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Series / Secret Garden

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Secret Garden is a Korean Drama that aired in late 2010 on the SBS network. It featured Hyun Bin as a rich, bored heir to a department store chain, falling in love with a stuntwoman played by Ha Ji-won. Circumstances become strange when their souls accidentally switch bodies, and, as they cooperate with each other, they slowly fall in love.

Not to be confused with the movies adapted from the book The Secret Garden.


The series contains the following trope examples:

  • Aborted Arc: Whatever scheme Oska's mom was up to (see I Never Said It Was Poison below) is forgotten, as is the C-plot pairing Jong Soo with Joo Won's cousin.
  • Actor Allusion: When Ra Im rags on Joo Won for liking women with classic hourglass figures, he says that his favorite type of woman has changed, and he now likes women who "can't run for Miss Korea". Kim Sa-rang, who plays Seul the second female lead, was a Miss Korea contestant.
    • At the very end, Ra Im is offered a Scenario to try out for, Sector 7. The actress playing Ra Im plays a lead in Sector 7.
  • Apologises a Lot: Gil Ra Im, to the extent that Kim Joo Won gets exasperated with her.
  • The Art of Bra Removal: Inverted and discussed when Ra Im has to walk Joo Won (in her body) through how to put a bra on.
    Ra Im: I bet you've unfastened hundreds of these.
  • Bedmate Reveal: As a running gag throughout the show, people wake up in bed together, often with no apparent explanation of how each party got there. In one case Joo Won and Ra Im's director are in bed together. It's complicated.note 
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  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Both Alpha and Beta couples - Joo Won and Ra Im for certain, and Seul and Oska both feel hurt and no matter their desires can't seem (at first) to do anything but take digs at each other, real hurtful ones too.
  • Beta Couple: Seul and Oska. Unlike many Korean secondaries, who typically spend all their energy trying to thwart the Official Couple, you can't actually hate these two (even Seul).
  • Big Fancy House: The property where Joo Won's house sits has multiple outbuildings and other homes.
  • Bridal Carry: By Joo Won when Ra Im was injured on the set. Also by Director Im when Ra Im leaving the hospital.
  • Caught in the Rain: Never a good idea when it causes you to flip into someone else's body.
  • Chekhov's Gun / Foreshadowing: The house in the weird painting that Joo Won almost buys—the one where the lights go on and off inside the painting—is the house where the weird magic lady (really the disguised spirit of Ra Im's father) lives, where Joo Won and Ra Im receive the potions that bring about their body swap.
    • Joo Won's phobia - see wham episode
  • Control Freak: Joo Won, who can't stand anyone messing up his plans.
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  • Convenient Coma: Ra Im snaps right out of one.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Also Joo Won. A classic example: "'Are you trembling because you see so much male beauty in front of you?'" This line occurs about half-way through the first episode.
  • Disappeared Dad: Ra Im, in a manner of speaking. Her dad is dead, but has come back to body-swap her, in hopes of changing her future.
  • Easy Amnesia: Joo Won forgets everything after the accident when he was 21. Piled on top of Convenient Coma in the latter episodes as the show gets more outrageous.
  • Evil Matriarch: Joo Won's mother lied to Joo Won, caused Ra Im to cry on many an occasion, physically assaulted her as well, and ultimately refused entrance to either one in her home forever.
  • Foot Popping: Ra Im has a bad habit of doing this when she is in Joo Won's body.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Joo Won and Ra Im switch bodies every time it rains.
  • Freudian Excuse: It would happen to anyone who has that for a mother.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: What seems like a standard-issue Korean drama veers in a weird direction with the first body swap at the end of episode 5.
  • Hates the Job, Loves the Limelight: Oska, who, at 35 years old, is ready to retire from singing. His fans don't think so, though.
  • I Have No Son!: Joo Won's horrible, horrible mother reacts this way after her son pairs off wit Ra Im for good. She never changes her mind.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Oska's mother accidentally blurts out that Ra-im is a stuntwoman, something Joo Won's mother never mentioned, which lets Joo Won's mother know that she's up to something.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: A group of the Action School boys confront Joo Won after he asks Ra Im to marry him, complete with baseball bats and wooden sticks. Hilariously, he deflates them by threatening to tell her.
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes: Subverted as Joo Won frequently wears tacky sparkly track suits.
  • It's All About Me: Oska, Joo Won, and Seul (she even says it strait up I want to be the queen).
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Joo Won and his stark-white house.
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: Seul is stuck up as anything, but she actually grows on the audience when you find out her backstory. This is without any Character Development, you still like her since her boyfriend Oska unknowingly rejected her by betting on her.
  • Love Dodecahedron: As with almost every Korean drama.
  • Male Gaze:
    • Played for laughs when Joo Won (in Ra Im's body) scopes out a sexy lady at the sauna.
    • And again when Joo Won (still in Ra Im's body) goes to her home and her pretty roommate starts disrobing to take a shower.
  • Mistaken for Pregnant: Joo Won's subordinate assumes that there's a pregnancy involved if he's paying off the stunt workers' debts.
  • Moving the Goalposts: By Episode 6, Ra Im has literally developed scars all over her body hoping to please her superior enough so he'll give her a big break in stunts. He tells "her" (Joo Won in her body) that he was considering it, but now based on her behavior he's changed his mind. Yeah, right.
  • Pair the Spares: Even the stunt director seems to have a girl interested in him (the sister assigned to spy on Ra Im).
  • Plot Hole: Joo Won strolls right out of a hospital with a coma victim.
  • The Prima Donna: Chae Rin, whom Ra Im stunt doubles for, freaks out when her nail is damaged during a practise fight.
  • Public Service Announcement: One episode has this scene where the sister is like "you can't smoke here, it's a public area" and then shows the nearby children of this guy. She almost gets beat up, until the director saves her.
  • Pull the I.V.: Happens almost everytime Joo Won or Ra Im are in the hospital.
  • Reverse Harem: Ra Im has about three guys into her, two of which wake up in bed together.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Joo Won pays off the Action School's debt, and is called "Mr. Makes Money" by the stuntmen.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Gil Ra Im at the end of episode 13, after Oska gets her into a party. Whoa.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Oska's ex-girlfriend acuses him of going out with "Chu Ji Ae". This is the character's name that was opposite Yoon Sang-hyun (the actor who plays Oska)in the Korean Drama Queen of Housewives.
    • Joo Won frequently comments that their relationship was similar to The Little Mermaid.
      • He actually means the book version of The Little Mermaid, which involves the girl getting turned into bubbles, rather than getting the guy.
    • "She" by Elvis Costello is used as a music MacGuffin for Oska and Yoon Suel. The song was the main love theme from Notting Hill.
    • Oska begs his fans to stop following him and fall in love with 2PM, a Real Life K-Pop band.
  • Show Business: Oska and his music/acting career, the stunt personnel from The Action Company, various characters as casting directors, etc.
  • Something Only They Would Say: How Ra-im and Joo Won prove to Oska and Jong-soo that they have switched bodies.
  • Split Screen: Used before and during the first body switch at the end of episode 5.
  • Stunt Double: Ra Im is employed by the Action Sports Company.
  • Surprisingly Good English: Seul finds out that Jong Soo worked in America, so she decides to test him by talking in stilted, heavily accented English. He replies in flawless English, much to her surprise.
  • The Tell: Ra Im's foot tapping when she's into Oska.
  • Voices Are Mental: When the Official Couple are soul-switched, the voices follow the souls.
  • Wham Episode: Episode 16, when at the end it is revieled the source of Joo Won's phobia is an elevator accident, from which he was saved at the cost of Ra Im's fathers life.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Seul actually takes aside one of Joo Won's would-be suitors, and gives her a good scare to let Joo Won and Ra Im have a night together. All they know about this is that supposedly she has "someone who wants to see her." Whereas before she came across as an Emotionless Girl, this sets her up as a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • White Man's Burden: Joo Won decides it's his duty to help out his "poor neighbor" Ra Im (who happens to have an apartment, and an okay career).
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Joo Won has severe claustrophobia, to the point he takes medication for it.
  • Wire Fu: when the stunt personnel are engaged in fighting scenes.


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