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My Secret Hotel: Episode 2

(Hi everyone! I’m going to be helping odilettante cover this show — let’s hope it ends as well as it started. Please look after me, and enjoy the ride!)

What a great opening week: My Secret Hotel is hitting all my soft spots — Yoo Inna, strong and sassy heroines, Yoo Inna, sympathetic non-jerkfacey heroes, Yoo Inna, warmth and comedy — and a mysterious death to make things awkward and keep things weird. By delving into the backstory, the web of secrets gets thicker and there is plenty to unpack as relationships shift towards the murkier. Main players have been assembled and trajectories established — with a murder to solve (or maybe two), things certainly won’t be quiet at The Secret Hotel.

 
EPISODE 2 RECAP

Sang-hyo shows Hae-young where to sign for cancelling the contract but noticing his distraction, she asks him what’s wrong. Instead of answering, Hae-young picks up the papers and replies, “I almost made a mistake. This wedding…will not be cancelled.”

He tears up the contract and throws it in her face with a smirk, and asks her to take good care of his wedding. Dismayed, Sang-hyo tries to convince him that he’ll want to change venues. Hae-young smoothly replies that she’s so dependable that he’s not worried about staying here.

Switching tacks, Sang-hyo digs a stiletto heel into Hae-young’s foot. Squirming, he holds firm, even when she threatens him with her fist next. Hae-young makes a quick exit, and although she gives chase, he gives her the slip.

Armed with a frilly red umbrella for disguise, Sang-hyo follows Hae-young to the parking lot. In his car, he’s reliving the satisfying memory of her shocked face. “You should’ve been this shocked the first time!” A second later the red umbrella pops up in front of his car. She gets in and immediately threatens him (again) at umbrella-point: “Drive.” When he’s too slow to comply, she stabs at him. Hae-young: “She still pokes me now like she did seven years ago!”

At the river, Sang-hyo loses patience and throws him against his car demanding to know what he’s playing at. He insists he’s being sincere — he doesn’t see any reason not to go through with it, since they’ve said their goodbyes to the past. He says, “Besides, how many people get an opportunity to remarry with their ex-wife preparing the ceremony? What a great opportunity! I can’t let this one go—” At which point, Sang-hyo throws him a satisfying right hook, which leaves them both groaning with pain.

Sang-hyo declares, “Okay. I’ll prepare it properly,” as if to say, just watch me. With that, she walks away. Not to be outdone, Hae-young drives away, abandoning her. He mutters, “She won’t be in danger at night with a punch like that.”

A disbelieving Sang-hyo watches him go. “He left by himself? Nothing has changed from seven years ago. I waited so long for him.”

Hae-young’s conscience gets the better of him and he U-turns back for her. Sitting alone by the river, she declines his calls. He searches for her, but she’s already hailed a taxi headed back to the hotel. Hae-young gives up, deciding, “There’s no way she’d wait for me. She didn’t wait for me seven years ago, either.”

About to leave for the night, Sang-hyo spots somebody going into Sung-gyum’s office and thinks he must be here late. The shady figure turns out to be Assistant Manager Hwang, searching for something. He seems to find what he’s looking for — a photo frame hidden in a drawer.

The next day, Sung-gyum immediately notices something off when he enters his office. Simon confirms that nobody came in and the computer also shows no sign of tampering, but Sung-gyum remains suspicious. At the same time, one of the security guards takes something to Security Team Leader CHA DONG-MIN.

Sung-gyum heads down to the security office and meets with the same security guard, who starts a CCTV video. Meanwhile, General Manager Lee watches footage that clearly shows Assistant Manager Hwang entering Sung-gyum’s office last night. He is assured that there is nothing to worry about, and all Sung-gyum sees is footage of the empty office followed by static. The guard explains that the old equipment malfunctioned.

Sung-gyum confronts General Manager Lee about the trespassing. Sung-gyum (rightly) holds him in some suspicion, and says pointedly that if someone wanted to know something about him, he’d rather be asked than have his room searched. Lee cryptically tells him, “Even if I knew, don’t you think there are things I can’t tell you?”

In his office, Hae-young nurses his bruised jaw and…listens to self-hypnosis? Haha. His meditation is punctuated by messages from Soo-ah, urging him to go somewhere with her. His buddy Shi-chan interrupts him next. He drops a plan for a library on his desk and urges him to compete well with rival design company Shim Architects, who also outbid them for a project last year by offering a better deal.

They have a hilariously two-track conversation, where Shi-chan urges Hae-young to face the competition head-on, because he’ll look weak otherwise. Hae-young, who’s fixated on Sang-hyo, hears this as encouragement to stand his ground against her.

Now whipped up, a revenge-bent Hae-young runs out.

…into the meeting between Soo-ah and the wedding planners at the Secret Hotel. Hae-young plays up his affection for “my baby” Soo-ah, with sidelong glances at Sang-hyo to clock her reaction (= nil). Soo-ah is joyful at the sudden attention but notices his horrible bruise. He attributes it to a crazy woman, saying, “If all women were as pretty like our Soo-ah, no men would be getting divorced in this world.”

Sang-hyo breaks up the awkward three-way by taking them to see the wedding hall. Soo-ah loves it but Hae-young churlishly picks faults with it. Somehow this becomes a V-line competition and Sang-hyo quickly sucks in her cheeks when he turns on her. When Assistant Manager Kyung-hee brings talk back to the arrangements, Sang-hyo jumps in, “You speak as though you’ve been married before.”

He shoots back that she seems the same. Kyung-hee (un)helpfully interjects that Manager Nam is single, and he comments on a single woman being in charge of weddings: “Pretending we know things we don’t.” He holds out a conciliatory hand which she blows off, and having won the last point, struts away to take a call.

Kyung-hee takes the couple to the honeymoon suite, while we briefly cut to Sang-hyo steaming in her office.

While Soo-ah revels in the plush surroundings, Hae-young tries to discreetly inquire about Sang-hyo’s whereabouts. He’s taken by surprise when Soo-ah jumps him and makes kissy faces while he wards her off using Kyung-hee as an excuse — she (un)helpfully invites them to carry on because she ain’t lookin’. Hae-young is able to extricate himself when his phone rings, and he tips her unceremoniously to the floor and escapes.

It’s Sang-hyo on the phone and she accuses him of hiding his past marriage from Soo-ah. Provoked, he turns it back on her, telling her not to make assumptions. He wonders if it would be bad for people to find out the wedding planner divorced after three months.

She yells at him, but he’s won this round and hangs up on her. As she mutters curses against him, the camera pans to Assistant Manager Hwang, who overheard the whole thing.

In the car, Soo-ah wonders how Sang-hyo guessed that he had been married. Ah, so he did tell her. She doesn’t mind, but she is curious — what was his ex-wife like — was she pretty? He answers simply, “She was pretty.” Needless to say, Soo-ah doesn’t like that answer much.

Sang-hyo is still in her office, scribbling and cursing. Her co-workers look on sympathetically. It’s late so she tells them to go home, but they’re concerned about her and want to take her out for dinner instead. Team member Young-mi is resistant, but Gi-chul just uninvites her as a party pooper, anyway.

Sang-hyo apologizes and says she wants to be alone today… and ends up in the noraebang anyway, caterwauling off-key and with abandon. Even Assistant Manager Hwang made it along (for the free drinks).

Young-mi seems to have a problem with the attention Sang-hyo gets and stalks outside, griping to herself as she tries to light up. Suddenly, a voice calls out for Hwang Dong-bae and, peering around the corner, Young-mi sees General Manager Lee come up behind Hwang. She overhears the cryptic conversation between the two men:

Lee: “I won’t stand back and watch anymore.”
Hwang: “If you won’t, then what will you do?”
Lee: “You think nothing of me, don’t you?”
Hwang: “This won’t end unless I die.”
Lee: “I gave you a clear warning! Don’t forget it.”

Young-mi turns away, but a hand grabs her hair from behind — looks like Hwang.

In a seedy gambling den, Hwang plays poker with three other men. Hwang goes all in and puts down a winning hand… or does he? As he reaches for the winnings, his opponent puts down an even better hand and claims the winnings. But Hwang pulls an ice pick from his pocket and stabs it straight through the winner’s hand, into the table. Indifferent to his screams, Hwang collects the blood-soaked money.

The next day, Sang-hyo asks Young-mi if she got home safe, surprised that she even left her bag behind. Young-mi gives the excuse that something urgent comes up, but when she’s alone again, her expression is…inscrutable. Something clearly happened, but she’s not giving anything away.

Sang-hyo waits for the elevator, which opens to one of the managers making unwanted advances on a female employee, ugh, who immediately runs away. She notes this and deliberately gets on. Slimy Manager gives her the full once-over from behind (ugh) and slimily offers to give her “dating advice” but she ain’t no pushover — she backs him into the corner (with her KNEES) and threatens him with disciplinary action. He plays innocent, citing lack of evidence, but she just points up at the camera and sails out.

The gamblers from the night before arrive in the hotel, looking for Assistant Manager Hwang. The party of three corner a staffer to discover his whereabouts. From the mezzanine above, Hwang spots them and stays out of sight.

Sang-hyo runs through preparations for the wedding with Kyung-hee: All that’s left is the rehearsal, which Sang-hyo looks apprehensive about. She asks Kyung-hee to be in charge of that, but she can’t because of a hospital appointment. Sang-hyo initially presses but quickly takes it back, and encourages Kyung-hee to leave early to make it in time.

Sang-hyo meets Security Team Leader Cha on her way to the rehearsal, and asks if there is any progress on the pickpocketing case. He says they’re still investigating.

Young-mi takes Soo-ah and Hae-young through security arrangements, which is when Sang-hyo and Team Leader Cha arrive. His eyes glued to Sang-hyo, Hae-young asks casually whether that’s the man she proposed to. Soo-ah is astonished that a woman proposed, but Hae-young reminds her that she also proposed to him.

As the rehearsal proceeds, Sang-hyo flashes back to seven years ago, running into a small church in the desert with Hae-young. Hae-young’s thoughts are also in the past, thinking to their wedding in a sunlit courtyard, he and Sang-hyo both nervous with anticipation. They both remember their simple, heartfelt vows, and in the present, Hae-young drops Soo-ah’s hand.

As they face the audience, his eyes go straight to Sang-hyo and the pain that passes across his face is mirrored in hers. Unable to stand it anymore, Sang-hyo turns tail and leaves, and only allows herself to give in to tears safely in the bathrooms.

After the rehearsal, Hae-young drinks alone at a bar, thinking of Sang-hyo.

In her office, Sang-hyo is also lost in regrets when Assistant Manager Hwang interrupts: “Why don’t you hold onto him?” He goes on, “If you want, I can mess up this wedding.” She refuses, but his voice follows her as he tells her to think it over. Sang-hyo starts running — smack-bang into Sung-gyum — and bursts into tears.

They sit outside and Sung-gyum asks why she was crying. Sang-hyo tells him about her “friend” who was married seven years ago — she loved him to death but they broke up before 100 days. This scene intercuts with Hae-young telling Shi-chan, “The woman I hated to death, I met her again.”

Sang-hyo: “She thought she had forgotten everything. She really thought she had erased all of it.”
Hae-young: “As though I had never forgotten, I remember it all.”

Hae-young admits he doesn’t know what to do. Shi-chan tells him to go see her right now — find out his feelings, find out hers. “Once you ask her whatever and say whatever, then won’t things become clearer somehow?”

Meanwhile, Sung-gyum is recounting a saying to Sang-hyo: If a man loves a woman, he’ll crawl back to her even if he falls off a cliff. He advises her “friend” to wait: “If he has any feelings left for her, he’ll contact her again however he can.” She shakes her head, disagreeing. And now that she’s told him a secret, she asks for one in return.

Hae-young takes Shi-chan’s advice and takes a taxi to the hotel, where he runs in looking for her. He finds Kyung-hee crying in an office (oh no, this is to do with her hospital visit, isn’t it?), but she’s not who he wants so he keeps searching.

Next, he hears Assistant Manager Hwang purring into a phone, about long-linked destinies and how the other person made a lot of money in the U.S. He just starts to say something about the other person and General Manager Lee living the good life while he isn’t, when Hae-young walks in on him.

Assistant Manager Hwang recognizes him and lets him know that Sang-hyo is still around — and wishes him luck. As he walks away, the strangeness of the exchange makes him turn back, to overhear one last snippet: “Fine. If you’re not interested, I’ll talk to your son.” That sounds ominous.

Sung-gyum’s secret is that he works at this hotel because it’s his father’s workplace, too. She asks if that’s why he became a hotel management specialist. He is deliberately vague when he says, “I suppose you can’t say there isn’t a connection,” but his non-specificity is odd.

He reveals that his father died here thirty years ago, but since he was only 5, he doesn’t remember anything. In the moment he’s totally serious, but a second later, he’s all, “Damn, that line always works with the ladies!” Both of them laugh easily, and it’s this cozy scene that Hae-young witnesses. His pain is evident, but he doesn’t approach — a few moments later, he turns around and heads back.

At the front desk, the receptionist finds a card left for Sung-gyum.

The wedding day. Reporter Jung-eun stops by the dressing room where Soo-ah’s friends fuss over the bride. She pauses at the door, hand curling into a fist, before stalking away. Now we cut back to the sequence the drama opens with: Sang-hyo making the rounds, inspecting the ice sculpture, containing her irritation.

The card left earlier is delivered to Sung-gyum in his apartment-suite. The unsigned missive reads, “Your father was murdered. Do you know who the culprit is?”

Sang-hyo brings Hae-young tea. This scene feels different now that we know how he looked for her the night before. He affects indifference, and she keeps a tight rein on herself, but their small tics betray their inward disturbance.

Sung-gyum meanwhile has Simon begin a secret investigation to find out who else, apart from General Manager Lee, is still working here from 30 years ago.

Sang-hyo asks if there is anything Hae-young is dissatisfied with. He demurs, repeating what we heard before — this wasn’t an impulsive wedding. Instead of the acerbic bite of the opener, this has a touch of sadness in it now. When she tells him she did her best, sincerely, it is kind rather than challenging. Just as he’s about to add something, Young-mi interrupts him to get ready, and whatever it is remains unsaid.

Alone, Sang-hyo sinks to her knees and sheds a few last tears before composing herself for the ceremony.

Sung-gyum wonders if his father was really murdered, and whose idea of a joke this is.

Hae-young begins his walk down the aisle…

…and the body crashes through the ceiling to land at his feet.

In the chaos, Sang-hyo forces her way to Hae-young’s side — the body is Assistant Manager Hwang’s. She recalls his words about messing up the wedding and, stricken, she clings to Hae-young.

COMMENTS

Well…that’s one way to interrupt a wedding.

I love Yoo Inna as a lead — she blooms in these roles in a way she hasn’t for any secondary roles that I’ve seen her in (maybe because they always make her the evil second lead?). I watched Jin Yi-han in A New Leaf where he had one expression: boring. So I didn’t have high hopes. But he’s great! He has multiple expressions! And he does pain! Really well!

I think Hae-young deliberately cultivates the wastrel image to keep people at a distance. It’s not a coincidence that Shi-chan is the only friend/brother-figure close to him. In contrast, Sang-hyo’s shield is her efficiency coupled with personal warmth, with which she maintains her many and various relationships — if she’s always asking after people, they won’t have a chance to ask about her: distance accomplished.

Speaking of weddings, the first episode led us to believe theirs was a hasty, sloppy, neon-lit, back-alley, no-place, Vegas wedding, but the flashback tells a different story. Even if it was impulsive, it was also real.

It’s interesting to note how much their love hasn’t mutated into hate, which immediately tells you something about how they must have broken up, pointing to external factors. The hint that Jung-eun had a hand in it, the minimal animosity towards each other, and the raw longing and pain they mirror in each other any time they meet, support this. It explains why Hae-young keeps taking every chance to try again, and why she doesn’t wait for him also suggests they are the victims of a misunderstanding. Her reaction to old scars makes her an elusive figure for Hae-young to catch.

The crucial object in their incipient relationship is to get their wires uncrossed — their whole history is evidence that neither love nor maturity are enough. Their relationship seems to be dogged predominantly by both miscommunication and communication failures, whose reach extend into the present day. This whole episode has been a catalogue of missed timing and crossed wires, making a sad mess out of a relationship that otherwise has every reason to work. With both of them currently excelling in their careers, it takes out the inferiority complex and its dynamics, which I like because it precludes the tired tropes that come with it, giving you more scope to dig into the meat of the relationship itself, the whys and wherefores when they had so much on their side.

What I enjoy about the divorce-remeet conceit dramatically is that it promises a special kind of satisfaction often denied in real life, of each character being made to witness the other side of the story, all the way to seeing through misunderstandings. It’s classic but subtle wish-fulfilment that adds the magic to its appeal.

Following on the heels of High School King of Savvy’s ensemble of well-rounded secondary characters, Hotel has already cemented my affections, although I’m not sure it’s yet bringing its best game. Namgoong Min’s character, perfunctory and lukewarm, seems like a clone of his character in I Need Romance 3. I can’t tell if this is just how his character is written or if that’s the limit of his range as an actor. The murder note seems like the catalyst to rouse Sung-gyum into actively participating in shaping his own narrative through the course of the show. There’re definitely interesting things in store for him, with hints of some kind of connection between him and Sang-hyo, Sang-hyo and Assistant Manager Hwang, and Assistant Manager Hwang and Sung-gyum, in a pretty tangled triangle that can’t end well (but please do!), but I want to see more depth and nuance.

Kyung-hee cuts an uninentionally comical figure — she’s well-meaning! She’s got your back! But she’s also got it all backward, so it’s funny watching her sincere efforts — unbeknownst to her — backfire. Like Sung-gyum, she’s got serious things coming up if her last scene is an indicator, and she and Sang-hyo are going to need each other, so I’m glad to see Sang-hyo mindfully take care of Kyung-hee the same way the older woman takes care of her.

Fiancée Soo-ah was a character I worried about: I didn’t want her to be collateral damage in the new-old romance, because that’s unfair and undeserved. Given the revelations in this episode, I’m satisfied that she’s pretty much put herself here — perhaps as the price you pay for browbeating someone into marrying you. It’s not fun, but it is fair, which is enough for me to happily write her off.

Oh, right — there is also a mystery! But it’s currently very mysterious and this is all I’ve got: General Manager Lee, Assistant Manager Hwang are in the know. They are somehow possibly connected to Sung-gyum’s dad. Sung-gyum’s dad was (allegedly) murdered here 30 years ago. There is a US connection. Sang-hyo is an international adoptee. Hwang seems to have some kind of connection to Sang-hyo (unknown to her). Hwang did something to Young-mi but nobody knows what. There is bloody money. There are serial wallet-thefts. Hwang dies and falls through the ceiling…or falls through the ceiling and dies, it’s not clear. That’s where I’m at. Does this feel like a big game of Cluedo to anyone else? (And sneak preview: the detective is a mermaid.)

I have one complaint about the show’s visual aspect — the occasional oversaturation in some scenes is distracting. Yeah, Yoo Inna is angelically cute but nobody needs that much of a halo. I can’t see anything! The rest of it is crisp and stylish, so I hope the production team scales it down in future flashbacks.

And finally: I think when they say ‘killing romance’, they mean, ‘there is a killing’ + ‘there is a romance’ = ‘killing romance’. I don’t know, maths isn’t my strong suit. But I don’t care anymore either way, because if the rest of it is like this, then I’m ready to sail away on my Sang-hyo x Hae-young ship. As soon as possible! Tomorrow! Right now!

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Welcome Saya :)

I haven't started the show yet...but I'm so excited to watch it!

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Thanks for the recap! I absolutely love this drama. Lots of mystery. Some of it left me pondering for days.. a good way to distract me while waiting for the next episode though.

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Thank you, Saya (and also odilletante) for the Recap and Comments! It's always great to be able to tal things out, especially if it's an whodunnit *sqeel*

So, in this second episode the mystery took a backseat to all the relationship (crap) stuff, which was okay. We still got glimpses into very susicious activities, so we were still kept guessing and waiting ... uhh, suspense is awesome!

Who is our dead body? I'm guessing Manager Hwang, since he is nowhere to be found, but then again, with murder mysteries you never know. Haha. He DID however manage to piss A LOT of people off ... which does not speak for him staying alive for long in a diegesis where people are obviously killed left and right (slight exaggeration, but the GM-father was killed, right?).

I am still confused how NO ONE notices the hourlong staring battles of the exes. And that Dramaland peripheral vision is driving me nuts. But the mystery and the possible suspects keep me wanting more!

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Yup, it's Hwang. I caught a few glimpses and there was a pic somewhere online showing that scene, which more clearly shows his face.

Love the mystery element to this drama. I hope it's one of those where if you pay enough close attention to the audience can start piecing clues together as the story unfolds...because that just helps tide me over until next week's episode. It's rare that I'm two episodes in and I'm already fighting addiction pains. LOL.

To share some clue-gathering spirit: Having noodled on some of the scenes a bit, it seems that GHY's wallet was found on Manager Hwang. Now that's interesting. Recall that there's a pickpocket lurking that's never been caught. With the security team being GM Lee's people and Hwang's gambling addiction, it's likely that Hwang was the pickpocketing culprit. Basically he may have been stealing rich people's to fund gambling games with GM Lee letting it slide. Likely Hwang has something on GM Lee and clearly they are in cahoots. And since he's not a good or smart gambler by the looks of it, he's likely had a lot of run-ins due to his addiction.

Next is SHY's past. It seems like there is a U.S. connection with 1) the person Hwang was speaking to; 2) GHY from Harvard; and 3) likely jogger was in U.S. during that time since it's likely she had something to do with the breakup/misunderstanding based on her convo with GHY from episode 1. Also, Hwang and GM Lee may have some connection to or knowledge about her actual familial ties in Korea since she was an adoptee (i.e., may explain why Hwang is not only eavesdropping on her but also willing to "ruin" the wedding on her behalf).

That's all I got for now...haha. Maybe a few more days and a few more episodes will spark more new theories. ...anyone with more to add?

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wow! this is really elaborate for the very few snippets of information we got from the first two episodes (maybe thats all of them :D)!

i agree that the US definitely will play a part later - so our leads will be involved more intimately with the murder, eh? ^^ (a thought: it IS a tvN drama, so maybe we will see a lead being the real culprit - i.g. HY trying to ruin his own wedding by randomly killing sb. who in this case is sb. hated by pretty much everyone, so since there is an abundance of suspects, HY is never caught... *"Are you writing a novel?" - "Fuck, yeah, I'm WRITING this!"*)

genious idea about Hwang being the wallet thief to finance his gambling. haha. sounds very reasonable.

now I'm even more excited for the next episodes! *____*

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Finally caught the first two eps in reruns last night, and I have to say that I really like the music. It's very atmospheric and a bit unique compared to all the other dramas out right now, and I fully intend to hunt down the soundtrack.

I'm actually not a bit fan of JYH lately, which is sad because I used to really love him. But YIN is adorable and exuberant and positively radiant, so I'll keep watching for her.

And also for my hopeless, inexplicable crush on NGM. I can't help it, I love him and see every role of his with rose-colored glasses. DON'T JUDGE.

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Yes, NGM LOVE! No one can sell me on wry like he can. I hope he gets a chance here to break out of his mold as he did in A Dirty Carnival and Unemployed Romance. He was so funny in UR and it was a surprisingly cute show.

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I really enjoyed the first two episode of the show, though thus far the only character I find genuine and truly likeable is Sang Hyo. I don't dislike any of the other characters (save Eun Joo, but that could be a carryover from Full House, as I hated her character with a passion), but they don't feel real to me (yet).

(side note: I think the effect the show is using is soft-focus, not over-saturation, though I could be wrong.)

Thanks for the recap!

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I was impressed with the first episode, but this is the episode that really tipped the scales for me, and made me love this show's heart. The flashbacks to their wedding (while he was walking down the aisle) were so perfectly executed, it really did tear me apart. You could see how happy and in love they were in Vegas -- and seeing their reactions in the present, it's clear they're still very much in love even seven years later. So for me, just the mystery of what tore them apart (and in THREE months, no less) is even more compelling than the two murder mysteries!

Not to mention, it corresponds to the rumors at the hotel - where couples divorce after three months - an anomaly that's been happening ever since she took over as director. If that's not fate, I'm not sure what is!!

So many fun, cute moments in this show! No matter whether it's comedy, heartbreak, or mystery, so far, it's striking the perfect balance! I'm so excited to see where the story goes from here. ^_^

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Yes I loved the flashback to their wedding in the US too! The way Haeyoung gazed at Sanghyo during the flashback was so heartbreakingly beautiful... and a sharp contrast to the way he hardly glances at his current fiancee now. I hope for them to get back together soon and solve the mystery!

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I watched the first two episodes and it's refreshing!

Love how the romance(s) and mysteries are woven together.

I'll be busy this drama season trying to keep up with all the new and interesting dramas that have premiered this week!

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Yoo In Na she's only like 2 years older than me and I look like her aunt-sigh!

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Maybe it's just me, but what drew me to this series was the detective novel vibe they sent in the previews. And so far, I am far from convinced.
I mean Yoo In Na is awesome, I'm glad she has the opportunity to shine as a main lead once again, but I expect more than a romance in this. Because the actors and the backstory of the characters are set, now what ?
I am still hoping for an Agatha Christie feel in this, because the one-of-the-people-in-this-house-is-the-killer is what was supposed to set the drama appart. Of course, there's still time for that, but by rewinding in those two episodes I feel like they already gave too much away. I mean I already have a pretty tangible scenario, I hope they can confuse us about the mystery a little more in the future.

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Yep!
I want mystery and suspense, not another reconciliation of long gone(seven years!)lovers!

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Me, too! I'm hoping that these two episodes were all backstory, so now that the murder has happened, we're ready to get cozy (mystery-wise, that is.) :)

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I see what you mean, but I definitely see why the writer felt like the wedding needed some setting up before they just jumped into it. I'm sure now that the murder has occurred, the romance will be on the back-burner for awhile, or at least I hope so.

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Thanks for recapping, Saya!

They didn't even get to the "speak now or forever hold your peace" objections before the body dropped!

Is the falling body Assistant Manager Hwang? I thought it might've been someone else. Guess we'll find out soon enough!

I also felt like it helped me understand the show's vibe a lot better by watching both Eps 1 & 2 as a set. Ep 1 started off slow, but Ep 2 sold me on the emotions - not only Sang-hyo and Hae-young's, but also the characters around them.

Having a mermaid detective is indeed surreal, but he looks fun! (and he gets a change of clothes) And I loved Sang-hyo's noraebang scene - the girl can really belt out a tune! (horribly off-key but terribly cute!)

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considering all those year the actress trained to be a singing idol...either she using that training or kpop was saved a lot of burst eardrums..lol..just kidding i heard her singing for real and she not really all that bad

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Thanks for your recap. After reading it, I've decided to start watching this show. I am all for crazy and slightly romantic characters; as long as it doesn't involve open heart surgeries and weirdly unethical therapists.

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Hi Saya!!!!!!!!! *waves madly with the New Malden chopsticks*

I haven't started the show yet I confess but been waiting for your recap.

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Hellooooooooo!!! *waves madly back*

I think you will enjoy this (so far)!

(also the New Malden facemasks are really good)

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Welcome, Saya! Thanks for the lovely recap.

I'm really enjoying this drama. My only hope his that it keeps up till the end!

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Wow, forget IOIL... I'm watching this instead! The 1st and 2nd episode made me laugh and cry already. This drama is off to a REALLY good start.

I love the tone and vibe of this drama. Not to mention that it's beautifully shot. I'm loving the characters as well. I really like YIN as the main character (she usually has poor second character roles, but her main character roles are awesome). I like the mystery aspect as well but I wonder how this story will develop.

Last but not least... THE MUSIC. The music is on point! I think Pastel Music might be behind some of the songs. :D I'm so excited for the OST!!!

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Welcome Saya and thanks for the recap.

It says a lot when you shove your fiancée's kiss away to take your ex-wife's phone call.

Which leads to another unexplored part of the plot. The drama has dealt very well on the love between the exes, what it hasn't told us is WHY is he marrying his dim witted fiancee? (Dim witted might be a harsh description, but she acts like a teenager with her first crush), there's no chemistry, regard, friendship or even empathy between them. So I am curious if he's marrying her for her parents connections? I know she practically asked him to marry her, but he didn't have to say yes.

I love how the murder mystery is shaping up. So far, we have seen numerous people with enough motive to want the culprit dead. Can I hope for a character as quirky and iconic as Hercule Poirot or Miss Maple to lead the investigation? That would be the cherry on the cake, if that were to happen (not enough to steal the thunder away from our main leads, but enough to give it the edge to be a truly interesting mystery).

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Exactly. That's pretty much what I was discussing with a friend earlier. It's like the writers want us to dismiss her and fast. And if the preview with a bitch slap for the coordinator who ruined her wedding by allowing a murder to happen is any indication, the writers want us to start hating her if at all possible.
Which explains the minimal background on WHY he's marrying her and why NOW? The only things we know is that she's rich and that she asked him to marry and the other way around.
But we can SEE the obvious lack of feelings or chemistry. We can SEE that she's super surprised when he's nice/flirty/affectionate to her because she's not used to it.
The fact that they've chosen to depict her as an ace bimbette points to lazy writing.
If they can't defend the upcoming cheating on the part of her fiance they will damn well justify it.

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Also Saya, I can't agree with you that she browbeat him into marrying her. I can see why you would think so, but Hae Young seems like the least likely candidate to succumb to browbeating from a spoilt silly heiress.

So there's more at play and I want to know what.

And I want dramas to let the heroes cheat if it progresses their stories but to call it what it is instead of setting us up to blame the victim, however nasty her personality.

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That's totally contradictory to what they are describing the hero until now. He is smart and sharp, really? I really hope there's more it too.

More than anything I feel sorry for his fiancée.

You two just hit the nail on the head Paroma and Adal!

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not hard to guess why he marrying he, he clearly past the age to marry ie done his army time made his money..so family connections/pressure I would say..she someone he can pat on the head once a month and the rest of time time pretend she not there and if he has to marry.....

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Hey Saya. Good review. Welcome to the team.

@Paupauchan A surprising number of people seemed to expect much more 'crime procedural' from this than 'romance with a dash of cosy mystery'.
To me the killing and the mystery there of is the background against which our leads come together.

Anyway regarding the mystery. I can see what they're doing. Giving us multiple suspects by showing us how many people Hwang pissed off: GM Lee, Young Mi, the three Goons from the card table...
But so far the focus has been so clearly on the romance, the mystery set up was handled without much finesse.
I don't really have a problem with that since I'm watching this for Yoo Inna, but I always prefer a writer how can handle all the elements of a story.

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Haha I get you, Yoo Inna is one of my favourites ^^
I totally agree that this drama will have to prove it can mix the romance and the mystery well enough to keep us interested, and so far the latter was not well handled in my opinion.

I am not really expecting a procedural investigation in this, more like a logical unfolding truth quest, Hercule-Poirot style. I want subtle hints, dead ends, too many people with motives, alibis, plot twists, masks, surprises !
I think the one thing that really bugged me, was how they revealed Sung Gyum's dad was murdered. It makes it too obvious it's related, I would have liked to hear about it here and there, and then realise the victim was involved. But that's a personal preference ^^
Anyway, this show has way more time than necessary to convince me :)

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I agree with you that they focused on the romance in this episode.
Anyway I don't think it's a bad idea, to let us know what are their feelings first. This way, we can enjoy much more their future interactions while involved in the crime investigation... I really hope that the mystery part of the show is well developed too, so it will have us discussing the killer as much as our favorite male lead. It would be fun :D

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Does anyone know the song that was played when Sang Hyo went to the restroom after the wedding rehearsal? Tried Shazam-ing it to no avail

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Oh. Did not know this is a murder mystery.
TY for cover. Time for me to catch up.
Looks fun.

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I admittedly don't quite care for the murder mystery as much as I do for the unrequited love and gazing between the leads. I'm sure its the chemistry that's pushing me to think that way, but really, I just feel a strong pull from Hae-young and Sang-hyo's obvious love for each other.

But... I also really like Hae-young's fiance. She may not be very intelligent and I think her clingy-ness is irritating, but she isn't bitchy or manipulative. At least I didn't get that impression. She does seem like the kind of person who'd heavily stamp her foot if she doesn't get what she wants, but I also don't think Hae-young is the kind to accept such attitude. He dismissed the earlier woman all too easily so there must be external factors pushing him to wed a woman he quite obviously doesn't love. Parents? Work? Something else? I don't know but they definitely ought to address it at some point rather than dusting her under a mat.

I just love how Hae-young and Sang-hyo aren't the kind of ex-couple who throwing each other nasty remarks, pull each others' hair and hate each others existence. That's just so childish, petty and pretty much done in every other divorcees-reuniting drama ever. I've run away from that crap all year long, and I'm not caving in anytime soon. So it's refreshing to see this one because while there's obvious misunderstandings, the leads clearly still have lingering feelings and can actually sit together and talk.

When Hae-young dismissed their marriage, Sang-hyo burst into tears in front of him and actually told him how horrible he sounded. She doesn't pretend she feels the same way and we see that they were both quite affected by what he said. He clearly didn't mean it which is why he seemed so upset with himself too. The looks they gave each other when Sang-hyo claimed she did the preparations sincerely - it's very telling, and as are their eyes. Pretty much I'm just glad they don't have that immature bickering relationship. Its gonna take a while before they find their way back to each other, but at least I hope in the end of it all, I'm not contemplating if they were better off in the beginning...

I'm into this; I love the leads, and find the second female lead interesting without being a crazy bitch. I hope it keeps getting better or at least maintains the level of good.

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Hi Mandy!

I’m thinking you were right, after ep 2. it seems I’m on the second lead ship which is so unlike me.:)

I really dislike how Hae-young treated his fiannce, I’m having Heirs flashbacks. He’s a grown up, I can’t think of any excuse good enough to make him marry a girl he doesn’t love. It is like those shows when I think the writer thinks we are not supposed to care about any other women besides the main lead. I did want a love story mixed with suspense so I’ll give it more chances.

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Hey Lixie! =)

I can totally see where you're coming from. I like Hae-young's fiance - as I stated above - and I agree that she isn't being treated fairly for someone so harmless. But I also think she doesn't love Hae-young. Of course that doesn't justify anything, but her reasons for being with him seems superficial and more about flaunting her perfect fiance/life than actually having genuine love for the guy. Therefore, I'm assuming there's some sort of external pressure for them to be together and for Hae-young to decide he'll go through with a wedding when he clearly loves someone else.

What I love about this show is that no one is black or white - maybe other than Sang-hyo. Hae-young is inconsiderate of his fiance and maybe slightly insensitive when talking about his past. Sung-gyum is clearly using both Sang-hyo and Eun-joo's rivalry for his benefit by pitching them against each other. He's even using himself as bait. I personally think NGM is playing Sung-gyum with the same vibe as he did his character in INR3. Which is probably why I'm a little creeped out by him lol. But theres 14 episodes left so he could grow on me soon enough...

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The fiance looks more like a spoiled chaebol heiress who got herself a trophy husband. I find this a bit odd since the guy seems like someone who would not do something he doesn't want to do. I hope they explore that unlikely union a bit more in the next episodes.

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Hi Mandy!

I'm thinking you were right, after ep 2. it seems I'm on the second lead ship which is so unlike me.:)

I really dislike how Hae-young treated his fiannce, I'm having Heirs flashbacks. He's a grown up, I can't think of any excuse good enough to make him marry a girl he doesn't love. It is like those shows when I think the writer thinks we are not supposed to care about any other women besides the main lead. I did want a love story mixed with suspense so I'll give it more chances.

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Yoo Inna really does shine when she's allowed a lead role, this being her second I believe and also coincidentally the second on tvN, it's a shame she doesn't get more.

I seem to remember them saying they didn't have a marriage license so they were never married.

Is it weird I never thought Yoo Inna looked like a rabbit until Hae-young said Sang-hyo looked like one and now whenever I see Yoo Inna all I can see is a giant rabbit standing on it's hind legs?

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darn cute rabbit though

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Oh yay, another divorced couple re-finding each other love story...

Blech. But Yoo Inna is great and pretty and looks so good in that blue suit when she's cornering that a-hole in the elevator, so I'll deal with it. As long as Yoo Inna keeps being Yoo Inna and the murder mystery keeps being an integral part of the series and doesn't get pushed to the side in the last half of it to make room for the inevitable romance angst, I'll love this show.

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Welcome Saya.

I love My Secret Hotel already. Love Yoo Inna' character here.

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Thanx for recapping Saya..
I've watched ep.1 and now still debating whether to continue or not..I don't know, I personally love YIN & JYH but I feel something missing with YIN's performance in this drama..But ur recap looks fun maybe I will try one ep. more + I love the mystery theme

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wow i really love haeyoung and sanghyo

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no offense , i find most of K actresses are using too much botox , cosmetic surgery ... they look fake , always with shinny skin from too much foundation ...and they lips , the way they talk so ugly .....honestly .

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Yeah, that's really awful. Good thing Yoo In Na is a natural beauty and never does any of that stuff. Beyond what a professional hotel employee would wear, of course.

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I love it but I'm going to wait and see how the murder mystery plays out in the third episode. See if it meshes at all with the romance part already set.

Now how do they keep HY and SH in close proximity to each other after this fiasco? I mean for sure his fiance will want to reschedule the wedding but how likely will it be held at the same place a body came on crashing down...not very likely.

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Wow, when they named this "The Secret Hotel" they weren't kidding. There never seem to be any guests in the lobby or the hallways. How the heck does it turn a profit?

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Welcome Saya and thanks for the recapping My Secret Hotel. :)

One of the funniest moments in this episode was when Hae-young ran down the hallway and hid behind a column. He suddenly steps forward and turns around the corner scaring Sang-hyo as she was in the process of chasing him.

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It doesn't help at all with the barreness of the sets that, when three non-employees are walking across the lobby, that female employee, when she sees them, not only doesn't speak to them, she avoids eye-contact like she was encountering them in a dark ally.

And who in the last few hundred years ever built a hotel where a fully manned front desk isn't the center of activity and doesn't have people with a clear, full view of the main entrance and the front lobby? Is this a hotel or an abandoned mansion?

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Loved the scene where whats-his-name makes fun of In Na's puffy cheeks. Is it any wonder that her ninja code name is "Gorgeous Squirrel?"

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Is there any possibilities in K-dramaland, that the lead female character ended up with the second male lead? Just curious

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That would by definition be the Lead though, wouldn't it? :D

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Yes, there have been a few kdramas where the 2nd lead ended up winning the lead female character's heart. A few months back a similar question was posed on the Friday Open Thread and several examples where this happened were given.

I not sure which Friday Open Thread it was though. I suggest asking on Friday's Open Thread. They're pretty good with answering inquiries like this.

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Awwww still hooked after second episode.

I do like how we re progressing with the same writing quality : Fun, moving, and mysterious.

Now the love triangle is more balanced as i see Hae-young now with more depth.

Why does he hates her, why does she feels abandoned , im clearly looking for a a better explanation than " i missed the taxi" or some bleh noble idiocy...

What gives me hope is the past in Las Vegas or at least USA might be somehow connected with the present plot...

Ah and a few hopes and toughts:

Hae-young's fiancee wont turn into an evil female rivale...

GM cant be guilty its too obvious...

And i really loved the replay of the first part of episode 1 in this episode. I see the dialogue between Hae-young and Sang-hyo in a different way, not because of last night, be because i thing there is a double meaning about their own wedding. He questions her seriously about organizing a wedding (what they didnt do 7 years ago) and she answers him she was all but sincere. The first step for and answer after a misunderstanding in dramaland!

Finger crossed ! Please no memory loss!!!!

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My mistake in writing the last part of my and answer,

is misused "All but"

what was to read was :

He questions her seriously about organizing a wedding (what they didnt do 7 years ago) and she answers him she was sincere.

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Okay, my first time posting a comment on this site. I just got hip to it a few months ago and its my go to place for the 4 kdramas I'm currently watching.

When watching dramas one of the first things I look for is a strong lead along the lines of the actresses in "Protect the Boss" and " My Lovely Samsoon". And it is very rare to find a drama like that. So if anyone has any suggestions, I'm opent. But I must say, this is first time in a long while I've seen what I considered a funny, strong and competent lead female actress. What I've liked about her so far:

1. when the DM asked her out to dinner, and she turned around and mouthed to her frenemy "we're going out to eat!"
2. When she cornered the guy in the elevator about sexual harassment.
3. When she socked her ex (not condoning violence, but hey) like Craig did Debo in the movie Friday.
4. The way she handled the crime scene like a pro and took care of business
5. The way she didn't kneel before the bride.
6. The way she checks herself and treats her employees with respect for example when she was about to yell at Gi Chul about the Manager Hwang messing up the ice sculpture but calmed down and requested he call him until he answered or when changing her mind about asking Kyung Hee to go to her dr's appt later.

I am really looking forward to this drama!

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Is there a more adorable actress than Yoo In-na? She combines uber cuteness and intelligence. And I agree no more second leads for her, they shafted her in MLFTS. Though I did love her in Secret Garden.

And I like Namgung Min. So totally getting on to this drama bandwagon.

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Oh and the lead was Tal-tal. Yup watching for sure.

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I've heard that they like to give lead roles to single women. So since she had a boy friend in the army, I wondered if they put her back to second lead status because of that. They broke up as soon as he got out, and now here she has a lead role again. I don't know if that's it, but I wish her well. I really have liked her as an actress ever since Secret Garden.

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Wanted to say that I think the show is really interesting so far, and I love the soundtrack!

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