First Impression: Penthouse

Drama Profile

Title: Penthouse / The Penthouse: War in Life
Main Cast: Eugene, Kim So-yeon, Lee Ji-ah
Writer: Kim Sun-ok (The Last Empress, Temptation of Wife)
PD: Joo Dong-min (The Last Empress, Return)
Timeslot: Monday and Tuesday / 22:00
Network: SBS
Episodes: 20
Genre: Suspense, Melodrama, Makjang

Plot Synopsis:

Set in an extremely luxurious 100-story apartment called Hera Palace, three powerful women live their lives surrounded by a thirst for revenge and wealth.

Major Trope: Whodunit; Eat the rich; Underdog

Grumpy’s First Impression:

My very raw and legit first impression was that it’s crazy. It’s super toxic. It’s not for everyone. These three things literally summed up the first two episodes of this highly anticipated, powerhouse drama. I don’t know how else would I describe it but everyone is definitely out of their damn minds.

The first scene of drama sealed me in for sure. Someone falling for who-knows-how-high and poetically landing at the angel statue full of blood? Wow. Of course, it’s one of the main plot points of the drama. Who the hell killed the poor girl and how did she end up there. And then we backtrack to a few weeks before the incident. We get to know the main characters aka the possible suspects:

Main bitch Cheon Seo-jin (Kim So-yeon), is a very in-demand classical music teacher who is wed to chief surgeon Ha Yoon-cheol (Yoon Jong-hoon). She’s my favorite character, as of now. She appears to be the drama’s evil queen, and all the rich mothers line up for her services. She and Oh Yoon-hee (Eugene) used to compete against each other during high school and a very unfortunate (and bloody) incident resulted to Yoon-hee’s change in career path.

On the other hand, old money Shim Su-ryeon (Lee Ji-ah) and real estate magnate Joo Dan-tae (Uhm Ki-joon) are a picture-perfect couple from the outside, but in their household lies a deep secret. They are known to be parents of twins Seok-hoon (Kim Young-dae) and Seok-kyung (Han Ji-hyun), two brats who are consistently on top of their class because of their dad’s mere influence.

Lastly, we also got to know the female lead Yoon-hee and her daughter Bae Ro-na (Kim Hyun-soo). They’re poor and she’s a single mom – a perfect recipe for a melodrama. They’re supposed to climb up the ladder of power and penetrate the world of the rich through hard work and perseverance, but I’m quite not sure about that.

Remember the girl falling to her death from the penthouse? She is Min Seol-ah (Joo So-min). I didn’t find her to be the innocent type, though, because she knows her cards even from the start. She disguised as a college girl to work part-time as a math tutor for the rich kids of Hera Palace. I don’t know what to feel about her character because from the very start, we all know she’s going to die a very dramatic death. She knew about Chairman Joo cheating on his wife with Seo-jin. She was bullied by Seok-hoon, Seok-kyung, and the rest of the Hera kids. And because of her, I’ll keep watching this series. I want to know who killed her, or if she really jumped to her own death.

There are so many cast of characters in this drama and it’s really hard to keep up at first as the drama is around 90 minutes long for the first two episodes. One thing that’s really very obvious for me was the similarity of the plot to that of “SKY Castle.” The main difference, though, was that the kids here are forced into classical music, and not in the field of medicine. Everyone in Penthouse is either a good singer or a manipulative person, or both.

Just a few important notes before I end this very uncomfy first impression:

This drama is not for the faint-hearted. It’s oozing with trigger worthy scenes – suicide/murder, depression, physical abuse, violence, adultery, graft, and bullying. I wonder what’s the reaction of South Korea’s rich people in this drama? Are they really that evil?

It’s also interesting that the building is named after Hera, the Queen of the Gods and the wife and sister of Zeus. Everyone knows Hera as the goddess of marriage, but let’s not forget that she’s also famous for being cruel and spiteful towards the other women and children of Zeus.

3 thoughts on “First Impression: Penthouse

  1. Looking at the toast after the Assemblyman did the lighting of the fountain, Je Ni and Min Hyuk look like the culprits, based on their outfits. I saw long black hair when Seol ah was pushed down the stairs, and then a male chasing her. The white shirt with jacket is what Min Hyuk is wearing. At first I thought it was the twins, but their outfits don’t fit what I saw in the stairs and chase scene. Even the sleeve of the one who pushed her, looks like Min Hyuk’s outfit. I could be wrong, though.

    I find it really good and I’m surprised that it rated so low on Viki. Sometimes I feel that the viewers of Viki tend to be so shallow with their preference for romances that Viki misses out on really good dramas (like “The Cursed” “Money Game” and “Strangers from Hell”).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OMG i would have to rewatch the scenes because my first suspects were the twins! I’m not sure about Minhyuk too. Or maybe the show is deliberately confusing us?

      The show is getting mixed reactions from fans because it’s over-the-top and toxic for their consumption. But just like you, I also find it interesting. Maybe we’re both into makjang/whodunit shows? 😂😅 I haven’t watched Strangers From Hell because I’m weak with the horror genre. Is it really good?


      1. Methinks they’re really confusing us. The outfits I saw on the children were from a different occasion. But I saw long black hair when Seol Ah was pushed down the stairs and she was chased by a man (I believe it is one of the children). But the sleeve of the arm that threw Seol Ah was like Eugene’s sleeve as well, so they are really confusing us.
        Strangers from Hell was really good. Siwan in the end reminded me of Jack Nicholson in The Shining. And yes, I love whodunit shows. Memorist was one of the best because it never stopped us from speculating. The Eraser was a twist (as well as his ability as an eraser despite not being the Eraser).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s