Artist: MyeongMi Kim
Original Story: GyeongYun Jeong
Publisher: Yen Press (@YenPress)
WHAT IS IT?
A seasoned secretary quits her job to pursue a life filled with romance and relaxation, but her hapless boss refuses to let her leave in this modern romcom webtoon* turned manhwa*.
Think The Proposal meets Two Weeks Notice.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Superstar secretary Miso Kim has dedicated the last nine years of her life to a narcissistic and slightly oblivious vice-president named Youngjun Lee. They’ve been together through thick and thin, so when she suddenly turns in her resignation, his entire world is turned upside down! All she wants is to settle down, find some romance, and take a breather after a near-decade of being overworked before she hits her 30s. So, she does her best to help set her boss up for success and looks forward to the future...
Or, she would, if her stubborn employer would let her! Unable to wrap his mind around the sudden disruption in his life, Youngjun makes it his mission to stop his secretary from abandoning him - whatever it takes!
This charming series is the epitome of a slice-of-life romcom. It features on point comedy that anyone who has worked for an annoying boss can chuckle at, characters that are slightly over the top but still realistic, and a well paced story that allows its cast the opportunity to develop naturally. GyeongYun Jeong has written an incredible narrative that can be enjoyed by a large variety of readers worldwide.
MyeongMi Kim’s illustrations are perfect for this story. The expressive characters and realistic lean of their designs help ground the narrative to the real world setting, which is also given a lot of attention. Everything from the backgrounds to the costume design and variety of looks each of the main characters are given shows a lot of care placed in the illustrations and it shines through in every panel.
Yen Press’ editorial team, alongside Kakao Entertainment's translation, really cleaned up the text and fonts throughout compared to the webtoon edition. This print version features cleaner sound effects, well-sized and placed text for the word bubbles, and sharper clarity in the conversations. The word choices used throughout makes for a smoother read that doesn't deviate too far from the webtoon version.
This 200+ page volume contains episodes 1-14, making this a decent sized first step into this long-running story. The full-color collection also features a bonus gallery and an eye-catching translation notes page. Overall, it's a well designed manhwa that you'll definitely want to display front and center on your shelves.
Miso Kim is an every-person heroine. Her worn down soul, desperate for a new start and some romance, is highly relatable. Her struggles with balancing work and her personal life, as well as her desire for something more, grounds her in a modern narrative that many can appreciate. She’s part Aggrestuko, part Pam Beesly, all heart, and this starting point of her journey of self discovery is charming. You definitely want to root for her happiness.
Youngjun Lee could easily be turned into a hated and toxic character with his narcissism and apparent womanizing, but the pacing choices for his development replaces those expectations with something almost endearing. He comes across more as a hapless, oblivious rich kid with little real world experience who needs someone to keep him in line, and is quickly set up to have a powerful arc of self reflection and change that I, personally, can’t wait to see unfold.
Many webtoon titles that get a print edition end up with a heavy, glossy paper. Yen Press opted to go with a matte finish and it is perfect for the aesthetic and vibe of this series. It accents the color palettes and MyeongMi Kim’s art style, and softens the illustrations overall compared to the digital version. I, personally, loved this choice and give major props to the YP team for going this direction.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
In a rare occurrence for Yen Press, one of the font choices is really off-putting and hard to read. It's shown whenever someone is nervously talking, kind of mumbling, so it's peppered throughout the story. It’s a thin script, mixes capitals and lower case letters, and looks out of place against the bolder, more legible choices throughout.
Some readers will definitely be turned off by Youngjun’s personality. He definitely comes across as a spoiled brat with too much pride and zero awareness of the world around him, and I can see a lot of people finding it cringe and un-amusing. I would definitely suggest sticking it out to the end of the volume because you can see the glimmer of change begin to appear.
There’s a short sneak peak at the upcoming volume at the end that potentially spoils something major. While not blatant in its reveal, it is really easy to put the pieces together and I feel like it would have been better to pick a different preview panel.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
If you’re looking for a new comfort series to really get hooked on, look no further than What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim?. Based off of the novel of the same name, What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim? has been turned into a K-drama - currently streaming on Hulu! - as well as a 98 episode long webtoon which has been collected into a beautiful print edition from Yen Press, dropping at your local booksellers on April 18th. This stunningly designed collection of the first 14 episodes introduces new readers to a fun and addicting story, and allows long-time readers a chance to re-discover an old favorite in a lovingly crafted new format.
This charming, down to earth series about a hapless businessman and his superstar secretary will become an instant favorite for fans of romcoms, slice-of-life stories, and quirky office dramas. This romcom for the modern age of overworked office drones and settling down when you’re older will make you laugh and warm your heart all at once. If you enjoy fun, light reads with will they/won’t they relationships and well-written characters, definitely pick up What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim? once it hits shelves on April 18th! I had a blast reading it and can’t wait for volume 2 coming later this summer.
HOW DO I READ IT?
The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.
All GyeongYun Jeong characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright GyeongYun Jeong or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
*webtoon is the term used for South Korean scrolling digital comics, not to be confused with the platform, WEBTOON
*manhwa is the term used for South Korean print comics, similar to manga in Japan and manhua in China