How can you put L and Seo Ji-hoon in a drama together and NOT expect me to watch it?
Romance drama ‘Meow, the Secret Boy’ also known as ‘Welcome’ finally premiered on Wednesday, March 25. The drama stars Kim Myung-soo/L (Angel’s Last Mission: Love, Miss Hammurabi) as Hong-jo. He first meets Kim Sol-ah (Shin Ye-eun) in the form of a cat, but finds that he can somehow transform into a human being when with her. L who’s both a cat and a human being? How cuuuute (but also, kind of freaky).
Note: L’s character was introduced as ‘Sergei’ in this first episode so I have to him as ‘Sergei’ throughout the recap. He will start being referred to as ‘Hong-jo’ instead of ‘Sergei’ depending on when his name change happens (if it does) in upcoming episodes.
Meow, the Secret Boy: Episode 1 Recap
A dog, I have always said is prose; a cat is a poem. – Jean Burden
The episode begins with Kim Sol-Ah (Shin Ye-eun) pleading for Lee Jae-sun (Seo Ji-hoon) to hand her the cat that he’s carrying in his arm. Though he’s hesitant on handing over the cat to her because of her dislike towards cats, he does anyways. That night, Sol-Ah returns to her apartment with her new pet and undresses to shower afterwards. The cute cat hides under Sol-Ah’s bed, but as Sol-ah is busy taking a shower, a human’s arm is seen sticking out from under the bed to steal Sol-Ah’s bra. AHHHHH!
The drama takes us back to 15 hours before Sol-Ah came home with a cat. She’s awakened by sudden pounding at her apartment door: it’s her friend and co-worker Ko Doo-sik (Kang Hoon). After handing her some breakfast, he has a grand announcement to make to her: his friend Jae-sun is single again. Sol-Ah now has a chance to be with Jae-sun. Sol-Ah is irritated by the sudden visit and news and heads back inside her apartment to get ready for work that morning. Why should she care about Jae-sun? She surely doesn’t know who he is. It’s clear she seems upset with this Jae-sun person.
Sol-Ah hurries for work. On her way out, she encounters her Dad, played by Ahn Nae-sang, sitting by the window in the living room like he usually does. She reminds him of the swimming class he has that day and encourages him to go out and be more involved. Dad has no interest in doing anything except, maybe, marriage. Sol-Ah should find herself a new place to live soon.
Sol-Ah delivers some coffee for her and her co-workers on her way to the office that morning. Everyone gathers around to chat with their coffee except for Ji-eun (Yoon Ye-joo), who remains quietly at her desk. She’s shy, reserved, and private and even returns the coffee that Sol-Ah got for her. Through some sticky notes that she uses as her form of communication, Ji-eun wishes to keep things strictly professional in the office.
Doo-sik and Sol-Ah leave the office together that day. While walking to Sol-Ah’s apartment, the two chat about Dad’s plan for marriage as well as about Jae-sun. Doo-sik seems quite curious about Sol-Ah’s relationship with Jae-sun. The two obviously know each other as the two have spent time together before. But it seems like somewhere along the way, their relationship went downhill and something bad happened. Sol-Ah and Doo-sik continue to talk about Jae-sun until they’re eventually joined by the man himself. Jae-sun has opened up a new cafe titled ‘Sonamu’ which sounds similar to Sol-Ah’s name and the three of them have arrived at his new cafe.
Meanwhile, Jae-sun’s cat transforms into a human being (L/Kim Myung-soo). He describes a memory he has reoccurring dreams of where he was a little boy approached by a beautiful young lady. The beautiful young lady looks a lot like Sol-Ah who – in reality – is panicking over the title of Jae-sun’s cafe. She also can’t stop thinking about the time Jae-sun kissed her at the park not too long ago. So when and where did their relationship go wrong? Sol-Ah is eventually dragged by Doo-sik into the cafe, but Jae-sun is too busy taking care of his customers to react. Doo-sik assumes that Jae-sun and Sol-Ah must still have unresolved feelings for each other so he attempts to make amends between the two. After finding Jae-sun holding a wallet with initials on it, Doo-sik assumes the leather wallet is for one of his ex-girlfriends. However, the wallet was created for Jae-sun’s Dad who Jae-sun is hoping will one day visit his cafe. It’s been years since Jae-sun has switched his passion from law to leather crafting, but his dad has yet to forgive him.
Speaking of girlfriends, Jae-sun’s girlfriend, Lee Rubi, enters his cafe to break up with him. She returns the cat – cat Sergei – that he had given to her as a gift as her method of breaking up. Doo-sik is unable to care for the cat without his parent’s approval so Sol-Ah is left with the pressure of taking care of cat Sergei. That’s when the episode loops us back to what we saw earlier at the beginning of the episode: Sol-Ah is Sergei’s new owner since Jae-sun is unfortunately allergic to cats.
Cat Sergei transforms into a beautiful human being while Sol-Ah is busy taking a shower. However, it isn’t too long until human Sergei (L/Kim Myung-soo) has to return as a cat to avoid getting caught by Sol-Ah. He wants to sleep with her on the bed, but Sol-Ah isn’t too much of a fan. She plans on adopting him once she finds a new owner.
It’s Dad’s turn to be introduced to cat Sergei! Of course, it’s not the best introduction as Dad doesn’t find out about the cat until early morning the next day when he’s attacked by it. Sol-Ah did try to show him to Dad the night before, but Dad just didn’t care to pay them any attention. However, Dad does bring to Sol-Ah’s attention his plans of marriage. Instead of living with his fiancee at their current apartment, he’s going to sell the apartment so that he can move in with his fiancee to the countryside. Sol-Ah is upset at the news and refuses to leave the apartment. She has no where to go. Poor Sergei; he got kicked out only to be with a new owner who is also getting kicked out. Lol.
Doo-sik and Sol-Ah chat about Dad’s new plans for marriage at work until they are interrupted by Ji-eun.. or at least her sticky notes. Doo-sik lashes out at Ji-eun in the office for always communicating to him via notes. Why can’t she just talk to him verbally? What is it about his graphic design that he had created that she disliked? However, as Doo-sik will find out, Ji-eun was only doing what CEO Park suggested for her to do. Oops, how awkward. LOL. Meanwhile, back at Sol-Ah’s apartment, human Sergei slowly adjusts to his human form and discovers how to do human things, like open a can of tuna. Haha.
Over some lunch with her co-workers, Sol-Ah brings up the topic of cats. She expresses no interest in owning a cat; they’re suspicious, selfish, they treat humans as their servants, and unlike dogs, don’t care to save a human being’s life. However, it’s at this same exact moment that human Sergei hears a loud thump in the apartment only to find Dad passed out in his bedroom. Sergei carries him outside and eventually gets Dad rescued thanks to the security guard who noticed Sergei carrying Dad on his back. Before the security guard can distinguish to the medical team who rescued Dad, Sergei is back in cat form. Sol-Ah, I think you might want to re-think what you said about cats not saving lives.
Sol-Ah rushes to the hospital after learning about her dad’s situation. The visit to the hospital isn’t that great. Other than meeting Dad’s fiancee, Bang-shil, in person who seems well versed with Dad’s health, Sol-Ah also discovers that her dad has a heart condition and will need to undergo a procedure the next day. That night, Sol-Ah leaves the hospital alone while Dad is accompanied by his fiancee.
Sol-Ah is followed quietly by human Sergei who was out and about roaming on the streets. They enter the same park that Sol-Ah frequented with Jae-sun so when Sol-Ah sits down on the bench, she assumes she’s joined by Jae-sun when in reality, it’s human Sergei. She turns her back to him, afraid to show him her swollen crying face. Sol-Ah can’t help but feel disappointed in her dad for choosing Bang-shil over her. Both Dad and Jae-sun are like cats; they disappear whenever they want to and then also return at a time that is most convenient for them. Isn’t that what Jae-sun’s doing to Sol-Ah? That explains why Sol-ah dislikes both cats and Jae-sun. In her eyes, they’re the same thing. Sol-Ah eventually finishes rambling and urges for who she assumes is Jae-sun to leave, but she becomes confused when she receives a phone call from Jae-sun. If Jae-sun isn’t the person sitting next to her, then who is?
Human Sergei transforms back into a cat by the time Sol-Ah answers Jae-sun’s phone call (phew, that was a close one!). Jae-sun pleads for Sol-Ah to not abandon cat Sergei; he’s trying to find a new owner, but Soo-Ah must keep an eye on the cat at all times for now. Sol-Ah doesn’t quite understand what Jae-sun is talking about, but she has no plans of leaving the cat alone. After the phone call, Soo-Ah spends some more time with cat Sergei. Her actions with cat Sergei resembles the same way she treated human Sergei in his dream. In the same reoccurring memory that he keeps dreaming about, human Sergei is a little lost boy approached and taken care of by Soo-Ah. However, she loses him after leaving him alone for a few seconds and is unable to find him. Little did she know, little boy Sergei transformed into a cat which could explain for why she couldn’t find him.
In the present, Sol-Ah heads to bed to get some rest. Her exhaustion catches up to her that night and she falls asleep with cat Sergei on the bed with her. With a tired Sol-Ah asleep on the bed, cat Sergei eventually transforms into human Sergei and he stares at her while still laying next to her on the bed. After spending some time with Sol-Ah, Sergei seems to have a better understanding of how things work now: Sol-Ah is what enables him to transform from a cat to a human being and vice versa.
I can watch L play a human version of a cat forever and I will never get tired of it. He’s so beautiful I don’t mind just watching him do things and not necessarily say anything. Of course, I wonder if he will be able to eventually speak in the human form or if he will just continue to have internal monologues in his head the entire series, but regardless, L is doing great as the curious and needy cat and I’m loving it.
This first episode gave away a lot of subtle hints about various aspects that I didn’t think too much about on my first watch. After watching the first episode a second time, I found Sol-Ah’s relationship with Dad the most interesting. It’s obvious that Dad still seems affected by perhaps what could be Mom’s absence, whether that’d be due to her purely leaving or having passed away. Mom wasn’t present in this episode and we saw mainly just Sol-Ah with her dad. We don’t know just quite yet where Mom is in all of this, but I’m assuming she plays some kind of role in Dad’s current condition. It’s also interesting how careless and uninvolved Dad seems to be about Sol-Ah. He doesn’t pay any attention to her and is willing to leave her behind just to be with his fiancee. Can Bang-shil and Sol-Ah not be mixed together? Can the two not overlap? Why did Dad choose one person over the other? Does he not love his own daughter? There’s lots of questions about the relationship between Dad and Sol-Ah to be answered and I’m curious as to why their relationship seems to be damaged.
Of course, I’m also curious about our cat Serpei who can magically transform from a cat to a human form within seconds. I’m also fascinated at how nobody seemed alarmed that Sergei transformed from a cat to a human in front of many people; did no one notice Sergei’s transformation? How was it that he was able to just change form and nobody on the street noticed or said anything? LOL. Okay, no but seriously, how is it that Sol-Ah is the one who enables him to transform? It’s a good thing because it’s ultimately what’s going to link our two leads to each other and cause them to spend more time together than what Sol-Ah would like. However, there’s still a whole science behind this transformation that I expect and hope the drama will go into. It seems like the whole transformation stemmed back to when Sergei was a little boy so his history with Sol-Ah dates back to many years ago. And of course, I’m most excited for Sol-Ah’s reaction when she discovers that her cat is not just a cat, he’s also a beautiful and charming human being.
Jae-sun is another really interesting character to me; I’m more so interested in his backstory than say his relationship history with Sol-Ah. I know that’s obviously gonna be a thing, but I’m particularly intrigued by how his relationship with his father was affected by his wish to pursue what he wants to do in life compared to what his dad might have wanted him to do. He craves that love and attention from his father that he might have received years ago but isn’t getting at the moment. What specifically happened between Jae-sun and his dad and can their father-son relationship ever be repaired? But other than this, I don’t think I will find myself suffering from second lead syndrome. I love Seo Ji-hoon and I loved him in the projects I’ve seen him in even if I didn’t necessarily enjoy the projects themselves (Mama Fairy and the Woodcutter, I’m looking at you). However, I’m more intrigued by his personal life and by Sol-Ah’s relationship with Sergei than his history with Sol-Ah itself. It seems like they had something going on, but he suddenly cut contact with her and then returned into her life which she’s reasonably not so happy about. Sol-Ah hasn’t quite forgiven him, but she also hasn’t quite forgotten about him either. I mean, hell, she was willing to take in his cat which she obviously aren’t big fans of. If that doesn’t yell commitment, then I don’t know what does.
While recapping this drama, I really found myself enjoying the cinematography and just how beautiful everything was shot. Each shot is so effortless and meticulous, but yet, they also seem so common and simple. The drama was so pretty to watch. Combine this with some great music that played throughout the episode and you have your ingredients for success right there.
‘Meow, the Secret Boy’ was a drama that I had no intentions of starting. But as we all know, with every week comes a new drama and I’m kind of glad that I gave this first episode a try. After sitting on the edge of my seat with ‘Hyena’ to shedding a few tears with ‘Hi, Bye Mama’ to pulling my hair out with ‘Itaewon Class’, I’m glad I have a fluffy and cute romance drama I can watch in between.