Drama Review: Secret Love (South Korea, 2013)

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Secret Love is a Korean drama that would suit audience of all ages including young adults, it’s not the typical puppy love drama that you would watch normally. It shows the complexity of the real world and how a character is not always one dimensional. In Secret, not everything you see is as simple as black and white.

“There is no such thing as secret in this world, eventually it will all come out”

Story of a wealthy heir named Jo Min Hyeok (Ji Sung) who found himself entangled in a web of secrets when his lover was accidentally killed in a hit-and-run case. Kang Yoo Jeong (Hwang Jung Eum), the convicted suspect for the hit-and-run case went to prison in order to save her boyfriend, the real murderer, a rising prosecutor Ahn Do Hoon (Bae Soo Bin). Together with Min Hyeok’s soon to be bride Shin Se Yeon (Lee Da Hee), the story of the four characters collide with each of their secrets.

Secret Love frustrates the audience a lot and taunts with many heartbreaking moments. You find yourself torn and frustrated at the unfairness that Yoo Jeong is constantly thrown into. Starting from her time in prison for a crime that she did not commit, how heartbreaking would it be to watch an innocent girl’s life turned upside down to pay someone else’s debt? On top of that, she is being tracked down and harassed by a crazy wealthy man seeking for revenge. And just when she thought everything will turn for the better when she leaves the prison, she finds that her son is now dead and her lover, who she sacrificed everything for turns his back on her for the greed of money and power.

Secret Love

Where most Korean drama shows one side of the character, this one decides to play a little different. One character can be developed in a certain way in the beginning, (there’s a personality that the drama wants people to perceive them) but then just with one snap they can be a complete different person. It’s a steady involvement of each character’s state from the very beginning until the end. It makes the drama have a realistic feel to it because they will always explain the motive behind all their actions, which we all do in real life.

You go on an emotional journey with each character as they change through time. That’s why i believe you become emotionally invested in certain character. You grow fond or distaste for the characters in the beginning but as their personality changes throughout the drama, you find yourself torn. As you understand more why they acts that way, empathy sets in and you find yourself standing by their side. You hate them, but you understand why they do such things or you like them, but they will do the most unexpected evil things. This again makes the drama very realistic as in real life nothing is ever flowers and rainbows, nothing ever either very kind or very evil, it’s always a bit of both.

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One of the most amazing thing to see is how Min Hyeok feelings towards Yoo Jeong progress, even though we all would guess that they would end up together in the end, have you ever thought how? Director Lee Eung Bok and Baek Sang Hoon did an amazing job to be able to make such impossible love growing slowly by slowly in a beautifully crafted way. His love grows very natural because as people always say hatred might eventually turns into love. Without realizing you would start to notice that person you hate more than you do to others.

However the compliment doesn’t go both ways, i feel that Yoo Jeong growing love towards Min Hyeok is too random and forced. She never really show her feeling and there are more hatred in her eyes towards him. There are a few hints here and there but it never really show any progress of her feelings to him. Then when we all thought the hatred will go further, she breaks the chain by admitting her overflowing feelings towards Min Hyeok, which then lead them to a relationship. From then on her love to him escalated really quickly that it almost feels rather fake because of so.

As realistic as it can be, there are times that the drama pays tribute to the conventional Korean love story. Min Hyeok, the wealthy heir spends most of his time tracking down Yoo Jeong when he actually runs a multi-billion worth business and stands as the CEO of the company. In addition, there are times when they put cliche and over dramatic scenes that not a single Korea drama ever missed. It’s something that can not be avoided, say when Min Hyeok’s parents ask Yoo Jeong to leave him because they have such distinct background and although reluctant she then do it anyway because she believes it’s for the best. It’s always like that.

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I would say an actor is successful to the extent when you can either love that person or hate that person. Yoo Jeong and Do Hoon characters are exactly that. Yoo Jeong plays her ‘damsel in distress’ very well that no audience can turn their back on her. You feel frustrated in the beginning not understanding why such sacrifice would be made, but you follow through her journey and becomes emotionally invested in her character.

Bae Soo Bin played his role so well that it made it beyond believable. A good hearted prosecutor who turns to the dark side when money and power lure him in. He plays such a genuine character in the beginning, then as he becomes possess with greed he changes to a complete different person that you can’t help but to hate. Just when you thought you can hate him even more, another chain is broken towards the ending of the season, something that not even myself would suspect.

“Why did it end up like this?”

Entangled in these web of secrets and lies, where will it brings you to?

More lies and secrets. Something that you will regret in the end.

Review Score: THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)


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