This face is pretty much an exact match for how I probably looked as countdown to the end of this show came nearer. I’m not saying stay away from this show. But I am saying if you have a boatload of good stuff on your “To Be Watched List,” you can let this one marinate a bit.
I was unsure about the first episode, but by end of episode 2, I really wanted this to be another oddball gem that becomes a favorite. And because the screenwriter, Kim Ye Ri, died from cancer before production started, I really wanted it to be a hit, a great send-off for a fellow writer who was actually living the dream.
I honestly feel like this was a show that squandered the plot line and all the cute and interesting things associated with it. Every episode you’d come back just hoping for something more, hoping for the show to get in a groove and hit its mark. In the end, I’m giving it a pass and chalking it up to the writers and director charged with seeing through the vision of the original writer, decided to alter the story from the original.
It starts of with a bang. Literally. A dead body drops from the ceiling at My Secret Hotel, a very posh hotel, right on to the runway of a high-profile wedding in progress. This is a set-up for an interesting story.
We find out in reverse that the high-profile wedding is for Goo Hae Young, the ex-husband of the wedding planner in charge, Nam Sang Hyo. (You’re planning your ex-husband’s WHAT!!?? Who does that? Then another murder happens at the hotel. And we also find out Hotel Director Jo Sung Gyeom’s father had also been possibly murdered at the hotel 30 years ago. The Managing Director is suspicious. The Chief of Security is suspicious. Several lower level hotel employees all act and do things that look really sketchy. Multiple mysteries equals good stuff.
When Goo Hae Young would say, “Nam Sang Hyo” — O.M.G! If nothing else one of the great things about this show was Actor Jin Yi-han’s sexy lower register voice. Particularly when he was saying his ex-wife’s name. That guy could probably hype up a billion women just reading the phone directory listings with that voice. Who even cares what he is saying.
We all know k-drama parents can be demons, especially if they don’t like their child’s choice in a marriage partner. For a chaebol son, Goo Hae Young had the nicest, normal, supportive parents. They were so cute together. You can see the similarities in Hae Young and Sang Hyo’s relationships during their first marriage. The only thing they wanted was for their third son to get married. They weren’t even picky about who he married as evidenced by his first too young and spoiled financé. Novelty in K-drama world. They embraced Sang Hyo even more when they saw how in love and happy Hae Young was when he was with her.
The staff at Hae Young’s architectural firm seemingly never do any work. But man are they a fun bunch. They hang out together a lot and meddle in Hae Young’s romantic life. Even going so far as, after mistakingly believing he had bedroom performance problems, stuffing his honeymoon suitcase with lots of aids and home remedies to help him.
The hotel workers are quirky and mysterious. But the best was the hotel PR lady. She was everything you want in a leading lady: pretty, spunky, smart, passionate, nice and tenacious. Everything we wanted Sang Hyo to be. The the oddball detectives were so serious they didn’t know how funny they were. The various staff provide good humor for the show, something that was sorely needed as other aspects started dragging the show down.
Goo Hae Young’s dorky look of love and his smiles. The flashbacks of Hae Young and Sang Hyo during happier times. These were the cute romantic scenes k-drama fans love.
The interesting and inevitable
One thing I can say about this show looking at various viewer comments. We were all universally annoyed by stalker reporter chick, with most viewers hoping she’d be the next murder victim. And you were either strongly Team Hae Young or strongly Team Jo Sung Gyeom. There were few people in the middle. But for those on Team Jo Sung Gyeom, I’m sorry but when two ex-lovers both currently have the Angry Birds music as their phone ringtone, they’re a match made in kooky town heaven. You just can’t fight it.
Who would actually go to a hotel named My Secret Hotel? I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t stay there with a name like that. I’d be thinking all kinds of sin and perhaps ghostly activity happened there. However, for the story that is told there, the name is perfect. That hotel really did hold a lot of secrets.
The mystery. What happened to it? Two dead bodies and suddenly we don’t see but one maybe two scenes related to the cases in ep. 13 and 14. (Looks like because the guy playing the lead detective already has a role on the new show Tomorrow’s Cantabile as a main character’s father.)
What happened to Simon? Hae Young’s runaway bride? The chauffeur driver she ran away with? They just disappeared.
The holes in the plot were just too big. For example, Hae Young told his best buddy Si Chan that his dad no longer needed the surgery. Several episodes later the parents fly to NY happy that he is married and ready to get the surgery.
Why in the world did this guy who clearly is still very much in love with his ex-wife never in 7 years try to contact her or get her back? Hurt feelings because she didn’t wait for him? Oh but they managed to get a divorce somehow. (We get the answer in the next to the last episode and it is so ridiculous).
Shows often ask us to suspend disbelief just a bit to keep the plot moving. But this one asked this of us too much.
The totally annoying
Psycho Hae Young’s stalker, reporter chick. Reporter chick shows up to cause chaos at key moments. She is a seemingly useless and annoying character for most of the show. In the last episodes we finally find out what her purpose is. And it will make you want to scream. Horrible way to advance a story line by using a non-essential character. There were other ways to move this plot.
Sang Hyo’s waffling between the two men was bad enough. But the two romantic rivals could be just as bad. Hae Young’s uneccesary lies, Sung Gyeom’s pathetic puppy dog pursuit of a woman who is married for the second time to her first husband and whom he already realizes is still attached to him. Lots of viewers found his romancing SH endearing. I felt it was tedious. While I loved Hae Young’s pursuit of SH, even I wanted him to move on when his character became a mess — lying, drinking, dragging her around, never actually running his business, etc.
The reason Nam Sang Hyo gives for why she is so angry at her ex-husband. Because he apparently leaves her in Las Vegas. But then we find out that he left for his work and left her a ticket with a note asking him to join him in New York. And then we find out that he does return to their home in Vegas but she’d already left after professing her need to stay in Vegas because it was the best way for her to learn the hotel industry. Say what?! Because New York doesn’t have world-class hotels? And umm, she was working as a server in Vegas, it’s not like she had a job on the management track. But whatever. Later she says how long she waited for him. Turns out it was really that long because he wasn’t gone long. That was seven years ago. Neither knew how to pick up a phone and call cross country. He’s a chaebol. He could have afforded a long distance call…
Nam Sang Hyo and her indeciveness, utter lack of self-awareness, an inability to speak up for herself except with her ex-husband. Her pettiness. We’re led to believe she is this career-focused and driven woman but all she shows us is someone not capable of leading the department she is running. As time goes on she does less work and seems to spend time with her boss or her ex.
NOTE: some of the plot holes mentioned were filled in in episodes 15-16. But you probably are going to hate that this thing dragged out so long and it all boiled down to lack of communication, period.
I watched this show on Viki.com. And normally I get annoyed when people who don’t realize the segmenters and subbers are all volunteers complain and whine repeatedly asking where are the subtitles. The volunteers do it for the love of drama not a paycheck, so I don’t hold any expectations that subtitles will be up in full quickly or within a two-day window. When they are done quickly it makes me happy that I don’t have to wait and I appreciate the hard work that it took. But it does seems like this team of volunteers became as disinterested in the show as the viewers. The show is finished for about a week and episode 15 is only now at 89% subbed, episode 16 is closer to being 100%. That’s sad because episode 15 holds a lot of the answers viewers were waiting for, that should have been provided earlier in the series. I’m left wondering who are Sang Hyo’s real parents? Why was Sung Gyeom’s mother so against Sang Hyo for her son? Did Ms. Yang hook up with Security Chief Cha and have a Noonanim romance at some point since she couldn’t have the General Manager? Why did Security Chief Cha confess to a crime he didn’t do? Most viewers will just move on and be pissed about the show entirely. I feel like I invested 16 plus hours and I would at least like to know.
Overall I feel disappointed in the show not reaching what I saw as it’s really good potential. Although I didn’t like how certain answers were crammed in at the end, it’s probably consistent with how the story begins. We get the story told in reverse from the beginning. Flashbacks were used to tell the present day story all along. So I’m giving this a pass.