Secret Love Affair Crunchy Bites Episode 11-12: Schumann’s Toccata And Billy Joel’s Piano Man


I can’t believe how time flies so fast! It’s two weeks left, while we’re all still craving for more.Β  We demand BTS, NGs and stuff moaar!

Secret Love Affair manages to hold strong ratings, rising in percentage with finale approaching. According to AGB Nielsen Korea, Secret Love Affair Episode 12 rated 3.928% for nationwide audience, which is one of its best ratings so far. [Note: 1% ratings in cable networks is equal to 5% ratings in national networks]

In addition to that, Secret Love Affair and Piano Man, the song that Oh Hye Won (Kim Hee Ae) and Lee Seon Jae (Yoo Ah In) listen in that episode, spotted #1 Top Naver Real Time Search after the broadcast.

There are many interesting things in episode 11 and 12 that the drama brings up to the audience, but I can only write a few of them down due to time constraints. Here you go~


The Toccata in C major, Op. 7 by Robert Schumann

On Episode 11, Professor Jo shows Sun Jae his college’s concert book when he and Oh Hye Won were still the 2nd year piano major students. It’s stated that Hye Won played Schumann’s Toccata in C major, Op.7 in the concerto. The piece is exceptionally difficult, and Schumann believed it was the “hardest piece ever written”.

A series of chords introduce the main theme, which is believed the passage that Schumann injured his hands trying to master. Because of the injury he sustained while trying to strengthen the fourth finger of his right hand, it ended his ambition of becoming a concert pianist. Professor Jo says that if Sun Jae plays the same piece every day, it will become his theme. Schumman’s Toccata is Hye Won’s theme. This conversation might be a hint that Hye Won injured her hands during her practice on this piece, which caused her quit playing the piano.

Check the genius Sviatoslav Richter (a pianist that inspires Sun Jae’s character, as we wrote here) plays Toccata in C major, Op. 7. It’s amazing!



The Piano Man by Billy Joel

“Piano Man” is the first single released by Billy Joel. It was released on November 2, 1973, and has been on several albums. Billy Joel’s first major hit and his signature song, the song peaked at #25 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in April 1974. Joel has stated that all of the characters depicted in the song were based on real people. “Piano Man” is a fictionalized retelling of Joel’s experience as a piano-lounge singer for six months in 1972 at the now defunct Executive Room bar in Los Angeles.

The verses of the song are sung from the point of view of a bar piano player who focuses mainly on everyone else at the bar: an old man, John the bartender, the waitress, businessmen, and bar regulars like “real estate novelist” Paul and US Navy sailor, Davey. Most of these characters have unfulfilled dreams, and the pianist’s job, it seems, is to help them “forget about life for a while.”



On Episode 12 Oh Hye Won and Lee Sun Jae are listening to Billy Joel’s Piano Man. Here’s the clip of them~


At first I assumed the song was just about Oh Hye Won’s life, but someone on DC made a brilliant observation about this song. @cecilia from Soompi SLA thread translated DC’s observation below~

Here are the lyrics to Piano Man again

“Piano Man”

It’s nine o’clock on a Saturday
The regular crowd shuffles in
There’s an old man sitting next to me
Making love to his tonic and gin

He says, “Son can you play me a memory
I’m not really sure how it goes
But it’s sad and it’s sweet
And I knew it complete
When I wore a younger man’s clothes”

Sing us a song you’re the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well we’re all in the mood for a melody
And you’ve got us feeling alright

Now John at the bar is a friend of mine
He gets me my drinks for free
And he’s quick with a joke or to light up your smoke
But there’s someplace that he’d rather be

He says, “Bill, I believe this is killing me”
As a smile ran away from his face
“Well, I’m sure that I could be a movie star
If I could get out of this place”

Now Paul is a real estate novelist
Who never had time for a wife
And he’s talking with Davy, who’s still in the Navy
And probably will be for life

And the waitress is practicing politics
As the businessmen slowly get stoned
Yes they’re sharing a drink they call loneliness
But it’s better than drinking alone

Sing us a song you’re the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well we’re all in the mood for a melody
And you’ve got us feeling alright

It’s a pretty good crowd for a Saturday
And the manager gives me a smile
‘Cause he knows that it’s me they’ve been coming to see
To forget about life for a while

And the piano sounds like a carnival
And the microphone smells like a beer
And they sit at the bar and put bread in my jar
And say “Man what are you doing here?”

Sing us a song you’re the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well we’re all in the mood for a melody
And you’ve got us feeling alright


The people in the song are actually people in Secret Love Affair. Look at the parallels:

John is Justin – Justin wants to become a star/celebrity although he is working in a nightclub
Paul is Professor Kang – who put his whole life into his career and puts no value or time on his wife
Davy can be seen as Dean Min – he’s always chatting to Professor Kang
The waitress is obviously Madame Han – who started out as an escort in a nightclub
Hye won is most probably the old man at the beginning, she could be the manager as well but it would make more sense for her to be the old man, who is the first person who is introduced and sets the scene for the song. He fits in with Hye Won’s situation, someone who reminisces about his younger days, his lost dreams and asks the piano man to play him a memory.
The piano man is obviously Sun Jae – who stands observing these people who are living a life they don’t want.

These people look to him and ask him to play them a song to comfort them. Sun Jae stands out from all these people in that he is still at the beginning of his road, and he reminds them of what they were like when they were younger. At the end of the song, the customers give him tips and asks the piano man, what are you doing here? Almost like Sun Jae being picked up by the Seo Han people, giving him a scholarship, but he stands out, different from them all.

Daebak observation! May I add that the businessmen represent Director Seo? Props to Writer nim who came up with the idea of matching the characters with this famous song. Let’s enjoy our last two weeks with Secret Love Affair to the fullest πŸ™‚


PS: You know another interesting thing? Yoo Ah In has already “listened” to Billy Joel’s “The Essential” compilation of songs album in his first drama series Banolim (Sharp) in 2004 πŸ˜‰ What an amazing coincidence!


More photos in our album here and here


Photos credit: JTBC and DC

9 Responses to “Secret Love Affair Crunchy Bites Episode 11-12: Schumann’s Toccata And Billy Joel’s Piano Man”
  1. curlynoona says:

    I’ve had the thought a few times that Secret Love Affair really gives itself to analysis- it’s literature, not just entertainment. It’d be great to write a paper on.

    • Furbabe says:

      I love any dramas that triggers good discussions. SLA is such a phenomenal. I read many great reviews and insights almost about every single scene. People go back watching earlier episodes and come up with new interpretations and views. It’s amazing.

      • curlynoona says:

        I think it’s great. I remember that the Prof. was creeped out by SJ’s stairs, and I was like “ya’ll have the same stairs! It’s just that yours is by fancy rich-people design and his is not.” The sets and everything else are so carefully planned…but if it’s a sad ending, I will never watch it again. It’s made me care too much!

  2. startulle says:

    The music!! I learned so much about them and I enjoy better! And I’m not a classical music fan but after watching YAI playing was so inspiring, rite!? Now all of them is in my fave playlist named Intermezzo! ^^

  3. For the character representations in “Piano Man” I have a slightly different take. I think Hye Won is three people in the song, representing her past, present, and future. Her past is that of the waitress, being groomed for a life to serve the “stoned businessmen” through political cunning. Her present is that of the manager, which can be taken both literally as she is his teacher, but also states their love for one another when the manager smiles during pianos man’s performance, indicating the not so secret love affair. Her future, if you choose to accept it, would be as the old man, or her perhaps 20 years from now, where the piano man remains a distant memory brought back through music, much like Hye Won reminiscing her past and her choices whilst the song was playing in the episode. This would indicate a sad ending for our two leads, so i’m gonna think of this as my crazy theory, but interesting nonetheless!

    • Furbabe says:

      Interesting thought! I still hope for a happy ending for both of them if the PD’s intention is about “making your own choice for your life” πŸ™‚

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