Secret Love Affair Episode 16 Recap

If we listen to Sun Jae, he has us convinced he understands Hye Won better than she does herself. He sees that her loneliness doesn’t have to be a permanent part of her life, but he hasn’t seen her turn away from all the trappings she feels she earned over the years. Yes, she doesn’t want to lose him, but what does she think about his desires?  If he gives an ultimatum – me or the school? Is her heart so insulated by her brain that she can actually let him go? Sure, she can hang out up there in her ivory tower, coolly directing the comings and goings of the talent, whether they are teachers or students or guest artists. Hye Won will make sure the electricity stays on and staff gets paid very efficiently. Who will she think of at a Seohan recital hearing a student play a Beethoven piece?  How would she orchestrate her feelings for Sun Jae?  Does she keep impersonating Faux Hyung, talking to Sun Jae about his tour of concert halls of all the great cities of the world and just be happy for him? Seriously? She allows him to fall in love with and kiss another girl? I don’t know about that. We have already witnessed some fierce jealousy when it was unfounded. What if he shows up in ten years with a cute finacée on his arm? A little violin chick who won some violin competition in Brussells. I picture Hye Won breaking a bow over the woman’s head, not embracing her warmly. There is only one way to find out. Let’s begin the final chapter.

[Let’s all give a warm round of applause and a big thanks to jomo for pouring her heart and soul into recapping Secret Love Affair. Watching this drama was made even more intense and rewarding with her thoughts guiding the way. It’s been a blast watching, somewhat recapping (me), and totally loving every minute of the discussion with everyone on this artistic masterpiece. xoxoxo Koala.]

Episode 16 recap:

The Misfits celebrate at a bar, discussing Jo’s email from his friend, the professor. They are skeptical that in a performance your heart could be more important than the instrument.

Cello points out that Richter wasn’t picky about what he played on. When asked, Sun Jae tells them he plays on a Hanil with all the parts replaced. First violin never heard of it. All the history of his piano flashes in a smile across Sun Jae’s face. He wants to know what got into Cello at the beginning of the 4th movement. She sounded different.

“I finally felt something,” she admits. The other players envy her inspired playing so Sun Jae suggests they do a little song there. Cello helps convince the others that it sounds fun. As he clears away glasses, he proposes, “Seriously, play here so that everyone’s jaws drop.” Cello adds, “You never know someone could fall in love with you.” Sun Jae gets up and approaches the bartender.

The sound system is off and the patrons listen to their impromptu concert of two violins and four hands on a table which makes everyone smile.

Sun Jae recalls Hye Won’s passionate advice, “Tell them to kiss my ass. Music conquers all.” Ah, she is never far from his thoughts. The joy of the moment is all over his delighted expression.

Hye Won, in red, walks and cell phone talks down the hall of SeoHan.

“Great. I was getting bored.”  Something makes her stop, and she turns back toward Mahjong Wang’s desk. The secretary stands wearing a slightly anxious smile. Hye Won’s forward momentum doesn’t end at the desk, and she leans over to see what is on the computer screen. With their face inches apart, she comments, “So you’ve been studying Mahjong diligently. Did you improve?”

The friend/traitor/secretary/wanna-be Hye Won pleads, “Don’t hold a grudge, anyone can go crazy for a second. Couldn’t you just let it slide?”

“I guess so,” With a pretty little warm smile Hye Won walks away; her dominance is clearly acknowledged between them.

Wang’s groveling continues as she serves Joon Hyung and Young Woo at the ex-Love Nest.

The princess remarks how Hye Won turned the tables at the police station. As far as her own future, she’ll have to live quietly for her husband. Joon Hyung doesn’t think that is possible, Wang laughs at the idea, too. But she has no choice or she’ll get into trouble. Joon Hyung doesn’t understand.

They explain to him in small words that he can understand how Young Woo’s company fronted an off shore money laundering deal. Oh Hye Won holds all the key account information and the plan is she will hand everything over to Prosecutor Husband.

On another note, Wang wants to know why Joon Hyung followed through on the adultery charge if he had decided to put up with it? It should have played into Prosecutor Husband’s hand, but instead, Hye Won triumphed to everyone’s surprise. Young Woo thought that she would just go to jail holding Sun Jae’s hand…for love.  Joon Hyung doesn’t want to talk about it, although Wang thinks ex-hubby should be open about his wounds if Hye Won confirmed the affair. “I don’t have wounds. How can I stop her when she loves him? I just want her to pay the price.” His confusion amuses them. He asks if he can stay at the love nest a few days. Young Woo’s new quiet living won’t allow for her to stay at the apartment anyway. Doorbell rings and Wang gets up to dramatically let in “Genuine royal family, the real big shot.”

“Big shot?”

Cello Snob enters and Wang’s dives into her role as sycophant. While they introduce her as Han’s secretary, she adds, “We’re all college friends outside of the office,” jumping up to serve at Cello Snob’s every possible desire. The Queen-to-Be of Seohan just stopped by to look around the apartment. Young Woo had offered it as a studio, as she needed to reinvent herself. Fawning ensues – they offer and pour her a glass of wine.

“Oppa is going to Hannam-dong,” she says. Young Woo will be going later. Joon Hyung asks the Queen if he can stay for three or four days and when she grants him this favor, he smiles a big happy smile at his new meal ticket.

Seo, with his advisors assembled around him, complains that his plan to throw Hye Won to the prosecutors isn’t working. Rather than handing over the accounting books to him, she is letting his son-in-law take small bites out of them, winning him to her side.

Hong suggests he step forward and bring back the case that was dropped two years ago and link it to the present. Seo considers this, while Toady 2 and Toady 3 offer themselves up as well. “We’re always prepared.” It could work, they have room for an extension. Han comes in with a maid to serve very rare tea.

She picks up on the cool that greeted her arrival. Her presence is neither required nor desired.

Upstairs, Hye Won gives Han back the necklace from the Europe trip, stating it could be perceived as a bribe.

Han asks, “Have you grown wings?” referring to the divorce. “I didn’t mean for it to happen, “ but it did. The maid announces the game is afoot, and as the ladies go down, Han makes yet another attempt to hold on to her cash, “Watching Prosecutor Kim take all my money doesn’t upset you?” They walk, Han’s arm over the smaller, in height, woman’s shoulder. “You don’t have to worry about that. I won’t let anyone take it.”

She comments then it’s not money, but scraps of paper.

They stop walking, “I’m going to use it as bait. All I ask for is respect.” Han’s doesn’t relent – asking again for some of what Hye Won is hiding. “That’s going to be difficult,” she demurs demurely smiling, then closing the door on her former boss who protests with a frustrated, “Hey!” LOL

In the game room, Min plays with the Toadies. Seo, with his ladies and Hye Won.

The maid and Wang gossip that Mrs. Oh is the power in the house now. Wang predicts while Hye Won is working with Prosecutor Kim now, those two will end up fighting.

Min, now with Hye Won complains, “I’m not lucky tonight.” Seo notes it isn’t luck but because he isn’t playing his hands right.  Hong does a good thing with his tiles that I don’t understand. From the sidelines, Han watches Hong and compliments him, “Good Lord. You went all-in already?” Which Hye Won calls heroic.

“Isn’t heroism beautiful?” Seo inquires.

Hye Won’s answer: “Only when you can protect something with it. I’m not a fan of dying in vain.” She puts down her winning tiles, shocking everyone. Even though she always wins.

Young Woo surmises to Han “Your heart must have sunk. You thought she was a faithful dog but she’s a tiger.

Hye Won calls out, “I’ll act like I didn’t hear that.”

Prosecutor Husband gives her a thoughtful looking recalling an earlier tête à tête “How about I get it?” he asks.

“Who do you think is my last opponent?” she responds mysteriously, or rather, as usual. “We’ll see about that.”

Hye Won sits in the hall near Sun Jae’s door waiting. Outside their safe haven.

With everything on the line in her business life, it is telling that she finds herself looking for him there, even if it is for a few minutes. Sun Jae understands this gesture, but still resents it and hates that she uses the expression “stopped by on the way…” somewhere else more important than him. Their conversation is filled with his hurt and accusations. He laughs bitterly hearing she has a new corporate car with a driver. “His girl” has to go “Unless you thought that I was whining for you to play with me then you shouldn’t have come here. Of course you have to make money and struggle for power. For kids like myself to benefit. But your method is so shabby. It’s cheap and there is no end to it.”

“Of course it ends. You wanna bet?” Nope, he already knows he’s going to win. They’ll have to see about that, she says.

Then, echoing her snobbish husband, she tells him to quit the quintet since it isn’t helping him at all.

“That doesn’t matter. I just love how they are getting better little by little. When Dvorak wrote that piece, he edited the song multiple times to not follow the trend. Enjoying the music is all that matters.”  “Fine!” she concedes. “Good for you. Don’t walk me out.”

He turns his back to open the door. “I won’t! Your driver is here, anyway.” He shoots a glance back to see if she felt the indictment in his words.

Their eyes almost meet a charged moment. She drops her eyes. “Sleep well.” She adopts a conciliatory tone.

“I will.” She walks away deflated. He doesn’t soften, at least not until she is out of sight.

He pauses before going in and, his head drops, wishing probably they could have had a do over on that conversation. Once inside, he looks around, reflecting on things that make him shake his head.

He goes into the bathroom, still unsettled.

Hye Won arrives home. Ahjumma reports that Kang took the rest of the luggage, and that one of the beds was moved into the basement.

Hye Won’s lone bed remains next to the space that was the Rat’s. She seems to feel the same unease as Sun Jae, only in a much fancier space.

The Best-a Friends-u are drinking at Sun Jae’s. Jong Ha gazes lovingly at the passed out Da Mi, mentioning how pretty she is.

Sun Jae agrees. Joon Hyung wants to ask her out after confessing the sins of his past.

Sitting at his PC, Sun Jae, grins and advises his friend to go for it. “Wait out three months and ten days, then kiss her on a bridge. Then she’ll forgive your past.”

Online, Sun Jae invites Faux Hyung to watch his quintet on Friday. He wants to meet him in person. “The quintet means a lot to me.”

Hye Won Hyung inquires if he has invited his goddess, and is horrified by Sun Jae’s terse answer, “I don’t want to talk about that,” and logs off. She looks like the Sun (Jae) left her world.

Rat approaches Practice Room #7.

We hear the dissonance of all the instruments from other practice rooms tuning or playing. The quintet is hard at work making a goodbye sign.

Scary tense music follows him down the hall. He busts into Cello Snob’s office, “Shouldn’t you disband them?”

“Leave them alone. They’re all dropping out anyway. It is their farewell concert.” To his complete shock, he finds out Sun Jae has withdrawn from the school.

Cello Snob, putting on her coat to leave, invites him to have lunch with her Oppa Prosecutor.

We learn from Jong Soo that Sun Jae turned in his ID and returned the grant money. The TA takes the brunt of Joon Hyung’s frustration about Sun Jae’s betrayal. The Rat flips yet another table, I count three so far, maybe four.

The hapless assistant declines to shut down the goodbye concert, so Joon Hyung threatens to fire him.

The Misfits open the doors wide to their impromptu concert hall.

They begin with the soft first movement, bringing in curious and hopefully supportive students.

Jo joins them and listens appreciatively, while Joon Hyung steams alone in his office.   Hye Won arrives, seeing the small crowd gathered outside.

She works her way in to the front to be able to watch Sun Jae –  spotting the GOOD BYE sign in the window.

A mixture of pride and grief on her face. They finish to applause all around, and Sun Jae with a “I told you so” grin points at the crowd’s appreciation of their efforts.

After reading the “GOOD BYE” on the window, suddenly, he jumps up and runs out through the people in the hall. Hye Won is not there.

His girl is lost in thought behind her desk. Rather than a rapid succession of options formulated and dismissed, her preoccupation is with something large and heavy.

Nice secretary watches anxiously.

Finally, Hye Won stands up pushing down on her desk to help lift the weight of her concern.

Nervous music plays. Nothing about this scene gives me a good feeling. The secretary asks if she is going out, which she does, slowly, reluctantly.

She heads unhurriedly towards Wang at the desk, who stands and awaits. “I heard that your inauguration as Chairwoman is soon.”  “Yes,” Hye Won replies,”I’ll make it grand.” Wang smiles obsequiously.

Hye Won stands now at the finish line, outside the Chairwoman’s office.

The woman has worked decades to overcome the indignities of her poor background. Bending low and behaving badly at the behest of those with wealth. Performing acts that compromised her honor – with great style. Sliding the door open, pausing, then looking back at the secretary. Almost sensuously, she leans on the door before going in, relishing the victory.

Once Hye Won is inside, Wang practically buckles in relief.

Hye Won steps up to the desk, and turns the swivel chair this way and that, in a leisurely fashion.

Later, we see her on the phone with a nervous to please Han. “I don’t feel like I belong in that chair.” Han suggests that she gets one she likes, right? Right?

Young Woo, drinking Scotch, remarks that Han should have been a lot nicer to Hye Won. “It’s not too late to beg,” She suggests before leaving Han to stew. LOL

The goddess-no-more descends from her tower bedroom, dressed in soft pajamas and robe. She is surprised to see Sun Jae in her house, in his jeans and little boy jacket,

He turns, nervously looking at her, then recognizing the woman from the Arts Center rehearsal. “Lee Sun Jae?” The memory of Hye Won asks the memory of Sun Jae. He bows in greeting, then smiles warmly at her.

Present Hye Won, is overcome with his beauty and innocence, recalling how little she knew about him at the time.

She supports herself with the wall. The sincerity in his face strikes her again,

tears fill her eyes and she breathes deeper.

This is the man who gave her his heart unselfishly and completely who wants to rescue her from what she won’t relinquish. A smile slowly appears, but a melancholy one.

She enters the piano room, switching on the light. Sun Jae plays his Schubert for her for the first time again,

and his Bach Prelude without using the pedals, then the explosive coda to the Beethoven sonata,

and she listens like Georges Sand to Chopin They perform together the orgasmic, as well as the lighthearted duets and Sun Jae envelopes her in one of his wonderful hugs.

Sadly, too sadly, she watches the scenes unfold, turns off the light and shuts the door.

Going back upstairs, she pauses, looking down through the glass barrier, this time seeing a mortified Sun Jae at the kitchen table.

This crushed soul from the Cocktail party from hell appears far different from the one who first arrived at her house. Wistful, with resolve in her expression, she looks as if a decision has been made.

She goes up the last flight, one hand trailing behind on the wall.

We get a rare glance into her family life in a phone call to her mother. She is arranging to leave some of her things at her place.

The rest, she is giving away her friends, wanting to replace everything old for the new house.

Sun Jae sleeps soundly. He slowly comes to his senses hearing Hye Won call out his name,

then hurries to let her in, pulling her inside.

“Gently,” she says laughing, closing the door behind her. Wearing casual clothing and a calm smile, she looks up at him.

Before anything, he asks, “You came yesterday, didn’t you?” She admits it and she heard he drank till he passed out at the after party. He wonders, “Why didn’t you tell me? Instead of saying that you stopped by…”

But it is true that she stopped by.

He protests, “Where were you going anway?” She hesitates then says, “This wasn’t planned, but could I have a cup of tea?” He directs her to his bedroom and grudgingly goes to make it.

She sits behind the blue railing and glances around his room, their true home.

Later, sipping their drinks on his bed, she explains she is going in for sentence negotiation, although he doesn’t really want to them to take away her cool factor.

He wonders if she can she trust the prosecutor? Sure. Did she set up the appointment? Seven o’clock. She’s even thinking of getting her hair done beforehand. She likes the tea, and wants to remember this moment with him by its taste. She stands, he asks, “How will you remember it?” hugging her. She should remember it with her whole body. They sway in each others’ arms, then he kisses her. Nice.

After, they lie drowsing in his bed, spooning, his arms over hers. Embracing her tightly and burying his face in her neck, both cherish this chaos free time together knowing their  peace is as fragile as eggs in a carton.

Hye Won presents herself, dressed comfortably, to a different and Handsome Prosecutor.

She knows she will be spending some time there before the trial. He tells her she made a difficult decision; she requests to keep “them” in the dark for now.

Ahhhh, the pretty pink USB of truth is in the prosecutor’s hand. After he connects it, she drops a bomb. Not only are there files documenting Seo and Han’s paper companies, but the record of transactions between Seo and Prosecutor Husband. The prosecutor’s “Oh sh^t –jackpot!” is funny to see.

Hye Won declares, “Half of the motivation for this decision was personal. I just couldn’t stand them trying to have everything.”

The departing Misfits let their grievances be known by posting accusations of the Seohan professors’ corruption on the school’s paper bulletin boards. Hopefully, they went online as well, as the sheets get torn down immediately.

Min, Cello Snob and Prosecutor Husband meet and scheme.

Min is surprised that Han turned herself in, but Prosecutor Husband assures him that she must have something up her sleeve. Seo is out. Is Min in?

Han preps with Wang. “Pack my luggage with three days of clothes.”

The chairwoman will need to take a break for a while. Min is worried that the school and foundation are so closely linked, but Prosecutor Husband tells him not to be concerned. Whatever they are talking about, Hannam-dong agreed to. “Anyhow, we will need a specialist to handle the school affairs.”

Cello Snob suggests “You just need to keep this up until the chancellor election.”  It is decided that the Board will be changed and Kang will be appointed Dean.

“Of course.” Snob says.

Prosecutor Husband is on the way to Hannam-dong to let Han in on the plans. It is suggested that Min gets out of Dodge for a little while as things will heat up. They chuckle. Jerks.

Han and Seo say good-bye. Han claims she doesn’t want to get picked up. But just in case she gets investigated and put in jail, Seo has to promise to send her some spending money. Young Woo scoffs, “Like you have to worry about that.” Han explains this is winning by default, and cautions the Princess to behave until either she or Hye Won get out first. As she leaves, Prosecutor Husband comes in.

She tells him she is reassured he is leading the case. When she asks about Min, they are not completely forthcoming when they only mention he went to a music festival. Han says good-bye, knowing she will see Hong, Seo’s faithful dog will be in court in Seo’s stead.

A call from an extremely disappointed Prosecutor Dad disrupts any relief party for the Seo Clan. The news of Hye Won’s betrayal is out.

They are going to have a surprise attack with it. Seo’s reaction is deliciously satisfying “I won’t be sleeping in peace tonight.”

Hye Won sits in the interrogation room looking less elegant but also less stressed than in the past.

Handsome Prosecutor is happy to see Hye Won eating and sleeping well. When she asks how they are going to proceed with the charges, he tells her they will be picking the right time to achieve maximum impact. “Waves instead of ripples.” When this gets out, it will shake the foundation to its foundation. She is fine with whatever they do. The clan is already suffering from waiting for the guillotine to drop. She had to consider a lot of things before turning herself, even negotiating with them. But that would only have made her their dog forever.

Jo plays something lovely in Practice Room #7.

It’s like impressionist painting of sunlight on the water. Sun Jae listens, downcast and lonely looking.

Jo asks, “Isn’t Hye Won cool?”

Sun Jae answers “She so cool, it’s a problem.” Jo and Sun Jae don’t know all the facts, but they do know whatever evidence Hye Won brought in was going to have huge repercussions. Jo assures the young man, that although Hye Won is not asking for a reprieve based on extenuating circumstances, the prosecutors may not treat her as harshly as she expects. She could be in for about a year and a half. Still, it’s a long time.

Jo suggests Sun Jae pass the time learning the piece he just played, maybe even win a competition with it. Hye Won would like that.

Sun Jae is delighted to hear the Emory Foundation has agreed to sponsor his preparation for the Busoni Competition.

In court, Han takes the witness stand to accuse Hye Won of bad things. Four months ago, when Hye Won was out of contact for days, she thinks she canceled the trust fund with the intent to flee.

Hye Won stops her council from objecting.

There is a stir to call Lee Sun Jae to the stand, but somehow it is overruled.

Back at Seohan, OMG-You’re-So-Dumb Rat cannot believe they didn’t question Sun Jae into confessing his sin to the world.

Jong Soo tries to explain how that would reflect poorly on his boss. Jo comes in to take out Sun Jae’s paperwork. The Rat’s speaks bitterly of Hye Won, Jo, Ji Soo’s friendship.

Young Woo talks to her father, realizing Hye Won is the winner here. For her husband and him “Living is not really living constantantly fearing what’s to come.” Hye Won really is the big fox.

Hye Won stands to make her final testimony.  We finally get to hear what has been rummaging in her mind for all that time. She isn’t going to talk about anyone but herself.

“Neither do I intend to seek a reduced sentence by claiming that I was hired for my crimes. Every crime I have committed was not forced. I acted solely out of my own volition. It was wrong.”

In the audience, Jang Ho asks Da Mi “Can she accuse herself like that? Isn’t it normal to plea innocence?”

Hye Won continues, “Thanks to that, I enjoyed the luxuries that I didn’t deserve. Corporate credit card, house, cars, employees under the foundation’s name. They were the luxuries I could not have possibly gotten on my own. So I wanted to make them mine. Even in the world of music which I had given up. I wanted to exert my influence. As if I was born with such rights. As if they were embedded in my genes. Something that no one could take away from me.” She looks up. “Then one day in my life, very unexpectedly balance sheet of my life was in front of me. Then the values that I had long forgotten asked me a question. How will I live the rest of my life? I vividly remember that very moment. It was a highlight of my life.” She closes her eyes. “It was the moment when for the very first time in my life someone devoted himself just for me.” She is smiling. Sun Jae looks on proudly.

“It’s not that he gave up his life for me or gave a romantic confession.” Hye Won’s eyes well up and her voice breaks.

“He just… busily wiped the floor of his place.” Sun remembers it, too. “All he did was try to provide a clean seat for me. But then I realized that I had never received such devotion from anyone.” Again, we see Sun Jae watch his girl, sending her, encouragement with his smile.

“That I had even considered myself as a means for success. Me who had abused myself into misery. Furthermore I hurt countless people,” Jang Ho puts his arm around DM, moved by Hye Won’s words. “Subjecting them into despair. So I intend to accept my sentence. Regardless of the sentence you give me. I will not appeal to the court. That is all.” Another pleased smile from Sun Jae. He was not wrong to love her that much.

The court adjourns, everyone leaves,

Hye Won and Sun Jae look for each other over the crowd and share their relief, smiling gently.

Poor Sun Jae, though, will be alone now for some time.

At home, Sun Jae plays the Mozart Rondo in A minor for Jang Ho and Da Mi.

The restaurant Ajumma sneaks in with some side dishes and excitedly listens to the beautiful music. Da Mi puts her head on Jang Ho’s shoulder.

At night in the prison, Hye Won’s cell mates gossip about their new friend. They heard she’s gonna be in their 10 years, that she cut a deal with the prosecution, betrayed her boss. and fooled around with a 20 year old boy.

Someone’s snoring, and they realize it’s HER. LOL  They don’t like her. Surrounding her, they cut her hair.

She wakes up, afraid at first, then realizes the best strategy is to let them do it.

“Just don’t cut my neck.” She wants to live, and for the first time she’s sleeping soundly which is like a taste of honey. One of the ladies says her son is 20 years old and wants to punish her for her affair. Hye Won suggests they shave her bald, and grimaces while they try.

In the prison visitor’s room, Sun Jae waits nervously for Hye Won. She tries to cover her new hair cut with a joke that her new friends gnawed it off like rats. “How does it look?” Sun Jae, who has been to prison, realizes the horrors she is suffering, and I think may feel a bit guilty for being the catalyst that got her in there.

But with her usual bravado, she jokes to relax him, “I’m so pretty, aren’t I?”

“It suits you,” he answers.

She heard he made it to the finals of the competition, and he promises to win so he can buy plane tickets with the money and they can run off together.

She’s worried people will accuse her of making him panhandle. “But you told me that’s how you take rich people’s money.”

Touché. She has nothing left to teach him now. He looks through the perforated glass at her unflattering hair cut in the ugly prison garb, adoring his goddess.

She lets out a sigh. “You can forget about me. Somehow you came to me and did everything you possible could. You loved me and made it so everything got taken away in a way I never could have done. So I am thankful. It would be OK to leave.”

But what would he do in his empty home? Whether it is one year or ten years, they should they try to live together, fighting some days, making up others. It would be such a waste if they break up without giving it a shot. She considers this for a quick moment. Why not? They might as well jump. He leans towards the glass,

“And, anyway, you are too pretty for me not to try.” Making her chuckle a deeply satisfying way.

He is home playing his Hanil.

We hear his voice over as we see a calm musician focusing on the music, the only thing that matters. “Rondo A Minor. I start the day playing this piece whether it’s sunny or raining, whether I feel joyful or gloomy. I tell the story of the day every day and I say that it’s life. It’s the secret of Mozart. It’s in an undertone, but it’s definitely not a surrender.” Hye Won, meanwhile, enjoys her own version of freedom in prison. Almost affectionately holding onto to the fence that keeps her in.

“’Calmly look at it. Look deeply into it, and try loving it.’ That’s what it whispers. You don’t play this song, you touch it. There are about 2770 notes. And I guess there are a little more than 500 chords? I touch you, dear, in such a way, every day. You… terribly sexy you.”

She smiles at the warm sun on her face.

Sun Jae, off on a separate journey, takes his bags out of his house telling the room. “ll be back.”


As the episode advanced, I felt like I was in a high stakes poker game, drawing good card after good card on my way to a possible but impossible inside Royal Flush. My heart lifted after each great moment. I think the turning point for me was when she went to see him at his apartment to say good-bye.  It seemed that only good could have brought her there. Still I needed to know. Will the King get punished? Will the Dopey Jack get his? Will Hye Won accept a 10 year sentence to pay for her sins? Will Queen Han go to jail? Was Sun Jae going to be my Ace? YES! His visit at the prison and his low-key suggestion they might as well try to date when she was released was perfect.

I cried and smiled and nodded in sympathy and finally whimpered in wonder at the beauty of the Sun Jae/Hye Won love story I will always cherish. Thank you, Fate, for bringing together this awesome team of creative hearts and minds. And thank you Team Ahn, for not only counting on luck but hard work to win.  They succeeded is making their messages clear: that not all marriages should be endured, that money will never buy happiness, and that love may not make all the bad things go away, but it is worth fighting for. What a great victory, too, for classical music, the biggest star of the drama. We learned about composers and their stories, sad and happy, which made me appreciate their gifts to us even more. The soundtrack is gorgeous and moving and unforgettable. I will be listening for years to come picturing my beautiful Sun Jae at the keyboard.

It has been a helluva week for me. My house is all torn up from having my upstairs bathroom finally remodeled. I had to drive nine hours to bring my daughter back from college. My husband is returning from active duty Monday after being away for months, and my son is looking at his last week before graduating from 8th grade. To top it off, I have a sore throaty flu sending me to the ibuprofen bottle every four hours. Writing this recap with my emotions as messy as my house has turned into an extremely memorable event. I’ve enjoyed during every minute of my sniffling sobs.

Thanks, dear Koala for letting me borrow your platform. Thanks, dear readers, for your lovely words of encouragement. Not only wouldn’t I have done it without you, I wouldn’t have enjoyed the show as much if we all hadn’t tried to explain it to each other.  ♥♥♥

I leave you with another song – this one by Nickel Creek. I imagine Hye Won singing this to her troubadour as he goes out to the world on his own. The tune played from my shuffle while I was at work the day the final episode aired, taking me by surprise. I had to run to the Ladies Room to stop my tears. Enjoy.☺

Click here to watch Secret Love Affair.


Secret Love Affair Episode 16 Recap — 65 Comments

  1. Thank You so much for the recaps! It was indeed a wonderful journey!
    My mind/emotions are like “What is the hardest part to me to say good bye to this beautiful drama, director, music and actors with such an amazing chemistry?!” I’m still intoxicated! ^^

  2. Thank you jomo for your dedication and for sharing this beautiful gem of a drama with us. Your recaps have been as thoughtful and insightful as these episodes. Hope that your week becomes a little less hectic, so you can keep writing!

  3. thanks Jomo and koala both for having taken on the recapping of this beautiful
    piece of work. very early on, you captured the tone and every nuance of the drama and in a work that required a lot of thought and effort, you helped clarify a lot of its ambiguities.

    in the screwtape letters, CS Lewis described the road to hell. “Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts

    indeed, HW’s road to hell was so gradual she had no idea she was in it. she compromised herself and her values bit by bit till she had completely lost herself.

    I so love the scene where she went through room by empty room and saw their initial encounters and all the emotions that it it evoked in her again. and then that last one of a SJ in despair.

    Surely, as she glided through those rooms and had those images, she must have seen how that initial complete adoration from SJ now is starting to be withdrawn, and will continue to be withdrawn (not deliberately i believe) if she continues to cling onto power and money in this manner. and how could
    she not see too how empty and cold those rooms were and compare that to how SJ fills her up with warmth and love and passion.

    I have spoken too much. in any case, I just want to make you aware ( if you weren’t already) that the writer actually put out whole scripts of all 16 episodes. some kind souls in soompi are translating them. and once finished, the soompiers at SLA have created a website where all these can be read amongst other things.

    I hope I haven’t overstepped my boundaries in providing all these info here.

    thanks again for an incredible shared journey everyone.

  4. Thank you so much for taking this drama to another level with your recaps ladies!! 🙂
    And 4 taking us along w/u

  5. Thank you for your beautiful work recapping Secret Love Affair.

    Sorry to hear you were ill and hope you continue to get better. Congrats to your son. Every milestone moves you along on your journey. Glad to hear your daughter and husband are home.

    After reading the recap I’ll make room to watch the episode now.

    I have two observations from glancing at the episode and reading your recap. 1. I wish l knew exactly how long HyeWon’s sentence was. I’m not sure who to believe, Prof. Jo or HyeWon’s cellmates. 2. Except for her late night walk in the city with Sun Jae i have never seen HyeWon as carefree and happy as she was sitting in the sun in the prison yard.

    Good ending, but I wouldn’t scoff at a two hour post prison release special done right.

  6. Thank you jomo and miss koala for giving us your wonderful recaps and a space to write about and discuss this show. Although I do comment here and there to things I watched, this is the first time I felt the burning need to write so much about a series. Without this comment section I would have exploded, I’m sure.

    So, this is it. The perfect ending to a perfect show. Watching the show I hoped for Hye Won to get out of the system, for her being poor and with Sun Jae. I hated the pregnancy idea and I dreaded a time jump although the romantic in me would have liked a tiny little scene of both of them after jail, but that wouldn’t have been SLA, would it? I pretty much got everything I hoped for. (Btw the sentence is not 10 yrs, it is 1,5 yrs max. Jo said it to Sun Jae and the prison girls were gossiping, that had they combined all her deeds, it could have been 10 years).

    It’s the first time I’ve been sucked into a fictional world like this before. I fell hard during episode 1 and like so many others on the net I felt, that I myself had an affair or, as Amanda of Outside Seoul so hilariously said, ‘I would marry it if I could. No joke.’. This drama enriched my life in a way I never thought possible. It spoke to my senses, it made me reflect upon myself, it confirmed why I love stories told in picture language so much, it ate up my time, because I had to watch it without and then with subs and re-watch and re-watch again and again, it made me appreciate Yoo Ah In’s acting for the first time. The whole cast was outstanding. It will take a long time to open up again for ‘normal’ Kdrama.

    In true SLA manner it gave us an ending with lots of foreshadowing, hints and scenes we need to interpret, but without a doubt in my mind they gave us a happy ending.

    Since many episodes the question how Hye Won would decide, would she follow Sun Jae’s moral code and therefore get a chance to be with him or not, became the central point. After outmaneuvering all her enemies it was only up to her what to do. The distance, that was slowly building up between her and Sun Jae and the prospect of living without love for many years to come as well as her now seeing and understanding her own situation for the first time with his help made her choose the right thing. And as a visual confirmation they used the threshold theme of ep 12 again. On her way to the prosecutor’s Sun Jae pulls Hye Won over the threshold into his apartment, he finally pulls her into his world. (We saw this theme so often, e.g. him sweeping her off her feet and away during the mouse trap scene, I just love that this show’s visuals gear into each other like a rack-wheel. – And to those motivated subbers out there who want to translate the script, please, let us know whether SJ was supposed to have an erection watching HW cleaning her feet or not! 😉 )

    There are many discussions going on that only she was punished, made a sacrifice and didn’t get out of the mess as a winner, but I perceived it totally different. She isn’t punished, she is finally free now! Even in the prison behind the fence, she is free for the first time in many years. Free of her own ambition, free of guilt, free of the sharks around her, free of the Rat, free to enjoy fresh air and the nature around her, free to love whom she wants. She is outside in the sun after so many scenes in dark rooms, which were more like a prison than the actual prison. The show gave us lots of camera shots through bars, but the final shots are through the fence looking into the distance, so that the fence blurs and almost dissolves. Very soon she will be completely free to go wherever she wants.

    And she is relaxed. So relaxed, that she is sleeping and snoring like a baby in her cell. The hair cutting symbolizes four things to me. One is, that the conservative Korean audience perhaps needed a scene that acknowledges the immorality of an affair. The others are, that she will adapt to the rough prison life (she survived the upper class’ lies and schemes, it’s her forte after all), that she hasn’t given up, because she wants to live and that she really let go of all her ambitions. Her hair played such an important role in the whole show. All the visits to the beauty parlor, but now she let go of her vanity, she found her inner peace as she doesn’t fight back, but instinctively accepts what’s happening. She changed to the core.

    Is Sun Jae unpunished? He voluntarily gave back his scholarship, he freed himself from the dirty school. He found new supporters, but it is a long way he has to go, especially as his heart is in prison together with Hye Won. He isn’t free until she comes back.

    Their final scene in jail was so, so wonderful. No hysterical histrionics, lover’s oaths or melodramatic behavior. No, just a sweet couple so much in tune, understanding almost without talking, both being on the same page, being more together than ever. A guy putting up a brave face to not make his wench worry. Her final try to be adult and realistic, to set him free and his quiet but convincing defense ‘Where would I go when my home is here?’.

    Some complained, that he didn’t propose in this scene, that he should give her a prospect to look out for. Why? In his heart they are already married, they went on a honeymoon together, the rest are just formalities. Those doubting that this love could survive, because her looks would change during prison time and he were far too young to commit should go back to ep 1 and start a re-watch, because somehow they missed to understand the foundation of their relationship and the development they went through together.

    In episode 6 Sun Jae said, that she had nothing to lose, that she just had to love him, that he obviously loved her more. How young and wrong he was. When I see parts of the early episodes, like during the wonderful scene with Hye Won walking a last time through her house remembering all the things with Sun Jae that happened there, I’m shocked to see how much changed during these 16 episodes. An earthquake, that helped two souls to be reborn.

    After the final scene I cried for many hours, because this finale was so effin’ perfect and because I had to let them go. SLA stayed true to itself in every way possible. Never before did I have a palpable, visceral, physical reaction like this watching a show or a movie. Especially towards the last episodes it felt as if someone ripped my chest open and squeezed my heart hard, my body was humming watching the story unfold. After its end I felt gutted and couldn’t believe what I just had witnessed. It was a difficult, painful and long trip, but Hye Won, Sun Jae and their cathartic journey will stay with me forever. I missed their now sunny 집 the second the drama finished and the final look at its closed door waiting for the return of our couple is burnt onto my retina and into my heart.

    • hi newbie. just wanted to say that your comments really added to the insights and enjoyment of the drama too.

      I think we both read the finale exactly the same. I saw at the jail
      scene a couple, honest and realistic and fully confident and trusting of the other. no dramatics. loved it.

      and I. too saw that she lost NOTHING that was real or of any true worth to her. she came to realise that independently and made her choice without factoring SJ into the equation. which was why she could offer to let him leave. this was the ending I so wanted. and I got it.

      it really was perfect.

      • Thank you, enz. It was my pleasure.

        Yes, we perceived the show the same way. I remember commenting on DB very early on, that we interpret it alike. We, too, remained true to it till the end. 😉

      • haha our discussions those early days were focused on the ‘awakening’ or not of more earthly matters 🙂

    • You took the words out of me, Newbie. Thank you for your comments too.

      I have nothing else left to say but how much this beauty of a drama affected me and will be etched into my heart forever.

      Thank you jomo for your lovely recaps and thoughts. And Ms Koala too. You enriched this wonderful viewing journey of mine.

    • @Newbie – Again, love your views. When do we get to read your blog? SLA may have inspired a new voice on the net!

      btw, I know it wasn’t 10 years, but that was how I completed my poker hand. She was willing to serve that time.

      Yes, it is hard to let them go, isn’t it? Thank GOD, they didn’t die or sacrifice for each other. I would have refused to write the final recap, or, better, it would have been:
      Episode 16
      Who the f cares? They died. LOL

      • Interesting side note on the embedded social commentary in SLA–it seems that marrying money or being smart and gaining proximity to money offers no protection when crap comes raining down. I noticed that Madame Han, HyeWon and Insignificant Peon took the consequences despite their relationship to power. They did wrong, but the one born to the life did worse and escape consequences.

        Ah, reality.

    • Thank you so much Newbie, Jomo and Koala for sharing your insights and emotional reactions. So glad there is an online Kdrama community like Koala with analysis that goes beyond “OMG I loved it”. I discovered the Kdrama genre by accident and am almost the only person I know personally who watches. So it is nice to discover a thoughtful community of viewers.

      Over the past months I have watched 9 dramas to the end including SLA and have 2 unfinished ones that got totally put on hold when I started watching SLA. The production values, the cinematography, the direction, acting, script, etc. of SLA have been so superior to anything else I have seen from this genre (and so much better than nearly anything I have watched recently) that I fear I may have to take a break before I can return to the more standard Kdrama fare.

      This drama reminded me of how much I enjoy and appreciate beautifully scripted, directed, filmed and acted cinema that is actually “about something”. It has also brought back memories of my time as a music academy student and my experiences directing theatre plus has reminded me of the intensity of passion that artistic expression both awakens and expresses. (Much to the delight of my husband!)

      I have been calling Kdrama “my therapy” because it has simultaneously provided relief from the ugliness of a world filled with horrible crises of numerous kinds and at the same time challenged me to learn something of the culture that has produced it. I am bilingual/bicultural in Spanish and English, and work as an interpreter with those languages. I understand how our views of the world are shaped by and shape language through familiarity these two western languages and two of the cultures they facilitate. However, it has been a delight and a challenge to be listening to a language expressive of a culture that while it embodies our common humanity does so sufficiently differently to be fascinating. I am not pretending to understand Korean, but am enjoying at the very least, learning about it and about a country that had previously been for me just one of many.

      But to return to SLA. I came across Koala’s site late in my viewing, around episode 11. I was a bit lost as to the power relationships and was looking for clarity. This site helped with that aspect, however it was finding others who appreciated what had me so fascinated as well. I don’t think any element of this drama was accidental or casual. Newbie, your observations about the uses of light and color have been spot on for me. I look forward to watching this again (in a couple of months) on Viki to see what difference the translation may make in my understanding. But I have no doubt that more than anything, subtleties I missed the first time will become apparent.

      I was pleased to see you mention the many uses of screens, bars, grills, fences ,etc. Early on it was clear they were a metaphor for the lives being lived by most everyone associated with the Seohan Arts Foundation and Music College. In scene after scene we, the viewers, look through to what the protagonists think are discreet goings on set in stultifying interiors. We are being reminded that the secrets will not remain secret. Then in the final scene we the viewers are no longer on the outside looking in but share Hey Won’s view out onto a living world.

      I loved that the ending was not predictive of the future. It was hopeful yet totally believable. Seon Jae walks through his door closing the metal screen behind him as he goes out into the world. We know his talent is exceptional; we know even genius is not always a predictor of success. We know their love is genuine; we know that the future is unwritten. What an honest ending. What is apparent is that both Hey won and Seon Jae have been true to what is best in them and their reward is peace with themselves and their worlds – and peace for this viewer.

      There are so many delicious scenes in this series. The piano quintet scenes were so delightful and believable. And Piano Man will never be the same. But I will stop here with one more expression of gratitude for your insights and the time you take to express them.

      • Hi Grace. Having an acute bout of homesickness for SLA I found your comment and just wanted to say thank you for your kind words. The way you described the honest ending gave me goosebumps. This show hasn’t lost any of its magic for me.

        Here is the link to a wonderful SLA fan project. You’d might want to check it out. Enjoy.

    • ah, I loved every word you put in there. I agree with what you said about how the drama moved you. I haven’t finished it yet but because I loved it so much, I wanted to have a gist of its ending. I was having doubts it’ll be a crash of disappointing finale while on ep 13 but glad I read up everything here. At least my heart will be ready to see this until the final episode. Thanks for the great recap and for the shared insights!

  7. @ Newbie, thank you so much for your wonderful comments, I was totally inspired by your post to pen my thoughts too…..

    This a truly beautiful drama, and just like you, it brought out emotions that I’ve never felt before, my initial thoughts of this drama was that it revolves around having an affair and what not, but it totally blew me away. This show is not about just a scandalous affair, it’s about rediscovering yourself, what mattered, what matters and a journey of redemption. It’s about 2 completely different people coming together and being soulmates.

    I actually watched this drama twice, after watching EP16, I had to watch the show all over again and it brought out new insights, how their love was different since the first day they met, why I believed they have a future together and why their age, background and thinking will eventually bring them together and why they fell so quickly and deeply in love, SJ is the complete opposite of HW, he is young, naive and clean (not just his thinking but also his general daily habits), he is true to his thoughts and say/act based on his thinking and beliefs,

    HW is different, she is calculating and extremely controlled but I can totally understand and buy their relationship, because he is really what she wants to be and she is someone who truly understand and appreciate him, when I first started the show, I kept thinking SJ is the one who loves her more but as the show progress, you can see the roles reversal, or perhaps they love each other equally much.

    The last jail scene is one of the best Kdrama scene in recent memory, it’s poignant and raw and the small little gesture when they both wipe away their tears just cemented what a real and strong relationship they have, no words is needed from SJ to assure her that he’ll wait for her, he already said his home is here and his love confession of giving their relationship a shot be it if they argue on days or live happily toegher is the most beautiful confession ever.

    This show is a masterpiece and if you love it enough, do re-watch it as I’ve made alot of new discovery re-watching scenes and found to my surprise that I love the eps more, rather than finding loopholes or flaws in it, it just show how brilliant the writing and directing are, and the sincere and heartfelt emotions from the leading couple.

    The journey of watching SLA has been amazing and self-reflecting, I stopped and questioned myself how blindly we’ve became in our pursuits of material goods and recognition and how obsessed we’ve became on other’s impression of us. Does it really matters that much when 5-10 years down the road, all we have is a big house, a loveless marriage and all the material goods.

    My key takeaways from this lovely drama is to LOVE yourself more everyday and don’t live in your own prison and walls that you built around yourself, be free and tell yourself it’s never too late for anything as long as you admit it and face it bravely, and embrace love sincerely and cherish your moments with them.

    I’ll look back on this lovely piece of work with deep fondness, in time to come.


  8. was quite satisfied watching the finale and anticipated your recap to flesh out the details. thank you, jomo and ms.koala! you made this journey much deeper. kudos to the production and cast! this drama’s one beautiful piece i’ll be referencing to for years!^_^

  9. Thank you for you insights Jomo as well as other contributers.

    I wasn’t sure whether I like the ending or not to start with but after some reflections I think it is the ONLY one to go for. You can’t bargain with the devil and eventhough I love how Hye Won outsmarted everyone else but in the end she was still serving an idol that would imprison her. Like you said ENZ- she has nothing to lose that was real or of any worth to her.

    I enjoy watching this drama because of Kim Hee Ae. Whenever she is on the scene boy doens’t she just dominates? She looks so perfect on every angle- even from the back of her hair!

  10. Also I must add that I love a drama with strong female character(s) and Hye Won character really is the best! And it enhances Sun Jae’s character too -albeit you don’t have to be strong and egoistic to appear masculine. I hope I can raise my son to be like that someday :).

    I am looking forward to future drama from this team of writer and PD and with any luck they will prob use the same group of actors again!

  11. Their last scene together and how they were towards each other were just beyond words for me. I can’t even begin to describe how I feel and the tears would just keep flowing every time I watch this scene. I’m not good with words so I won’t try to translate my feelings into words but I’ll just say that the scene gave me the impression that they were just… at peace. With each other… with their situation… with their future.

  12. Thanks for the quality recaps,comments about this drama Jomo. I have rarely read recaps with such astute analyzes that added to my enjoyment of the series, its characters.

    I hope to see more of Jomo recaps in this site 🙂

  13. A very long time ago, I came across a footage of the “Coffee prince” cast and crew having their farewell dinner at a restaurant, all smiling and laughing. After a while though, Yoon Eun Hye unexpectedly left the room and rushed outside, followed by a VJ and a lady, calling out for her repeatedly. They eventually caught up to YEH, who was sobbing profusely, saying that she did not want to let go of Go Eun Chan, that she wasn’t ready yet. Before his moment, I had not realized that embodying a character could possibly affect an actor/actress to this point.

    Thus, with such an extraordinary – out of the ordinary – kdrama, I wonder how portraying the characters of Sun Jae and Hye Won have affected Yoo Ah In and Kim Hee Ae. Deep down. The answer does not matter.

    Right from the start, “Secret love affair” proved to be a different viewing experience. Not your average kdrama with mandatory plot contrivances. The depth and preparation by the writer/PD/crew/cast, leaving little to nothing to chance, indicated that the journey ahead should be taken wholeheartedly.

    Thank you jomo for your rather “unacademic” style. Usually, recaps are much shorter, describing an episode as a whole, whereas you filled your works with lots of screenshots, insightful lengthy comments, nailing every nuances and emotions displayed, with music playing its own role and shading its palette of colors, making it a whole ensemble of riches.

    Thank you Mrs Koala for sharing your playground with jomo in particular, and everyone for sharing your perception and analysis of such and such moments.

    • Denali – LOL at “recaps are much shorter”
      I tried, I really tried to step back, skip parts and summarize the scenes. But, then I’d note this important eyebrow movement and that shaft of sunlight. It seemed like there were clues in every piece of furniture, even the tape on SJ’s floor. I know I wasn’t the only viewer who thought that, too…Anyway…I don’t know if there will be another show that would require this much tending to.

      • The small things could indeed turn out to bear significance later on, thus your detailed recaps made a lot of sense for this type of drama. Reading them was an experience in itself. 🙂 Thank you again for your hard work, for putting more than your heart into it and taking a chance at such a risqué experiment.

  14. Thank you, jomo, for your wonderful recaps. I love the way you expressed my feelings . It added to my enjoyment of SLA. Of course, so did the OST. I’ve had so many dramas ruined for me by the sound of someone wailing over the dialogue. Not this time. The music director did a wonderful job. Surely, I’m not the only one who fell in love again with classical music.

    I really can’t find fault with any part of SLA…so want to thank the writer whose words inspired the actors to perform so beautifully, and the director who knew when to yell “Cut,” and the producer who had the guts to preserve the artistic quality of his production by not extending it.

    • I agree. In some dramas, you put up with scenes to get to others. In SLA, there were maybe 2 mins altogether when I felt that. You can prolly guess it was anytime Cello Snob was on screen; I even refused to learn her name on purpose. If she is going to be leading Seohan with the Rat’s help? God help all those kids enrolled!

      The sequel could be the return of OHW and the creation of a brand new better music school: The Sunwon Conservatory

      • loved the school name Jomo! Anyway, many thanks for the art and beauty of your writing on this site, credits also to Ms. Koala and the beautifully minded comments’ owners here esp. Newbie and Enz and all the rest.

        Finally we’ve come to end, but I feel like not ending yet, the SLA sensation still runs to my system till now…and Im planning to re-watch again from Ep 1 tp 16… I bet most of u will too 😀

  15. thanks for all your hard work, jomo and koala for recapping this whole drama brilliantly. honestly i’m in love with the ending because I was prepared for the worst, with boxes of kleenax and some breathing device by my side but thank god it was a happy ending. i still ended up crying for hours and loosing my breath a little but it’s all because SLA finally ended, and it ended beautifully.

    there’s one little thing that i wish they showed us though, our couple playing piano together happily for one last time, or HW playing piano for SJ for a change. but overall, i’m happy. terribly happy.

  16. It’s wonderful reading the insight and commitment that this series has awoken in the viewers.

    Although I rarely watch anything twice, I’m considering watching SLA again for Kim HeeAe’s work. I was unfamiliar with her before watching Noonas Over Flowers. During that series she proved to be so competent, feelingful and so honest about the struggles she was having growing in her career as her age. It made me respect her as a person and curious about her work as an actress. After seeing her concerns on NOF, watching take the role of HyeWon and knock it out to the ballpark into the stratosphere fills me with joy.

    If you haven’t seen NOF, I’d suggest you give it a chance. It is a perfect complement to SLA.

    • She was amazing, I know. I don’t know if you watched AWC, too.
      Even though on paper the two characters face a similar journey – Wife meets another man, falls in love, lives fall apart.
      The two characters were completely different. Not just her wardrobe and hair style, but the pitch of her voice. Yoon Seo Rae – more high pitched and less assured. OHW – low and cool. I actually checked dwiki to make sure it was the exact same actress they are so dissimilar.

      • yes I’ve watched AWC before SLA was I was keeping track to this before it started, I was seemingly intrigued of what kind of actress KHA does in this Kdrama entertainment. And you were right Jomo exactly the same heroine yet very different souls. And now, YAI’s works will be next on my list.

  17. Noonas Over Flowers was my introduction to Kim HeeAe.I’m thinking of looking into her back catalogue. If I do, your recommendation will put AWC at the top of the list.

    • AWC takes place in an even more claustrophobic world than SLA.
      While it has a lot of hope throughout, YSR has a difficult journey. I actually watched up to ep 6, then stopped because the streaming was unreliable. When I found a site to d/l the files, I was able to rewatch comfortably. Definitely worth it for the acting and writing, though it is frustrating being in her skin in that world.

      I love her sister in that show, played by the same lovely actress as Nice Secretary. I want her to be my best friend. 🙂

      • Jomo may I ask which site were you able to rely on your downloads of AWC? I’ve wanted to re-watch it too, ’twas already hard this time as it always go buffering. Pls? Pls? Pls Jomo? Thanks in advance. 🙂

  18. Jomo and Koala thank you for your thoughtful recaps. I am glad you didn’t hurry up and put them out real quickly. This is the the type of show where you really need to reflect on each episode. Absorb it first, then interpret. I like that you took your time and each recap captured the essence of the episode. Jomo I hope you continue to recap here 🙂 I think you and Koala compliment each other well. I just can’t thank you both enough!

  19. Thank you so much for the recaps, Jomo & Mrs. Ockoala. I will miss this drama badly. It’s awfully beautiful and your recaps adds the awesomeness of this series. I love the ending, it’s so perfect. PD Ahn Pan Seok never fails the expectation. Yoo Ah In and Kim Hee Ae also did a tremendous job. I hope this drama and these actors and production team win something! (They won our heart, though)

  20. I cried so much because it’s too pretty and touching. I don’t know till when I will get over this SLA withdrawal syndrome. Thank you for recapping SLA in an elegant way too!

  21. Thank you so much for recapping this wonderful show,even though I couldn’t watch all the episodes I religiously followed your one more time again kamsahamnida

  22. Thank you for your recaps. They enhanced the experience for me. Don’t you dare shorten your telling. It is terrific. How you fit it in, in the midst of such a busy life amazes me. Thank you too for sharing your personal life with us. It feels like we are in a neighborhood. Hope you are feeling better. How nice to have all your family home. More bodies home in the midst of remodeling Wow! This too shall pass!! Warm thanks, looking forward to the next time . Best wishes.

  23. Took me a while after watching the last episode, to ruminate and absorb everything. As others have already said, this is a quality drama that incorporates writing, acting, and directing so well.
    The recaps and comments added to the experience of appreciating this drama. Mighty big “Thank you!” to jomo whose love of SLA shined through in her writing, and to ockoala whose earlier recaps gave us all a chance to discuss and dissect.

    This drama made me reflect on my own life and my own actions. I know I can come back to it and watch it again and again and still glean something new each time.

    After watching ep.16, I re-watched the last episode of A Wife’s Credentials and it dawned on me that the actress that played Yoora’s mother, Mrs. Baek, was the ahjumma housekeeper of that Rat’s family. And, the actress who played Mahjong-secretary/jealous “friend” had a small role as a teacher.

    • I haven’t let go yet. I fall asleep tracing the evolution of their relationship, trying to figure out what he saw and what she saw, and how they ended up so perfectly perfect for each other.

      The sign of a good piece of literature or theatre or film or TV is when it touches your real life. This one did. I have two musicians as children and it made me look at them a little differently. I hope both of them continue to have the passion they have now; my job is to be a HW to them and give them love and encouragement to blossom. The Nickel Creek song I linked can be a song from a parent to a child. I think that is why it affected me so much.

      I am so happy that we all got together here in Koala’s house to chat. How awesome is it when we get to talk about a good ending…I am looking at you Reply 94…grrrr…
      ♥ Chilbongie 4ever.♥

  24. SLA is so refreshing and poignant! Thumbs up for the producer and actors who made such a wonderful drama possible. And thanks to Jomo for the very insightful reviews. 🙂

    I’ve been living in Seoul for three years now and the Korean society, incredible and fascinating as it is, needed some time for me to be understood better. Watching SLA, I felt it depicted beautifully the desires commonly wished for by many young Korean people living in a highly competitive society where one needs to be successful and not succeeding means failing in life. The main idea of an all controlling materialistic desire consuming ones true inner self is so actual in our modern Korean society (and many others). The importance of a consumerist mentality and keeping up appearances is quite strong. For example, in order to get a nice job its OK to do plastic surgery, every season you SHOULD to get this new style of clothes, every two years you SHOULD change your mobile phone, you SHOULD buy a house when you marry, etc. In that sense, the characters Hyewon and Joon-Hyung both personify the pressures caused by such a materialist oriented mentality. They both want to keep up appearance and strive for more power and money. However, SLA taught us that losing those materialistic desires is not a sin and that for finding happiness we do not have to depend on others. It is so refreshing to see a drama with a slightly more realistic depiction of South Korean society, wherein the main protagonist does indeed end up losing everything while still finding happiness AND without having to die for it!

    As for myself, while watching SLA, I was reminded that whether or not I would have that big house, corporate car and designer clothes… happiness needs more. Stating what matters most in life will be answered differently by every individual. However, I supposed that, in general, what brings happiness is being loved, giving love, self reflection and being honest with yourself and the people around you.

  25. Hi Newbie, I’m here at your direction! 🙂 Thanks for bringing me here, and for letting me know of the other blogs devoted to this show. I only just got here, and will need to slowly go through all the recaps (thanks to the re-cappers!), but I went ahead and read your comments first.

    I’m not sure where to start, and I have a feeling I’m just repeating everyone’s/your sentiments, so I won’t attempt any original insights..haha! Anyway, pls forgive my jumping about, cos I just finished watching last night, and my thoughts are running haywire this way and that.

    “Gutted” is a great description and, like you, watching this show made my insides feel jerked about and wrestled with, definitely physically impacted (turned-on?) even by the way Sun Jae would pronounce the word, “sheck-shee” (sexy).

    But what a classy, voyeuristic, cathartic watch this has been.

    “Trust the show’s writers,” someone wrote over at Dramabeans, and true to his/her word, the writer(s) brought me up and over this truly climactic end, giving me such an unexpected resolution when I had believed otherwise, and feared for so long that it would disappoint with run-of-the-mill disgrace/retribution/despair. Suffice to say that I’m soooooooooooooo satisfied, and then some.

    There are FAR TOO MANY things to admire about the performances and the dialogue and all the many many subtle details noticeable upon multiple viewings (which I’ve yet to discover for myself, since I’ve just come off from my first viewing, still raw and minding my throbbing heart), but one of my favorite things about Secret Love Affair has been the way it was shot. Although I usually prefer (and dramaland usually gives us) closer screenshots, I’ll be forever grateful to the person who decided to place more distance between the actors and the camera for the majority of scenes. It’s effect was like reading a novel written in third person narrative, keeping every protagonist’s thoughts closer to their bosoms, and the reader/viewer never quite 100% sure of themselves. Naturally, like most other people, during kissing scenes I usually want the camera in the head space of the leads, better to watch eyes closing in surrender, breaths catch, heads tilt and lips moving against each other. But it was hardly necessary here, and I might argue our imaginations did better than any acting could have conveyed (despite the so very masterful performances of the leads). This couple’s love-making was so palpable even in non-physical scenes (if not more so), from the words they spoke to each other, glances, silent deliberations, music played to and with each other… I felt that the post-concert scene on the sofa in HW’s office to be one of the most romantic and tender. They had such perfect rapport and, again, credit the writer for those words.

    The actors were a revelation… Where had these two been hiding?? HW was a master of self-control, all the way to the end, I couldn’t/can’t separate her acting from her character. Same goes for SJ. Was the writing just super-brilliant and descriptive, in order to produce such excellent characterization, or…was it just really really ridiculously good acting that filled in all the blanks?? I guess I’ll never know.

    I…will return later with more thoughts.

    • Hurray! You found the way. 🙂
      I so know how you feel right now. Watching the show live was a crazy experience and if I hadn’t been able to write about it, I would have exploded.
      If you go and check out the pianoandconversations blog (I provided you with the link, too) you’ll find the untranslated whole script for the show and several scenes translated and even some YT clips with the script ! as sub. The bloggers invested so much time and created some really good stuff. Also, you’ll find the open thread there. A chance to talk about so many details and ponder questions, which, most likely would go beyond the scope of Miss Koala’s recaps and this commentary section.

      Loved your comparison to reading a novel. 🙂

      • Newbie, I’ve already been quickly skimming the links to blogs you sent me, and for now I’m content just reading the very in-depth insights people like yourself have been posting… There’s been so much intelligent observation going around! To contribute, I feel I need to watch as many times as others have! ☺️ Clearly no chore, that. I’m already midway thru rewatching episode 3. LOL.

        From observations of the similarities between HW’s and SJ’s difficult ascent to their bedrooms (i.e., both having to navigate uncomfortable staircases), to speculation over whether SJ was visibly aroused after HW listened to a recording of him playing in his room, there’s no doubt about the wealth of rich SLA fodder for me to mine online… Cheers again, and I hope to catch you around in the different forums!

    • I completely agree with you. This show is georgeus. I’d like to meet all the crew to congratulate them: a true masterpiece!!!

      > the script keeps you permanently glue to the screen
      > the photography is delightful
      > the music expresses so many feelings itself
      > the main actor… well… I can be objective with him. Just say that 10 years without him are truely a torture.
      > and the main actress… SHE IS PERFECT. I can’t understand how easy she captured my attention whatever was hapenning on the screen. What a great performance!!!

      My job and family don’t leave much free time for me, but I managed to watch the full show in a week :). And when I finished it, I needed so badly to comment it that I surfed the web till I found this chat (although I cannot speak English very well, as you can see 🙂 )

      My only regret, I must say, is the end. I’ve seen another korean dramas (not as good as this, btw), and I know very well the korean inclination to sad endings. But this time, I find it way too sad for me :(((.

      FOR GOD’S SAKEEEEEE!!!!! 10 YEARS!!!!!!!! 10 years in a cell with 5 crazy inmates instead of SJae! (and no appeal) O_o

      COME ON!!!!! Couldn’t it be just ONE year?… one year and half? ^^

      • I know you left this comment a while ago, but I need to assure you, she wasn’t in jail for 10 years. They were just saying IF it were ten years. It was probably more like 2.

  26. Deeply grateful to ockoala, jomo and all the commentators for their insight and analyses.

    I tried watching an “old favorite” rom-com after finishing SLA, trying to soften the withdrawal symptoms (LOL). But it was like eating SAWDUST!!

    So I visited asianwiki to leave my gratitude to PD An Pan-Seok and writer Jung Sung-Joo. Astonishing the lack of comments there. So, if anyone is moved to do so, leave a comment for them. and

  27. Aaaah, this drama! Came to SLA after Six Flying Dragons because of YAI. Though not particularly excited about the way the plot was described….my infatuation with YAI was too strong not to give this drama a viewing. Being American…my stereotypical view of such plot lines was a bit jaded….these adulterous plot lines are never good or challenging in any respect. BUT HIS DRAMA….HOOOMYYYYGAWWD‼️ I will be reading all I can for weeks to come! Along with a second perhaps third full viewing.

    Perfect ending. Let me say that again…perfect ending. I am most struck in the episode though by Hae Won’s decision to forfeit it all. At what point did she make that decision? Was it when she saw Sun Jae playing with the string quartet. She had told him to leave them…he refused. His music was more important than her world….she was loosing him….40 more years of a life without love. Was her decision made when she sat at her desk heavy of mind and heart and then to aid her in a decision did she go to Han’s office and see the empty hair? A chair that represented all she’d ever wanted. Did she call Han and in her own cryptic way tell Han and us that she didn’t want to sit in that chair or any chair in that room…decision made. Or was it when she got to those four walls of concrete that she lived in….so much more alone than ever….even Rat wasn’t there to plague her. So very much alone in her conquest of Seohan! And she sees Son Jae there. First as a fresh face eager talent and then the dejected humiliated manboy. She did that to him… Did all of this coalesce for her then as she stood so empty against that cold concret wall….she’d never have any more warmth in her life. In her victory…such defeat.

    So a year and a half give or take….not so long in the whole of it!

    I’m four years and 87 deep into KDramas and I’m very choosy about what I watch. Mostly follow a fovorite actor or actress after reading reviews and recommendations…..I will say without any question this drama has now taken first place on my top five list! Know I’m late to this party, but I’m so glad I finally found the right address!

  28. WOW I can’t believe I just stumbled on this sensual gem and this platform. I finished watching SLA in its entirety in 24 hours and I am finding myself lost for words after seeing the finale. Everything about this show is mesmerizing, intoxicating and annihilatingly beautiful <3

  29. The first K drama that made me see and feel how powerfully moving classical music can be, that in SLA it even told half the story… all the pieces chosen for the sound track were carefully researched and very appropriate for each scene, first time that a k drama made me read the reviews and comments of other viewers….that i want to rewatch it and analyze again the scenes for more insights… and has inspired me to play the piano again ( have been too busy with work to nurture my childhood hobby)
    One thing though that might have been overlooked for closure….Or did i miss it….OHW never revealed to SJ that she was Mak Kee hyung…his internet friend….I thought they would finally “meet” at the farewell concert of the Misfits….
    After coming across Chicago Typewriter, i became a YAI fan so this is my second K drama starring YAI… now what should I watch next?

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