Alice in Cheongdam-dong: Episode 5
This world is so rich with story, and yet so small. I should not be surprised that everyone is intertwined as it is a Korean drama, but everyone in this world is believably connected for good reason. It’s just, in a small world, no secrets can be kept for long.
Episode 5 Recap
Seung-jo exits the party, shaking the pain off from his fist. Punching a guy in the jaw hurts. He scans the streets, searching for Se-kyung, but she’s nowhere to be found. It doesn’t help that she’s not even picking up her phone.
Back at the party, Tommy apologizes to all of his guests once again, having been humiliated twice in one night. He’s especially sorry to Mr. Jang, who’s actually more relieved that Seung-jo didn’t catch him requesting for another woman for the night. The horror that would have caused. To add insult to injury, Mr. Jang thinks that Tommy may be losing his touch in being able to connect people. Ouch.
His totally unsympathetic assistant adds that she doesn’t think Se-kyung came to the party to get a sponsor; she didn’t dress like she needed one. Before he can mull over it any longer, he gets a surprise guest – Se-kyung. She came by to get an apology from him. If Jean Thierry Cha had recommended her to be his designer and he didn’t like her, then he should have just rejected her outright. He shouldn’t have humiliated her by offering her a sponsor.
Tommy judges her – (1) she waited by the staircase as if she was waiting for someone, (2) she knew every guest’s profile and had an interest in all of their interests, and (3) she was always the most conscious about Tommy and making sure that he noticed her. So with all those things (which by the way was all advice from Yoon-joo), was he wrong in thinking that she wanted a sponsorship? Since he doesn’t seem all too apologetic, Se-kyung decides to make her leave.
And that’s when he sees it.
Tommy stops her and apologizes sincerely. Now that he’s gotten a good look at her, he can see the greed in her eyes – she wanted to enter Cheongdam-dong right? She wanted him to help matchmake her, right? Se-kyung: “Do you see anger, or devastation, in my eyes?” After she leaves, Tommy finds her an interesting character, not unlike someone he knew long ago. Don’t tell me he means Yoon-joo?
Se-kyung leaves the party again, and a few blocks later breaks her heels. Oh great. She doesn’t get far walking on her tiptoes and wearing only one shoe, and it’s only when she takes a break that Seung-jo finally finds her. She’s surprised to find him there – was he possibly looking for her? Pretending that it’s his CEO driving him crazy (heh), Seung-jo orders her to follow him.
They enter the Artemis department store and he hands her a replacement pair of heels to wear. He then shows her the men’s clothing. Historically, shirts were undergarments, so they should always be 100% cotton, with the basic colors of blue and white. He then shows her the different styles of blazers that are preferable for a slim look, and the different types of shoes laid out on the table. Se-kyung’s confusion increases as Seung-jo lists out the measurements of Jean Thierry Cha, as well as his favorite colors and favorite materials.
He is offering her the position of being Jean Thierry’s personal stylist. Say whaaaaat?
Pretending that he doesn’t know the reason why, Seung-jo says that “Jean Thierry” knows all about what happened today, and he’d like to help her out. The job will include her picking up a few things here and there, but all of them will be pertinent to styling him for the day. With this job, she’ll be able to develop her “eye for fashion.”
Se-kyung nearly rejects the offer, but Seung-jo points out that a kind CEO like Jean Thierry is presenting her with a new opportunity. Se-kyung remembers Yoon-joo’s last words: “Find a new White Rabbit.”
She takes the night to think it over, and looks to Yoon-joo’s diary for further advice. In it she says, “Don’t be anxious, but if there’s an opportunity, grab it right away.” Se-kyung learns that she must use her sincerity to gain the “White Rabbit’s” trust. She shouldn’t be found out – as Tommy had with her.
The following morning, she tells Seung-jo that she’ll take the job. Since she works at GN Fashion from 9am to 3pm, her hours with “Jean Thierry” will start at 4pm. Her first project will be to help style his outfit for the Artemis Christmas party in two weeks, and this will be the first official event “Jean Thierry” will attend as Artemis Korea’s CEO. The theme is “Paris.”
Se-kyung: What type of Paris?
Seung-jo: It’s just… uh, Paris. Do we need to be more detailed than that?
Heh – he settles for “Dynamic Paris” and Se-kyung thinks she’s pulling his leg. She wants more specific details on this party, and wants to meet the CEO. Seung-jo thinks she’s “clucking” a bit too much (feeling a bit henpecked here, huh?) and repeats that she can never meet the CEO. He will never meet her – ever. Hah. Oh boy…
Seung-jo explains that because the CEO hates meeting people, he will act as the conduit betweeen Se-kyung and Jean Thierry. Not being able to see him should not prevent her from being able to do her work, and Seung-jo will provide all the information and instructions she ever needs.
Since “Jean Thierry Cha” has never gone to any official events, there’s nothing on him when Se-kyung tries to look him up. She even asks Ah-jung to help her find more information on him, and she herself can’t find anything. Ah-jung herself has never gotten a good look at him, but only knows him as a “devil” because of the ruthless way he runs the sales of the company.
I think he’s just the devil to work with because of his crazy mood swings. At work, Seung-jo harasses Secretary Moon for more details on the theme of the Christmas party – how can it just be Paris? Is it Architectural Paris? Revolutionary Paris? Artistic Paris? Well if only Seung-jo read the brochure, he’d realize it’s about the “history of fashion” and that a guest speaker will provide a talk during this exclusive, VIP party. Secretary Moon is befuddled over why Seung-jo all of a sudden cares so much about the party, especially when he didn’t want to go before. Seung-jo snaps: “Me?! Not care?! When I’ll be meeting our clients for the first time!?”
Seung-jo visits Dong-wook and explains that because he’s sooo busy, he’s hired Se-kyung as a personal stylist. It will also help her become a better designer in the future, so Seung-jo thinks that he’s actually doing charity work. Dong-wook can’t help but be amused, and wonders if this is all helping Seung-jo “heal.” In fact, Seung-jo’s actually more curious about the effect Se-kyung has on him, as he’s noticed that he’s now starting to open up more. He wants to know how far his heart will open up again.
Il-nam visits Tommy for an update, and doesn’t believe that “Jean Thierry” would have such an ambiguous relationship with Se-kyung. She’s either his girlfriend or not. Tommy is curious as to why Il-nam has taken such a personal interest in him, and how he knows so much. Il-nam: “I want to make him submit to me.”
Tommy doesn’t understand Il-nam’s words, and learns from his assistant that Jean Thierry had rejected Royal Group for a business deal. It seems that Il-nam has a personal vendetta against him, and reasons that they must have a connection in the past – or even must be related. Suddenly he remembers reading an article some time ago that the heir to Royal Group is left undetermined. He requests his assistant to bring him information on Il-nam’s family tree.
Seung-jo goes shopping for suits with Se-kyung giving her more details about how the CEO likes his suits. She writes it down the old fashioned way, rather than using a voice recorder, and he is about to tease her for it when he sees the exasperated and serious look on Se-kyung’s face. Once again, she asks if it’s possible to meet the CEO since she needs to get his measurements.
Seung-jo reiterates that the CEO is very very weird (hee!) and so he offers to do the measurements for her. She can just teach him how to get them. He grabs a tape measure, and Se-kyung, realizing that it’s futile to keep asking to meet the CEO, starts measuring Seung-jo’s shoulders and arms, showing him where to measure. He giggles over the size fitting, until she asks him to bend down lower so she can measure his neck. Wrapping the tape measure around him, her face is only inches from his cheek. Ba-thump, ba-thump, ba-thump. Is that my heart racing, or Seung-jo’s?
He thanks her for showing him how to take measurements, and then offers to take her out for a meal. Se-kyung declines, as she still has things to do for GN Fashion.
Mrs. Shin meets with Yoon-joo at a gallery to transfer the responsibility over In-hwa’s marriage to her. She admits not liking Yoon-joo too much as a daughter-in-law, but she can’t have her children fighting over control of GN Fashion. Mrs. Shin picks out a painting and has Yoon-joo deliver it to Tommy Hong, as a way of ensuring a successful match.
Yoon-joo heads to GN Fashion and congratulates In-hwa on her marriage. Clearly she doesn’t know who In-hwa’s match is yet. In-hwa is all business, preferring to concentrate on the collaboration first before marriage. But Yoon-joo doesn’t really care about what In-hwa thinks, as a successful marriage under her supervision will win her brownie points all around. At the elevator, she bumps into Se-kyung – just the person she wanted to see for some more gossip. Did Se-kyung really throw soy sauce at Tommy Hong?
Se-kyung corrects her: she got hit with soy sauce instead. Yoon-joo has a good laugh from imagining that scene play out in her head, but she wonders how Tommy got soy sauce on him instead. People who were there swore that Tommy was embarrassed; they just didn’t know who the perpetrator was.
Yoon-joo adds that after the diary and introducing her to Tommy Hong, that’s the end of her helping Se-kyung. But she also wants to give some bonus advice (…because she loves acting all mentor-like to the smartest girl in her class?): if Se-kyung chooses not to stop where she is, she might encounter three obstacles in her future. She exits the elevator with an air of mystery, and Se-kyung stops her with one question: Who was Yoon-joo’s white rabbit?
A flashback reveals that in Paris, a year before Yoon-joo broke up with Seung-jo, Il-nam had given her the money to leave his son. Yoon-joo did not want just the money. She wanted a promise that Il-nam would let her finish her schooling in Paris first and then give her a recommendation letter for any job that will give her access to the elite in Cheongdam-dong. Dang… can I laugh that father and son are White Rabbits to two frenemies?
Yoon-joo reveals to Se-kyung that she got a job in an exclusive store – so private that only those who heard about and were extended an invitation could shop there. Yoon-joo started out working on the floor, learning the elite madames’ tastes and acting as a delivery girl to Mrs. Shin. That is how she met Min-hyuk, who was divorced, and ended up marrying him. It was not easy, but the most important step was getting that opportunity to mingle with the rich.
Se-kyung admits to having found a White Rabbit, but isn’t sure how to gain his trust if she’s never to meet him. She is only allowed to meet the secretary, so Yoon-joo advises her to get the secretary on her side no matter what. Then, she must find a way to slowly and steadily get the White Rabbit to reveal his emotions to her. Emotional people are usually the type that are closed off to everyone else, hence probably why Se-kyung can’t meet him. Without knowing it’s Seung-jo, Yoon-joo is doing a good job describing him.
Yoon-joo asks who the White Rabbit is; perhaps with a name, she can help Se-kyung even more. But Se-kyung hesitates: “It’s written in your diary. If a person isn’t on your side 200%, then don’t ever open up to them.”
Se-kyung spends the night contemplating how to get “Jean Thierry” to open up to her. She had read previously in the diary some important notes about trust: trust is built on communication, which inspires empathy, which is an emotion that should contain sincerity. She heads over to her university campus to work on a project in her old classroom…
The following day, after meeting Seung-jo again, she offers to treat him for a nice meal to thank him. She hands him a survey of 100 questions for the CEO – things like where he lives, whom he meets, what his beliefs are. These details would help her in styling him, because if she can know his personality, she’ll know his personal style that she’s trying to match. She also wants Seung-jo to take pictures of his dressing room so that she knows what the CEO already has in his closet.
Seung-jo’s impressed – she’s really going all the way, isn’t she? He then asks where he should be driving her, and she directs him to her university. He excitedly agrees and then pretends to spin the wheel – to the left, wheee! to the right, wheee! Goodness – only because I know you’re not really driving the car, I’m not having a heart attack from your crazy driving antics.
Tommy’s assistant receives an update on Cha Il-nam’s son. Rumor has it he became a drug junkie or entered a mental hospital. Because of that, a successor is crucial for Royal Group. Just then, Yoon-joo arrives with the painting to discuss In-hwa’s marriage prospects.
Yoon-joo thanks Tommy for arranging the match and hopes that it will be a successful one. She asks who the prospect is. Oh, you haven’t heard? It’s Jean Thierry Cha! Yoon-joo drops her tea cup and spills it all over her dress. Now now, no need to be so dramatic, is there?
Yoon-joo escapes to her brother’s bakery and even he can’t believe that they keep getting tied up with the Cha family. “They?” Ho-min reveals that Il-nam had hired a baker for his bakery – and out comes none other than Deuk-gi in his chef uniform. Ack! So Deuk-gi is working for Yoon-joo’s brother? He bemoans the state of the bread, which were not sliced up properly and left out to dry. Now the bread is all stale looking. Yoon-joo quickly turns away, using the Christmas tree decoration to help shield her from Deuk-gi’s view. Dang this world is just so small.
Back at Tommy’s office, he gets one more surprise visitor (this guy’s popular lately) – In-hwa. She has one request: to have Tommy stop matchmaking her with Jean Thierry Cha. Whut in the whut? It’s not because she’s in love with someone else. Working with/marrying Artemis is just like working with another GN Fashion company, so instead, she wants Tommy to find her a match from someone in the distribution business – like a company that owns several department stores.
Tommy is intrigued by the offer and promises to look into it. As for Mrs. Shin, he’ll have to tell her that Jean Thierry Cha rejected the proposal; the mother would not throw a fit over that since she can’t risk the collaboration. Just as In-hwa takes her leave, Tommy receives a fax regarding Cha Il-nam’s family register. He stops In-hwa – what about the heir to Royal Group? And what if the Royal Group heir was Jean Thierry Cha – would In-hwa marry him?
He’s only about 50% sure, so In-hwa tells him to be 75% sure before calling her again.
Tommy checks the name again on the family register: the son is Cha Seung-jo. Jean Thierry’s last name is “Cha,” and Il-nam seems to know a lot about Jean Thierry. It is not too impossible that Tommy just unlocked Cheongdam-dong’s biggest secret.
Seung-jo and Se-kyung arrive at the school quite late, and Se-kyung warns him to tread carefully going forward. While men are allowed on campus at this women’s university, because they’re technically not students they could get kicked out. Se-kyung guides him into the building, and orders him to hide behind a corner so she can scope the area. But Seung-jo’s thirsty, and so when he sees the vending machine for coffee, he beelines for it.
Se-kyung practically tackles him and pushes him behind the machine as some students pass by. They’re really close, but only Seung-jo seems nervously happy about that. Hee. She finally gets him into her work studio and brings him to her desk. Laid out are approximately eight bunny dolls, all suited up and wearing different emotions. She wants Seung-jo to give the dolls to the CEO, and then every day he can tell Se-kyung what his mood is. Knowing his daily mood will help her determine his daily style. Putting sentiment into one’s fashion is her philosophy.
Seung-jo is quite delighted by this idea, but he says he’s going to have to relay the proper doll to Se-kyung each day, as the CEO will still refuse to meet her. Se-kyung agrees, and she asks him to wait for a bit as she puts a finishing touch on one bunny. Seung-jo sees bottles of liquid by her desk and asks if he can drink some water.
Se-kyung lets him – but then realizes none of those bottles hold water! Too late – Seung-jo just took a swig of benzene!
Seung-jo is rushed to the hospital, and the ER doctor prepares to pump out the remaining liquids from his stomach. A nurse asks Se-kyung to check in on Seung-jo, but she doesn’t know his name. This entire time, she’s been calling him by his alias “Secretary Kim.” She calls up Secretary Moon and asks him for Secretary Kim’s name. Secretary Moon has no idea who she’s talking about, so she describes him as the man that came with him to Eclaire Jewelry some time ago.
Secretary Moon remembers that meeting – when Se-kyung had mistaken Seung-jo for a mere secretary, and he jumps up in alarm. Which hospital are they at? Another nurse recognizes Seung-jo in the emergency room and hurries to tell Dong-wook that his friend is at their hospital. Dong-wook freaks out as well and hurries over.
Seung-jo’s phone starts ringing, and Se-kyung sees that it’s Tommy Hong calling. She doesn’t pick up, so he leaves a text message instead: “I’m the Tommy Hong who was hit by the soy sauce. I’d like to meet with the president and apologize directly.” Se-kyung wonders if Seung-jo could possibly have thrown the soy sauce at Tommy in her defense.
He stirs at that moment, and groggily asks where he is. Se-kyung tells him that he’s at the hospital for having drunk benzene, and he bolts upright: did she feed him that? Is he ok? Is there anything wrong? Haha – surprisingly lucid, my man. Se-kyung assures him he’s fine, since the doctors were able to get most of it out, but she spots Dong-wook heading towards them.
Seung-jo freaks out at the sight of his friend, and he leaps off the bed and stops him. He greets Dong-wook respectfully and “reminds” him that he’s Jean Thierry Cha’s Secretary Kim. Dong-wook is confused until Seung-jo introduces him to Se-kyung as Jean Thierry’s friend, and then he starts playing along. Whew.
But then… Secretary Moon enters the ER. Seung-jo literally runs and slides across the floor to greet Secretary Moon respectfully, as if he’s the senior worker in the company. Se-kyung adds that she called him because she didn’t know “Secretary Kim’s” first name; poor Secretary Moon, who still doesn’t know who this Kim guy is. The nurse comes by, asking for the patient to be checked in, and Dong-wook leads her away, saying he’ll take care of it instead.
Seung-jo manages to take the moment to tell Secretary Moon to play along, as he’s pretending to be this Secretary Kim. He sends him off, and bids him farewell respectfully when Se-kyung comes by. I love how awkward Secretary Moon gets in using informal speech with his own boss. But then… Chauffeur Kim arrives. Seung-jo hugs him, pretending that he’s touched that all of his colleagues came out of concern for his welfare, and then practically pushes them all out of the ER.
Seung-jo gets his medicine and then checks out of the hospital in a rush. They have to get those bunnies. He packs each one carefully in a box, and Se-kyung takes the opportunity to ask what his name is. She had called Secretary Moon because she wasn’t sure about his own name. After a moment’s thought, he slowly says his name is Seung-jo. Kim Seung-jo.
He leaves Se-kyung to deliver the bunnies, and Se-kyung calls him back. Could it be that day….? But Se-kyung fails to finish her question, and she sends him off instead.
Se-kyung: Secretary Kim, I’m… thankful.
Kaedejun: HAHA – too bad Seung-jo doesn’t have a grandiose speech about love now.
Seung-jo: Finally, you’re saying “thank you” to me? For what?
Se-kyung: Just… for everything.
And they give each other a kind, broad smile.
It’s hard to put all my thoughts together for this drama, as so many plot points are revealed in each episode. The world is slowly – ever so slowly – being unraveled for us, and with each layer being peeled off one more connection is made that makes this world that much smaller. Cheongdam-dong is already not a big area, so imagine going around this area and seeing every single person you could possibly know in your life. Exhausting.
As Se-kyung is becoming more tightly woven into the fabric of Cheongdam-dong, Yoon-joo is starting to get strangled by the ties that bind her. Her connections from the past are coming back to haunt her, whether it be Cha Il-nam and his deals with her, or even Se-kyung’s father, who I’m sure knows all about her high school days. As one is on her way to become the new princess of Cheongdam-dong (as I hope Se-kyung will be), another queen is quite possibly on her way down. Off with her head!
I’m quite tickled by the fact that Seung-jo reveals his true nature and his true name to Se-kyung alone, thus showing how much he’s already trusting her. But when she finds out that he’s the CEO she’s been trying to gain the trust of (hopefully at the Christmas party), it would be interesting to see how their relationship will develop even further. I’m hoping that their relationship will change for the better, but at the same time I’m apprehensive over what will happen with this revelation. Will it skewer Se-kyung’s motives and change her treatment of Seung-jo? This guy is a little too pure for Cheongdam-dong, so I’m hoping our fish-out-of-water Alice won’t use Yoon-joo’s wily advice to do anything to him. Despite his jaded outlook on women in general, I’m pretty sure he won’t be able to catch up with any of the Cheongdam-dong women.