Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! Can you believe we’re already in the second half of our story? I decided to have this scene headlining our post today, because this feels like such a rare moment of unguarded, carefree joy, between Hye Won and Sun Jae.
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 – Warm Heart
In case you’d like to soak in the music as you read the episode notes, here’s Warm Heart, which features rather prominently, this set of episodes. I love how unhurried, soothing, and comforting it feels.
Just right-click on the video and select “Loop.”
With the consummation of the main relationship last episode, it feels like we are in new territory, this episode.
The thing that I notice most, is the shift in Hye Won. Prior to the consummation, while she’d been wrestling with herself, she had channeled all that tension into how she’d spoken to and treated Sun Jae, and that had come across as harsh and cruel. Now, however, that release, which we’d felt last episode, seems to have an enduring sort of effect.
Even though Hye Won leaves hurriedly in the dawn hours without saying goodbye to Sun Jae, the tone of her text message, which she sends to him while in the taxi on the way to work, is so open, and so vulnerable.
It feels like a revelation, that such a bare-hearted, tender sort of musing could come from Hye Won, who’s been so evasive and controlled, for much of the time we’ve known her.
“I, Oh Hye Won, am going to work. This is my personal number. Save it under some other name. I like your place. Although last night, I was scared to go in alone. It was dangerous, steep… and slippery from the rain. ‘Should I walk back down?’
That question came up on every step. But even at that moment, I thought that I shouldn’t fall. I’d have to come up with lies if I broke my legs. Which made me be as cautious as possible.
I walked up the stairs and… got through the dark and narrow corridor. It was nice to know… that I would be at your place once I got through there. I turned on the lights and almost cried. Now this is a home.
This is what home should be. I’m normally always standing. And sometimes I sleep with my heels on. I felt as if that place existed solely for me. And I was thankful to your mother. So I took the liberty of walking about.
But because no one should know about this, I found myself walking on tippy toes, before I realized it. Yes, I’m very used to lying… but I couldn’t make you do the same. I had thoughts of me being more careful. But I want you to be careful too. Is this childish?
Oh yeah, I ate your cup ramen. I didn’t want to wake you up, so I ate on the rooftop. I can’t remember the last time I had something that tasted so good. I remember what you said.
Practicing until the shoulders are sore and enjoying Rachmaninoff and Paganini to the end. Loving them the best. I realized what that means. Isn’t my life so strange? So now I… don’t dare to say that I love you and your house. But only that… I will learn from you.
So Sun Jae… even if I don’t get it until the end… Smart Sun Jae… Even if people say that this is an affair and that it’s bad for you… a sin. Hide wisely and protect yourself. I will take the filth. That’s my specialty.”
There’s so much here, which I feel continues to play out in the rest of the episode.
For a start, how interesting is it, that Sun Jae saves Hye Won as WHO, on his phone. In the context of the scene, it feels like Show is pointing at this message, and telling us that the answer to the question, “WHO is Hye Won?,” has its beginnings here.
I’m quite struck by the idea that Hye Won had walked through the slippery darkness, with the warmth of Sun Jae’s abode, as the prize.
That feels like a metaphor right there, for how Hye Won’s been walking in the filth of power and corruption, but finds relief and safety in the welcoming homeliness of Sun Jae.
At the same time, Hye Won ends her message – which Sun Jae correctly labels the confession of her life – by expressing her desire to protect Sun Jae.
This feels like a complete turnaround from her adversarial stance last set of episodes, where she’d been in attack mode, more than anything. Yet, here, and now, she wants to protect Sun Jae with her own self. She’d rather take on more filth, in order to preserve his purity.
Another thing that leaves a deep impression on me, is how Hye Won says that she’d almost cried, entering Sun Jae’s home. This really drives home how she doesn’t feel at ease the rest of time, even in her own home.
She says that she’s used to lying, and that hits home more than ever, when she says that she couldn’t afford to fall, because if she’d broken her legs, she’d need to lie about it.
It’s so telling, isn’t it, that her first concern about falling, isn’t that she might break her legs per se, but that she’d have to find a suitable cover story for how she’d broken them. It’s becoming clearer and clearer, just how much of a finely tuned machine of lies Hye Won’s life really is.
How significant, that Hye Won says in this message, that she will learn from Sun Jae, how to love him. Hye Won might be more experienced and wise in many things, but when it comes to the heart, Sun Jae is way more tuned in to his heart and how to love out of it, than Hye Won.
At the same time, I feel that it’s a sign of growth in itself, that Hye Won’s able to recognize and articulate this.
Another big piece that I’m taking away from this episode, is the need to hide, that now looms over Hye Won and Sun Jae, but over Hye Won especially.
It feels like there are eyes and ears everywhere, and as she invests her heart and hence starts to lose some of the control that comes from coldness and distance, people around her starting to pick up on her attachment to Sun Jae.
The way Hye Won jumps to Sun Jae’s defense, when Madam Han suggests eyelid surgery for Sun Jae, is enough to clue in both Madam Han and Hye Won’s friend Secretary Wang.
The fact that neither of them actually says anything to Hye Won, even after clocking her protectiveness of Sun Jae, and making their own conclusions about it, is actually rather worrying.
This means that they’ve become aware of Hye Won’s connection to Sun Jae, while Hye Won is unaware that they’ve noticed anything. I feel like that puts Hye Won at an immediate disadvantage, in this dog-eat-dog world.
The other thing that is starting to worry me, is the fact that Joon Hyung’s being pushed into an uncomfortable corner. Certainly, this isn’t directly Hye Won’s doing, but I do believe that Madam Han’s idea, of putting Hye Won in charge of Sun Jae, is due to her observation of Hye Won’s partiality towards Sun Jae.
With Joon Hyung basically forced to let go of Sun Jae, against his wishes, I feel like his resentment towards Hye Won and Sun Jae will only grow stronger – and that can’t be a good thing.
In the scene where Sun Jae asks for the security cameras to be switched off in the practice room, my subs translate what he says as, “I don’t have strength to fight the filth.”
I think a more accurate translation would be, “I don’t have the power to fight the filth,” which has a different connotation entirely. It’s not that he doesn’t have the strength or will to; he recognizes that this is a lot of power play, and he knows that he has no leverage.
At first, I was rather thrown by Hye Won’s hearty laugh in response to Sun Jae calling her text the confession of her life, and their relationship, an affair, but eventually, as she settles down, and the laugh takes on more bitter-sounding tones, it becomes clear that Hye Won isn’t disagreeing with Sun Jae after all.
In fact, she adds on to what he says, by saying that she can’t even buy nice clothes for him, because people would think that she’d bought him.
This is the bitter reality of their current context; he can’t love her openly, and neither can she love him openly.
It’s an unpleasant truth that frames the sincerity of their hearts, and that’s sad, because wouldn’t it be nice, to love someone and actually have the freedom to revel in that love, without fear of judgment?
I find it interesting, that when Sun Jae asks to take Hye Won on a quick ride on the motorbike, she demurs at first, but rather quickly ends up not only taking that ride, but asking to go to his place, as well.
It feels like Hye Won’s slowly but surely losing the willpower to keep a distance from Sun Jae, that she’s even willing to do something as risky as this.
How notable, that upon entering the house, even though it’s Hye Won who had suggested the rendezvous, it’s Sun Jae who takes control of the situation, and reaches first, to kiss and embrace Hye Won.
This is so in line with what he’d said, when she’d first offered to hug him. He wants to be the man in the relationship, and it’s playing out so naturally, in this moment of intimacy.
Afterwards, as they sit together on the roof and Sun Jae asks what Hye Won is thinking, my subs translate her answer as, “Fling,” but I think a more accurate translation is, “Habit.”
That changes the whole vibe of the following conversation, doesn’t it, where Sun Jae asks if she’s worried that he’ll become one (a habit), and Hye Won answers that she’s afraid that she will become one.
I feel bad for Hye Won, that her happy glow so quickly turns into a reason for her to hide, in such an undignified manner, in the storeroom on the roof. I think that’s the biggest downer, on a new relationship; the fact that you want to celebrate, but have to hide, instead.
This episode, Sun Jae puts to rest our questions about where he sees Da Mi, when he comes out and tells her that he doesn’t see her as a woman. That’s the literal translation, though my subs say that he doesn’t see her as his girlfriend.
How interesting, that even though he’s never regarded Da Mi as a woman, he’d still referred to her as his girlfriend to Hye Won. That’s a lot of loyalty to show Da Mi, when he’s talking to his goddess, wouldn’t you say?
Da Mi takes it reasonably well in front of Sun Jae, but the fact that she makes it a point to formally introduce herself to Hye Won at the spa, and still refers to Sun Jae as her boyfriend, while asking Hye Won to take good care of him, is definitely a territorial move.
There’s a definite bite to her smile, and that does make me a little nervous, for Hye Won. After all, we’ve agreed that Da Mi is very likely pretty darn scary, when she feels betrayed. 😬
Reality is starting to bear down on Hye Won and Sun Jae, and I feel like this screenshot encapsulates it really well.
Because of the new arrangement, Hye Won and Sun Jae are licensed to spend a lot more time together, but their chemistry is starting to leak in unexpected places, and catching the notice of the people around them.
Alongside this, Joon Hyung’s position continues to grow increasingly uncomfortable, as he already knows that there’s Something going on between Hye Won and Sun Jae, and yet, he feels compelled to keep up pretenses, not just because he needs them both, but also, for the sake of his reputation.
From what we’ve been shown, Joon Hyung’s felt like a fake for a long time, and has been longing to prove himself, with his own protégé.
The way the situation is playing out, is very unfortunate for Joon Hyung, because he needs Sun Jae for the sake of his reputation, but in hanging on to Sun Jae when it’s really Hye Won who’s teaching and guiding Sun Jae, Joon Hyung only ends up feeling even more like a fake.
Add on the nugget of information we get last episode, where Show indicates, via Hye Won’s phone call to the doctor, that Joon Hyung is going through andropause (aka male menopause), and things get even more delicate.
If this is true, then Joon Hyung would feel even more moody than average, and therefore it’s no surprise that by the time we reach the end of the episode, he’s flinging a wine glass at the wall in frustration.
Right now, I feel like Joon Hyung is a ticking time bomb, and Hye Won’s current approach, of acting like nothing’s happened, isn’t going to keep the status quo for long.
Sun Jae’s concert goes excellently, and I would just like to say that I’m more impressed than ever, at how Yoo Ah In manages the concert scenes. I mean, it really isn’t even a question of whether he’s playing for himself anymore. I’m sure there are some parts that he plays, and then some parts that he doesn’t.
But the fact is, the synchronization of Sun Jae’s movements with the music is faultless. I could completely believe that this was Sun Jae, performing on stage, from the depths of his soul, and I found it utterly spellbinding.
Part of what makes it spellbinding, is watching Hye Won’s heartfelt response to Sun Jae’s performance.
Just like when she’d first listened to him play in the piano room in her house, his music brings her to tears.
In fact, I’d never noticed it on my first watch, but when Hye Won leaves the auditorium, her legs are visibly wobbly. Sun Jae’s playing has such a real and tangible effect on Hye Won, that it’s quite mesmerizing to see.
Plus, there’s the way he searches for her, in the audience, for the simple reason that he needs to. He needs to see her, and know that she’s right there with him, in order to keep playing his best. It feels poetic, that they affect each other in such deep ways.
It hadn’t occurred to me on my first watch, but Hye Won needing to lie down, after Sun Jae’s performance, isn’t so much because she’s tired from all the concert-related arrangements; it’s because his music has affected her in such a tangible way, that it literally makes her breathless and weak.
That’s why she needs to lie down, to just be, and recover, for a bit.
It doesn’t surprise me at all, that Sun Jae instinctively knows where to find her, even though she hasn’t told anyone where she’ll be. It also doesn’t surprise me, that Sun Jae is quick to tell Hye Won that he couldn’t help looking for her, in that moment, in the auditorium.
What does surprise me, a little, is how open Hye Won is, in telling Sun Jae how she’d felt, listening to him play; that she’d hardly been able to breathe. That’s so very vulnerable of her.
The ease and comfort of their skinship, as they sit together and watch the recording of the concert, feels telling. They’ve grown even closer now, than they’d been before, and it honestly looks so natural and instinctual, to them both.
Sun Jae taking Hye Won to the back of the auditorium, and showing her where he’d first seen her, as someone from another world, feels like a significant moment, because that’s the first time he’d laid eyes on her, and his soul had stirred, for her.
It also feels significant, that in this space, where he’d been an outsider, he’s now holding her in his arms, and driving their intimacy forward.
At the same time, it’s rather nerve-wracking to watch Joon Hyung search for them, all the while. Like I mentioned earlier, this all feels like a ticking time bomb, ready to go off at any time.
I feel like if Young Woo hadn’t called Joon Hyung with such urgency, to tell him to find Hye Won because of the prosecutors, perhaps Joon Hyung would have been able to carry on with his charade for a little longer.
However, the emergency forces him to confront the situation at hand. The fact that he shouts out the message to Hye Won in that auditorium, is an acknowledgment that he knows that she’s there, with Sun Jae.
With this, he can’t pretend anymore, and again, that’s why he smashes that wine glass at the tail end of the episode.
What an abrupt shift in gears, this episode, as Hye Won rushes to the Chairman’s residence to tend to the emergency. What strikes me about this scene, is not so much what goes on inside the house, but what goes on outside.
We eventually see that Sun Jae has followed Hye Won to the Chairman’s house, and we see him watching from a distance, from behind a streetlamp.
This echoes so strongly, the first time he’d spied Hye Won from behind that stage curtain, that I feel it can’t be a coincidence.
In this moment, I feel that Show is demonstrating to us, that despite what has developed between Hye Won and Sun Jae, he is still an outsider looking into her world from a distance.
With so much going on, and the walls seeming to close in on her, slowly but surely, it’s no wonder Hye Won looks troubled.