What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim: Episode 2
It’s so much fun watching Young-joon flail around, trying everything he can think of to convince Mi-so not to quit her job. He’s so completely oblivious to what makes other people tick that I almost hope he doesn’t figure it out any time soon, because watching him wander around confused that Mi-so isn’t groveling at his feet in gratitude is just so entertaining. Of course, Mi-so isn’t so amused, because all she wants is a normal life with a normal husband — a spoiled, entitled chaebol doesn’t enter into her future plans for her life.
EPISODE 2 RECAP
Young-joon reports to his friend Yoo-shik that he proposed to Mi-so. He says she got very quiet, put her face near his neck and sniffed him, then asked if he’d been drinking, HA. Yoo-shik busts up laughing, but his guffaws turn to whimpers at the look on Young-joon’s face.
Young-joon naturally assumes that Mi-so was just too dumbfounded to accept, and that she wants a fancier proposal. Yoo-shik puts forth the idea that Mi-so simply doesn’t want to marry Young-joon, and this time Young-joon laughs at the absurd suggestion, because who wouldn’t want to marry him?
Mi-so sits at home wondering about Young-joon’s proposal, and she actually seems to consider it for an instant before coming to her senses. Her doorbell rings again, and this time it’s Ji-ran, the woman that Young-joon’s been sort-of dating.
She slams into Mi-so’s apartment demanding to know why Young-joon would visit her so late at night. Mi-so says it’s not what she thinks, and Ji-ran whines, wondering why he hasn’t slept with her yet. Mi-so guesses correctly that Ji-ran assumes he’s sleeping with someone else, and she tells Ji-ran that he’s not sleeping with anyone.
Ji-ran snaps at Mi-so, asking how she knows. With perfect politeness, Mi-so informs the brat that she’s her unni by six years, demanding a little respect. She asks Ji-ran if she’s ever been alone with Young-joon and if he’s ever touched her, and when Ji-ran’s stammers indicate that both answers are no, Mi-so tells her exactly how this works.
She says that Young-joon goes to social parties on Tuesdays and Thursdays after work, to maintain his professional contacts. She informs Ji-ran that she’s Young-joon’s Tuesday girl, and that his former Thursday girl cornered Mi-so with the exact same complaints, which got her the ax. She says that in nine years, Young-joon has never slept with a woman, or even dated one.
She clarifies that he’s not dating Mi-so either, nor is he gay. He’s just incapable of dating anyone because he’s so perfect that no woman can please him. She calls Young-joon the “narcissist of the century, the living embodiment of self-love.”
She thinks back to the night she first met him, when he’d asked if she knew who he was, posing and grinning like he expected her to fall all over herself. His whole demeanor had screamed “chairman’s son,” but Ji-ran moans that that’s his charm. Mi-so argues that she should meet a man who loves her and cares for her.
Young-joon just can’t wrap his head around Yoo-shik’s conviction that Mi-so rejected him. Yoo-shik says that Young-joon can find another secretary as good as Mi-so, but Young-joon rejects that idea, insisting that he needs Mi-so herself.
Yoo-shik asks if Young-joon likes Mi-so romantically, as a man likes a woman, and Young-joon considers. He jumps up and declares that she’s someone he needs, comparing her to a tailor-made suit, and escapes before Yoo-shik can ask him any more questions.
On her way out, Ji-ran asks Mi-so if she’s ever found a man like she describes, one who’s considerate and caring. The question sobers Mi-so, and she goes inside to read the notebook she wrote as a child, dedicated to her older brother.
Driving home, Young-joon thinks about Mi-so’s rejection of his proposal. She’d said she wants to marry a normal man and have a normal family, and he’d called her selfish after nine years of working together. He had nearly gotten emotional asking what he’s supposed to do without her, but he’d backed down and simply said it would be very inconvenient.
In the morning, Mi-so runs into Ji-ah, her replacement, who’s nervous about her first day on the job. She takes Ji-ah upstairs and introduces her around, and the others joke that Ji-ah is also a “Secretary Kim.” The men fawn over the pretty young woman, while Se-ra, who considers herself the office beauty, makes annoyed faces and complains about having to train a new person.
Young-joon stands in his office, glaring at the two Secretary Kims as Mi-so begins Ji-ah’s training. He slumps at his desk, wondering if Mi-so is really rejecting him, and he blames Mi-so for his pain when he burns his tongue on his hot tea.
Mi-so shows Ji-ah the mountain of information she’s expected to learn, like Young-joon’s schedule, records of business trips, and the likes and dislikes of the executives who visit his office. She particularly mentions that he strictly forbids the use of cable ties.
Flipping through documents, Ji-ah finds a photo of Young-joon and Mi-so on their first U.S. business trip nine years ago when Mi-so first started the job as his secretary. She says that she made a lot of mistakes, so she worked hard not to be a bother to Young-joon. She sends Ji-ah on an errand and takes a moment to look at the old photo.
She recalls that Young-joon had yelled at her that day, berating her for ruining an important dinner by violating the dress code. He’d reminded her that she’d promised to work hard at the job despite her lack of education and credentials when he hired her.
She’d yelled back that she barely sleeps, she’s studying English, and she misses her family while she’s in America. Bursting into tears, she’d sobbed that she’s trying her best even though he constantly scolds her. Young-joon had looked chastened, then surprised when she’d asked if he’d never made a mistake. He’d bellowed that he’s perfect, and that if she doesn’t like being scolded, to do her job perfectly.
She had called him a narcissist, and he’d fired back that she has to put up with it, but Mi-so had said she’d quit when they got back to Korea. She’d stormed off to her hotel room, and immediately regretted her threat. She’d cried even harder thinking about her family’s debt and her sisters’ tuition.
But she’d gotten a text from Young-joon that said: “You have guts, to talk back to me. Come to work by 5 a.m. tomorrow.” Mi-so cried even harder, so thankful that she’d even bowed to her phone, awww. She stayed up all night practicing tying a tie, determined to do at least this one thing right.
Mi-so is startled out of her memory by Young-joon, who stands over her desk, scowling. After an extremely awkward exchange about nothing, Mi-so asks if she can leave work early today since Young-joon’s dinner meeting was canceled.
Desperate to keep her from leaving, Young-joon suggests several projects she should be working on, but she’s already handled them all. He falls back on criticizing her for talking back, and when she says she’s just answering his questions, he pouts, “I don’t like it.” Hee, so childish.
He forces Yoo-shik to eat lunch with him, calling it his work duty, and Yoo-shik shoots eye-lasers at him. Young-joon asks what Yoo-shik thinks about Mi-so, who seems serious about quitting, and what he should do about it. Yoo-shik cheekily offers to take care of it if Young-joon begs, but Young-joon’s grip on his steak knife makes him think twice about his joke.
He notes that the look in Young-joon’s eye is the same as he had during a big merger five years ago, so he advises Young-joon to approach Mi-so like he would a merger.
He says that Young-joon should put forth effort and make her happy in order to convince her, but yesterday he just came straight at her without buttering her up first. He says that Young-joon has to follow the proper procedure, step by step, which means he has to date Mi-so first. Young-joon looks unhappy about that, but determined.
Downstairs, Se-ra acts like Ji-ah’s struggle to use the fancy coffeemaker is an unforgivable offense. She impatiently shows Ji-ah how it works, then basks in Ji-ah’s blatant adoration. But when Mi-so calls Ji-ah back upstairs and leaves Se-ra to make the coffee, she’s right back to hating her.
Mi-so announces a department dinner tonight to welcome Ji-ah, since Young-joon’s meeting was canceled. Everyone gets excited thinking about their favorite restaurant, but their boisterous celebration is cut short by Young-joon’s sour face in the hall.
At dinner that evening, the whole coffeemaker scenario between Se-ra and Ji-ah plays out again, only this time over what Se-ra sees as Ji-ah’s incompetence at cutting the meat. Se-ra gets so into her preening that she doesn’t notice when Ji-ah gets a call, leaving Se-ra to serve everyone alone. She lurks in the hallway to confront Ji-ah, accusing Ji-ah of manipulating her into doing all the work and warning that she’s watching her.
Back at the table, one of the guys stands to flag down a server, knocking his drink into Se-ra’s lap. When Mi-so rips her stocking while cleaning up, everyone wonders if the accident is a sign of something ominous. Sure enough, in walks Young-joon, with an entrance worthy of a movie villain.
The entire team bolts to their feet when they see him, looking terrified. He says he heard there was a team dinner and didn’t want to miss it, so they scurry to find him a place to sit, then they all just stare at each other awkwardly.
Young-joon offers to pour each team member a drink for their hard work, but when he asks for some fifty-five year old whiskey and the ajumma barks that all they have is soju, he blinks like he’s never heard of such a thing. He covers his embarrassment by talking shop, but Mi-so saves everyone by requesting that they not talk about work.
Ji-ah suggests a drinking game, and after some confusion they agree to play the compliment game. Ji-ah compliments Mi-so on her teaching style, and Young-joon sneers, “Ah, Secretary Kim is handing her work over to you in a friendly way” like it’s an accusation, then slams a drink.
Another team member compliments Young-joon for his ability to speak five languages, setting off an avalanche of compliments about Young-joon’s looks and fortune. Only Mi-so doesn’t compliment him, so he cuts off the applause to ask what she’d like to praise. She compliments herself for hanging in there so long and being ready to put down the burden now, hee.
Mi-so tells Young-joon that he looks tired and suggests he go home and rest. She’s trying to get rid of him so they can resume their fun, but Ji-ah chirps that they should go to a noraebang and Young-joon invites himself along. But when the place they end up turns out to be pretty seedy, he looks a little ill.
The team sits in a room silently, everyone feeling too tense to start the singing. Young-joon says that he doesn’t want to order anyone around at their get-together, but this doesn’t seem right. He moves the party to a swanky place in Cheongdam-dong, and he looks a lot happier to be watching his team singing karaoke in clean surroundings.
He gets satisfaction out of watching Mi-so having a ball, and he asks if she’s enjoying herself because he’s there. She says yes just to placate his ego, but it encourages him to gallantly hand her a bite of fruit. She eats it, finding his attention strange, and it gets weirder when she chokes and he hands her a drink.
But it’s not water — it’s the fifty-five year old whiskey he mentioned earlier, making Mi-so cough. Ji-ah gets up to perform the next song, and Mi-so tries to get Se-ra to slow down on the drinking before she does something she regrets.
Se-ra slurs that she’s never made a drunken mistake, but the very next minute, she grows jealous of the attention Ji-ah is getting and shoves her aside to take over the microphone. She makes a complete fool of herself by yelling that she wants to be Young-joon’s next secretary.
One of the guys yanks on Se-ra’s arm to stop her, but she pulls away hard, ricochets across the room, and lands right in Young-joon’s lap. The entire team freezes in horror until Young-joon gasps to get her off him.
When the fiasco is finally over, Young-joon gets a driver to take himself and Mi-so home. When he drops her off, he asks, “Wasn’t I very sweet today?” He points out that he came to the team dinner and drove her home even though it was a hassle (she frowns at that, ha) and promises that she can have romantic days like this every day from now on.
Mi-so is confused, so Young-joon says proudly, “I’m telling you that I’m going to date you.” Mi-so says kindly that he’s not her type, and he does this weird, hilarious nervous-sniffling thing. She continues that she prefers men who are caring, considerate, and sweet to others.
Young-joon sniffles again, asking how she can say that after everything he did today. Mi-so says that he wasn’t truly being considerate of her because she didn’t ask him to do any of that, and she wishes him luck in finding a wonderful lady soon.
She goes inside, but Young-joon calls her almost immediately, and a peek out the window shows that he’s still standing outside. He sends a text when she doesn’t answer his call, calling her crazy for saying he’s not her type. He spam-texts her, listing his amazing qualities, while at the same time her sister Pil-nam texts to ask Mi-so to send her a heart emoji for a game she plays.
Mi-so gets honest with Young-joon, texting back that he only thinks of himself. Young-joon responds, asking if she’s venting about how much he’s stressed her out for the past nine years, and she replies that working for him is stressful. She calls him egotistical, selfish, and a perfectionist, and even speculates that he may have OCD.
She complains that he constantly calls her so that she has no time for a personal life, and that after nine years, she’s exhausted. Young-joon says that she never objected to the things he asked of her, and that if she’d said no, he wouldn’t have made her do everything. That gives Mi-so pause, so she suggests they forget everything that’s been said and done.
She repeats that she wants a normal relationship with a normal guy, and that even though Young-joon says he wants to marry her, he’s not cut out for romance because he’s only capable of loving himself. A little dejected, he asks if she really thinks that, and she replies that she does, repeating that he’s inconsiderate.
Pil-nam texts Mi-so again for a heart emoji, so Mi-so quickly jumps over to that text thread to send several. She looks out the window again and sees that Young-joon is gone. She gets one last message from him, saying, “There are two people who should never call me inconsiderate. One is my hyung, and the other is you, Kim Mi-so. Remember that.” Hmmm, I wonder what he means by that.
Mi-so starts to respond, which is when she realizes with horror that she accidentally sent seven heart emojis to Young-joon instead of her sister. She wonders dazedly if she should explain that it was a mistake, but decides to ignore it.
That night, Young-joon has a horrific nightmare. In it, a woman in bright red heels walks down a dark street pulling a suitcase, and Young-joon sees flashes of an old, deserted house. The woman in the red shoes walks into the house and calls out to him in an eerie voice, and Young-joon wakes with a start.
He gets a text from someone named Lee Sung-yeon, that says, “You must be sleeping now… even though I’m suffering like this.”
In the morning, Young-joon takes another broody shower (bless him), still shaken by his nightmare and the midnight text. He ties his own tie, which reminds him of the first time Mi-so tied it for him, back on that trip to the U.S. nine years ago. Her offer had taken him by surprise, and he’d seemed to feel every bit of the closeness such an intimate act can create. In the present, he tosses away his tie and goes without, again.
Mi-so obsesses about Young-joon’s last text, wondering what it means that she’s one of two people who can’t call him inconsiderate. She asks Manager Jung if he’s ever met Young-joon’s brother, and he says o, but that he’s heard he lives overseas. He does think it’s strange that he’s not involved in the business despite being the eldest.
Wen Young-joon arrives at work, he goes straight to his office, purposely ignoring Mi-so. She notices his lack of a tie and brings him one, but he tells her to stop doing things like this anymore. He continues, “You were right. I am selfish and egotistical. That’s why I can understand why you want to quit.”
Feeling bad, Mi-so says that’s not what she meant last night. But Young-joon says that he’s realizing that he can’t have everything he wants, so he’ll let her go if she stays one more month to train her replacement. He dismisses Mi-so and turns his back, so she leaves, looking confused and unhappy.
Young-joon begins to put effort into helping train Ji-ah to do Mi-so’s job, leaving Mi-so to feel left out. When Ji-ah isn’t prepared, Young-joon squarely blames Mi-so for her lack of training. He warns her firmly not to disappoint him, and she’s bewildered at his sudden cold treatment.
When she gets a chance, Mi-so tries to clarify what she meant during their text conversation last night, but Young-joon refuses to discuss personal matters at work. He asks to speak to Ji-ah, and Mi-so narrows her eyes to see him smiling and relaxed while talking to the new secretary. She huffs indignantly when he spots her and closes the blinds, wondering how she’s going to put up with this for another month.
Ji-ah asks Young-joon if she should start helping him with personal matters like tying his tie, but he says that’s not necessary. He tells her that her job is to pretend she’s training for Mi-so’s job for the next month — oooo, I knew he wouldn’t give up that easily. Sneaky boy is sneaky.
Mi-so goes to dinner with her friends, and her last single friend passes out invitations to her upcoming wedding. They ask when Mi-so will get married, and one friend asks if she’s interested in a blind date with one of her fiance’s friends, who saw her photo and expressed interest.
All Mi-so can think about is Young-joon, staring out the window with his back to her after agreeing to let her go. She shakes herself back to reality just as her friend says that her potential blind date is a journalist, and Mi-so asks if he could find out about a past incident.
The waitress comes by with a customer survey, and when Mi-so starts to fill it out, all of the questions ask about things she’d like if she had a boyfriend. She thinks that the writing style seems familiar, and PWAHAHA, it turns out that Young-joon wrote the questions and paid the restaurant to have her table answer them.
Yoo-shik locates Mi-so’s questionnaire, and Young-joon snatches it away. Yoo-shik asks if he plans to use her answers to give her what she wants, and Young-joon’s ”Who, me??” is just a bit too forced.
After dinner, Mi-so arrives home, still preoccupied with the way Young-joon dismissed her all day. She cleans her messy apartment with a vengeance, determined to make a fresh start. When she’s finished, she picks up her childhood journal and vows that now that she has more time, she’ll look for her brother.
She gets a call from Yoo-shik, who asks her to meet him the following evening. When she arrives at the park where he told her he’d be, the place is dark and empty. Suddenly the entire park lights up, and the fountain erupts dramatically, making the whole place look like a fairyland.
As Mi-so gapes at the colorful display, Young-joon approaches and asks if she’s been waiting long.
Well well well, so the boy does know how to be swoony when it counts. Of course, he had to be dragged to it kicking and screaming, and told exactly what to do, but at least he’s trying. I can’t get over how clueless Young-joon is, thinking that one evening of making an obviously painful effort to be nice was enough to change Mi-so’s nine-year opinion of him as selfish and egotistical. It’s just another symptom of his extreme inability to connect with others, that he can’t figure out for himself that if you want a woman to marry you, you have to be the kind of guy she wants to marry.
What’s interesting about Young-joon, and what makes him different from typical arrogant drama chaebols, is that there’s no malice in his attitude, and he’s not purposely mean. He’s not trying to push people away, nor does he seem to find others inferior beings… how could he when he barely thinks of others at all? He just thinks of himself as an uncommonly superior person. So he doesn’t have to change his personality as much as, say, Chi-soo from Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, who believed he was god’s gift to everyone and had to make a conscious, and very painful, personality overhaul in order to win the lady. Young-joon reminds me a lot more of Joo-won from Secret Garden, who was stuck up simply because of his upbringing (and who just assumed that Ra-im had fallen for him because why wouldn’t she), but who wasn’t ever a nasty person to be around.
But regardless of his reasons, it’s great to see Young-joon making an effort to please Mi-so after so many years of it being her job to please him. Even if he’s doing it for selfish purposes (for now), he does seem to get enjoyment out of doing things that make Mi-so happy. What’s important right now is that he’s putting in the effort to do something for her, because the right motivation will come in time. I do believe that Young-joon has romantic feelings for Mi-so, but they’re all mixed up in his dependence on her as his assistant, so I think that he’s going to be completely gobsmacked when he finally realizes that he’s fallen for her. He may be “perfect” in every other way, but when it comes to love, the boy has a lot to learn.
I’m also happy that Mi-so finally took the gloves off and told Young-joon exactly how difficult he is to work for and why, even if she only had the courage to do it in text form. She’s spent years bottling up her true feelings to the point that she even does it in her personal life, and it’s good that she’s recognizing that it’s not a healthy way to be. I do think that Young-joon had a point, that Mi-so had a hand in what her life has become by catering to his every whim and never saying no — that doesn’t mean he wasn’t selfish for expecting so much of her, but if Mi-so never said no or complained, how was he to know she wasn’t happy to do those things? As much as I’m cheering on Young-joon to learn how to act like a caring, considerate man and win Mi-so over, first I want her to get free for a while, let her hair down, and experience life outside of work. I’m sure that will involve the search for her brother, who seems to either have disappeared, or is hiding from his family.
It’s clear that Young-joon has some secrets as well, likely traumatic ones that contribute to the way he is now. That nightmare he had was pretty disturbing, and I wonder if the woman in red heels has something to do with his general avoidance of women. And where is his hyung and why isn’t he taking over the company, as the eldest? I’m assuming that the mysterious texter, Sung-yeon, is Young-joon’s missing brother, and by his text it seems likely that whatever is keeping him from the company and his family isn’t pleasant. And last, why did Young-joon text to Mi-so that she and Hyung are the two people who can never accuse him of being inconsiderate? Certainly there’s some sort of history there that Mi-so doesn’t recall. While I don’t care for mysterious past connections between leading characters that are manufactured simply to signal that this couple is Meant To Be, I do like a shared past that relates to and influences the present relationship. Here’s hoping that in this story, we’re dealing with the latter, in which case I’m very eager to find out exactly what’s haunting Young-joon so badly.