Yet another dalliance with a pretty secretary show (although in this case, said secretary goes out of her way to un-prettify herself for practical reasons).
- Kim Young-kwang (from Lookout) as CEO Do Min-ik. The typical cool, aloof and pain in the ass rich man archetype to any Kdrama rom-com. He used to have a perfect memory for faces and names, until an accident robs him of his ability (and provides the entrance for the “com” in the rom-com).
- Jin Ki-joo (from Scarlet Heart Ryo) as Secretary Jung Gal-hee. She is the overworked and underpaid secretary, who lives by the mantra — be patient, and you will be rewarded. Unfortunately, with a boss like Min-ik, the “reward” part is non-existent, cos he is basically an exploitative slave driver.
- Koo Ja-sung as Director Ki Dae-joo, Min-Ik’s buddy and co-founder of the telco company (TnT). The nice guy second male lead — ’nuff said.
Min-ik is the rising star of TnT — despite the company being originally co set up with his long time friend, Dae-joo. Other than being the target of envy for being young and successful, Min-ik also possesses an uncanny ability to “read minds” based on fleeting facial responses. He also has a photographic memory when it comes to recognising faces.
He is served by his current secretary, Gal-hee, whom he routinely “tortures” with last minute instructions. Gal-hee is approaching her 1-year contract with the company, and is hoping that Min-ik will convert her to a full time permanent post. Although she has heard rumours that Min-ik “expires” his secretaries after a year, she remains hopeful, as she learnt that Min-It’s first secretary served him for 3 years. However, she doesn’t know that Min-ik has bad memories of that secretary — we guess he fell in love with her (?), but she betrayed him somehow.
So Gal-hee got her hopes dashed, despite Min-ik’s rare showing at the company’s sporting event. Min-ik explained his presence as a “parting gift” for Gal-hee’s service (or servitude) for the past year.
That same evening, Min-ik’s uncle invited Dae-joo to dinner with some board members to entice Dae-joo to “claim” his rightful spot in the company. Whether it’s related or not, Dae-joo called to meet Min-ik at their yacht and an assassin was somehow there to kill Min-ik.
Gal-hee, who went to seek out Min-ik to vent her anger at her unfair dismissal saved Min-ik. However, when the assassin sprung towards her instead, Min-ik intervened and was stabbed. He tripped and fell headlong into the water.
When he wakes up…Min-ik realises he can no longer recognise faces — other than Gal-hee’s.
Secret reminds me of another show — Beauty Inside, where the male lead similarly had an issue with facial recognition. But in Secret‘s case, the problem is more 1-sided. Beauty had the female lead shape-change every few weeks…
So Secret falls back on the more prosaic romcom route. With the male lead initially in the dominant position, and then gradually becoming “tamed” by the female lead, due to an inherent weakness which only the female lead knows (and which the narrative exploits in order for the romance to develop).
Min-ik will need to rely on Gal-hee more than ever now as his “eyes” in order to continue playing the shark in corporate waters. However, I do not think that Min-ik actually “recognises” Gal-hee’s face in his current condition, but he is relying on other familiar cues such as the sound of her platform shoes, her red cardigan as “anchors”. Cos the blurb promises Min-ik “mistaking” Gal-hee as Veronica Park — a chaebol who is set up as potential “wife material” for Min-ik.