What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim: Episode 11
It’s long past time for the truth to be revealed, and it’s both more horrifying than we imagined, and more heartwarming than should be possible. There’s a reason for everything, including Young-joon’s behavior for the past nine years. He’s been tragically misunderstood, but there’s a good reason for that too, as we learn that everything he’s done his whole life has been for one goal — to protect the heart of one innocent little girl.
EPISODE 11 RECAP
Sung-yeon learns from his mother that he wasn’t actually kidnapped. He ends up at Young-joon’s company event in a daze, and he sits next to Mi-so and asks if his memory is wrong. She doesn’t answer, because the magic act on stage sends her into a flashback, and she suddenly remembers everything.
She recalls being locked up with Young-joon, seeing their kidnapper hang herself, and Young-joon telling her that it’s just a spider hanging from the ceiling. She passes out cold, and Young-joon rushes over to cradle her in his arms.
Mi-so remembers more of the day of her kidnapping while she’s unconscious. She wakes up in the middle of the night and, confused, she goes looking for her mother, who’s in the hospital. She sees a woman and follows her, thinking she might be Mom, and the woman (calling herself Auntie) promises to take her to her mother.
Instead, Auntie leads Mi-so to the house where she’s already got Young-joon tied up, telling her they’ll go see Mommy in the morning. Young-joon introduces himself as Lee Sung-hyun, which Mi-so misunderstands as “Sung-yeon,” and he calls her an idiot.
She asks him what “dying” means, having heard her father say her mother might be dying. He lies that he doesn’t know, so she says that Pil-nam told her it means she won’t see Mommy anymore. He snaps that that’s obvious, and little Mi-so starts to cry at the thought of never seeing Mommy again.
Young-joon tries to stifle her wails but they attract Auntie’s attention, and she tells them in a flat voice to be quiet because Daddy will be home soon. Young-joon cringes when Mi-so whines that her dad is at the hospital. Auntie yells that he’s at the office and tells them to wait here with Mommy, obviously deep in a psychotic episode.
Young-joon gives Mi-so a caramel to calm her down and make her stop crying, and it works. She smiles, and he crinkles his nose at her adorably, but they both grow frightened again when they look up to see Auntie standing in the doorway holding a pair of wickedly sharp scissors.
Eventually they fall asleep, and later Auntie wakes Young-joon and tells him not to wake his “little sister.” Playing along, he promises to be quiet until Dad comes home, but she croons that Dad isn’t coming, “Because I’m not your mom. I gave everything to that man, but he didn’t feel the same way. I even killed the baby in my womb for him. I’m sure he’s sleeping soundly with a daughter and son like you two. Why am I the only one suffering? Why?!”
She shrieks that her only crime was loving him, and she wonders if he’d feel guilty if she dies. She looks at Young-joon sadly and says, “Let’s go together. I don’t want to go alone. You two are coming with me…” and she starts to wrap a rope around Mi-so’s neck.
Young-joon yells at her to forget that coward and start over, begging her to let them go. Auntie whispers that it’s too late, but she stops trying to tie up Mi-so, and she actually looks sane for one brief moment as she thanks Young-joon for comforting her. She walks to the next room and climbs onto a chair, and as Young-joon screams for her to let them go first, she apologizes for not returning the favor and ends her life.
When it’s all over, Young-joon tries to crawl to safety, but he’s barely able to move for the cable ties around his wrists and ankles. Mi-so wakes, and he tells her not to come any closer, but she sees Auntie’s feet hanging from the ceiling and grows scared.
Young-joon thinks to himself that with her mother about to die, he can’t let this be Mi-so’s first experience with death, so he tells her that’s not Auntie, just a big spider, and closes the door. Mi-so whines that her feet hurt (she’s also been cable-tied) so Young-joon bravely drags himself under Auntie’s body to get the scissors.
At once point his fear overwhelms him, and he cries out to Mi-so. When he hears her voice, he tells himself that he’s okay because Mi-so is with him. He gets the scissors and frees them both, then tells Mi-so that there’s a kind of spider that’s so dangerous, you can’t even look at it. He has her close her eyes and hold his hand, and he carefully walks her past the nightmare and out of the house.
He takes her home and makes her promise not to go outside alone at night. She informs him that he’s going to marry him, but first she asks if he’s rich, since her daddy told her to marry a rich man. He says he is, and that his father’s company even manufactures her favorite doll, which cements her determination to marry him, hee.
Young-joon limps away, and when he sees a vision of Auntie standing behind him, he runs as fast as he can. He ends up at the police station and collapses with exhaustion. He wakes later in the hospital, his parents by his bedside, but he’s already suffering flashbacks of his ordeal and sits bolt upright, screaming.
Now Young-joon sits by Mi-so’s hospital bed, thinking about how he would think about her every now and then. His family moved, and when he asked if he could go back to the old neighborhood so he could keep his promise to visit her, he’d learned that it was already being renovated. Ever since then, he was uncomfortable around women, who reminded him of his kidnapper, and cable ties would send him into a panic.
Then one day he went to a company dinner, and he recognized Mi-so immediately. She didn’t know him, which upset him at first, but then he realized that it was better for him to take the burden of that day alone. He’d hired her as his secretary, but now he thinks, “What was I thinking, wanting to keep you by my side?”
One day, Mi-so answers the phone when she happens to be in the general affairs office alone, but the caller speaks Japanese, which she doesn’t know. Luckily someone arrives to handle the call, and she chastises Mi-so for being the vice chairman’s secretary and not even knowing Japanese.
Young-joon overhears her on the phone with Pil-nam later, crying and feeling bad about her lack of education. He gives her a Japanese workbook and says he’ll test her every day, and he’s so tough that she vows to learn quickly just to escape his hounding. When he finally deems her fluent, he gives her a gift — a Chinese workbook. HAHA.
One night, Young-joon is working late, and he finds Mi-so asleep at her desk. He wakes her and tells her to go home, and when she insists she has to stay and finish some research, he fibs that the project has been delayed. After she leaves, he calls the director in charge of the project and requests that it be delayed. Awww.
When Young-joon gets a promotion, Mi-so gives him a keychain that she’s cross-stitched to say “President Lee Young-joon.” He says it’s not his style but accepts her sincerity, and he waits until she leaves to look at it again and grin.
He gets her an expensive cake on her birthday, which Mi-so promptly drops, ha. He looks a bit horrified, but at her wobbly-lipped expression, he tells her that at least she dropped it in a pretty way.
In voiceover, Young-joon thinks, “I thought we’d always be together like that.” Then she’d said she was quitting, and he’d realized that he’d never be able to let her go.
He hovers over her at the hospital, but before she wakes, Sung-yeon shows up. Young-joon slams him against a wall, demanding to know what he said to make Mi-so collapse. He asks if Sung-yeon is telling that story again, but Sung-yeon says despondently that it wasn’t him who was kidnapped and accuses Young-joon of remembering everything.
When Young-joon lets go, Sung-yeon says he must be right and admits that it always felt strange because he couldn’t understand why Young-joon could see him in so much pain and not feel guilty. Young-joon stands there like a statue long after Sung-yeon leaves, and when he finally makes his way back to Mi-so’s room, he finds her awake.
He blames her collapse on overwork, but Mi-so asks in a flat voice, “You didn’t lose your memory, did you?” Young-joon acts like he doesn’t know what she’s talking about, but she calls him Sung-hyun Oppa and says she remembers everything about the kidnapping.
Fighting back tears, she says that now she knows why she wanted to find him so badly — to thank him. She sobs that he must have been terrified, so she wanted to thank him for protecting her despite his fear. Young-joon finally speaks, saying, “Who else would have been able to protect you? It was possible because I’m Lee Young-joon.”
Mi-so gets angry, asking how he could keep it a secret from her. Young-joon struggles to answer, gasping that he couldn’t forget what he saw and heard, even for a single day: “Every time I close my eyes the memories flood back as vividly as if it was yesterday. Those horrible memories. So I was relieved that you didn’t remember.”
He admits that he just wanted to delay her finding out the truth as long as possible, because he didn’t want her to share his pain. Mi-so strongly disagrees, believing that if she’d shared his pain, she wouldn’t feel so bad now. She snaps that this sudden consideration of her doesn’t suit him, and that he should have been selfish like usual.
Young-joon chuckles wryly and tells her to make up her mind if she’s complimenting or insulting him. Mi-so asks him to promise he’ll never hide anything else from her, and he takes her hand and promises.
Sung-yeon is in trouble, wandering the streets in a daze. Suddenly he remembers being taken to the house where Young-joon was held captive, and crying as he realized that Young-joon was trapped in this terrible place because he’d left him alone. He rejects the memory and runs, nearly getting hit by a car.
He goes home and trashes his room, and Mom finds him sitting in the wreckage, head in his hands. He wants to know why she never told him his memories were wrong, making him look like a fool in front of Young-joon. Mom insists that Young-joon lost his memories of the kidnapping, but Sung-yeon yells that Young-joon remembers everything. He storms out, leaving Mom to sink to the floor in shock.
The doctor pronounces Mi-so healthy to a grateful Young-joon. He sees a little girl with a doll and remembers something, and when he visits Mi-so next, he brings her the doll she wanted all those years ago. Awww, he bought it right after the incident and kept it all these years.
Mi-so is delighted, and Young-joon brags that this makes him excellent husband material. Mi-so is confused, so he haughtily reminds her that she once said she’d marry him if he was rich enough to buy the doll. She doesn’t remember that, and he pretends to be offended, saying that his parents panicked when their nine-year-old son asked for a doll, but it’s totally fine, whatever.
Mi-so says that she’s learned that most dog chews are made with leather, which will decay when buried. She decides that Young-joon’s old dog Big Bang’s chews must have degraded by now, referring to his memory analogy, and suggests they bury all of their bad memories.
She turns around, and when Young-joon hugs her, she says, “I’m happy that you’re the oppa I’ve been looking for.” He says he’s happy they found each other again, and that he’s struggled to hold back from expressing it.
Mi-so is ready to go back to work the next morning, but Young-joon refuses to let her check out of the hospital yet. He tells her to take a day off and rest, “…because you’re my woman now.” Mi-so teases that he’s making her fingers curl up with that cheesy line, but he just says she can’t work with her hands like that.
He trots off to a meeting, but instead of nitpicking every detail like usual, he zips to the end at the speed of light. Yoo-shik follows him, worried that Young-joon is mad at him for pretending to be fine about seeing his ex-wife, but Young-joon just walks away while Yoo-shik is saying how happy he is that Young-joon cares about him, hee.
Young-joon rushes to his office to tell Ji-ah that he’s taking the rest of the day off, so he’s startled to see Mi-so at her desk. She says with a giant smile that she feels fine, and he grumps that she’s getting on his nerves today.
Ji-ah tells Mi-so that he’s probably still single because he’s such an arrogant show-off. Ooooo, if looks could kill… Mi-so gives Ji-ah a mountain of work to do, chirping sweetly that she doesn’t like men who are show-offs, or women who slack off.
Young-joon is too worried that Mi-so might faint again to get any work done. He confers with his own brilliant brain for a scheme to get her to rest, and gets an idea.
Yoo-shik decides to start fresh with a new positive attitude, and has a serving of his very expensive herbal medicine. Ma-eum runs in distraught, having accidentally drunk his herbal medicine and given him one of her weight loss tonics, ha. Gritting his teeth, Yoo-shik asks if there’s a medicine for suppressing anger.
Ma-eum gets a text reminder of someone named Seo-jin’s birthday, and she asks Yoo-shik if she should send flowers as usual. He says not to bother because that’s his ex-wife, who has a boyfriend to celebrate her birthday with now.
Young-joon’s big “make Mi-so rest” plan is to have the entire office team go to a spa and bring him feedback on their services. The ladies enjoy the skin treatments, though Se-ra says that she doesn’t need it because her man is already dazzled by her looks. Ji-ah asks who she’s dating, and Se-ra describes him as a superhero who rescues her.
Ji-ah says she doesn’t like being rescued because it makes her feel like a child. She asks Mi-so her ideal type, and when Mi-so says she likes a warm, considerate man, Ji-ah is all, “Oh, the opposite of Vice Chairman Lee!” She’s really determined to get mind-murdered today, isn’t she?
Mi-so gets a text from Young-joon asking if she’s having a nice time. She promises to give thorough feedback on the spa, but he replies to forget that and just rest. Mi-so sends back a thank you with a heart emoji, which nearly knocks Young-joon out of his chair. Being such a big personality, he sends her back two hearts, but she frowns when Ji-ah and Se-ra assume he’s texting her about work.
Yoo-shik treats himself to a steak lunch, but he can’t help remembering that he and Seo-jin celebrated all their birthdays and anniversaries here. His eyes grow wide when Seo-jin walks in (cameo by Seo Hyo-rim), and he gets bashful and says he was hoping to see her here, but her male friend arrives and dashes his hopes.
He calls Seo-jin cruel for bringing her new guy to their special place. Seo-jin says that he’s her cousin, and Yoo-shik is suddenly all respectful greetings, ha. The cousin wisely leaves them alone, and Seo-jin calls Yoo-shik thoughtless for forgetting it’s her birthday and coming here. She leaves, and Yoo-shik says weakly, “I know it’s your birthday, that’s why I’m here…”
Yoo-shik mopes all over Young-joon’s office, using the word “thoughtless” as often as possible until Young-joon finally asks him why. He says his ex-wife just called him that when he ran into her, and tells Young-joon never to break up with Mi-so. He wants to go for a drink, but Young-joon says he has plans, and suddenly Yoo-shik is demanding he choose between him or Mi-so.
Sighing, Young-joon tells Yoo-shik to go have a meeting and find a project to work on after the airline acquisition. Yoo-shik pouts that he doesn’t want to be alone, but he doesn’t want to work either, heh.
The office team comes back from the spa all relaxed, and Se-ra jokes that she’d love to just go home. Young-joon pops up and says they can all go home, but because he wants them to rest, not because they’re in trouble. Team Leader Jung thinks it’s a trick question and keeps saying they’ll stay and work hard, but Young-joon is all, “No really, go home, really.”
He asks Mi-so to stay behind just to reiterate that he’s not doing this just for her, since he let everyone go home. She accepts this one time, and when she says she feels great, he asks her to go somewhere with him. He sends Cheol home instead of driving them, and takes her to the amusement park again.
He leads her to the carousel, her favorite ride, and tells her that it sits where the house where they were kidnapped used to be. He says he pored over the maps to figure out the exact location, and when he realized this, his first thought was to be thankful that those horrible memories are being covered up by the happy memories of the people who ride the carousel.
Next he takes her to the fountain, and when she asks if he wants her to make a wish, he quips that her wish to find her Oppa already came true. He says that her old house used to sit here, and she lights up happily.
Young-joon says that she doesn’t know how much it means to him that they can talk about that time openly. Mi-so takes his hand and says that they’ll always be happy, and they’ll always be together.
When he drops her off at home, Young-joon grows very serious and offers to grant Mi-so’s unspoken wish to take a walk with him. They walk hand-in-hand, and stop for ice cream, which he complains tastes like rubber, ha.
He asks her to spend the night at his house tonight, saying that he doesn’t want her to be alone. He explains that after their ordeal, he had nightmare flashbacks every night, and he’s worried she might, too.
Mi-so thanks him but says that she doesn’t remember everything clearly — she mostly knows that she thought of a dead person as a huge spider. She promises to tell him if it gets to be too much, so that he can protect her again.
That night, he reads Mi-so’s favorite romantic book again. He stops on a passage that reads: My every moment was you. When I loved, and also when I was in pain. Even at our moment of farewell, you were my world, and every moment was you. Without you, I don’t think I can explain the story of my life so far.
Mi-so is fine until she tries to go to sleep, and suddenly she’s overwhelmed by the silence and the dark. Her doorbell rings, and it’s Young-joon, who says that he came to stay with her since she wouldn’t stay at his house. He shocks her by asking, “Tonight, let’s sleep together.”
I know that doesn’t mean what I want it to mean, but I so want it to mean more than chaste cuddles! Not that chaste cuddles are bad (far from it!), and I know we’ll get cute awkward moments instead, but come on, Young-joon and Mi-so are soul mates if I ever saw a pair of soul mates, and I want them to be together for real and not just for hand-holding. I know it’s a pipe dream in a drama like this, but I’m still going to hope. Don’t take away my hope!
My heart just cracked when little Young-joon told little Mi-so that he didn’t know what “dying” meant, then hid the truth of Auntie’s suicide so as not to traumatize her about her own mother’s impending death. Even then, he was trying to protect her from the ugliness of the world. What those two went though was a nightmare of the absolute worst kind, and now I feel bad about being frustrated with Young-joon for not telling Mi-so the truth earlier. He took all that trauma into himself to spare her from it, both during their ordeal and for years afterward, and as far as I’m concerned that makes him a superhero twice over. But Mi-so is right that it’s time to stop keeping secrets — they both experienced the same horror, and they need to be there to support each other.
I’ve really enjoyed how the show has played with Young-joon’s character, taking him from a self-centered ass to a selfless hero without really changing his personality all that much. He still thinks too highly of himself, it’s just endearing now that we know it’s a defense mechanism to protect his extremely soft underbelly. What’s changed is our perception of him — where we once thought him harsh, demanding, and bossy, we now know that he acted that way in order to take care of Mi-so without triggering her memories of their kidnapping together. And I love that she fell for Young-joon before she knew he was Oppa, which is why I’m not bothered anymore by the delayed reveal, because if she’d learned he was Oppa sooner, she wouldn’t know if her feelings are genuine or if she’s just confused because of their shared history. This way she already trusts her feelings for Young-joon as an independent person, and the knowledge that he’s her Oppa is just icing on the cake.
Maybe because it’s a webtoon with a complete story, but I just love how everything in this show is coming around full circle. Nothing has been left up to chance or coincidence, like why Mi-so was hired to be Young-joon’s secretary, or how his knee-jerk reaction to her quitting was to ask her to marry him, or that the house where they experienced the worst night of their lives is now a place that brings joy to others. There’s a beautiful symmetry in the story that leaves everything balanced out perfectly. The only thing I’m worried about now is Sung-yeon, who seems to be having a crisis — I think his former victim complex is taking an even uglier turn into sort of survivor’s guilt. Now he knows that not only was he the reason Young-joon was kidnapped (because he left him alone as a cruel joke), but he’s spent most of their lives being hateful to Young-joon while Young-joon was the one who was truly suffering. I’m worried about what he might do to himself, and I hope that someone is paying attention before another tragedy happens.