Drama Recaps
Alice in Cheongdam-dong: Episode 1
by | December 3, 2012 | 147 Comments

Whee! The first episode of Alice in Cheongdam-dong, all for my *hubby* Park Shi-hoo. I had no idea what to expect for this drama, since the synopses that have come out so far don’t really put it in a good light (a hardworking young woman giving up her ambitions just to marry rich?!). I’m hoping for more out of the plot, but until then, I will sit back and hang tight. It is the first episode after all, and plenty must be set up for the future episodes.

We begin with CHA SEUNG-JO (Park Shi-hoo), the Chairman of Artemis brand, giving a presentation regarding luxury goods and female mentality to his managers. His belief is that women in Korea purchase brand-name products to make themselves stand out, but because everyone buys them now, no one could possibly stand out. Therefore Artemis prides itself in being the most expensive luxury item out there. Everyone can have a luxury bag, but they won’t necessarily be able to afford an Artemis bag.

He’s a bit of a jerk about it, as he insults women, thinking them pathetic for trying to look better than others. However, it’s because of their need to outdo one another that Artemis was allowed to survive. Therefore, he wants all the managers to keep raising prices. Even if people complain about the price, he is positive people will buy. “What we are selling is fear,” he explains. “As the prices go higher and higher, people will fear they don’t have the latest Artemis bag and thus look unfashionable without it.” And so, Artemis must be more expensive every day.

Another person in Korea thinks differently though: HAN SE-KYUNG (Moon Geun-young) sits at an interview with GN Design and tells the interviewers that due to her circumstances she could not study abroad. However that did not stop her from learning French on her own, graduating with high marks at a prestigious university, and winning numerous design contests. Her motto is “My effort is my strength,” and she believes that if you work hard and do things the right way, you will always succeed.

One of her interviewers – SHIN IN-HWA (Kim Yoo-ri) disapproves of her off the bat, giving her an overall grade of D. However she doesn’t make the final decision; the interview tapes and assessments are sent to the president of GN Fashion, SHIN MIN-HYUK (Kim Seung-soo), where he can make the final call. His wife, SEO YOON-JOO (So Yi-hyun) sees Se-kyung’s application and smirks at the note on Se-kyung’s motto. She knows Se-kyung from before…

In-hwa is shocked to find out that her brother, Min-hyuk, ordered for Se-kyung to be hired as a one-year temp despite her low grades. She suspects that Yoon-joo may have something to do with it; seems like the sisters-in-law don’t get along.

Se-kyung is thrilled that she’s been hired, sharing the good news with her family. She’s one step closer to her dream! Unfortunately, when she reports to work for duty, she discovers that she won’t be working as a designer. Rather, she’ll be running the errands for the president’s wife. Her manager kindly informs her that she placed last in the interviews, and it’s a mystery to him how she got hired. No one can give her a good answer on why she was hired, and In-hwa won’t reveal exactly why Se-kyung placed last in the interviews.

Se-kyung attends a wedding of one of her college friends, and all her friends congratulate her on finally getting a job as a designer. (Of course, Se-kyung doesn’t reveal what she’ll really be doing.) One of her best friends, CHOI AH-JUNG (Shin So-yool) fully supports her and believes that GN Fashion hired her for her great resume, even though GN infamously only hires people who’ve studied abroad. Ah-jung works for Artemis as well, and tells everyone that the bride really married up, getting all her wedding jewelry from Artemis, and having her father-in-law open up a store for her.

In this world, if you can’t make it as a designer, you marry up. Your in-laws will be rich enough to help you open up a store.

Se-kyung leaves the wedding early, uninterested in the fact that the groom’s single friends will be arriving soon. Ah-jung believes it’s their chance to marry rich. But Se-kyung has her own boyfriend – SO IN-CHAN (Nam Goong-min), a regular joe who’s not wealthy at all and works at Artemis too. He even has to take out loans from the company just to support his ailing mother’s frequent hospital visits. He’s saddled with so many personal burdens that he can’t even listen to Se-kyung’s own depressive thoughts over being last place in the interviews.

When she returns home, she finds her parents in the middle of a fight regarding money as well. Her mother, JUNG YOON-HEE had just purchased their house for fear that the prices might keep rising, even though they can’t afford it. Her father, baker HAN DEUK-GI, can’t pay the bank the amount, which means they might lose the home through foreclosure.

Se-kyung is clearly from a very normal, middle income family that can’t afford all the rich trappings.

She tries to reason that the company is merely giving her a chance, even if she placed last. She managed to still get in, so she has to impress during her one-year stint and then hopefully get hired as a full-timer. After a few years of experience, she’ll branch out on her own and create her own label.

She’ll have to leave it to dreams for now. She arrives at work the following day and greets everyone in the meeting room. In-hwa points out that Se-kyung has a smudge on her shoe. Ouch, right away picking at her clothes already.

Se-kyung overhears that GN Fashion will be collaborating with Artemis in an upcoming project, but she will have no part in it. Rather, she’s given a list of things to pick up for the president’s wife; Se-kyung must review everything with a careful eye before taking it, and she needs to deliver it to her home before noon.

Commence montage of Se-kyung running around Cheongdam-dong, visiting all the brand-name stores and picking up bags and bags of luxury goods. When she arrives at Artemis, she internally ridicules the exorbitant prices on the simple white blouse and the stockings. In the car, she rants on and on about the expensive clothing she’s been told to pick up all day that she doesn’t notice a white car come out of nowhere right in front of her.

Se-kyung fails to brake in time, and she bumps into his car. The first thing she protects is the fine china sitting in the front seat of her car. Then the front bumper of her company car falls off. Uh oh…

Seung-jo comes by to check on her car and make sure she’s ok. But with just a few observations, he makes a snap judgment about her. Since both were at fault, he proposes they take care of their own cars and their own injuries – if there are any. In case she hasn’t noticed, his car is expensive, so she’s probably thinking that she could get a nice sum of settlement money from him, right? And since it looks like she’s a new hire at GN Fashion (because of her GN Fashion parking sticker), and also out of the office, he presumes that she must be a part-timer and not a full-time designer, right? And since she’s got bags of luxury goods in the backseat, she must be shopping up a storm, right? And so now she’s in this accident with him to get even more money from him, right?!

What’s infuriating is that he’s making all these judgments that are half-right and half-wrong, but he won’t let her explain at all.

He then says that the car isn’t his, and that he’s only the secretary to the chairman of Artemis, the very chairman that GN Fashion is trying to impress and work with. If Se-kyung tries to file a report against him, it will look bad for her company, and Artemis may pull out of the collaboration. So Se-kyung wouldn’t do any such thing and try to claim money from him if she values her job, right?

He makes his leave, dropping his business card at her feet rather than properly handing it to her. Before Se-kyung has proper time to vent her anger, she gets a call from her manager about delivering the goods.

Se-kyung arrives at the president’s wife’s house, and is greeted by the maids. They take the goods in, so Se-kyung never gets to see that she’s actually an errand girl for Yoon-joo.

It turns out back in high school, Se-kyung and Yoon-joo went to the same art school together. Yoon-joo had stolen Se-kyung’s boyfriend and made him do a portrait for her for a contest. Se-kyung had entered the same contest and recognized it as her ex-boyfriend’s work, even though it had Yoon-joo’s name on it. Se-kyung confronted Yoon-joo about it in class, but Yoon-joo didn’t care. She said she’ll continue asking the boyfriend to do artwork for her until she finally beats Se-kyung, even if it’s not by her own hand. Her talent is in getting others to do things for her.

Yoon-joo is absolutely shameless, and doesn’t even realize that she looks like a total b—- to the entire class.

Se-kyung may have beaten her in everything back in school, but now, Yoon-joo gets to lord over her because she’s the president’s wife, and Se-kyung is a mere errand girl.

Seung-jo arrives at Artemis headquarters and immediately tells Secretary Moon to have the attorney prepare a lawsuit for insurance fraud in the event Se-kyung tries to claim anything from him for the accident. He then goes up to his office, where Chairman CHA IL-NAM is waiting for him. As he passes by all his assistants, they gush over how cute he is, and how no one knows any details about him except his name: Jean Thierry Cha.


Seung-jo introduces himself as such to Chairman Cha, with an added French flair (or so he tries). The two of them extend hands to shake, but neither touches the other. Meaning: neither will accept the other’s offer. Seung-jo dismisses his secretary and then tells Chairman Cha that Artemis will not put their products in “third-rate” department stores. Chairman Cha gruffly says that their store has great potential, and they’ll be opening up new locations in Cheongdam-dong and Myeong-dong.

Well then, Seung-jo says they’ll talk when those locations are built.

Chairman Cha: “Hey you punk, are you cutting me off right now? I’m your father!”

Whaaa?! Seung-jo merely smiles. The feeling’s mutual. After all, Chairman Cha had cut him off first from his inheritance when he had chosen to study art in France and marry a girl that he really loved (rather than his betrothed). This is Seung-jo’s revenge. If Chairman Cha decides to give him back his inheritance, Seung-jo will happily accept it… and then give it all right back to charity. He doesn’t need his father’s help to succeed, and he’s proven it with Artemis. “I’m not the old Cha Seung-jo anymore.”

Chairman Cha growls that his son is not manly enough, being petty with his grudges and totally emotional. Seung-jo smiles brightly; it doesn’t matter because Chairman Cha will be on the suffering end of Seung-jo’s grudge.

As soon as Chairman Cha leaves, Seung-jo sits in his executive chair, and spins around like a little kid. “WHEEE!!!” Whaa? Did my man just squeal like a little kid? What is up with his split personality? The smile’s adorable though.

That evening, Se-kyung meets her boyfriend in a cafe, wailing over her bad luck on her first full day at work. In-chan quietly hands her an Artemis shopping bag. Inside is a very expensive handbag. Se-kyung smiles wistfully; it’s approximately $6,500 in Korea, but approximately $4,750 in Europe. Because it’s slightly cheaper abroad even with the import tax, her friends would go to Europe to buy Artemis bags, even though in the end they would cost more when the airfare and hotel are added in.

This bag is worth more than either of their salaries, so she asks In-chan how he got to buy it. She wants him to return it and get a full refund, since he could use that money in other ways. He quietly says that this will be his last gift to her, and that he wants to break up. Se-kyung sighs. Looks like this isn’t the first time she’s heard it before.

Se-kyung wants a really good reason why he wants to break up now. Is it because of his sickly mother? No – it’s because he’s too poor for her. Ahhhh! Noble idiocy! He tells her to wake up to reality. She’s working in fashion; she cannot afford to wear such cheap clothing because image is everything. She used to wear luxury items but ever since she started dating him, her clothes became cheaper and shabbier. On top of that, he could never afford to buy her nice things to show off. If the two were to get married, they would also end up in debt because of all the expenses they’d have. He wants her to meet a wealthy guy, because that’s really the only way she can succeed in this industry.

Sheesh. Even though he uses hard numbers to prove his point, he’s kind of an exhausting boyfriend. Love is clearly not everything in this relationship.

Ah-jung’s happy for her though. Not only did Se-kyung get a bag out of the relationship, but she finally ended it with In-chan. Ah-jung clearly thought of In-chan as added burden to Se-kyung’s career, and she hopes that Se-kyung will continue to reject him even if he comes crawling back to her. Poor Se-kyung, she actually does love In-chan and had hoped they could work it out.

Meanwhile, Seung-jo is swaddled up in his fur blanket, watching a replay of his father’s reaction on his tablet. Guess he filmed their entire conversation for added satisfaction. He completely enjoys seeing his father’s angry expression: “The petty way is the best way to go!” Such a child.

His friend HEO DONG-WOOK (Park Kwang-hyun) comes by with some drinks and can’t believe Seung-jo really took revenge against his father this way. But Seung-jo adds that the really petty part hasn’t even begun. It’s going to be his revenge against Yoon-joo.

Flashback to Paris 2006, and we discover that Yoon-joo was his ex-girlfriend, the woman he swore to love and gave up his inheritance for. Because he gave up his wealth, Yoon-joo then left him. “Love is not about giving up. It’s about protecting.” And then she straight up tells him that she was only going to marry him for money – not in those exact words, but we get the idea. It’s why she ended up marrying Min-hyuk anyway.

Yoon-joo enjoys her fancy dinner with her hubby, and learns that he will be inviting the chairman of Artemis to their house. With some coaxing, Yoon-joo convinces him to let her throw a dinner party without his sister’s help. Hmm – I want to see this rivalry full-on… Min-hyuk is initially reluctant, especially since they know nothing about this “Jean Thierry Cha” other than the fact that he lived in France. He finally lets Yoon-joo take control over the dinner, but she must promise to make it a success.

Boy will she be in for a nasty surprise. Especially since she has no idea that it could be Seung-jo, because he just arrived in Korea two days ago.

Dong-wook is concerned over Seung-jo’s plan for revenge and even asks if Seung-jo is regularly taking his medication. What? Seung-jo’s childish, and on meds?

Se-kyung visits the hospital to find out that In-chan’s mother is in grave condition. She needs surgery, but because In-chan has not paid off the previous procedure, they cannot schedule the next one. So Se-kyung calls up her sister SE-JIN and tells her to bring the Artemis bag over. Guess who’s getting a refund?

Se-kyung receives her new orders for the day, which involves going to pick up new jewels from a renowned jeweler in France. Nicknamed the “Josephine Collection,” Se-kyung is dazzled by the diamonds worth $150,000. The necklace comes with a warranty card, as well as a personal escort into a limo that will then take Se-kyung to her destination. The necklace’s bag is even perched upon a cushion in the limo. Sheesh – such treatment.

After handing over the jewels to the president’s wife’s maid, Se-kyung goes to return the Artemis bag. Se-jin tries to convince her out of it, especially since the bag is highly prized. But Se-kyung wants the refund issued no matter what, and then receives an urgent call from her manager.

The warranty card for the jewels is missing.

The manager berates Se-kyung at the office, accusing her of trying on the necklace. Otherwise, how else could the warranty card have been lost if it was in the bag? In-hwa discovers this and calls Se-kyung in to her office. She outright asks Se-kyung why she’s working at a job that’s beneath her qualifications. Isn’t it her dream to be a designer?

Se-kyung admits it is, but believes that if she works hard at the company she’ll be hired as a designer. In-hwa assures her that will never happen. It’s not that Se-kyung’s resume is shabby… it’s more that she lacks the “eye for fashion.” She wears cheap clothing and cheap shoes, which makes her seem unfashionable. Even if she couldn’t study abroad, she could have impressed by proving she had fashion sense.

In-hwa believes that Se-kyung’s eye for fashion will never improve. You’re born with eyes, and the circumstances you are in will either cultivate it for a sense of fashion or not. Se-kyung has yet to prove that she has this eye for fashion.

Se-kyung is dismissed to search for the warranty, and so she returns to the jeweler in Artemis’ department store. The saleslady informs her that she can’t issue another warranty no matter what, and it just so happens Seung-jo and his secretary pass by this scene. The saleslady greets the secretary, and Se-kyung sees Seung-jo outside the shop. Mistaking him as Secretary Moon, she begs for his help.

At least he’s nice enough to listen to her story. However, he won’t reissue another warranty. Why should he if it’s clearly her fault for wearing the jewels? Because… she did, right?

Flashback to the limo, and it looks like curiosity got the better of her. Se-kyung put them on, wanting to know what it felt like to wear jewels worth $150,000. While wearing them, the warranty card had fallen out of the bag.

Seung-jo is likewise curious: how did Se-kyung feel wearing those expensive diamonds? She was enthralled by the price, not by the craftsmanship, right? He tsks at her for thinking that having expensive accessories is enough to complete an outfit, which pretty much echoes what In-hwa thought of her eye for fashion.

Se-kyung becomes rude – is clothing all that determines one’s taste for fashion? Must she wear such expensive clothing to prove she has fashion sense? Does it even prove that you do? She calls Artemis a brand full of crap for making people think that they must buy such exorbitantly-priced clothing just to be treated with more respect.

Seung-jo smirks; Artemis has only touched upon women’s mentality of needing to outdo one another. If anything, it’s this female instinct that’s driving his business and not the other way around. He advises her to blame that, or blame her circumstances that prevented her from buying such luxury goods. Those “circumstances” he’s asking her to blame are her loving parents, and finding that the last insult she can bear, Se-kyung leaves.

She sobs outside the department store, going through all the insults she’s had to bear today in her mind. She calls up In-chan, hoping that he could comfort her. Instead, he asks that she never contact him again, or even visit his mother. Nothing will change about their relationship. Se-kyung cries even harder: everyone keeps telling her that she can’t change her position in life, which is incredibly infuriating. Is there really nothing hard work can solve?

Se-kyung really ends it with In-chan, and heads home to her parents’ bakery to find them analyzing a rival bakery’s loaf of $2 bread. Despite their hard work, they can’t beat discounted bread. She looks through all her sketch books and finally types up a letter of resignation.

It becomes a letter of apology to In-hwa instead. In the letter, she acknowledges that she may never get her big break in the company, and because of her circumstances she may never rise past being an errand girl. She only promises that she can work hard, because that’s all her circumstances in life can allow her to do.

She arrives at work the next day without the warranty still, but before the manager can yell at her, they receive word that the president’s wife has arrived at the office. Everyone quickly checks their makeup and changes into high-heeled, fashionable shoes. They primp up and then stand by the door, ready to greet her.

Looking down, Se-kyung can only notice the wife’s high-heeled shoes, her silk dress, her cashmere coat, her python clutch, and her jewels. This woman is elegant, and hundreds of leagues above her.

The wife stops in front of Se-kyung. “Han Se?” she calls out, using Se-kyung’s old high school nickname.

Se-kyung looks up, and all her coworkers stare, startled. Se-kyung: “Seo Yoon-joo?!” And Yoon-joo smiles. I think everyone else is more shocked that these two people from seemingly different worlds know each other.


Honestly, it’s not a terribly exciting episode. However it really sets up the world for us. Cheongdam-dong is an incredibly shallow place, where luxury goods and money can buy you a reputation that you do not really hold. It’s a strange world to be in, and I myself feel like an “Alice” in it, especially since I’m so frustrated with everyone’s misconception about Se-kyung.

Admittedly, we never see Se-kyung’s “amazing” fashion sense. We’re never clued in because we don’t really get to see her designs in life, nor do we see it reflected in her clothing. I am hoping that she really does have an eye for fashion, thus disproving the point that you need expensive clothes to have it. All this discouraging talk about her abilities now makes her motives for becoming a “Cheongdam-dong wife” make more sense, but it also infuriates me more. So… Se-kyung is just going to be like everyone else and join this game? She’s not going to fight the system and prove her abilities to the fashion world?! I’m hoping she does, and I don’t want her to be a Cheongdam-dong wife. It goes against all her principles.

This drama feels like the beginning half of The Devil Wears Prada, because she’s trying so hard to hold on to her sense of self, but could very well lose. In-hwa also seems strangely kind, even though she might technically be considered Se-kyung’s foe. We know that Yoon-joo is definitely the antagonist here, but not In-hwa. She’s enemies with Yoon-joo (which would make her a friend to Se-kyung), but insults Se-kyung’s style (which would make her an enemy). And yet she kind of gives Se-kyung advice on how to improve her standing. I don’t know what to make of her, but I hope In-hwa isn’t a shallow person; I just hope she’s a smart woman who knows how to play the game of fashion.

Hands down though, the most interesting character is Seung-jo, and no I am not being biased. He’s a petty man who’s privately a child, and publicly a hard-ass about making money. He knows what sells and how to sell, and he’s relentless and vicious in choosing whom to work with. He’s a jerk, and yet utterly childlike. And he’s on medication. What? I find it interesting that he’s a rich man motivated by revenge, but this is not like your typical melodrama. But perhaps I am a bit too influenced by his previous roles (The Princess’ Man and Prosecutor Princess, anyone?) I’m really interested in how he’s going to enact his revenge against Yoon-joo and how he may change because of Se-kyung’s beliefs. I started watching this series for him, so I’ll continue for him.


147 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. chaewonp

    Episode 2 has a lot more content, and reveals more about how Alice got her goal in the first place.

    • 1.1 chaewonp

      This really opened my eyes to the materialistic world of Cheongdam-dong, and Korean in general. I thought that, you know, how in most dramas, if the heroine is seen to be very hardworking and achieving, she is usually accepted, or picked up by someone who was touched by her “l’effort est ma force” attitude. But this episode really revealed the harsh reality in Korea’s fashion industry, and maybe the fashion industry in general.

      • 1.1.1 narae

        you have to remember that this is a) an exaggeration of the real world, and b) not representative of all of Korea.

        i mean, granted, there is a dark side to all of the heavy emphases on appearance in korea, but i would argue that this attitude is not endemic or unique to korea’s fashion industry, but rather, a function of the fashion industry in general, amplified by societal pressures.

      • 1.1.2 Lilly

        That is all business in USA and Europe as well. It is all about connections, not hard work or talent (unless they are stealing it) in about ninety nine times out of a hundred.
        At least Europe has universal health care. USA and Korea suck at that.

        • skelly

          LOL, as if universal healthcare either cures all ills (not) or makes up for them(not hardly). Let’s leave knee-jerk politics out of drama discussions.

          • Annie

            It’s sad that you think universal healthcare is a political issue, because from where I am, it’s a basic human right. Nobody considers it a political issue.

          • sosadforyou

            I agree with Annie. So sad for you. Universal healthcare is one of the biggest achievements for human rights. It is so sad that in other countries healthcare is only for the rich and is being taken care of as a business while there is people dying or suffering. However, you consider this a “LOL” matter. Speaks loads about you.

          • Mark

            Ignore the thieves trying to take the high horse while taking your money at the point of a gun and giving it out to other people.

    • 1.2 katiamon

      you are right. i watched ep. 1 and thought about the fashion world. It’s sad, but i had seen and experienced that situation where you are judge by the way you look… yes, people can be that shallow. Episode 2 sets the actions of the female lead and let’s you understand why she decides to become a Cheongdam-dong wife.
      I love PSH character, he might be insane but his childish ways are so funny and by his behaviour i do believe he’s taking meds, he’s crazy… but his father’s the same hehehehe

      I’ll keep watching this drama.
      thanks for the recap Kaedejun 🙂

    • 1.3 cg

      just completed ep 1 🙂

  2. Orion

    I have to say, it bored me. I wanted to slap the lead character for always complaining. Hell, I’d have broken up with her too. She is each and every one of us. Whining about problems 24/7. Only we don’t like people like us. I mean, she has a JOB. In 2012. In South Korea. You’d think she’d at least be thankful enough to not moan throughout the entire episode.

    That could be forgiven if she grabbed the bull by the balls, but from what I gather so far, she will just try to get connected and rich by playing along. I fear the grand moral of the story will be “Be lucky (or bold) enough to find a rich dude and try like mad to rise in society”. No, people. We need to change society. Because following that advice is what makes rich people jerks. That, by the time they do get rich, they feel the world owes them and they don’t owe anything back. Either that or because they inherited their money and power.

    Also, I absolutely hate the whole bubbly/capable lead who just happens to run into every possible kind of misfortune. They do this in every drama. They make everyone and everything sadistically act against the lead, constantly putting her down and making her crumble and cry, so that her “rising above it” seems more heroic than it really is. I just can’t relate to an “educated” woman who’s naive enough to not realize the world is how it is and who will probably find the most messed-up way to fight it.

    I’ll watch a couple more to see where this is going, but if it’s going where I think it is, I’ll pass. If I’m going to watch the childish/cute/bastardly chaebol and woe-is-me Cinderella story yet again, I at least want it to be entertaining. So far, this is not.

    • 2.1 Dominique

      Points very well taken.

      I spent a couple of weeks in South Korea this summer and had a blast. But, when it was over, I came away with a few unanswerables and some observations.

      One thing I observed was that, as a society, South Korea does not take well criticisms, even ones that would be considered purely constructive in the US. And the way they do it is to characterize any comments that might remotely connote something less than flattering about its culture or the society as anti-Koreaism. The first few times, it really took me aback. But, after a while, it hardened my faith in the value of criticisms and comments.

      How else will we ever find out how we behave towards others and how our behavior adversely impacts the society?

      in that spirit, I have another observation to share that concerns women on high heels everywhere in South Korea, especially the ones struggling to get on and off public transportation on high heels. Well, it is a free society. But mobility is far more important to me than vogue.

      • 2.1.1 nokke

        like you really mean you’ve just spent couple of weeks in a country and decided to share your ultra-expert criticism with the locals? and not only once, but several times?

        • kopytko

          I think it might be difficult for a woman from the West to refrain from voicing her views on a lot of women’s/social issues that she’s bound to encounter even during a short stay in SK. From what I read in the comment above, it doesn’t have to be any fundamental thing, but something you see in everyday life and what bothers you, so you sontanoeusly say your mind…

          • nokke

            but there are you know… manners and stuff. maybe that’s why they say that Americans are somehow clueless.

        • Emma

          LOL. 😉

        • Elina

          You don’t need to be ultra-expert to see what’s going wrong in South Korea about women and work places.
          It’s quite quite easy to talk about it with Koreans who have lived abroad. Not so much with “mainstream Koreans”.

          And yeah, some Koreans do tend to exagerate when it comes to boasting about/defend their culture (Hangul! We invented it! No we weren’t influenced by anything!). Turist guides are sometimes annoying zelots (Korean architecture is so different from Chinese! Nothing is similar!)
          This said, it’s the same pretty much everywhere, just a tad more in many new born coutries.

          • nokke

            I can just easily imagine how americal tourist being here for two weeks tries to critisize something about culture and society in my country. no surprise people will reject such critique, because it can only be shallow. yes, sure we have lots of issues to critisize, but also you need to understand the culture not sound offensive.

            and what do you call new born country?

      • 2.1.2 narae

        not attacking you, but tell me, how well do you respond to criticism of you and your own? also, how was your delivery of these comments/criticisms?
        as an american, i have to say that as a whole, americans respond quite poorly to constructive criticism as well. as a korean, i do have a bone to pick with a lot of korean society, but i suppose i also have the societal conditioning to be less confrontational about it.
        but i guess this is getting a little off topic…. i have to say, i probably won’t watch this because the fashion will probably be not nearly as top-notch as it’s supposed to be, and because i can’t stand moon geun young, for whatever reason.

      • 2.1.3 mrmz

        Well as for criticism I don’t know, they do show in a lot of dramas that the older generation wouldn’t take an criticism easily, but I think it can be similar in many cultures.

        I think that most people would accept constructive criticism from people of their own culture, rather than an “outside” though. When an outsider comments on anything, its easy to feel offended, or feel that “that outsider” just doesn’t get it.

        As for preferring heels and fashion, I am one that chose confort to fashion anytime (even to a fault..) but I don’t see why women who choose the oposite need to be criticized/observed.

    • 2.2 K

      Also, I absolutely hate the whole bubbly/capable lead who just happens to run into every possible kind of misfortune. They do this in every drama.
      hmmm…I have to disagree…I think that the problems that the lead in this drama are going through are somewhat realistic compared to what we get in a lot of other kdramas……its not like her dad murdered someone or her boyfriend is cheating /getting married to her best friend, she finds out about some horrible birth secret and/or suffers through abuse/rape

      • 2.2.1 Orion

        True, but it’s sort of how she handles it all that is what bothered me. She seems to face everything like she is barely out of elementary school. I mean, if you’ve had higher education and taught yourself so much, lived a tough life, you would not be so naive about what any workplace is, let alone the fashion industry. And you would be very very thankful for any job, in this day and age.

        No person who has had to struggle and get somewhere would be that much in the dark and so idealistic. I feel they do this in order for her to relate to the younger audiences, who perhaps haven’t made that realization themselves, but considering she’s an adult, it feels “off”.

        However, if they do fix this and make her turn more bitter and “get real” and then start her adventure and healing/fighting back, then I’ll be fine with it. If they intended to make her the “childish bratty heroine” who will grow up and face life as it is, then this is a good start. Her reasons for wanting to marry the guy (a preposterous idea in itself) will make or break this, for me.

    • 2.3 narae

      well nobody wants to watch a drama about someone who’s perfect, since the reason why people watch dramas is to escape and project themselves onto a fantasy world. and having a perfect character would destroy both the story and the illusion

      • 2.3.1 Orion

        I don’t ask for perfect. It’s silly to ask for that, as a lead has to grow and overcome obstacles. I ask for someone who is aware of the size of their problems and their own abilities and limitations, according to their age and supposed experience. Who doesn’t just take everything thrown at them without showing me why I should care. Because we have to care for a protagonist. They have to want something we can relate to. Seeing someone being abused and being surprised by it, in a clearly shark-infested industry as the fashion one makes me feel she’s worthy of her fate.

        As for the complaining, I mean, her boyfriend has a sick, probably dying, loved one and all she does is complain about not being hired as a designer to him. She could clearly solve the misunderstanding of the car accident right on the spot, but didn’t. These issues annoy me because they are used to move the plot forward slowly, at the expense of the character, making them seem slow and a doormat.

        This is just the first episode, but I’m speculating on what I have so far. I can’t exactly travel to the future and see how it goes and not giving my first impressions and fears because they agitate some would be silly.

        • ladida

          I don’t know. I’m not really into the whole “other people have it worse than you” way of seeing the world. It’s always good to keep things in perspective and to understand your reality so as not to overstate your situation, but someone else’s greater suffering doesn’t make your own suffering any less real or legitimate. It doesn’t make it hurt any less or make it any less important to you. I’m not saying that all suffering is equal or that all complaints should take up the same amount of space, but I do think it’s ok to feel the way you feel without having to apologize for it. Not only that, but it’s kind of “other-ing” and weird to use other’s suffering to… alleviate (is that the right word?) your own, if that makes any sense?

          As for Se Kyung’s boyfriend’s mother being sick, it seems that it’s a chronic illness, meaning she’s been sick for a long time, which would mean that she’s been while Se Kyung and her boyfriend have been dating. If so, then they would have had to find a way to navigate their relationship with this awful thing happening to him, (happening to them, really) and hopefully that would mean that she’d be able/allowed to have space to feel bad about things sometimes, and he’d be able to comfort her. Hopefully his mother being so sick wouldn’t mean that she’d be the one always offering comfort, with no expectations of it for herself. Selfishness can go both ways, but this is a subject that could take up an entire drama on its own.

          I think part of the character problems you’re highlighting have to do with the scope of the drama right now. The problems Se Kyung is being presented with aren’t just her own, but the problems ailing a society (i.e. the heightened reality of the drama, not actual South Korea) and the writing is having trouble funneling them down into a single character.

        • Nguyen

          I do understand what you mean. It is difficult to care for a protagonist when you don’t really see her doing anything active for the people she loves.
          All I know is that her boyfriend (pretty awesome in my book) would try to protect her dream because he sees how talented she is (heck..we want to see her talent too) but what baffles me is the fact that she hasn’t thought about giving up her designer career for something more stable. So I really hope I get to know why she wants to be a designer that badly!! Then some woman tells her that she isn’t fit to be in the industry and she just accepts it?

          Her need to complain I think ladida explains quite nicely but I don’t understand your comment about the car accident. How could she have solved that misunderstanding? Cha was being an complete ass! She tried to interrupt him a few times but what he said made sense. If she got time to defend herself and explain that she is merely some errand girl and not some shop-a-holic, Cha with his ego and all wouldn’t even blink before walking away.

          I do love MGY and plan to stick through this drama because I can sorta see the appeal and understand why MGY wanted to do this drama.

          • Orion

            Oh, I could think of a few ways to “politely” shut him up and get my words out. But her character is the “accept it all and be so stunned by people’s meanness I can’t move” type. Which is the type I dislike, because it helps make the plot slower and cause needed conflict and misunderstandings, but seems too weak too support as a heroine.

    • 2.4 Lilly

      I love it, but then I am an average type person and not an elitist. Or maybe have a big social activist side to me also.
      Anyway when he yelled “Assa” after getting his father back I laughed too.

      • 2.4.1 Orion

        None of us is and that’s what the series is counting on. Which is why all the rich people are jerks so far. It still doesn’t correct the heroine flaws, for me.

        But it’s too early to tell (I always give at least 3-4 episodes my full attention) and Park’s character does look fun enough to keep watching for now.

        • Red Lollipop

          I actually think that Se Kyung’s reaction to being delegated into an errand girl as pretty natural…

          Think about it from her point of view, she’s a person with a high GPA and second in her class from a prestigious university. But even then she can’t get a job for 3 years and when she does gets one it’s being an errand girl. Must be real frustrating, and it’ll be natural to complain to her boyfriend who has been with her for a long time. I don’t think that it’s right to say that she shouldn’t complain because she’s lucky she has a job when many others do not because she worked hard for her grades and for it to mean nothing must hurt.

          Like ladida, I also don’t like the idea of always comparing yourself to those who are below you, who have less than you. For me, it’s like you’re exploiting the sadness/unluckiness of others to make yourself feel better.
          I think of it this way: what if you are the world’s poorest, most unluckiest person? You’re the person everybody is saying:”Well, at least I’m not him/her” You have no one to compare to, how will you cope then?

          I also find myself relating to her since I’m also studying real hard at uni right now, and I don’t think that the first feeling that will come to me when I get a job that I feel is below my qualifications is to feel thankful that I have a job.

          Then again as you have mentioned, I might be as naive as she is in thinking that having good grades will help me get where I want to be. Maybe I should let loose for my last semester? LOL ^.^

          • Orion

            Ahaha. Hard work is no guaranteed success in this world, so imagine not trying hard at all. Of course, we try our best, but any responsible adult should also know it’s sometimes not enough.

            In a very pretentious industry like the fashion one, I do feel she is naive to march in there and think she’ll become a designer right away, without proper qualifications, in a country which does value qualifications so much. Running errands gives valuable experience and insight into how the industry works. Considering she seems shocked by all the arrogance and “rules of the world”, I’d say she needs it anyway.

            If they do make her mature in a right way, then this beginning fits perfectly though. The marriage plot and time will tell.

  3. Ivoire

    Thank you for the recap!

  4. LingLing

    I will see if I will start this drama or not; not really a huge fan of the main lead actress…

  5. Eye Candy

    I defintely got a Devil Wears Prada vibe from this recap. Hmmm the male lead seems to have an interesting background-why does he need medication? I’m kinda hoping there’s another motivation behind her marriage other than just pure money even though it would totally make sense to do just that because everyone keeps telling her to, but I hate seeing idealism squashed. Thanks for the recap! This show has I interested me but I just don’t have the time to watch it so I’m glad I can still follow the storyline. Hopefully it will pick up soon!

    • 5.1 ladida

      Am I the only one who’s thinking it might be a contractual marriage that both she and Seung Jo are going into with eyes wide open? I mean, after being screwed over so badly in the past and having such a low opinion of women (sigh/eye roll) I doubt he’d go and marry someone without any suspicion that it’s just for money. Maybe I’m missing something? I mean, she hasn’t even said anything about marriage yet, it’s all others (including her now ex) who are telling her to marry a rich man.

      • 5.1.1 Lilly

        Or maybe a fake engagement? You might have made a really good guess.

        • innit

          Marry me Mary part 2?

  6. nokke

    I wonder, why in K-dramas people who are supposed to have fashion sence are always so terribly overdreseed. and they say they’ve studied abroad… where in the world did they pick such terrible dressing habits? I would say in Europe their style would be considered awful.

    • 6.1 clichique

      So true….. this is why I usually don’t watch fashion dramas. But… Park Sihoo!!

    • 6.2 Orion

      I think they’re trying to make a point. As in, a poor person can’t express themselves well. Thing is, there are offers, there’s online shopping from all over the world, at very cheap prices and it’s really not an excuse for someone of a very “dressable” figure. Hair and make-up too. Sure, being a designer doesn’t mean you want your own fashion to be top dollar/won, but if you want a job, you do dress for it. At least you don’t wear stain-ridden boots. 😛

      So yes, they attempt to make them “pure” and down on their luck and end up making them frumpy beyond what their financial/societal status really needs to be. Plus, some of the things they wear probably do cost a fair bit, since they need sponsored clothes for leads.

      I think that since she’s a helper here, it’s sort of understandable for now. She does have to run around doing errands. But if she does want to break free of the position and get somewhere, she’ll have to try a bit harder there as well.

      • 6.2.1 nokke

        well, I don’t mean the lead, I mean for example her boss’s wife and sister. they are supposed to be stylish. but to me they just look like tastess nouveau riches for whom the best is just the most expensive, who don’t understand discreet luxury.

    • 6.3 Lilly

      Where else but from the wealthiest elitists in the world?
      The American 1% ers. Also known as #$%^* mostly.

  7. kopytko

    I am usually apprehensive about shows concerning fashion, but since I’ve never seen PSH in anything I wanted to check it out myslelf.
    I was frustrated about this episode. What upsets me most, is the mentality to judge people solely basing on their clothes/superficial appearance. I mean, how can people be so mean to each other? In that word, to be considered human, I would have to spend my annual income on a stupid bag. And no, not because I like it soooo much, but because I am supposed to have expensive things for sake of having expensive things…
    How did it go? Spending money that you don’t have to buy things that you don’t need to impress people you don’t like.
    And this is just the opposite to the attitude that I was taught to pursue and that I teach my students – look at the person, not at what they wear, not even what they look like, because what is essential is invisible to the eye.

    I guess if I continue to watch this show I will become a socialist. I don’t want that… I don’t mind buying expensive things if it makes a person happy and it doesn’t include taking out loans (like nobody knows how much I spend on my fountain pens because they’re either black or red and it makes people think I have two of them… ekhmmm), but this show takes materialism to new levels. I am not a material girl, so let’s see, if PSH will make me stay for longer.

    • 7.1 bjharm

      Korean culture is still build around status and as they have no ‘nobles’ any more status is now judged by what school you went to what house you own your car your clothes..getting the drift? Korea is extremely material as it affects your place on the picking order.

    • 7.2 clichique

      I had an issue here with when SMH (Shin Minhyuk, but I am so amused that his name is abbreviated as SMH, LOL)’s sister, the Shin team leader whatever, made her speech to MGY. Honestly, I agree that MGY does not look anything like a fashion designer to me. However, nothing is being said about her actual talent, i.e. sketches, clothes made, whatever.

      While it’s fair to say that the fashion industry, in a nutshell, is a visual industry (i.e. what you wear, how you wear it), I would like to disagree that it’s entirely about the expensiveness of what you wear. If anything, I think it’s more about how you put things together, your visual put-together, which does not necessarily equate buying expensive clothes. You can still look chic without owning couture. And those people who are in the fashion industry, honestly, how many of them actually buy their own clothes? They’re mostly given to them because their standing in the fashion industry gives them influence over trends, etc. Yes, the fashion industry is materialistic, but I feel like the show is displaying it poorly. Or at least, in my opinion, I feel like the (real) fashion industry is more visually focused rather than materialistic. And visual does not mean, my eyes see the price tags of the clothes you wear, but more like how you put yourself together.

      This, I guess, would be the first drama I’ve watched with a focus on the fashion industry. I’ve basically avoided all of the others, because, just looking at the promo stills, I honestly do not find them very… fashionable. At all. Where is the understated Parisian chic? Not present. Instead all I see are expensive-looking uncreative… ugly clothes. The “fashion” I see is a load of… BS.

      As if I’m not liberal enough, watching this basically solidifies my beliefs in class inequality and societal problems. I don’t necessarily think the show is trumpeting materialism (at least I hope not), but it seems so far what I’m getting is “hey, if you marry rich, all your problems will be magically solved!” Yeah, true, but I’m hoping this show will go into the not so great parts of it, i.e. Yoonjoo not actually happy in her life, etc.

      • 7.2.1 Nguyen

        I agree with you fully!! I do not understand how appearance can make up for actually having creativity as a designer. I do think that the reason people are so uptight regarding Se Kyung’s fashion sense (her boyfriend and the team manager) is because since she wants to be a designer she has to look the part, since she wants to sell clothes.

        We do get small tidbits about Se Kyung’s talent. She has won a few design competitions and graduating from a prestigious art school must means something?

        • kopytko

          Actually, I am not the least bit surprised by Se Kyung’s appearance. She’s not a full fledged, established designer, but somebody applying for a job in a corporation, hence black and white simple suit.

          But being able to design, or be creative in general, doesn’t have to mean that the person looks anything but ordinary. As a matter of fact, the two people I consider the most creative and off the wall in my life, both dress very simply an casually. No one could guess what they are basing on their looks.

      • 7.2.2 caffeineaddict

        I have to agree that the ‘fashion’ in this drama is NOT fashionable at all.. having said that, a few celebrated fashion designers in my country actually dress very simply & quite casually so I’m not so sure about a designer looking the part equals having the eyes for fashion

    • 7.3 Hannah

      It’s a drama about the fashion industry. Appearances and brand names are extremely important in an industry where there is an emphasis on aesthetic appeal. It sucks, but it’s true.

      • 7.3.1 ladida

        Lol, this conversation is reminding me of that lady who did all the fashion for Sex and the City, Patricia Field, who’s always dressed horribly. I’ve always thought fashion designers dress however the hell they want, as long as their designs and clothes look fabulous. I mean, fashion, especially in urban areas, isn’t about brand names or looking chic. It’s about a “look,” about creating a language and persona with your clothing, about communication. The thing about Se Kyung’s clothing for me was that she wasn’t saying anything with it, which was surprising to me because she’s a designer and an artist. But really, no one on the show is actually fashionable because they just drape labels over themselves. Appearance is definitely important, but brand names aren’t necessarily. And neither is aesthetic appeal, really. Sometimes the point of an ensemble is to be unappealing. But what am I prattling on about? My entire “wardrobe” consists of jeans and sweaters.

        Anyway, I don’t think this is a show about fashion so much as it is a romcom touching upon class issues (as many romcoms do) and using the brand name industry as a backdrop, as the “workplace” in a workplace romance.

      • 7.3.2 kopytko

        I am fine about looks (fashion is fashion), I am not fine with reducing everything, including assessment of a person, to how much they can invest in their outfits. If someone asked me to choose clothes, I would rather pick suitable, nice and appealing rather than brand name. I feel the worship of brand names is a bit over the top here…

  8. andi

    I honestly felt something akin to rage while watching this episode. The heroine, the acting, the directing, the script, the camera work…all of it was horrible. I appreciated not knowing much about the drama beforehand – I tend to enjoy a drama more if I have no expectations.

    I don’t think anyone interested in fashion would be like SeKyung. Ever. She has the blandest personal style possible, and seems to not understand the industry. I was confused because at one point she lamented about a pair of $100 leggings being overpriced and not understanding WHY, but in the scene with her boyfriend she ticked off all these numbers about buying bags in Europe. What?

    That whole scene was horribly written. “Oh? You bought me a bag? Let me robotically talk numbers.” “We can’t keep going out…here let me robotically talk numbers.”

    I want to watch the second episode, but the first put me in such a foul mood I’ll wait till next week. And I was counting on this drama to distract me while I wait for King of Dramas to be subbed 🙁 It’s such a shame, the actors are all so beautiful. Well, like I said I will try again after I’ve forgotten the first episode.

    • 8.1 kopytko

      Do you mean you understand why can a pair of tights cost 200 $? Are they made by NASA for wearing in outer space or something? *tries to understand*

      • 8.1.1 andi

        Well, there are several factors – denier, production costs (ie not made in a factory with underpaid workers), materials used and most importantly brand name.

        The part that confuses me is how she knew so much detail about the cost of a handbag and then scoffed at expensive tights.

        I get that most people wouldn’t be interested in the differences (or willing to pay for them!), but I just don’t get why her character would say something like that.

        • kopytko

          Because you can see the difference when it comes to clothes and accesoires or even underwear, but c’mon tights are tights.
          I even did some research, and apparently, you wouldn’t pay as much even for silk stockings, which are really luxurious. But if somebody feels better just because the thing is pricey… well it’s they problem when the cash itches them.

    • 8.2 Robs

      I have to agree with you Andi, I was baffled by her “shock” of the prices. Any designer, especially one who dreams of having her own label and selling it in Cheongdam-dong, has had to her homework and know what the things are selling for. Right now she seems like her head is in the clouds about being a fashion designer and about her boyfriend.

      In regards to tights/hosiery costing $200, why not if people pay for it, and yes I have seen prices like that in certain sections of West LA……

      • 8.2.1 Mystisith

        The clueless side of the character reminds me of I do, I do: A 20 something shoe-maker’s son who doesn’t know than the numbers on the box are “sizes”. I still facepalm over that stupidity.

    • 8.3 ladida

      Well, it’s like Seung Jo pointed out, she knew the necklace cost x amount of money, but she didn’t think about the craftsmanship that went into it, or the “why.” What I noticed about when she was ticking off those numbers about the bag was that she wasn’t talking about the material value of the bag (the materials used, where it was made, etc.) but rather the social value of the bag, how her friends would pay a plane ticket to go buy one in Europe and end up paying more for it.

      You’re so right, there is a disconnect in her character; someone who wants to be in the fashion industry to the point that she wants to have her own store (that isn’t a franchise), an artist, none the less, would understand the money aspect of the fashion industry more (though that doesn’t mean she’d agree with it).

    • 8.4 Lilly

      No way. The camera work and direction was magnificent.
      Proof. Hit stop and freeze the video at the part from where she is standing across the street from where there is the sale of two dollar bread.
      It could be used to illustrate the point in history of the modern bread lines occurring in many nations due to the global wealth gap.
      She stands across the street looking on from a distance, representing everyone who see what is happening and not yet affected as badly. Very well done.

      • 8.4.1 bashful

        That scene caught my attention too. I thought it was a powerful scene in that it was there where and when, I think, Han Se Kyung sadly gave in to what the villains were telling her – that hard work does not lead to gaining wealth or succes in life.

  9. Carole McDonnell

    I am so loving this drama! By the second episode, it’s reminding me of the darker more realistic side of Nice Guy. I’m hoping she stays with her oppa, though, in the end. Or what would the point of having such a story about materialism and loyalty and love be?

    • 9.1 Laurita

      After seeing the second ep. I also thought about Nice Guy, but in opposite way. I mean, if it would be the world of Nice Guy, I probably would have accepted the heroine’s “teach me how to get a rich man” thing at the end of the second ep. Maybe. But now??? It seemed so ugh… I tried so hard to root for her, because of her different values and being true to herself in the school flashbacks… Something was a little bit off, but I seriously tried and was almost convinced when she dropped that bomb. Come on, you saw the harsh reality and went for the easiest way, and on top of that, to the person, who just humiliated you and made fun of you? Really? I just felt that even blackmailing her would do, but not this. And if, after all the “teaching”, after many eps. she will start to cry and complain that she just wanted do do something good, to make something right… I will just … just … ugh, she better won’t. Just saying. How can I root for her now? Just how? The only solutions I see are: either I was mistaken and she had something something different on her mind oooorrrrr the main lead will fall in love with her already knowing that she wants to marry some CEO (maybe even helping her to attract his boss, that is – him himself). And how can she fall in love with the main lead (what was intended from the start, I guess?), if she loves her boyfriend (who used to be her enemy’s boyfriend at school – well that’s an interesting thing)?

      • 9.1.1 Carole McDonnell

        I’m supposing her heart is broken. She’s lived such a highly-principled idealistic life with a noble can-do work ethic and now she’s kinda having this existentialist crisis. She’s going through the “all-for-naught” sorrows….but I hope she doesn’t get too cynical. Which, I guess, is what happens when one feels the world is unfair and cruel …with stupid noble philosophies. She seems to have a deep kind soul, though. So I don’t know if she can really be like her tutor. At heart, they are different people.

  10. 10 Mystisith

    I have to say: Very predictable first episode. I had no expectations and knew 90% of what I would be served. I”m watching ep 2 now. Let’s see if it can improve.

  11. 11 Nallali

    After K2H, Gaksital, Nice Guy (and now I Miss You, ugh!) this is precisely the drama to watch just to switch off my brain and regain my sanity. Plus everything’s so bling bling and pretty (yes, I mean u PSH!!)

  12. 12 sophia

    i think episode 2 does this drama justice. i was really unimpressed with episode 1 and wasn’t going to continue but decided to give it another chance and i’m glad i did. it was really good and emotionally convincing.

  13. 13 Mélissa

    I was convinced the second episode, I must say that if mGy cries as is its role after all, both for psh who behaves like a kid and we can do anything, my opinion is that this drama is seen below and not to judge the first episode

  14. 14 bjharm

    reminded me a bit of Baby Faced Beauty in set up but for the lie about the age bit of course. if it goes the same expect more humiliation and abuse of poor lead girl..all set up all ready with the school ‘friend’ as her senior in the firm. Then hopefully more laughs and fight back time in future episodes..as i remember BFB was also dumped on early episodes because everyone so sick of the poor girl getting beat up by life all the time, then most got into it more once the humor and lead got same teeth. As I like the girl lead, even if she not really all that pretty the older she gets..sorry to her fans just a personal option of course, be a shame after the rather disappointing Mary if she has another poor showing. [liked her in Running Man..they should get Commander to do a guest spot on the show..lol]

  15. 15 meryl

    Well I would say that this drama is to watch, there is a story after all, although I’m not a fan of mGy, I find it pretty with her ​​face bb and I think it’s a good actress, although I watched this drama so stay tuned for psh :::::::::

  16. 16 jєѕѕα™ 주원사랑 (@jung_kYro)

    He’s NOT childish..he has some MENTAL problems. I think it’s because Yoon Joo left her, right? His friend asked if he’s taking his meds. You must have missed that part, I guess.

    It seems his mental problem would create a problem in the future episodes. 🙂 But I like him like that. HA! I mean, not totally crazy. LOL! 😀

  17. 17 Lixie

    I’m giving this a chance because of MGY but it was soooo bad. I’ve watched both 01 and 02 eps and I’m commenting on both, is this supposed to be romcom???
    I wanted something funny and got a lot of crying scenes about bills and struggles and crazy evil second female lead already being horrible for no real reason! I’m so tired of this female demon in every kdrama! I don’t know which is worst anymore, the demons or the forever sweet, naive, hardworking and optimist heroine. So boring and so disturbing!
    This guy playing the main lead is overplaying but maybe there is an explanation because he’s on meds, if that’s it then it’s a good thing! I’d love a slightly mad leading man.

  18. 18 Locturne

    I thought this episode was pretty okay. Unlike most dramas, this one seems slightly more concerned with realism. Here we have the heroine who is poor but tries hard, so on first glance it sounds like the usual kdrama fare. The difference is that in most show, the writer doesn’t bother to develop the characters, it feels as if we’re told: “this is going to be THAT kind of drama, with the chaebol and the poor candy heroine, so I am going to show you the girl handling a hundred odd jobs, and endless shots of the luxury house of the chaebol man so you’ll get it and just accept the premise”.
    Here at least, the writer fleshes out the characters enough so that they seem like people and not caricatures. I can understand the problem of Han Se Kyung. Her problem is not really her evil former classmate. It is that she wishes to make her place in a sector where appearance is everything, and she does not have the means to look the part. Technical skills are not everything.
    Same with the break up with the boyfriend. In others dramas, the guy would either be a cheating/materialistic jerk, or a noble idiot. Here, the message is again more realistic, marriage is not only about love. Though it’s not only about money, money has to be taken into consideration. Heartbreaking as it was, I could understand why they had to break up.
    What I appreciate is that (for now) the message is not that trying hard will not necessarily get you what you want, because evil, evil characters get in the way, but that it’s how society works. Now, I don’t think this show is supposed to be a melodrama, so I’m curious as to how things will develop from now on, starting from this realistic, but depressing premise.

  19. 19 (permanent) visitor

    Thanks for the recap!

    I did not think this episode was that great (it does pick up a bit in episode 2). But mostly I’m just a bit confused about what this show is supposed to be or trying to be.
    Umm, where does the comedy come in? So far I’ve seen tons of crying, but not a lot of laughs. PSH’s borderline maniacal fixation with revenge is really more sad than amusing, and his childish glee is a bit creepy. If he’s supposed to be the main love interest, he’s got a HELL of a lot of growing up to do before I’d be interested.

    Not to mention, yes the chaebol with mental problems was interesting the FIRST time around, but we’ve seen enough incarnations of that since Secret Garden. And some of those actually managed to be funny (Protect the Boss).

    And as for the “rom” part of “rom-com” – the second ep got me even more invested in her relationship with current/former BF. So – again, there’ll have to be lots of changes or at least plenty of time passing to get over that relationship and move on to the woman hater.

    Some other people have mentioned and I agree….how does she know so little about the industry? Why try to make it in an industry that is based on overpriced stuff if you can’t stomach that? (Believe me, I wouldn’t.) At least in The Devil Wears Prada the main character wasn’t a student of fashion initially.

    I’m hoping that somehow the series will get around to actual social commentary instead of just sort of pointing out that, oh well, that’s the way it is, and even if it’s repulsive, too bad.

    Phew! /rantover

  20. 20 dee

    thank you… for recaping.. really hope you continue recaping alice in cheongdam…

  21. 21 cherry

    i think i get what the title is names so. wonderland is Cheongdam-dong. and the mad hatter is PSH. Obviously. But in the story tale, wonderland was not all that nice, it was mystical, sometimes scary, and full of confusion. The mad hatter guided her and protected her in his crazy way. Same with the rabbit. But in the end Alice, MYG, will need to go back to reality, where she belongs and actually want to be. And it think that is the story of this drama.

    • 21.1 jєѕѕα™ 주원사랑 (@jung_kYro)

      And don’t forget the Queen! 🙂

    • 21.2 Taiba

      omg this just opened my eyes to a new level. wow. i hope its like that

    • 21.3 lenrasoon

      this is interesting, i hope the drama is doing this.

    • 21.4 ladida

      Omg, so cool. It would be awesome if that’s how the drama actually pans out. But since Park Shi Hoo is the lead, doesn’t that mean she’ll end up with him? Is she going to have to bring the Mad Hatter out of Wonderland?

    • 21.5 Stardust

      I had the same exact thought flash in my mind, once I saw that the male lead is on meds LOL he’s very adorable though…. But I am unsure if I will be watching this drama…. its a very entertaining recap though, so thank you so much kaedejun! ♥

  22. 22 DayDreamer

    Well, this one’s a pass for me, judging from the recap. Though I did want to make one comment.

    Fashion is often one of the ways in which the elite can express their class and status and thus maintain an air of superiority over the lower classes, especially the middle class that tries to emulate an appearance of being upper class by imitating their fashions. As a result, the upper classes continue changing fashions to make sure the middle-classes can’t be like them. So it makes sense that they raise prices for a name brand item to maintain the distance between the classes and keep up airs of superiority.

  23. 23 Danna

    Not particularly exciting episode plotwise, but thankfully male lead character is hilariously crazy enough to keep me entertained. I find the rest of the characters only a tad interesting. The directing and editing could be a bit stronger, maybe add some energy to the proceedings? After all this is a trendy drama. Though I only came to love and root for our Alice in episode two, MGY is wonderful as always and Nam Goong Min steals the spotlight more than once. Thankfully no character is dragging things down the show for me, at least not just yet. Let’s see what Kim Ji Suk will bring in next week

  24. 24 Sybil

    I agree…the first episode just set up in who is who…and why they are, what they are. I loved Park Shi Hoo, his caracter is a wacko! He proyect so much his caracters that you can actually believe he´s like that…I guess he´s enjoing this a lot because it has various tones…when he was recalling the past he looked like a warm person…now he act like a jerk but you can still notice that deep inside he´s not truly a jerk.

  25. 25 ida

    Park shi hoo’s character.. I wouldnt say he was the most interesting to be honest… Not by dramaland standards at any rate. He’s just another chaebol president who has a quirky demeanour that kinda covers his hard was ways and inner strength/revenge/unwanted memories etc.
    The moments where I was most engrossed was definitely when the show was dealing with the view of money,status in society dichotomy through sekyung.. I hope they explore that more, and not just derail into your average romcom find a rich beau territory..
    The part where sekyung’s running around getting things for the madame zero reminded me of devil wears prada, but it felt more grounded and relatable here than in the movie. The movie just kinda goes with the flow and was more concerned with showing Anne hathaway’s character adjusting to her New job and slowly becoming the professional. I much prefer this drama’s take, though I’m not sure if the price’s mentioned are as extortionate and extreme in real life..
    Moon geun young is keeping me on this bandwagon for now: she’s on top form. Natural. Sympathetic. at times, exhilarating(see end of ep 2). You see her perform and realise what’s meant by good line delivery- almost as if you didnt realise this really is just a performance.
    Ah, I’ve missed you MGY, but I’m still nervous that this show will become our usual fare of drama fluff with her talents wasted….
    But I’ll remain hopeful for now..

    • 25.1 bjharm

      have to say as this is listed AS a romcom I indeed hope they drop the melodrama and get on with a few laughs, rather than head into even more melodrama….it would be ok it was suppose to be a melodrama! of course..right now it just seem confused….
      Also to stand up for comrom..it not just fluff acting if it was then there would not be so many bad ones out there, it takes just as much skill in acting as does the so called more serious dramas

  26. 26 cinthy

    I didn’t watch the episode but in the recap it seems a little like Devil wears Prada

  27. 27 queencircles

    He looks great in glasses.

  28. 28 coolubi

    I think it’s a worth-watching drama

  29. 29 Hallyufan

    Minor but funny: Did anyone else notice that PSH’s desk nameplate said “Jane Thierry Cha” instead of Jean- I rewound back to 29:11 just to make sure I wasn’t seeing things!

    • 29.1 Orion

      Maybe the reason he’s taking pills is a second personality. A female. An evil twin sister? 😛

      • 29.1.1 Robs

        LOL..evil twin sister LOL…at first I thought it was my imagination…seeing the name “Jane”. I think the fixed in the 2nd episode.

    • 29.2 nokke

      yep, I noticed that also -)) funny

  30. 30 liiilian

    I have to try the first episode but I don’t think I will follow this drama until the end. For me, the drama is really boring and very bad script, sometime its very forcered story-line.

    Well, like the lead female character, she is always very good at everything, but because of her poor then cannot find a right position at work, so she came to think everyone can changed their life if they become a rich person? Opps… Sorry to says, I really dislike that thought… And more than that, want to get rich then she find other’s weak point and take in advance at it…

    Another reason, Moon Geun Young’s acting is not good. She always try to be a smart one, she do it in any of her drama LOL. And when she find something interesting, her glare always be the same too. Yes, maybe she is cute in her young ages but for me I dont think MGY is a talented actress.

    • 30.1 liz

      woah, woah, if you dislike it so much don’t lose your time on it.

      MGY is talented. I think you just don’t like her acting.

      But calling someone not talented… I think you shouldn’t….

      Plus, how can you dislike MGY for the characters she chooses? lol this is so lol.

      MGY was so amazing on Cinderella’s sister and Potw

      What dramas you watched with her?

      Btw, did you watch the other episodes?

      I’m sorry but this is reality, not everyone who works hard goes up there. Have so many people who work hard their entire life and die poor.

    • 30.2 jen

      i beg to disagree for calling MGY is not a talented actress…are you kidding me???
      she’s a very versatile actress,and never forget she’s the youngest ever to win the daesang..
      sooo better watch out what’s your saying..

    • 30.3 aissmae

      Wow! MGY is NOT a Talented actress?? WELL I don’t agree in that statement, maybe you can check her Wikipedia to see her Awards, and for you information MGY is one of the BEST ACTRESS in Korea. Funny You! 😛 And can you tell what is your Standard when it comes to acting skills ?? I bet you have LOW taste. HAHAHAHAHAHA! Anyway, CDDA only shown the 2 ep, don’t be Excited Unknown Human. Hahaha!

    • 30.4 moonLOVER

      My heart feels hurt when i saw about disliking comments about MGY! Wondering why they hate mgy? As my opinion, if you don’t like actors/actresses, ignore them. I love mgy, so i watch all of her movies and dramas but never say bad things to her co-actor! (may be they hates her coz this little talented actress won lot of awards eventhough the project that she pick was bad/ low rating/ fail) Yes, of course^^

      The korea know how talent and good acting she is! That’s why the awards she’s got is more than others! Don’t say stupid thing ” receiving awards don’t belong to acting skill)

      There’s one thing that i can say definitely is she’ll get at least one award for this project 🙂

  31. 31 Startulle

    Reality bites! Im just glad it’s not a conventional kdrama and I have to say anywhere in the world we meet these kind of insane people and people who works honestly hard but no matter what life is not easy so a person becomes tough…..anyway I wanna see which path Alice will choose!

  32. 32 Sajen

    so on the one hand it’s fashion probably the one thing on earth I have less interest in than golf, on the other it’s Moon Geun-young and Park Shi-hoo, both of whom I love, so we’ll see how far that carries this show for me.

  33. 33 Nauna

    Sometimes it can be easy to confuse the characters point of views with the message the drama is trying to present. Especially so early on when we haven’t had time to see how the characters will change and grow as the story progresses. I’m very interested to see how the drama is going to deal with the issue of materialism in modern society. It’s a pervasive issue, not only in SK, but in many other societies around the world, the concept that wealth equates to worth.

  34. 34 spazmo

    i’m not sure what to make of him, PSH’s character… but he sure is funny when he’s giddy! LOVE his smile, LOVE the childish side of him (bi-polar??), entertaining, nonetheless. MGY is always good in whatever she does, i like this character for her… cried for her cute boyfriend (darn, just a cameo??), cried some more watching ep2 with the two of them. i’m also in it for Park Shi Hoo, am loving what i’m seeing so far! <3

  35. 35 ladida

    *Happy dance!* Thanks so much for recapping this kaedejun! I am so ready for a romcom. Bring on the cute and funny!

    • 35.1 ladida

      I like how freely you call Park Shi Hoo “my man.” Lol. I hope the show continues with a more frank exploration of money and how the way people present themselves figures into how they’re treated in society, and whether that’s something that ought to happen or something that’s just gross.

  36. 36 liz

    I get sad everytime I see a comment about how someone does not like MGY because she isn’t pretty like some actress out there which doesn’t have the same talent but get away with it because they are ”pretty”

    I read yesterday someone saying she doesn’t like MGY cross eyed acting and puppy face.

    But what about thw guys? Noo they don’t talk anything bad about them if they have great abs.

    Sigh. Sigh. Sigh.

    I know MGY last dramas weren’t good dramas (Cinderella sister I liked but it is true the plot dragged but MGY was amazing there as the strong and fierce Eunjo) Marry me, it was terrible, terrible to MGY and JSG…

    • 36.1 Nguyen

      Yeah it saddens me too since she is sooo talented 🙁
      (I sometimes rewatches PoW just to indulge in the epicness that is Shin Yoon Buk).

    • 36.2 jen

      dont worry liz..they are what we call the losers..they dont know what talent means..and btw we must not forget her nomerous awards she recieve and she was beloved in korea,and hey many actors are xpressing their desire to work with her and how much they respect her..

      yah maybe her latest drama is not that popular in ratings but not her fault,she always give her 101% in her acting,btw she never recieve biggest award if her acting is sucks..

      MGY is a multitalented actress in korea,she established her name in such a very young age,very humble,sweet and very down to earth,she is not a prima donna type like others..she never use ANYBODY to gain popularity..
      and maybe shes not that beautiful to others but for me she’s beautiful inside and out period…

      MGY fighting^^

  37. 37 Mar

    Thanks for recap.

    I’m not sure what to make of this drama. It had a strange feel to it, so I’m not sure where it is going. It’s like a depressed rom com, but not in the interesting Me Too Flower way. Weird. Are we going to see something new or is it just a hot mess that is going to eventually just pan out in regular old tropes? idk.

    The characters are not particularly likable, but that doesn’t really bother me because it just adds flavor. Take Se-kyung. Hmmm. We are being set up to look at her as the put upon good girl from a modest family that has dreams but doesn’t catch a break. And maybe she is. But she’s not the enduring cheerful girl trope nor is the feisty never say die type. Take a closer look at her interactions and what she says. She doesn’t like her friends. She goes on and on about how she has this plan, but didn’t have the educational opportunities to be successful in her chosen field. You know what happens if you want to be a rocket scientist and you do not have the ability to go to MIT? You find another frigging career path. Her boyfriend is responsible for a parent and is living a financial nightmare of burden…and all she talks about is her dreams and wants and how her friends suck and how unlucky she is. If she was planning a future with this guy would they have not already had a plan and wouldn’t she be washing dirty underwear if she had to so they could take care of his mom and find a way to survive? No, she whines that she has to stay in this errand girl job because she might not be able to find another job. And she totally discounts everything he says when he’s trying to break up with her. She opens up the gift-the purse and instead of saying hey, take this back and pay your moms bills she starts babbling on how much it costs where and when. Me thinks our heroine is more self involved than we usually see. I’m not rattling off on how much I hate the character, I’m just saying this is not the typical plucky lead female character. Yet lol.

    I don’t buy the character as a designer. A designer and a label snob are two different things. A designer is not about a brand or designer label, but about creating. She’d be wearing clothes she made, and she’d be a lot more funky. Or either she’d dress all in black with nerd glasses and a funky hairstyle and be making her friends wear her clothes lol. Yes, she’d be interested in fashions and designs, but in the creative sense not in what was the most expensive The fact that she is into the cost of the bag her boyfriend gives her means she keeps up on designer brands and costs, contradicts her disdain of the cost of the brand pantyhose and her disdain for Artemis’ cost in general. Again we are seeing a brand person not a designer. We also are seeing this confusion in the writing with her boss: wearing designer labels does not make you a designer.

    I thought I’d try this for Moon Geun-young and try to stick it out through Park Shi-hoo, but gees, I do not know if I can. Yes, I know, I am probably the only person on here that thinks-yeah, I just don’t get the appeal of that guy. Don’t cut me, it’s just personal taste, so please don’t bother trying to explain it to me or tell me to watch him in something else. I’ve tried lol.

    • 37.1 Lucy

      Agreed about her character as a designer. I didn’t understand why she thought a person has to be rich to have an “eye” for fashion. If she’s a designer and dreams of opening her own store, why doesn’t she know how to sew her own clothes and thus, showcase her style with a low budget? I’m not familiar with the fashion industry, but don’t designers know how to sew? How else could they know what cuts/fabrics/sewing style to use for their clothes if they don’t know the basics of sewing?

      I’m going to keep watching this drama to see if it improves. I do love me some PSH lol.

  38. 38 required

    Leads have no chemistry.

  39. 39 Abbie

    Hmmm. I’m intrigued, although it was sooo slow. I agree, the most interesting character is Seung-jo. I find him so hilarious and a jerk at the same time. I will continue with this show for him, too.

    I think In-hwa will turn into a frenemy for Se-kyung. I’m hoping, anyway. Yoon-joo is a b*tch. I don’t like her one teensy bit. I get the feeling she’s going to make fun of Se-kyung and make her feel pathetic and low in front of all her co-workers. I hate when that happens in any show.

    I feel sympathy for Se-kyung. Everyone keeps underestimating her and saying she shouldn’t be in fashion. I don’t like that. I’m rooting for her to prove everyone wrong.

    Thanks for the recap, Kaedejun!

  40. 40 Woody

    I’ve been waiting for Alice like mad beacuse of MGY but on this very weekend my internet access was demolished. Thnk U, DB, for recapping this

  41. 41 mellowyel

    Thoughts after watching both of this weekend’s episodes (no spoilers):

    I feel like Park Shi-hoo is the only person who realizes that this is supposed to be a romantic COMEDY. Everyone else is in Melodramaville. There are major tonal issues that need to be resolved here, first and foremost.

    Secondly, I can’t get behind Se-kyung. I get that they’re trying to trample on her so much that she’ll decide to go against her morals/ideals and just marry up, but it’s just not executed well. I’m not convinced that she’ll ever really commit to getting a Cheongdamdong husband since she’s so intent on succeeding through her own effort, so I don’t see why I should root for her to achieve this goal. Neither do I understand why she wants to be a designer so badly. Yes she’s worked hard for it, but there’s no demonstration as to WHY she worked so hard. And they haven’t convinced me that she has no other options.

    Finally, the whole thing just dragged. Too much set-up and melo and not enough funny or action. I won’t be sticking with this one.

  42. 42 Lilly

    This show is great!!!
    Social commentary is off the charts on a global scale.
    Wealth gaps, institutionalized greed, health insurance and hint at need for universal care, it is all just really great!

    This is the kind of drama that shows why Kdramas are superior to most dramas of other nation.

    • 42.1 ladida

      Lol, I hope you stick it out for the rest of the series. I’ll love reading your comments and thoughts. After this episode I pegged Park Shi Hoo’s character as a raging capitalist and Moon Geun Young’s character as the dreamer/hard worker who’s been convinced the course of her life should be determined by her class, and all this is wrapped up in some kdrama romcom tropes about rival ladies and being burned by past love.

      Cherry (comment # 21) pointed out something about the name of the drama, and said that Cheongdam-dong is Wonderland and PSH’s character the Mad Hatter while Moon Geun Young’s is Alice. But what if Wonderland isn’t just Cheongdam-dong, but capitalism as an institution? Or, rather, Wonderland isn’t a physical place, but the socioeconomic world that MGY’s character has to navigate? Now I’m gonna have to read the book over again!

      • 42.1.1 spazmo

        maybe it’s “Cheongdam-dong Style” – that correlates to PSY’s Gangnam Style video? it is a statement about the current culture that we live in… it makes some of us feel guilty (as charged, by PSH’s character’s marketing strategy – must HAVE that latest design, etc.) or validated (as some of us refuse to fall victim to name brand items as status symbols)….

  43. 43 Pam

    Hmmm….just saw the first 2 eps. I am not too sure about this drama, it’s kind of dark and depressing. If SK is going to sell out and marry a rich man and believes that will solve all of her money problems, I am jumping ship. But if this is a journey of self-actualization where she chooses to fight the shallowness and classism of the fashion industry and the larger society, than maybe I might stick around. SJ is interesting…I want to know the dark journey he’s been to that turned him into the bitter man he is now. Thanks for the recap.

  44. 44 mina

    I’ve watched both episodes that have come out and for some strange reason I LOVE THIS DRAMA. Its not intriguing or complicated, but rather something that I think a lot of women can relate to on a smaller scale which makes it more personally attaching. I don’t know how to describe it but I am literally so hooked right now.

  45. 45 Stephen

    A lot of people are complaining about the shallow character depth and uninteresting plot of this story. But I’m really enjoying it so far. I think this unexplainable blandness is the drama’s charm. There’s always something that doesn’t seem right or is unsatisfactory. But it sheds so much light into the social culture in present day Korea. I visit Korea on a yearly basis and I can say that this drama is incredibly realistic. The portrayal of the main character is very accurate as to what many Korean women are like. Most are poor, middle-class women with respectable education degrees who want to make it big in the fashioning industry. Why? Because women are so crazed by brand name. Brand name, brand band, brand name. They live and feed off of it to a pound where its kind of scary. My conclusion is, this storyline is actually very interesting. Everyone wants the perfect heroine who is good and upright but where’s the fun in that. Its too cliche. This drama brings out reality. I love it.

  46. 46 Nilechoclat

    drama is sweet if even i don’t love lead actress but i am with character to get her revenge from life ,friend and from this director of company i wished her boy friend be 2nd male lead he is so sweet park shi hoo is crazy i love him but i wish his character to back to normal not laughing like crazy 🙂 give chance to this drama not every time serious drama

  47. 47 Sonia

    So just as I expected, out come the Moon Geun Young haters critiquing everything.

    Do you know what Vera Wang looks like or how she dresses?

    I give a rat’s ass what people think of my clothing. I am an educated woman, I know better. That is probably what this moral will be but it is in its infancy so who knows. My money is on that Se-kyung stays with her first love.

  48. 48 p3rk3le

    i love the fact that it seems like he’s gonna fall for her first. but i’m kinda scared this is gonna disappoint me like I do, I do did. I really love the cast, i hope it’ll get more romantic and less details here and there. 🙂

  49. 49 strawberrycube

    After watching both ep 1 and 2 I feel that they should move on with the poor girl and rich CEO sotryline. It’s starting to be boring. Like, when will I get a drama where the poor girl ends up with her poor oppa and after some hard work they live happily ever after? I hope Se-kyung could stay with her first love. But I’m still enjoying the drama, though. I love the cast – and Park Shi-hoo 😉

  50. 50 Woody

    I’ve read the recap and the comments. Was glad to see some familiar names among commenters (from Faith series recaps). So, I decided to continue to follow “Alice”, as it provokes a lot of discussions on shallowness of the world, on what it takes to be treated and respected as a human, about hard work and whether effort can be one’s strength. I believe it can, but it will take much more resources and hard work from you, rather than just pretending being someone significant, skilfully presenting yourself, because the latter works better and more effectively than the former, as life proves it, though it may seem unlikely that adult people would buy it, at least minority would not and this minority will be left alone in the corner shaking their heads at the shallowness of reality.
    Somebody above wrote that this drama can end like Alice in Wonderland, and I agree with this supposition ‘cause it looks like the drama does have some surprises in store, plus, as Mar analyses, the heroine is not typical “enduring cheerful girl trope nor is the feisty never say die type” lead k-drama girl.

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