Edited by Hwang Hong Sun
Translated by Kim Hoyeun
If we compare what has happened so far in The Penthouse: War in Life, including adultery, murder, abandonment of corpses, corruption in college entrance exams and school violence, Temptation of Wife can be considered romantic and SKY Castle more educational. As such, The Penthouse: War in Life became the talk of the town, whether it be a good talk or bad talk, becoming the all-time “makjang” drama of 2020 with its overly provocative materials.
Set in Hera Palace, a 100-story luxury apartment in the heart of Seoul, The Penthouse: War in Life revolves around three women’s desires and greed. Every episode provides both displeasure and immersion by depicting how ugly a human being can be under the veneer of “best real estate” and “best education.” Let’s take a look at the three reasons why we can’t break ourselves off from The Penthouse: War in Life despite all the criticisms.
The biggest advantage of The Penthouse: War in Life is its speedy development. It does not drag out the secrets of characters or the critical key to the events but pull them out to the surface in a short period to soothe viewers’ anxieties. Shim Soo Ryeon finds out that the dead Min Seol Ah is her daughter in just three episodes and Cheon Seo Jin and Joo Dan Tae’s affair is no longer a “secret.” The rate that the stories unfold is so fast that we are already worried about what other shocking incidents will be waiting for us.
However, some say that the fact that the drama’s important secrets were revealed earlier in the play made the holes in the sound narrative. Oh Yeon Hee’s violent actions against Cheon Seo Jin over Bae Ro Na’s admission to Cheonga Arts High School is easily solved, and the new characters, including PE teacher Goo Ho Dong, show up out of nowhere without a single hint as if they only exist to “solve” the problems.
Just like the setting that only the haves of the country gathered at Hera Palace, The Penthouse: War in Life cast also has a great ensemble with a large number of veteran actors. Lee Ji Ah, who plays Shim Soo Ryeon, centers the play with Janus’ face. She smiles outwardly at her husband Joo Dan Tae, who basically killed her daughter, and Hera Palace people but hides the blade of revenge and raises dramatic tension. Kim So Yeon, who returned to the small screen as a villain after 20 years since All About Eve, exudes outstanding presence. She plays the main villain Cheon Seo Jin and portrays a character that is blinded by greed and jealousy with her “crazy acting.” Her character is so hateful, but her acting is certainly mesmerizing. Eugene, who plays Oh Yoon Hee, represents the feelings that viewers feel about the rest of the characters’ misdeeds and leads the popularity of the drama. Besides the three main characters, most of the actors show such passionate performances that the viewers have no other choice but to get “hooked” on the drama.
However, the big weakness is that most characters blurt out their anger as the plot overflows with conspiracy and confrontation, and the fatigue that viewers feel gradually pile up. As if to give some room to relax, the drama comically depicts Kang Ma Ri-Go Sang Ah relationship and Lee Gyu Jin’s mama’s boy concept, but they have failed to get to the point of the main story. It seems like the drama is in need of an idea to show the actors’ various aspects while maintaining tension.
The element as attractive as the relentless development is the pleasure of “counterattacks.” The scene in which Oh Yeon Hee, who had always been put down by Cheon Seo Jin until the 8th episode, enters the Hera Palace with the help of Shim Soo Ryeon conveys the thrill of turning the table upside down. When you see good protagonists who continue to be tricked by villains, you often feel frustrated, but The Penthouse: War in Life balances the rhythm of the story by adequately turning the table in the right place and the right time.
With Oh Yeon Hee entering the Hera Palace, The Penthouse: War in Life, which recently aired its 9th episode, has now gathered all main characters in one place. As nosy PE teacher Goo Ho Dong is suspected to be Min Seol Ah’s brother, the drama is heralding a major uproar in the coming episodes. Will this vital turning point become an attempt that will come as a solid “thriller” going beyond the stigma of “makjang” or only hasten fatigues by doubling the provocative episodes.
Verdict: This is what delicious junk food tastes like (6/10)