My Secret Hotel (2014)
Directed By Hong Jong-chan
Murder is in the air in this 2014 South Korean drama, My Secret Hotel.
Nam Sang-hyo (Yoo In-na) is the supervisor for the wedding planning department in The Secret Hotel and dreams of becoming the hotel’s general manager. Sang-hyo faces an ultimate challenge though: planning the wedding for her ex-husband, Gu Hae-young (Jin Yi-han). Yet when the wedding for her ex-husband was about to happen, a murder takes place and forces the postponement of the whole affair.
My Secret Hotel is a “murder mystery party” in which the characters working at the hotel become suspects for the murder of one of the employees. As the mystery unfolds, hidden secrets behind the hotel guests and employees are brought to life. However, the mystery plot isn’t solid as it does not carefully plan and provide clues about the crime in contrast to other dramas. The clues for the mystery weren’t executed well into the storyline as it seems that the writers threw in random bits here and there. Also, the audience wasn’t able to engage in the crime solving— they couldn’t piece together the mystery and when the murder was solved, it felt rushed. In fact, random characters would appear out of nowhere without any explanation in order for the show to reach an ending. Yet, the lack of great writing could be due to the fact that the original writer passed away while the show was airing. So, there was already a loss of direction in regards to the writing and one could only assume the original writer’s intentions.
What’s interesting about this drama is how a majority of the show takes place in the hotel. Usually, kdramas would use a variety of settings to develop the storyline and the relationships between people. However, in this particular drama, the relationship development and storyline is driven by what goes on in the hotel. In fact, the name of the hotel, The Secret Hotel, is an explicit allegory of the hidden truths that people wish they didn’t share to people. And the purpose of the murder mystery and the hotel, itself, is to reveal the dark secrets within each character, particularly those who are working at the hotel. Slowly, every character’s dark secret was brought to light. I felt that the mystery felt like a plot device to develop the characters’ personas. It’s a pretty clever technique; for instance, the investigator for the murder helped unite Nam Sang-hyo and Gu Hae-young.
The chemistry between Nam Sang-hyo and Gu Hae-young was great though. I really enjoyed the constant teasing they did to each other and such actions showed their hidden feelings for one another. However, their relationship issues were due to a silly misunderstanding and it could have all been avoided if they talked it out.
My favorite character in this series is Gu Hae-young because of his childish nature towards Nam Sang-hyo and his persistence to win the girl he loves back. In fact, the love quote that the main romance is centered on is “If a man truly loves a woman, he will come crawling back even if he jumped off a cliff.” This is so true and I think that’s one way a guy expresses his feelings. I actually experienced that. Did I accept that guy’s feelings again? No. I realized that in the end, I was better off and happy on my own. I know that sounds harsh but I outgrew him and I was perfectly happy with how my life was at the time that I didn’t need him in it anymore.
Despite the lackluster storyline, My Secret Hotel has one of the best soundtracks. A majority of the songs have this 80s new wave or pop-ish vibe to them. It’s actually the first time I ever liked an entire soundtrack. So I give credit to this drama for having one of the best soundtracks of all time.
My Secret Hotel was a bit dull mystery-wise but the love story between Nam Sang-hyo and Gu Hae-young is adorable.
You can watch this series on Dramafever.