K-Drama Review: ‘The Penthouse 3’: Glad It’s the Final Season

The Penthouse: War in Life

Edited by Jeon Gyeong Ju
Translated by Cho EK

The screenwriter Kim Soon Ok must be one of the best authors who deals with the theme of evil and violence in the whole history of Korean “makjang” drama. The Penthouse: War in Life, which juggled with all its twisted plots in the previous two seasons, is going on to add another layer to its accumulated conflict in season 3. It’s hard to imagine how much confusion is to follow to explore the piled-up tension; we have listed some of the major questions in the first three episodes for the peace of mind.

The Penthouse: War in Life
Credit: SBS

In the third season, the main characters, Oh Yoon Hee, Ha Yoon Cheol, Joo Dan Tae, Choen Seo Jin are released from prison except for Shim Su Ryeon, to further conflict and hatred for one another. The vengeful ‘real Dan Tae’ Baek Joon Ki, and ‘Jenny’s father’ Yoo Dong Pil are making regular appearances after Logan Lee, who landed a fatal blow on Hera Palace, died in a bomb explosion in the previous season. Since this new season will be the final production, it is anticipated that the story will culminate in the downfall of the worst villain of the whole drama, Joo Dan Tae.


Who will get to punish Joo Dan Tae? �


Joo Dan Tae is an unforgivable incarnation of pure evil. While Cheon Seo Jin and the residents of Hera Palace are imprisoned, he blew up Logan Lee in front of Shim Soo Ryeon’s eyes. Also, to be acquitted, he blackmailed the judge who committed adultery. So far, his shameless act is matchless and unstoppable. If there should be someone to stop him, it should be Baek Joon Ki. To do him justice, Baek Joon Ki (the real Joo Dan Tae) has to be the fair opponent against Joo Dan Tae (or Baek Joon Ki, who lives as Joo), who stole the real Joo’s name, identity, family, and assets. Yoo Dong Pil, who served a wrongful prison sentence because of Joo Dan Tae, might be the nemesis who seeks revenge against Joo Dan Tae.

However, at the end of the third episode 3, Yoo uncovers the dead body (Kim Mi Sook, Joo Hye In’s birth mother who Joo Dan Tae murdered) under Joo Dan Tae’s watch. The scene hints at the possibility of Yoo Dong Pil becoming a pawn of Joo. Whoever it turns out to be, if someone manages to crush Joo Dan Tae, it would be the most satisfying moment of justice in the whole season of Penthouse.


Joo Seok Kyung, Ha Eun Byeol, Joo Hye In: The Daughters’ Rebellion?

Joo Seok Kyung is the one we all hated for bullying Min Seol Ah and Bae Ro Na in Cheong Ah Arts High School. At the end of the second season, she supported her stepmother Shim Soo Ryeon with her twin brother Seok Kyung and turned her back on Joo Dan Tae, which brought much excitement to all of us. However, this season, she is likely to go back to Joo, growing a grudge against Shim, who expelled her. After losing Logan Lee, Shim Soo Ryeon became vulnerable enough but Joo Seok Kyung doesn’t seem to help the situation at all.

We also have to keep an eye out on Ha Eun Byeol, the daughter of Chun Seo Jin. In season 3, she is expected to pay the price of bullying Min Seol Ah to the brink of death and attempting to murder Bae Ro Na.

Meanwhile, Joo Hey In, the feeble adopted daughter of Joo Dan Tae and Shim Soo Ryeon, shows up healthy, raising the possibility that she may play a more significant role afterward. She survived Joo Dan Tae’s numerous attempts to murder her nevertheless her birth mother, Kim Mi Sook, and her life-savior Logan Lee were killed by Joo Dan Tae. Joo Hye In must turn into somebody who will contribute to Joo’s downfall by assisting Shim Soo Ryeon.


Logan’s brother and Shim Soo Ryeon’s another blood relative?

Logan Lee caused huge ripples after his death. His own brother Alex Lee, who only existed in the character descriptions, appeared in person. Moreover, Shim Soo Ryeon turned out to have a secret child.

Surprisingly, it was not Alex Lee’s stories that destroyed the plausibility of the drama, but it was his unusual looks. Even the drama fans praised Lee Ji Ah’s acting, saying, “You’re such a great actor. We are amazed that you weren’t even distracted by his ridiculous character.” Moreover, as the overseas audience has outrageously objected, Alex’s character is no more than a racist portrayal of a Black person in the media without a doubt. They should have come up with another way of introducing a new character if Alex Lee plans to take his brother’s revenge and contribute vengeance against Joo Dan Tae.

Also, ‘Shim Soo Ryeon’s blood relative’ that Logan mentioned to Oh Yoon Hee as he handed her his safe key raised heated arguments among the viewers. Based on the hospital record of Shim Su Ryeon from when she was giving birth to the twins, some argue that Joo Seok Hoon is Shim Soo Ryeon’s son, not Na Ae Gyo’s.

It is up to the screenwriter Kim Soon Ok and the production crew to decided who will be related. However, many are left to wonder whether it was necessary to make a popular character like Shim Soo Ryeon a fool who knows nothing about her own family. If the drama keeps up making the same mistakes, the only good thing this franchise has done will be that it has put an end to itself in the third season.


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 playgrounds but also weapons.

Translator Cho EK: I’m a big fan of Korean dramas and movies.

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