Shhhhhhh, it’s a secret… My Secret Hotel, that is. It’s a good mystery/romance Kdrama but not as good as it had the potential to be. The mystery part of the show was pretty decent. However, I was a tiny bit disappointed when it came to the romance.
The mystery kept me guessing for a while and there were a couple things that surprised me when it all came to light in the end. But I wasn’t completely happy with the romance because of the thoughtless behaviour of two of the people involved in the triangle.
The Secret Hotel is not just an elaborate five star hotel, it’s the number one sought out wedding venue throughout the country. Heading the marriage planning division of the hotel is Nam Sang-Hyo, a soft-spoken yet very capable leader whose dream is to be the general manager someday. She’s well liked by the employees under her supervision and is known as “the future of the hotel”. But there’s something about her that no one knows – the fact that she is a divorcée. Seven years earlier, while working at a hotel in Las Vegas she, literally, ran into architect Gu Hae-Young, spilling a full tray of drinks all over him. It was love at first sight for both of them and just one very short week later they were married. But the marriage lasted less than 100 days before they both left and went on with their lives, solo. Surprise! Guess who’s the groom of the new wedding Sang-Hyo is in charge of planning – yep, good old ex-husband, Hae-Young. Even though the two went their separate ways, it doesn’t seem like their hearts did, and it looks like this wedding may make it very difficult for them to control their lingering affections and bittersweet memories.
News is leaked to the public that most of the marriages that take place at The Secret Hotel end in divorce in less than three months. To try and combat the bad press and squash the damaging rumors, which happen to be true, Sang-Hyo has to create an elaborate, fairy tale wedding for Gu Hae-Young and his bride-to-be and make sure the whole thing goes off without the tiniest bit of error. The continued success of the hotel rests entirely in Sang-Hyo’s hands via Hae-Young’s wedding.
But fancy weddings aren’t the only newsworthy things that happen at The Secret Hotel. It’s also the setting of two murders, and both victims are members of the wedding planning team. Are the deaths random or some how linked to each other? But wait, that’s not all… Jo Sung-Gyeom, the hotel’s managing director, receives an anonymous card telling him his father’s death, which happened at The Secret Hotel 30 years earlier, was not an accident as originally thought but a cold-blooded murder! Could the death of Sung-Gyeom’s father have something to do with the recent murders there?
Nam Sang-Hyo is a complex woman. She’s sweet, and down-right lovable yet her wishy-washyness is a major character flaw. I disliked the way she went back and forth from guy to guy. I knew she wasn’t deliberately doing it just to hurt them, but intentional or not, her indecisiveness was a source of genuine pain for the two men who loved her. There’s absolutely no respect involved in giving someone false hope.
I wasn’t thrilled with Gu Hae-Young. If you look a little deeper into his character you’ll see his love for Sang-Hyo certainly didn’t bring out the best in him. He became a lying, manipulative, selfish, disrespectful person hiding under a handsome, “but I’m doing it all for love” face.
Jo Sung-Gyeom is just a tiny bit shy of being perfect. He’s everything Hae-Young isn’t… kind, selfless, understanding, truthful, forgiving, even tempered, humble, thoughtful, patient, and sincere. He’s also a loving son, a fair boss, and a successful businessman who is dashingly handsome with a darling smile and a killer set of abs. What girl wouldn’t want to introduce that man to the world as her boyfriend?
Nam Sang-Hyo is played by Yoo In-Na. She’s been in several Kdramas I’ve seen, two of which are on my top 20 favorite Kdramas list – Queen In-Hyun’s Man and Secret Garden. She’s also in The Greatest Love which is both a laugh out loud and cry silently show. She’s an excellent actress.
My Secret Hotel was my introduction to Jin Yi-Han who plays Gu Hae-Young. He began his career in musical theater and then branched out to do television and two feature films. He sings in this drama, giving us a little taste of what he must have been like on stage in a musical. I think he was well cast and did a great job as the wealthy, immature architect.
Namgung Min’s character is Jo Sung-Gyeom. The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Namgung Min is his captivating smile. His eyes twinkle and his entire handsome face shines. But his smile is just an added bonus to his amazing acting talent. I’ve seen him in seven dramas and have loved every single performance! He does an amazing job with any kind of role he plays. He’s the type of actor who makes you believe he really is the character he’s portraying. And after witnessing his performance in Sensory Couple, he made a place for himself on my list of favorite actors.
The audience is made aware of Hae-Young and Sang-Hyo’s relationship through flashbacks, which are shown in faded colors. The first meeting, the wedding, the happy newlywed time, a big fight, and also the walking away are all revealed that way.
My Secret Hotel was the collaboration of two writers. Kim Ye-Ri planned and wrote episodes one through four before passing away from cancer. Kim Do-Hyun then took over and completed the rest of the 16 episode screenplay.
Just an interesting side note… Namgung Min’s virtual wife from We Got Married, Hong Jin-Young, has two little guest spots in this drama. He had asked if they could find a small part for her so she was put in as a guest at the resort Jo Sung-Gyeom goes to on business. She’s the gal that mistakes him for someone else in the lobby and talks to him about a white heart-shaped rock he finds on the resort lawn. They actually show the filming of some of it on one of their We Got Married episodes, which I happened to see. Watching that first really made those scenes in My Secret Hotel a lot of fun.
I wasn’t thrilled with the soundtrack. Several songs are sung in English with very, irritatingly bad grammar. However, there is a singing battle in a crowded restaurant between Gu Hae-Young and Jo Sung-Gyeom that I thought was wonderful, not just for the entertainment value but for the talent displayed. As expected, in keeping with their characters, Hae-Young plans the whole thing and sings on stage with a spotlight directed on him while he dances to a sexy, seductive song. Sung-Gyeom does just the opposite – he spontaneously sings, while standing by their table, a soft love-confession ballad. It’s an excellent scene. Interestingly enough, Namgung Min has said he is very self conscious about his singing ability. I thought his unprofessional voice was very nice and especially charming in that particular scene.
As for scenery, a lot of the show is shot inside the hotel. It’s a large, beautiful hotel… with very few guests. No kidding. Those big tiled hallways are lovely but empty. Oh, you see the employees walking up and down, and back and forth, but the guest register must be pretty bare because most of the people we see in the hotel are just staff members. With it being a popular hotel it should have had more guests roaming around. I just thought that was a bit strange.
All things considered, I’m glad I saw this show. However, the main selling point is definitely Namgung Min and his lovable character. Here’s my suggestion… book yourself a few Kdrama nights at My Secret Hotel and enjoy the romance and mystery that awaits.
Namgung Min’s acting, character, and smile
The sing-off battle between Gu Hae-Young and Jo Sung-Gyeom
Nam Sang-Hyo’s indecisiveness
Hae-Young’s sneaky, manipulative behavior
Not a great soundtrack