Drama Recaps
My Secret Hotel: Episode 4
by | August 29, 2014 | 55 Comments

The investigation takes the forefront this hour and there’s progress on our mystery, even if it’s lateral rather than forward. We knew Hwang was shady, but now we find out how shady everyone else is, too. The classic “closed circle of suspects” element gives it all an Agatha Christie feel, which I think the show was going for originally. We don’t know anything about motives yet, only that everyone has something to hide, and surely there’s nowhere better for that than The Secret Hotel.


Detective Kim tells Hae-young his wallet was found under Hwang’s body, making him Suspect No.1. Hae-young is unimpressed with the conclusion — Hwang could have picked up his lost wallet anywhere. Detective Kim agrees but then asks him to explain a photo we don’t see. Hae-young is visibly shaken.

In her office, Sang-hyo’s team comments on the white chrysanthemum she put on Hwang’s desk. Both Kyung-hee and Young-mi look uncomfortable.

Detective Kim lays out a scenario he thinks is the best explanation: Hae-young had a whirlwind romance with Sang-hyo either during the wedding arrangement process, or even back when he was in the US. Hwang found out and threatened to expose it, so Hae-young did away with him. He reveals the photo from his wallet, and it’s of Sang-hyo.

Outside the office, Shi-chan is trying to listen in, and when a co-worker asks about the detective, he goes overboard in defending Hae-young, “He has an alibi! I’m his alibi!” It’s adorable and so unhelpful.

Hae-young agrees to cooperate with the investigation, but on the condition that he keep secret his past relationship with Sang-hyo, “Because of me, I don’t want Nam Sang-hyo to be hurt.” Detective Kim agrees.

Hae-young tells the story of their quick marriage that lasted only three months; it was never registered, so legally it didn’t count. He confirms that Hwang threatened him about it and they had a fight, but he didn’t kill him.

In a flashback, we see the rest of that scene: in the tussle with the ice pick, when Hae-young has Hwang backed up against the wall, he drops the pick and instead asks him to back off from Sang-hyo. When Detective Kim asks if he met Sang-hyo that night, he says he saw her talking to someone else in the garden, so he turned back.

Detective Kim now admits he knows Hae-young isn’t the killer. Since he reported his wallet lost at 8pm — at which time multiple witnesses put Hwang alive and kicking in the employee canteen — it’s unlikely that Hae-young would have reported it lost and then left his wallet to be found under the body.

Hae-young is put out by the detective’s tactics, and the latter tells him he was just curious to know why he had that picture. He keeps the wallet as evidence but returns the photo to Hae-young, along with the advice that as a man about to be married, he really shouldn’t be carrying around his ex’s picture. With a trademark wink, he gets up.

Shi-chan spills inside, clamoring with his alibi. Detective Kim, however, says he won’t be needing one, and leaves. Shi-chan completely misunderstands him; he takes his place in Hae-young’s chair, promising to visit lots in prison, and bring him snacks. Aww, you dummy. So loyal and so misguided.

In the hotel, Sang-hyo worries about the replaced skylight, but Gi-chul assures her it’ll be fine even if you jump on it. Then, she receives a call that Soo-ah wants to meet her to sign her cancellation papers. Afraid of being slapped again, she has a plan and ropes Eun-joo into helping.

She asks Eun-joo (who’s all too happy to oblige, ha) to slap her, but she doesn’t want to be hit for real — instead, she wants to choreograph her defense moves so if Soo-ah tries to hit her again, she’ll grab her wrist, spin her around and generally appear badass: “Slapping me once is enough.”

To Sang-hyo’s dismay, Soo-ah apologizes for slapping her — given the circumstances, Soo-ah says, her behavior was excusable. She delivers dig after dig about how even people who plan other people’s weddings probably have pride, and although Sang-hyo smiles, she can’t help making a fist at her.

In the gardens, Sang-hyo mulls over Soo-ah’s papers and sighs that now there’s really no reason to see Hae-young again. In a flashback, she remembers asking Hae-young how they could marry after dating only for a week. He tells her, “I’m confident I’ll only love you.”

We find out that the photo Hae-young keeps in his wallet was taken then, and the scene blends into Sang-hyo ripping it in half while crying. Hae-young runs into their apartment calling her name, but it’s empty and all he finds is the torn photo. He swallows back tears.

In the present, Hae-young says goodbye to the photo, and burns it.

At the police station, Detective Kim and his sidekick Detective Lee discuss the case: Hwang was a loner, with no known family or relationships, so the people who know him best are at the hotel. The autopsy results arrive, and put Hwang’s time of death sometime between 10pm and 12am.

The detectives start by investigating hotel staff alibis. First up is Kyung-hee, who lies that she went home early because she didn’t feel well. Curious. Kim asks if anyone can confirm her alibi, and she counters by asking if she’s a suspect. Instead of replying, he asks if she had a good relationship with Hwang. She says no — nobody at the hotel got on with him.

Young-mi is next. Her tearful façade falters when Kim asks about her relationship with Hwang. She lies that they got on, which surprises Detective Kim, but she remembers Hwang threatening her at the noraebang about revealing what she heard.

Forgetting her mask for a second, she wonders how he could just die like that. She can’t produce a solid alibi either, and she broods bitterly about how some people have all the luck — living good lives and meeting competent (rich) men.

Now it’s Gi-chul’s turn, and he’s oddly nervous. His alibi is that he was drinking all night with Security Team Leader Cha, just the two of them. He admits they’re not close, but when Kim asks if they had something private to discuss, Gi-chul spills water all over himself. Deflection? No one else can confirm his alibi, and Gi-chul is even more unsettled.

Back in the office, Young-mi asks Kyung-hee if she was asked about having an alibi. Kyung-hee thinks it means they must believe the killer is among them. This brings Sang-hyo out of her office, just when Gi-chul comes to get her for her interview, scaring her even more.

On her way, she remembers again Hwang’s words about disrupting the wedding for her. After a brief internal struggle, she decides to tell Detective Kim. She is resolute and tells him to ask her anything, “I’ll tell you everything.”

Detective Kim has one question: “Is it Gu Hae-young or Jo Sung-gyum? In your heart, who do you like more?” Sang-hyo is Very Confused. Detective Kim explains that he’s curious about what type of man women like more, and gives her a Wink. Haha. She pleads the fifth, much to his disappointment, and so he concludes the interview. ‘Cause that’s all he wanted to know.

Sang-hyo is nonplussed — is that all? Doesn’t he want to know if she has an alibi, or if anything happened with Hwang? He rattles off that she was talking in the garden with Sung-gyum, and that Hae-young saw her because he came to the hotel that night.

This information catches her by surprise and she asks Detective Kim why Hae-young came that night, but he says he doesn’t know. Another wink and the interview is really over.

In the lobby, Detective Kim catches up to Team Leader Cha and asks about Gi-chul’s alibi. Gi-chul is skulking around the corner — out of Detective Kim’s line of sight — and gives Cha a nod. In response, Cha confirms to Detective Kim that they were drinking together. Kim lets him go. What are you up to, Gi-chul?

Elsewhere, Sung-gyum tells Simon he must find out who else was working at the hotel in 1984 when his father died, apart from General Manager Lee and Hwang Dong-bae.

Now back at the hotel, Sang-hyo runs into Sung-gyum in the elevator. She’s deep in thought and he smiles to see her. He calls her “Future of the Hotel” which embarrasses her, so he switches to the obviously less embarrassing “Beauty and Brains,” and teases her about snoring into the phone the other night. He invites her to have a friendly drink with him.

Exiting a different elevator, Eun-joo runs into Team Leader Cha. She conscripts him and his team into a marathon, and emphasizes that it’s a good cause (PR is a good cause?). Of course, mandatory participation is strictly voluntary. Okay, then…

Just then, they run into Sung-gyum and Sang-hyo. On finding out the two are going for a drink, Eun-joo grabs at Cha and says they were just about to do the same and invites herself along. Sung-gyum and Sang-hyo look none too happy.

It’s Awkward-town for Eun-joo as Sung-gyum acts cutesy towards Sang-hyo right over her. She tries to take back control by pointing out he’s wearing the tie she gave him, although Sung-gyum downplays it as a mere inaugural gift.

Eun-joo keeps trying to get his attention, even suggesting something a little Fifty Shades (haha) and finally resorts to trying to matchmake Sang-hyo with Team Leader Cha. This is too awkward for Cha, and he excuses himself, causing the whole party to break up as they follow suit.

Outside, tenacious Eun-joo asks Sung-gyum to drive her home. Once he’s seen her into the car, he instructs his driver to take her home and shuts the door on her. Hahahaha. Also aww.

Sung-gyum takes Sang-hyo home instead, riding the bus with her. As he walks her to her door, she invites him to have ramyun with her, ’cause she makes a mean ramyun. Aw bless, he looks like no one’s ever asked him that before.

Cut to: the two of them sitting outside a convenience store with takeaway ramyun bowls, and a seriously unimpressed Sung-gyum. But she’s so cute he can’t help smiling anyway. She’s worried he doesn’t like it, but he just says he feels constricted and pulls off Eun-joo’s tie.

Now at home, Sang-hyo gets a call from Sung-gyum, who left her just moments ago. He’s ringing in case she’s afraid to sleep again, and like before, conducts her in an inspection for ghoulies and ghosties. Last stop: the window, where she looks out to see he’s still there. He waves goodnight, leaving her grinning to herself.

At a construction site, Hae-young is going over plans with the foreman. He treats the workers to a meal, and the foreman says that the heavens helped him, to the extent that a dead body fell on his wedding to save him from marriage.

Just then, the foreman receives a call and his words jog Hae-young’s memory about Hwang’s call which he had overheard: “If you’re not interested, I’ll talk to your son.” He wonders if he should tell the detective, but shrugs it off as not his problem.

Hae-young’s own phone rings: It’s Jung-eun saying that she told him Sang-hyo was the killer, and she alerts him that Sang-hyo is being questioned at the station right now. Hae-young leaves the construction site immediately (leaving Shi-chan to foot the lunch bill, ha).

At the station, Detective Kim explains that because Hwang has no relatives, they’re handing his belongings back to the hotel to take care of. He points out a piece of jewelry that could be valuable.

Sang-hyo takes the opportunity to tell Detective Kim about Hwang’s cryptic last remark to her, and asks if it’s possible he committed suicide. Kim actually snorts at the idea that Hwang might have died for Sang-hyo, and asks her if there should be some reason for her to want the wedding stopped.

At this very moment, Hae-young runs in, causing Detective Lee to comment that their prime suspect is here. That shocks Sang-hyo, but Detective Kim dismisses her before she can ask about it.

Outside, Sang-hyo is still perturbed by the fact that Hae-young is a suspect — this must be why he was at the hotel that night.

Hae-young gets straight to the point with Detective Kim: Sang-hyo isn’t the culprit, because she’s not that kind of person. Kim surprises him again saying they know she isn’t. He elaborates that Hae-young left the hotel at 10pm after seeing Sang-hyo and Sung-gyum together, and they left at 11pm after talking in the garden: All of it was captured on CCTV.

Hae-young then tells him about the threat he overheard Hwang making, which intrigues the detective. He also tells him about coming across crying Kyung-hee, and Kim recalls that she denied being in the hotel at that time.

Detective Kim orders Detective Lee to find out who Hwang was speaking to that night. Randomly, from their office window, they notice Sang-hyo dashing between cars in disguise… making her way to Hae-young’s car. Of course.

She still takes him almost by surprise (but maybe he’s getting used to being surprised?) and orders him to go somewhere quiet to talk. When he resists, she grabs a backscratcher from Hwang’s box and threatens him with it (again): “Drive.” Oh my, help, so much laughing. Between pokes and jabs, they actually start laughing together, until they remember themselves and stop.

Across the car park, Jung-eun has witnessed the whole scene and seethes, “You two are still seeing each other?”

Sang-hyo (still threatening Hae-young with the backscratcher) asks if it was him — did he kill Hwang? He can’t even dignify that with an answer. She wants to know why he came to the hotel, and he just tells her he was looking for his wallet, which Hwang had.

He can’t believe she would suspect him, and his disappointment is so palpable when he says, “You still… don’t know me.” Sang-hyo is crestfallen as he continues, “Let’s not see each other again, whether by coincidence, or any reason.”

Before she can say anything else, he’s gone.

Sang-hyo returns to the office with Hwang’s personal effects, which she says she’s taking to General Manager Lee. Kyung-hee, with a funny look in her eye, offers to take it, but before she can do so, Young-mi’s already got it.

Young-mi lays the box on General Manager Lee’s desk and leaves him with some encouraging words — he should be strong, now that Assistant Manager Hwang is dead.

In the ladies’ room, Young-mi holds a locket up and admires her reflection — it’s the same one Detective Kim pointed out to Sang-hyo, from Hwang’s box. She hides it as Kyung-hee emerges. The latter asks if she delivered the box all right which Young-mi confirms.

In General Manager Lee’s office, the camera pans over a variety of belongings from Hwang’s box: tools, gloves, a book. Lee himself is deep in thought. Did you find something? Or… is something missing?

Jung-eun, meanwhile, is warming up her reporter-muscles to pen an angry, angry article on “S Hotel.” She types furiously about dead bodies falling from the ceiling and the truth behind the scary stories. This culminates with Eun-joo flying through hotel corridors yelling for Sang-hyo, Jung-eun’s damning magazine in hand.

After her frenzy of writing, Jung-eun is having a kip by the pool when Eun-joo calls to yell at her for dragging their hotel through the mud — they’ll sue her for defamation and slander. Jung-eun calmly tells her to go ahead.

Sang-hyo takes the phone and is more diplomatic. This makes Jung-eun sit up. Yes, the article is hate-filled, she explains, because there is hate, “I know all about you, Nam Sang-hyo.” She knows about her marriage and how it was over in less than three months — and that even now she still flirts with Hae-young. Sang-hyo is alarmed, but Jung-eun only says she’s letting it go because of Hae-young.

At Hae-young’s office, the phones are ringing off the hook, callers eager to confirm the identities of the people concerned. Hae-young unplugs his phone in frustration, and Shi-chan’s backhanded consolations don’t help either.

Soo-ah’s also being pestered by incessant calls, and she takes her frustration out on her staff, slapping one across the face. Well, that’s not nice.

At the hotel emergency board meeting, Eun-joo wants to sue but Sung-gyum says that would be admitting they are the hotel in question. His stern words put Sang-hyo on the spot and she offers to tender her resignation — but that, Sung-gyum raises his voice to point out, doesn’t solve the problem.

Instead, the hotel will fully take care of Hae-young and Soo-ah’s wedding to see them safely married, and with that, bury the entire story. Sung-gyum charges Sang-hyo to execute the rescue plan.

Hae-young is working late (in glasses, cute!) and finally calls it a night. He’s surprised — and happy — to find Sang-hyo waiting for him downstairs, cutely straightening his pictures. He pretends to be cool and tells her if she came to say sorry, it’s fine. But it’s not that. She asks him to entrust his wedding to her.


Just when she thought she’d got out of having to see Hae-young married, Sung-gyum comes along with his executive order. That’s got to suck. Still, we’re only at the beginning so I doubt it’s serious — it’s more interesting as a plot vehicle because it will force them to seriously examine themselves. Is Hae-young really going to go ahead with marrying Soo-ah? He’s gone along with it so far because of external pressure and perhaps because he didn’t care enough either way, but Sang-hyo reappearing in his life has thrown him for a loop. Even if neither of them is actively trying to get back together (well…), just being in each other’s spheres messes with both of them.

It’s a nice step for Sung-gyum’s character that instead of vacillating between two women and playing on their rivalries, he’s now taking firm steps towards Sang-hyo. I’m warming to him — I don’t entirely trust his motives, but I do think he genuinely likes her (he can’t help it, it’s her rabbit-face). I can’t help thinking that he puts up a clueless façade, but actually is acutely aware of what he’s doing and the effect it has. It’s what makes him so good at his job, and you certainly don’t get to the top of the pile by being nice or altruistic.

In the conflicts that are sure to come down the line, I wonder if he’ll lose to Hae-young because he puts his own interests first. Hae-young, on the other hand, is a big fat bleeding heart when it comes to Sang-hyo, who plays at being cynical the rest of the time. Like I mentioned before, it’s a way he can create distance when he wants it — this episode showed us the regard and warmth his contractors have for him, as well as the care he shows them. I think his life’s anomaly is his relationship with Soo-ah, not the other way around.

Detective Kim is really the star of the hour. At the beginning, I was sure he wasn’t competent, but behind the winks and apparent flubbery lurks a sharp, no-nonsense detective who knows how to play his game. On the other hand, he seems less clued up about attracting women — he’s so smitten with Sang-hyo! So funny. (Can I also just add: I love Yoo Inna’s earrings this episode — here and here. So pretty!)

I’m glad the misdirection with Hae-young didn’t last long. I suspect this is the first of a string of red herrings: It was not Hae-young, in the hotel, with the ice-pick. It would have been interesting if the show had plausibly gone down that route and/or kept us guessing because even five minutes of Dark Hae-young was pretty compelling, but then this would have to be a melo, right?

So far, there are two concurrent murder mysteries: Hwang, of course, but also Sung-gyum’s quieter background investigation into his father’s death, which got just a token mention this episode. It’s obvious they are linked, but we’ve yet to see how.

Sang-hyo’s entire team is now on the suspect-list: Kyung-hee, Young-mi and Gi-chul all qualify as extremely dodgy. Why did Kyung-hee lie about her alibi? Where was Young-mi? What is Gi-chul’s deal?

Who does the “son” of Hwang’s threat refer to? I think there are a couple of possibilities: a) Sung-gyum, as the son of his father who worked and died there, or b) Gi-chul, an unknown quantity who seems to have an unusual hold on Team Leader Cha for someone so apparently junior. We’ll have to look out for tips about his parents, and whether he has a US connection. Team Leader Cha is another unknown, but we have less to go on with him.

There must be at least one other person who was at the hotel from ’84: I would pin it on Kyung-hee, as the apparent oldest (surgery? Name change?), but that doesn’t exclude the possibility that one of the others (i.e. Gi-chul) could be connected to someone from ’84.

Is Young-mi trying to make an alliance with General Manager Lee? It fits with her calculating character to follow the lines of power. She seems cold and resentful, likely to go where the money is. What significance does the locket she lifted have? Did she pinch it for a reason, or simply out of greed? Is it possible Kyung-hee and Young-mi are in league or do they have separate agendas? The bathroom checkup was weird, and Kyung-hee’s been looking robotic all episode — is this the actress being bad at acting bad, or did something happen?

I want to know what’s up with Stalker Jung-eun. Last episode, she ran away when she saw Sang-hyo, which I thought meant they must have met before and she didn’t want to be recognized. But she writes under her own name and speaks directly to Sang-hyo in a full-frontal attack… so what’s her game, and more importantly, does it have any rules?

Lastly… did Hwang commit suicide? It’s actually a good question, and offers some context to his bizarre behavior: 1) he seemed to be goading people to attack him, like provoking the fight with Hae-young, 2) he told General Manager Lee that “this” wouldn’t end unless he died, and 3) the strange offer he made Sang-hyo. Perhaps not suicide per se, but did he court death deliberately, or set himself up to be killed? It’s possible.

We’re left with a zillion questions — hopefully the show will dole out some convincing motives and satisfying answers…after giving us a good runaround first.


55 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. Emmy

    Secret Hotel has been such an exciting drama. Hope it keeps its pace going throughout its run.

    Thanks for your recap Saya! I really like your writing style and how thorough you are in your comments section.

  2. Chandra

    Thanks for the recap! I always love hearing what you all have to say after watching the episode.

    I am seriously loving Yoo In Na’s character! It’s just nice to have a female character that is strong, flirty, and feisty instead of the damsel in distress. And she goes after her man!

    In many ways, instead of the male character dragging the female character everywhere (usual wrist grabbing and dragging), you have the the opposite here with Sang Hyo doing all the pushing and dragging. More than that, there is a nice balance and equality between Sang Hyo and Hae Young. We still have 12 episodes left, so I hope that doesn’t change.

    On a superficial note, I love Yoo In Na’s clothes in this show!!

    • 2.1 4My

      Like you, after 4eps, still my fave character is Sang Hyo. Beauty and brain but not perfect. Strong, witty and FUNNY.
      YIN is doing a great job in portraying her role. Ànd i also would like to congratulate her fashion designer for her dresses. It not just suits her, but also the character she is in this drama.
      I am even searching now in the internet on the brands of her dresses shoes and accessories. LOL

    • 2.2 Gg

      Ahhh yes I was staring at yoo inna’s earrings throughout the scene at the police station and admiring them so much kekeke

  3. D's handphone

    Thanks for recap.. i love love love her earings…
    Love your thoughts about the murder and the suspects. i think we have to consider the man from the poker game too.. i was wondering why the detective havent been to the actual murder scene, i.e. where Hwang fell from instead of where he landed.

  4. mjj2

    thx for the recap saya XD !
    really2 love this episode, i find this drama mystery has some Agatha Christie style XD, so glad i’m not the one think of this.
    Btw i think there’s something between Soo ah and her driver ? she likes him or, because she’s so affected by his word (it seems).
    Hae young win this race for me, i just love his character and he’s really looking good with Yoo In na. But Sung Gyeom surely knows how to wooing women in a adult way.

  5. Jaymie

    The chemistry between Jin Yi Han and Yoo Inna sure is sizzling hot! The amount of scenes they have together may be pretty scarce, but every time they share a scene, it’s so precious that it just makes me appreciate them so much more. Ha. Squealed when Sanghyo tickled Haeyoung with that back scratcher and both of them gave out such adorable and genuine laughs. Their cute interactions truly make it feels like they have never been separated at all during those 7 years! I guess that’s what I like most about this beautiful couple. Based on the preview, I think there’s going to be one hell of an episode coming out next. Can’t wait!

  6. Foodie

    Thanks for the recap! Love this drama, the OTP are amazing. I hate having to wait every two weeks for it though!!

    ps: she wasn’t straightening the pictures! She was messing them up since he’s such a perfectionist. SO CUTE. You can see the frames in the last pic of him 🙂

    • 6.1 Saya

      ohhh good catch! I thought I didn’t follow it, I just rewatched it (for the 24th time) and duhhhh. No wonder he found it so cute! flkjglkj slkhglkg

      My ship, my ship, when will you sail XD

  7. Trina

    Just to let you all know according to Koala Unni blog, the second writernim will do the rest of the episodes. I read that the writernim who did the first four episodes died. May she rest in peace. I hope this drama is continue to be totally awesome. I behind so I hope to catch up one of these days. 🙂 Good night all!!! 🙂

    • 7.1 redfox

      what? that is terrible!

  8. hyorinshiro

    For some reason when I first saw Gi-chul’s interrogation scene, I thought that Gi-chul and Cha might be lovers or something cuz he was acting so suspicious about what they were doing together………….. maybe I reading to much into it..

    • 8.1 Appelsin

      I had the same thought, haha!! I don’t think these guys have something to do with the murder…
      Apart from Manager Lee, Sung Gyum is the one that looks shady to me, even when he is so cute while trying to seduce Sang Hyo…it seems like he has something going on.

    • 8.2 Yuko

      Gi-chul and Cha are lovers?!! Awesome idea!!! Hahaha

    • 8.3 Charm

      I am so glad I’m not the only one who thought that. Actually, that’s what my brain first went to, lol. Mostly because tvN tends to be more liberal with that sort of material. “She Is Wow” is a good example.

  9. 4My

    Thanks, for the recap and for sharing your thoughts on this drama.

    I am just so inlove in this drama that i am stalking your site every now and then waiting for your updates.
    I have also that feeling that hwang really wanted to end his life. Though i don’t believe he committed suicide but agree with your thoughts. Or maybe he has committed something big that his bothering him already, i don’t know.

    At this point, all is still very cloudy, except for the fact that SH and HY are still is very inlove with each other.

    I wànt to join detective kim to unveil secrets of each of characters, while being a cupid to my otp, who’s chemistry is so overwhelming.

    Monday, pleasre come soon!

  10. 10 redfox

    who else gets a Cheon Song Yi vibe from Sang Hyo´s disguise and hiding? I thought it was a bit similar to a few moments from MFTS
    Hae Young should not get so angry at her asking that. I mean she wants to confirm that he DIDN´t do anything. she doesn´t like really believe he could have.

    I think the victim ( wont bother to learn his name) was also the pickpocket Sang Hyo was looking for. Maybe he stole rich peoples wallets to find out their secrets and blackmail them.
    DAT DITECTIVE. But asking these random things does not take him forward in the investigation. or does he even want to solve his cases? In this case to hell with the logic and reason, if it is funny, I take it. I need my mind off serious things.
    but I would totally decorate the wedding hall a lot differently. it is so boring.

  11. 11 anya

    ROFL when I saw the earring commentary. I was thinking the exact same thing on the same two pairs!

    btw, regarding the frames in the last scene – there’s been some messy editing. in one clip, SH looks like she’s straightening the frames – in the clip immediately after (on a zoom out) the frames look crooked. so it’s likely a mistake from editing or setup that is leading to conflicting interpretations (straightening or messing with his frames). given that she came for a favor to redo his wedding, I’m guessing she was trying to straighten it out, which led HY to smile b/c SH knows his OCDishness well (shown in episode 3).

    Love your commentary, Saya! And your attention to detail on MSH. It makes the whodunit side of the mystery super compelling as we collect clues and try to figure stuff out.

    Adding my observations to the list based on what I’ve watched so far and the character profiles I’ve seen online: suspects for sons include 1) Shi Chan; 2) Soo-Ah’s Driver; along with the usual suspects you’ve name, SG, Team Leader Cha and Gi Chul. Unless the son has yet to show up. Which is also a possibility.

    Here’s another pickup I’ve pieced so far: there are at most two workers from 1984 who have since left that may know something: SH’s mom, who is Korean and apparently from SH’s character profile worked at TSH (yes, SH is adopted, so it’s not clear if her biological mom is acting as her adopted mom or really raised SH on behalf of another); and, a man not yet identified who Hwang spoke to before he died – which clearly is not GM Lee, since he has been at the hotel since its founding (also a pickup from his character profile and working bio). This man has a son, is successful, and was in the U.S. I read somewhere that the production team wanted a CSI type feel to the series (it was even mentioned by HY at some point…haha). So I’m hoping the editing is smart enough to leave clues for the audience to pick up and put together – because that would be way more fun and it makes the wait for the next episode all that more bearable.

    Also, as a mention, one suspicious outcome of this episode’s confessions is GH: she said she left early and went home. She’s actually been a TSH employee for a long time (also character bio), so I suspect that she understands the hotel operations enough that there are cameras/CCTVs all over the hotel. She must have been pretty damn sure any evidence of that was erased to lie so calmly and coolly during her interrogation. Which means her, Cha, and GM Lee are likely on the same team and likely she was doing something that night with whoever is involved. (Note: Detective Kim noted that he found nothing contradictory on CCTV – or any clues leading to Hwang’s death).

    That’s it for now. I have other observations (minor ones) but I think I’m going to hit over the character limit if I keep going. haha.

  12. 12 Mandy

    I really shouldn’t go on about the OTP when the mystery is actually getting interesting. But I can’t help it lol. The flashback was just heart. They looked so happy then, and although I’m not into love-stories that happens in such a short time, I think the actors just sell it. The intensity is deep, and it looks so darn genuine, I just want them to resolve their issues and get back together already!

    Back in the present, I love the rare light moment between them. I was slightly disappointed that Sang-hyo doubted Hae-young and there’s some major trust issues in play between the two. Last time Sang-hyo thought of course he wouldn’t come back for her, and Hae-young thought, of course she wouldn’t wait for him. The big misunderstanding was probably caused by the stalker because she’s known them both for years and is obsessed with Hae-young. I can’t believe he hasn’t gotten a restraining order for her yet. Girl is psychotic.

    I agree with Saya regarding the character development we have for Hae-young in this episode. He was first introduced as someone who doesn’t take his job very seriously or thinks much of his team. But as we progress, we can see that he is successful because of hard work and cares extremely for his crew. He even has a close relationship with them and that there’s mutual respect all around.

    Sung-gyum… less said the better regarding his motives. I get more suspicious of him as we progress. But I love how professional he’s shown to be in the first four episodes. He never actually lets his personal affections get the better of him at work and always knows how to handle difficult situations similar to Sang-hyo.

    As for the murder… I think its a little too early to give out predictions although I’m extremely intrigued by the idea that Hwang may have killed himself. That’s opens up a whole new bottle of worms and makes this more complicated because while they try to hunt for reasons behind the suicide, they can’t actually arrest someone for murder. I know this whole thing is tied with what happened to Sung-gyum’s dad in ’84, so maybe that’s the eventual murder mystery in our hands.

    I’m not one to predict and prefer sitting back and enjoying this. There’s some silliness going on, but I’m totally on board with the romance that I’m probably watching with rose tinted glasses.

    • 12.1 Sajen

      “The big misunderstanding was probably caused by the stalker because she’s known them both for years and is obsessed with Hae-young. I can’t believe he hasn’t gotten a restraining order for her yet. Girl is psychotic. ”

      I have to say if some crazy girl was stalking me it wouldn’t take me more than 8 years to get a restraining order. Then again I’m not sure such a thing exists in Korea.

    • 12.2 Thursdaynexxt

      Yes, they completely sold me on the heart, in just a few episodes!

      I could really believe the connection that they had, and which they still feel for each other. The last time a show managed to bring an OTP to life like this was in Angel Eyes (the teenage couple, I mean) in the first 2 episodes.

  13. 13 Sajen

    “Soo-ah’s also being pestered by incessant calls, and she takes her frustration out on her staff, slapping one across the face. Well, that’s not nice.”

    Maybe it’s just that I’ve watched too many dramas but I got the impression that the driver Soo-ah slapped has a crush on her and she knows it, possibly even hinting at a past relationship making the slap extra bitchy.

    For Gi-chul and Team Leader Cha my theory is they’re gay and in a relationship. It would explain Team Leader Cha’s reaction at the bar as well, as I took it as less awkward and more he’s just not interested in women.

    • 13.1 trotwood

      I thought that about Gi-Chul and Team Leader Cha as well, and thought it would be especially funny if it were true because Eun Joo was so trying to push Cha and Sang-hyo and an office couple option at the bar.

      I am enjoying the Agatha Chrity vibe to this story. I am really enjoying Yoo In Na and her character (and her clothes and her accessories!). However, as much as I am liking Sang Hyo with Sung Gyum–he porvides her with respect, relief, and comforting friendship, which she so desperately needs now–Sang Hyo still has deep feelings for Hae Young. You can feel a charge in the air when they are on the screen together. I think though, she is going to need to get those Sung Gyum feelings from Hae Young (and he get them from her) for them to get past the past.

    • 13.2 Rori

      When Soo-ah slapped the driver, I felt the same. Its like the driver and Soo-ah both like each other but circumstances are against them. It would definitely be nice to watch even that part of the story develop. Because making the fiance evil or silly and bad is the just predictable. How about give her story a twist. As for the OTP, they have less screen time but great chemistry. There is a lot of misunderstanding but they still have deep feelings for each other. As for Sung-gyum, I have this crazy theory that his father faked his own death and the son Hwang was mentioning on the phone is him. And general manger Lee is a bit over sympathetic towards Sung-hyo. Given her adopted child status, who knows there may be a bit more secret there as well. Overall I am liking the show so far. It has all the right elements and I love Yoo In Na’s acting and her clothes. Hopefully the up coming episodes will be even better. Also the precap for episode 5 looked fantastic.

      • 13.2.1 4My

        Hmmmm… i didn’t thought of that..
        “Faking his death”…. who knows you have the same flow of thought as that of the writer. We will see about that in the coming episodes…

        Btw, is the mom of SG still alive? Maybe, she can shade some light.

        And yes i can alao feel the great chemistry of the OTP. I hope in the coming episodes, they will be given more screen time together.

        Is it Monday already?

      • 13.2.2 Chloe

        Haha, looks like I’m not alone! I second that crazy theory that Sung-gyum’s father is actually alive

        • Saya

          Not that crazy! If Emily Thorne’s dad has been alive all this time…

          (…if anyone else watches the lollercoaster that is Revenge)

          • Adal

            Really? ! I stopped watching Revenge eons ago. What a twist!

          • Rori

            I stopped watching Revenge a long time ago. David Clarke is alive! That’s very soap opera-ish twist on prime time TV. Anyway, who knows! But Sung-gyum wants to keep Sung-hyo close, why?? Management usually looks for a scapegoat in situations like this and she was volunteering to be the fall guy. GM Lee again tried to defend her. Both Sung-gyum and GM Lee is just shady like the rest at this point and have their own reasons to keep Sung-hyo nearby it seems.

      • 13.2.3 maripaz

        Yeah, I kept thinking Sung Gyum’s dad faked his death too, until I realized that Hwang could have been talking to his mom. Maybe Hwang, GM Lee and Sung Gyum’s mom plotted together to kill dad and profit off of it (??) Hwang mentioned that they both seemed to be living well except for him.

        I also totally missed any vibe that Soo Ah had something going on with the driver. To me, it showed that even though earlier she told Sang Hyo that she’s normally not the type of person to slap someone else, maybe she is, and there’s more to her than meets the eye.

    • 13.3 harmonyfb

      >For Gi-chul and Team Leader Cha my theory is they’re gay and in a relationship

      I assumed that, as well. Which makes the matchmaking attempt at the bar even more awkward. (I really wish the director had given us Cha’s facial expressions during that bit, instead of just Sang-hyo’s. I can only imagine the hilarious awkwardness.)

    • 13.4 Thursdaynexxt

      Well, if tvN wanted to push the envelope, I’d be all for them taking the brave step and having a gay couple on the team.

      We’ll wait and see.

      Also agree about Soo-ah and her chauffeur having feelings for each other. Which gives her a nice layer of complexity beyond the ditzy bratty princess she’s portrayed up until now. She probably likes him, but feels like she couldn’t possibly be with someone that low-class – or something? She certainly doesn’t love Hae-young – she was prepared to go through an arranged marriage even when she knew he didn’t care a snap of his fingers for her.

      • 13.4.1 trotwood

        I would love it if they were a gay couple AND Sang Hyo knows about it. That would make it all even more awkward because she would not not just be uncomfortable in the situation but uncomfortable for Team Leader Cha because she knows he cannot just come out and say he is already dating someone when he really wants to. But then would that make her too perfect? It would explain Gi-Chul’s loyalty to her. But then again, she could be just a great boss.

      • 13.4.2 Charm

        They actually have pushed the envelope before. You might be interested in ‘She Is Wow’ if you haven’t watched it. I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll just say one of the main ‘lovelines’ was between men. And it was one of the most messed up dramas I ever watched, lol. I thought Cha and GiChul were together from early on. The awkward scene with Cha and SangHyo being set up was another clue towards that, I think…we’ll have to wait and see I guess 🙂

    • 13.5 Ennayra

      About Gi-chul and Team Leader Cha, I thought they might be gay too, or they for some reason killed Hwang together. I can’t think of why they would do that yet, but speculating is half the fun!

  14. 14 Daniella

    I can’t believe how much i’m starting to fall for this drama. Crack drama here I come.

  15. 15 Daniella

    But I wish there were more scenes with the main leads. They’re my OTP.

    Do you guys see that chemistry. Cracklin sizzlin hot.

    • 15.1 4My

      Yes, i can feel it too. The OTP’s electrifying chemistry!

      I hope in ep5 our OTP will have more screen time together.

  16. 16 museofmanymasks

    Did no one catch the Gag Concert reference? The whole slap-defense choreographing was a parody of the Hidden Masters skit which made it even funnier than in already was. I love how awesome out leading lady gets to be! Even her wardrobe is inspiring. Curious to see how it all pans out .

  17. 17 Lilly

    I wonder if the wallet under the body was an attempt to frame him for the murder?

    And maybe he was already dead and the killer is not the one who dumped him through the glass.

    And if the person who dumped him through the glass was not the killer, then maybe the killer will go after that other person thinking they might know they are the killer.

    • 17.1 Thursdaynexxt

      Yes, was wondering that too. We haven’t yet seen where the body fell from yet, but if he was killed before midnight, then where was his body all that time until the wedding started?

      Putting the body on top of a glass ceiling doesn’t seem the best place for it – that is, assuming that it wasn’t deliberately timed to interrupt the wedding!

      Plus, I thought most of our main suspects were downstairs at the wedding when the body came down? (except Sung-gyum and GM Lee, I think?)

    • 17.2 REI

      I formed my own theory of it, remember the series of pickpocket accidents in the hotel? I suspect Mr Hwang was the one behind it, his character is quite shady and like to gamble.

  18. 18 Momoi

    Hae-young was so adorable in this episode, like with the picture and pillow. I like him, and most of the characters. Just like King of High School (and go figure another TvN drama), I’m enjoying all the characters.

    Secret Hotel sure lives up to its name, with everyone having a secret or two. The minor characters already have more intrigue in these 4 episodes than most writers given them through an entire show. Kyung-hee particularly. I thought she was really sick and that’s why she was crying, but now a flood of other scenarios are in my mind.

  19. 19 Cocoboo

    I think Kyung Hee was crying because of a result from her check-up. She may have a serious or terminal illness.

    Jung Eun is aggravating. I don’t know what her relationship is with Hae Young. Are they friends, acquaintances, or what?
    She has had a crush on him for way too long; she needs to move on. It annoyed me that she was so biased in reporting the S Hotel article.

    I wonder if Young Mi stole the necklace because it was just a pretty trinket to her or if she knew something important about the necklace.
    Her complaint about not having a luxurious life and meeting rich men made me curious.

    Thanks for the recap, Saya! I also noticed Yoo Inna’s pretty earrings! /wants/

  20. 20 Adal

    Did Sung-Gyeom think “let’s have Ramen together” was a euphemism for something dirtier, like “Let’s spend the night together”? I ask, because he looked pissed off as the Ramen was cooking before Sang-hyo started acting all cutesy. He looked disappointed, like he was expecting more.

    Someone ought to tell Eun-joo that the way to a man’s heart is NOT to act too aggressively. She’ll end up chasing them away. She comes across as too desperate, and some men, of which I think Sang- Gyeom is one, may actually enjoy the chase as a predator, not the prey.

    Was there something going on between the murdered man and Yang Gyung-hee? Her reactions to him have been suspicious. Such as her fainting when she saw his dead body, offering to take his belongings to the director, and lying to the police about her whereabouts on the night before the murder. Her expressions are so subtle, but it’s hard to miss the fact that there’s something going on with her. Since she started acting weird after her doctor’s visit, my guess is she either has an unwanted pregnancy or terminal illness or something. Maybe she wasn’t having an affair with the dead guy but the director, it’s all speculation at this point.

    So, Young-mi is a little thief. Somehow I am not surprised. I doubt she’s the one stealing the wallets though. For some reason, the theft of those wallets strike me as being done by a male offender rather than a female. However, I dislike her hypocritical ass almost as much as I dislike the female reporter. She’s the only one who pretended to have any affection for the dead guy. What’s the significance of the locket she stole? The camera zoomed to it, like it was something significant.

    So many secrets… the title of the drama is quite apt. I’m hoping the new writer will continue in the same vein as the first four episodes, putting the emphasis on the murder mystery and less focus on the love triangle which seems overdone in most kdramas. It would really be a shame if this went the way of ‘Lie To Me’ where there was a disconnect between the plot after a change in writers and many of the threads first introduced were not picked up in the latter part of the show. I’m really looking forward to a good whodunit show.

    • 20.1 pogo

      call me naive but I think he thought ‘ramen’ in this case meant properly home-cooked ramen, not convenience-store baked instant ramen.

      At least that’s what I’d like to think 😉

  21. 21 keith

    and I think there is something behind that slap Soo ah gives to her driver. When she asked “are you happy now?” that should means something. Are they previous lovers which didn’t succeeded? because you know, Soo ah and Hae young marry are family arranged. When they got home from the incident, Soo ah were mentioned that she never thought that her oppa will get jealous since he is likely being pushed by his mother to marry her.

    • 21.1 Ennayra

      Yes, I thought there was some added meaning to that slap as well.

  22. 22 Thursdaynexxt

    Thanks for the recap, Saya! All very intriguing questions you raised.

    I’m leaning towards the theory that Stalker Jung-eun caused trouble in Hae-Young and Sang-hyo’s brief marriage, which led to their break-up. Sang-hyo may have seen Jung-eun before (like, maybe she introduced herself as HY’s friend, or lied that he cheated on SH with her, etc). The article would have gone out under JE’s name, so SH would know her name, but since they only spoke by phone, Sang-hyo probably hasn’t connected the dots about this woman who’s been deliberately sabotaging her relationship with Hae-young all this time.

    Hae-young also seems not to know that JE’s really got it in for SH – he just treats her like a nuisance, but just wait until he finds out!

    I’m trying to piece together the timeline – in Ep 1, Jung-eun said she’s carried a torch for Hae-young for 8 years. Hae-young and Sang-hyo got married 7 years ago, so JE’s no doubt pissed that HY decided to marry SH after knowing her for only a week, when JE had been hanging around for a year. Then it was pretty quiet for 7 years, until Jung-eun found out about Hae-young’s upcoming marriage to Soo-ah. How did JE not know about this, when she’s dedicated her life to stalking HY?

    Also, Jung-eun’s sooo controlling and possessive around Hae-young that it makes me wonder what on earth their relationship is, exactly? How did she meet him?

  23. 23 jingelbells

    Agatha Christie-wise, maybe this is like thee Murder in the Orient Express where EVERYBODY has a hand on the murder. 😉

    Just gave birth last saturday and can’t watch tv right now because it’s giving me headaches that’s why just quickly reading the recaps! Thank u so much! ^^ will try to catch episodes as soon as i feel stronger! ^^

    • 23.1 Pollywood

      Awesome idea! Although it seems like this time only one person stabbed him. 🙂 Though there could be different people involved in the killing (drowning/choking/neck snapping, or sth equally ridiculous), stabbing and body dumping.

      But then they shouldn’t be bashing on each other and instead give each other alibis, n’est ce pas?
      It would be possible however that none of them is aware of the other killers. That would be awesome and make good suspensful television. 🙂

      And congratulations on the new baby!

  24. 24 lemonicricket

    I don’t understand Jung-eun’s character and she really makes me rage. Who is she? How is she related to Hae-young and how is she not in jail for being a crazy stalker? Why doesn’t he do something about her behaviour? I hope she doesn’t get too much air time or it will ruin the drama for me. Soo-ah is bad enough.

  25. 25 Chelseasj

    I cannot believe what a mishmash of Hotel King x Emergency Couple this is turning out to be.. but thanks to the stunning lead couple, I’m going down this steep slippery slope.

  26. 26 Ennayra

    Thanks for the recap! That last screencap was perfect :-). Still loving the soundtrack to this drama, which I initially liked because the music was so different, but now it’s become more familiar, and I still like it.

  27. 27 Mylosgirl

    Awesome recap! Just discovered this show and have been hooked! Does anyone know where you can buy the pearl earrings Sang-hoy is wearing? The style is so unique with the three pearl drops. I love her style on the show!

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