I’m going to count my lucky stars for each episode of My Secret Hotel that remains cracktastically good. I won’t take this drama for granted and once again if it buckles in the second half at least the beginning gave me such sweeping stirring feels right off the bat. Episode 3 was all about setting the stage for the murder investigation and revealing more background information about our leads. My hunch that Sang Hyo and Hae Young’s brief but unforgettable marriage was scuttled likely by nefarious interference feels more and more likely as the weird woman who likes Hae Young clearly knows who Sang Hyo is. It sounds easier for them to get back together if it was a misunderstanding stemming from romantic sabotage, but at the same time it’s still not easy. There are clearly trust and abandonment issues at play, and whatever happened to break them up there was still their own responsibility in getting closure along the way. There was never closure hence all the feelings came rushing back the moment they met up again, except too much time has passed for them to simply ask “why did you leave?” and “why didn’t you wait?”
Much as Hae Young immediately has me on his side (who wouldn’t with the way he stares rivers of longing at Sang Hyo), this episode brought Sung Gyum up to viable competition and I love it! There was this one moment in the early part of this episode where Sung Gyum deftly stands up for Sang Hyo that was done so smoothly and filmed so coolly it made me yelp in excitement. Even better is Hae Young getting all jealous and we all know jealousy is a great motivating factor in acting on pent up feelings and unresolved issues. The murder of Manager Hwang isn’t all that interesting because I don’t care who killed him but I do care why he got killed because there seems to be so many secrets floating around Secret Hotel. That’s what makes this drama intriguing beyond the potential for a sizzling romance. The best part of the central romance is the undeniable expression of concern the OTP have for each other, that’s way better than trying to act like each doesn’t care and putting on a pointless act. They still care and now I need to see how they will try to keep each other safe as the tension and mystery ratchets up.
Episode 3 recap:
Hae Young and Soo Ah’s wedding starts and the MC calls the groom to enter and Hae Young morosely walks down the aisle. He thinks to himself that he doesn’t want to interact this way with Sang Hyo who is turning around to walk out. Suddenly Hae Young stops right before he reaches the front as a drop of blood falls followed by a dead body smashing through the glass ceiling above.
The guests run screaming out of the ballroom as only Sang Hyo runs towards Hae Young and peers over his shoulder to find Manager Hwang laying dead on the ground. She exchanges a look with Hae Young before Gyung Hee faints from the shock and has to be carted out of there. Sang Hyo quickly takes control of the situation and summons the hotel security.
Sang Hyo sees Hae Young standing there in a daze and quickly grabs a table linen to cover the dead body. Hae Young stares and says “Sang Hyo-ahhhh” but Sang Hyo cuts him off with the reminder that he needs to go check on how the bride is doing. Hae Young just keeps staring at her.
Sung Gyum is rushing downstairs when GM Lee stops him from interfering, explaining that Manager Nam is in charge and if Director Jo shows up then it’s going to make her job more difficult. Director Jo retorts that it’s fine to let her handle it since it’s her job but right now the situation is a mess and he can’t leave her alone to shoulder the whole burden. GM Lee assures Director Jo to trust Sang Hyo to handle it well. Two detectives arrive at Secret Hotel and find the lobby in disarray. A hotel guard tries to stop lead Detective Kim from going to the ballroom and head of security Guard Cha’s arrival clears up the detectives as being here from the police station.
The older gentleman who first noticed the blood splatter is found laying on the ground and Sang Hyo capably does chest compressions to revive him.
Sang Hyo lets out a weary sigh as Young Mi and Gi Chul inform her that the bride is back in her waiting room while all the guests have been safely moved away from the ballroom and restrooms. Sang Hyo almost buckles as she tries to walk away while Detective Kim arrives and complements Sang Hyo for controlling the scene of the crime by corralling all the guests away. Sang Hyo gets an urgent call over her walkie talkie from Eun Joo begging for her help.
PR Manager Eun Joo is trying to answer the media’s questions and we see the girl who has a crush on Hae Young, her name is Joo Jung Eun, she’s also there and asking questions as well. Eun Joo tries to downplay the dead body of a hotel employee landing in the middle of a guest wedding as not a big deal. The media isn’t buying it and find there are too many incidents at Secret Hotel lately, last year with all the managers quitting as a group plus rumors of the hotel shares flooding the market due to financial problems. Eun Joo pooh poohs those incidents and says there is no problems with the hotel.
Jung Euns steps forward to pointedly ask Eun Joo about the rumor that a wedding held at the hotel leads in a divorce within three months. Before Eun Joo can answer Sang Hyo walks up and Jung Eun spots her and quickly scurries away to hide behind a pole. Sang Hyo calmly tells the media that all the guests have been safely sent home and the hotel is continuing to operate as normal, pointing around to show how normal it is. She offers the media dinner since the wedding meal wasn’t served and the reporters all accept and this matter is deflated. After Sang Hyo leads the reporters away, Jung Eun walks out and wonders why that girl is doing here. She then looks shocked to consider that Sang Hyo organized Gu Hae Young’s wedding.
GM Lee informs Director Jo that Sang Hyo handled everything, all the guests are sent home and Sang Hyo has calmed the reporters down by dismissing their concerns and offering them dinner. Sung Gyum smiles to hear this.
Detective Kim leads the crime scene investigators and finds the murder weapon is an ice pick through the heart. He also finds Hae Young’s missing wallet on Manager Hwang.
Hae Young sits with a hysterical Soo Ah who is upset her wedding was ruined. Hae Young is calm and thinking back to Sang Hyo telling him to go check on his bride. Soo Ah is upset that Hae Young doesn’t seem as upset as her and he tells her that her current visage is actually scarier than what just happened. He hands her to mirror and she freaks out by her mascara rimmed eyes and smeared lipstick. Sang Hyo can hear Soo Ah crying inside the waiting room and composes herself to walk in. Sung Gyum is standing outside with his assistant who suggests they leave now since Sang Hyo can handle it.
Soo Ah immediately slaps Sang Hyo while screaming about her ruined wedding. Sang Hyo tries to apologize but Soo Ah refuses to be placated. Sang Hyo bows low and Hae Young looks shocked to see her so demean herself and quickly tries to calm Soo Ah down. He tells Soo Ah there is no need to talk with this woman and asks Sang Hyo if they can leave now. Sang Hyo gives them the all clear to leave as the reporters have left.
Soo Ah refuses to leave and let this go, demanding that Sang Hyo get on her knees to apologize. Hae Young keeps trying to drag Soo Ah out but she’s insistent that Sang Hyo promised her a perfect wedding so she needs to get on her knees now to apologize. Sang Hyo clenches her hands but doesn’t kneel so Soo Ah raises her hand to slap her again.
Hae Young grabs Soo Ah’s hand before she can strike Sang Hyo while Sung Gyum smoothly moves right in front of Sang Hyo to shield her and uses his hand to hold hers. Not gonna lie, I totally squealed here. Hae Young’s eyes widen as he recognizes Sung Gyum as the man Sang Hyo was chatting with in the hotel courtyard the other night.
Sung Gyum turns around and orders Sang Hyo to leave now and he’ll handle this. Sang Hyo bows to him while he gives her a reassuring squeeze on the arm. Soo Ah is upset watching Sang Hyo leave just like that but then tries to downplay the situation when Sung Gyum calls her out for getting violent as not becoming a blushing bride.
Hae Young questions why a hotel director is getting involved in this matter and Sung Gyum retorts that Sang Hyo is his employee so there is nothing weird in how he steps up to take care of her. Sung Gyum offers to apologize on behalf of Sang Hyo but Hae Young cuts him off and says “there is no need to do anything else for Nam Sang Hyo, and I mean nothing else.”
On the drive home, Soo Ah thinks Director Jo is really handsome and Hae Young counters that Soo Ah’s eyes clearly need to get checked out. Soo Ah repeats Sung Gyum’s words of “she’s my person” in how he stood up for Sang Hyo and giggles that it was so cool and even her heart fluttered when she heard that. Me too! She then connects Sung Gyum with the guy that Nam Sang Hyo reportedly proposed to, which is when Hae Young finally flips out and pulls the car over to destroy all the newlywed decorations strewn all over his car.
Soo Ah is pleased to see Hae Young’s raging display of jealousy but she mistakenly thinks it’s for her. For awhile she thought Hae Young was marrying her because of his brothers and parents and he had no choice but now she sees that he really loves her. LOL she’s such a dense moron.
Sung Gyum is upset when he hears from his assistant that Sang Hyo is currently being questioned by the detectives. He rushes to the meeting room where Detective Kim is trying to find out more about Manager Hwang. Before he can ask about Gu Hae Young, Sung Gyum barges in and takes Sang Hyo away while offers to sit with the detective to answer his questions later.
Eun Joo and Young Mi are wrapping up their clean up work when Eun Joo’s eyes light up to see Sung Gyum walking down the hallway. Her joy turns to dismay when she sees that Sung Gyum is pulling Sang Hyo behind him. Young Mi thinks Eun Joo is no match for Sang Hyo and offers to bet on it.
Sung Gyum drags Sang Hyo into a hotel room and finally lets go of her wrist. He wants Sang Hyo to rest here for the night but Sang Hyo insists she still has things to do. Sung Gyum declares that he likes a woman who is good and hardworking at doing her job, but he also likes that the woman knows when to rest. Sung Gyum knows that Sang Hyo must have been startled and frightened by what happened and compliments her on doing well today.
Sang Hyo sits down on the bed and starts to cry. Sung Gyum quietly watches her before reaching out his hand to wipe away her tears. Sang Hyo looks up at him and he keeps his hand on her cheek and stares at her back. The tender moment is interrupted with the arrival of a busboy bringing dinner for Sang Hyo. Sung Gyum tells her to eat up and rest before he leaves the room.
Hae Young drives up to Soo Ah’s house and she complains that he’s not opening the door for her. She tries to aegyo him but his poker face clearly indicates his bad mood. Soo Ah promises not to ever mention another man in front of Hae Young again, and even if that Director Jo was really cool and handsome to others but to Soo Ah her oppa is the best. Hae Young wonders if other women will think that small man is better. Soo Ah quickly amends what she said and says even to other women her oppa is better. Other than to Nam Sang Hyo, she probably finds Director Jo better. Hae Young’s even pissier face indicates Soo Ah’s answer just made things worse.
Sang Hyo washes up and keeps thinking about Manager Hwang falling through the ceiling as well as his offer to disrupt the wedding ceremony for her. She sees his ghostly form in the hotel room and wakes up screaming. She pours herself a drink and hears Manager Hwang asking “so I ruined the wedding for you, aren’t you happy?” and sees ghostly Manager Hwang sitting across from her and wakes up screaming again. Sang Hyo turns on all the lights and says a prayer for Manager Hwang to stop showing up and tormenting her again.
Sang Hyo crawls under the bed and keeps telling herself it’s all a dream but then hears a noise and freaks out when someone pulls the covers off. It’s just Eun Joo arriving to get Sang Hyo since it’s 10 am already and she hasn’t shown up for work.
Sung Gyum’s assistant Simon goes to the records room and pulls out the file containing information on Sung Gyum’s dad when he worked at the hotel. An assistant offers to help but Simon dismisses her. Simon informs Sung Gyum that the only employees from 1984 who are still working here are GM Lee and the now deceased Manager Hwang. The assistant from the records room goes to report to GM Lee that Simon took the personnel files from the year 1984.
Detective Kim notices Director Jo giving GM Lee attitude and later asks GM Lee if it’s hard working for someone younger ordering him around? GM Lee claims he’s just doing his job and Detective Lee jokes that sometimes he wants to kill his hoobaes cops who try to order him around.
Sung Gyum stares at the anonymous note claiming that his dad was murdered and then learning that only Manager Hwang and GM Lee are the remaining hotel employees from the time his dad worked at the hotel.
Detective Kim calls Sang Hyo out to talk and they head to the pretty courtyard to chat. He asks Sang Hyo if she knows Gu Hae Young and presses Sang Hyo if she knows him beyond planning the wedding for him that day. Sang Hyo tries to explain that she planned the wedding and did a thorough job since his wedding was very exclusive. Detective Kim tries to find out from Sang Hyo what her opinion is of Hae Young but she doesn’t share information about guests. After she’s called away, Detective Kim is impressed that she doesn’t buy his shtick and we see that he wrote in his notebook “She’s so pretty! Just my type!” LOL.
Hae Young is at work while Shi Chan asks if his parents are fine? He then presses Hae Young about whether he met with the woman that made him drink heavily the night before the wedding. Hae Young claims he didn’t see her and there is no reason to see her since the woman has nothing to do with him anymore.
Hae Young is about to start a team meeting when Jung Eun storms in demanding to know if he saw that woman, the woman from Las Vegas! Shi Chan jumps up in shock when he hears this while Jung Eun just keeps on harping that Hae Young has to take responsibility for her since he made her fall for him but then he secretly got married in Vegas and is now secretly meeting with the woman who ruined this wedding. Hae Young drags Jung Eun aside to talk while the rest of his team gossip about how many girls are in that playboy Hae Young’s life.
Hae Young tells Jung Eun to lay off since his life has nothing to do with her. Jung Eun warns him to stay away Sang Hyo and claims that she’s dangerous because she’s a murderer. Manager Hwang must have known about Sang Hyo’s past so she killed him, plus the rumors about Secret Hotel started after Nam Sang Hyo arrived at the hotel. Manager Hwang must be blackmailing Sang Hyo with knowledge that his marriage to her didn’t last three months. Hae Young finds this preposterous but Jung Eun thinks the cops will be most interested to find out all this backstory. Hae Young is certain Sang Hyo didn’t kill anyone and Jung Eun asks how he’s so certain?
Detective Kim is given the background report on Gu Hae Young who is the youngest son of a rich construction developer but he set off alone since he was small and started his own architectural firm. Detective Lee wonders why Detective Kim is investigating Gu Hae Young and hears that his wallet was found at the scene and he couldn’t have dropped it during the ceremony since his tux didn’t have pockets. Detective Kim shows off something in Hae Young’s wallet and Detective Lee looks shocked and suggests that Hae Young be arrested immediately.
Sang Hyo peers into the ballroom and sees the two detectives talking inside. She runs off and wonders why Detective Kim asked her about Hae Young earlier. She looks into the office and sees Manager Hwang’s ghost again and freaks out only to find out that Gi Chul was sitting in Manager Hwang’s old seat. She screams at him to get back to his own seat but gets a text to meet Hae Young down in the parking garage. She asks Gyung Hee for an umbrella but this time all she gets is a giant trench coat.
Hae Young finds Sang Hyo all wrapped in a black trench as she sneaks around the parking garage and climbs into his backseat. Sang Hyo pulls out a marker and puts it on Hae Young’s shoulder as she directs him to drive and when he turns his cheek she smears an ink dot on his face. He sighs that she is clearly not done playing around.
Hae Young parks by the river again and Sang Hyo adorably stretches out her arm for him to hold onto the trench coat so she can take it off. After she unwraps herself, Sang Hyo rushes him to say what he wants to say. He’s silent so she lets the slap go and also doesn’t want to harp on Hae Young telling Soo Ah not to make a scene about the wedding getting ruined. Hae Young just wants Sang Hyo not to tell anyone that they were married before and she thinks he’s embarrassed about her and also doesn’t want his fiancee to know.
That’s clearly not Hae Young’s reason and he tries to explain that the news getting out isn’t good for her as well. Right now Secret Hotel already has the three month divorce rumors, if the world knew they were married for three months then she’ll be blamed for the rumors. Sang Hyo thinks he’s threatening her and assures him that she didn’t tell anyone, not even when the police asked her about him. She takes her coat and runs off but not before telling him not to summon her out to meet again. Hae Young can only sadly watch Sang Hyo run off yet again.
It starts to rain and Sang Hyo sits in the cab and thinks to herself that she can finally let him go and stop being disappointed again. She still looks so wistful though. Hae Young stands out in the river rather than getting back in the car. He finally calls Shi Chan and asks for a favor – an alibi that he was with Hae Young the entire night before the wedding. Shi Chan yells back that Hae Young ran off to see that woman that night. Hae Young just outright asks Shi Chan for an alibi before hanging up.
A flashback of the night before the wedding when Hae Young turned back to talk with Manager Hwang. He wanted to ask what Manager Hwang meant by wishing Hae Young good luck in finding Sang Hyo. Manager Hwang knows they were married before and told Sang Hyo to fight for him. Hae Young is upset that Manager Hwang threatened Sang Hyo and Manager Hwang doesn’t deny it. He wants to work well with Sang Hyo but she’s the one who is always making it difficult.
Hae Young warns Manager Hwang to leave Sang Hyo alone otherwise he won’t stand by. Manager Hwang cackles and asks what Hae Young will do? Kill him? He puts the ice pick up to Hae Young who easily fight back and subdues Manager Hwang and points the ice pick back at him. He pins Manager Hwang against the wall and slowly points the ice pick at his heart….. The flashback ends and Hae Young is driving erratically in the rain.
Sang Hyo goes back to her office to grab her purse and is spooked once again in the dark. This time she sees dead Manager Hwang laying in the corridor and she screams before fainting. Sung Gyum finds Sang Hyo fainted on the ground.
Sang Hyo wakes up to see Sung Gyum hovering over well an hears that Sung Gyum carried her to the infirmary. She looks away all embarrassed while Sung Gyum smiles.
He takes her back to the same hotel room she slept in the night before but she insists that she can go home. Sang Hyo sees ghostly Manager Hwang inside and keeps trying to go home. Sung Gyum explains that it’s raining out so hard to call a cab and tells her to just rest here. Sang Hyo grabs Sung Gyum’s arm and says she doesn’t want to be alone. Sung Gyum asks if she’s trying to seduce him and Sang Hyo lets him arm go and explains that wasn’t what she meant. Sung Gyum tells her to rest and assures her that he won’t let her be scared tonight.
Sang Hyo goes inside the room and gets a call from Sung Gyum who is back in his room. He walks her through taking deep breaths to calm herself and tells her to check the curtails and under the bed to make sure the room is safe. He directs her to check the bathroom to make sure it’s empty and then teases her to take off her clothes and start showering. She doesn’t and he laughs that she’s clearly not doing everything he told her and that makes her laugh and relax.
Sung Gyum continues to chat with San Hyo by asking about her childhood. Sang Hyo explains she was always told she was pretty and she was also very hardworking and got a college scholarship. She’s also quite good at singing. Sang Hyo lays down exhausted on the bed while Sung Gyum smiles that he’s gotten to know her a little more today. He asks if she had a boyfriend in school but hears nothing since Sang Hyo is already asleep. Sung Gyum smiles and says to the phone “good night.”
Sang Hyo marches into the office the next morning and lays a white flower on Manager Hwang’s desk and wishes him to go well.
Detective Kim arrives at Hae Young’s office and Shi Chan bumps into him in his rush to go inside to talk with Hae Young. Shi Chan asks why Hae Young needs him to give an alibi and thinks that he’s worried Soo Ah will find out he went to see that girl. Detective Kim’s arrival alerts Shi Chan to the real reason Hae Young needs an alibi.
Detective Kim walks into Hae Young’s office and Shi Chan blurts out that Hae Young has an alibi and was with him the entire night in question. Hae Young sends Shi Chan out to get tea and then has a private meeting with Detective Kim who takes out Hae Young’s wallet. Detective Kim explains that Hae Young’s wallet was found on the body of Manager Hwang after he fell from the ceiling. Detective Kim informs Hae Young’s that he’s now a suspect in Manager Hwang’s murder.
Thoughts of Mine:
I find MSH enhanced so wonderfully by a good pace, tasteful airy and fluid directing, and of course one of the easiest listening OSTs around in recent dramas. The beat works and that’s one reason I’m so hooked beyond liking the leads characters and their situation. Yoo In Na continues to win me over with a sweet and solid performance, neither overly dramatic nor so low key as to put me to sleep. She’s hitting it right down the middle and looking fabulous to boot. Her wardrobe continues to be the stalwart rock star in the joint, believable as a high powered but classy hotel events coordinate who is good at her job. I think one reason Sung Gyum is so intrigued by her is due to her realistic dichotomy. She’s capable and cool under pressure, whether being confronted by irate bosses or unreasonable hotel guests, but she also has this cute girl side that comes out when she’s off the clock. The drunken proposal might’ve been done to death in K-dramas but works here because it gives Sung Gyum a different impression of the cool professional Nam Sang Hyo he’s interacted with at work. I still don’t quite get Sung Gyum but I warmed up to him after this episode for the way he stood up for Sang Hyo and takes care of her without taking advantage of the situation. I like to think he simply is growing interested in her, and is acting the role of a concerned boss as well, but I wish Namgong Min didn’t play Sung Gyum with this veneer of unreadable blankness at times. It makes me this he’s totally got ulterior motives to get close to Sang Hyo rather than simply as a man who cares about a woman.
Hae Young is the opposite of Sung Gyum in this respect, everything he does around Sang Hyo is so obvious it just lacks a neon light over his head pointing heart shaped arrows towards her. I think only someone as clueless and self-absorbed as Soo Ah would miss all the signs, and also attribute anything Hae Young does for her. She totally had no right to slap Sang Hyo but I’ll take that as an early slap for the one she likely would inflict once she finds out Sang Hyo and Hae Young’s connection with each other. She’s pretty harmless plus Hae Young is clearly going to dump her later so I’ll cut her some slack. Plus with so many shady people around all hiding secrets, from Gyung Hoo to Young Mi to Jung Eun and many more, someone as transparent as Soo Ah is needed as comedic fodder. She’s also great at saying just the right things to rile Hae Young’s raging jealousy over Sang Hyo back up. I died at the way he tried to stare down Sung Gyum and even referred to him as that little dude when Soo Ah was gushing over him. It’s nice that Hae Young isn’t tripping over himself to find excuses to be around Sang Hyo, but at the same time he’s always thinking of her so that makes this romance remain at the forefront even if the two leads don’t have a lot of scenes together in a certain episode. Sang Hyo was quite preoccupied and freaked out by Manager Hwang’s murder otherwise I’d say her mind would be consumed by Hae Young in the same way. With that said, her flirting with Sung Gyum was lovely because I like seeing attractive smart adults enjoy getting to know you banter, and even better was Sung Gyum doing it in a gentlemanly way to keep Sang Hyo company so she wasn’t scared alone in the hotel room.
The murder mystery is clearly tied to whatever unknown events happened in the hotel back in 1984 which GM Lee is trying to keep under wraps. I’m guessing it involves both Sung Gyum and Sang Hyo, and I hope to god they aren’t secretly siblings or anything like that. Even if they don’t end up together I still want to enjoy the courtship and growing attraction between them. It also gives Hae Young more grist to stoke his fires of jealousy. I totally called that psycho Jung Eun being somehow connected to the past marriage between Hae Young and Sang Hyo. No one knows about it but she does? Clearly she knows more and is way more involved in removing women from Hae Young’s life so she can have him to herself. Not sure why Hae Young puts up with her rather than slapping her with a restraining order. She’s nasty inside and out whereas Soo Ah is merely a harmless bimbo. I’m waiting to find out more about Hae Young’s family and why he’s set off on his own and seems to have a reason to marry Soo Ah because of it. This drama keeps my mind engaged without being overly eager for all the critical secrets to be revealed as soon as possible. I like the moodiness and everyone in and around Secret Hotel remain loads of fun to watch. Sung Gyum and Sang Hyo are both connected to Secret Hotel in ways that go beyond just being executives working there, and I wonder how Hae Young will fall into that plot thread beyond being an obvious suspect in Manager Hwang’s murder and hanging around the hotel to woo back his still beloved wifey.