What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim, Episode 2

TL;DR: I’m torn between being touched that he took part of her message to heart about consideration and being annoyed that he still missed the greater point.

But let’s start off with the things that made me happiest in this episode, and that’s Mi-so and her relationship with the other ladies. I was so worried when Ji-ran burst into Mi-so’s home, demanding to know what was going on between Mi-so and Yeong-joon. It became clear very quickly that Mi-so, while irritated at the interruption, had probably fielded this kind of nonsense before and was an expert at it. In a matter of moments she had Ji-ran on her couch, giving her cookies and sage life advice to stay the hell away from Yeong-joon and find someone who was actually capable of giving her the kind of relationship she wanted. It was a lovely scene, and I’m just praying that this defusing sticks and Ji-ran doesn’t end up in the jealous second lead lady role because that would be predictable and boring.

I was also really happy to see Mi-so training Ji-ah at work. That’s the kind of female mentorship I appreciate in the workplace, and I’m thrilled that Ji-ah is enthusiastic, smart, and willing to work hard and learn. I worry a little that she will get hurt (professionally) in the little standoff that Mi-so and Yeong-joon have going, but I feel like Mi-so is thoughtful enough to watch out for her career and feelings.

(Maybe we’ll end this show with Mi-so getting an assistant after all, like Yeong-joon offered in an attempt to get her to stay? Really, I just want Mi-so to have a collection of younger women to mentor and who think the world of her. Is that too much to ask?)

On a more worrisome note, I’m concerned by Se-ra’s behavior. Yes, it absolutely sucks to get passed over for a promotion you applied for, but taking it out on the new person isn’t going to help anyone, least of all you. Part of me wants Ji-ah’s praise of her to be an attempt at managing Se-ra (as proof that Ji-ah will be able to manage Yeong-joon’s far larger ego), but the rest of me wants her repeated “I respect you” moments to be sincere. Come on, ladies! I want you to have each other’s backs by the end of this.

As for Yeong-joon, well, I am not at all surprised that he cannot comprehend being rejected. Men far less perfect than him have meltdowns over rejection every damn day. Thank goodness for Mi-so, who has no problem telling Yeong-joon to his face that she didn’t appreciate his first attempts to woo her and that doing what he wanted in opposition to what she wanted wasn’t going to do him any favors in her book.

Mi-so’s willingness to call out Yeong-joon and even fight with him, both now and back when they first began working together, is extremely important to me. One thing I’m constantly worried about with office romances is the difference in power between a male boss and female subordinate. The fact that Mi-so can have an extended fight with Yeong-joon over text without being worried that she’ll jeopardize her job (and the fact that she has already submitted her resignation and doesn’t need the job in the present) puts them on far more equal footing. Yeong-joon needs her, not the other way around, and that alleviates a lot of my concern.

While Yeong-joon’s actions right now seem largely motivated by his ego (and no small amount of pettiness), the drama also took care to soften his character in this episode by showing he has given second chances before, in spite of him insisting he doesn’t. After the way Mi-so blew up at him in America, no one would have given it a second thought if he accepted her resignation/fired her, especially since she had made a serious error and swore at him. He admired her courage for snapping at him and offered her a second chance, though it was framed as an order/instruction about the time to show up for work. It’s clear that Yeong-joon saw potential in Mi-so (in spite of her lack of specs and qualifications) and wasn’t willing to toss her aside after one outburst. He demands perfection of the people around him because he is (in his eyes) perfect, not because he holds everyone else to a different standard than the one he holds himself to. He gave her more and more responsibility over the years because she always seemed willing and able to take it on. (A less self-absorbed person might have thought to ask if she actually wanted those longer hours, instead of counting on her to say no if she didn’t, so that’s a misstep on his part.) And Mi-so rose to the occasion, even if the only thing she could do perfectly at first was tie his tie.

That’s what makes me hopeful that Yeong-joon will eventually understand the point that Mi-so is trying to make with her resignation. It wasn’t that he was unimportant in her life, it was that she set aside her lifelong dreams in order to take care of others, first her sisters (and father?) and then Yeong-joon. She put everything else on hold, and now that she and her family are set financially, she wants a break to reassess herself and her life and her dreams.

(I can’t help but think that she should have just asked for a sabbatical instead of outright quitting, but I have no idea if sabbaticals are a thing in South Korea, so. Or asked to cut back on hours or even asked to job-share. She can be Yeong-joon’s morning secretary, and Ji-ah can take the second shift, and both ladies will have something resembling a normal life while Yeong-joon does nothing but work.)

The question now is whether Mi-so will see Yeong-joon’s subterfuge to discover what kind of consideration she wants as cute or creepy. (Personally, it would cross into creepy territory for me, but perhaps she’ll be touched that he took her words to heart and went out of his way try to give her everything she wanted.) I still don’t want her to hesitate about leaving, not until Yeong-joon shows real romantic interest instead of this ego-driven imitation. I’m still crossing my fingers that he’ll confess first.

By the Numbers

  • Accidental hearts: 1
  • Bonding sessions: 3
  • Company dinners: 1
  • Attempts to win over Mi-so: 2

6 thoughts on “What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim, Episode 2

  1. Scalene says:

    I stumbled across a link to your recap on Twitter, and I’m glad I did! Mi So has become one of my favorite K-drama leads. She’s confident, capable, kind, and she’s not guileless; this sort of character doesn’t seem to be very common in the few romcom-ish series that I’ve seen. I also love how she interacts with the women she knows through her work; I feel like female leads tend to interact meaningfully only with other women who are in their circle of friends or relatives (again in the few K-dramas I’ve seen).

    I’ve read the webtoon, and the drama versions of Mi So and Young Joon are more vulnerable and likeable, especially Young Joon. I’m curious to see what other changes the drama will make, especially with Mi So and Young Joon’s individual growth arcs. In any case I hope Park Min Young and Park Seo Joon’s performances can see me through to the end.

    • Audrey says:

      I’m glad you found me, too! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

      Mi-so makes me so happy. I love that she is a successful career woman who makes the effort to mentor other ladies and interact with them at work. It’s clear that her care for others doesn’t begin and end with Young-joon. Mi-so has sisters, female coworkers, and friends, and I love knowing that she isn’t isolated in the world.

      I’m relieved to hear that Young-joon has been made more likeable–I was really worried he would be cruel and ruin the show for me. But so far they’ve done a good job of balancing out his less likeable traits and played up his rapidly increasing petty jealousy, which amuses me greatly. Here’s hoping the show will stay this good to the end!

  2. dooseobmey says:

    I think Mi So wants to quit since she wants to immediately having a family after getting married – meaning as housewife. Not sure either. However, her action to just quit is not foreign for me at least. I just did like her last year (quit from a stable job and pursue other dream which is not clear yet).

    • Audrey says:

      That’s true, if she wants kids, she probably wants them soon. Once you factor in time to find and date a guy (and decide you both want to marry), then adding on time to plan the wedding and trying to conceive, she probably has a timeline of having her first kid in her mid thirties.

      That’s seriously brave of you (and Mi-so). I don’t think I could quit a job without having a new one lined up.

  3. Mimi says:

    I like your recaps on the drama since it focuses more on real issues than fangirling over cute moments. I like the fact that MI So is more layered than the average secretary character and there is a genuine reason why she wanted to quit. I am not really looking forward to the childhood plot since it is really cliched. Why can’t a kdrama portray a narcissistic male lead turning out the way he is without giving him a traumatic backstory to normalize it? Why can’t it be about his growth as a more humane and less ego-driven man without having to put up with the angst from the past? I hope Mi So also grows as a character who finds herself than be reduced to a character who gets caught up in the brotherly feud.

    • Audrey says:

      I’m glad you enjoy my commentary! (And thank you for taking the time to comment!)

      I’m of two minds when it comes to common tropes–if they’re done well, I’ll eat them up immediately and asks for seconds. If they aren’t done well, I’ll complain about it the whole time. Right now I’m optimistic. It will depend on how the show balances their stories, and whether or not Mi-so’s search for happiness gets drowned by Young-joon’s angst.

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