By Mendy | @baobeihei

Photo courtesy of SBS

February 19 marked the beginning of the second season of The Penthouse, which ended its first 20-episode season with a bang at 30.5 percent viewership in the Seoul Metropolitan area.

Written by Kim Soon-ok, the writer behind hit dramas like Jang Bori is Here! and The Last Empress, its amazing ratings are no surprise. The drama is even set for a third season already. Such a length is usual for weekend, makjang dramas, but The Penthouse also stands out for its multi-season programming.  

What is makjang? It is a term used to refer to over-the-top dramas–think soap operas. Korean drama blog Dramabeans defines it as, “a stylistic, tonal, or narrative element in dramas that chooses to play up outrageous storylines to keep viewers hooked despite how ridiculous the stories become.” 

Reminiscent of other affairs like Sky Castle and The World of the Married, The Penthouse has everything you could ever want—if you could even step foot inside. This being said, don’t look here for any moral lessons or warm and fuzzies. Instead, think of it as a game of mafia. 

Peer into the elite, 100-story penthouse apartment, Hera Palace, where all the characters reside in, and find delightful betrayals, adultery, and reversals alongside the murder mystery. Secrets and cut throat competition between CEO parents trickle down to their kids and their school scandals of bullying and nepotism. But, what really distinguishes the show, is its theme of motherhood. 

Eugene, of the first generation K-pop group S.E.S., stars as Oh Yoon-Hee, a working class widow who suddenly gets the chance to move into Hera Palace. There, she reignites her rivalry with her high school foe, heiress Cheon Seo-Jin (Kim So-yeon). 

The cherry on top are their daughters, Bae Ro-na (Kim Hyun-soo) and Ha Eun-byeol (Choi Ye Bin) respectively, who have become competitors at Korea’s top opera high school and who are continuing their mothers’ legacies.

Fortunately, Yoon-hee finds an ally in the kindhearted resident and mom of twins, Shim Su-ryeon (Lee Ji-Ah)—but not for long. These mothers risk it all, answering what it means to truly do the best for your child. The goal is always the best school, first place, power, and prestige—and each family makes it clear that they will do whatever it takes to get there, even if it means kicking up the dust of the past. 

 But before you decide to jump into Penthouse 2, or you’re just starting with the first season—or if you’re just not convinced yet—take a look at the key moments of our leading ladies. Keep in mind, all three female leads, among other The Penthouse cast, recently picked up Top Excellence awards at the 2020 SBS Awards. (Season 1 spoilers ahead!) 


“That night, Eugene was with Yoon Jong Hoon” The Penthouse, Season 1 Episode 5 

Eugene is desperate and helpless in her drunken stupor. It is especially interesting as Eugene herself stated that she does not drink. Heightened by the steadily chaotic classical soundtrack, watch as she agonizes over what has been taken from her. If only she could remember what happened…  


“Kim So Yeon makes a face after killing her father” The Penthouse, Season 1 Episode 16


Kim So-yeon’s performance is stunning as she quickly shifts from unaffected to completely devastated while walking down a hallway—even aweing her cast mates with her emotional control. Fortunately for our entertainment but not our blood pressure, this was not her first act of evil. And, it will certainly not be her last. 


“Penthouse Su Ryeon reveals her daughter is Min Seol A” The Penthouse, Season 1  Episode 19 


Lee Ji-ah as a scorned mother strikes the delicate balance between sheer pain and the need for vengeance. It is just the antidote we need for these gross abuses of power. But, do the heroes always win?


Find out in “Penthouse: War in Life 2,” which airs on Fridays and Saturdays at 10 p.m KST! 

Ready for more dramas? Be sure to check out Yeri’s new stage in Mint Condition here!

Photo courtesy of SBS