Whatta fantastic episode of Cheongdamdong Alice! Episode 9 revived my flagging interest for this drama not a minute too soon, and really helped smooth over the decidedly lackluster episode 8. The narrative was back to speeding ahead at full steam with a combination of humor and heart. I totally understand Se Kyung’s considerations, issues, and hesitation now, and boy is she in a conundrum. She likes Seung Jo for real, and she got to know him without pretext. But she was intending to use the President of Artemis, and she did learn Seung Jo was the President before he confessed to her. So she’s stuck between a rock and a hard place. Tell him the truth about her decision to marry into Cheongdamdong and she risks hurting him unnecessarily since her feelings for him are real. Not tell him and she risks him finding out the truth and never believing that her feelings for him are real. Ottoke? In the mix comes turd bucket Tommy Hong, intent on painting Se Kyung into the blackest of gold diggers when we know she is not. His philosophy on life isn’t wrong, and he has every right to get rid of impediments to his own career advancement, but boy do I loath his slimy presence in this drama.
Seung Jo continues to be that weird combination of kooky and serious, but thankfully the kooky was kept to a minimum in this episode. I do laugh whenever Seung Jo does something funny, but I confess to finding his schtick wearing a bit thin. It works when he’s alone with Se Kyung, not as much when he’s in a more public place and still appears to march to the beat of his own drummer. I’m loving Team Seung Jo, which is seriously the largest back up team I have ever seen trying to get an OTP together. Consisting of Dong Wook, Secretary Moon, Driver Kim, Ah Jung, and Se Jin (not to mention the Han parents), how could Tommy and his side ever hope to compete with decent people wanting the best for Se Kyung and Seung Jo. This alleviates my worry on future unnecessary conflicts, because I hope these cool friends and family could step in and always talk some sense into either Seung Jo and Se Kyung. This episode was important for us to see Se Kyung struggling and finally deciding to fight for her right to love Seung Jo back. I was thrilled to see the return of spunky Se Kyung (who has been way too mopey lately for my tastes), and Tommy better watch out because this girl isn’t going down without a fight.
Episode 9 recap:
Seung Jo finds Se Kyung in the rooftop parking lot and confesses his real identity to her, not knowing that she already knows. Se Kyung’s eyes widen and she acts confused. Tommy watches from his car (when did he drive it over there?) and rolls his eyes at Se Kyung’s duplicity. Yeah, you and me both, Tommy.
He asks if she’s shocked and apologizes for lying to her. Se Kyung thinks to herself the same thing towards him. He calls himself a bad guy and she thinks to herself that she is a bad woman. He wishes that he told her earlier, and she thinks the same herself. He couldn’t because he didn’t trust people, and she asks herself if he can believe her now. Seung Jo confesses that he likes Se Kyung and she thinks the same thing herself, that she really likes him.
Seung Jo was so happy to receive the letter from her that said she liked Secretary Kim, but Se Kyung thinks to herself that she is very sorry to him. Se Kyung finally speaks up and says that her distance is very far from President Cha and then walks away. Seung Jo grabs her hand but she shakes him off and leaves. At the end of the parking lot she stops and looks back once.
Se Kyung passes by a church and walks inside to pray when she hears the bells tolling. She sits down in a pew in the empty church and remembers her kiss with Seung Jo and all their interactions, as well as Ah Jung telling her to keep being a Candy. Se Kyung prays for God to forgive her this once. This is the first time she’s done something wrong, but she promises never to let that person be hurt. The things she did wrong to him, she will work doubly hard to make it up. So please will God let her continue to like him. Se Kyung cries as she prays.
Secretary Moon tells Seung Jo about the upcoming launch party with GN Fashion held at the Royal department store. Seung Jo goes back to work and finds Dong Wook waiting for him, wondering how the confession went. Seung Jo says Se Kyung feels conflicted because of her class difference with President Cha. Se Kyung seemed really sad, which Seung Jo is happy about because it means he knows what he needs to do. The same thing happened when Yoon Joo dumped him and he realized that he needed to succeed so he could get revenge on her. Back then his emotions felt like a nightmare but now its not. He takes a drink of water and says he feels like drinking soju.
Seung Jo buys snacks and soju at the corner market and heads over to Se Kyung’s house. Seung Jo walks into the Han house and politely greets Se Kyung’s parents and younger sister, who are shocked to see him there. He puts the snacks down and gets on his knees to bow respectfully, which leaves Se Kyung’s family awkwardly accepting his bow. Seung Jo calls them Mother and Father and then states that he likes Se Kyung. He reveals that he’s not Secretary Kim, in fact his last name isn’t even Kim but is instead Cha, and he’s actually the President of Artemis Jean Thierry Cha. The Han family is shocked into silence.
Se Kyung remembers Seung Jo saying he likes her, and she thinks to herself that she likes him, too, and she promises to do right to him going forward. Se Kyung arrives back home when she is confronted outside by Tommy Hong who hands over her phone.
Se Kyung sits down with Tommy who immediately cuts to the chase. Her phone had a lot of missed calls from Secretary Kim, who is really President Cha. He asks if Se Kyung doesn’t feel the deja vu, having Tommy see right through her again. Since she knows his real identity, but wrote him a letter that she likes Secretary Kim and acted like she was running away, she is clearly pretending she doesn’t know. Should he forward the text to Seung Jo, the one telling Se Kyung his real identity? Or Se Kyung can come clean with him herself, that she knew his real identity and is acting like an innocent Candy. Tommy can see in Se Kyung’s eyes her rage and impotence. But not all is lost, there is a way for her to keep going before her ruse is burst. He knows Se Kyung is playing Seung Jo and he wants her out of the game. Tommy hands over a document.
Seung Jo reveals that he studied in the US, then went to Paris to study art which is when he broke ties with his dad who didn’t approve. Her family asks why Se Kyung rejected him and Seung Jo says she thinks they are too far apart. He admits that he is not some perfect guy and really likes her. Seung Jo asks her family to help him. Dad doesn’t know what to say, so instead he tells Seung Jo to drink. Dad then proceeds to down drink after drink with Seung Jo as the rest of the family watches.
Tommy offers her compensation for leaving the country (LOL, Tommy is like the disapproving evil mother-in-law here), with an acceptance letter to a design school in Paris. Tommy needs to arrange Seung Jo’s marriage and Se Kyung is in the way. It’s Tommy’s duty to get rid of impediments to the marriage. Once Se Kyung returns, he will be her backing. If Se Kyung leaves now, Seung Jo will become a good memory. And when she returns from Paris, she’ll meet other good men. Tommy says that when he was in design school, he was always in first place. But that had no impact on his success, but it took him 5 years to accept that reality. Yet Se Kyung accepted her limitations overnight, which makes Se Kyung very formidable. He knows she will succeed.
Se Kyung goes home, but not before crouching down just outside the door as she contemplates her situation. When she walks in, she finds her drunken Dad and equally drunk Seung Jo belting out a supremely off-key rendition of “My Way” on karaoke, with the rest of the family plus Ah Jung drunkenly cheering them on.
Seung Jo spots Se Kyung and asks if he really is too far from her? He then asks her parents and they both drunkenly say he’s not. Seung Jo tells Se Kyung that he loves to sing and is not far from her.
Se Kyung goes to her room as the carousing continues downstairs. The next morning everyone wakes up and Dad tells Se Jin not to pressure Se Kyung before she makes up her mind, which Se Kyung overhears. Dad knows Se Kyung puts a lot of thought into things.
At work the next day, In Hwa finally confronts Se Kyung about why she was invited to the Artemis party and how she knows President Jean Thierry Cha. Se Kyung explains that her ex-boyfriend did something wrong to the company and she wrote a letter to the President to explain and that is the extent of their connection with each other. In Hwa hears about the handwritten note and files that away as something she can use to win Seung Jo’s interest. In Hwa says President Cha is very traditional and that is sexy. She asks if Se Kyung’s handwriting is pretty and can she show her? She then flounces off back to her office to look for writing paper and Se Kyung watches her.
Yoon Joo goes to meet her husband at work who tells her to attend tonight’s event. Once In Hwa is married, these events need more of her presence. Yoon Joo tries to say she’s not feeling well but Min Hyuk says he really needs her tonight at the event held at Royal Department Store. She confirms that President Cha is coming as well and agrees to go.
Seung Jo arrives at the Club A launch event. He walks in and sees In Hwa handwriting notes to all their VVIPs, which impresses him with her sincerity. They pose for pictures together and In Hwa grabs his arm and steps closer. President Cha arrives and sees Seung Jo and In Hwa posing for pictures and he smiles.
Min Hyuk arrives with Yoon Joo and introduces her as his wife. Both President Cha and Yoon Joo act like they are meeting for the first time. Yoon Joo sees Seung Jo standing next to In Hwa and she saunters over to greet him (as if they last met at the dinner party). Seung Jo looks disconcerted and returns her greeting.
When In Hwa walks away to talk with other guests, Seung Jo whispers to Yoon Joo about why she’s doing this. Yoon Joo whispers back and reminds him that his father is intending him to marry In Hwa. Seung Jo spits out a reminder that he’s not interested and it won’t happen. Yoon Joo looks relieved, while In Hwa looks over and looks alarmed at why Yoon Joo is continuing to talk to Seung Jo.
President Cha stares unhappily at Yoon Joo talking to Seung Jo. Yoon Joo thinks back to talking with President Cha, reminding him that Seung Jo will not be happy to be part of this business marriage. No wonder President Cha’s relationship is bad with Seung Jo, why Seung Jo ran from the US to Paris. Yoon Joo brings up Seung Jo’s mom, and how Seung Jo refuses to do what his dad wants. If the truth came out, it isn’t just Yoon Joo who will fall, President Cha’s relationship will forever be over with Seung Jo. President Cha says everything will be fine as long as Yoon Joo leaves the Shin family.
After the launch party ends, Se Kyung arrives to pack up the clothes for GN Fashion as everyone else leaves. Seung Jo whispers at her from behind a banner, asking if she’s not leaving? Se Kyung dismisses Seung Jo, saying she has work to do. She checks her phone and sees text from Seung Jo, who actually is lurking over her shoulder. When she turns around, they accidentally kiss.
Seung Jo stammers out that they are not far apart, they are really close. He then happily walks away and vows that he won’t give up. He does the most ridiculous moon walk-butt wiggle-head tilt-finger guns dance to demonstrate his glee to Se Kyung, who I cannot believe is watching this calmly as opposed to breaking out in laughter. Seung Jo does his dance all the way to the elevator, which opens to reveal it packed with Artemis employees. Seung Jo composes himself and gets into the elevator.
As Se Kyung walks out carrying boxes, she runs into Yoon Joo in the lobby and the two ladies go out for drinks. Yoon Joo cries and asks what they did wrong? Yes, they lied, and used people, and caused people to cry blood tears. But they also cried blood tears, how could they not? So why is it only they feel such guilt?
Se Kyung steps outside and calls Tommy Hong and asks if he can’t let her go this once. Didn’t he say that she reminded him of how he used to be? So shouldn’t he know exactly how she feels right now? Once, just once….. Tommy knows how she feels and also once asked another to let him go. But that doesn’t work, and this time he gave her an easy way out. Tommy tells her to be smart and take it.
Se Kyung goes back inside and starts drinking heavily. Yoon Joo asks if something is going wrong for Se Kyung? She doesn’t answer and keeps drinking so Yoon Joo follows suit. Se Kyung gets wasted and passes out. Yoon Joo is the less drunk one and tries to wake Se Kyung up but can’t. Seung Jo texts Se Kyung and Yoon Joo reads the text from “Secretary Kim” asking what Se Kyung is up to. She texts back Se Kyung’s location and being drunk and needing him to take her home. Seung Jo rushes out and texts that he’ll be there in a few minutes.
Yoon Joo goes to the bathroom to wash up and when she walks out, she sees in horror Seung Jo rushing in and piggybacking Se Kyung out. She connects the dots and realizes that Seung Jo is the “secretary” person Se Kyung has been referring to, and remembers Se Kyung saying that he likes her.
Seung Jo happily piggybacks Se Kyung home while Yoon Joo watches with tears in her eyes as he fairly hops with joy down the street. He says Se Kyung can’t escape him and she’s not heavy at all. Seung Jo brings Se Kyung home to her worried parents, explaining he didn’t get her drunk since she refuses to see him recently and he is merely bringing her home. Seung Jo puts Se Kyung to bed and then sits down and talks with her. He says again that she’s not heavy at all, whereas the last time he piggybacked Ah Jung he almost collapsed from exhaustion.
Seung Jo says that if Se Kyung is awake now, can she still pretend she’s asleep and listen to him? He holds her hand to his heart to show her how fast its beating every time he sees her. She is straight forward, opinionated, and courageous. But he is foolish and fearful, yet this time he said out loud that he likes her. After he leaves we see Se Kyung open her eyes and cry. Seung Jo runs into Se Jin on his way out and asks for her help.
The next morning, Se Jin and Ah Jung partner together to invite Se Kyung to an art gallery event that night, supposedly for one of their classmates. Se Kyung sees right through them and says she’ll go.
President Cha arrives at the bakery where Se Kyung’s dad is working to pose for promotional pictures. He sees Se Kyung’s dad with Se Kyung outside. Dad compliments Seung Jo as a good guy, even if he’s from a different world. Being loved is a good thing and Se Kyung shouldn’t over think it. Dad is very happy for her so why is she so depressed. Se Kyung brings up her team leader who is very beautiful and elegant and is trying to get married. Se Kyung sees her effort and thinks its good. If Se Kyung did it, its not cute. She thinks to herself that a rich person loving another rich person is considered cute, but a poor person loving a rich person is to be derided. She helps fix her dad’s outfit and gives him a hug before leaving. President Cha sadly stares at that tableau.
The two Dads pose for pictures and Seung Jo asks Se Kyung’s dad if that is his daughter? What were they talking about since they appeared to get along, don’t kids not get along with their parents these days. Dad says they discussed a guy who likes his daughter and recently came to the house. He suggests Dad have more meals with his offspring.
Seung Jo gets ready for his big wooing session of Se Kyung. Secretary Moon and Dong Wook arrive with the props and accessories and everyone checks if everything is ready. Dong Wook asks if Seung Jo shouldn’t first check to make sure Se Kyung is coming.
Se Kyung goes to meet Tommy who hands her documents to sign. If she wants to enter this world, she needs to get use to signing contracts. The contract reads that Han Se Kyung will forever renounce all connection with Cha Seung Jo. She hesitates and tells Tommy that she really likes Seung Jo, even if Tommy doesn’t believe her or think she’s foolish. Tommy cuts her off and says she’s so disgusting. He knows how she calculated and approached Seung Jo. If Se Kyung wants to call her feelings love, then go ahead, but don’t say it in front of him.
Tommy asks why she is doing this? They are old hands at this, no? Se Kyung says In Hwa is also trying hard to win Seung Jo’s heart. So why is what Se Kyung did disgusting, but what In Hwa did acceptable. In Hwa also wants a contract marriage, so why is Se Kyung the only bad guy? Why is she the only one being raked over the coals? Tommy asks why he needs to be doing this? It’s understood so Se Kyung should stop asking questions if she already knows the answer.
Seung Jo arrives at the art gallery where he has prepared a romantic dinner, completed with rose petals forming a heart around the table. Secretary Moon and Dong Wook help him finalize the preparations when Ah Jung and Se Jin come running in to say that they can’t reach Se Kyung. Suddenly Seung Jo gets a call from her stating that she won’t be going to meet him. She cannot be together with him and she is sorry.
Seung Jo’s back up team look on in worry and asks what happened? Seung Jo tells them that Se Kyung rejected him, saying they cannot be together. Driver Kim runs in happily with the flowers and Secretary Moon tries to shoo him away. Dong Wook tells Seung Jo not to give up, especially with all the preparation that went into today. Seung Jo realizes that everything he did for Se Kyung, nothing went according to plan. Dong Wook tells him to find Se Kyung and show her what he wanted to do today, and if she still says no, then he can give up. Everyone encourages him to find Se Kyung first. Ah Jung says they can use Se Kyung’s cell phone to track her GPS location.
Team Seung Jo rushes out of the art gallery and all 6 of them squeeze into the car. Driver Kim speeds off and tells everyone to hold on tight. They track Se Kyung’s location to the banks of the Han River. Seung Jo runs around and finally locates Se Kyung. He rushes down and grabs her for a hug. He asks her not to leave him.
Seung Jo initially had all these romantic movie lines to tell her today. Se Kyung tries to leave his embrace but he pulls her in tighter. He had no idea that love could be so deep and heartbreaking. If there was an expiration date, he wishes his love could go on for a thousand years. Is she willing to love him until he leaves this world, or he will love her until his life ends, that is what cheesy lines he had in store for her today. But this is not him.
He is a coward, afraid of the person who loves him leaving him. He is so afraid. When he was small, his mother let go of his hand and left. His lover packed her bags and left. He still has nightmares about this today. At night sometimes he sleeps with the light on because he is scared. He is not a cool President, not a prince who can save Se Kyung, he is just a weak man who deeply loves Se Kyung.
Can she accept a man like him? It is up to her, but please will she not leave him? Will she save him? Se Kyung says nothing and listens to his entire confession. Team Seung Jo stands above the steps and watches this entire exchange, looking anxious and happy. Se Kyung asks if he can wait an hour for her? Seung Jo nods and she runs off.
Se Kyung rushes into Tommy’s office and asks if he thinks people can call anything they want love? If so, then yes, her love for Seung Jo is ugly. But it is still love. From now on, she will love Seung Jo with her ugly heart. She will never give up this ugly love. She slaps his contract on the table and stares him down. Tommy stares back at her.
Seung Jo waits by the freezing Han River for Se Kyung to return.