Drama Recaps
Alice in Cheongdam-dong: Episode 16 (Final)
by | January 29, 2013 | 152 Comments

I really enjoyed the last episode, because it was satisfying in showing us the growth of the characters over some time without feeling too rushed. Alice in Cheongdam-dong was a bumpy but short ride, and somehow the writer still managed to make a point about class and wealth in Korean society, as well as poke holes in our expectations of Korean dramas. In the end, this was more than just a romantic comedy; it made you think.


Yoon-joo can’t believe that Seung-jo never thought his father bought him that painting. He’s a rich man’s son, so of course his rich father wouldn’t be able to stand to see him suffer. Seung-jo is in denial that his father could care for him; after all, he signed away his inheritance, so why would his father care for him? That’s what differentiates him from Yoon-joo and Se-kyung: Seung-jo is willing to believe that good things can come out of nowhere, whereas Yoon-joo and Se-kyung are skeptical when good fortune like that befalls them.

Once Yoon-joo leaves, Seung-jo looks up the business card for Carrey Park Gallery, where his painting was eventually kept. One of the associates informs him that his painting was sold a few days ago to the man who originally donated it to the gallery. As it turns out, that man was the father of the painter. That’s enough confirmation for Seung-jo, and he races to his father’s office.

Il-nam isn’t around, so Seung-jo searches through the rooms to find his painting on display. He finally finds it in the grand hall, framed with a plaque beside formidable wooden doors. The truth hits him full force as he realizes that Se-kyung and Yoon-joo were right in being skeptical of his sudden “good fortune.”

Il-nam appears behind him, and nonchalantly confirms that he did purchase the painting a long time ago. He doesn’t understand Seung-jo’s violent reaction, who feels like his father still dictated his path even though he tried to run away. But Il-nam never meant to control his son – he just didn’t want to see his son poor anymore. Buying the painting would allow Il-nam to give money without getting rejected.

Seung-jo bitterly realizes that because his father purchased the painting, he was able to get to his current position in life. Il-nam points out that he didn’t get him into Artemis, or make him CEO, but Seung-jo doesn’t care. To him, he feels like his revenge against his father failed because he wanted to do everything on his own. Il-nam: “So many other people are bitter for lacking what you have, but you’re bitter because you have it?”

All Il-nam wanted was to be closer to his son as a father, not because he needed a successor. And he feels that Se-kyung was right when she noted that Seung-jo wanted to be closer to him by going into business. Seung-jo isn’t ready to accept that yet, and staggers away. Il-nam sighs heavily, as if he doesn’t know what to do with such a stubborn son.

Meanwhile, Se-kyung goes through her sketchbook from her studio and finds sketches of the bunnies she made. There’s also the page where she made her list about Seung-jo and herself when she was first trying to rationalize how to use him while still maintaining her pure love for him. Suddenly, a text message – but it’s from Yoon-joo.

In the text, Yoon-joo wonders what their lives would have been like if they hadn’t met. It’s possible that Se-kyung would still be trudging through her unlucky life, but Yoon-joo might still have been found out by her family. While she may have started off angry and determined to get into Cheongdam-dong, she lost it all, and became more anxious. She didn’t follow her own advice in being “black” all the way and fearless.

But thanks to Se-kyung and the events in the past few months, she now knows what to do. The anger is back.

Yoon-joo heads to her husband’s office to give her answer: “You once said you didn’t think I was worth hundreds of billions of won. Well, I don’t think you are either. I choose divorce.” Fist pump! in! the! air!! Even the music takes on a joyful beat as she leaves her husband’s jaw dropped and walks confidently out.

She bumps into her sister-in-law at the elevator. In-hwa is still bitter over the fact that the Roman outlet deal gets to rest on Yoon-joo’s shoulders rather than her own, which makes Yoon-joo laugh. “Go cheer up your brother,” she tells In-hwa. “I just told him I chose divorce.” And she leaves In-hwa’s jaw hanging too. I wish Mrs. Shin were there…

Dong-wook rushes to Seung-jo’s place under Il-nam’s orders, both worried over where Seung-jo might have gone. Dong-wook finds him asleep in his bed, though he initially fears that Seung-jo could have overdosed on sleeping pills. Seung-jo just wants to sleep, as it’s his way of escaping his current reality. Even though his son is alive, it’s not comforting to know that Seung-jo chooses to sleep all day, so Il-nam texts Se-kyung. Perhaps she can help.

Seung-jo does get up for some cheese and crackers and wine, and then passes out on the couch. He hallucinates his younger self crying, and his mother comforting him. His cries transform into a doorbell ringing, and next thing he knows, Se-kyung is by his side, carrying that sketchbook.

He thinks that she’s only there because she wants to say “I told you so” for being right the entire time. Either that, or Dong-wook and Il-nam told her to go and make sure he didn’t die. He doesn’t want to see her, so Se-kyung grabs him in a back-hug. She only came because she missed him terribly. Whether he’s Jean Thierry Cha or Secretary Kim, she doesn’t care. All she knows is she misses Seung-jo, and if she doesn’t see him, she feels like she’d die. “I love you, Seung-jo,” she says, and embraces him as tears run down their cheeks.

Except… all that was a dream.

He wakes to find the coffee table littered with wine bottles, and Se-kyung does let herself into his apartment. Wondering if this might actually be the reality, he asks the same thing as he did in his dream: did she come to mock him? Nope – Se-kyung came to break up. To her, their relationship wasn’t over yet because she was still trying to find a way to prove her love for him. But she realized that just saying “I love you” to him every day wouldn’t prove it at all.

Seung-jo feels like he just woke up into a nightmare. Se-kyung tells him that the only way for them to stay together is if he can face the reality of who she is, and still accept her. Seung-jo is unwilling to accept the fact that she’s a gold-digger and wants her to prove her love. Since his father is worth a trillion won (~1 billion USD) and he’s worth 2.1 billion (~2 million USD), then she must make that much and then go back to him. Only then can she prove that she really loved him and not the money.

Se-kyung understands that they’re most definitely over, and she leaves with barely a look back. Seung-jo is left heartbroken as she shatters all his fantasies of her, but he strangely feels better because the burden is gone.

Some time passes, and Se-kyung heads to an expensive boutique to purchase a new outfit for an upcoming interview. Now instead of wearing all black, she at least has a white blazer on. She meets Ah-jung at a cafe, who still wonders what could have happened if Se-kyung promised to prove her love for Seung-jo no matter what. Se-kyung knows that if she continued playing the innocent “Candy” girl, and he kept looking for pure love, their relationship would not have lasted. Se-kyung doesn’t believe in anything such as 100% pure love; as Yoon-joo once said, “love” means loving the person entirely, both their faults and strengths.

Ah-jung is saddened by Se-kyung’s speech because she voiced a truth that everyone inherently knows, but Ah-jung – and others – won’t let that stop them from living their lives. She wouldn’t be able to say something like that to Jae-wook. Jae-wook?! Yep – she’s dating Secretary Moon!

Speaking of which, Secretary Moon briefs Seung-jo on his schedule. There are ten candidates for a new entry level position that Seung-jo will have to interview, and he gives him a portfolio. Seung-jo then heads on to his meeting with Il-nam. It’s surprisingly civil as they discuss the outlet and the 50/50 profit that they’ll split. Il-nam is relieved to hear that his son is finally sleeping and eating well, and Seung-jo no longer regards his father with animosity.

Se-kyung arrives at the location for her interview… which is not for Artemis. Right off the bat, her interviewers give her a B for her fashion choices and appearance. Se-kyung does not divulge many details, giving only a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ to their questions. Her lack of details and study abroad merit her a D. They’re ready to dismiss her when she finally speaks up – not listed on her resume is the fact that she also worked as a personal stylist.

She gives the interviewers a portfolio, and they discover that she was Jean Thierry Cha’s personal stylist. One of them recognizes her as his former fiancee, and suddenly they mark out all her B’s and D’s, and give her only A’s. In the end, Se-kyung did end up using him for her own career advancement.

Meanwhile, Seung-jo does get an applicant named Se-kyung, which gives him a momentary pause. She’s Shin Se-kyung though, looking for a spot among Fashion Kings. This particular Se-kyung has similar credentials to Han Se-kyung, but she did manage to study at FIT in New York for a year-long course. Seung-jo asks why it took her so long to get a job, and she replies that having no study abroad experience is a detriment. In addition, because her family was poor she had to work to pay off her tuition.

Seung-jo notices her clothing though, which are all expensive and could have paid off a year’s worth in tuition. Shin Se-kyung: “In the past two years of job hunting, I’ve come to realize that I have to show good taste even in the interview. What I wear counts just as much as my competence and sense of style.” Her answer echoes that of our Se-kyung in Seung-jo’s mind, and he ends up with a more favorable impression of this candidate than he did before. Now he wonders how he would have scored Han Se-kyung if she had interviewed for him long ago.

Tommy picks Se-kyung up after her interview to go to lunch. Both are still having difficulty getting in contact with Yoon-joo and wonder where she’s gone. Tommy also has a gift for Se-kyung – the book Alice in Wonderland. The ending isn’t just that Alice wakes up from her dream, but that her older sister is left by the tree to also wonder if Wonderland is true. Eyes half-open, it’s as if the sister is half-believing in this fantasy world, even though she’s aware of the reality that she must continue to live in. Se-kyung feels that that is what it means to be an adult. Time to grow up.

Seung-jo arrives at the department store to look at the new line of jewelry recently launched, and he overhears a new intern rushing back into the store asking for a duplicate receipt. The saleslady kindly turns her down, and Seung-jo is once again reminded of the time Se-kyung came back to get a copy of the warranty.

As Chauffeur Kim drives him home, Seung-jo recognizes a familiar figure in the street. It’s Yoon-joo.

Yoon-joo invites him to her humble cramped apartment. He remembers that Yoon-joo was given a particular opportunity that he could have helped her with, which would have resulted in her staying in Cheongdam-dong. But she doesn’t tell him – what use is it to go over the past? She does wonder if he and Se-kyung broke up, since there hasn’t been any news about them lately. Seung-jo says she ran away first because she couldn’t prove her love. All Seung-jo wanted was to hear her say something like, “I can’t live without you!” but Yoon-joo scoffs. She knows him better, that he must have said something truly horrible to make her prove it. The Se-kyung she knows would never have run away.

Seung-jo insists he never did such a thing, as he’s no longer the “Seung-jo of the past.” Thanks to Se-kyung, he can now face reality and see that all the dramas he saw were lies – how could the “Candy” heroine love everything about the male lead except his money? He knows for a fact that he didn’t tell her to prove it, not even in his dreams.

But that triggers it – dreams… And suddenly he realizes that what he thought was a dream was not a dream. When Se-kyung had given him the back-hug, that was real. And he had pushed her away and asked her to prove her love for him. He no longer wanted to doubt her feelings.

Se-kyung didn’t know how to prove it, and all she could show him was her sketchbook and her list. She can only prove that she loved Secretary Kim first, and when she learned that he was rich, she loved him more. Because she was happier, she felt guilty, but it doesn’t mean she loved him any less. But Seung-jo couldn’t accept that, and he then told her to earn that 1.002 trillion won to prove her love. Se-kyung understood that meant it was over, and so she disappeared from his life.

Seung-jo dashes over to Se-kyung’s home. She’s not home, but her sister is, and he barges into Se-kyung’s room looking for the sketchbook. Finally, he reads the list in its entirety, and learns that Se-kyung supposedly changed from being a “Candy” and then changed back for him. With the startling realization that the Se-kyung he loved was the same Se-kyung that manipulated him, Seung-jo runs in the hope of reuniting with his love.

Se-kyung begins her first day of work, this time as an intern designer and not some lowly temp. She still has to do the grunt work, but she has learned that she can’t just keep complaining about her situation in life. She needs to just keep on living and working, and truly stand on her own two feet instead of dreaming of a prince who will eventually save her from her position in life.

Se-kyung delivers a box to the waiting messenger man at the lobby, and finds Seung-jo standing there. It rattles her, but she resolves to not let herself be caught up in that “white knight fantasy” again. When she asks what he’s doing there, he tries to coolly pretend he has business there, and walks past her. But after a couple of steps, he’s astonished to find that she hasn’t grabbed him or stopped him. Isn’t she supposed to? (And here I thought you stopped imagining your life as a drama!)

Se-kyung doesn’t have time to fool around, and she can recognize that he’s becoming her knight in shining armor again. She refuses to fall for the fantasy again. He accuses her of running away when she promised to never leave and to show him her entire self. To him, it makes no sense that she’d leave him just because she couldn’t prove she loved him. “It’s ok,” he says, “you don’t have to act.” Seung-jo can’t distinguish the Se-kyung before she “changed” and after, but it doesn’t matter – because he loves the Se-kyung who’s in front of him right now.

And they embrace. Yay! Se-kyung pulls away first – does he believe in her? Does it mean she doesn’t have to act to fit his dream girl anymore? Seung-jo promises he’ll try, even though he’s not confident in himself just yet. They may not understand each other quite perfectly yet, but they are certainly willing to try.

As for the 1.002 trillion won? Well, Seung-jo says she can earn it. In a way, it’s his way of declaring that they will live their lives together. Seung-jo finally wants to get something off his chest, even though he’s not sure if it will make him feel any better. He turns around… and with a flourish declares, “Winston Churchill once said, ‘Immature love says I love you because I need you. Mature love says I need you because I love you.'” HAHAHA – he finally got to tell her – for real! 

Seung-jo: “I need you because I love you, Se-kyung. Because I need you, I love you. Now I can no longer distinguish the difference between that.” *Tear*

Tentatively, he reaches forward and kisses her gently. She’s not pushing him away. He leans in again, and they kiss passionately in the lobby of her new office building. Big smiles, everyone!

It’s Christmas time again, and Tommy exits the Dongdaemun shopping center to see Yoon-joo dragging out bags of her clothing. They sit down to catch up. Tommy knows that she must have had a chance to keep her rich lifestyle, but wonders why she gave all of that up. Yoon-joo: “Because… I got angry.” She thought her situation was going to be hopeless, but then she realized that she could take it out against the Shin family by ruining their chance at making billions of won. It was incredibly gratifying, but now with all the hard work she has to do she kind of regrets it.

Yoon-joo happily notes that Se-kyung must have rubbed off on her, and inspired her to give up everything she had to keep her pride. As for Tommy, he admits that though he’s happy not to be taking matchmaking commissions anymore, he’s not making as much money as he used to. Ho-min then arrives to tell her their bus has come, and she hands Tommy her card. Perhaps he can recommend her humble boutique and designs to someone.

They both reckon that Se-kyung has rekindled her romance with Seung-jo, and both are genuinely happy for her. Yoon-joo knows that she’ll do well; Se-kyung always succeeded doing things her way.

As for the in-laws, Il-nam tries to convince Se-kyung’s parents to move into a villa in Cheongdam-dong. Deuk-gi refuses to because he doesn’t want to make it seem like he sold his daughter into a rich family. Reporters be damned. Even Se-kyung’s mother doesn’t wish to get involved in this petty fight between the fathers, siding with Deuk-gi since it’s safest. Heh.

As for Seung-jo and Se-kyung? They live in their own private mansion, happily together. Like Alice’s sister in the book, they are choosing to live with their eyes half-closed, living out their romanticized fantasy, but still knowing that they can open their eyes and still see the reality.

The end.


That was a very very very satisfying ending for me. Aside from having everyone’s stories wrapped up (yay for Yoon-joo standing on her own two feet!), I ended up very satisfied with the way the drama left our main characters, who were the most conflicted characters ever.

First off, I have to applaud the writer for sticking with this storyline and the themes of rich versus poor, high class versus low class. The writer had a statement to make about class, and certainly upended our expectations of what a heroine should be like. I felt I was watching a totally different drama by the end. I expected a romantic comedy, got served with a melodrama, only to have it taste like a romantic comedy, and then only to realize that the writer was trying to give me a realistic portrayal of how life can be. The themes and the purpose were all there – but I do feel the plot line suffered somewhere in the middle because of these broad themes and an unwieldy handling of the tone. This drama was somewhat ambitious because it wasn’t just about external obstacles that our characters encounter, but about the internal obstacles that they need to get over. If anything, this was truly a character drama. I also appreciate that the writer never gave up on the ending, and made Seung-jo and Se-kyung keep asking questions until they realized that they were a paradox, and there was nothing they could do but to accept both the good and the bad.

I was initially frustrated with Se-kyung because I felt like she had never become that gold-digger she thought she was. But now I also see that she was also not a “Candy Girl” – at least, not in the way that we know. She’s someone who hates her situation in life, not someone who smiles and continues to work hard no matter her circumstance. It took me a while to realize that, but it also made me appreciate this drama even more, and appreciate what the writer was doing. Instead of watching a “Candy Girl” who was hardworking and could stand on her own two feet, only to fall on her knees and depend on her knight in shining armor, we got a jaded and angry “Candy Girl” who chose to fall on her knees but in the end had to learn how to stand on her own two feet.

I am glad that Yoon-joo also became a woman who could stand on her own two feet. Since high school she always relied on others – usually men – to get ahead. I’m happy to see her at peace finally because she knows that she is worth something, and not the useless trophy wife that others regard her as. I hope that Se-kyung does not end up quitting her job, as I’d like to imagine her future to be full of success. I truly enjoyed watching So Yi-hyun in this drama, as I think this is one of her better roles yet.

As for Moon Geun-young – I know she attracts haters as much as fans, as evidenced by many of the comments written in earlier recaps. I for one am not a fan of her, but it doesn’t mean I hate her; I just don’t really watch her dramas. After this drama, I can see that she is a subtle actress, and she underplays Se-kyung’s turmoil and emotions most of the time. Except for the few moments when she becomes angry and tough, she maintains one look of sadness – which for me makes it feel like one-note acting. When she’s in a scene with Park Shi-hoo, he practically overwhelms her with his ferocity in his acting and (sometimes) over-acting. She didn’t match Park Shi-hoo in intensity, and her youthful face makes her look like she hasn’t really lived the hard life that she supposedly has. I wonder how this drama would have been if we got someone who was just as intense as Park Shi-hoo and could really portray the complexities of Se-kyung more outwardly, and not just someone who was good at crying.

There were a lot of lighthearted moments in this drama that made it very addictive, and then there were the predictable moments that were standard in a Korean drama. But what I enjoyed the most was the fact that it never shied away from making us question what our own values were, and from a harsher reality that is rarely seen in most romantic comedies. After all – how does a poor, simple girl manage to love a guy so completely that she doesn’t even care about his money?


152 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. SH

    Thank you for recapping this series.

    • 1.1 snow_white

      i agree with you on the one note acting…..it is so very evident from the screencaps as most of them have MGY with the same expressions…..
      that said, I like MGY….she is really cute and good at acting as well….but may be here that was just okay….
      one more thing, although I didn’t watch the drama fully, but i really liked its OST 🙂

      • 1.1.1 lilin

        me too…baek ah yeon jjang 😀

      • 1.1.2 jєѕѕα™ 주원사랑 (@jung_kYro)

        Same here. I like It’s Okay and Daddy Long Legs. 🙂

      • 1.1.3 skelly

        I agree as well. I really liked the themes explored in this show, I just wished it didn’t suffer from a) uneven tone, b) all the melo over not being a Candy girl – always a totally unrealistic and ridiculous character, IMO and c) MGY. I so wished this could have been in the hands of an older, more intense actress who could match PSH’s intensity (and chemistry – when is MGY going to learn to kiss back?), look a little less fluffy and pampered, and perhaps have more than one or two expressions. Her blank stare of constant surprise really got to me after awhile.

        • elsy

          i think she is great but each to his own

  2. abruzzo

    Wow, that was a completely satisfying ending!
    I had wondered if Yoon-joo would try and prove herself to her husband, but yay for independence. I wonder if its the first time she has to fend for herself.

  3. lala

    I like the eyes half-closed theme in the end. Not just about love, but life in general. Sometimes, I think that what’s the point in doing this or that if we all just end up dead? But, while we’re living, we have to believe that what we’re doing matters/has meaning or else we just wouldn’t be able to live out our lives.

    • 3.1 bjharm

      bingo that what stuck me also. There nothing wrong in living a dream, long as you know where the lines are. get real, live in the real world, sure but that can also suck the life out of you without some sort of balance. there a reason why people read fiction or watch tv drama or film, it to if only for a few hours excape that real world and escape to a dream one. What better way to do that than make a dream world of your own at your own house with someone you love.

    • 3.2 Annie

      Exactly. And isn’t that why we watch things such as dramas or read books? To transport us to realities where things are possible that might not be in our lives. I really loved what this drama stood for even if the execution had hiccups here and there.

  4. Perevell

    Very very nice wrap up for this drama, I am, not completely satisfied but I do think it tied together well in the end. I like how they took the metaphorical Alice in Wonderland ending and interpreted it Cheongdam-dong style, nice one there writers!

    Ahh Seung Jo. I’m gonna miss your Winston Churchill’s…and random spazzy dances and outbursts. and smiles, all the lovely smiles..*daydreams*

    But all in all, thoroughly enjoyed this drama, though it did have some writing problems in the middle somewhere, but the rest of it(including the soundtracks,love ’em!) was like candy I didn’t want to finish 🙂

    • 4.1 jєѕѕα™ 주원사랑 (@jung_kYro)

      I might re-watch those episodes where he dances and those cute moments of his. I will miss him. I hope he will sign up for a new drama very soon.

  5. Ruth

    Thanks for the recaps 🙂

  6. ilovekimchi

    Thanks for the recaps. Agree that it was a satisfying ending. I LOVE this series to pieces. I also love the discourse it generated. How it questioned and invited us all to ponder on social disparities and what loving someone truly means. Kudos to the writers for tackling themes, although suggested, not really confronted in kdramas I’ve watched recently. It has been one hell of a ride and I kinda of didn’t want to get off.
    I’ve been a long time fan of Moon, and maybe biased, but her acting didn’t feel one note to me. Having watched her grow up and achieve so much already, I have an inexplicable fondness for her. I do understand how it can be a little too subdued for some, but I felt conflict throuhgout — angry, determined, lost guilty and conflicted. HSK didn’t have the luxury for grandiose declarations of love or to romanticize her poverty. Her turmoil was internal, and for me at least, was palpable.
    It’s one of the best dramas I’ve watched in recent history, love it, love it love it!!!

    • 6.1 Windsun33

      I agree with you on Moon Geun-young – I got the feeling that her acting was “under the top” purposly to offset the wild swings of Cha. For me it was a welcome change from far too many other dramas where the heroine spends half her time over-acting, crying and screaming.

      • 6.1.1 Han Ji Eun

        I totally agree with you. I honestly believe in her character. Perhaps because I love her so much. I do have one regret though…the final kiss….(the much awaited kiss) I wish it could be done better. Si Hoo should lead the kiss since MGY is inexperienced in kissing scenes although she can act so well….

        I his interview, he once said he would grab the lady tightly before kissing the lady. Why didn’t he do that?

        Overall, I enjoyed the drama and miss my Saturday night excitement….

        • Chanel

          A good kiss needs to be well executed by both sides. PSH did lead the kiss and you can see that he tried to give her a good kiss but MGY’s body was so stiff and she did not kiss him back at all, that’s why the kiss looked so awkward.

  7. Zoe

    Thank you! I also found the ending satisfying. I enjoyed the journey of the whole drama. Its not just something to laugh about, but also food for thought type of drama. I admit the pace could have been picked up a bit, but overall it was good imo.

  8. Queenie

    In defence if mgy…. As she’s one of very few actresses I love ( the other being Kim sun ah) her character in this drama didn’t have much to work with. If you understand what mgy is like in real life and how completely different she is to her character you will see how great she is… Portraying her character- obviously hating the world, frustrated and trying to be strong. She was cute and annoying in her last drama, a proper bitch in Cinderella sister… And many others. If you’d wtch her other projects… You’ll see she’s a great actress! I’ve decided not to judge actors on their characters but rather their portrayal of what they’re given… I mean look at lee jun ki in my girl and compare him to now… He has obviously become a better actor… But if you REALLY think about it… He didn’t have much to say and work with in my girl… Just a lot of staring and big eyes. I admit though… I found mgy still too young looking against psh… And I felt he was slightly too awkward acting affection with her in subsequent scenes after they got together… Didn’t seem natural…

    • 8.1 Betsy Hp

      I’d add, she was the straight-man. Which can be an unforgiving role in that it’s the comedy that gets remembered. But she gave her character depth and intelligence, imo. (At least, I wasn’t surprised that Tommy Hong saw her as someone interesting.)

      And I’ll add, she did a good job thinking on screen. Which not all actors can handle. When she was wrestling with a dilemma and then coming to a conclusion, you could see her doing it.

      I’ve not seen her other projects either, but I liked her here.

      • 8.1.1 ilovekimchi

        Totally agree!

      • 8.1.2 ilovekimchi

        I just want to add, as a particular bit comes to mind from episode six, towards the end when she called Seungjo and she told him the first obstacle was love, looking back at Seungjo then, I felt her dilemma, and fear also that she knows what is about to do to Sec Kim (that time)….

      • 8.1.3 Han Ji Eun

        I’ve seen her in Cinderella sister, I love her then…and I love her now. Cinderella sister was the reason I start loving her and start watching and searching for all her dramas and movies….

    • 8.2 roobi

      the writer made her charachter serious . even csj said that she is always dead serious.

    • 8.3 Amy

      Moon is truly a lovely actress (both on and off screen). I thnk she protrayed her role quite well…especially enjoyed her toward the end, when she decided to give it her all to stop SJ from running away. She’s a tiny girl but very talented.

  9. RockPaperScissors

    Sadly, this drama did not live up to my initial expectations, but worth the watch for Yoon-Joo alone. Could you hear me squeal when she stuck it to her husband? I feel the actors for the OTP were miss-matched.

    Thank you for the recaps!

    • 9.1 TS

      I watched it for Yoon joo too. 🙂 I was so happy for her when she screwed over her hubbie and in-laws! Hubbie at least should’ve forgiven and moved on. After all, she did try to be a good wife to him and make their marriage work.

      • 9.1.1 Saturtledaisy

        I just loved the bit where she told him she wanted a divorce instead, and then said the same thing to In-hwa. It was a well-deserved and gratifying in-your-FACE moment. She seemed so happy and free!

        • Betsy Hp

          Agree! That was so much a fist-pump moment. 😀

  10. 10 Queenie

    But I loved loved the drama… And hated it when certain recappers bashed it to pieces saying it lack substance and frustrated with the storyline. What’s to not like? There wasn’t the typical love triangle, misunderstandings that dragged on, the family feud was portrayed well, characters wee complex and the theme was very well integrated… I absolutely loved episode 15 when seung Jo was waking up to reality and how se kyung tried explaining where she came from and why she did what she did.. It was just all very well written. Smart. In the end seungjo was also alice and waking up from his dream, having met se kyung … His white rabbit. And they even wrote that se kyung STILL got what she wanted and got into a designer company despite everything that happened… It wasn’t wrong… Was it? I’m waffling…

    So sad it’s finished! 🙁

    • 10.1 Mystisith

      What’s not to like? Shizophrenic writing. Lazy & boring dialogues: You could have the actors in close up for 5 mins straight & nothing happening. Secondary characters introduced then dropped (who could have been used instead for the forementioned empty scenes). 2 secrets mildly interesting: The lie and the video (thanks Samsung’s PPL)… I could go on and on.
      I thought than eps 1 & 2 were flat & ep 3 & 4 were fabulous. The others were completely disjointed because of the method of writing. Add a pretentious ending with a dream in a dream a la Inception to hide the misery. Hopefully, it was a Happy Ending and the lingering feeling in my mouth is not too bad. The actors did what they could do but the material wasn’t enough to begin with. Good OST. I give it a 6/10.

      • 10.1.1 Betsy Hp

        …well, I’d say more Alice in Wonderland (or more properly Alice Through the Looking-glass) than Inception. 😉

        Plus, since a whole theme was about Seung-jo not able to handle reality, and Se-kyung having to decide whether to maintain a fictional fantasy for him (“Candy-girls” do exist!) or wake him up to reality, the dream didn’t strike me a pretentious. More, cleverly appropriate.

      • 10.1.2 cg


      • 10.1.3 altair

        @Mystisith: I agree. The whole drama had a feeling of pretentious and nauseating philosophy. The writers seemed to have tried to make their “Candy” reenact Kant, Nietzsche and Hegel (and probably others, I don’t know, I watch kdramas and I don’t watch them to see cheap philospohy spoken in unintelligeble French – L’effort est ma force????? I had to replay that 10 times) and a couple of psychologists all wrapped into one blank stared, dead behind the (crossed) eyes gold digger.
        My answer: Hell NO!

    • 10.2 tc

      Concur with you. There are definitely so many other dramas with worse or lousy plot than CDDA which were instead favored by certain recappers just because they like certain actors or dramas which have solid plots but are bashed by them just because these recappers dislike the leads.

      I really love this drama coz it is romantic, funny, warm yet have doses of realism and making viewers think about social disparity. Best of all, I love the two leads plus all the main side characters especially JY, the doctor, Sec Moon , TH and even both parents.

  11. 11 Ann

    I really enjoyed this drama, and I liked the ending, too. I also liked that the characters thought a lot and were confused. It does not always make for entertaining drama, though, so perhaps that is why the writer thought she needed to have the In-hwa sub-plot. I guess it did show that even the coolest characters can have a stupid, petty side.

    Now, Park Shi Hoo, take 2 or 3 weeks off, then get going on your next project! 🙂

    • 11.1 jєѕѕα™ 주원사랑 (@jung_kYro)

      2 to 3 weeks?! HA! That’s too short, my dear. He have to make it up for those sleepless nights and filming under a very cold weather. Plus, his eyebags are too obvious. He needs enough rest. 🙂

  12. 12 Saturtledaisy

    Oh I loved how he brought the Churchill thing back. And I’m pretty satisfied with this ending, even more so after reading the recap, so thanks for the awesome comments after every episode! The recaps really do add to the watching experience.

    This drama kindof felt like multiple dramas in one, which sometimes made it hard to watch. For me, the biggest flaw was the flimsy ‘lie’ that seemed to be carrying the entire drama. It just never felt like a horrible secret.

    Apart from that, I really really liked how this show made me think. In the end, we see it had a clear message: Reality isn’t always beautiful, but we have to accept it in order to keep living. It’s not a black-or-white world.

    I think CDDA dealt with its theme pretty well, and gave me more than I expected. Instead of a fluffy love story, I got a story about personal growth as each character came to terms with reality and tried to find their place in this world. There was some amazing character growth with our four main characters, sometimes subtle, sometimes really obvious but still very interesting.

    I got to care about most of the characters, but I’m sad not all of them were used to their full potential. Like our little band of friends who practically disappeared after they succeeded in bringing our main couple together. There’s also the Shin family – they started out interesting but pretty much ended up as flat, evil, rich villains. I mean, the husband turned out to be a jerk, but there was no indication of that at first. In Hwa’s strong presence also just… fizzled out. And why in the world did the entire family just tiptoe so much around The Dad?

    Also… Whatever happened to Yoon-joo’s Wonderland-Diary?
    I liked that diary. Why did it disappear?

    But I suppose they can’t exactly make a drama go on forever.

    Ah… long post again. And I tried to keep it short, too x–x

    Ah well, cheers to the happy ending =)

    • 12.1 Betsy Hp

      Oh, I’d forgotten about that Churchill redux! That was awesome! Because it was hilarious, of course. But also because it means Seung-jo is still his quirky self in many ways. Which I was so glad to see. (That he met Se-kyung with banter was so, so awesome.)

  13. 13 hannah

    It’s interesting that I enjoy Moon Geun-young in the movies she makes but I haven’t been able to appreciate her in dramas. Perhaps her acting is better suited to a shorter format?

    • 13.1 jusash

      Me too!

      • 13.1.1 cg

        i also think so

  14. 14 colors

    Thank you for the recaps, that’s what made me keep following this drama. And I don’t regret it because I liked the beginning and the ending (but not that much what was in between).

    I loved the idea that people just see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear. Even though dramas and books are mostly fiction, it doesn’t mean it has to be easy to understand. To be honest, I did react to Yoon Joo’s saying to Se Kyung that she had to protect her man because his life depended on it, but I didn’t realize that Se Kyug liked this idea until she said it herself. I just thought she was taking his supposed craziness as something inevitable rather than something making her feel valuable.

    On the other hand, I didn’t quite get the Alice in Wonderland’s references. I loved the parallel of Wonderland/Cheongdam dong as a place where you grow up in a rather harsh society, but something’s missing if you want to explicitly compare your whole plot to this particular story.
    Alice grew up because she realized Wonderland was just nonsense, as far as I gathered. She didn’t want to live in there, she just happened to go there out of curiosity… I think that’s where the literary reference went soon amiss for me.
    So if it wasn’t for the early white rabbit reference and the actual presence of the book to introduce the original ending at the end of the very end of the show, it’d have been completely wasted. (Or am I only seeing what I want to see? xD)

    As for the actors, I think you’re right about Moon Geun Young being sad but I don’t think she’s unskilled as an actress. I find her sad almost everytime I see her in a scene or in a picture even if she’s smiling. I think it’s because of her eyes.
    I feel the same about Park Shi Hoo except that it’s about his hapiness. I just don’t buy his sadness because he has a face saying he’s breathing with joy. Or maybe I’m just weird because I think other actors are just like, well men born to be happy such as Yoon Shi Yoon or Park Yoo Chun.

    • 14.1 Saturtledaisy

      I figured they didn’t literally mean ‘Cheongdamdong’ as ‘Wonderland’ (though it seems like they refer to it as wonderland), but decided ‘Wonderland’ was just the way people viewed ‘the world’ – asif it’s prettier than it really is. Like Seung-jo living in his happy little bubble, and the ‘Candy’ Se Kyung who believed that just by working hard you could change things for the better. It’s like living in a dream.

      That’s what I got from the scene in which Se Kyung said that living with your eyes half-open means being a grown-up. As a kid you believe the wonderful stories of pure love and good things happen to those who work hard, but as you grow up you learn that reality isn’t always beautiful. But, like Ah-jeong said, everybody knows this but you need to keep the pretense up in order to be able to live and be happy. Believe in happy things, but never completely close your eyes so you can still see reality.

      • 14.1.1 w

        such a nice comment!

        • Geeme Koon

          hope for the best; but prepare for the worst — but most likely something in between is reality..

      • 14.1.2 skelly

        Not getting this philosophy at all. Really, do you have to keep your eyes half-shut, half in dreamland, to be happy in this world because of all of the horrible things in reality? Who says? Or am I just not understanding this particular nugget of wisdom?
        Yes, there are not so nice things in the world, but there are also fabulous things, and you can focus on the great things, and strive for them, and be happy without having to resort to dreams to keep your spirits up. It’s as if you are saying that happy things can only survive in some sort of dream state. Or is this the philosophy of SK – who despite her profession and her putative role as Alice seems to have a singular lack of imagination…?

        • Saturtledaisy

          The dream-state is just a metaphor for optimism. At least, that’s how I perceive it.

        • Shikurai17

          The fabulous things are there because someone dreamed them first. Someone had a dream, a wish that they wanted and actually made it a reality. Have a dream, but be awake enough to make it a reality. That’s what living with your eyes half open mean.

        • Shikurai17

          I wish there was an edit button. Continuing from my previous comment.

          It could also mean believe the ideal, but be aware of the reality. For example, believe marriage is the most perfect, beautiful thing but be aware that there are alot of hardships with it.

          Those are the two meanings I take with living with your eyes half opened.

      • 14.1.3 colors

        Actually, now that I think about it, Alice’s sister is the one dreaming about Alice’s dream with her eyes half-opened.
        I think it can be a way to say that the audience of the dream/show is the one left half-dreaming about it.

        And I really thought about it, but Wonderland despite its name is a place Alice wants to leave. So when she wakes up she just have memories of her dream and her sister imagines Alice living with this dream still in her memory and sharing it with others.

        Betsy Hp, thank you for the comment on the Wonderland(/Looking Glass) characters in this drama.
        I remember now the scene with the two girls and the red coulour and I actually found it pretty and “showing” back to the novel. I remember now I really liked this reference.
        But I didn’t quite get the rest (although I didn’t watch all of the episodes so it was wrong of me) and that’s probably why I forgot the only “Wonderland scene”, so I’ll take your words for it, like Tommy Hong representing the Cheshire cat, etc.
        However, I really like the character of the Mad Hatter and no matter how, I can’t quite fit Seung-Jo because the Hatter is sort of outside of time (whereas Seung-Jo isn’t frozen by time, he was rich and in love, became poor and got dumped, became rich again partly on his own and tried to get revenge then moved on to another love and dumped his new lover- ok, he may have been somehow caught in a cycle… but then, so is Se Kyung in a way) and the Hatter always has problems with the law (although, sure enough, he’s supposed to be “mad” and Seung-Jo looked crazy in his revenge). But what you meant by the Red King makes sense to me.
        Anyway, thanks for your analysis Betsy Hp!

        • Betsy Hp

          You’re welcome! I had a lot of fun picking stuff out. 🙂

          I think Seung-jo as the Mad Hatter is… well, I said “obvious” because he’s the craziest man in the room for the most part. But I think it’s also like you said, he’s stuck in his revenge cycle — everything he does is motivated by his abandonment by his mother — like he can’t break free of that event.

          I don’t think it works with the problems with the law, but certainly the Shin family gave him a hard time. So if you squint..? 😉

    • 14.2 shelhass

      I agree with @Saturtledaisy.

      I think the Alice references aren’t all there, they weren’t trying to make a live-action or something, it was more like, inspired by the ideas of “what’s ideal” and “why is it ideal anyway?”.

      But if you want to make comparisons, I think The Great Gatsby’ll be better. And I guess someone already has said that.

      • 14.2.1 oddy_blues

        let me just add on…it carries some vibes from both the Great Gatsby and Vanity Fair

    • 14.3 Betsy Hp

      Alice in Wonderland doesn’t have an easily translated through-plot. Not like Cinderella or the like. But the drama did make really good use of the symbols used in AiW (and Alice Through the Looking-glass, I’d add.)

      The Red Queen rules Wonderland and has the power to execute any and all who cross her. Yoon-soo starts out as the Red Queen, and for a little while Se-kyung wants to be a Red Queen, too. (There’s that great scene where they’re daydreaming about it in that red room, with roses on the floor, both wearing red.)

      Eventually the Red Queen shifts to In-hwa and Mrs. Shin and even Yoon-soo’s husband (going by his rose-motif tie). Yoon-soo becomes the White Queen, whom Alice assists in beating the Red Queen at chess. (In the end Yoon-soo is happy as the White Queen and she successfully checkmates the Shin family.)

      Tommy Hong is mistaken as a White Rabbit, but he’s actually the Cheshire Cat (his posters are a visual clue — he’s not quite there). The Red Queen tries to have him executed (the Shins try to beat him) but don’t quite manage.

      Seung-jo is really interesting because he’s obviously the Mad Hatter. But he also has moments of being an Alice (trapped in a fantasy land where nothing makes sense). And in the end he’s the dreamer (or Red King) who’ll cause Alice to disappear if he wakes up.

      And oh my gosh, I’ll stop. I, um… kind of dug the whole symbology thing…

      • 14.3.1 tika

        agreee.. this story is cleverly written. and the ending is satisfying!

      • 14.3.2 ilovekimchi

        Awesome. 🙂 Might I suggest that you do a a whole character analyses! Heh.

      • 14.3.3 TS

        This was beautifully done!

        Your explanation and how the loose ends are wrapped up shows me how this series that I was kind of meh about totally satisfied me with its ending, while another, that shall be nameless for this thread, did not. The unifying theme of Alice in Wonderland is what helped.

      • 14.3.4 Saturtledaisy

        Oh! I hadn’t thought of the split screens symbolizing the Cheshire cat, though I figured TH was never the intended White Rabbit to begin with. Love your analysis of the symbolism~

        Ah, now I sortof want to read Alice in Wonderland again. It’s always been one of my favourite stories~~

      • 14.3.5 tarquinthetiny

        Insightful reading of the different characters, thanks.

  15. 15 Garrdan75

    Thanks very much for the recaps, Kaedejun! I’ve enjoyed your weekly recaps of this drama. Your detailed and thorough recaps added to my enjoyment of this drama.

    I thought everyone did a wonderful job with their characters. Park Shi Hoo was both a hoot (overdone at times, but hilarious) and a dream to watch during the sad and intense moments—such a talent! Moon Geun-young is also a good actress, although I do agree with you about her acting style being a subtle style. She’s more animated and impressive when she’s angry and intense. Her scenes of sadness and regret becomes overdone when it lingers too long. But I’m a fan nontheless. She did more impressive work in Painter in the Wind. The supporting team of players were fabulous! Adored the Doc and Sec. Moon—what a cute duo.

    On to the next drama….any suggestion(s)?

    Best regards,


  16. 16 Tracy

    I really wished the writers also focused on Secretary Moon and Ah Jung’s relationship. It probably would’ve been cute.

    • 16.1 tarquinthetiny

      Agree– those two were adorable, but sadly underused.

  17. 17 shelhass

    I really enjoyed the drama and the ending. Just like you said. Thanks Kaedejun!

    I also got really surprised when you wrote: “he practically overwhelms her with his ferocity in his acting and (sometimes) over-acting” ’cause I was getting weird vibes from people on twitter – saying he isn’t a good actor, but I always felt the contrary.
    I mean, besides the over-acting and the crazy early stuff, I thought he was tapping into something really great for a character who has just being tossed, manipulated and things like that.
    Something made me think the whole thing was all about Se-kyung – which may be the case – however, while watching it, I always felt like ding it becaus of PSH, and you just told me the word I was looking for.
    Ferocity – that was it.

    Great recap. Come back soon! Oh please, do Money Incarnation’s recap, please! (sorry, being annoying).

  18. 18 soto betawi

    Hey, gals. Have you read about Moon whom close to the cameraman? He is much older than Moon. I read about it in Park Shi ho fanpage web. They uploaded the video too.

  19. 19 Lovebug

    So I was also really satisfied with the ending unlike a lot of the copout endings I’ve seen in dramas lately. Overall though this drama was by no means perfect I did enjoy it a lot.(Honestly more so the first half then the latter).

    Though not everything was executed perfectly I appreciated the message the writers were trying to convey.

    I found the both the resolution of and the overall love story between Sekyung and Seungjo believable and credible.
    I know I am a PSH fangirl of the highest order but thought he was spot on in his portrayal of Seungjo.

    Looking back I don’t know if even now we were given a credible reason for why Sekyung kept her secret from Seungjo for so long. Especially when she knew he could find out anytime. I feel like that was where the drama was the weakest and probably lost people.

    The Yoon Joo’s story arc was probably one of my favorites. I thought her character was complex, well developed and well acted. I had originally hoped that in the end her husband would have loved/understood/accepted her but was very much happy with her finding her backbone and sense of worth in front of her husband and sister in law. (Def one of my favorite sequences) I also was totally shipping her and Tommy at the end!

    That’s one area where I felt this drama dropped the ball, once again I ask why cast Kim Ji suk and then given him nothing to do. I appreciated him and his ability to make you like a shallow written character. But please can he get a lead role. I think he has paid his dues!

    Also looking back even from episode 1 I don’t know if this could really be seen as light rom com though there were some pretty funny moments. (those first 2 episodes were pretty heavy). Although I enjoyed this drama I don’t know if its intentions were for it to be a feel good drama about the beauty of love.

  20. 20 blkasian

    I really enjoyed this drama. It gave me a lot of ,” let me think about that moments,”. I questioned Tommy’s change in attitude towards Se-Kyung. Did he develop feelings for her near the bend ? hmmm. Thank you for the awesome review. Keep them coming.

    • 20.1 Annie

      I think he developed some feelings, but they were more admiration than desire. YJ and TH both while had arrived in CD, never felt like they belonged there. SK’s approach was different.

  21. 21 hyunjee

    Before SK and SJ got back together at the end, and she was interviewing for new things and moving on, and he was moving on too… I thought the drama was over and was pleased with the way it was ending. BUT then they pulled the old, “it was a dream no it wasn’t a dream” move and had the getting back together stuff and I realized that my fundamental problem with this drama was that MGY was completely miscast. There were the looks: she is too young-looking for for PSH and I’m sorry but she looks like a cross-eyed potato. But more to the point, her acting was waaaay too subtle in scenes with PSH, and in the last 2 episodes I was getting *really* tired of her either crying or lecturing PSH self-righteously. Sure, you can make us think about class and wealth in modern South Korean society but to have it done through a pedantic, unsympathetic character like SK is just boring.

    I missed all the secondary characters by the end, though I appreciate the attention paid to Tommy Hong and Yoon Joo.

    Speaking of which… it’s funny how much I hated Yoon Joo at the beginning of the series but ended up just loving her character by the end. After she decided to get divorced she looked genuinely unburdened. She smiled so much, so naturally, and just looked gorgeous. Great acting by her.

    • 21.1 Mark

      I agree and loved Yoon Joo’s character as well. I’m a guy and am pretty much just like Seung-Jo except I wasn’t born into it. Episode 3 was simply amazing at the insight into someone like me and PSH just nailed it. This would have been an epic rom-com if they kept the focus on him like that through the middle episodes.

      A completely different actress was needed for the lead and the ending would have been so much stronger if they had focused on PSH and the fantasy love story he creates with this beautiful yet able to love girl he has found. We just needed a little bit of the gold digger stuff which combined with a beautiful girl would have set all the audience to doubting her. Then throw in PSH’s dream world blowing up and the ending with him coming to his realization of who she really is and his love would have been epic. It would have allowed the audience to stop and think – was his love real? Was hers? Who is living in reality? Who is not? etc etc..

      • 21.1.1 skelly

        Totally agree – this would have been a much stronger story if they had focused on SJ – a much more interesting character, and acted with much more of a dynamic range.

  22. 22 lua

    Moon is suited for more fierce and strong charaters imo.

    I was really really impressed by her EunJo in cinderela sister and she was the reason to me end that drama (plus Kim Mi Seok and Kim gAB Soo)

    She was good in love me not too. Another fierce/strong role… I don’t like when she stays just with that sad puppy face…

    As for PSH, he is good, but sometimes he overdoes his strong scene… he does that face ”I’m gona kill you” in all his angry scenes…

    For example, who didn’t laugh on his scene on princess man where he screamed ”abuhjiiiiiiiiiiiii” ?? It was just LOL because it was overdone.

    • 22.1 meme

      i am looking forward to mgy’s next drama. hopefully she’ll finally be blessed with a well-written one from start to finish.

  23. 23 Amy

    Overall I think the show was pretty good, though the writing could be better (especially in the middle of the show), I did enjoy the ride very much. Actually I haven’t a good Korean drama for awhile until CDDA came along. Kudos to all the hard working casts, especially MGY and PSH.

  24. 24 Betsy Hp

    Thanks for the recaps, kaedejun! I was so confused about what Yoon-joo was carrying in those big white bags at the end, so I was really glad you explained that.

    I loved how this drama ended. I want to watch it again and catch all the stuff I missed. 🙂

  25. 25 topper

    For a better and more heartfelt take on wealth and class, I recommend I Live in Cheongdam Dong instead.

  26. 26 Mikunda

    I agree that he over-acted while she under-acted many a time. They were not a good match imo. A more mature-looking actress like Song He Kyo would be a far better match. There was no chemistry b/n the leads…

  27. 27 YY

    The Tommy-Se Kyung conversation about the story of Alice in Wonderland ending with the sister’s half-dreaming state made me wonder whether the whimsical dream-like romantic climax complete with kiss (on PSH’s part anyway) and revolving background was real or imagined. The last scene where the lovers are high atop their own private tower removed from the rest of the world also felt terribly unreal to me. So my question is: Was the ending a fantasy, conjured by a disenchanted “still angry” Se Kyung wearily lugging her heavy boxes (symbolising the burdens of life), dragging herself through the cold corridors of an indifferent world day after day after day? Could the reality be too harsh and bleak for her to bear making her retreat into her dream of a white knight riding to her rescue in moments of despair? That’s one reason why I like this show so much, nothing is as it seems and it makes me question everything right to the end: where does the dream stop, and where does the real begin?

  28. 28 liz

    The main problem about some viewers not liking it is because they wished the drama to go this way, but the drama went in another way that made them not happy and some happy.

    For example: remember how everyone loved the first episodes of Cinderella sister?

    The same happened here. They wished a rom com and got another thing.

    Might I add that the same people who disliked how the story ended, are also the same that complain how every kdrama is the same and etc, but when they get a different drama, they dislike it because it didn’t go the way they wanted it to be.

    As for the acting, I think both actors can do better and lets not forget the pd also says how he wished the actors to act in certain scenes and lets not forget the live shooting system.

    I really enjoyed this story and I’m glad I watched it.

    • 28.1 oddy_blues

      it’s also funny how some ppl say they’re happy they dropped the drama after some eps…just because i don’t know that dropping a drama can make them feel happy so much

      i don’t follow recaps, i’m afraid that it can destroy my emotions when watching dramas. Instead, i love to see ppl comments and thoughts about the drama

      i found this drama thread has the most beautiful and insight comments among others,

      thank you everyone for that

  29. 29 ck1Oz

    Thank you for your recap and your thoughts.
    Yes I thought some people were a bit harsh it’s not the worst K drama ever to justify such bashing.

    As for myself, am satisfied with it. It could have been better but neither was it the worst. The subject matter the writer was dealing with is too hard to deal with in just 16 episodes though.

    But it’s good that the subject of the rich chaebol heir falling in love with a poor girl. Just like that. In K dramas was dealt with.

    That I always thought was kinda brain numbing and makes you suspend disbelief. At least with Seung Jo and Min Hyuk we got to see how 2 very different personalities dealt with knowing a gold digger. However how can you call them a gold digger? Both females had jobs and were intelligent women. But yeah, the way Yoon Joo was treated by that family. Good riddance to them.

  30. 30 Suzi Q

    Alice in Cheongdam dong was suppose to be a Korean Alice in Wonderland. Will there be a sequel since there was one called Through the Looking Glass?

    Did a fist pump too when Yoon Joo stuck it to both In Hwa and her doofus brother who put her down as not being worth hundreds of billion won.Glad she kicked him to the curb and shot him down instead and said he isn’t worth it either and got out of that horrible family who only valued money, money, money.

    The general ending wasn’t too bad. Tommy Hong didn’t end up being a sleazebag afterall. But at the conclusion, the kissing scene seemed awkward and unromantic. SK and SJ seemed to be a mismatched couple in appearance. PSH seemed too old for MGY although she is a good actress she looks too baby faced.

    Looking forward to everyone in their next drama. The cast was wonderful.

  31. 31 momoi

    I wish the other character’s stories were told a bit more (like Secretary Moon), also I feel like Yoon Joo’s story could have been expanded, but overall I loved the story. I learned a few things from the show too

    1. There is good and bad in everyone. No one is 100% one way.

    2. Honesty is the best policy.

    3. I should purchase a Samsung product.

    • 31.1 Saturtledaisy

      Number 3 seems to be a Korean moral: your life is never complete without Samsung.

      • 31.1.1 Windsun33

        I have 3 Samsung products – does that make me Korean? 😀

        • Han Ji Eun


        • Han Ji Eun

          I have 2 products…I would love to be 3/4 Korean or 2/3 for that matter…LOL 😀

    • 31.2 jomo

      3. Made me LOL.

      Not sure if we saw #2 in action, unless honesty can exist in reality with eyes half closed.

      My take on all the philosophicalness is it was just layers of contradicting one liners that added up to gibberjab.
      Reminded me of lines from L Ron Hubbard or The Secret.
      Not my cup of tea.

      • 31.2.1 Mystisith

        “Lying is bad in Cheongdam-dong” is like saying than camouflage is a sin in the Tropical forest: You won’t survive 10 minutes. It doesn’t mean than you have to like it nor despise it. That’s why I could swallow the kind of bittersweet confession done in voice over where they say than nothing is certain & nothing can be proved.

  32. 32 Tiger Butterfly

    ” really enjoyed the last episode, because it was satisfying in showing us the growth of the characters”
    I agree with you & Thanks for the recaps , Kaedejun.
    Its a breath of fresh air to read your more balanced take on the drama .You like some parts & you didnt like some other parts as much & I really appreciated that!
    I enjoyed this drama cos it has made some salient points about people who worked real hard to get out of their lot in life, their uphill & against-the-wind struggles trying to move from bad to less bad.
    I’m gonna watch this whole drama at one go ,without the dislocation of watching it weekly & without prejudice.
    I do believe Im gonna enjoy it even more !!
    Thanks again for yr cheery recaps.

  33. 33 namu

    I enjoyed this drama to some extent but it was a little to didactic for me to be really into any of the emotions or characters. lots of logic, and not so much pathos. I understand the messeage, but it was really overly beat into our heads.

  34. 34 namu

    I enjoyed this drama to some extent but it was a little to didactic for me to be really into any of the emotions or characters. lots of logic, and not so much pathos. I understand the messeage, but it was really overly beat into our heads.

    I think overall it was wrapped ok but I wish they didnt try so hard to convince the characters emotions through words.

    • 34.1 omo

      Thank you for commenting on this. I think it is the sole reason why I could not get pass the 3rd episode. What kind of writing takes 3 whole episodes (out of a short 16-epi drama) to establish that sheer hard work alone gets you nowhere? Talk about beating it over my head again and again. Some aspects of it may be realistic but it sure ain’t uplifting in the message in the end. The heroine ended up marrying the hero in the name of love. Sigh and sigh again. I kind of wished SJ, SK, YJ and Tommy ended up in a 4-way business partnership and being very successful at it.

      Thanks to kaedejun for the recaps. While I stopped watching, I follow your thoughts and comments.

  35. 35 loveprevail

    Thanks Kaedejun for your recap.

    In my opinion, it’s one of the most entertaining and thought provoking korean drama that I’ve watched so far for the past 2 years. I may not have seen that many compared to most of you, anyhow, I don’t think there’s a korean drama with so many layers to peal and discern.
    Watching it just on face value, it’s easy to understand that most will find it flawed and dissatisfying. But for me, CDDA is one of those that the more you watch it, the more layers you find in relation to the complexity and depth of being a human being.
    Because of the vast difference in their upbringing and surroundings, they were world’s apart in terms on how they viewed the world. The distinction was unmistakable when Seung Jo couldn’t understand why Se Kyung and the others were so determined to enter Cheongdamdong. Whereby for him, it’s just a place he lives, not a destination.
    For me, the journey of ‘waking up’ for the both of them were to firstly know and accept themselves fully therefore opening their eyes to see one another clearly. This then freed them from the distractions of the environment they were born into that had made them who they thought they needed to be to survive. With the new found wisdom, they are now apt to make a conscious choice to live their lives in the world of their own creation and not by other’s standards.
    So may many juicy bits to gain from this drama that I wish I could mention them all and I’m sure there are more yet to be discovered.
    This drama is an ambitious feat and I’m glad the writers took the challenge. I’ll say, I’m a satisfied viewer. 🙂

  36. 36 maeye86

    wow, great drama with good start, interesting character n excellent ending.

    u dun feel anything being squeezed to the last minute and u dun feel betrayed or given fan service at the end of series.

    it’s ambitious but i bet it met its own ambition.

    this is not just another empty n predictable drama. when u hv the usual kdrama wraps up without dealing with the main problem this drama does it all.

    love this drama to the bits!

  37. 37 ryoko

    This might be slightly random but it is something that has been bugging me for the past few episodes. Has anyone else noticed that whenever there’s a scene that takes place inside Seung Jo’s apartment, you can see the actors’ breath when they speak? It pulled me out of the drama every time because all I could think of was how extremely cold the actors must be. The production staff really must have been skinflints about the heating bill on set. Seeing MGY and PSH walk around “inside” wearing lighter-weight indoor clothing in what was probably close to freezing conditions makes me even more concerned for their health during a long drama shoot. The production budget should stretch enough to allow your lead actors to not look like they’re one step away from becoming human popsicles.

    • 37.1 Laurita

      I noticed that too. It must be expensive to heat up such big spaces (rich houses, heh) for a few scenes (or if the action is filmed not in real places but with like… “carboard-walls” or green-walls…even more ). What bugged me was how the characters walked in the streets all cold with thin layers of OPENED clothing… No matter how they want to advertise the variety of coats, it’s just not right…

      • 37.1.1 Windsun33

        The heating bill is not the problem usually on set – it is the noise and electrical interference.

        • Laurita

          aaa, that’s interesting, never thought of that reason..

  38. 38 Missdrama

    Thank goodness the ending was fairly satisfactory…it made up for the disjointed latter half of the series. Toward the end of the episode, I briefly thought they wouldn’t end up together, when Seung-Jo said “his heart felt at peace” even though they broke up, and my heart was filled with rage that I may have wasted 16+ hours of my time. Luckily, the writer left us with an ending stating “I know you’re not perfect, but I choose to take my chance on love with you.” I do agree with a prior commentor that the kiss in the lobby looked a little awkward…perhaps the way PSH was hunched over MGY, and the way she had her arms holding him while leaving 6 inches between them.

    Also, I was kind of hoping for a love connection between Yoon Ju and Tommy, I think there was a hint of it. The actor playing Tommy really grew on me the last 5 episodes. Oh well, thank goodness it’s over. Now I have time to start on Flower Boy Next Door…love me some Yoon Shi Yoon!

    • 38.1 skelly

      MGY does not know how to do romantic scenes – just not in her wheelhouse, I guess. Every time he hugged her, she looked like she couldn’t wait until it was over.

      • 38.1.1 hyunjee

        Yes! Her lack of chemistry with PSH and inability to do a romantic scene was particularly hard to ignore in that last kiss (in the lobby of that office building) with the spinning camera. SO. AWKWARD. Yikes! It was almost as embarrassing as watching them try to speak French.

  39. 39 Laurita

    Though I didn’t like the drama at the beginning (yep, in some cases I watched the show not for the storyline but to see more of PSH’s acting) , the ending was … good.

    I understood heroine’s struggles and she became way more agreeable to watch. I appreciate that the writer stick to a more unique character (at least in drama-land) till the end, and made it quite realistic ((still, I have to say I didn’t like that she used her “fiancee-status” for her workplace; I understand the writer’s point there, but I wished she would get a job herself; not a candy-style, but simply a human-style with experience that she gained)).

    That aside, what threw me out of the story for a minute was that dream NR1 and dream NR2. When I saw the repetition, I noticed the heroine didn’t have a notebook with her and sensed what was coming… I get that the whole situation (or 2 situations, to be precise) was made with the allusion to “Alice story”, but…

    What I didn’t like was that SJ sort of remembered the whole dreaming thing only after a while (so, If the alcohol was stronger, he wouldn’t remember it at all and thus there would be no happy reunion, or what??? Or, imagine him remembering such thing after many years, heh… Ok, just joking). But still, since his realization happened just because he remembered the real situation and only after a while, it means, before the remembering, he didn’t try to understand the heroine (he just chose to believe that she ran away)… It sort of diminished the whole big reunion. I felt it happened because of some chance, like coincidence (like outside force) more than it happened because of their love (ok, maybe, I’m exaggerating a little bit, but I really felt this way at that minute).

    And another thing: the fact that Candy-girls in dramas love everything about the hero BUT his money. I actually never thought about it this way. In my opinion, the point of such kind of dramas is to show that the heroine chooses the hero NOT FOR his money. Not that she hates his money, but that she doesn’t choose him for money (money being the ONLY reason why she wants him).

    • 39.1 kopytko

      You’re right about the remember-doesn’t-remember thingy. It made the final reunion a bit wtf for me. Otherwise the two wouldn’t find a reason to be together…

    • 39.2 Windsun33

      I could be wrong, but I thought the referece to “Candy” was to the Japanese Anime character? http://www.absoluteanime.com/candy/index.htm

      • 39.2.1 Laurita

        While Japanese Anime character is the originator (I guess?) of this name, many k-dramas (well many melodramas in general) adopted its features into their heroines (hardworking, unrealistically good, etc.). I referred to such type of protagonists.

  40. 40 natalya

    i wish they do a better ending lol XD

    im gonna get hated for this.. i followed every episodes (started it because or Park Shi Hoo of course) and i didnt find any episodes boring but i wanted a better ending for Tommy Hong and Yoon Joo –> i love it when she chosed divorce but i thought the bloody hubby of hers will drag her back or she will get other success in life 🙁

    im not totally complaining about seung jo and se kyung ending, its all well but i want more.. i dont know.. like after-happy-ending story? 😛
    anyway maybe its due to Park Shi Hoo superb acting that made me feels as if Moon Geun Young didnt delivers as much impact..
    well.. im looking forward to his next drama <3

  41. 41 maakopla

    Moon Geun Young, she just ruins every drama for me. I don’t know what’s there about that face, it just makes me want to punch her. All she can do is pull that boring face and cry, she is BORING in all possible ways!

    I’m really disappointed with the whole drama. Han Se didn’t even do anything that shocking to get that gold digger reputation yet everyone was blaming her and making a huge fuss over it. I hate it how “bad” characters in dramas are never bad. I would have wanted to see Han Se turning really black even inside. I mean, one of the points of this darams was to show that gold diggers are just like us, that the society makes them into gold diggers it’s not like the necessarily want to become ones. But.. Han Se a gold digger? Don’t make me laugh. And I don’t even understand why did she have to become a gold digger since she knew Seung Jo loved her back already. WHY?! She could have just told him I love you and that’s it. Vaguely I think, the drama suddenly tries to point out that she became a bad girl just to wake him up from his dream? But I just think that’s lame.

    Besides I hate it how Yoon Joo got thrown away based on some shady video which didn’t really tell much about her. Well they found out she was a gold digger and? What if she was one in the past but now loved her husband? Who didn’t really love her back after all even though he said so. Well, I understand the point here but how it was portrayed here it was just plain STUPID. I like the contrast between Han Se’s and Yoon Joo’s stories. In the end Han Se won again, just like that drawing competition in the past, because she was more honest. But, anyway Yoon Joo’s story is way too deep and complicated to be just on the side.

    They brought in Tommy and made him seem like an interesting character but… suddenly threw him to the side? His character lacked depth and he was just a guy on the side who was always running after Han Se.

    Always hate it when main characters date in the dramas because it’s just awkward and feels fake. Until Han Se and Seung Jo started dating this drama kicked ass, after that it just went downhill for me. Besides, was it just me or did all scenes feel just artificial, fake, and pointless. I’m not saying dramas should be 100% realistic but somehow towards the ending all scenes in this drama started feeling really really awkward.

    • 41.1 Mystisith

      Yoon Joo was in my opinion a much more interesting character than “Candy” and they showed her crying/in shock half of the time: What a waste. Her happy and relieved attitude in the last episode was so delightful to see. I could take a sequel with her & Tommy anytime. Just add the satellite characters like the Doc & it could be fabulous. They know all kind of juicy secrets about everyone in Cheongdam-dong and could make good use of them…

    • 41.2 Earthtone

      Have to totally agree with you with MGY. Haven’t watched her in other dramas. But she ruined this drama for me. How can a drama succeed wihout a likeable female lead? She probably misinterpreted the character, putting on a sour face the whole time.

      Watched epi 16 w/o subtitles and was appalled at the utter lack of concern she seemed to have for SJ. When I watched with subs, then I realised there were lots of time in the lines that express her love for SJ. So the missing link can only be her.

  42. 42 Gunk Pakykul

    Thank you for the recep. I enjoy reading it a lot.

  43. 43 rahimah

    Thanks for the recaps!
    Truly enjoy this drama..
    I will miss this couple..
    Thought they didn’t go to Paris as promise but the ending is very very satisfying!
    Thank you so much writers for a good ending!
    Keep it up!

  44. 44 sarah_lina

    overall im happy with the endind..very satisfied..thank for recaps…

  45. 45 Candy

    Candy do exist. Best MGY Unni done a great job. PSH is always with out a flaw. Great actors and script amazing. Am I not mistaken that the writers where the one who wrote deep rooted trees.

  46. 46 Raine

    I really was baffled by this show and the ending left me really empty. Well, to a degree. I love seeing the cuteness and PSH smiling makes my life a better life to live…but the plot. WTF? It left me hanging in such a big way. The exploration of the themes was so murky because I don’t think the show remembered what themes it was exploring half the time. It hid behind convoluted dialogue and unrealistic characters. Well, at least Seung-jo was very unrealistic.

    Poor PSH and MGY were so badly underused as was the rest of the cast.

    But that said, I did enjoy myself watching it for the most part…it’s just recapping a show really makes me jaded. I bet I would’ve liked it more if I hadn’t…

    I loved reading your recaps though! Thanks for the hard work!

    • 46.1 maakopla

      I totally agree that Seung-jo was unrealistic. At first it was funny to watch him but little by little he kind of started annoying me with his weird character.

  47. 47 kopytko

    I can see two things that made this drama worth watching: PSH dancing in his kitchen and his good friend the Doc.

    The other things… Huh. there were some interesting points about the society, some of those points were missed, some characters were cardboard, some others were pure vinegar, and there was quite a lot of potential wasted. I guess if Yoon Joo had realized earlier what kind of life she was really living and had started thinking several episodes earlier, this would give an opportunity to show her change with more detail and feeling.

    I must admit I watched the whole drama with one song in my mind:

    and therefore I could never really sympathise with the girls. Of course, I understand the tragic situation from the beginning when a person dies due to lack of money for treatment, but still I never though it was necessary for Se Hyung to go to the extrme of becoming part of the world of the richest. I would be absolutely fine with, let’s say our Doc – smart guy and as a doctor probably wasn’t dirt poor either 🙂

    • 47.1 Mystisith

      That song: *Standing ovation*. 😀

      • 47.1.1 kopytko

        I love this song, too. Although I know full well that a person even more cynical than myself would rather suggest listening to “Money” by Liza Minelli and Joel Grey from “Cabaret” 😉

  48. 48 inf92

    what i loved about this drama is that it never was what i expected it to be! loved it from ep 1 to the last moment.. i also liked the chemistry between the leads even though i think that PSH was the only one who tried and succeeded in making the chemistry work… i have a feeling that this show wanted to be a MGY focused drama but failed because PSH literally stole the show…

    As for me now, waiting for the withdrawal syndromes to fade away…

    • 48.1 meme

      i think it was focused on hsk in the beginning, but became more focused on csj in the middle and towards the end.

      • 48.1.1 skelly

        Unless cast in stone ahead of time, or written with nervous rigidity, dramas will naturally gravitate towards the more interesting and well-played character.

  49. 49 Mikunda

    Well I don’t agree with the comments about how we were expecting a rom com and got something else, hence the bashing. I didn’t bash. However, when you have “top” actors, when you start with an ambitious-looking agenda that intends to drown the evils of social pretense and vanity with a storm and end up not being able to even convince me why the characters did what they did – and btw Han se’s “big sin” – the situation wasn’t even realistic enough – what was that about?

    It was badly written and directed. It turned a good and vulnerable girl desperate enough to seek another outlet for her ambition and ready to give it all to a more plausible goal into a cold self-righteous “know it all” who pretty much mocked the prince she was in love with. They should have spent more time on her and how she worked hard for every bit of her past successes, they have to spend less time on the previous boyfriend, they need to show us her heart. I could not relate to her. That’s why I wasn’t bought, I couldn’t follow her and feel for her. They made him into a stupid, narrow-minded pompous a$$ who needed to be taught a lesson and that was too much. He was a hard worker too, he was no puppet, he wanted to make it on his own, a self-made man who was in a situation opposite to Han se’s. They represented two worlds that converged not because they closed their eyes but because they are a good match – equally driven, equally hard working, equally to give it all to their goal. And they both wanted to be real and sincere. It could have been a good drama, but it was lacking sooooo many things. Thanks

  50. 50 Redlychee

    This is my first time watching MGY and PSH. Find him totally charismatic, and SJ’s affection for SK is believable. But I hardly felt anything from SK to SJ due to MGY’s non-acting. So the ending just makes me wonder if she’s really a gold-digger who has succeeded in landing her catch. Very unsatisfying for me. Boo.

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