Open Thread: Secret Love Affair Episodes 7 & 8

Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! I decided to have this scene headlining our post today, because I love the unguarded, carefree vibe of this scene, as Hye Won and Sun Jae chat and laugh over beers.

Here are our usual ground rules, before we begin:

1. Please don’t post spoilers in the Open Thread, except for events that have happened in the show, up to this point. If you really need to talk about a spoiler, it is possible to use the new spoiler tags, but please know that spoilers are still visible (ie, not hidden) in the email notification that you receive, of the comment in question. We have quite a few first-time viewers among us, and we don’t want to spoil anything for anyone.

2. Discussions on this thread don’t have to close when newer threads open, just so you know! But as we progress through our group watch, please keep the discussions clear of spoilers from future episodes, so that future readers coming to this thread won’t be accidentally spoiled. Does that make sense?

Without further ado, here are my reactions to this set of episodes; have fun in the Open Thread, everyone! ❤️

Secret Love Affair OST – Devotion

In case you’d like to soak in the music as you read the episode notes, here’s Devotion, the piece  that plays during the consummation scene in episode 8. I love that it’s so beautifully gentle and unhurried; it sounds delicate, while also sounding strong.

Just right-click on the video and select “Loop.”

My thoughts

Episode 7

What a confronting hour this turns out to be, for both Hye Won and Sun Jae.

It’s ironic that Hye Won turns to Sun Jae because she instinctively sees him as her safe place, and yet, she is so quick to jump to conclusions about Sun Jae’s true intentions, when she sees him walk into that hotel, that she literally abandons him right there, in Jangheung, and drives back to Seoul on her own.

Poor Sun Jae. All he’d wanted was to find a way to let Hye Won rest better, after her harrowing night in her real world, and in return, he’d gotten dumped in the middle of nowhere, without his jacket.

It occurs to me that when people are faced with danger, they tend to either default to fight or flight mode. And in this instance, we actually see Hye Won doing both. She runs away from Sun Jae without even stopping to give him the benefit of the doubt, and then later, in the texts that they exchange, when he comes to her home for his jacket, her tone is accusatory, and her stance, adversarial.

I suppose this demonstrates to us, just how freaked out Hye Won is, at the thought that Sun Jae might want more from her than she is ready to give, and also, how drained Hye Won must feel, from everything she’s gone through earlier in the day, that she would feel like she has literally nothing left to give anyone.

It’s not pleasant, though, to watch Hye Won lash out at Sun Jae, who only had the purest of intentions. I feel really bad for him, because I imagine it must be extra horrible, to be done dirty by someone, when that someone happens to be the goddess of whom you think the world.

What’s interesting to me, is that through all of Sun Jae’s frustration, he defends himself, but doesn’t appear to actually ever think less of Hye Won, for the way she treats him. That’s quite incredible to me, because the way Hye Won treats him is absolutely not cool. She’s clearly in the wrong for misunderstanding him, and instead of apologizing for misunderstanding him, she leans into attack mode, and keeps on being harsh with him, even the next day.

It kind of blew my mind a bit, that she would call Sun Jae the next day, and angrily demand to know why he hadn’t kept his word to jog past her house at 6:30am. However, it does seem like this stems from the fact that Hye Won seems to feel insecure in her fortysomething skin, when contemplating a physical relationship with Sun Jae. With this in mind, perhaps leaning into her power would turn the power balance back in her favor, at least in her own mind?

And then there’s the thing where it’s possible that Hye Won is lashing out at Sun Jae, because he really is the only safe place where she can lash out.

The way Joon Hyung responds the night before, about the wound on her forehead, is nothing short of contemptible. Ugh. I thought my head would explode, from trying to process the amount of self-centeredness coming from him. Even when he hears that Young Woo had hit Hye Won, his first reaction is to, 1, take issue with Hye Won’s tone, because it implies that she thinks he got Young Woo to hit her, and 2, worry that other people would think that he’s a wife beater. Oh my goodness.

Of course, I suppose we need to take into account the fact that Joon Hyung’s already smarting from the knowledge that there’s Something going on, between Hye Won and Sun Jae. That would definitely put him on edge, so I guess I should cut him some slack there. Plus, he does apologize to Hye Won the next morning, which should count for something. It’s just too little, too late, it seems, since Hye Won loses patience with the excuses that he tacks on to the apology, and cuts him off.

How significant, though, that Hye Won actually articulates in this conversation, that she wishes that she could quit and give everything back, and return to her twenties when she’d had nothing – and be happy. This definitely feels like the beginnings of some serious cracks in Hye Won’s long-held approach to the world, wouldn’t you say?

This episode, I do feel like Joon Hyung himself feels conflicted too. On the one hand, he hates it that Hye Won and Sun Jae are involved, but on the other hand, he needs Sun Jae too much, to push him away. This results in such a weird sort of circumstances, where Joon Hyung’s acting all nice and nurturing to Sun Jae one moment, then cursing him out behind his back, the next.

It really makes me wonder how long Joon Hyung will be able to hold out, before he actually breaks from this tension. My gut says that Joon Hyung won’t be able to keep this up for long, because he seems like quite a weak character, to my eyes. At the same time, though, he is really desperate to establish himself as a professor with a protégé, so maybe he’ll last longer than I think?

Everything more or less feels like some kind of whirlpool, where everything around Hye Won swirls to a head, and she has no choice but to confront the awfulness of the life that she’s chosen.

I think one of the most confronting moments for Hye Won, this episode, is when she sits down to try to talk the Chairman’s mistress into leaving him.

First of all, she’s unceremoniously presented with the fact that someone as unassuming as this mistress, who waits tables for a living, is so self-possessed and so unabashedly honest in how she lives her life, while Hye Won herself is at the mercy of the rich and powerful whom she’s chosen to serve. That’s got to be very disconcerting.

Second of all, the mistress refuses to accept the money that Hye Won offers, and even dumps water on her, for not taking no for an answer. That’s got to sting on two levels. Besides the humiliation of having that water thrown in her face, there’s also the shame that while this unassuming woman refuses to do anything for dirty money, Hye Won herself deals with dirty money, as a matter of routine, for a living.

And then there’s how Hye Won’s real world of the Foundation, and her secret world with Sun Jae, actually intersect, near the end of the episode.

How uncomfortable it must be for Hye Won, to have Sun Jae witness the kind of humiliation that she’s regularly subjected to, by the likes of Young Woo. It feels to me like there’s a great deal of shame there, which is made more acute by the fact that she can’t explain this to Sun Jae, when he asks.

Hye Won brushes it off, telling Sun Jae to think of this as the real world, but Sun Jae doesn’t buy it; the only way Hye Won can think of, to end this conversation with Sun Jae – and therefore this very uncomfortable question of why she has to live like this – is to shove Sun Jae and tell him to just leave, already. Again, there’s the thing, where attack is her best form of defense.

It does seem, however, that Hye Won’s unable to push her own thoughts away the same way she pushes Sun Jae away, because she becomes essentially paralyzed at work. At first glance, she appears tired and fed-up, but left to soak in her own thoughts, Hye Won eventually becomes tearfully undone. The way she sits on that couch and sobs, I really feel like she’s finally reached the end of herself; that she’s no longer able to live with herself.

Episode 8

It occurs to me, as I finish this episode, that this pair of episodes is filled with a building tension that, after coiling upon itself, beat upon beat, step upon step, eventually finds release, when Hye Won goes to Sun Jae’s home and they finally consummate their relationship. In a macro sort of way, doesn’t this pattern of building tension, that results in a sense of release, feel like a narrative mirroring of sorts, of the physical act itself?

I never noticed this on my first watch, so I’m quite fascinated by the thought that must have gone into constructing this pair of episodes, to include this mirroring effect.

I have to admit that I found some of the scenes hard to watch. Specifically, I found it hard to watch Hye Won being harsh towards Sun Jae. So much of the time, it’s obvious that she’s just lashing out at him, because her emotions are too much for her, and she just can’t hold back.

For example, that scene in the piano studio, where he comes for his lesson, and she literally shoves him against the piano, not once, but twice, then raises her voice at him, higher and higher, until it feels like she’s completely lost control. It’s secondhand mortifying to watch, and it’s clear that a lot of this anger, actually stems from jealousy and humiliation.

Jealousy, because she had seen Sun Jae heading out to dinner with his arm around Da Mi, and humiliation, that she would actually be in a position to feel jealous about that.

What I mean is, part of that humiliation comes from the fact that she’s an older woman who’s attracted to Sun Jae, and then part of it stems from the fact that she’d gone to look for him, and then had had to hide, because he’d been out and about with Da Mi. That double layer of humiliation just amps up Hye Won’s agitation, and I found myself physically wincing, to see her lose control like that.

Not only is it unfair to Sun Jae (Hye Won had been fully aware of Da Mi’s existence, and of Sun Jae’s relationship with her, after all), it makes Hye Won look undignified and quite wretched, to be brutally honest.

However, credit to Sun Jae, for choosing only to see the silver lining, which is that she’d actually come to him, when he’d asked to see her. See, every time Sun Jae is sweet like this, I feel bad for him, because, at least in this stretch of the show, it feels like Hye Won lashes out at him consistently.

One thing I do notice, though, is that even when they feel their worst, music is still the thing that soothes them both. In that scene where Hye Won and Sun Jae sit together and just listen to the music, it’s clear that it has a calming effect on them both. It takes Hye Won down from her angry, keyed up state, and it also brings Sun Jae up from his miserable state.

I’d felt so bad for him, when he’d just sat there, and cried a little, while Hye Won had gone to get the music scores and discs. In this moment, it feels like the music even has a somewhat healing effect on them, and I feel like the longer they chose to soak in it, the better they would have been, for it.

On this second watch, it also occurs to me that aside from feeling inadequate and old in her physical features and beauty, Hye Won actually also feels similarly, about her fingers. We see this episode, that as she practices in order to rehearse with Sun Jae, she experiences stiffness in her fingers. In the context of everything that Hye Won has been grappling with, in regards to her fading youth, I realize that this must be a part of it too. And, in the context of music being such a critical life-force for the both of them, I realize that this must bother Hye Won just as much as her fading youth does.

It’s probably the case, that Hye Won’s stiff fingers are the reason why she keeps making mistakes during her rehearsal with Sun Jae, and therefore, it’s her “older woman complex” (as she puts it, writing as Mak Ki Hyung) that’s driving her angry outbursts at Sun Jae. She’d sooner blame him for showing off without feelings or emotions, than admit that she can’t keep up because her fingers are too stiff.

However, to Hye Won’s credit, at least when she’s signed in as Mak Ki Hyung, she’s able to be honest about why she’s behaving this way, and she’s also able to chuckle about it to herself, as she exchanges those messages with Sun Jae. There’s definitely a decent amount of self-awareness there, and I appreciate that.

It’s also interesting to see that Hye Won’s starting to be less tolerant of Young Woo’s bullying ways. The way she responds to Young Woo this episode, is something that we haven’t seen from Hye Won before. She seems almost.. reckless, in the way that she essentially throws down the gauntlet and almost taunts Young Woo about using her head, for once. Ooh. I would’ve never imagined Hye Won speaking like this to Young Woo. Clearly, Hye Won’s perspective is shifting.

Clearly, a lot of that shifting perspective has to do with Hye Won’s exposure to Sun Jae and his pure-hearted, idealistic notions of passion, love and life, that love is enjoying it till the end. It’s been something that has been stirring and building in her for a long while, and this set of episodes, the tension of her fighting against her shifting perspective, and at the same time, fighting for it, eventually culminates in her surrendering to her true desire: to just be, and to be happy, in the moment.

It’s a momentous step that Hye Won takes, letting herself into Sun Jae’s house, putting on his clothes and letting down her hair. In this moment, she’s let go of Hye Won the Manager, and has decided that she’s allowed to be Hye Won, Sun Jae’s girlfriend.

Show treats the love scene with respect and delicacy, by averting our gaze away from the couple, as they consummate their relationship.

What I find most interesting about this whole scene, is that the way Hye Won relates to Sun Jae has changed. She’s finally not talking down to him anymore, like a teacher to a student. She’s finally talking to him like he’s an equal, and she’s joking with him, and swapping stories, and laughing with him. It feels like a missing piece of the puzzle that is their relationship, has finally found its place.

And how fitting, really, that it’s when Sun Jae’s playing piano for Hye Won, that we see her at her most undone. She completely surrenders to the music, and allows it to carry her and wash over her; this feels like the true pinnacle of their intimacy.

Bonus!

Big thanks to JJ, who emailed me this clip of Yoo Ah In practicing in the studio, for his role as Sun Jae. It blows my mind that he’s able to play this well, when he’d learned only specific excerpts for the camera, and from a zero piano background, at that. Mad props, seriously.

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JM
JM
20 days ago

Thank you for your very interesting insights KFangirl re these eps, and everyone else, it is often very difficult IRL to understand people’s reactions, here we are privy to each characters POV, and events leading to confrontations to some degree, making for such a complex, intricate story, with the main love theme, and sub plots so tightly written and plausible, you are just carried away by this show, never suspending disbelief, totally engulfed in the story. It’s so good, that I immediately wondered “who wrote this”, “who directed it”. It’s just not often that the people who craft a show have so much psychological insight, and the ability to be able to depict so well the range of complex responses in a given situation, enabling those already incredibly talented actors to do their amazing, magical thing. Not to mention filming it in such a beautiful way.
I’m with you KF, on my 3rd watch of this show, the general abuse going around is hard to watch, and HW’s bipolar treatment of SJ, is pretty heavy duty. Fortunately we are given sufficient info to understand her behaviour ( as you outlined) but still dumping the poor guy in woop woop!! Doing that gaslight thing “what kiss ???” And then…”why didn’t you run past my window at 6.30??” Wow!!!! No apologies at all from her, a through line perhaps via her fake persona chat thing with SJ, where she is more level headed.
She’s still got one foot in the Seohan School of Music where she robotically and non reflectively performs all her “tasks” re investments, cleaning up after crap goes on etc. and one outside where having met SJ, she is standing outside of it all and realising that the “devil who whispers you can buy anything with money” may be wrong. And she is fundamentally a very unhappy person, who’s job it is to make a profit out of the rich spending money.
Any way Kudos to the writers and director An PanSeok, for putting this thing together, so much research must have gone on eg. how a huge music institution is run – the artistic side and the corruption.Like that horrible Teacher Baek, I think her name is, who is dealing with sub par instruments and charging a fortune, meanwhile screwing with the minds of her students. The careful and reflective selection of the music, the shots of SJ playing, well edited with the real pianists playing (ie the shots of their hands). Hye Won is such a wizz at finances, able to hide slush funds, channel money through art deals, as well as dealing with “higher up” infidelities,
and cleaning up the mess. All of this is so plausible, and accurately researched.
I love all the other actors as well, Kang is so phenomenal in this non enviable role, he does the narcissistic thing so well. Hilarious discussion with the clairvoyant, who in his elderly wisdom and conviction was SO WRONG!! Seo Young-Woo, and her boyfriend, not the sharpest tools in the shed, she is fantastic in her infantile tantrums, and I assume she has her reasons also for behaving like that. Great acting.
Last comment, it seems to me that these days, Korean Netizens (perhaps the more conservative ones) and the very young fangirls have an enormous control over tv shows and the actors. The studios succumbing to vast amounts of pressure, to get ratings for their product. I think that is why many shows are just lightweight entertainment compared to SLA. Depends I suppose on what you in to. It makes for a lot of fast-forwarding.

MariaF
MariaF
22 days ago

While I am totally team HyeWon – SunJae, and I want them to end up together, I feel conflicted about what happened in these episodes.

 

   Sure, Joon-hyung is selfish, childish and pretty much useless. But once you marry, you make a commitment. And HyeWon married him, willingly, and stayed in that marriage without demanding a better or closer relationship, because it suited her.  It was also her choice to not have children. Notably, as cold, calculating and, I might even say, selfish HyeWon is, we don’t see Joon-hyung chasing other women.

 

   Also, while Joon-hyung’s reaction to HyeWon’s coming home wounded was unacceptable, I bet this kind of situation wasn’t something new to him. Given Young-woo’s personality, I’m pretty sure HyeWon had been assaulted before. Only then HyeWon probably accepted Young-woo’s behavior without flinching, as long as it helped her to advance her career.

    Now, with Sun Jae in her life, HyeWon  decided she wanted more (rightly so), so she changed the rules of the game and went for it. As did Sun Jae. It’s understandable, but definitely not straightforward, especially for people from South Korea.

   Someone in the previous discussion argued that we shouldn’t accept antiquated values of South Koreans. Maybe not, but putting ourselves in their shoes can give us a better understanding of their feelings and help is to appreciate the intensity of certain situations, which could actually improve our viewing experience.

   There is something else I also wonder about. I’ve see OSN and SitR, which were done by the same director. And while in all three shows love scenes were done very tastefully, the other two actually showed kissing or “some skin”. It doesn’t happen in “Love affair“. I wonder if it’s because HyeWon is considered too old to behave passionately onscreen? The scene with Da-mi was pretty steamy though.

Lane
Lane
22 days ago
Reply to  MariaF

My guess is that if they did a love scene with Kim Hee Ae and Yoo Ah In, it would be too much of an eyebrow raiser in Korea, considering their age gap.

MariaF
MariaF
22 days ago
Reply to  Lane

So she IS considered too old for these kind of “shenanigans.”

Lane
Lane
21 days ago
Reply to  MariaF

Though I haven’t watched World of the Marrieds, which is a more recent Kim Hee Ae drama, I’ve seen some video clips. She is definitely not too old for those kinds of scenes. What I meant was that maybe the age gap between these two actors in Secret Love Affair made it too much for tv viewing in Korea (might make people feel too uncomfortable?) . I am a Kdrama relative newbie so this is just my guess. (I picked up Korean entertainment due to pandemic lockdown.)

merij1
merij1(@merij1)
21 days ago
Reply to  Lane

This is my guess as well. Not her age per se, but the gap in their ages.

eda harris
eda harris
20 days ago
Reply to  merij1

merij1, this does not belong here, sorry, but i posted my final thoughts on “something in the rain” on the site that you suggested. you wanted to talk about it.

merij1
merij1(@merij1)
20 days ago
Reply to  eda harris

OK, thanks. I’ll read it in a few minutes!

MariaF
MariaF
21 days ago
Reply to  Lane

I should’ve said ‘she was too old for him’. It seems as if it’s not just the audience, but also the director, who is not comfortable with the age difference. As if he started this project being ok with it, and then… Could there be another reason?

merij1
merij1(@merij1)
21 days ago
Reply to  MariaF

I was thinking more along the lines of them wanting to avoid being censured by the viewing public. Koreans do love their scandals…

eda harris
eda harris
21 days ago
Reply to  MariaF

i think it was the director’s special artistic expression of showing the most intimate scene without the “fireworks”, but even more explosive than fire. i think this director is very brave, living and working within the specifics of the korean society, and he intentionally brings out such conflicts for the koreans to wake up and join the more progressive views, that love is love, regardless. that is why he returns again and again to the theme of an older woman and younger man, (something in the rain) and explores it from a few different angles. i greatly appreciate and welcome those kind of efforts.
in regards to commitment to marriage. people break and leave marriages (and contracts for that matter)all the time, regardless whether is was a love marriage, or convenience, or business, or whatever. and her husband at some point, do not remember when and where, admits that he thought of a divorce many times. i am sure it crossed hw’s mind not once, it just wasn’t a good time, or that important, until it became important. now she has to figure out how to navigate the situation. sj of course drives on pure emotion, he’s young, it’s his first love, give them a break. (he’s adorable!)

MariaF
MariaF
21 days ago
Reply to  eda harris

Oh, from an artistic point of view, I absolutely loved how the first intimate scene was done. I just can’t get rid of a feeling (even after seeing the whole show), that Sun Jae was the only one being really comfortable with this relationship.

Now, about the HyeWon’s marriage. No matter how much Joon-hyung was dissatisfied with their union, I don’t think he ever contemplated a divorce (for various reasons).

And while I totally agree, that their marriage wasn’t worth keeping, I don’t think Joon-hyung is the only “villain” here. He is not a good man, but it seems nobody expected of him to be a good man.

Also, we’ve heard HyeWon multiple times expressing concerns about her not being young enough. But did she ever express serious, real concerns about her being Sun Jae’s teacher, a married woman, etc.? It looked like that even if she had doubts about their relationship, she had them for the wrong reason.

eda harris
eda harris
21 days ago
Reply to  MariaF

i think there is no wrong or right when it comes to the matters of love, and how can we judge it?
the real pain for women loosing their youth is almost always present in different degrees in a woman’s mind (speaking from experience, mine and my girlfriends). and it has nothing to do with falling in love with a younger man, although it can complicate and exacerbate the whole situation for a woman. sometimes not, especially in the west.
whether the husband had any extra marital affairs is not discussed or disclosed – i guess it is not relevant. we know he gets super drunk on a regular basis, this must be his way of dealing with the situation. i watched this show twice already, and some episodes many more times (and more to come, for sure). and there is one place in the story, actually i think it’s when he visits the fortune teller, he tells that he thought of divorcing her not once, and the fortune teller tells him he should not do it.
but the drama makes it very clear that hw did not have any affairs and did not even had any interest in such (she tells it herself and other women comment on it). after a lifetime of having NO intimacy in any shape or form, with any person, there is no question that she would have a huge conflict within herself, completely nonrelated to the age of her love interest. any woman would experience these kind of “emotional hurricanes” if she finds herself suddenly falling in love with another man after many years of having her emotions in the desert, regardless of who, how, what age, what place the man is coming from.
and one more thing i can add, for the husband hye won is the provider of EVERYTHING: the house, the car, his fashionable expensive clothes and shoes, their entire lifestyle, including his professorship – it is all due to hw’s job(slavery). remember when they both argue and he tells her that she can leave this job if she’s unhappy, and she says, what would they do, go back to their twenties, when they had nothing? that’s when this whole information comes out, and it is clear – non of them came from money, she provided it all, and in return sacrificed her youth, her dignity, her soul. nobody forced her, she wanted money, she wanted to belong to the “rich and powerful”, she achieved it, but at what cost. and now she is forced with a choice – money or love. it is tough, but i believe in her humanity.

MariaF
MariaF
20 days ago
Reply to  eda harris

@eda harris

Sorry for the delayed response: was very busy. Also, wanted to think a bit before replying.

I agree with the majority of your arguments. 

Its definitely true, that many women experience psychological pain while loosing their youthfulness. Sometimes it feels as if you slowly become invisible, transparent, and other people, rather than looking at you, look straight through you.

I also agree with you about “emotional hurricanes” that HyeWon’s going through. 

I’m not so sure about other arguments. 

I rewatched Joon-hyung’s visit to the fortune teller on Viki. 

When the teller said that their marriage was not very good, Joon-hyung responded:

“We are living in a comradeship. It’s not particularly good, but I never once thought about divorce.” 

So, while being committed to this relationship, the husband is definitely aware that he is not loved. Did he ever expect more from this marriageWe don’t know. But even if the answer to this question is “yes”, Joon-hyung must have eventually assumed that HyeWon wasn’t capable of giving more. So he’s made his peace with “living in comradeship” and decided to enjoy all the perks and benefits this relationship provides him with.

Still, it’s entirely possible that Joon-hyung doesn’t respect his wife, because he knows her (or thinks he does).

As do her bosses and their daughter. They obviously value HyeWon’s musical and financial abilities, but they might not think much of her as a person: greedy, selfish, calculating, will tolerate anything to advance her agenda. In their minds their behavior towards HyeWon feels kind of justified. 

Even Sun Jae, as much being in love as he is, is having a hard time dealing with her real life and her “real self”. And he doesn’t know everything yet! The only people who seem to love and accept HyeWon unconditionally are the music prof and his wife. 

To your argument about “there is no wrong or right when it comes to the matters of love”, I’d agree, if both people in the relationship were free and equal. But there has to be some kind of moral struggle, when one person is the second person’s teacher and also happens to have a husband. I didn’t see it happening. This moral “flexibility” fits the pattern of HyeWon’s behavior. And her lack of concern about this misbalance of power makes me less sympathetic to her other struggles.

I intentionally do not mention the age difference, because I don’t think it should be a factor. Neither should be Dan-mi’s fantasies about her being Sun Jae’s girlfriend and having a future with him.

eda harris
eda harris
19 days ago
Reply to  MariaF

so may be this is not the scene where joon-hyung admits that he contemplated divorce, i was not sure that this was that scene, but i do remember that it does happen, may be later (since i watched it all and can not pinpoint the exact place when it occurred.
now, many of us speak about commitment or morality, but may be we should first examine what commitment or morality as concepts mean for each of us, what it means in different societies (korea in this case, i myself can not claim to be able to walk in their shoes). we might find out that we have different understandings of these concepts, even being part of the same society, or class, or degree of education, or religious believes, or different political persuasions, etc. we might be surprised to find out that we speak about different things all together, while using the same “label”. that would have to be a huge discussion, i am not sure this blog here is the right platform for this.
on another note, i think i already mentioned somewhere in my previous comments that i am really missing here a “piece of the puzzle” – why and how did joon-hyung and hae-won decide to get married: we know they are all class mates in musical education, but how did this come about, when they were very young? did they get drunk and made a “commitment” out of a drunken stupor? did they have a friendship and thought marriage would be good, sort of like choosing a roommate as a friend? what kind of thinking went into this decision that it would be a GOOD business decision? so many questions running through my mind, and i think such information would clarify a lot of our questions.
“Joon-hyung doesn’t respect his wife” – but more importantly, he does not respect himself, he functions solely on his miserable ego, to climb somehow higher, but does not have enough mind power, or exceptional skills as a musician or teacher, and thus truly has no respect from anybody, including his wife. that is not the case with hw, at least that is what i feel. she has a brilliant mind and is able to achieve the goal that she put in front of her life – regardless if we approve of her goal or not. she’s a talented musician, an impressive businesswoman (i didn’t say “clean”, but in reality did not see many “clean” businesses, in order to succeed in this world – i wouldn’t mind to have her as my financial adviser, haha) an equally brilliant analytical mind (confession – i love smart people), and all of them respect her and want her help and work. do all these rich bosses around her even have an idea of dirt in their dealings and if it warrants their respect. they are just happy to make money, and she represents that aspect of making money for them, so you think it bothers them in any way how she is able to achieve it? i would bet they even envy her abilities. again, may be we should clarify what respect means for each of us, for these characters and are there different takes and degrees of that particular concept.
you say: “Even Sun Jae, as much being in love as he is, is having a hard time dealing with her real life and her “real self”. yes, he does, but from a completely different place, he is pissed that she is being abused, he hurts for her like a man that wants to protect his woman, but has no abilities to do anything at this point, which does create a huge difficulty for sj. but she is his “goddess”, have you ever seen anybody disrespecting his/her god or goddess?

MariaF
MariaF
19 days ago
Reply to  eda harris

You make good points, but after reading your reply I realized something: even without revealing any specifics, my comments come from a person who already saw the whole show.

I also wondered how HyeWon and her husband ended up together. I guess she wanted to get married without any romance, and she saw him as someone who wouldn’t ask for one. What I don’t understand is why wouldn’t he? Why didn’t he want a good family?

When I talk about respect, I mean that people who respect you don’t see you as a servant, even if they rely on you and recognize your abilities.

eda harris
eda harris
18 days ago
Reply to  MariaF

i also saw the whole show.
in regards to hw – a slave. i am not sure they see her as a “slave” per say. she herself describes it as being a slave, so that’s just her and different than they label her as a slave. furthermore, if she is to be a slave, let’s put it this way, she would be a slave with a higher standing than her “slave masters”, (and they all are fully aware of her so to say superiority) wouldn’t you agree? and i can sense your disgust with a woman (or any human being) finding herself in that position, (although i share this aspect of your disgust, but that was her own choice) but once she takes another look at this position (thanks to sj), she will hopefully reevaluate and make very difficult but unavoidable changes.
now, may be there is a difference between slave and servant. except for the very rich on the very top, all other humans are serving in some capacity (public servants, supermarket workers, nurses, – they all serve some other people or groups of people). don’t we elect our senators, president, governors, etc. to SERVE US?

MariaF
MariaF
18 days ago
Reply to  eda harris

I don’t think her bosses see her as their slave. A slave doesn’t have a choice of staying or going (among other things), she does, and her bosses are aware of it. But they don’t see her as an equal either: in their mind, real money and power are things that make people equal to them, and she has neither (yet). They also know how badly she wants both, so they assume she will stay around to serve their needs.

Now, what does make her a slave is her own mindset: she cannot free herself from her desire for money and power. For her, having them is what’s really important and worth a sacrifice.

Yes, being a servant can have different meanings. You can serve your country. But, honestly, higher calling is not in the picture, when we talk about HyeWon’s dealings.

I think we should discuss SunJae’s attitude after watching later episodes: it becomes clearer then.

eda harris
eda harris
18 days ago
Reply to  MariaF

totally agree on the issue of “slave”, and it’s all in hw’s mindset, she’s a slave to the “demon” (as she says it) money. actually i would call it that the money is the god of most of humanity, or call it demon.
i do have an issue with a servant not having respect from anybody above. a lot of servants, no matter in what capacity and whom they serve , do have respect. and i also believe that hw does have respect, although she’s not considered and not equal to them. she has respect due to her brains and abilities, which they understand.

MariaF
MariaF
18 days ago
Reply to  eda harris

I think that respect thing is subjective. And I’ll admit the relationship between Hye Won and Seo/Han family is complicated. But do you think Hye Won feels respected? Also, would any one ever asked prof. Jo In-seo to help out with the woman from the restaurant?

eda harris
eda harris
17 days ago
Reply to  MariaF

professor jo in-seo is not employed by this ugly in their riches family, he is employed by the music academy, or whatever they call it. on the other hand hae won is employed by the family in a gazillion capacities, (including the art foundation, the music school, and the personal dealing of the family all of them together and each one separate) and i understand she is paid accordingly (much more than the professor – compare their lifestyles). so she wears many hats, and is perfect at that. because of that , she is privy to all their dealings and secrets – incredibly complicated (and scary in a way) position to be, but it is completely HER choice, and so she must be sort of like a double, triple agent, like a perfect spy, having to keep each one of them happy. i am not sure hw dwells on the question of whether she’s respected by them, as long as she gets the life style she has chosen as her goal in life. the respect issue and other issues related to her whole life will be awakened by sj later. but at this point, the family must have a certain degree of respect for her due to the extent of her POWER in the family and for each member individually including but not limited to their businesses. in my opinion, because of that they can not afford NOT to respect her, even in their most private feelings. she’s just way too important to everything in their lives, and all of them without exception understand it. trust is closely related to respect, and they do trust her even with their most intimate dirt. if she ever divulges any of this, they can all be crushed and burned. therefore their trust is equal respect, in my opinion in this case.

MariaF
MariaF
17 days ago
Reply to  eda harris

In my mind, there is a difference between recognizing someone’s abilities and using them vs respecting that someone. It’s my personal, subjective take on this issue. And to me, Hye Won’s reaction to SunJae’s renting the room showed that she was so used to being exploited and disrespected, that she automatically assumed the worst. I think FG mentioned this somewhere in her analysis too.
I also think that, in some way, the daughter’s attitude towards Hye Won is symbolic. The family obviously needs Hye Won. While chairman and the chairwoman behave civilized, the daughter doesn’t even want to pretend.
I like this conversation, so I suggest we discuss this and other issues later in the show, when certain things become clearer.

eda harris
eda harris
16 days ago
Reply to  MariaF

yes, mariaf. i am sure we’ll have a lot to say as it continues. meantime i’d like to thank you for indulging me in going back and forth on this particular aspect. i might have a different opinion, but i am truly curious and interested in hearing yours and others, i really enjoy those exchanges. it does not mean that we will change anybody’s mind, but sometimes it’s helpful and thins get more clear. so thank you.

MariaF
MariaF
16 days ago
Reply to  eda harris

I feel the same. Thank you!

BE
BE
20 days ago
Reply to  MariaF

I am with Eda on this. Show is about art and living a life of meaning and value. It is about how what society takes for either can often, not always, be sterile and in many ways more cruel than what it sets up as morally correct. The power of art is that it uses the conflict of transgression as a vehicle for beauty.

And I will repeat something I noted before…I had a painting teacher, a wonderful man, and certainly among the artists I have known the single most talented among them. His first show was when he was nineteen at the Philadelphia Museum of Modern Art. He was being groomed by no less a personality than Peggy Guggenheim herself to be an art star in the New York scene. Not for him, he literally ran away from fame and fortune to Mexico City to study mural making there. Later in life he was teaching, as a relatively unknown painter, at an arts college in California. He had a female student who was twenty five years younger than him in a couple classes. Now I do not know anything at all about their courtship years, only that by the time he had passed away, they had been married for forty years.
I taught college for two decades, and from the get go, I made up my mind on this: a student in my class with whom there is some romantic magnetism, either wait till long after there is a grade on that person’s final report to broach anything personal whatsoever, or if something was so insistent that it could not be averted, ask the student to withdraw from my class and enroll with another teacher. There are of course crushes students have for their teachers that never get transgressive and actually enhance the teacher/student relationship as long as nothing, zero, zippo, goes beyond the simple bonhomie generated. But the kind of thing we are seeing in this show: as a student with older professors, even when I went back for an advanced degree in my late thirties. or as a professor myself, I eschewed such on ethical grounds before they so much as nosed an inch above ground.
Nonetheless, I think it is the show’s great triumph, and the triumph of Yoo Ah In and Kim Hee Ae, that the edge of all the problems and the conflicts therein, are as we are beginning to see, the preferable, honest, honorable, even, but not to get into spoilery, and liberating outcome of this show.
In European art, literature, we have Anna Karennina comitting suicide, Emma Bovary running to seed. Let’s just watch Hye Won. Part of what has happened, and given the size of that part of the plot to the Seohan cheobol, is that Seon Jae has now awakened Hye Won to the realities, the distasteful, and ultimately unsatisfying upshot of her life. Let’s see where all that takes us in this very tightly put together serial drama.
That moment in the piano room when she says to Seon Jae about the “demon that keeps whispering that you can buy whatever you want if you have enough money,” while still somewhat remaining prey (this is how you can play music at the expense of rich people) to that demon–as powerful a moment as the scene in the bath, as the whispered moments in the bed as we witness Hye Won’s clothing carefully hung on a hanger at the end of the clothes rack.

Lane
Lane
19 days ago
Reply to  BE

I think the director was challenging us with our conventional views of society and of right and wrong with this show and was posing questions. Although conveniently early in the show, Sun Jae’s mother was killed off, what parent would be thrilled if a son were to fall for a 20 year older married woman, no matter her position in society. How would people interpret Sun Jae’s intent and motivation? Would be he viewed as a prey or as someone using his youth/attractiveness to further his career or to be a leech preying on an older woman’s vulnerabilities ? How about Hye Won? People who knew nothing of her struggles would see as her as someone like Young Woo, out for gratification that is missing from her marriage. It is a testament to the writing, directing, and of course the fantastic acting of the whole ensemble, esp. the leads that made me question what was right and wrong. On paper, Hye Won was so wrong for Sun Jae and vise versa. But this drama (but it’s like a movie), made me root for both of them individually and as a couple. It made me root for love actually, no matter how problematic. Who am I to say that this kind of love was doomed or should be forbidden?

BE
BE
20 days ago
Reply to  MariaF

The two of them did a rather lurid and glammed up photoshoot for a fashion mag feature, cannot remember of the top of my hat which on.
The scene was appropriate to the show. Insofar as K Drama is concerned, I have no idea how censorship works there as many shows are more revealing than others.
There are so many other things that are transgressive about Hye Won and Seon Jae, however, not only age, but the adulterous nature of the relationship, against which the taboo at that time was enormous, and above all the power differential between the two, at which even non Korean audiences balk all present, it strikes me that show runners did that love scene EXACTLY the way they wanted to. Do you really have any objections to it? The distraction of skin may well, probably would, have reduced the tenderness of the pillow talk or the drama of Hye Won’s gasps.

MariaF
MariaF
20 days ago
Reply to  BE

I said in my previous comment, that I loved that particular scene. What made me curious is the general vibe of discomfort, that I somehow sensed.
Also, I don’t think HyeWon preys on SunJae. And a serious, sincere teacher-student relationship can happen. But her being older shouldn’t have been HyeWon’s only concern. A young and impressionable student vs powerful, married teacher… Even if they were the same age… What could go wrong?
I wonder, if the writer herself just didn’t see it as a problem.

BE
BE
20 days ago
Reply to  MariaF

I don’t know, but I think beyond everything else in this, although age gap certainly comes up, the issue of adultery is the one that for the writers has the most power. Still…and I think these kinds of contrasts go to the core of the story…which is more transgressive, harmful, cruel, the way Hye Won responds to Seon Jae or the way the cello teacher exploits and treats her student?

MariaF
MariaF
20 days ago
Reply to  BE

Nobody could know in the beginning how harmful that relationship could be in the long run. Remember a scene in the beginning of the show, when Hye Won uses a stick, and then Joon-hyung teaches Sun Jae, while Hye Won watches them? Sun Jae felt totally humiliated.

Spoiler
Or the interview at Hye Won’s house?

At least the cello teacher’s student wasn’t emotionally involved. Also, if we started comparing apples to apples and compared Hye Won’s machinations to cello teacher’s, I’m not sure who would win.
And again, I’m not against their relationship per se. But she should have given Sun Jae (and herself) more time. Her thinking and behavior were selfish and irresponsible, at least in the beginning.

eda harris
eda harris
24 days ago

my emotions are totally overcrowding my brain, my heart, my soul… and some other parts of my being, that i don’t even have names for them – that’s what this drama really does to me. it really leaves me speechless! (not an ordinary state for me).
but i’ll try to collect and express my impressions from these two episodes.
she “was struck by a falling star. never mind if it wasn’t fun”. that is what she tells sj when he asks her what happened with her injuries. i think this tells it all – she was left with no choice, but to confront her bondage. i do not feel it’s desperation, but rather a sudden realization that life can not go on as it is now. she’s on the run, to may be collect her thoughts and feelings, and sj is not just helping her, he is instigating her inner struggle, although these realizations might not be on the surface yet, for both of them, on different levels and in different ways. i am sure that at this point she’s in turmoil but turmoil is not a permanent situation, it will come to some kind of resolution. and i am more than glad that sj is there to support her. intuitively she gets it, that is why she chooses him to drive (as opposed to for example getting into a taxi, and drive to somewhere, as money is not a problem). but that is also why she suddenly abandons sj in the middle of nowhere (i was not happy about that – very unfair), but extreme confusion can cause unreasonable actions. i do feel sorry for both of them at this juncture, but i do trust sj, he’s heart is so sincere and pure, that when she tries to scold him, to play the teacher or the grown up, he does not allow it – he pulls her back into their personal emotional vortex. he’s a man, and i am so proud of him, he’s straight, even confrontational but not in a bad way, and he’s driving not just the car, but the situation between them.
the last scenes of episode 8. i do not think i have ever seen a more beautiful, tender, sensuous intimacy scene in any other movie or drama, and the way the production achieves it without showing us the couple together at all, without touching, without talking, only shots of sj’s room in the slums in kind of slow motion, – the juxtaposition of the poverty and greyness of this room and the richness of their experience is most powerful. and we only hear their whispers and moans, giggles – it is so emotionally overwhelming and all encompassing – and that is why i am left speechless. hw surrenders to her own self.

JJ
JJ
24 days ago
Reply to  eda harris

@eda – I completely understand and you summed it up perfectl. And I am on my second watch of this…..

“my emotions are totally overcrowding my brain, my heart, my soul… and some other parts of my being, that i don’t even have names for them – that’s what this drama really does to me. it really leaves me speechless! (not an ordinary state for me).”

BE
BE
24 days ago

Hi. Sorry I am so late again, especially for these two crucial episodes in this show.
First I think as K points out these two episodes, and if we go back set by set, or forward I am sure this to be true, are wonderful examples of how the two episode per week structure of K Dramas can really be taken by show writers and runners to great advantage. It is why before Chuno I suggested we watch our group watches thus. The way the first six episodes two by two are enclosed, consistently taking us back to Hye Won’s, the serendipitous seemingly accidental fatalism of their encounters. And in this, which takes us back to Seon Jae’s–ah the change, the crossing over, the taking of accidental fate and its dangers by the horns and instead of being buffeted by them, moving forward.
So we begin with the escape with Seon Jae, anywhere but Hye Won’s. When Seon Jae asks her why, she responds because it was “her choice.” The Hye Won in Hye Won’s world has no real agency, no matter how smart she is, no matter how well she works to her employers’ advantages, no matter how she negotiates her business among the three of them, having to placate each one, each one has his or her screws into her, her husband too, always nagging and moaning, for whom she always has to calm the waters, not so much for him as to save her own mentality from breaking under the constant hand full of gimme, mouthfull of much obliged, day after day, hour after hour, minute after minute. She chooses Seon Jae to be her accomplice in stealing away for a couple hours all that madness and stress of her world.
But, and we will cover Seon Jae in this in a second, she does NOT choose to follow Seon Jae in what is obviously a hook up hotel by the looks of it. Forget whether or not she is misunderstanding Seon Jae’s motives, her longing is for the purity of Seon Jae’s feelings, and one can imagine, whether or not she consciously wants to take this to the bedroom with him, and we can certainly understand in any case, in her current state, fresh from Young Woo’s might have been lethal assault, not to mention her very conflicted feelings for Seon Jae, the rights, the wrongs, the jealousies she feels, the abhorrence of such behavior in Young Woo, the sticky place she is in trying to survive SeoHan, not just survive but climb higher, she did not want to go to a hotel with anyone at all. As she tells Seon Jae, “I do not want to go with you to such a place. She has chosen Seon Jae for the right to have an hour or two with no strings attached, And oh no, not him, not now, can’t face it, off she drives leaving him there. The woman after all, had been hit by falling star. You may or may not think she was making a joke or that the joke was funny. Feeling for Hye Won as I do, however, made me shake my head and chuckle under my breath.
What I love, having seen this show three times before this, is how the show really focuses in on the pov of each member of this triangle. The use of musical themes, introduced in the first six episodes, really adds to the enactment. We feel the tenderness of Seon Jae’s sympathy toward Hye Won, the creepy discomfort of Kang in the sweaty claustrophobia of his cuckolded jealousy as the music takes advantage of each man silently enacts his character. But insofar as POV is concerned, I cannot think of another show I have ever seen in which we are so privy to each character’s tunnel vision, each character’s deluded projections, based on half truths and reasonable assumptions not taking the other”s actual reality into play.
What man in love has not felt the pang of his intentions being misconstrued, especially in the area of sexuality, given that 90% of the time a woman is well within her grounds to think the worst about any and every man in such a situation. Poor effing Seon Jae, having to check his paltry bank account to cover the cost of a couple hour stay in a hotel room free of “rats and insects,” so that Hye Won might have a place to lie down, recoup. What a pure heart, complete generosity. We watch with K and feel terrible for the lad. What did he do wrong?

Well, for one thing he did not ask her if she might want a room to rest in. Consent should be asked for. That’s the deal with devastating misunderstandings among people who do not really know one another; we do not always really know what the other wants; people after all are not mind readers. We make mistakes even from the most well intentioned motivations. As a man, I can easily say to Seon Jae, oh ho yes, been there, done that–humiliating business, especially when you explain yourself and still it does not cut through. And yet when I watch Hye Won on the phone, her voice breaking down, telling him “I did not want to go to such a place with you.” And Seon Jae still not getting it, still lost in his own hurt young male ego, that forget the intention, she did not want to go to such a place with him at that moment when the whole world was grabbing at her mind, her tit, her gut, and her sexual identity.
And meanwhile back at the minimalist mansion with the crazy minimalist staircase, Kang puts on a demonstration of Freudian projection to take into every freshman psychology classroom imaginable. The two of them are arguing really about Seon Jae, her relationship with him, a relationship neither can exactly spell out to themselves let alone at one another. But Kang is so pitiful that in turning the argument to Hye Won and her bosses, the actual stresses, physical as well as mental abuse therein, he just sets himself up as a fool. The closest they come to really broaching it all is the idea she puts forth about turning back the clock, which too close to his bone, he drifts off with under his breath.
What utterly egoless job Park Hyuk Kwon is doing with Kang to so convincingly enact such an emasculated character. And Kim Hee Ae, does not miss a single beat of Hye Won’s unbelievable capacity for turning on her intelligence and cunning even when the knives are at her skin all up and down her body. And then this scene given a kind of kiss in the morning when Kang apologizes utilizing his feeling of inadequacy as his excuse for such intolerable behavior. Oh ho, what woman on earth receiving such an apology framed thus would not find it disgustingly pathetic. Park Hyuk Kwon and Kim Hee Ae–just mind blowing how the two play off one another. How at first she gives him short shrift, then apologizes herself, and as she leaves he has to throw in, what a pitiful mess that man is, the bit about her not staying angry.
There are so many spectacular scenes in these two episodes. One could go into great deal breaking each down. I will say it again. I just love this show; it is so thoroughly well done. Just the bit about Kang going to the fortune teller, who hits upon just enough things right to be completely wrong and how that must mess with Kang’s already flummoxed and perplexed head even more–oh the bit about his wife being so much into her job that he need not worry about other men–yeah, I’ll bet that was on the money true right up to the moment she met Seon Jae. Workaholic ambition Oh Hye Won, absolutely…right up to the moment she met Seon Jae. Seon Jae, Professor Kang’s ticket to success, oh and yes again, his dream student come true, genius prodigy, his discovery, ah except that Seon Jae had met Hye Won. The whole fortune telling set up perfectly just off, as Kang is perpetually, in scene after scene after scene, just off, as if he were born into this world a centimeter off kilter from the rest of existence.
But my very favorite scene in the entire show was the silent 30 seconds in the bath, Hye Won touching her face, pinching her chin, her shoulders, so much, every woman in that moment–am I lovely enough, will his attraction for me fade confronted by my nakedness–the glorious but unfortunate truth that love in the sense of romantic attraction can only ultimately be sealed by sex and sex so contingent on one’s attractiveness, especially so for a woman, especially so with a man twenty years her junior. All that insecurity written across Kim Hee Ae’s face while, look again, there is no camera shot of her face in the whole show wherein she looks more beautiful in that moment. Ach, how can one look at Kim Hee Ae in that scene and not fall in love with her? That boys is a WOMAN!
I also love the way the love scene was presented. These two episodes which are so good at showing how insecurities, life realities, gender, age all play into human confusion and the oft deluded reactions therefrom, closing as they do with the tender, compassionate pillow talk between the two of them, the musical theme moving along with the camera in Seon Jae’s apartment, where Hye Won does feel so at home (why the outburst earlier, because Seon Jae had invited her there, using her affection for his little apartment as bait, and upon arriving what did she see–talk about feeling betrayed, even if the whole purpose of Seon Jae going out with Da Mi was to get her out of there, even if Seon Jae had felt so strongly he almost broke it off with Da Mi as she went nattering on–jealous, you bet, pierced to the very core–we aren’t talking right and wrong here, we are talking about love, the romantic kind, the kind folks shipwreck upon daily, the kind songs are written about and epic tragedies–shrill she was, you bet. Ah and yet, what it is to be a man, ass over teakettle, and watch a woman about whom you feel insecure, throw a jealous fit. It may appear to someone watching as abusive, humiliating, but to the fella, how cool, she is jealous!–Another terrific scene, so true to experience).

The tastefulness of it, as he expresses the universal maybe I won’t be so great in front to cover up whatever might go wrong, and her too, admitting, confessing maybe she does not know either what she is doing, his response saying, whatever he said in words, honey just the two of us doing it, my goodness gracious. My goodness gracious. And after her saying that he knew she wasn’t a player (I think in the Netflix translation it went more like he knew she wasn’t all that experienced–it would be nice to know what that sentence in Korean actually means, just as in the Netflix version Hye Won putting on the music says, “Music is King,” whereas in the Viki trans it says, ” Music is all.” What too, is the actual translation I wonder).
The awkwardness of potential discomfort, and the way Hye Won has carefully hung her clothes up–choice, the echo to the opening scene of the previous episode. Hye Won has, rather than continuing on tortured as she has been by all her worldly considerations, chosen the sincerity and love, which if one is watching her closely in these two episodes always undoes her about Seon Jae, whom she has already told if he just sticks to his nature will win the day, chooses to come key in hand from the jacket he keeps leaving with her to his door, to his clothes, to his bed. Done so tastefully, yet without holding back any of the human anxieties and desires therein, I want to hold it up to all other romantic films and series and say: look at this, you can talk about it, you can present it in all its awkward and anxiety ridden glory, you can face it straight up, and you can do it wholesomely, lovingly without prurience, the way Hye Won chose to love Seon Jae, not in a place where she did not want to go with him, but at his place where he made her feel so comfortable that all the barriers between them disappeared as the illusions they were in the face of their deep affection and desire for one another.
You will not get me to say anything other than Bravo when it comes to this show.

J3ffc
J3ffc
23 days ago
Reply to  BE

How about “brava” for Kim Hee Ae? (Sorry, BE, couldn’t help myself 😉.)


I too want to stick up a little for Hye Won’s reaction to the room offer by Seon Jae. Considering how conflicted she is, and what kind of hotel that was, and what time of night it was, and the fact that she was not privy to SJ’s negotiations with the hotel manager, I think any concern was not all that badly misplaced. Plus, retreat in the face of her own attraction to him is a realistic response, although leaving him to make his way back was, as you point out, minimally thoughtless.

(PS Hope you’re feeling better.)

BE
BE
23 days ago
Reply to  J3ffc

Bravarama and bravotory. Thanks for the thought. Well I can sit at my computer these days for a bit of time, making posting considerably easier and less fraught with error, as a computer keyboard has size, the thumbs and especially the eight fingers going for it, whereas a phone keyboard turns every o into an i and for me is largely a single right hand index finger affair. And I have reduced the amount of pain meds I take, albeit, alas, still taking them. I have slept through the night for a week–all pretty positive, and my mindset is pretty positive as well.

For me, I think what show does so well, especially in these two episodes, is show the tunnel vision in all sides of a typical romantic misunderstanding, and also does so by in presenting them include gender expectation and reaction typical given S. Korean culture and biological (age especially) imperitives–don’t we love Seon Jae’s very masculine young energy? Well of course, but he also has a kind of typical tunnel vision when it comes to just how much bullpucky Hye Won as a woman has to put up with trying to please all these parasitic feeders attached to her. He is beginning to get the idea, and admits that to her in the practice room, but his approaching her at work after witnessing a bit of Young Woo’s insulting innuendos coming her way demonstrates quite well he still does not quite get it. She does not want to be touched by his sincerity there, in that moment, as it might only compromise her more in that place, so she acts out in anger. He is asking something of her, not giving her what she needs, even though he does not realize that to be the case. He thinks he is trying to be her knight in shining armor.

Lane
Lane
23 days ago
Reply to  BE

BE, you just articulated everything and more about why I just love this show. The acting, the music, the script is nothing like any other Kdrama I have watched. This show is my introduction to both actors. Kim Hee Ae is a formidable actress. She is exquisite in how she portrayed all the difficult scenes in these two episodes. She is shrill but still restrained (does this make sense?) Nothing is over acted. And I have to say that Yoo Ah In despite being really 20 years her junior is her perfect partner — talent met talent.
I found many scenes painful to watch. Hye Won unraveled bit by bit from the many indignities she had to take in exchange for her present social status. Everyone wanted something from her. Her relationships were all transactional. Everything she had came at a price, even her own husband. How telling that Sun Jae became her safe place but at the same time, she still could not fully trust him through years of conditioning. You said everything there is to say about Hye Won’s insecurities as an older woman, about her attractiveness and fading youth. As a woman myself, my heart broke for beautiful and talented Hye Won as she surveyed her body in the tub. How much self-loathing did she have when she felt jealous of Dami? She felt like a fool for being drawn to someone as young as Sun Jae . The humiliation that must have stung her to go to Sun Jae and then see him together with his much much younger girlfriend. Also in the previous episode, she told Young Woo to stop seeing young guys and go see a therapist (when they were in the club.) She must felt like her words are boomeranging back to mock her. And then there was Sun Jae who was inexperienced in the ways of her sophisticated world. It felt to me that in these 2 episodes were like a stress test for their budding relationship. Could Sun Jae’s love withstand the trials of Hye Won’s defenses and insecurities and still remain true? Could Hye Won overcome her own mistrustful nature and throw caution to the winds because really she had everything to lose — basically all that she sacrificed her principles for? (Also, wasn’t adultery a criminal offense in Korea?) Could Hye Won dare to grasp something her heart and body wanted (rather than her brain?) The consummation scene was so exquisitely constructed. This director executed this show with so much class and respect for the story. The premise of the story was scandalous in Korea. But I felt the director did not sell out his vision to further get viewer interest in the show. I love that we could only hear their whispers. Somehow it felt more intimate. And their declaration of both of their “performance” anxieties was laying themselves vulnerable to each other. To me, Hye Won never looked more beautiful than when we she was lying in Sun Jae’s bed while he played the piano for her. She looked so blissful and relaxed. And the way Sun Jae threw her into bed and started tickling her — no more barriers indeed.

Also, I would like to send you well wishes for a full recovery from your surgery. Take care!

@KFG, I saw the video of YAI practicing that Appasionata. I found it amazing that he expended so much effort for a drama. Thanks for posting it and thanks for this group watch again!

j3ffc
j3ffc(@j3ffc)
25 days ago

Props up front to kfangurl for two brilliant observations regarding these episodes. I do think that Hye Won is lashing out at Sun Jae for both of the reasons she suggested, both because he is the only target that she really has (although hubby is not a bad second choice) and also the instrument of her growing awareness of her own self-insecurities. And also the comment that the arc of the episodes mirrors exactly the consummation of the titular SLA.

Last week, I realized that, for me, the tone and look of this show is reminiscent of French art films of the 50s and 60s (think “Umbrellas of Cherbourg” or “Breathless”) – something about the almost-but-not-quite black-and-white cinematography, the incorporation of classical music, the juxtaposition of high- vs. working-class characters, and the subject matter. It hit me during the motorcycle ride in episode 6 and the further we go the more apt the comparison feels. Consider the consummation scene: no music, showing nothing, a series of still lives from around the apartment, and only occasional dialogue – minimalist filmmaking of a high order. 

Hillview
Hillview
25 days ago

So this is my first time watching and I am enjoying the pace of the group watch, has made me reflect a bit more on the episodes instead of just clicking next so thank you for running these Kfangurl!
I did find myself spending a good part of these episodes thinking ok get on with it, start the affair, enough with the being miserable constantly but then I was surprised when it did actually start (those age, emotional maturity and power imbalances are a problem for me however so struggling a bit with the concept . . .) but props to the show for surprising me with the start and how it started, I really enjoyed his surprise and delight!
Props also for that sweet conversation about performance worries, I thought that was really well done and both supersweet and pretty real.
I found myself intrigued by the visit to the fortune teller by Joon Hyung, I will be interested to see if this translates as to why he does or does not do something in future episodes, Totally agree with Kfangurl’s assessments of his actions, he has gone from being ineffectual and whiny to a total idiot who is worthy of betrayal, just in time so to speak!
I was also watching Itaewon class at the same time so was in an interesting space of the female characters treating the steadfast lead male pretty harshly but I did find Hye won’s actions a bit tough in this pair of episodes.

Georgia Peach
25 days ago

Oh goodness, these two episodes. How they do leave you breathless. HyeWon going to her safe place. This woman who has struggled to get where she is with the compromise of her soul. This woman who suffers, suffers from abject humiliation at the hands of those who feed her. This woman who admits to ‘being born a forty year old’. This woman who is fortunate enough to have someone who comes into her life that wishes for her happiness and well being. This woman who has reached the end of her tether…so conflicted about her feelings…she goes to her safe place. And the expression on SunJae’s face when he sees her dressed in his tshirt…saying he’d last seen her dressed in his ‘mother’s clothes’. He’s a man in love who finally sees in front of him his goddess happy and free of her encumbrances. But we have no Lothario in SunJae. He has found out he’s not the first student to be in love with HyeWon, but he knows he’s the only one who has loved her purely and completely. Be still my heart.
As a side note…I’m wondering if HyeWon’s flight from the possibility of going to a motel room with SunJae might have had it’s basis in her fear in what She might find herself doing as much as the fear of what SunJae might do? Perhaps she knew her attraction to SunJae may show itself given her weakened emotional condition. And, of course, later she does give in to her feelings…I’ve had the thought she either needed to expresses her feelings or go to the Hangang. Good choice!
I believe Hellbound with Yoo AhIn will begin on Netflix USA next week. I wish we could see him in more roles like SLA instead of the other genres he has chosen. I know it would be difficult for him to play the ‘fresh faced boy’…well…I guess I like to see him in love again…😘

MariaF
MariaF
25 days ago
Reply to  Georgia Peach

I somehow understood the conversation about the clothes differently. I didn’t think SunJae said that he’d seen HyeWon wearing his mother’s clothes. I thought HyeWon’d asked if she was good playing his girlfriend Da-mi, and SunJae responded that he saw Da-me wearing his mother’s clothes (not his). That’s when HyeWon responded that it meant that Da- mi was his relative, not a girlfriend.

Georgia Peach
22 days ago
Reply to  MariaF

MariaF, perhaps you are right. I found it confusing and watched it twice or so. My thinking was that SunJae had last seen HyeWon in more mature, business clothes…aka ‘mother’s clothes’. But was now seeing her in his clothes…hence his girlfriend. I’m watching on Viki…perhaps I’ll go to Netflix and see how it is there. Thanks for the input..☺️
Question..does anyone know why I’m not getting notifications of replies via email on this post? I un-cancel the bell, but still not getting notified of comments. 😐

eda harris
eda harris
22 days ago
Reply to  Georgia Peach

i also stopped getting those on email, and was wondering why?

MariaF
MariaF
22 days ago
Reply to  Georgia Peach

If you listen carefully, you could hear HyeWon mention Da-mi’s name.

And, that’s exactly what I do, when I really like a show and want to understand what was said: I watch it on different streaming providers.

Sometimes I get a better understanding of certain scenes on Netflix, although Viki’s translation is generally closer to the original.

A good example of it is a scene in “My mister”. On Netflix Lee Ji-an tells Dong-hoon “You look bored”. The same phrase is translated on Viki as “You look like you are sick of life”. Huge difference!
But I don’t think ‘Secret Love affair “ is on Netflix any more, at least not in the US.

MariaF
MariaF
26 days ago

I came across an article that has photos of a pianist whose facial expressions Yoo Ah In apparently imitated, when playing piano, along with excerpts from several articles about the actor and the show. The expressions are really similar!

https://yooahinsikseekland.wordpress.com/2014/04/25/yoo-ah-in-earns-recognition-for-his-acting-in-secret-love-affairs/

JJ
JJ
26 days ago

@KFG- Awwwww, thanks, KFG for including this YouTube Clip of Yoo Ah In playing the piano 🥰🥰🥰🥰. Not necessary at all to give me a shout out 🥰

I do wonder what our professional musicians will think of his actual playing here 🙂

Hillview
Hillview
25 days ago
Reply to  JJ

Not a professional but it seems pretty amazing to me!

JJ
JJ
24 days ago
Reply to  Hillview

@Hillview – I totally agree!!! 🙂