K-Drama Review: ‘The Penthouse 2’: How Far Will This Drama Go?

Edited by Jeon Gyeong Ju
Translated by Kim Hoyeun

Credit: SBS

Rather it is reality or fiction; situations that can’t be described with words are often referred to as “makjang.” In Korean, the word “makjang” stands for the very end, the deepest part, of a coal mine. In this regard, SBS’s The Penthouse: War in Life (from now on referred to as The Penthouse), which has stounded viewers by illustrating all kinds of accidents and violence from the first episode, is considered the “worst hell” in Kim Sook Ok’s world. In the recent episode, Chun Seo Jin’s daughter Ha Eun Byul had attacked Oh Yoon Hee’s daughter Bae Ro Na. Soon after, an unidentified individual removed the oxygen mask of Bae Ro Na, who was unconscious. The second season, which is the hottest, is now at a point where it is hard to predict where it’s heading towards and how it will end.

The Penthouse, which premiered in late October 2020, depicts the distorted desire and bloody struggles of upper-class families living in Hera Palace, a top-notch residential and commercial complex. There have been several seasonal dramas in Korea before. But in most cases, even if the gap between seasons is short, most of them had months or years of break. And yet, The Penthouse returned with season 2 in mid-February, just a month after season 1 ended in early January. This snappy comeback is clear proof of how popular this insane revenge drama is. Oh Yoon Hee, who seemed to have died at the end of the first season, returned to life. Na Ae Kyo, who has the same face as Shim Soo Ryeon, who Joo Dan Tae killed, showed up in front of her ex-husband Joo Dan Tae. Chun Seo Jin got the last laugh in season 1 and faced an unexpected circumstance. She then entered the countdown to her downfall. And the remaining story for season 2 may showcase an unprecedented bloodbath.


Na Ae Gyo is Shim Soo Ryeon? Or is this another shocking twist?

Na Ae Gyo is Joo Dan Tae’s “first” ex-wife and Joo Suk Hoon and Joo Suk Kyung’s birth mother. She, who only appeared with a butterfly tattoo on her shoulder, finally showed her face in episode 6 of season 2. And viewers are paying keen attention to how Na Ae Gyo and Shim Soo Ryeon are related. If Na Ae Gyo is Shim Soo Ryeon, she will plot even more desperate revenge against Joo Dan Tae, who took part in her and her daughter Min Seol Ah’s death.

But if that’s the case, there are some major variables on their way. Why do Na Ae Gyo and Shim Soo Ryeon look so alike? Will Oh Yoon Hee, who killed Min Seol Ah, cooperate with “Shim Soo Ryeon who now acts like Na Ae Gyo”? What role will Logan Lee, who showed romantic interest in Shim Soo Ryeon, play in her revenge?

Even if Shim Soo Ryeon died and Na Ae Gyo is an entirely new character, the fact that she is the only one who knows all the secrets of Joo Dan Tae remains unchanged. It doesn’t matter how this mysterious woman’s future action and identity unravels to be. The path ahead of Joo Dan Tae, the source of all evil, will surely head towards the abyss. Hence, viewers are laying their expectations on Na Ae Gyo.


The archenemy goes through generation. Oh Yoon Hee vs. Chun Seo Jin, how will it end?

Shim Soo Ryeon’s return and revenge are part of a major storyline. But the archrival relationship between Oh Yoon Hee and Chun Seo Jun leads most of the narrative. Chun Seo Jin, blinded by jealousy while attending CheongA Arts High School, ended Oh Yoon Hee’s singing career and stole her long-time lover Ha Yoon Chul. And their lousy relationship moved onto their daughters Bae Roo Na and Ha Eun Byul. Therefore, hatred and conflict between the two will end quite disastrously. On the surface, Oh Yoon Hee, who her new husband, Ha Yoon Chul, betrayed, seems like the biggest victim. But she is also a sinner who killed Min Seol Ah, the daughter of her best friend, Shim Soo Ryeon. So alongside Chun Seo Jin’s collapse, she may pay for her crime properly.

Of course, what viewers wish the post is Chun Seo Jin, the “absolute villain,” getting back all her evil deeds and face a miserable end. Anyhow, the center of season 2 stands Oh Yoon Hee, who has returned from hell. Will she join forces with Na Ae Gyo and Logan Lee and punish the three main villains, Chun Seo Jin, Ha Yoon Chul, and Joo Dan Tae? Attention focuses.


The future of Hera Palace depends on Kang Mari, not Logan Lee?

The biggest twist in season 1 (though it wasn’t that difficult to predict) was that Koo Ho Dong, a new PE teacher at CheongA Arts High School, is Min Seol Ah’s stepbrother Logan Lee. The cold-headed brain and vengeance hidden under the ridiculous makeup and dialect were enough to excite viewers who hoped for retribution. However, another problem surfaced. Given that he has not much time left, Logan Lee may have a relapse of leukemia, which he thought he got rid of after receiving Min Seol Ah’s bone marrow transplant. If Logan Lee, who targeted the entire Hera Palace for his revenge, can’t go on due to his health, then Oh Yoon Hee and Shim Soo Ryeon (assuming that she’s under disguise as Na Ae Gyo) may also face a hindrance in their plan.

However, the real person to remember is not Logan Lee, but “Jincheon House” Kang Mari. She is still a selfish snob and took part in disposing of Min Seol Ah’s body. However, she became Oh Yoon Hee’s ally when she found out that her husband went to prison instead of Joo Dan Tae. Most importantly, her network includes some of the “strongest” names, like Song, who can wield a big stick against Chun Seo Jin and Joo Dan Tae couple. How will Kang Mari’s quick and brazen actions bring about Chun Seo Jin and Joo Dan Tae’s downfall? Will they also take part in the collapse of Hera Palace? These are the questions that make us binge-watch The Penthouse 2 even when he can’t stop swearing.


Editor Jeon Gyeong Ju: A natural-born media geek who is physically Korean and mentally multinational. All dramatic stories are my favorite sweets for life. TVs and streaming platforms are not only the playgrounds but also the weapons.

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