SBS premiered its new weekend miniseries Cheongdam-dong Alice today, and man oh man is it right up my alley! To be honest, I totes wasn’t paying much attention to the show, though I love Moon Geun-young, and I didn’t even know it was going to premiere today. Well, lemme tell ya that it’s got my attention now, alright, and I am TOTES excited!!
Rather than a conventional recap, today, I just want to introduce the characters via summary and weigh in on the first episode. Here we go!
Han Se-gyeong (Moon Geun-young) is an aspiring fashion designer who dreams of launching her own brand and becoming an international sensation. She interviews for a designer position at GN Fashion and is hired despite receiving the lowest score, courtesy of Chief Designer Shin In-hwa (Kim Yuri). Elated, Se-gyeong shows up at work bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, only to be told she’s a part-time temp hired to run errands for the President’s wife.
Refusing to be discouraged by the unpleasant reality check, Se-gyeong busily runs around Cheongdam-dong (a mightily affluent neighborhood of Korea) spending thousands of dollars to buy all the items on the Madame’s wish list. Little does she know that Madame is Seo Yoon-ju (So Yi-hyun), an old high school frenemy who asked hubby President Shin Min-hyuk (Kim Seung-soo) to hire Se-gyeong. What nefarious plans have you got up your sleeve, lady?
Just outside Yoon-ju’s lavish home, Se-gyeong has a run-in – literally – with Cha Seung-jo (Park Shi-hoo), CEO of fashion brand Artemis. But don’t call him that. His business card and fancy name plate read “Jane Thierry Cha” – and that’s pronounced “shaw” not “chah”. LOLOL. EDIT: Also, is “Jane” a male French name??? The way he pronounces it, I feel like it should be “Jean” but my French is nonexistent so there well could be a “Jane”… Any French-speakers out there wanna help? Anyhooo, back to the story. Jane Thierry is the son of Cha Il-nam (Han Jin-hee), President of Royal Group (yeah, I know, Koreans and their hilarious penchants for these ridonkulous names). Papa disowned his son for (1) running off to Paris to study art instead of studying management in America, and (2) for living with a girlfriend of his own choosing instead of sticking with Papa’s choice, presented to him at 15. And now, when Papa wants to carry Artemis items at Royal Group’s shopping mall, Jane Thierry turns him down flat – because Seung-jo wants his petty revenge. Hahahahaaa!!
But back to Jane Thierry and Se-gyeong’s fender bender. Jane Thierry sees Se-gyeong is driving a GN Fashion-owned car, filled to the brim with bags and boxes from high-end boutiques, and quickly sums up that she must be one of those women who spend their entire salary – and their man’s – on designer items. Aka exactly the type of women his company targets with its exorbitant prices. And thus begins the not-quite-there-yet romance of our Cinderella-Alice and Prince not-so-Charming. Se-gyeong, of course, has no idea that the jerk-o-butt is Jane Thierry since he ever-so-kindly introduces himself as the CEO’s personal assistant.
After her horrible first day on the job, Se-gyeong meets up with her boyfriend So In-chan (Nam Goong-min yaaaay!), who offers a coveted Artemis purse as a parting gift. Dang, girl, what a day. He loves her, but the real world just sucks, and he doesn’t want to saddle her with his ill mother and a debt-laden, brand-name-less life. Se-gyeong’s bestie Choi Ah-jung (Shin So-yool) tells her to just break up with In-chan, but Se-gyeong loves him, debts and all. Girlfriend, I love Nam Goong-min, too. Without him, Se-gyeong explains, she wouldn’t have graduated college or gotten anywhere in life.
Jane Thierry gloats at home after besting Daddy dearest – oh my gawsh, you recorded the whole encounter?! Hahahaha!! – and bestie Huh Dong-wook (Park Gwang-hyun) drops by, calling him a petty psycho. LOL. Jane Thierry, though, has bigger fish to fry: Seo Yoon-ju, the love of his life who dumped him back in Paris. Flashback to 2006: He didn’t understand why she was leaving him when he had willingly given up his family’s wealth for her. Her answer? Love is not “giving up” but rather “protecting.” Whooee. “To me, you were merely business.” Wow. I knew you were somethin’ special when you stole Se-gyeong’s boyfriend and made him draw your art pieces for a competition, but this is just another level. Back in the present, Jane Thierry plots his revenge against GN Fashion’s lady of the manor, and Dong-wook reminds him to take his meds. Hmmm, wanna break your bro code and explain, please?
Se-gyeong is assigned another delivery expedition, this time of a maginormously bling jewelry set. Uuunfortunately, she loses the Certificate of Authenticity and finds herself on the hot spot. She asks Jane Thierry for help, but he correctly guesses that she lost the certificate while secretly trying on the set, and derides her for being the usual avaricious female obsessed with expensive baubles. His disparagement of her poor taste, exemplified by her current get-up, hits a raw spot, especially after In-hwa did the same earlier. Se-gyeong gives him a piece of her mind, but the sting is still there, and when In-chan tells her not to call him anymore since they’re over, she agrees that they’re really done for realsies. And promptly bawls her eyes out. Poor baby.
She goes home and writes her resignation letter, but before she can turn it in the next day, everyone is set scrambling to spiffy up because Madame is making her appearance. Se-gyeong, too, dutifully lines up to greet the heretofore mystery lady… and stares in shock at her frenemy-closer-to-enemy Seo Yoon-ju.
What a zippy, fun outing that was! The episode only garnered an 8.6%, thanks to May Queen hitting a series-best 22.7%, and it probably didn’t help that the PR team didn’t do its job too well. After all, I totes forgot this was even beginning today. But let me tell you, I am SO on the train now. For seriously.
The premise is common enough, though I can tell they’re making an effort to break new ground with little twists here and there. It might be more attempt than results, but as long as things are cute and don’t stray into makjang-land or uber angsty I-wanna-pull-my-hair-out-land, I’m down down down down down. *cue Jay Sean lolol* The production is aiming for a juxtaposition of one man’s project to find true love, and a woman’s project to marry into a wealthy family – and I can guarantee you, the resulting clash is gonna be hilarious. Sure, there’re gonna be some tears involved down the line, but I’m hoping the strong comedic undercurrent is maintained to the end. *fingers crossed*
Speaking of comedic undercurrent. Man oh man, do I love the comedy aspect of this show. Yes, I love me a Cinderella story told straight, but I absolutely love rom-coms that give the “-com” justice. And so far, Alice seems primed to make me a happy camper. Jane Thierry is absolutely hilarious in how petty and immature he is – it’s what makes his jerk-o-butt-ness an overlookable flaw instead of a glaring defect. And seriously, what a great touch with the satoori (accent) in his background. I just cracked up when Han Jin-hee (Daddy dearest) broke out in Choong-cheong-do satoori, and judging from the preview, Jane Thierry is gonna let loose, too. I am SO exicted. Holla Choong-cheong-do!
The cast is absolutely solid, and I was squealing ever other minute when another face I loved was introduced. Remember, I didn’t do my usual homework before the premiere, so each new face was a surprise. I absitively posolutely LOVE Moon Geun-young. Park Shi-hoo has been getting better and better with each project. So Yi-hyun tends to choose characters I don’t like, but she’s pretty cute in real life, so I’ll let her pass. I really like Kim Seung-soo – too bad he doesn’t have a bigger role here. Nam Goong-min, why are you only making a cameo appearance?!?! Why oh why oh whyyy?!
Shin So-yool is SO cute here, and I’m seriously getting 1997 flashbacks all over again. Park Gwang-hyun! You’re baaaack!! Who else, who else? Oh yeah, Kim Ji-seok is supposed to make his appearance soon, so that’ll be exciting! I’m just lovin’ it all, for seriously.
All in all, a wonderful outing for Alice, which has officially got me hooked. Seriously, I think I have a new weekend winner. Okay, I don’t wanna jinx it, so I retract that last sentence. But if things continue on this path, I think we’ll have a lovely little show to bridge us over to the new year. Cheongdam-dong Alice is set for 16 episodes (yay!).
What did you all think? Please share your thoughts! 😀