For some, the Korean drama romantic comedy is a genre they’d lap up the instant it arrives on the docket, but for some, like me, it takes some persuading, and the right timing. Thankfully, “What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim?” was a welcome sweet and light breather from my usual heavier fare, and it was worth the watch thanks to the power couple that is Park Seo Joon and Park Min Young, with 2PM’s Chansung thrown into the mix as well. This show is very much like cotton candy, that relies heavily on the great performances of our leads to make it work, and has moments that did truly shine.
“What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim?” aired from June 6 to July 26, 2018 on tvN. It was based on a web novel of the same name, written by Jung Kyung Yoon, which was also turned into a web comic. This drama’s script was written by Jung Eun Young, and was directed by Park Joon Hwa.
The drama follows the seemingly ego-centric and narcissistic vice chairman of Yumyung Group, Lee Young Joon (Park Seo Joon), who gets an interesting wake up call after his secretary for nine years, Kim Mi So (Park Min Young), decides to quit within a month’s time. The rest of the drama follows his antics as he tries to get her to stay, and along the way, we get to learn that there’s more to things than meets the eye. Along for the ride as well are the rest of the staff in the department that Mi So is part off, a workaholic employee named Go Gwi Nam (2PM’s Chansung), and Young Joon’s long suffering best friend Park Yoo Sik (Kang Ki Young).
What’s interesting about this drama is that even though it has all the usual tropes that you would expect to see in a Korean drama romantic comedy, there are moments which truly stand out and shine, and there are moments when it surprises the audiences by flipping the script on the usual tropes at times.
The plot of this show may be a little bit weak, but it does have an interesting premise, and delving deeper into our main two characters, and seeing their journeys in becoming better people as individuals and as a couple was a lot of fun to watch. The side characters were also pretty fun to watch. Bong Se Ra (Hwang Bo Ra) was sometimes grating but was worth it to watch in the end, Pyo Ye Jin’s Kim Ji Ah was a delight to watch after her stint in “Fight My Way”, Kang Ki Young switched gears from his character in “I’m Not A Robot” to a genre he seems to be at home in, and Chansung impressed me with his acting skills and in portraying a character that was pretty realistic and relatable as well.
Both Park Seo Joon and Park Min Young carried the show on their shoulders, because if they didn’t deliver, then I’m not sure if this show could have worked. Both of them were very much in their element here, and not only pulled of their characters well individually, but these two have a great chemistry with each other as well.
I cannot think of anyone else who could have pulled of Lee Young Joon than Park Seo Joon, as he slipped into the shoes of Young Joon pretty easily. I still think that his performance and his chemistry with the main female lead in “Fight My Way” was better, but he definitely pulled off a great performance here as well.
I also did like the recurring subplot that was key to their character journey’s because I thought that it really did inform how they behaved in present day, and made things a little bit more interesting than your usual cutesy romantic comedy.
“What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim?” is a definite must watch for those who love this genre, and are fans of either Park Min Young or Park Seo Joon. It’s a great binge watch if you need something to tide you over a long or a rainy weekend, or if you need lighter fare to give yourself a breather from the stresses of daily life, or the heavier dramas you might be watching at the moment.
Now, you know the drill, from here on out, there will be spoilers!
As mentioned earlier, this entire drama worked because of the performances of Park Seo Joon and Park Min Young, and the journeys that their characters went through throughout the drama. I also enjoyed the kidnapping story arc that connected these two characters together from childhood because it really did inform their character journeys and themselves as characters. I also liked how this drama treated Young Joon’s and Mi So’s budding romance together, especially in the little ways that they showed Young Joon changing to become more aware and more considerate of how Mi So does things, and although I do not condone pre-marital sex, I did like how they handled the topic of consent here.
Seeing Young Joon through the lens of what he went through when he was kidnapped by a random crazy lady really allowed his character to have a softer side towards him, especially after we start seeing that he had been fulfilling his promise to little Mi So all this time and had been protecting and caring for her ever since she showed up in his company. I also like that despite the softening of his more public persona, I like the fact that Young Joon is arrogant, and narcissistic because he knows that he’s smart, competent, and to a point, good looking. However, it isn’t because he was a high opinion of himself, its because he knows it as a fact.
Seeing him putting Mi So over his needs as their relationship grew, and watching him slow down to her pace was quite awesome to see. Also, all the antics he tried to reel her back in to be beside him again will knock anyone off of their feet, and his jealous reactions are nothing short of hilarious.
I also like how he also managed to get over his past and be forgiving towards his brother; and I’m glad that even though his older brother, Sung Yeon, wasn’t the best person ever (and Lee Tae Hwan’s acting did not impress me at all), Sung Yeon didn’t run away and decided to face his fears as well and start anew.
Park Seo Joon knocked this performance out of the park, as he fully embraced the more theatrical comedic style that this show needed, while not neglecting the little nuances that made his performance great. Also, I love how he can pull off wearing ANYTHING, including that ahjumma look for gathering clams.
It was also interesting how they decided to flip the script on the usual tropes with Young Joon being the one more preoccupied about their wedding as compared to Mi So, and with his parents being easily accepting of Mi So and being TOO generous to a fault towards her instead of the opposite.
Park Min Young’s Mi So was a fun character to watch, as she went from being the best secretary ever, to being the girl of Young Joon’s dreams. Mi So was a strong character from the get go, and I liked that she still remained strong all the way until the end. I found her decision to stay an interesting choice, because in the end, after spending thirty days with the mindspace that she was leaving, she ended up realizing that she was already in the job that was perfect for her. All she needed was that little shift in perspective to make her realize that. However, there were some moments in which I still felt that there was some stiffness and was still in secretary mode even when they were together, but then again, old habits are hard to break, and in that sense, I like that Young Joon took initiative in setting boundaries between their relationship at work and at home.
I liked Park Min Young here, as she portrayed the ultimate professional, but allowed us to see the more vulnerable sides to her as well. She seems to be quite a versatile actress, and this show is the definite push I needed to get me to start watching her other works, and in particular, “Healer”.
Also, the kids that they got as the younger versions of Young Joon, Mi So and Sung Yeon were just so good.
It is no secret that I have a soft spot for the boys from 2PM, so I’m glad that Chansung impressed me with his acting skills in this drama. He was able to interestingly play a character that could have been just annoying, but still made him lovable in a way. Gwi Nam is also a very realistic character, as there are people like him, who are extremely frugal in order to be prepared for the future, but at the expense of their present day health and happiness.
I also immensely enjoyed Kang Ki Young’s performance here, and although he is a versatile actor, as he can play the “rival/villain” type, I think that he’s more in his element in the comedy genre.
What took me by surprise here though, was the romance between Bong Se Ra (Hwang Bo Ra) and Yang Cheol (Kang Hong Suk), that was just as epic to the point that they even had an instrumental theme for them as a couple.
The plot is a bit paper thin, tied together by the main premise and the kidnapping arc, and while the pacing was great, after the kidnapping arc gets resolved, it just ups the ante on the romance and then wraps up quickly to give us a pretty satisfactory, fan service-y ending.
That being said, “What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim?” is a fun, fluffy romantic comedy that is well worth the watch or binge, that hinges very much on the shoulders of the two main lead actors. So, if you are in the mood for a fun romantic comedy full of interesting life lessons, great performances, fun and sweet couple moments and epic grand gestures of love, then this drama is the one for you.
Have you seen “What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim?” What did you think about it? What did you like or not like about it? Let me know what you think in the comments below!