K-Drama Premiere: “Secret Boutique” Delves Into The World Of Power and Revenge Ruled By Strong Female Characters
Greed is the bane of human existence and once it takes over, lives will either be ruined or forever altered.
Secret Boutique just conveyed that message in its pilot week. The drama has a mix of intrigue, revenge and complicated story line enough to stir curiosity. Add in the characters, mostly strong-willed and calculating women, then you have a drama that is quite captivating.
Kim Sun Ah is the epitome of a woman on a mission. She portrayed her character, Jenny Jang, so well. Jang Mi Hee, Park Hee Von and Go Min Si completed the cast of female characters intricately tangled in the web of deceit, power, vengeance and search for the truth. Aiding Jenny Jang are two men who will do everything to ensure she achieves the goals she set.
Pilot Week Rating:
Secret Boutique Pilot Week Recap
The mysterious and influential Jenny Jang
A woman is on her way out of prison while another woman, in a party, mingles with a crowd. A guy in suit approaches the woman and tells her Jenny Jang (Kim Sun Ah) has been released. She may attend as planned. The woman, Wi Ye Nam (Park Hee Von), expresses shock and annoyance upon hearing the information.
Meanwhile, Jenny meets with Yoon Sun Woo (Kim Jae Young) who opens the car door for her. He advises her that the VIP gathering is only three hours away from their current location, Jenny says she wants to take a bath first.
As she soaks in the bathtub, Sun Woo tells her about an army general and his wife, who at the same time is having an argument which leads to violence. The wife, a colonel, stabs her husband in retaliation after he hits her. The man, bleeding and angry, instructs her to call Jenny Jang instead of an ambulance.
Jenny Jang says to proceed with the divorce for the couple even though the husband is not willing to do so. As someone tends to the wounded general, Sun Woo hands him a thick envelope containing the divorce papers.
Jenny Jang attends the party where politicians and influential people are present. She introduces Kim Yeo Ok (Jang Mi Hee), the head of Deo conglomerate, to the Mayor and several elites, all of whom want take part in the urban development project.
From a distance, Ye Nam watches with a disgruntled expression, while the other attendees wonder about the identity of Jenny Jang.
After the meeting, Jenny and Kim Yeo Ok are having tea and the latter expresses her gratitude towards the former, most especially on the works she is doing in relation to the urban development project. She then apologizes for her daughter’s behavior towards Jenny.
Ye Nam enters the room and the two younger women engage in a verbal spat. Jenny excuses herself and goes out of the room. She hears the mother and daughter talking behind her back.
In the bar, Ye Nam approaches Jenny and the once again, their conversation is laced with subtle insults and not-so-friendly banter. Jenny gets the upper hand as her final words of the night allude to a wedding between her and Ye Nam’s brother.
The Yacht incident
The next morning, Kim Yeo Ok announces that Jenny, together with her son Wi Jung Hyeok (Kim Tae Hoon), will be in charge of the Yungcheon development project much to Ye Nam’s dismay. She gets angrier after learning that Jenny and her Jung Hyeok are going to be married. She confronts her brother, but he only tells her that Jenny is his choice.
To hinder Jenny’s success, Ye Nam tries to convince the Mayor with a lot of money to partner with Deo Cosmetics, the company she leads. The Mayor initially refuses but when Ye Nam tells him she has other things in store for him besides money, he changes his mind.
On his birthday, Ye Nam arranges for him to celebrate it on a yacht while overlooking the vast ocean and the location of planned development. Ye Nam not only provides for food and booze, she also invites young females to “entertain” the Mayor.
The shady politician, initially rebuffs what the girl offered him but eventually changes his mind. However, after injecting her with a drug, she overdosed and causes panic to the sleazy Mayor. He tries to call Jenny Jang but changes his mind the last minute and ends up calling Ye Nam instead to take care of it. That night a man arrives and disposes of the girl’s body.
The Secret of J Boutique
Jenny Jang meets with the prosecutor. While they talk, the other officers gossip about her. One is wondering how such a woman, who is just a boutique owner, albeit a posh one, could hold so much influence.
The other officer says that J Boutique is no ordinary shop. According to the officer, while it is true that they cater to fashion as they sell clothes and accessories, the shop also meddles in the private affairs of rich people.
The owner fixes and solves the legal, marital and personal problems of society’s elite. Known in the business and social circles for her, and her company’s work, as well as her connection to the Deo conglomerate, Jenny Jang has extended her influence.
As Jenny Jang wonders about the mysterious call from the Mayor of Yungcheon, the army general broke his promise not to hurt his wife. At Jenny’s instruction Sun Woo, together with a few men, teach the general some lesson.
Lee Hyun Ji searches for her mother
Lee Hyun Ji (Go Min Si) wins in an amateur Go tournament. She celebrates with her friends but soon goes home and sees a group of women inside. She lashes out on them after discovering someone drank her yogurt drinks.
Hyun Ji pushes the women out of the house. Her mother, who knows the women and the one who gave them permission to come to their house, arrives. She gently admonishes the ladies but also tells them they can still come over.
Inside the house, she asks about one of the teenage girls her daughter is acquainted with, as she has not seen her with the group. Mi Jin says that she is out doing a part time job. It was at a birthday party in a yacht but could not exactly tell the location. The next day, Jang Young Nam locates the residence of Hye Ra, the teenage girl.
Her roommates confirm that she went to Yungcheon. She plans a trip with Hyun Ji, Mi Jin and her son to Yungcheon to investigate the girl’s whereabouts. As she asks around, Hyun Ji, Mi Jin and her son roams around and takes pictures.
Young Nam sees a yacht at the docks and man approaches her asking if she is the one inquiring about a vessel that left the boat yard on Tuesday, the same day Hye Ra is supposed to have gone sailing.
She asks permission if she could get on board to check the yacht, to which the man agrees. She searches in the room and finds the vial of Fentanyl which the Mayor used in injecting Hye Ra.
Young Nam carefully wraps the evidence and is about to go out when she feels that the ship is sailing. She asks the man why the ship is moving. He tells her that he is just testing the yacht as he made some repairs. He says not to worry as it will not take long. Sensing something is off, Young Nam readies herself but unable to ward off the impending attack.
Lee Hyun Ji, who is taking a picture of the mother and son, sees the incident. Due to the distance, she could not see the face of the man. She feels uneasy and senses something must have happened to her mom. They quickly go to the police.
However, since her mother’s phone is ringing, the officer tells her to wait as her mother may return later. At the same police station, she sees a man wearing the same jacket and has the same profile of the culprit. She inquires about the man’s identity and learns that he is the Intelligence Bureau Chief.
Mayor Do’s Crime is captured on Video
Hyun Ji goes to the prosecutor’s office to relate her mother’s case. At the same time, Jenny and Sun Woo finds out that something happened on the night of the Mayor’s birthday and that made him switch allegiance.
When word reaches Ye Nam that the daughter of the missing police woman brought her mother’s case to the prosecution, she reluctantly seeks someone’s help.
The prosecutor who approached Hyun Ji happens to be Ye Nam’s estranged husband. Although she wants to have a divorce, her husband refuses to do so. With the favor she asked, he now has another reason to tie her down to the marriage.
Hyun Ji, Mi Jin and her son manages to escape the men who try to harm them. Sun Woo brings her in a safe house and clearly tells her they are not on her side. He saves her because they are planning to use her against Ye Nam. Meanwhile, Mayor Do receives a video of what happened on the yacht and he panics.
He calls Ye Nam but feeling cornered, he meets with Jenny to ask for her help. Jenny calls him out for being greedy and two-faced. She also refuses to help him but asks Sun Woo to check the source of the video after the Mayor leaves.
They find out that a local gangster is claiming to have the original copy of the video. Jenny, Sun Woo and Hyun Ji, along with some men, go to their place. The gang leader refuses to let them all inside and only wants to speak with Jenny. She obliges but brings Hyun Ji inside with her.
The leader says he will give her the video if she agrees to let him take part in the Yungcheon development project. Jenny is contemplating when Hyun Ji says not to do it because it is all a bluff. She then asks them to play the video and they all discover that the group also does not have the video copy.
Sun Woo and Hyun Ji goes to the hospital where the man who has the copy works. At the same time, Ye Nam’s men headed by the Investigation Chief Bureau also arrive. The two manage to convince the doctor to come with them. Once again thwarting Ye Nam’s attempt to get to the guy first.
Jenny and Jung Hyeok’s wedding
While Sun Woo and Hyun Ji are escaping with the doctor, Jenny is preparing for her wedding with Yeo Ok’s son. As she makes her way to the garden, she remembers her past. She recalls how she knew Yeo Ok from a long time ago.
Her memories involve the accident she and her parents were in. She remembers how her mother died because the hospital tended to Yeo Ok first after mistaking her for the Deo heir’s wife.
Her mother’s ring, which was given by her father has the emblem of the family and after the man in suit saw the ring on Yeo Ok’s finger they all assume that she was the wife. Little did they know, she stole the ring from Jenny’s mom.
As the wedding becomes final, Jenny and Yeo Ok embrace each other. Jenny’s expression is showing she is ready to take back what is rightfully hers.
Secret Boutique Pilot Week afterthoughts
Secret Boutique is ruled by women who will do anything to get what they want. It gets right on with the conflict. The drama has a serious tone to it with the revenge plot, personal greed and other serious issues. Though most of the problems centered on the elites trying to cover their wrong doings, the emotional conflicts speak to all viewers, regardless of economic status.
I love how they revealed Jenny’s personal vendetta against Yeo Ok as viewers saw did not come out of nowhere or just by mere jealousy. He has a reason for wanting to exact revenge and it was a strong one. She witnessed her mother’s death because Yeo Ok had the audacity to take and wear her mother’s ring.
It was not clear if Yeo Ok and her parents have known each other. Or whether they were just strangers who happened to ride the same bus on the day of the accident. One thing was clear though, as a result of her action, Yeo Ok’s life as well as her children’s were altered. But not only that, Jenny had to grow up in an orphanage and later on work at a bathhouse.
I love Kim Sun Ah’s character in this series as she truly embodies the strong and independent woman type. You can tell from the way she speaks, acts and dresses that she is a woman who knows what she’s doing.
It is clear she has the resources, not just words, to back it up. Her lifestyle is lavish, but she has to be living it as she caters to VIP clients in Secret Boutique. The power she holds over society’s rich and famous spoke volumes as they trust her with their darkest secrets.
She seems to be getting the upper hand in the game she is playing against Yeo Ok and Ye Nam. The mother and daughter think they have control over Jenny.
Yeo Ok in particular, appears to tolerate her “attitude” as she is useful to the business. Jenny knowing Yeo Ok’s secret and true identity is probably her greatest hidden card and it has proven quite useful as she inserted herself in the family.
I am just worried that all this desire to avenge her family and getting the fortune that is her birthright is making Jenny lose sight of the more important things.
People are bound to get hurt. It does not matter whether it is physical, psychological or emotional because it is going to be inevitable. Overall, the pilot week of Secret Boutique managed to stir curiosity with the main character’s back story and Kim Sun Ah’s compelling portrayal.
I am curious how far Jenny can take this battle she is waging against Yeo Ok. I am also eager to see who is going to stay loyal, be with her and help her see through the end of her fight.
Catch the exciting episodes of Secret Boutique on SBS every Wednesday and Thursday at 10PM KST.
Image Source: SBS