What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim?: Kdrama review

This show was a second watch for me, and I was surprised to see I hadn’t actually written a review on it. Well, that’s getting remedied now.

Let me tell you about the life of a secretary: Often it is a very demanding, very thankless job in which one is given more and more tasks to be done often without additional pay and certainly no additional time in which to do them. It is also extremely rewarding to be that cog in the wheel that makes everything work. Secretaries are vital to most organizations, but it’s like one’s vital organs, they just work, one doesn’t think about them unless something is wrong.

What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim? is a Kdrama romantic comedy starring Park Seo Joon (She Was Pretty) as company VP Lee Young Joon and Park Min Young (City Hunter) as his long-suffering secretary, Kim Mi So. After working together day in and day out for nine years, Young Joon is shocked to find that Mi So wants to resign and leave him. And of course, he doesn’t want her to leave. The drama is based on the book of the same title by Jung Kyung Yoon. It’s kind of the plot of Two Weeks’ Notice starring Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock, and a little bit of The Devil Wears Prada.

This show is a wonderful blend of romance and comedy, and although I thought the ending episodes dragged a bit, I think I enjoyed it more the second time. All of the little details and jokes really shined. Park Seo Joon is hilarious in his role as a narcissistic, demanding boss who is actually a big softy. The character’s vanity is largely for show, as she finds he actually cares about those he loves to an almost dangerous degree. Park Min Young matches Seo Joon scene for scene, giving us plenty of comedic reactions of her own and somehow makes Mi So’s passive aggressiveness lovable.

What really me got hooked watching again, though, was the back story of a traumatic past for both of the characters and also the glimpses into their years of working together. We get to see Mi So actually shouting– shouting–at her ridiculously demanding boss. And with good reason, as he is way too demanding. However, as we later learn, Mi So is also very under qualified for this position. But we then get to see her come back the next day and strive to meet his expectations. Time and time again we get to see her do this, letting Young Joon shape her into what his perfect secretary needs to be. I can tell you this is part of being a secretary. You’re given impossible tasks that you just can’t do, you complain, and then you come back striving to meet every single one. Sometimes high expectations really aren’t a bad thing, and this drama showcases that. Also, although Young Joon is vain, he’s not incorrect to be so to some degree: He’s handsome, wealthy, smart, keeps his company a success, and does have some right to be demanding. And because Mi So has grown to match him, she has every right to be demanding of him as well.

As for the romance, it’s pretty typical and classical and would almost be boring except there’s just so few of these kinds of stories around anymore, even in Kdramas. Mi So isn’t off on a feminist jaunt of some kind, she realizing she’s missing what most women want: a husband and family. When Young Joon finds this out, he comes to the logical conclusion that he should be said husband. This all happens because Mi So is finally calling in her card–Young Joon needs her, and for more than just being a secretary. It’s not just recognition of her work she is looking for, but for Young Joon to acknowledge her as a woman who has her own needs. Like in Two Weeks’ Notice, both have really been in love with each other for nine years, they just didn’t really know it. Can and does that happen in real life? Maybe, maybe not, but either way it makes for a good romcom material. I think woman as secretaries are a great thing for that position so clearly highlights how women are built to be helpmeets for men, which is far more than just a helper. In this story, the two are equals, though maybe they didn’t start out that way at first. It’s evident by the end that should Young Joon be out of commission for awhile that Mi So would be able to run the company in his stead. Classic romance is the best romance, hands down, and empowering to both sexes.

In the show there are also some background romances, carried off hilariously by comedic actors Kang Ki Young (I Am Not a Robot) and Hwang Bo Ra (Love Rain). Kang plays Young Joon’s second in command who has his own awesomely inept secretary and is a master at sarcastic comments. Hwang’s character is part of the secretary office team and is funny as a women with zero tact and an inflated ego who falls for a puppy dog hero chauffeur. There’s also a sweet romance with secretary Mi So’s replacement and a workaholic, which really highlights that some people reject others not because they do not like them, but simply because they are not ready for romance. A good romance has a lot to do with timing, probably more than we acknowledge. For women in childbearing years, they don’t want to waste time. For men not in a position to provide all that they want for a family, they want to wait until they are in that position. Neither side is wrong, but they do clash on occasion.

What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim? By the end of the show, nothing. Everything has been resolved with wedding bells just like it was supposed to be. They are a team in work and in life, and are considerate and caring of each other, just like couples who love each other should be. More of this stuff, please. At the end of the day, it’s good, it’s wholesome.

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