What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim? Volume 1 feels like a K-drama with peaks and valleys. Following Secretary Miso Kim’s resignation, her boss, the young, narcissistic, perfectionist vice-chairman Youngjun Lee, plots to change her mind—willing to do whatever it takes. The story drags a bit at the beginning as the humor often doesn’t land, What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim? Volume 1 finds its stride, as Kim and Lee but heads. Not only does it wind up a hilarious read, but the end makes you more than ready for the second volume.
With art by MyeongMi Kim and an original story by Gyeong Yun Jeong, the first volume has fourteen chapters and an illustration gallery. Translated by Kakao Entertainment and lettered by Chana Conley, this full-color illustration manhwa, serialized in English by Yen Press, begins with Youngjun stewing while hanging out in the VIP lounge at a hotel. Then it’s a flashback to a week prior as Youngjun and Miso go through their work days. But it’s about to change. The secret of what is happening with Miso Kim feels solved by the end; however, the series hints at another underlying issue propelling Kim’s choices.
What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim? Volume 1 Drags At First
Understandably, opening with Youngjun makes sense for the series. After all, he is the one seemingly posing the question regarding Miso. However, it feels flat at the outset. It’s also a challenge because Youngjun quickly establishes himself as an abhorrent character. He’s not only narcissistic but a violent tyrant, as evidenced by the aftermath of his meeting with an employee who made a mistake, which Youngjun labels as “criminal.”
Nowadays, tyrannical bosses look less comical and more angering to read about. Even with his so-called friend, CEO Yusik Park, at work, he happily pulls rank. He’s as temperamental as a spoiled child in a position of authority, which someone of his character should never have. So, it’s frustrating watching and wondering why people, including his friend, don’t walk out in droves. After Miso Kim gives Youngjun notice, the story becomes far more interesting.
Miso and Youngjun Combined Make the Story Engaging
Once that occurs, Miso’s character, keeping a restrained, smiling expression permanently on her face, slips and fractures. With that, readers see that she has no illusions about Youngjun. She does not like him because of his toxic attitude, and as we see her perspective, Miso’s annoyance creeps in. When it’s clear she wants to settle down, Youngjun offers, condescendingly, to date her. Hilariously, her rejection leaves him gobsmacked; thereby keeping a page-turning momentum in What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim? Volume 1.
The full-color illustrations strengthen the comedy, capturing Youngjun’s slack jawed reaction. But hilariously, because they work together closely—Miso is literally at Youngjun’s beck and call—everyone assumes they are a couple. It’s easy to envision this series as a K-drama because it has all the standard makings of one. The character designs remind me of older animes like Hana Yori Dango, which took an adjustment for me at least.
Potential for More Drama and Secrets
Since Youngjun’s manipulative and willing to do whatever he can to get his way and keep Miso by his side, there will be plenty of conflicts. On top of that, there’s still the mystery of Miso searching for someone from her past. If it follows other K-dramas that reveal the pair knew each other as children, I hope they incorporate something with it that is less common. Still, as stories go, thanks to Miso shocking Youngjun with her responses, the entertainment in What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim? Volume 1 captures your attention.