why you keep talking about hospitals?” Young Woo’s concern is real; Han smiles a little disbelieving smile. Prosecutor Husband comes in and summons Hye Won to see Seo.

Young Woo wants to know if her company is in trouble and Han teases that is always likely. Prosecutor Husband suggests that they stop fighting…now.

In the upper sanctuary, King Seo asks Hye Won to sit. With very little prologue, he tells his man to hand her THE envelope, pronouncing those horrible, fatal words “You have worked hard all this time.” Hye Won hesitates, “I don’t know if I should accept this,” literally not taking the proffered pay off. “Of course you should, it is from my heart.” Finally with dismay, she holds it in both hands, not grateful but shocked and uneasy.

Later in her office, she replays in her mind Seo’s dismissing words about her working hard.

She has herself driven to the waterfront where she sits in the back of a cab. Kites sail happily above her. The driver hands her a cup of coffee and she asks for a little more time to gather her thoughts looking a lot less sure than she has in the past.

Sun Jae comes down to exchange his empty side dish containers for full ones. He swipes an unfinished bottle of soju left by a customer. Up on his roof, he takes a swig.

The kites at the river come down, Hye Won stares out.

Sun Jae, taking down his laundry, gets a text from Hye Won to come see him at an address, “discuss an important matter.”

He flies out, eventually, to an older house and enters knocking. Ji Soo sits across from another lady comes out to greet him introducing herself as Jo’s wife. She has kind words for him and he thanks her.

The other woman, the owner of the studio, takes him into an inner room, where Hye Won sits drinking from a mug. She needed some place safe to meet him. He is upset she is being followed.

Hye Won’s friend leaves them; she and Ji Soo concurs, “This won’t be easy.”

The space between them on the table is small compared to the giant problem that separates them now. Sun Jae has become more aware of how bad her life is, calling it “brutal.”   Hye Won warns him things will get worse.  Sun Jae laments his naïveté that he thought Hye Won could take care of everything like she said.

“Are you embarrassed by me? Angry?” she wonders. He shakes his head, “I used to say that I love you all the time.”

She has a favor to ask him. With the press closing in now, she needs to put on a front with her husband, with her marriage. It is going to take a huge amount of patience on his part to endure this. Poor Sun Jae looks completely defeated already, this is almost too much. Considering how long and hard she has worked, she doesn’t want to give up anything,

“Including you. I don’t want to lose any of it.” These words do little to soothe Sun Jae.

Her instructions to him, until she can beat them, are to stay quiet, have fun in school. As far as Kang, be nice to him and never ever tell him about sending the DVDs overseas. He can take lessons from Jo. “You can do this right?” He has been listening and considering her options; he looks over at her for a good bit,

but now protests, “Why can’t you just use this opportunity to get out completely?” Well, lady, why can’t you?!

When she tells him now is not the time, he wonders, “What if you get caught forever?”  He recalls how she cried while listening to ‘Piano Man’ and it broke his heart. We see them on the bed in their honeymoon suite in the country.

“What could you have possibly sacrificed your 20s for?” he wants to know. She replies, “It wasn’t to make a living. It wasn’t for a noble cause either. It was just… I want to belong to the upper class.” He laughs bitterly at that.

That was what drove her to grit her teeth. Joining him in the bitter laugh, she, pretending to be him inquires,

“‘You wasted your youth on just that?’”

He smiles and agrees that it is funny. Really funny.

If she knows it was wrong then, why does she keep asking him to wait?  Hye Won’s uncertainty comes to the forefront.  “If I were a nobody… if I weren’t the Vice President of the Art Center…if I didn’t have time or money to take care of myself… would you have liked me still?”

Is he insulted by this question? “Yes! I’m like a weed, so I don’t care about that.”

We have to believe his earnestness. Sun Jae sees what Hye Won is trying to do and cautions her. “Don’t use me as your excuse. And just worry about your own life. They say that the average lifespan is now 80 years.  If you’re really unlucky…you will have to live the next 40 years without love. If you think you can do that, then go ahead.”

Wow. Even the unflappable Hye Won flinches at this, the most significant word grenade Sun Jae has dropped. “Stop it!” She covers her face.

Sun Jae gets up and we see he is barely able to hold in his frustration.

Later, in the dark, he ambles home, shoulders drooping under the weight of his misery. A thought stops his progress; he shakes it off and continues.

Joon Hyung enters his home and warily looks everywhere for Hye Won, then goes up to his room.

In her office, Hye Won copies the infamous USB with all the bad things. Her demeanor is calm, while the music swells.

Locking the copy up in her secret safe behind the sliding shelves, she walks away.

When Seo decided to cut off Hye Won with the thank-you-very-much-for-your-hard-work-don’t-let-the-door-hit-you-on-the-way-out-pay-off-envelope, she must have decided her next step. As she sits, stone-faced, at a table waiting for someone, I feel that all the planning we have seen her do before is child’s play compared to what is next.

Two waiters open the doors for Prosecutor Husband, who enters. They talk about how ten minutes in the morning can make a big difference in one’s day. As a matter of fact, it was while Prosecutor Husband talked to Seo that morning for ten minutes that they decided against having Hye Won arrested.

Overnight, he changed his mind guessing that the Oh Hye Won he knew would cooperate with them, and turn herself in. Hye Won laughs how those ten minutes were indeed important. Prosecutor Husband hopes she will leave the legal documents there. Oh Hye Won pretends to be insulted when he compares her circumstance – that if she pleads guilty she may avoid jail time – to the CEO of a gallery who had face the similar charges. Prosecutor Husband acknowledges that Hye Won is unique in her field, and she thanks him. The Prosecution is prepared for Hye Won to turn herself in – the sooner the better. Here, Hye Won sets her chin on her hand and looks the Prosecutor in the eye, “Let me ask you one thing,” pausing then laughing. “Why did you assume that I would acquiesce to this?”

The music builds as he realizes whom he is up against. “It’s only the beginning.” She takes her leave confidently, and once outside the room, closes the doors firmly on him as he watches.

Prosecutor Husband, undoubtedly to organize their strategy, gathers the Royal clan. Seo claims he expected Hye Won to hold out.

Han wonders if there is some other secret something he entrusted Hye Won with. Young Woo knows Hye Won has all the dirt on Han’s slush fund. Why would she consent to this demand? Her father and Prosecutor Husband want the ladies to stay friendly as they are on the same side now. They should gather all the facts on Hye Won, while pretending to placate her, assuring her the rumors and media reports did not come from them. And Young Woo? Her husband tells her to watch what she says. “Also, don’t put Director Oh’s calls through to the Chairman.” Bad secretary revels in this reversal against Hye Won. She can barely hide her smirk as she walks Han back to the office and opens the door.

Hye Won is playing with the USB box at her desk,

before entering Han’s office with it. She hands it over, “Since I don’t think I am in charge anymore.” Han stands up and hugs her, comforting her with the words, “The legal team feels confident it will be a suspended sentence,” to which Hye Won feigns ignorance. She hands Han a report discussing how they need to stabilize everything disrupted by the investigation.

Han’s response is to scrutinize her, like she hardly recognizes her. Bad secretary is reading a mahjong how-to book when Hye Won comes out, showing sham concern. “Dear, how will this place function without you?” Hye Won embraces her with a smile telling her not to worry.

Young Woo and she pass, and Hye Won only acknowledges the “Think carefully” with a wave.

Sec Mahjong displays shock! The block to the Chairman is on when she tries to call him. She sits in acknowledgement and laughs at their tactic.

Min and Han are actually relieved that Hye Won held out. It buys them time. “What if she handed over everything when she turned herself in?”

Baek has been waiting while Han was on the phone, and gets rewarded with the USB drive. Her delight is apparent.

The Seer will now handle all that Hye Won dealt with. Han thinks it is fitting, (and I can’t believe how stupid this woman is to trust an outsider!)

The salon is abuzz with the rumors that Hye Won is going to jail. They can’t agree if she would be accepted or ostracized when she returns. Da Mi hears this talk as well as the idea that Oh Hye Won must have something big in her hand to resist.

Master Manipulator Min works on poor weak-willed Joon Hyung. The husband distances himself from Hye Won by admitting he and Hye Won haven’t been on the same team for some time. Min tells him to hang in there, or all that he has gone through will mean nothing. If Hye Won does serve time, wouldn’t the Seo clan take care of him? Would the dean appointment be his?

He should maintain his marriage. Jo’s side is recommending him strongly again. Joon Hyung needs to create a pretty picture of Lee Sun Jae, protégé and teacher together. Joon Hyung cannot fathom what Min is asking of him. The dean brings up the interview, telling him to do it to make things appear normal.

On the phone with the interviewer, they set up a time for the weekend. Sun Jae comes in and gets invited to their house. The younger man tries to use Min Woo’s going away party as an excuse, but Joon Hyung rejects that. He goes around Sun Jae but commanding his TA to fetch him. Sun Jae is unsettled.  Outside, the TA and he walk and talk. Sun Jae admits having no real choice but to go. Yoo Ra floats by,

“Hey. The rumor about your teacher is outrageous. You want to go out with me?”

Sun Jae replies with a “Do you want to get lost?” LOL

“Well done. That’s how you respond to rumors,” the TA says.

“What rumor?”

He fills him in on the Rich B’s mom as fortune-teller and investment broker and how Kang, Min and other teachers use her, too.

This gives Sun Jae an idea and he starts to ask a question but stops. They spot the poor student that Cello Snob snubbed. Sun Jae seems interested in the unfairness of how she may quit school since she has been blacklisted. There is no professor that will take her as a student.

As they say good-bye, the TA tries to reassure Sun Jae about going to Hye Won’s house. It could be fun. I cannot agree.

In the hall outside the practice rooms, Sun Jae searches. He finds the poor cello student’s room, and after pausing a moment outside the door goes in.

She is stunned that he there first of all, more so that he is offering to play for her. Wasting no time, she gives him the sheet music before he can run away. He wants to play through it first, which he does expertly, making sight-reading look like the easiest thing ever.

While he does that, she texts her friends, that THE Lee Sun Jae is accompanying her. They rush over with their instruments to Practice Room #7. Their arrival from out of the blue startles Sun Jae.

They are also misfit students nobody wants, if they can put together an ensemble and perform this piece, as long as they get a B+, they will be able pass the midterm. Sun Jae readily agrees. I like how naturally he fits in with them after being a solo for all his life. Jo peeks in through the window enjoying the fun.

Cello Snob sees this and runs to get Joon Hyung. Of course, he arrives and tries to put an end to it. The kids are below Sun Jae’s level, after all.

“Just let him be. He’s having fun.” Joon Hyung complains that he doesn’t have time for these losers. What.a.jerk.

Sun Jae texts Hye Won, “Ms. Oh Hye Won for the first time in my life, I get to play a quintet. I’m worried about visiting your place. But I’m happy for now.

You said that music conquers all. I only regret that I can’t share it with you.” She lets his words sink in for a bit.

I hope she wants to be able to share future moments like that with him.

Joon Hyung readies for the interview and photo shoot; Hye Won has picked out clothes to go with hers.

He orders her to pick something out for Sun Jae, but she says Sun Jae doesn’t need her help. “He’ll pick something that suits his unique style.” Oops! By that, she meant, “OK, honey, ” and goes off to put something together. Joon Hyung calls Sun Jae who can barely contain his anxiety about going.

The TA arrives with Sun Jae. Joon Hyung immediately cancels his plans on going to Min Woo’s party afterward. An anxious Sun Jae looks around as he goes in.

Hye Won is having her make up done. She calls for him to come in.

The editor gushes that Sun Jae looks better in person, and Joon Hyung introduces her as the newly appointed editor of the magazine, “Baek Suk.” He bows politely to her, and she requests an exclusive interview.

Hye Won calls out for him to change. The tension coming from Sun Jae is palpable.   Joon Hyung takes him up…to … their… bedroom.

Holding up him a shirt and slacks to wear. “What do you think of this. My wife picked it out.”

Sun Jae clenches his jaw to keep the words in. “Why are you so uptight?” Joon Hyung asks, but Sun Jae stays mum. With an affectionate tap on the shoulder he leaves, after telling Sun Jae to take his time. Alone, the young man lets a breath escape, then takes in the sight. The two separate beds sadden him, as he realizes exactly how Hye Won has been living all this time.

The Russian Piano player book is out at her bedside – this gives him a start and maybe some comfort.

Sitting in Hye Won’s sunny spot where she once looked out for him passing by, he suffers more, not wanting to change into the clothes picked out for him, and certainly not wanting to go downstairs. He looks like I feel – disgusted and nauseated.

Joon Hyung and Hye Won are arranged prettily on a sofa with sun streaming in. Joon Hyung is chatting about how they are only one of several couples that came out of their set of college friends. The editor is trying to draw them out. “Aren’t you being too distant?” Joon Hyung touches Hye Won to her dismay claiming they can be hot when they want to be.

The interviewer laughs, “You do look more like lovers than a married couple.”

Sun Jae has come down the stairs to hear this revolting Q&A.

When she asks about children, wondering if they had planned on not having any. Hye Won contributes that “We are trying.” Sun Jae has seated himself on a step, practically in a fetal position. He covers his ears.

TA finds him like this, and drags him into the Piano Room. They want fake shots of Prof and Student at the keyboard, but Sun Jae cannot smile for the camera.

It that isn’t enough, they pull him onto the couch between the husband and wife. Hye Won just about crawls backward to get away from Sun Jae as he sits beside her. Sun Jae manages a grimace when asked to smile. It is already torture, and worsens when the photographer indicates to Hye Won to come closer to Sun Jae. They oblige and shoot the most awkward Portrait of Lovers with Cuckold Husband in the history of time.


My Thoughts

The big question that Sun Jae so aptly put to Hye Won is: Does she want to live out her remaining years with or without love? In order to grab onto Sun Jae with both hands, she is going to have to let go of something. What agonizes Sun Jae is how unwilling Hye Won is to admit this, at least out loud. But the separate beds, the foolishness of her silly husband, the emptiness of her work keep striking the young man with more force than he can withstand. She won’t or can’t listen to him no matter how many times he tells her.

He could survive without her. It would hurt for a long long, time, but he’s still young enough to find himself a fulfilling life of music and friendship. Hye Won, on the other hand, on the verge of imploding, cannot continue in her quest for credibility through money and power. The insiders have shut her out. They don’t want her. I was heartened to see, then, that she does have friends that will protect and support her. The warmth of her school colleagues relieved some of that sick fear I have been holding onto thinking about Hye Won’s situation.  The house where Sun Jae was able to talk to her felt very high-powered-inner-sanctum – like something out of a fantasy novel in a land Where Woman Rule. Since it is my habit to take hope from small things, I am clutching on to that warmth, and hope Hye Won does the same.

Click here to watch Secret Love Affair.


Secret Love Affair Episode 13 Recap — 51 Comments

  1. I wonder why a lot of people assume that HW can just drop everything and leave with SJ now. Don’t forget, she has the law coming after her; that has to be resolved first. If she ran away now, wouldn’t that make her a fugitive?
    I really like how SJ is helping the misfit students. Hopefully, the cello student will get justice against the snob cello instructor.

  2. Thank you for the recap and analysis. I’ve been waiting for this. I thought HW might have to go to jail, but maybe she’ll get pregnant. I’ve made too many guesses already. I’m ready for more music and less angst.

  3. I watched this show without subs first and came out feeling for the very first time, that Sun Jae reaches his breaking point soon, that it might really be better for them to split, that he will be the one to break up.

    Their meeting at the pottery, the bright lamp between them, is it, that now, that everything is out in the open, it is wedged between them? It is their moment of truth as Sun Jae is no longer able to pretend to believe that Hye Won would be able to remove the obstacles and simply saying ‘I love you’ again and again is also not enough to solve their problems.

    Sun Jae now fully understands her involvement and he had to realize, that she still will not let go of her career and financial success willingly. But it is the first time, I think, she clearly says, that she doesn’t want to lose him, too. He shows a little relieved reaction to this statement.

    I am very conflicted about this situation. Hye Won’s motivation was to belong to the upper class. What’s her motivation now? To win? To keep her status or money? She is a realist, she knows you can’t live on love alone. He is too young and naïve, but he is also not the person to compromise. He hinted at a break up which she couldn’t abide. But he and his understanding of life’s morals are so different from hers, how much further can he go?

    Da Mi saying, that passion will vanish soon, and Hye Won’s reaction to it. Was it disbelief, because Sun Jae got her for good? Offence, that a younger woman should not talk stuff like that?

    Sun Jae doesn’t allow Da Mi to sit on the bed on which he made love with Hye Won. So bittersweet.

    The meeting between Hye Won and Kim was breathtaking. ‘Why would you assume I’ll go to jail so easily. This is just the beginning.’ It’s her declaration of war. And he is a little shocked, he didn’t expect this reaction.

    Did Sun Jae learn something through the secretary and the girls? Will this be his chance to help Hye Won? Or does this scene exist to show us, that he’d never go Hye Won’s way who would have chosen Yoo Ra? He prefers to surround himself with the mediocre students and simply enjoy his music. All in peaceful colors and sunny. Is he drifting away from Hye Won?

    Of all the villains and cowards in Kdrama Professor Kang must be the one I despise the most. No words for his behavior.

    I really don’t know now, where this show will take us, but it can’t be any lower, better times have to come towards the end.

    • So much to think about!! Thanks for your interpretations.
      I don’t understand the part about the secretary and the girls. What girls?

      • Cello girl and Yoo Ra. I’m referring to the scene on campus. Sun Jae walks along with the secretary and meets first Yoo Ra then cello girl, after which he chooses to play the duet with cello girl. He gained some insight into the college network in this scene. Hopefully it will become crucial later.

    • I don’t agree that Sun Jae is naive with his worldview, he is realistic,mature for his age. How can he be poor son of single mother and not know money,power is all important to some people. He just prefer living like he does and work his way without becoming corrupt for power, upperclass prestige like Hye Won.

      He just don’t care for easier life that he has to ruin his life like Hye Won did. You don’t have to be a genius musician to enjoy simple, normal life, love.

      • And yet it is the naivety of a young guy believing, that love will carry you and your relationship for decades. Run away and everything will be fine is a starry-eyed approach. Hye Won knows, what losing his career and music would do to Sun Jae, because she has gone through the same situation.
        She is not willing to sacrifice his career and she knows, that no love can survive major money troubles for a long time. The monotony of everyday life will come no matter what. So, yes, he has been quite naive till now.

      • He is naive about his love for her being enough for her but he is imo not naive about escaping from a life that Hye Won regrets.

        It might not save their relationship for decades but it will take Hye Won away from this life.

        His career? His music is important but the wise Sun jae was right about not using him as excuse and the big question is does she want to waste her life with that world. I love the word grenades he uses.

    • There was something he caught about Baek and the gang that made him stop and question, but he didn’t finish the thought.

      “So perhaps?” Maybe it is just that he realizes HW isn’t the only one playing around with money?

      • Yes, exactly. I have high hopes, that in the end he will not be so unable to help Hye Won as he always thought, that he will connect some dots.

  4. Thank you for your hardwork. I have been waiting for your recap. Ep 13 and 14 are so difficult to watch and I imagine recapping to be much worse. I really love your analogy using the 36 stratagems. “And the best is to flee”. There has been much discussion as to whether fleeing for HW is an option. Even if she wanted to, is it possible? Fleeing may not be possible without serious repercussions but HW’s admission to SJ that she doesn’t want to lose the reimbursement of years of hard work is what worries me. How much is enough? How long she needs to fight?

  5. Why do we assume that HW has an option to leave and flee with SJ at this time? Isn’t the law coming after her? When SJ asked her to give up everything at the pottery shop, HW’s hesitation might be because she knows that she has to clear her name first and not because she wanted to hold on to her wealth.

    • My assumption is based on the USB info. That no matter how much dirt they claim to have on HW, she has more damaging evidence that will give her the upper hand.

    • I realize I didn’t answer both parts of your question.

      Leaning heavily on the imagery of battle where you inflict harm and risk getting harmed in order to win ground or protect ground you already own. That is what I think she needs to avoid. Holding on to wealth is not worth the cost.

      Fleeing to me means not standing her ground which means NOT keeping whatever monies she has amassed somewhere off to the side. I am assuming this as well, since there was a mention that one of the questionable accounts is in her father’s name.

      It doesn’t mean she can avoid taking responsibility for what she has done illegally, but it also doesn’t mean she should let the bad people’s accusations that she was the ONLY one embezzling stand.

      I want her to walk away from the whole SH kingdom with nothing. Get the heck outta town.

  6. HW really annoyed me this episode. She cannot have it all and something’s gotta give. There are decisions to be made, give up her job, husband, and go away with SJ or stay in her miserable life and be a slave to her bosses, which will break her in the long run.

  7. thanks for the recaps Jomo. well, like I said in the last recap, I would like to see HW make the right decisions independently of SJ.

    she needs to see that what she has is empty and that should be enough reason to want to leave it all behind now. as SJ says, don’t use him as an excuse and don’t use him as a reason to leave either. leave because it’s the right thing to do.

    Poor SJ. not being able to help falling in love with her and having such a difficult love as his first. I really feel heartbroken for him too.

    I have an ending that I would like. I hope that HW does got OT he police and by turning everyone in, gets herself a light sentence. The enemies are defeated. in the meantime, SJ continues on his music and becomes successful and waits for her to get out. their love survives.

    it’s not a spoiler!! just my own preferred ending 🙂

    • I don’t think she can escape punishment, either.
      I have been thinking HW could turn state’s evidence and get a lesser sentence, but she would have to get around Prosecutor Hubby and the folks he is working with. The fact that even his sister is involved in the corruption shows how deeply the rot goes at Seohan.
      It makes me sick to my stomach.

      She could go directly to the press to prove her innocence, and then let the courts decide after the fact. PH would go down with the rest of them if someone anyone higher than him is clean.

      • I wonder if turning state’s evidence is even an option. The show seems to suggest that the whole system is corrupt and the only way someone corrupt gets caught is because a stronger corrupt person wants it to happen.

        But then I may be wrong.

      • Yumi –
        She could give the evidence to her editor-in-chief friend whose magazine could publish a story about corruption of Seohand and SJ — the only genuine thing at Seohan — in the same issue!!

        But, I guess Seohan clan doesn’t really care if their names get smeared. None of them live very virtuously, and Han is proud of her iffy origins. HW needs to hit them where it hurts – in the coffers. My hope is that HW not only hid monies from them, but locked it up in a way where they can’t get to it.

  8. Thanks for the recap. The introduction was lovely. I’ve been waiting breathless for the recap. I got so desperate I actually watched the drama.I’m glad I did. Despite watching the episode the recap helped me better understand some of the machinations.

    Looking forward to the recap of episode 14.

    I’ve seen this listed as a 16 episode drama. I wonder if that has changed. It’s hard to imagine it ending next week.

    • It’s 20 eps according to dramawiki. The show doesn’t looking like last weeks eps at all right now either. It is more drama thank usual rom of 16 eps. Romantic melodrama are usually 20 eps.

    • It’s 16 episodes now. The PD just said that he’s decided to end at 16 because he wants to keep his story tight (and presumably win some awards down the line rather than coast on milking this drama for ratings).

      • What!?! No, it can’t end next week. How could they possibly wrap everything up in two episodes? Ack, stress.

  9. I think the husband is a total jerk. He doesn’t wanna lose the dean position that he will take any chance to keep it in his claws, even if he has to sacrifice his own wife. SLA world is so full of hypocrisy I could puke, or at least spit like Dami. I’m a bit disappointed that even though she knows things will be uncomfy for SJ, she still tells him to come for the interview in her house. She’s too confident. Once they’re in the same room, they can’t even hide their feelings, written all over their faces while hubby pretends nothing happens. I wanna smack his face or tell SJ to get out. But there are two scenes that I love from episode 13. The first one is the quintet scene. Finally, after waiting for so long, I get to see him socialize with his college mates like normal students do. The world doesn’t only revolve around love. He’s still a 20-year old boy afterall. The quintet consisted of rejected students being blacklisted for bringing up the corrupt teacher. SJ fits with them. They can make a change together in that matter. The second scene is when HW says “Stop it!” and cries upon SJ’s words of grenade. She wishes to get SJ’s support because she’s confident she will win the battle. But SJ’s grenade hits her because she knows he’s right.

  10. There’s so much to flesh out in the characters, their interactions, and their choices as the story continues to unfold. Everything is going from bad to worse and it’s chilling how instinctive corruption is to these people that the issue of infidelity has somehow become trivial. Watching SLA hasn’t failed to bring on whirlwinds of emotion that I usually experience in viewing suspense or mystery thrillers. You know those scenes in scary films where the lead character keeps on wandering in dark alleys investigating alone? And you know something’s going to leap out at some point so you keep screaming at her in the screen to just get out of there? Seeing monsters taunt Hye Won in broad daylight looking quite comfortable in their own skin has just been even more frightening. The 2 episodes per week is just the right pace to keep my heart from bursting but I sure hope the writer wraps this up real well.

    Thanks for the recap!

  11. I love all the recaps.yeah.epi 13and 14 are difficult to watch.its so slow n painful at times.if only hw could just leave everything behind n live her life without all those material trappings.I would love a good ending though the culture for kdrama is …no matter how bad things are…married couples seldom divorce.sigh….I really hate those people who manipulate the situation n made full use of that,when things turn bad hw will b made the’s so unfair!!!the relationship between sj n hw really made me sore.if it’s so painful to love,why should they continue?I think hw is trying to make sj to stay away so tt she can keep him safe.maybe this is the best hw feels tt she could do for sj.though this melodrama will be a bit hard on the Asian culture tt marriage is sacred n the reversal of age gender love,I am still keeping my fingers cross tt they will b safe together

  12. By the way,I hate the selfish husband,the pretentious snake Wang Secretary n the entire seo clans…argh…..coming episodeswill b difficult to watch.please…..please…..let them live n love

  13. Thanks so much for the recap and all the comments and discussions. I really enjoy reading these to aid my understanding of the show….

    1. If the Clara Schumann/Brahms reference made in an earlier episode by the dean is of significance, then Brahms leaves Clara Schumann even when there are no real obstacles to their union. There is no clear reason he gives but historians and biographers have suggested that he was felt perhaps that this love was too much for him to bear and that he needed to escape to make his music. He never married. I felt that perhaps that might be possible this episode and I think it might not be a bad ending. Sun Jae needs to be his own person for a while — make his own way in the world and I am not sure Hye Won can step back and let him.

    2. I know many of you hate Professor Kang but I find him complicated and weak but not a villian. I mean Hye Won is hardly blameless — she lived with him for so many years… made so many compromises to get some fame and money and I am not judging her for that but she is hardly a victim here. She is in a very bad situation of her own making and I can totally understand why for herself and for Sun Jae she would need to leave with as much as she can get but why blame Professor Kang when she has enabled him all along.

    3. Also, she was a goddess to Sun Jae and I have always wondered about this — can he love the woman now as he has loved the goddess before — that is his choice to make and I think those scenes where he is with the misfits playing and finding his own space and pace will be the kind of character growth that will help him make that choice (or not). He is very idealistic but in order for any love to make it in the real world, it has to grapple with the dirty, messy business of loving.

    • I thought Brahms and Clara Schumann were close up to her death. They lived in relatively close proximity and sometimes too family trips together.

    • Which is what I liked about ep 13,14 he saw clearly she wants also her status, money and fame. He saw she is not just the women he loves who shares music with him, who is gentle when she is with him.

      He know her flaws much more now than in first 10 eps when He saw her as only The goddess He loved and was her trueself only with him. He can choose her or not much more clearly now.

      That she thought in insecurity that he cared about her money, power must been shocking for him.

  14. As much as I want Hye Won to let it all go and leave with Sun Jae, my more pressing desire is for Hye Won to burn that place to the ground.

  15. Finally! Been waiting for a recap! Thanks, Jomo! Love this drama…not my usual. I don’t really care if oh hye won and sun jae end up together…I just want her to get the bad guys! I really hate those snobs….ugh!

  16. I’m so glad I found your recaps. I watch this drama so intently but due to the limited dialogue, I’m afraid I miss some of the nuances. Your recaps are really helpful in not only clarifying things but in giving me more food for thought.

    Interestingly, I can’t say I’m 100% invested in this couple, yet I’m on the edge of my seat as to how everything will be resolved. The writing is excellent so even if it’s not the ending of my choosing, I feel confident it will be done well.

    Thanks Jomo! You and Ockoala have worked hard!

  17. Remember that HW is an excellent strategic thinker. She got SJ out of the jail by using her husband, she’s the mahjong expert, she’s a manipulator for years. She refuses to run away because I believe she has a very good plan under her sleeves, a plan that will not harm SJ’s future. I believe that keeping her marriage image is part of her plan too. Being so confident in front of the prosecutor also indicates that she’s the one who has the upper hand. All she needs now is a trust from SJ to let her do the plan.

    • Speaking of mahjong, what was the purpose of showing the evil secretary’s learning of that game? The camera focused on that book at least twice so I’m assuming there’s a significance to it?

      • It is what people of leisure play. She is maybe hoping to replace HW at Seo’s get-togethers once HW gets thrown in the slammer.

      • She wants to replace Hye Won in the structure of Seohan in part by learning mahjong and moving into Hye Won’s spot in the game.

  18. The trope of gazelles trying to play with tigers and perhaps coming to a bad end in this drama makes me think of Secret/Secret Love. In both cases you see a bright person from a working/middle class background aspire to join the upper echelon. For a time they are allowed in to perform certain duties for the benefits of the inner circle of those with power, but ultimately they are tossed back to be punished for crimes they might or might not have committed and the cloak of power they had been borrowing gets snatched.

  19. I think most of the female fans bias the character SJ because of the actor’s appearance 🙂

    If the character HW did not wastefully live her 20s like that then SJ would not be able to meet her or to have an affair with her. The “cause and effect” law.

    HW character was a pianist (a few good one) who had to leave the piano world behind due to injury. At the lowest point of her life, she got a second chance to study overboard and a job offer with the art foundation (worse off she might have to support her poor family). Isn’t it normal for her to grit her teeth and endure everything to pay back and desire a comfortable life? Have SJ ever put himself in her shoes and find the answers why she did that?

    For anyone who has been living fine for the past 40 years was asked to drop everything in the sake of love (a very illicit one), don’t you need time to think? Despite her husband is a jerk, she handles him fine. There are many abusive husbands out there in Korea but the wives still endure and live on … it’s reality!

    I think HW character will be fine living a loveless life for the next 60 years. Love with no money will becomes loveless anyway.

    At the beginning HW used to say “using her and the foundation as his stepping stone”, consider the situation he witnessed as “life lesson.”

    Therefore, I don’t like the ending with her dropping everything and running to him. Rather she becomes the CEO and continues doing what she does best such as supporting new talents, does what the art foundation suppose to do. Also, she continues supporting his life decision through “ignorant ear” as he goes on with his life and future. It would be best if he never finds out it’s her. They could live on with their lives while holding on the beautiful memories they had.
    Regarding the legal matters, if HW becomes witness and since it’s white collar crime, she hardly gets prosecuted. I don’t think Prof Kang is stupid enough to sue them for adultery, it’s a destruction path for all of them especially if SJ makes to the final competition (the foundation needs him to salvage the school image).

    I think it’s realistic to end the drama.

    • Yup I agree with you!
      She can beat all this evil empire if she is focus but with SJ she totally loses herself, but if she win this battle , do you think she will live the way SJ wants????

      • well, I am not sure as SJ is struggling to fit in her world and vice versa. I don’t ever believe in everlasting love but do believe that we compromise and try our best as we go. He’s only 20 years old and first year college student … uhmm unsettle … open ended question for us–audience to interpret base on our perspective of life 🙂

    • everything you said makes sense. it would be perfect and realistic with this kind of ending, so i’m 100% behind you on this 🙂

      • I completely agree with you Songmai, that there is no such thing as everlasting love in real life. Compoundng this fact is the huge age difference between HW and SJ.
        In that last photo (so aptly and hilariously described as Protrait of Lovers with Cuckolded Husband!), SJ really looks young enough to be the son of Hye Won and Kang Joon Hyung!
        This looks very convincingly like a family portrait if we do not know the background or context of the whole drama!
        Also, when I see the scenes of SJ with girls his age like Da Mi and the Cello Girl and even Yu Ra, they all look so natural together. Especially the scenes of SJ with the students playing together in a quintet. This is what a 20 year old boy’s world should be like!!
        Not getting emotionally and mentally and psychologically tangled up in a complicated adult world of deceit and sabotage and cunning. He is still too young and may not have the 100% maturity to handle all this….at least not yet!
        As much as I love the relationship against all odds between HW and SJ, part of me wishes that perhaps he will fall in love with the Cello Girl because she seems like such a nice sweet simple girl, and is quite a good fit with SJ.

    • I like the idea that she continues to run SH the way it should be, not giving up and being with SJ as her only goal. It does make sense.
      I am not sure, though, that choice also means she has to live without love for the remainder of her days.

      Why does that have to be her future rather than divorcing Kang and living maybe with SJ and maybe someone else?

      • 🙂 🙂 Prof. Kang probably mixed sleeping pills and liquor too much and since he was channeling Robert Schumann. He will be admitted to a mental asylum

        I am all in with the idea of her being SJ’s girlfriend or someone else as long as she is happy. SJ used to mention that Clara Schumann remained unmarried, independent and lived with her lover something like that in ep 9 (I think)

  20. Jomo, this drama is great in so many ways but it is your writing and analysis that have blown me away. How can I not glow in admiration for a recap that utilizes 손자병법 in such a way!

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