Follow TV Tropes


Series / Cheongdam-dong Alice

Go To
Cha Seung Jo leads Han Se (Alice) Down the Rabbit Hole.

Alice in Cheongdam-dong is a 2012 Korean Drama and a modern retelling of the not-so-fairytale of Alice, where Wonderland has been replaced by the greed and avarice of Cheongdam-dong.

Han Se Kyung (dubbed "Han Se") is a bright, young designer, trying to make it in the fashion world. She naively believes that "L'effort est ma force" (Hard work is my strength); that is, effort is the only thing needed to succeed. After a series of events which includes the break-up with longtime boyfriend So In Chan over money and encounters with wacky "Secretary Kim" (who is in reality, Cha Seung Jo), she starts to see reality in a harsher light. Determined to change her fate in life, she decides to find herself a rich man to latch onto. With help from her not-so high school friend Yoon Ju, she tries to move into Cheongdam-dong, a wealthy, fashion neighborhood in Seoul.


And Down the Rabbit Hole, Alice in Cheongdam-dong/Cheongdam-dong Alice (청담동 앨리스) goes.

This series provides examples of:

  • AcCENT upon the Wrong SylLABle: Because Cha Seung Jo likes to pronounce his last name "Scha," his father insists on calling Seung Jo "Chassi."
  • Antagonistic Offspring: Seung Jo always does his best to one-up his father.
  • Arranged Marriage: Tommy Hong is hired by Shin In Hwa's mother to match her with Jean Thierry Cha (Seung Jo). In Hwa is against it—until she finds out that he is in fact the son of Royal Group's chairman. As she needs a distribution channel for the brands that her family designs, she is agreeable. However, Seung Jo is against it. Not to mention the fact that Yoon Ju, In Hwa's sister-in-law, is Seung Jo's ex-lover...
  • Audience Surrogate: When Se Kyung finally admits her feelings to Seung Jo, they have an audience of Dong Wook, Secretary Moon, Driver Kim, Se Jin, and Ah Jung, who display varying degrees of fangirling.
  • Advertisement:
  • Break Her Heart to Save Her/Please Dump Me: In Chan, in the first episode, breaks up with Se Kyung by quoting the amount of debt she can expect after one year of marriage to him.
  • Break the Cutie: Han Se is very hopeful at the beginning. After a few episodes of going through the wringer, she is understandably downtrodden. The last straw comes when In Chan runs away with her life savings.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: This line from Se Kyung:
    Se Kyung: (to Tommy Hong) Yes, my love is ugly. But it's still love. You said I can call it whatever I like, so I will. SO you give up. Because I won't give up my ugly love.
  • Callback:
    • When Seung Jo attempts to salvage In Chan and Se Kyung's relationship, he Imagine Spots all the 감사 (kamsa), lit. "gratitude," he would get. Se Kyung instead tells him that she's apologetic. Later, after he gets benzene poisoning, she tells him "감사합니다" (kamsahabnida, or thank you).
    • The first time Se Kyung tries to high five Seung Jo, he thinks she's waving. The next time, when he knows it's a high-five, he waves again—just to get a chuckle. The third time he waves, she ignores him, because she's falling for him.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Just say it, Se Kyung!
  • Cannot Keep a Secret: Secretary Moon can't keep Seung Jo's secret to save his life.
  • Celebrity Paradox: When Seung Jo sees In Hwa handwriting 'thank you' cards, one of them is addressed to Park Shi Hoo—that actor who plays Seung Jo.
  • Cover Identity Anomaly: Occurs every time Se Kyung asks "Secretary Kim" basic information about himself
  • Daydream Surprise: Seung Jo does this often.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Cha Seung Jo who? You must mean, Artemis Korea's chairman, Jean Thierry Cha. Or if in front of Han Se, "Secretary Kim."
  • Down the Rabbit Hole: Cheongdam-dong is presented as a place, fraught with Conspicuous Consumption, so far removed from the "real world" that Han Se and her family lives in.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: In episode 9, Yoon Ju and Se Kyung do one over their mutual guilt.
  • Embarrassing Nickname:
    • Se Kyung's nickname from high school is "Han Se," which a few friends (and not-so-friends) still use. She doesn't like it.
    • Since high school, Yoon Ju is called "Seo Yoon Bal" (or "Seo Yoon Feet") by Ah Jung and Han Se.
  • Evil Is Petty: Seung Jo would be a Magnificent Bastard, if not for his pettiness. But he acknowledges the fact that he is petty, and runs with it, which may or may not make him more awesome.
  • The First Cut Is the Deepest: After Yoon Ju abandons him in France, Seung Jo renovates himself to become a better man. This is also the reason why he "knows" female psychiatry so well.
  • First Kiss: The main characters' first kiss is flashbacked to several times in slow-mo.
  • Follow in My Footsteps: Chairman Cha wants Seung Jo to just follow his instructions like a good son. Unfortunately, the two of them are just too much alike, for this plan to work.
  • Follow the White Rabbit: Yoon Ju mentions this trope by name, calling Tommy Hong "the White Rabbit" as he's a Cheongdam-dong matchmaker.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: If you look carefully, the placard on Seung Jo's table in episode 1 spells JANE THIERRY CHA. The mistake was quickly amended for later episodes.
  • Friendly Enemy: Han Se/Yoon Ju's relationship develop from being high-school nemesis to ... not-quite-friendship.
  • From Bad to Worse: Han Se's (ex-)boyfriend In Chan breaks up with her and steals from his company Artemis to pay for his mother's hospital bill. After which, his mother dies. Then, he gets sued by Artemis.
  • Gossipy Hens: Han Se's friends, especially her best friend Ah Jung.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Choi Ah Jung
  • I Have No Son!: After falling in love with Yoon Ju, Seung Jo decided to cut off all ties to his father, who is willing to acquiesce just to be spiteful.
  • I'll Never Tell You What I'm Telling You!: Ah Jung, to Secretary Moon, when she's drunk
  • Infraction Distraction: Yoon Ju gets into a fender bender to prevent a meeting with Chairman Cha, Seung Jo's father.
  • Kissing Cousins: When Seung Jo reveals that his last name is not "Kim," Se Kyung's father asks him if it's (also) "Han from Cheong Du." (As in, are you our cousin?) Se Kyung's mom promptly says that the law regarding that has been changed.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • When Han Se asks Yoon Ju if "Follow the White Rabbit" to find a Cheongdam-dong husband is too excessive, Yoon Ju mocks her for thinking she would just "accidentally meet a chaebol and get into an argument with him" or "fall in love at first sight." (The first of these did happen.)
    • "I thought they only said those words in dramas."
  • Land Poor/Pottery Barn Poor: Han Se's parent are in debt because they tried to buy a high-end condo in order to sell it when the house value went up. However, they've been losing money on both their house and their 30-year-old bakery. When Han Se suggests selling it and getting rid of that debt, the first thing her younger sister Se Jin does is to protest about living in a rental.
  • Literary Allusion Title: To the other Alice. No doubt, Han Se is Alice and Cha Seung Jo is the Mad Hatter. But who is the White Rabbit? Is it Tommy Hong, as the characters keep insisting? Or Seo Yoon Ju, the obvious connection between Han Se and Seung Jo?
  • Loves My Alter Ego: Seung Jo thinks he's in a love triangle with Se Kyung and Secretary Kim, but let's not forget the fact that he is Secretary Kim. But then, there's also the fact that, though Se Kyung likes "Secretary Kim," she won't admit it because she's afraid that he's poor.
  • The Matchmaker: Tommy Hong
  • Never Be Hurt Again: The main reason for Seung Jo's revenge schemes is "healing."
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Shin In Hwa and her mother—to Seo Yoon Ju
  • Photographic Memory: Tommy Hong has the ability to recall news articles he read years ago.
  • Piggyback Cute: When Seung Jo rescues an inebriated Se Kyung and skips away with her on his back, rubbing her palm against his cheek.
  • Product Placement
  • The One That Got Away: Seo Yoon Ju, to Cha Seung Jo
  • Shout-Out:
  • The Shrink: Heo Dong Wook is both Seung Jo's best friend and psychiatrist. He's a cross between Type II and Type III, because while Seung Jo scoffs at his advice, Seung Jo eventually comes to realize that there's (some) truth in the words.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Seung Jo
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Ah Jung calls Se Kyung out on listening to Yoon Ju's advice.
    Ah Jung: Why live like Seo Yoon Ju? You need to live like yourself! ... If you live like Seo Yoon Bal, do you think you'll be happy? Do you not know what kind of person you are?