My Secret Hotel: Episode 9
Sung-gyum discovers that Hae-young isn’t just a part of Sang-hyo’s past, but her present, too. He’s not about to give up pursuing her, though — and neither is Hae-young, who’s ready to redeem himself from his past mistakes. We finally learn what happened in Las Vegas seven years ago that caused them to break up — despite all of Hae-young’s best efforts, is history doomed to repeat itself?
EPISODE 9 RECAP
After Sung-gyum discovers Sang-hyo, he wants to know why she’s with Hae-young and Soo-ah on their honeymoon. Sang-hyo prevents the other two from explaining what happened, as she and Sung-gyum step aside so she can tell him in private.
Hae-young is reluctant to let them walk away, but watches them go as Soo-ah wonders if Sung-gyum will be angry to discover that Sang-hyo was the substitute for her wedding. But to Hae-young, she was no substitute, and Soo-ah is surprised to discover that he genuinely wanted to marry Sang-hyo.
Sang-hyo, meanwhile, tries to work up her courage to explain to Sung-gyum what happened, asking him to not be too shocked when he hears the truth — but he just smiles and says she’s always full of surprises. After some hemming and hawing, she finally tells him she got married.
He thinks she’s referring to her wedding to Hae-young seven years ago, and then wonders if perhaps she has another marriage in her past — to someone other than Hae-young? Hastily she reassures him that’s not it (which is no lie), but before she can explain any further, the resort manager appears to check in with Sung-gyum.
Immediately, Sang-hyo begins to panic, because she remembers him as the hotel employee who knows her as Hae-young’s bride. The oblivious Sung-gyum introduces her to the employee as his girlfriend, and she tries to greet him all the while keeping her face turned away so he can’t recognize her.
Soo-ah is shocked to discover that Sang-hyo is Hae-young’s ex-wife. She rages that he must have been two-timing her, having promised to marry her while really in love with another woman. But Hae-young points out that she’s one to talk (what with her running off with Ki-ho). But since she now knows the truth, he asks her to be a little nicer to Sang-hyo. Soo-ah: “But I’m prettier, right?”
Watching them from afar is a sad and lovesick Ki-ho, who sighs that Soo-ah is too beautiful for him. He pulls out his phone to call Soo-ah’s mother, and while we don’t get to hear the full conversation, before he hangs up he says that amount of money is enough.
Back at The Secret Hotel, Detective Kim is meeting with Eun-joo, who’s a suspect in Young-mi’s murder since her fingerprints were found on the murder weapon. She’s offended that he thinks she could have actually killed someone, and explains that she dropped it in shock after she found Young-mi dead.
Eun-joo is also surprised that he knows she threatened Young-mi, and refuses to tell him more because it will harm the reputation of the deceased. But Detective Kim reminds her that it’s more important that she clear herself of suspicion so they can catch the murderer. Immediately convinced, she leans in and whispers that she caught Young-mi blackmailing Soo-ah.
In a flashback, Eun-joo pulls Young-mi aside, asking how she could blackmail one of their clients, demanding that she hand over the photos. But Young-mi refuses: “Not over my dead body.” Frustrated, Eun-joo yells that if she kills Young-mi, maybe she will come to her senses. The staffer who reported Eun-joo overhears the two women just as Young-mi adds, “Kill me or not, I’m not afraid.”
After Eun-joo explains what happened, she asks if Detective Kim thinks she’s still the killer. He says he knew she wasn’t from the get-go, because Eun-joo was at the wedding hall during the time of Young-mi’s death (and he hilariously mimics her over-dramatic wedding speech). But because someone reported that she had threatened Young-mi, he had to investigate.
Back at the resort, Sung-gyum is having coffee with the head of the Hotel Association, along with his wife, who are both delighted to be introduced to Sung-gyum’s “girlfriend” Sang-hyo (who’s still trying to avoid being seen by the resort manager, ha). Hae-young finds them in the dining room and ducks around the corner, suddenly flustered that she’s just sitting there, smiling and having fun.
She ignores Hae-young’s attempt to call her on the phone, so he sends her a text, telling her to come out at the count of three. She ignores his texts, and when he counts down to one, he strides to their table, demanding Sang-hyo to follow him. Sung-gyum calls him out on his rudeness, but Hae-young doesn’t care.
When Sung-gyum reminds him that since he’s on his honeymoon, Hae-young should be spending some alone-time with his bride, Hae-young smirks and finally drops the bomb: “Nam Sang-hyo is the bride I married two days ago.”
Sung-gyum is utterly gobsmacked and looks to Sang-hyo for confirmation, but she just helplessly apologizes. With her perfect timing, Soo-ah runs in and flings herself at Hae-young, weeping over the discovery of Ki-ho’s note that says he’s sorry but he doesn’t think they’ll be able succeed as a couple. She then collapses in Hae-young’s arms.
At the police station, Detective Kim sighs that they’re still without a lead on the killer. But his partner is pretty sure he knows who did it. He’s convinced it’s Sung-gyum, and describes a motive based on an elaborate love-triangle plot with Hwang, Sung-gyum’s mother, and Young-mi that resulted in Sung-gyum killing both Hwang and Young-mi.
But Detective Kim finds his story ridiculous, and is sure that what Hwang was referring to when he spoke to Sung-gyum’s mother on the phone was something that related to his father’s death thirty years prior.
In GM Lee’s office, Team Leader Cha references the event that happened thirty years ago, but GM Lee says that after all the running around in circles they’ve done, they’re back to square one. We don’t get to know what happened, but Team Leader Cha receives a text message: “I know who the killer is.”
Sung-gyum is dazed by the discovery that Sang-hyo married Hae-young. He wonders how, even if she were in a difficult situation, she could have married him like that. She apologizes, but she couldn’t think of any other way. Sung-gyum: “Couldn’t you think of me?”
Unable to stand the thought that she would share a room with Hae-young even if Soo-ah is there, Sung-gyum orders Sang-hyo to pack up her suitcase and use his room. He’ll sleep in the car.
Meanwhile, Hae-young makes sure Soo-ah is taken care of, and she cries in her sleep as he tells her family that she’s okay. He finds the letter that Ki-ho left behind, and wonders what the outcome will be for him and Sang-hyo. When she arrives to collect her suitcase, Hae-young wants to know what kind of guy Sung-gyum is to order her around. She tells him that he’s the man she’s dating, and if it weren’t for Hae-young, she’d be starting over with Sung-gyum right now. He blocks her from her suitcase, and tells her she can’t go.
In his room, Sung-gyum packs up his own suitcase, waiting for Sang-hyo to arrive. But surprise, surprise, in saunters Hae-young, nonchalantly rolling his suitcase into the corner. When Sung-gyum asks what’s going on, Hae-young says he’s staying here instead of Sang-hyo — not because he wants to, of course.
Sung-gyum asks him why he married Sang-hyo, and Hae-young cheekily asks, “The first or second time?”
The first time was because they were in love; the second time is to get back the woman he loves. But Sung-gyum laughs at that, and tells Hae-young he’ll fail once again in his marriage, because he’s next to Sang-hyo now. The boys’ pissing match even extends to them fighting over what bed to use, and Hae-young’s childish attempt to steal Sung-gyum’s chosen bed leads to a surprised Sung-gyum sitting in his lap, who snarks that it’s no surprise why Hae-young and Sang-hyo broke up.
Team Leader Cha meets with the person who sent him the text — it’s Gi-chul, and he asks if Team Leader Cha killed Young-mi, too. He’s convinced Team Leader Cha is Hwang’s killer because Cha saw Gi-chul pickpocket Hae-young’s wallet and then took it from him, after Gi-chul had pleaded for him not to report it and asked him for another chance. At least we now know who the pickpocket was.
Because the wallet was then found next to Hwang’s body, Gi-chul assumes that must mean Team Leader Cha is the murderer. Or else why would Hwang have Hae-young’s wallet? But Team Leader Cha isn’t about to explain, and if Gi-chul reports him to the police, he’ll also have to confess to being a pickpocket. Besides, it’s just circumstantial evidence, and Team Leader Cha warns Gi-chul that if he tries to do anything about it, he’ll be the one getting hurt.
Sung-gyum takes a shower…
…and broods over Sang-hyo.
Hae-young channel-surfs in the hotel room, sighing over the fact that the first night of his honeymoon he shared a tent with Ki-ho, and now he’s sharing a room with Sung-gyum (not to mention on his wedding night, there was a dead body in the bathroom). When he hears Sung-gyum leave the bathroom, he gets ready to wash up, too — but is stopped at the sight of Sung-gyum’s six-pack, and buttons his shirt up again. Ha!
Sitting up in bed, Soo-ah wonders if Ki-ho will ever come back. If she waits long enough, he’ll return, right? They have too much history together for him to leave forever, so she decides she’ll wait until he comes back.
Sang-hyo stops pretending to be asleep and tells Soo-ah not to wait for him — he won’t come back. Once a man leaves, he doesn’t return. She counsels Soo-ah not to waste her time waiting, or wondering what she did wrong, or if he loved her. Instead, just work hard to forget him.
She quietly admits that the reason she and Hae-young broke up was because he left her.
Seven years ago, Sang-hyo had returned to their apartment, shocked to discover that all his stuff was gone. All that was left behind for her was a plane ticket and an address in New York. She slowly collapsed to the floor, crying her eyes out. Days passed and she didn’t move, until finally she fainted, only to be discovered by a coworker concerned that she hadn’t seen her for days.
Sang-hyo: “No matter how long I waited, he didn’t come.”
The wedding department at The Secret Hotel is back in business, thanks to the publicity surrounding Sang-hyo’s “miracle” wedding — even celebrities are booking their weddings there, including Lee Young-eun (the actress playing Eun-joo, who is about to get married in real life). Eun-joo is pleased her plan went so well, but Jung-eun has a different response, as she wails at the news article about the wedding.
Hae-young wakes up with a start (and the cutest bedhead), wondering where Sung-gyum has gone. He finds him having breakfast with Soo-ah and Sang-hyo, and unceremoniously joins them. When he mentions that Soo-ah should still be grieving over Ki-ho instead of wolfing down breakfast, Soo-ah tells him that after talking things over with Sang-hyo, she’s decided to forget about Ki-ho.
He’s surprised at this response, saying she should give him a second chance — they have so much history together, how could she forget him so easily? Doesn’t she have any sense of loyalty?
Sung-gyum butts in to point out that the person who left is the more cowardly one, and Soo-ah agrees: Why did he leave, anyway? Hae-young looks directly at Sang-hyo: “Maybe something important came up.”
Sang-hyo tries to ignore him and just eat her breakfast, but Soo-ah and Sung-gyum aren’t convinced that something could be more important than leaving behind the woman you love. But there’s no more time to argue, since Sang-hyo and Hae-young have another press interview.
She’s all smiles for the reporters as she tells them how special their honeymoon has been, but he continues to sulk. Finally she grabs his cheeks in a “playful” manner and pinches a smile out of him for the press. Soo-ah and Sung-gyum watch the interview, and Soo-ah wonders if it’s true they don’t really have feelings for each other.
As soon as the interview is over, Sang-hyo is ready to go back home, and she waits for Sung-gyum to bring his car around. Hae-young tries to protest her leaving, but she reminds him that she married him only to save the hotel. He confesses that he married her out of genuine feelings, but Sang-hyo says they were finished seven years ago when he left her.
Hae-young says she should have waited for him, but she points out that he was the one who left. Why should she have waited? She remembers everything about how they broke up, and she doesn’t trust him or his casual feelings. She gets into Sung-gyum’s car and they drive off.
A very-much not-okay Hae-young drives Soo-ah home, and she tries to be quiet to not disrupt his brooding over Sang-hyo until she realizes that she’s being silly. Letting loose her own frustration, she tells him he’s the one who made the mistake of leaving without at least saying goodbye face-to-face. Hae-young thinks to himself: “I wouldn’t have been able to leave if I saw her face.”
Another flashback to Las Vegas: this time from Hae-young’s point-of-view, as Shi-chan begs him over the phone to come back to New York. If he doesn’t return ASAP, they’ll lose everything they’ve worked for, to build their company.
Not for the first time, Hae-young asks Sang-hyo to move to New York with him — she could find another job there. But she refuses, saying that the best hotels are in Las Vegas and she’s worked too hard to get where she is to leave it all behind. She’s not going to sacrifice her career for him, just like he refuses to sacrifice his career for her. Hae-young wonders if they should just break up, then.
As Sung-gyum drives back to the city, Sang-hyo pensively takes off her wedding ring. He tries to lift up her spirits by turning on the radio (and in another meta moment, plays Hong Jin-young’s “Love Battery”). Aw, it’s so cute how he gets Sang-hyo to smile again, even if it means confessing that he can’t sing — a weakness that Sang-hyo finds particularly charming.
Hae-young drops Soo-ah off at her home, but she’s not ready to leave the car, convinced her mother will beat her to death. But as scary as Mom looks, she’s surprisingly pleasant as she asks after Soo-ah, letting her know how worried she was about her. As soon as Hae-young leaves, though, she grabs her daughter by the ear and drags her inside.
She yells at Soo-ah about how much she had to give Ki-ho: $300,000. But Soo-ah is hurt that she wasn’t worth more — after all, her mother knows Ki-ho’s situation. Why didn’t she give him more money? As Mom continues to drag her inside the house, Ki-ho watches from a distance, and then falls to his knees in emotional anguish.
The employees at Hae-young’s architecture firm have decided to take the evening off and go out for drinks. Shi-chan buys another round, happy that they’ve married off their boss — who calls him on the phone. Shi-chan shushes everyone as he swears they’re working late and he doesn’t need to worry about anything and he should just enjoy his honeymoon.
But Hae-young suddenly appears behind him, and the rest of the staff scatter, leaving Shi-chan to take the blame. Which Hae-young wants to put on him, but not for going out drinking when he should be working — for the phone call seven years ago that broke up his marriage.
Sung-gyum drops Sang-hyo off at her apartment, asking if she’s okay now. She smilingly answers that she is, and he asks why she didn’t ask if he’s okay. Because, he admits, he’s not okay — it feels like something precious was taken from him when he wasn’t looking.
Referencing the song he played in the car, he asks if Sang-hyo will “recharge” him — his “battery” is dead. She agrees, and he apologizes as he tells her that she can recharge him like this…
…and swoops in for a kiss.
Meanwhile, Hae-young downs shots of soju as he tearfully tells Shi-chan that his heart hurts so much that it feels like he’s dying: “Just like this, it must be over. This must be the end.”
Well, it’s obviously not the end, because we still have half the drama left to go. But it does drive home the point that Hae-young and Sang-hyo never had closure about their relationship. This is the first episode where I’ve finally come around to the idea that Sung-gyum might actually be good for Sang-hyo (although I still desperately want to know what his secret is!). She spent a lot of the episode in various states of distress and anguish, so to see how happy Sung-gyum made her — and how she clearly wants a new start — has begrudgingly pushed me to accept that Sung-gyum is a contender for her heart after all, and I wouldn’t mind if they end up together.
But I’m not giving up on Hae-young, especially since we’ve finally learned what happened in Las Vegas, and that while neither one was completely wrong, neither was completely right. It’s difficult in relationships where someone’s job requires them to be in a different place — there’s a give-and-take to decide whose career gets the priority at any given moment. Normally this is something couples discuss before they get married, but the passionate young love between Hae-young and Sang-hyo meant that they obviously didn’t stop to talk through the big issues before they got hitched.
In that respect, I have a lot of admiration for a show that would dare to show how difficult marriage is if you don’t think it through and just marry “for love.” There are important compatibility issues that need to be discussed so that you don’t suddenly encounter a deal-breaker — like having to move for your spouse’s career. Or not being able to afford the lifestyle your spouse is accustomed to.
As much as I groaned when Soo-ah returned (because I sincerely thought after she eloped with Ki-ho, we wouldn’t see her again), I kinda love that Soo-ah and Sang-hyo have gone through the same experiences, impulsive-first-marriage-wise. I know that Soo-ah is created to be an unlikable character, but there’s something about her that draws me to her. It seems like the more we see of her, the more we peel back a little bit of her superficial layer to discover a scared young woman who wants to do the right thing, but was brought up to not be responsible enough to manage life on her own. Yes, she’s shallow and vain, but I do believe she deeply loves Ki-ho and wants to make it work. She just has no clue how to live in the real world if Mom isn’t bankrolling it.
So instead of wishing she’d finally and officially go away, I’m intrigued that we might get this echoing narrative of a disastrous first marriage — and while I have no idea what the hell Ki-ho is thinking by returning her to her family for money (because I think he genuinely loves her and it was a hard decision for him), I’m curious to see if they can work out their problems and overcome them. Because that gives me a little hope that somehow Hae-young and Sang-hyo can work out their problems, too, now that Hae-young realizes how clearly Sang-hyo prioritizes her career.
Although I’m not looking forward to the guys fighting over Sang-hyo. I’ll admit the first half of the episode had me sighing because I didn’t need to see another show with two guys puffing up their chests and trying to prove they’re better than the other, while playing tug-of-war with the helpless female. One of the things I love about this show is how independent and capable Sang-hyo is, and how fiercely she defends that independence in not just herself, but other women, too. She doesn’t want to be Cinderella — she just wants to fulfill her dream of being a manager at a hotel, and will do whatever it takes to get there.
Which is why I loved the second half when the guys’ attention was more on each other than Sang-hyo (although, admittedly, it was because of her). Can I have Sung-gyum and Hae-young share a room for the rest of the series? I want them to become begrudging buddies, if possible, and to needle each other in silly little ways that make each other realize how they need to step up if they want to truly be men worthy of Sang-hyo.
Although stepping up might be literal in Sung-gyum’s case — I admit I cackled when Hae-young was like, “Yeah, I might not have any abs, but at least I’m taller than you!” because I’ve been fascinated how the show has managed to handle Namgoong Min’s short height. I’m pretty sure it’s not just coincidence that a lot of his scenes have him sitting down, or in a tight close-up.
As for the mystery side of things, we’re still moving along at the slow-and-steady pace. I’m hoping we’ll get closer to not just solving Young-mi and Hwang’s murders, but whatever the heck happened thirty years ago. I’m not sure who killed Young-mi or Hwang (I’m assuming it’s the same person), but I get the feeling it’s probably someone we have already seen. Team Leader Cha has been on my radar for a few episodes now, although I haven’t been able to figure out a motive. But he’s a loyal security man — perhaps someone hired him to protect someone else, like, say Sung-gyum’s mother hired him to protect a secret from destroying her son if it got out.
But honestly I’m not in a crashing hurry to have everything solved right away, so long as we continue to get closer and closer to figuring things out. In the meantime, I’ll just hope that somehow everyone will find a way to be happy and stay alive until the end of the show.