The Secret Singer
Episode 2 of The Penthouse picks up right where we left off from before, as a proud Yoon-Hee tells Seo-Jin she’s a thief. As the singer brushes aside her threat as simple joke, Yoon-Hee shows off the scar on her neck and scoffs at her foe. Especially at the thought of her teaching Ro-Na how to play the piano.
Instead, she decides to let Ro-Na learn in her own way and promises to be back for her trophy.
When they leave, Seo-Jin starts doubting herself, projecting that across to her daughter Eun-Byeol whom she tells to beat Ro-Na no matter what. First though, she’ll need to practice and become the best.
She’s not the only one pushing her child, Yoon-Hee does the exactly same thing but she’s supportive enough to suck up her pride and apologize to the headmaster for what happened at school.
Sporting a face mask to hide his broken front teeth and a neck brace, Yoon-Hee has a difficult time apologizing to this man. That’s not helped by Ma-Ri, who continues to stir things up. Still, she says her piece and leaves.
Next she heads up to Sang-Hweon’s house, planting a camera between the two picture frames in order to blackmail him. However, she has bigger problems to deal with given Seo-Jin has forwarded on Ro-Na’s details to all the top music schools, dissuading her from getting in.
Trouble is brewing in the Shim household too, as Su-Ryeon finds her children rebelling and refusing to listen to their music tutor, Anna Lee. Even worse, when Dan-Tae returns home (after a quick visit to the gym where he hands Seo-Jin a key to get into any room in the Palace), he’s disgusted by their tutor’s shoes.
While she starts to slip away, Lee is forced to overhear this man order his cleaner to “decontaminate” everything she’s touched. Su-Ryeon follows Ms Lee out though and apologizes to her for her husband’s behaviour.
Even worse, Seok-Kyung receives the brunt of her Father’s anger, turning in a blank answer sheet at the school. She doesn’t want to follow in their family’s footsteps and wants to forge her own path. She hates singing and asks him to send them abroad.
Dan-Tae instead hits his son and tells her that he’s the one who’s going to suffer – not her. Taking Seok-Hoon inside a locked room, he’s beaten down pretty badly – although we don’t see this. Clutching his back, he’s taken back to his room as Su-Ryeon watches in shock.
Yoon-Hee blackmails Sang-Heon, telling him that if he wants to be elected for a third term he’ll need to cough up the funds. With a press of a button she could forward on the details to the TV station and show he’s been cheating on his wife… or he could pay. Wisely, he picks the latter.
Hidden inside a drink case, Yoon-Hee heads to the principal and hands over all the money, intending to help Ro-Na get back into school again. Next she visits Ma-Ri and lays down the law too.
There’s still the case of Ro-Na’s tutoring and schooling though, which are both difficult to overcome. Thankfully Jenny’s previous tutor, Ma Du-Ki, offers his services to Ro-Na after being fired by Seo-Jin.
It’s probably a good thing too, as the pair have their first lesson. Du-Ki reveals that the piece this year is actually going to be in German. Only, Ro-Na can’t speak German and this throws a serious spanner in the works.
This may be a small victory for her but Joo effortlessly flaunts his money around, paying for a brand new school gym to change the grades of Seok-Kyung despite her not doing any work. I guess in this show money really can buy you anything. It gets worse though, it turns out he’s liaising with the medical centre and has his hands in numerous different areas.
Anna Lee sits outside on her break but watches as Seo-Jin heads up to the 35th floor with Chairman Joo. She spies them both having their affair – right in view of the window no less – and she heads up for a closer look. Wisely, she snaps a video of them both kissing. This will almost certainly come in handy later.
Back inside the room, the pair lay down some ground rules around keeping things simple and ending their affair as soon as one of them decides it’s time. Of course, that’s easier said than done in the heat of the moment and could lead to some problems going forward.
Seok-Kyeong turns up late to her lesson but this time Lee isn’t messing around. Because of this, Seok-Kyeong places a keyring in Lee’s bag as a way of making it seem like she’s a thief. Su-Ryeon is not buying it but her husband, who’s already looking down on the girl , thinks otherwise.
He tells Anna to leave and threatens to get the police involved… unless she apologizes. Without much of a choice, Anna Lee is forced to say sorry and finds herself bullied by the kids, who push her in the pool and walk away.
Back upstairs, Su-Ryeon questions her daughter over why she stitched up their tutor. Su-Ryeon tells her to apologize but the girl is having none of it. She tells her Mum she’s not even her real Mother.
She even goes so far as to claim Su-Ryeon has abandoned her for her own biological daughter who’s currently in a critical condition at hospital. Seok-Kyeong eventually throws the woman on the sofa and tells her not to act like their Mum ever again.
On the back of this, Joo comforts his wife as we find out who really revealed the truth. It was the cook, who stashes the incriminating picture from the past in her apron. Even worse, Joo heads back to the hospital and mentions how they’ve “done well” to keep this going for 16 years, seemingly hinting that they’re going to pull the plug and are in this together.
Meanwhile, Ro-Na and Eun-Byeol both work hard for their position at the singing competition. When they show up though, Ro-Na learns with horror that the 2 songs need to be sung in Italian. But… that means Ma Du-Ki has duped them all along. Oh no…
Ro-Na breaks down crying while Seo-Jin shows up looking triumphant and smug. Thankfully, Yoon-Hee manages to convince her daughter to sing and she knocks it out the park during her audition.
Things are tense but the results are finally delivered. Interestingly, it’s not Seok-Kyung or Ro-Na who win. It’s a surprise entrant in the form of Anna Lee. Here though, she’s going under the guise of Min Seol-A. She was wearing a wig all this time and with Ro-Na on the reserve list, her disappointment is too much and she runs away.
Seol-A meanwhile, is confronted by the family but she has her own ammo to use against them. She listens to their constant jibes before accusing Joo of not being truthful himself.
As she walks away, the kids all start to scheme together, determined to teach Seol-A a lesson for this deception.
That comes in front of that infamous statue – the same one we saw her fall to her doom and land on. The kids snatch her up and take Seol-A down to the junkyard.
She stands up for herself though, sneering at them and calling the rich kids pitiful and sad. This is the last straw though, as the kids lock her inside the car and start chanting, spraying her in champagne and humiliating her with a congratulatory cake. On a side note here, the music is incredibly intense – almost comically so.
Anyway, Yoon-Hee manages to find her daughter, sobbing on the stairs down an abandoned alleyway and hugs her tightly, comforting Ro-Na after she mentions their difficult financial situation.
The Episode Review
The word “Makjang” has been thrown around a lot while discussing this drama online and I must admit, I had to look up the term myself earlier on. I can honestly say this is the craziest “Makjang” I’ve seen. For those unaware, this term refers to incredulous and over-the-top plot occurrences and impossible scenarios.
Everything is so over the top here, from the melodramatic characters, constant shouting, the endless amounts of drama and yet… this is strangely endearing and very watchable.
It’s the sort of show you’d throw on if you’re in the mood for something reality-TV geared but a little more glamorous and outrageous. That much is especially true here although the layers of ridiculousness pile up so high that it starts to lose sight of logical and rational twists.
Seol-A seems to be an incredible classical singer but how did that happen? When did she learn this? How did she manage to dupe everyone for so long? Wouldn’t Joo – with all his contacts and power – do a check up on Anna Lee to see if she’s actually truthful?
That’s to say nothing of the kids either who are all incredibly unlikable. There’s an abundance of hatred for a lot of these characters and with the exception of perhaps Su-Ryeon, Seol-A and Yoon-Hee, everyone else is pretty difficult to relate or warm to. However, this could change as the episodes tick by.
If melodrama is your thing, this soapy, over-the-top drama will be right up your alley. With an epic 90 minute run-time for this episode, it looks like the next double bill will be dropping down to an hour – which perhaps is a good thing given the endless amount of drama here!