Set in the Joseon period, “The Secret Romantic Guesthouse” tells the story of four youngsters, Dan Oh, Yu Ha, Si Yeol, and Kang San, who get entangled in each other’s lives after they meet at Dan Oh’s guesthouse. All of them come from different places and carry different secrets. A brave yet risky decision made by Dan Oh takes them on an adventurous ride to find the deposed heir of the kingdom, Lee Seol.
Why Are The Royal Guards Searching For Lee Seol?
The son of the crown prince of Joseon was deposed after the crown prince and princess both died. However, the son, Lee Seol, has disappeared, and the royal guards are searching for him all over the town of Hanyang. Lee Seol is hiding in a doghouse, and a little girl around his age brings him food. He cannot reveal his identity, but the girl still feeds him. When the royal guards enter her house, she protects him from getting caught. Seol doesn’t understand why she would commit the felony of hiding a criminal, but she reveals the reason to him. She is holding her father’s funeral, but no one has visited the home, and he is the first and only one to eat at her father’s funeral. Before leaving the house, Lee Seol promises the girl that he will introduce himself to her if they ever meet again. Thirteen years later, the current king of Joseon, Lee Chang, is still searching for Lee Seol, and the little girl, Dan Oh, is running a guesthouse out of her home. However, the guesthouse isn’t doing well because of the rumors about it being haunted.
It is time for the civil service exams, and young men around the country are flocking to Hanyang. All the guesthouses are filled except Dan Oh’s ‘Garden of Flowers Guesthouse.’ While promoting her business on the street, a middle-aged man tries to force himself on her, but a young man rescues her. Kim Si Yeol is a young man whose background is unknown, but he looks like he belongs to a noble family. However, right after he rescues Dan Oh, he gets arrested for dining and dashing. On the other hand, Kang San, another young man, enters Hanyang after fighting against a bunch of bandits. He is fearless but hides away every time he sees royal guards. He carries swords with him and is also carrying secrets. Dan Oh runs into him at a diner, but he declines her invitation to stay at her guest house. Nevertheless, Kang San himself gives her a way to get him to stay at her guesthouse. Kang San hides after seeing the royal guards enter the diner, and that’s when Dan Oh takes his bag with her to the guest house. It is already late at night when Kang San reaches the guesthouse and has no choice but to stay there as it is past curfew time. Si Yeol also somehow ends up at the guesthouse, but he has no money to pay, so Dan Oh tells him to help her with chores.
King Lee Chang visits a fortune teller far away to ask him if he will ever have a son, but the answer is not to his liking. Moreover, the old man tells him not to search for the person he has been looking for for years. Meanwhile, at the palace, the pregnant queen is forcing herself to give birth because a monk has told her that she will get a boy if she delivers within a month. The king is scared that the deposed heir, Lee Seol, might return one day and take over his throne. When he finds out that a young man recently visited the deceased prince Lee Pyeong’s grave, he orders the guards to search around every guesthouse in Hanyang for Lee Seol.
Kang San runs into Yu Ha when he is looking for a book of prophecy in the market. Yu Ha tells him that he can get it for him, but before they can go get it, they see a woman being thrown out of a gambling house. It turns out that the woman’s husband is selling their baby to repay his debt. Yu Ha and Kang San enter the gambling house, where they meet Si Yeol and Dan Oh. Dan Oh follows Si Yeol to get her money from him. Both of them eventually end up finding out about the baby and setting out to find it. Yu Ha finds out where the baby is but gets caught before he can reach it. However, Dan Oh and Kang San rescue the baby while Si Yeol waits for them outside with the horses. Si Yeol is excited after they have just finished an adventure, not knowing that big trouble lies ahead for them. As they reach the guesthouse, some loan sharks demand that Dan Oh pay back her father’s debt, which she has absolutely no idea about. The amount is so high that she will have to sell her house, which is the only thing she owns. Moreover, the royal guards are also at the door to search for Lee Seol.
Who Is Dan Oh’s Father Indebted To?
Jang Tae Hwa is searching for Lee Seol with the royal guards, not only for the king but also because he holds a personal grudge against him. Tae Hwa’s son was killed eight years ago by an unknown man who protected Lee Seol. Dan Oh’s guesthouse is the last place they search, but to their disappointment, none of the men there seem to be Lee Seol. After the guards leave, Dan Oh asks the thugs where her father borrowed money from, and she is shocked to hear the answer. She cannot believe that her father owes money to Buyounggak, a courtesan house. She meets the head courtesan at Buyounggak right away and asks her about it. The courtesan reveals that her father doesn’t owe money to Buyounggak but to Jang Tae Hwa, who is a regular customer at Buyounggak. Tae Hwa shows the letter written by Dan Oh’s father to her, which proves the authenticity of the debt. He also reveals that the debt would have been canceled had her older sister stayed at their house as a widow after Tae Hwa’s son and her older sister’s fiance, Hyun, died. Neither Hyun nor Dan Oh’s sister is alive right now, so Tae Hwa has no relationship with Dan Oh and demands the money back. If she cannot pay him back, he tells her to give her house to Buyounggak.
Dan Oh’s family maid, Najudaek, who is like a mother to her, wants Dan Oh to get married and sees Yu Ha and Kang San as prospective grooms but not Si Yeol, because of his carefree personality. However, Dan Oh suddenly gets a wedding proposal from a man she utterly despises. He offers to pay off her debt, and she thinks about considering it. Si Yeol, being the nosy person he is, already has an idea about it, but Yu Ha and Kang San get surprised upon hearing it. When they go to the market together, Ong, the man who sent her the proposal, tries to force her to marry him and grabs her aggressively. Yu Ha and Si Yeol defend her initially, but Dan Oh lashes out at Ong and humiliates him by publicly rejecting his proposal. Later that night, Ong brings thugs with him to kidnap Dan Oh, thinking that she has no one to protect her, but Kang San stops them before they can reach her house. Ong gets so scared of Kang San’s threats that he sends a letter to Dan Oh, apologizing and asking her to put in a good word about him to ‘that man.’ Dan Oh guesses that the man must have been Kang San, as he is the only one who can scare people with his martial arts skills. Although Kang San denies doing it, she is sure that he is the one.
The queen gives birth to a girl, but her mother brings a baby boy from outside and replaces her. The king is confused because the prophecy predicted otherwise, but nonetheless, he is happy to get an heir to his throne. However, he is still worried about Lee Seol and asks the state minister for help. The state minister is concerned about something else as he finds the birth of the prince suspicious. He had heard a baby crying when the queen’s mother entered the palace, and now the queen’s head court lady had disappeared. Meanwhile, Jang Tae Hwa and the head courtesan of Buyounggak are desperately after Dan Oh’s house. Yu Ha asks his stepbrother for money despite having a bad relationship with him, but he doesn’t receive any. Yu Ha comes from a noble family, but his brothers disregard him because he was born out of wedlock. The same is the case for Si Yeol, who is the son of a concubine and has more than fifteen siblings.
‘The Secret Romantic Guesthouse’ Episode 2: Ending
The courtesans from Buyounggak barge into Dan Oh’s house and roam around without her permission. They claim that this house is going to turn into a courtesan house soon, so they need to check it beforehand. They refuse to leave, so Dan Oh just lets them be. Dan Oh is worried about her house, but she refuses to get help from anyone, including Yu Ha, who gathered some money for her. She makes a bold decision to save her house and visits Jang Tae Hwa to make him an offer. Dan Oh was desperate and could only offer Tae Hwa something more valuable than her house. When she realized that Tae Hwa was looking for the deposed heir, she recklessly offered to find him for Tae Hwa. Not even the royal guards have been successful in finding him in ten years.
“The Secret Romantic Guesthouse” started off with a perfect combination of friendship, potential romance, some tragedy, and some mystery. Dan Oh is an ever-optimistic young woman who has faced a lot of hardships in life. Yu Ha has been close to Dan Oh since he has been living at her house for quite some time, but the two other men are also turning into reliable friends for her. Yu Ha is a kind person who is infatuated with Dan Oh and would go to any lengths to protect her. The other two hold secrets behind their extreme personalities. Kang San has a softer heart compared to his rough personality, and Si Yeol is much smarter than his reckless behavior. All of them are set to bring varied tones to the story as their secrets get revealed eventually.