Apparently the “Wonderland” schtick wasn’t just a schtick…

…and I am loving it!  At least, I feel like the symbolism of Alice in Wonderland (of which there is so, so much to choose from) is being played with beautifully. Which I’ll admit I was not expecting.aliceincdd photo 28006_418362561567875_902652033_n_zpsdc35adfd.jpg

The obvious ones were there and pretty easily identified.  For example, Han Se-kyung is our innocent and pragmatic Alice who sees through the silliness and illogic of Wonderland. [Spoilers through ep. 14 under cut]

Se-kyung sees the lies and things-we-don’t-talk-about behind the glitz and glamour of the Cheongdam-dong lifestyle.  She also sees the danger behind Seung-jo’s delusions and doesn’t let him escape into them, either. (Obviously, I’m expecting a happy ending, where the truth coming out doesn’t end with Seung-jo in the fetal position in some dank Paris alleyway somewhere.)

But the symbol I’m having the most fun with is our Red Queen. I think the show has been a bit tricksy in that there’s more than one woman playing that role.  First it seems like Seo Yoon-joo is our girl. She wears a lot of red and seems to have the ability to off Se-kyung’s head whenever the mood strikes her.

But then Shin In-hwa makes a power play and we see she’s the one really wielding the axe. While wearing a red dress.  (A wine-red, though. Like dried blood. Mwhaahaha) photo ScreenShot2013-01-20at63156PM_zps7c6078b3.png

Afterwards, there’s this lovely scene where Yoon-joo’s dressed all in white with a silver pendent with flecks of red.  Her power is diminishing. (And I am sad.)
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At the last, though, we finally get a glimpse of the real queen — the one who set the whole Seung-jo/In-hwa marriage plot in motion. Which created such a fine mess of things for all concerned.  Of course it’s Madam Shin. momshin photo ScreenShot2013-01-20at63741PM1_zpsf71747b8.png

(Though I was interested to see that Yoon-joo’s husband was sporting an actual rose-tie. The source of Yoon-joo’s power, maybe? Who can maybe give it back? I hope? *hopes, hopes, hopes* Yes, it’s weird how much I want their relationship to work out. I don’t even know why.)husbandshin photo ScreenShot2013-01-20at64135PM2_zpsfaa74ae9.png

We’ve only got two episodes left. And I’m eager, eager, eager to see how it all turns out. Who will be wearing red in the end?


16 thoughts on “Apparently the “Wonderland” schtick wasn’t just a schtick…

    • It’s interesting how some shows hit a sweet spot and others… don’t. This one works for me (I enjoy a good scheme ;)), but I know it’s not been for everyone.

  1. Hi BetsyHp! 🙂

    Thank you for this article. Thank you for pointing out the symbolisms in “Alice in Wonderland” story that are being used in my current crack-Korean drama “Alice in Cheongdam-dong” (CDDA). You have just increased my enjoyment of watching CDDA. Thanks! 🙂

    Yes, I too still enjoy watching this drama. I appreciate its frank depiction and examination of the world of “gold-diggers”, of prolonged depression, of “hard-work-doest-not-always-lead-to-success”, and of “honesty-is-or-isnt-the-best-policy”. By no means they are light subject matters, but they lead to self-reflection, and self-study. Those dramas that not only entertain but also educate tend to stay in my memory longer than others.

    I can’t wait for the last 2 episodes and I’m hoping for a happy ending for Se Kyung and Seung Jo. Aja! Aja! (^__^)

    • Thank you! 🙂 And I totally agree about dramas that make you think sticking with you. I love that CDDA is tackling these meaty issues and really dealing with them, rather than just using them as window dressing.

      I’m right there with you hoping for a happy ending. 🙂

  2. Wooh! Glad you’re on Red Queen watch! Would you agree Seung Jo is the Mad Hatter? I’ve really enjoyed this show almost more than I expected to. I think it took a while to get going, but now that is has it’s doing some pretty awesome things. And I agree, I’m expecting a happy ending. I don’t want Seung Jo in the fetal position in a Paris alleyway! Finally, I agree I want Yoon Joo and her husband to make amends. I feel like they are actually a good couple and do support each other despite her original intentions. Also, could Yoon Joo perhaps be the White Queen? I’m not super familiar with the Alice in Wonderland story lines, but she wears white so much I thought that might be her…

    • I definitely think Seung-jo is the Mad Hatter. Though he also had moments of White Rabbit-ness to him. But the White Rabbit is weird in that it moves around. Because Tommy Hong was obviously a White Rabbit, and played a White Rabbit role in leading people into Wonderland. But I also get a strong Cheshire Cat vibe from him. (That massive picture behind his desk where he’s disappearing off to both sides strikes me as very Cheshire Cat-ish.)

      I get White Queen vibes from Yoon-joo too. Because she really does wear a lot of white. I just checked Wikipedia (my go-to research place ;)) and the White Queen shows up in “Through the Looking Glass” rather than “Wonderland”, but I still think it works! Because we’re just talking symbols here. And in that second book, Alice helps the White Queen defeat the Red Queen in chess. Which bodes well, so I’ll take it. 🙂

      • Ooh Cheshire Cat for Tommy Hong! I hadn’t thought of that, but I do think it fits. I agree the White Rabbit does switch around. Yeah, I’ve been using Wikipedia heavily to try and understand the connections or references the show could be making with characters. And I like the sound of Alice and the White Queen defeating the Red Queen so fingers crossed that’s where the show is going!

  3. Hi BetsyHp,

    I’ve been reading your comment on DramaBeans and really digging them so I found myself clicking on your link and ended up here on your blog which is all kinds of fantastic!

    I could describe myself by echoing your profile description, so hello, sister! I really enjoy the attention you have been paying to Cheongdam-dong Alice since you come at it with a lot of insight and sensitivity. A couple of times on DramaBeans I worried that CdA was getting overrun by inattentive or indifferent viewers because the “Well, I stopped watching it a while back…” kveteching was growing to a veritable din.

    And then I started seeing your comments. I recognized the voice of a fellow lover of good storytelling. ^_^

    Thank you for that voice!

    • Yay, thank you! And welcome! 🙂 I’ve enjoyed your comments as well. (Park Shi-hoo is really owning his role. Which is awesome.) And I’m also pleased to have a fellow enjoyer of the drama commenting.

      Because yes, CdA isn’t so much a fantasy and its comedy has a great deal of black to it (even when Seung-jo was at his maddest and was hilarious and adorable in it, there was a manic-edge to it that made it… not quite sad, but it wasn’t just humor for humor’s sake). But just ’cause it’s not your cup of tea doesn’t mean there aren’t those of us who are really enjoying it! And I think CdA really repays a careful view.

      Anyway, thanks again for your comment, I’m really glad you came by. 🙂

  4. If I may, I’d love to share my increasing love for this drama… So after ep. 14 I decided to watch CdA from the top just to get a better look at Seung-jo and Se-kyung to see how their lives change during the time we’ve been following their story. I also want to pay closer attention to teh Alice in Wonderland symbols and metaphors you have been pointing out (I’m a fool for skillfully deployed allusions in any kind of narrative).

    Any way, I just got to the end of ep. 3 and I have to say, this drama really does pay its audience back huge dividends for just a little time and attention invested. I noticed for instance, that the question of Seung-jo’s psychological fragility is seeded very early on in both broad and subtle ways.

    The broad shows in his manic expressions, his singleminded yet somewhat innocuous quest for revenge against both Yoon-joo and Papa Cha. At one point his best friend even asks him – insistedly – whether he’s taking his meds like he should.

    The more subtle indications of the tenderness of his heart shows I think in those private moments when he has to confront either his pain or some one else’s (in ep. 3 it’s Se-Kyung’s). Watching his face when Yoon-joo mocks him for being immature after he supposedly takes his vengeance at her dinner party I saw the old wound from her initial abandonment open a little. Se-Kyung’s letter on behalf of So In Chan opens it up a little more it seems, but this time only to apparently apply the salve of hope that altruistic love is real – that it is not all just a transactional affair like Yoon-joo declared. And finally in ep. 3, his unmitigated empathy for Se-Kyung’s pain after So In Chan runs off to Brazil is simply touching. There is something so unselfconscious about the way he nervously fears she might walk into traffic; about how he worries that she might throw herself into the river (seeing dart a glance at the life jackets hanging on the shed by the bridge was priceless!); how he surreptitiously shadows her while she cries out her heartache and does not leave her until she arrives back home safely.

    So the way this story is told, and especially Park Shi Hoo has been breathing life into Seung-jo has been a delightfully surprising and moving treat.

    Chapeau, Jean Thierry Cha!

    • Oh, that’s some cool observations there! (I adored the shadowing scenes — he was so adorable and earnest and caring.) It makes me eager to do a rewatch. 🙂 And this is a show I’m looking forward to rewatching — as long as the ending works for me. (Endings can be so scary, because if they falter it can reduce a drama for me.)

      Park Shi-hoo is an amazing actor, one of my favorites. I think I’ve seen everything he’s been in and even in shows that weren’t my favorites he brought an amazing amount of subtlety to his acting. So his characters were always fascinating to me. I’m really thrilled to see him in a show that I think makes full use of his range, and also tells a good and interesting story.

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