Secret Love Affair Episode 9 Recap

There is such undeniable quiet beauty in this drama rendering it such a joy to watch. But paired with a story where characters engage in behavior that isn’t acceptable in society increases the difficulty for me to write about it. It’s shallowly dismissive to say that watching Secret Love Affair equals condoning adultery or not watching it means having high moral standards about marital fidelity. Dramas are a form of entertainment and watching it doesn’t require the viewer to subscribe to the subject matter or the viewpoint. The conundrum with SLA is starting to bubble to the surface, which is the drama is not skirting around the very real crossing the line that Hye Won and Sun Jae have done by tumbling into their illicit romance, but then they are the only likable characters in the drama so we don’t want them hurt. When I say hurt I really mean it in the most serious of consequences since adultery in South Korea is actually against the law. That means Joon Hyung can sue Sun Jae for seducing his wife and effectively ruin his future, since a criminal record is pretty much a brand in that status conscious society.

Similarly Hye Won has a long way to fall if her infidelity were discovered, but unlike Sun Jae who is all raw love and innocence and guilelessness, Hye Won is better equipped to fight for her life. But if I were to wish the two of them to get away with it, where does that lead this story? As an viewer we watch in the now and thinking about the end, enjoying the process of watching two people fall in love and thinking about where they will end up after surmounting the obstacles before them. I honestly don’t know where these two will go. Hye Won divorces Joon Hyung and marries Sun Jae and they have a unconventional Autumn/Spring gender reversed marriage where she works in the arts and he’s a famed pianist one day? I really don’t think so, this drama doesn’t promise rainbows and unicorns. I actually think the most practical ending is that the secret love affair ends and becomes an unforgettable memory in each other’s mind. This drama is really so beautiful to watch but also hurts me so much to think about, pushing my own views against wanting two lovely people to be happy but knowing they will have to pay a steep steep price for it.

Episode 9 recap:

Hye Won is waiting and the cab she called pulls up outside Sun Jae’s apartment. Hye Won opens the door to get in which is when Sun Jae steps out on the ledge. She looks up and exchanges a look with him before getting into the cab and it pulls away.

Sun Jae sits in his room and reads her text “I’m going to work now, this is my personal cell so save the number separately. I really like your home even though yesterday when I went in alone I was a little afraid.”

We see Hye Won holding an umbrella under the misty rain slowly walking up the steps to his apartment. Her text continues “It’s steep and dangerous, plus it’s raining so it’s also slippery. Every step I climb I wonder whether I should go back.” Hye Won hesitates but still continues. “At that moment I thought to myself that it doesn’t matter if I slip and fall and break my leg. I’ll just tell a lie to others. Thinking that, I carefully climbed all the way up.”

Hye Won navigates the tiny steep steps and arrives at his floor. “I navigated those steps and walked through the dark narrow hallway. Thinking that if I passed here I would be going into your home and that made me happy.” Hye Won almost trips and moves something aside on the ground before arriving at Sun Jae’s door. She opens it and walks inside the dark room.

Hey Won turns on the lights. “After I turned on the lights I almost cried. This is home. This is what a home ought to be like. I am usually standing, and sometimes have to sleep in my high heels. But in that moment I felt like this place is free for me. I even said a thanks to your mom and then I comfortably walked in. But I knew this could not be revealed to anyone, so I started tiptoeing. Even though I’m someone who lies all day, I can’t be like that to you as well, right? I need to be careful so I became childish. I also want you to be careful, but is that thought also childish?”

Sun Jae reads this and wipes his tears away. Hye Won continues “I found ramyun so I ate it, but was afraid the sound was too loud to wake you so I ate it up on the roof. I haven’t eaten anything that tasty in a long time. I remembered what you said about practicing until your joints almost tore off to reach a state of utmost bliss. To give the greatest love. I finally genuinely understood what that means. I live my life very strangely so I don’t dare say I love your home or I love you. But I will try to learn from you.”

“So Sun Jae, the Sun Jae who doesn’t really know German or English but is so very intelligent, in this world this is called adultery. It is something that can harm you, and it is a crime. You need to have the wisdom to protect yourself and keep yourself safe. Let me handle all the ugly matters. That is my specialty. Now brush off those goosebumps and have some breakfast.” Sun Jae can barely hold it together as he finishes reading that lengthy text. Hye Won puts on her makeup in the back of the cab, seemingly an old hand the way she is so good at it, but that’s because she’s good at everything that is for show. She pauses and actually seems distraught.

Joon Hyung gets dressed in the morning and takes note of Hye Won’s bed that is already made. He hears from the housekeeper that Hye Won is having breakfast at the Chairman’s residence with that demon family. He casually asks if she saw Hye Won leave and the housekeeper did, Hye Won apologized for disturbing her so early in the morning as she left the house. Joon Hyung says nothing and sips his coffee.

Hye Won rushes into the kitchen to help make breakfast. Her friend who is Madam Han’s secretary asks if she slept at her maiden home last night? Hye Won says no since it’s only her brother-in-law there. Secretary points out Hye Won is wearing the same outfit as yesterday so Hye Won quickly makes the excuse that she wasn’t paying attention and put on the same outfit. Jeez, that is a weaksauce cover, girl.

Hye Won and the Secretary wait for the Chairman and Madam Han to come down before sitting down to dine. Madam Han shows off her spanking new bauble ring that is a gift from the Chairman. Discussion turns to Young Woo’s clothing company and how it will likely take a few months to get on track. The Chairman just wants Young Woo to work hard and take it seriously but Madam Han snarks that working hard is not Young Woo’s style. Talk turns to how Hye Won is being over-extended on all sides and the Chairman worries that she’ll get overworked. Hye Won thanks him for the concern but will handle it for now until the project gets on track.

Sun Jae goes to replace the broken light bulbs in the stairwell and then spray cleans the entire area with a hose, all to make Hye Won’s future trips easier. He gets ready to go to class when he picks up a book on Western musical history and remembers Joon Hyung mentioning how he’s weak in that discipline and needs to learn it as well to add to his piano playing range and understanding. Sun Jae puts that book away and goes to search the internet for “adultery”.

Madam Han is in the same car as Hye Won and her Secretary headed somewhere. Hye Won reports to Madam Han that she already told the Chairman to accept foreign investment into Young Woo’s new company, said foreign investment to secretly come from the overseas company she set up for Madam Han registered in Singapore. Madam Han is assured and compliments Hye Won for being so truthful with her. Hye Won thinks its normal to doubt others. Madam Han looks at the investment amount and then pinches Hye Won’s thigh with a smile warning to keep her updated on this.

Madam Han suddenly brings up Lee Sun Jae and wants to have him get double eye lid surgery before the upcoming showcase. Hye Won is aghast and says Sun Jae’s eyes are very pretty and it’s an Asian type of pretty which the Westerners like. The Secretary sitting in the front passenger seat visibly has an odd look as Hye Won is jabbering on about how Sun Jae doesn’t need the surgery. She ends with him needing to focus on practicing right now. Madam Han merely smiles.

Da Mi gets a text from Jung Ho about how Hye Won is well-known in the musical world and frequents the beauty salon. Da Mi clicks on the article he sent with the text and sees a picture of Hye Won.

Madam Han is dropped off at the beauty salon and she invites Hye Won to get her hair done as well but Hye Won declines because she has other matters to tend to. Madam Han walks into Da Mi’s room to get her hair washed. She first makes a call to Dean Min ordering that Lee Sun Jae be handled solely by Oh Hye Won rather than have him go between her and Kang Joon Hyung. Chemistry is as important as talent. Da Mi washes Madam Han’s hair and gets complimented for having very strong hands. She wonders why she never saw Da Mi before and hears that she was recently moved to this room.

Sun Jae stands outside Joon Hyung’s office and hesitates repeatedly but then Joon Hyung comes back and tells him to come on in.

Dean Min is watching Sun Jae’s audition performance when Joon Hyung arrives. Dean Min compliments Sun Jae as very talented and even better is that he’s unique in his style. He compares Sun Jae to Jackson Pollack were Sun Jae a painter. Joon Hyung agrees and says Sun Jae has a very keen sensation. Director Min asks about personality and looks and Joon Hyung assures him Sun Jae is very polite and handsome.

Dean Min brings up whether Sun Jae is getting training now and hears Joon Hyung is alternating with Hye Won. Dean MIn suggests having Hye Won solely hand Sun Jae’s training. Dean Min claims this is all his ideas and gives the reason being he doesn’t want Joon Hyung to focus too much on one student plus he feels Sun Jae’s playing style reminds him of Hye Won when she was just getting good. In that respect, Dean Min feels Sun Jae is more compatible to be taught by Hye Won.

Joon Hyung doesn’t think this is Dean Min’s “suggestion” and Director Min admits Joon Hyung can ignore him and do as he wishes but then he needs to deal with the consequences. He assures Joon Hyung that he can drop in on the rehearsals from time to time and treat this as a couple’s project still. Dean Min teases that Joon Hyung might be thinking of other thoughts such as a prohibited romance. Joon Hyung quickly says that isn’t it.

Sun Jae waits for Joon Hyung to come back and he asks how the practice went with Hye Won yesterday. Sun Jae says it didn’t go well since it was the first. Joon Hyung brings up having Hye Won solely teach him so that he can focus on the upcoming performance showcase. Sun Jae has to restrain his happiness and thanks him before quickly leaving.

Hye Won arrives at work and plugs in her second phone. She then heads to see Madam Han’s secretary who says “you have to raise another child”. Hye Won grouses that one Kang Joon Hyung is enough and hears the bombshell news that Sun Jae is now full her teaching responsibility and Joon Hyung is out now.

Hye Won meets with Madam Han and tries to decline this task saying she’s not suitable for it. Madam Han thinks she is and so does Director Min, so Hye Won needs to just act like she’s helping Young Woo while Madam Han will also lower the workload she gives Hye Won. She wants Hye Won to focus on developing Sun Jae since everyone has such high hopes pinned on him. Hye Won accepts the task and walks out with Madam Han staring at her. After she steps out the door, she visibly sighs and her Secretary friend notices it.

Hye Won goes back to her office and shares her worry with her secretary that Sun Jae needs a string accompaniment for his score. She’s hidden her secret phone between two newspapers and pulls it out to see a text from Sun Jae “I’m heading over now.”

Sun Jae arrives at the music room where Hye Won is waiting for him in front of the piano. He asks if she’s doing well and she says “fine.” She asks if he came from school while he points out she didn’t go home yet with the same clothes on. Hye Won laughs that she’s worried about seeing Joon Hyung and whether he’ll bring up the staying out all night. Sun Jae is happy he gets to see her everyday now and she asks if Joon Hyung was mad. Sun Jae left before he got mad but he made a mistake and said “thank you” to Joon Hyung on his way out. Hye Won gapes at him.

Hye Won reminds him that there is a security camera in the practice room so they need to keep their distance from each other. Sun Jae suddenly darts outside and goes to the guard room to ask him to turn off the camera in practice room 3 because it distracts him from his practice. The guard says the other practice rooms have it on and no one minds, explaining that this is to prevent theft. Sun Jae refuses to leave so the guard calls to speak with management and is patched through to Madam Han. She hears that Sun Jae went to specifically request the security camera turned off. She thinks he’s got quite a personality and agrees to it.

Hye Won is surprised Sun Jae went to do that and pulled it off. Sun Jae can’t fight with those dirty things on her behalf so he can only do what is within his power. Hye Won notes that he was touched by her love note. Sun Jae confesses it was like an earthquake in his brain and asks if she just confessed her life to him? Hye Won tosses a pillow at him and chuckled but he warns her not to shake him otherwise he might erupt. Hye Won wants to hear what he’s thinking.

Sun Jae knows he can’t hug her in public even without cameras because that’s adultery. Hye Won starts laughing so hard her stomach hurts, what with talk going from confessions to adultery. Sun Jae knows she’s laughing at him. Hye Won says there is more, she can’t even buy him nice clothes otherwise people will say she’s buying herself a boy toy. They sit there in awkward silence for a few moments until Sun Jae remembers something and pulls out a little bottle Hye Won left at his place. She asks if there is any problem leaving it there. Sun Jae darts over to take it back but Hye Won says he needs to start practice.

Sun Jae brings up a book he read that he thought was on music but it turned about to be about a girl who lives with a guy before they are married. Hye Won cuts him off and directs him to practice. She can’t play accompaniment for him every time but she brought something pre-recorded that can be alternated with her playing. He finds out Hye Won played it when she was around Sun Jae’s ago, it was a present for Professor Jo when he was practicing for the national competition. Sun Jae hears that she’s close with Professor Jo and his wife.

Hye Won tells him to practice today using it and she’s off. Sun Jae asks if she’s going home and Hye Won murmurs “yes.” Sun Jae plugs the Hye Won recording in and listens to her play with a smile on his face. He then plugs in headphones to listen.

Hye Won calls Joon Hyung to invite him home for dinner. He wonders why she’s in such a good mood and hears she’s trying to improve their interactions. Hye Won cooks with the housekeeper who is happy for this rare occasion to cook together. Hye Won feels like she needs to add some life in the air to make it feel like people actually live in this house. Hye Won checks with Joon Hyung on which wine to open and then they sit down for dinner.

Talk turns to what happened today, with Hye Won assuring Joon Hyung that Madam Han takes interest in him. Joon Hyung wants to know if Sun Jae said anything? Hye Won says Sun Jae is happy that Joon Hyung will be checking in on him from time to time. Joon Hyung finishes his glass and pours himself the rest of the bottle. Hye Won asks if he wants another but he declines.

Sun Jae is home practicing with earphones on playing Hye Won’s recorded accompaniment.

Hye Won is getting ready for bed when she notices Joon Hyung’s prescription bottle. She heads down to her office to call their mutual doctor and ask if his prescription strength has changed recently? He used to have the same prescription as her. She finds out that Joon Hyung has the same problem as her which makes her laugh since she didn’t know men could have it as well. She promises the doctor she’ll be by in a few days for a visit.

Hye Won turns on her IPad and gets to work on scrolling with the endless accounts she’s managing for the Seo family. Her phone buzzes and she first picks up her work phone only to then turn to her personal phone.

Sun Jae is waiting near Hye Won’s house and smiles when she walks up. She warns him that this is breaking the rules but puts on the helmet he offers her and gets on the bike behind him. Sun Jae is all smiles as he rides his bike through Seoul with Hye Won behind him. She tells him “let’s go to your house” and he happily agrees.

Hye Won and Sun Jae walk into the dark apartment and there is a moment of silent awkwardness as Hye Won takes her scarf off. Then Sun Jae walks forward and kisses her before pulling her into his bed alcove.

Sun Jae and Hye Won sit on the roof, he’s holding her as she nestles in his arms. He wonders what she’s thinking and she’s thinking about habits. He assumes she’s worried he’ll get used to her but she’s thinking the opposite.

Suddenly Jung Jo calls out “Sun Jae!” which leaves the two lovebirds scrambling. Hye Won tells him to go down and handle it and he’s dead if they are discovered, reminding him to hide even her shoes. Sun Jae heads down and quickly hides everything before opening the door for Jung Ho and Da Mi. We see Hye Won hiding under a tarp when suddenly she freaks out before there are fighting cars. Jung Ho goes up on the roof to shoe them away while Hye Won crouches to stay hidden.

Sun Jae gets serious and tells Da Mi that he has never seen her as a woman. Da Mi’s face turns upset while Jung Ho looks awkward. Da Mi knows it but she’ll still be pissed if Sun Jae has another woman. She knows Sun Jae has never done anything untoward to her and it’s all been her one-sided feelings. It was because of Sun Jae that she left the girl gang. She knows how hard it is to meet someone who changes a person.

Even if she used her entire life to repay Sun Jae it’s not enough, he is her everything. So she decided to like him. Sun Jae thanks her for helping him in school but it’s enough now and she can stop. If she continues it’ll be hard on their friendship, Jung Ho and Da Mi are his only two friends and he can’t lose them. Da Mi smiles and says she understands which is a relief and surprise to Jung Jo that they reached an understanding just like that.

Sun Jae rushes up to the roof to look for Hye Won after the coast is clear and finds her hiding underneath a tarp filled with junk. He notices she’s all messy and takes her hand to lead her back. Hye Won is washing up in the bathroom while Sun Jae takes her shoes out and puts it down ready for her to slip into. He marvels at how this is what it feels like to be almost discovered. Hye Won scoffs and says this is just a little rain but now the gates to Hell are opened. She sees him staring earnestly at her and tells him to close the bathroom door so she can use the bathroom. He closes it and assures her adorably that he won’t listen. Hye Won asks him to call her a cab using her cell phone. Sun Jae grabs her purse and takes out her cell.

Hye Won arrives at work the next morning and finds out from her secretary that Young Woo is looking for her and waiting for her at the beauty salon to deliver the accounts. Hye Won realizes that she left her work cell with Sun Jae but luckily he’s in the practice room and can hand it back to her in time. Hye Won’s secretary notes how weird she’s getting lately.

Sun Jae practices the piano.

Hye Won reports to Young Woo about the infusion of capital into her new apparel company and how money will be coming in from an overseas company in Singapore. Young Woo asks who owns that company and Hye Won brushes it aside as stockholders and then tells Young Woo to ask the Chairman for more money if she needs it. Young Woo threatens to cut off Hye Won’s precious student Sun Jae but Hye Won informs her that Sun Jae’s scholarship money has been pre-approved for all four years. Young Woo wants Hye Won to get plane tickets to the fashion capitals of Europe for her and her boy toy. Young Woo warns Hye Won not to let her catch the secret funds she’s managing for Madam Han.

After Young Woo leaves, Da Mi stops Hye Won to thank her. She has learned that Hye Won is the wife to Professor Kang Joon Hyung and also works for the Seohan Arts Center. Hye Won sputters a little and asks how Da Mi knows who she is? Da Mi introduces herself as Sun Jae’s girlfriend and bows in thanks to Hye Won before walking away.

Thoughts of Mine:

I think it was easier to simply absorb the beauty of SLA in acting, directing, and character interplay when it was just the unexpected connection of two souls in Hye Won and Sun Jae. But once they actually cross the line and engage in the affair, it becomes harder to ignore the ramifications of what they are doing both in the dramatic narrative (vis-a-vis the other characters) as well as in the real life ethics of our own opinions and perceptions. I’ve grown to like Hye Won and love Sun Jae, and the drama shows us that she’s in a loveless marriage while he simple means well without any strings attached. That means I’m starting to get more and more worried about the fall out of their affair as it’s clearly people are starting to notice odd behavior from Hye Won as well as Sun Jae taking risks like asking the guard to turn off the security camera recording.

Joon Hyung is not a husband we want for Hye Won, but he’s still her husband under the law. Unless we see that she was forced into that marriage, it’s clearly a show she made and had been living with for god knows how many years. Ten? Fifteen? The story not giving them children takes away one big potential victim in the love affair fall out, namely the innocent children, but that still leaves the union Hye Won chose teetering at the brink of her emotional awakening. Do I think she ought to divorce Joon Hyung before starting with Sun Jae? Of course I do, no one can have an opinion otherwise that isn’t an excuse for adultery. She loves Sun Jae? Fine, then end her current commitment to her useless whiny husband and go for it with the boy who is serving his heart on a platter to her. But of course she can’t and we see the layers and layers she’s got resting on her shoulders. The precarious balance could topple with one misstep.

Hye Won is a wonderfully written character because she’s not meant to be wholly sympathetic. She lies like the best of them (doesn’t even blink an eyelash) and it’s clear she’s willingly chosen her current lot in life so that she can stay in the world of music. Choice is such an important factor in life and K-dramas tend to idealize characters as black or white by claiming someone was forced into a situation. Hye Won is a lovely shade of gray, so nuance that she doesn’t even realize who she is inside and what she desires until Sun Jae awakens that in her. She can appreciate the beauty in the simple unadorned life living in a top level ramshackle apartment eating ramyun.

But can she afford to throw it all away for that kind of happiness? She has twenty years of life experience ahead of Sun Jae, a boy so young and inexperienced he actually needs to look up what adultery entails. It hurts that he just wants to love her but everything about her from her married status to her jaded self-control to her immense pressure filled life screams “this will not end well.” I honestly want them to just be music piano teacher-student for now until they can be together, after Hye Won is divorced and Sun Jae an established pianist. That is when they have some control in their own lives, because right now all that sneaking around is so disconcerting to watch because I expect the other shoe to drop at anytime.

Click here to watch Secret Love Affair.


Secret Love Affair Episode 9 Recap — 53 Comments

  1. It’s hard to watch a love story that begins in deception. It never ends well, and what is reaped is very painful and heartbreaking. This is the reason why I can only read the recaps on this drama.

  2. There is always a sense of anxiety I feel in the pit of my stomach whenever I watch these two together in a scene. And it’s that sense of unease that tells me something is wrong in the picture. No matter how sweet and achingly lovely that picture might be.

  3. Thank you for the recap and your insights into Hye Won. It’s pretty clear, she is as naive as Sun Jae in some respects. I’m amazed she stayed out all night and doesn’t have an outfit stashed at the office. Extra phone…should be a throwaway. You are right, this cannot end well, or maybe, they can go to Europe and she can be his manager. He’s a genius, doesn’t really need school. Hye Won can smooth away his rough edges and teach him English. By the way, were we told why Hye Won didn’t make it as a musician?

    • I think it was mentioned in a few episodes before that she had a problem with her hands- someone correct me if I’m wrong.

    • Yes. We learned in ep 1, as she saw Sun Jae’s problems with his hand in the YT clip, that she had the same and had to end her career because of it. That’s why she contacted him and recommended a doctor, that’s why she became his chat buddy.

      • I knew that, but I thought the doctor she recommended was her doctor. He’s got the same problem. She plays ok, so I thought she wasn’t star talent material.

      • Hyewon can’t play everyday because her hands ache. That is why she gave up her career as pianist.

  4. Hye Won’s love letter is so beautiful and yet so sad. I cried watching/listening to it. A cruel world for both of them. I wish they find happiness either being together or going separate ways in the end.

  5. Btw, I so so love the chatting scene in the practice room. Both actors are so natural and acting so flawlessly that I want them to keep talking like that forever!

  6. Thanks for a beautiful recap and thoughts koala. It is such a difficult subject as you pointed out and of course, we have been told the love story in such a beautiful manner that some of us cant help but be sympathetic to our two leads.

    I wrote this somewhere else after watching episode 9. I think the first scene with the love tect really was powerful for me.

    watching the scenes of HW going to SJ’s home and being privy to her thoughts (and even before that actually, ie pre subs) really moved me, much as it moved her. understanding how she must have felt while climbing those step, knowing that once this action has been taken, it will
    be the start of them and all that will involve and then still continuing upwards. my heart filled to the brim and spilled out of my eyes.

    at this part, I really felt that this journey is much more that of HW, than SJ. SJ will have his growth from this but this far, he has mostly acted on a force of emotion that is beyond his ability to control. he is aware of dangers but he is unable to think of consequences or potential death of that love etc.

    HW on the other hand has thought of all that and more and still has chosen to proceed. that journey of her self discovery somehow moves me deeply even though an affair is not ideally how one should be discovering oneself.

    Reading your recap on that scene, i am moved again to tears again.

    I trust the writer and director to come up with a satisfactory ending, whatever that may be.. You are right in that to be together for all times in a happy manner, they have to delay that gratification by working on his talent and her tying up the loose ends of her life.

    Thanks again. Man, this show makes me so emo.

  7. Thanks for the recap!

    They ARE messing with us big time with the back and forth between their love and the sin involved. Especially making the husband the heavy, the one who keeps coming between them. I have to keep reminding myself. Oh, yeah, he’s the husband.

    They make her love for SJ, the GOOD thing she is doing. Their relationship has been taped off from the rest of her life. She isn’t without blemish in any other area, either so it isn’t as if people would be disappointed in her if they find out she sins. She lies and triple deals, obfuscates, hedges, or avoids answering at all if she can. Why worry about that one thing? For some reason, to Hye Won, adultery IS the biggest bad you can do or at least the one she doesn’t want anyone to find out about.

    Perhaps it is her attempt at protecting Sun Jae and the beauty that he represents. The kid has already been in jail because of her, sort of.

    Perhaps whatever hell she escaped had some trauma tied in (that I don’t really want to know about) and somewhere inside she is so damaged she can’t face her true self.

    There are so many stories, films about the whirlwind romance that comes into town and sweeps a wife or husband off their feet and she is forced to choose. Usually, as you said, children are involved. Usually, she picks the kids. I loved Meryl Streep’s performance of the conflicted wife in Bridges of Madison County. Spoiler alert. She stays. The mother in the novel by Rumer Godden, The Battle of the Villa Fiorita. She comes back.

    The longer we get into the series, the less literally I am taking everything. The pair is sexy as hell, and they would be totally good together if they could get away and start fresh like you said, but they can’t. We can’t hop on a plane and fly to Paris living off our street musician skills, or chuck the job and live in a van down by the river….Well, we could but it wouldn’t be fun.

    Even if we had a Sun Jae to adore us faults and all, after a while, we would long for Society again. Acceptance. Connection. All the rules – whether they are legislated or not keep us in line for our own good.
    It would be so easy to self-destruct if we didn’t worry about what other people think of us.

    I do have trouble looking for a downside to HW and SJ running off together, though. Hey, there’s a cute house for sale down the block from me. I would LOVE to have them as neighbors. I’d send my son down for piano lessons from either of them. Come to New York, Hye Won-ah!!

    • Yes, get a divorce , tranfer the secret bank account that I’m sure she has, and bring SJ to NY!!!! You can do it HW!! ^^

    • Great Recap that captured my growing sense of gloom that only intensified this week.

      The two adultery dramas that I have seen by this PD-writer team – Wife’s Credentials and SLA — both contextualize the adultery occuring in a soulless world where these characters find themselves. How to hold on to beauty, innocence, pleasure in a bleak world ordered only by power and money? Does love have to take an illicit form in this world since legitimate love – the kind that leads to marriage and family – is ordered by money and rational calculation and compromise?

      I do not know, watching this episode made me really forlorn.

  8. This drama makes my teeth hurt. I’ve watched many dramas but nothing, so far, with characters so complex and deftly drawn. Hye Won is just as you said, Miss Koala, not someone you can totally sympathize with, but I find myself so curious as to how she got where she is. I can see why Sun Jae is so drawn to her. Sun Jae is interesting as well. I love how direct he is, such an amalgam of man and boy, self-aware but as un-worldly as can be. I adore him!
    I am finding it hard to watch other shows now, they seem so silly!! Lol, I’m sure I need professional help!! Thanks for the great re-caps!

    • Yes, I agree with you, can t watch other dramas! I’m so tired of those weird close ups and face expressions and same plot over and over again! This drama it’s so refreshing ! Lol

  9. I have a sense that SJ’s golden boy status would place everyone in a cold war type situation if bits of their affair come to light. The only person that would do something stupid – the wild card in the situation is YW. She’s the type to destroy out of spite and pride. She’s also spoiled, irrational, arrogant and stupid – so she worries me the most. They all need SJ’s insane, extraordinary talent to keep up pretenses. Destroying him in any way before he makes it is a rather stupid move because their recognition actually depends on him excelling and winning (plus he brings legitimacy to their arts center front). The only person for which this is not the case, and who would happily see it all come crashing down is YW. Her step mom’s misery and downfall is her gain – emotionally, financially, and position-wise in the family. I hope that before the family warfare comes to a head, he will have won an international competition. It’s his (and HW’s) golden ticket (if they hope to remain together). I hope HW will have amassed enough dirty laundry to at least strike a good defense when they begin to turn on her…

    • yes YW is the biggest danger to both HW and SJ. She is a slash and burn type who reacts on emotion and doesn’t think about the consequences. Plus she already hates HW (maybe for being married to her ex) and will probably be jealous of HW and SJ’s relationship which HW didn’t have to pay for.

  10. I think HW need to come clean – break off the marriage first, regardless if her future is with or without SJ. Cut the adultery ‘sin’ altogether … take down the hurdle one by one

  11. Watching ep 9 without subs first, I thought, when Hye Won went to his apartment that she was coming home. After watching it with subs, I realized, that I had the thought, the makers intended. Further proof to me how excellent this story is told, to get the meaning without words. Just like her I love this humble home, which became the place of retreat for them. Here she is finally able to relax. Sun Jae looked for such a place all the time and unknowingly already had it.

    Her way up the stairs is hopefully the hint for the outcome of the whole series. The way is dangerous, as already mentioned before, slippery and she wondered about the possibility of an accident. Yet she went along willingly, knowing that in the end his home would wait. But the stairs continue through his apartment and end on the roof in an open space with fresh air and the world at their feet. Anything but a happy ending after a lot of angst for those two would be a major disappointment and a contradiction to all the hints build in in those visuals.

    How is it possible to love this show more after each new episode?

    Her love letter to him, the first she ever wrote, I guess, was so beautiful. Both cried over it, as she had to redo her make-up in the taxi. The raw emotions of both, she is shaken to the core… how anyone in this world could think they are lacking chemistry is a riddle to me.

    Saying that the simple instant ramyun she ate on the roof was the best thing she ever tasted, although she has the ahjumma providing home cooked meals every day and knows several fancy restaurants, shows the liberation she feels. The rich world she thought she so desperately needed and wanted is ultimately not for her. Her senses are free elsewhere.

    What does this sweet guy do first thing after reading the letter? Change the light bulb and clean the stairs… he’s doing what he can do.

    He started typing illicit love, but deleted it again. He doesn’t want to know the details.

    Btw in my subs the ahjumma says, that she got a text message from Hye Won informing her, that she’d have breakfast with the chairman. Is it the Dramafever / Viki difference again?

    While the secretary lets Sun Jae in hubby’s office, Joon Hyung visits the dean. He mentions George Sand and Chopin but also Ivo Pogorelich (not in the subs). A famous piano player, who met his later wife, 21 years older than him, at the age of 17, when she was married and became his teacher. They were married till her death many years later. Let’s take this as another hint for a common future.

    Madam Han’s secretary picked up on Da Mi’s behavior at the beauty salon. She is clever, too, and sensed a tiny difference in her behavior. She also intensely watches Hye Won leaving the office after learning, that Sun Jae will become solely her pupil. She must be an excellent reader of body language. What a minefield all those people are walking on every single day.

    Is Hye Won aware of the fact how close Mde. Han and the dean are? He is her lapdog and does everything she says. I’ve not seen enough interaction between HW and him to be sure about her awareness of this situation. Clever as she is, she should be.

    Sun Jae asking to switch the camera off brought back the quick delivery guy not giving a discount. He firmly stood his place. I’m not worried about this guy. He’ll make himself a good place in this world. He’s young, but he knows exactly what he wants and he goes for it.

    His reaction when Hye Won said, she couldn’t buy him nice things. He was genuinely surprised. This thought never before crossed his mind. He is only interested in her, not her money or status. He is so different from all the other people around her.

    What kind of pills is the snooping rat taking? She talks to the doc and wonders aloud, that men are going through this, too. So we are to take the menopause hint for real? Men can have it, too.

    The kiss, him waiting for her to look at him, only then rushing towards her, and his urgency to bed her… they just couldn’t make it up the stairs to his bed. *le sigh*

    The preview of ep 10 shows some scenes we already know from the teasers. Those worrying about the pressure of a live shoot because of missing previews should be calmed by this. It feels like the timing is still OK. And the script thought through. *happy dance*

    • How did you catch the reference to Ivo Pogorelich? (I’m assuming you don’t know Korean and you mentioned that it wasn’t in the subs). Like you said, this could be a hint that they have a future together which I’m hoping for.

      • The longer I watch Kdrama the more I try to pick up of the language. After some time you get a feeling about the melody of the language, the structure of a sentence and how they pronounce foreign names or words. If you know the name Pogorelich you’ll hear it, too. Someone on Soompi (?) made the same observation.
        (Just like you’ll hear the word ‘Arbeit’ Koreans adopted for a part time job from German.)

        And of course I watch every episode more than once. 😀

    • Love reading your impressions.

      As far as the pills, I thought it could be simply sleeping pills. Dosage would change based on hormone levels.

      Or anti-depressants.

      • Alcohol and sleeping pills? Never a good combination.

        I’m more than curious, what her promised visit to the doctor will result in… *SPOILER* Especially after the chairman’s remark in ep 10 about her being happy having no kids. There are just too many allusion to a pregnancy and Koreans appear to have a lax attitude towards contraception.

    • The pills are sleeping pills. She and the doc talk about premenopause syndrome that man actually suffers too. One of male menopause symptoms is imsomnia.

    • Ivo Pogorelić – yes I’m hoping that is the writer hinting at a happy ending where HW leaves her husband and SJ becomes an internationally famous pianist

      SJ turning the camera off – I hope they don’t get too comfortable in that room with the idea that the camera is off, this is evidence against them and adultery is illegal

  12. Just a few things to clarify: when HW was climbing up the stairs, she does not want to fall and break her legs because then she might have to make up lies to tell other people, so she walks up the stairs very carefully. Also, the live in maid said she didn’t see HW leave except the text that said HW left early not to disturb her, which makes JH’s suspicion grow.

    And thank you Koala for another insightful recap. I’m sad to see more viewers are being turned off by the show as it gets darker. Thanks for hanging in there with us!

    • Don’t worry~ people come and go. But as I observed in Soompi (I’m a silent lurker there), the SLA thread is growing so fast with new members who just tuned in the drama. I really enjoy their opinions and insights. I presume as the story progresses, more people watching than leaving it 🙂

  13. I have a question , if a husband committed adultery does the same law apply to him as the woman in korean be it south or north. And if so why did all the drama that show men who committed adultery not charge with it . Please can some one enlighten me on it .

    • It is a crime either way, but women still have less power, so maybe her lawyer and the judges won’t take her as seriously.

      Laws may be black and white, but the people who enforce them or prosecute based on them are all different shades of grey.

    • EXACTLY!! You’ve said what’s been bothering me for the longest, especially since the “decriminalization” of adultery in SK. Because if men practiced adultery “de facto” with little or no consequences, moreso if they have money, then who actually benefits from the “decriminalization” of adultery in SK?

  14. I’ve been refreshing your site so many times eversince this episode aired as I was curious as how every body else feel about the drama. Thank you Ms Koala for the recap, and on what you said “this drama is really beautiful to watch but also hurts me so much to think about, pushing my own views against wanting two lovely people to be happy but knowing they will have to pay a steep steep price for it” that’s like taking the words right out of my mouth. I feel the same way.
    Glad I decide to watch this drama, great delivery so far. Now, waiting patiently for the recap for episode 10, another great episode.

  15. Thanks for the recap miss koala, i pretty much felt the same way when watching but could not cleverly put it in words. That’s why it is such a pleasure to read your recaps and others’ comments too. And i love that HW is as you say neither black or white but beautiful shades of grey. The depth and complexity of this affair made me as viewer (who is against adultery) reconsider my stance. I believe it’s because I could empathize w HW. Don’t you agree that as a white collared professional, at times we catch ourselves being a little jaded. I can’t help but cheer them on! I agree w melleit, that i can’t watch any other dramas now. It seemed so petty next to this secret love affair. P/s – this is my first time commenting. Compelled to now that it is a full on affair!!

    • Glad you commented! I think it is OK to cheer them on because we like them as people, but we still want them to come clean before anyone gets hurt by them, even the Rat has feelings.

      • I think the “Rat” has feelings, I just don’t think they are for Hye Won. I think his jealousy is truly for the status that Sun Jae might bring to Hye Won instead of him. The actor playing Hyung Joon is such a good actor, I can almost see the wheels in his head turning. Such a quandary he’s in!! Masterful writing!!

  16. Thanks so much for the recap, between here and the forums, this drama has invoked so many feelings among viewers and the discussions are thoughtful and deep for once. So grateful that there’s a group of people who can see beyond the topic matter and explore all the facets and layers of this story.


  17. it’s so entertaining on my part to not only watch the SLA itself but also read the intelligent thoughts of the comments here. thanks Ms Koala for your link’s recap and to the brilliant minded owners of these comments ahead mine 🙂

  18. This drama is breathtakingly beautiful, the directing and the camera angles are so mesmerizing. SJ and HW’s acting are so natural we feel like they’re talking casually, not only memorizing and spitting out what’s written on script. I think the story is not about adultery, because it’s so narrow. It’s about how HW empowers herself and breaks free from the chains. SJ is her tool, and to SJ she’s his muse. They need each other. I want to see HW to take a major step for her own future for the first time in her life.

  19. I am thinking if I should watch epi 9 onwards knowing that for all the dramas to climaxed is for the people around them to find our about this wonderful but painful love between HW and SJ. SJ face of happiness is still stuck in my heart. Am very much afraid of might happen to them after epi 8. so, here i am thanking koala for doing such a great for now i will enjoy watching epi 9.

  20. SJ brings a book that he shows to HW in the practice room. He says the book is titled “Aimez-vous Brahms”. It has been filmed with title “Goodbye Again”, and the story is about a woman leaving her husband to live together with her young lover. So I think SJ is trying to suggest HW to leave her marriage and be with him. But HW just dismisses it. She doesn’t seem she’s ready to leave her lavish world or think about their future yet. Because perhaps she doesn’t think they have a future.

  21. Well, this is my opinion but I find fascinating the love story but I dont care the seconary roles they are void and cold except the girlfriend and the stupid husband…
    Sometimes is so slow that I wanted cry of BOREDOM its a lot of touch of Blade and Petal.
    If you compare with Credential,s wife the result is obvious pretty filmed great performance of Yoo ah in but the ambience surround them lack of depth to be believable.

  22. I have had a strong stance against adultery and SLA completely challenged it. As much as I find adultery wrong (more the mistrust and lies than the act itself), I saw myself rooting for them to make it. I feared that something bad was going to happened to either one of them and I truly wanted them to come out of it unscathed

  23. Thanks all, for the recaps and comments. Very insightful.

    HW’s long text to SJ brought tears to my eyes also. And the visuals in this drama are soooo telling. Like in HITTG (which finally brought me to SLA) the shots are taken behind or through other objects so that the viewer sometimes cannot see things clearly or in its entirety. Just as we cannot judge others’ circumstances because we don’t know all the facts; we only know what we see or are allowed to see.

    I’m particularly struck by the contrast between her posh, modern, living/work surroundings and the dark, dirty, garbage-strewn, feral- cats-screaming, rat-infested Tower where she at last finds freedom.

    And how that idyll’s destroyed instantly by VISITING FRIENDS! Yeah, I’m ready for a dose of reality.

  24. Hye Won’s love letter to Seon Jae is the first time she shares her inner thoughts with him. In a text from a private number that she does not tell him to delete. And she tells him she loves him – in a roundabout way – but for someone who keeps her thoughts well hidden this is a big deal. She has to keep her secrets close so no one will try to use or hurt her, so for her to trust someone is huge. His emotional reading of it, he knows this too, and hurts for her.

    I loved Seon Jae’s effort to hide his smile when he next sees her in the practice room! They are so much more comfortable and open with each other here, having released the sexual tension they’ve both been carrying and now openly admitting to their feelings for each other. His request for no cameras made me really anxious and I was surprised at how Hye Won allowed it, her self preservation radar is turned off when it comes to SJ. Their conversation on the sofa was so natural. Excellent acting! Though sad too for his realization of the limitations on their relationship. 

    Their happy smiles on the motorbike. And one of my favorite scenes in the whole drama was the few short moments in his home where he rushes toward her and they kiss and then he leads her to the other bed off camera. It looked like a choreographed dance. Yoo Ah In – anyone who has read my previous posts already knows I am smitten by this man – how he kisses with his whole body makes me squee and sigh. Another commenter somewhere called them his attack kisses which is funny but true in how he goes in with such passion with his entire body. Then their cuddled conversation on the rooftop when she tells him she believes he will become a habit for her. 

    A couple of parallels in this episode. Hye Won peeking out at Seon Jae’s place from behind the tarp similar to Seon Jae peeking at her in “her” place in the first episode. And secondly the fact that Hye Won is not the first person whom angel Seon Jae has rescued. Da Mi left her gang life because he would not give up on her and walk away when she told him to. SJ has an innate understanding of people and stays determinedly near those he knows to be good people who need saving. Despite all of the unkind (to put it mildly) words and actions HW has thrown his way, he stands by her and eventually wins her. 

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