Ummm…are you busy Monday or Tuesday? For the next five weeks? No- well then I have the show for you! *This is why I could never get into sales, I suck at doing things that involve convincing people, at least unless I can throw them an income statement and a bar graph*. If you happened to survive my shameless promotion, I am talking about the JTBC drama Secret Love Affair. According to that funny concept called time the show is apparently halfway over. I have been thoroughly enjoying this drama since I took the plunge and caught up to the current episodes. So if you are not busy or anything….
Yeah- I thought this might be a better selling point than my poor sales pitch. I tried, I tried. Time to take a look at Secret Love Affair – Halfway There. Cheers!
Our Story Thus Far (in a brief, un-spoiler like way)
OH HYE WON (Kim Hee Ae) is the forty-something director or an art foundation. Hye Won spends her days cleaning up the messes and potential scandals that the family she works for seem to create on a regular basis (in addition to her duties at the art center). She is married to a music professor, KANG JOON HYUNG (Park Hyeok Kwon) who teaches at a university run by the same family that supports the Art Center. The two have a marriage that appears to be based on a friendship and not romance.
While looking for a new student to train, Joon Hyung stumbles upon youtube-rific twenty-something piano player LEE SUN JAE (Yoo Ah In). Finding a new, capable student is a must for a variety of reasons – the music school has been accused of making deals and taking bribes to admit certain students. Admitting a no name kid from the poor part of town will legitimize the otherwise scandal plagued admittance process. The accusations of bribery appear to be not wholly unfounded- there is some shady business going on with the Chairman (SEO PIL WON) of the school/arts center and his wife (HAN SUNG SOOK).
Lee Sun Jae, meanwhile, is thrilled to be given a chance to be trained in piano. His excitement only grows when he meets the wife of his soon-to-be professor. Soon the twenty something piano prodigy has a major crush on his professor’s wife. What will Oh Hye Won do when she finds out the new student thinks she is a goddess? Will her otherwise staid exterior give into an affair? And how will Sun Jae handle his growing feelings towards Hye Won?
First off- thank you to my lovely dongsaeng E-Kun for pointing me in the right direction. I was all poised to mini-marathon Three Days but ended up catching up on Secret Love Affair instead per her recommendations (okay, her comment was more like “Yeah, Yoochun is hot in Three Days, but Yoo Ah In in SLA is hotter.” I admit it, if I hear Yoo Ah In and hot in the same sentence it is my kryptonite. You know me too well E-Kun). While I do not doubt Three Days is a good drama (I have read enough and heard enough buzz to support that) I was badly in need of a show like Secret Love Affair. Yoochun- I will see you later during a weekend marathon. Love Lore.
While my drama watching has been a bit lacking of late ( I can’t even begin to understand how I used to keep 4 or 5 shows going at once), my recent schedule of shows has consisted of a lot of action packed dramas- I needed a decent melo/ steamy romance in my life. Secret Love Affair is filling this role nicely. This is one sexy show.
The story is well paced, which is an element that is make or break for me. I hate tuning into a show and having the show jump around at an uneven rate or being so slow it is painful to the detriment of the story it is trying to tell; I have not once felt this way about SLA. Ten episodes and counting the character’s actions have seemed logical given their changing circumstances, not forced and played out for the sake of moving the story along quickly. The love affair between the main characters has escalated, but escalated in a believable manner given their personalities and situation. The cinematography and directing support the pace of the story, creating a triple threat in my books (the way this drama looks and feels, with longer and less focused scenes, reminds me of Heartless City in execution- albeit with less suspense).
Yoo Ah In, besides being ridiculously attractive is a good actor. I fell in love with his acting while watching last year’s underrated Jang Ok Jang, Live in Love, and I have not looked back since. As the piano prodigy and conflicted young man Lee Sun Jae, Ah In his pulling off a startling and raw performance that sucks me in episode after episode. No less amazing is Kim Hee Ae’s portrayal of the former goody two shoes / rich person’s bitch Oh Hye Won. Watching Hee Ae act out the part of a woman discovering her romantic side (with everything to lose no less) has been interesting to watch.
So do I have anything bad to say about SLA? Of course, this show is not perfect. Some of the characters and story twists annoy me. I think I am not alone in saying that I want to punch Seo Young Woo in the face. Super Music Man Professor Jo has also made me cringe – as of right now his place in the story (other than as a foil to his less successful cohorts) is negligible. While SLA is not perfect, in my opinion the pros outweigh the cons halfway through the series.
On a final note, the story of SLA can be interpreted many ways. Looking at the bare basics of the story, we are dealing with an affair. A woman is cheating on her husband, which of course is morally questionable and wrong in my honest opinion. That said, the story is more about how character’s handle life amid unforeseen changes – the introduction of passion for Hye Won, the realization that your marriage was nothing but friendship for Joon Hyung. Whether you want to moralize the tale is up to you. As for me I am enjoying the feeling of tension, passion, and promise that s**t is about to get real. I don’t hate the characters for their choices (no matter how wrong they may be) I am simply fascinated with why they are making such choices. Oh, and Ah In is hot.
I always got your back Lore Unnie! Lore, you have only seen Yoo Ah In in JOJ?! You have not lived until you have seen him in the Sungkyunkwan Scandal! He had everyone stricken with SLS for a cool minute! Heh. On to my thoughts… SLA caught me simply by the title. Let’s not think that Ekun is about affairs and infidelity (because I abhor such things… no excuses are ever plausible), but you have to admit, the title can get anyone caught up just by hearing it.
Sun Jae, Sun Jae, SUN JAE! My sun rises and sets on what he is doing in life. Not only is he attractive, awkward, and passionate– he has the nerve to be a piano prodigy! Music is so stirring and reaches everyone on some level; whenever he plays, it is like a love letter to my ears. I hate that he is in the middle of so many shady dealings (known and unknown). I do not quite know what I want to happen to this character, but as long as he continues to have passion for what he is doing… um.. err… I only mean piano playing and music… I think I will be a happy viewer.
Oh Hye Won, what can be said about her? It is like she has lived her life in a framed canvas trying to paint the portrait from within. She knows the choices that she made were not the best, and until recently, I do not believe she regretted them. But dealing with all the crazies in her life will drive anyone to have a lapse in judgement… constantly. What I desire for Hye Won is to get out of that framed canvas– not to continue to have an affair with Sun Jae to find freedom, but to do what she needs to do for her sanity, humanity, and love for herself.
My jaw dropped to the ground when Unnichan said that others out there did not understand why people love this show! This show is definitely more than about an affair (although I am watching for the steamy scenes with YAI and KHA), it is about relationship development, human complexities, and personal reflections– not exclusively in our main characters, but everyone involved on this show. It is quite interesting to see all these people and how they function in certain situations that they encounter on a daily basis.
Can I have a minute to say how much I hate this girl?
She is the bane of all women who exist in the world! How can a person be so selfish? She is the #1 reason I throw popcorn or wing bones when I watch SLA! She is added to my disappear list.
In conclusion- If you have not checked out Secret Love Affair yet, GET ON THAT IMMEDIATELY!!!!