Cheongdam-dong Alice: Episode 1 Recap

by: Raine

Lookie, lookie, lookie! It’s finally here!

(Crazy Japanese fashion in a sequence shown in Cha Seung-jo’s presentation.)

“Rain Shower” –  Every Single Day  (from the Cheongdam-dong Alice OST)

episode 1 recap

A montage of the development of fashion in other countries flashes by as CEO of luxury brand Artemis, Cha Seung-jo (PARK SHI-HOO), explains what women value in other countries. What about in Korea?

The women of Korea buy brand names. It’s Seung-jo’s theory that what distinguishes between women is not just brand names, but who has got the luxury items. In order to look more successful than everyone else, they will do anything to buy luxury items.

But that’s cool, since that’s how Artemis rolls. So let the prices keep going up!

His impassioned speech shocks the audience AND his secretary.

Yeah, I think it’s safe to assume that the man is crazy or has a serious misogynistic chip on his shoulder. Or both.

When the other higher ups question his idea, he says that it’s fine because they don’t just sell luxury stuff, but fear. That earns a gasp. But he doesn’t stop. Women fear they’ll be left behind as unfashionable bags of dirt, so they’ll bend over backwards to get the newest, most fashionable gear. This means tomorrow’s prices have to be higher than today’s.

Okay, he’s psycho.

Seung-jo’s crazy speech segues into Han Se-kyung’s (MOON GEUN-YOUNG) interview for a position at GN Fashion. She is the total opposite of Seung-jo: honest, open, basing her goals on bettering herself rather than her pocketbook. Although she hasn’t gone abroad to study fashion, she’s worked hard in Korea, won Korean contests, and earned the highest level of certification in the French language.

But that doesn’t matter. No one likes that she didn’t study abroad and she gets bad marks down the panel of judges.

The French judges asks, in French, what her credo is and to respond in French. Moon Geun-young makes a valiant effort, but I seriously can’t understand anything except articles…

My effort is my strength, is her creed and she got it from her father who put thirty years of blood, sweat and tears into his bakery.

Shin Min-hyuk (KIM SEUNG-SOO) and his wife Seo Yoon-joo (SO YI-HYUN) sort through the interviews and Yoon-joo smiles wickedly and says that “she” hasn’t changed at all, referring to Se-kyung. So a ponytail wearing guy goes to Shin In-hwa (KIM YOO-RI) and shocks and angers her when she hears that the madame wants to hire Se-kyung despite her terrible scores.

But Se-kyung is stoked and called up her parents and boyfriend to brag about getting a job after three years. She tells the busy street that she’ll open a shop in Cheongdam-dong and live there for sure, just it wait and see.

Moon Geun-young is so cute. But the predictability of this is already making me wary.

Ponytail tells Se-kyung she came in last place so she’s running the madam’s errands. Why was she hired then? It’s a mystery.

Ooooh, I know. So you can be tortured by evil second lead!

She mentally bemoans the unfairness of the industry and runs across her new boss, Shin In-hwa coming out of her snazzy car in her snazzy outfit and introduces herself, but In-hwa is less than accommodating. Se-kyung wonders if her last place is because she didn’t study abroad and In-hwa says she’s half right.

Se-kyung goes to a wedding with her friends who congratulate her. Her best friend Choi Ah-jung (SHIN SO-YOOL) recites her merits while Se-kyung stews about last place.

The rings are exchanged and the friends ogle the expensive rings and the fact that the bride was last place amongst them and is now starting up a brand in Cheongdam-dong.

Outside, Ah-jung tries to convince Se-kyung to go back in and meet the groom’s rich friends, which is why the rest of their social group came dressed to the nines. Se-kyung doesn’t want to have any part of it, especially as she hasn’t told them she’s really just an errand girl, not a designer.

She wants to meet her boyfriend, So In-chan (Cameo by NAM GOONG-MIN) who is seriously in debt and calls him to complain how her friends only talk about designer brands and becoming Cheongdam-dong daughter-in-laws.

Of course, that’s what this show is about. Show, you’re so pedantic. You could’ve said all this is less than two seconds. Give me more crazy Park Shi-hoo.

Her boyfriend is at the hospital with his mother and doesn’t even ask about her first day at work when she calls. That’s ‘cause he’s gonna break up with you so you can date Park Shi-hoo. What a nice boyfriend.

When she comes home, her parents are fighting about money and real estate. Her sister says their place might go into foreclosure. Mom hollers so loudly that she blows dad right out the door.

Se-kyung broods in her room and then imagines that within a year she’d realize the potential they saw and become a valued, then regular employee, then a team manager, then quit to launch her own brand.

The next day she cheerfully introduces herself and is unenthusiastically received as the errand girl.

We find out Ponytail’s name is Assistant Manager Kim and In-hwa tells her that she has something smeared on her shoes. When she bends down, Se-kyung sees In-hwa’s shoes that look like demented elephant feet and also overhears they’re collaborating with Artemis.

REALLY? How did I NOT see that coming?!

Ass. Manager Kim hands her GN Fashion’s Madam’s  shopping list and tells her she only has until noon to get it all. She runs around Cheongdam-dong like a headless chicken and tries not to freak out over the prices of the things she’s purchasing.

In the car, Se-kyung bitches about buying $270 stockings when she can just get them for $3 at the corner store. The pricey ones are just pricey to be pricey.

I agree. Who needs $270 bucks of insta-rip stockings just to sport a namebrand name?

Her tirade is interrupted when she crashes into Park Shi-hoo’s car. I mean, it’s Cha Seung-jo’s car. I mean, it’s Crazy Man’s car.

Seung-jo climbs out of the car, sees the GN Fashion pass, the bajillion bags and boxes and stops mid-apology as a realization comes to his mind.

She’s a Soybean Paste Woman! THE HORROR. (This refers to a consumerist woman who buys the latest fashions no matter what it costs her. Basically, the woman he described during his tirade in the first scene.)

Se-kyung wonders how he could just pop out suddenly – it’s her first day on the job and it’s a company car. He thinks she’s happy to have struck his car so she can mooch money off him. She wants him to compensate, but he accuses her of trying to get money for more shopping by faking injury. He guesses she’s a contract for hire who makes very little and the car isn’t his as he’s just a poor secretary for his rich Chairman, the chairman of Artemis, the company her company is trying to collaborate with.

Of course, she’s baffled by his presumptive speech as am I. He really, really is nuts. Besides the fact that he’s Park Shi-hoo, how is he supposed to win anyone over?

Se-kyung delivers the shopping to the madam’s ridiculously impressive office and doesn’t realize and Yoon-joo is watching her via the intercom with a smirk.

Flashback to the school days when Se-kyung accuses her ex-boyfriend, Yoon-joo’s current beau, of drawing for Yoon-joo. Yoon-joo says that he’s been doing it for a while and Se-kyung points out that Yoon-joo’s stolen art still came second place to hers.

Yoon-joo says she plans to keep doing that until she beats Se-kyung because stealing and conniving is her skill. Eventually they get into a cat-fight and I’m thinking this is the best part of the show so far except for Park Shi-hoo’s smile.

That, and I figured out my nickname for Yoon-joo. I know it isn’t the actresses fault, but she has a mole on her neck and when I saw it, I thought it was a tick. Since Yoon-joo uses other people’s work as her own, she’s a total blood sucker, the name is perfect: Tick Girl! HAHAHAHA!

Secretary Moon asks if Seung-jo has gotten in an accident and Seung-jo tells him to prepare the lawyer to take on a case of insurance fraud.


Also, Chairman Cha Il-nam of Royal Group has arrive, which evokes a really evil smirk from Park Shi-hoo’s sexy face.

Ah-jung and other female employees ogle Seung-jo and they run into In-chan, Se-kyung’s boyfriend. He gets a text from his girl asking for consolation over a bad day and money issues.

Money issues will rip many couples apart.

Anyway, Seung-jo saunters arrogantly into the meeting with Chairman Cha and they have a handshake standoff. No hands are shaken and there is some serious bad blood between these men.

Oh yes, Seung-jo introduces himself as Jean Thierry Cha, which to me sounds like, “Jane Thierry Cat” by the way he pronounces his last name as “Sha,” the pronunciation for French word for cat.

Seung-jo immediately says he won’t enter a shabby department store like his. Besides, they’re third in the industry. Chairman Cha tries to convince him to join, but Seung-jo says once the Cheondam-dong store is build and Cha can physically back his claim, he’ll consider it.

Of course, as we all expected, Cha flips out and reveals he’s psycho Seung-jo’s father, cursing him out. But Psycho-jo seriously just smirks all pretty-like, enjoying the show.

Seung-jo is just cutting his father out like his father cut him out of the inheritance for studying art in France rather than business in America; for rejecting set-up dates for the woman he loved. Daddy Cha wonders if this is revenge and Seung-jo happily confirms that it is and that he is doing just well with daddy’s help, thank you.

Daddy Cha tries to turn around and mentions the inheritance. Psycho-jo says he’ll donate it. He’s a member of the French socialist party with a new name pronounced a new fancy way. Dad says he can’t run away from his chaebol bloodline; he’s Choongnam style.

HAHAHAHAHAHA! Do they have a dance for that, too? Call Psy quick, instead of a pony-riding dance, we need a Mercedes Benz-riding dance.

He even fixed his Satori (country) accent. (They’re from Choongchung Nam-do, a province south of Seoul and on the West coast.)

Psycho-jo says he never had one, not Jean-Thierry CHA (prounounced Sha). His father calls him petty and grudge-holding and Psycho-jo agrees. Daddy will suffer his revenge.

Well, at least he knows he’s psycho.

The dad stalks away and Psycho-jo goes to his office, seemingly contrite, then yells, “ASA!”

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! Okay, that made my day.

Tick Girl asks after Se-kyung and Ass. Manager Kim says she’s a mess. He asks her if she knows Se-kyung, but she says no.

Se-kyung meets In-chan and tells him about her shitty day. He gives her an Artemis brand purse worth $5,000 if bought in Europe and $6,500 in Korea so people go there to buy it, like her friends.

She wonders why he got her it and he says she needs one to work at GN Fashion. How did he buy it? He should refund it.

Then he drops the bomb: it’s his last present. It’s time to break up.

She chases him out, wondering why he’s doing this again. She takes his hand and he pulls away. She asks a few questions and he finally snaps. What’s so hard? she asks. Is his mother sicker? She moans about her life and he says that’s why they should break up; she should meet a wealthy man. She hates when he says that.

In-chan tells her that she’s pretty, smart and takes pride in herself and likes wearing name-brands. It’s all because she’s dating a man like her that she’s fallen. When they first met, she was wearing name-brand bags and now she’s wearing discount. He starts naming the financial hardship they would suffer as a married couple with tears in his eyes. It’s hopeless.

He leaves and Se-kyung meets with Ah-jung who drools over the bag. She tells Se-kyung to ignore In-chan when he calls to apologize in a few days. Just ignore him. He’s poor, his mom’s sick and he just took out a loan. Plus he’s always saying “Let’s break up.” But Se-kyung loves him, her oppa who supported.

She blames her luck on the “Crazy Guy.”

Cut to Psycho-jo laughing maniacally at the video of his father getting really pissed off. He cackles and then says he’s feeling better. Petty revenge makes him feel like he can live.

Okay, he’s crazy, but that’s funny right there. (Thank you, Larry the Cable Guy.)

Heo Dong-wook (PARK KWANG-HYUNG) comes in with some beer and wonders what all the hilarity is about. Psycho-jo shows him the footage and Dong-wook can’t believe he did that to his father. Dong-wook calls him “Psycho.”

I agree!

Dong-wook says this is childish and Psycho-jo says Dong-wook urged him to “heal”. Besides, the really childish stuff hasn’t yet begun. He slaps down a photo of Tick Girl, the wife of GN Fashion’s president.

Psycho-jo walks to the window, flings open the curtains and remembers what happened in Paris, 2006. He threw away his father and inheritance all because he loved her. Is that love? she asks. Love isn’t giving up, but protecting. Why did he give it up? Because to her, he was just a business.

After the memory, Psycho-jo does what he does best: smirk.

Tick girl and her husband, Min-hyuk, eat dinner and Min-hyuk wants to invite Artemis’ president to the vacation house when he returns to Korea. She asks to prepare it without his sister’s help. But he’s worried because they don’t know a lot about the president, only his name: Jean-Thierry Cha and that he lived in France for a while, just like her.

Ha. So that’s what the silly French name is for? Not that the name is silly. It’s just silly how they pronounce it. LOL.

Min-hyuk lets her do it and she promises to please both him and his sister (In-hwa). Now Min-hyuk wonders why she seems happier lately.

Because she’s an evil bitch who derives pleasure in others’ pain? Well, Psycho-jo does, too…but it’s Park Shi-hoo, so I forgive him. That and his bitchiness comes from valid hurt. Hers is from her personal failings and petty revenge. Who am I kidding? This is all kinda shallow.

Dong-wook wonders if Psycho-jo can keep work and revenge separate with the collaboration with GN Fashion and he thinks he can; it’s a gift from heaven. Dong-wook wonders if he’s taking his medication regularly.

I really hope this isn’t a throwaway line. Medication is no joke. If he’s messing with it, that could make it worse.

Anywho, he says he takes it regularly.

He came back to Korea two days ago and Seo Yoon-Joo/Tick Girl doesn’t know he’s back.

Se-kyung checks on In-chan’s mother who hasn’t had surgery yet because the bill hasn’t been paid. So she has her sister, Han Se-jin (SHIN HYE-JUNG) bring her the Artemis bag.

She goes to work and cheerfully greets everyone and then gets rebuffed. She asks Ass. Manager Kim about the madam. He says they’re different in everything but age. The madam seems to like her as she asks her to pick up $150,000 diamonds from France, a new collection called Josephine.

Yeah, that wasn’t a bitchy move, Tick Girl.

The diamond people send her back with a warranty and in a limo to ensure the product. Se-kyung is nice to “Josephine” in the car and says the madam has good luck. She delivers them and then goes to return the purse that In-chan bought her, much to the chagrin of her sister. It’ll be a few days. Then Ass. Manager Kim calls and says the warranty disappeared. He accuses her of opening them and trying them on.

In-hwa hears what happens and Se-kyung promises to find them, But In-hwa wants to know why she’s working there. Se-kyung wants to become a regular employee but In-hwa says that she’ll never be a designer. It’s not her resume that’s shoddy, but her fashion sense. In-hwa names her out-of-style boots and jacket as her problem; the fact that she didn’t have the money to gain the proper fashion sense. In-hwa says that Se-kyung will never have it because she wasn’t born into it. Also, bring back the warranty, because that’s her job.

With tears in her eyes, Se-kyung goes to retrieve it from the shop, which just happens to be part of Artemis. Psycho-jo and Secretary Moon are checking out the jewelry store as the worker is rejecting Se-kyung’s for another warranty, especially since she checked the first one herself. Psycho-jo recognizes her as Soybean Paste Girl and the worker greets Secretary Moon (as no one knows Psycho-jo yet.)

Se-kyung approaches him and calls him secretary, which confuses Moon. She asks him to reissue it and he wants to know why he should. He asks if she tried on the diamonds and we see her flashback. She tried to resist, but had to try them on. The warranty slipped out of the box then. She admits it and he accuses her of only caring about having an expensive necklace on and nothing about the artistry. And wearing them with her clothes. Same words at In-hwa.

That incenses her and in rude language, she wonders if her taste is bad because her clothes are inexpensive. If it wasn’t, she wouldn’t be an errand girl but a designer. If that’s the case, how can someone not give up everything to be stylish. Value doesn’t matter when all she needs are expensive things about her. Isn’t that the con he’s fronting?

Why yes, yes it is.

He smirks and says that the women should be blamed for their consumerist streaks, that Soybean Pastiness inside them, the inferiority. Or blame the circumstances.


Circumstances she can’t help like her parents, what they’ve given her according to their circumstances, her neighborhood, her friends. She walks out on him but I’m not quite sure she’s made a dent in that psycho skull of his.

She sits on a bench and calls In-chan, who doesn’t answer and then finally calls back. She makes small talk and he tells her to stop contacting him and seeing his mother. Nothing will change. She wonders why everyone is telling her that nothing will work. He cuts her off and she agrees and hangs up. Then she sobs on a bench as people pass buy.

Okay, sick parents and money are actually viable reasons for people to break up. Not the reasons themselves, but because of what they do to people inside.

On her way home she sees an outdoor market selling cheap bread across the street from her parents’ shop. They are trying it: it’s cheap and delicious. She asks her mom the last time she went to a hair salon and leaves sadly.

You don’t have money, it doesn’t mean you suck. Don’t worry.

In her room, she flips through her sketchbook and finds her motto: L’effort est ma force.

She remembers when In-chan asked her what it means: Effort is my strength. And he makes cute hand hearts at her.

And now it’s time to write her resignation, but instead she writes that the whole situation is unfair because she is well-qualified despite the fact that she is neither rich nor has she studied abroad. She’d dreamed of becoming a full-time employee in a year, but now she knows it won’t happen. She also understands that it is because she was born under different circumstances. Nonetheless, she will continue to work hard.

Before she can hand it in, the madam shows up wearing expensive clothes and the Josephine diamonds and calls her by her school nickname, “Han Se.”

Se-kyung glances up and gapes. “Seo Yoon-joo?”


I’m so disappointed. It’s not the fault of the actors, but the plot. How many times have we seen this? And how many times do you have to mention that she’s graduated with top grades and won contests? How much time do you need to spend hammering in Se-kyung’s dire situation. We get it. In my not-so-humble opinion, we could’ve cut this episode down to a half an hour and gotten the point across. Maybe even twenty minutes. It was all about showing that Se-kyung’s station in life ruins her chance at a career in design and that Psycho-jo hates gold-diggers and money obsessed women ’cause he was burned. Oh yeah, the Tick Girl wants to ruin Se-kyung out of spite. Best reason ever. NOT. Give me substance.

There were a few good points though. Let’s make a list!

  1. The music is FUN. Got some Latin beats and percussion rocking.
  2. Park Shi-hoo’s zany character was genuinely funny. He’s just outright nuts. I have no idea what they’re going to do with that. Perhaps he should’ve been the Mad Hatter rather than the White Rabbit. I wonder if his table is full of tea and jam pots…
  3. Moon Geun-young’s acting is as solid as ever.
  4. Park Shi-hoo smiles/smirks a lot. Happy, happy Raine. Now, where are his abs? Do white rabbits have abs?

And now on to episode 2. Please, for the love of Park Shi-hoo, be better!

Episodes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 (final)

Character introductions.

Cheongdam-dong Alice Episode 1 Screencaps.

3 responses to “Cheongdam-dong Alice: Episode 1 Recap”

  1. I’d probably give it a 7.5/10? In a weird way, I don’t care much that it is a “we’ve seen this 10000times already”-fest. PSH is fabulous – wow, I love his insane character. This is going to be fun (also judging from the preview for epi 3)! And MGY does well too. I keep staring at her. She has such a fascinating face (and I keep going back to check how old she is).

  2. I would give this episode a 6.5/10: Cast is good and the 2 main characters are intriguing. I also want to know more about his dad. That said, story line is a mix of all kind of things already seen (and I’m not a specialist of fashion shows at all…): I do, I do (hello humiliation of the newbie at the workplace!), Fashion King or Color of Woman (also Material Queen, done by our TW friends). 1 thing I like is the way they criticize the consumerist attitude: The idea of the dog biting the hand which feeds him is a cool idea.
    Now, if I can have a wish: Less business and more romance please.
    I know…. It’s only the first episode…
    Btw, I love the assa!-gif. Something to send to your boss the day you give your resignation letter.

Leave a comment. You know you wanna!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s