What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim: Episode 12
Young-joon decides that Mi-so still needs his protection, and he’s not afraid to do whatever it takes to make that happen. Unluckily for him (and luckily for us!) it backfires on him, putting him in a situation that gives him all sorts of ideas. But there are some serious issues to tackle as well, as the past can’t wait anymore and demands to be heard.
EPISODE 12 RECAP
Young-joon shows up on Mi-so’s doorstep, having decided that if she doesn’t want to stay at his house so he can protect her from bad dreams, then he’ll just move in with her for a few days. She stammers that her apartment is too tiny and only has one bed, but he reminds her that she turned down offered to let her stay at his place, which has plenty of rooms. He’s got her there, hee.
He pushes his way in and gets busy putting his stuff away. He notes that she has plenty of space for his things because she doesn’t have much, and she tells him haughtily that she used her money to pay off her family debts, not go shopping. At one point he knocks something off her vanity, and they both reach for it at the same time, causing an uncomfortable moment.
Young-joon stands very close to Mi-so and tells her that the reason he’s here tonight… is just to be by her side so she can sleep comfortably. She visibly relaxes, and he gives her a gift of fancy foot bath salts. They head to the bathroom to soak their feet and relax, but Mi-so doesn’t have a bathtub, so it’s not nearly as romantic as Young-joon pictured, lol.
When they finish, they pad back out the the living room and decide it’s bedtime. Mi-so jumps under the covers, and she’s startled when Young-joon climbs in beside her. Young-joon graces her with the privilege of his arm as a pillow, but she can’t relax, so she cranks the head of the bed up and turns on the TV, to Young-joon’s surprise.
When they end up on the sexy kissing scene from Oh Hae-young Again, Mi-so quickly switches to the soccer game. Young-joon asks if she’s uncomfortable to be in the same bed, and she admits she doesn’t think she can sleep like this. He suggests a glass of wine to relax them, so they head up to the roof together.
Young-joon thought ahead enough to bring a bottle of wine, but he didn’t bring a wine key, and Mi-so doesn’t own one. She says she saw a trick once, and she borrows Young-joon’s shoe, fits the base of the wine bottle inside, and smacks the sole on the wall. The cork doesn’t pop like it’s supposed to, and Young-joon informs her dryly, “Did you know that’s a two hundred thousand won bottle of wine?” Oh, oops.
They’re summoned downstairs when a neighbor starts bellowing Young-joon’s license plate number. He’s parked in her space, and she notes his expensive car and assumes he lives here, and gives him a lecture about living within his means. She says her own son is humble and just managed to land a job at Yumyoung Group, and Young-joon informs her that it’s his company, only to get accused of being drunk, hee.
Annoyed, Mi-so decides that Young-joon was right in the first place — they’d both be happier at his house. On the way, Young-joon asks if she thinks he’s too fussy, and her resounding silence answers the question. He admits that imagining her experiencing the same horrors he did after their ordeal worries him, and she says she understands, which is why she’s going with him to his place.
Young-joon’s house also has the convenience of a guest room, which Mi-so takes advantage of, to Young-joon’s disappointment. But as soon as she tucks herself in, she grows a little scared again. She turns on the light and gets the dickens frightened out of her by a reflection of Young-joon (not gonna lie, I jumped a foot too!).
He says he’s unsettled when he can’t see her, and asks if he can sleep next to her to make sure she’s okay. He jumps in bed, assuring her that he’s not thinking of anything but his concern for her. But the fact that they’re in bed, together, has them both wondering what to say to get over the weird moment.
Consulting his genius brain for an idea, Young-joon blurts out, “Do you want me to sing a lullaby?” PWAHAHA, he looks horrified at the words coming out of his own mouth. Desperate for something, anything, to lesson the awkwardness, Mi-so agrees, and luckily for them both, Young-joon turns out to have a really sweet voice. It grows stronger as the words of the song remind him of falling for Mi-so.
It works, and Mi-so falls asleep. Young-joon spends a minute just looking at her and stroking her hair, and he gives her forehead a kiss. She snuggles into his chest sleepily, wrapping an arm around him, and the poor guy doesn’t get a wink of sleep all night. Well, you brought this onto yourself.
His nerves are shot by the time Mi-so wakes up, and he tells her he can’t “guarantee” tonight. He stumbles out of the room, followed by a little devil that chuckles evilly at the thought of another night with Mi-so. Heh, he sends the naughty-minded devil to go bother her.
Mi-so gets ready for the day, wondering why Young-joon said he can’t guarantee tonight. Suddenly the cheeky little devil pops up, and she realizes what he meant by that. She tells it to go away, because she doesn’t have such unseemly thoughts. Suuure.
She tries to make an omelet for Young-joon to thank him for taking care of her, but it falls apart. He teases her for repaying good with evil, but he insists on eating it since she made it. He doesn’t drink the coffee when he notices a crack in the cup, and Mi-so remembers his superstition that it means something bad will happen today.
He decides to be careful today, but Mi-so falls off her heel as they’re leaving for work. She says she didn’t twist her ankle, but she did scratch her heel, which is another bad superstitious sign.
They both complain about their bad luck omens while carpooling to work with Yoo-shik and Cheol. Yoo-shik says he doesn’t believe in such things, because he saw a crow, cracked his cup, and scratched his heel before work, but he got good news that their pharmaceutical department reported a new medicine development going well (Young-joon: “That’s because I’m competent…”).
Young-joon tells Yoo-shik to cancel his dinner plans, because a school hoobae of theirs named Sung-ki is having surgery for lung cancer and he wants to visit him. Yoo-shik advises everyone to take care of his health like he does, and when Young-joon says he’s too obsessive about it, he says it’s better than dying of health issues.
Then he makes himself sad at the thought of losing people he cares about, which reminds him of seeing his ex-wife yesterday. He tells them about running into Seo-jin and accusing her of having a new boyfriend when it was just her cousin, wailing that he probably lost the chance to make up with her.
She calls him out of the blue, and when he answers, Seo-jin says she’s been feeling bad about their fight. She asks if she was at their restaurant because he missed her, and he admits he was hoping to see her.
Seo-jin asks if he has time tonight for drinks, and he nearly bursts into happy tears as he accepts. He asks if they can meet late since he has to go to the hospital because Sung-ki is in critical condition.
Then he backpedals hard, realizing too late that “sung-ki” means “penis” and he just made it sound like he’s got some sort of dysfunction. But he’s too late, Seo-jin has hung up.
Yoo-shik wonders which one jinxed him, the crow, the cracked mug, or his heel, and Young-joon and Mi-so say in unison, “All of them.” Yoo-shik tells them to be good to each other so they don’t regret losing each other when it’s too late.
At the office, Mi-so brings Young-joon his schedule for the week, but he wants to talk about what Yoo-shik said about not losing each other. He says he’s been worried about her leaving him, because, “You’d regret it so much.” LOL. He says she should be good to him, and she grits her teeth and retorts that they should be good to each other.
Ji-ah is in a planner’s meeting, and she’s told to shred some confidential papers afterward. While distracted by a call from a friend, she accidentally shreds her meeting notes, and Gwi-nam finds her wailing over the shredder. He tells her to calm down, recalling that she hand-wrote the notes because the manager doesn’t like typing sounds.
He says they just need to find any shreds with handwriting on them, and helps her put her notes back together. Ji-ah admits that she often makes mistakes because she’s intimidated by Mi-so’s competence, and she thanks Gwi-nam for all his help. After he leaves, she decides that she gets why he’s so popular.
Dessert is caramel cake, and Mi-so tells Young-joon that caramel is meaningful for her ever since he gave her his last caramel, because it reminds her of his kindness. She asks him nervously why he changed his name, and how Sung-yeon came to believe that he was the one who was kidnapped. Young-joon goes silent, so she says she can wait until he’s ready to talk about it.
Se-ra and Young-ok gossip about a new office couple, and Se-ra moans that her superhero isn’t talking to her. Cheol gives her the cutest smile when she gets to the office, but Se-ra is grumpy, so she pretends that a spam text is from a guy who keeps asking her out.
Cheol looks worried, and Se-ra says loudly that if only someone would confess to her, she wouldn’t be bothered by annoying guys anymore. She snaps at Cheol for drinking his soda right then, upset that he doesn’t seem upset, and he assumes she’s just really thirsty.
When she leaves the office, he runs up with a soda, presenting it to her like it’s a lifesaving antidote. He tells her dramatically to drink it all herself, then runs away to watches from around the corner as she drinks.
With every gulp, the soda volume goes down to reveal that Cheol’s written on the bottle: “Ms. Bong. You’re cute. Do you want to date me?” Se-ra lets loose a surprised burp, then notices him watching her expectantly and simpers at him. Cutest. Confession. Ever.
Mi-so takes Young-joon shopping, saying there’s something they need, and he grins happily as she drags him around by the wrist. She buys a pair of matching coffee mugs to replace the one she cracked, and the saleswoman mistakes them for a couple. She offers to show them a dining set popular with newlyweds, and Young-joon is all, “Well take it!” Ha.
Mi-so says no, and he looks at her like she just took away his lollipop. She says it’s not necessary, but he wants to know why, raising his voice as he says they’re pretty much living together. Mi-so gives him the eye-daggers, and he decides that getting scolded by her isn’t so bad.
He thinks about her jinx of scratching her heel and comes up with some possible solutions. First, he could require all employees to wear running shoes. Second, he could buy her another car so she won’t have to walk to work. But Mi-so likes this third idea, buying her a new pair of shoes, which he promises will only bring them good luck.
When they get back to work, Ji-ah is frantic because Young-joon’s parents have shown up unexpectedly. Young-joon goes in to talk to them, and Mi-so asks Ji-ah to attend her afternoon meeting so she can stay nearby.
Young-joon’s parents are there to tell him that they know he didn’t actually lose his memories of his kidnapping. Dad sighs that Young-joon was always so mature and thoughtful, so he should have doubted him, and asks Young-joon to explain why he pretended to lose his memory.
Instead of speaking, Young-joon remembers the day before his kidnapping, when Sung-yeon took him to an area claiming that there was an amusement park there. Young-joon had been thirsty, so Sung-yeon offered to go get something to drink and told him to wait. He didn’t return for a long time, and Auntie found Young-joon all alone and asked him to help her carry her suitcase home.
Sung-yeon seems to be deep in a depressive state as he tells the family butler to move everything from his room to Young-joon’s room, as this was originally Young-joon’s room. He asks the butler, “You knew everything, didn’t you? You’ve been working for our family since I was young.”
He remembers when Young-joon disappeared, and his father had yelled at him to tell them what happened. After Young-joon escaped, Sung-yeon had seen the bandages on his ankles and cried knowing that his brother would be scarred for life.
Young-joon tells his parents that when he got home from the hospital, he found Sung-yeon in his room, wearing his clothes. Sung-yeon had insisted that it was his room and his clothes, and had already convinced himself that he was the one kidnapped because Young-joon left him alone.
He’d screamed and thrown things, and the doctors had told his parents that he’d swapped roles with Young-joon out of extreme guilt, and exhibited aggression because he thought everyone was lying to him. Young-joon says that he was confused at first, then became resentful and angry, knowing that he was the one who experienced the nightmare.
He says he was hurt and traumatized, and felt it unfair that Sung-yeon played the victim and blamed him, and the fighting between the brothers grew more vicious. Then one day, Young-joon overheard his parents discussing sending Sung-yeon to a psychiatric hospital, worried that Young-joon wouldn’t recover with Sung-yeon constantly attacking him.
Mom had cried that she wanted to die, and to Young-joon, who now knew what death looked and sounded like, the idea was unthinkable. So he faked a faint and pretended to lose his memories of the kidnapping, allowing Sung-yeon to claim the victim’s role. With Young-joon seemingly no longer aware that he was the real victim, the tension in the family had eased.
Young-joon says that it was the only thing he could do to keep everyone in his family alive. Mom blames herself and apologizes to him for what she said, making him think he had to do such a thing.
She says that, even though Sung-yeon thought he was kidnapped, he hadn’t actually experienced it, so they thought it was better to let Young-joon forget his trauma in favor of the brother who didn’t actually go through it. She feels guilty for not setting things right back then, and Dad apologizes for letting Young-joon carry the burden alone.
They’re all crying when Young-joon tells them he understands, and Mom gives him permission to admit it’s been lonely. Young-joon breaks down sobbing, and from her desk where she can see him, Mi-so also cries.
She’s put herself back together by the time Young-joon’s parents leave, and Mom stops to talk to her. She asks Mi-so to take care of “our Young-joonie” with a knowing smile, and Mi-so tells her not to worry. She goes in to Young-joon and sits with him, and he doesn’t speak but smiles at her gratefully.
Young-joon is still quiet on the drive home after work, and he doesn’t even respond to Mi-so’s joke that she could make him another omelet for dinner. He’d asked Mom about Sung-yeon, and learned that he was planning to go back to France and probably wouldn’t be back for a long time.
He impulsively drives to his parent’s house and finds Sung-yeon packing, and he asks if Sung-yeon is running away again. Sung-yeon says Young-joon must think him weak and pathetic for doing such an arrogant thing back then, and says Young-joon should have trusted him to be able to get through it.
Sung-yeon yells that because Young-joon pretended to lose his memories, he’s spent his life hating his little brother and pitying himself. Young-joon simply says he’s sorry, and that he thought everything would be fine if he lost his memories and lived with another name, because his own name, so close to Sung-yeon’s, just confused his brother more.
But he says that today he saw how their mother has lived with the guilt, and he realized that it would have been better if he’d told the truth. He says they would have gotten through it even if it was hard, because they’re family. He admits that he was arrogant and took away Sung-yeon’s chance to fix things, and apologizes again.
Sung-yeon asks how Young-joon can forgive him for torturing him for years. Young-joon admits that it’s been painful, but only because he was too traumatized. He says he was never in pain because of Sung-yeon, so there’s nothing to forgive, and he tells Sung-yeon to forgive himself and be free.
He starts to leave, and Sung-yeon calls after him tearfully, “I’m sorry. At that time, I had to be someone else. That was the only way I could live.”
Young-joon takes Mi-so home, and they share a glass of wine after dinner. He tells her that it feels good to have all the secrets out in the open, and she agrees that being honest is best. He asks if she truly thinks so, and when she nods, he asks if he can be truthful about how he’s feeling now.
He gently kisses her, pushing her onto the couch until she’s lying down. He leans back and says, “I don’t want to waste this night.” He asks Mi-so a question with his eyes, and reading her answer on her face, he slowly unties her blouse.
Now that’s now you take a bad day and make it good again. It makes me so happy that this isn’t one of those dramas that pretends grown adults don’t have adult desires, and I’ve suspended my disbelief to accept that a woman as gorgeous as Mi-so has never dated or been kissed, so I’m glad to see that she and Young-joon aren’t going to pretend that they’re not dying to take their relationship to the next level.
Of all the reasons I thought Sung-yeon might have pretended or convinced himself that he was the one who went through the kidnapping, the truth is the one thing that never occurred to me — that he imagined himself the victim because he couldn’t face the pain of knowing what he put Young-joon through. It’s actually very similar to what Young-joon did for Mi-so, though for a different reason… Young-joon pretended to forget in order to hide the truth away to protect Mi-so, while Sung-yeon subconsciously altered his own memories and rewrote himself as the victim to protect himself. I would argue that, in a different way, Sung-yeon has been as traumatized by Young-joon’s kidnapping as Young-joon was, especially since he developed equally unhealthy coping strategies.
And why does it not surprise me that Young-joon sacrificed his own mental health to protect his mother? I can’t even imagine what it must feel like to a small child who has seen death firsthand, to hear his mother say she wants to die. But he bravely decided to internalize his own trauma in order to protect those he loves, and he took the blame from Sung-yeon for most of their lives in order to bring some peace to his family. It’s actually no wonder that he then took on an extremely self-obsessed persona, so that nobody would ever suspect him of doing such an unselfish thing… it’s just like him to put himself in the line of fire and let people think badly of him so that someone else doesn’t have to suffer. I do think Young-joon is quite impressed with his own looks, brains, and competence, that’s not an act, but I do think he goes to great lengths to hide the part of himself that wants to take care of everyone he loves.
But as much as I admire Young-joon’s willingness to take on burdens for others, it’s good that he’s realized that it’s time for all that to end and to be honest. Protecting the people you care for is noble and wonderful, but not when it allows them to live in a fantasy world,and it got to the point that it was harming the very people he was trying to protect. Mi-so has spent her whole life terrified of spiders, Sung-yeon’s emotional growth has been stunted by his delusions and misplaced hatred of Young-joon, and their parents have no doubt suffered in their relationship with the burden of upholding Sung-yeon’s lie. I’m guessing they doted on Young-joon because they knew he was the true victim, but that’s only hurt Sung-yeon, and everyone’s relationship with him, even more. Young-joon’s lies served their purpose, but now they’re all adults who need to face the truth and start to heal for real.
I think I must be the only person who finds the family/kidnapping subplot to be interesting, but I do. It informs everything else in the story, from Young-joon’s behavior to Mi-so’s family life and all the way up to their reunion and romance. Finding the truth, making the connections, and healing from it is an important step in Mi-so and Young-joon’s journeys, both personal and professional, and I like how everything in their lives has come around full circle. They met each other at a time when they needed each other the most, and now that Mi-so is ready to be free to be her own person, she discovers that the one person she misses the most has been right there all along. I appreciate how well-formed the kidnapping storyline is, with not one detail left unaddressed, and how each piece came together to make a whole, both past and present. That said, we seem to have wrapped that up with four episodes left — is it too optimistic to think that we not get four whole episodes of Mi-so and Young-joon just being adorable together? And a lot more of this, please and thank you!