We appear to have solved the mystery of why Hae-yeong is together with Soo-ah. No, it's not because she demonstrates any kind of positive character traits this episode. It's because Hae-yeong clearly enjoys being chased around. This is a bit of a non-intuitive thing to realize here, given that he frequently acts agitated and annoyed every time a woman comes after him, but it becomes rather obvious when Hae-yeong finally gets a moment to himself that he really does kind of get off on being suddenly waylaid by a woman begging him for something.
This episode gives a very clear sense of why Sang-hyo and Hae-yeong broke up. I don't just mean the flashback, although that's a good demonstration of the basic weirdness of their relationship. That's not usually what people mean when they say arguments over money are the main cause of breaking up marriages. There's also the simple fact that neither of these two seem to actually know why they're attracted to each other.
Figuring out this much makes me a bit more forgiving of how poorly defined these two were in previous episodes. If they don't know why they're attracted to each other, then of course there's no way for us in the audience to be able to figure it out. Bear in mind that this in no way excuses Hae-yeong's deplorable behavior in the short term. I'm curious whether he's actually going to learn something throughout the course of this drama, since right now there's no obvious way for that to be accomplished.
The pacing for everything else moves along at a decent clip. After a lot of detective work last time there's a minimum here, since Geum-bo needs to wait for somebody to actually do something in order to get some actual useful evidence. Likewise, Sang-hyo finally manages to accomplish her short-term goals, and it's easy to see the appeal of Seong-gyeom as a love interest. He's helpful. Seong-gyeom also shows an unusually low amount of emotion, which is odd, but somewhat refreshing given Hae-yeong's problems.
Soo-ah remains a sore point, though. Her character's just very thinly written, not to mention thinly outfitted. Seriously, what was that thing she was wearing for most of the episode? A bathing suit disguised as a dress? Her actions are similarly difficult to parse, given that for all her shallowness, she's really not that bad a person and is only able to harass anybody because they give Soo-ah permission. Of course, most of the characters aren't well-developed outside the three leads and the detective- as befits a murder mystery.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Secret Hotel" Episode 5"
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