My Secret Hotel continues to fire on all cylinders and each episode leaves me pumped up for the next hit. More light is shed on Sang Hyo and Hae Young’s broken marriage and it becomes clear that heady passionate love still needs two very different people to work at communication and understanding. I continue to love them both more and more as individual characters, such well-written and engaging personalities with plenty of flaws and all. Sang Hyo is impetuous and headstrong but her aegyo might be classified as a weapon with how powerful it is. When her lips quiver or when she pouts, even I’m all “it’s okay, it’s okay” ready to just let whatever go. The best part is that side comes with the whole package of how smart and capable she is as a hotel event planner, climbing up the professional ranks on her own ability and even against the odds if that is one reason why her marriage ended with Hae Young.
I like that this drama doesn’t try to apportion blame on a broken marriage, a very personal union that is too easily painted in black and white in drama land but in truth is almost always shades of gray. This also makes me crack up just thinking that Hae Young might’ve given up on marriage to the degree that he’s willing to get leg-shackled to the spoiled snot that is Soo Ah. This episode lets the murder mystery take a breather, though a few clues arrive such as Gyung Hee being cleared and the three gamblers that Manager Hwang stiffed still thinking he’s alive. The story is moving at such a good pace I pinch myself, wondering if it’s really happening that a story retains its unique mood and flavor while hitting the typical required beats of K-drama narrative. It’s a relief to see Sung Gyum crack open even more so that I can stop worrying he has an ulterior motive to get closer to Sang Hyo and just swoon over his smexy moves in how he flirts madly with her in his tightly strung way.
Episode 5 recap:
Hae Young is surprised to see Sang Hyo at his office late at night, and then even more shocked when she reveals her reason for being there. This time she’s the one asking to plan his wedding to Soo Ah, a request that Hae Young finds crazy and absurd coming from her. Sang Hyo promises to do her best and give him and Soo Ah the wedding of their dreams. Hae Young is flabbergasted and wonders if that is all Sang Hyo wants, to plan his wedding. Doesn’t she have any other feelings on that matter? Sang Hyo dodges the question and repeats again that she can do it.
Hae Young turns his back to her so Sang Hyo brings up how its been 7 years since their marriage ended so now she wants nothing from him, expects nothing from him, so she can handle his wedding planning. Hae Young scoffs and turns around to reject Sang Hyo’s request and repeats his earlier statement that whether accidental or on purpose, he doesn’t want to see her ever again. Sang Hyo reaches out to grab him but Hae Young tells her not to touch him.
Hae Young is grumbling on his drive home about Sang Hyo’s flippant attitude while she’s screaming and sobbing in the taxi while calling him a bastard. Sang Hyo freaks out her taxi driver when she talks to herself that she can do this, it’s not hard at all, so what’s his problem!
Hae Young pulls up to his residence and immediately freaks out when Sang Hyo walks right up behind him. He demands to know how she found out where he lives and is upset that she got the info from the wedding contract. Sang Hyo asks again to plan his wedding and Hae Young wonders why she’s so relentless. Does she think he’s toothless around her? Sang Hyo mutters that Soo Ah is way harder to deal with. Sang Hyo begs him again, admitting that she is throwing away her pride here.
He wants to know why she’s going to such extremes and she explains about the people at the hotel who will be affected if she fails, from her colleagues to the managers to the director. That gets Hae Young’s goat right back up to hear her doing something for Director Jo Sung Gyum and he declares that the hotel can go bankrupt for all he cares. He walks inside while Sang Hyo screams that she will curse his wedding to be ruined, how dare he think he’s so high and mighty!
Hae Young enters his condo but Sang Hyo grabs the door from shutting and takes back her curse and begs again for her to do the wedding. In their door tussle Sang Hyo loses her balance and falls on the floor which leaves Hae Young flustered and he tells her to go home.
Hae Young grabs a beer and then finds his doorbell ringing incessantly. He tries to ignore it and finally opens the front door while screaming “I told you to stop messing around and leave!” only to find himself staring at Soo Ah. He makes an excuse about solicitors and lets her inside. We see Sang Hyo still outside and she grumbles to hear their interactions from outside the door and kicks it for good measure.
Hae Young calls Soo Ah’s mom and prepares to send her right back home. Soo Ah is annoyed that he’s not taking their relationship to the next level since they are engaged already. Before she thought he was keeping her safe but now she wonders if he has another reason? Hae Young stares at her and Soo Ah gasps to realize the truth that her oppa has……performance issues. LOL! She promises to accompany him to the hospital to get treatment and start eating foods that increase the libido. Hae Young initially tries to explain she’s mistaken but then lets her keep the mistaken conclusion.
Hae Young walks Soo Ah out where her driver is waiting and Soo Ah continues to snipe back at whatever driver says to her. Hae Young thanks the driver for his hard work while Soo Ah yells at the window for him to try even more food based libido boosting remedies.
Hae Young immediately starts looking everywhere for Sang Hyo, wondering if she’s going to suddenly pop out again. He even opens his door all hopeful she’ll be there only to be disappointed when no one is there. Sang Hyo is curled up in bed crying and still calling Hae Young a bastard.
Detectives Kim and Lee discuss the new clues Hae Young provided about Manager Hwang’s phone conversation on the night he died. Turns out Manager Hwang called a phone number in New York but the number is now disabled. Detective Kim mutters about “a lot to tell your son” and what could be behind that statement Manager Hwang said on the phone to the unknown caller.
Sung Gyum visits a sushi chef who used to work at the hotel when his dad worked there. He’s complimented for not being like his dad, for being much more handsome. Sung Gyum immediately asks if the chef knows anything about his father’s death and then hands over an envelope with cash for taking up the guy’s time. The chef explains that Sung Gyum’s dad died when he fell from the second floor bannister of the hotel. There were rumors he didn’t die in an accident but was killed because he was doing so well at the hotel that he made a lot of enemies.
Sung Gyum leaves the meeting looking fiercely angry and remembering the note asking if he knows who killed his dad.
Hae Young leaves for work the next day still darting around expecting Sang Hyo to suddenly show up around him. He looks disappointed when he sees no one but then smiles when he flashes back to the earlier incidents when Sang Hyo randomly appeared around him to climb into his car.
Sang Hyo has her resignation letter ready and her team notices that she’s at work early and wonder if she’s successful in getting the wedding back on. Sang Hyo heads out leaving Gyung Hee worried about her while Young Mi keeps being snarky as she admires her expensive purse. Gi Chul thinks it’s just a knockoff but Young Mi insists its the real deal that she bought at the duty free shop on her last trip to Hong Kong. Gi Chul doesn’t believe she has the financial means to travel overseas or buy name brand items. Young Mi keeps insisting it’s real and she really went to HK and wants to show Gi Chul pictures from the trip.
Detective Kim’s arrival ends the bickering and he reveals he brought coffee for a chat with Gyung Hee.
Sang Hyo peers into Sung Gyum’s office and is freaked out when he stands behind her and surprise her. She quickly scurries off and drops her resignation letter on the ground which Sung Gyum picks up.
Sang Hyo runs into GM Lee out in the courtyard and offers her the seat beside him to chat. He know it’s been rough for her lately and hard to get the couple to come back to the hotel to hold their wedding again. Sang Hyo thanks him for always believing in her and supporting her. GM Lee considers it fate that they met at the hotel and he sees her as the daughter he would have wanted if he had one. Sang Hyo also thinks GM Lee is like a father figure to her.
Sung Gyum walks out to hand the resignation letter back to Sang Hyo but looks immediately upset when he sees Sang Hyo finishing her chat with GM Lee. He remembers the chef telling him that his dad made a lot of enemies and may have been murdered.
Gyung Hee comes clean to Detective Kim about her lying about her whereabouts the night of the murder. She’s worked at the hotel for 22 years and endured a lot but still likes working there. Her mom died of cancer when she was in middle school and that day she learned that she also had the same cancer and had only one year left to live. Since she doesn’t have anyone in her left and nowhere to go, the hotel was her only refuge so she came there to cry that night.
The detectives hear from the front desk employee that a thug with extensive tattoos on his arm showed up that day looking for Manager Hwang. He warned her not to lie because he’s worked at a casino for 30 years. We see the three thugs still intending to go back to look for Manager Hwang unaware that he’s dead now.
Hae Young chews out Jung Eun for writing the article in the magazine and causing him so much headache. Jung Eun is unapologetic since she just wrote the truth. Hae Young steps aside to cool down and his phone beeps with a text. Jung Eun picks it up and reads the text from Soo Ah asking Hae Young not to feel bad and she’ll schedule a medical appointment for him. She also promises not to leave him even if there is no cure. His team wonders if he has a terminal illness until they read that Soo Ah made an appointment for him at an urologist famous for curing male impotence. Soo Ah promises not to tell anyone his “problem”.
Hae Young’s team is cackling as they read the texts and then quickly disperse when Hae Young returns. Jung Eun hands him back the phone and says that she can forget him and move on now. Hae Young is so happy about that until he reads his texts from Soo Ah and understands why Jung Eun doesn’t want him anymore.
Soo Ah is getting a pedicure while Sang Hyo keeps trying to convince her to have the wedding at Secret Hotel. She fields a call from angry Hae Young and tells him to meet her at the department store. She then acts like a princess and has Sang Hyo puts her sandals on her feet after the pedicure. Ugh, she needs major slappage. Sang Hyo then follows her around the department store while explaining that the hotel will pay for the wedding, pay for their honeymoon, and even give them lifetime membership at the hotel’s facilities. Soo Ah sneers that she can buy all that herself and proceeds to buy her way around the department store while Sang Hyo carries all her purchases.
Soo Ah finally stops and agrees to listen to Sang Hyo, but first she needs to get on her knees and apologize. If she is sincere then she should do it. Sang Hyo remembers GM Lee encouraging her and having faith that she can do it. Sang Hyo gets on her knees to apologize which gives Soo Ah the excuse not to have the wedding there since the employees at the hotel have no backbone.
Hae Young arrives and immediately has to restrain his anger when he sees Sang Hyo kneeling on the ground in front of Soo Ah. He storms over and tells Sang Hyo to get up and when she doesn’t he screams at her to get up. Then he kneels down to her level and pulls her up before telling her that she is never ever to kneel before another person again. He then drags her out behind him with Soo Ah sputtering in their wake. Soo Ah then takes her fury out on her driver and pushes past him while the poor sucker just looks resigned and carries her bags.
Hae Young drives around and quietly watches Sang Hyo wiping her tears away. Flashing back to the couple after they had just gotten married in Vegas, they were so happy and in love. Juxtaposed that with Hae Young pulling his car over by the river and telling Sang Hyo that she can cry all she wants while he’ll step out of the car. Hae Young stands in front of the car while Sang Hyo finally breaks down sobbing inside.
Hearing Sang Hyo sobbing flashes Hae Young back to after their marriage when Sang Hyo was working at the hotel bar. Hae Young arrived with flowers to surprise her when he ran into a drunk sleazy customer trying to pick up Sang Hyo and wouldn’t take no for an answer. The cringeworthy dialogue must be repeated including “I fantasize about Asian girls” and “C’mon, I want to see an Asian girl in control”. LOLOLOL forever! Hae Young understandably punches the bastard out while tossing $1000 bucks at him, the amount the guy offered to sleep with Sang Hyo.
Hae Young drags Sang Hyo home and immediately demands that she quit her job. She refuses and explains that drunken customers are a regular occurrence and she could have handled it. Hae Young offers to give her the money that she earns at her job which only upsets Sang Hyo because working at a hotel is her dream and it’s not about the money. Hae Young derides the job as dealing with pawing men and wants her to quit since the hotel doesn’t need her. Sang Hyo thinks he’s looking down on her occupation while Hae Young angrily upends furniture all over their apartment.
Back in the present, Hae Young listens to Sang Hyo crying about the degradation she suffered at the hands of Soo Ah.
Sung Gyum dines with Soo Ah’s dad and turns out he is a major shareholder in the hotel. Dad can only summon Soo Ah to dinner and have Sung Gyum convince her since she’s very stubborn. Soo Ah arrives and immediately lights up to see the handsome Director Jo greeting her.
The sun has set by the time Sang Hyo has calmed down and regained her composure, all the while Hae Young just stands outside giving her space. She gets out of the car and walks over to him and both of them are both awkward and comfortable around each other. Hae Young notes that she sure cried for a long time while Sang Hyo merely says a thank you.
Hae Young offers to drive Sang Hyo back but she declines so he grabs her arm to stop her from just leaving. Hae Young lectures her to just listen to him for once because right now he’s just as upset as she is.
Soo Ah agrees to consider having the wedding at Secret Hotel but wonders if her oppa will agree. Sung Gyum is sure Jae Young will do whatever Soo Ah wants which makes her happy. After they car pull away Sung Gyum loosens his necktie and lets out a sigh.
Hae Young drops Sang Hyo off at her place and then gets out of his car to ask if she really has to do this? Is it so important that she would be willing to kneel down for it? Sang Hyo says absolutely, and wonders if he still thinks her job is nothing to take seriously? She leaves while Hae Young sighs.
Soo Ah happily runs out of her house and thinks Hae Young is there to placate her for leaving earlier. Hae Young declares that he wants their wedding at Secret Hotel and is shocked when Soo Ah readily agrees. She claims doing so will affect a lot of people at the hotel and sees herself as being so kind and magnanimous.
Sang Hyo arrives at work the next day and Eun Joo wonders if she’s secured the wedding again. Eun Joo promises to help out Sang Hyo since she’s grown quite fond of Sang Hyo from all their fighting. True dat!
Young Mi shows Gi Chul all her pictures from Hong Kong and he declines to finish looking at all of them since the model isn’t very pretty. Sang Hyo walks into the office and Young Mi snides that she’s surprised there is something Sang Hyo can’t resolve. Young Mi then sees in the corner of one of her HK pictures Soo Ah with another man. Just then Soo Ah arrives to meet with Sang Hyo.
Eun Joo’s brilliant idea is for her and Sung Gyum to get married at the hotel, the handsome director and the beautiful PR manager. LOL she’s ballsy. Sang Hyo happily runs to see Sung Gyum while we hear Soo Ah announcing that she’s agreed to have the wedding at Secret Hotel after convincing her oppa and hearing from Director Jo. Sung Gyum turns down Eun Joo’s wedding plans since they aren’t in love and getting married is what people who love each other do and isn’t something to be done for any other reason.
Sang Hyo runs into Sung Gyum’s office to announce that Soo Ah and Hae Young’s wedding is back on at the hotel. Sung Gyum hands Eun Joo’s proposal back to her and asks to speak with Sang Hyo privately. Eun Joo storms out of the office and tosses the proposal in the trash. She finds assistant Simon staring at her and gets annoyed. Oooh, does Simon like Eun Joo?
Young Mi asks to speak with Soo Ah as she’s leaving the hotel and claims that she has a friend who looks just like Soo Ah and she’ll show her the picture tomorrow.
Sang Hyo thanks Sung Gyum for helping her and he claims he was just doing it as part of his job. Sang Hyo teases that she thought he did it because he liked her which actually renders Sung Gyum speechless. Sung Gyum then takes out Sang Hyo’s resignation letter and refuses to hand it back, sticking it in his suit pocket while walking off to a meeting.
Sang Hyo chases after him to ask for it back and goodness is she adorable. She sticks out her hand with a smile and Sung Gyum slaps her hand and asks for dinner to show her sincerity since she can’t get it back for doing nothing. She wants to know what he wants to eat for dinner and he tells her to think about it and tell him before he reaches the first floor. He declines steak, tells her he wants something spicy, prefers noodles over rice, all the Sang Hyo keeps yelling out the wrong food items.
Sung Gyum slows down one step before the floor and sighs that Sang Hyo sure has no clue. Sang Hyo finally screams out “ramyun” which makes Sung Gyum smile and he accepts her dinner tonight.
Hae Young is at work sketching but his mind is totally somewhere else. Somewhere in planet Sang Hyo. Sadly Sung Gyum is spending time on that planet right now as he walks Sang Hyo back home after their ramyun date.
Sang Hyo wanted to treat him to a nice meal and feels bad just treating him to instant noodles. Sang Hyo teases again, asking if perhaps Sung Gyum likes her more than he likes ramyun. Sung Gyun explains that he wanted to dine with her tonight to tell her something. Does she know how long it takes for a person to fall in love? It can happen in three minutes, the amount of time it takes for instant noodles to cook.
Sang Hyo stares as Sung Gyum asks “Nam Sang Hyo-shhi, shall we date?”
Thoughts of Mine:
Omo omo, what a great leading man dilemma this is turning out to be for wuri adorable plucky Sang Hyo. She’s loved once and lost before in Hae Young, and the drama really needs to deliver the fanservice and show us how their bedtime married life was like because I can only mentally scratch the surface of how combustible it must have been. Sang Hyo is such a flirt! The way she sasses Sung Gyum makes me love her more for being proactive and not shying away from the awkward topics. Yes she can couch it in joking but it’s also being perceptive and aware of why a guy like Sung Gyum could be making such an effort around her. From helping her convince Soo Ah to hold her wedding again at Secret Hotel to making her resignation letter the catalyst for a dinner date, he’s not exactly the most professional director to have around but as a prospective love interest he sizzles like top-grade steak with Sang Hyo around like butter. It’s not even important to discuss who Sang Hyo should be with or which guy is better for her, let’s leave those inane discussions for kiddos and have some adult mental gymnastics about how Sung Gyum validates Sang Hyo both as a woman and as a hotel executive at a time when she’s encountering the biggest emotional upheaval of her life since her divorce. We all need a hot boss around who flirts like an expert and smiles like a little boy!
I can never be upset with Hae Young because the man wears his heart on his sleeve, way more than Sang Hyo does actually. She’s more once bitten twice shy now but he’s barely functioning around Sang Hyo without letting slip his raw emotions. That’s so satisfying to watch and he actually is hinting heavily at her in many conversations only she doesn’t/can’t/won’t take it further. I don’t blame her but it does let their banter continue to increase in intensity, especially now when we see just how much Hae Young will do for Sang Hyo. He is willing to hold his wedding at her hotel again? Say it ain’t so Hae Young, the gesture is sweet but can you please just call off the ridiculous wedding already! I suppose his presence in Soo Ah’s life might spur her to push things forward with her silent brooding driver, not to mention Soo Ah’s petulance will only showcase how awesome and wonderful Sang Hyo is. Not that Hae Young has forgotten, but attempting to move on is not the same as actually moving on, and the exes are so far removed from moving on I’m amused more people haven’t cottoned on to something between them. Can’t believe it was Manager Hwang who figured it out, he might’ve been an effective cupid but for him likely being evil and whatnot. I don’t have a clue what happened 30 years ago but I don’t think GM Lee is the prime suspect then or even now. There is something resigned about him rather than sinister and plotting. He also might be Sang Hyo’s dad what with all the major daddy-daughter hints in their conversation today.
It’s such a relief that there was nothing noticeable in episode 5 to indicate there was a screenwriter switch which bodes well for the new writer to execute the original writer’s vision to the end. I personally love that all the characters continue to astonish me in little ways by what they do or say that feels unexpected. Young Mi and Gi Chul’s snit in the office about her affording overseas vacations and him insulting both her looks and finances felt so believable as jealous colleagues but at the same time I didn’t quite expect their characters to be developed in more ways. Young Mi’s blackmail of Soo Ah will clearly come back to bit her, and for some reason I feel like another death might be coming and a character like Young Mi might run afoul of whatever secrets the hotel is trying to hide. I actually want to see more Eun Joo (and less Soo Ah) since her frenemy relationship with Sang Hyo is so hilarious and I like her no-holds barred pursuit of Sung Gyum. Her let us get married wedding couched in a power point proposal slayed me, it’s actually something we could see a female lead in one of those contract marriage dramas cooking up. I’m so grateful this drama doesn’t have a single weak link in the acting department, forget having no idol actors with limited to no acting experience, the drama has also lucked out in not suffering due to weak professional actors dragging things down. My only sadness these days come from not having more episodes of MSH to binge on.