My Secret Hotel: Episode 16 Recap (Final)


It’s the final episode! I think a lot of loose ends get tied up pretty quickly here, but the episode manages to stay light and happy, leaving a sweet aftertaste.

“My Secret Love” – My Secret Hotel OST [download]

Sung Gyeom passes by Sang Hyo’s office to check in on her, but she didn’t make it to work that day. Sung Min assures him that her husband is probably taking care of her – which is a little tactless but true. That reminds Sung Gyeom that he dumped her pretty much, and has no right to be going to comfort her.

At home, Sang Hyo is once again delirious from not having slept or eaten properly. We go back to that time when she sat alone at home, waiting. Sang Hyo is fully aware that she is “at it” again, letting one man control her heart to the point where it hurts so much she’s rendered immobile. I think the timelines are a little confusing based on her memory, but if I had to guess on what really happened seven years ago, it’s that Sang Hyo hurried to New York after seeing the ticket he left her but then met Jung Eun. Heartbroken she returned to their Las Vegas apartment, and that’s when she sat by the kitchen table for days until she fainted. When she was better, that’s when she decided to leave.

As for Hae Young, he calls up a realtor to sell his place. As soon as it’s sold, he plans to leave the country. Just then, Gi Chul calls up Hae Young to check up on Sang Hyo since she didn’t come to work. His first reaction is to worry about her and asks Gi Chul to notify him if he ever gets in touch with Sang Hyo. But then he stops himself and assures Gi Chul that she’ll be at the office soon. He is trying so hard to stop caring for her.

Shi Chan calls up Hae Young to check up on him. Hae Young won’t divulge whether or not he made up with Sang Hyo over the phone, which makes Shi Chan really worried. He quickly tells his colleagues to all hide their projects if it turns out that Hae Young didn’t make up with Sang Hyo. A little flashback explains that while they were in the States, Hae Young had disappeared for about three months in the middle of a really important project. That was when he had married Sang Hyo / Samantha. When he was finally convinced to go to New York, he quickly finished a six-month project in one month, and then returned to Las Vegas. However, Sang Hyo was already gone. (He could have, yunno, called but apparently phones do not exist in the States unless for convenient purposes.) Hae Young then returned to New York in a rage, completely defeated. He ruined Shi Chan’s project in the midst of his rage and held a grudge against him for calling him back to New York.

A year after that, he roamed the States going to every hotel looking for Sang Hyo. However, he couldn’t find her and was wasted for another year. It was only when Hae Young’s father stepped in that he got back on track. Aware that Sang Hyo is Samantha, Shi Chan believes that Hae Young may go through another self-destructive phase if things didn’t work out with Sang Hyo. He’s just that passionate when it comes to the person he loves.

Just to make the point even more clear, we see Hae Young suddenly make a dangerous U-turn and head straight to Sang Hyo’s house. He repeatedly rings the bell and knocks on the door, but Sang Hyo can’t answer – she’s passed out in the living room.

Jung Sook confides in Manager Lee that she’s been unable to face her own son, who clearly doesn’t forgive her. He tries to reassure her that time will heal all wounds, but that’s clearly not going to be true. Sung Gyeom comes up to them right at that moment with an accusatory look in his eyes. One of them killed his father, so how could they try to comfort each other? He thinks they’re trying to restart their love affair, which isn’t even the case. I’m surprised that Sung Gyeom idolized this father he never met so much, but he probably can’t believe that his father would be so evil.

Sung Gyeom wants his mother to go back to the States immediately, without him. That’s the only way she won’t “lose” him. His determination in pinning Manager Lee for Hwang and Young Mi’s deaths go beyond his regard for anything else, even the possibility that Manager Lee is Sang Hyo’s biological father.

Hae Young finally manages to get into Sang Hyo’s home and gets her immediate medical attention in her home to treat the fever. Hae Young takes up his position by her bedside, forgetting that he had an important client meeting that day. He doesn’t care about how much the contract is worth when his own wife is sick. He wonders what could possibly be torturing her so much that she got sick, not thinking that she could be sad over him.

Sang Hyo finally wakes up the following day, surprised to see Hae Young next to her. He had stayed all night for her! She lets him leave, feeling more uncomfortable with him around. Hae Young won’t leave her side, offering to take her to work even so that she won’t faint on the way. She insists on going alone, so Hae Young decides to call Sung Gyeom for her to pick her up. She takes the phone from him. Sung Gyeom can’t come pick her up – aside from their current relationship status, Sang Hyo knows that he’s having a hard time because of the hotel right now. Hae Young interprets it as just more concern for Sung Gyeom, but then at least Sang Hyo lets him drive her to work.

Hae Young drops off Sang Hyo, and she thanks him for the ride. But she hopes that he will stop looking for her now. Still unable to trust him fully, Sang Hyo thinks that it’s easy for him to come and go in her life, and that hurts her more. Hae Young: “Did you actually think it was that easy to come by your side? It was never easy.” Sigh – It’s frustrating when you have two people who are unable to understand each other’s feelings, and think that they’re the only ones suffering in the relationship. Sang Hyo would rather that they just act like strangers from now on and leave each other’s lives.

Hae Young agrees, and he won’t come back unless she wants him to. GAH – you’re both in pain! Can’t you see that!? Can’t you see how much you’re both hurting because you love each other?!

Eun Joo meets Jung Sook to escort her to the airport, doing it in Sung Gyeom’s stead. At least she lies on Sung Gyeom’s behalf that he has a meeting he can’t miss. Manager Lee then goes to find Sung Gyeom and proclaim that he’ll protect Jung Sook in a different way now. Instead of covering up her crimes for 30 years, he wishes to go to her as a man protecting his woman. But Sung Gyeom doesn’t want that to happen, especially since he plans on pinning him for the murder of Hwang and Young Mi. Manager Lee claims that he didn’t do it, but Sung Gyeom won’t let him leave the hotel.

Another person who doesn’t want him to leave is… Kyung Hee. So she was actually in love with Manager Lee?! Then what is all this business with Manager Cha?! Kyung Hee is angry that he’s leaving her after waiting so long for him to finally look at her. She plays the cancer card, hoping she can stay by his side until she dies. But no, Manager Lee will do no such thing for her. He isn’t even grateful for anything she’s done for him.

At work, Hae Young tells Shi Chan privately that he’ll leave for the States after their current project is done. He can’t stay around her, and he needs to forget about her. Shi Chan fears that Hae Young will become an alcoholic in the States again, but Hae Young assures he’ll do no such thing. After all, he made the promise to her that he’ll never drink to the point where he can’t walk properly by himself anymore. As soon as he’s gone, they’ll just tell the press that they’re separated for work so as not to put her in a difficult position with the media. But hopefully he’ll never have to leave for the States; Sang Hyo doesn’t seem like she’s very confident about her decision to act like a stranger around Hae Young based on how she wistfully looks at her second wedding ring.

The following day Kyung Hee wishes Gi Chul and Sung Min good luck and hands in her resignation. It’s just time for her to leave, especially since Manager Lee is never going to pay any attention to her. Her one last word of advice to Sang Hyo is to look at where her heart lies and pick one man to love. Even if it ends in pain, she should spend the time that she is given in this world loving someone instead of hesitating.

Geum Bo still isn’t convinced that Manager Cha would kill all for Manager Lee. Something about the confession feels wrong, even though the case has been closed. He wonders where the necklace would have really gone as he doesn’t believe that Manager Cha would so easily lose it. And he wonders what kind of Manager Lee is to take care of a boy that killed his own nephew.

We then see Kyung Hee visiting Cha in his cell, and she thanks him for loving her all this time even though it was one-sided. The first time they had met, Manager Lee and Kyung Hee had come to pick him up from jail. Instead of saying sorry to him for never being able to return his love, Kyung Hee will take his heart with her, and leave his life forever. She exits the visiting room, leaving Cha to desperately call out, “Noona!” It feels like she’s so ready to die now…

Detective Lee suggests that Cha is lying about the crime out of love. Whatever else could prompt him to take the fall. Geum Bo remembers when he saw Kyung Hee crying in the room, and Cha standing with her awkwardly. Suddenly he has an idea…

We see Kyung Hee then fold a letter into an envelope and place Jung Sook’s necklace over it.

Detective Lee and Geum Bo visit Kyung Hee’s apartment and find the door open. They check the rooms, and Geum Bo sees the necklace and the letter on the table. Detective Lee discovers Kyung Hee’s body beside the tub, her slit wrist hanging over the edge.

Geum Bo goes to inform Sung Gyeom about Kyung Hee’s death. In her suicide note she confessed to all the murders. Because she was in a one-sided love affair with Manager Lee, she would go to any lengths to protect him. She overheard Hwang Dong Bae threatening Manager Lee over the course of 30 years, so the night before the wedding – when she found out she had cancer – she finally snapped and stabbed him. However she didn’t know he was dead until he crashed through the ceiling in the wedding hall. Then she saw that Young Mi had the necklace, and so she tried to get it back by hitting her on the head forcefully. However, Young Mi fell back on her own and died from the blunt force trauma against the jacuzzi.

As for Cha Dong Min, he had seen everything happen in the security cameras and therefore he cleaned up all the murders and erased the footage. All of this was done out of love: Manager Lee protecting Jung Sook, Kyung Hee protecting Manager Lee, and Cha protecting Kyung Hee. It’s pretty touching considering Sung Gyeom was convinced that greed and jealousy was the root reason for all the murders.

Kyung Hee’s final wish was that her crimes be kept a secret from the rest of the hotel, but Geum Bo thinks that might be an impossible secret to keep. He then hands the necklace back to Sung Gyeom.

Now the wedding department is reduced to just Sang Hyo, Gi Chul, and Sung Min. They all mourn for her, not having known that she was so gravely ill. At least they only think that she died of cancer and not of suicide. Sung Gyeom hands the necklace back to Manager Lee and says that he will leave the hotel. Secret Hotel would be in better hands with Manager Lee, since he protected it for thirty years. Sung Gyeom isn’t ready to see his mother with Manager Lee though, but he does wish them luck and hopes Manager Lee can take care of his mother.

Manager Lee is one heck of a guy.

After all this, Sung Gyeom wants to know how Sang Hyo is tied to all this, and why his mother won’t forgive her father. He puts together that Hwang Dong Bae – Hwang! Dong! Bae! – is actually Sang Hyo’s father, and Manager Lee confirms as much. This is why Sang Hyo and Sung Gyeom can’t be together.

Sung Gyeom meets her for one last time to tell her about his resignation. He plans to take a break and then go back to the States. He then wonders if she figured out the matters in her heart, and if she would still waver towards him if he still pursued her. With a heavy sigh, Sang Hyo apologizes. She won’t be able to do that for him. At least Sung Gyeom understands and acknowledges that the both of them tried to be together at least. However she was always in love with Hae Young; it wasn’t Hae Young who was trying to change her feelings, but Sung Gyeom instead.

Just like Hae Young, Sung Gyeom says that he’ll only return to her if she wants him and needs him first. What a lucky gal – she has two men who are ready and waiting for her. Sung Gyeom takes his leave, giving Sang Hyo plenty of time to think on her own.

Business goes on as usual at the wedding hall, and Soo Ah comes by to visit Sang Hyo. Yay! Soo Ah’s back! She wanted to tell Sang Hyo that Hae Young is going back to New York. Word must have spread and reached her ears, and she didn’t want to keep it from Sang Hyo.

Sang Hyo isn’t sure why Soo Ah is telling her this when she and Hae Young are already over. Soo Ah is aware of that, because there can be no other reason why Hae Young would leave and possibly not come back, ever. She tells Sang Hyo that when she begged Hae Young to marry her, he said yes but only if he was allowed to never love her. It was always Sang Hyo – first and forever. Sang Hyo doesn’t want to hear about this, but Soo Ah presses on: did Sang Hyo know that Hae Young went back to Las Vegas to look for her? The landlord was the one to tell him that she had left already.

Sang Hyo can’t believe it, but Geum Bo can. That sneaky detective overheard the tail end of the conversation. Why does he believe it? Because he saw Hae Young keep a picture of Sang Hyo in his wallet even though he was supposed to marry another woman. No guy would do that unless he truly loved the girl.

Overwhelmed at the thought that she read Hae Young’s actions wrong, she runs off to her office. So he really was being sincere with her the whole time, and there was no reason for her to second-guess him! She hears Kyung Hee’s advice ring in her ears again, but she’s still too scared to do anything.

That evening, Hae Young drinks wine alone in his apartment moping over Sang Hyo when he receives a visitor. It’s Jung Eun, drunk out of her mind and crying for Hae Young to not leave.

Meanwhile Sung Gyeom has a little campfire going when a woman comes to visit him too. It’s Eun Joo! Wow am I relieved to see her, and it does make Sung Gyeom smile. She admits that his mother sent her here to look for him, wanting him to come back home. He isn’t ready though, so Eun Joo grabs his shirt and pretends to drag him away. However Sung Gyeom doesn’t react – her little trick didn’t intimidate him one bit! In that case, she decides to plop down on one of the logs and sit. If he wants to stay there, then she’ll stay with him. Yay! I hope they find some happiness with each other.

Sang Hyo is at home, contemplating what to do after everything she’s heard from others. She spends all night thinking, and the following morning she catches a cab to Hae Young’s place. Uh oh… She rings the doorbell, and Jung Eun opens the door. We’re back to this situation all over again. And she’s wearing Hae Young’s shirt again. Literally word for word, the situation is exactly the same – he’s in the shower, and she invites Sang Hyo in.

Once again, Sang Hyo doesn’t want to go in, so the door closes on her. Change your fate, girl! Stop being a coward!

Hae Young rushes out of his room, pissed that Jung Eun is wearing his shirt. He wants her to just get dressed and leave already. The doorbell rings again and he opens the door despite Jung Eun’s insistence that she open it. It’s Sang Hyo. He’s shocked to see her here, knowing how wrong the situation may look to her.

Sang Hyo asks quite bravely why “that woman” has to be answering his door in his shirt both seven years ago and now. He’s confused, so she clarifies that she went to New York that day, seven years ago. She quit her job, and went to find him, and Jung Eun answered the door. Without ever taking his eyes off of Sang Hyo, Hae Young yells, “Joo Jung Eun, what on earth is she talking about!?”

Scared, Jung Eun grabs her shoes and sneaks past them through the door, meekly saying, “That’s why I invited you inside Sang Hyo…” She runs away, and then Sang Hyo makes her exit too. Hae Young whispers, “You came?” Tears start flowing down their cheeks and Hae Young embraces Sang Hyo in a back hug, relieved and touched to know that she really did love him seven years ago. It was all a misunderstanding – thanks to Jung Eun – that drove them apart. Not that they had fallen out of love with each other.

The campfire is out and the morning is chilly. Eun Joo shivers visibly, but she patiently waits for Sung Gyeom. She understands that this whole campfire-trip-to-the-woods is his way of forgetting Sang Hyo and so she’s willing to stay a little longer until they can both forget about her. Sung Gyeom’s touched by her words and tells her it’s fine. It’s time to go in, and he extends his hand to help her up.

Not wanting to be too hopeful, Eun Joo clearly states that she’s only going to hold his hand because he wants her to. He leads her back to his cabin and has her wait until he finishes gathering his things. While waiting, she finds a heart-shaped stone on the ground. Sung Gyeom points out that it’s his, but she doesn’t believe him, especially since she found it on the floor. She has a good feeling about it, as if her love will be fulfilled, and then tells him to hurry so they can meet his mother.

Hae Young and Sang Hyo clear up all of their misunderstandings, and apologize to each other. She knows he has to leave for New York so she’ll go with him if he wants, or will stay and wait if he wants. That’s such a relief to hear, that they’re going to communicate better now about what each other needs.

They visit Kyung Hee’s remains in the columbarium to pay respects, and then head to the airport. Hae Young’s really leaving, and he hopes that she can wait for him until he comes back even if it will take a while. Sang Hyo will. She’s surprised that he’s not asking her to go with him, but that’s because he knows how important the hotel is to her. They wave their goodbyes to each other as Hae Young passes through security.

The plane leaves, and Sang Hyo is still at the airport, crying. She clearly misses him already. Just then someone calls out her name. Hae Young never left! Like he said before, he never wants to go anywhere without her. Looks like he changed his mind about New York!

She runs up and hugs him. He’s a little embarrassed but she doesn’t care. They exchange a kiss, and our happy couple is reunited for good.

Wearing their wedding rings for good.

Final Comments:

Well, that wasn’t completely unexpected. I’m really happy she ended up with Hae Young. I was rooting for this OTP and I thought that Sang Hyo and Hae Young had a lot better chemistry than she with Sung Gyeom. That being said, Sung Gyeom did have his moments too.

There were a few things that were very satisfying for me in this final episode. I liked that everyone had a happy ending; Eun Joo and Sung Gyeom will end up together (though I get this feeling that they’d date and then break up after they realize they’re not right for each other); Manager Lee finally makes peace with the past; Soo Ah is happily single; and the mystery is resolved. I actually liked that the ‘killer’ ended up being Kyung Hee – it was the final twist I wasn’t quite expecting because I was fully expecting the culprit to be Manager Lee or Manager Cha. When Cha confessed to the murders, I was slightly disappointed that the drama was being predictable but at the same time grateful that they chose a believable solution. And then when it turned out to be Kyung Hee, I was infinitely more satisfied because I felt she had a better motive to kill. I think it’s okay that Cha’s relationship with Manager Lee is still not fully explained, but it does make Manager Lee look more and more like a saint because he saved Sang Hyo and Manager Cha, and he never killed anyone.

Sang Hyo being Hwang’s daughter was one heck of a twist though, and I kind of wish I knew more details about that. I wonder if Hwang ever knew that Sang Hyo was his daughter, and who her mother was.

I was also unsatisfied with a couple of things. First and foremost I felt that the actual issue that drove Sang Hyo and Hae Young apart was a bit disappointing. The first few episodes made it seem like they had real deep issues that caused them to break up, but at the very end it was just a simple misunderstanding and lack of communication. I am frustrated that it was resolved so easily through exposition rather than seeing the characters work it out. Had these characters actually faced the issue and mentioned it head-on, we would have been able to skip through a lot of the hot-and-cold games between the two that lasted for a couple of episodes too many. While I understand that without this misunderstanding we wouldn’t have drama, I think that if it had been resolved earlier we would have had more happy moments between Hae Young and Sang Hyo, and Sung Gyeom and Eun Joo. We would have also been able to revisit some of the cast that pretty much disappeared towards the end.

To have outside characters explain to Sang Hyo what her heart really feels and clarify what happened seven years ago makes the ending also feel rushed because it relied so much on exposition. It was also a bit too much having everyone but the one person who mattered most tell her the truth. Hae Young really had some communication problems, and I think he relied too much on his actions to speak louder than words when words would have been more effective. Sang Hyo was also incredibly selfish and saw things only through her eyes. But I think they would have been able to work it out without outsiders intervening.

Another thing that was unsatisfying was how diminished Soo Ah, Geum Bo, Simon, and Eun Joo’s roles were towards the end of the drama. I understand the focus was on Sang Hyo and Hae Young, but I did miss these people onscreen. As annoying as Soo Ah was, Jung Eun was worse, so I kind of missed Soo Ah’s ridiculous and bubbly personality. I missed scenes with Geum Bo lurking around the hotel, and I wanted to see more of Simon doing things for Sung Gyeom. And most of all I missed Eun Joo’s presence and hoped that she would be more of a best friend to Sang Hyo by the end of the series.

Overall, I really enjoyed this drama. It struck a nice balance between romantic comedy, mystery thriller, and melodrama. I really enjoyed watching Yoo In Na and Jin Yi Han in this drama, so here’s hoping they do more things together. It wouldn’t be a bad idea if they also started dating in real life. 🙂

Verdict: 7.5/10 – short and sweet. It could have been an 8.5 but I’m docking 1 point for a less than satisfactory final 4 episodes.

*EDIT* – So I totally did not see the epilogue scene during the credits as, out of habit, I usually turn off the video as soon as credits roll to avoid seeing previews and did it automatically with this last episode. It cutely fast forwards to one year in the future when Sang Hyo and Hae Young meet up with Eun Joo for lunch. Turns out Eun Joo had gone to study abroad for a year, which means she totally went with Sung Gyeom to the States! She shows off her ring, and everyone’s pleasantly surprised to find her groom is none other than Sung Gyeom.

Sort of – it’s not like he proposed, but Eun Joo is totally jumping the gun here. (Sung Gyeom – you still have a chance to get out, if you want to!) There’s no more awkwardness between them, and Hae Young professes how much he missed Sung Gyeom. Pfft. Now they’re friends.

It was a totally unnecessary scene, but it sure gave the show a very bright and cheery end. The airport felt a little drab as an ending, and this little epilogue scene made the show feel brighter and happier. At least you know that the foursome got their happy ending. Thanks Mara for letting me know!! ^^


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