The Fandom Post

Anime, Movies, Comics, Entertainment & More

What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim? Vol. #01 Manhwa Review

4 min read

When YoungJun Lee’s star secretary suddenly quits to seek love, he sets out to convince her to stay with him–by proving he is the ultimate catch.

Creative Staff
Original Story/Art: GyeongYun Jeong/MyeongMi Kim
Translation: Kakao Entertainment

What They Say
Star secretary Miso Kim has been by vice-chairman Youngjun Lee’s side through thick and thin for nine years…until she suddenly quits! Her unexpected declaration throws Youngjun for a loop. After all, what more could she want in life to abandon an excellent job working for a boss like him? So when Miso reveals she’s leaving to finally live her own life and find love, he sets out to prove that he’s the ultimate catch―whatever it takes to convince her to stay!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim? began as a novel and spun off a Webtoon comic and a 2018 K-drama. I binged the TV series a couple years ago, and now that Yen Press has released the translated comic in print format, I get to see artist MyeongMi Kim’s take on the story as well.

This workplace rom-com is a variant of the enemies-to-lovers trope. Specifically, the couple goes from slave driver boss and harried subordinate to lovers. 33-year-old Vice Chairman YoungJun is handsome, wealthy, brilliant, and completely full of himself. He’s used to having things exactly the way he wants, when he wants it. That includes his long-suffering secretary, Miso Kim, being at his beck and call 24/7, 365 days a year.

For nine years, Miso’s given the job her all, mainly because of her family’s crushing debts. But their finances have finally stabilized, and for the 29-year-old secretary, it’s now or never if she’s going to find a husband and start a family. So she gives her notice (so she can actually go out and date). At first, YoungJun refuses to accept it. When he realizes there’s nothing he can actually do to compel her to stay, he puts himself out as a boyfriend candidate.

As far as characters go, YoungJun and Miso fall in fairly familiar categories. YoungJun is the brilliant, arrogant, rich executive who is running the family financial empire. Miso is the hard-working, attractive-though-not-gorgeous heroine who is devoted to her lower-class family that has that one person who always needs to be bailed out. The thing that’s unusual about this starring pair is that they’ve already worked together nearly a decade at the time the story opens.

Thus, the narrative is not about them getting to know one another. Rather, it’s what happens when Miso’s able to speak and act freely without having to worry about workplace power dynamics. The artist plays it up by showing YoungJun’s high-handed behavior both in and out of the workplace and the self-centered temper tantrum he throws at receiving Miso’s notice. Anyone who has ever had a boss with zero self-awareness will enjoy Miso tearing into him as she lists all the reasons she’s leaving and why she would never date him.

YoungJun’s “romantic” pursuit of Miso begins with the comic tone of an overgrown brat trying to get what he wants, but you quickly get the sense there’s more at play. After all, he has an unusual quirk in that he doesn’t let any other woman touch him, not even his supermodel escorts. (And no, he’s not gay). Plus, a flashback to Miso’s first days at the company hints that the insensitive YoungJun can be considerate of Miso (in his own brusque way). But until those hidden elements come to light, you can laugh at YoungJun’s appalling attempts to win Miso’s affections.

I can’t make comparisons to the novel, but Volume 1 of the Yen Press translation does follow the TV series fairly closely. The main difference is that the comic has more visuals to convey comedic scenes. For instance, YoungJun’s divorced friend/relationship advisor/workplace subordinate Yusik has laughable fashion sense, and the drawings of post-rejection YoungJun are hilarious.

Illustrations in general are funny and heart-pounding as the plot demands it. They are rendered in full color on glossy paper, which makes for a nice-looking but hefty book.

In Summary:
After nine years of tireless service to her demanding boss, Miso’s quitting the corporate life to find a husband and settle down. Problem is her boss won’t let her go! If you’re looking for a workplace rom-com that throws the boss-employee dynamic for a loop, give What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim? a try.

Content Grade: B+
Art Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: A
Text/Translation Grade: B+

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: April 18th, 2023
MSRP: $20.00