Alice in Cheongdam-dong: Episode 11
I must admit, I wasn’t too thrilled by this episode because it was more or less predictable regarding the aftermath of the engagement announcement. I mean, who was going to start clapping and cheering for their impending marriage? What was quite interesting instead was the personality makeovers that the side characters got, as well as the new ‘do Se-kyung wore as she became the black swan. No longer was she going to be pure – she was going to be dirty through and through. This was the transformation I expected of her 8 episodes ago.
SONG OF THE DAY
Every Single Day – “Alice” for Alice in Cheongdam-dong OST [download]
EPISODE 11 RECAP
Well, what are the families to do now that Seung-jo has announced his intention to marry Se-kyung? They split up and go into the adjacent conference rooms in the back to start their yelling matches, duh.
Il-nam raises a fit over Seung-jo’s “rebellious antics” once again. Seung-jo doesn’t think he’s being rebellious, but papa and I know better – after all, if he really loved Se-kyung, why won’t he just go and marry her? Why present her to Il-nam in such a public setting? Seung-jo wanted to put the rumors to rest about him marrying In-hwa, but Il-nam thinks he just chose Se-kyung because she is the “type of girl” that he dislikes the most. He thinks that if Il-nam approves of her, Seung-jo will dump her because it’s no longer “fun” to challenge his father. Seung-jo tells Se-kyung to wait outside, and closes the door behind her. This means she can hear the fights going on in both rooms…
With the Shin family, Min-hyuk is surprisingly the angriest towards Tommy Hong for making them feel like In-hwa and Seung-jo’s marriage was a done deal. His haughty side comes out as he reviles the idea that a part-timer at his company won the heart of the Artemis CEO: “Because of such a trivial girl, our matchmaking plans are ruined?” In-hwa thankfully stops his tirade — every word about how Se-kyung “beat” her insults her too. She is over Seung-jo already, as she’s realized how childish he is. He would never be able to help further her ambitions. ‘Atta girl – I knew you were the modern woman.
From her spot outside, Se-kyung can see Tommy’s pride being torn to pieces. In-hwa comes out and congratulates Se-kyung coolly on her marriage, noting that “these things happen often in ‘our’ world.” Caught between two families, Se-kyung can plainly see how difficult it is to enter Cheongdam-dong.
Il-nam continues berating his son for being disobedient, even though Seung-jo claims that’s the only way he can finally breathe and taste freedom. They reaffirm their vow to disown each other, while Min-hyuk tells Tommy that he can never escape this unscathed. There is no way Tommy can become successful now, and he reminds him that he is a lowly matchmaker, not even a designer. Wow – for the first time, I see how arrogant Min-hyuk can be; he really does look down on outsiders. When Min-hyuk sees Se-kyung at the hallway, he gives her a cold smile and tells her to quit her job. After all, she’s marrying Jean Thierry Cha.
Tommy finally emerges from the room, and he rightfully glares at Se-kyung for ruining his future. But Seung-jo comes out of his room at the same time and warns Tommy to back off from his girl. When Il-nam comes out of the room last, Tommy bows in apology for what just happened. Unfortunately, Il-nam tells Tommy to kiss the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics sponsorship goodbye.
Tommy is in a foul mood when he returns to his office but Hae-joon has some good news – he saw Se-kyung and the woman talking again, and shows him a recording of their conversation. It’s the one between Se-kyung and Yoon-joo outside her building, where she admits to being the one first lover of Seung-jo, and how Se-kyung approached Seung-jo for money. Jackpot.
Seung-jo takes Se-kyung to a private restaurant after the ruckus. He reveals a bit more about his childhood, and how his mother divorced his father when he was 10. One day she just packed up and left, but after the divorce she picked him up after school. He got to spend a few days with her before she finally brought him home. It was only then that his father told him why his mother practically “kidnapped” him: to demand more alimony from Il-nam. He gave it, and she returned Seung-jo. He learned a fateful lesson from his father that day: “If someone says they love you, don’t believe it. That only means she will use you.” Because of that, whenever someone says she loves him, he goes through a cycle of self-doubt.
But he then quotes something Se-kyung said before: “The opposite of ‘I love you’ is ‘I don’t love you,’ and it means there is nothing she can do to help you anymore.” He now knows that it’s possible to find true love, and he bends down on one knee and proposes to her. That… is not a big rock though…
Se-kyung is crying at this point from guilt over her secret, but what’s worse is before she can accept his ring, she receives a phone call from Tommy. What to answer first? Her guilt washing over her, she decides to take Tommy’s call first and runs to the bathroom. Tommy sends her a video message, in which he plays back the video and says that she has two options now: Paris or hell. He wants to know her final decision by tomorrow.
Se-kyung collapses on the floor, shaking with tears. Seung-jo is concerned over why she didn’t accept his proposal right away and stands outside the bathroom door. He knows it’s sudden, but all he’s ever wanted in his life is to run away from his home with his father and find a new one. He believes that his new home is with Se-kyung, and he is willing to wait for her to accept him.
She finally emerges from the bathroom more composed than before. “One day, If I disappear from your life,” she says. “Promise me you will die on that day.” (Say whaaaaaaaat?!) “Even if you are lying, just say you will die. I won’t blame you if you can’t keep that promise.” (Let me roll up my sleeves here just a moment, lady…) Seung-jo promises her that he will die the day she leaves, not understanding her request. She then bids him to put the ring on her, and makes her promise: “I also promise to never leave you, Seung-jo. If you run away, I will find you. If you tell me to leave, I will stand by you.”
Well thank God you said that, because I was going to punch the living daylights out of you, Se-kyung.
Despite holding a perfect piece of blackmail, Tommy is still frustrated. He can see himself in Se-kyung completely, how she’s being stepped on by other people like he was. The thing is, now he’s the one doing the stepping and blackmailing. Even though he desires to succeed, he feels conflicted about becoming the person he once hated. His secretary tries to offer some comfort, noting that being the stepper is better than being the “steppee,” so to speak.
Yoon-joo is surprised to learn from Min-hyuk that Se-kyung and Seung-jo are really getting married, and pretends she never knew about their relationship. When she sees In-hwa outside Min-hyuk’s office, though, she kindly says that there are other fish in the sea. But In-hwa wants to know everything Yoon-joo can tell her about Se-kyung first.
Yoon-joo escapes to her car and calls Se-kyung to ask what on earth she is doing with Seung-jo. She acts like a good friend, warning her that In-hwa just asked for details about her. It turns out she didn’t say anything to her sister-in-law, but pointed out that Seung-jo is kind of weird mentally, and therefore Se-kyung ending up with him is an odd choice. In-hwa thought that Yoon-joo had wanted to see her get married off no matter what, but now it seems Yoon-joo is relieved the marriage didn’t work out. She wonders if Yoon-joo knows something, and thinks back to how oddly she had reacted when Seung-jo gave her a present when they hosted a dinner at their home.
Se-kyung meets up with Yoon-joo and shows her the video that Tommy sent her. Yoon-joo is immediately fatalistic, believing that this is truly the end. They’re all going to be ruined! Yoon-joo is near tears as she realizes that they’re both going to hell, but Se-kyung begs to differ. If Yoon-joo is going to hell, it’s because she brought it upon herself. If Yoon-joo loved Seung-jo first, why did she give him up for money so quickly? By doing so, she degraded her love and truly became a gold digger, which is what’s getting her into so many troublesome close shaves lately.
Se-kyung: Seo Yoon-joo, get back to your senses. You told me, ‘Don’t be a coward.’ We are people who have nothing, and we are usually suspected and questioned heavily. But if we acknowledge that we have nothing, then we really become nothing. I won’t be like you. I will enter Cheongdam-dong while being acknowledged that I do have something my own way.
Bam! Someone’s finally giving lessons to her teacher!
Se-kyung adds that Seung-jo can give her everything she wants – money and love. With that, she will promise to succeed in both business and love. Yoon-joo still believes it is impossible to have both, but Se-kyung knows she can do it. Her “business” will be to protect Seung-jo’s love, and so she is not going to confess her secret to him, ever. Rather, she will marry him and then help maintain the image he needs for life, making business choices and partnerships that will help protect his pure love for her. She hopes to get Yoon-joo’s help in that, because if she manages to succeed she can protect Yoon-joo’s position with GN Fashion.
Of course, once she marries Seung-jo, she does hope to never see Yoon-joo again because, hey, she is the ex-wife. But with the start of her new secret diary, Se-kyung has completely become a black swan.
Back at home, Seung-jo describes to Dong-wook what happened at the charity bazaar. Instead of being supportive, though, Dong-wook asks Seung-jo why he broke the news to his father about his marriage in that way. He should have approached his father privately rather than publicly. Was it because he was afraid of having his father object to Se-kyung, and that’s why he did it in front of everyone?
Dong-wook knows that doing things so immaturely will not resolve his issues with his father, but Seung-jo doesn’t want to hear that right now. He just proposed to Se-kyung and it’s a happy day for him – can’t Dong-wook be happy with him?
The following day, In-hwa visits Tommy in his office. She forgives him for what happened, since the variable known as human emotion can ruin any matchmaking plan. But what In-hwa can’t understand is why Seung-jo chose Se-kyung over her, when she could have provided a good business connection. (Uh, I dunno – maybe because you’re so cold?) She wants Tommy’s explanation on what it is to be a lovable human, I guess. Unfortunately Tommy has another more pressing appointment to attend to, and In-hwa takes a seat.
She takes a look at the folders on the coffee table and spies one labeled Cha Seung-jo. Curious, she picks it up, but it’s stuck to the cover of his tablet, which shows the video he was last viewing. The screenshot displays Yoon-joo and Se-kyung talking and In-hwa cautiously reaches to press the play button. But before she can, the secretary returns to the room to ask if she wants anything to drink. In-hwa chooses to excuse herself, citing another appointment, and leaves.
Tommy meets with Se-kyung in his private lounge, assuming she’s here to pick either Paris or hell. Se-kyung replies that she has a proposition instead. Now that everything has fallen to pieces, what is more important to Tommy – GN Fashion or Royal Group? She thinks Royal Group might be more beneficial to him, and reminds him that if the relationship between father and son is repaired, then Tommy just might be able to get the Pyeongchang sponsorship deal. She believes she can be the one to mend that bridge, but Tommy has to help her too (regarding that video). That’s the world of Cheongdam-dong – give and take.
Of course, Tommy is skeptical, and he thinks she’s been watching one too many dramas. Se-kyung is presenting herself to be the poor “good” girl who wins the heart of the rich guy and overcomes all obstacles in order to get her happy ending. Se-kyung fires back: “Then what do you think should be my ending? Because I approached a man for money, am I supposed to be ruined so that justice will be had? What is the lesson for us outsiders and Yoon-joo? ‘Live within your means?’ ‘If you climb a tree you shouldn’t have dared to climb, you should fall and die?’ If I was going to learn those lessons in the first place, then I wouldn’t have started all this at all.”
I love how she turned those lessons over his head – after all, weren’t we always told to dream big?
Se-kyung will even carry the burden for the rest of her life and never confess if she must. If she were to fail, then she’d admit the truth. It’s not the end of the road for Tommy just yet; he may have aimed for the moon and fallen, but he can now try and land on the stars. Then again, if he wants to stay being a matchmaker, there’s nothing she can do. She gives him two days for a response and leaves. Finally she’s really taking action!
Se-kyung meets with Seung-jo that night, who has already put in a request to be relocated to the head office in Paris. He wants to marry there and move so that Se-kyung can study in Paris, and he can work at the head office again. To me this all sounds like he’s running away again. Se-kyung asks if they must marry without any friends or family, and he assures her that he’ll fly everyone over for the wedding. Everyone but his father, it seems.
Se-kyung gets a text from Il-nam, who wants to meet with her the following day. Time to buy her out!
Se-kyung is dressing more and more like the status she aspires to as she meets with Il-nam. He interrogates her about her family, and of course her poor background does not satisfy him. He tries to dissuade her from marrying Seung-jo, saying that he’s only obsessed with rebelling against him. But that obsession has nothing to do with Se-kyung – it’s purely between father and son. After all, hasn’t Il-nam ever tried to understand his own son? Il-nam gets defensive: “What do you know!?” He gets up and leaves.
At a nearby cafe, Se-jin, Ah-jung, Secretary Moon, and Dong-wook are huddled together rewatching the video of Seung-jo spinning Se-kyung around in happiness after she accepted him. These sidekicks seem to be way giddier about their union than Seung-jo or Se-kyung.
When Se-kyung arrives, they all start making smacking noises, teasing her about getting all kissy-kissy with the CEO. Se-kyung and Seung-jo sitting on a tree! K-I-S-S-I-N-G!~
Se-kyung’s purpose in coming is to speak to Dong-wook privately. She wants to know what she can do to help mend the relationship between Seung-jo and Il-nam. Dong-wook will reveal one thing: Seung-jo’s recurring nightmare is visiting his father at a funeral. That dream means that he feels guilty towards his father for letting him go, even though he can’t breathe around him to an extent. He’s afraid of being rejected by his father, so all of his antics are just a call for attention.
That gives Se-kyung an idea, and she hurries home to take out all her awards and drawings that were lovingly kept by her father. She visits Il-nam the following day without notice and gets to the point: If Seung-jo is really rebelling against his father and doesn’t want to see him, then why does he keep showing up around Il-nam? It’s all because she knows Seung-jo craves his approval. She shows Il-nam all of her artwork; her father never praised her for her accomplishments either, but he showed his pride and approval by keeping every single one of her awards and drawings. She hopes that Il-nam can eventually reach out to his son first. Even a sign of approval can go a long way.
She leaves, and Il-nam takes a look at her childhood drawings. It brings a smile to his face, and a fond memory of when Seung-jo’s art teacher had shown him Seung-jo’s paintings long ago. The teacher found Seung-jo extremely talented, and though it brought a smile to Il-nam’s face, he told the teacher to never come back for private lessons, and to never tell anyone how talented Seung-jo was. Aww… so he consciously chose not to praise his own son.
Se-kyung is still clocking in at GN Fashion, but receives a text from Tommy to meet at a certain cafe. On her way out, In-hwa asks if she is particularly close to Yoon-joo. Of course, they’re not, but the image of Yoon-joo and Se-kyung in the video weighs heavily on In-hwa’s mind. She wants to know what their relationship is exactly, and what Tommy could possibly be hiding from her. Oh how I hope Tommy will delete that video and just accept Se-kyung’s proposition.
In-hwa gets an idea, and has her manager find a tablet cover with a design exactly the same as Tommy’s.
The cafe where Tommy and Se-kyung meet at is particularly memorable for him because many years ago, he had to get on his knees and beg someone for a chance to succeed. Years later, many people were begging him for help and he’s had to turn down many of them. He’s seen people become frustrated and angry, but he no longer sees it in Se-kyung; once again, he sees the desire for a better life in her eyes, the greed. He asks if she has the confidence to be the lady of the household; if she becomes the madam of Royal Group, she has to promise to give him his wings as a full-fledged designer. This time, he’s the one asking for help.
When asked by his secretary why he accepted her proposition, he only says that he had to accept it in order to look good and cool. Hah. Just vain? Or is the vanity an excuse for doing what he knows he has to do to survive?
He arrives at his studio just as In-hwa gets off the phone with someone, waiting outside. But just as they sit down for their meeting, Tommy is called away to sign for a delivery. In-hwa takes the opportunity to switch out the tablets, replacing his with one with the same cover. When the secretary comes to ask what she wants to drink, In-hwa asks for the bathroom and excuses herself.
Once in the bathroom, In-hwa unlocks Tommy’s tablet (no password?!) and searches for the video. Time’s ticking, though, even though the delivery man is taking his sweet time with the slip. I already have the hope that Tommy deleted the video since he had agreed to work with Se-kyung, but darnit! In-hwa finds the video and adds it to her Dropbox to view later. She manages to slide back into Tommy’s office before he comes back. A lingering glance and we know that the delivery man was hired by In-hwa to distract Tommy.
Seung-jo greets Se-kyung’s parents formally and asks for their permission to marry. Everyone is surprised at the suddenness of this announcement, and Deuk-gi refuses to give his permission. Even though Seung-jo is a good man, he knows that Se-kyung had a hard time because of him. Their social statuses are too far apart, and Deuk-gi actually wished they would date and then break up. He hopes that she can marry a man from a normal family background.
Seung-jo assures him that he’s really a normal man, and wishes to live a normal life with Se-kyung. But Deuk-gi stands his ground – he will not send his daughter to a man who has cut ties with his own father. Point taken. In Se-kyung’s room, Seung-jo admits that he’s envious of her close-knit family and had hoped he’d be accepted into her family instead.
Se-kyung pleads for him to make the first move and go see his father, then shows him a small news article about Seung-jo’s grandfather’s memorial rites being held that evening. She wants him to attend that. Seung-jo wishes that she wouldn’t scold him, and leans on her shoulder for comfort.
He returns home, and Se-kyung sends him a photo of the sad bunny. He replies with a video of the happy bunny jumping around his table, and somehow she takes it as a message to go over to his home and meet him.
The next thing we know, Seung-jo enters his father’s house to join his grandfather’s memorial. His relatives are happy to see him, and despite his father’s gruffness, Seung-jo takes his place beside his father and performs the memorial rites together.
As soon as it’s over, Seung-jo turns to leave but Il-nam yells that he might as well stay and eat some of the ceremonial food. Heh, father really can’t speak in a lower decibel, does he?
Se-kyung is waiting for him outside in his car, and he finally comes back to her. She’s happy that he did it, and though he feigns indifference, Seung-jo is kind of bashful about what he just did. Se-kyung raises her hand – high five! He doesn’t want to, and she turns on the cute, trying to guilt him into high-fiving her back. Of course, he finally does – how could he make his girl pout?
Meanwhile, In-hwa finally reviews that video from Tommy’s tablet, and she gasps in shock. Her sister-in-law is Seung-jo’s former flame?! Her part-timer approached Seung-jo for money?! The door to her room opens, and she quickly switches to a different app so that Yoon-joo won’t see. In-hwa greets Yoon-joo coldly; after all, she’s surrounded by gold-diggers.
A predictable episode, but there were small nuggets of gold found in the switch in In-hwa’s, Min-hyuk’s, and Tommy’s personalities. While Se-kyung has become a tougher woman in this episode, it’s nothing new; I knew she had that grit in her, but it’s a nice change to see her be strong without crying so much. Also, bangs don’t become her really – I like this new hair of hers.
So. In-hwa. She’s a character with more spunk in her, but unfortunately she’s been played in quite a bland manner. It’s as if the actress is trying to make her seem cool and elegant all the time, but that just makes her boring and seem more like a robot. I wanted to see more of that ambitious woman who wanted to run her own company, and step out of her brother’s shadow. We’ve been told that’s what she wants to do, but rarely seen evidence of it. I was grateful that she finally broke and became frustrated over what her sister-in-law and her love rival are hiding from her. She could be a much more formidable antagonist if only she could act it.
As for Min-hyuk, I knew that Kim Seung-soo can be terrifying when angry – just look at I Am Legend for his scenes. Always mild-mannered, I almost never thought of him as an elitist. But boy was I in for a surprise when he ended up being one. I don’t know why I never expected it – I probably wished he wasn’t one. But the way he snubbed Tommy and the way he coldly told Se-kyung to quit finally made me understand why Yoon-joo was so scared of him finding out why she approached him in the first place. This information would have been very useful several episodes earlier, but I guess it’s better late than never.
On the other hand, for the first time I really felt bad for Tommy. I now saw his own struggles. While he was using this matchmaking deal to further his own career, I never felt any sympathy for him nor did I try to understand how much was at stake for him because he already seemed like he was part of the elite. In this episode, I saw that he was merely treading water – close to dry land, but still at risk of being drowned by his past and his background. He is just as at risk of losing everything as Yoon-joo and Se-kyung, and I see that now. What a strange alliance we now have of half-bad, half-good guys, but as these three characters have learned from Cheongdam-dong, it’s impossible to succeed by themselves.
- Alice in Cheongdam-dong: Episode 10
- Alice in Cheongdam-dong: Episode 9
- Alice in Cheongdam-dong: Episode 8
- Alice in Cheongdam-dong: Episode 7
- Alice in Cheongdam-dong: Episode 6
- Alice in Cheongdam-dong: Episode 5
- Alice in Cheongdam-dong: Episode 4
- Alice in Cheongdam-dong: Episode 3
- Alice in Cheongdam-dong: Episode 2
- Alice in Cheongdam-dong: Episode 1