Alice in Cheongdam-dong: Episode 9
Oh the wait has been much too long! And this episode jumps right back into the swing of things, keeping up a zippy pace as if we didn’t have one week off. I’m grateful for it, since it’s about time for certain revelations to come to a head and for Se-kyung to make more definitive decisions about her life. While I hate sleazebag Tommy, I have to say I way prefer him as the main villain rather than spending my time hating Se-kyung, Yoon-joo, or Daddy Cha. He is quite the delicious dirt bag. (I think my biases for the actor and the character are clashing…)
EPISODE 9 RECAP
Seung-jo confesses his true identity, and Se-kyung pretends to be shocked. This time Tommy is parked right behind Seung-jo so he can hear everything from his car.
Seung-jo apologizes for having hid his identity from Se-kyung, and in her inner monologue, she apologizes for deceiving him right now. He describes himself a pathetic man; she describes herself a terrible woman. He wishes he told her the truth earlier; she wishes the same too. He admits to not being able to trust others, or his own heart; she wonders if his admission means he trusts her. He really likes her, and was happy when he saw her letter saying that she liked Secretary Kim. However, Se-kyung stops him and says that it’s all too confusing. Playing her role as a pure Candy girl to a tee, she says that if he’s really Jean Thierry Cha, then he’s too far from her in status right now.
Tommy watches all this unfold, amused. Se-kyung walking away is like a scene from a drama, and he just got a free preview.
Se-kyung finds herself at a church, and prays for forgiveness for deceiving Seung-jo, for leading him on into thinking that she never knew the truth until now. She promises never to deceive him again, to treat him better in the future, and hopes that she can continue to love him freely without any further obstacles.
Seung-jo returns to his office and learns that GN Fashion will host a preview of their collaboration in the Royal Group Department Store. Instead of being displeased, Seung-jo agrees to follow with GN Fashion’s plan, then meets Dong-wook in his office.
Dong-wook is hankering for updates regarding his confession. Seung-jo effectively says that she didn’t quite accept his confession, but he’s okay. If Se-kyung had jumped into his arms after he admitted the truth, he would have been more suspicious. Instead, with her rejection, he could clearly see his new plan – one that will help him successfully win Se-kyung.
Dong-wook: “So what are you going to do?” Seung-jo: “I’m… going to buy soju!” Uh – eh?
Seung-jo buys soju and snacks at the convenience store and excitedly heads over to Se-kyung’s house. Her family greets him at the door, confused — Se-kyung’s also not home, if he was wondering. But Seung-jo’s okay with that – he just wants them to accept his bowed greeting first. “Mother, Father,” he begins, “I like Se-kyung. But I got rejected.”
HAH – I love the family’s uncomfortable and befuddled looks. He reveals that he was rejected because he wasn’t really Secretary Kim. Deuk-gi: “Are you by chance, a Han from Cheong-joo?” (Suggesting that Seung-jo is distantly related to them.) Heh – nope! Instead, he’s Jean Thierry Cha, CEO of Artemis. Family: “OOOOHHHhhh…” Seung-jo promises to tell them the entire truth and asks that they prepare a table for some drinking. Se-jin quickly texts Ah-jung to come home, and bring Se-kyung if she can.
Se-kyung arrives at her front gate, but she has another guest waiting for her there: Tommy, with her phone. They head to a cafe for a trade off and a talk. Tommy has seen right through Se-kyung, and this is the second time he’s practically caught her red-handed trying to get a way into Cheongdam-dong. Se-kyung maintains a confused composure, and Tommy threatens to send those texts from Ah-jung to Seung-jo, thus revealing that Se-kyung knew everything before his confession and was stringing him along. She could confess herself, but that would make her lose Seung-jo.
But Tommy isn’t all that heartless, really. He does have one more option she can take without getting caught, and hands her a white envelope.
Back to Seung-jo. This time Ah-jung arrives to witness Seung-jo lamenting the rejection. He insists that he’s not above her, since everything he told them about his life story is true. He really did have to struggle from the bottom up. He really likes Se-kyung and hopes her parents can help him.
Instead of responding, Deuk-gi tells him to have a drink – and they share shot after shot after shot. No break, no snacks. Poor Seung-jo.
Se-kyung opens the envelope – it’s an acceptance letter to a design school in Paris. The last option he is to leave. Then Seung-jo will only have good memories of her, and she will be able to come back more successful and able to marry someone better than Seung-jo. Tommy will make sure of that. To explain why he’s going to such lengths for her, he explains being tasked with removing obstacles that stand in the way of marriage between Seung-jo and In-hwa. Se-kyung seems even more saddened that Seung-jo is going to be completely out of her reach now.
Tommy finds her quite scary, as it appears to him that Se-kyung knew exactly how to succeed in Cheongdam-dong (by making the rich fall for her). Even though he graduated at the top of his class, it took him five years to understand the key to success. She knows what she must do and how to get it, and to him that marks a successful and ambitious person. Little does he realize that she has an important backer from the “inside.” He tells her not to think too long as she contemplates her future. Instead of picking up the letter, she picks up her phone first, and looks through the messages Ah-jung sent her about Seung-jo. Tommy makes note of this.
Se-kyung slowly heads home, and as she sits moping outside her house, she overhears two drunk men singing “My Way” by Frank Sinatra quite loudly – a very drunk Seung-jo and her father. Ah-jung delightedly tells her that Seung-jo came over after Se-kyung dumped him, and how he and her family have been drinking for the past hour.
Seung-jo catches sight of Se-kyung and starts asking her father and mother if he’s really still too far out of her reach socially. Her parents say no, having taken a liking to him. But even so Se-kyung turns away and escapes to her room, still at a loss over what to do.
The following morning, Se-kyung heads to the office, where Min-hyuk and In-hwa brief the other full-timers on preparations for the preview event. They all head out to the preview location, and In-hwa is left with Se-kyung, who’s left behind to make copies. In-hwa takes the opportunity to ask about the Artemis party, wondering at her personal relationship with the CEO. Se-kyung denies any personal relationship, saying that her ex-boyfriend used to work at Artemis and was involved in the illegal distribution scandal.
In-hwa’s curious about how Se-kyung managed to get Jean Thierry Cha to pardon her ex-boyfriend, and Se-kyung reluctantly admits it was through a handwritten letter. In-hwa looks delighted and hurries to her office so that she too can make some handwritten letters. Se-kyung remembers Tommy’s words about the arranged marriage; sadly, she just gave In-hwa the keys to Seung-jo’s heart. (Though there’s the question of whether those keys fit into the lock on his heart.)
Min-hyuk’s called his nervous wife into his office, as he wants to go to the preview with her. Yoon-joo is feeling ill over the idea of going to a Royal Group department store, and that GN Fashion is collaborating with her ex, but thankfully she agrees to go. (With all her excuses I was wondering whether her husband would ever get suspicious of her.)
Seung-jo arrives at the party and is greeted with respect from the GN Fashion employees. He finds In-hwa writing thank-you cards to the VVIP guests – one addressed to Park Shi-hoo, natch – and drawing original designs on them. He is impressed with her personalized touch and even gives her a smile. In-hwa’s thinking, “Score! I got him to like me!” They take a few obligatory press photos together, and that’s when Il-nam arrives, with Min-hyuk and Yoon-joo close behind.
Min-hyuk finally introduces his wife to Il-nam officially, and they greet each other as if meeting for the first time, hiding their dislike for each other just enough to not be noticed. Yoon-joo joins her husband to greet Seung-jo, and Seung-jo’s fidgeting does not go unnoticed by Il-nam.
Yoon-joo attempts to make conversation with him, suggesting that he collaborate with In-hwa again on handbags. In-hwa notices that Yoon-joo’s presence has an adverse affect on Seung-jo and does not appreciate her sister-in-law’s small talk. Seung-jo notices his father as well, looking on disapprovingly.
Min-hyuk thankfully takes In-hwa away to greet other important people, and Seung-jo tries to see what Yoon-joo is trying to get at. She pointedly remarks that his father is not going to give up on pairing him and In-hwa together, so she might as well make it comfortable between the two of them. Seung-jo doesn’t want any part of it and walks away, which makes Il-nam angrier and Yoon-joo a little smug.
Il-nam takes Yoon-joo to his office, where she tells him that she’s helping his “business” but Seung-jo won’t take part. It’s not because of her that Seung-jo is disobeying Il-nam’s word. Rather, Seung-jo is trying to run away from Il-nam. Studying abroad in Paris was his way of escaping his grasp; avoiding this marriage is the same thing. Even when she was with Seung-jo, she knew he could only see and think of his mother, which suggests that he witnessed his mother’s heartbreak at the expense of his father.
She hits a nerve and Il-nam bids her to leave the family. If she leaves the Shin family, everything will work out well. Yoon-joo leaves the office angrily, and I’m angry that Il-nam is so deaf – didn’t she already say that she’s not the cause of his problems? Aren’t your tears of regret proof that it’s all your fault, Daddy Cha?
The party comes to a close, and the GN Fashion employees leave Se-kyung behind to clean up after them. Se-kyung begins removing the clothing from the mannequins, and hears a whisper calling out her name. It’s Seung-jo, hiding behind the sign. He wants to grab a bite with her but she dismisses him, saying she’s still got work to do. He leaves, somewhat hurt.
She continues cleaning up, then gets a text message. As she opens to read the text from Secretary Kim, Seung-jo sneaks up behind to peek over her shoulder. The text says, “Se-kyung! I heard you were on sick leave. Are you sick? I have something to tell you, so turn around!”
Se-kyung turns around, and her lips meet Seung-jo’s.
Both are surprised at the contact. Seung-jo stutters: “See that!? Even with that, you’re saying I’m too far from you? I’m so close!” He runs off happily, and cries out that he’ll never give up on her. He even dances and throws big hearts at her – the cute is back! At least Se-kyung gives him a little smile before he leaves. But it hurts – Seung-jo leaves just as Yoon-joo arrives back at the store, in time to see Se-kyung leave with the packed belongings.
Se-kyung and Yoon-joo go off for some drinks. Se-kyung wonders if wanting to give up and run away means she doesn’t love that person enough; she’s in need of guidance that Yoon-joo isn’t giving. She also wonders if Yoon-joo’s ever gone to a church or a temple to pray. Yoon-joo: “You must have. What did you pray for? ‘I’ve done wrong, I’ll be a better person.'” Se-kyung interrupts: “Please forgive me this once. If you overlook it, I’ll be a better person.”
That makes Yoon-joo tear up, and she bemoans their combined misery. What did the they do that was so wrong that they’re the only ones feeling guilty? They may have hurt others, but they were hurt too, and cried too. I knew these two ladies would be awesome buddies! Look at them empathizing with each other.
As Yoon-joo heads to the restroom, Se-kyung steps outside to call Tommy. She begs him to forgive her, to just let her off the hook and not have to choose between leaving and staying. Wasn’t Tommy in her position before? Surely he must know how she feels. Tommy says kindly enough that he does know what she’s going through, and had begged just as she did – but it didn’t work for him. He’s giving her a good opportunity for when she comes back, so she shouldn’t despair. He’ll call again the following day for her decision.
Yoon-joo and Se-kyung come back to their table, and drink shot after shot until they’re both in a stupor. Se-kyung puts her head down at the table first, and doesn’t notice that Seung-jo is texting her.
Seung-jo is excited, composing bothersome texts for Se-kyung; since he’s going to be persistent, he’ll be persistent all the way.
But Yoon-joo finds his texts, hearing Se-kyung’s cell phone go off while trying to wake her. The contact person still says Secretary Kim, so Yoon-joo only thinks that this is Se-kyung’s White Rabbit. She texts him back, saying that Se-kyung is passed out drunk at the restaurant. Seung-jo quickly flies on over in his car.
Yoon-joo takes a moment to freshen up in the restroom, and when she returns, she sees Secretary Kim rush to Se-kyung’s side. But even in her drunkenness she can recognize Seung-jo anywhere. Secretary Kim = the CEO Se-kyung’s trying to nab = the man who’s in love with her, and she with him = Cha Seung-jo, ex-husband. Talk about a shocking revelation, and Yoon-joo pieces together all the clues she’s heard from Seung-jo and Se-kyung.
Seung-jo takes Se-kyung piggyback style and practically skips home, totally psyched that he’s carrying her. Um – I don’t think you should run in zig zags if you have a drunk person on your back… Arriving home, her parents berate him for bringing her home drunk when she can’t drink. In his defense, he says he only picked her up, and she drank with someone else. He drops her off in her room, gently clearing the hair from her face.
Seung-jo: Miss Se-kyung. If you’re awake, I hope you continue faking sleep so you can hear me out. (takes her hand) My heart is beating really fast. I am like this whenever I’m with you. You are sensible, honest, and brave. But I am petty, weak, and fearful. Yet I still told you that I liked you… so don’t be afraid.
And with a little “Fighting!” cheer, he tucks her in and leaves. Se-kyung rolls over and opens up her eyes, a small hopeful smile on her face.
Seung-jo leaves the apartment to find Se-jin waiting for him. “Do you know what this Thursday is?” she asks. Seung-jo has no idea and she tsks; no wonder her sister doesn’t like him. It hits him like thunder – is it Almighty Se-kyung’s birthday? Se-jin practically gets goosebumps over how much Seung-jo worships the ground her sister walks on.
The following morning, Se-kyung wakes up groggily to find Se-jin and Ah-jung waiting by her bed. Ah-jung wants to know if she has any plans tonight, as a former classmate of theirs is having a gallery show that evening. Se-jin wants to go with Se-kyung, and adds an extra unni~ to convince Se-kyung to take her.
Se-kyung becomes suspicious – when did her sister become so sweet? Clearly they have a plan, even though they claim otherwise. Se-kyung grudgingly agrees to go with the two of them to the show.
That evening, Il-nam heads over to the bakery where Deuk-gi works to take photos for the press. He sees Se-kyung greeting her father there, and Deuk-gi handing her coffee and a slice of fresh-baked bread. Deuk-gi tells his daughter that Seung-jo is a good-hearted man, and that she shouldn’t agonize over accepting him so much. It’s a good thing to be loved. It doesn’t cheer up Se-kyung much, so he asks her what’s wrong – like what a loving father should do.
Se-kyung tells him about In-hwa, and how she’s trying to marry someone, trying to win his heart by doing a bunch of silly things. Deuk-gi thinks it must be a blow to her cool, elegant persona, but Se-kyung begs to differ. When In-hwa does it, she looks so pretty and earnest (blegh, says I), but when she does it, it looks ugly. In her heart, she knows that society views rich people loving the poor as generous and gracious, but when poor people love the rich, it’s ridiculous and laced with greed.
Deuk-gi thinks his daughter is pretty and lovable no matter what, and the two embrace affectionately. It’s enough to make Il-nam feel a pang of jealousy. He takes some pictures with Deuk-gi inside, and then asks him what it is that he talks to his daughter about. Deuk-gi says it’s just normal stuff, like how their day was, or about work and friends.
Il-nam is surprised – don’t you only talk about those things when the kids are in grade school? Deuk-gi laughs – no, you just keep doing it! He suggests Il-nam try it with his kids, and Il-nam wonders if going out for a meal with Seung-jo may help heal their relationship.
Secretary Moon and Dong-wook come to Seung-jo’s office to tell him that everything has been prepared – the renting of the gallery, the video editing, and all that jazz. Seung-jo repeatedly asks these questions, to which Dong-wook even gives him the look, “Dude, what do you think of me?”
The one thing he hasn’t checked however is whether Se-kyung is really coming. And it is something to be concerned about, as Se-jin and Ah-jung have a hard time getting in contact with her.
Se-kyung has gone to see Tommy instead. Uh-oh… Assuming she’ll take the deal, he hands her the admission papers to the design school and a contract to sign. It states that she must relinquish everything that belongs to Seung-jo immediately and have no contact with him, now or after she returns to Korea.
Se-kyung doesn’t sign right away; she’s scared to. She tries to tell Tommy that even if it may be laughable to him, Seung-jo really does love her. But Tommy stops her – if she’s trying to convince him that she loves Seung-jo, that’s going to make matters ugly. He knows that she approached him with false intentions, and she’s still trying to say that she loved him purely? Tommy: “‘Love’ is just a name, just like billions of other names. If you want to call it love, you can, but don’t say that in front of me.”
Se-kyung: In-hwa wants to win Seung-jo’s heart as well, and marry him. But why is it that when she does it, it appears pretty, and when I do it, it’s ugly? It’s a marriage of convenience for her too, but why am I considered the bad person? Why do I have to be the moral one? Why am I the only one who has to know nothing about love?”
As much as those words may contain truth, Tommy doesn’t sympathize. Doesn’t she understand now why he must be a “pimp” to the rich? My understanding of that is he doesn’t believe in love, and the rich don’t understand love either. He creates “love” for them.
Seung-jo arrives at the gallery to find everything prepared – piano, candlelight dinner, rose petals. The problem is, Ah-jung and Se-jin arrive without Se-kyung in tow. Instead, she calls Seung-jo. He desperately asks where she is so he can go see her, but Se-kyung doesn’t want to. She knew from the start that her sister and Ah-jung were taking her to meet him, and that’s why she didn’t show up. She apologizes, but they can never be together. She hangs up, and Seung-jo falls into despair.
The chauffeur arrives just then with a bouquet of flowers – where shall he place them? While everyone’s shushing him for his tactlessness, Dong-wook asks what Seung-jo plans to do. He had prepared all this to declare his love for her, and he’s just going to give up now? Seung-jo is the type to make up fantasy scenarios in his head for every “Thank you” he wants to hear. But that’s the thing – with everything he plans for Se-kyung, it always becomes a failure. It never works out the way he planned!
Dong-wook reminds him that it’s not over until it’s over. If anything, he should still go find Se-kyung, show her everything he prepared and see if she still rejects him. If she does, then he should make peace with it, but he should not give up when she hasn’t heard his say. Yeah! That’s right, Dong-wook!
Even though they don’t know where Se-kyung is, Ah-jung knows how to track her phone down because she got the ID and passcode from when Se-kyung lost her phone.
They track her down to Heritage Club, located near the riverside. They all pile into Seung-jo’s car and Chauffeur Kim decides this is time to show his amazing driving skills, swerving lane to lane and speeding up when Dong-wook requests to go slower – heh.
When they reach the Heritage Club, they split up looking for Se-kyung. Seung-jo runs along the riverside, calling Se-kyung repeatedly, but she ignores his calls.
Seung-jo finally locates her below some steps, standing near the edge. He runs down and quickly embraces her, pleading for her not to go. He pulls her in tighter when she resists, and recites the script that he had prepared for tonight: “I used to think that love was something you felt only at first sight. I didn’t know you could drown in it slowly. If love had a time limit, I hope mine would last ten thousand years. Until I die, will you love me? No… Until the day I die, I will love you!”
But because it was to Se-kyung, he realized that script would never work. Instead, he tells Se-kyung the truth. He’s scared, and he’s always been. When he was young, his mother packed her things and abandoned him. The one person he loved left him, and he’s afraid that Se-kyung will do the same. Now she should know that he’s not the perfect, suave, cool man that others think he is. He is just a simple man who loves Se-kyung, and is in great need of her rescuing him. If she can accept him, then he hopes she can stay with him instead of running away.
At this point, the rest of the entourage have arrived and are watching, willing Se-kyung to accept his confession. With tear-filled eyes, Se-kyung has one request – to wait just one hour.
And with that, she runs off, ignoring everyone, and beelines for Tommy’s studio. She barges in to his office and has an announcement to make. “You said love is a name, like a billion of others. It doesn’t matter what other people call it, but only matters to the person giving it a name. You’re right, my feelings for Seung-jo are what you call an ugly love. However, ugly love is still love. So, I will call my love for Cha Seung-jo an ‘ugly love.’ So you give up, because I will never give up my ugly love!”
She gives him back the unsigned contract, and Tommy’s jaw hardens. If she’s going to do that, it’s war.
Oh YIPPEE! Well I’m glad Se-kyung is finally standing up for herself! It took her a while but she’s finally standing up for the love that she knows. Even though she may have led Seung-jo on initially by not revealing her knowledge of his secret, at least we know her intentions are still true, and she really does love him. It would be icing for me if she can tell him the truth about her knowledge, and he still forgive her, but I’m sure that’s an obstacle to come for these two lovebirds.
Her scene with Yoon-joo really broke my heart, as well as her monologue about love to Tommy. These two girls are just so unfortunate to be honest and conscientious. I know they have been manipulative, and it’s worse that they are so consciously aware of their decision to be manipulative, but these ‘bad women’ are speaking the truth to me. This drama forces you to look at their circumstances, where what they’re doing is not much different from what an average couple may do if they’re enjoying the thrill of “the chase”. You’re a little flirty, and you’re a little mysterious, but you probably also stalked them on Facebook and Google to find out their middle name and their siblings’ names. Will you ever reveal that newfound information before he tells you though? No – and you may never will. It’s not too far from what Se-kyung and Yoon-joo did, but what’s unfortunate for them is that they’re playing with higher stakes at the table. I pitied them and I sided with them, because they’re playing with poker chips that they don’t have. I found their thoughts to be the truth, because society does look down upon poor females trying to get the rich man – they’re the gold diggers; if we know that the rich man chased them, they’re the Cinderellas.
Before I seem too wishy-washy in my opinion of her, I will say that I disliked Se-kyung last episode for her manipulation, and I still dislike that her love with Seung-jo may not be too honest just yet. However, I can’t help but pity her more and more, and out of pity, I really do hope she finds some happiness – whether with Seung-jo or not.
I found the song “My Way” quite appropriate for this episode – it’s all about finding one’s own path, and doing it one’s own way, instead of following a path that someone else carved out for him/her. If they can live their life honestly, even with a few regrets and a few mistakes, at least they did it their way.