What's Wrong with Secretary Kim? Volumes 1 3 Manhwa Review

What is Improper with Secretary Kim? Volumes 1-3 Manhwa Evaluate

Manga and manhwa are quite different forms of comic book storytelling, yet they appear to have a common origin: they were once novels. Is Secretary Kim In Trouble? launched in 2013 with such configuration. Live-action TV shows based on the books of GyeongYun Jeong have premiered in Korea, the Philippines, and Thailand. (Or, more accurately, it will be; the second and third are scheduled for 2024.) The manhwa version, published physically under the Ize banner by Yen Press, came between the two, and the series’ allure to adaptors is easy to understand. Although we are aware of its flaws, the story’s combination of workplace romance, familial politics, and drama around childhood trauma makes it hard to put down.

Miso Kim and Youngjun Lee are the protagonists of the narrative. Rising through the ranks of the family business, Youngjun exemplifies the archetypal (or is it stereotypical?) scion of a privileged family. After nine years of service, Miso has become an integral part of his team as his secretary. Her abrupt announcement of her intention to retire and seek a new sort of life, ideally with a spouse, shocks him since she is one of the few workers he trusts and because she is clearly one of the few who can handle him. Because of how used he is to having Miso at his side, Youngjun now finds it incomprehensible that she doesn’t intend to remain forever. You should know that he first struggles to understand why he wants her to remain with him indefinitely, and his efforts to persuade her to do so center on the benefits she would get from her job, such as promotions, salary increases, and so on.

The plot thickens as Miso’s unwavering resolve compels Youngjun to reevaluate his reasons for opposing her departure, and the drama takes a turn for the intriguing. That is due to more than only the romance plotline, though it does play a role. A common cliche in romance novels is the protagonist and antagonist being ambivalent individuals; one such character is the guy who is unable to discern his own emotions. The part is superbly played by Youngjun. Miso labels him as a “mild antagonist” since he refuses to listen to her requests. Following this, he transforms into a sympathetic romantic protagonist, much as in the manhwa and K-drama A Business Proposal. The introduction of the romance subplot, however, begs the issue of Miso’s history and the horrific incident she has been attempting to overcome for a long time. Even though she was a little girl at the time, she had a close experience with a kidnapper who was carrying a boy. She has been searching for him, determined to piece together her history, ever since they fled together. Even though Youngjun’s involvement is obvious, things become trickier in volume three when his elder brother Sungyeong shows up and claims to have been the guy Miso met.

While volumes one and two mostly focus on introducing the characters and Miso’s motives, the most intriguing aspect starts to emerge in volume three: the sibling rivalry between Sungyeong and Youngjun. It is less clear which sibling is lying and whether or not he is aware that he is lying, but one of the brothers is. Is Sungyeong’s perception of his younger brother’s trustworthiness based on their strained relationship or on his own actual struggles with terrible memories? Their accounts of their youth are at odds with one another, and Miso is only now starting to make sense of it all. She has no idea who to trust, and it doesn’t help that Youngjun is starting to become serious about his love pursuits; she has feelings for him, though she hasn’t admitted it yet. Again, Sungyeong isn’t a trustworthy guy, so we have to wonder about his motives, but he seems strangely committed to chasing Miso, almost as if he’s attempting to get even with his brother rather than really drawn to her.

All three books are good reading, but the third really shines, as you would expect. With the abduction issue receiving more attention, the plot becomes more intense and moves away from the usual workplace romance scene. Melodrama is effective if it adds a touch of theatrical flair to the story. Miso, the protagonist, is a young woman who, like many others, is struggling to find her place in the world while simultaneously attempting to get away from her overprotective elder sisters. That requires her to accept and move on from her past, something that Youngjun is starting to come to terms with. Even though it stays inside the genre constraints the whole time, it becomes better and better as it progresses, which is a positive. The cultural annotations provided by Ize are helpful, and even if the art by MyeongMi Kim is a little stiff, it is easy to read because to the muted colors.

Anyone who enjoys Korean dramas will find What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim? to be an enjoyable read, regardless of whether they have seen the TV program. The emotional drama of Miso’s background doesn’t seem like an attempt to stand out; instead, it fits perfectly within the limits of the modern workplace romance. It’s entertaining, even if the series isn’t really groundbreaking.

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