In 2013 Jung Kyung-Yoon wrote and published the web novel Why Secretary Kim which was serialized into a comic just two years later, and now you can see those characters come to life in the romantic Kdrama What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim.
Kim Mi-So has been Lee Young-Jon’s faithful secretary for the past nine years so he is quite taken aback when, one evening on their way home from a business gathering at the Spanish embassy, she very nonchalantly informs him she will be quitting his employ. Although he really wants her to stay he accepts her resignation, albeit reluctantly, and together they set out to find her replacement. Still not wanting to believe she will really leave him, he haphazardly chooses a young woman without any former experience and Mi-So agrees to stay a month in order to train the new Secretary Kim. But as the reality of her leaving sets in, Vice-Chairman Lee begins to realize how much she means to him, not only as a secretary but even more so as a woman. Will he be able to convince her to stay with him or has she definitely made up her mind to leave?
Yumyung Group is a humongous conglomerate run by Lee Young-Joon. After becoming Vice Chairman, Lee increased the group’s profits by more than twice the previous amount and was selected the number one most successful and influential CEO in his 30s. He also speaks fluent English, French, Chinese, Japanese, and German. You wouldn’t find it strange for a kid to have a stray cat and call it something like Fluffy but Young-Joon has never done anything halfway – as a boy he owned a purebred golden retriever and named it Big Bang Andromeda Supernova Sonic. People say, “When it comes to a great body, face, or how well his suits fit he’s got everything. He is capable, good looking, tall, and well-mannered. His abilities, charm, and personality are unmatched.” In his own words, “I’m smart, look amazing, have loads of money, and am very competent. … I have a fatal aura that captivates everyone’s heart.” As narcissists go, the man is at the top of the list.
Although Kim Mi-So has been through many difficulties during her life, she has met them head on and hasn’t allowed them to effect her negatively. As a five year old girl she was kidnapped but made it through that nightmare because of the encouragement and care of another slightly older child who was being held captive with her. Her mother passed away when she was very young and she doesn’t have many memories of her at all. She was raised by her two older sisters, both of which she is very close to. Although her test scores were in the top one percent and she received a scholarship to attend college she gave it up in order to start making money right after she graduated high school. She voluntarily worked to put both her sisters through school and paid off her father’s tremendous debt. She has been Vice-Chairman Lee’s personal secretary for nine years and has risen to his standard of perfection, learning Chinese and Japanese at his request and helping to run Yumyung Group from the sidelines.
Secretary Kim Mi-So is played by the lovely and talented actress Park Min-Young. You can read more about her in my review of Queen for Seven Days.
The Yumyung Group conglomerate has its hands in a vast variety of businesses and according to a consumer report, for the past four years it has ranked first nationally for having a good business image. In the show they talk about Yumyung Group’s global airline, kid’s cafe, spa line in connection with a hotel, new department store which was recently opened, popular amusement park called Yumyung Land, Yumyung Bio which is in the process of developing a new drug, and art center which is currently being launched. It’s not surprising Lee Young-Joon is mentioned as the wealthiest person in their 30s in South Korea.
One of the best things about this drama is that there are no evil, plotting characters trying to mess with peoples hearts. The lovers only have to battle life itself, situations that naturally occur, and that makes this romance light and sweet.
Lee Young-Joon has a lot in common with another wealthy Kdrama narcissist – Kim Joo-Won of Secret Garden. However, I wasn’t convinced Young-Joon actually believed he was better than anyone else on the planet. To me, he comes across as someone who thinks he is amazing and is trying to convince others to go along with him but Kim Joo-Won knows he is in a class by himself – it shows on his face, we hear it in his voice, and see it in his actions. Park Seo-Joon plays his character, Lee Young-Joon, wonderfully well but I never lost sight of the fact that he was an actor playing a part. Hyun Bin, on the other hand, is Kim Joo-Won. Watching him, I wasn’t able to differentiate between the actor and the character he was playing. If you’re familiar with Secret Garden, once you’ve finished watching What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim I’d love it if you left a comment letting me know whether or not you agree with my character analysis.
Lee Young-Joon hired Kim Mi-So during the time he was still a director so her position has been elevated as he’s gone up in the ranks. She had just finished high school and came to him with absolutely no secretarial knowledge, skills, or experience whatsoever but Young-Joon molded her into a perfectly competent secretary that any boss would love to employ. “She’s like a fitted suit, custom-made for me,” he tells President Park Yoo-Sik. And just what, exactly, are the qualifications of a phenomenal secretary? Well, Secretary Kim’s advice to her soon-to-be-successor is – “Be closemouthed. Think coolly. Feel warmly. [and] Run like your feet are on fire.”
What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim, shown on the tvN network, has proven to be quite popular with South Korean audiences, pulling off an 8.665% rating, which makes it the 12th highest rated Kdrama of all time aired on a cable network.
Here’s a little tidbit of information for you – in the show (Park Seo-Jon’s character) Lee Young-Joon, is four years older than Kim Mi-So (Park Min-Young’s character) but in real life Park Min-Young is just shy of three years older than Park Seo-Joon.
There aren’t any huge mistakes in the show but the drama is peppered with tiny “oops” here and there, small things which prove that specific scene was shot several different times and/or from several different angles. Nothing major, though.
The best thing about What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim’s music is the fact that we get to hear Park Seo-Joon sing when his character, Lee Young-Joon, serenades Kim Mi-So at the end of episode 15. He has sung on the soundtracks of five of the many Kdramas he’s been in but sadly, his performance on this drama is not part of the show’s excellent soundtrack.
As for scenery, there are a couple familiar ones used. Lee Young-Joon and Kim Joo-Won of Secret Garden have more in common than just being young, rich, influential, and successful businessmen who fall for an average girl – they both have the same taste in homes. I’m 100% positive the building used for Young-Joon house is the same one as Joo-Won’s. The small lake around the outside of the house, the glass walls, and the bedroom loft are exactly the same. Such an amazing home is quite memorable, trust me. The other familiar scenery in this drama is the beautifully lit coach from Kill Me, Heal Me. It’s at the Yumyung Land amusement park in this show, lending charm and romance to a special evening for the two wannabe lovers.
I suggest you jump on board with all the other Kdrama fans that are enjoying this romantic story and help Lee Young-Joon discover What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim.
Good chemistry between Young-Joon and Mi-So
Natural progression of story
Fun, little mystery as sub-plot
Park Seo-Joon sings
Some minor “oops” here and there