Disclaimer: If you haven’t watched the first two episode of this drama, there will be spoilers for those in this review.
Native Title: 시크릿 부티크
Release Date: September 18, 2019 (released every Wed and Thurs)
Episode #: 32 half hour long episodes (Kocowa combines two eps into one)
Director: Park Hyung Ki (Scent of a Woman)
Writer: Heo Seon Hee (Life Tracker Lee Jae Goo)
Starring: Kim Sun Ah, Jang Mi Hee, and Park Hee Bon. Rest of the cast can be found here.
I think one of biggest obstacles that came from this drama going in was not knowing much more than what Twitter had been talking about. I watched the drama days after most of the people who were already going to watch it did, and didn’t bother to mute the name to avoid spoilers. I was expecting much more makjang. Situations that were heightened with drama, still felt grounded in the world. Backstabbing felt real and never to an over exaggerated state where the characters became comical or go into the absurdity that is makjang. This is much closer to a thriller/melo, which is something I really enjoy. I was worried I was going to have to deal with a lot of over the top elements, and while this drama does have those it’s in the normal “heightened because it’s a drama” sense, not going that step overboard is what keeps the show grounded in it’s element and keeps you guessing with a lot of the character’s intentions.
I’m not going to lie, during most of the first episode I was hesitant about my opinion of this drama. I was finding myself liking some parts okay, and being completely bored with others and was having issues keeping up interest. But as the show progressed I started to get more involved and by the last 10 minutes of the first episode, and all through the second I was completely hooked.
The other big thing that I noticed about this is that it just doesn’t feel like a kdrama. The tone shifts a lot, and while not in a terrible way or one done without merit, it’s strange when you start to really focus in on it. In the beginning it’s very much set up like an old Hollywood film. Characters walking through doors, filmed from below with high beam light from behind. Even the style of the costumes and set represents this. Then it shifts. I first noticed this when it went to Hyun Ji and her mother and became more like a normal crime drama where the shadows and darkness are played up to represent the family being poorer. After a while the drama shifts again, becoming much more like a normal political melodrama that NBC would 100% pick up. Even so, parts of the second episode felt like I was watching a con/action drama. I think what makes the tone shifts so strange is that they are integrated pretty well, at least I never actually noticed them until well into the scene that they were using it. It sort of blends a British crime drama with a Western one.
I really like how they’ve started to assemble this team. Hyun Ji’s involvement because of her mother, the sister who doesn’t seem to mind to go behind her family’s back. Sun Woo’s connection with Jenny. They start to fall into the rag tag team that I personally love to watch.
One of my favorite parts of the episodes was the last part of the second episode. Again, I had no clue what I was getting into when I started this drama. I had fallen in love with the posters, and watched some teasers (un subbed) and became interested through those. I knew that it was going to be a revenge drama, and assumed that it was going to deal between Jenny and Jung Hyuk’s relationship. Even during the drama you felt it was just going to deal with the politics of the family that she was in, and be more of revenge from power abuse. That is why I was caught off guard by the family secret and how Jenny’s revenge is mostly centered on Yeo Ok which is fascinating and great. I would have expected a birth secret from this type of drama, I just would have figured it happening later on and not being the sole plot or it involving one of the other main characters. Yeo Ok has already been set up as a super interesting character., which just adds a level of my love for this because it means more time with her. She is evil, but in that silent way that keeps you always guessing her motives. You fear her, but also want to hang out with her. I love that this is the focus of the revenge, and not from a love interest.
Also? The cat.
I’m actually really excited to see more of how the story is going to progress. I don’t have a lot of airing shows that I have on my list, and wasn’t sure I’d actually pick this one up past these two episodes.
There is already a ton of unanswered questions, and elements that I want to see more of. I’d like to see more of Jenny’s business and really get a sense of what she does and how she hides it. I want more of the younger sister and how she relates to all of the players. I’m also really excited to see more with Hyun Ji. She’s played by Go Min Si, and I really loved her acting in The Smile Has Left Your Eyes and am excited to see how she’ll pull off a main role. She has a lot of interesting ties that they’ve already set up that could play out really nicely as the story progresses. The women that her mother let stay in their house, specifically the one with the son seemed fascinating. I hope that with the death of the mother that doesn’t go away. It was so interesting to see a cop character do what she did and be as compassionate as she was towards the women, that I hope we see glimpses of them later and Hyun Ji realizing her mother’s intention with that compassion. Definite add to the watch list!