Guh, I continue to love My Secret Hotel so damn much. This drama requires subs to watch because the conversations are nuanced enough to reflect the complicated mind versus heart struggle that the OTP is going through. Unlike the other currently airing exes drama Discovery of Love (where Eric is a billion percent awesome but everything else makes me want to throw things at the screen), this one I actually like the two leads as characters in all their full flawed glory. The pace is also working for me and I don’t understand the rush to get Sang Hyo to give Hae Young a chance since the drama is just at episode 10 and there is 6 more episodes left. They have way more to work through than simply whether they love each other or not. Hae Young can be so romantic with his grand gestures and willingness to leap into the fray for love but he’s always been like that, hasn’t he? This is the man who fell in love in 3 seconds and got married after a week. It’s wildly swoony but totally impractical, and he fails so much at the practicality of being in a committed relationship. Nothing he’s done since meeting Sang Hyo would dispel the last thing she remembers about their marriage which was him packing up and leaving without a by your leave. They were both at fault and I like that the reason for the break up was so immature. It fits with their shotgun marriage and young age.
I see Sang Hyo growing up and absorbing the failed lessons of her first marriage but Hae Young hasn’t. All he’s done is pine for Sang Hyo and now make the attempt to win her back. No one doubts he loves her, heck Sang Hyo probably accepts that he loves her and also knows that she also loves him. But love isn’t enough between them to restart so her logical decision to NOT restart things with Hae Young is both sensible and really commendable. I don’t see her as having feelings for Sung Gyum beyond attraction and appreciation, her tears at the end of the episode was being touched by how much of an effort he was making to stand up to Hae Young’s challenge. It wasn’t the look of love, it the look of a woman who knows a good thing (man) when she sees one. But then love is messy and beyond logic so Sang Hyo may have every reason to date Sung Gyum for real but she can’t force herself to love him. That’s where Hae Young still has a chance if he knows what to do to prove to Sang Hyo that he deserves another chance. It’s the Chinese idiom of 不離不棄 (never abandoning, never leaving) that is the bedrock of marriage, Hae Young will need to show to Sang Hyo that to kick his courtship beyond dedicating a love song performance to her.
Episode 10 recap:
Hae Young cries to Shi Chan as he wonders if his marriage to Sang Hyo really is over. He drowns his sorrows in drink and asks Shi Chan to keep him company tonight since he doesn’t want to be alone. Shi Chan spits out his soju and worriedly asks if Hae Young likes him? Heh.
Sung Gyum recharges himself via a kiss from Sang Hyo and they slowly break apart after the kiss. Sung Gyum was worried Sang Hyo might slap him and compliments his kissing skills for avoiding her ire. He admits he needed courage to ask her this question “Nam Sang Hyo-shhi, did you really get married just for the hotel? Do you really have no more feelings for Gu Hae Young?” He reminds her that he once told her that if she loved a man and he fell off the cliff, then he will climb back up the cliff to find her. He feels like that man on the cliff right now.
Sang Hyo apologizes, tacitly admitting she still has feelings for Hae Young. But then she honestly tells Sung Gyum that she doesn’t have any intention of starting over with Hae Young. Guh, I love her conflicted feeling honesty. Sung Gyum lets out a relieved smile.
Sang Hyo sits down on her sofa and remembers Hae Young telling her that he really married her for real. She tries to clear her head to go back to her life before she met Hae Young. Sang Hyo suddenly sees Hae Young all around her, grabbing her hand when she gets up from the sofa or when she grabs a drink of water. Sang Hyo shakes him off and doesn’t want him to rattle her anymore nor does she wanted to be fooled by him again.
Sang Hyo curls up in bed and sees Hae Young sitting across from her and orders him to leave her alone. She gets under the covers and then hears Hae Young loudly screaming her name over and over. Sang Hyo thinks it’s her imagination again but the screaming gets more loud and insistent. She opens her front door and Hae Young stumbles into her arms.
Sang Hyo deposits a drunken passed out Hae Young on the sofa and sits down to stare at his sleeping face for a long time. She’s about to stroke it when her phone rings.
It’s Sung Gyum calling and he wonders why Sang Hyo is whispering on the phone. She lies that she doesn’t want to wake her neighbors which makes him laugh since each time they talk on the phone she makes him laugh. Sung Gyum is calling because he forget to tell her one thing. He’s about to tell her when he stops and says he’ll tell her next time.
Sang Hyo is back to being annoyed that Hae Young barged into her place. She stares at his face and complains that his hair is curly and dyed and his nose too straight. She’s starting to be moved so she tells herself not to be affected by this face again! She gets an idea and grabs her eyeliner pencil and opens it with a devious smile on her face.
Hae Young wakes up not knowing Sang Hyo has drawn a villain mustache on his upper lips. He rubs his eyes a few times in shock to see Sang Hyo before him and is even more shocked to hear that he’s in her apartment. Sang Hyo chides him for coming to her place after getting drunk since her place doesn’t welcome him. She tells him to eat some ramyun after drinking so much last time and Hae Young smiles to see a bowl of prepared ramyun waiting for him on the table. He’s happy that she remembers but Sang Hyo quickly runs off.
Flashback to Hae Young and Sang Hyo eating ramyun at the table with their legs entwined. She chides him for drinking every night so she has to cook this for him every day. Hae Young just smiles lovingly as Sang Hyo complains about how much hard work goes into making ramyun. Hae Young smiles and pulls her in for a kiss and tells her “no wonder it tastes so good.” Sang Hyo says “of course.” THEY ARE SO CUTE!!! Back in the present Hae Young smiles at this fond memory and eats the ramyun Sang Hyo made for him.
Sang Hyo arrives at work to see Gyung Hee and Gi Chul but wonders where Young Mi went? The new employee Yoon Sung Min is introduced by Eun Joo to take over for Young Mi’s position. Sang Hyo wonders where Young Mi went and a round of awkward looks is passed around.
Sung Gyum asks Simon where the necklace is and slams his hand angrily on the desk when Simon reports that he couldn’t find it.
Flashback to Sung Gyum going to meet the person who sent him the note in the park. He’s shocked to see the person is Young Mi.
Sang Hyo finally learns from Eun Joo that Young Mi died and connects her memory of finding Young Mi dead in the tub the night of the wedding. She’s angry Eun Joo hid it from her and Eun Joo says even if Sang Hyo knew it still changes nothing. Gi Chul offer the newbie a choice of seats between someone who died a few days ago or someone who died a few weeks ago. Ahahaha. Eun Joo whispers to Sang Hyo not to feel too upset because Young Mi isn’t as nice of a person as she appeared.
Back to Sung Gyum’s flashback, he demands to know from Young Mi what she knows about his dad’s death and why she claims he was murdered. Young Mi doesn’t know who the murderer is but she is in the possession of the necklace of the person who murdered Sung Gyum’s father. Sung Gyum wants the necklace but Young Mi refuses to hand it over free. She reveals there is another interested party in the necklace and she’ll be in touch with the terms of the deal.
Sung Gyum calls GM Lee in to ask about Young Mi’s death and why GM Lee didn’t report it to Sung Gyum immediately when to happened. GM Lee claims he just wanted Sung Gyum to have an pleasant business trip. Sung Gyum loses his temper and yells that he’s not in the position because it’s pleasant! He demands to know if there is anything related to Young Mi’s death that he hasn’t been told about and GM Lee insists there is nothing else.
Hae Young discovers the villainstache which makes him smile in glee that Sang Hyo would take the time to draw on his face. He thinks she’s so cute and imagines her happily drawing on him. He admires the villainstache in the mirror a few more times before declaring that he looks handsome.
Hae Young takes the opportunity to look around Sang Hyo’s apartment, taking note that she still likes detective novels. He gets into her bed and sniffs her sheets as he soaks in the scent that he remembers. To top it off, Hae Young rolls around her bed.
Hae Young’s employees are getting the update from Shi Chan about Hae Young’s honeymoon. Everyone is shocked to hear that Hae Young spent the first night in a tent with a man named Ki Ho and the second night also in the same room with another man. Everyone thinks he’s gay now and Shi Chan is most worried that Hae Young likes him.
Hae Young arrives and hears this so he slaps his male employees on the butt as a good morning greeting. He saunters up to his office as the guys wonder if the butt slap is a homosexual secret code greeting.
Shi Chan ventures up to Hae Young’s office and finds him admiring his villainstache in a mirror. Shi Chan declares that he only likes girls and tells Hae Young to wipe the mustache off. Hae Young pushes Shi Chan against the window and teases him for liking him before pretend grinding him against the window while the rest of the employees freak out below.
The event planning team settle down to work while Sang Hyo remembers Young Mi settling down happily at her new desk when she first arrive. She tells the newbie Sung Min to work hard and asks Gi Chul to guide him. Sang Hyo hands a wedding proposal for Gyung Hee to pass along to Guard Cha with respect to the security arrangement for actress Lee Young Eun’s upcoming wedding.
Gi Chul chases after Gyung Hee and warns her to keep her distance from Guard Cha otherwise she could end up dead. Gyung Hee is crying in the conference room as Guard Cha arrives to meet with her. She screams at him “Did you really do it, you bastard!” before falling to her knees sobbing.
The two detectives arrive to continue their investigation and walk by Gyung Hee crying to Guard Cha and wonder what is going on. Fanciful Detective Lee thinks Guard Cha just hit Gyung Hee.
Detective Kim sits down with Sung Gyum and reveals that the dead Manager Hwang used to work with Sung Gyum’s dad and even called his mom right before he died. Detective Kim wonders what Manager Hwang’s relationship is with Sung Gyum’s mom?
Detective Kim questions GM Lee on whether he knew that Jo Sung Gyum is the son of his former colleague who died 30 years ago? GM Lee pretends he doesn’t know. Detective Kim asks who took over as GM at the hotel when Sung Gyum’s dad died 30 years ago? GM Lee reluctantly admits it was himself.
Jung Eun calls Soo Ah out and asks her to reveal the truth of Sang Hyo and Hae Young’s sham marriage. She doesn’t approve of Soo Ah either but at least Soo Ah is better than Sang Hyo. Soo Ah isn’t interested since Hae Young and Sang Hyo is true love and she is happy to step aside. She dumps orange juice on Jung Eun and tells her to stop butting in. The ladies get into a hair pulling fur flying cat fight in the cafe.
Hae Young gets called by the cops to come pick up Jung Eun and Soo Ah. He tries to pretend that he doesn’t know them but since they were carted into Detective Kim’s precinct he has no choice but to go. The two women want to press charges against each other and start arguing again. Hae Young’s arrival gets them both to grab his arm and want him to take sides. Detective Lee wonders why Hae Young is so popular and Detective Kim tells him to rearrange his face first.
Hae Young forces Soo Ah and Jung Eun to shakes hands and call a truce. Soo Ah notices Hae Young’s villainstache and asks what happened? Hae Young smiles proudly and reveals that Sang Hyo drew it on him before walking off. Soo Ah smiles and announces to Jung Eun that she has no chance with Hae Young so give up already!
Sung Gyum calls his mom and tells her that he doesn’t believe his dad died in an accident. Sang Hyo walks by and they sit down to talk. Sang Hyo thinks he’s brooding because of her situation but Sung Gyum laughs that she clearly has the princess syndrome so she thinks everything is about her. He assures her that he’s down mood is not because of her. He hears Sang Hyo feels bad about Young Mi’s death and tells her not to think too much about it since she doesn’t really know what kind of person Young Mi is.
Sung Gyum suggests having ramyun tonight and cooking it at her place. He can see Sang Hyo’s hesitation and asks “What? You don’t trust oppa?” Ahahaha, I love this line. Sang Hyo quickly says no and Sung Gyum calls her on having her mind in the gutter since she’s blushing. Sung Gyum smiles and promises that they will just have ramyun and he’ll leave afterwards.
Hae Young goes to the flower shop to pick out a bouquet to ask his wife to marry him. The florist notices his villainstache and Hae Young tells her that it gives him courage. He sniffs the bouquet and bounds up to Sang Hyo’s apartment but stops near the top when he sees Sang Hyo pulling up in Sung Gyum’s car. The smile is wiped off Hae Young’s face as the bouquet in his hand drops by his side. Sung Gyum sends Sang Hyo off since he forgot something and promises to be back in 30 minutes. Sang Hyo runs up happily to her apartment as sad Hae Young stares from the corner.
Sung Gyum goes to the same florist that Hae Young just visited and asks for the best selling flower recently. The florist wonders what the occasion is for and hears that his girlfriend just invited him to her home for the first time.
Sang Hyo is annoyed that Hae Young didn’t clean up after himself when he left earlier. She tidies up and runs to open the door when the bell rings. She smiles when a bouquet is thrust in her face but the smile vanishes when she sees it’s Hae Young holding the bouquet. Hae Young walks inside and sits down but Sang Hyo keeps trying to kick him out.
They engage in a game of chase and grab as Hae Young keeps trying to avoid getting dragged out.
Sung Gyum happily arrives at Sang Hyo’s apartment and is about to ring her doorbell when the door opens and Hae Young stumbles out. Sung Gyum stares in shock at Hae Young’s drawn on villainstache while he asks if Sung Gyum is disappointed that he’s not Sang Hyo. Hae Young announces that they should all just go inside and eat together.
Sung Gyum reluctantly goes inside and places his bouquet on the table next to Hae Young’s bouquet before plopping down on a bean bag chair. Hae Young announces that Sung Gyum is forever one step slower than he is. Sang Hyo orders Hae Young to leave but Hae Young refuses since he slept here last night and Sang Hyo drew the villainstache on his face.
Sang Hyo keeps trying to explain that Hae Young came by drunk and she drew the stache because she doesn’t like him. Sung Gyum doesn’t need to hear her explain because he knows Hae Young is very rude. Hae Young declares that he married Sang Hyo so the rude person is Sung Gyum who retorts that the real marriage was 7 years ago and this one was just for show to save the hotel. Plus Sang Hyo has agreed to date him so that’s that. Sang Hyo asks Hae Young to leave and he sadly goes down to his car.
Hae Young gets into his car and finally wipes off the villainstache with a tissue. He angrily slams the horn multiple times in rage while Sung Gyum stares at him through the window. Hae Young finally drives off and Sung Gyum tells Sang Hyo that he’s headed home now since neither of them are in the mood for dinner.
A round of brooding ensues. Sang Hyo sits on her sofa staring at the two identical bouquets on her table. Hae Young stares at his wedding ring and thinks back to Sung Gyum declaring that Sang Hyo has agreed to date him. Sung Gyum stares out his hotel room window remembering Hae Young declaring that Nam Sang Hyo is the woman who married him.
The detectives have created a case investigation board and Detective Kim places pictures of all the people involved in the case. The people trying to keep a secret and the people killed because of the secret has left two people dead.
Sang Hyo is surprised to find Sung Gyum waiting outside her apartment in the morning. She apologizes again for yesterday but Sung Gyum explains that no matter how much he doesn’t want to admit that she has something undeniable with Gu Hae Young, it must be there otherwise they couldn’t have gotten married again. But if she’s sincere about not getting back with Hae Young then Sung Gyum will help her. Sang Hyo confirms that is what she wants and Sung Gyum smiles and says they can start today by going public.
Sung Gyum and Sang Hyo’s arrival hand-in-hand at the hotel doesn’t go unnoticed by the employees and Eun Joo immediately hears about it. She storms to the event planning department to confront Sang Hyo and finds Sung Gyum there. He invites Eun Joo to join in their dinner tonight because he has something to announce.
Soo Ah is worried that Jung Eun is a stalker who won’t leave Hae Young alone but Hae Young is more worried about his impasse with Sang Hyo. Eun Joo arrives to yell at Hae Young for why he married Sang Hyo but he can’t close the deal!
Eun Joo wonders if something is wrong with Hae Young’s ability since he looks fine on the outside. Soo Ah stares at Eun Joo and nods her head since she still thinks Hae Young is impotent. Hae Young informs the ladies that nothing is wrong with him. Eun Joo demands to know why Hae Young hasn’t made his move and reveals that Sung Gyum has organized a dinner tonight to announce something big. Soo Ah thinks Sung Gyum is going to propose and Eun Joo demands that Hae Young needs to do something about it. Hae Young asks where the dinner is going to be tonight?
The Secret Hotel event planning department sit down to dinner and Eun Joo tries to delay Sung Gyum’s big announcement a few times to allow Hae Young to come on stage and rock out a performance dedicated to Sang Hyo. Her jaw drops and Sung Gyum looks absolutely annoyed. Sang Hyo wonders what he’s doing here and we see that all of Hae Young’s coworkers are sitting in the back.
I know this is just fanservice to give Jin Yi Han an excuse to sing, but damn is he hot and sexy and everything perfect. Sang Hyo wants to leave with Sung Gyum but he’s fine with this.
Hae Young ends his performance pointing his finger at Sang Hyo before taking the mic and thanking everyone here. Because of them he has the courage now. He has a woman he loves very much but she was stolen by a thief. He wants to win his woman back very much. Hae Young asks “Jo Sung Gyum-shhi, can I have my woman back?” Omomomomo, that is bold.
Sung Gyum stands up and reminds Hae Young that this was decided yesterday already. Hae Young walks up to the table and says he didn’t agree to it. Sung Gyum reminds Hae Young that it’s over between him and Sang Hyo while he’s just getting started with Sang Hyo. Hae Young declares it’s not over, his song today is his answer and he can’t give up on Sang Hyo.
The audience demands that Sung Gyum sing as well and declare his fight. Hae Young’s coworkers call out that no one can beat Hae Young at singing, True dat. Sang Hyo remembers Sung Gyum telling her that he can’t sing and when he tries his throat closes up. She pulls Sung Gyum to leave but he doesn’t move and instead picks up the mic.
Sung Gyum tentatively begins to sing directly at Sang Hyo while a lone pianist plays a soft accompaniment. Sang Hyo stares at Sung Gyum bravely singing in public to her despite being so bad at it. She starts to tear up and smile.
Hae Young can’t watch anymore and turns around to walk off to the side. Sung Gyum finishes his song and wipes a tear from Sang Hyo’s eyes. Eun Joo walks up to Hae Young and says “We lost” before walking off. Hae Young stares sadly as Sung Gyum and Sang Hyo smile at each other.
Thoughts of Mine:
MSH may be full of plenty of flaws but it’s all insignificant asides to me compared to how much this drama works as a whole. A lot of this particular piece working is good acting. Goes to show good acting can cover a lot of flaws and sell me on characters even if the depth hasn’t been plumbed in the narrative development. Sure Sang Hyo, Hae Young, and Sung Gyum are all rather limited personalities depends on how the writer has chosen to showcase them to us, but the great acting from Jin Yi Han, Yoo In Na, and Namgong Min bring the characters to life and I feel their emotions. Similarly the murder mystery may end up being much ado about nothing (other than two dead bodies) in that reason behind it not being monumental, but so far it continues to be nicely sprinkled throughout the central romance. Sure the two detectives can be investigating at a more urgent pace but their wink wink nudge nudge investigation is unearthing nuggets of interesting material in each episode to be worth the wait. I’m inclined to eliminate Guard Cha as the killer now because he’s too obvious. I think many individuals at the hotel are shady and concealing other nefarious or misbegotten actions, such as Gi Chul’s pickpocketing, but the actual murder might be someone else. It could still be Sung Gyum and perhaps one reason to keep his true intentions so close to the vest is to keep him a viable suspect. If we can see that he genuinely likes Sang Hyo without any ulterior motives then it would wash away that touch of sinister aura around him that pops up now and then, especially when he’s brooding at night.
I love Hae Young to pieces because he’s the kind of man that’s easy to love. He’s passionate and impetuous, daring to publicly profess his romantic pursuit and put a ring on it. The problem is that it’s impossible to trust him when his track record with Sang Hyo involves loving AND leaving. If he didn’t love her enough back then and left just like that, perhaps all he needs to do is convince her that he learned how to love someone now and she’s the one for him. But that’s not the case, all their flashbacks show us how much in love they were and how real is was to them. Still Hae Young left, and it doesn’t matter if he thought it was temporary and after he took care of his other important matters he would be back. He betrayed his vows to Sang Hyo and no matter how much she loved him there was no way her pride would let her wait for him. What’s important to differentiate in this romantic impasse is that neither of the three leads really doubt that the exes still have feelings for each other. Even Sung Gyum notices and brings it up with Sang Hyo, and she doesn’t lie to him back. She tacitly admits it but then explains that she want to move on from Hae Young, she doesn’t want to get back together with him. How awesome for a female lead to understand that loving someone isn’t enough to dive back into a relationship especially since Hae Young hasn’t demonstrated that he’ll be reliable the second time around. She’s not dating Sung Gyum at this time because she likes him or is using him to fend off Hae Young, it’s a very mature adult understanding whereby Sung Gyum and Sang Hyo are sincerely giving it a go while accepting she has so much unresolved baggage with Hae Young. It’s candid and complicated, and just the way I like it.
I’m enjoying the love triangle because it’s really about sense versus sensibility. Sang Hyo isn’t dumb enough not to appreciate how much effort and understanding Sung Gyum is giving her. Sure he may be doing it because he wants to win her beyond simple love, but for now he is the mature choice. He accepts Sang Hyo’s existing feelings for Hae Young and even endures Hae Young’s intrusions and posturing. When he got up the courage to sing publicly for Sang Hyo, I would have cried too because that was just such a touching gesture that took a lot of courage. Hae Young’s was love impulsiveness that he’s shown time and again around Sang Hyo, I am happy he made the choice to win her back but he needs to do more than bring her flowers and sing her songs. He still remembers their happy times from ramyun eating to sweet nothings, but there is a brick wall between them called abandonment that freaks the shit out of Sang Hyo. Hae Young is lucky that Soo Ah and Eun Joo want to help him, though Eun Joo seems to have given up at the end of episode 10. Why would any Hae Young shippers give up? Sang Hyo is clearly never going to be over him this way and all he needs to do to grow up and have an uninterrupted heart to heart with Sang Hyo. And maybe kiss her senseless before having some reunion sex. Either way they aren’t doomed just because Sang Hyo’s mind tells her to choose Sung Gyum. In the end of the day her heart will lead her back to Hae Young even if they have to step over Secret Hotel dead bodies to get there.