“My Secret Romance” is a shoujo manga, a love-comic k-drama that manages to run through every k-drama rom-com trope in the first half hour.
That’s not a complaint.
The fluffy, enjoyable rom-com unabashedly and comically celebrates the genre with comic book sketches, sparkles, and halos of light that frame the hero’s close-to-perfect features.
The drama, which aired in Korea in 2017, stars Sung Hoon as the princely heir and Song Ji Eun as the wide-eyed heroine who can’t believe he would care for her. The couple has a one night stand, set against a stormy sea, after which she disappears. They don’t meet again until she winds up working for his father’s company. Awkwardness ensues and eventually love, because, surprisingly, he never forgot her and kept an intimate memento.
The director obviously loved photographing Sung Hoon, because each episode features epilogues of what must have been outtakes, focused on the actor. Given the many shots of Sung Hoon that could have passed for GQ spreads it’s surprising to learn he was not previously a model, as is the natural transition for many k-drama actors. Before becoming an actor, Sung Hoon was a professional swimmer and trainer, so he gets to show off his butterfly stroke in the very first episode.
Song Ji Eun’s character is easy enough for women to identify with. She’s clumsy, shy, embarrassed by her family, and lacks the confidence to excel at anything or even express her true feelings. Part of her embarrassment has to do with being the daughter of a former porn star. Much to her dismay, her mother, played by Nam Ki Ae, advertises her past notoriety.
There’s a sweet second lead, a sensitive writer, played by Kim Jae Young, but there’s never any question about how a love comic will end. The destined lovers will unite. There’s also never any question that k-drama lovers must face many challenges—internal and external—to reach that destined union.
One challenge is that Song Ji Eun’s character can’t believe that her Prince Charming loves her and even says, “I can’t believe I am dating such an attractive man.” That’s what love comics are all about.
If this addictively entertaining drama had to be compared to a favorite treat, that dessert would be ice cream with sprinkles on top and an extra dash of whipped cream. Hungry? You can watch it on DramaFever. Here’s the trailer: