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Secret Love Affair

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  • Score: 7.6 (scored by 2,033 users)
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wolfgirl9
52 people found this review helpful
Jun 19, 2014
Overall 9.5
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 8.0
Imagine all the negative prejudices possible that one can have against a drama, and then add a little more negative biases; that's exactly how I felt before watching this drama. I hate love affairs, so I thought I could never ever bring myself to watch this. Watching the first episode was a momentary insanity for me, and guess what? I was blown away by the brilliance of this drama!! The majestic combination of perfect acting and breathtaking portrayal of their passion, the amazing directing and cinematography, and most of all the phenomenal choice of classical music got me hooked.

I think this drama is severely underrated and in my opinion mainly because of its poor choice of title "Love affair" brings out the notion of betraying romantic emotions of someone and their trust at the deepest level. It's a dirty and unforgivable act. However, this story is about anything but love affair. Granted the female lead is married, but in this scenario, considering her marriage and how the relationship is, I don't think anyone who will watch this would think that this was a love affair, it simply doesn't fit the category!

This is not your average light and bubbly love; it's dark, complex, passionate, bitter-sweet, and even sometimes torturous. It's a battle where we'll cheer as hard as we can for love to win against all odds. It's a story of growth and maturing oneself through experiencing love, a story of how easily one can lose oneself if s/he is chasing the wrong goals, and how they can still go back to true happiness regardless of their past/bad choices. It’s a story to show how love can change one for better or the worse.

Before analyzing the rest of the drama, I just have to say that I LOVED the music in this drama!!!!! They played so many beautiful pieces that were very well integrated within the flow of the story. Also, unlike your average drama, the music actually added meaning and depth to the drama. Most of the pieces were classical music played by the main leads (and let me tell you, I still cannot believe that they are actors not professional pianists!!!) There was one song that was not classical music, and it fitted the drama better than Cinderella's glass shoe fitted her. Anyone who has any appreciation for classical music is going to enjoy this drama enormously. And I'm not overselling it by stating that it's through the music that we can truly understand their passion, their fears and their love.

The pacing is slow, but surprisingly it didn't bother me at all. I loved that I could take my time and savor their every single gaze, touch, and emotion. The slow pace allowed me to synchronize my emotions with them; to not only understand, but also feel how they felt for one another. I guess the only negative point of the drama is the business part of it, but trust me; this one is not as bad as the others out there. It’s not the strongest part of the drama and the writers try not to get very technical with it. But I think it wasn’t that poorly written/executed. In the scale of the drama as a whole, it didn’t bother me at all!

The characters are complex, and it takes time to truly understand them. There were times that I was very annoyed with the main actress because I didn't really understand her. Nevertheless, as the drama progressed, my understanding of the characters deepened and I start too feel their pain, their hope and most of all their passion. It had been a very long time that I had felt such complex emotions with such intensity. It was almost like I was one of them.

Well I can go on and on, but I want to keep this review at a semi-reasonable length to allow ppl to read it. So if you're a fan of classical music, or if you want to go on a very emotional and bittersweet journey of love, fear and loss, I would recommend you to definitely give this a chance.

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purplenette
40 people found this review helpful
May 16, 2014
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 9.0
One thing before I rave about this drama. I don't know why they called it Secret Love Affair when it wasn't a "secret". Maybe the LOVE was a secret, because the other characters were shocked at what Oh Hye Won did at the end.

This drama is excellent. Love unexpectedly blossoms through music. I can so relate to Oh Hye Won. Sometimes a person feels like they are just moving from one necessity to the next (even if she was a little greedy) with out really thinking about how you are living your life. Then some one walks into your life and changes everything. The way the director portrays every emotion through music is so wonderfully done. I love that the writer actually assumed we would know what the character was thinking. The music is amazing. I even cried. Crying while watching a drama is rare for me.

Yoo Ah In is combustible. His emotional portrayal of Lee Sun Jae was perfection. I don't know any actress that could have played the roll of Oh Hye Won better than Kim Hee Ae. I really don't know how she gave off a feel of innocence. I felt like she was reliving her youth. Good for her. I was totally invested in the main characters. The rest of the people were good too, but I could have cared less about their characters. I think that is what the writer wanted. There is no second male lead. No one for you to care about except the two lead actors.

The music is phenomenal.

I say watch it. Maybe younger people wouldn't really be in to it. It isn't action packed or anything. It is a real romance.

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wonhwa
20 people found this review helpful
May 15, 2014
Overall 7.5
Story 7.0
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 6.0
Great roles for middle-aged actresses are rare. I loved that Secret Love Affair was anchored by a smart, sexy, morally complicated 40-something female protagonist, and it was obvious that the phenomenal Kim Hee Ae was having a blast playing the part. Yoo Ah In also does a fine job as a young piano prodigy, and when he’s onscreen with Kim, they make beautiful music together, both literally and figuratively. The love story generates plenty of heat, and, despite its salacious premise, feels genuine and ultimately quite moving. As long as the two leads are playing duets together or sharing bowls of noodles the show sings.

Unfortunately, I found the world surrounding the lovers to be less fleshed out and compelling. While I understand that the awfulness of most of the other major characters is meant to highlight just how terrible Hye Won’s life is despite its surface luxuries, I would have loved for there to have been more layers to the antagonists. Their universal loathsomeness did draw sympathy to the protagonists, but it also undermined the realism of the show and simplified its conflicts. It’s not hard to cheat on a husband with no redeeming characteristics, but that felt like an easy out for the screenwriter (and the audience) rather than an honest exploration of the challenges of marriage.

The directing of the show is carefully composed and the pacing slow. This allows for some lovely, unhurried emotional beats, but it can also feel a bit stifling. There were times I would have liked less precision and more abandon. The technique mirrors Hye Won’s fierce control, but when the fissures open in her life I wish the show had cracked open more deliriously as well. The main couple and the music are amazing. Everything else feels well worth losing for their stolen moments of joy.

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DragonAlien
36 people found this review helpful
Aug 21, 2014
Overall 9.0
Story 7.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 8.0
Once again I've confirmed my endless love for music. This drama was a true proof to that. I was blown away by the brilliance of this drama from the very first moment I saw the first episode. The great combination of amazing acting especially from Yoo Ah In, portrayal of their passion, and the most important the fantastic choice of classical music got me hooked right away.
Just to be clear about something, I'm not a fan of love affairs, actually I don't like them at all and usually do not watch dramas with concept like that but this one I chose because of the music theme and the main actor. And I'm glad I did that 'cause I fell in love with this drama so deeply with no cure for healing. For the record this drama and story aren't affair at all as all of us think what affair actually is and you could see that from the very start and the relationship between the married couple, they were more like business partners. Yoo Ah In and Kim Hee Ae have done the job brilliant in portraying the two people who met and simply, slowly fell in love through the piano playing, music sheets, Mozart, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, and many other classical geniuses. I was hypnotized and mesmerized with their conversations, with their playing, with their passionate chemistry, I can't remember when I've reacted like this to some couple and chemistry in drama, since MARS I haven't felt like this.
This is not some average bubbly romance drama; it's dark, complex, passionate, bittersweet, and sometimes even torturous. It's a true emotional, mature and adult romance drama where we'll cheer as hard as we can for love to win against all odds. It’s a story to show how love can change one for the best or the worst. I loved very much how they concentrate simply on development of the main characters, their constant battle inside them, their pain, their hope and most of all their passion. It had been a very long time that I had felt such complex emotions with such intensity. It was almost like I was one of them. Of course there are boring parts, for example the part about business and all those irritating female characters who were so evil, bad and gossiping around, I really hate that. But except that everything else was a masterpiece for real. Yoo Ah In as a young piano prodigy was magnificent, he once again proved to me why he's one of my favourite actors in the whole world. When he’s onscreen with Kim, they make beautiful music together, both literally and figuratively. The love story generates plenty of heat, and feels genuine and quite moving. As long as the two leads are playing duets together or sharing bowls of noodles, everything else was in the shadow, only them and their fantastic chemistry.
Unlike in the most of average dramas, the music actually added meaning and depth to the drama. They played so many beautiful pieces from so many great composers and anyone who has any appreciation for classical music is going to enjoy this drama enormously. This drama is a bit slow, but it didn't bother me at all. I loved that I could see and feel their every gaze, touch, and emotion. I was able to synchronize my emotions with them, to understand and feel how they fell for one another.

For me this drama has a deep meaning and definitely left me with so many great and honest emotions. If you're like me a person who loves a true pure romance dramas with adult and mature thinking with endless love for music in your daily life, then this drama is for you.

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blackvarlden
17 people found this review helpful
May 15, 2014
Overall 10
Story 8.5
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 10
Let me start off by saying that I had no expectations for this show. None. I watched because of the actor and let me tell you. It blew me away. It has taken root inside my heart and has climbed the very high mountain of dramas I have watched to become my absolute favorite. The story although seemingly simple at first, really complicates itself in the best way- realistically shows the fallout of an affair on all accounts. An directing choice i was put off by but learned to absolutely love is that they take their times with each scene. nothing is rushed. They will play an entire song and let you feel the emotions. It's breathtaking.
What I love about the story itself though is the message it sends through it's morally broken heroine is that it is never too late. The focal point of the show is not the story, but the characters. Especially Oh Hye Won and Lee Sun Jae. The characters are soo real to me that I feel their pain and understand every decision they make. The acting is done so superbly that I believe they are in love when they play piano together. I can go on and on and on about how marvelous and unique and artistic this show is, and I do not want to forget to mention how the piano pieces highlighted in this show are so wonderfully showcased that people who are not fans of classical music will appreciate it. Watch it. WATCH IT. It is so much better than a lot of shows out there. Secret Love Affair is worth your time.

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BADKPOPFAIRY
9 people found this review helpful
May 15, 2014
Overall 9.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 8.0
Going into this I knew two things. Yoo Ah In will blow me away like he's always done AND it will have tons of classical music. I was correct.

GOOD - (Acting) Alright, so this one is a given. Both actors are absolutely incredible. But I gotta say... Yoo Ah In... OMFG he is absolutely spectacular. He is so good, I was in awe. He keeps getting better and better, really. PS - He actually learned to play piano for the role and he looks and feels like a brilliant pianist.

GOOD - (Cinematography) Every minute is like a movie. Its shot like a movie. Its dark, and its beautiful. A feast for the eyes.

GOOD - (Eye Candy) LIPS. That is all. #yummy

GOOD - (Music) Its classical music. Piano. Beautiful concertos, beautiful pieces. If you don't like classical music, this is NOT the drama for you. Its packed with it.

EH? - (Music) Now here is the thing... there are FULL songs/ FULL works in there. And its not to "waste time" or anything... like they sit there and play a whole piece. And you watch their faces, and you kinda die a bit. But then again, thats just me. You may hate it.

EH? - (Pace) Its slow. I'm not gonna lie. But that doesn't mean there isn't anything happening. Its intense. But it is slow, as in -- there are a lot of "reflection shots" where the character sorta sits there thinking... you know.

CURVEBALL - (Makeup) Now forgive me for this, because once you notice this, you will never be able to unsee. Everyone's faces are SHINY. Not like "Omg Fairy you're just being picky" NO. Like they're a reflection in the lake shiny. They are sweaty shiny all the time. Good luck dealing with it. lol (You get used to it and stop noticing at one point)

OVERALL - Its an amazingly shot and acted drama. But its an adult one. And I don't mean you gotta be a certain age, you just gotta have a certain level of maturity. Having said that, there aren't a lot of physical moments... unfortunately. If you like classical music, or Yoo Ah In, this is the one for you. If you like spunky, fast paced, happy dramas, skip this one.

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KiaSoul
4 people found this review helpful
Jul 27, 2015
Overall 8.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 7.0
Watching the Secret Love Affair, I kept thinking of Virginia Woolf’s remark about George Eliot’s novel Middlemarch, that it was the rarity of rarities, a novel for adults. And I kept thinking of the remark because it wasn’t easy to look beyond the age difference and sympathize with the drama’s lovers. It really took the adult in me not to be cynical and dismissive of the love affair and of the show, for that matter, as a sort of a vehicle for advancing a feminist agenda. Then there was the setting: the academic world of the rich, the cultured, and the ruthlessly ambitious which lends the show an air of sophistication the youngster in me initially found pretentious.

Needless to say, I got over my biases and I was rewarded. Secret Love Affair is a stylish, intriguing drama that confronts its heroine with the most impossible of choices: Give up everything you ever lived for and live in poverty for love or continue to live for ambition and deny your feelings unto eternity. I knew the first option was unlikely. (K-Drama does not do poverty and squalor even if passionate love is at the heart of it.) I thought the second option was the only option but a bad option nonetheless. As it turned out, there was a third option, and it revolved around a funny development in the story. Everyone, who means anything to the two lovers, finds out about the affair, but no one condemns the couple. Friends are supportive, and friends who aren’t real friends promise to sweep it under the rug provided the heroine takes the fall for the financial indiscretion of a higher up, or so I gathered. (My attention waned towards the end.)

As befitting a heroine, the heroine defies her enemies and protects her lover. The way she does it—acting as if she has done nothing wrong—however doesn’t do much to build the drama to an exciting ending. It was fun getting there though.

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Starae
7 people found this review helpful
Jan 13, 2015
Overall 6.0
Story 6.0
Acting/Cast 6.5
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 1.0
I really had high hopes for this after I read all the reviews saying how good it was, but I have to say I was rather disappointed.

It starts off pretty good, but nothing special, and it keeps you guessing as to whats going to happen next, but then it takes a turn for the worst. I would have to say the best part of the entire show is the piano music, which was beautiful, and the romance was cute, but once again nothing special. The couple managed to make it not awkward despite the huge age difference between the two and that was a plus, but that would have to be the ONLY good things about this drama.

The biggest let down for me was the absolute horrendous plot. Even in the beginning they have you a bit confused as to what exactly is going on, and until the very end you still have absolutely no idea what the heck is going on. It was very poorly written and really does not seem to fit in well with the "Secret Love Affair" whatsoever. The story tends to drag in unnecessary places, making you wish they would just get on with it already, and in other places they rush the story so much that it leaves you confused as to what just happened, without any decent explanation whatsoever.

Overall I am very shocked at the amount of good reviews this was given, and I cannot say I would recommend that anyone wastes their time with this. The few spurts of romantic encounters in it was nice, but it just didn't make up for how poorly the plot was executed.

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DoHani
3 people found this review helpful
Feb 14, 2016
Overall 8.5
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 9.5
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 1.0
I wanted to challenge myself with this show because I really hate affairs. But as the title claims, it is a LOVE affair, not the typical type as I see it, and it revolves more around music. This isn't, however, my kind of show at all. Although I love piano, all the feelings expressed by the leads while playing did not reach me and I felt really bored during 30% of the total time consumed by constant music performances. As it is, I feel like this show is underrated for it is a great piece for its category alright. The acting is nearly spotless, the chemistry was good too, every issue brought in the plot felt real enough and accurate though sometimes I felt like it was way too melo for a serious drama. Then again, perhaps I'm wrong. I'm trying to be unbiased here and you should know how hard it is.

I found myself cheering for those two and the drama was compelling enough to keep me playing one episode after another (and I said it isn't my kind of drama). I was dying to see what would happen next. Nonetheless, I feel like this could be well narrowed into a 2h film instead of a 16 episode drama without any losses. But once more I say: this isn't my kind of drama. Yet, there's nothing I can bring forward to stand for my 8.5 rating. I feel like I'm still being unfair but I'll leave it at it. If, like me, you think this doesn't suit your taste, don't watch it unless you're interested in having an unbiased look through the show or you won't be able to properly enjoy it. This is completely different from the shows I'm used to and I have a strange feeling now that it's over but I'd still recommend.

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ParkChohwa
3 people found this review helpful
Jan 21, 2015
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 10
Writing a review on this is a hard job. I myself cannot express how I felt throughout the show in words but I'll try my best. It's not only me who thinks this but this show is not for everyone. Not just because of the nature of the relationship of the leads but the production, the acting and the storyline is on a different level. Mmm like Classics, not everyone can read between the lines or enjoy the depth of them. Anyhow I started this because of Yoo Ah In, who no matter what others might think -though I don't give a damn- is a genius actor. I'm glad I watched it.

I'm not a fan of affairs stories, but I AM a fan of freedom tales. The drama is not about Oh Hye Won cheating on her husband and giving up on everything for a young pianist. The drama is about her breaking away from all the restrictions, prejudices and stereotypes of society. If you read Kate Chopin's The Awakening you'd understand what I mean. Lee Soon Jae was only the trigger, the hope and the strength that helped her throw herself in the vast ocean so she can be reborn again. The drama is a brave attack on the world of the corrupted rich and how low they can stoop to protect what they believe is theirs. How such people can strangle others' dreams without feeling the slight regret.

Full of deep, mind blowing and heartbreaking music; the drama sneaked into every cell of my existence.

Kim Hee Ae was the perfect actress for the role and I can't imagine anybody else playing it. The pain her whole body portrays is nothing I've ever seen. That dignity she upholds and that charisma! She mesmerised me.

Now comes Lee Soon Jae. I don't know what the writer had in mind when she wrote the character of Lee Seon Jae but i'm sure Yoo Ah In surpassed anything the writer had in mind. For the first time in a really long time I cannot find words to describe a character. I cannot pinpoint the reason I find him irresistible and i'm sure Oh Hye Won didn't know either.. at a moment i'd be sure he had some psychological issue, in the next moment he's just an innocent , simple-minded and outright young man, then he's a crazy passionate man in love. He's never normal but i can't tell why he isn't.. This character acted by this actor is completely putting me in Oh Hye Won's shoes.. Her facial expressions as she watches him are not forced at all. I guess anybody would have felt that insane rush of emotions if they were with him...

Again; if ur not a non-conformist, don't start this.

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Charming92
6 people found this review helpful
Aug 27, 2016
Overall 8.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 10
Rewatch Value 2.0
Two widely spread reactions about this drama. On the one hand, this is absolutely fabulous, unique and perfect in every way, masterpiece. On the other hand, this is boring, slow, draggy and has no purpose. I am proud to say, both are true. This drama is like those oscar movies that are apparently so perfect but when we watch them we end up asking ourserves 'why did i waste 2 hours of my life on that? What was so special about it anyway?'. This drama is like caviar. Elegant, and graceful. Have we all eaten caviar at least once? Yes. Do we like it? Some of us. If we were to choose between a burger and caviar, burger would be the first choice for most, right? This drama is like caviar, it demands a certain type of viewer, and i wasn't that type.

The description might confuse you into thinking that this is a romance drama blend in with the adultery concept. Sadly, for me, this was not what i was expecting. This wasn't a romance drama, it wasn't even an adultery drama. On the contrary it was heavily based on the inner relationships between the hierarcy of a company. The drama centers on a woman, Hye Won, and her complicated life and personality. The drama's main concept is how the protagonist, being unhappy due to her life decisions without even her realising it, rises above it all with the help of a charming young piano student.

The drama talks about life decisions. I can link to a saying we have in my country that i can roughly translate as "If you don't look at where you want to go, you will go where you look". Which means that if you don't set your goals straight from the beginning, no matter what you real want you will end up with what you settle with.

The show was never about the romance it was about seeing her grow as a person to realise what she really wants out of her life. This is why i have mixed feelings about this. I expected something different but, while i am dissapointed, the drama presented something completely unique and even though it was troublesome to digest and understand, i'm happy i gave it a try.

The main reason people -me included- found this boring is because of the difficult, tedious conversations about job policies and schemes of the characters. We were dropped in the middle of a war zone from the first episode, we could barely understand anything and things didn't get any clearer as the drama proceeded. Tedious, boring, vague, incomprehensable dialogs that only increasingly confused me. But, that was the actual prettyness of the whole drama. The fact that it was complicated, with unrelatable characters that you can't help but hate and in the middle there is Hye Won, a strong yet vulnerable, troubled woman, who makes the wrong choices but around so many hateful characters she becames relateable instantly and sways you.

Apart from the company drama that takes the main lead here, music is the next most significant part of this drama. The music is overall exquisite. The romance itself is being expressed solely through music, and that is another reason most people -including me- found the romance unfulfilling. You'll probably need to have music knowledge to properly understand the emotional messages delivered through music or at least have a keen ear to appreciate them.

Honorable mention to the cinematography. I'm not a fan of cinematography but here it was truly marvelous. It was gritty, dark and elegant, and suited the overall feel of the drama completely.

The acting was overall top notch, no complains, but the performance that is memorable is Kim Hee Ae's. The whole drama is on her, it's hers. The other characters serve as fillers just to help her rise and grow. Kim Hee Ae's aura was great for this drama, elegant, graceful, aristocratic even without losing her confused, sensitive even defenceless, at parts, self. Yoo Ah In's performance was also great and their chemistry was strong, noone can deny that even with the 20 year difference. However his character felt again as a filler, and wasn't given the appropriate screen time to gain some kind of value on his own.

Overall, this was a difficult watch. I wouldn't rewatch this, but i can understand why some people would. It's a drama that is aimed at a special few and those few will love it. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone who doesn't like exclusively character driven shows, long conversations about company politics, schemes but not the juisy type, and slow plot pace.

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CjRun
4 people found this review helpful
Feb 4, 2016
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 10
Have you ever finish a drama and feel "full & warm"? Then you should try Secret Love Affair. It is slow like an art movie. It is intense. There's pure love here. It is not tinted with chaebol's money. You could say the love here is better than all the money in the world. The lead's acting is amazing - dont need flawless makeup as a filler for bad acting. It is a work of art.
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