Cheongdam-dong Alice: Episode 14 Recap

by: Raine

I liked this episode the best since about 8 or 9. There was real conflict and real stakes. Families and business were involved. Psycho-jo had to face his own dysfunction and Se-kyung finally did what she should’ve done ages ago: take responsibility in a real way.

“Alice”Instrumental of song sung by Every Single Day (from the Cheongdam-dong Alice OST)

episode 14 recap

Just to remind ya’ll, I call Seung-jo, “Psycho-jo” for obvious reasons. I also call Yoon-joo  “the Tick” because she’s a bloodsucker and she has a tick-like mole on her neck…yeah, I’m mean like that.

Onto the recap.

Psycho-jo asks, “What is this? There are two people here that look like the people that I know.” At the same time, Dong-wook explains to Se-kyung that when the Tick left him, he didn’t face reality, much to her horror.

In-hwa tries to convince Psycho-jo that the women in the video are the people that he knows, but he merely directs the conversation back to business and leaves. In-hwa wonders if Psycho-jo already knew about the video or if he’s trying to bury it.

She leaves in a total huff as Dong-wook explains that Psycho-jo disappeared for six months after breaking up with the Tcik. He had severed ties with his father, not registered for school and ended up living in a warehouse, a madman for a year.

So I guess he’s the Mad Hatter in this Alice in Wonderland story. But it doesn’t seem much like Wonderland. More like Horrorland.

Se-kyung asks what would happen to Psycho-jo if he discovers something shocking again. Dong-wook warns against it because if it doesn’t happen, he’ll be a ticking bomb. Se-kyung shouldn’t ever leave him alone.

In his office, Psycho-jo sits and absorbs what he just saw. He is definitely is not in his right mind.

Again, I take issue with HOW unstable this character is. His business dealings would NOT be this solid if he was really that unstable. But I guess it does make for a dramatic reveal to have him in utter denial, eh? And then we wonder when and how he’ll break down.

Psycho-jo calls Se-kyung to his home and when she enters, he’s no where to be found and she begins to worry. Then he appears with wine to accompany the lovely lunch set for two. He has an eerily happy grin plastered to his face and acts as though nothing happened.

He explains that he planned the meal to try the wine, as though that were the only reason for the meal, but Se-kyung notices something is very off.

Tommy Hong meets with the Tick and hears that Psycho-jo got off work as usual, seeming to be in a good mood. They wonder if In-hwa showed him the video.

Well, she did and now she’s pouting in her office that her evil, selfish plans didn’t go off as she wished. The Tick sees her slam the door and asks In-hwa’s assistant about the presentation. Turns out, In-hwa worked on the final draft herself and that Psycho-jo didn’t react to it. Then In-hwa comes out like nothing happened and the Tick asks if she told.

In-hwa says he’s amazing, but she wonders how long he can hold it. So the Tick informs Tommy that Psycho-jo knows everything.

And at that moment, he’s downing glass after glass of wine while spending time with Se-kyung. She’s looking through his childhood photos and says that his eyes were pretty then and they still are now. They look at each other, both unsure of the other. Then he goes for another bottle of wine.

Se-kyung takes a call from Tommy in the bathroom and learns that Psycho-jo knows the whole truth. She immediately breaks down, lowering the phone from her ear, knowing what that means for him, and her.

I feel like this is the moment she truly falls down the rabbit hole. This is where reality truly starts to distort. This isn’t just lies anymore – Psycho-jo is not living in reality and she put him there.

Se-kyung tells Tommy she has to go as Psycho-jo calls for her and musters up her courage and strength to go out and see him. When she exits the bathroom, he is slowly opening a bottle of wine. He asks her to sit as he has something to tell her. She tries to act normally as she sits beside him. he tells her they are going to be busy starting tomorrow: finding a wedding location, a house, taking wedding photos, making invitations.

It’s a little creepy watching him do this and Se-kyung just looks worried.

Tommy wonders why Psycho-jo isn’t angry at Se-kyung, swearing at her and demanding why she betrayed him. Is he trying to bury it? Is it okay for Se-kyung to be with Psycho-jo? Tommy demands, worried for her safety. The Tick thinks the decision is up to Se-kyung; it’s her burden.

And her burden is currently drunkenly dozing, leaving her to her own thoughts and guilt. She puts him to bed (how?) and watches him sleep a bit, remembering everyone telling her to keep her secret and make sure no harm comes to the fragile Psycho-jo. She promises to deal with everything as it’s her responsibility – she won’t run away.

Well at least that’s the one responsible thing she’s done…

Psycho-jo wakes up in the morning, remembering the video and that In-hwa says that he knows the women in it. He hears sounds from the kitchen and finds Se-kyung making breakfast. She slept in the living room and teases him for falling asleep after drinking so little. There is this bizarre silence and then she reminds him that he once told her that he wasn’t a prince, but just a dork. She’s not sure if he’s dorky; he’s not dorky at all. He doesn’t have to force himself to show only his good side. She’s about to say something about herself when he stops her with a serious face.

I totally think he’s gonna rail on her, but he raises his eyes with a smile and says he has to show her something today.

They drive in that strange silence to the church where he wants to marry. It’s beautiful and open, full of light. He smiles, letting himself get consumed by his dream of marrying his perfect woman. He wants to decorate with white flowers (purity?) and candles. It will be beautiful, but not as beautiful as her on that day. She tries to say something, but he holds out his hand so they can walk through the motions of that day.

He points out imaginary Ah-jung, Dong-wook, her parents and sister, Secretary Moon and Driver Kim and his father. Imaginary father glares at her. They walk down the aisle and the imaginary priest recites the vows. Psycho-jo accepts her and she slowly accepts him. They exchange imaginary rings. The priest says they are now joined as one and asks for objections. The groom has no objections, but Se-kyung can’t say the same. She turns to him and remembers him saying she showed him that love that isn’t afraid of the world does exist. And that she is his home, a home he thought didn’t exist.

And that is his problem. He needs another person to make him feel validated and safe. That’s a lot of pressure on that other person and makes him weaker in the end. He can’t stand confident in himself.

In any case, she turns to him and slowly, quietly, hesitantly begins to confess, even though he seems determined to live in his fantasy. She tells him he has to listen: she lied to him.

His face tranforms into something furious: “Don’t. You say one more word and I’ll kill you.” He glares down at her as his fantasy priest and guests and decorations disappear. With his jaw set, he warns her not to say anything. Nothing has happened. Nothing will change.

Tears spill from her eyes as he glares angrily at her. She apologizes and takes the blame. It’s not his fault, but hers. She tells him not to torture himself. Don’t try to deal with it alone, she tells him. It wasn’t him, but her. She should be the one to go to hell, not him. Tears fill his eyes and he tells her she ruined everything. He leaves.

He really needs a sense of self-worth. Anger is the right response here, but he won’t let himself feel it. Anger is admitting reality, and he’s seriously denying it. Now that he says she’s ruined things, reality will come barreling towards him. I hope that this time around, he’s equipped with more mental and emotional strength. Se-kyung may have lied, but she did teach him a lot and she gave him back his relationship with his father. Also, this time around he isn’t begging on the street. I really want to see Psycho-jo bring himself out of this with the support of the people who love him.

Se-kyung is left alone to huddle and sob. Psycho-jo can hear her as he leaves. She remembers him saying, “Love is embracing each other even when you show everything to each other,” and runs after him. But he’s already driven away.

She calls him over and over, but he ignores her. Then he finally lets himself cry over her. That’s a step in the right direction! He didn’t cry over the Tick. If ya’ll remember, he had trouble crying before he read Se-kyung’s letter.

Oh, uri Park Shi-hoo, you cry so well, I’m crying. Come here, I will hold you. There, there now.

Se-kyung calls Dong-wook, promising to tell him details later, but for now, he needs to call Psycho-jo and check on him. They search his home and has Dong-wook stay there to wait while she searches his office with Secretary Moon. He’s not there and Daddy Cha can’t reach him either.

Daddy Cha calls Se-kyung in and tells her that she should’ve lied. But she says she couldn’t, he was torturing himself. Daddy Cha is furious and tells her she should’ve denied everything. She tells him that Psycho-jo left her and drove away. He demands that she bring back his son in one piece. He also has his secretary inform the police to be on the lookout.

While walking, she sees a painting of the Pont Neuf and runs to the gallery where his paintings had hung. They have been moved to a different gallery and Psycho-jo had come a few hours before, asking after them as well.

GN Fashion (Min-hyuk, In-hwa and their father) comes for a meeting, which Daddy Cha quickly breaks up. Psycho-jo won’t be coming. Also, they are to stop business proceedings. Royal Group is going to find a different partner for the outlet and In-hwa will know why. She will tell them why at home, she says.

The Tick informs her brother of everything and then goes to walk the gauntlet. She stands before the Shin family as In-hwa shows the video of doom. It’s so sad watching Min-hyuk. I really wanted this marriage to work.

Anyway, Daddy Shin tells In-hwa to turn off the video and Mama Shin splashes a glass of water In the Tick’s face, telling her that she, a nobody, ruined their family. She’s a scary rat. She severed the bond between father and son in a huge company and deceived her husband and his parents, ridiculed her sister-in-law.

Daddy Shin stops his wife and Min-hyuk orders her into another room for a talk.

In-hwa gets yelled at by her father and defended by her mother. Her mother wishes she’d told her first, but In-hwa says that only the Tick would’ve been taken care of, not Han Se-kyung. But that doesn’t satisfy her father, who’s royally pissed that she lost hundreds of millions of dollars on her emotional whim. What has she gained? It only shows that she hit rock bottom.

In-hwa says that he made her do it. Psycho-jo ruined her wedding and her father only bowed and made her bow. Daddy says it was because she lost. HA! Same words that Se-kyung used. He says that is how business works and she should know that.

I love that her selfish pride has her father putting her in her place. Go daddy!

Min-hyuk asks if this was what the Tick wanted to tell him. Did she want to convince him not to kick her out? Did she want it that badly? When did this all start? How much did she hide? How did she let it all end up this way? He is furious.

She asks him how that is important now? Am I getting divorced?

It saddens me that she says it so coldly, when she obviously cares for him.

He says that the marriage wasn’t important to her from the beginning. Why would she have liked him? His personality? His looks? No, she needed protection from the world and someone to keep her comfortable. He says he’d known, but this is too much.

When he turns to leave, she speaks. “Did I want to leech that badly? No, I was trying to protect it, too. I wanted to look good to the person who protects me. I wanted to do well. I did my best to do well. I struggled. I tried to protect it, too.”

He leaves and I think she just really showed herself. She tried to protect him. I think she came to love him, or at least care deeply for him.

She leaves the house and comes across In-hwa. They only stare at each other.

Inside, the parents and Min-hyuk decide what to do. Mom wants to go with the prenuptuals so the Tick doesn’t leave with a won. But dad wants to focus on re-establishing relations with Royal Group and Artemis. It’s taken him five years to bring the plan this far. Mom wonders how they can do that when In-hwa made the mess. Dad says to use the Tick and dispose of her after.

Ouch. I feel bad for Min-hyuk.

Min-hyuk doesn’t want to end like this either.

Coach Tick roams through her closet, and I do pity her. Then she gets a call from Tommy who can’t reach Se-kyung. But the Tick just says that it’s “game over” for the three of them. Both families found out so business is ended.

Tommy desperately tries to call Se-kyung who has arrived at the second gallery where Psycho-jo’s paintings now hang, the paintings that helped him start a new life. She asks an employee if she’s seen him, showing her a picture. The employee says he looked at the paintings for a long time and left. Se-kyung finds out that he was there two hours before. She hurries out, almost gets hit by a car in her haste and tries not to panic. When Tommy calls again, she finally picks up.

He worriedly asks after her and she can only cry and repeat, “Seung-jo ssi is gone.” She says it over and over, feeling desolate. Tommy freaks out and drives around looking for her. He finds her wandering. He asks if she knows where he could be but she turns to find him, wherever. She still has to do a lot for him. She has to be home for him and show him that love beyond fear does exist. Most importantly, she still hasn’t showed herself completely to him.

Tommy suggests the airport; Psycho-jo may want to get out for a bit but isn’t a person who could just disappear. As Tommy waits for her, she searches his place and sees the map of Paris they drew. She remembers him saying that he always runs away and heads to Paris to do it. He’d suggested that when they were married, she study in Paris while he works at Artemis HQ – to run from his father.

She realizes he’s heading to Paris and Secretary Moon confirms it. Tommy hurries her to the airport. Psycho-jo is staring at the seats they sat in when they promised to go to Paris together. Then he gets in line to escape.

Se-kyung remembers Psycho-jo telling her that she ruined it all. It fuels her search of the airport. Tommy tags along, but Se-kyung doesn’t really notice him. She’s too frantic

She finally sees Psycho-jo in line and drags him out despite his angry protestations. Once they’re out of line he throws her off.

Psycho-jo: What are you doing? It’s over. We can never go back. I tried to forget. As long as I pretended nothing happened, nothing will change. I was such a fool. But, you’re always there. I can always see it. I don’t want to admit it. I need to believe that nothing has happened. But you keep on making it a reality. Why didn’t you just disappear from my eyes?

Se-kyung: If I did? If I didn’t do that, what would you have done? You would’ve pretended that I went somewhere. You were going to deny the reality and buy time? You would’ve had fun for about two weeks as if nothing had happened. What changes from that?

Psycho-jo: Shut up! Love…it can end. Someone can leave me. But Han Se-kyung doesn’t exist in my life anymore.

He stalks off and she stops him again.

Se-kyung: Break up if you want to. I will leave if you tell me to. But don’t run away. If you’re going to break up, break up and leave.

Psycho-jo: *through gritted teeth* I told you, it’s over.

Se-kyung: It’s not over yet. You have to see everything. No me who you want to see. You have to see who I really am. See it, and if you can’t accept me, break up with me then. You have shown everything to me. It’s my turn now.


I’m glad that he knows his own method of dysfunction now. That’s a huge step. I’m also glad she’s making him face reality. She’s always been good/bad for him. Her real personality, that Candy-type, really made him think. Then when she was lying, she fostered his illusion of her perfection. In reality, that’s not what was good for him. It was the woman who challenged his sick way of dealing with things and made him face reality. The woman who didn’t judge him for all the psycho crap he pulled.

I’m also glad that they’re finally getting to the truth. It’s what will really ground everything. Telling the truth requires communication, something that Psycho-jo hasn’t ever done in his relationships. It’s what broke up him and his father, and even him and the Tick. So hopefully he starts exploring the communication thing.

But with how this story is going, they’re going to give it some other sick twist rather than have him explore it in a psychologically healthy way. I guess it’s too soon after his forth trauma to ask for it. (Mom leaving, breaking up with dad, then the Tick and now Se-kyung.)

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

Character introductions.

Cheongdam-dong Alice Episode 14 Screencaps.

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