What's Wrong with Secretary Kim

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Park Seo-joon in 'What's Wrong with Secretary Kim.' (Screengrab: YouTube)
Park Seo-joon in 'What's Wrong with Secretary Kim.' (Screengrab: YouTube)


What's Wrong With Secretary Kim




4/5 Stars


A vainglorious executive who seemingly has everything faces devastating news when his adept personal assistant announces that she's decided to quit.


When I started watching the first episode of this show I was very put off by the lead character: a narcissist, 30-something wunderkind, with perfect hair and classic good looks. I told myself I would finish the episode and maybe give it a second chance. By the time I was done with the second episode, I was completely hooked, so much so that I binged it well into the early hours of the next morning.

Beneath the perfect exterior of Vice Chairman Lee Young-joon (Park Seo-joon) is a nine-year-old boy who hasn't dealt with his devastating childhood trauma that has haunted him into adulthood.

He grew on me so much that I soon found his outlandish statements about how smart and good looking he is endearing, and not to mention, those rock-hard abs and pecs.

What's Wrong with Secretary Kim follows a very predictable romantic comedy trope. Secretary Kim Mi-so (Park Min-young) resigns from her job of nine years, which she started at straight after high school. After being a breadwinner for her family and a secretary who is at the beck and call of her sometimes-unreasonable boss, she wants to live her life and find herself. Her boss realises that he can't do without her – both professionally and personally – and ensues to pursue her with all the bells and whistles.

Weaved between the cute romance is a traumatic kidnapping plot and a dark family secret that provides a lot of the dramatic tension in the first half of the series, which is intriguing.

The star of this show, however, is the swoon-worthy romance between Young-joon and Kim Mi-so. The thing about this romantic trope is that the power dynamics between a boss and secretary can often be awkward. What I liked about this relationship is that, despite being his secretary, Kim Mi-so was never afraid to stand her ground with him, and he, in turn, respects that. When we get a flashback of the early days of their working relationship, Young-joon admires her courage when she stands up to him.

Both of them have never been in a relationship before, so it's cute to watch them fumble through their first kiss, their first argument, and how they transition from being just vice-chairman and secretary to boyfriend and girlfriend. It's really sweet that they still refer to each other in those terms when they talk to each other. They define their relationship on their own terms, at their own pace. They grow both individually and together as a couple. 

It's a romantic comedy so don't expect too much with the character arcs. Young-joon however goes through the most character growth. As he deals with childhood trauma, more layers to his character are revealed, and a lot of his shedding has to do with his love for Kim Mi-so. He's still arrogant, but in the way where, now, it's a running joke. Park Seo-joon's portrayal of Young-joon is so nuanced; every acting decision he makes is deliberate. How he switches from being over-the-top confident to a first-time insecure boyfriend, is so great to watch.

As for Kim Mi-so, she comes into her own too. She realises that she is damn good at her job and she relishes in that. What I liked about her character is that she isn't intimidated by Young-joon and his family's wealth; she stays true to herself. You can't help but like Kim Mi-so, and that is mostly due to Park Min-young's portrayal of her. She's the type of person you would want to be friends with at the office.

The chemistry between Park Seo-joon and Park Min-young is electrifying. So much so that there were rumours that the pair were dating in real life. These two will make you blush involuntarily with the steamier scenes. 

(Spoiler! Sorry not sorry.) I have to mention that the proposal scene and the wedding scene is of the best I have seen in a television series.

The dialogue is generally light and fluffy, but every now and then someone catches you off guard when they say something profound about life, love and relationships. Throughout the show, there is the use of sound effects, quirky animations and a theme song for some of the characters that complement the light tone of the series.

While the main story is Young-joon and Kim Mi-so's, the supporting cast and plots make a great side dish. I enjoyed the rest of the office workers; their characters are so delightful that you can't help but be invested in their stories too. You can also identify with these characters because every office has one of them.

A must mention Park Yoo-sik (Kang Ki-young), the director of the company and Young-joon's best friend. Park Yoo-sik is Young-joon's love guru who advises him on how to approach his relationship with Kim Mi-so and how to take if from flirting to dating and then the proposal. Park Yoo-sik's experience and wisdom comes from his own failed marriage, which anyone can relate to if they've had a failed relationship.

What's Wrong With Secretary Kim? Well, in this romantic's opinion (sssh, that's a secret), not a damn thing. It's a sweet story, the stuff that fairy tales are made of, and if you like romance, you'll fall deeply in love with this couple. I'm adding this one to my watch-again list.


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