Yoo-mi heads back to the beachhead where this all began, and Ji-wook follows her, as the penultimate episode mostly focuses on nostalgia. And it really is nostalgia- I remember the first episode, and I also remember that it had a radically different tone than what the flashbacks here are pretending. Yoo-mi and Ji-wook were perpetually grumpy, and only bond at all because they were both extremely drunk.
But that’s what makes their concerted effort to replace that goofy tone with a romantic one here all the sweeter. Yoo-mi and Ji-wook have been such a generally positive influence on each other that all of their past interactions are colored in the optimistic light of what their relationship is right now. That they are technically broken up at the moment is besides the point. Yoo-mi was drawn back to that beach in the first place precisely because her mood was so badly complicated by her mother’s nefarious deeds.
While I do like that Mi-hee’s thoughtless stupidity is addressed and criticized, the fact that this scene is so short is emblematic of the greatest shortcoming in “My Secret Romance”- the complete lack of any clearly developed subplot. The other characters are just vague representations of the obstacles confronting Yoo-mi and Ji-wook’s relationship. Woo-jin’s tearful scene loses a lot of power simply because Woo-jin hasn’t had much screen time, and until this episode we never even knew that his date with Yoo-mi’s co-worker even happened.
The second greatest shortcoming is just predictability. As much as Yoo-mi and Ji-wook struggle to find the courage to run into each other, and as many obstacles as we know exist back home, ultimately, we know they’re going to get back together. The preview doesn’t even pretend otherwise, showing us a bunch of dramatic scenes and then a wedding. Again, I really can’t consider any of this a spoiler, because the plot in “My Secret Romance” is so rote there just isn’t anywhere else for it to go.
All the same, I can never really hate “My Secret Romance” for these clichs because when the drama wants to be sweet, it almost always succeeds. Sung Hoon and Song Ji-eun are suitably attractive and charming leads with good chemistry. Even if I can’t really qualify either of them as genuinely good actors, they’re convincing and bring the fairytale qualities of “My Secret Romance” into sharp relief.
Review by William Schwartz
“My Secret Romance” is directed by Kang Cheol-woo, written by Kim Ha-na-I and Kim Yeong-woon and features Sung Hoon, Song Ji-eun, Kim Jae-young and Jeong Da-sol.
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“[HanCinema’s Drama Review] “My Secret Romance” Episode 12″
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