Korean drama reviews
Get more with myNEWS
A personalised news feed of stories that matter to you
Learn more
Kim Seo-yeon in a still from The Penthouse season two. Photo: Viu.

K-drama The Penthouse season two: wickedly fun and twisty drama has lost none of its addictive power

  • Kim Seo-yeon returns as Cheon Seo-jin, prima donna of the Hera Palace luxury high-rise, once again up against her nemesis Oh Yoon-hee, played by actress Eugene
  • A dalliance, a death, and a deliciously overblown party entrance in the opening episode signals a resumption of the power plays between their two camps

This article contains spoilers of the show.

Last October, the debut of the addictive drama The Penthouse delivered a shot of adrenaline. Over 21 episodes, the melodramatic series took us through the delicious and scandalous high and lows of the back-stabbing inhabitants of the luxurious Hera Palace tower block.

For those left wanting more by the major cliffhanger of season one, the good news is that the wait has been a short one. Six weeks after closing its first season, The Penthouse is back with a 12-episode second season.

While it’s still early enough for us to be mixing up our calendar years, for the characters of the show the break has stretched to around two years, and the season opener jumps back and forth a few times as it resets its board.

Prima donna Cheon Seo-jin (Kim Seo-yeon) and her nemesis Oh Yoon-hee (Eugene) are clearly thinking several moves ahead in what promises to be a deliciously twisty game of power plays between their two camps, with allegiances shifting between them along the way.

Season two opens at the 28th Cheong-a Arts Festival, as Seo-jin is about the announce the winner of the Grand Prize, but before she has does so the ceremony is interrupted – a young woman in a white gown, likely one of the main contestants, has been found on the steps outside, covered in blood.

Six new Korean dramas to look out for in March 2021

The show then jumps back a few months, with Seo-jin and Joo Dan-tae (Um Ki-joon) now an official item following the death of Dan-tae’s wife, Shim Su-ryeon (Lee Ji-ah). Their engagement has gone public, as has news of a merger in the offing between her Cheong-a Group and his JK Holdings.


Lee Kyu-jin (Bong Tae-gyu) is now a representative for Gangnam in the National Assembly. We see him staging a hunger strike outside the assembly as he tries to change some real estate laws, no doubt for his own gain. He “faints” from hunger and is carted off to his tent, filled with a feast fit for a king.

Seo-jin puts on a concert in New York where she bumps into ex-husband Ha Yoon-cheol (Yoon Jong-hoon), who has been living in exile in America. A drunk Seo-jin falls into bed with him, but somehow Dan-tae has caught wind of the dalliance and after she leaves, some thugs cart off Yoon-cheol and toss him into the bay.

Um Ki-joon in a still from The Penthouse season two. Photo: Viu

Back in Seoul, Yoon-hee’s daughter Bae Ro-na (Kim Hyun-soo) is still mercilessly bullied at school and even by adults outside, since she has been branded the daughter of a murderer.

In Dan-tae’s penthouse, Seo-jin has been getting threatening messages and it doesn’t take long for Dan-tae to figure out that they’re from Ms Yang (Kim So-ra), his housekeeper, who has been in love with him for 20 years and has now gone utterly cuckoo.

Fired, Ms Yang retreats to her home and soon her body is discovered there. She has committed suicide and fingered Dan-tae for his wife’s murder. Yoon-hee, who had been on the run, suddenly turns herself in.


Dan-tae finds a way to shift the suspicion from himself, and the dead Ms Yang now becomes the murderess, leaving Yoon-hee free of all charges.

Eugene as Oh Yoon-hee in a still from The Penthouse season two.

A few months later, Seo-jin and Dan-tae stage a swanky outdoor engagement party, but a party crasher makes a grand helicopter entrance, blowing the event’s trimmings and guests into the grass.


The mysterious guest turns out to be a dapper and extremely confident Yoon-cheol, but the capper is that he’s not alone, he’s comes with his new wife in tow – a purple-haired Yoon-hee.

This wonderfully overblown entrance, with Édith Piaf’s La vie en rose providing the soundtrack, is the finale of the opening episode. While one episode can’t speak for the rest of the season, this new iteration of The Penthouse is moving just as furiously, as it rounds wickedly fun turns while seldom dropping a beat.

With only 12 episodes to fill this season (though we know a third is on the way), this bodes well, as one of the minor gripes of season one is that it occasionally started to spin its wheels.

What’s in a kimchi slap? The addictive world of makjang K-dramas

Beyond the opening, we’re introduced to a new power dynamic, as Yoon-cheol, who had formerly been Seo-jin’s gloomy puppet, has reinvented himself as a powerful CEO with enough money to play at Dan-tae’s level, while also buying his and Yoon-hee’s way back into Hera Palace. In a sense, he’s filling the role of Logan (Park Eun-seok) last season, who so far has been a smaller presence.


During its first two weeks, the only weak point of the show has been Ro-na, as she goes from being victimised and leaving for America to stubbornly return to school. She is naively thwarted by bullies at every turn, not to mention their parents and her teachers. She never has a plan.

Of course, her mother, Yoon-hee does have a plan, and as we find out what it is, the next four weeks will hopefully make for brisk and addictive viewing.

The Penthouse season two is streaming on Viu.