Why Penthouse: War in Life is the unofficial King of Makjang dramas and one of the finest intense KDramas ever

Updated on Mar 22, 2021 10:42 PM IST  |  868.1K
Why Penthouse: War in Life is the unofficial King of Makjang dramas and one of the finest intense KDramas ever

The Penthouse: War in Life is an exaggeration of life - let’s first get that out of the way. But  think about it, is it really? It shows the corrupt life of the few uber rich people in the society. Their life, their expectations, their emotions, their aspirations. The people living in Hera Palace, the richest 100-storey building in South Korea, feel just this. Except, multiply all these emotions by 10 and you get the lot of the Hera Club members. 


Before we deep dive, some may wonder what makjang is. Makjang is an adjective used to describe a series with a plot that is unrealistic, absurd, exaggerated and overlaid with twists and turns. The most common layers include switched at birth, revenge plots, and murders. There have been only a couple of makjang that make me feel that adrenaline rush and that super yearning to know what will happen next. So far, there were only two on my list - Sky Castle and The World of The Married. The Penthouse drove by and in no time, overtook the top of my best makjang dramas list.  Let me explain why. 



It’s astonishing how the writers and the directors made this masterpiece possible. Especially, most especially, the writing. Every episode is riddled with mistakes, betrayal, new information, false information, new twist, a different turn. The characters are unpredictable, and so is the storyline - and ends up questioning a lot of things. Each character is given it’s own time, it’s own arc - from the kids to the adults. It’s not gore-ish, but it is intense. The murder scenes, the blood, the mental stability of some characters and their splendid acting. It’s overblown, dark and has three women’s fates interwoven in a complex story of love, revenge and passion. Cheon Seo Jin, Shim Su Ryeon and Oh Yoon Hee are the key characters, in my opinion, that single-handedly reign over the entire two season, 31+ episodes series. 


The whole story is a gorgeous mess. The show grips the viewer from the first episode itself where we see the goddess Shim Su Ryeon deck up in her signature off-shoulder pink free-flowing gown, taking the elevator from her penthouse to go to the party. While she witnesses the charm of the fireworks in the sky, she also witnesses the murder of a child - someone throws Min Seol A off the balcony. The viewers fall with her. And shriek with Su Ryeon. But that’s just the start of things getting worse.



Never have I ever seen such impressive actors with charming personalities. It’s said that if the actor playing the villain makes you hate them in their real life too, they succeeded as an actor. Having said that, I can assure you that the characters are easily hateable - they’re just so bad, you can’t stop yourself or anyone, from hating them. However, there are a few moments when we see their most vulnerable side and start questioning ourselves about feeling pity for them. But that’s just how great the villainous characters are. The writers make you loathe them, then pity them, then loathe them again. With amazing plot twists sprinkled as if salt and pepper in a dish, the cat-and-mouse game never really stops. Even the time jump in the series flows as if a knife cutting through butter. 


Not just the adults, the kids’ characters are given their own space to grow too. Rightfully labelled ‘Sky Castle on Steroids’, this too focuses on the story of toxic education competitions, bullying, violence, mafia behaviour of students - except not in a regular but in a music school.  If the adult world of the Hera Palace is filled with blood, lies, and revenge - so is that of the children’s. Always protected, never held accountable for anything, the kids almost believe that they’re invincible. And the adults, with the largest wealth in their bank accounts, think they are too. But are they, really? They can only get away with things till someone catches them. And they can never be underestimated. 


The Penthouse: War in Life season 2 is still ongoing, and there are talks of it having a season 3 too. With impeccable acting and a pretty strong storyline that never slips, this show is a benchmark in makjang dramas in itself. 


Also Read: The Penthouse S2 SOARS to an all time high; Beyond Evil maintains an average rating


What are your thoughts on the show? Do you like it? Do you think there is another show that is better than this? Throw your suggestions or debate in the comments below! We’ll be sure to read them all.